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



Hills
Newsletter
 
Why?
 
With the first newsletter out of the way, I expected a few to criticize. One e-mail mentioned he was glad to see me back in print, but wished I would lay off the biologists and push the good aspects of our Canadian sport fishery. Funny I checked this guy out, and low and behold, he was a past employee of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, as a matter of fact, he was an ex-biologist with the MNR.

Letís be honest, Canada and Ontario in particular, has some pretty awesome fishing, but it could be better. Canada also has more than its share of quality fisheries biologists. But letís also be honest, the same government has its share of fisheries biologists that have no right to be managing our sport fishery. They may only be a few in number, but the bad ones have had the power to make decisions that not only hinder sport fishing, but in some cases have totally destroyed it.

Iím going to go out on a limb and mention the names of a few really good biologists Iíve worked with in the past. This could be the Ďkiss of deathí for some of them, but we need more biologists out in the field that not only love their work, but love fishing as a sport as well. Iíve been impressed by some like George Whitney, Jerry Smitka, Andy McKee, Lloyd Thurston and Chris Goddard. At the same time, there are others that shouldnít be given jobs in a pet shop, let alone be allowed to make decisions on how our sport fishery is operated.

Most of you already know how I feel about the removing of fins from 3 inch Chinook fingerlings that are raised in our volunteer hatcheries. Just what became of the millions of fish that became victims of this Natural Resources experiment? To date, only a few have shown up in our coolers or even less back at the rivers of their release. Itís obvious that they perished before they could track down their prey because of those missing fins. The Lake Huron Unit of Ontarioís MNR have given us just about every excuse imaginable for the loss of our salmon sport fishery... except noting that even they canít explain why itís the clipped fish in particular that are missing from the sport fishery..... Duh!

A quick study of Lake Ontario and how its salmon fishery has declined over the past two decades can also be attributed to biologist bungling. In the glory days, the stocking programs were confined to Bronte Creek, the Credit River and to a smaller degree Port Dalhousie. The first two sites offered something that is essential to salmon survival and in return salmon fishing success... excellent imprinting. When those small salmon (whether theyíre Chinook are Coho) are stocked they need to properly imprint to a river system. Stocked in the headwaters or way upstream in the Credit and Bronte, the young fish not only spent days making their way downstream to Lake Ontario, but also properly imprinted to the systems and later as adults easily found their way back to these release sites.

Today, the MNR brain trust in their wisdom have decided to split their stocking programs to sites east and west of Toronto. The salmon smolts earmarked for planting to the west of Toronto are stocked upstream still in the Bronte and the Credit. The fish designated for release east of Toronto are for the most part tossed off piers and breakwalls, with very little thought given to the all important imprinting factor.

Todayís poor fishing can be attributed to the fact that the stocks have not only been reduced due to planting only half the number of salmon in important large rivers such as the Bronte and the Credit, but also because we are more than likely seeing little, if any retuning salmon from those stockings that are dumped in the vicinity of Highway 2 east of Metro. Itís important to remember that salmon migrate in a counterclockwise pattern throughout their lives spent in Lake Ontario. Those fish stocked far upstream in the Bronte and Credit and imprint properly at release pass by all those locations east of Toronto and provide fantastic salmon fishing in those vicinities. The fish improperly stocked off breakwalls and beaches in the eastern portion of the lake and are not imprinted may never come home, let alone provide any degree of sport for anglers at that section of the lakeshore.

At the present time I believe we are only wasting time and money by stocking salmon in Georgian Bay and Lake Huron that are missing those all important vital fins. The same can be said for the fish that are raised at Ontarioís Ringwood facility and are trucked down to the breakwalls east of Toronto.

Yes, Iíve come to know a lot of great, enthusiastic biologists over the years, but still there are those Ďpinheadsí who should either take up a course in sport fishing or turn in their badges, microscopes and scissors and look for employment at a pet shop that just might hire them.

Cronzy
 

The Good
 
Steelheaders Still Going Strong!

Boy does time go by. It seems only yesterday, but I believe it was 30 years ago this summer that I sat down with ten (John Slade, Lorne Green, Larry Olden, Frank Nascimbin, Barry Spencer, Dave Towers, Ed Gambeacorte, Al Winters, Randy Scott , Rod Jones) other concerned anglers at the Oakville library to start up an angling organization that in its own way is still going strong today. Back in the old days we called the organization the Ontario Steelhead and Salmon Fishermen. Maybe 30 years have almost passed, but itís good to see the Ontario Steelheaders (the word salmon seems to be dropped about the same time the MNR bioís messed up the fishery down at Bronte and Port Credit) are still going strong and concerned about the fate of our sport fishery.

One of the Ďoldí originals, Rod Jones, is still helping steer this organization and their efforts are responsible for making the Saugeen River one of the finest trout streams in Eastern Canada. Working with the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Steelheaders are responsible for collecting and fertilizing more than 300,000 rainbow eggs annually. Once the steelhead fry have absorbed the yolk sacs, the little fellows are dispersed into upstream tributaries of the Saugeen. The Steelheaders also capture adult fish every spring and transport them more than 50 miles upriver to suitable spawning waters.

If you call yourself an Ontario steelheader, then join the Ontario Steelheaders www.ontariosteelheaders.ca. Thereís more to steelhead fishing than just the fishing.


B.C.ís Salmon Fishery Back and Back in a Big Way... But Donít Forget the Steelhead!

I forgot to mention last month when touting British Columbiaís phenomenal, rejuvenated salmon sport fishery (they donít remove belly fins on baby springs out there) that the steelhead fishery on the west coast of Vancouver Island and upper coast of the mainland has been going gangbusters.

Contrary to popular belief, a trip to British Columbia and the opportunity to experience the worldís best steelheading will not break your bank account.

I received a call from Stan Doll of Skeena Wilderness Fishing Charters (www.bc-steelhead.com) that his groups are hooking as many as 25 steelhead a day on the fly. Stan also guides anglers that would prefer to drift or spin for their chromers. Early running Chinook are also playing havoc with spring anglers. How does hooking into 40 pound plus kings sound when you are really expecting 10 to 20 pound ironheads? Doll expects the fishing for salmon to remain hot right up until September when the fall steelhead come home. Check this operator out. He fishes some of the finest streams on the coast, utilizes drift boats, jet boats, big cruisers and even helicopters to get his clients to the fish... his prices will surprise you.

On the big island, anglers would be wise to check out Matt Guiguet (www.goldriversteelheading.com) for the fishing experience of a lifetime. Guiguet, along with his brother-in-law Dave Murphy (www.murphysportfishing.com) are tops on Vancouver Island not only for super salmon and trout fishing in the rivers, but also providing some of the hottest salmon trolling on the continent. Once again, the prices for this fishing experience of a lifetime are not outrageous, just surprisingly affordable.


And the Northerns Just Keeping Getting Bigger and Better

I had the opportunity to meet up with Brian Simms and his wife Charmaine of Lindberghís Reindeer Lake Lodge (www.reindeerlakelodge.com) at the Cleveland Sportsmenís Show this past spring and itís great to see that this dynamic duo are packing them in at the best pike lake in the country. Brian shifted operations from the Cochrane region of Ontario less than a decade ago to take on a bigger operation in the northern Saskatchewan bush country. If you are on the hunt for the biggest and baddest pike in the world, then make tracks for Reindeer Lake. He claims that 40 inchers wonít raise an eyebrow and 50 inchers are common.

Brian notes that, as always, his repeat business is going gangbusters, but thereís always a chance for last minute bargain trips due to last minute cancellations.

Check him out.


Well Done!

If other jurisdictions really want to sit up and take notice on how to improve a sport fishery they should take a page from the Sportfishing Institute of British Columbia (www.sportfishing.bc.ca). Hereís an organization comprised of outfitters, lodges, guides, tackle manufacturers and private individuals who have joined together to inform, request and sometimes even pressure both the Provincial and Federal Governments to make changes, when needed, to protect and enhance fish stocks. The end result has been a bigger and better sport fishery than most west coast anglers can ever remember.

Congratulations also have to go out to Marilyn Murphy for her recent election as Executive Director for the Sportfishing Institute of British Columbia. Hereís a person that is one of the best anglers that Iíve come across in my lifetime. Sheís also one of the smartest when it comes to fish and fishing. On top of that she will definitely be one hard bargainer when it comes to representing her organization when meeting with Ottawa or the British Columbia government.
 

The Bad
 
A few years back I was sitting in at a club meeting being held by an angling organization down in southern Ontario and I remarked to the groupís president that it was pretty impressive what the club had achieved over the years. The president thanked me for the compliment, than added that I should have been around a few years earlier and really witnessed a conservation club at work. He noted that while his members were still out and about stocking fish, fixing up rivers and improving wildlife habitat, the members had laid back a little with the introduction of a bigger more glamorous clubhouse, a liquor license and raffles and lotteries. It seemed that as the money came in dedication to the outdoors faltered a little.

Twenty years have passed since that one night stopover in Kitchener and itís remarkable just how his words then, seem to be oh so true today. From St. Johns to Victoria, outdoor clubs are out in the field making improvements and protecting our fishing and hunting. Most are still true to their goal, but some of those bigger clubs, with so much potential, often put business matters and the bank account ahead of the outdoors.


Last newsletter it was noted that a cull was initiated on the east coast seal population. The question is why not include this same type of control on Pacific seals especially on the populations found within the waters bordered by Vancouver Island and the mainland. Around the Town of Campbell River, itís common to hook three salmon and have the seals steal at least two off your hooks. These seals arenít just saltwater feeders. They journey up many of the bigger B.C. spawning streams to pull salmon right off the redds.

Again, the reason for lack of action is the same... letís not infuriate the tree huggers.

 

The Ugly
 
This is ugly, really ugly. In fact, Iíve never seen an uglier bird than the Double-crested cormorant. Besides being one of the ugliest creatures on this earth of ours, they are also one of the most detrimental to fish stocks all across North America.

Itís a shame and a crime that the tree huggers have now taken up the cause of the cormorant. American jurisdictions have been oiling eggs and taking other steps over the past five years to cull the populations that now number in the millions. How much do they eat? Last year (2003) witnessed just how important it is to cull and control this predator. U.S. officials studied three cormorant colonies on Little Galloo, Snake and Pigeon Island. It was estimated that these birds alone were responsible for the demise of 620 thousand smallmouth bass and over 1.19 million yellow perch. Three other colonies in the Upper St. Lawrence consumed over 6.35 million fish.

At Meldrum Bay two summers ago I witnessed a flock of about 2 thousand cormorants invade a harbour en masse, corral an immense school of alewives in the shallows and then destroyed almost every fish that was in that school. What the cormorants didnít consume, they injured and left for dead. Four months later, I witnessed the Ministry of Natural Resources ignorantly stock approximately a hundred thousand lake trout off a shallow water boat ramp in Owen Sound Bay. The results were the same... a slaughter. What the cormorants didnít kill and consume, they injured and left the rest to die.

The Ontario government has finally initiated a control under the guise of protecting endangered vegetation. Isnít it time for a bounty to be placed on these feathered destroyers in the name of saving our sport fishery?
 

Outfitter & Lodge Spotlight
 
Hearst Air Service (www.hearstair.com) is an operator that Iíve been using summer after summer for more than 20 years. From Toronto itís approximately an 8 hour drive by automobile to Hearst, Ontario. The Hearst Air Carey Air Base is located approximately 10 miles west of town. From there, itís a flight into the northern Ontario bush country and some of the finest fishing for walleye, pike and brook trout found anywhere in Canada.

Georges Veilleaux is the head honcho and over the years heís selected a number of top rated lakes that are full of fish and totally secluded from other operators. Looking for the Glory Hole, where itís only you, your friends and the fishÖ then itís Hearst Air.

Veilleaux has also joined in partnership with Ojibway guide Harry Baxter to bring anglers to the Attawapiskat River for the opportunity to truly experience the rewards of the far north.

At Hearst Air you can expect clean, modern cottages, scenic wilderness and phenomenal fishing at all their locations. Veilleaux offers locations that are suitable for families and for the more adventurous fishing explorer.
 
 
 
As most know by now, Iím high on the west coast of this country of ours. The scenery is spectacular, the diversified population of folks our there are great to be around and most of the fishery is back and I mean back in a really big way.

West Coast Resorts (www.westcoastresorts.com) is one of the finest of British Columbiaís fishing resorts. The facilities are without a doubt first class or as I like to state Ď10 Starí. West Coast Resorts have two locations on the Queen Charlottes, Englefield Bay and Tasu Sound, as well as my personal favorites at Whale Channel and Milbanke Sound.

In three years of fishing these floating lodges Iíve never been disappointed with the food, accommodations or the fishing. Whale Channel and Milbanke offer a floating lodge that is second to none. Because this spacious facility is a floater, the lodge is set up to follow the fish. As for the fishing itself, the words are mind boggling. Imagine hooking into monster Chinook that can weigh more than 60 pounds or enough coho in the 10 to 20 pound range that will send you scurrying to the masseuse at dayís end... and they do have a rubdown professional on staff to get you ready for the next morningís on water punishment.

To some this may be the fishing experience of a lifetime... do yourself a favour and make it West Coast Resorts
 

SHORE LUNCH
 
Before the cormorants get them, get out and catch a mess of yellow perch. For the time being, the perch fishing is still hot on Lake Simcoe, Lake St. Clair and Erie.

Gore Bay Cheese and Bacon Perch

- 3 fillets per person barbecue sauce
- Sliced onion rings chives
- Garlic powder salt and pepper to taste
- Grated mozzarella cheese 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 cooked slices of bacon per fillet

Place each fillet on a small piece of heavy foil. Add bacon, onion ring, salt, garlic, butter, and then cheese to fillet.

Barbecue sauce and chives can be added if desired. Wrap securely.

Cook over hot coals or barbecue until fish flakes easily.
 

Tackle That Catches Fish
 
Summer is finally here, so why not a quick review on of the hottest new innovations to come on the tackle scene in years.

The folks at Walker Downrigger (www.walkerdownriggers.com) now allow the angler to witness the goings on below his boat and at his bait with their new Strike Vision underwater camera. Unlike all those other cameras on the fishing scene, the Strike Vision follows the lure at all times and also without the aid of those cumbersome, bulky cables. The Strike Visionís signal is passed directly up from the camera at the cannonball to the viewing unit on board by way of the actual downrigger cable.

Itís amazing just what you learn with this unit. First and foremost you soon discover that not all fish attach a bait as soon as they see it. In fact, more fish will turn their noses up at a bait before they strike out at one. The camera is capable of viewing fish at depths over 150 feet.

Increase your catches and enjoy your outings more with the Walker Strike Vision Downrigger and Camera!
 
Click here to visit Walker's Strike Vision Website for more information.
 
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