Bass Season Opener in the Great White North

It has been a LONG winter in Canada. All of our reels have been cleaned and greased…twice! Our rods have been collecting dust for several months now. Enough! It’s summer now and time to enjoy our favourite pastime. Time to get our kayaks out, wet some lines and wash some lures.

If you’re a lure-a-holic like myself, you probably bought as many, as you could possibly afford during the winter. But hey, we fish from kayaks and there is only so much we can take before our kayak starts sinking carrying the weight of our tackle boxes.

How should you prepare for opening day?

Choose a lake or river. If it’s your first time on that body of water do some research on it. Nowadays there is ample information on just about anything on the Internet. Find out what species live there; but most importantly what are those trophy fish feeding on.   Try to “match-the-hatch”.   Ask around and get some advice on the area; places where you can launch and which direction you should paddle. Fishing forums are great places to get some insight on different destinations. Study the map of the lake/river and choose your destination(s). Google Earth has incredible aerial views that you can zoom in/out to give you a better perspective of the terrain.

Charleston Lake 2015-6
Charleston Lake 2015-31

Check the weather forecast. You’ve been waiting several months for this day to come. The last thing you want is to have a bummer of a day by not preparing yourself for the elements. Fresh, quick-drying clothes are what you need, but also have light rain gear in case there’s a change in weather. Bring a hat/cap to protect your scalp from the sun. Polarized eye wear is very useful to protect your eyes from the sun, but most importantly, the polarizing feature of your “shades” is to reduce the glare of the water so you can see those fish swimming. And, last but not least, wear sunscreen. Melanoma (skin cancer) is not a very nice way to end your fishing career. That’s the doctor in me talking! Also, bring plenty of fluids. Paddling burns calories and your body sweats from both, the summer heat and exercise. You will loose electrolytes and you need to replenish them. Water and some electrolyte drinks are good to carry on your kayak.  You may also want to bring along something to eat.

Charleston Lake 2015-21

You’ll need that tackle. It’s summer (finally!) and water temperatures are on the rise, which means that fish are getting more active, but those active fish are not necessarily the biggest. I personally like to bring along spinnerbaits and crankbaits to look for them. Once I know where they’re hanging I slow down my presentation with either wacky-style senkos or -my favourite- dropshot rigged with PowerTeam Lures JP Hammer Shads. The weight on the end of your line will depend on the water current: the stronger the current, the heavier the weight you’ll need. Slowing down your presentation means you’ll be taunting the big mommas putting the food in front of their noses. Fish are big because they’re lazy and don’t like to work hard to get their food; they’re opportunistic. Big fish are fat because they don’t burn as many calories. As for the lure colours you have to remember one thing: fish have their eyes located on top of their heads, which means that they look upwards. Therefore, if you have an overcast sky, it would be useful to bring along darker lures that contrast the clouds in the sky. Opposite is when you have a clear sky: bright colours work better most of the time (do not use blue). In murky water it really doesn’t matter what lure colours you use, as long as they are noisy or create enough vibration to attract them.

Never leave home without these items. Nothing frustrates a kayak fisherman more than forgetting his/her paddle. I have read numerous rants about friends forgetting their paddle after traveling a long distance to get to their fishing grounds. Touch wood, I have never forgotten mine, but it happens! When choosing your paddle keep in mind your height and the width of your vessel. There are numerous types of paddles in the market. They come in different lengths and materials used. They also come in an array of different budgets. You can get them less expensive with aluminum shafts, but they are heavier. I don’t recommend using aluminum shaft paddles because in colder weather they tend to cool down a lot and can be quite uncomfortable in your bare hands. Other types of paddles have fiberglass shafts. These are in the middle of the cost spectrum. They are better for colder weather and don’t get as cold as aluminum shafts. The best all-around paddles have carbon fibre shafts. They are light, which is helpful when paddling long distances, but they tend to be more expensive.  My paddle of choice is the BendingBranches Angler Pro Plus, with an adjustable carbon fibre ferrule.

Bouchette2015_-32

The second item your should NEVER leave without and the most important piece of equipment is your PFD. It’s like your life insurance: you buy it and hope you never have to make use of it. If you’re on the water WEAR IT! It’s that simple. Every year many people drown because they forget to wear it. Your life is worth more than your investment in one. There are many brands out there. Like your kayak, try them out and buy the one that fits you better and comes with the features that you’re looking for to enjoy a fun day on the water. Kokatat, Mustang, Stohlquist and Astral make some of the best life jackets in the market.

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Hopefully you find these tips useful for bass opener in Canada and always remember: “A bad day of fishing is better than a good day at the office”. Good fishing and see y’all on the water!

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