April 28, 2014

Fishing so hot it was a nuclear meltdown!

Just about 30 minutes drive from my neighbourhood is the Pickering Nuclear Power Plant. This plant has 8 CANDU reactors but I think only 4 are operational at the moment. Like many power plants, Pickering draws in water from Lake Ontario to cool the generators and the resulting cooling water is ejected from two outflow areas. This outflow can be quite warm, especially in winter, and it acts as an attraction to many fish.

Michael had been fishing this area from his kayak since last summer. He had tried to entice me to fish the spot, but since I'm boatless at the moment, I don't have the means to reach this area.

I talked to Richard about fishing the outflow and he was excited about the opportunity. The only determining factor was the wind. If there was a strong south wind, water would be pushed across Lake Ontario onto our northern shoreline and it would be too rough for boating (at least for small boats). A north wind is the most preferable, but even if it has a westerly or easterly component, it would be fine as long as the wind is not too strong.

So I woke up at 7am today to find out I had overslept my alarm (due to yesterday's steelhead marathon). I set an alarm for 8pm with the intention to give Richard a call for Sunday's fishing plan. Luckily, Richard was still interested in fishing at Pickering. We decided to meet up at 1:30pm to start our adventure.

After picking up some minnows and putting the boat on the trailer, we finally got to our launch by 3:30pm. Upon arrival, the wind did not look like the 7km/h east wind that was predicted. In fact, it was coming from southwest and blowing about 15-20km/h. There were a few small white caps in the water and 2 foot swells with a 2.5 second period. We were in a small Zodiac style tender boat but Richard reassured me that his boat can handle it. Alright...let's go then!

We motored slowly through the swells and wind chops. This actually allowed us to troll a couple of lures along the way. However, nothing came knocking but we did get to our destination safely.

There was a nice eddy at the corner of the outflow which pushed us toward the shore and allowed us to anchor. This eddy was also a prime spot that held a good number of fish.

On Richard's first cast, he landed a 3lb Smallmouth Bass. Since bass was still out of season, it was promptly released. I dropped my line straight down and immediately hooked a 2.5lb Smallmouth Bass also.

This area had a pretty good variety of fish. We were hoping to catch other species but the bass were just jumping onto the minnows faster than other fish. Luckily, while Richard was freelining a dead minnow, this little guy came to play. This was Richard's first ever Longnose Gar. Congrats on the lifer!

Michael arrived a little after. With three rods fishing this eddy, no fish was safe!

The outflow holds a good number of resident Common Carp and Freshwater Drum. We didn't catch any carp today, but this Freshwater Drum had me fooled initially. I had never caught a Freshwater Drum over 3lbs...so this was my PB!

If you thought that was a pretty nice drum...

...so I broke my PB pretty quickly. We didn't weight this one, but I would guess it was close to 10lbs since it was long and skinny. If it had more girth, it would weight a few more pounds!

In between the drums and smallies, there was the odd White Bass. This one was 15.5" and it was my PB White Bass!

Richard said he has never caught a Freshwater Drum before. We hoped to remedy that today. However, the drums were just taking my minnow all the time but ignoring Richard's. This one had me fooled it was a big carp. It even fooled Michael since this fish took a couple of long straight runs and it didn't have a lot of headshakes. We decided to net it since it looked pretty big. I was hoping to catch a double digit drum and this one was 10lbs! This fish looked smaller in the picture because the head and tail was pointed away from the camera. It was really quite the pig!

Richard had switched to lighter fluoro leader and he was fishing basically the same manner I was. For no better reason, I was catching more drums while Richard was not getting bit. I hooked two other drums that were probably 8-10lbs, but since I wanted to get the fish in quickly to allow Richard to get his line in the water again, I put too much pressure on the fish and my fluoro leader snapped on both fish.

Unfortunately, the sun was setting quickly and we had to get back to launch before dark. We finished the afternoon session with about a dozen Smallmouth Bass, Richard's single Longnose Gar, my single White Bass and 7 Freshwater Drum. Michael caught some Smallmouth Bass, some Freshwater Drum, a couple of White Bass and a Steelhead while trolling. It was only 3 hours of fishing so it was definitely a productive evening. Richard's unaccomplished goal will have to be realized on another day...but that would mean we'll be fishing here again!

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