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Prince Albert Voice

Andy Nemo Winder

River Monster

August is usually the month that I fish for almost anything, anywhere but because of the warm temperatures and longer days I do enjoy spending more time at the river although some years the bugs in Saskatchewan might be a bit much for some people to handle with or without bug spray. Another reason I like fishing the river is because it’s easy for my family to join me, the kids bring beach toys and play in the sand. There are many locations that are accessible by land on both the North and South Saskatchewan River’s and both equally produce large fish. It wouldn’t surprise me if the next record walleye or another species was pulled out of one soon. So on a typical afternoon or evening after work we like to pick a spot closer to the Prince Albert area as it’s not that far of a drive for us and if it’s not too exciting then we can just leave and come home. We pack the kids snacks and drinks, load up the fold out chairs, beach toys and put on their rubber boots and jeans or if it’s warm out they sometimes wear a bathing suit and sandals then load them into the car for a short drive. When we pull up to the river my spouse will watch the kids while I set up the chairs, then I set up a rod for my daughters to share as it can be quite hard to watch and re-bait two rods plus net fish and unhook them all at once. On this particular evening I was with some good friends and their kids on the South Saskatchewan River, the kids were playing on the beach while us adults were visiting, we caught and released a few decent sized sturgeon within the hours we were there and the bite was fairly good. I just so happened to be sitting on the ground next to my rod that I had in a rod holder that was mounted in the ground. Now some people like to use bells or alarms on their rods that alert you when a fish strikes but myself I’m way to concentrated on my rod tip most of the time to even bother with putting one on then having to try and take it off before I start reeling in, not to mention when I fish does strike and you do go to pull the bell off, lots of the time you’ll give the fish slack and it’ll spit the hook. So anyways back to sitting next to my rod, We’re talking away and visiting when my rod rips out of my rod holder and luckily enough I jumped fast enough and grabbed it before it went into the water. The pull was tremendous and my line started peeling out, it was a constant hard pull with almost a steady pulsing jerk to it, for anyone that fishes sturgeon this is a very distinct feeling, I knew it was a sturgeon and I knew it was big! One of my friends grabbed their cell phone and started videoing the action as soon as I said it felt like a good one and almost seconds after a huge sturgeon came flying out of the water as it breached. The pull was unreal, unlike any other fish I’ve caught before, I would have the fish almost at shore but not yet in sight when the line would start peeling back out into the river, there were even times I would almost run out of line and would have to run up the river bank just so I didn’t get spooled. My adrenaline was going and I was starting to sweat, I didn’t want to lose a fish like this. I was fairly confident I could land the fish as long as it didn’t snap my line which was 60lb braided line, spool all my line out or spit my hook while it was jumping out of the water. After 3 jumps and almost 30 minutes of fighting this fish I finally got a good glimpse of it as it came in shallow enough, my buddy Travis wasn’t shy as he jumped in the river fully clothed with a large net and tried to scoop the fish but was unsuccessful because the size of the fish, so he threw the net on shore and went back in bare handed, I pulled the fish towards him and he grabbed it by the tail and was able to pull it in. There was lots of cheering and laughter as he held it up to pass it to me. The fish was so big and because I was also worn out and out of breath from the battle I told him to grab one side as I grabbed the other as we held it up for a picture. Travis couldn’t quite get ahold of the sturgeons head so he ended up just sticking his hand right up the sturgeon’s mouth to hold it. This fish and the fight it put up will always be one of my best fishing memories and one of the best things about it is that I have it all on video thanks to a friend. 

Fishing For Tigers

Saskatchewan is home to roughly 100,000 lakes so there is a variety of stocked and native fish in almost every area of Saskatchewan. One place I spend a bit of time at is Narrow Hills, Provincial Park, there is a good amount of lakes all within half an hour of each other. When I go up there I usually try and fish for trout as we don’t have much for trout in my vicinity. It’s also a great place to fish if you want to hide from the wind, it’s miles upon miles of bush with a few of the lakes even being walking distance from each other. On this particular weekend I had a friend from Alberta reach out to me about taking him out for big pike. So we lined it up to meet him in Prince Albert where we would grab a few things to bring up to the lake with us. I told him I would be driving a grey Volkswagen Jetta and he told me he was driving a Chevrolet Impala, I arrived at superstore a bit early so my spouse ran in to grab some groceries, a few minutes later she came out and said “I think I seen your friend in there” this was surprising to me as she had never met him before, so I asked how did you know it was him? She laughed and said “he was wearing hip waders” this was funny because I almost knew for sure that this would be the guy. I mean who wears hip waders into Superstore? So I drove up near the door and waited and sure enough my buddy Zac walked out. I figured I would pull over near his car and we could make a game plan so over I went and when I pulled up his entire back seat was filled with tackle and rods. I thought to myself, meeting this guy for the first time, yep! He seems like someone I would hang out with haha. So off to the lake we went. We started out fishing our regular spot that we get nice pike in the spring time but the fish just weren’t there. So after Zac bugging me a bit about putting him on a 40 plus inch fish and no luck I decided we would take the Ultraskiff out and fish off that. For those of you that don’t know what an Ultraskiff is, it’s a one man round fishing platform with seat on it that swivels 360. It’s not exactly made for 2 people but we figured we’d make it work, we launched on the creek and drove onto the lake, Zac off one side fly fishing and me off the other side casting big Savage Gear baits. We spent hours trying to get something of size but it just wasn’t happening, during these hours I explained to Zac that we use to have nice rainbow trout in Birch Hills that I fished with my grandpa back in the day. I told Zac I’m not much of a trout fisherman now but we have world class trout fishing just north of here in the Narrow Hills. Zac was pumped and immediately wanted to go up there instead to try fishing trout. So off we went, we hit up a lake with tiger trout to begin with and Zac gave me some info on what to use, I was a bit skeptical of what he set up for me but I figured why not, not like I catch them often anyways. So we fished and at one point me and Zac were on almost opposite ends of the lake when I took a cast and started reeling in, I was a bit defeated as we weren’t catching much, I reeled in more and slam! I had one on and it felt good! I knew by the fight that this one was a decent size and played him on the drag. When I pulled it into shore I couldn’t believe I had finally caught a decent tiger trout. These fish are cool! The tiger trout is a sterile, intergeneric hybrid of the brown trout and the brook trout. To me they don’t quite look like tiger print and I think they look more like a leopard but regardless they are awesome looking. I yelled at Zac from across the lake and put the tiger in the net and back in the water to keep him safe. A few minutes later Zac and I took some great photos and release the fish. We fished the rest of the day and we’re able to catch a few more in the time we were there then headed back to my place where we spent the night. I still owe Zac his 40 plus inch pike for this one! 

Then to Now

This is a story about how I became who I am now and my past. Growing up I spent a lot of time going up to Candle Lake, Saskatchewan to my great grandma Sackett’s house, my great grandpa Nemo Sackett had passed away when I was just a baby but that’s where my middle name comes from incase any of you were wondering, suiting right? Also I had the middle name Nemo long before the cartoon fish came along. So back to the lake, our days at the lake were spent at the beach or out on the boat fishing or over at my grandparents pond fishing for trout. There was always a houseful of family and friends at the Sackett’s, times were great! I didn’t only fish at the lake though, coming home to Birch Hills I also spent alot of time at my grandparents, Anne and Frank Marchand’s, grandpa was a fisherman, him and my great grandpa commercial fished Candle Lake. My grandpa Frank loved fishing and many evenings we would go to the local reservoir’s in Birch Hills to fish for rainbow trout, we would catch lots of fish, my uncle even caught an 18lb rainbow out of there which made the news paper back in the day. We would put the trout on a stringer then take them back to grandpa’s where he would take pictures of me with the fish and then throw them in the smoker. I loved smoked trout, it tasted similar to jerky. As I grew up I drifted away from fishing as I got into partying, friends and relationships, you couldn’t get me to go fishing, I remember being asked “are you coming on the boat today?” I would ask back “are you fishing?” And if the answer was “yes” I wouldn’t be going with. As the years went on I slowly got back into fishing here and there and really enjoyed it but I wasn’t what you would call a die hard. I would fish with friends at the creek to catch supper for the family. I would fish on the boat here and there but there wasn’t any drive or motivation to fish. My grandpa was almost like a dad to me, he was my rock, he was always there for me and I could always count on him. I enjoyed spending time with him but as his health declined it was getting harder to get out fishing with him, I would ask him to go fishing and his response most of the time was that he wasn’t feeling well, I respected that but would always ask anyways. There was one particular day that i stopped in Kinistino and asked him to come fishing with me, my spouse and my daughters, once again he said he wasn’t feeling well but me and grandma insisted that he come fishing anyways, you know it might do him good to get out of the house. He agreed and came with finally, during this trip to St. Brieux regional park my spouse took many photos not knowing at the time that this would be the last time I fished with him, we hammered the walleye, you couldn’t keep them off the hook, almost every cast we caught one. It wasn’t long after this day that my grandpa passed away, at the time I was 26, just started a family and just started a new job doing electrical work, I was devastated that I lost my grandpa, I couldn’t focus on anything and decided to go fishing. Fishing held me together, it kept my mind off of what had happened and in a way I felt comforted every time i went so that’s what I did, I went fishing all the time. I would fish at 3am until 6am then I would head to work, I would work an 8-10 hour day then come home and fish some more, on the weekends you guessed it “I would fish!” I would fish all night long. My mind was at ease and one day when I was on my phone I remember looking at photos of other fishermen holding big fish and thinking “I want to be that guy” I was far from it in my mind but eventually over a few years of fishing all the time, I slowly figured out where to fish, what to use, what big fish bite on and what small fish bite on, what time of the day they would bite, what kind of weather they bite in, all the factors. I began to catch more consistently and started to catch bigger fish. Now I don’t know if it’s my grandpa possibly helping me from the other side or if it’s just shear luck but as I look at today, I have 8 different fishing sponsors for rods, reels, tackle, boats, camera’s, clothing, you name it and it helps me out a lot and at the same time I’m able to promote some of the coolest products in the fishing industry. I’ve also had paid trips, been hosted on the radio, flown to Icast in Orlando, Florida where I attend the worlds largest fishing trade show, write news paper articles and able to call some of the biggest names in the fishing industry my friends, who knows maybe some day I will have my own tv show. As for now I plan on continuing my dream, teaching my 3 daughters everything I’ve been taught and taught myself and just enjoying fishing, travelling and living life to the fullest. Life is short and you’re never guaranteed tomorrow, live in the now because someday when you’re retired you might not have the health or time to be able to get out and do the things you wanted to. I have lots of memories of memories and photos that I hold close to my heart and I’m creating this with my own family as well now. 

Savage Gear Swimbaits

In the spring and summer one of my main target fish are big northern pike, ok…. Let me rephrase that, I fish for big northern pike all year round, who am I kidding? They are my favourite fish to target! Why you might ask? I just can’t get enough of the size and how similar they are to an alligator. In the spring I target them in fairly shallow water but as the summer goes on I find them deeper than usual. On this particular outing with a good friend of mine named Brad we started off fishing a creek and the mouth of the creek for pike. We walked up and down the creek to start off and Brad caught a very one in about 3 feet of water, this was great as Brad had never came with me before and he was pumped to hook into one. We took some pictures and sent the fish back, after catching a few other smaller pike we decided to focus more on mouth and the lake somewhat, we would cast out towards the lake and crank in towards the reddish bronze coloured water flowing out of the creek, almost every other cast as the swimbait would enter the darker coloured water we’d have a fish on. We decided to take out the Ultraskiff, it’s a one man round fishing boat with an electric trolling motor but we had no other boat so we both went on it. We launched and drove out near the break between the flowing water and still water and fished that line, although a bit tricky to cast off and remain balanced with two people we managed to work the waters hard. My swimbait, a Savage Gear 4D Trout in Rainbow trout pattern was slammed and my drag started screaming, we held on and had a little ride on the skiff. One of the best features about the Ultraskiff is that because it is round you have an advantage at fighting fish from it because unlike a boat when a fish swims under it, your rod doesn’t slam down and you don’t need to bring it back to that side of the boat, it will actually spin the skiff around when a fish runs under it and the advantage to that is you are always fighting the fish head on. After pulling in a 45 inch pike with 2 of us on the skiff, we tried to get a decent photo of it but it was a bit challenging and we sent her back swimming. After catching multiple good sized pike I suggested that we try another spot that might be even better although we were doing good at this spot. We packed up the skiff and loaded it into the back of the truck and went to switch it out for my 12 foot aluminum boat, although small, old and slow  I don’t mind fishing from it. We loaded up and drove to another creek where we launched on the creek and drove down the creek trolling. We didn’t have any luck trolling the creek on our way out but that didn’t detour us from heading to the “good” spot we were after. Once we got to our new spot we decided to try extremely shallow, I’m talking 2-3 feet deep, a couple casts later and we landed one. We shut the motor off and drifted out with the waves and casted Savage Gear swimbaits, Brad used the 4D Pike and I used the 4D Trout. There is not many days that you get on fish so hard that you catch almost every cast, let alone big fish, we were on them!!! We had multiple double headers and this may have been one of the best days Brad and I had ever had. It wasn’t long into it and I hammered a 45.5 inch monster pike that inhaled my line thru trout! This was a big fish! We quickly took some photos of her and returned her to the water. We had fish after fish after fish to the point that our arms were getting sore not only from casting big swimbaits but from catching fish after fish. This was one of those days that you just didn’t want to go in, but of course it started to get late and we decided to head in. To me catching 2 fish over 45 inches in central Saskatchewan is a great day any day!

QUEEN OF THE LAKE

It was the beginning of July and we decided to head to Smeaton, Saskatchewan to visit family that were down. Smeaton is a small town that is right at the gateway to the north, there’s miles upon miles of forest on the north side and on the south side is miles of farm land. We met at our great grandma Margo’s house where we would spend the weekend, as we were playing cards that evening a discussion came up about fishing and how awesome it would be to go out and catch some fish for a fish fry. I myself rarely keep fish as I’m more of a catch and release trophy hunter but anytime family or friends want a fish fry I have a hard time saying no. I was trying to think of a lake that I could fish for big fish yet we could still catch eatable smaller sized fish that wasn’t trout in the Smeaton area, I was very limited to options and soon found myself having to pass up fishing for something big as they wanted eater sized walleye, we decided on a lake and packed up our gear that night. The sun came quickly the next morning as we headed out around 4am and the weather seemed not the best as we had some hot days prior to this but we insisted that we still go and try anyways regardless of the weather. It was a bit of a drive and we hit rain on the way up into Narrow Hills Provincial Park that looked like it was going to last the day, upon arrival to the lake it was still spitting a bit so I decided to throw on my hip waders and a rain jacket. I had packed a belly boat which is basically a big blow up chair with pontoons that you sit on with your feet dangling in the water and wanted to fish off it just for something different to do as my spouses dad and uncle were going to fish from the boat. I pumped up the belly boat while they launched boat, it was go time! I had fished this body of water in the past and knew that we were guaranteed to catch something. We headed out and tried fishing a drop off in the lake, I dropped down a bottom bouncer which is a sinker built onto a thin rod with a decent sized piece of line trailing off it with spinners and hooks on the end of it with a leech as bait. A couple minutes later I had a bite and pulled up an eater sized walleye, I took the hook out and quickly threw it back knowing we would catch more. On the boat they wanted to go check out another area on the small lake and decided troll over there. In the meantime fishing from my belly boat I pulled up a handful of small walleye and continued throwing them back as I had nowhere to put them, it was a pretty miserable day and rained on and off several times but then around 4 o’clock it cleared up and got sunny and clear out. I’m not going to lie I may be a bit spoiled but I was getting very bored with catching small fish one after another and remembered that I had my big baits and pike gear in my vehicle so I headed back to shore and ran up to the vehicle to switch my rod and tackle out for something a little more heavy duty, really I had nothing to lose, I catch more small fish which I was bored with already or I fish for something big. I decided to go with one of my go to’s for pike fishing, the Savage Gear 4D Pike in fire tiger pattern. If it’s one thing I know about pike, it’s that they are cannibals and they will eat their offspring and this I have witnessed many times. So I head back out onto the water and find a weed bed that looks great to me for pike to hang out in, I start off by casting as the weeds are pretty tall and I don’t want to get snagged, I cast probably close to 40 times with only a couple smaller pile chasing up my 14 inch scented pike look a like lure but no hits and nothing big enough to take it. Again, I was bored so I decided trolling, I quickly snagged weeds and was a bit frustrated but not surprised as I had never seen a pike over 3lbs out of this lake before. So I started thinking to myself when the other guys in the boat want to leave which is likely soon, they will just pull up to the launch load up and they’ll be ready to head back. I on the other hand had to pack all my gear up, deflate my boat, take apart my paddles, etc. So maybe I should just head in early and start doing that so that I’m ready when they get to shore and so that I can give them a hand. I reeled in and started making my way to shore then I thought to myself, I might as well troll as I go in although I didn’t have much hope left, I casted out and began making my way to shore. The water was extremely clear and I could see everything, I went over a bunch of logs and trees and was about 15 feet or so away from shore when I was suddenly stopped, I figured I would get snagged up on the trees and now likely lose an expensive lure, just my luck. My belly boat came to a stop and spun around and I started to reel when all of the sudden my drag started peeling hard!!! I was surprised and was very curious to see what I had hooked into, was it a giant pike or possibly a giant walleye, I couldn’t really tell other than it was powerful, it pulled me out into the middle of the lake and the commotion I made caught the other guys in the boats attention, I yelled to them “grab a net” and they came racing towards me in the boat. I said “I have a monster on” but I wasn’t able to see it yet, it had calmed down enough and I was ready to start pulling it to the surface so that we could at least get a better look at it. I reeled it up and it came into view, it was a monster pike!! They tried to net it for me but the net they had was only about half the size of the fish, if that. So I told them not to worry about it and worked my way back into shore hauling this fish behind me. Once I was shallow enough I jumped out of my belly boat and really got a good look at the size of this fish, I was thrilled. I was able to bring the fish within arms reach and grab ahold of it. They beached their boat and came running over in the water and we quickly took some measurements and a few photos and I sent this queen of the lake back to where she belongs. Never did I think this small lake would hold such a big fish. It measured in at 46 inches long. This was a true beauty and I will never forget that day and the next time I fish that lake I will not be fishing for eater sized walleye, I will be fishing for big pike!

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Wednesday September 22, 2021