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R.R. #8
Owen Sound,Ontario
Canada, N4K 5W4



Hills
Newsletter

Before I go any farther with this newsletter let me wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May all of you enjoy the coming holiday season. Enjoy the world around us. Enjoy this country of ours. Most of all enjoy the sport of fishing and please protect and enhance our fishery from coast to coast. Finally, take the time to enjoy the sport of fishing with your family, in particular, this coming new year introduce your kids to this great sport of fishing. If you donít have kids of your own, then take a relation or someone elseís kid fishing. Trust me, it is rewarding and important.

Comments On The Last Newsletter
 
The response from the last newsletter kind of surprised me, especially when I asked all you readers to do a little thinking the next time you go into the local tackle shop to purchase your baits. I expressed my concerns that North American tackle manufacturers were going the way of the dinosaur and suggested we attempt to support American and Canadian rod, reel and lure manufacturers. Heck, except for Islander Reels out in Saanichton, British Columbia, I canít think of another North American reel manufacturer. As for rod manufacturers, who else makes them anywhere on the continent except my good friend Gary Loomis at North Fork Composites out in Woodland, Washington and Lamiglas, in that same little west coast town? But there are still some great North American lure manufacturers. Hell, Williams lures are world famous and theyíre manufactured right here in Canada, in the picturesque little city of Sherbrooke, Quebec. I dare anyone to find a jewel finished spoon better than a Williams.

All I was saying was, if itís quality and itís made in Canada or the United States, then buy it and letís try and keep jobs at home and the economy healthy.

Anyways, like Iíve already noted, I was surprised at the response I received when that suggestion hit the internet. A couple hundred e-mails came in to my office by the second day. Surprisingly, of those two hundred plus emails, the response was positive and backing me all the way. That is, except just one. Seems I offended a ínowí ex-friend within the tackle industry who gets his supplies from the Far East. I got the impression from his email that his Christmas hopes are I have a little sod growing over me by New Years.

Well, let me tell you, the North American tackle industry is in big troubleÖ.very, very, big trouble. Thereís no denying that many rods and reels coming out of eastern Asia are quality products. You just look at a Daiwa reel and you see nothing but quality. But the truth is American and Canadian manufacturers have lost their edge when it comes to owning a dominant share of the fishing tackle industry. Please, if the product is quality and itís Canadian and American made, think twice and buy it.

With that said, Iím just waiting for another follow-up from my ex-good buddy from the Deep South.
 

AN OPINION AND A LITTLE YEAR END RANTING
 
About this time last year, I got myself a little too upset with the weird carryings on back here in Ontario by administrators that are suppose to be improving and protecting our sport fishery. Anyone that watches my weekly television series realizes that Iím not a fan of the latest Atlantic Salmon program being carried out by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and the Canadian Sportfishing Industry Association and others.

Now, I realize there is an Atlantic salmon fishery established at the St. Maryís River at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. I also know that the man responsible for it is named Roger Greil at (LSSU) the Lake Superior State University. Now Iíve been around the block far too many years and I donít think, I know, I know my fishing and how to raise fish. I also recognize those that also know fishing and how to raise fish. Roger is one of them. He is also the only person I know that has ever had any Ďrealí success raising Atlantic salmon anywhere in the Great Lakes. You see, Roger realized a long time ago that the Atlantics are one of the most difficult fish to successfully raise, but also to raise them to the proper release size and then to get the survivors to come back home to their release site. He did that by choosing the proper strain (genetics) of Atlantic which is the Grand Lake Strain. He noted that he had to raise them to the proper age and size for successful release, which is at least 20 months of age. After a lot of study, he also noted that the fish had to be properly imprinted, so that released fish that did survive, would one day be able to find their way back home. He realized that this proper imprinting only came by fertilizing his eggs, hatching the eggs and raising those fish at one site for at least 20 months. That site is exactly the same site where he releases them. So realize, the fish are born at the LSSU hatchery, raised for 20 plus months at the hatchery and released at the hatchery on the banks of the St. Maryís River for perfect, optimum imprinting.

Yes, he has a successful program, but again he has a very special way of raising his Atlantics and he is the only person to achieve any form of success because of his special situation. Iíve visited Roger on a number of occasions and he stresses these facts over and over. Proper genetics, proper size at release and proper imprinting are the necessities for any type of survival and return back to the fishery and his hatchery. He also emphasised to me that fry, fingerlings and fall fingerlings showed little or no survival after release. Just as important, he noted that Atlantic salmon stocked in the Great Lakes were more than susceptible to disease, especially Thiamine Deficiency or ĎEarly Mortality SyndromeĎ. Thiamine Deficiency causes fish, especially members of the salmonid family to die while still at the egg stage or shortly after hatching. LSSU staff collect their eggs from Ďwildí returning Great Lakesí Atlantics every autumn from their own plantings. Roger and his staff have to treat every hatching egg or emerging fry with a special vitamin bath or he can expect a die-off of between 75 to almost 100 percent.

Do you now understand why I state that Roger and LSSU have a very special situation for raising Atlantics. I should note that Roger once told me that if he was raising fish for the sportfishery, it wouldnít be Atlantics. This beast just needs too much tender care to succeed or be successful. Besides, remember again, Lake Superior State University is a learning institute and not a government facility set up to providing just sportfishing opportunities to the taxpaying public.

Now, Ontario has been attempting to stock Atlantics for decades with little or no results. The biologists had been hatching Atlantics and running up and down Lake Ontario tributaries for years stocking eggs, fry and fingerlings with little or no results. Then a half dozen years ago, a few biologists came up with a new plan. They came to me, way back then and noted they had the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, the Canadian Industry Sportfishing Industry Association, the Ontario Liquor Control Board and some wine company from Australia on their side. It was obvious the bucks, the corporate powers and the means of publicizing their scheme were there.

During our talk one of the organizers said their original previously Ďfailedí laHave strain would not be used. The original Lake Ontario strain of Atlantic that went the way of the dodo back in the 1880ís could be found again in South America and they would even go there to retrieve them. Hell, there were even a few old moulded stuffed mounts hanging in a poolroom somewhere, where they hoped to obtain DNA samples to match them up.

EnoughÖ.I threw up my hands in disbelief and hung the phone up.

Well, here we are at the end of their first 5 years of the program and to this angler, the program has turned out to be more Red Herring than an Atlantic Salmon success. To date, the results have been dismal to say the least.

Letís look at survival, return rates to their release sites, their input to the sportfishery and the influence of the Atlantic salmon to the Ontario economy.

Their survival once theyíve been dumped out of the hatchery tanker doesnít seem to be much. I fish my side of the Great Lakes as much or more than most and in five years I havenít seen a sport caught Atlantic, let alone caught one myself.

Hell, the best charter boat operators in my opinion on the Canadian side of Lake Ontario canít seem to catch them. Randy Scott of Red Dog Charters fishes the big lake from ice out til freeze up and in the fall. Last summer he caught upwards of a thousand salmon and trout. He spent most of his efforts attempting to target Atlantics. He caught a grand total of 2 Atlantics. Thatís 2 Atlantics out of almost a thousand fish caught. In the past thirteen years he has caught more than five thousand chinook, steelhead and coho for his customers and had a dismal total of 6 Atlantics come to his boat.

Wayne Andrew who captains the Last One 111 ( www.andrewscharter.ca ) out of Port Credit has a reputation as being one of the north shore of Lake Ontarioís finest skippers and he knows his fish, where to find them and how to catch them. This past summer he caught one solitary Atlantic.

Is this a fish to base a fishery on? Give me a break! Itís a creature that only wastes much needed hatchery space. It is a creature that wastes fishing opportunities. Itís creature that does nothing for the sport fishing economy.

Why has the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources / Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters Atlantic Program been a disastrous blunder and why will it continue to fail? Here are just a few reasons.

- wrong genetic strains being used (what happened to the mounts on the poolroom wall? The originals disappeared in 1880 and are never coming back)

- no proper imprinting. This is not Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan where you raise them and release them at the same site

- the few fish that do make it to adulthood have dams blocking their way to the spawning grounds. With provincial restrictions in place stopping chinook and rainbow from entering the headwaters, how do the Atlantics get up? The answerÖintensive and costly manual fish trapping or transfers or likely shutting down the chinook and rainbow fishery. That is unless they fished sanctuaries in an attempt to collect a very few adults while they enjoyed some phenomenal steelhead fishing on the sideÖ.duh??

- the Thiamine Deficiency problem will continue to haunt this programís goal of natural reproduction forever. If they canít hatch in the wild, they canít reproduce

My major concern at this time is for the Lake Ontario sport fishery. Recently our Ringwood Pacific Salmon Facililty was turned over to groups including the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunter for management. Well the OFAH is now departing the scene and the facility is being locked down. In the future, all chinook rearing will be transferred to the governmentís Normandale Facility which by the way is the sacred home of the Altantic salmon. These chinook and the rainbow trout will be looked upon as second class tenants in my opinion. One little setback with the chinook or steelhead and they could be shown the door and never let back in.

Itís time for the biologists, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, the Canadian Sportfishing Industry and certain managers at the Ontario Federation of Anglers to see the light. Their little experiment has turned into a major and costly disappointment. They have generated little in the way of fish, sportfishing opportunities, natural reproduction or contributed anything to the economy with their grand plan. You have wasted fish, sportfishing opportunities, much needed critical hatchery space and have yet to sell a rod or reel with this creature.

Pull your heads out of the sand and get out of this asinine experiment.
 

A Different Type of Program on the Saugeen and Itís a Success!
 
While some are wasting fishing opportunities on Lake Ontario, other concerned volunteers and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources are still going strong and creating a miracle on the Saugeen River.

First, the Lake Huron Fishing Club and the Ontario Steelheaders got together to team up on a number of initiatives including raising and stocking healthy rainbow trout smolts far up into the mid-stretches of the Saugeen for successful imprinting. Then thereís also their program of trailering hundreds of returning adults 50 miles or more upstream to prime spawning waters. This past autumn, the two clubs even initiated an autumn transfer program which saw large numbers of winter run steelhead shuttled to these same waters. All in an attempt to increase and improve the steelhead fishing on Ontarioís finest steelhead stream.
 
Well, another miracle has taken place on the Saugeen this past autumn and I would like to thank the Lake Huron Club, the Ontario Steelheaders and the local Owen Sound office of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources for what they have accomplished.

For decades, migrating steelhead have been prevented from reaching prime Saugeen spawning waters at two dams located in the town of Walkerton, Ontario. The first dam in particular has been a major detriment to any upriver bound steelhead. A fishway had been installed on the lower dam, but itís doubtful that it ever passed fish successfully.

Then the boys of all three organizations went to work and devised a plan to modify and improve the fishway. What I expected to take more than a year, was installed and completed in a few short months. It works and it will work long into the future when it comes to allowing the fish up into a true reproducing glory hole.
 
It took a lot of hard work and dedication, but it will pay off with large rewards for anglers who visit the Saugeen. The past efforts of these workers have seen the steelhead runs multiply from a count of approximately 2,000 adult steelhead a decade ago, to upwards of 20,000 fish today. Just watch how it expands even more in the future.

In the past, Iíve been often critical of some employees of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, but in this instance I would like to personally thank acting district biologist Jody Scheifley and area Supervisor Shawn Carey for their efforts in pushing this project through. My fishing cap is tipped to you guys and again thank you very much. The Saugeen is well on its way to being the finest steelhead river east of the Rocky Mountains.
 

Still Trouble on the Pacific
 
No matter what anyone wants to believe there is still a lot of trouble facing fish stocks and anglers on the Pacific coast.

Yes, the Cohen Commission has been established to find out what happened to those millions of sockeye that failed to return to the Fraser River in the summer of 2009. A lot of fingers are being pointed at commercial salmon rearing pens placed directly into the Pacific Ocean. Alexandra Morton and her allies are dead certain that the pens are responsible for increased sea lice and diseases being a consequence of open water pen farms. To be honest Iím behind her 100 percent. Letís get those dam pens up on shore where they belong.

If you think Iím wrong, then take the time to read this link http://www.fis.com/fis/worldnews/worldnews.asp?l=e&ndb=1&id=35581 .
Why do you think the Europeans chose Canadaís Pacific waters to set up their industry. Itís cheap pastureland. What happened to their home waters or the waters they use in South America to raise their salmon.

And who in their right mind would allow European farm raised Atlantic salmon in our waters in the first place. Give you one clueÖour biologists and the Federal Fisheries and Oceans.

Our halibut sport fishery is also at risk. This time it seems to be closures and reduction on catch limits. Why is it, the sport angler is getting hit with more restrictions? The halibut sport fishing is very important to anglers and lodges on the coast. Look at the recreational time spent on the waters and the dollars generated to get there.

The Sport Fishing Institute of British Columbia is carrying on a battle right now to retain and protect anglers rights when it comes to the halibut fishery. Take the time to visit their site http://www.sfibc.com/

It is more than a little scary when you discover that 46 commercial license holders are allocated 88 percent of the entire halibut quota. I can just imagine what the Fisheries and Oceans final decision will be on this matter when the verdict is finally delivered.

Is it me that always says, give a graduating biologist a fishing rod instead of a diploma?

And you I met three of the best.
 

Some of the Best in the Industry
 
Phil Jensen
Last month I packed up the wife and dog and made an around the continent car ride. Just a little ride of 8,500 miles. We stopped along the way in places like Pensicola, New Orleans, El Paso, Tombstone, Vegas, Twin Falls, Seattle, Portland and Banff before we finally made our way home.

Now, I donít like categorizing a person as the best, because most often I find someone else thatís better, but I did stop and spend some time during the long journeys with some of the best in their business.
 
Iíve known Phil Jensen for almost 40 years and let me tell you when it came to making and marketing trout, salmon and bass lures no one did it better than Jensen. This guy was a combination of inventor and marketing genius. He brought the J-Plug to fame as one of the deadliest salmon baits to ever be dropped in the water. His Hot Shot has probably caught more steelhead than any other bait in the swim. The Krocodile had no peer when it came to casting for Great Lakes brown trout. When he met up with Sam Griffin he ended up purchasing some of the finest baits ever used.

Still, it was Phil and his brother Luhr that really set the Great Lakesí salmon world on fire when salmon fishing was king on Lakes Ontario, Huron and Michigan back in the 1980ís. Funny, but both Phil and I think alike when it comes to buying North American. He was one of the few major tackle manufactures that decided to keep his lure making business in Hood River, instead of say Taiwan. Gotta love the guy.
 
Gary Loomis
After spending a few days in Oregon fishing with the king of salmon tackle, I felt obligated to drive across the Columbia to Woodland, Washington and meet up with my long time friend Gary Loomis. Now if you donít know his name, then youíve just never drifted a spawn sac for a steelhead.

Gary was and still the premier rod blank designer that this world of ours has ever known. He took the urge to retire a few years back when he sold the G. Loomis company. Still, retirement didnít seem to stay in his mind long. You can only big game hunt all over the globe so long and when he was out on the stream chasing down steelies and salmon he came to the conclusion that sport fishermen deserved a new and better generation of fishing rod than they were already using.

Keep your eyes open folks. Gary is back in the game and about to deliver you the best graphite blanks known to man. Look for them under his new company name North Fork Composites. Heck, I even put the mooch on him for a half dozen blanks that are being tied up as I sit here at the computer
 
Brendan OíFarrell
http://www.twistedandaddicted.com

Now, with a half dozen rod blanks in the back of the truck on the way back from Washington State I thought it only fitting to stop a few miles west of Sudbury and see a good friend by the name of Brendan OíFarrell. Now it may sound a little weird, but Brendan really does have a company called Twisted n Addicted. This guy is addicted all rightÖto steelhead fishing and rod building. In fact, heís one of those guys that I donít mine using the word Ďbestí on. Do yourselves a favour and check out his website. Twisted n Addicted truly does make the best fishing rods in the countryÖand beside, again this guy is Canadian and we should be proud of it. And itís not just rods for steelhead and salmon that this fellow crafts. His bass, walleye and even panfish rods are the best to be found anywhere.
 
Fishing Butler
http://www.fishingbutler.com

Well, now that I have a half dozen rods being built by the master I just have to tell you that theyíre going to be protected with another little Canadian invention called the Fishing Butler. Iíve broken too many rods over the years to ever take a rod out of the office unless itís organize and wrapped together in a fishermanís best friend.

Fishing Butlers keep your two piece rods or bundles one piecers safe, organized and tangle free.

Trust me, donít leave home with out them.
 

Cold Weather Hot Spots
Winter and ice has arrived, but hereís a few tips for next autumn and early winter when the ice is off the water. The first picture is to remind people that the waters out and around the entrance to the St. Lawrence Rive still harbor some of the worldís biggest musky.

Captain Bob Walters of Clayton, New York is one of the finest musky guides on the Great Lakes and he has the catch record to prove it. On November 30th, customers out with Captain Bob reeled in a big oneÖa real big one. This baby measured out at 59 inches from snout to forked tail and had a 28 inch girth. It was unofficially weighed in at 56 pounds and was one of the biggest lunge to come out of the river in more than 50 years. It fell to a Believer. Just goes to prove that all good things come to those who want to brave the elements.

For the full story click on:
http://blog.syracuse.com/outdoors/2010/12/muskie_video.html
 
Then thereís the rumour that walleye fishing is always the hottest when you have to break ice to launch your boat. Your not kidding it is. It just takes that braving of the elements again. As a matter of fact, those big, fat spawners of springtime , love nothing better to do than invading the bay to stock up on baitfish to carry them over the winter.

A little cold you say? Well Steve "Cheesecakes" Schmelzle here and his buddies banged off the big ones and not just a few, when they donned their floater suits and warm weather gear. To be totally honest, this guy just loves to be out in his boat on the coldest days of the years to take advantage of fish like this.
 

My Favorite Show From the Last Year
To finish this season off, I thought Iíd put a link to my favorite show of the last year. I guess from Brian Burkeís quick replies I wonít be getting a job with the Toronto Maple Leafs anytime soon. Even though I got the snub, heís one hell of guy.

Anyways, like the Leafs, letís keep up the faith. Our fishery can only get better if we all work together.

click on the site and enjoy: http://www.box.net/shared/hfp255vf8y

Anyways, like my doctor says, donít get so excited, relax, enjoy nature and do a little fishing. Iím leaving to do just a little bit of that.
 

 
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