August 31, 2020


 After getting back from a long month shift at work, I was excited to do some fishing back at home. With few (none) lifers left near home, I decided to make the 6 hour drive out to Rimouski where I had seen some old Facebook posts about someone catching Round Whitefish. I made the trip with fellow lifelister Alexis and we arrived at a beautiful river with crystal clear emerald waters.

The clear water meant we could see every single fish in the river and soon we spotted some small schooling cyprinids. Alexis got out a small hook and disappointingly caught some Creek Chub. Fortunately, he soon pulled out a Lake Chub, a new lifer for him! I managed to catch some too :)

We soon tired of catching endless chubs and made our way upstream to an area with a large waterfall. I split off from Alexis and was fishing a likely-looking pool when something slightly larger chased my bait! I cast again and the fish struck! It was a salmonid, an Atlantic Salmon smolt in fact! We had caught a few brookies but I never expected to see a salmon in this river :)

Finally, I made my way right to the base of the waterfall (no pictures, sorry), and did my best to fish the deep pool between all the tourists. There were more minnows down there and soon I was pulling up a mix of Lake Chub and Longnose Dace. I even ended up catching the biggest Longnose Dace I had ever seen!

I then quickly rushed to find Alexis because I knew he needed a Longnose Dace for his lifelist. I found him about 30 minutes downriver, with Longnose Dace already in his photo tank.

That pretty much sums up my side of the excursion, a lot of cool little fish but no lifers in sight. Alexis made out pretty well with a couple new species and then continued out east to some saltwater fishing with a mutual buddy of ours. He finished his leg of the trip with 10 lifers, and a few I've never been lucky enough to run into! I'll have to follow in his footsteps someday haha.

July 11, 2020

Richelieu Fish Sampling Project

So I've been wanting to work on a personal fish sampling project for a while, and the covid pandemic gave me the perfect excuse to stay near home and so some consistent fishing in one single spot. I chose to fish the Richelieu River, one of the most diverse systems in Quebec. I would be bottom fishing with two rigs (slip-sinker and high-low), and keeping track of every catch to see how many fish I catch on average. This is the summary of the ten days I spent on the river.

Day 1

We spent the first day shore fishing two separate spots I had had success at in the past. In a total of 15.5 hours of fishing, we caught 16 fish and 5 different species. The best catch was a 15.5" White Sucker my buddy caught!

Nice White Sucker
Pretty Shorthead Redhorse

Day 2

Day 2 was the first day out with my boat for the year. I went out with my buddy Alexis and we hammered the fish!! Unfortunately, most of 79 fish were made up of annoying White Perch and Channel Catfish. That being said, Alexis still caught his lifer Lake Sturgeon which was super exciting. We certainly jumped for the net once we saw it surface!

Lifer Lake Sturgeon!

Day 3

Today was quality over quantity, and another long, hot day out on the boat. Only 8 fish, but 7 different species! Some cool ones too: Greater Redhorse, River Redhorse, and American Eel, to name a few. The Eel was pretty fun but the Greater Redhose took "catch of the day" since they're quite rare in the river. My girlfriend's dad caught the Eel so he was initiated to their slime pretty quick :p

Greater Redhorse

Day 4

Back on shore again, and the worst day so far. Fifteen hours on the water and little of interest to show for it other than a single Tench Alexis caught. At least we could be in the shade of some trees this way! Did I mention it had been 35C with no cloud cover this whole time!? Anyway... here's the best pic of the day lol.

Scenery pic... you know what that means!

Day 5

Better day out on the water today, 49 fish and 7 species! A storm was brewing up towards the end of the day which may have contributed to the great bite. Among others, we caught a big River Redhorse, big Channel Catfish, Drum, etc. The Redhorse was a favourite of mine :) I'm becoming pretty convinced that River Redhorse are one of the strongest Redhorses out there, they always put up such a great fight, ripping drag and all!

River Redhorse
Release shot!

26" Channel Cat
24" Freshwater Drum

Day 6

Sorry if this is getting repetitive, I meant to make separate posts for each day but time disappears quick when you fish all day! Day 6 was a great one though, the first day I caught all 4 legal Redhorse species in QC in one day! Big Smallmouth Bass also turned up as well as some surprise Mooneye :) The big smallie gave me a run for my money, thought I had something much cooler until I saw it jump haha.

Silver Redhorse
Shorthead Redhorse
Greater Redhorse
River Redhorse

Day 7

Another decent day, but unfortunately the start of what we'll call the "Alexis curse". That's when one person on the boat catches all the cool fish and the other only catches Smallmouth Bass haha. And that's exactly what happened today... I got some cool fish including a big gnarly River Redhorse and Alexis only got Smallies. At least he got one big one at nearly 19"!

Day 8

Rest day! Could have done a bit of fishing, but I really felt like sleeping in and switching things up. I still did get out on the water but spent the time snorkeling, thinking I could learn about the fishes habitat preferences a bit more. I didn't learn much fish-wise, but I was able to remove a bunch of lures from the bottom!

Day 9

Day 2 of the Alexis curse :o I took my friend Francois out for the day, he was hoping for pretty much anything that wasn't a Bass or Catfish... but you know the rest of the story. At the very least, I managed a nice Greater to keep things interesting!

Day 10

Finally back on some decent fish! It was Alex's turn for the Alexis curse, but at least I landed a couple cool ones to keep her hopes up. The two Greaters I caught put up pretty decent fights, and one was just immaculate! Alex got some nice pictures of it too :)

Great Greater Redhorse!
Catch & Release always!

Day 11

One final day out on the water with an old coworker, before I had to head back up north for work. We both work 1 month shifts, so it was pretty nice that our breaks lined up for a couple days to make a day of fishing happen! Of course, he got the Alexis curse, but at least he enjoyed catching Bass haha. I caught a big Catfish partway through the day that really put up a big fight and kept us on our toes. I really didn't expect to see one in the middle of the day in only a couple feet of water! A big Freshwater Drum, that also put up a great fight, rounded off the program!

Freshwater Drum


I analyzed the data for 5 main sets of results: general (daily) results, peak bite times, technique comparison, sampler (fisherman) comparison, and species catch likelihood. I'll add the graphs of my resukts below, but basically I learned that I'll need more data before I can say anything definite. That means more fishing!

The peak bite didn't show much other than a possible slow-down in action from 11:00-16:00, but that bites remained consistent throughout the day. As for the technique comparison, the slip-sinker rig far outperformed the high-low rig under these conditions. This result surprised me as I've always preferred the high-low! The sampler comparison showed that the hookup ratio remained even across the board, but that more experienced fishermen tended to catch more fish, and more technical fish (Redhorse, in this case). Finally, the species catch analysis showed what we all expected, Smallmouth Bass and Channel Catfish were most common, and therefore easiest to catch. I hope to eventually get enough data to find a bell curve and determine the likelihood of catching different species.

BPUE = Bites Per Unit Effort
CPUE = Catch Per Unit Effort

Overall, the important thing was that it was a great time spent with a lot of good friends! Catching all the awesome fish was just a bonus haha. I really hope I still get the time off next year for another 10 days on the river :)

July 07, 2020

Australian Fishing Adventures & Misadventures - Finally Outback

The next significant fishing portions of our trip took place much further away from the coast than we had been so far, to a town called Theodore. The drive was long but we eventually did roll into town and I got to making my first cast on the Dawson River. We had come all this way in search of Saratoga, a sort of Australian Arowana, but apparently it wasn't to be. These Blue Salmon Catfish were still fun and made at least one lifer for all our troubles.

Blue Salmon Catfish (N. graeffei)

After a number of the Catfish, it became clear that I was unlikely to catch anything else in the area. We still made camp in Theodore that night, but quit town the following morning. We tried a couple other spots for Saratoga, but I just couldn't seem to make anything work :(

I also tried the Mary River a bit closer to the coast to see anything new might show up. The most common catch remained the Salmon Catfish, but my lifer Australian Long-finned Eel broke up the monotony!

Australian Long-finned Eel (A. reinhardtii)

A couple hours and many Catfish after the Eel, I noticed a bite with a slow tap that was different from the others, more like a Sturgeon. I set the hook and once I had the fish in shallow water, I saw it was an Australian Lungfish :o It was absolute mayhem as, just then, my second rod started being dragged into the river. I lunged for the rod and called for Alex to come help me. Unfortunately, in the confusion, the Lungfish popped off and disappeared into the muddy water :( I reeled in the second line and caught a consolation Catfish lol.

Blue Salmon Catfish (N. graeffei)

The Lungfish is a protected species in Australia so it popping off near shore was probably for the best, less stress on the fish that way.

Unbeknownst to me, the night fishing session on the Mary River would be the last bit of freshwater fishing I would get to do in Australia. We soon headed back to the coast and I took two more opportunities to fish: once at Noosa Heads, and once in Brisbane. Both were very fruitful in terms of species, but typical so far as saltwater fishing goes (for me anyway). It all basically consisted of tossing around a sabiki rig tipped with dead bait. I ended with five new species from the Noosa area, pictured below. My personal favourites were the Diamondfish and Moon Wrasse :)

Bengal Sergeant (A. bengalensis)
Yellowfinned Bream (A. australis)

Tarwhine (R. sarba)
Moses' Snapper (L. russellii)

Diamondfish (M. argenteus)
Moon Wrasse (T. lunare)

Brisbane was also pretty good to me, with an additional four species including my first Queenfish! The fishing here was actually surprisingly difficult and I think having a variety of bait could have helped me out. The cut Herring I was using just didn't seem to cut it.

Grass Emperor (L. laticaudis)
Lesser Queenfish (S. lysan)

Sand Sillago (S. ciliata)
Southern Herring (H. castelnaui)

Also in Brisbane, we visited the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. I'm not usually a fan of seeing captive animals, but this place was actually pretty cool! It was neat to see a lot of the Australian endemics that are difficult to find in the wild, and getting up close to some Kangaroos was pretty sweet too :)

After Brisbane, things sort of turned into a blur. We bounced down through Gold Coast and Byron Bay before gunning south to Coffs Harbour. We saw some huge coal mining machinery on the gold coast and epic ocean views in Byron Bay. Coffs was a failed attempt at chasing down some Australian Bass, and then I received the call...

Byron Bay
Coal Loading Equipment

Unbeknownst to us, the COVID-19 pandemic had been spreading rapidly during our travels and airlines were beginning to seriously reduce flights in and out of Australia. We had been keeping busy so we had little idea of the scale of the issue, but it became apparent when my parents called to tell us we needed to get home early. Commercial flights were likely going to be ending in the next week or so.

Of course, this would cut our trip short but we were ahead of schedule and got lucky and had all of our money refunded to us for any activities we missed out on. We jettisoned ourselves southward to make it to Sydney and try and get on the soonest flight. The drive from Coffs was too long so we missed the boat but this gave us some time to explore Sydney.

Sydney Opera House

Alex was able to get on a flight the next day, but I had to stay to pack up our gear and take care of our rental car. This allowed me some extra time to do some fishing which resulted in one final lifer for the trip! The Eastern Fortescue! It was sort of a saving grace to catch a new fish in such dire times.

Eastern Fortescue (C. australis)

All's well that ends well, though, and I ended up on the next flight home! In fact, I checked-in exactly 10 minutes before departure!!

May 12, 2020

Australian Fishing Adventures & Misadventures - Far North Queensland

Yes, I know every other Australia post up until this point has been in northern Queensland, but this one is detailing the remainder of our adventures in the state. We left off back in Cairns, having returned from our overnight on Fitzroy Island. The next portion of our journey was in the Wooroonooran National Park area, and we slept at a sweet free campground at the Babinda Boulders.

Babinda Boulders

The first day, we visited the Josephine Falls swimming hole and stopped at our first fruit stand of the trip to buy some fresh papayas. The falls were my personal favourite swimming hole and it was lots of fun to slide down smooth granite slab. I also took the opportunity to do a bit more freshwater snorkelling and enjoyed watching the Eel-tailed Cats graze on the bottom, with Sooty Grunters and Jungle Perch swimming above.

Josephine Falls

Feeling refreshed, we headed back to the Boulders and went on the short hike to check out the granite formations downstream before cooling off again at the swimming hole by our campsite. That pretty much rounded off our day, given the late start after taking the ferry back from Fitzroy.

Babinda Swimming Hole

The next day, we went on a quick tour of the Atherton Tablelands. This region featured the windiest roads we've ever been on, some spectacular views, epic waterfalls, and lots more fruit stands! Here's a quick collage of some of our favourite sights, not pictured is the Curtain Fig Tree which is epic in it's own right.

Atherton Tablelands
Windin Falls
Millaa Millaa Falls

I didn't spend too much time fishing the Tablelands (mainly because of surprise "no fishing" signs), but I did manage to get this Tandanus tropicanus Catfish at the base of a waterfall! Bonus, I also managed to get stung by said Catfish, which hurt worse than a bee sting and was a little unsettling.

Tandanus tropicanus

Returning to our campsite, I took some time after dinner to head back to the swimming hole and try for some of the micros I saw the previous day. Most of them turned out to be Pacific Blue-eye,  but some were tiny Gudgeon that turned out to be a new one: the Southern Purplespotted Gudgeon!

Southern Purplespotted Gudgeon (M. adspersa)

Those couple days summed up our stay in the area, and we soon found ourselves back on the highway headed south. As usual, we were ahead of schedule, so we took some of our extra time to visit Wallaman Falls. We're super glad we stopped because it's one of the most impressive falls we've visisted.

Wallaman Falls

Continuing south, we visited the town of Rasmussen (mostly because of the name), but, to my delight, it resulted in two new species! The first one came very quick and was obviously abundant: the Barred Grunter.

Barred Grunter (A. percoides)

The next big goal was the Archerfish I saw swimming near the surface. These guys were getting high on my list because they seemed to get the better of me every time I tried for them. This was about to change. I could only get them to react when the bait was directly on the surface, so I removed my split shot and used a tiny piece of cutbait like you would a dry fly. This worked and the fish were clearly reacting to the new tactic. My hookup ratio was awful but I did eventually land my lifer :)

Sevenspotted Archerfish (T. chatareus)

Happy with the two lifers, we hopped back on the highway and headed to Lake Proserpine, which was to be our campsite for the night. It was meant to simply be a convenient location for our next day's activities, but the views were pretty awesome and the lake had some huge Barramundi! I fished it for a couple hours and had one big take that cut my 50lb braid instantly :(
Lake Proserpine Campsite
Lake Proserpine Wharf

The next day was a boat tour in Whitsundays, which was very exciting but also very expensive. The iconic views were a bit underwhelming because of the high tide and rain showers, but I'd say the experience was worth it overall. This is also apparently where I broke my phone because it would not charge for the rest of the trip which made quite a challenge for the both of us.

Hill Inlet Lookout

The plan was to continue on to Cape Hillsborough after our boat tour, but the lost Barramundi last night left me sour and wanting to make a second attempt. We knew it would make driving hell as we'd only arrive at our next campsite after midnight, but still made the effort and returned to Proserpine. This time, equipped with wire leaders and some local knowledge, I had better luck! FYI, live Barred Grunter is the bait of choice for these guys, huge! I just caught a "small" one, but the power of these fish is incredible and rivals any other freshwater fish I've ever caught! Here's a picture of me and my Barramundi with the son of the local man who helped me finally catch one :)

Barramundi (L. calcarifer)

The driving was indeed hell for the rest of night... but so worth it!