An arctic blizzard is building. Sunday shoppers are picking the shelves clean of whatever pop and chips are left. There won’t be fresh groceries either, not for at least a few more days here in stormy Nunavut. Outside the Co-Op store a pick-up drives by, through the howling winds I hear that “Despacito Burrito” song blaring from their stereo… now isn’t that quite the contrast I think to myself.

A local carver greets me at the door to my workplace. For $80 he has carved a nature scene from a seal jawbone and whale baleen. As much as I would like to buy, it’s best not to. Carvers come around every day and the longer they try to sell me, the more I find they try to impress.

But now at a quiet table upstairs in the apartment, there is finally some time to slow down. As always, autumn was just a crazy race against the clock which included many hours on the water.

This year muskie fishing really took hold and more days were spent hunting them than in any seasons past. A fish so challenging and elusive they really peak my interest.

Time and pressure, inspect and dissect, hope to connect. For maybe the first time ever, I chased for ’em as early as late July and into first week of August. Normally it’s an all fall assault but with the cooler summer it just seemed right to sneak some in before heading to the Arctic. It worked out mint! Brenda caught her best during those early outings, while I handled the rest.


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Back to the water in early September I stayed after the skis over the next two months. Spent outings between the Ottawa and St. Lawrence, where plenty was learned and some big fish hooked. Much time and having the chance to regularly fish out the period and study through it, I think will only go to better helping pinpoint personal prime-times in the future. As much as each day was enjoyed, it truly is a grind! Without pros in the pocket or a full GPS from years working the water, revisiting each mistake and success the hope is to only become a more cerebral muskie angler who better pick his battles… Just not getting any younger and gas ain’t getting any cheaper either.

That first day back in the game I picked up two fish. Tweaking some presentations this year paid off, as did sticking to a program that has been working and still improving. Through the next couple weeks I was back-and-forth on best approach and what rivers to hit how and when. In the meantime, a lot of prospecting was done and between hook-ups, losses, rips, arcs and even finding other anglers, more muskie spots on growing milk runs were uncovered. Some days friends or family came along for the ride.


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If given the choice which waters to fish around home the St. Lawrence would usually win over the Ottawa and Rideau. A 2013 tank and personal best to beat, it’s my belief the better odds of doing so is found on the same bigger water with those biggest fish. I have the most confidence with the Larry too.


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A few years back I picked up a small ski passing by a new area. Occasionally returning there without success, the spot kinda went on the back burner guessing that one fish had maybe been a fluke. Never had I seen another boat there, and this stretch of the Larry can be littered at times with ski hunters nearby. But, while re-checking it I connected with a real thick and hard hitting fish. Getting this big girl to the boat made the season and all hours worth it. She would not be the only but, she would be the biggest “Lunker Of The Fall.” And in future, I’ll never overlook that spot again.


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This big fish was actually caught on one of two days this season during some kind of magical St. Lawrence bite. A late morning I was trolling a weed-edge while standing to drive. Looking down into the clear water, the greenery suddenly transitioned into a soft, sandy bottom. Right on top of it in plain site was a huge ski swimming in a half circle. My lure sailed right over the fish but to no avail. Turning back, I made another pass and again nothing hooked. Quick to get the Minnkota down to anchor just off the spot, I popped a cast in there and had that muskie follow back to the boat. Six feet down over fifteen, the fish just hovered there below me while I figure-eighted that girl a dozen and a half times. She watched the lure while I stared at her, then finally she turned and swam away. Later in the day, after catching the fish pictured above, I was cornering a weedy point when the lure got smashed and my reel screamed. Then nothing… Both those fish would have been fifty plus, no question.

At home in the garage I played around a little with lures. A big jig I pieced together was great to cast but saw little use overall. The doctored up Grandma ran on the troll a couple times but will have to wait for another day now. The spinnerbait was a creation I was really proud of though. On a heavy wire form it could be broken down and had inter-changeable parts. A big steel treble at the back, a 4-ounce inline weight, two forward steel single-barbless siwash hooks that would wing out from each side, a Bluefox strobe spoon as the main blade, and so much feather for body, man it made me one proud papa. In the water it was awesome too! Pushing, pulsing and thumping I couldn’t wait for a ski to tear into it. Second trip out after getting the purple, orange, black feathered tail tied up and attached, I drove that fucking masterpeice hard into some shallows rocks and the line got severed above the leader. So many hours and plenty cost, agonizing over it I broke down.

Next day the high was a breezy 18C mid afternoon. Surface water temps mid 60F I borrowed my kid’s goggles and spent nearly an hour diving in the river where it had been lost. Not realizing it, when finally giving up the search and climbing back into the boat I then felt a little hypothermic. Arms and legs blue and grey, it took hours to get the heat back into me while fishing. Next day, it seemed like someone gave every inch of me a thorough pounding. Man was everything stiff and sore. It really sucked losing that lure, it was a one-of-a-kind creation.


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Skis weren’t the only thing on the agenda this fall. Some amazing sturgeon days were spent with friends and family. Rather than spew on about that in this report, there is another full report loaded with pictures to be found here if interested…
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http://bunksoutdoorangle.com/falls-five-footers-for-family-friends/
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Don’t really fish bass very often but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a joy when I do. It’s just that it is hard to break away from bigger fish like muskies, lakers, sturgeon, gar and walleye to bother with ’em. Fall smallies are certainly the favorite though. So after a big hot breakfast on the road, I launched into a favorite back lake late one October morning. That only bass day this year turned out incredible. Several dozen fish and some real tanks. Started with a largie that had three smallies follow it to the boat, so I left that bucket hanging overboard in the net, cast out, got a smallie and nabbed a styling double bass shot to start the season. Nice! From then on it was smallie after smallie until when four hours later, the bass season ended.


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What would be fall fishing without a Quinte trip? My annual partner Paul jumped on board with our buddy Bruce alongside. Team Lanark Highlands took to The Bay. The morning started sloooooooooow. A couple fish in the boat before 1:00pm, that’s it! But, after relocating we started fresh, when around 1:30pm a board slipped back and a third eye came to the net. Over the next three hours it got really busy for us fellas, finishing the day 14 for 17 with only three of those sheep. Not a bad first and last run for Quinte. I left The Bay wishing there was only more time left in the season to go back for more.


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Muskie fishing had gone on and off the beaten path shortly after the first tank of autumn was caught. Experimenting more with different lures and often changing up from my usual patterns, it did and didn’t pay off. One issue this season was straightened hooks. A number of times trebles came back to me bent open after a rip. There will be some adjustments for next year. The other downer was merely time. The Larry and Ottawa simply get tougher as the season progresses and those waters cool, it’s just the way it is. Thinking some days that switching to the Rideau might have built some confidence, once each and every opportunity to do so came, I stuck it out on the big water instead. In the end I was glad I did.

Good luck Lenny came out for one day. We set sail on some familiar surf, pulled out a brand new bait which I had doctored up with some extra paint, and after an hour or so the reel squealed before I pulled up this one pig of a muskie. Out of the net, snap, snap, lay, measure, lift, snap, snap and back over to swim again. Tank number two! A real feel good fish and it was nice to have Lenny there for all his help with its release.


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If autumn could only be six months long..? Now the waiting game begins.
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Bunk.
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