1000 Islands – Lake Ontario

August 7, 2017 Scott Cooke

Stop #2 of the FLW Northern Costa Series and I was hoping to get a little bit of redemption.  If you ever get a chance to visit the 1000 Islands are I would highly recommend it.  It is one of the most scenic lakes I have ever been to.  There also aren’t very many lakes in the east that you can actually see the bottom in 25 feet of water.  The only thing I would warn you of is the potential of very large waves if you would decide to venture outside the river into Lake Ontario.

My first day of practice was one of the better practice days I have ever had.  I ended the day with my best five weighing just over 22 lbs.  The only thing wrong with this picture is the potential of bad weather.  I found fish in Lake Ontario about 20 miles from the mouth of the river and lake conditions would play a big part in my ability to actually get to them.  With the forecast not looking so good for the tournament I elected to spend the next two days looking for fish in the river.  There was a little bit of everything going on in the river.  Some fish were shallow and some were deep.  It was no secret that the Elite Series guys had just smashed then shallow a further downstream.  I ended up finding a good amount of fish in the 25-30 ft range so I felt that I decent back-up plan should the weather turn south.

I pleased to wake up on Day 1 with news that the front that was approaching us had not reached our area yet.  My plan was to get out on Lake Ontario and hopefully fill a good limit and get back before the bad weather hit.  The forecast was calling for 1 – 3 foot waves so I was totally ready to make the run.  After take off I was getting more and more confident…… but…… as we approached the mouth of the river the front that was coming was charging at us like a freight train.  I decided to make a stop and hopefully wait out the hard rain.  About an hour later the rain let up but winds did not.  I made another stop before exiting the river and the winds picked up even more.  I decided that I had to get out there where I had the most confidence in catching a tournament winning sack.  My first stop was about 2 miles into the lake and I quickly boated my first keeper fishing a rock pile off of a buoy in 35 feet of water.  It was keeper fish but not remotely close to what I would need to compete.  Therefore, I elected to throw it back and not risk the fish dying in my livewell and not being able to cull it out.  The waves had picked up and were approaching the 5 – 6 foot height.  My angle to get to my primary spot was good but I decided that it wasn’t going to be a safe idea to try and battle the big waves.  10 years ago, I wouldn’t have hesitated.  I guess my older wiser self tends to think about things in a more logical fashion.  I ended up resorting to the river fish and ended the day with 11-13.  Not a great weight at all especially since I had a fish just under 5 lbs.

Day 2 will prove to be one of the most memorable days of fishing that I have ever had.  Not necessarily because of the fishing.  My con-angler partner for the day was in his last stages of stage 4 lung cancer.  It was apparent that I was going to have to take it easy on him.  He is in a constant state of pain and I was quickly on a mission to make the day count.  To limit the amount of wave beating that he would experience we never left site of the launch area.  We had a great day of fishing.  I ended the day with 17-6 and he had a little of 12 lbs.  What made this day so awesome was what a delightful time we spent together.  It is very hard to imagine what it would feel like going to bed each night not knowing if you were going to wake up the next day.  He didn’t let his illness kill his spirit.  I could hear his pain in just about any motion that he had to perform, but he didn’t complain once about it.  He was so in tune with fishing that I believe there were moments during the day that he may have forgotten about the pain he was in.  This guy could teach a lot of us about just how precious life really is.  Whether it’s a bad day fishing, a bad day at work, or whatever, we should overcome those times and constantly be aware of the gift of life that God has blessed us with.  It isn’t always a flower covered path, but what awaits at the end of this road is something so great it is beyond comprehension.  It would be a great exercise to wake up each morning just appreciating life.  If that was the most important thing that we reflected on everything else would just be life noise.  This is what it is all about.  This is why I love this sport.