Big Bass Weekend - June 2015
At Wilderness Obsession, we have found the more we fish the New Brunswick waters and hit monster bass, the more we want to fish! So this year, we decided that we would try to organize twice as many rustic bass-fishing weekends as last year! In order to do this, we would need to spread them out a bit and hit one in June and again in August, just to make sure our wives would give us the ever-necessary blessing to get out of their hair twice (then again, perhaps we just BELIEVE we are that important and necessary to their lives to spread the weekends out).
This time, I decided I was going to take my teenage son with us. We've written a great deal about how the outdoors is a family passion and that experiencing it is more about time together than the harvest in most cases. This is something we all believe and we live out as often as we can. My son turned 14 at the end of last year, and with him entering high school in the fall, I decided it was time for him to experience the wilderness weekend. He loves being outdoors and I am fully aware of how short the time is before he graduates and leaves our home to go off and find his own way in the world...
As recounted last year, our bass fishing, guy-getaway is rustic and somewhat primitive. We intentionally choose remote areas where there is no campground, there is no water/electricity/cabins. It's a time to get away and spend time with one another, telling stories and bonding in areas that are far away from our too-hectic lives. There is just something special about sitting around the campfire after dark telling our tall-tales and enjoying the sounds of the crickets. The food always seems to taste better, when cooked on the BBQ or roasted over an open fire. And the company is always warm, even when the weather isn't. There are no traffic jams, no road rage, no office politics, and no schedule. Out on the water is one of the most relaxing places in the world!
Although we had a few last-minute cancellations as seems to be often the case, we ended up with a crew of 7 people including my brother, father, son, and a number of friends. Having three generations along for the camping trip was extremely exciting for all of us, as it was the first time Dad had spent time in a tent in decades. We ended up with two attendees who really weren't familiar with camping, so we were excited (and a bit fearful) to share the experience with them as well. We would again be fishing in our kayaks, something that was a new experience for several in our groups.
Planning the weekend trip in early June, we knew there was a chance of some variable conditions and we definitely experienced that. The first night the forecast called for light showers, and yet we had heavy downpours through the night. This was something that wasn't entirely welcome, especially for our new campers, but we all made the best of it (naps were necessary for some the next day). The second night was also a surprise, and saw the temperature dipped down very unseasonably near freezing, making a rather uncomfortable sleep in our unheated tents. Again however, we managed and it didn't entirely crush our spirits (although one remarked camping was “everything he remembered”).
This trip would be held in two locations, the first one aiming for mostly smallmouth bass at the same southern NB lake as last year, followed by a day trip on Sunday over to Maine to try our hands at a new location for all of us, and targeting a new species: largemouth bass! None in our group had ever caught a “largie” before, but none of us shirks from new challenges so we thought, “why not”?
I made it one of my goals for the weekend to try to help out my son and our novice fishermen to make sure everyone caught a fish, and although it took until Sunday afternoon, we accomplished it! Although the conditions were at times not great for fishing and we experienced some heavy wind, rain, and waves sometimes... everyone landed at least one fish and several of the experienced guys managed to catch dozens. The fishing all-in-all was great over the weekend! All-told we landed at least 50 smallies at the NB location along with a number of white perch, and then caught another several dozen largemouth bass, a handful of smallmouth bass, and a number of pickerel at the Maine lake. The largest catches of the weekend were an 18” smallmouth bass in NB (landed by Jeff), and a 19” largemouth bass (landed by myself) in Maine.
My son Hunter is perhaps the most unlucky fisherman in the world, so helping him to catch his first fish in a kayak along with his first pickerel was a highlight of my weekend. Although he seems to have a lot of luck at trout, it seems like with all the other species he is snake-bitten. I have taken him out time and time again fishing various species without any success. Even when we are hitting a lot of fish, I will hand him my rod (and lure) to swap with his that doesn't seem to be working... and then I start catching them on his setup while he goes without a bite. Most of the weekend it was much of the same. He had a few bites but wasn't able to land anything until Sunday. On Sunday afternoon we got into a nice group of weeds where the pickerel and bass were hitting like crazy, and my boy finally landed his first pickerel! Proud dad took a picture of him before we moved on to chase some bass! More will come, Hunter... keep your chin up!
My dad also caught his first fish in a kayak and had a lot of luck catching some monster largemouth bass on Sunday in Maine... among the largest of the weekend! He had a great time and recounted that it had been “twenty years since he had been fishing... but it won't be that long before the next time!”
My friend and his teenage son both caught their first bass, with the younger landing a 15” smallie while his dad caught his first largemouth bass. Each hooked and lost quite a few fish, but enjoyed the experience out on the water. My brother and one of our friends paired up and were truly fishing-machines on the weekend, catching dozens of bass in both locations along with a number of other species.
Although the camping conditions may not have been what we hoped for, we all had lots of smiles, ate our fill, caught and released tons of fish, and had a lot of laughs. We had a number of close encounters on the water with ducks and loons who seemed curious but unafraid of our presence and often swam very near our kayaks.
I certainly feel like those that weren't able to make it missed out on a great weekend! Our lives are admittedly extremely busy, and there is always a good excuse why one can't make it on a weekend like this. There are responsibilities, finances, scheduling, etc. that can get in the way. However we need to make it a priority to get out and enjoy nature and the experiences it allows us. As someone once said, none of us will ever lay on our death-bed wishing we had spent more time at work.
Life is short... live it!
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