Dive Hunting the Ottawa River E-mail
Thursday, 22 October 2009 18:05

One of my favorite things about having a magazine like KFM is all the interesting stuff we get to see. The following member submitted article is a great example. While it isn’t kayak fishing or fishing it does entail kayaks and big fish. Really BIG fish and as fishermen we found it fascinating and we hope you will too. – Jon Shein

In 2007, when I and my friends, Anthony and Joey, heard about the "greasy" fishing in the delta of the Ottawa River, we decided this could be not only a great hunting trip, but also a test to our new inflatable kayaks. We had purchased from Internet website called www.SaturnInflatableKayaks.com. We took our scuba gear, diving guns, and went to Eastern Canada. Our commencement point was located near the town of Deep River, Ontario.

The area within the box is the general area where the article takes place.
After we arrived on location we shared a dinner, telling fishermen stories, boasting our adventures. ”…Me and Mike did try to pull that giant Blue Fish in the boat, one of us had to jump into the water and drag it in!” “…And we had to struggle with the pike, for like ten minutes. It was a huge monster, teeth like a shark!”
”…A catfish, slippery, like a serpent. He could not calm down, " the fishermen stories grew wilder, with every sip of bear.

In the morning, after breakfast, we loaded in to our kayaks and took a ride to the meeting spot. We were greeted there by the Head Huntsman, our guide for these waters. He was skeptical upon seeing our choice of vessels. These were not simple kayaks; these were different – a new invention. I told the Head Huntsman these kayaks could be used like a boat and utilize motors as large as 15 hp. They were enough craft to investigate the place. I told him all he needed to do was show us the areas where the water clarity would allow us to go under the water and hunt. He gave us a skeptical but he recognized that we were serious.  So he loaded his gear into my kayak.

After a while, our three kayaks, with me and the Head Huntsman leading the group, were rushing down the river.  The scenery was superb as we saw many  birds such as herons, pelicans, eagles and other fowl. Several times we stopped to free the motor propellers from the grass that picked up. It’s simple - you stop, reverse, and then throttle full speed ahead. The kayaks performed great! Whenever, I felt tired of paddling I would just switch to the outboard motor. At other times, when reeds became too thick, I would lift the motor out of the water and paddle.

After forty minutes we arrived at an area where the depth was no more than one and a half meters and we could easily see the bottom. The visibility was about 3-4 meters. Our anchors didn’t hold, so we decided to anchor our kayaks by using ropes on the reeds. All four hunters dressed in wet suites (suits 3 mm thick), strapped on our gear, masks and tubes, and took our diving guns and spread out amongst thickets of reeds.


Michael’s not kidding that they’re in the slop.  The swamp creature is Joey.
The warm water heated my wetsuit to a point that I had to unbutton it to cool down. I would love to get rid of it completely, but without the wetsuit it would be impossible to browse through the reeds. At least the view repaid me for my discomfort. The Underwater world looked colorful and abundant, both flora and fauna. Thick yellow-green cane stalks, resembling bamboo thickets, and bright green algae were rising from the bottom. As they rose to the top, they formed "umbrellas" and "hoods" through which light could not penetrate. I could not even see my kayak, parked a short distance away. Mud and floating grass gathered together, creating a floating dense green ceiling. Such places are known for large catfish as they like to lie in ambush for smaller fish. They also like to eat frogs and other small game. I had to carefully working my fins so I wouldn’t frighten the fish passing by and around the reed beds. Swarms of small fish followed me instead; probably out of curiosity or seeing me as their protection against a larger predator.

We couldn’t believe our eyes. 
There, just below the waterline, I could see the hull of my kayak. It was not far if I suddenly needed any help with my game. Surrounded by the green darkness I could also see everything that happened around me. I noticed creeping crayfish of medium-size, slowly walking along the bottom. I lifted my head and saw a flock of ducks swimming, tirelessly working their feet and occasionally stopping only for a bite of greens. Everything that was happening reminded me of a shooting range, and here the prize could be a big fish.

The beast was too heavy.

Feeling confident, I began my hunt. I released my gun’s safety, took aim, and shot! A small boom of the pneumatic gun traveled quickly through the water. The ducks scattered. They didn’t know what had just happened. I had a medium size fish tangled in my cord at the tip of my arrow. A few minutes later, the trophy was mine. I put it in the fish holder sack at my side. I reloaded the gun and as I passed my kayak I decided to put the fish in a large bucket I had onboard. I didn’t feel like waiting for the rest of the crew so I got back in the water and continued hunting.

I came upon a good ambush point. Around me, I saw thick reeds covered with grass floating on top, followed by lit thicket. This marked a movement; it was a school of red tail fish that moved from light to shadow. I aimed, as I stretched out my hand, shot, and one of the fish started to rush away, raising the slime from the bottom. Turns out it was a nice carp. I reloaded, shouldered the rifle in firing position, and continued hunting.

After a while, I drifted towards one of the darkest areas with a huge cover of floating mud and grass. I stopped to investigate this spot further. All of a sudden I saw a pair of huge eyes peering at me from the darkness. The fish was huge. I wasn’t afraid but I decided to back off and recollect myself. I surfaced, had a smoke, and ate some watermelon. Later, the whole team gathered around in their kayaks. Everyone was displaying their trophies: big catfish, common carp and pike. While we were sharing the watermelon we heard someone yell “Guys! Anyone! This way!” - A cry rose from the neighboring reeds. Quickly we turn our kayaks in the direction a thickets of reeds. It was the Head Huntsman. He was lying on top of the reeds and held a gun in his hands. ”Guys, help me get this fish, its really strong.” He said. 

It certainly was a big fish. It was a huge catfish, when weighed later, was 58 kg and a length of more than 2 meters. I have never seen such a monster. During that week we explored with our kayaks a variety of different places, searching for additional underwater hunting grounds that had suitable water clarity. We must have covered 100 kilometers a day. Dive hunting in Canada, testing the kayaks, fishing, and partying with the rest of our crew were the best fun I had that year.
 
 

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