Alright, Andrea, we'll see what we can do.
So I picked them up at 5am this morning and Andrea was excited like a kid who wants to catch a Trout.
But on the way, the 4am alarm puts the little dude to sleep.
He woke up just to see us pulling into our parking spot.
A little of a walk later, we were ready to fish. I showed Stephano how to rig up the rods with light lines and small floats. We started fishing.
It took a while for the fish to respond in the early morning light, but eventually a couple of Creek Chub came to bite. Little dude was pleased.
Eventually, little dude learned to cast and caught a couple of Creek Chub on his own!
But little dude wanted Trout. These aren't Trout!
The Trout were giving us a tough time. We searched high and low, fast and slow...and yet they did not reveal themselves. Finally, I hooked one and handed it off to little dude, but he was too excited and the rod was flinging everywhere while he reeled furiously. Eventually, the line tangled with some branches and the fish shook off.
We went back to searching for Trout. It took another hour before I hooked another. This time, I made sure little dude was in an open area and as soon as the Trout was within swinging range, it was swung up and onto shore. It's not getting away this time!
Little dude was very impressed with the beautiful Brown Trout. The fish gods were pleased.
After little dude caught his Trout, I changed out the float and simply cast the bait out and let it drift slowly along the bottom. I've netted some baby Sculpin last year. They were only 3/4 inch long and impossible to even target in the habitat where I found them. But knowing there were Sculpin here, I paid more attention to the rocky areas in front of me.
All of a sudden, I caught a little movement on a rock. Lo and behold, there was a little fish darting on a rock. At first, I thought it was a Darter species, perhaps a Johnny Darter. But the head looked a bit too broad, and the pectoral fins looked too wide. Hm...could this be?
Instead of catching it myself, I called my friend Kevin over to look at the fish, and suggested that he tried to catch it. He changed his rig to a tanago hook while I kept an eye on the fish. When the bait was finally presented, the fish quickly turned and gulped it up! We thought the hook was set well, but the fish came off halfway up to the surface.
Fearing that was the only chance, we frantically looked for the new location of the lost fish. Luckily, we found it again almost right on top of the same rock. When the fish saw the bait again, it gulped the fleck of nightcrawler skin greedily yet again. This time, Kevin made no mistake and we had a Sculpin in the micro photo tank!
But which species was it? Slimy or Mottled? The little fish would not cooperate and we still couldn't determine its identity after looking at it for a minute.
Well, I just have to catch another one to check. So I grabbed Kevin's rod while he started to photo document the fish. I looked carefully at every crevice, every little sandy patch, every moss covered rock, and finally found another one sitting in between two rocks. It took a little trick to get the bait to the bottom as there was a funny little current that kept pushing my bait off to the side. But when the fleck of nightcrawler skin was put close to the little fish's nose, it gulped it in!
In one smooth motion, I flicked my wrist to set the hook and then lifted it out onto the grass. Yes! I finally caught a Sculpin in Ontario!!!
This is a celebratory moment! Ever since I started species fishing, I have been searching creeks and river big and small, and lake shallows far and wide for these Sculpin. I've had zero success for years and years but I had never given up hope. I even spoke to DFO and MNR scientists who collected fish in the past for locations and habitat information...and yet came up empty-handed. A couple of years ago, I saw a flash and a glimpse of what I thought was a sculpin, but I could not identify it without doubt. Then last year, while I was fishing in this location, I was trying to net some micro minnows and dug into a muddy, weedy shallow where I found 3 juvenile Sculpin in the scoop. It gave me hope.
It is even more awesome that this is my 100th Canadian lifer species. I only know of one other person who has caught 100 species in Canada, and his name is Kazuhiro Fujiki - my fishing sensei - the person who nurtured me into a true species angler and a micro fishing aficionado.
Thank you little Mottled Sculpin. I am glad that out of all the species in Canada, you are the one that help me reach the century mark. You and I have been trying to get together for a long time, and we finally met!
Mottled Sculpin (Cottus bairdii) - Species #6hundred3tySomething (depends on further ID of Peru species)...but definitely 100th Canadian species!!!
The pelvic fins are NOT fused into a suction cup, indicating that this is a Sculpin species and NOT a Round Goby. There are 4 pelvic rays, indicating that this is a Mottled Sculpin and not a Slimy Sculpin (which has 3 pelvic rays).
And folks, that's instant karma for taking a child out to catch a fish he wanted to catch. Take a kid fishing!!!