Sunday, 18 December 2016

Walleye weekend

Moving back to Canada, in particular Ontario, means a complete re-orientation of my fishing. Almost a 180, but not quite: see Dustin's 2011 post.

Enter walleye and the 250,000 lakes situated throughout Ontario. The first week of November I set out to Point-aux-Baril to catch the walleye migrating from Georgian Bay to the inland rivers. I'm a bit curious about this movement behaviour - Dustin / Oliver can you verify this is indeed a seasonal migration?

We were not the only ones there to fish:

Fishing walleye is surprisingly technical. While the basic set up is a jig + worm / minnow, it always takes me a full day to re-develop my walleye senses. Walleye don't "hit" the bait most times, rather they suck it in and you simply have to feel for the added weight. While I was still building up my walleye mojo, my party promptly limited out and donated a few so I could reach my five within the slot. This led to our daily assembly line:

Andy (left) has probably filleted >5,000 walleye in his lifetime. Alan (right) is not far behind.
Lunch, dinner, freezer
Supporting Ontario's wildlife
On a personal note it's been pretty amazing to be back in Ontario and embark on these expeditions again with some of my closest friends. Days on the boat are filled with me rambling and talking shit to Andy and Alan, all of us laughing the whole time. I can not stop talking when I'm on a boat fishing.

Another apparent 180 that happens in your 30s is our dads become the ones that drink the most. I got through 8 beers in two nights while Andy's father-in-law almost caught on fire (*we were all 10 feet back at this point).

Here was the big fish from the weekend and some mushrooms I got into: stay tuned for a for a mushroom cream sauce connected to D's recent post.

It was an all male fishing party, and we only caught male walleye.
Apparently the females come in later - D / O?
Black trumpets - I was VERY stoked to find these guys

Georgian Bay bonding
An evening on the island

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Deer vs. Sleep in Pincher Creek

Late November. This can't serve as the definitive account of American Thanksgiving in Southern Alberta, but it is mine. 

It had been far too long since I attended a bourbon-soaked gathering of the U of A crew. The freezer had finally emptied of moose - save for an intact sirloin that I am inexplicably hoarding - and I had never hunted the storied land of Tigmore.  

Fact: it is illegal to fly YUL -> YYC with an empty cooler.

The Shafongs landed late, so the trip south from Calgary was made under the cover of darkness. 

Cabin arrival, 4am. 
Wake-up call, 7:30am. 

(A sleep-debt that would go unpaid for the remainder of the weekend)

Details from the first morning are a bit hazy because so was I. Those that had a full night’s sleep were already out and spotting deer, and Aaron had a tag to fill. Up to the house. Rifle. Ammunition. Vague directions. Feeling a bit worse for wear, but the beauty of the scene started to sink in. They have a good thing going down there.

Pretty much

Across the field just opposite the house we see the blaze orange of some combination of Jesse, Tom, Tyler, and Jess. They make for a distant field, and disappear. We make for the ridge. As we are half way up the slope we spot a few does, spooked, running our direction. We wait, hunker down. Maybe they'll come right for us. 

But they don't - they turn around and return to the field below. So we move that way, staying low. The deer slow down to a walking pace. 

"How far do you think they are" 
"Maybe 200 yards"
"Wait but what about those deer right in front of us, 150 yards closer?"

So at 8:22am - about 20 minutes after starting his Alberta hunt - Aaron takes a doe. 

"I stand on the wings and pull the legs, right?"
The gutless method. And Rebekkah's initiation to the ways of the west.
It is worth mentioning here that immediately before Aaron's shot we hear one from the next field over. Then another from somewhere up the ridge. Turns out those were Jesse and Tyler. We met up for some quartering.

We then moved on to the festive portion of the weekend. 

I eventually got my deer. But it was a real process, and one that involved me questioning everything from the bullet weight, to my vision, to my ability to estimate distance. 

Spoiler alert: I missed this shot

"... in conclusion I am pretty sure it was the cross-wind, bullet weight, scope-sighting, and divine intervention"

In the following days we found a rhythm of waking, walking, whiskey, and eating until we felt disgusting.

Now I'm just going out on a bunch of photos. 

Jesse contemplates going special forces into a bear den.

I call this filter "turkey steam"
Met up with this psych-jazzercise trio, out taking album cover photos. 
Missed these things - I

Missed these things - II

Missed these things - III

Thanks for having me back.