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

Thin skinned or does the truth hurt?

The last newsletter no sooner left my computer and I had a couple of critics ready to rap me on my knuckles for my so-called blatant opinion of biologists. Couldnít they read? I noted that most biologists were doing a lot of great work across the country. Itís just a case of a few deadheads that were doing a lot of damage to our fishery.

I still stand by my belief that every biologist that graduates from a university should be given a fishing rod instead of a diploma. I also feel deep down that if biologists donít fish, then they shouldnít be put in charge of protecting our fish or improving our fishery. That should also go for conservation officers and field technicians as well. Let me take that even one step farther. Hereís hoping that every Minister of Natural Resources in each of our provinces also loves to fish and even hunt as well.

Iíve been covering the outdoor beat in Ontario and across the rest of this country for almost forty years and believe me Iíve met my share of boneheads, biologists, conservation officers and even a couple of Natural Resources Ministers. In just about each and every case they were dumfounded when handed a fishing rod.

If they donít know how to cook, then they should stay out of the kitchen.

Anyways, let me say one last timeÖ.there really are a lot of great, hard working bios in this country of ours. If you do know a biologist that doesnít fish, then do yourself and him or her a favour and introduce them to the sport.

By the way, those two critics that tried to rap my fingersÖÖthey were biologistsÖI bet they donít fish.


The Good
A couple of newsletters back I noted the potential of Ontarioís Saugeen River. Iíd spent a leisurely drift down the Saugeen with John Valk of Waterdownís Grindstone Outfitters . It had been ten years since I made my last drift downstream from Walkerton and the experience was not only thrilling and exhilarating, it got me thinking about the potential this river has as a sport fishing destination. In fact, after an afternoon of fishing and talking with Valk as we made our way downstream towards Lake Huron, I now truly believe that the Saugeen River really does have the potential to become one of the best, if not the best trout stream found anywhere in eastern North America. Itís a big, big river, laced with spawning beds, deep pools and cooling springs. The habitat offers excellent cold water fish rearing potential. The river also runs for the most part through a combination of farm and bush country. You can enter this big waterway just about anywhere above the town of Southampton and think you were fishing the west coast.

Thereís only one problemÖ.the trout are missing. Yes, the Saugeen gets a run of steelhead, but sport fishing can be improved to the extent that this river really could provide three hundred and sixty five days of world class fishing. At the present time anglers enjoy a decent run of steelhead from October around til May, thanks in part to a limited amount of natural reproduction, straying Michigan trout and fish farm escapees. Some brown trout stocking does take place upstream in hopes of generating a summer fishery. Still , up until recently, the river lacked any significant fisheries rehabilitation on the part of Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.

Well, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources is still dragging its feet when it comes to pumping up the potential of this system on its own, but the Ontario Steelheaders and the Lake Huron Fishing Club are getting together to jointly improve the fishing on this river system. For the past ten years the Steelheaders have been rearing steelhead to fingerling size and then releasing them in the upper Saugeen. This past summer the Steelheaders sent 65,000 steelhead fry to the Lake Huron Fishing Clubís Kincardine hatchery, where the club will give the give the small fish a little extra loving care. Plans are in the works to hold the fish over until a release in the upper Saugeen River next spring. Hereís hoping the steelhead can be cared for until they reach that all important 8 inch length.

The Bad
Steelhead fishing definitely will be getting a boost from the efforts of the Ontario Steelheaders and the Lake Huron Fishing Club, but just when is the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources going to get into the business of properly managing this river system? Again, the Saugeen with very little time, effort or expense could be the best trout steam found anywhere in the east. It really just takes a little bit of foresight and itís obvious when it comes to this river the provincial ministry has yet to take off the blinders.

A ten year strategy where a 100,000 steelhead yearlings are stocked annually in the middle stretches of this river would produce a world class fishery almost overnight. Not only would the Saugeen attract fishing fanatics by the thousand almost immediately, but the returning adult steelhead from this stocking program would definitely find the upriver gravel beds to their liking and kick-start a natural reproducing, self-sustaining wild steelhead gene pool to the system. A secondary stocking of approximately 50,000 brown trout each year into the mid-stretches of the Saugeen would produce a fantastic warm weather fishery.

All that the river needs is support from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and as noted this has been completely lacking in the past. When approached this past summer about the potential of the Saugeen the Ontario ministry immediately, as expected, tossed the responsibility of such a project to the public for funding and the rearing of the fish.

Isnít it time the ministry got into the business of providing the fishery? Community fisheries involvement programs are fine and dandy, but itís obvious the MNR , especially here in Ontario, is getting a little too complacent when it comes to improving and providing sport fishing here in Ontario. For the size and especially its potential the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources has really missed the boat when it comes to doing the job it should do.

Thereís also a new problem facing our sport fishery right across Canada and this concerns the group that prefer to call themselves Metis. I find it impossible at this time to discover how much blood really constitutes a person to be classed as an Indian person. If a government official can explain that one to you, then let me know as well. Now we have the Metis petitioning for the right to harvest fish and game without living by everyone elseís set of rules. From what I understand Metis donít have the bloodlines to qualify for full Indian status. As if our outdoors donít have enough problems.

The Ugly
PETA , those people for the so-called ethical treatment of animals are at it again. Theyíre flooding the airwaves, flooding the schools and pounding the pavement to get their misguided message across and guess what? In some instances itís working.

Still, hereís a chance to get back at these fanatics, send all your friends to this website . Youíll find comedians Penn and Teller really giving the true lowdown on PETA.

New Ontario and Possible Canadian Rainbow Record
The Ontario rainbow trout record wasnít just broken on September 21, it was totally shattered! Joanne and Bruce Vendramin were trolling their favorite fishing grounds in McGregor Bay on Manitoulin Island. As is almost always the case, Bruce handed the rod to Joanne when the first fish struck. Only this time it wasnít just any fish.

Unlike other rainbows, the trout that snapped up their 300 series A.C. Shiner didnít run or jump, but stayed deep, fighting back slow and steady.

Ten minutes after the fish first struck Bruce had his landing net around it and was lifting the monster into the boat. Did I say monster? Youíre not kidding! This fish measured 39 inches in length, had a girth of 29 3/8 inches and weighed a whopping 40.68 pounds.

The old Ontario record rainbow weighing 29.12 pounds caught in Nottawasaga Bay was totally swept aside. The Canadian inland record of 35.12 caught in British Columbiaís Kootenay Lake will likely fall as well.

The rainbow, in all likelihood, was an escapee from the nearby commercial fish pens. Early investigation of scales samples indicates that the fish spent one year in captivity and then four or more years living in the wild. This fact should not have any effect on record status. What difference does it matter if the fish fled the pen or was hatchery raised and released for sport fishingÖ.absolutely nothing.

Congratulations and a tip of our fishing caps to the Vendramins.

Outfitter & Lodge Spotlight
Hate to say we told you so, but last newsletter we mentioned just how hot the fishing for salmon and trout really is up on the North Channel of Lake Huron and the waters in and around Lake Manitou. Thatís the exact area where the new Ontario record rainbow was pulled from. Once again, if you get the chance to visit this area of the province give Brenden OíFarrell a call at 1-705-869-1361 or check him out at While much of the Great Lakes salmon and trout fishery may be in the doldrums, this is not the case up in the North Channel. Thereís plenty of bait up in the straits and the salmon fishery is based on natural reproducing populations. That fantastic rainbow fishery in the region is both wild and hatchery. As noted, the hatchery reared rainbow are for the most part fish that have escaped from the commercial fish pens. Trollers have been having a great year working their baits close to the nets. The trout may have escaped the enclosures, but stay near feeding on food that passes through the cages.

It always comes as a surprise to find a ma and pop tackle operation that offers just about anything and everything that a fisherman needs when heís out in the field pursuing his favorite sport. Now Iíve got nothing against those big-box tackle shops that are found down country, but thereís just something about walking in to one of these small operations where the folks talk and know fishing. One of those special shops is Pennyís Bait and Tackle located on Hwy 26 on the outskirts of Thornbury. Itís not a big store. In fact, itís amazing just how big the variety really is in a store this small. Better yet is the pricing. Not only is the selection great, with product you just wonít find in a bigger box store, but Pennyís prices are as good or better than the big boys as well. Fishing the Bighead, Nottawasaga, Beaver or Saugeen in the future? Then make certain you stop by Pennyís.

Tim Berg's Alaskan Fishing Adventures
Twenty years ago next July, I caught the biggest salmon of my life. As a matter of fact, twenty years ago next July I caught the three biggest salmon of my life. Over a two day period I caught kings of 61, 67 and 80 pounds. Now thatís fishing! Next summer Iím planning on giving myself a well deserved businessmanís holidayÖno cameras, no crew, no computers, hell I may even leave the pens and pencils back in the office. Iím hooking up with Herb Good, a Ďgoodí friend of mine and planning on spending a full month on Alaskaís Kenai Peninsula chasing down the biggest salmon in the world.

If youíre looking for the fishing experience of a lifetime, then check out Tim Bergís Alaskan Fishing Adventures . Berg is another good old fishing friend of mine and I donít mind saying that this fellow is the number one outfitter/guide and business genius in Alaska. Over the years Tim has provided world class fishing for thousands of visiting sportsmen., He owns three of the finest fishing lodges in the state and has made a reputation on big fish.

Chinook on the Kenai regularly weigh better than 70 pounds, average out at 40 or more pounds and annually nudge into the 80 pound range. The coho and sockeye fishing is spectacular out of his various operations and if you really want big fish sample his open water halibut jigging. Want to challenge a halibut that can weigh more than 350 pounds? A few years back, I recommended Bergís operation to a friend. Three weeks later he sent along a few pictures of his trip. He and each of his six fishing chums came home with halibut that started out at 130 pounds and weighing upwards of 225 pounds. Not bad for an eight hour outing.

Berg likes to state that his fishing is OUTSTANDING! AWESOME! INCREDIBLE! And UNBELIEVABLE! Believe him. I plan on spending a little time in the comforts of Bergís various lodges, but also will be spending a lot of time fishing out of a tent camp on the banks of the Kenai, hoping history will repeat itself.

Eagle Pointe Lodge
Thereís a special place for me far up in the northern corner of British Columbia on Wales Island. In fact, it is so far north in British Columbia, that you can toss a stone from the dock and watch it fall in Alaskan waters. That special place is called Eagle Pointe Lodge and it offers some of the finest salmon fishing found in the country. Salmon here are numerous and big! From June til August the mighty king salmon prowl nearby waters. July through September feisty coho will pick up a bait as soon as it hits the water. Then again, the heavyweight halibut are found close by throughout the fishing season.

Even better, this is a different type of B.C. fishing resort. Remember, first you are at the extreme edge or the outer boundaries of British Columbia. This truly is the spectacular British Columbia you always hear about. On top of the scenery is the best fishing in the country. The waters around Wales Island are the feeding grounds for millions of salmon. Salmon come here from up and down the coast. They may have been born in California or in some wilderness Alaskan stream, but itís here they come to gorge on the immense schools of bait. Itís also here where trolling is always at its best.

Thereís also the Eagle Pointe Lodge. Talk about living in the purple. Eagle Pointe is a smaller operation that is suited to groups of twenty or less. The accommodations are five star or even more. Rooms are some of the best Iíve ever enjoyed in British Columbia and the dining is second to none.

Again though, itís the fishing. You have to experience it to believe it.

Tackle That Catches Fish
What the heck, letís stick with steelhead, because thatís the season that we find ourselves in whether we live on the west coast or Ontario. Prairie anglers only have a short ride in either direction to chase the silvers as well.

Whether itís waders or wet gear Iíve learned to love what I call my Bare gear. Kirk Barton the boss at Bare originally informed me that once I tried Bare I wouldnít ever count on another and you know what? He was right. Packed away in the back of the Expedition is everything I need for any type of fishing in just about any situation.

Bare makes a great line of Ďbreathableí and Ďneopreneí waders, fantastic outerwear in the form of rain jackets and vests, something which Bare refers to as ĎlayersĎ, which are in fact a form of undergarment layers and those all important wading boots.

Check them out and Iím betting youíll never find a better set of waders than those Bares. The neoprenes will keep you comfy in the coldest of winter wading weather and the breathables are a real godsend even in the hottest of summer wading weather. Any of the Bare Jackets are comfortable, efficient and smart looking to boot. And speaking of boots..the Bare brand is the finest that money can buy.

The Bare products are so efficient and comfortable Iíve doubled up on just about every item I require. One for ready to use waiting with the rest of my fishing gear and as I said , the second set is packed away in the big Ford for any occasion that might arise.
Back in the good old days, when I could walk any stream in the country without worrying about balance, slippery rocks or creaking knees, I loved to bottom bounce for my steelhead. The boys that pounded the rivers then loved the constant tap of a bait or lead weight bouncing along a riverís bottom, then the sudden pause as a wily steelhead would attempt to sneak off with a well presented bait. Any of the old boys back in those days worth their salt actually frowned on the newcomers that came down to the river with the long rods, light lines, balsa floats and micro baits. Well, guess what? Nearly every one of those old codgers is now using those same micro baits, long rods and sensitive floats. Those rods, for the most part, are now mounted with centre pin float reels and no one makes a better centre pin reel than folks at Islander Precision Reels out of Saanichton, British Columbia.

Machined from solid block stock aluminum, the Islander Steelheader is the perfect reel for float fishing. Grab the reel and give the spool a spin. Youíll swear it has to be a set of batteries that keeps this baby spinning. With two super smooth stainless steel bearings and a weight at less than 8 Ĺ ounces, the Islander should be the first choice of every serious steelheader no matter whether you fish a Great Lakes tributary or the bigger streams from California to Alaska.
When it comes to the perfect bait for steelhead fishing itís downright impossible to beat salmon or trout roe. The only problem is obtaining roe, preparing roe and storing roe so that it does catch fish. If you canít obtain fresh spawn or donít want to go to the bother of preserving bait then remember that there have been a lot of improvements made in the artificial egg line-up of baits.
For starters thereís Berkleyís Micro Sparkle Power Eggs and Berkleyís Gulp Salmon Egg . The Berkley Micro Sparkle Power Eggs are just about perfect for drifting beneath a float. The three color choices, Chartreuse with Scales, Fluorescent Orange with Scales and the Red with Scales offers a choice for any water condition. All Power Eggs have that long lasting enhanced trout scent that means fish bite and wonít let go.

Then there are the Berkley Gulp Floating Salmon Eggs. Berkley makes the boast that Gulp Eggs will outperform natural salmon eggs and in tests prove it. Another great plus for these artificials is the fact that they are biodegradable and offer four hundred percent more scent dispersion than other scent baits. Finally they are designed to float directly in the path of hungry steelhead.
The folks at Breckís Canada have a manufactured egg that can be fished in a cluster as a sack presentation or can be separated to drift as a single. Itís the Mr. Twister Exude Roe. These eggs are soft, slimy and loaded with a fish catching scent that is guaranteed to produce fish. Right out of the package these Exudes come as clusters that make for perfect offerings for big overgrown salmon. They can also be pulled apart to thread on a mini-egg hook as single or dual baits.
Every fisherman deserves to own a great knife at least once in a lifetime. With that in mind, check out the home site for Ron Post Custom Knives. Itís too long of a tale to put on this page, but a fellow by the name of John Hayes, a site superintendent with Miller Paving Limited stopped by the office this week and brought with him one of Postís handcrafted fillet knives. Post carries a pretty fair reputation as one of Canadaís top knife makers and I plan to really put this gift to work this autumn.

Hereís a perfect Christmas gift for you, the wife, the husband or a friend. Itís also the gift or should I say knife of a lifetime.
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