As summer nears and the predatory species move further away from shore in many fishing spots, being primarily a shore fisherman, I switch to still fishing, mainly for big bottom feeders. The target species care carp, channel catfish and incidental sturgeon or eels.
Still fishing isn't for everyone. Many of my fishing buddies don't have the patience to just sit and wait for a bite, they constantly need to be casting, retrieving, jigging or trolling. For those that don't mind sitting for hours with a line out soaking bait, the results can be very rewarding.
Bottom feeders in the St Lawrence grow bigger than most predatory species (except for musky). St Lawrence Channel cats caught are often over 10 lbs. Carp or sturgeon under 10 lbs are almost laughable, most are substantially larger.
Then, there is always the lingering dream of catching the big one. On any given day, a still fisherman has a legitimate chance of landing that trophy without any additional effort. Same bait, same fishing tactics, just better luck.
Additionally, still fishing is quite good at night. The big ones come out to feed after dark, and are often less finicky. When the heat of the day becomes unbearable, night time fishing becomes my game of choice. I usually arrive when the last of the fishermen are calling it a day and packing it in.
Here are some useful tips to make your still fishing outings more enjoyable and successful:
1) Use proper gear. If you're after big fish, make sure your equipment is ready to handle them. I use 50-65 lb test line, spooled onto 40 or 50 series spinning (baitrunner)reels, many people I know go even bigger. Rods should have plenty of backbone. Circle hooks are a growing trend for good reason; they work. Bring along a good flashlight or headlamp for night fishing.
2) Focus on comfort. A comfortable folding chair is a good start. Bring along proper clothing. During the day, I'll wear a bathing suit under my pants, along with water shores. If it gets too hot, I'll go for a dip or swim to cool off. At night, bring along a long sleeved hoodie. Temperatures can drop significantly with cool wind blowing off the water, and they will help protect against the bugs.
3) Safety. Sitting for hours in the sun requires plenty of drinking water and sunscreen. Last thing you want is to get sunburn, dehydrated or heat stroke. For night fishing, bug spray is a must. Mosquito season is in full swing, and plenty of other bugs will leave you alone as well once your well sprayed. Make sure you bait your line before applying bug spray; once you do, avoid getting repellent on any part of your hands that will be touching bait.
4) Patience. This one is the most important key to productive still fishing. Bring along a book, possibly a laptop or iPad if need be. The longer your bait sits out there, the more chance something will swim by and pick it up. If a particular setup has worked in your spot before, chances are it will produce again.
We are lucky to live on an island surrounded by the provinces greatest diversity of big fish. Take advantage while the good weather lasts, even if only for a couple hours at a time. You may end up pleasantly surprised.