February 20, 2018

Saguenay Ice Fishing Trip - 2018

Having tried most of the different types of ice fishing around Montreal, fishing the Fjord Saguenay is one of the last places offering me any real chance of catching new species on ice. Although it can be a difficult fishery, the diversity is simply astounding! Needless to say, I was very excited to make the 5 hour drive northwest to the town of La Baie on the shore of the only fjord in Quebec :)

Fellow lifelister Michael Verdirame was going to be joining Alex and I on this trip so we planned to meet at the first spot: Anse a Benjamin. As a matter of fact, I somehow managed to recognize Michael from his Facebook pictures when he passed us earlier that morning on the 20! My goal at the first spot was to get my lifer Greenland Cod, so I set up in "shallow" water in accordance with the advice given to me by some friends I had spoken with online. That being said, "shallow" for the Fjord was about 80'! Alas, the Greenland Cod was not to be and here I caught my only fish of the trip; a small Acadian Redfish (Sébaste in Fench).

I had already caught one the year prior so this wasn't a lifer but it was still cool to see one of these creatures of the depths. It was shortly after this capture that my friend Francois, who was fishing a different area of the Fjord, sent me this picture of an epic species his friend caught; an Arctic Cod (Morue Saiga in French). That fish just looks so badass, I need to catch one!!

After a relatively long afternoon with only one Sébaste for me and another for Michael, we packed up our gear and headed into town for supper. A classic Québécois meal consisting of poutine, steamies, and fries at the Cantine Boivin seemed fitting and was an excellent reward after the day's adventure. We also got to see the poor waitress-in-training struggle with Michael's English as he ordered; we taught him how to pronounce "poutine" properly shortly thereafter.

Next stop was Anse St-Jean, where we had reserved an ice cabin for the night to serve as both a fishing location and a place to sleep. As we waited for the owner to come meet us, I witnessed a real drunk driver for the first time. This young couple in their off-road Jeep were clearly on something and proceeded to drive in circles aimlessly. They nearly backed into my car, and also almost hit Michael. Didn't take me long to decide to park my car a little further down the road out of self-preservation.

Shortly after, the owner of the cabin found us and explained that the ice road to the village was too rough for my Matrix but that Michael's 4Runner would make it just fine. Therefore, Alex and I got an exhilarating ride in his side-by-side as Micheal struggled to keep up behind us. Arriving at the cabin, we were pleasantly surprised to find it in excellent condition; we didn't even wear shoes inside! Unfortunately, we caught nothing in the cabin other than this Snow Crab.

We fished until 12:30 at night and then went to bed in preparation for Day 2 back at La Baie. The next morning we drove to the spot and walked out to about 300' of water. Alex still hadn't caught a single fish at this point so was starting to get restless. Thankfully, the fish gods smiled upon her and she caught her #1 target for the trip in the last half-hour of fishing! Refusing to settle for catching a juvenile using micro techniques, she was determined to catch a decent Sébaste and she finally succeeded :)

Despite the lack of fish, this region always has me wanting to return as soon as I get home. The potential of new species, the kindness of the people, and the beauty of the environment makes this one of my favourite regions of Quebec.

February 19, 2018

Early Winter 2017

Finally deciding to write this post because the poor ice conditions this year are preventing me from getting to my usual mid-late winter spots. I need something to look back on! This post basically summarizes my fishing in the month of December up until I left for North Carolina as seen in the previous post.

After enduring that horrible time of the year between regular and ice fishing seasons, cabin fever had set in and everyone was very anxious to get out on the ice. Day 1 ended up being on Dec. 15th, we were out as soon as we could find a solid 3" of black ice. Fair warning to all, I don't suggest going out on thin ice unless you know the necessary precautions to take. This 1st day I went out with Alex and Carl and we all got into some nice 11-13" Crappie. Highlight was Alex catching her lifer Crappie of course :)

The next day I went back out with Carl to check out some abandoned quarries that he had been eyeing on Google Maps. Unfortunately, they were filled with tiny perch :p Check out the amount of fish on my sonar in the picture below. They day after I explored a new lake with another friend and found huge population of White Perch!

If I remember correctly, I took the next day off and then went to a Bluegill spot with Alex the next day. She caught a giant, one of the biggest I've seen out of Quebec! It also turned out that there was a hot Crappie bite at the spot, I had almost never seen them here before.

This is starting to get a bit long so I'll just summarize two more days in this paragraph; there were other nice Crappie and Bluegill days that I'll omit in the interest of brevity. One of the more memorable days was when Francois came to visit from Quebec City for his first ice fishing experience and also a shot at his lifer Black Crappie. He succeeded, albeit a small one haha. I also met another new friend the next day at the Longueuil marina. We started talking on iNaturalist so it was nice to meet another person with similar interests. Ali also came down from the Townships and we caught a couple of nice Pike and Perch :)
Francois' Crappie