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Hills
Newsletter
Why?
 
The Webster dictionary defines the word bureaucrat as the following: (byooor’ a’krat) an official in a bureaucracy , especially one who follows a routine in a mechanical, unimaginative way, insisting on proper forms and petty rules, etc. Old man Webster was pretty smart when he came to defining bureaucrats, but after more than 40 years of being acquainted with more than a few bureaucrats working within the confines of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources I would have finished off that same definition properly by adding the words …dumb, dumb, dumb and even dumber.

Most of us in Ontario, should know by now that our Great Lakes sport fishery is in big trouble. No matter what ministry experts tout, fishing success has been drastically reduced on the big lakes like Ontario since the 70’ and 80’s. No fish, no fishermen, no economic benefits. Exotic species are disrupting and killing off the micro-organisms that make up the start of the food chain in these big bodies of waters. I honestly believe that mismanagement in the way we presently operate Ontario’s hatcheries, as well as the way we allow our fish stocks to be raised and released also hinders any degree of Great Lakes fisheries success and are just as much responsible.

Here’s just a sampling of how the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources does such a ridiculous job of improving and protecting our fishery. For almost 40 years the Ontario government has strived to re-introduce natural reproducing lake trout into the western waters of Georgian Bay on the Great Lakes. For decades they worked with a laboratory created fish, something like a finned ‘Frankenstein’. This fish was part lake trout and part brook trout. After wasting approximately 20 million dollars and approximately 20 years, the ministry under pressure from the angling fraternity got away from genetic mixing, out of the splake program and reverted to stocking a strain of wild lake trout obtained from Lake Superior. At the same time the ministry bought out two commercial fish operators that were netting in prime lake trout spawning waters. Almost immediately these wild strain lake trout took hold and began to survive in excellent numbers. Fishing in this corner of Georgian Bay boomed, the economy boomed and it seemed that the creation of a natural reproducing lake trout fishery was just around the corner.

But anglers weren’t the only ones attracted to this taxpayer created sport fishery . Aware of the boom in lake trout stocks, members of the local Cape Croker Indian reserve began an intensive commercial gill net fishery to target the stocks. Two non-native gill netters had been bought out to bring the fishery back, now numerous Indian gill netters were taking to the water and about to decimate the lake trout stocks once again. Commercial catches immediately increased and sports catches immediately decreased. The sport catches so much in fact that now anglers seldom go out on this portion of Georgian Bay in search of lake trout, the lake trout taxpayer dollars paid for. Gone with the fishery are also the greenbacks generated into the local economy when the fishery was healthy.

Now remember, the lake trout sport fishery has been on the skids since the Indian nets arrived, but the Ontario Ministry continues to support or sustain the Indian gill net fishery with annual plantings of lake trout directly over the gill netting grounds. Every year the ministry is stocking hundreds of thousands of lake trout right on top of the nets. In fact, an estimated 650,000 lake trout have been stocked annually in one region that experiences intensive netting pressure by the Indians. That works out to approximately a million dollars a year of taxpayer funding to allow for the Indian harvest of hatchery lake trout in just one corner of Georgian Bay. Remember also, the original goal was to create a natural reproducing, self-sustaining lake trout fishery. Not with gill nets present. Did I say dumb, dumb, dumb and even dumber.

Now here’s the clincher and it takes place in the same region of Georgian Bay. Ontario produces a Guideline To Eating Ontario Sport Fish, a sort of safe eating reference book. It warns that lake trout and whitefish should be consumed with caution. Women of child bearing age and children under 15 should eat no lake trout or whitefish that measure longer than 20 inches in length. The rest of the population should consume no more than one meal of lake trout or whitefish a month if they are larger than 20 inches. Since nearly all harvested lake trout and whitefish are longer than 20 inches, why are we allowing these fish to be netted and sold in the first place. Taxpayers pay for the hatching, rearing and releasing and the Indians net them and sell them. If the Guide to Eating Ontario Sport Fish is correct…then taxpayer funding is doing nothing more than putting poison in the grocery stores.

Didn’t I already state that when it comes to Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources it’s a case of dumb, dumb, dumb and even dumber!

Cronzy
 

 
The Good
 
I can’t help it, but I have to keep tossing accolades at the Sport Fishing Institute of British Columbia http://www.sportfishing.bc.ca for the work they do and the accomplishments they continue to achieve in protecting and improving their west coast sport fishery. If you don’t already know it, British Columbia’s salmon and trout fishing is booming in both salt and fresh water and more than a lot of the credit for the expansion of this tourist industry is due to SFI. Here’s a group of volunteers, made up of lodge owners, tackle industry representatives and concerned individuals who have taken up the cause of insuring that there will always be fish for the future on the far side of the Rocky Mountains.

From my perspective the SFI has gone to both levels of government and made the point that sport fishing has a major impact on both the provincial and federal economy. They’ve also got the message across loud and clear that politicians and civil servants as well, work for the people and not the other way around.

To date, it seems this gentle persuasion and the willingness to work with the various levels of government is paying off big dividends on the coastal fishery and the coastal economy.
 

 
The Bad
 
This one could get me into lots of trouble with lots of people, but what the heck, I’ve never been known for being politically correct. Let’s be honest our sport fishery and especially the sport fishery in Ontario is in a lot of trouble. I can go on blaming the Ministry of Natural Resources, but let’s remember once again that the provincial ministry of Natural Resources works for us the taxpayer. We are their bosses and they should be fulfilling our wishes. With that in mind it’s time the various governments across the country carried out our wishes.

I’ve already praised the work of the Sport Fishing Institute of British Columbia, but in most other regions of Canada individuals, tourist outfitters and especially the Canadian Tackle Manufacturers Association haven’t gone far enough in demanding improvements and changes to the way our fisheries resources are handled. They haven’t gone far enough to emphazize that the government works for us and not for themselves.

Remember, we deserve only what we earn. Don’t expect the state of our sport fishery to stay healthy or even survive unless we all get together and work for improvements. It’s only fair that all stakeholders join together and work for a better fishery. Without fish , lodges will be empty, tackle sales diminish and businesses slip into bankruptcy.

At this time, the strongest defenders of Canada’s sport fishery should be the Canadian Tackle Manufacturers Association. As a group they can swing the biggest stick. So far they appear to be only swatting at flies.
 

 
The Ugly
 
David Ramsey, David Ramsey, David Ramsey…….Ontario’s Minister of Natural Resources.

This guy is the head of Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and in my opinion he’s been a total bust. Under his rule, provincial sport fish are now in big trouble. He’s established ridiculous strategies to safe guard eastern Ontario walleye. He’s approved new Indian treaties on the Great Lakes to be established without public input. Now under his stewardship the Ontario Natural Resources is being redesigned in a way that could be disastrous.
 

 
Ontario’s North Channel / Manitoulin Island Waters
 
Last newsletter we noted that a big, big 40 pound plus rainbow trout had been hauled from the waters of Lake Huron just east of Manitoulin Island. Well this same area is without a doubt going to be the hottest fishing grounds on the Great Lakes this coming spring and summer. The reason being……escaped caged commercial rainbow trout.

More than just rumours are coming out of these northern waters that hundreds of thousands of these commercially raised rainbow trout have escaped the nets once again this winter. Extreme cold weather, iced-up cages and high winds have caused many of the impoundment pens to collapse, allowing the fish to flee.

These fish are nearly all rainbow trout, but most have been genetically designed to be classed as female triploids. It seems that the triploid have been bred to grow big and look great for the grocery stores where they usually end up. It seems that hooked jawed mature rainbow trout males are not only ugly to the eye of the shopper, but they also don’t hold that rich orange fleshed look when ready for market. The female triploids instead, have small heads, deep bellies and retain that rich wild red flesh look.

Now remember, these fish may have escaped the nets, but they generally stay in the region of the pens feeding on commercial feed that often floats out and around the scene. This past winter has been a bonanza for local ice fishermen in this region. Here’s an example, my son Josh and six fishing buddies were only out on the ice for a little more than two hours before they limited out with their 35 fish catch limit in Ontario’s district 17.

Anglers planning to fish this region would be wise to pay close attention to MNR rules and regulations. There are three distinct jurisdictions in the area. Districts 17 and 35 allow a regular possession of five fish per angler. District 16 has a possession of only two rainbows per day.

It’s a wonder just why, the MNR doesn’t open the entire region to a five fish limit when it comes to harvesting these triploids.
 

 
Outfitter & Lodge Spotlight
 
Last summer I spent two enjoyable weeks chasing walleye, trout and northern pike around Ontario’s Patricia Region. I also had the opportunity to spend some quality time once again with a living legend of the north, my good friend Dan Gapen. Now this guy really is a legend throughout both the fishing and the tackle industry. Part English, part Indian, part French and only God knows what else, the 73 year old Gapen knows more about Canada’s bush country than anyone I know. I don’t like giving up my own secrets, but I’m willing to acknowledge that Gapen and I have been friends for almost 40 years. He’s lived the wilderness experience most of his life and is an expert on every aspect fishing the wilderness, especially the wild rivers found in northwestern Ontario.

On top of all this, Gapen is an author, lecturer and fishing tackle inventor. Dan’s father Don, was the inventor of the Muddler Minnow dry fly and Dan has carried on the family traditions with such inventions as Ugly Bug and Baitwalker and a host of other tackle sensations.

He’s now partnered up with a gal by the name of Bobber Annie, who came along on the trip to Patricia Region and gave both Dan and myself more than one thrashing on the water.

Do yourself a favour and click on the Gapen Company at www.gapen.com . Dan will send you out a free 130 page book filled with tips, tackle selections and some of the best priced fishing tackle on the market today.

While you’re still at the computer make your way to the Patricia Region site www.freemap.ca . This tourist region contains the finest fishing in the north and they will send free of charge one of the handiest maps available. Their 2006 Canadian Fishing and Hunting Map is everything you’ll ever need for finding a lodge or outfitter in this fish rich country. The map contains all the lakes, as well as the contacts needed to fish this vast section of Ontario’s northwest wilderness.

In July, Gapen, Bobber Annie and myself had the opportunity to spend a week at one of Brad and Karen Greaves’ Ignace Outpost www.ignaceoutposts.com
Now here’s a fact and not a fish story. While filming one episode of Going Fishing with Gapen, I hooked into a walleye weighing about 3 pounds. Before I could get it into the boat a pike measuring 46 inches walloped the walleye. The pike held on to the walleye until I could net and then free it. Even more amazing, I caught three other pike in consecutive drops of the Gulp. The Gulp Minnow Grub would go down, a walleye would immediately engulf the bait and then an overgrown trophy pike would engulf the walleye. All this would be caught on tape so stay tuned. Throughout the day the Gulp, walleye, big pike scenario happened over and over again. Remember, this was all taking place only yards from our cabin.

Now let’s talk cabins. The outpost facilities at Ignace Outposts were some of the best I’ve stayed in, in northern Ontario. Comfortable, clean, large and first rate is the only way to describe these cabins. At our lake, we even had a friendly manager present.

I took the time to check up with some of Ignace Outposts other visiting anglers and all said the same. Great accommodations, great hosts and most important….fantastic fishing on each and every outpost operation that Ignace Outpost has to offer. Also remember that Ignace Outposts has 13 outpost cabins on 8 wilderness lakes and all offer world class sport fishing.
 
While still in this corner of Ontario and the Patricia Region www.freemap.ca I had the opportunity to spend a few days visiting, fishing and filming at the Old Post and Village www.oldpost.com on Lake St. Joseph located just south of Pickle Lake, Ontario. Lake St. Joseph is just about always mentioned when anyone talks up the top ten walleye lakes on the continent. Here’s a body of water that’s 91 miles long and 21 miles wide and covers more than 154,000 acres. Better yet, just about every inch of this lake contains spunky walleye and northern pike.

The Old Post and Village www.oldpost.com really is old. It was first established back in 1730 as a meeting and trading post for the early fur traders. Today, it’s owned and operated by John and Wendy Grace. This dynamic duo have taken the old fort and converted it into one of the country’s finest fishing destinations. If you can cast a jig and Gulp Minnow Grub combo, retrieve a Frenzy Minnow or wind in a slow, hypnotic weaving Williams Wabler you can catch a hundred walleye here in no time flat. Lake St. Joseph truly is a fisherman Valhalla. It’s dotted with islands, allowing for plenty of walleye and pike structure and is a great lake to fish under any weather conditions.

For a historic location like the Old Post and Village, it’s amazing just how modern and comfortable the Grace’s have made this lodge for visiting sportsmen. Cottages are comfortable. Food is fantastic and while you are there, have John give you a tour of his state of the art generating facilities and other upgrades he’s made at the Old Post.

But again, it’s the fantastic Lake St. Joseph walleye fishing that the Old Post is known for. Just about anything and everything that you might want to lower in the water here will catch fish. For the fastest action try the Berkley tri-coloured Power Grubs or the Gulp Minnow Grub. I spent one hour at shore lunch casting a #3 silver Mepps spinner from shore. I had one streak where twelve casts hooked eleven walleye and every fish would have been a keeper in anyone’s book.

Both Ignace Outposts and the Old Post and Village are again part of the Patricia Region. This portion of the province is some of the prettiest country you will ever drive through. It’s also laced with thousands of miles of rivers and dotted with thousands of lakes that are simply teeming with walleye, pike, musky, bass and trout. Do yourself a favour and check out this angler’s paradise.
 
As already mentioned the British Columbia salmon sport fishery is booming and reports are it is only going to get better yet. Favourite haunts of mine are the floating lodges of West Coast Resort www.westcoastresorts.com, in particular those at Whale Channel and Milbanke Sound. These big floating mansions are capable of accommodating as many as fifty sportsmen and are in a class of their own. Both locations offer protected waters, 5 star facilities and some of the most delicious dining you will ever experience. Even better, the waters surrounding both Milbanke and Whale Channel boast some of the most fantastic angling for chinook, coho, halibut and rockfish that you’ll ever experience.

I’ve trolled for the big ones on numerous occasions at both locations and just love being there. The springs can weigh in at more than 50 pounds and those high flying coho at Milbanke are known to top the 20 pound mark. If there is one problem in particular at Milbanke, it’s the fact that your arms usually wear off before the fish quit hitting, especially with the non-stop silver action.

Milbanke Sound also plays host to the ever- popular Legends of the Game Fishing Classic where anglers get to team up with NHL hockey hall of famers like Bobby Baun, Johnny Bower, Ron Ellis, Andy Bathgate and others. It’s always a special treat to enjoy the company of these ‘real’ hockey players and salmon fishing that can only be rated as world class.

Still wanting to talk up the west coast, if you find yourself with some time on your hands and you really want to enjoy chinook and coho fishing at its finest makes tracks for the Village of Kyuquot Sound and a British Columbia operation called Murphy’s Sportfishing www.murphysportfishing.com. The Murphy brother / sister team of Dave and Marilyn have been in the recreational angling business all their lives and put angling packages together that are guaranteed to make any fishing vacation a success.

The waters along the northwestern corner of Vancouver Island are the feeding grounds of coho and chinook that have been born in streams from California to Alaska. From the middle of June on through until the early part of September the Murphy’s operate out of two locations at Kyuquot. First, there’s their on the water floating lodge the Daleanne. This converted freighter is tucked away in a scenic cove and only minutes from the fishing grounds. New to their operation is Kyuquot Sound Lodge. Talk about accommodations in the purple. Nestled in a background of towering firs, the lodge is comfortable, homey and offers some of the best sport fishing found anywhere on the coast.

A day on the water with the Murphy’s means fish, big fish and plenty of them. You can expect chinook that range from 30 to 50 pounds, coho in the 12-20 pound bracket and halibut that more often than not weigh better than 100 pounds.

A bonus for most easterners is the picturesque drive from Campbell River to Kyuquot. I’ve made the trip a dozen times and always find myself spellbound by the experience. So there you have it…Murphy’s Sportfishing, great scenery, great accommodations, great fishing and great hosts. It just doesn’t get any better!
 

 
Tackle That Catches Fish
 
Before I go any farther allow me to pass along a tip that will put more walleye and bass on the end of your line if you are a live bait fisherman. It’s called the Spectra Minnow www.wonderworm.ca and it’s a nifty little marker pen that can change the colour of a camouflaged wild minnow into one hot appetizer. Here’s the opportunity to colour up a minnow or chub in fluorescent red, green, blue or yellow tones that will catch the attention and taste buds of even the finickiest of walleye, trout, salmon or bass. The Spectra Minnow markers allow you the opportunity to colour up a live bait to match any water condition.
 
Forty years ago, float reels had yet to become popular and ‘real’ steelheaders in Ontario bottom bounced for migratory rainbow trout with the aid of long noodle rods, precision spinning reels and light line monofilament. In those days the reel of choice was the Cardinal 3. In fact, those old green and white reels are still treasured today, by those who are fortunate enough to own them. Engineered by Swedish experts, with a special rear drag system the Cardinal 3 was the ultimate reel of its day. Well, those days are back again with the introduction of the all new Abu Garcia Cardinal 3 www.abugarcia.com. Still engineered by the Swedes this honey of a spinning reel offers the famed rear drag, but this time it’s been upgraded with a 12 washer under-body Fulcrum drag system that delivers even smoother and more powerful control. The Cardinal 3 contains 7 ball bearings and is definitely a reel for every serious spin fisherman. Now dressed out in chrome and green the Cardinal 3 has returned.
 
The folks at Abu Garcia www.abugarcia.com are also introducing a new round reel to the famed line of Abu Garcia baitcasters. The new Record claims to be their smoothest and longest casting Ambassadeur ever produced. Swedish engineered this family of new round reels are built to perform no matter how long or how hard you fish. Available in four different sizes, there’s a Record manufactured for just about every freshwater fishing situation.

The Record RCN40 will be a bass fisherman’s delight, with six bearing drive and capable of holding 105 yards of 10 pound test Trilene. At the opposite end of the spectrum the RCN60HD is geared for catching the big boys and holds 245 yards of 14 pound test Trilene and contains those same classic six bearings to handle the protest of any fish.
 
What goes hand in hand with Abu Garcia reels? How about Berkley Gulp www.berkley-fishing.com since both the baits and the reels are owned and controlled by the same company. Berkley introduced Gulp about two years back and today, it’s the most popular of bass baits found anywhere on the North American continent. Now what can you say about Gulp? Well for starters, how about it’s 100 percent biodegradable, contains 100 percent natural ingredients, releases scent 400 times more than plastic baits, gives off a built- in scent trail that attracts fish and finally is guaranteed to out fish live bait. The various selections of Gulp baits is just as remarkable. There’s a Gulp bait designed for just about each and every situation you will ever be confronted with. Here’s just a sample of what to expect: Gulp Sinking Minnow, Gulp Turtleback Worm, Gulp Nightcrawler, Gulp Minnow Worm, Gulp Minnow Grub, Gulp, Gulp Craw, Gulp Lizard. Heck, there’s even a Gulp Corn to go along with a dozen or more other applications.

The important thing to remember is the fact that Gulp really does catch fish!
 
There was a time, a few years back where I can remember stating that I doubt if I would ever hitch a 4 stroke outboard on to the back of any of my boats. Now I find myself only running Yamaha www.yamaha-motor.ca 4 stroke motors on all my boats. Let’s be honest, nothing beats a Yamaha 4 stroke for fuel efficiency, dependability, environmental friendliness with minimal exhaust emission and downright quietness. In fact, once I start it up and get underway, I find myself continually checking to see if the motor is even running. They really are that quite and smooth operating. Yamaha has 4 stroke models that range from 8 horsepower all the way up to those brutes that generate 250 horsepower.

Yamaha, the world’s leader in 4 stroke technology.
 
While on the subject of Yamaha, it’s important to note that Yamaha Motor Canada has also introduced the Yamaha line of G3 Boats www.g3boats.com to Canadian anglers for 2006. From jon boats to bass boats, there’s a G3 for any Canadian fishing application.

Personally, I’m as intrigued with the Gator Jon boats as I am with the new HP180DC that’s waiting for the snow to go and be delivered to my office. Gator Tough means tough and these Jon Boats are the ultimate workhorse. As for my G3 HP180 here’s an all welded bass boat that will face up to any Canadian fishing condition. Check out the entire line-up of G3’s. Whether you’re out fishing for panfish, bass, walleye or lunge G3 has a boat designed for you!
 
Lowrance Electronics www.lowrance.com, the same folks that also manufacture the Eagle line-up of fishfinders and GPS units have been associated with Going Fishing from day one. In fact, this company also sponsored me way back when I was publishing Ontario Fisherman Magazine in the 1970’s. In fact, checking with the folks at Lowrance I discovered that my association with this famed tackle manufacturer goes back as far or farther than any other media personality. Guess what? After almost 40 years, I’ve never had a bad experience with a Lowrance or Eagle product…now that’s dependability!
 
Remember those reliable x-16 paper graphs. I’ve still got one in my arsenal that’s never been taken out of the box, never been turned on and just itching to be used. That will be a little difficult since Lowrance and Eagle make the finest line-up of high resolution monochrome screen fish finders and gps on the market today. My favourite is the LCX-110C with an oversized 10.4 inch diagonal screen that displays the finest underwater picture money can buy. Then there’s the LMS-334C iGPS, that offers superb full size performance in bright sunlight by way of a 480X480 high resolution 256 color display screen. This unit also has an internal gps antenna that does away with external mounts and wires. It just doesn’t get any better.
 
Just finishing up a trip to Costa Rica and I made time on the way home from the airport to stop and talk with Randy Ford the president of Walker Downrigger www.walkerdownriggers.com. Ford noted that downriggers sales were steady across the Great Lakes and more anglers from the northern parts of the province were still switching from steel line trolling to the lighter downrigger method. I mentioned at the time that the trouble with selling downriggers is that they never break down. Buy one now and you usually have it for life. Randy agreed, but also added that was exactly why he spends so much time adding the extras to his machines. It was also why he invented the Walker StrikeVision, his one of a kind underwater viewing machine. If you haven’t already checked this unit out, you owe it to yourself to give it a try. The Strike Vision has a small hi definition camera that mounts right above the downrigger cannonball and continually follows the action of the bait and the antics of any incoming salmon, trout or any other species you’re chasing. What’s truly amazing with the Walker Strike Vision is the fact that there are no bulky cables running from the camera back up to the viewfinder. Ford has invented a system where the coaxial cable is actually imbedded in the small diameter downrigger cable that attaches directly to the cannonball. Strike Vision not only is an enjoyment to watch, but after studying mine for the last three years, I’ve learned a lot more about the habits of the different species I’ve been chasing.
 
Just itching for the ice to get off the ponds and lakes around the office. The folks at Breck’s Canada www.brecksinc.com have come out with too many new baits 2006 to mention in this space, so take the time to visit their site, but there’s one particular lure that I want to toss as soon as the ice goes. For more than 80 years the Williams Wabler has been tricking just about anything and everything that swims and it’s always found a place in my tackle box. Now Breck’s has designed the new W55 with same 2 5/8 inch length as the W50, but at a ¼ ounce weight making it half the weight of the old original. This means a better lure for shallow water casting and trolling and possibly a little bit of change in the wobbling action of the newer lighter version.

Breck’s has also come out with the new Salt-T series of Williams spoons that are intended for the harsher conditions faced with saltwater fishing. As with the original line these baits are coated in genuine silver or 24 karat gold finishes, but also are available with multi-colored hackles of flashabou for visibility and realistic appearance. Tell you what? The kingfish and dolphin may gobble these baits up in saltwater, but I’m betting the walleye, pike and lunge of our north country will love them too.
 
Finally, for me it’s just about shore lunch time and even with a foot of snow still on the ground, I just had to announce that Going Fishing TV is teaming up with the best barbecue company on the globe…Napoleon Gourmet Grills www.napoleongrills.com" of Barrie, Ontario. Take the time to check out their fine line-up of quality units including the Prestige V, Ultra Chef and even the little Freestyle that I’ll be taking around the north with me this summer. Remember also, the Napoleon line-up is Canadian made for Canadian barbecuing.
 
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