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Blue Kayak

My Lockport Experience

20 posts in this topic

I almost did not post this. I don’t think any other angler with three years experience fishing for cats could spend three days fishing in Lockport and catch only one channel cat. However, knowing what I know now, I will do better next time (I hope). Perhaps this will be useful for someone new to the area. This trip was the week of August 15, 2008. I am sure things may be quite different at other times of the year.

My biggest mistake was not renting a boat. I did see some nice cats caught just beyond my casting distance. There are some other things I’d bring up next time that would make life easier. Number one would be my kayak. This would have been a great spot to put it to the test. I also wish I’d had my trout net to catch frogs and my long handled landing net. A light weight spinning outfit would have been good to catch mooneyes for cut bait.

Here is a picture of the dam from the “fish ladder” side. The cement structure in the left foreground is a fish ladder allowing fish to get up past the dam. I’ll refer to this side of the shore as the “ladder” side.

Ladder.jpg

There is a sign saying no fishing within 25 meters of the fish ladder. However, people were wading out and fishing right next to the ladder and perhaps what is meant is that you cannot fish next to the opening of the fish ladder, which is back a bit from this end.

The ladder side of the shore is shallow for quite a long ways out. Two fly fishermen waded out about 50 yards and the water was only waist deep. This was downstream several hundred yards from the dam. I would be very careful wading here. There are many snags with tons of lost line, hooks, and other rigs. I brought in one six-foot branch that must have had over 100 rigs. A person could get tangled up in lost line and hooks. There is a strong current, and I am pretty sure this was at relatively low flow. There are warnings about the dangers of wading.

I retrieved a lot of lost tackle, and lost a lot of my own tackle. I’d stay away from no roll sinkers on the ladder side. You need a heavy weight to cast out. Then you end up retrieving that heavy weight right into the shallows, which seemed to be all rocks. A bank sinker is probably a better option. I was glad to have 80-pound test PowerPro. I could feel my hook snagging up with other line and then breaking through the snagged lines on many retrieves (and sometimes recovering a tangle of lost tackle).

Here is some of the tackle I recovered. I started using the recovered tackle to keep my own losses down.

Tackle.jpg

This is is the “lock” side of the dam.

LockSide.jpg

The lock side is dredged for boats so it is deeper. You can see quite a few anglers on the cement area. I saw one woman catch a nice cat on a lightweight rod from this area. However, you need a long handled landing net to bring your catch up over the cement wall.

You can go downstream below the fenced in area if you don’t have a net so you can get to the water’s edge. This picture was taken from the opposite (ladder) shore. Where the trees begin, it is possible to get down to the water’s edge. This is public property. The rip rap is difficult to walk on.

Lockside_Closeup.jpg

The boats are anchored close enough so they can cast directly to the base of the dam.

Boats.jpg

Boats fish downstream from the dam too. I talked to a couple of fishery students that were weighing and measuring fish caught in this area. One of them said he did not like fishing this close to the dam. The spray leaves quite an odor after you sit in it for several hours. From the number of doubles I saw these guys catching, I would not have even considered that to be a problem. BTW, the longest channel cat measured by one of the students was 42 inches.

On the ladder side you can look down right at the dam’s base and see the cats swimming around in the strongest current. No wonder they are so strong. I’m not sure if they were looking for food that had been washed over, or it they are trying to get up past the dam. Unfortunately, I could not catch any cats on video, but I saw many right at the bottom where the cement meets the water.

Two challenges for me were bait and barbless hooks. I expected to buy large, live suckers for cut bait. I could not find live minnows anywhere, even in the bait store with the large sign saying “live minnows.” On the first day I found frozen shrimp and small, frozen/salted minnows. These minnows were the diameter of a pencil and 3 inches was a large one.

The second day I went to “Skinners” on the lock side of the dam and they had cut tullibee. The tullibee was tougher than I expected for frozen, cut bait, but I would have preferred fresh, live cut bait.

There are two challenges with barbless hooks. Keeping the fish on is one, and keeping the bait on is another. At first, I cut a small piece of plastic from a pop bottle to put on the hook after the bait to help hold it on. Later I used some very small rubber bands (for braces). That seemed to work pretty well for keeping the bait on the hook.

Keeping the fish on was another matter. I did lose one about 10 feet from shore after reeling it in from my maximum casting distance. This was on a barbless circle hook. I am starting to think that barbless “J” hooks are a better choice than barbless circle hooks.

Obviously, I’d recommend renting a boat. Stu McKay’s “Cats on the Red” is just about a half mile downstream on the lock side. My plan was to rent a boat on the last day after having some experience from shore. I figured the shore fishing would be a good learning experience that would make my boat rental more effective. Unfortunately, our family plans changed on the last day and I did not get back up to Lockport. At least I now have a good excuse to get back up there again.

I did get a chance to meet Stu, and he was very helpful. He even told me great spot to look for frogs. I won't pass that spot on, because I think frogs are probably more difficult for most people to catch in Lockport than cats. I'm the exception. I’d recommend you see Stu first thing and rent a boat (or guide).

Another place where I found many frogs was at the public park/campground in nearby Selkirk. This would be a fun place to camp. There is great swimming area. You probably would have good fishing right from the park. The frogs are really easy to catch because the grass is trimmed like a lawn and they cannot hide. I caught a couple dozen with my bare hands very quickly. There were half a dozen kids catching frogs that would be likely sell them to you (instead of putting them into the showers).

In Selkirk there is a cement retaining wall, and I was told that was the place to go for cats from shore. I fished there for a couple of hours, but only saw a few small sheepshead caught. Again, this is an area where a long handled net is necessary unless you are lucky enough to get right next to the one ramp that goes down to the water. Selkirk also has Chuck the Catfish as a memorial to Chuck Norquay who did so much to make this area known as the Catfish Capital of the World.

Chuck.jpg

Next time I’ll rent a boat first thing from Stu and pump him for information. Then I’ll take my kayak out and see how that works. I’m not going to wade, but I want my frog net and landing net. I’d also like to try fishing at night. I need to work on my distance casting too.

Here is the picture of my one fish (30 by 19 inches) caught on a shrimp from the ladder shore.

Ch02_scale.jpg

Winnipeg is one of our family’s favorite vacation areas. Some top sites are the Museum of Man and Nature, the Mint, the zoo, Lower Fort Garry, and the Parliament building. There is an aviation museum, many historical houses, the Ukrainian Center, the racetrack, the Costume Museum (darn, I missed that one) and other sites. If you have a family, suggest a Winnipeg vacation and bring along your cat gear.

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This is one of the places that I would reall like to get to, especially since I was bitten by the cat bug last year. Thanks for a great quality post!

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Great post. Thanks for the pictures - I've never been up there but it does sound like a good fishing trip destination.

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Nice post Jerry, thanks for sharing your experience.

You should have made mention to it earlier, I bet someone here might have had some good info for you before you went up.

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I've got a lot of experience fishing that area (always in June) if anybody has any questions.

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Good post, Jerry. Thanks for the info. I would love to get up there sometime with my boat. We'll see. I will definitely keep in mind that casting right to the dam is a key.

Doesn't look like there's many boats out there. Is this the slow time of year for them?

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September is a really good time of year for the sumo kitties up there.

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Thanks for posting this Jerry, I learned a lot from it. I would have liked to have seen that 42 inch channel the fishery students measured smile

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Great post and a worthy cat destination trip. Semi related question, I have seen people fishing close to dams like that before; can you anchor in a location like that?

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Great post! FYI, use jigs or crawlers to catch goldeyes (very plentiful) by that fish ladder, then cut them up for bait. Works WAY better than anything you can buy.

I hit that exact spot up on the way back from canoeing in northern Manitoba. All we had was 7 foot medium spinning rods with 8 pound test and a canoe. Caught goldeyes, then used a big rock for an anchor and set up right below the dam in the current with the big boats. We got some looks, I'll tell you what! I caught a 31, my uncle got a 35 and a 36 incher. No idea on weight, but man would I love to go fishing there again...

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I fish it often, right in the wash. The flow in the pictures is considered low and relatively slow currents. Fished it a lot higher and faster than that, with one anchor.

Yup, anchoring in or near the shoots is doable up to a point. If too many gates are open it will blow you out and fishing is likely better a bit farther down the channel.

If the flow is hard you can bow anchor up and idle your motor in gear to hold in place and keep from spinning in eddy's, or use a trolling motor. A smaller drift sock to the transom helps at times too...but increases your drag on the anchor. Multiple anchors just spells big cats wrapping up in the downstream anchor, so I avoid that option.

I use a 12# to 15# Digger anchor these days in conjunction with a "Drop-N-Stay" attached to the bow to moderate the pull on the anchor line.

DPNS-Outstretched.gif

A "Drop-N-Stay" is a nifty deal, it diminishes the line pull from a static 400 lbs to a mere 40 lbs of ambient pull. This helps dramatically to maintain your anchor position in winds and fluctuating currents on rivers.

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Ed, do you feel that you have a better hold with that attachment? Also do you think that you don't have as much boat sway when it is windy like that? We have had some issues with boat sway when double anchored for cats and sturgeon.

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Far better hold with it. Sway in current is lessened in current if you tie to the bow and use a small drift bag at the transom. Side wind in current is a pain when tied to the bow, so the rear bag will keep your rear end tight.

Quartering to the side cleat with the bow windward helps with this swing but works against you with the pull...it is a trade off.

The Drop-N-Stay really makes a huge difference as long as you use the 5/1 ratio for line out to depth as recommended by the Coast Guard for anchorage length/depth. In crazy winds 8/1 may be best...even up to 12/1 is recommended for high seas anchorage.

With the Digger, I rarely need to go over 5/1 in any situation.

The Digger 2 model only requires 2/1 ratio, very handy on many areas to limit swing.

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When you talk about a "digger" are you referring to something like a Richtor? I know when we anchor, what we do is let out 100 feet of line on the front then attach another 15 foot section and pull all of that tight by backing up, then we hoist out another richtor as far as we can off the back. Then we pull our selves forward with that extra 15 feet of rope, tie off to the hundred footer, and cinch everything down nice and tight. By using the extra fifteen feet, we are able to get that back anchor that much farther away from the back of the boat so that our depth to lenght ratio is better.

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Nope...a Digger is a Digger, and a Richtor is a Richtor. A completely different anchoring theory and system. Google them and see the demo on how they work. They are just about 99% loss proof and do not require a chain to hold.

They come in 10, 12, 15 pound models, the 15# will hold boats over 40' with ease. The 10# will hold a 17' rig, no problem.

Digger 1 (5/1 or less standard ratio anchorage)

This model has a patented trip-out system that prevents loss and dumps all that muck off in the water before you pull it in the boat.

diggerfresh.jpg

Digger 2 (2/1 slope short rope anchoring model)

The Digger 2 has no trip/dump feature but it releases well despite that. It is designed for a different mission than the Digger 1.

digger2.jpg

I use both for rivers or lakes, in different conditions. The Digger 2 is sweet for short rope anchorage in shallower water. They set fast, and hold tight.

In a lot of roots or craggy rock I would opt for the Digger 1.

In softer bottoms and mixed aggregate situations the Digger 2 will not get into trouble...roots may bind it up because it will not trip-out like the 1 does.

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This is my "Lockport Anchor"

2" solid shaft about 14" long and the flatstock is about 14" tip to tip.

It works great up there in any current.

anchor.jpg

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