Tag Archives: Fishing

Lake O’s High Water Levels

Hi folks, do you live in southern Ontario in close vicinity to Lake Ontario and or the Saint Lawrence River? If so then you have probably been effected by the rising water levels of our water ways in one form or another.

If you follow my blog or any of my social media platforms then you are probably aware that I basically live on the water lol, (at least that is what my wife tells people). If I’m not working on a boat I am spending time on our personal boat our out fishing with friends and or family. Most of my water activities are spent on the eastern end of Lake Ontario and the St Lawrence River system.

Back in 2017 Lake Ontario, and the St Lawrence, saw some of the highest water levels it has ever witnessed on record. The levels reached a staggering 83cm above the average water level for this time of year.

Now just 2 years later and we are currently sitting at 76cm above the average for this time of year, (or for those of you that know what I’m talking about lol, 1.632 Meters above Chart Datum as of 16:00hrs this afternoon), and it is still rising. We are not expecting the levels to stabilize over the coming weeks and in other articles I’ve read, predictions are that we will see at least another 10cm to 12cm before levels begin to level off and start to receed.

It is expected that once again we will see record breaking water levels due to the excessive water flow comming over Niagara Falls from Lake Erie. Along with some very rainy weather we’ve had this spring. Niagara Falls let’s in %83 to %85 of the inflow to lake Ontario the remainder is from the tributaries leading to the lake.

Niagara Falls (picture credit to http://www.niagaraparks.com )

In 2017 the levels across lake Ontario and the St Lawrence river decimated some waterfront properties and washed away shorelines right across the southern part of the province.

Toronto 2017 water levels

Fish habitat was disturbed, fish were found in water treatment facilities and in some cases were found swimming along flooded streets and public parks that had been submerged. The water levels this year are going to get even higher.

People have been stating to me that they don’t understand why the province won’t open the dams along the St Lawrence so that Lake Ontario will settle down a bit? Well the best answer that I have seen is as follows

– The great lakes basin, the Ottawa river, and the St Lawrence River, all merge in Montreal Harbor. The levels in Montreal have already exceeded the record water levels, set in 2017. For every 1 inch that the Iroquois, and Massena Dams allow lake Ontario to drain, it will increase the water levels in Montreal, (and further down the St Lawrence river) by 11 inches. Montreal and further down river are already in some major flooding problems of their own so we simply cannot allow any more flow out of the lake than what we are already letting loose.

Iroquois dam 2018

I know around my home territory, in the Quinte region, businesses and properties are in desperate need for the levels to drop. However, I fear the increase in levels will be getting quite a bit worse before it gets better

I know at work, the levels are taking its toll on the locals, as even the slightest east wind now can affect the Glenora Ferry service. People in the area depend on this service to get them to and from work, taking them from the island to the mainland and back again. Businesses in the area depend on the ferry to allow their clients to be able to get to their locations, especially this time of year. if the ferry has to shut Down for any length of time, it can be devastating.

Glenora Ferry service leaving Adolphus Town

Businesses close to the water in the area are getting flooded out. The Picton Harbour Inn, (in Picton), have seen their docks starting to go under water, as well as their parking lot area has just started to get its first sign of flooding. The INN has placed water barrels along the docks in an attempt to hold the docks down and not RIP them out of place. So far this tactic has worked but if the water raises much more I’m afraid it may not be enough.

Picton Harbor Inn Docks (photo credit to Picton Harbor Inn Facebook page ) ,http://www.pictonharbourinn.com/

All the marinas and Yaught clubs in the Picton area are fighting to keep their docks afloat and their boaters from leaving.

Boaters are not putting their boats in the water yet due to the levels, potentially costing tens of thousands of dollars worth of expected income to these marinas for this time of year, not to mention possibly costing tens of thousands in repairs to equipment and the docks themselves. This is most likely indicative of all the areas that line the shores of Lake Ontario and the St Lawrence river throughout the province.

River Front Pub ( Napanee)
Public boat launch on Haybay ( Bay Of Quinte )

Last week I did put my boat in the water and it was quite the adventure to say the least (link to blog https://oldsaltydog.blog/2019/05/20/the-inaugural-voyage-part-2/ ) however what I noticed was all the debris in the lake, from trees, and garbage to lumber and even an overturned row boat that someone probably had on shore ready to use this summer floating down stream. I mean sure there is usually some branches/ tree stumps, and things like that during the spring time, but there has been an unusual amount of other debris this year as well.

I hope for everyone affected by the water levels this year that it all turns out ok in the end, if you are putting a boat in the water soon, please take extra care and look out for that debris that can really put a damper in your day.

Also let me know in the comment section what you think of my blog.

Cheers

A Little Hidden Gem INN Picton ON.

After the Inaugural voyage of the Salty Dog(Follow link to read about the Inaugural voyage. https://oldsaltydog.blog/2019/05/20/the-inaugural-voyage-part-2/ )I started thinking about the small drip (leak) we had found on the transom, and although it was not a significant leak it still had me worried. On the way back home and after dropping off Friends, Peter, and Erin, to their respected vehicles I headed over to Robs place where his wife and my wife, had prepared a nice steak dinner awaiting our arrival.After dinner we all gathered round their TV and watched the finale of the Game Of Thrones. During the show I started thinking about that leak on the boat and decided after the show I would head back and make sure it was in fact, a small leak lol.

At midnight I finally got back to the boat to my great relief she was still afloat, LOL, so I loaded my sleeping gear into the boat and checked the engine room for damages. There was actually a substantial amount of water accumulation at the bottom, or at least more than I had hoped for ( approx 5 cups) Still not enough to be much of a concern but enough to know I will have to do something about it in the near future.After a long day it was off to bed for a well deserved bit of R & R.

In the morning I woke up early and immediately checked the water levels in the bilge. It hadn’t risen much over night so I figured its was a perfect opportunity to get out and eat something lol.I decided to head into picton to one of my favorite little spots.Now over the past few years a friend of mine Scott, his wife Sophie, and his Brother David, have been running the Picton Harbour Inn, and although they have all been working tirelessly around the clock, to make sure their guests have some great experiences, with new, state of the art rooms, and great service. They have also revamped the entire property both inside and out.

In doing so, they actually re-invented the harbour, the Inn, and the restaurant ( a part of the Inn) not to mention this Inn has been a big part of the towns history. Scott, and his team have renovated the much needed and very dated, restaurant over a year ago and it looks great. If you pay attention to the decorations and decor within the restaurant it has a very distinct nautical theme, from old ship pictures that used to Harbour in Picton, to the nautical lines tying back the curtains over the windows. Of course it is right up my alley, lol.

They have taken the shoreline and transformed it, by installing some great landscaping, new docks, used by guests, local guides as well as transiants coming to the area and looking for a good meal and a possible room for the night.

They have installed a fountain in the harbor as well, which lights up at night and is a nice little addition to the area. The locals are relishing in its glory once again, and It has become a local hot spot for breakfast and lunch, the food, is simply, amazing.

From what I understand, the restaurant gets much of their foods from local farmers, and they support as much local business and community as they can, Ok I also have to mention the service of the Lighthouse staff, talk about personable people, it’s like you’ve known them for years when you first walk through the door until you walk right back out again, just a fun atmosphere all round.

One of the best parts about the Inn, is its location. It is located right at the end of the Harbour closest to the town of Picton. I’m telling ya, if you ever pass by this area you must give this little hidden gem a try.

In recent years the Picton Harbour INN, has been featured on many fishing shows and is a fan favorite for fisherman from all over North America.

The Lighthouse restaurant.

A Day on the Bay

They say a bad day fishing is better than a good day at work. I tend to agree with that statement and here is one scenario.

leave me a comment below and let me know if you agree.

If you have ever fished The Bay Of Quinte in the Fall you know that The Bay seems to have a mind of its own at times. The Bay Of Quinte commands respect. Every morning as many of you fight your way through city traffic and crowd your self onto over populated street cars and subways, trying hard not to make eye contact with the person rubbing up against you, by looking onto your electronic devices and spending all day trying to get the smell of a thousand different perfumes, mixed with BO, and thousand cologne smells you had the pleasure of encountering before you had your morning coffee, out of your head. relax there is a place where all that craziness seems to just disappear.

Of course, I’m talking about fishing. Fall Fishing on The Bay Of Quinte can be, in a word, majestic. As clients pull up to the harbor before sunrise and watch as the fishing captains of all the charters tied off to the docks ready their boats for the days activities, If you could just relax for a few minutes and pay attention to your surroundings, you would notice an array of activities going on. Anglers launching their boats into the water at the main public launch, the trees rustling in the wind on the high cliffs surrounding the harbor, the sound of the boats warming their engine’s, the sound of the birds coming to the harbor and landing in the water where they stay for the day to feed, the distant chit chat of anglers discussing their days plan and wishing each other luck.

As the sun tries hard to make an appearance a dim light starts to shine through the trees empty branches, its time to load clients onto the boats. As each Boat unties from their respected dock, you see a convoy of charter boats slowly making their way out of the harbor and into the channel. The water like a sheet of glass and the boats not even making a ripple in the water. By the time most of the boats have reached the entrance where the channel meets the bay, boats start to throttle up as to be the first boat to their days choice spot. the boats head out into all directions and soon they all disappear and you are alone, just you, your captain, and your crew.

As we make our way to our destination, the sun rising, you start to notice the light fog over top of the water as it is cooling and getting closer to the big freeze of the winter months. shore lines lightly covered with a dusting of snow, we pass a flock of low flying ducks one way, and a flock of geese the next. The boat throttles down and comes almost to a complete stop. The captain starts the small trolling motor and turns off the main engines you can barely hear the small motor running, after a short time the captain has set up all the rods and reels and you slowly start to concentrate on the rod tips moving, and awaiting the sound the reel makes when there is a fish on the line. Pretty soon any and all life’s little problems seem to have taken a back seat to the tranquility, and the immediate, here and now.

After a while of trolling around you start to get anxious and wanting to hear the scream of the reel knowing that there would be a potental that dinner may be on the other end, Yet Nothing happens. The captain makes a few changes in the program and you feel excitement that the changes made, will make all the difference, and soon a fish will strike.

More time passes, and the lines lay quietly in the water stalking your prey. You have now long since finished your coffee, and start to forget about the act of catching fish. chatting among your friends and reminiscing of old times, As time passes you have now completely given up on hope that any one will catch a fish today but you don’t mind as you are having fun listening to, and telling stories, having a few snacks, and listening to some music. its now mid afternoon and there is a strange clicking sound coming from behind your seat, the captain jumps out of his seat and runs over you to grab the rod with a bend in it he sets the drag of the reel and hands it to you. at first you don’t really feel anything maybe a bit of resistance but cant tell if a fish is on the line or if its just the lure at the other end. Suddenly a few good shakes of the fish and the rod loads up almost bending right over, you think the rod is about to snap. now your adrenaline pumping, the blood rushing through your veins, you realize you have a big fish on the other end. after several minutes of fighting, your arm gets tired, you want to hand off the fish but your friends are cheering you on and you can’t give it up now. you fight the fish until it is at the boat, the captain pulls a net out and nets the biggest Walleye you have ever seen. after taking a few pictures you decide to release the fish back to try and let someone else have their chance at catching this beauty fish.

Its your personal best walleye and possibly fish you have ever caught. the captain re-sets line in hopes of a last attempt to try for another one before its time to go in.

Unfortunatly not another one is caught for the day. The captain brings up the lines, turns off the small trolling motor, the big engines tart up and you head in for the day, on the way home you start to notice the sun starting to set, the birds that you passed in the morning are starting their journey back to where they came from, soon you notice other boats getting closer heading back to port, and shortly there is a few boats heading back up the channel to the harbor creating that convoy you noticed in the morning.

Once you get back to the dock you realize that you did not think about work all day, or that you have to get to the bank to make that payment, or you havn’t talked with your wife/ girlfriend/boyfriend all day and didn’t get the dreaded, (can you pick up a few things on your way home ) call. you realize that you had fun with some friends and have just made another great memory. Now your already looking forward to your next day on the water knowing every day fishing can be extremely different than the last trip out.

Capt James Mathias

Don’t forget to let me know if you agree.

Is a bad day fishing better than a good day at work?

Becoming a Mate

Hello everyone. I have been off writing lately since the fiasco that happened with my charter vessel in 2017.

Last year had an interesting start for my family and I. As most of you that follow my blog posts may remember, my family and I had a crazy season in 2017. I was away from them for most of the year while I guided up in Northern Ontario at a fly-in fishing resort called Slippery Winds. I then embarked on a cross country adventure fishing from province to province to help raise money for a great charity called, Feed My Starving Children. Once that was done in late August to early September I headed home to help on the build site of our new home as our family was chosen to partner up with Habitat for Humanity earlier on in the year.

Then, in the Fall of 2017, I started chatting with the CEO of St Lawrence cruise lines about working on the ship I worked on back in 2016, ( The Canadian Empress) As some of you may recall the blogs I had written about working on the Canadian Empress back in 2016, I wrote a short 5 part series. If you would like to recap about my adventures? Then before reading any further then please go ahead and read the series again and come back to this blog for the continuation LOL. they start at the following link.

Part 1- https://fishingquinte.com/2016/10/12/part-1-of-cruising-the-st-lawrence/

Part 2- https://fishingquinte.com/2016/10/13/part-2-of-cruising-the-st-lawrence/

Part 3- https://fishingquinte.com/2016/10/14/part-3-cruising-the-st-lawrence/

Part 4 – https://fishingquinte.com/2016/10/15/part-4-cruising-the-st-lawrence/

Part 5- https://fishingquinte.com/2016/10/16/part-5-cruising-the-st-lawrence/

in January of (2018) I had been in contact with St Lawrence Cruise Lines about a possible job position and returning to the company for that up coming season. After respectfully declining a position offered to me to come back to the ship as a deckhand I was presented an offer I felt was hard to refuse. Mr Clark had offered me the position of First Mate/1st Officer putting the stripes on my arm I had hoped for when I left the ship in 2016. under a few conditions, 1st I must complete the courses required over the winter months in a timely manner. these courses were as follows,

1- Marine First Aid , SEN-1 or Simulated Electronic Navigation, MED-A2, 2 written tests from Transport Canada, A Collisions regulations Exam, and a Seamanship Exam. after that I had to Take a Medical by a physician where I had to perform the dreaded “COUGH” test LOL, now once I completed all this I was still 3 months short on my local sea-time so I was forced to find the captain I had worked for, (over 20 years ago) out of Aberdeen Scotland, and get him to sign proper documentation called, a testimony of Sea service. This is required by Transport Canada in order to have enough sea time required to be able to take the position in the first place. NO PROBLEM LOL.

Let me back up a bit as per the regulations in order to run a commercial charter fishing business, in Ontario, I needed several courses in order to become the captain of a small vessel and be able to take paying clientele out on water for excursions. I was under the assumption that some of the courses I already had would have sufficed for the position I was now looking to fill, however I was very wrong, I needed upgrades to my MED certificate, an upgrade to my First Aid certificate, and other than my marine radio license I did not have 1 correct certificate for the position. Nor did the 6 years of experience running a commercial fishing charter business on Lake Ontario and the Bay Of Quinte go towards any of my documented and registered sea-time that Transport Canada would consider to be good enough for the position I was now faced with.

Transport Canada would only take sea-time if the vessel I worked on was over a specific size and or weight. I had received testimonials from several separate commercial fishing boat captains within Canadian waters however Transport Canada would not recognize them as registered sea-time because the vessels were just shy of the minimum tonnage required. This left only 1 more option for me to be able to get my registered time required, in order to accept the position for the 2018 season on the Canadian Empress. I needed the testimonial of a captain I worked for over 20 years ago in Aberdeen Scotland. when I was approx 20 years of age.

In March 1997 I found myself travelling around Europe, I was in Aberdeen Scotland at the time, and was on the last of the money I had to my name, I was down on my luck, broke, and homeless. I decided to spend the last of my funds on a half decent hotel, then as I passed a street kid on my way into town to get a bite to eat, I thought to my self, should I give this pan handler the rest of my cash for what would I do with 20 quid ($35 Canadian dollars) anyway? Then It hit me, I’d offer the guy a meal instead.

I remember taking the stranger to get a Burger-King meal and then to a pub to share a couple pints with him. After that I would not even have enough for a meal the following day. I remember telling the man that I would be seeing him the next day on the streets and asked him if he had any tips for me on how to beg for money, remember I was going to be a newbe LOL.

I remember the bewildered look on the mans face as he couldn’t help but to ask, why had I spent the last of my funds on him? I remember telling him that I truly believe in this saying, “what goes around, comes around”, meaning if I helped him ( a man down on his luck) that someone may do the same for me as I was surly going to need a miracle soon if I were to get out of my current situation, LOL.

As it turns out, the next morning I woke up , it was my 18th birthday, and it was early, around 4am (ish). To this day I wonder why I spent the last of my cash on a hotel if I was just going to wake up so early and leave the hotel anyway’s. I remember a good friend Of mine that told me when he was desparate for cash he would go to the fishing boats and look for work. he told me it was such a crummy job that they were usually short handed and would take new guys all the time.

I decided to head down to the local wharf to see if anyone was willing to take an “inexperienced” young man to sea with them? That morning I had no luck getting a job, however, the last boat I had asked also said they were not looking for help either, so I asked him if I could just come aboard for the experience? The Captain said “sure why not”, and on the ship I got with my nap sack full of all my belongings and an ever slowly growing hunger.

the day was a fast wake up call, the sea was angry, the boat tossed like a kids toy in a bath tub. the catch was small, not too many boxes in the hold. I could feel the tension and the stress of the Captain. he was not willing to chat too much and gave very short answers to any questions I had, if I was lucky enough to even get an answer, most of the time it was a short grunt under his breath. I decided to try and give a hand in gutting and sorting fish throughout the day on deck as the captains helper seemed much more willing to chat.

On the way home to port we were listening to vessels over the radio being asked to anchor outside the harbor as the seas were too rough for them to enter. I was getting excited that we might have to spend the night on the water as I had no place to go to anyway, and it might be an opportunity to lay my head down for the night. Well no such luck, My captain was too experienced, the harbor master gave the OK for Captain Gordon Penny of the BOY GORDON, to make his way through the seas into the harbor. all I remember is looking out the windows holding on to whatever wouldn’t move and seeing nothing but Sky, then nothing but SEA, as we rode each wave up and down getting closer to the entrance to the harbor. Now for the most exciting part, and really this is where the rest of my memory gets a bit hazy, but as we were abreast of the Lighthouse just entering the harbor walls to either side of us, a Gigantic swell picked up the 30 plus tonne vessel as if it was as light as a feather and we rode that wave in like a surfboard until we were several hundred meters into the harbor and back in protected waters. I looked at the Captain and asked if that was a normal day on the water? I got another grunt and we went to his slip, tied off the ship and we were done for the day.

realizing all of a sudden that I was in the same situation I had been in that morning with no money, food, or a place to sleep, a miracle did happen.

As the day was coming to a close and I was helping the deckhand (a 45 year old gentleman), clean the remainder of the days catch. I told him my story and what I was doing in Scotland and that this had been a perfect way to spend my 18th birthday. The deckhand read between the lines of my story and then he offered me a place to stay for the night, at his flat, that he shared with 2 other roommates. Of course I took him up on his offer and went home with the guy LOL.

Over the night the deckhand, myself and the one of his roommates sat down, shared some stories, and drank some suds. By morning I got woken up by the deckhand of the Boy Gordon He asked me if I wanted his job. A bit confused, and still half tipsy from the night before, he told me if I wanted it then I’d have to get my rear end to the boat ASAP, he had a bicycle for me to use and after the day’s work I could come back to the flat and could continue to use the room they had empty until HIS other roommate comes back from working on an off shore drilling rig in a week or so.

It was too good to be true, or at least it seemed. I hopped on the guys bike and rode to the Boat to let the Captain know that his deckhand would not be joining him that day, and if he wanted a hand that I would be more than happy to give it to him. The Captain stuck for help told me to get in and we quickly untied the vessel and headed out to sea once again.

Now I stayed with this captain for the next 9 months before I decided it was time for me to get back to Canada and start my next adventure in life, Of course I have many a story to tell about the days on a fishing trawler in Scotland however that is for another blog. (LOL)

Any way the point to this story is this, Now this past spring it took everything I had to try and find this captain I had once worked for all those years ago. The Captain responsible for my first introduction not only to commercial fishing, but my first introduction to a life at sea.

I started by calling the port authority’s in Aberdeen, they gave me the name of the captain I was looking for however they gave me no other information. I started looking at all the Gordon Penny’s I could find on line and called every one of them until I eventually got a hit and found the right individual I had worked for on the old Boy Gordon over 22 years ago.

boy gordon 02 - Copy - Copy

now after explaining my situation to my old Skipper he agreed to sign the document I desperately needed for my new position for the 2018 season aboard the Canadian Empress. now I’m not going to pretend there wern’t any problems with this plan, like trying to get an old fishing captain to give a s_it about a deckhand he had over 20 years prior, or the fact that the Captain was a busy individual still fishing and really wasn’t too into modern technology to figure out how to fax a document to me, that’s right we did this the old fashioned way, Air-mail. I sent him the document, and he signed it (eventually ) and then took a picture of it and sent it to me through messenger. LOL. I actually took the photo to the ministry and told them the original was on its way, they said when they got the original that I would finally get the registered time I needed. all sounds great right? well I did not take into count that my old captain thought the picture was good enough and did not actually send the original backto me.

A few weeks went by I called the ex captain again and asked where the original Document was? and without hesitation he said quite happily ” it was somewhere on his desk”. might I mention that our season was to start in a week from this time.

anyway long story short(end), the document arrived approx 1 week after the start to our season here in Ontario and lucky for me that The St Lawrence Cruise Lines had enough faith in me that they held my position open for me until I had all my papers in order, but until then I would not have my stripes.

20180510_172522[1]

After the papers were in order and a thorough walk around and practical examination on board the Empress performed by Transport Canada, I received my Mates Limited over 60 Tonne Licence and was ready to accept my stripes as a new 1st Mate aboard the Canadian Empress. Just in time too for the 3rd trip of the season was commencing and it was my scheduled time to be on board.

20180623_122459[1].jpg

So the year has been an eye opener to say the least. As a deckhand I was not aware of the management side of the opperation so this season has been a bit of a shocker LOL, nothing I can’t seem to handle mind you but a wake up call for sure. Now I have been a manager of a large organization in the past and had over 30 employees under my watch. I have run my own landscaping company in a busy city environment with over 8 people to oversee at one time, so I did not think that Managing 2 deckhands of a vessel would pose much of a problem if I were to be completely honest. Well it took its toll on me to say the least lol.

Working on the water is much different than being on land and being on a vessel away from home for a week at a time isn’t for everyone, thats for sure. so to go over some of the challenges at sea on a small cruise line just to paint a picture for you.

1st even though most of the individuals hired (not only on this cruise line but on most I’m sure), have some great experience in their respected fields, it can be a much different experience when you go to sea. What people don’t take into account when applying for and accepting these types of jobs are as follows.

1st you basically live at work for the period of time that your trip is designated for, in our case it is usually 1 week at a time before you get a week off. this means at the start of the season you are essentially living with strangers in a very confined space with nowhere to escape to. secondly – time off, or off duty time, means you are still at work with no personal space to unwind before the start of your next shift, 3rd – basically if your eyes are open, and you are on the boat, then you are effectively – ON DUTY. Off duty time only happens if there are no real apparent problems happening and is a shceduled time off for the individual, or you are sleeping.

Now there are many other Items I could list to take into account before you take a job position on a cruise ship but It would be a very long list lol.

Now moving forward into 2019. Although I had plans of returning to the Canadian Empress this year, it seems once again I have made a move and changed jobs once again. At least this time I believe I have made a lateral change and started a position on the Glenora Ferry out of Picton Ontario as a 1st mate once again.

This is a government position and the vessel runs year round and is not just a seasonal boat.Stay tuned for more story telling adventures as I move forward as a mariner in southeastern Ontario.