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The twists and turns of Newfoundland

June 23, 2016

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The next morning, I met up with the tour boat operator and we departed shortly after 7am, graced with calm winds.  Still, this boat only had a licence to operate within Bonne Bay itself.

We started fishing a submerged cliff from 100-200 fow.  I was alternating between small, number 8 hooks with small capelin chunks and larger number 3/0 hooks with whole capelin.  It was taking a while to hit bottom so I stacked two 3oz. sinkers on my dropper loop.  I regret not bringing heavier sinkers.

Atlantic cod abounded, and we moved around a lot to try and get away from them.

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The first non-cod was a shorthorn sculpin.  He was probably named Sam. Sam’s preopercular spine was a little bent, but I still think he’s a shorthorn sculpin unless someone tells me otherwise.

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We moved all the way out to 400 fow, but I didn’t get any bites out this far, so we moved out towards the mouth of the bay in about 200 fow.  I finally connected with a fish that felt a little different on the way up.

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And the radically different flip side of course…P6201018 1024x768 The twists and turns of Newfoundland

Some cods later, I caught another American plaice.  I was disappointed I wasn’t finding anything else mixed in with the cod.  In retrospect, I didn’t fish the shrimp which possibly could have led me to different species than the capelin bait.

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It was almost time to head in, so we fished just out from the wharf in about 150 fow.  I was reeling up a small cod when I noticed a large flatfish behind it, giving chase.  I unhooked the cod as fast as possible and dropped a fresh capelin back down.  We tried for that large flatfish for a while, but only connected with another Atlatnic cod.

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Back at the dock, I started thinking about how we really weren’t too far from the wharf when we had seen that big flatfish.  Based on its size and angular fin shapes, it could have been a small halibut.

As I packed up the car I noticed a tour bus driver comment about some small fish around the wharf.  I had a look and they seemed to be blackspotted stickleback.  Unfortunately, they shied away from all of my offerings.

I thought I’d give the Gros Morne Discovery Centre a look since I was in the area.  On the way in, I passed by this little pond at the entrance and saw some sticklebacks.  They weren’t going to go undisturbed.

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I checked out one of the exhibits in the gallery of the Discovery Centre and found some video footage of blackspotted sticklebacks skirting around in tidepool kelp.  The footage was taken at Green Point, but that was quite the drive from me.

On my way out, I dipped my tanago rod into the pond and was pleasantly surprised to see a longer, narrower version of stickleback.

Ninespine sticklebackP6201040 1024x768 The twists and turns of Newfoundland

I’m always excited about stickleback, as they were the first micro fish species I ever targeted.

One of the park groundskeepers started up a chat with me about fishing.  He said his brother sometimes took people out on his fishing boat and he told me where I could find him, the wharf in the adjacent town of Curzon Village.  I went to visit the gentleman, but he said his boat wasn’t set up right to take anyone out at the moment.  I asked what kind of fish I could catch from the wharf nearby and then specifically asked about halibut.  He suggested I give it a try.  Hmmm.

For now I was exhausted, so I opted to simply fry up some capelin for lunch and take a nap.

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On my way back to Lomond, I stopped at a few creek mouths and shallow kelp beds in search of more blackspotted sticlebacks.  I didn’t find any.

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The park staff had suggested a small creek along the way that apparently held large sticklebacks.  I found three spine sticklebacks and brook trout.  Blackspotted sticklebacks preferred salt water anyways, I didn’t expect to find them there but it was worth a try.

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When I arrived back at Lomond, it was almost dark.  I fished on for rock gunnel, but I didn’t feel any nibbles and I grabbed my headlamp.

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As I scowered the rocks for signs of life, I eventually saw the characteristic little head of a rock gunnel poking out from under a big rock.  I dropped him the bait and waited until he took it nice and deep, still I barely hooked him.  He squirmed off the hook and I pounced on him in the rocks.

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Rock gunnel accomplished, I called it an early night for once.

The next morning I finished up my hiking on the Tablelands and Green Gardens trails.

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The black sand beaches weren’t something I expected to find in Newfoundland.

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The coastal meadows were also peculiar, appearing as well-kept as anyone’s front lawn even though they were in the middle of nowhere.

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I did some hiking along the coast and found a sea cave.

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As I hiked along, I was scanning below for promising kelp beds.  I was still looking for blackspotted sticklebacks.  I finally found a spot I could climb down to.

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Probably the coolest place I’ve micro fished so far.

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I caught two shorthorn sculpin who were probably both also named Sam.  No blackspotted stickleback to be seen.

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With that, it began to pour.  I hustled on the trail back to the car, which was all uphill.  I grabbed two felled saplings to use as makeshift trekking poles.  In Guatemala, I learned that transferring some of the climbing work from my legs to my triceps made more a difference than I could imagine.   The hike back was much easier than expected.

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