Welcome to Week XIV of 'Fishing Parkland Shorelines'. Like most of us I am a novice fisherman, loving to fish, but far from an expert. In the following weeks I'll attempt to give those anglers who love to fish but just don't have access a boat a look at some of the options in the Yorkton area where you can fish from shore, and hopefully catch some fish for a good summer fry.''
The Qu'Appelle Valley is one of the most picturesque areas in East Central Saskatchewan, and that wonderful scenery is the backdrop to this week's excursion to do a little shore fishing.
Head south of Yorkton on Highway #9 until you get to a sign for Round Lake, turn west on Highway #247 and within an hour you will have arrived.
Our first stop is Bird's Point where we meet local area guides Chris and Coral Istace. Chris is not an official guide, but is a friend who used to work at Yorkton This Week as a journalist, and is now co-writing an as of yet unnamed book with yours truly.
We decide to feed ourselves before the fish, and at Bird's Point that is easy with Chilly's Pub & Grill, a popular resort restaurant. It's actually two spots, with Chilly's Crab Shack , which just re-opened after being closed for months from the 2011 flooding which hit the valley.
Just a word on the food, the homemade fries and chipotle ranch sauce for them was great. The blue cheese burger on the other hand should be avoided since the concept of actually putting blue cheese on the burger apparently eludes the cook.
So over our 50/50 lunch I joke with Chris that his reputation is on the line, since the story of the day would make this column, adding I have one goal, and that's to land a channel catfish.
Catfish are rare in Saskatchewan, but they do hide in the Qu'Appelle River and the lakes it flows through, so I am hopeful.
Chris said he hopes he is up to the task, later adding it has been a half-dozen years since he had landed a channel cat himself.
But I remain hopeful, and follow Chris back east along Highway #247 a couple of miles then turn back into the lake. There is a dam structure where the Qu'Appelle River enters Round Lake. As a dam you must fish 25 metres from it for safety reasons, although in this case the dam was wrecked in the flood, so is basically a few concrete pillars in the river.
We go upstream a bit and fish. I get a hammer-handle pike on a spoon in a hurry, but release him to grow up.
Chris lands a sucker off a pickerel jig, using the rough fish as bait to set a Carolina jig in hopes of finding a catfish.
So Chris says it is time to try a new spot.
It's back on Highway #247, this time west until it meets Highway #201 where we turn south toward Broadview. About half a mile south the highway crosses the Qu'Appelle River. Here the water is almost still, and is the colour of water after washing a very dirty floor. I've watched more than enough fishing shows to know murky water and channel catfish go together like cookies and milk.
I opt for a pickerel rig with minnows as bait, and throw it out and within a couple of minutes I have a strike. I set the hook and start to bring the fish in. There is a lot of fight. Catfish are noted fighters, but so too are pike and bigger walleye. It's not until the catch is right at shore and surfaces we see it is a catfish. Chris jumps down to the river edge and scoops the critter into the net.
I'm 52 and it is my first catfish. The catch rates as a highlight of my fishing.
Let me fast forward to lunch the following day. Channel catfish fried in butter and seasoned with garlic, onion powder and a bit of Cajun seasoning (done by my wife) was on the menu. It ranks right beside lake trout as the tastiest Saskachewan caught fish I have tasted.
But back to the river. I manage a nice walleye, and then the crayfish attacked, and I do mean attacked.
There were suddenly nibbles on almost every cast of the jigs. We'd set the hooks and reel in to find a crayfish latched onto the minnow bait. We must have landed a dozen of them, making us wish we'd kept them since I have heard they cook up nicely too.
It was actually so bad I brought on crawdaddy in on a spoon.
It was in the midst of the crayfish frenzy Chris and Coral had to leave for a family function. Chris was smiling, his reputation has grown a mile in my books with the channel catfish in the pail.
We try to fish through the hungry crustaceans, but finally leave the river to them.
Chris had suggested the shore just below the Crab Shack at Bird's Point for evening fishing, so we head there.
A jig nets a couple of perch, making it five species caught in one day, which is pretty fantastic fishing in itself.
And a spoon cast as far as possible found some very fight-happy pike. When you have to drag them in a long way, and they argue the point every twist of the reel handle pike are as much fun to land as any sport fish out there in the local area.
In the end it was an amazing sunny Saturday at Round Lake -- the valley is beautiful, the company great, and the catfish a memory maker.