First and foremost, I apologize for my tardiness in getting out this latest newsletter, but to put it very bluntly Iíve been sitting back and smelling the roses for the last few months and also enjoying a fair amount of fishing.
Thank you, and I mean I really appreciate it. The emails came as a surprise and I hope I got back to everyone.
Two doctors and the wife tried to lay out the guidelines for me before I even got home, but trust me old habits are hard to break. Rest, relaxation and watching the blood pressure are easy for others to talk about, but hard for someone like me to live by.
Anyways, once again thank you folks. Iím still alive and kicking. Life is good and hopefully youíll approve, Iím finally back to being me!
Political Correctness...I Hate It In Most Instances
Jeez, a couple of days ago I turned 62 and it got me to thinking. I donít believe Iíve ever been politically correct and hopefully, I never will be politically correct. On more than a few occasions itís cost me personally and financially for not being politically correct, but what the heck. I honestly believe that a large percentage of people like me as I am and that counters the feelings of the minority that think Iím nothing more than a redneck, loudmouth crackpot for being politically incorrect. Iíve always tried to say it like it is. In most cases Iím speaking what most people want to say, but canít say what they want to say. I donít like the way our sport fishery is heading here in Canada and in some instances, itís downright scary. I definitely donít like how our politicians are protecting our fish stocks. I donít like how our Natural Resources agencies are being under funded. I donít like the manner in which some of our biologists are more intent on getting their names plastered on scientific papers instead of improving our fisheries. I donít like our kids hanging out on street corners with ghetto blasters on their shoulders and headphones around their necks, instead of heading to a river or waterfront with a fishing rod in their hands. I like Canada the way it was in the old days, when there was more fish, better fishing, a lot less pollution and a lot less people in this country of ours.
Iíve been in this game for more than 40 years. I started out as a young kid writing a little column for the hometown weekly newspaper. I graduated to the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star and the Toronto Sun. I decided to trade in a job climbing trees and cutting limbs to start up the Ontario Fisherman Magazine. Iíve been filming fishing shows now for more than 20 years. In all that time, Iíve been known for my political incorrectness and Iím proud of it.
Now, for the most part, I donít blame people for being politically correct. Many are employed in positions where they have to be politically correct. In the teaching, enforcement and most of the public sector you have to be politically correct to hold your jobs and thatís fine with me. What bothers me, are those people who will strut their stuff in public with their heads buried in a pile of dung to keep up their image and then behind closed doors start spouting how they really feel when it doesnít count because the public canít hear them.
Here are a couple of examples. Iím talking with a group of serious anglers at the Toronto Sportsmanís Show this past March discussing the wasteful Atlantic Salmon program presently being carried out on Lake Ontarioís north shore. Everyone is in agreement that lack of any success with this program will be the end result, except this one person who seems to shy away from the subject. This is the same individual that over the years Iíve watched butt kissing and trying to look important to sport anglers. After the discussion is finished he has the gall to get me aside and inform me that he personally has no use for the program, but didnít want to state an opinion in front of others in case it might put him in a bad light with those involved in this idiotic project. A prime example of being politically correct? You bet, but for people like this I have no use for. Their image comes first and not the fishery.
Another individual, that works hard in the volunteer sport fishery here in Ontario has approached me on the same Atlantic subject and told me a number of times itís a waste of hatchery space and doubts its success. In the next breath, he shrugs his shoulders and admits he wonít go public with his opinions. Funny, this same so-called sportsman will readily take a bow for some of his work, but is afraid to differ from his masters at the helm of this experimental debacle that is wasting hatchery space, angling opportunities and tackle sales to the economy.
Even yesterday, I had a phone call from one biologist with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, who I might add, Iíve always respected. He noted during our conversation, that I might be putting a little to much negative pressure on another biologist when it came to some fisheries matters. He went on to note that this bio was a fisherman, really knew the facts on fish and fishing. He explained that, yes, there was definitely reasons for my concerns and criticisms with this same government employee, but in the same breath, asked me to realize the biologist was only following company protocol. It seems that even he knows itís wrong, a government employee worries more about his job, future advancement up the corporate ladder and keeping his bosses happy than the health of the sport fishery.
Now hereís one other final example. How many television hosts and outdoor writers have you seen go public on their weekly shows or in their newspaper columns and ever say that anything is wrong with the Canadian sport fishery? Very, very, very few. Some of these guys are just too afraid to anger their sponsors or their editors and thatís too bad for them and the sport of fishing here in Canada. Most of these guys have the power and the ability to reach mass audiences, but to be honest their bank accounts come first and not the fishery. Politically correctness at its worst. My old buddies like Tiny Bennet, Red Fisher, Haig Brown and John Power must be looking down from the heavens in disgust.
Political correctnessÖI hate it as much as gill nets, cormorants and lamprey eels.
Record Sockeye Runs Expected!
As I sit down and stare at the computer, predictions are that the Fraser River is expecting and presently experiencing record runs of the sockeye salmon. Was Alexandra Morton ( www.callingfromthecoast.com ) all wet in her dire predictions? I donít think so. As far as Iím concerned, this is just a blip in the annual cycle of returning fish stocks.
There should be no place in the Pacific Ocean for commercial salmon farming. There should be no place in Canada for Norwegian fish farms period. Why let them pollute our precious Pacific when they have their own Atlantic Ocean to screw up. Check out the commercial farm operations and you can see for yourself that Europeans are flooding the ocean with their net pens in Canada and those poorer countries in South America. http://www.fis.com/fis/worldnews/worldnews.asp?l=e&ndb=1&id=35581
What happened back in their own home waters? Not a very pretty picture.
Letís be honest, with world population out of control, we have to produce food somewhere, but please not in our precious oceans. Commercial fish pens can be located inland and without disease or pollution. Why donít we? Well for starters, the word is money. It costs a lot more to set up an operation on land, instead of just simply using our saltwater as a free of charge dumping grounds.
And who in their right mind would even think of putting fish pens full of Atlantic Salmon in the Pacific? Guess who? Our biologists at Fisheries and Oceans. Common sense should have told these brain drains that seals, sea lions and walrus would rip open the pens to get at an easy meal. Guess what? Seals, sea lions and walrus have and will continue to break into the pens and the Atlantics are spawning in west coast rivers. Not only that, the holes in the pens are big enough for the those millions of wild salmon smolt to swim in for a free meal. Problem is, few swim outÖthey become a meal for those millions of pen raised Atlantics waiting for them.
Now, how far do we go with idiocyÖAtlantic salmon reared and escaping in the Pacific is bad enough. Exploding sea lice populations is bad enough. Introducing new diseases is bad enough. Now how about Frankenstein fish coming to us next? Click here to watch the video.
What a Summer!
The doc said relax. So I went fishing and what a summer itís been. This seasonís shows were filmed in northern Ontario, British Columbia and then back again to Ontario for a combination of small lake, big river, Lake Ontario trolling and saltwater angling.
Like I mentioned, Canadaís sport fishery has a lot of trouble facing it, but we still have the best fishing in the world. You just have to look a little harder and go a little farther afield for it. At the same time we all will have to work a little harder to keep it that way.
In June I made the drive to Nakina, Ontario with my son Josh and crew for a visit with a long time buddy Malcolm Leuenberger. Iíve mentioned it before and will put it in print again, that in my mind the best fishing in the Province of Ontario for walleye is without a doubt found at Leuenenbergerís Fly-in Lodge and Outposts.
No fish story, but within 3 hours of leaving the lodge and turning on the camera, myself and Malcolm had caught and released more than 50 walleye. The main lodge is located on Kaganagiami Lake and the fish carry a remarkable average weight of between 3 to 6 pounds. The technique was pretty simple. Tie on a ľ ounce jig, slip on a 3 inch Mr. Twister Tail in tandem with a lively minnow and just drop it over the side in 4 to 8 feet of water. Results on this lake are almost always instantaneous.
Over four days, the results were always the same. Walleye after walleye after walleye. Right to the stage where you felt your arms were going to fall off. Oh and again, there were those regular shore lunches with the tastiest fish in the swim becoming the main course.
The ĎKagí covers more than 20,000 acres and it truly is a fish factory. Walleye also arenít the only species in this big body of water. The lake is home to a very healthy population of walleye, lake trout, northern pike and perch. For those looking for an added adventure, a short walk up an amazing little river will offer up some of the finest brook trout fishing in the north. The big lake is one of my all time favorites to visit. Shoals and islands are everywhere making for unbelievable fish attracting structure. No matter which way the winds blows you can always find calm water. And again, it seems that everywhere and anywhere your drop a jig youíll find hungry fish.
The Leuenbergerís also own and operate 16 remote outpost camps and almost always your cabin being the only structure on the lake or river system. Iíve visited and fished almost all of these outpost locations and have never come away disappointed.
Remember, the Leuenbergers have been in the outfitting and fishing business for more than 50 years and have earned a reputation that is one of the finest in the north bar none! I received a call from Malcolm recently and he will be putting up his booth at the Spring Fishing Show in February in Toronto and at the Michigan shows as well.
Erie Tracker Outfitters -- (905)-834-9218
Okay, so the yellow perch is a humble little fish that doesnít grow as big as a walleye or fight as hard as a steelhead. But guess what? Itís still ranked as one of Ontarioís most popular game fish. In fact, there are probably more anglers fishing Lake Erie for perch than walleye.
My good buddy Dave Malloy of Erie Tracker has been on my case for a few years to get down to Port Colborne, Ontario and sample the jigging for perch. Okay, so I follow the doctorís orders and head to my old hometown on the shores of Erie. Now, if youíve never had the chance to visit this pretty little town you are really missing out on a special place. Port Colborne is an often overlooked sportsmanís paradise. The woods around this hamlet are almost over-run with deer and turkey, but this newsletter is about fishing and excellent fishing is what Port Colborne is really all about.
This stretch of Erie is home to some of the finest smallmouth bass, walleye and perch fishing found anywhere on the lake. We targeted in on a location less than two miles from the local marina and within a few short hours had a two man limit of jumbo Lake Erie yellow perch that for the most part were mind boggling in size. Garmin fishfinders and Minn Kota electric trolling motors kept us on the fish. Mr Twister grubs and lively minnows kept them biting.
Yellow perch in this area are easy to find, easy to catch and hot out of the oil, the best tasting morsels found anywhere in the country. There are no downriggers and high end gear involved. Just a short ride to the fishing grounds, a few pieces of plastic and a bucket full of minnows.
John Valk of Grindestone Angling of Waterdown, Ontario has something very special. Yes, he owns a quality little fly fishing emporium that can supply you with top of the line fly fishing gear from feathers to fly rods, but he can also put you into a fish experience that you might think you would only find west of the Rocky Mountains. Valk also owns and operates Grindestone Outfitters, a full time guide operation since 1993. Itís Grindestone Outfitters that really intrigues me and it should you.
Grindestone Outfitters allows the Ontario angler the opportunity to experience west coast style of drift fishing for bass, trout, steelhead and even musky. Valk and his guides operate west coast manufactured Clickacraft Drift boats. His streams are varied from the Saugeen, Maitland, Grand and others, but itís the Saugeen drift trips that really caught my eye. The Saugeen is a massive river system and with the aid of the Clickacrafts, Valk and his guides have access to hundreds of miles of rolling, almost wilderness water. Below Walkerton alone, itís a 50 mile or more drift to the town of Southampton. Itís a drift of river than is only accessible in most cases by canoe, kayak or drift boat and the region is picturesque and loaded with fish.
Iíve filmed two shows with John over the years, the last being a few weeks ago and the river never fails to impress me.
Do yourself and your friends a favour and give John a call. Itís a short two hour car ride from Toronto and other southern cities and when you get to Walkerton itís one of the best half or full day experience you will ever experience east of the Rocky Mountains.
A couple weeks later and I was trading in my panfish rods for sturdier spring salmon and halibut gear. For the past decade Iíve been fishing a quaint little village on the west shore of Vancouver Island called Kyuquot. It offers some of the best, if not the best fishing anywhere along the Pacific Coast.
A good friend of mine and top British Columbia outfitter by the name of Matt Guiguet and his wife Kristy have hosted me and my staff on numerous occasions and to be honest this wilderness retreat offers everything and more about what British Columbia really has to offer.
What does it offer? Well letís start with an 85 pound halibut caught in less than 50 feet of water and in less than the first 20 minutes of me dropping my first bait last August. Then thereís the 37 pound spring that had my Islander singing that old familiar tune. In three short days of fishing I brought more than two dozen over-sized halibut to the boat and the number of silver sided springs and coho was mind boggling. All this, within a few minutes boat ride from the lodgeís dock. Yes, there is something very special to me about Kyuquot. The fishing is the best Iíve experienced in British Columbia and that includes the Charlottes and the far north mainland as well and again, thatís is in some 40 plus years of fishing this scenic province.
The waters just out front of Fishing Kyuquot are famed as the ĎSalmon Highwayí or the 50 Fathom Edge. It seems that just about every salmon heading south to Barekley Sound, Nootka Sound, the Fraser River or those famed American salmon rivers stop and feed just a few miles out from the lodge.
The accommodations are first class, the boats are big, comfy and more than adequate for any conditions.
Thereís also Guiguet himself. Iíve been acquainted with more than few guides over the years and this fellow is one of the best. He knows his fish and how to catch them. For more than 30 years Guiguet has been guiding and chasing salmon from the Queen Charlottes to the Washington line. He knows all the tricks and just as important, is a personable outfitter and instructor as well.
If you live in beautiful British Columbia you are blessed. For the rest of you Canadian anglers, donít pass up the opportunity visit and fish this magic land. When fishing this province, make certain you make it Fishing Kyuquot.
Over the last couple of years Iíve been spending a few days during the summer down on Lake Ontario with a good friend of mine re-enjoying the great salmon and trout fishery the big water has to offer. Last year, Randy Scott of Red Dog Charters introduced me to the fabulous trolling for chinook salmon out from Darlington, Ontario just a few miles east of downtown Toronto. This past August, I spent a couple of weeks in an area of the lake called the Blue Zone, just a few short miles south of Toronto in the middle of Lake Ontario. When I say a few miles, actually itís 14 miles south of the city limits of Hog Town.
The Blue Zone got itís name from that deep blue water found way out in mid-lake. By the word Ďdeepí, I really mean deep. In fact, the Blue zone starts in 300 feet of water and just keeps getting deeper all the way down to more than 500 feet of water. Itís also a stretch of water that almos crosses the lake from east to west. Due to the depth of this portion of the lake, water temperatures that are critical to locating trout and salmon seldom vary. With constant preferable water temperatures steelhead (rainbow trout) and congregate, feed and seldom stray from the Blue Zone. Even better, those preferred water temps are most often close to the surface, meaning strong, voracious bites and lots of them.
On five occasions, I boated out to the Blue Zone and hooked and released more than fifteen big steelhead and chinook on each visit. Never once did I fish my baits more than 30 feet below my boat and never once did I spend more than four hours actually fishing. The Blue Zone is one heck of a dynamic fishing hole and it was Randy Scott who can take most of the credit for discovering the Ďzoneí and revealing it to the rest of the Lake Ontario anglers who now enjoy it.
With this type of world class angling it seemed only natural that I bring the crew on board and demonstrate this action to the viewers. We didnít do just one show, but filmed a couple of episodes. The fishing was that hot! We even coaxed Toronto Maple Leaf president and general manager Brian Burke to join us for a morning of fishing and filming.
It was obvious Burke likes to fish and knows how to fish. It was also obvious that he was more than a little surprised at the number of fish and the fishing experiences that existed only a short boat ride south of the Air Canada Center. We had him on the water and off the water in less than 6 hours. In that short period we caught a dozen or more big steelies and lost more than a few as well. How big were the fish? Well, letís just say that Brian noted that he had never hooked and landed a steelhead before. I would imagine he was more than pleasantly surprised and happy to boat the big one that weighed out at more than 17 pounds.
Now, before I go any further let me state that the majority of both the steelhead and salmon are stocked courtesy of the State of New York. The Empire State is credited with stocking more than a million chinook salmon and more than 600,000 steelhead smolt annually into Lake Ontario. Itís just as important to note that New York releases more than 500,000 steelhead into the lake without removing any fins for hatchery verification. If you love fishing, you just have to love those American biologists. They not only know how to raise quality fish in their hatcheries, but also realize that lopping of fins results in fish mortality. The Yanks also realizee that fish are raised for fishermen, fishing opportunities and benefiting the economy.
If you havenít experienced it yet, do yourself a favour and get out to the Blue Zone. Even if you have a boat worthy enough to get out to mid-lake and the deep water, do yourself a favour and book a day with Randy Scott and his Red Dog Charters. You folks without a boat of your own, itís a no-brainer, give Randy a call.
Trust me thereís no fishery better anywhere on the Great Lakes!
Whatís New in Tackle
Hereís a thought. When was the last time you purchased Canadian made or for that matter North American made fishing tackle, even quality European fishing tackle. Itís kind of scary, but if you walk into a tackle shop these days, just about everything on those peg boards is manufactured in the Orient. Now donít get me wrong, there are a lot of quality rods and reels coming out of Japan. Geez, my spinning reels these days are Daiwas, but try and find a better spinning reel these days and you just wonít. My fishfinders are the Garmin brand and I defy you to find a better fishfinder than my Garmin and you wonít. Hell, outboard motors may not be classed as fishing tackle, but I use them to get to the fishing grounds. Iíve been using nothing but Yamaha outboards and again I defy anyone to find a better outboard than a Yamaha.
But the question still is, when was the last time you walked into a tackle shop and didnít see tackle made mostly in the Orient hanging off the pegs? Iím talking rods, reels, lures and fishing line. No doubt about it, most of that tackle is manufactured overseas. Whoís kidding who, money talks and most of our North American tackle big boys have tightened their belts and saved more than a few bucks shifting their manufacturing plants to the other side of the Pacific. Saving money is fine, but what about those jobs on this side of the pond that are lost? With the lost jobs, so go the lost incomes andÖ..the purchasing power to buy that same fishing tackle.
Funny how time moves along a little faster when you get a little older. For me, itís just great to see a Canadian fishing tackle company that has been around longer than me. Brecks Incorporated out of Sherbrooke, Quebec has been in the fishing tackle business since 1947 when George Breckenridge began his travels across Canada to market his flies and lures that were first manufactured out of his home. By 1964 his son David was taking over company responsibilities and the rest is history. By the way, I often think Iíve known Dave since 1964, but that would be stretching it just a little. But almost since 1964.
Hereís a sampling of what the folks from Brecks bring to the table when it comes to Canadian fishing tackle companies.
The folks at Brecks like to state that the Mepps spinner is the most popular and productive lure ever made. Can they back up that statement? Youíre darn right they can. Did you know that since 1938 more than 500,000,000 Mepps spinners have been produced and sold worldwide?
There are ten separate styles of spinners and two styles of special Mepps spoons available to Canadian anglers. Oh, and donít forget their line of special Mepps kits that are species targeted. Talking about species, I doubt there is not a species that swims that wonít fall for a Mepps.
Maxima Monofilament Line
Whatís that old saying, Ďwhat goes around, comes aroundí. More than 40 years ago, it seemed I was driving every weekend more than 200 miles to the Saugeen River to bottom bounce and drift for steelhead. My choice of monofilament even back in those days was Maxima.
Today, Iím still loading my spools with Maxima. Check the west coast and youíll find the majority of top salmon guides spooling up with Maxima. Check the east coast and the answer is the same. Back here in the middle of the country smart anglers are filling up with Maxima
Yes, Iíve heard a few times that Maxima costs a little bit more. But let me ask you thisÖ.do you like break offs, lost battles and lost fish? If you donít mind any of those problems continue to purchase the bargain box offerings often found at the end of the aisle.
Maxima is a precision monofilament manufactured in the mountains of Germanyís Bavaria region. There they transform extremely pure, virgin nylon formulations into the worldís highest quality monofilament.
When it comes to tensile strength, knot strength, abrasion resistance, low stretch and limpness, just try and find a monofilament that can match Maxima. Brecks distributes Maxima in mini-packs, one shot spools, maxi-spools and service spools. There are also fluorocarbons, special leader wheels and knotless tapered fly leaders. No matter where you fish, if you want success turn to Maxima.
Wow! Plastic and rubber baits have been around the fishing scene for more than 50 years and trust me, I was there and they were less than perfect let me tell you. That was until 1973, when a marvellous man by the name of Doc Carver after much trial, experimenting and disappointments came up with his Mr. Twister. His Curly Tail wonder was unleashed on the fishing community. Its life-like motions and gyrations immediately brought productive fishing to the beginnerís level. Today, thanks to Mr. Twister, Brecks distributes plastic fish catching baits like the Curly Tail, Mr. Minnow, Hawg Frog, Sassy Shad, Phenom Worms and Exude to Canadian anglers chasing any fish that swims in our waters.
For a change, Iím glad to say that Iíve been using a bait before Dave Breckinridge decided to take it under his fold at Sherbrooke, Quebec. Of course I wasnít around at the turn of the 20th century when two successful gold mining brothers from Fort Erie, Ontario, returned from the gold fields and decided to enter precious metal refining and at the same time provide anglers with a spoon that would be guaranteed to catch fish. Now remember these boys had a background in mining and refining gold and silver, so it was obvious that they wanted their new baits to be coated in the precious metals. Even today every Williams lure is still finished in genuine silver or 24K gold plate.
Back more than a few years ago, I caught my very first lake trout, rainbow trout and walleye with the aid of Williams Wabler. Iím still using that same Williams 40 years later believe that or not. But thereís more to Williams than just the trusty Wabler. You hear Williams and most anglers think names like the Whitefish, Quick Silver, Bully, Wabler Lite, Trophy, Thinfish, Dartee, Flasher and the ever famous Ice Jig.
And donít ever forget Brecksí other great lures under the famous Mooselook line-up. Invented in 1938, the Mooselook Wobbler has been a trout and salmon trollerís favorite in the northeast lake regions of New England and Canada for more than 60 years.
Thereís also the Mooselook Thin Fish, manufactured of spring metal based steel that holds its shape and is just great for fluttering behind a downrigger cannonball.
Okay, facts are facts and in my opinion those facts prove that Islander Reels of Saanichton, British Columbia manufacture some the finest mooching, float fishing and fly reels to ever come out of a North American tackle plant. Matter of fact, show me any other reel manufacturer anywhere that can put out and better the three variations of reels that Islander does.
On the west coast, Islander is the hands down favorite of the top guides and five star lodges. On the big rivers of the Pacific coast and Great Lakes tribs, Islander float reels are a prized possession. As for their fly reels, Islander stands for quality. Itís amazing how many saltwater tarpon guides have converted over to Islander fly reels.
This summer I mothballed all my level winds and stored them away in the bottom of the Mako. I decided that mooching reels were the only way I would fish Great Lakes salmon and trout. Well, the fact is while I was resting and fishing I had a hoot. Matter of fact, everyone else that came to visit and enjoy the Blue Zone and itís magnificent fishery went away with thoughts of purchasing an Islander and switching over.
Thereís no denying that the favorite lure from coast to coast for walleye is the jig. Some will add on a Twister Tail, while others will simply slip on a shiner minnow or humble dew worm, but the jig is that all important component that takes the bait down to the feeding fish and allows for the proper drag, bounce and wiggle movements that do all the enticing of the walleye to the hook.
Okay, now if you are a serious jig fisherman then donít forget the name Bruce Berringer and his line of fur ball jigs. Itís possible Iíve used jigs more often than most. Iíve also lost more jigs more often than most. That being said, as an expert, Iíve probably cursed up a storm more than most when Iíve found myself out of the right size or color of jig when the bite is on. I also detest those cheap imported jigs that always seem to have paint clogging their eyes. Itís amazing how loud I can scream and curse when I inadvertently jam a second jigís hook into my finger when Iím attempting to clean out that first jig. It happens, trust me and if you love jig fishing you have to acknowledge thatís all part of jig fishing for walleye or bass.
But not anymore. A few years back, my son Josh bought be the perfect gift for jig fishing and the serious jig fisherman. It was a large over-sized box of jigs, in perfect colours, perfect sizes and best of all perfectly free of any obstructions in their eyes. Bruce makes boxes of jigs available to meet your demands, once again in sizes and colours.
Depending on how often you jig fish for walleye, bass or other species, one of his larger boxes should last a lifetime. I jig fish a little more than most so I have a number of his jig boxes stored and waiting for action in the future.
Another great Canadian tackle manufacturer. This time a guy from Northwestern Ontario and a fisherman that really knows his jigs.
Now this may be difficult to believe, but this person once took part in canoe races across Ontario in his youth. In fact, back in my younger days I even found myself racing in the Canadian championships. Now, these were racing canoes with razor sharp V-hulls and were no way designed like the pleasure canoes found on lakes and streams today. Iíve also owned and still own a number of pleasure canoes for fishing inland lakes.
Over the past couple of years Iíve noticed that both canoeing and kayaking has been gaining in popularity from one coast to the other here in Canada. I fish close to home on the Saugeen and I see both forms of watercraft. I travel into northern Ontario and see both canoes and kayaks. I fish British Columbia and to be honest I see as many or more kayaks than I do motor boats these days. Some are just exercising, but a lot of these folks with their paddles churning away are fishing and fishing in convenient locations that bigger boats canít get to. Next time you are on the highway, look for the number of cars cruising by with kayaks tied to their roofs.
With that in mind I contacted the good folks at Swift Canoe and Kayak out of Gravenhurst, Ontario for a little information on their kayaks and how the sport has begun to explode. Now Bill Swift Jr. is another one of those Canadians that is proving that we can make it better in our country and has been in business since 1989. He builds the best canoes and kayaks that Iíve ever seen. He also gave me a startling insight into the growing sport of kayak fishing here in Canada. Within a few minutes of talking and I was setting up a kayak fishing episode.
Now remember, I said I used to race canoes competitively, but that was eons ago. When the kayak arrived for the dayís filming I was prepared for a fast dip in the lake. Surprisingly, the old guy got into the boat and immediately found that these newly designed craft are stable, simple to manage and really do get you into those out of the way, fish rich locations. Notice I didnít brag that I was still a light weight, in great shape and had the balance of a young athlete.
To make a long story short, the show came out great, we caught a lot of fish and I surprised myself and not only the viewers by not getting wet. Even more interesting is the fact that I now own two Swift Kayaks. Iíve already been down the Saugeen a half dozen times with them and the experiences have been great and healthy.
Check out their website at Swift Canoe and Kayak and when you get there look up the Adirondack models and the accessories that go with them. These boats are unbelievable and I now understand why the sport is exploding and why the Swift kayaks are popping up everywhere.
I donít know about you folks, but over the years Iíve been notorious for the number of fishing rods Iíve broken. Try probably hundreds. Iíve also heard all those stories about how the fish broke the fishing rod. Come onÖthat happens very, very, very seldom. How about breaking them on a trunk lid, stepping on a carelessly placed rod or winding a window up on them. Those are usually the true reasons. I try and keep my two piece ferrules broken down and tight together when not in use. Sure, like everyone else , Iíve gone the rubber band route, had the rubber rot and ended up stepping on either one or both sections. Thereís not a rod manufacturer out there that believes the old ..fish broke my rod excuse.
Now, the Fishing Butler is another one of those nifty little inventions designed by smart Canadians. Carrie and Dave Broadbent of Hagersville, Ontario. This dynamic duo have really solved the broken fishing rod problem as far as Iím concerned. The Fishing Butler is a fishing rod organizer and protector. Comprised of protective foam stretch rubber, this rod life-saver can be simply clicked and pulled to wrap around one or a number of rods and then clicked and pulled to keep them tight and safe. Theyíre great also for storing on a wall or a safe corner out of harms way.
Is your $200 rod not worth a $3 a pack of Fishing Butlers?
For the last couple of years I was pondering a change in fishfinders. What I did was check out the choice of top guides working deep water on the Great Lakes, the Pacific Northwest and my winter fishing grounds in the Florida Keys. I wanted a quality unit that besides just locating fish gave me durability, a strong signal and worldwide satellite enhanced base map with video quality resolution on an over-sized big screen for starters. The Garmin GPSMAP 7012 does a lot more than that and trust me Iím blown away by the special effects of this baby. It also includes sonar, radar, weather and video imputs. The video imputs even allows me to watch the goings on down beneath the surface with my Walker Strike Vision unit. With the new Garmin Iíve got the best quality fishfinder Iíve ever put on one of my boats. Nothing Iíve used to find fish has ever compared with it. I can divide the screen in quarters, find the fish, watch the fish, follow my GPS, my compass, even the weather or marine radio,,,all on one screen at the same time.
Then there are those all important extras that come with the GPSMAP 7020 and its Blue Chart g2 Vision. With the optional Blue Chart g2 Vision SD card you can add a whole new dimension of exceptional features to your chartplotter. MarineEye View and FishEye View provide me with a 3-D perspective both above and below the surface. High resolution satellite images and photographs help you orientate yourself in unfamiliar areas.
This unit is big, sleek and stylish and designed to brave the elements even on my center console. Iíve been using fishfinders since those first ancient green and red boxes were introduced and no one knew what a fishfinder was in the first place. Iím head over heels in love with this unit and it is without a doubt the finest piece of electronics to be placed on my boat.
Great Lakes salmon and trout fishermen more than any other anglers realize the importance of temperature in locating the feeding zones of their target species and theyíve known that fact for decades. For almost 30 years the big lake trollers have recognized the importance of having a Fish Hawk 840 monitor mounted on their dash and the partnering 840 probe cruising above their cannnonball down deep below their boats. It was always a case of finding your proper trolling depth by temp readings and the fish would be there.
A few years back, Bill Sherwood a good and long time friend and the inventor of the Fish Hawk line of temperature finders sold his company and today Grayden Outdoor LLC of Brainerd, Minnesota are the owners, operators and the innovators of the new line of Fish Hawk Electronic products. Trevor Sumption the president has done what I thought would never be possible. Heís made the new Fish Hawk X-4 the most advanced downrigger data system ever developed.
My question to Trevor when we first met, was just how do you improve on perfection in the first place. Well, his answer was simple, you make it stronger, smaller, easier to read and more affordable. By stronger, these baby can pick up accurate temperature readings at depths deeper than 200 feet. By smaller, letís look at the actual size of the probe and sensor. Both are less than half of the size of my old favorite. The monitor takes up less room on the dash and the probe causes a whole lot less blow back under troll. Easier to read? You bet! The monitor LCD may be thinner and smaller, but itís easier to read with over-sized digits for even old guys like me. As for more affordable, I keep remembering those constant drawdowns on my older unitís 9 volt batteries to cold water temps. Not anymore. You can get an entire years service out of one set of 4 double A batteries.
If you are fishing for just about anything below the surface make certain you are counting on Fish Hawk Electronics and the new X-4!
Iíve known a good buddy by the name of Rick Ebisuzaki for almost 40 years here in Canada. Heís also been involved in the Canadian outdoor industry for that long or maybe a little longer. Rick runs the show at the Bushnell Corporation of Canada. Most know that Bushnell makes some of the finest binoculars, field glasses, range finders, GPS , scopes and trail cameras in the industry. For me though, itís the fact that they also distribute across Canada some of the finest lines of sunglasses in the world.
Over the past three years Iíve been testing out all the lines of Serengeti and Bolle sunglasses that Bushnell makes available here in Canada. Now letís be honest, most of us have a habit of purchasing discount sunglasses at discount prices. You know, the ones you find hanging off a corner shelf or end aisle in one of our big box stores. I keep a couple of pairs in most of my boats for emergency occasions. But hereís a tip, do yourself a favour and purchase a pair of quality glasses not only for fishing or when out in the field, but also out on the town.
The Serengeti and Bolle fine line of glasses are worth giving a good once over and then purchasing. Thereís not just a few models to choose from in these two collections but many and I mean many. There are glasses for every sport and every occasion. Heck, I even carry a pair of the famous original Serengeti ĎAviatorsí in my Expedition and in my luggage bag as well for that Ďhistoricí look.
Seriously though, every outdoorsman deserves the right to wear quality sunglasses. They see better, fit better, wear better and look better. Remember you deserve it.
And thanks Rick for being a friend for all those years.
Okay, so Iíve already explained that John Valk at Grindestone Angling has quite the drift boat excursion and phenomenal fishing going on up on the Saugeen River. In past newsletters Iíve already told you about the hard work the Ontario Steelheaders and Lake Huron Fishing Club are doing on the Saugeen to make it the number one steelhead river east of the Rocky Mountains. Well, put 20,000 plus steelhead together with 40 odd miles of undisturbed river fishing and I got the bug.
Really, I need another boat to add to the armada, like I need another set of bad wisdom teeth, but what the hell, at my age I need another outlet for fishing and relaxation. As I sit here in front the computer, a ClackaCraft 16FFB with my name on it is slowly being constructed by some of the best craftsmen in the industry.
A drift boat is the ultimate in fishing and getting down to those best fishing spots and again ClackaCraft makes the finest of drift boats. Their warranty pretty well says it all. Remember, these boats work in rugged river conditions and it means a lot to have a 100 year hull warranty. With more than 30 years of boat building experience, ClackaCraft Boats are the innovative leader in advanced drift boat design.
I could go on and on about drift boats and ClackaCraft but Iíll let the boat do the talking when it arrives in Ontario. I should say that itís not just going to be a Saugeen River resident, but will see time on the Michipicoten here in Ontario, the Bow in Alberta and possibly wet its hull on the Skeena or Stamp out in British Columbia as well.
Check out their site for the finest drift boats in the world.
Spin Fast Big Rig Polishing..(519) 501-7949
Well, once I bought the boat for the river, I may as well have something to live down by the river in. I always wanted an Airstream RV, so I purchased one of those too. This time it was an old antique honey that just need a little loving and tender caring. For starters, this old girl needed a little more than a facelift and a lot of cleaning. She need a complete overhaul, shampoo and polishing. Lucky I met a fellow by the name of Shaun Linder of Spin Fast Big Rig Polishing out of Brantford, Ontario.
Itís amazing what Shaun can do with a boat, trailer and rims when he gets out is grinders and buffers. The guy turned a rundown relic into a beauty in no time. The grey finish on the old Airstream was transformed almost overnight as if Cinderella had been touched by the magic wand.
No trust me, this guy really can do magic in a short time on just about anything than needs to have a shiny finish returned to an original look.
If you ever get down to Steelheaders Park on the banks of the Saugeen and it looks like a diamond glaring back at you in the grass, itís only me and my Airstream waiting for the steelhead.
Why did I know this was coming one day. I just was sitting back and waiting for it.
Heís been dropping subtle hints for a while and finally brought it out in the open last week. My son Josh, wants to get into the guiding business. Iím not going to throw my hands up in disbelief or protest. I think itís kind of neat and I believe he will do a pretty good job as he moves along. Obviously, heís been around some of the best and I think heís learned from some of the best that Iíve had the chance to introduce him to over the years.
Interestingly, heís starting out with a novel walk, wade and drift approach. I think itís more than just interesting. The kid can fish, thatís obvious and he also knows his fish and techniques.
I sit down at my trailer on the Saugeen and watch a lot of anglers come and go. Most go home empty handed. The ones that know the ways of the trout and how to present a bait properly catch a lot of fish and go home satisfied and excited. Steelheading is far from just throwing a bait into the river and waiting for the fish to come along and hook itself. Finding proper water, using the proper equipment and undertstanding how to use the equipment all goes into playing the sport.
Joshís approach is going to include all three. Taking anglers to the proper locations, making certain they have the proper tackle and then learning how to use that tackle. Some of the time it might be carried out just a short walk from a parking lot. Other times it will be utilizing pontoon boats and drifting down river to an isolated section of flow that seldom sees anglers or fishing pressure in the Grey/Bruce region of Ontario.
I wish him all the best. Proper and successful guiding is a business and he knows already how to do it.
Anyways, Sorry For Being Late And Hereís a Tip To Remember, Be Careful Hooks are Sharp or they Should Be!