Overall, my spring consisted of a lot more bottom fishing compared to other years, allowing me to really dial into some new species. I managed to catch 41 different types of “standard” sized fish, at least a quarter of them being lifers! One of my favourite set of experiences was shore fishing at the local hot spot where I met fellow lifelister Alexis. Together, we upgraded PB’s and caught a good number of new species :) He caught his Silver Redhorse and Brown Bullhead, and he put me onto a sick jumbo Perch bite! I caught my PB Brown Bullhead, as well as some much-wanted lifers. Those being an American Eel and a Freshwater Drum!! The 2 of them completed my goal of catching one species from all of the 25 families of fish present in Quebec.
One of the bigger trips in May was the adventure to the Niagara peninsula of Ontario. On the way, my girlfriend and I stopped and spent a day targeting Steelhead around Port Hope. We were both successful in our quests and I even managed to break the 30” mark! We caught fish on spinning tackle as well as on the fly. We then reached our destination in the Niagara area, where I spent a long afternoon and evening targeting whatever would bite. Despite not catching many lifers, I was impressed by the sheer diversity of the waters. Will definitely be heading back for a couple more missing species!
Speaking of my girlfriend, Alex, she also managed to catch a few lifers throughout all of these escapades. I cannot remember all of them, but she definitely got her Rainbow Trout, a Greater Redhorse, Fallfish and completed her prehistoric trio! She had the Sturgeon, and caught both Gar and Bowfin in short succession. Much dedication was needed for the gar, seeing as I called her at midnight to tell her I had found on a hot bite. To my (and her?) surprise, she drove right over and fished for the better part of 2 hours until successfully landing one.
Another great day on the water was the adventure to the Richelieu River with Carl. The goal was to target panfish in some of the canals and marinas. I was secretly hoping to add a Rudd to my lifelist, an invasive species from Europe. The day blew expectations and we hooked into nice-sized Crappie, Bluegill, and even my Rudd! Carl also caught a Pumpkinseed x Bluegill hybrid, a fish that I am still jealous of to this day.
A final adventure worth recounting is actually one of failure. Tracking down and successfully catching a wild Red Trout or landlocked Arctic Char has been my top goal for 3 seasons now. And so, after hundreds of hours of research, I set out early one morning in May to the lake I had carefully selected. I had a small kayak in tow and made the 3-hour hike into the woods. To my devastation, after complete exhaustion, I finally reached the lake to find it frozen :( I spent a moment staring at the frozen surface and then prepared for the long hike back. Luckily, I passed a local on the way back who confirmed that the fish I sought lived in the lake. The hard part was now over, I had found them! Ultimately, this was a failure but I will 100% be back next year to redeem myself.
To end on a good note, let’s talk about the CFN competition I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Competition was fierce among anglers targeting roughfish all around the country. I had expected most to focus on the popular species like Walleye, but was pleasantly surprised to find anglers excited at the prospect of targeting Suckers, Redhorse, Bullhead, etc. Many teams managed to catch over 20 species of fish longer than the 8” minimum. The competition lasted a whole 6 weeks. We were behind after the first week but caught up and then held first place until the very end. With 35 species, we beat the record for the highest score ever achieved in the competition and took home gold! It certainly felt like quite an achievement after covering thousands of kilometers and spending hundreds of hours on the water in a relatively short period of time. My thanks go out to all of the other competitors who kept us on our toes throughout the event :)