Well, it's that time of the year again! Too early for ice fishing and too cold for most of the fish out there. Time for the yearly top catches list before I die of boredom from being indoors for too long. This time, I'm including fish from November 2018 until the present (November 2019). Based on the seasons in Canada, it just makes more sense that way.
1. Atlantic Sturgeon
At the top of the list is the Atlantic Sturgeon, a fish I never expected to catch in the wild. I caught him with Alex after dragging my boat all the way to New Brunswick to fish the Kennebecasis River near Saint-John. He bit before we were even done rigging up all our lines!
2. Redfin Pickerel
This is likely the fish that has cost me the most money and the most time to track down. I searched for them in southern QC numerous times, in Ontario, in Virginia, in North Carolina, and probably some other places I'm forgetting :p I finally caught this guy in Connecticut with my friend Rowan from Connecticut Fly Angler.
3. River Redhorse
The River Redhorse was another top target of mine going into 2019, being one of the only lifers available to me anywhere near home. I caught my first one in June during a break from my work up north. Very impressed by their fight, pulled harder than any other sucker species I've caught!
4. Sea Tadpole
This weird little guy has always been one of my top targets during our annual trip to the Saguenay fjord. The locals call them "Jell-o Fish" and probably aren't as happy to see them as I was. It was caught over 300ft down on a small sabiki rig tipped with pieces of Smelt.
5. Summer Sucker
The Summer Sucker probably takes a spot in the top 3 rarest fish I've ever caught. In fact, it's only found in a handful of high altitude ponds in the Adirondacks. We were lucky enough to be visiting right during their spawning run, so catching one didn't take too long :) The bugs were bad but the fish were worth it!
6. Suwanee Bass
The Suwanee Bass is the most "unusual" Black Bass species I've managed to catch so far. This one was caught in the crystal clear waters of a spring-fed river in northern Florida on a Mepps spinner. I can't wait to add some of the other Micropterus species to my list :)
7. Thorny Skate
This Skate was a totally unexpected catch from the depths of the Saguenay fjord. It came off the bottom in about 700ft of water and wouldn't fit through the hole when I got it to the surface. After a bit of chiseling, we managed to get it out without any major injuries (to us or the fish) and saw this crazy specimen!
8. Nurse Shark
My first and (so far) only Shark species! Caught after a night of being a beach bum in the Florida Keys. Going to bed and waking up on the ocean is totally the type of shark fishing experience I look for.
9. Eastern Silvery Minnow
Not much to say about this pretty bland-looking Silvery Minnow, other than that it took me wayyy too long to catch. It's not even close to being the rarest minnow in QC, but for some reason I caught all of the others before this one. Don't know that I'll ever spend time looking for them again lol.
10. American Flagfish
The thing that made this fish stand out was the challenge in getting it to take a hook. The sheer number of Mosquitofish in the ditch we were fishing meant weeding through dozens, maybe hundreds, before even getting one to peck at it! The built-up frustration made the catch all that more rewarding :)