group commitment pick dates computer tablet calendar

Group Commitment: Pick Dates

You’re still trying to get your favorite group of buddies up to Ontario to fish some of the best walleye lakes out there, but if you’re the one organizing and trying to schedule around everyone’s busy lives, you’re feeling the frustration right about now. You realize that choosing a time for everyone to meet in person and discuss this trip (or set up a conference call if you’re in different geographical regions) is a good place to start. Read on for the second tip.

TIP #2

Pick dates– another very effective way to get group commitment is to pick dates. I recommend narrowing things down to two options, in this case to two time frames.  Email or call everyone and let them know the only two options for the trip. By doing this, you eliminate the uphill battle of trying to appease everyone and their schedules. Instead, when you pick the dates, they are forced to make their schedule accommodate the group. This also eliminates a lot of the back and forth with suggestions–things like “what about this week?” or “I can’t go that week.” Just pick the dates and it sets a whole different tone for getting a group commitment. The nature of having only two options means people are much more likely to make one of them work.

Food for thought – Herbert Bayard Swope is quoted as saying, “I can’t give you a sure-fire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody.”

Until next time…

two men fishing group commitment

Group Commitment (It Might Be Easier To Solve World Hunger)

Being the point person coordinating a fishing or hunting trip to Canada can be a daunting task. Anybody who’s ever been there can relate. It’s the equivalent to trying to land a 45 inch pike on ZEBCO spooled with mono. It can be done, but not without a whole lot of sweat, tears, and in some cases, drawing of blood!

So what to do if you find yourself in this precarious dilemma? Read on as I have some tips that have helped group coordinators get all hands on deck!

TIP #1

Group meetings–  if your group is in a close geographical location, pick a time and place to meet in person. Most groups facilitate the meeting in combination with something else–for instance, Friday night at the local pub or poker night at Joe’s house. Picking a time when everyone is likely to show up is important. That’s why weekend nights work well. Most people keep their weekends open for some R&R and getting together with friends and family. 

Another option is setting up a conference call. I’ve seen this used very effectively with groups living far apart. There are many free conference call web sites out there. Do a quick internet search to find one, email the phone number, access code, and meeting time to everyone and you’re all set. If you want to get really fancy, some conference call providers allow you to record the call for future use or distribution to others. 

Food for thought – it someone can’t commit to a group meet, in person or on the phone, what’s the likelihood they’ll commit to the trip?

fish ontario fishing packing list

Fishing Packing List

Continuing the topic of preparedness, what you need to bring along (like important travel documents), and overall getting ready for the best Ontario fishing trip of your lifetime, here’s a list of suggested fishing gear to bring with in order to make your trip a success.

Fishing

Anchor

Backpack

Bail Bucket

Bait

Bait Container

Batteries for fish finder

Boat Plugs

Bug Spray

Camera (with batteries)

Charger for fish finder batteries

Compass

Drift Sock

Drinking Water

Extra Line

Fillet Knife

Fingernail Clipper

First Aid Kit

Fish / Depth Finder

Fluorocarbon (Leaders)

GPS

Hat

Ice

Jaw Spreader

Jig Hole Puncher

Lake Map

Landing Net

Life Jackets

Line

Marker Buoys (x3)

Matches (and/or lighter)

Paddles

Pliers

Pole

Rain Gear

Reel

Ropes

Signaling Device

Stringer

Sun Block

Sunglasses

Tackle

Tackle Box

Toilet Paper

Travel Map

Zip Ties

fish in ontario water fishing packing list

And for the ever-important topic of how you’re going to cook these delicious fish out in the bush or at a resort, here are some supplies you should bring along as master chef.

Fish Fry Kit

Oil

Pan

Batter/Breading

Plates

Cutlery

Sifter Spoon (or tongs) for hot grease

Burner

Brown Beans

Freezer Bags

Matches (and/or lighter)

Burner Fuel

Dry Birch Bark

ontario sunset fish ontario get free money

Fish Ontario–Get Free Money

The Canadian government has a tourism incentive for anglers and hunters visiting Ontario.  If you book an all-inclusive package, you are entitled to refund of half or your total tax. In other words, if you’re a large group and pay $300 in HST (Harmonized Sales Tax), the Canadian government will cut you a check for $150.

To qualify, you need to make sure you book these two things:

1)      An “All Inclusive” Package

2)      You need to be provided a “service”

For guests visiting Pasha Lake Cabins, that means anyone who books the Fishing Package is eligible for the 50% refund.

Pasha’s Fishing Package is all-inclusive in that we provide the weekly cabin rental, boat and motor rentals, all the bait and access to all lakes. We also provide fishing cleaning services, semi-guide service, food service at our Tuesday Night Fish Fry and, on occasion, guide service.

Time is of the essence. Refunds are given up to one year after your stay. Click here to download the refund form.

Make sure the official receipt from your accommodations is signed and dated by an employee of the outfit you stayed at. The bill also requires verbiage along the lines of “all inclusive package” and you were provided a “service.” Finally, it has to be marked “paid.” At Pasha, we usually include the package as one line item and the service as the second line item on the bill. We sign it, stamp it paid, and it’s a done deal.

If you have questions about how to submit the paperwork or what is needed, email me at Chad [@] pashalake [dot] com.

boat control three men fishing in boat

Boat Control

Few people realize how essential boat control is to successful Ontario fishing. I’m here to tell you that it’s the quintessential difference in locating and staying on active fish. PERIOD! If you can’t effectively control your boat, I don’t care how many fish are impatiently waiting to inhale your lure; you won’t catch a dang one of them!

What is boat control? It’s the boat driver’s ability to maneuver into a strategic position and thereby maximizing opportunities to catch fish. In layman’s terms? Put your boat over the fish and stay there.

Countless times, I’ve been guiding and the following situation rears its ugly head. In my boat, people are laughing, carrying on and having a good ol’ time. In the trailing boat, there are sour faces and continual perplexity. Our boat is pounding walleyes. The other passes by us again and again, like a Tasmanian Devil tied to a tree with a rubber band. We are hovering over the sweet spot; they are stuck in spin cycle going back and forth.

Of course, by day’s end there are some pretty good ribbings. All anglers are quick to compare notes and see who has been triumphant. The people in the “other boat” always come in second. The reason? It’s not the fish, it’s not the tackle, it’s not the pole or the lake. It was the boat driver’s ability to keep the boat on the best piece of real estate. (Everyone’s heard of “location, location, location”).

So what are some of the boat control tactics we can employ? There are many! But for this conversation we’ll assume you are fishing out of a 14ft – 16ft, bench-style aluminum boat. In Canadian Shield terms, that’s the hot rod for the turf you’ll be on. If your outfitter supplies boats, it’s a sure bet it’ll be the variety mentioned above.

Drift Sock

Personally, I carry a drift sock with me everywhere. They’re light weight and fold up neatly into my backpack. There’s no assembly required, and the good ones have a weight system that makes deployment easy and keeps the sock positioned horizontal in the water column. Quality drift socks are made of tough nylon which allows for fast drying and quick storage. Ruggedness is also important for another reason, as you’ll see.     

First let’s talk size. Remember, we are focusing on 14ft – 16ft aluminum boats. These light-weight boats are easily pushed around by currents. They rest high on the water and have large surface areas that attract wind like a magnet. It can be frustrating to keep these boats in a perfect position, even in a slightest breeze.   

I’m of the philosophy go big or go home! I like to upsize everything but fast food. Although a 20 inch sock is recommend for our boat size, I up it to 40 inches. That’s about the perfect size. It still allows for non-cumbersome storage, yet it’s beefy enough to get the job done in moderate to moderately heavy winds.  If you have to go bigger than 40 inches, you’d better get off the water because the danger meter is in the red zone. Any size smaller and I’ve found it just doesn’t grab enough to effectively slow you down. 

If I am targeting a reef or related structure, drifting with a sock is simple. Go upwind, kill the motor, throw the sock out, and let the wind and resulting current float you over the reef. It’s important to go far enough upwind to let the sock deploy. At the same time, you don’t want to go too far. You’ll waste precious time waiting to drift over fish. 

When drifting, I use a long rope of 10 feet or more to tie off the sock. I do this to avoid becoming entangled when fighting a big fish. Longer rope also gets the sock out far enough where the current break from the boat has less impact on the sock’s performance.  If it’s too close, the water displacement from the boat can cause the sock to spin and not grab water like it should. Think of an anchor. The rule of thumb for an anchor rope is to use a length double the depth of the water.  Same concept with a drift sock–the longer the rope, the more effective the sock is–to a point, of course. 

When it comes to using a drift sock, there are basically 3 tie off points to consider. First, the bow. Depending on the size of your boat, the shape of the structure, and how many people are fishing, the bow can be very effective in controlling a drift. If you have 3 in a boat, as I often do when guiding, I’ll tie to the bow to allow everyone to fish effectively. Once the sock locks in, the nose will turn into the wind and we’ll drift backwards. Doing so lets us fish on either side of the boat, typically jig fishing or dragging slip rigs. Ideally, the front person fishes the port, the middle the starboard, and the driver (usually me) the port (I’m right handed).  This set up allows everyone to fish with little concern of getting tangled with the guy in front him or with the drift sock itself. Tying up front is also effective for fishing narrow reefs that layout in the same direction the wind is blowing. It enables you to maximize the time spent over the reef while at the same time, everyone gets to fish. 

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The second place to tie off is the side of the boat. This is used more with two people in a boat verses three. Tying off on the side turns the boat perpendicular to the wind where two can fish out the same side of the boat. By turning sideways, the amount of surface the wind can catch on the boat is increased. At the same time wind is pushing the boat, the drift sock is pulling the boat. This push-pull concept creates pinpoint accuracy and full performance from the drift sock. To me, this is the most effective use of the drift sock.

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The last place to tie off is the stern. This is where your rugged drift sock is essential. Our goal with tying off to the stern is not to drift; rather, the goal is to troll. Few people realize how deadly effective trolling with a drift sock can be!

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By trolling with a drift sock, we’re able to fine tune our speed and direction. It’s like operating in slow motion–think Keanu Reeves in the Matrix. Not only do you have surgeon-like control, it slows things down to the point where we can react to whatever is happening. Someone gets a fish on? No problem–I can still maneuver the boat, keep an eye on the electronics, and land a fish, all at the same time. Furthermore, I can pause for a second, absorb the situation, and capture in my head the processes to replicate it again and again.

When tying off to the stern for trolling, you might want to consider two drift socks, as the pull from just one can be pretty significant. Or better yet, tie it off to the center of the stern and avoid the pull all together. 

You can also tie a drift sock to the bow for trolling. I’ve done that as well, but remember that even the slightest of turns will be magnified tenfold. Also, you don’t want a long rope or the it will end up in the prop.

Don’t have a drift sock with you? No worries, you can make your own out of a 5 gallon bucket. Just tie a rope on the handle and *voila*, you have a makeshift drift sock. If you have permission from the owner, I recommend you knock a softball-size hole in the bottom of the bucket. That makes its performance much more consistent to that of a regular sock. 

If you want to troll with a 5 gallon bucket, you’ll have to punch some holes in it for sure. I also recommend replacing the handle with a very sturdy rope. The drag from trolling will snap the regular handle out of bucket faster than you can set the hook on a walleye.

Final word on drift socks: make sure you use a bowline knot to tie off to the boat. If you don’t, the torque from the sock dragging in the water will cinch your knot down to the point where you can’t get it undone. 

Stern Mount Trolling Motor

Stern mount trolling motors are very light weight. They clamp on the stern and, more often than not, you don’t have to move the tiller motor to make it fit. You simply clamp it on and you’re all set. Last year, I started playing with this boat control method a lot. I like it!

What I don’t like is the deep cycle battery they require to operate. Batteries of this nature are heavy, awkward to carry, and high maintenance. You’ll have to charge them after every use, and for all intensive purposes, batteries designed for our cars are not very practical in the Canadian bush.

But if you have a lake that you can get a stern mount and battery into, it’s well worth the effort!

If for nothing else, it’s the noise, or rather lack of. I do a lot of back trolling. If I don’t have a trolling motor, that means running the tiller all day. It sucks gas, it can be loud, and the fumes detract from the beauty surrounding me. With a stern mount, I eliminate all those things. They’re quiet, usually have enough power to back troll, and they’re very easy to operate. 

Where stern mounts fail is in moderate winds and longevity. You can eat up a battery charge pretty quick, especially if you’re battling a little bit of wind. You also have to be careful with the exposed battery terminals. Anybody who’s spent time around vehicle batteries knows they’re prone to sparking. Often times on portable trolling motors, alligator clips are used to affix to the battery terminals. Inevitably sparking will occur. That can be bad if your battery is next to your portable gas tank. Catch my drift?

Back Trolling

By far, I use back trolling more than any other boat control technique. 

Quite simply, back trolling is turning the stern of the watercraft into the wind and using the motor in reserve to maneuver. The large surface area of the stern catches the wind while the power of the motor pulls backwards. The wind, waves, and reverse power enables you to be surprisingly precise. Think of two equal opposing forces. When the two powers are equaled, the result will be a deadlock.  Back trolling can be used to stay stationary or maneuver along an edge. It’s an extremely effective technique.

The pluses to back trolling are many. It enables tremendous accuracy, you’re not limited by battery power, and it’s great for fishing multiple people out of a small boat. If you’re forward trolling, your vision is obscured by the other anglers in front of you and constant adjustments are required to stay on course. In back trolling, your field of vision is clear. You can even mark reference points on the shoreline and know exactly where you are in comparison to GPS waypoints or marker buoys. When not fishing, I’ve used back trolling to navigate through rock hazards. But my favorite technique is lure presentation. I can get completely vertical in presenting my jig which allows me to stay on top of a school of fish. On multiple occasions, I’ve watched my jig on my electronics (Lowrance HDS5) and dropped it on a fish’s head. People love it when I call out a fish strike. I’ll see a fish maneuvering for someone’s lure, yell it out, and *whamo* fish on!

The downside to back trolling? First let me say the upside far outweighs the downside. But having to listen to the motor all day can be annoying. In the case where you have a smoking, oil burning 2-cycle, the exhaust fumes can be a detractor. And people not paying attention can get caught up in the motor which is a pain in the butt. Side note – never, ever leave fishing line in a prop. It will get wound up so tight it will destroy the lower end seals and could leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere.

Boat control–it’s as essential to fishing as the lure. Without it, you’re in for long days of little action. You’ll be perplexed by the stringers of fish the other guy has, and you’ll be subjected to some pretty good ribbings. Arguably, lack of boat control is the biggest contributor to a poor day’s fishing. Learning the simplicity of it is not only easy–it’s vital. To employ all the techniques available to you will leave you memories of a lifetime and the pictures to prove it.

Until next time…

Chad

Important travel documents map

Important Travel Documents

When traveling to Ontario from the States, it’s imperative to remember to bring the important travel documents with you as you prepare for a fishing trip or other stay in Canada. Here’s a list of the documents and papers you shouldn’t forget:

Travel Documents

Atlas   

Birth Certificate

Cash   

Credit Cards (remember to tell your credit card company you’re traveling out of country so they don’t put a security lock on your cards)

Fishing License

Outdoor Card

Hunter’s Safety Card

Hunting License

Maps  

Parent Permission Letter 

Passport          

Reservation Confirmation  

Traveler’s Checks

Insurance Card

Vehicle Registration

Important Phone Numbers (insurance, doctor, auto repair, roadside assistance, emergency contact)

Medical ID Tags

Important Medical Documents

Driver’s License

Road Side Assistance Info

Fishing and Hunting Regulations

Applicable Warranty information for vehicle and other equipment

While this may seem like overkill when it comes to bringing paperwork for an Ontario walleye trip, you’ll need many of these documents for crossing the border and for making sure your trip runs smoothly. Better to be prepared than faced with an emergency and no way of making contact with those who can help.