Part 2 Of: Cruising The St Lawrence

Suck It Up Buttercup

Day one starts with a 7 hour dive to Montreal. After getting lost, we all managed to get to the vessel in Quebec city. The boat which stands docked in front of me is an old style river boat fashioned to the era of the early 1900’s.  It is designed like an old River steam  boat but was in fact built and launched in 1981.  It stands at 108 feet in length, powered by two huge diesel engines, and outfitted with modern up to date Transport Canada approved equipment. This boat is dressed to impress. Also dressed as such is the crew, who are all in attire to match the old world flair.

thumbnail_20160920_071534 THE SUN DECK

After one shift I realized that this was going to be much more difficult for me than I originally thought. The work itself is not difficult. The trouble is my size (LOL)! I am a 300 lbs, beast of a man and this ship has 4 levels, 8 stair cases, 2 ladders, and 5 hatches.  I am no stranger to hard labour. Give me the heaviest task and I do it with ease but make me walk a marathon and I might collapse. On a typical night shift you need to walk the entire boat once every half hour, which is approximately 18 times. We do this for safety and security.  I walk around with a 10lbs clock slung across my chest

 


and at 7 different check points during each of my 18 hikes (up 4 levels, 8 stair cases, 2 ladders, and 5 hatches)  I enter a key into the clock which records I have made all 7 checks on my rounds. The engine room and ships storage are accessed by ‘hobbit’ like doors. To access these tiny doors which would fit better in ‘Middle Earth’,  I need to turn sideways and suck in my gut to fit through. Everything happens for a reason and luckily my uniforms which I gingerly squeeze into like a large hand into a small rubber glove, conveniently holds my large gut in.  If it weren’t for this I might have had to make a trip to the galley each night to grease down to fit through the hatches and hobbit doors. And even greased I could quite possibly POP through the doors like a champagne cork.

 

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I may have also miss calculated my physical endurance levels. After the first shift I realized that while I can dead lift extreme weight, it is a bit difficult for me to be going up and down these stairs and ladders 18 times a night. I ended the night with severe knee pain which has lasted for the first couple trips. I thought the pain was due to different muscles being worked that I don’t normally use, so I tried just working through the pain. After the 2nd trip and my knees not any better I decided to go to a doctor to see what this could be.  Diagnosis: overworked, arthritis, and gout!

Over worked –  ya you think? Over worked by carrying a 300 lbs man up 8 flights of stairs 18 times a night. I thought that was a very nice way to tell me to loose some weight LOL.

Arthritis – That’s what your parents get! The Knees are swollen and it has triggered my arthritis that I didn’t know I had.

Gout – .”WHAT?”

I took my own advise for the next month and a half…

“Suck it up buttercup!”

….the next day I was on the boat with my own medicine cabinet in my suitcase.

 

 

part 1 of: Cruising the St Lawrence

 

Since Mid August, people who care to follow my little adventures, know that my boat has been down due to broken motors. With the costs of fixing my motors, along with the hope of continuing to contribute to the family household expenses, I decided that I needed to get a full time job until the motors were fixed and I could be back on the water full time.

While scrolling the online adds, I found an opportunity for a full time position with a reputable Local company, The St Lawrence Cruise Line. The position was for an entry Level Deckhand. I was very interested in this because it would allow me to continue spending my time (while my boat was getting fixed) on the water. In recent years I have found the desire to be on the water growing stronger. I knew flipping burgers somewhere would not surffice and this would be a much better option.

I realized in the Interview for the deckhand position, that although it was not a great paying job,  it had great potential to turn into an incredible opportunity for me down the road. This was not a dead end position, there seemed to be opportunity to move up in the company at a decent rate, where in the future I may be able to captain such a vessel. Don’t worry, I am not giving up Sea’s The Day!  But when I heard that the staff work an equal amount of days on the ship as they get off the ship, I realized it meant that I would have plenty of scheduled days off to be able to run my fishing charters alongside this position.

The Job was offered to me.                                                                                                                       And of course I took the position.

I was fit for my uniform, and when I say fitted, I mean they did not have anything big enough.  With a 6 week wait time on uniform delivery  I needed to take what I could and squeeze into them like stuffing a large hand into a small rubber glove. So a few days after being fitted, I was on route to Quebec City to spend 7 days, 24 hours a day, in close quarters, with a crew of people I have never met. A crew that innocently arrived that day not knowing what they were about to embark on, with me aboard.

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video of some BOQ walleye  with Scottie Martin and the Canadian Fishing Network. 

Hey folks I know it’s been a little while since I posted but I managed to get out on the water the other day with a few good friends , Ed MacKenzie from Chain Eyes  , and Scottie Martin , & Red Andal from #Canadianfishingnetwork  for some Quinta gold. So sit back and enjoy the show 

#LakeOntario – The Last 100 Mile Stretch

It’s amazing how quickly you can be on the top of your game and end up at a complete loss. This past week I was on route to having my best season since I started this guiding game over 3.5 years ago. Over the past 2 weeks I have been experiencing motor problems “again”. I mean lets face it, owning a boat means you are constantly doing maintenance, weather its a brand new boat or a used one, there is always something to be done. what does BOAT stand for? Break, Out, Another, Thousand.  Just over the past 2 weeks alone, first a fuel pump went down on one of my mains, then I had  spark plug cables need to be replaced, then coils, none of these items you would think are a big problem right? well in order to get these issues looked at and assessed properly each time,  you need to have a marine mechanic come out to your boat at the marina because you cant move a big boat like mine easily. Well first, everything costs 10 x the amount when your talking boats compared to cars, and then try and find a mechanic willing to come out to you is nearly impossible unless you have deep pockets.

 

After calling almost every mechanic listed on craigslist, Kijiji, Yellow pages, and online, It seems you need to have someone recommend you to the mechanic in order to get any decent service. otherwise you probably won’t have anyone come out to see you for weeks on end. Now just to have a guy show up to the boat 20 minutes away from his shop is around $150 to $250 and he hasn’t even looked at your motors yet. Needless to say after all of this you hope/pray that the mechanic that shows up is a good one. now I am sure the guy that came to my boat was a good mechanic but after everything was assessed he had to go back to his shop and order the right parts, this takes a day of 2 to get the right parts in, especially when you have motors like mine.

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So trying to save a few $$$$ I picked up the parts in a few days and went back to install them myself saving a few hours of labor and another $250 delivery fee, probably a $600 saving overall lol. Once the parts were back on the boat the boat seemed to run like a dream, so I started booking clients once again. I had a party of 4 show up to the boat, but as I headed down the channel to the open water they started sputtering and then stalled out and would not turn back on,  Now I couldn’t figure out what went wrong just that one of my mains wouldn’t start again. I had to call a buddy of mine, another guide and let him take my clients out for me.  I spent 2 days trying to figure out the problem and decided it was not worth spending the money to have the mechanic come back out again as paying for another “show up fee” would just piss me off. I made up my mind to take the boat back to my home area of Napanee in the #BayOfQuinte. The journey would be right around 100 miles on the water with 1 main engine completely down and the other was running, iffy at best.

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I started off from Bowmanville harbor on my #Yamaha  kicker motor, a small 8 horse power 4 stroke motor that I have never had an issue with in the past, very reliable, infact that motor is the only reason that I decided I would even attempt the journey at all. I started off at 4am by trolling out of the harbor. In about 10 minutes I was in 45ft of water and decided to throw out a couple lines as I have a ticket for the #GreatOntarioSalmonDerby anyway, and since I’m trolling my way along I may as well be #fishing, right?

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well it wasn’t long before I had my first hit of the day, a decent but much too small for the derby, 12lbs king salmon, as it was not big enough to weigh in I carefully released the fish because I was on a 2 day journey and the fish would spoil if I kept it. Soon after the first fish I had my second fish of the day on the line, a bit smaller than the first, so again the fish was released. then I had a massive hit on a wire dipsey line with a #SeafourLure spoon on the end of it, a little Shad sent from #LiquidMayhem to entice the bite & WHAAAAMO. The Line screamed out of the reel, my excitement level rose drastically making me forget I was even in a broken boat on a 100 mile journey. All I cared about was landing what ever was on the other end of the line. I fought the monster for approx 35 to 40 minutes before I was able to tire it out enough to be able to get my net underneath her and lift her into the boat. She was not as big as she fought but it was still a decent 20lbs plus fish anyway. When I tried to put her on the scale, my scale was reading all over the place I could not get an accurate reading which means one of 2 things. Either this fish is bigger than I think it is or the batteries in the scale need to be replaced LOL.

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The sun was now up and running low over the water. the fish I just landed may be the last of the season for me so I figured I’d better keep her and get it weighed in at #PortHope which should only be a couple hours away from my current location. In the Livewell the fish went, with some ice to keep her as fresh as I could.

By approximately 10:00am after catching & releasing 3 more smaller fish, I arrived at Port hope marina. I pulled up to the fuel pump station and was greeted by a beautiful young women working the weigh station/and fuel pumps. after fueling the boat I asked her to weigh in the fish I had kept. The fish weighed in at 25.10lbs  which was exciting as I knew being the beginning of the week that this fish would probably make the derby board, (which it did) and it stayed there until Wednesday too until I got beat off the board with a 25.84. oh well I can say I made the board for a few days anyway LOL.

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I had a quick breakfast at a nice little cafe (great breakfast by the way) right at the marina by the beach,  bought new batteries for my scale (ha ha ha) and of course had to go and see the beautiful girl at the weigh station one more time (to buy ice)  before heading back out in the big water on my journey.

There was only 1 other stop I could have made before committing to go all the way to Brighton which was only 40 miles away from Port Hope, this was Coburg #Marina but it was only 5 miles away from Port Hope Marina. the decision was either to spend the night in Coburg or try and make it to Brighton. Take into consideration that the top speed of my boat was about 3 to 5 miles an hour on my kicker motor, or 7MPH on my one main half working main motor, which would put me in Brighton around 8pm that evening, I had started the day at 4am. that is a long day to be on the water in the sun, trust me. anyway of course I decided to make my way to Brighton the wind was in my favor with west winds.

 

It seemed like forever  to get Coburg out of my sights. It made the day seem like I was making very little to no progress, and to make things worse the winds had kicked up to 25 west winds with gusts of 42km west wind. This made for some large rolling waves, maybe 6 footers at times, it was travelling in the right direction allowing me to get a bit better timing 8 miles per hour as with each passing wave the boat would almost be pushed enough to start surfing. then once the wave passed the boat would slow to 2 miles per hour. this jerking motion for hours on end mean you need to be on the ball in terms of steering or you can be turned around in a split second, constantly counter steering the boat to try and stay in a straight line. I was praying that the waves would get just a bit bigger so that I would be able to surf the boat and ride the waves to my night time destination.

 

at around 7pm I got to the point that leads into Brighton harbor as I rounded the point to head into the harbor it got very shallow. I went from 45ft of water to 5ft of water within a few meters and with the rolling waves (now white capping) that I had been riding were now big enough that the boat actually was able to do a bit of surfing only this time I was in dangerously shallow and unknown waters. Yes in case you were wondering I was getting a bit nervous LOL.

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Once I got around the point and the land blocked the wind, the water instantly became like a sheet of glass and I calmly made it into the Brighton Marina. I pulled up to the marina about 7:45pm as I needed a bit more fuel to make the rest of the journey. I had came 65 miles and was now only 35 miles from my home destination. After I fueled up, the marina told me they had no 2 stroke Oil to sell me which I needed as I pre mix my fuel.  I hoped my friend  Sean, from #PresquileBayOutfitters was around and I prayed he sold the oil I needed. His shop was just steps from the marina.  It wasn’t long before I was able to find Sean and  like he has done on several occasions in the passed he (saved my behind) again LOL. Sean has great customer service and great deals on #fishingtackle and #Kyakrentals. I recommend everyone go and see him if your in the Brighton area. here is the link   http://www.presquilebayoutfitters.com/

anyway after fueling up and a short visit with Sean I was on the water again to find a spot to tie up for the night, have some dinner, and get some sleep. I headed up the Trent canal and immediately found a good spot to tie up to, right next to a very impressive sail boat who had also decided that they had enough travel for the day. the sail boat was heading to where I had just come from 16 hours prior. They figured they would try to get to Port Darlington or Whitby by the following afternoon.

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I was up early as was the sail boat next to me, and off the pier at 6am the next morning to try and get a good head start on the day, however I was quickly brought to a halt by the first swing bridge in the canal only 1 mile from where I tied off the night before as there was no attendant to swing the bridge open until 9am that morning. I tied off again and got out to walk around only to find 3 other boats tied off on the other side of the bridge that had just missed the last turn the previous night and were forced to spend the night in the canal as well. I spoke with a few of the boaters and everyone seemed very relaxed and well rested but were just waiting for the bridge attendant to get to work. It wasn’t long and the attendant showed up for his shift the bridge was swung open and everyone was on their way to the various destinations all over the lake (and further).

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It took several hours but by about 11am I had made it from Trenton  about 18 miles to the #Belleville Bridge. Just after the bridge there were about 30 to 40 small sailboats all crossing my path in every direction, I think they had all been part of a sailing school. I tried to go around them but everywhere I went they would cut me off, now normally I would have easily been able to get out of their way but with only running one of my main  motors and going about 5 miles an hour I had no choice but to bull dog my way right through the lot of them. As soon as I made my way through There was a guy waving at me to slow down his hands in the air and I thought to my self,  what a fool, as if I’m going too fast LOL. anyway I almost came to a halt thinking he might be in trouble only to clue in that it was actually a good friend of mine Dave, out for a day of fishing on the Bay.

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Dave pulled up along side of my boat tied his boat to mine and climbed aboard for the next few miles. I was relieved to have someone on the boat to chat with but I soon realized that I was very tired and probably had a bit of heat stroke, needless to say I probably wasn’t making much sense at the time. Anyway I took some time and cooked up the last of some chicken legs I had in my cooler, put them on my BBQ to have a bit of lunch with Dave before he had to leave  climb back onto his boat to finish his day of fishing.

It didn’t seem long,  maybe a few hours after leaving Dave before I was back crossing under the Deseronto Bridge and was at my destination to meet my wife at the launch so I could get the boat hauled out and get it to my mechanics.

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Im not sure whats in store for Sea’s The Day Fishing for the rest of the season? I can only wait to hear from my mechanic about all the issues I will need to deal with. I will be back out on the water soon enough, but for now I’m just happy to be home treating my sun burn and heat stroke LOL

 

Thanks for reading about my 100 mile journey across Lake Ontario. Also feel free to leave any comments you may have below

Back to Fishing 

In my Last post I was talking about a Dobsonfly,  so I just wanted to bring it back to a fishing topic lol. Today I was out with a good friend Ed MacKenzie on his boat. We did not manage to get a fish to weigh in forthe Great ontario salmon derby, however , we still managed to get this beauty. We took this pic and set her free to swim another day. 

Not fishing

I know this isn’t a fishing status but I thought it was a worthy post anyway. I have lived in Canada my entire life, grew up in the city of Toronto, spent countless hours in the wilderness, and although I have seen many weird animals and insects I have never come across something quite like this before. I do live in the country,  but I did not have to venture far out of my home to make the acquaintance of this very interesting insect,
The Dobsonfly.  This is a male Dobsonfly.  Apparently it is native to Ontario, and it uses its large pincers to hold onto it’s partner during mating season. I took a few photos and a very short video.  I hope you enjoy and do not have nightmares from it ha ha ha.

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Fishing BIG water Lake Ontario CLOSA derby

If you have never had the chance to get out and fish The BIG water in Lake Ontario it is an activity I would highly suggest giving a try. I was able to have the opportunity over this past weekend to participate in the CLOSA club fishing derby, this is a 2 day event, each boat was allowed to weigh in 4 fish per day, and your 4 biggest fish counted towards the boats total weight. The boat with the most weight of your 4 best fish over the 2 days won the $$$.

Day 1 of the Derby we landed 5 Kings and 2 bows, not knowing what the other boats had we headed back to the dock in Wellington to weigh in. Wendy (the owner of The Reel Thing Tackle store was waiting there volunteering for the event to help weigh in all the fisherman’s catches,  At 3PM the first day we were told that we were sitting in 1st place with 29.5 lbs of Chinook salmon, 8 other boats had already weighed in, but there were still 9 or 10 boats that had not.

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Day 2 was a slow start for us we started on the water by 5am and by 9am the radio was nothing but chatter of guys telling of all the great fish they were catching that morning, we had nothing in our box  as of yet. Frustrated with all the radio chatter we turned down the noise and started changing up our presentations, trying to figure out what we were doing wrong? at 9:30Am we had our first hit of the day. was a good fish but it felt a lot bigger than it was.  I think it weighed about 6 or 7 lbs. then another hour went by so now it was approx 10:30AM  and we had about an hour and a half until we had to head in for the final weigh in time.

Now getting worried about finishing strong, around 10:45 one of our down riggers triggered and the line started to pull back. I took the rod and felt that there was quite a bit of weight to this one so I handed the rod to my partner Kevin and told him “I think this is a decent fish”. The fish had a sudden burst of energy and just took off,  Kevin did everything he could to just hold onto the rod as the fish tore out approx 1100 ft of line, definitely a big king. I had run to the back of the boat to bring the kicker motor to an almost stop in desparation to help stop the fish from spooling Kevin’s reel, then I proceeded to reel in every other line that we had in the water as they may all start to get tangled up if I didn’t, my arms hurt after that lol.

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In the mean time Kevin was doing everything in his power to make sure the fish didn’t take all the line off the reel he put extra pressure on the reel with his thumb, essentially burning him, because the line was turning so fast in the reel that the friction burnt his thumb. then Kevin had no choice but to grab the line its self and start pulling it back in manually, or he would loose the fish. he pulled just enough line back on the spool so he could start reeling it in again.

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It took about 45 minutes to land this monster King salmon, we weighed it in and it was just over 20 lbs, We really thought this one was much larger. I’ve fought a 32 lbs king that didn’t put up half the fight of this beast. With about a half hour to go we then caught another 2 fish and lost another 3 before the 12:00pm deadline and went to weigh in our catch.

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All in all the weekend was a success we weighed in over 50 lbs of fish for a 7th place finish. I want to thank the CLOSA guys for a great weekend and a great derby, as well as a great BBQ on the Sunday to finish it off with.

It takes a lot of volunteers to pull off an event like this. So I would also like to thank ALL the volunteers for their time, also a huge thanks to Wendy at the Reel Thing Tackle in Wellington for holding the weigh station and weighing in all the fish. Congratulations to Chris and Eve Brant for winning the Derby with 84+ lbs total and of course my partner Kevin Gibson for asking me to join him for this event. We may not have had the biggest fish but I think after chatting with the other anglers we may have caught the most over the weekend, and we all had a blast. too bad that didn’t count for a $$$ spot LOL.

I look forward to participating again in the future.

And of course I would like to thank my sponsors

Fishbum, thanks for always making the best looking fisherman on the water.

Liuid Mayhem that Garlic Minnow has been amazing for these awsome chinook salmon.

and Seafour Lures. Like chatching KINGS with DYNAMITE.

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Captian James Mathias ( Old Salty Dog)

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