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Burbot blast

March 19, 2013

With the Lake Simcoe seasons for lakers and whitefish coming to a close, I decided to pay a visit to Eli and explore some new ice this weekend. You know, mix things up a little.

Eli had a plan in mind, and it was soon decided that our mission would be to catch our first lake whitefish out of a lake in Quebec. These popular fish have somehow eluded us to date.

We arrived at Eli’s spot at 9am and opened the car to a relentless, chilling north wind. Eli was first to set up one of his rods with a whole, dead smelt. If something were to pick this up, it would be big.

Eli had a hole drilled for me inside his shelter complete with a propane heater, but I couldn’t keep my eyes off of our surroundings. I opted to stay outside and enjoy the view of the rolling Gatineau hills. A truly gorgeous place.

This was my first time drilling through thick ice. The process of augering holes kept me warm all morning. I set up a dead stick with a spreader of dead shiners in about 24 fow and soon began to mark interested fish nosing up to the minnows, but quickly turning around. I decided to leave it be and begin to jig at another hole nearby.

Fishing was slow for the first few hours, with a few marks here and there but no takers. I moved a little deeper to 30 fow while Eli stayed committed to his original hole. It wasn’t until around noon that I heard Eli belt out “Fish On!”. He had caught a gorgeous little laker on a small gold spoon. Within 10 minutes, had had iced another gorgeous little laker.

Both lakers were covered in what seemed to be little 2″ lampreys that were eager to attach to us. I put one on a dead stick as bait, but nothing ended up touching it.

I was wondering when my fish would show up.

Then it was my turn. At my new hole in 30 fow, I kept marking swells on the bottom. I knew this was a sign of whitefish, but what I ended up hooking was purely a surprise. I had a mark chase my jigging rap off the bottom and committed about 2 ft up. A fun fight later, I had iced my PB burbot and first burbot of 2013!

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What gorgeous markings they have:

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I told Eli that I was marking frequent swells on the bottom and he decided to drill a new hole outside his hut to join me. Within minutes, he had iced his own burbot! And then another!

I decided to switch presentations in case the whitefish were being skittish. I tied on a few feet of 2lb flurocarbon and a 1″ grey/black crappie tube. I was quick to accidentally snag a little burbot in the side of the head. Man were we ever on top of the burbot!!

Here’s a priceless photos that would explain our burbot happenstance:

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The spawn was on!

We ended up losing count, but it was something around 7 burbot between the two of us by the end of the day.

I then experienced a brief moment of frustration when I hooked a fish and my line would not pass through my frozen guides, causing me to lose the fish. The way it behaved on the graph, it could have been what we were looking for. I’ll never know – but that’s fishing!

Checking my dead sticks, I noticed a minnow or two missing every now and then, but the tip up was not tripping. I re-baited and moved it to the burbot spot.

After the burbot bite died down a bit, I decided to keep moving in search of our target whitefish. I drilled two more holes moving deeper to 60 fow away from shore while Eli stuck to the burbot spot. He was rewarded with a beautiful PB burbot for himself:

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As I was eating my sandwich and haphazardly waving my rod around in my hand while doing so, I suddenly felt a strong weight on the line. I set the hook into a solid running fish. On 2lb line it took quite a while to get to the hole, losing Eli some fishing time as he waited patiently for the fish to surface. It was worth the wait!

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And here is the aftermath. Apparently, the sandwich took low priority once the fish was hooked.

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Very next drop, I had a fish chase me up 20 ft to hit and scream away. It took out 50 ft of line within seconds and I knew it must have been another great laker. Unfortunately, my 2lb leader had taken enough of a beating on the last fight and gave way in the middle, not at any of the knots. 2nd lost fish of the day.

Remember, these two lakers came on a 1″ crappie tube!! Little bait, big fish rings true once again.

And then we had the opposite scenario….

Eli began calling to me that something was slowly taking line on the rod baited with a dead smelt. Could it be the monster we had been waiting for?

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Not quite the monster we expected! But still a good fish with a voracious appetite.

Making his way back home:

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As we were packing up, I had a visit from a local angler on an ATV. His English was limited, and my French is abysmal but we tried our best to communicate. He stated that we were on a great whitefish spot, and he explained how he used a Williams spoon to catch them. I gave it a try until it was time to go. I had left my rod in the rod holder when, out of the corner of my eye, noticed a mark nosing up to the stationary spoon dangling a few feet from bottom. Picking up the rod was enough to get this eager fish to strike the spoon:

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And that was the day!

The next day I stuck around in the Ottawa area and drilled 12 of these with no fish to show:

Still not through…

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Yes those footsteps are from me having to work around the auger to keep it going…

Just through…

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Arms are still sore from repeating the above process, but what a weekend!!! Thank-you to Eli for hosting me on the Saturday fishing adventure and helping me out in Ottawa.

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