Prince Albert Voice
Sometimes the unexpected can happen and many times when it happens unexpectedly you aren’t prepared for it. There have been many times when I have been fishing and we end up catching a personal best fish of a certain species and we aren’t expecting it, lots of the times we don’t have a net, a bump board to measure or in the past not even a camera, thank god for cell phones these days! I did a lot of fishing for rainbow trout growing up but turned into more of a pike fisherman in my later years just because the sheer size of them and that mean look they have to them. Back in the day when me and my grandpa would fish them at the town reservoir we deadlined for them with Velveeta cheese and had lots of success, like any other fish you would have your “on” days and “off” days but most of the time we’d catch. There’s even an old news paper clipping of a time when my uncle, Wayne Marchand caught an 18lb rainbow out of the Birch Hills reservoir, that’s a monster stocked rainbow. So back onto the pike vs rainbow trout fishing, I didn’t care much for trout fishing as I grew up but as I caught more and more big pike I started to look for something different and I would try trout here and there although still not putting a whole lot of time into them it was still trying. I had a job in the past that aloud me to fish during lunch breaks so I would pack a fishing rod that broke into 5 pieces and fit in my lunch kit, along with a few hooks and 2 reels, one spooled with 10lb mono for trout and one spooled with 60lb braided line for pike. Depending where I was on lunch hour I would fish whatever species and lake was available. So one day at lunch time me and coworker decided to go toss a line in. It was at a lake that I spent very little time at but I was told there were rainbows in it so I figured why not… a lunch hour fishing was a good lunch hour. We walked down to the lake and he was on a phone call with his girlfriend when I started casting away. I casted roughly 15 times and was starting to lose any hope of there being any fish in the lake, it didn’t help I was using an oversized rattlebait because that’s all I had at the time but whatever at least I was fishing. It was nearing our time to leave as we didn’t have much time and I casted out once more not expecting anything as I had zero follow ups previously, as my hook was coming towards shore I caught sight of a big rainbow swimming hard towards it and it hammered the Savage Gear Fat Vibe!! After peeling drag like crazy and flying out of the water multiple times I had it by shore and my heart was pounding, I wanted to land this fish badly. I reeled it closer and because I had no net I figured I would try to flop it up onto shore but when I jerked it to flip it onto shore the line snapped! I threw the rod and jumped into the water with my work clothes and boots on and grabbed the rainbow and was able to toss it onto shore, I yelled to my buddy “omg” “omg” “check this thing out” I couldn’t believe it!! I had to get him to take some pictures quickly then I released the fish back into the water and we headed back to work to finish off the day. I later on found out that the lake we were fishing had a full winter kill report and there wasn’t suppose to be any live fish left in it. This will be a fish to remember for me and I will continue to fish any chance that I have, even if it is only a few casts. Most big fish come unexpectedly and that’s what makes them exciting!
While the weather is still decently nice out and as it sets into fall, I like to fish in the evening followed by night fishing. Normally we will even start fire down by the river to sit by to keep warm some nights or even sit in our vehicle provided it’s the right spot that we can have rods stuck in the ground in front of the headlights. The night bite is usually great for many species including walleye, sturgeon, goldeye, mooneye and sometimes the odd smaller burbot. Personally my favourite fish to target at night is walleye but sturgeon are often rewarding as well. Since walleye are negatively phototactic unlike humans who are positively phototactic, they see better at night time than they do during the day and because other fish they prey on like minnows, crawfish, perch, suckers have a hard time seeing at night it makes them an easier target. So fishing for walleye at night you’re more likely to have more success than fishing for them during the day and if you’re looking big walleye your chances are definitely greater fishing for them at night. Not only is the night bite a great start to catch your big walleye but if you add fall time to that you’ll up your chances even more as the walleye are trying to put on some extra fat to get them through the winter and into spawn. I spend many hours and nights with good friends visiting while we wait for the catch of a lifetime and let me tell you, it doesn’t happen too often that you get walleye over 30 inches but when it happens it’s unforgettable. The night I joined the 30 plus inch club was cool fall night, we were fishing the south Saskatchewan river and even had a pop up ice shack set up on shore with a propane buddy heater inside it to keep warm. We had a decent bite going during daylight hours but the sun was quickly going down, you could hear the coyotes howling across the river and there wasn’t a breeze of wind. It was minutes after the sun tucked away behind the trees when my rod was almost pulled out of its holder, I got up and ran to it, picked it up and set the hook! It felt heavy and I thought it was sturgeon because the weight and because it wasn’t too light out. The poor lighting made me cancel out the chances of it being a big pike and the heavy hit and weight made me cancel out the chances of it being a walleye, so I was left with the thought of it being a sturgeon. I reeled it in and as I reeled it pulled hard, it peeled line at points but I was able to get it near shore where it gave a turn and splash and ran back out, as it did this I noticed the white tip on the tail. My heart started pounding I had just seen a massive fish, one that I thought was a sturgeon but now I had confirmation on what it was after seeing the white tipped tail. I knew it was a walleye and it was a big one. The tension was up as it didn’t want to come in easily, I would bring it to shore and it would swim away peeling line, on the final reel in we were able to get it in the net. Oh my god! This was massive! We screamed and hollered and there were even a few guys down shore that came running over and they were in wow of this fish. Some quick measurements and weights were taken of the fish and it turned out to be 13.1lbs and 33 inches long. This was my personal best walleye, not only did it break my old record by multiple pounds and inches but I had also entered the 30 plus inch club with a 33 inch walleye. After the measurements I put the big walleye back into the river and said goodbye to her. To this day I’ve been chasing my dream of one over 15lbs and 35 inches and I know it’s out there, it’s just a matter of when and where.
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.
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!
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.