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Hello All,

This week has been a hot one – both in terms of temperature and the activity level of largemouth bass.

In sharp contrast to the previous two weeks, when weather fronts were playing havoc with the bite, fish are once again feeding heavily – and hitting most baits with reckless abandonment.

I fished a stretch of the Rideau River Monday and Tuesday. Wind-blown slop was the ticket, with fish holding on the outside edge and smashing flipping jigs as if their life depended on it. It made for two of my best days on the water this season and my ‘bass thumb’ certainly attests to that.

Here is a short video I shot showcasing some of the action. Always nice to get back-to-back fish, especially on film!

Good Fishing,

Justin

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Hello All,

I look forward each summer to a visit from my good friend, Christine Cope. Working as an MP in Cold Lake, Alberta, doesn’t afford us the time we previously shared in the boat, but our yearly adventure is always ripe with laughter, a bunch of fish, and good memories.

Choosing to fish the same Eastern Ontario lake we did the year before, we launched at 8:30am to sunny skies and a high temperature. We headed off to fish some flats, chucking cranks, jigs, and spinnerbaits. A few fish came over the gunnel, but for the most part, fishing was slow.

As the morning wore on the activity levels changed. We began pulling fish from under docks, slop, wood, and pads. Of course, Christine pulled out her signature lure – a wacky rigged soft stick bait – and I became the spectator in the boat sitting on the sidelines. (OK, I had too much pride to switch and stuck with my obviously losing pattern!)

Christine began pulling largies from the flats, off the weed clumps, and what seemed to me, out of thin air. The really cool thing happened later in the afternoon, when two nice smallies fell prey to her presentation, sitting in less than 6-feet of weed-strewn water. These fish fought like stink and were definitely cool to see!

We ended the day with a mixture of 28 bass….and a few delicious beers at the local pub.

Here’s looking forward to next years visit and more bassin’ fun, Cope Style.

Good Fishing,

Justin

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Montreal, February 8th, 2012
Press Release
For Immediate Release
 

Fully Charged for 2012

New partnership with boat manufacturer raises the bar yet again

The 4th edition of the Berkly B1 Canadian Bass Open is set to take place this September 22/23, returning once again to beautiful Lake St. Francis out of Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec. Following an outstanding event last fall, the interest in what can now only be dubbed as “Canada’s most prestigious bass tournament” is at an all time high. In 2011, the Berkley B1 hosted anglers from 5 different provinces and delivered a spectacle that was second to none. In 2012, the Berkley B1 raises the bar yet again by introducing a revised payout structure that features a new grand prize. As the new official boat partner of the Berkley B1, Charger Boats will be providing a fresh from factory, 18.5 foot fully rigged dual console bass boat, powered by an Evinrude E-Tec outboard motor. “Our mission from day one was to raise the level of competitive bass fishing in Canada to new heights,” states Ben Woo, President, Berkley B1 Canadian Bass Open. “Our new partnership with Charger Boats makes the Berkley B1 the only event in the country where you can fish for only two days and have the opportunity to win a bass boat. Needless to say, this makes it more exciting than ever to B the 1.”

Charger Boats is a family owned and operated company that has been handcrafting boats out of Richland, Missouri, USA for the last 40 years. Now firmly planted and ready to do business in Canada, they plan to take the fishing and boating scene by storm. “When the opportunity to partner up with the Berkley B1 presented itself, we knew it would be the ultimate platform for us to showcase our boats,” says Dale Minicola, Director, Charger Boats Canada. “Having the chance to put our product in front of the best bass anglers and helping to create even more excitement towards this sport, excemplifies exactly what Charger Boats is all about. As our slogan implies, we like to put in with the best.”

*Boat shown is for illustration purposes only. Actual prize boat may vary. Colours and options to be determined and announced at a later date.

Also new to the Berkley B1 roster is Lowrance, manufacturer of world-class marine electronics. Known for their cutting edge technologies such as StructureScan and now introducing the all new StructureMap, Lowrance will be equipping the Charger 1st place prize boat with two HDS5 Gen 2 units. Gen 2 units available this season feature even faster processors and StructureMap capabilities.

Registration for the 2012 Berkley B1 is slated to open at 8am on Saturday, February 25th via the official website found at Berkley B1. With the introduction of an online registration form, this will streamline the process and make the registration procedure more efficient. Early bird registration will be in effect, as any registration completed and received between 8am and noon on Feb. 25th will be entered into a starting position draw. Registrations received after this timeframe will be placed in a first come, first served sequence. Participants are encouraged to contact B1 administration ahead of time should they require any clarification on the new registration process. As usual, team entries can be viewed on the official discussion board found at Fishin-Canada.

For more information on the Berkley B1, request media event access or inquire about sponsorship opportunities, please contact:

Vickie Schanck
Director of Operations
Berkley B1 – Canadian Bass Open
Tel: (514) 909-7185
Fax: (514) 469-0750
Email: vickie.schanck@berkleyb1.com
 

For more information on Charger Boats or dealer and consumer inquiries, please contact:

Dale Minicola
Director – Charger Boats Canada
www.marinecentral.ca 
Tel: (613) 376-6890
Email: marinecentral@kingston.net
 
Justin Hoffman
Eastern Ontario Sales Rep. – Charger Boats
Tel: (613) 614-4272
Email: Justin.Hoffman@rogers.com

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November 15

Hello All,

Was definitely looking forward to this outing. The plan was for good buddy and fellow fishing writer, Tim Allard, and I to head up to Quebec and hopefully savour some of the bass and bluegill action that I enjoyed the previous week. Conditions were perfect – slight wind, warm temperature, and a mix of sun and cloud. What could go wrong?

Making our way over the Ottawa River and into Gatineau, hopes were certainly high. This was short lived. Less than a kilometre into our journey, a bump on the road, a loud “BANG”, and the extremely unpleasant sound of scraping metal. This didn’t look good. A quick look in the rear view mirror and all I see is the boat in a precarious slant on the trailer. Tim’s thought is a blown tire. My guess is a blown bearing. We were both wrong.

I gingerly guided the rig through a left turn and eased it into park at the side of the road. The look on the faces of the pedestrians in response to the loud metal noise was not a good omen. A quick look and we make the diagnosis – a complete break of the leaf spring. Not at the joint, but through the thickest part of solid steel. The audible metal noise was one half of the spring scraping on the pavement. Worst of all, the clearance between the tire and fender was less than a centimetre or two. In my mind the day was over. Actually, I was thinking the season. Tim had other thoughts.

Regardless of the situation, we knew that getting the boat back to Ottawa was imperative. After a brief period of brainstorming – in between bouts of language I can’t repeat – an idea was hatched. Using a couple of pieces of wood, some electrical tape, and a bit of brute strength, we were able to fashion a “cradle” on the frame, to take the weight off the axle and level the entire boat. It didn’t look pretty but it was the fix we needed. Tim deserves a huge thanks on this one. It was his idea, and with it being a two-man job, I certainly couldn’t have done it solo. Thanks a tonne, bud!

As we slowly made our way back over the bridge, with yours truly cringing with every bump we hit, Tim made a few phone calls. We decided to tow it to Stittsville for repairs. Now, this boat trailer is 23 years old. Would it be worth putting the money in to fix it? Buy a new trailer instead? I had some decisions to make as I cruised down the 417.

Before arriving in Stittsville, Tim made a few calls to boat dealers for a price on a new trailer – as did my Dad. All three marinas offered varying prices. And as we found out shortly after, the cost for repairs was too great to bother fixing. Off we head down the 416 to Kemptville.

Having done business with them in the past, Pirate Cove Marina is a top-notch operation. They were able to offer us a brand new, galvanized 2011 EZ Loader trailer – with some great heavy-duty features – for considerably less than one of their competitors could do for a painted version.

In less than two hours we were good to go. Moe and his staff completed the paper work effortlessly, prepped the new trailer perfectly, and made the transfer of my boat onto its new throne efficient and without hassle. They even powerwashed my whole rig for me!

For those in the market for a new boat or service, definitely give Moe and his staff a call at Pirate Cove Marina. I highly recommend them.

Here is a shot of the new trailer:

To say we were stranded in Quebec at 9am, it was quite astonishing to be back on the road by 12:45pm. With Quebec out of the question due to distance, we decided to head to a favourite Eastern Ontario lake and salvage the last few hours of daylight we had. Besides, we had brought a stove, pot, and hotdogs to cook up on the water, and we were both getting hungry!

We launched the boat and headed to a known weedline that always produces largies at this time of year. Depth ranges between 7 and 10-feet, and most come from the edge or the clumps themselves. Bucktail jigs are the weapon of choice. Although it took some time, we finally started connecting. Nothing huge, but aggressive fish that love to hit the jigs with reckless abandonment. What was really on our mind was the big crappie this area routinely coughs up. They can take a little work to locate, and generally turn on right before dusk, but once found, the action can be fast and furious.

We played around with the bass for a couple of hours, while searching for signs of crappie. And then it happend. A tell-tale tap on my bucktail jig (at this point I was still trying to tackle a few more bass or a bonus walleye) and a chunky crappie came to the boat. It was on!

Tim worked a float and jig combo with a light action rod – I stuck with my larger bucktail jig on baitcasting gear. The fish didn’t seem to mind. For the next hour we had a flurry of action. A few double headers, multiple cast fish, and some 20+ slabs in the boat when the dust settled. The biggest went 12.5-inches, and most measured between 11 and 12.

Forgot to add – the hotdogs were a hit out in the boat! Definitely something I will be doing in the fall from now on. And if all of the above wasn’t enough to turn the day around, I ended the evening with a sweet catch. Twenty-two inches of solid gold!

It hit a black and white bucktail jig at boatside – in seven feet of water. Was an awesome surprise!!!

So, a bad day turned into a good one in the end. 12 largies, 20+ crappies, and a bonus walleye. All in just over three hours of fishing. I’d say the new boat trailer gave us a bit of good luck.

Until next time….

Good Fishing,

Justin

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Hello All,

November 8

With the weather forecast looking more than favourable – and the wind non-existent – I made the decision to head out on a solo mission to my favourite Quebec lake.

Launched the boat at 10:30am and motored over to the productive spot that coughed up most of the fish the previous week. I decided to work in a bit shallower than before, hoping the largies would be relating to the cabbage and rocks that are prolific between 6- and 12-feet of water. Seeing a large school of baitfish in tight also helped with the decision.

A few casts in and the first largemouth was in the boat. A Fin-tech Football Jig teamed up with a YUM F2 Mighty Bug was the ticket.

Bites were extremely light. Lifting the jig would generate little attention from fish. Barely dragging the bait along bottom was the ticket. Here is the area that the fish were holding in. Notice the cabbage weeds on the screen. Down Imaging on this 798 Humminbird unit is phenominal for detail.

The first hour coughed up ten largies…with the largest being this 3lb 9oz fish. All came from the edge of the cabbage with most out of 9-feet of water. One lone smallie came on a trimmed-down Booyah Pigskin Jig.

Headed over to the finger next and put a puny smallie and a decent largie in the boat. The smallmouth was right on the top of the 11-foot hump, while the largemouth was on the deep edge in 15-feet of water.

Wondering if the largies might be up shallow, I decided to work down a shoreline while tossing a crank. It was a waste of time….nobody home. Shortly after, at 1:30pm, Andy showed up at his cottage and in my boat he jumps. Back to the spot from this morning we go.

The fish were definitely a little on the finicky side this outing. They wanted the jig one way – and one way only. We slowly started putting fish in the boat. Working water a bit deeper (15- to 19-feet) had us in the smallmouth. We stuck with the football jigs and Mighty Bugs.

Working out in to deeper water, we came across long, thick lines just off the bottom on the Humminbird screen. We were in 21-feet of water. Tim and I had come across this the previous week and assumed they were smallmouth. Thinking the same, I dropped down my jig and watched it dance up and down on the screen. I had a few small “whacks” but failed to connect. Drifting away from the area, and as a means to soothe my sore back, I opted to sit down in the boat and drop a jigging spoon (Macho Minnow) over the side. A few minutes in and a solid “thunk.” This fish came from 19-feet of water and hit 12-inches off bottom.

Then this guy hit.

Three smallies came in the boat in less than 15 minutes. Compared to the ultra light hits of earlier, these fish hit like freight trains!

It was then we finally discovered what the “mysterious” lines were. Bluegills!!!

They were hitting the large Macho Minnow with gusto. Most weren’t getting hooked, but I did bring four in the boat. Although I did have smaller spoons in my bag, I didn’t have an ultralight rod – or even a spinning rod for that matter – on deck. Boy I wished I did! The last fish of the day was this 9 1/2-inch bull ‘gill. Gotta love when you can lip them…

 As we slowly motored to the cottage in near-dark, this is what the Humminbird showed. Hmmmm. Suspended ‘gills? Smallies?

Next week will see a full assault on the resident ‘gills…and the bass. The bluegill fishery is untapped on this lake and I’m really curious to see how big these boys go.

Andy and I finished off the day with 26 bass and 4 ‘gills. Not a bad day on the water in superb conditions. But if anything, I learned a lot on the water this outing…and that can often be far more valuable than catching.

Until next time.

Good Fishing,

Justin

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Hello All,

With less than a month remaining for open water bass excursions, making each day on the boat count becomes all the more important. After cashing in on 38 bass on my last trip into Quebec, expectations were high for this return engagement.

November 2

My good buddy and fellow writer, Tim Allard, and I made the trek northward this morning. We arrived to the lake at 9:30am and were greeted by fairly calm winds and stellar weather conditions. Although we still wrapped up…layers would be peeled as the day wore on.

We headed over to our favourite finger on the lake – which tops out at 11-feet, with 23-feet of water surrounding it. It runs approximately 50 yards out from shore.

Tim began working a small black and brown hair grub while I worked a football jig teamed up with a YUM Wolly Bug. The fish were up on the hump at this time of the day, and five smallmouth were quickly put in the boat. Sadly, they were lacking size.

We set off to work a variety of structure areas, keying in on some of the spots I had success with on the previous outing. On that day crankbaits were the ticket. Today….not even a whiff. I blame myself for wanting to hug shorelines – even against the better judgement of Tim – and that cost us some time on fish for sure. Although the water temps. had only dropped 4-degrees from two weeks prior – and hovered at 46-degrees now – it became obvious the largies had shifted to deeper water.

By noon we only had a dozen or so fish in the boat. We both began scratching our heads. With the sun up, I hoped that the afternoon bite would turn on, and for that, we’d have to stick with a deep-water tactic. (It wasn’t much of a morale boost when Andy joined us on the water for a few hours in his boat…and only had a few fish to his name when he called it quits.)

We decided to head up to the most easterly portion of the lake. This area has always produced, and in the past, it was connecting your jig with the small clusters of rock (in the middle of a mud and extremely sparse vegetation bottom) that would get you bit. Before giving that a shot, I motored us over to a small and visually insignificant rock “point” that has produced well for Andy and I in the past. Coincidentally, this was also when Tim cued up some Rush tunes on his IPhone. The fish must have liked the vibe. In ten minutes we put five chunky smallmouth in the boat. Finally, our confidence was back.

My big fish hit a 3/4oz Booyah Pigskin Jig with a YUM Chunk.

Although the largies were not relating to shallow structure areas whatsoever, I did pick off one chunk from some rock and weed clumps in six-feet of water. It also came on the Pigskin jig.

We decided to spend the last three hours of the day working our large mud flat, while keying in on any isolated rock we could connect with. The fish were now on big time! We were putting smallies (and a smattering of largies) in the boat in record speed, and the fun and laughter we enjoyed sure was worth wading through our dry spell of earlier. Tim’s football jig coupled with a plastic spider jig seemed to account for the most fish, although the variety of creature baits I employed certainly came in a close second.

This would be the average-sized fish we were catching.

The record Andy and I set on this lake two years ago was 53 bass. Our goal every outing is to break the magical 50 mark. With the flurry of action Tim and I were getting, both of us were pretty pumped to see about shattering it. Of course, this pig of a largie that Tim got late in the day (a 4lb 6oz fish that came from 15-feet of water on the spider jig) heightened our excitement even more!

As the sun dipped behind the trees, and the remaining light waned, we were forced to call it quits. I’m fairly certain we burned our spot out – as the action finally died – and unfortunately, we missed hitting fifty fish by a mere five. What a day it was! Certainly our best day for numbers of fish all season, and Tim’s tank of a largie was great to see. The power and fight these smallmouth put up is second-to-none, and both of us were amazed at how acrobatic they were when on the end of the line.

So, a certain 100+ pounds of weight for 45 bass. We both drove home in the dark with a smile on our faces.

Until next time….

Good Fishing,

Justin

(click on images to view in full-size)

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Hello All,

The fall is a time of splendour for the fishing fanatic. Fish are plentiful and hungry once the water cools, and can generally be found in specific and easy-to-find places. Mid-October also signifies my return to our northern province – to sample the French bass in all their Quebec glory. My buddy Andy’s small cottage lake never fails to impress. 

October 17

Mother Nature rolled out of bed on the wrong side this day – and she showed a demeanor that was in sharp contrast to the glorious weather of only a week earlier. Needing to head up to the cottage this morning, I decided to tag along with Andy and get in a few hours of fish time in preparation of our day-long outing planned for the next day.

Rain, cold, waves, and wind. Suffice to say, cold hands and less than stellar fishing conditions were on tap. Braving the elements we decided to make the most of it. Working rock points and mid-lake fingers, in depths between 12- and 22-feet, we were able to pick apart the structure and put a few fish in the boat. Hits were fairly subtle for the most part – as were the feeling in our fingertips. Flipping jigs and football jigs rigged with creature baits accounted for all ten fish. Although only a quick three hour outing…we left excited to what tomorrow might bring.

Here are the two best fish of the day:

 

 

October 18

Conditions were vastly improved from the previous day, and although the wind did gust from time to time, for the most part, fishing was relatively comfortable.

We hit the water at 9:30am and worked our way over to the mid-lake finger. This spot has been a magnet for decent fish in the past, and tops out at 12 feet with 22-foot depths surrounding it. The wind was fairly strong early in this outing but we did manage three fish on jigs before moving off to calmer water.

Crankbaits are an excellent choice once the water cools, and with the sun peeking out from time to time, I had a hunch that the resident largies might move up shallow and begin actively feeding. My first crank choice had a fairly wide wobble and ran less than a foot under the surface. Although I did manage a fish or two on it, a switch to a craw-coloured Bagley bait, with a more subtle wobble and a dive depth of 2-feet,  made all the difference in the world.

Fish were smoking this bait, and the most consistent depth was between 2- and 8-feet deep. Rock boulders, weed clumps, and sand were the key to finding fish.

Andy stuck with the flipping jig pattern for most of the day, and was rewarded with a few of the more chunky fish – all while working deep weed and rock edges.

More than 70% of the bass came on cranks – and even a few of the more toothy kind.

We fished a tonne of different structure on this day…but stuck with those that have worked in the past. Some of the better smallies were relating to sand, and this beauty came from the mouth of a small creek. Flipping jig again.

Another great day was had on the water. As always, Andy and I always set goals before each outing. This happens on the drive up. Today we hoped to put 36 bass in the boat with the big fish being 4lb 9oz’s. We fell short on the big fish, but exceeded our numbers total by catching 38 bass on the day. We were pretty stoked!

We will be back again soon…and I know that the fish should be more than willing to play.

Good Fishing,

Justin

(click on images to view in full size)

 

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