At the start of the 2023 fishing season we set out some crazy & potentially impossible goals for ourselves. Despite the challenges we faced this year we made a good effort and came close to hitting all these goals. Had we not lost the last 2 months of the season due to injury we may have even came a little closer; but that's fishing. 2023 was one of the best years on record for big fish and particularly Esox (Pike & Musky)! A lot of new water was covered & a lot of lessons learned; some the hard way unfortunately! Let's dive in on the results of this season & lessons we learned along the way.
One of the biggest goals we set for ourselves this season was to boat 20 pike over the 40" mark! Not a small task and one that would require catching 40" fish in every season. Our plan was to focus on pike early & late in the year when they are most accessible. After a slow start to the season only catching 36-38" class fish 6 fish over 40" were boated in one weekend including a monster 43.5". From then on until musky opener the action was more consistent. As September came around we still needed 11 fish to reach our goal. With a handful of 38-40" class fish, lost giants at the boat, and some that hit the net we ended the season with an injury on October 28 at 14 fish over 40" and 16 total between 37 and 40". Georgian Bay really is the land of the giants and we are pumped to get back on the water next season chasing more gators. One of the major reasons we were able to boat so many quality fish was due to the preparation work in the off-season. Identifying weedlines and potential hotspots along migration routes on maps allowed us to spend more time fishing high quality spots and less time looking. This allowed us to capitalize on feeding windows to put up multiple big fish days. To learn how you can use satellite imagery to find hotspots from the comfort of your coach this winter like we do click the link below:
50", that was the goal for musky in 2023! A true fish of a lifetime. We have had opportunities for fish of this magnitude in the past and planned to focus on these elusive beasts more than ever before. Despite boating more musky than previous seasons we were not able to get that 50" mark. On the other hand content team member Taylor was able to not only able to boat 36 musky this season but beat the 50" mark twice! On top of these feats we were able to have an outing with a 10 fish day between our two boats. There were two main factors that contributed to our musky success this season that previously we did prioritize as much as we should have; water temperature & known water! Musky are a warm water fish compared to pike and we focused on finding the warmer water even if this meant staying shallower than expected. While reading "Musky Metrics" by Jeff Lang a point was made that musky don't eat because they are hungry but because the environment tells them to. Keeping this in mind and cycling spots where fish were seen throughout the day or in previous trips allowed us to capitalize on when the fish decided to bite! Often fish would bite in small frenzies in the same areas we had worked for hours before hand! To learn our entire musky strategy check the link below:
Of all the goals we set for 2023 the smallmouth target was one we thought would be the easiest to accomplish but as we got towards the end of summer we realized we spent too much time pike & musky fishing and hadn't even tried to accomplish these goals! In fact it was August and we had only went bass fishing once outside of a friendly tournament in waters we were less familiar with. After a lot of failed trips in September targeting smallies during their transition (our most challenging time on Georgian Bay!) only catching a few fish each time we made time to hit some known winter haunts while walleye fishing in the fall. While we were not able to spend enough time to focus and catch a big bag of bass we did manage one giant bass! A 6.2 Lbs football, one half of our bass fishing goal for the season.
Walleye, yellow pickerel, dore, whatever you call them we wanted a big one in 2023. 32"+ to be precise. Since we had plans to focus on pike early in the season the focus for walleye wasn't going to start until after labour day when they make their way back towards spawning sites. This was cut short by the injury but we still managed to catch a number of good fish in the few trips targeting them; although nothing over the 30" mark. With the biggest of the season being 28" the 32"+ walleye target will unfortunately need to wait until next season. A big lesson learned that if you push off when to start working on your goals you never know what can happen to get in the way. Had we tried targeting them earlier maybe we could have accomplished this goal but instead we were limited to only a handful of trips and came up short.
You can check out the whole season adventure on our YouTube channel as part of the Giants of Georgian Bay series at the link below
Stay tuned for more content throughout the off season and be prepared for even bigger goals and crazier action in 2024!
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