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Hills
Newsletter
Bad Year for Salmon on the Great Lakes and the Pacific
 
Where did all the salmon go? From what I saw and what I experienced first hand in both regions, the fishing for kings was well below par. Oh, there were some bright spots, but on the whole, the trolling for chinook left a lot to be desired.

First letís talk about the bright spots in the east. Lake Ontarioís Port Darlington saw fast action in late May with the arrival of migrating New York State stocked salmon. The fishing was as hot as the nearby nuclear plant right until the end of June. Big schools of these fish homed in on the hot water generating plant for their annual spring feast and then slowly began their migration west along the lakeís north shore. Thank God for the good old U.S. of A. Those in the know, realize that much of their fishing success on Lake O is courtesy of our Yankee friends across the big pond.

I had the opportunity to film an episode with an old buddy Randy Scott, www.reddogsportfishing.ca a pro fisher that has come to call Darlington home for his spring trolling over the last couple of years. Randy is one of the most savvy of Great Lake charter boat skippers on the Great Lakes today. He also doesnít mince words when it comes to Ontarioís mishandling of the Great Lakesí Pacific salmon fishery. We had a great time catching kings and talking about the problems on this Great Lake. As I mentioned, thank God for those Yankee stocked salmon. If water temperatures are right, the bait schools will hold close to the north shore and so will the feeding salmon as they make the counter clockwise rotation around the lake. Properly stocked, these fish are heading home and for the most part that means New York State rivers or pen rearing sites. This summer the chinook made Ontario anglers happy for the early part of the season, then warmer waters blew in to push the bait and the big predators out.

Now in most instances, the action out from river mouths such as the Bronte and the Credit still should have heated up with large numbers of pre-spawning salmon returning. Colder water should have them staging out from these ports as they waited for proper river conditions to draw them in. Over the past decade, this hasnít been the case. For some idiotic reason, Ontarioís Ministry of Natural Resources has been wasting almost half its salmon stocks with pier and break wall plantings each spring. These fish donít have the opportunity to imprint to their release locations and in turn fail to provide a late summer/early autumn sport fishery. Personally, I donít believe the bosses at the Ministry of Natural Resources want the fish to return to the rivers where they have to deal with poachers, trespassers and bonfires. We donít have a sufficient number of game wardens and in turn problems do exist in the rivers with the return of the salmon.

Today, no matter what you hear from politicians, ministry staffers and others associated in some form or another with the Lake Ontario fishery, the salmon sport fishery is not in good shape. In fact, itís only a shadow of its former self. There are far less anglers out on the lake from early spring til late autumn. Not only have we been deprived of tens of thousands of angling hours, but the provincial economy is taking a massive hit in the wallet with lost sales in tackle, marine and tourism.
 
Time for the ostriches at the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources to pull their heads out of the mud and get on with improving and providing a better sport fishery on Lake Ontario.

In British Columbia, fishing for kings and coho was tough in many places. Still, my good friend David Murphy of Murphyís Sport fishing
( www.murphysportfishing.com ) continued to fill out limits for his customers up on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Now nothing is ever a guarantee, but if you have a yearning for battling big overgrown kings and coho and barn door sized halibut click on to the Murphyís link and give Dave a call. Trust me, this side of the island is a great big underwater salmon freeway thatís travelled by millions of finned critters.

Now for the bad part of salmon fishing over on the Pacific I made a trip to the Queen Charlottes with big things in mind. Those things were supposed to be big, overgrown chinook salmon. Trouble was, that early June jaunt to the fabled fishing grounds turned out to be one big dud. Fisheries staff on both sides of the border projected decreased salmon spawning runs and in many cases it was just that or worse. So bad in fact, that our American neighbours in Oregon, Washington and California put into effect emergency closures and catch reductions. The Americans even went so far as to pledge 30 million dollars to the Canadian government to be used in future buyouts of some of our commercial fleets. Reports up and down the coast ranged from so-so to dismal in many places.

Okay, so whatís the problem. To be honest there doesnít seem to be one particular problem. For starters, over-fishing by the commercial fleets could be a big problem. Many spawning rivers on the coast have been adversely affected by poor logging practises as well. Then there could be the effects of global warming. Some are even pointing at commercial fish farms, which are found up and down the west coast, as the culprits.

So now we have new restrictions on the coast from California to Alaska. Thatís right, for the first time even Alaska is about to take drastic measures on their commercial fishermen who it seems have been catching a lot of Canadian , Oregon, Washington and even California salmon. Weíre also going to get tougher on our Canadian commercials. Logging practises have changed and many of the damaged rivers are starting to now revert back to their original wild state. Some may scoff at the words global warming, but I believe we are in big trouble down the line with this problem, if in fact we can reverse it. Fish, big or small, do not like or swim in hot water. As for the commercial fish farms, they are needed to feed an ever growing population, but put the damn things where they belong and thatís not in a river mouth, inlet or bay. Thereís no reasons, except the word Ďmoneyí that aquaculture facilities can not be put on land and not in the ocean. At the same time, what rocket scientist or bunch of rocket scientists gave the go ahead for the aquaculture industry to raise Atlantic salmon on the west coast. Did this brain trust of nimble wits not believe the Atlantics would not escape and interbreed with Pacific stocks or at least compete with kings and coho on the spawning beds. Guess what? This past summer, Marine Harvest Canada had 30,000 Atlantics break out of the pens at their Fredrick Arm fish farm near Campbell River. This also wasnít the first escapement of Atlantics in the Pacific. Real smart move by the bios and brain trust in charge of aquaculture in the west? No really stupid move!

Whatís really scary is the fact that we continue to net the mouths of our bigger spawning rivers such as the Skeena and Fraser. In some instances, we even commercially net the rivers themselves. Something like killing the cow before you take the milk. Gill nets and even seine nets are not selective when it comes to slaughtering species of salmon and steelhead. The fish swims in and the fish usually ends up dead. This one will rub a few people wrong, but I would place a complete moratorium on netting in and around problem rivers for a period of six years. Drastic steps maybe, but when the fish go, they are gone!

Salmon are in big trouble. In the west and on our Great Lakes. Heck, I havenít even got to the Atlantic coast yet.
 

Legendary Outdoor Writer Passes On
 
Just about this time last year I got around to praising an outdoor writer who I looked on as a mentor, a true friend of Canadian sportsmen and also a very, very good personal friend. Last week, that friend passed away.

John Power, to me was an icon of the Canadian outdoor press. As a matter of fact, with Tiny Bennett, Bob Rife, Red Fisher and now John gone, I donít believe there are any Ďrealí members of the outdoor press still on the news wires or the airwaves. Today, it seems that many in this fraternity of so-called members of the outdoor press are more concerned with being politically correct, as well as looking for token hand outs from the tackle , marine and tourist industry. Seldom do they now cross the line of being politically incorrect in an attempt to improve and protect an outdoor world that is forever shrinking and disappearing. Itís too bad more couldnít have learned from John Power and our fishing and hunting is in jeopardy because of it.

John Power was one of a kind. He wrote from the heart. Preserving and promoting Canadaís fishing and hunting was always first and foremost. John penned thousands of columns for the Toronto Star and had a thousand or more articles published in magazines across North America. He enjoyed puffing back on that damn stinky pipe, tipping a glass of his favorite scotch and experiencing the outdoors. His family should be proud of his accomplishments. He was the last of the true members of the Canadian outdoor press.
 

Outfitter & Lodge Spotlight
 
North to Adventure
 
For those planning a northern vacation next year, especially those anglers that donít want to venture too far from their homes in southern Ontario, hereís a wilderness operation that is one of the finest in the country. The folks at North to Adventure
( www.northtoadventure.com 1-705-759-8577 ) operate two separate lodges on Esnagi Lake, a fish filled body of water . Both Mar Mac Lodge and Lodge 88 are class operations and are the premier destinations on this 27 mile long lake adjacent to the Chapleau Game Preserve. The jumping off point to this angling destination is at White River, Ontario only a few hours drive from Sault Ste. Marie. From White River you have the choice of either flying to Esnagi or boarding the fabled Bud car for a picturesque half hour ride by train to the lodges.

Esnagi is laced with islands and shoals making it a true walleye fish factory. The has also gained a reputation as one of the best pike waters in the country. There are also a number of short portages that lead to fantastic lake trout and brook trout fishing.

No doubt about it, North to Adventure is a class act and again itís only a few hours driving time to White River and the start of a fishing vacation of a lifetime.
 
Andersonís Lodge
 
Thereís no doubt about it, Sunset Country, way up in the north western corner of Ontario, offers up some of the finest fishing found anywhere on the globe. That being the case, Andersonís Lodge
( www.andersonslodge.com 1-800-465-1098 ) located on fabled Lac Seul can lay claim to some of the finest fishing found in Sunset Country. In fact, if you truly are in pursuit of a mixed back of trophy musky, northern pike, walleye and smallmouth bass, Andersonís Lodge is one of your best bets found anywhere on the continent.

Lac Seul is a big, big body of water dotted with hundreds of islands and thousands of shoals and they all are ambush points for the big tooth predators. Then thereís the lodge itself. The lakeside cabins are luxurious, private and capable of handling groups from 2 to 20. You can book a trip with either the housekeeping or American plan in mind. Thereís also Foxyís Dining Lounge and itís quaint little bar atmosphere.

To get you out on the water and into the fish, Andersonís has a fleet of fully equipped 21 foot Stanleys and 16 foot Lunds. Remember this is one big body of water with more than 50 miles of end to end fishing excitement to cover. Iíd advise every first timer to this region to immediately hire a guide for at least a couple of days, not only to find fish, but also to avoid those thousands of shoals that are just waiting to munch on your props.

Big spinners work best for pike and musky. As with most fishing holes in the north, the locals drown minnows on jigs and are really successful at it.
 

Whatís New in Fishing Tackle
 
Darryl Cronzyís Canadian Fishermanís Breading and Batter
 
What more can I say, when the name seems to say it all. Itís Darryl Cronzyís Canadian Fishermanís Breading and Batter Mix
( www.campfireproducts.ca ). Well for starters, itís been 50 years in the making. Itís a breading and batter mix, that has egg and milk already include in the zip-loc bag. Itís great on anything that swims. Itís also fantastic on chicken, pork and beef as well. Then thereís fact that it can be used at the campfire, the barbecue or in the kitchen.

The secret in the proper cooking of fish is to get the temperature just right and donít over-cook the fish. As a coating mix, itís a simple task of just rolling moist fillets of your favorite fish in this great mixture, getting the oil or butter hot to 360 degrees and frying up your feast. When it comes to battering up your fish, first roll the moist fish in the dry mixture and then dip the fish again in a batter made up of Cronzy Beading and Batter with water, beer, milk or even ginger ale. Shake off the excess batter and carefully lower the battered fish into hot 360 degree oil.

Trust me the results are delicious.

In all honesty, I believed this new product would be accepted quickly by the sport fishing fraternity, but just how quickly surprised even me. Canadian Tire is now distributing Darryl Cronzyís Breading and Batter Mix coast to coast. On top of that, a number of Canadaís major tackle wholesalers are making certain it is in as many tackle shops across Canada as well. If you donít find it in your local tackle shop simple request that he contact his wholesaler. If you walk in to Canadian Tire and you canít find it on the shelf tell that categoryís manager all he has to do is make a phone call to head office. For a tackle shop selling it near you simply type in www.campfireproducts.ca and check Ďthe where to purchaseí section.

Looking for the best way to present your catch at the table after you bring it home. Try Darryl Cronzyís Canadian Fishermanís Breading and Batter Mix.
 
Abu Garciaís New Soron STX spinning reel
 
The folks at Abu Garcia call it the Soron STX and it is a beauty. By now everyone should know just how great Fireline is. Itís one heck of a Ďsuper lineí, but letís be honest, in the past itís taken a little extra effort to stop Fireline from slipping. You had to employ a little tape, possibly a short piece of monofilament backing or even a special knot to keep the best line on the market from slipping. No anymore. With the new Ďelastimetricí rings built into the spool of the Soron, there is simply no slipping of super lines whatsoever. The body, body cover, rotor and bail arm are also constructed out of corrosion resistant aluminum alloy to be super light, extremely durable and corrosion resistant even when fishing saltwater. Top that off with eleven high performance corrosion resistant bearings and you have one of the smoothest casting and retrieving reels found anywhere on the tackle market.

Five models will be available just around Christmas time and will make for a gift that no angler will forget.
 
Big Jon Brute ES
 
Funny how itís true that what goes around always seems to comes around. Back too many years ago I fished some of those first salmon to be stocked in the Great Lakes. Back in those days the fishing out from Bronte and Port Credit, Ontario was some of the best on the continent. My very first downriggers then were Big Jons. Then over the years , like dodgers and flies, I switched and experimented with other brands.

Well, now Iím back and canít believe I didnít know what I had been missing. This past summer I had the 201 G3 and the 30 foot Mako outfitted with eight smooth running Big Jon Pro Tournament Electric Big Jons ( www.bigjonsports.com ) and let me say itís great to be back. Just as I got the new units bolted on to the boats word began to get around that the folks at Big Jon were about to introduce something called the Silver Brute ES.

Now I still havenít found out what the ES stands for. More than likely it means Ďextra speedí or Ďextra strengthí or maybe both because these babies are just thatÖ stronger and speedy. The Brute ES can raise a cannonball at better than 200 feet per minute, carry 300 feet of stainless steel cable and are built brute tough of high strength aircraft aluminum. In fact, over on the Yankee side of the border on Lake Huron Michigan, experienced and innovative trollers are actually fishing as deep as 500 feet down with these magnificent riggers. With swivel mounting base machined from billet aluminum and dual multi-set rod holders included in the package, these definitely are the ultimate in deep water trolling gear.
 
Spin Doctor Flasher by Dreamweaver Lures
 
Letís face it, salmon fishing tackle on the Great Lakes comes and goes. Some have stayed around since their inception, but many times itís a case of here today and gone tomorrow. Well thereís a flasher out there from Dreamweaver Lures
( www.dreamweaverlures.com ) called the Spin Doctor that definitely is here to stay. In fact, I would have to say that every serious salmon troller on the Great Lakes has Spin Doctors on his boat and trolling them behind his cannonballs. This flashy rotating attractor is available in 3 sizes and just too many color combinations to mention. Rigged in front of a Dreamweaver Action Fly or Strong Fly, these attractors will bring in the big ones for strike after strike no matter what the fishing condition.

The Spin Doctor offers two different set-ups with dual finned construction. Anglers are given the choice of a slow wide rotation or a tighter faster underwater dance. All I can add is the fact that if you donít fish with Spin Doctors, you just donít know what you are missing. By the way A-Tom- Mik Manufacturing www.atommiktrollingflies.com out of Owego, New York, have gained a reputation of tying up some of the finest salmon trolling flies on the Great Lakes. Tied with both tournament a amateur angler in mind, All are hand manufactured with VMC cone cut trebles and tied up with Seaguar Flurocarbon and Sampo ball bearings. Some even come with built in ball bearing attractors. Their new model the Crazybitch has even spawned a Crazybitch Spin Doctor Flasher that will prove to be the ultimate one, two combination when next season rolls around.
 
G3 Boats By Yamaha
 
If you havenít had a chance to view the new G3 Boats (www.g3boats.com) by Yamaha yet make certain you browse their website or get out to a local dealer. I honestly believe these boats, and there is a very wide variety of models, are the boats of the future.

Of course Iím a little partial to G3, I own an Advantage V210. This is the boat that Pro Walleye anglers and Great Lakes trollers have been asking for. Look at the GX2 double plated reinforced hull. Then thereís that Advantage V210 Pro Touch which includes a giant 42 gallon oxygenated live well, 60 gallon dual pickup gas tank, 9 foot center rod locker , shock absorbing gas pedestal seats and an immense 66 x 82 inch vinyl floored cockpit. To top all that off, my new boat is powered by a powerful 250 horsepower 4 stroke and is matched with a dependable 9 horsepower four stroke trolling motor. The command center features Sea Star Power Steering and Yamaha Command link digital gauges.

Believe me itís the finest fishing machine on the water. Check it and other quality fishing boats out at the G3 website.
 
Mepps Little Wolf
 
The folks at Brecks Canada ( www.brecksinc.com ) always seem to be introducing something new and lethal on the fish world. Remember this is a company that supplies us with Mepps, Williams, Mr. Twister, Maxima and Mooslook baits. This past spring prior to heading out for a film shoot at MarMac Lodge
( www.northtoadventure.com ) I received a package of spoons in the mail that just cried to be tied and then tried. It was an assortment of the new Mepps Little Wolf casting and trolling spoons.

Now hereís a bait that will definitely win the angling fraternity over very quickly. The Little Wolf is designed to maintain a wiggle and wobble at any speed or retrieve without any rollover. More important that wiggle and wobble is something no fish from tiny brook trout to lunker musky can ignore. The Little Wolf is available in 4 sizes and 10 colors. By the way those colours are baked vinyl and acrylic coated to withstand the punishment of Canadian lake structure and the teeth of our biggest game fish.

The first night at MarMac we tied on a couple and made for a portage through the bush to a small lake that was known to hold a few overgrown brook trout. Within minutes of starting the troll, the action began with a double header of 5 pounders. Two hours later we had finished the trip with a total of twelve trout hooked and released on these baits. Now like I said, the new Mepps Little Wolf is available in 10 different colours, but on this day it was the gold and the gold/orange tones that made for one heck of an introduction to a spoon that will always find a place in my tackle box.
 
Serengeti Sunglasses
 
Seems to me there are a million makers of sunglasses out on the market these days. Some are expensive, some are cheap. Some are quality, some are garbage. Now you can purchase some brands of cheap sunglasses that arenít garbage, will do a short term job and then just fall apart, starting with the scratching of the lens. Let me tell you, I always pack along a pair of cheap sunglasses. Theyíre around just for the occasion when Iíll have my more expensive models stolen, lost or and it happens, falling overboard.

Thatís why I like to call a fellow by the name of Rick Ebisuzaki my friend. Rickís the national sales manager for Bushnell Outdoor Products. Itís great that Bushnell Outdoor Products also distributes quality sunglasses under the brands H2Optix, Bolle and Serengeti.

Two years ago I got to test out a number of great glasses in the H2Optix line. Last year a parcel came with the Bolle sunglasses for a yearís worth of testing. This past February, I just had to put the hit on Rick for a few pairs of quality Serengeti ( www.Serengetieyewear.com ) sunglasses. Well, Iím not going to say which brand was best, but I will say that the Serengeti models I received blew me away. I donít even want to spend an hour behind the keyboard trying to explain models and colors of these super fine sunglasses. All I will say is check them out. They are quality when it comes to angling or any other pastime in the outdoors.

And Rick, if you are reading this newsletter. I just love testing your fine line of eyewear.
 
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