The Last Cast

Time for One Last Cast

  • Sunrise, Sunset, Starshine…life-long breathtaking moments
  • Family, Fishing, Memories, Doctors…and Reality 
  • Radiation, Chemo…Time to Re-Rig 
A Morning Alone on the Lake

By Larry Whiteley

He was alone on the lake. The sunrise was breathtaking. He had seen lots of mornings but none this beautiful. His first cast landed near some bushes. He felt the thump and set the hook. The largemouth came out of the water, trying to shake the bait. It fought hard but soon tired. He gently lifted it from the water, smiled, and released it.

There would be many more fish to visit with that morning. One was the biggest smallmouth he had ever caught in all his years of fishing. The sunlight glistened off its bronze body. He managed to take a selfie of him and the fish. As he hit send on his smartphone, he smiled. A son texted back, “Nice one, Dad.” Another son replied, “Good fish, old man!” A grandson asked, “What did you catch it on?” His wife texted, “Are you doing okay, and how are you feeling?” He smiled and texted back each of them with only the words “I love you” and then went back to fishing.

The Thrill of Fishing

It suddenly occurred to him that he had not heard or seen another boat all morning. Kind of felt like he was fishing on his own private lake. He heard crows, ducks, and geese. He saw deer and turkey at the water’s edge. Birds were flittering around everywhere and singing their songs. A hummingbird even came buzzing by thinking he was a big flower. He said to himself, “Is this what heaven will be like for a fisherman like me?” He smiled again.

Sometimes even the blind squirrel finds the nut.

The afternoon sun was high and hot. He motored into a shaded cove and shut off the engine. The slight breeze felt good there in the shade. He tied the boat to a tree, sat back, and relaxed. Thoughts of the first fish he ever caught went through his mind. He saw the bobber, the worm, his cane pole. He felt the little perch squirming in his hand. The particular feeling, he had that day alone on that creek, was unlike any other. He was hooked. It was the first of many fish he would catch in his lifetime.

As he stretched out in the boat, he looked up at the sky and saw a cross formed by clouds and a jet stream. He grinned and said, thank you. More memories flooded his mind. He wished his Dad would have taken him fishing, but he didn’t. He thought of times he took his son’s fishing, recalling the look on their faces when they caught their first fish. He wished he hadn’t been so busy trying to make a living and would have taken his boys fishing more. But, they both grew up to be fishermen. They both became good husbands, fathers, and Godly men. Their kids became fishermen too. They had a dad that took them and a papaw too. There was no doubt in his mind that his grandkids would also take their kids fishing. He smiled once more and was proud. He hoped that more people would discover the magic of fishing and pass it on.

With the gentle rocking of the boat, his eyes got heavy. A nap came easy. It was a much-needed rest. The hospital visits and all the medicine had taken its toll. Late afternoon, he awoke to the screeching sounds of an eagle flying in the sky above him. It was out fishing too.

As he lay there watching the eagle, he wished he had more time left. He thought that he would go back to Canada fishing for walleye and pike with his son and grandson. Travel with his other son and grandson’s to the Northwood’s for those good-eating yellow perch. Going back to catch a snook or grouper in Tampa Bay or speckled trout at Gulf Shores would also be on his list. A limit of crappie, some trout fishing, or maybe catfishing would be good too. Grabbing a mess of suckers and frying them up on the river bank would really be fun, one more time. He even thought about going wade fishing in a creek or sitting on a farm pond, on the bank. Alaska salmon and halibut fishing were on his bucket list. So was fishing for redfish. It had never happened, and now there was not enough time.

It Was Like Heaven Was Opening

The sunset was beautiful in the western sky. The bats began their dance with the approaching darkness, it was feeding time. He listened to the owls and the whip-poor-wills as they started their nightly chorus. The smell of new-mown hay and someone’s campfire drifted through the air. He knew he should be heading home. His wife would be worried. In the gathering dusk, he wanted to fish just a little longer.

The doctor had told him the radiation and chemo was not working. This was his last time to fish. He was at peace with that because he knew where he was going. He had messed up his life at times. He had made mistakes. He had gotten his life straightened out and was walking the path he should have been all along. He wished he had more time to tell his wife and family he loved them and make more memories. He wished he had more time to say to others that no matter what they did wrong, they could still go where he was going.

A Reminder From Above

The boat roared to life, and he headed for his favorite fishing spot near the ramp to make another cast or maybe two. In the half-light, he cast toward the bank. The topwater bait gurgled across the surface. A massive bass slammed it, and the fight was on. When the battle was finally over, and he lifted it out of the water, it was bigger than the one earlier in the day. He removed the bait from its cavernous mouth, lowered it back into the water, and in the dim light, watched it swim away. He looked up into the night sky filled with millions of stars and, with a tear in his eye and a smile on his face, said, “thank you!”

“Just one more cast,” he told himself. The lure hits the water. A fish engulfs it. The battle begins and then suddenly stops. He’s snagged. The line snaps. “That’s okay,” he says to himself and smiles again. Too dark now to re-rig. It’s time to go home. He looked up at the night sky, and it looked as if heaven was opening. It was his last cast.

Lurking in the Deep – Mysteries, Rocks, and at times – BIG FISH

You never know what that next cast to deep waters might bring!

  • The mystery and secrets of deep waters can offer a line-stretching surprise.
  • Fish “on the rise” can solve our doubt for the presence of fish – they are usually there.
  • A priceless reward can happen every now and then. Enjoy that moment!
You never know what may be lurking in the deep! During a small window in the winter weather, this giant rainbow provided the ultimate angler reward in a small, thawed creek mouth.

By Wade Robertson

The statement has been made that we know more about the galaxy than we do our Earth’s oceans. Though that statement may or may not be true, it does bring up some interesting points.

The water of any depth shrouds in mystery what lies there or lives there. The Challenger Deep, a spot in the Mariana Trench, is 36,070 feet deep, offering such crushing pressures so intense, it escapes our ability to truly comprehend. Yet, in this lightless world, life exists, some of it huge, mankind can only guess what unknown creatures flourish there. The fact is, we simply don’t know.

Even our areas lakes and streams are shrouded in mystery for fishermen. In fact, it’s the mystery of fishing that often makes it so intriguing. It’s hard for a trout fisherman to approach a great looking, deep hole in even the smallest streams without wondering just what lurks there, out of sight, in the swirling depths or beneath the tangled brush pile. Brown trout especially are shy and the bigger, smarter ones are especially difficult to catch. Rainbow trout, though foolish when small, can become just as shy and can survive in heavily fished streams with impunity. Lakes are vast and deeper, and who knows, for instance, how humungous the biggest muskellunge or pike is in the Kinzua Reservoir? I’m sure their length and girth would take our breath away if we could see these finned patriarchs, or even more exciting, catch one.

It’s frustrating to fish a good stretch of trout water without a hit. In the past I used to, in my arrogance, think there were very few fish in the stream. However, over the years I’ve been humbled when a fly hatch begins and the stream I believed barren suddenly filled with rising trout, 50 or more in a quarter-mile on the upper Genesee River. Now, when I fail to catch fish, I know there’s something I’m doing wrong or the trout simply aren’t feeding. Usually, I’m missing something.

Every now and then though, circumstances combine and you see or hook a fish you’ve dreamed about. Landing these leviathans is difficult and the old saying, the big ones get away, is only too true in so many cases. Not only do the larger fish have harder mouths, have more weight and have more frightening power, but their very size also causes many angler’s brains to turn into scrambled eggs, and they forget everything they’ve learned about fighting fish and simply panic.

An angler wants that huge fish so badly only one thought comes to mind, blocking all other common sense and reason. Get it in! Get it in the net, haul it on the beach, lift it over the bank! Of course, this sort of thinking, this reaction, usually has disastrous results. The line snaps or the hooks pull out or straighten. Big fish can turn your knees to jelly, your brain to mush and even make you tremble.

The raindrops came, February showers hard enough to melt snow and raise the creeks. One of those small weather windows where things warm up briefly and if you’re quick, you can get a day or 2 in fishing.

I awoke at six and despite being determined to fish the night before, the bed was exceedingly comfortable and warm. Did I really want to get up, dress, drive some distance and fish with the temperature in the low 30’s on the off chance the streams had risen enough to bring fish upstream? It took a while for me to finally decide to do so, you can’t catch anything lying in bed!

When I arrived at the pull-off, there were no signs of other fishermen in the snow. I walked about 200 yards to the stream and then to the biggest, deepest hole. If there were fish anywhere, it’d be here.

I started with a spinner, then switched to a small minnow bait. My hands were freezing already. A long cast angling downstream and a hit! I snapped the ultralight rod upward and gasped when a huge white belly showed, then thrashed violently, doubling my rod over. What in the world?!

Look for high suppleness in your fishing line, it is desirable, it allows for less memory and a more natural presentation with light and micro-light baits.

A wide silver and red side flashed, a giant rainbow! The fish was incredibly powerful and for over 10 minutes I could only hold on, lightening the drag and dreading those violent quick dashes that could effortlessly snap the 4-pound test line.

Next, the fish angled upstream until it drew abreast of me. I could see her clearly, she was huge. A powerful dash upstream toward a sunken tree. I raised the rod high and pulled upward. Surprisingly, she stopped, bulldogged deep and moved downstream again. After 20 minutes I was a nervous wreck, but she was tiring, finally. Then the torture of working her to the net. She’s at my boots, then flops wildly, thrashes, and she runs back out. Ten times this happens, my heart in my mouth, but things held and I never tried to stop her. Finally, I lead her into the net, the damaged rim cracks from her weight, she flops out and I desperately trap her against the bank with net and boots, frantically hook a finger under a gill and heave her up and onto the bank.

I simply stare, exhausted and unbelieving, what a rainbow! Was this a dream? No, it was real, there would be no waking up in disappointment. I was deliriously happy, couldn’t believe her size, and that I’d actually caught this prize. What a priceless gift from above. Thank you, thank you!

Niagara Falls USA Fishing Forecast for October 19, 2017

  • Olcott Pier and Burt Dam turn on!
  • Watch wind for Pier Action hot bite.
  • Lower River Shore Fishing has been HOT

There are plenty of fish around to be caught!

Scott Scheffler, Marina Director for the Town of Newfane and heading up Fisherman’s Park at Burt Dam/18 Mile Creek, reports that some dandy brown trout are starting to show up in the creek a bit more readily. It’s a nice complement to the salmon and steelhead that are already on the scene. Fresh fish can be found in all of the deeper holes further down towards the harbor and fish are still being caught off the piers and in the lake.

When there’s a northeast wind, you can’t fish the piers at all because of the waves. However, when those winds subside, get out there and start casting spoons, spinners, rattlebaits, stickbaits or whatever. The fishing usually turns on! Another popular method is to use treated egg skein under a float. You can anchor or drift from a boat, too.

Over in Wilson, they are still picking up some yellow perch off the piers, as well as some nice trout. Use spinners and spoons for trout.  Use minnows for the perch. Don’t rule out lake fishing either. If the weather cooperates – and it will be this weekend – don’t be afraid to try trolling for salmon and trout off the creek mouths or even out deep. There are plenty of fish to be caught!

The lower Niagara River salmon action is starting to wind down a little, but they are catching some silver fish that are fresh in the system. Casting glow-in-the-dark spinners and Little Gem spoons under low light conditions work best.  Rat-L-Traps can also produce salmon.

Rich Pisa of Kenmore caught six kings from shore on Monday and four on Tuesday, so they are still getting them just fine. Even his father Richard picked up a few nice kings, fishing the Whirlpool area with treated egg skein. Boaters are still catching kings and coho’s as well, with an occasional trout. It won’t be long before lake trout start showing up to spawn. Remember that the lake trout season is closed now until the end of the year.

In the upper Niagara River, bass action has been good in the east river (east side of Grand Island) on shiners. A few musky are starting to show up, too.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303 p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809 website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

FINDING HIDDEN TREASURE in SUMMER

  • They Exist Near Your Home
  • They Beckon for Your Next Cast
  • They Can Hold State Record Fish

By Larry Whiteley

I love to find hidden treasure, but not the gold or silver kind.

Hidden treasure for me is finding jewels of rarely fished small waters.  By small waters, I mean privately owned farm ponds, strip pits, businesses with water retention ponds, and even golf course water hazards.  Places a lot of people don’t even pay attention to or don’t even know they are there.

Many city parks departments and state fisheries departments stock small waters for public fishing, but a lot of these get very little fishing pressure.

There are thousands of these hidden small water treasures across America and are great places to catch fish in uncrowded conditions.  Most are full of bass, crappie, perch, hybrid bluegill and catfish.  All you have to do is search them out.

They are perfect for just walking the bank, launching a small johnboat, canoe, kayak or float tube. If you only have a few hours to fish, they are great! You can pretty well count on certain areas holding fish every time you go.

Unless they are public waters though, they are private and accessible only by permission from the landowner or the person in charge.  You can try calling, but it is much better to get permission in person.  Be courteous and thankful.  You might also offer to share your catch if they allow you to keep fish.

My best tip for catching fish on small waters is to make as little noise or vibration as possible.  In small bodies of water fish can see you.  In fact, vibrations travel farther in small waters, so even if they can’t see you, they can tell someone is near the edge of the water.  If fishing from the bank, walk up quietly and stay out of sight.  It’s a good idea to even wear camouflage clothing.

Look for channels, humps, brush piles, lay down trees, weed beds, moss, cattails, lily pads, logs and tree stumps — anything that offers habitat for feeding fish.

For catfish, go with all the normal stinky catfish baits, as well as worms and I also like using shrimp bait.  If it’s crappie you’re after, jigs and minnows are always good, but I have also caught some really big crappie in small water on crankbaits and spinnerbaits.

Perch jerkin’ is always fun and even more so if you go with ultra-light equipment. If the small waters happen to be stocked with hand size hybrid bluegill, you are in for a real fight and a great time.  

For baits, look around for natural baits the fish are already feeding on. Catch some of these natural baits and impale them on a hook or match them as close as possible with artificial baits you have in your tackle box.

The crown jewel in the hidden treasure of small waters is the largemouth bass. America’s most sought after fish can grow very large in small waters, as long as the forage is right.  So don’t let the size of a lake fool you into thinking there are no big bass in it.

Remember, George Perry’s world record bass came from Montgomery Lake in Georgia which is little more than a muddy slough — the silted-in remnants of an oxbow off the Ocmulgee River that continues to flow just a few yards away. Studded with cypress knees and shaded by Spanish moss, it is narrow enough to cast completely across.

Dixon Lake, a small city lake located in Escondido, California, is well known for several potential world record bass.  One was caught and released and another was found dead.

I personally believe that the next world record largemouth bass could very well come from small waters like a pond, small lake or strip pit.  It might just be your state’s record bass, but you would settle for that wouldn’t you?

With spinnerbaits and crankbaits, I can make a lot of casts and cover a lot of water.  Plastic worms are good too, and use frog baits through the moss and lily pads.  If I am fishing at night there’s nothing like the heart-stopping moment when a big bass hits a topwater bait.

After you are done fishing for the day, make sure you leave the property more clean than when you arrived.  Now, go find the person that gave you permission and thank them for a great day, and offer to share your catch if you kept fish.  Ask if you can come again, is it OK to bring a family member or two…and should you contact them each time?

Now, clutch them to your chest and love them like a wealthy uncle because yea verily I say unto you, these places are small treasures worth their weight in gold. Well, clutching them to your chest and loving them may be a little much, but make sure you let the property owners know you appreciate them.

Do everything you can do to insure you can keep coming back.  Lastly, keep your small waters to yourself and don’t tell any of your fishing buddies where you found your hidden treasure.