I’ve decided to upgrade the quality of my site, and to move to a different look. I hope you’ll follow me on my new site, www.canadianfisherman.ca.
Looking forward to seeing you there!
I’ve decided to upgrade the quality of my site, and to move to a different look. I hope you’ll follow me on my new site, www.canadianfisherman.ca.
Looking forward to seeing you there!
After putting the Delorme InReach SE through its paces, I’m ready to share my feedback, which is 100% positive. Below, I have shared a video review I shot on the dock during a remote fishing trip, where we had no contact with the rest of the world for 7 days. No phone, no internet, just nature (and my Delorme InReach SE). Let’s do this review based on what my needs were.
There are two main times when I want to have guaranteed communication options.First is when I go on fishing trips, at least one of which is in a remote location with no cellular service or WiFi (often no power either). The locations we fish often provide Satellite Phones for rent, which could be a sound option. If you rent phones year after year though, that can add up, and then you are limited in that the reception has to be good at that moment, and someone had better be on the other line to answer. You may also have difficulty if you need to describe where you are, as you won’t have GPS coordinates at your finger tips. Finally, if someone wants to call you, you have to be by the phone and have it on. This could present a challenge for battery life, and for convenience. With the Delorme SE we could power it up once a day, to send any messages, retrieve any that were sent to us, post to our social media sites, and get the weather report. In the week I was away, I estimate I used 18% of the available battery.
This unit comes with an emergency SOS feature that thankfully we did not need to use. If we had though, be turning off the safety and activating it, we would have been put in touch with emergency responder who would have been able to text with us, and had we been incapacitated, would have known our specific GPS coordinates.
The other time I wanted guaranteed communication was when I went camping or boating with the family. Even when we are not that far from urban areas, I am always surprised how often I lose cell signal. If my boat breaks down or we have an issue camping, it is comforting to know you have options.
Important but non emergency communications:
Not all communications are an emergency. For instance, we wanted to let our spouses know that we had landed safely. Once we touched down and were settled, it was amazingly easy to send a text saying we had arrived at the lake safely, and receive a couple of “have fun” and “good luck” replies. During the trip my son turned 7, and we agreed to have a birthday text chat at a predetermined time. He was very excited to be talking to his Dad who was using a satellite device, and I felt at little less guilty about being away on his birthday. We also used the texting feature to check in with family on some sports scores as a couple of our favourite teams were in the playoffs! While we had the comfort of knowing we had the ability to ask for help, our families also appreciated the fact that they could get in touch with us if they needed to.
Knowing the weather doesn’t just help with safety, it helps will overall comfort, enjoyment and planning. One of the BEST features we enjoyed was the ability to get up-to-date weather reports based on our geographic location, determined by the device! Each evening we would pull up a report for the following day, which gave us temperature by the hour, as well as wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, and precipitation. As anglers, that was vital information to help us catch more fish. As anglers in the remove north, that was information that made sure we stayed safe, and were off the water and back at camp before it became too late. Knowing the forecast allowed us to decide how far to travel each day, and when, as well as what to wear / pack and even what meals to schedule. This feature alone made the device worthwhile!
As someone who has a website and social feeds, it was important for me to stay current on my content even when I was away. The ability to post to my Facebook and Twitter feed meant that I could post updates or teasers, along with a link to show my map location. A post like “Amazing day of fishing, can’t wait to post the pictures” let my followers know what I was up to, and gave them a reason to check back often.
Ok, this is the only negative part of the review, and its MY FAULT! When I purchased the unit, I was deciding between the SE version and the the Explorer. There was a price difference, and I chose the lower priced unit. We are talking about $60 dollars difference. I was planning my most recent trip, and I was using satellite maps (Google Earth) of the lake I was going to, as well as the mapping software that comes with the Earthmate App. I was taking the GPS coordinates from Google Earth, and using those to mark way points on the Earthmate app, excited that when I arrived I’d be able to use my iPhone to navigate the lake with pre-loaded way points. Oops, that feature came with the Explorer unit, not the one I bought. It would have been a crazy valuable feature, but because I wanted to save $60, I missed out. I was able to export the way points from the Earthmate app to a handheld GPS, but it was decidedly less convenient. So, give careful consideration when you decide which unit to buy.
Final thoughts? Outstanding. It exceeded my expectations, and each member of my group commented on how valuable it was for our group, and how easy it was to use and integrate into our trip. One of our members enjoys snowmobiling in the winter and has already identified this as a must-have tool for their group during their remote trips. Check out www.inreachcanada.com for more information, and enjoy this video.
Opening weekend for Walleye and Pike was the 3rd Saturday in May for the area where Shekak Lake is located, and our group would be there the very next day, as the first anglers on the lake for the year. It was time for what has become the annual Fly In Fishing trip, and it looked to be another good one. The four originals were back, my brother, Chris, and two good friends Dan and Scott. Our group has included other good guys in the past (and hopefully will again), but time of year and budget always play a role in who goes each year. We had spent a lot time talking about where we wanted to go fishing this year, with Chris playing the lead roll of trip organizer. We had to answer our usual questions; when, budget, American plan vs housekeeping, amenities, group size, lake size, species… you get point.
When you have a group of guys you have to try and come up with something that everyone will enjoy. I really liked it this year as I was not the organizer, and was looking forward to paying my share and showing up with my stuff. We benefited from the help of the one man knowledge base of Mike Borger, of Canada Fishing Guide fame, who put us onto White River Air as an operation. They’ve been on our radar for years, but it was Mikes contribution that put us over the top. We were fortunate to secure Shekak Lake, which is one of their deluxe outposts, meaning we’d have some power from a generator, and hot and cold running water, so we wouldn’t exactly be roughing it. Check out my walk through of the cabin:
We made our journey to White River Air, where we stayed at the White River Motel. After a stop at the local Robins Donuts for coffee, and the local bait shop for some crawlers, we were off to the lake where the planes take off. We’re pretty much veterans of fly in trips now, but you still get the butterflies of excitement as you board the Beaver and hear that engine rev up. Our flight to Shekak was only 15 minutes and was one of our smoother rides. The pilot was kind enough to give us a bit of a fly over of the lake so we could orient ourselves to the real thing, having spent most of our time looking at satellite maps. In short order we were landed, tied up to the dock and our gear unloaded. A quite orientation tour to show us how the pump, generator and diesel heating unit worked, and the plane was off again and we were assembling rods. We had brand new 14ft Lund Boats with 9.9hp Mercury 4 strokes to use for the week, comfortable in deed.
One thing that is important to remember on these trips, is that even though they are remote lakes that see very little fishing pressure, there are still some basic principles that apply. First, the fish won’t be “everywhere” on the lake, and you need to expect to spend some time learning the lake and learning where they are for the time of year. Second, high sun, hot days with no wind are tough days to get fish going, particularly on clear water with little weed growth. Third, if it’s not safe to be out in the boat, then don’t. Fourth and finally, no matter what your plan was going into the lake, be prepared to modify.
All these principles were put into play on our trip. The first day, even though it was May, was a scorcher with no wind and no cloud. Combine that with it being our first day on the lake, and a shorter day at that because we just few in, and it was our least productive days. Don’t get me wrong, we caught fish, just not in the numbers or size we were looking forward two. We also began to realize that the season was much later than we had planned for.
Water temps on the surface were already 58 degrees, and would only climb (they were 63 when we left). The spring walleye bite was probably already winding down and they were likley already in transition to summer. More evidence of this was that none of the walleye caught were milking, meaning the spawn was long done.
Day two we had more of a plan in place, but a major change in the weather welcomed us. Intense wind made fishing the main lake us challenging the first two days were for us, the next five more than made up for it. We had 5 days of mostly cloud with some rain and modest winds, also known as ideal walleye conditions, and we didn’t miss any of it. We all caught a lot of walleye and some big ones. Fishing for walleye also presents a great opportunity to catch some big northern pike, which were were happy to boat in numbers as well.
Shekak is a relatively small lake, say 15 minute boat ride from the cabin to the furthest location we’d fish. That allowed us to both fish any location we wanted, and still be able to zip back to the cabin for our meals. It’s always fun to see what are become the “go to” baits and techniques. This was an interesting week for me, because none of my traditional lures were working, so I diversified the offering. In no particular order, the Rapala Shadow Rap Minnow, the Berkely Pro Grub, any worm harness, and my new favorite Bass Magnet Shiftr Shad on a swim bait hook were my most productive lures, and accounted for most of my fish, and all the big ones.
One other principles Chris and I have always believed in paid off for us big time, the simple idea that “you can’t catch em in the cabin”. We typically log a lot of hours on the water, and we got into some just plain epic bites that others missed out on. You can’t predict them, but sometimes the bite turns on, and then you simply catch em and get your bait back in the water as quick as you can and ride it out. In one such session we boated over 20 walleye each, and between us may have had 5-10 that would be eater size, the rest were all too big, and some way to big to eat!
After 7 days of great fishing, great fishing weather (for the most part) and one of the best appointed remote cabins we’ve been too, it was time to head out. The plane landed, we helped the next crew get set up, and we were off to start the long journey home, and talk about the next trip.
Travelling into the remote parts of Ontario for fishing trips is a pleasure only a few get to enjoy. The best ones for me are when there are no other camps, just a mid-week check by a bush pilot. You don’t have internet, WiFi, and often no electricity or running water. These type of trips really allow you to connect with your fellow anglers, and with nature, and to immerse yourself in the peace and joy the land affords. It is not without risks however. We may take for granted our access to doctors, nurses, dentists, and pharmacies. In the remote outpost camps I fish, you have to be prepared for some potentially unpleasant things from cuts and scrapes, to inclement weather, to more severe medical emergencies that may come up. Over the years I’ve become more mindful of assembling a list of equipment that I take in to ensure that should the worst occur, I’m in the best position possible to manage it. While not my entire list, I wanted to highlight a few items I take on every trip.
In the video below I’ll cover some of these and some others. Let’s take a look at some of these in more detail.
First Aid Kit: I don’t doubt that most folks would include some type of first aid kit / supplies. For me the important part is to make sure the kit is appropriate for the group size, and the duration of the trip. The kit shown in this picture is for Mountain Equipment Co-op. They have an enormous variety of kits, and they will have on them the information you need. This will include the supply lists and recommendation for group size / trip length. You can always augment the kit with specific items such as medication or extra bandaids. I prefer kits that are waterproof since I take them on the boat with me.
PFD: The best life jacket you can buy is one that you will wear. I’ve transitioned to using self-inflating life jackets like the vest in the video below from Mustang Survival. It is light, adjustable, and comfortable. It will inflate if I pull the emergency cord or if immersed in water (great in case I fall and am injured and can’t pull the cord). The best part of these vests is that you forget you are wearing them, which means you keep them on.
Delorme InReach SE: You can watch my video on this unit as well. Since I have no cell / WiFi service when I’m out in the bush, this unit uses global satellites to provide connectivity with the world. The SOS feature will contact emergency personnel if the worst should occur. It also allows for two way texting, weather updates, mapping, and even social media posts. If you only took one thing, this is the one to take (aside from a life jacket).
Eton Solar / Crank Radio: This unit by Eton is an amazing device. It has a flashlight, gets AM / FM / NOAA weather, and has the ability to charge devices that use USB. The power supply can come from the sun through a small solar panel on top, or by using the hand crank. I’ve taken my unit both on remote trips, as well as camping and boating excursions. It provides updates on the weather, music, the ball game, and some much needed light and piece of mind should you need a quick charge to make a phone call.
Utility Knife: I can’t count the number of times I’ve needed a feature on my Swiss Army Knife. I’ve worked on kindling for a fire, opened a can when the can opener we brought broke, cut cord / fishing line, used the tweezers / pic and so on. There are so many varieties with so many options. Do yourself a favour and pick one up that has the features you would most likely use, and few that would come in handy. The great thing is, because they are so compact, you can keep them in your pocket. Confession, I have more than one and keep them in different locations. I have one in my tackle bag, one in the camping gear, and one in kitchen!
Flint: I like the idea of starting fires using flint; it just seems so rustic. I also really like the idea of being able to start a fire if the matches are gone, or your lighter isn’t working. I picked up the BlastMatch Fire Starter because of its one-handed operation. You can really generate some amazing sparks right in the combustible material you are using and you still have a hand free.
Sunscreen: Sunscreen is a safety / emergency tool? You bet. I was talking to a lodge owner who had to medically evacuate two guests who came for a fishing trip and didn’t expect it to be sunny and warm. Well, weather can change, and after two days of 30 degree celcius weather in May, and clear skies, they were burned so badly they had to go to the hospital. I like the Ultra Sheer by Neutrogena, but pick what suits you and please wear it!
For more equipment, watch my video below.
It was on my first remote fly in that I had my first experience with having no communication with the outside world. It was bliss to unplug, no electricity, no music, no internet, no email! It sounded amazing, and it was…so long as nothing went wrong. When you are away in the remote north, you are able to immerse yourself in nature, and unplug from society, but that doesn’t mean that people can’t get sick or injured, or that the unexpected won’t happen. So when I was asked if we wanted to rent a satellite phone, I said yes. Now the cost at the time (4 years ago) was about $150 to rent, with per minute costs if you actually used it. It came with a list of times that would be ideal for the phone to connect to the network. That trip, the phone never left the box.
I’ve been on a few other trips since, and each time we have rented the phone so that in the event we had an emergency we had a way of seeking help. During the years though I was really shocked to see how many times I was out camping, or fishing, or just driving in the boat with the family on lakes not far away (and with cottages in sight), that I had no cell phone signal. In fact just last year I towed a fellow boater into the docks who was out on a lake in late fall, (with cottages in site but no cottagers still up) whose engine had failed and the battery had run out on the electric. He was being buffeted against the shore on a windy day, thankful that I came around.
So I decided that there were enough times when a satellite device could come in handy, that I decided to get one. I wanted one that met a few criteria:
And so I purchased the only device that hit all criteria with flying colours, the Delorme InReach SE.
As I type this, I’m less than a week away from my first Remote Fly In Fishing Adventure of 2016, where I plan to not only use the unit, but report on all of its functionality. To get things started, here is an unboxing video to get things started. In the coming months I will do full reviews, as well as feature breakdowns, giving honest feedback on how the unit performs, and how well it meets my needs. Enjoy!
UPDATE: Enjoy 15% off your monthly subscription by using this link:https://roadpost.wufoo.com/forms/member-affinity-discount-program/ and select “Amateur Angler”.
A chance to get out on the water early in the season, check. Chance to get the kids involved in fishing, check. Opportunity for the family to spend time together, in the out of doors, check. That’s what the 2016 Orillia Perch Festival mean to me, entering the family in it for the first time this year. I was as the Hamilton Boat show and was put onto the festival by an outdoor writer, and decided to check it out. The festival is put on by the local Chamber of Commerce, and last for about 4 weeks. It’s very affordable to enter, just $20 for adults and $5 for kids, which gets you access for the entire time.
I was lured by the hope of schools of hungry perch, where the kids would be able to catch
them like pulling rock bass of the dock, but we missed the few days where the perch had come in shallow. Not to be deterred though, we had two great days as a family. Day 1 for us was also the first day we put the boat in the water, a full month earlier than normal, which I was excited about. We had preregistered for the event but still had to check in and get our badges and forms at the registration centre. The kids were very excited to get their very own badges and forms🙂. With our administration duties completed, we were off to the public launch to get things going.
Our plan was to be on the water for about 90 minutes. It was a short time but the kids are still at the age where they are learning patience in a a boat, but we also had long drive times and needed to be home. We headed out to an area on the lake called “the narrows” which is an area of shallow water where two lake join, but also where the “tagged” fish that have extra value were released. Most of our journey was in a no wake zone which allowed for ample opportunity to speak to other anglers. What we heard on the water is what we had heard in early reports. The fish had not come in shallow yet, and it was tough fishing.
We happened upon one young fella who had spent over 8 hours on the water and collected two fish. He pointed us to where he’d caught them and off we went. We fished for almost 2 hours, and our only success was my son Jacob who caught our one and only perch for the day. He was very excited, and spent many a moment describing to the rest of us how he seemed to be the only person who had any fishing luck.
At the end of our journey we headed back in, pulled out the boat and headed to HQ to have our perch inspected for live release, and to get an entry ballot for our young master angler. In those two short hours we managed to get our first sunburns of the year, a reminder of the importance of hats and sunscreen even on cool days. We headed on our 2 hour journey home, ready to return in two weeks time.
Our second day a few weeks later was much the same as the first, minus the fish. We got skunked! The only solace came from talking to scores of other anglers who were in the same boat. It seems the best fishing days came during the week days, when we were not on the water. The most fun on our final day though was the OPP kids day, where the local detachment along with scores of volunteers hosted tones of activities for kids of all ages. There were sack races, soccer dribbling, casting exercises, a chance to sit in an OPP helicopter, complimentary BBQ and so much more. Really, having the kids have a positive association with Police, and with Fishing, I’m a happy father.
This was our first year with the perch festival, and while we had fun, I’m not sure if it will become a regular thing. A two hour drive each way is a big commitment for our family, so we have to be judicious in how we use or non work time. We are grateful to all of those who dedicated time to hosting the festival, well done!
For the first couple years I owned a boat, to get ready for the winter I would take the motor off (9.9HP), carry it in to the marina and leave. I’d then head to my fathers, flip the boat over on some home made a frames, with the trailer tucked under, and not think about it until the weather warmed. Come spring time, I’d reverse the process, and always be so pleased when the engine started within the first 1/2 dozen pulls. With the new boat, including a much bigger motor, more electronics, and more money at stake, I now have my motor serviced and winterized by my dealer, who also stores / wraps the boat. I know a number of my buddies who do this process themselves, in fact they enjoy it. It got me thinking, should I consider doing it all myself and save some money, or should I keep going to a professional. I don’t think there is a right answer, everyone’s situation is different, including their comfort working with engines, but it caused me to ask my dealer, “what would you say to someone who asked if it was worth it to hire a professional?”.
“First off the climate that we live in you want to make sure that you properly winterize your engine. With the sub zero temperatures will freeze any water that is left in the engine and cause unnecessary damage. The proper steps include draining all water from the engine, then fogging the cylinders. You fog the cylinders so there is no chance of rust running through your engine. In the yearly maintenance on a 4 stroke engine like yours, you always want to change the gear oil and the actual engine oil. This is just like changing the oil in your vehicle. You want to make sure that the oil is fresh and clean for the following season to keep your engine running at its best.
Dealing with a professional has lots of different advantages. Doing it yourself you may be able to get the maintenance done but, you may be less aware of any other issues that should be looked after. When a technician does scheduled maintenance on an engine he runs then engine and if there is any other cause for concern he is there to diagnose and make any necessary repairs. If you have a newer engine you often have a warranty with it. With using a licensed technician instead of doing it yourself you are making sure that there is no warranty exemption because you did it yourself and may have forgot a step that voids the warranty. Dealers are also updated on any recalls. This may be as small as changing a wiring connection but this all looked at when the engine is in the shop.
These are just a few points. Of course there are many others but, if I were in a consumer role I would consider the above points. I take my truck to a trusted mechanic for a reason. I am more than capable of changing oil or doing the brakes but he is able to a complete inspection of the truck while it is in the shop. Another thing is I just don’t have the time for what he charges me. Often costs of taking it to a professional can be lower than what you expect because they are very efficient at what they do.” Ryan Scharringa *
Ryan made some great points. I work in an industry where there are professionals, and those who are not so professional, and we constantly compete on being full service, value added. I pay a fair price to have a professional inspect, service and winterize my boat and motor. The real value of that service comes each spring. This year is was on April 17th, when I hooked up the boat, loaded the truck with the family and headed to Orillia to participate in the Orillia Perch Festival. The boat launches were busy, so we rushed to get the boat in the water and moved it out of the way by hand. I headed quite a ways to find a place to park the truck trailer. I returned, we all put on our PFDs, and I inserted the key. What happened next was worth every penny as the engine turned over on the first try, and it purred. We had another trouble free day on the water, our first of many for this season.