|"Will the new Atlantic Salmon Experiment Work? Cronzy doesn't think so.....it just might prove to be another Splake Fiasco!|
|The Great Lake Ontario Atlantic Salmon Experiment:|
|Except for the fact that thereís a reported 1.5 million bucks of somebody elseís money involved in this scheme or I should say project or for that matter experiment, I still canít fathom why waste the money, the time or the effort on a fish thatís been extinct naturally from Lake Ontario for more than a 125 years. The last of the natural reproducing Atlantic salmon died off before the 1900Ďs. Are our rivers on the north shore of Lake Ontario cleaner today than 1900? Not by a long shot! Has urban sprawl really done a number on surrounding lands and drainages? You betchya! Donít Atlantic salmon remain in rivers from 2-8 years before they smolt out and drop down to the ocean or a big body of water like the Great Lakes? According to Scott and Crossman in our fisheries bible, the Freshwater Fishes of Canada, thatís the honest truth! After more than 30 years of experimenting here in Ontario or on the opposite side of the Great Lakes has an Atlantic salmon fishery been created worth the time or expense? Not that I can find, except for a minimal sport fishery created by an American University on the St. Maryís River at considerable expense stocking almost two year old fishÖ..very, very expensive!|
Now, when I first heard about this experiment or project or whatever they want to refer to it as, was being carried out by a number of parties including the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario), a wine company from Australia , the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, some members of the tackle industry and other volunteer sportsmen groups I mentioned to many at the time I wished them well, noted I didnít think it would succeed, butÖ..make certain it doesnít interfere with the chinook and steelhead fishery that presently existed on Lake Ontario.
You see, after being around the Canadian sport fishery for more than 50 years I think I know enough about the Great Lakes sport fishery in particular to confidently believe that Atlantics will never catch on as a natural reproducing fishery and a sport fishery to boot. This finned critter couldnít make the grade more than a 100 years ago and wonít do it now. I also know all too well how certain people within the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources will play the games and spend the money to somehow try to make this experiment succeed. Guess what? It wonít. Does everyone remember the 20 million dollar splake fiasco?
I respect the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and realized their heart was into this program and their intentions were honourable. Some of the members of the tackle industry may know how to sell tackle, but know little about fish behaviour and fish history, so they could be excused as well. As for the biologists within the fisheries community, I think that was another matter. I can see a lot of these guys doing cartwheels at the thought of Atlantic salmon, 1.5 million dollars, how they could experiment and how they could get their names registered on scientific papers to be famous for this event.
Hereís the true scoop on Atlantic salmon. Most of the American states are out of the Great Lakes Atlantic program altogether. New York still stocks some Atlantics and a small university at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan has another private program. The scary part is no one has seen any real sign of natural reproduction after decades in the game. Both Yankee projects claim the fish are very difficult to rear, with disease being a major problem. This fish takes up twice the space to raise as a steelhead. This fish has only shown somewhat decent sport fishing results when raised in a hatchery for almost two years. Thatís four times the hatchery rearing that it takes to raise a chinook and almost twice the amount of time to raise steelhead. Now hereís another little add on to the problems . Everyone in the states that I talked to about Atlantics said they have found no results by stocking fall fingerling Atlantics. Simply wasting hatchery space, money and lost opportunity with other sport species. The geniuses on this side of the lake have just finished stocking 100,000 fall fingerling Atlantics as this newsletter goes out. Those are fish that in my opinion have been wasting valuable hatchery space at OntarioĎs Normandale hatchery for a yearÖ.duh?
What most of those involved donít know, is that one of the originators of this project came to me a number of years ago and asked for my support, probably knowing in advance what my answer would be. He admitted that the strain being utilized by the MNR at the time was the wrong strain of Atlantic. He even talked doing forensic DNA samples of some ancient fish mounts in someoneís closet of the old Lake Ontario extinct strain and then tracking some fish stocks in South America that might be related. Yeah!!!
Those 100,000 Atlantics that were just released as 5-6 inch, eight month old, fall fingerlings are from the same useless LeHave strain the Ontario MNR have been wasting time with for years. Even more amusing is the fact that fish this size have almost always been mandated to have a fin removed for identification purpose when sport caught or captured in the stream by Ďscientistsí. None were. Now a decade from now, if one, two or a hundred should ever survive, who can tell if they are wild or hatchery reared? Iíll bet a yearís salary the biologists will all declareÖthey have to be wild!
Been there, seen that, done that. Trust me, games will be played, success of this program exaggerated, hatchery space wasted, fishing opportunities lost and egos created over this all new Lake Ontario hatchery project, experiment or whatever they want to call it.
Sorry to everyone reading this part of the newsletter for it drawn out length, but I have been around sport fishing for too many years. Iíve witnessed some real screw-ups by fisheries scientists and concerned sportsmen alike. I think this one is the worst of all.
|This one goes out volunteer fishing organizations everywhere, who are either raising fish, pulling logjams, cleaning spawning beds, protesting for their cause or just about anything and everything else thatĎs improving and protecting our sport fishery. In particular a tip of the angling cap to the Ontario Steelheaders (www.ontariosteelheaders.ca). The Brantford chapter, especially, have been carrying out one of longest running steelhead restoration programs found anywhere in the country. Led by two individuals, Larry Mellors and Rod Jones, this group of dedicated anglers have been the guardians of the Ontarioís fabled Saugeen River steelhead fishery. They maintain and operate the Dennyís Dam fishway a few miles upstream of Lake Huron throughout the year. In the springtime they actually capture a thousand or more upstream bound spawners at the fishway and truck them miles up river to prime breeding grounds. They also have a small hatchery on the system and are now working in partnership with the Lake Huron Fishing Club in supplying and raising upwards of 80,000 or more steelhead yearling smolts to the upstream waters of the Saugeen. |
You also couldnít give the steelheaders an accolade for their work on the Saugeen without giving a nod of approval to Al Wilkins and the Lake Huron Fishing Club. The Lake Huron club www.bmts.com/~fish have been injecting salmon and trout into Lake Huron tributaries for almost two decades. Chinook, brown trout and now steelhead are being reared annually at two hatcheries, one in Port Elgin, Ontario and the other at Kincardine, Ontario. The facility in Kincardine is rated by most in the know as the finest community operated hatchery found anywhere on the Great Lakes.
At present the Ontario Steelheaders and Lake Huron Fishing Club have formed a dynamic duo. The Steelheaders collect wild steelhead eggs at Lake Huronís Dennyís Dam. They then hatch out the steelhead fry at their small hatchery upstream on the system and then supply approximately 100,000 fingerlings over to the larger Lake Huron Fishing Club facility at Kincardine. Here the boys from Lake Huron raise the steelhead for twelve months, before they are stocked back into the headwaters of the Saugeen. The resultÖ.a certain recipe for success.
Finally, what group of public servants are underpaid, overworked and underappreciated? Next time youíre on the river, out on a lake or trolling the saltwater and meet up with a provincial conservation officer or federal fisheries officer, take the time to shake his or her hand and pause for a chat. From coast to coast , these civil servants are not only the protectors of our natural resources, but for the most part are dedicated to a fault. And once again they truly are underappreciated by most, underpaid when compared to other professions and underpaid for their efforts as well. Over the years, Iíve been associated in one way or another with hundreds of conservation officers and can only say Iíve never met one I didnít admire.
|This section has been placed and replaced a half dozen times over the last month. In the newsletter prior to this issue I had some members of the Canadian fishing tackle industry placed under the BAD banner and had an immediate response from a couple of tackle company head honchos. I still say the Ontario fishery is in brutal shape right now and the tackle industry, along with camps, lodges and outfitters can do more. This time around I expect to hear back from a lot of individuals and volunteers for who gets rapped in this newsletter.|
This time around itís the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters. And for one final time I will say I really appreciate and congratulate the OFAH for nearly everything they have achieved in the past and the position they hold in conserving our sport fishery today.
I strongly believe though, they have no business renting out, leasing out or just taking over a Ministry of Natural Resource facility like Ringwood today. This was a facility paid for with tax payers dollars and sport fishermenís angling licenses. I still strongly believe that this Ringwood fiasco is connected in someway with the all new Atlantic Salmon Ďexperimentí, but even if not, no one in the public sector, conservation giant or whoever, should be taking over a critical facility and operation such as Ringwood.
This isnít a case like the introduction of wild turkeys to Ontario. Again, this is a taxpayer/sportsman paid for facility. With 80,000 members, the OFAH should have been going for the jugulars of Ramsey and McGuinty. Not letting them bailout on the citizens of Ontario.
Whatís next? Does the public, the volunteers and OFAH take over the operating of every provincial hatchery in the province when the Liberals cry poverty and threaten to shut down more hatcheries from the Ottawa River to Kenora.
|David Ramsey, David Ramsey, David RamseyÖÖ.The Ontario Liberal Government|
Two newsletters in a row and poor old David and his government get the nod for a second consecutive time. In a span of a few months they attempted to pull five hundred thousand dollars out of the Community Fisheries Involvement Program and then after a public uproar decide to put it back. Then they warn the OFAH that Ringwood was going to be padlocked unless some tenant could be found to take over the task of keeping the facility open.
These are only a couple of idiotic moves by the provincial Liberal Party in Ontario. Itís obvious that political bungling is redirecting funding. What about the taxes and licenses that sportsmen pay?
Take a hard look at whatís happened to the conservation officers of Ontario. In 1992 there were 257 uniformed field conservation officers in the province. They were supported by 90 other staff who carried badges such as supervisors and fish and wildlife management personnel.. Today there are 170 uniformed field conservation officers in the province and are supported by 25 district plain clothes intelligence officers
Senior managers like to say that there are 295 staff in the enforcement branch of the ministry. Yes, but that includes clerical staff, trainers, policy staff and budget staff. These workers donít get their boots dirty.
Itís the conservation officers who are getting the shaft and the shaft in a big wayÖthen again so are our fish and wildlife and the sportsmen and sportswomen of Ontario.
Hell will freeze over before the Liberals will ever get my vote in the future. As a matter of fact, thanks to McGuinty and his Liberals our fishery in Ontario is going to hell in a hand basket.
Any readers from Ontario, if youíre worried about the future of our sport fishery, vote Tory in the next provincial electionÖthatís John Tory of the Conservative party.
|Outfitter & Lodge Spotlight|
|Last summer I took up an invitation from Matt Proskie to travel up to Lake Athabaska to sample some of the big waterís world famous lake trout fishing that Indian Head Camp www.indianheadcamp.com has to offer.. From Toronto to Fort McMurray there is now a non-stop flight courtesy of Air Canada. This gives you the opportunity to spend a night or two in one of Canadaís most interesting towns and the stamping grounds of Albertaís tar sands. Talk about money and how to spend it the workers in McMurray can show you how to spend it. This is also the Hummer capital of the world.|
Anyways back to the fishing. Me and my good buddy Denis Bester caught 26 lakers the first morning and they were all over 17 pounds. Do they have small lake trout in Athabasca? I donít know. We couldnít find them.
It was Walker Downriggers and big overgrown number 17 Kwikfish that did the trick on every trout we caught over the three day stay and that was probably more than a 150 greys. Awesome is the only word to describe this fishing near the top of the world. Then there also were the northern pike. Again, it was difficult task to catch shore lunch, but the numerous pike we caught were all big brawlers. Most measured better than 40 inches with more than a few over 50 inches and thatís no fish story. Found in shallow water these were some of the strongest pike Iíve ever come across..
Then there is the actual lodge called Indian Head. The owners Doug and Carol Golosky chose a site on Stewart Island on the north shore of Athabaska high up in the far northern portion of the Canadian Shield near the border of the Northwest Territories. Guests have the choice of staying in comfy cabins or in the main lodge. The amenities are second to none and that includes some of the finest meals Iíve ever enjoyed at a northern fishing resort.
The lake itself is massive, measuring 230 miles in length and 40 miles in width. Believe me when I say the big trout are everywhere and surprisingly shallow to fish for. We never once dropped our cannonballs on the Walkers deeper than 30 feet.
Five, six or seven star and thatís holding back. I t really depends what you are looking for. Indian Head Camp has something for everyone. But again, itís the fishing that really will keep you coming back to this glory hole in the wilderness of Canadaís far north. It just doesnít get any better.
|Andrewís Fishing Charters|
|Funny how time can slip away? Thirty-five years ago I was making a living as the town of Burlingtonís forester or arborist (we called ourselves tree trimmers in those days) , did a little outdoor writing for a Toronto newspaper and had the time to enjoy the recently established Lake Ontario coho and chinook fishery. In those days I got to build a relationship with one of the lakeís pioneer charter skippers, Wayne Andrew. In those days, Andrew operated out of 25 foot aluminum Starcraft. Well here we are 35 long years later and Wayne is still venturing out on Lake Ontario. The old pioneer is now the grandfather of the Lake Ontario salmon and trout fishery. The Starcraft is gone and two monster cruisers are now part of his Andrewís Charters (www.andrewscharter.com) out of Port Credit. And even to my surprise we have remained friends, confidants and more important fishing buddies.|
Back in August I found myself out on Lake Ontario with one of the head honchos from Cara (think Montanaís (www.Montanas.ca) Foods Nils Kravis. We were fishing and filming an episode of Going Fishing and of course I had contacted Wayne Andrew to supply the boat, gear and guidance. To me that was almost a no-brainer and I proved myself correct from start to finish. Talk about fast fishing, fast filming and a great show. Within five hours of fishing with Wayne the show was complete and that means complete with plenty of action, seven fish in the box and a lunker 32 pound chinook to top things off.
If you live in the Toronto area or plan to visit the big city, let me tell you thereís a lot more than the Leafs, Argos, Blue Jays and purple dinosaurs. A few miles to the west of metro is the Town of Port Credit and the opportunity to discover the finest deep water trolling found anywhere. Expect a mixture of chinook, coho, steelhead, lakers and browns to keep you busy out from this location.
Besides plenty of fishing action, Andrew is known for angling in the purple, phenomenal outfitted yacht, hospitality and fine dining. Thatís right, fine dining on the big boats often includes prime rib of beef or a big roast turkey complete with stuffing and the rest of the fixinís after a day of trolling.
Donít pass up this adventure. Catching the big ones under the shadow of the Skydome. You canít beat it!
|Jim Flemingís Drifter Charters|
|Where is the best musky fishing in all the land? Some will say the St. Lawrence, others the Ottawa and a good many the Lake of the Woods region. The answer to all those is wrong! Surprisingly, itís Lake St. Clair that min- Great Lake that borders Ontario and the State of Michigan. Now think of this. Musky are commonly referred to as the fish of a thousand casts. Why? Because they are smart, wary finned critters that are hard to find and harder to tempt to a hook. Thatís not the case on Lake St. Clair and definitely not the case when youíre out fishing with Jim Fleming and Drifter 2 Charters (www.drifter2.com) on the Canuck side of this body of water.|
Iíve known Fleming for too long and have always planned to fish St. Clair with him. Heís always bragging up the musky fishing down his way and I always am looking for a good location not only to fish, but to film an episode as well. That day came this past September and bluntly put the fishing was utterly amazing. How does a dozen oversized lunge sound in just six hours of trolling.
From the minute the first baits were over the side the action was non-stop! We never caught a fish smaller than 40 inches and they went all the way up to 50 inches. By the way the day also gave us plenty of time to put the new Abu Garcia 6500 line counters to the test.
This style of musky trolling is different that most other areas of the province. We used Walker Downriggers, the new Walker Deeper Divers and planer boards. Jim also introduced me to the new line of Traxstech fishing (www.traxstech.com) rod holders and mounting system that makes this style of fishing simple and fun.
Anyways, back to Drifter 2 Fleming and Lake Simcoe. If you donít want to experience those 1000 hour days for maybe a musky hook-up, then get hold of my good friend Jim Fleming. Believe the musky never say quit, when you visit this guy and this part of Ontario.
|Tackle That Catches And Great Choices for Xmas|
|Xmas is just around the corner and here are a number of sure fire suggestions that will keep the angler in your family smiling the holidays away.|
|Abu Garcia Ambassadeur 5600 and 6500 Line Counters|
|Have you ever yearned for a reel that wasnít available yet, but you knew deep down it should be? For the past dozen years Iíve been praying for Abu Garcia to step up to the plate with a quality line counter reel. Now Abu Garcia makes some great reels. In fact, Iíve been using and trust Abu Garcia (www.AbuGarcia.com) reels for more than 35 years. As another matter of fact, I still use a couple of old Ambassadeur 6500ís that are more than 30 years old.|
But still, I yearned for a good line counter from Abu Garcia. We are fishing in an era of Dipsey Divers, planer boards and braided line, especially on the Great Lakes and line counter reels are a necessity to know where your baits are and where the fish are.
The folks at Abu Garcia have granted my wish and made my day with the introduction of the all new Ambassadeur 5500LC and 6500 LC, a pair of high quality precision driven baitcasters that are guaranteed to put plenty of open water salmon in my fish box next summer.
Like all Ambassadeurs, these two models are Swedish designed. They include 3 bearing 5:3:1 gear ratio and more important the 6500LC is going to be my reel of choice for Great Lakesí trolling. The 6500LC carries 245 yards of 14 pound test mono. If youíre looking for a bigger reel for larger line capacity the folks at Abu Garcia are planning to introduce the 7000 model with this same gear driven counter in the very near future.
|Berkley Fire line (www.berkley-fishing.com) is just the worldís finest and most popular superline you say? Donít count on it. Fireline has just become 20 percent stronger and now the folks at Berkley have come out with a new Berkley Fireline Crystal that is setting the fishing world on Ďfireí! The new Berkley Fireline Crystal makes for super long casts, ties better knots, stays more hassle free than ever before, has the powers of unbelievable low invisibility and allows for incredible lure action and the non-stop telegraphic feel between fish and fisherman. You just canít beat Berkley Fireline Crystal the best selling superline on the market today.|
|Abu Garcia 500 ALB Spinning Reel|
|Thereís that Ďspecialí something that Iíve always come to expect from my Abu Garcia (www.AbuGarcia.com)spinning reelsÖsuperior quality! And thatís a proven guarantee with the all new Abu Garcia 500ALB series. These rugged aluminum bodied reels come with built in high performance 10 bearing drive, advanced oscillation, an accu-balanced rotor, instant anti-reverse|
bearings and an anodized and ported aluminum spool.
Hereís a reel that belongs in every walleye anglerís tackle box. In fact hereís a reel that belongs in every ĎCanadianí anglerís tackle box.
|Walker Downriggersí Deeper Diver|
|If you donít know by now divers, those funny little round plastic devises that take your spoons and plugs away from your boat and into the path of hungry fish are big business around the Great Lakes. Now Walker Downriggers (www.WalkerDownriggers.com) have introduced the Walker Deep Diver. Available in 5 sizes and 10 colour patterns. The sizes range from 45 mm mini models all the way up to 124 mm monsters (jeez I hate French when it comes to talking size) that will slaughter walleye and other upper level fish and get deep down to those heavyweight lunker lakers and salmon. The smallest of the divers come to market with the special trip mechanism that makes it ideal for Lake Erie walleye trollers. All units also feature a unique posi click weight indexing system on the bottom to control diving direction and depth.|
|Walker Downriggers are my only choice when it comes to riggers. With that in mind I canít wait to tie on a couple of the new Walker Deep Divers the next time Iím either on Erie chasing walleye, Lake Ontario for big kings or small northern Saskatchewan lake for monster grey trout.|
|Napoleon Gourmet Grills (NapoleonGrills.ca) are the talk of the barbecue industry and why not? For starters they make the finest barbecues on the market from their baby Freestyle SS, all the way up to PF600RB the monster pride of their line. This past spring Napoleon Gourmet Grills joined the family of Going Fishing sponsors and to put it bluntly they blew us away with their entire line of awesome products and the quality they produce.|
The Napoleon line up is long and impressive. Our crew doesnít hit the road without packing along the baby of the family, the Freestyle SS. Itís sized to be packed along just about anywhere and once in the bush we use it for bacon and eggs in the morning and t-bones and walleye fillets in the evening. Back at the ranch itís the oversized PF600RB that takes over for barbecuing up meals that can feed a football team. Talk about the extras, try a salmon cedar plank feast on this babyís main tube burners or seal in the juices of an entire loin of prime beef over the heat from those infared burners that send out the super heat.
|Bolle Performance Eyewear|
|Sunglasses are just sunglasses right? No wrong! Thatís especially true when it comes to sportsmenís sunglasses and especially sunglasses made for the serious fisherman. About six months ago, an old friend of mine by the name of Rick Ebisuzaki approached me about trying on and testing a pair of Bolle (www.Bolle.com) sunglasses that he was representing through Bushnell Outdoor Products a company he head honchos for in Canada. Now me being me and Rick being Rick (again and old friend that Iíve known for a really long time), I mooched not one but a few more styles and colours than I think he really wanted to give me. Bottom lineÖthe best sunglasses that have ever been wrapped around my head. |
Bolle has the name in the industry for performance and quality when it comes to sunglasses. I donít want to even get into the many styles, colours and qualities of their various models just click away yourself and check them out, but from one fisherman to another they really are the best eyewear that Iíve ever worn on the water. Positively no glare, I can see a shallow feeding fish from afar and they even look good on an old angler like me when Iím dressed to fit the occasion.
Thanks for the Bolles Rick. You can expect another visit shortly from an old friend.