Hope

A new year ahead of us…everyone talks about and posts messages about hope and happiness and good wishes. I believe that we, fishermen know a LOT about HOPE. We always hope to catch a bigger fish or more fish…sometimes only one fish 🙂 We always hope that the next spot will be better or the other shore will give you us our PB (personal best catch) 🙂

From a fisherman’s perspective I can tell you that HOPE is not always the only answer. Yes we need hope but along with that goes knowledge, experience, patience.

In my fishing tournaments days I used to have a battle plan for each venue and hard preparations were done ahead of time. Maps were put to work, specific flies were tied, rods, reels, lines were all prepared for that venue. Sure the hopes were high and even some expectations were to be fulfilled….

And even so,  with all of that,  the weather can turn and everything changes in a blink of an eye. And maybe the plan includes that …or maybe not. Either  you have all the equipment there, maybe not that very specific jig you could use in that dirty water…but you have yourself with all your knowledge, experience and patience so you can improvise, you can adapt to that new unpredicted situation…and you have the HOPE with you too.

Or sometimes you put yourself in …not so good situations 🙂 like this one time when I was foolish enough to go up north at the end of April, to hike and camp deep in the woods to fish a long forgotten lake. The weather was extremely warm and the prediction was good but… it did not happen like that. A snow storm came overnight and continued the next day too. Temperatures were deep in the freezing range. I remember my waders were standing up by themselves in the morning … 

Obviously we were not really prepared for that and the return trip was not really easy with all the landscape changed overnight. But the experience took over, the knowledge helped and we made it back safe and sound.

I even got a trophy picture that I framed , not only because of the beauty of the fish specimen but to remind myself that this could’ve cost me more than the gas money and a day off work. And here it is, I am sharing it with you:

My HOPE was to catch a monster fish in that far and forgotten lake and I did and now I have this memory as a reward. 

All I want to say my friends is that… even if this last year was not the best, even if these Holidays were weird and somehow a bit nostalgic,  even if so much negativity is  still around us…keep your HOPES high!

But don’t just hope … use your knowledge… use your calm and patience to fish in the muddy waters of today. 

Cheers,

Sotto 

Mind Battles

We all have our own “demons”to fight. Hard to keep sane in these times of uncertainty and misinformation but it is very important to stay afloat.  For me nature does it. More exactly it is fishing that helps me immerse into nature.

Once you step into the waters of a river at just above freezing temperatures you feel the “Force”. Of course the right equipment helps 🙂

 

 

Catching a fish is just bonus at this point. All it matters is that you are there in that very moment, you feel the river flow pushing against your legs, get your feet in a good grip of the bottom and at the same time keep casting.

Nothing wrong with this bonus:

 

The never ending battle battle between the Jedi and the Dark Force’s Sith happens right here on the frozen banks of this river. For those who don’t know…the fly fishermen using double hand spey fishing rods are nicknamed Jedi Knights.

 

Hehehe 🙂 you are probably thinking now that I’m nuts, gone in the

“cuckoo land”. Nope! not yet anyway. This is just me getting deep into this controversy between these two styles of fishing. More exactly for this outing I chose to use a spinning setup fishing downstream a 1km river section. Then after a shore lunch continue to fish the same section but moving upstream with a fly fishing setup.

Shore lunch preparations:

 

 

While waiting for the water to warm up for my hot chocolate I did some casts in the river:

 

Rainbow residents were present but no steelhead was to be found that day. The clear low water conditions are never good for catching them in such small rivers.

And here is my shore lunch…in my mind this was a king’s feast:

 

The fly fishing easily won the day. Maybe it was the mood or the knowledge or the water conditions … or maybe just luck. I’ll let you be the judge of that. 🙂

Beaty colours and fierce attack from these future steelheads.

But this brown was sneaky and had a finesse in his attack of the #10 pheasant tail nymph.

If you got to this point in this article please hear me out on this one:

We live in times where panic and fear are spread easily by people who know or don’t know what they’re saying…mostly the latter…

Don’t underestimate the power of the mind…keep yourself sane and strong by doing stuff that you enjoy. Keep your spirit strong and your will even stronger by immersing yourself in nature…in whatever way you like it. Run in the forest, fish in the rivers, hike in the valleys or even drive through the park with your windows down.

It will give you the strength you need… I guarantee it!

No more “back at”

No more thinking “back at” just forward, this is I woke up this morning.

Living in these Covid times makes us (or most of us) think twice how much we appreciate what we have around, with the most precious  being family and friends. But that is not all. It makes me think about how I spend my time…especially the little free time I have. Usually this “me time” is spent fishing, or researching new fishing spots or buying new fishing “toys”.

I am blessed enough to live in times of peace and have more stuff than I need and I also know that many of you can relate to this  too.

At the same time, I  have started thinking more about the future. I got to a point in my fisherman life when I have gathered so much information and experience that is not even fun anymore unless it is shared.

I share plenty when I am with friends on the water but most of them are like me, at an age when not too many things can change the way you think or analyze things around you.

So then I changed my attention to the new generation, to the future fishermen and fisherwomen. That is in fact what we should all consider.

The earlier in life they get to know about nature,  the better.

It is an easy way of looking at life itself, makes it easy for them to understand things and struggles in general. Like this one time when my daughter saw an insect on the water being eaten by a fish. Easy for me to explain that the bug made a mistake not staying on the ground in the grass where it was easy to live…the bug made a mistake and paid for it. 🙂 Sounds harsh but I believe it is effective to use these examples from nature as life advice.

I’ve held many fishing schools with kids and I was always surprised by how many things they know … in theory. All this new technology helps a lot of course. They see a lot of things on the TV and on their tablets but it is not the same like when actually get  their hands on things.

Another fun story from just a few days ago when I got a phone call from a young fellow whom  I used to teach during one of my fishing schools. That was years back when he was just a boy. I remember clearly how afraid he was  of the hooks, just because of an unfortunate little accident he had previously. I kept his hands firm and steady in casting as he was closing his eyes every time the fly line would pass forward. And I encouraged him all the time, showed him tricks he  could use, I kept his imagination up by showing him pictures from my adventures. I even managed to bring him in a fly competition as a team member, dragged him (and his father) on a few kilometers river stretch for the full sessions of the  Fly Fishing Championship day.

And now after more than 6 years he called me to let me now that he spent this summer as a fishing guide in the Far North. And he plans to do the same  the next summer. And he wanted to thank me and hopes to fish together one more time.

Needless to say how proud and blessed I felt that I made a tiny contribution in this boy’s fight to overcome his fears and follow his dream.

And with these stories that I share with you, all I want to say is that we need to focus on the NEW GENERATION.

Help them become stronger and better than us, teach them how to be resilient especially during these times!  The journey will make us  better and will unite us as a strong team  in Life’s fight.

Cheers,

Sotto

 

Back to the Dark Side?

Next subject in this “back to” series is the Dark Side 🙂

Just my way of using the great Start War’s saga analogy towards the fishing. There is no good or bad in fishing it is just fishing…or is it?

Different styles of fishing? Or just different approaches? Or maybe fly fishing is the real fishing and everything else is a joke, or for that matter any other style of fishing.

We could probably open this philosophical subject and talk about it in a few hundreds of pages… and not even get close to the end. But maybe we can put it out a bit more simple. I believe it’s about people!

 

After so many years I’ve spent fishing, I’ve been lucky enough to experience many fishing styles and meet lots of people passionate about it. But no matter in what fishing group(style) you are going to be, you’ll feel this strong belief within the people that this is the REAL thing, this is the BEST fishing style, this is the ONLY style that is for real. And you might feel that too. I know I was.

What I am talking about here?

Let’s take for example carp fishing. Ask anyone in North America about carp fishing and in 99.9% of the cases you’ll get a grim answer that reflects a stomach-turning feeling. Meanwhile in the UK, Europe and rest of the world carp is the top game fish. In fact they have huge carp tournaments like the bass tournaments in NA.

 

Fact is that most of the people against carp fishing never even caught one, at least not by intention. Carp is a really strong fish, not super easy to catch.

Then why this attitude?

But there is more… let’s take conventional fishing and fly fishing.

 

Many of the conventional fishing guys think that the fly fishermen are arrogant, elitist people. On the other side the fly fishermen think that the conventional fishing guys are just some beginners and they don’t know what real fishing is and don’t really understand it .

So what is better??

Left or Right?

 

What about jigging?

 

I can already feel the rage… “Oh but euro-nymphing is NOT jigging!” Or “how can you even compare a plastic with a fly?” 🙂

Okay, let’s take a look at the surface lures:

 

“Oau! You can’t even compare them!”Yes you can  🙂

I think we are the ones creating all these barriers. Somehow the humans like to put names and tags to everything…this is white this is black…this is good this is bad…these are cool these are not.

While in reality there are indeed differences and guidelines that help us to be civilized, help us to be kinder and pursue the greater good… in fishing I believe it is more simple. It is the time we spend TOGETHER. It is the joy of battling the elements. The smile landing a good catch or sitting around a fire sharing a shore lunch.

These simple things are making us happy, everything else are just illusions and mind barriers we are imposing to ourselves.

 

 

Hope this helps!

Cheers!

Sotto

Back to Summer

Let’s continue this “back to” series by actually going back to summer time and enjoy some blue&green colours.

Seems like it is never enough summer, but without winter we could never really appreciate the beauty of those 3 months.

Because it is so short we try to squeeze as may fishing trips as possible in this period. Usually we take a 2 nighter up on French River like last year but this 2020 was special as you all know so that did not happened but I managed to get myself and my family on Nipissing Lake and Erie Lake both trips were a week long and we stayed on islands just to be 100% isolated 🙂 
 
Fishing was good…
…with excellent parts when I got out on my own in the kayak.
 
Kayak fishing gives me the same thrill like wading in a river, an absolute experience in close contact with the water and the fish.
After 3 years since I started kayak fishing I can say that I fish by far better from it than any other boat type and yes that includes big open water lakes. 
 
 
This boat probably help me transition more into the “Dark Side” as it gave me opportunities to try new things and new water types.
We will talk more about the “dark side” in a later post, I promise, but for now let’s stay focused on the summer part 🙂
 
Summer time is topwater action with big lures and aggressive tactics. Many of my fish come out on top water but the biggest ones are still eating better under the surface.
River fishing for me in the summer is drifting on the kayak or raft boat fishing with two setups one for the surface one for the deep. The oversized nymphs were the absolute best all-around ers.
 
Single or double 5mm tungsten beads, no #6 or even #4 jig hooks in four basic colours. Chartreuses worked good with stained water, brown with clear water, white more closer to the river mouth or in the big lakes and black is best in ANY type of water. Black is best in muddy conditions and even in the super clear water, you just have to adjust the size sometimes…bigger profile in the muddy water opposed to smaller/slimmer in the clear water.
 
Topwater is a different animal, my best flies for this application are:
 
And wheat I use with great success lately:
  
They all have their time and place. When used accordingly they do a LOT of damage. In prime time you can easy have a session with 20-30fish to the boat. Let me know if you want a more introspective into this category.
 
And just to top it up this is something I used on Nipissing Lake just a few months ago:
 
Needles to say how excited were the kids in the boat seeing this lure on the water. And I can’t even say how excited I was when I had some monsters attacking it. 3 fish in total but just one brought to the boat, none landed. Obviously I have to work on my technique with these monster lures, maybe setup need to be changed or the hooks on the lure.
 
But there is nothing more rewarding when I can get someone else to hook into some slabs, especially if they are the young generation:
Just look at these faces…priceless 
 
Cheers,
Sotto

Back at it

Almost 2 years since my last post here. Many things have happened since then 😕 covid came, Trump lost and now the winter is back.

But despite all of these things we kept fishing. Pushing the limits and trying new things that is the goal for me. That being said I have to confess that I have joined the Dark Side once again 😈. More about that in the future posts and don’t worry I will post more cause winter is reaaally long here 😀.

Cold

This spring feels like a winter. Super high water levels tons of rain and cooold.

We went for the headwaters and tried to get some action from the little ones. But even there the cold made the fish lethargic.Here’s some pics from Jordan’s outing:

The only ones who had a bit more action were the steelheaders, towards the mouth of the rivers, but even there the window was short, once the water dropped the steelhead went back to the Lakes too.Here is some shots from Dave:

Awesome fish Dave! Good job!For the pike Opener we hit some lakes. Mid May and we still have frosty windows in the am:

Water high in the bush pretty dingy got a big one that got away after a 2-3 min drill.

But the spring is here for sure, proof is on the hike trails

And bike trails 😃

Thanks for the shots Jordan 😉

Cheers,

Sotto

“Secret” Trout Opener

This Opener was special…don’t remember to have anything like this so far. The waters were so high everywhere the Government declared state of emergency in Ottawa and Montreal. In the morning was snowing with winds of 50km/h gust of 70km/h. Absolute horror for fly fishing.

But against all odds …we went anyway 😎

Due to all these conditions everyone had to find fishable water other then the usual spots. So all of us came up with our best “secret” spots. Some got to their “secret” lake, some to their “secret” creek 😉

Kayak fishing had to be ruled out … for the simple reason that we had no space to go under any of the bridges along the way… water was so very high.

So back to the good old walk&wade.

Water that usually is like ankle high now was just raging.

But we just don’t give up …

Tried to do the best out of it. Met with like 12 or more fly fishermen no one was catching anything, just changing spots after spots.

We fished all morning and enjoyed the outdoors like we always do. With the right equipment there is no bad weather to go fishing.

Then at one point the reward came…I hooked into a beautiful brown and after an epic battle I was lucky enough to land it in the net.

Absolutely awesome looking fish.

Back to the water after a few pics.

Amazing experience!

After that Gedas had his turn to hook into a tank

Unfortunately the landing part didn’t happen. This time with this high water the fish had all the advantages.

The afternoon we chaged gears and went to a small creek.

We had fun in the steelhead’s kindergarten

With a #2wt rod it is a lot of fun I tell you.

Many hookups but not all finalized…the fish were just not fully committed

But it was an absolute blast!!

PS. The steelheaders crushed the water today

Greag job guys!

Until next time…

Sotto

Crazy Trout Opener?!

The weather just went nuts on us. Yesterday the prediction was like that:

The river systems were already high just recovering from the last week’s storms and snow melt.

But on top of that rain came and we got probably around 30mm. Last night the Government declared State of emergency in some areas of the Province due to the floods. Now we will expect some snow by tomorrow… and we are getting ready to go down river with the kayaks…is this Opener crazy or not?

Are you ready?!

With only 2 days left until the Trout Opening day I am thrilled and counting the hours left. This year the new approach will be kayak+river. A few other friends are joining me.

The waters are high due to the late spring and the huge rain storm we had just about a week ago. But if no rain for the next 2 days we will be okay.

Due to the new kayak approach and the high waters the name of the game will be Streamer

More weight here … 😁

And because I have to practice with the BC setup before I get in Vancouver I will bring in the heavy artillery

Ofcourse I prepared something more special…😎 dark side special 😎

I’ll see you on the water!

Cheers!

Sotto

Not too long…

Hey guys,

There’s not too long left of this winter in fact I believe yesterday was the first official spring day. If the temps are going up steady like in the last few days in about two weeks we can get out on the kayaks 😁

… or canoes 😁

The calendar is filling up already, got already booked two trips in the great North, one closer to home and 3 events.

Hope that Grand River will not be too affected because of that kerosene spill we had just a few weeks ago.

This year I will try some new tactics new rivers and hope to meet new people interested in the sport of fishing.

We’ll keep you posted stay close 😎

Cheers,

Sotto

Throwback Thursday

I guess you’re a little bored by now, of seeing so many pictures with ice and snow. So I thought maybe a happy throwback little story will make you smile again.

This is from my last two trips up north in 2018. Both times I was in a kayak – my latest delight.

 

For the first time in the beautiful Massasauga Provincial Park, I was amazed by the landscape.

It was a day with crazy weather and fishing went nuts on us. My good friend Dave and I started paddling on a crispy October morning with clear blue sky. Fishing was super slow…we found no fish in the first hours.

But after a while some black clouds started to show up, the wind picked up and the storm got super crazy with winds of 50km/h temp went down close to 0C, rain became slushy.

Really hard to explain how you feel in those moments. No matter how good is your rain gear you will get wet and cold eventually.

But the best part was that the fishing picked up. We start having hits from bass but only deeper then 25ft.

Soon enough I found a “magic” spot, a sudden drop from a sunken island that was just 1ft under the water, was dropping to 40ft in less then 15ft. The only big problem was staying on the spot, the high winds were giving us some problems 🙂

But the fishing was so good…the hits were one after another and I for one would not really care about anything else.

It was then when I got two fish that really surprised me. One was a:

Rock bass! 😁

I’ve never thought these guys are living so deep. Got him at 42.4ft depth. Impressive in my opinion.

The second fish was camera shy so he released himself from the hook in front of the net. It was either a catfish or a burbot, hard to say in that splash that made around the kayak.

Obviously the hook I was using, no6 dropshot hook, was way too small for these kinda of guys. So basically I was undergunned.

The storm slowed down but we were already wet and cold so we decided to get to the campsite and have a lunch beside the fire. Paddling to the spot we passed one fishing boat with two guys…we overheard when one of them was complaining to the other one that his heated seat was not working anymore 🙂

We just laughed …

Back at the camp site I got into my element.

Nothing like a campfire when you’re wet and cold.

The storm went away and the sky started to clear up.

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The day finished with another good session, more fish caught, but you had to reach depths between 30ft to 40ft to have a good chance.

My conclusion for that day was that I have to get some bigger hooks on these drop-shot rigs because basically I lost in the drill everything that was bigger then 2lb.

As we are paddling back to the car the sun started to go down

Amazing day in an awesome landscape…

…hope this helps you push away the winter blues 😉

Cheers

Ice challenge 2

We are getting closer to the end of our February ice challenge. A few more outings were made and the results are good. The leading group is Jordan and Gedas obviously in a tight race for the first place. Here is Jordan’s latest:

Hard to beat this beauty. I think his secret is in whatever pours in his cup…hmmm what can it be?

But Gedas is not far, here is his last outing results:

We just have to find out how long is that spoon so we can validate the results 😀

Dave and Donna came back from a super trip up on Nipissing Lake. Unfortunately the fishing was slow in walleye’s Mecca.

But the beer was good and the company as well. We all know fishing is about having fun with friends.

Meanwhile my fishing partner 🙂 and I have crashed them on a local pond

As you can see team work is everything here 😀

Everyone works…

And everyone shares…

Especially when it comes to hot chocolate

Fishing was tough in the beginning but we found what they were looking for that day and had a blast

Still a few more days left from February’s Ice Challenge you never know who will win until the last moment… somebody may surprise us.

Cheers!

Ice challenge

The ICE CHALLENGE is on!

All the guys from the club are trying to cast into the hole 😁

Lots of huts on the ice

The fight is hard for the first place as you can see in this pic

But so far we have Jordan and Gedas battling for the first place. Both are having some nice catches from under the ice, pike:

And perch:

On the third place Linas is just crashing us with his perch catches. Here is one of his best:

Maybe his secret is nighttime ice fishing?! 😉

The rest of the gang is just “struggling”

As always I am in charge with safety and security 😁  lol

But most of all I am happy to report that everyone is having a really good time

This is real winter fun surrounded by friends…we should probably get out again!

Can’t wait to see what Lake Nipissing will produce this weekend 😉

See you around 🙂

Ice fly fishing?!

Oh yeah! It is totally possible…just don’t use dry flies or poppers 🙂 .

All you have to do is apply the same good old rule “match the hatch”.

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Nymphs are the best but small streamers works too. Perch is usually the target but this year I was surprised with a few bass eating my nymphs.

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The setup I use is simple: a small 24″ ultralight ice fishing rod that cost me $12 and a $2 reel. The main line is a 4lb ice fishing braid about $6 … so you can have one rod setup like that with under $20.

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Tie a fluorocarbon leader on the main line and then all you have to do is go to your favorite pond, drill a hole in the ice and “cast” your new fly rod 🙂 . Let the nymph(s) sink to the bottom. If you use two flies put the heaviest one first and the smallest one on the dropper with around 14-16inch distance between. In case you decide for a squirmy-wormy fly a Palomar knot is best, have the fly tied straight on the main line(no dropper). This helps you make that worm move more naturally.

 

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The ones that gave me best results lately are in this order: Caddis, Buzzers, Squirmy-wormy, Micro black streamer.

Also important if you tie the squirmy-wormy on the line, try to have the hook point up, that way when the fish hits it the hook-up is always in the upper jaw, and that is what you want for a 100% catch/no miss/no loose 😀

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Of course that I carry a lot of other models, trying to combine or find the best working fly, all depending on the water colour, time of day, weather, depth…but enough theories for tonight 😀 we can always talk more on this subject, just let me know if you’re interested.

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Thinking…out loud

In an era where “fast” is the normal speed, where Facebook and YouTube channels are dominating the online, I am coming back to my good old blog. No one has the time or the patience to read these texts anymore. Just click and scroll to the end then to the next picture or mid action in the next video. Fishing tournaments are the same in a way…you just catch one fish after another as “fast” as you can, always in a rush for the next one. Nothing really matters in those moments, just the speed you have in catching those fish. Everything else gets lost in this foggy crazy rush of getting the fish in the net. You see the sun is up and shining nice but for you this means time, positions, shadows…you see the beautiful landscape but for you this translates into structures under the water…you see the boat slowly floating on the waves but for you this means drift direction…ultimately even your boat partner is just an obstacle in front of your cast.

You see …I am not saying to start day dreaming when fishing, like sitting on a boulder in the middle of the river waiting for the hatch to start. All I am trying to say is that…in my experience… after all these years spent on the water, after so many tournaments and competitions, after hundreds of fish put in the net…all I have left are friends. And I want to say FRIENDS. People who stay with you a lifetime, who make you laugh every time. They listen to you…they GET you.

This is what SOTTO CHAMPIONSHIP is  all about this season.

Thanks for taking the time to read my tonight’s blurb 🙂

Your good old friend,

Sotto

Online Tournaments

The Online Tournaments are here!

And they are open for everyone.

We will start with the Steelhead and continue with Brown Trout, Pike and Bass later in the season and as soon as the fishing for these species is open here in the SW Ontario.

The Advantages of an Online Tournament:

  • Fish are submitted and verified in real time
  • You can see anyone’s fish pictures
  • Standings are handled and shown in real time
  • Registration is easy
  • Everything is done from your mobile device

For more details check the top left menu

Competition participation eligibility

As we are getting closer to our first event of the year we get a lot of questions about the  eligibility criteria, more specifically about what it  means “eligible to participate” and ” for SOTTO members only ” ? I will try to explain here with a few more details in the hopes that the wording this time will be clear.

In the last 5 years Sotto FF Club tried to build up a Provincial Championship for the Province of Ontario. Along with this Championship the Rules came along,  the liability and insurance issues  as well as many other  challenges.  In order to overcome these we created the Sotto League in an effort to have everyone in one group that would fall under the same competition regulations, liability,  etc.

So if you happened to participate in one of our many events in the last few years, you might have a green tag with your name on it, and for sure we have a few Waivers in our archives signed by you.  That doesn’t mean you are a SOTTO member. That means that you payed a fee for participating in one or more events during that year.

All SOTTO Club members are listed on the website and if your name is not there that means that you have not paid the  annual membership fee or have done no volunteering  work with the Club. An official membership application will be reviewed in our next Club meeting and will be posted on the website as soon as it is approved.

 

 

 

Important updates

During our  club meeting  held this past weekend we decided to change a few things regarding the way the SOTTO Championship will run this year. The discussions focused  around  key issues  such as liability, cost and revenue among others.

The newly approved  changes in the SOTTO Championship Rules are:

  • In order to participate in any tournament from this Championship you have to be a member of the SOTTO Club
  • Occasionally, we will  allow invited guests to  compete  pending upon the President’s approval and the Council’s recommendation.
  • The  Sotto Spring Cup (Lyndon) Competition will be a team only event.
  • The Thames River and Saugeen River events might be two days events, depending on the weather conditions.