Five Steps to Selecting the Right Bait

Over the past ten years fishing has witnessed a revolution brought on by the merger of technological innovation, scientific research and knowledge passed on by generations of fishers. The result has been ever-more innovative baits. Manufacturers are also working closer than ever with their field staff to fine-tune new offerings, and are publishing increasingly detailed usage instructions. For recreational fishers, it’s resulted in a reduction in the use of live bait, and more importantly, fewer slow days on the water. And, when minnows can cost as much as 50 cents each and night crawlers a quarter, switching to artificial makes for sound economics. So what is it that makes a good artificial bait?

Some of the variables manufacturers take into consideration when developing and marketing artificial baits include matching-the-hatch, light levels, time of year, intended species, water temperature, underwater structure, use ability, longevity, cost effectiveness, environmental impact, fishing trends, etc. It may seem like a long list, but when you take the time to think about what the modern fisher considers when deciding how to invest their time and money, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Of course there’s always the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach to fishing that accounts for many of the tried-and-true baits that can be found in the average fishers tackle box.  These most often are reaction-style baits noted for their ability to generate moderate success under a variety of conditions – a sort of “one size fits all” style of lure that we wouldn’t mind being stuck with on a desert island. But, since the chance of being stranded these days is pretty much nil, why are so many tackle boxes filled with ump-teen different versions of the same style baits?

Increasingly, premium bait manufacturers are counting on fishers to possess a certain level of competency when they launch a new bait. These same companies also assume that we will take the time to learn how to properly apply their latest innovations. It’s this spirit of cooperation that is responsible for the sport’s recent and dramatic evolution.

Successful fishers begin the process of selecting which baits will be used during an up-coming fishing trip many Days before lines are actually wetted. It starts with researching the characteristics of the aquatic environment to be fished, takes into consideration the locally preferred tactics and equipment, and then determining what existing and additional new tackle is required. In short, the right bait at the right time under the right conditions. Other than weather, little about fishing as to do with luck.

No doubt, in addition to the brain-numbing variety of baits on the market, making bait selection even more difficult is the insistence of some manufacturers that their baits do it all. To counter this absence of information, deciding on what bait to buy and use comes down to both a fishers direct experience and what they have learned from trusted experts by reading articles or listening to seminars. More-and-more though, bait manufacturers who have made the investment in developing quality baits are now including educational materials on when, where and how to get the most out of their product on the water. The internet has been a game changer in this regard.

Tackle manufacturers are now able to launch new products at the time of their choosing; no longer being tied to a few days each year based on the schedule of an annual outdoor show. They also recognize the value of getting their baits into the hands of trusted experts so these fishers can, in turn, offer-up their opinions and tips through social media.

With so many choices available to fishers it’s understandable why some have grown slightly cynical of the motives of bait manufacturers. Mistakes can happen however, and it’s not uncommon to find baits in bargain bins never intended for fishing conditions within 500 miles of that store’s location. Choosing to buy baits based on first impressions alone might offer one an immediate thrill, but it’s completely reverse to how the process should unfold. The following five steps should help you to maintain control over your tackle purchasing impulses — indulging your compulsive tackle purchasing “wants” should be relegated to an optional sixth step.

  1. Learn from local experts to identify currently productive fishing techniques and baits specific to the region or body of water you plan to fish.
  2. Assess recent and potential climactic and other external influences that could impact your chosen body of water.
  3. Inspect your existing tackle suitable for the fishing scenarios being considered.
  4. Make a list of essential tackle you will need to acquire.
  5. Consult with your local tackle stores staff to identify what available stock might best fit your needs.
  6. Only once steps one-through-five have been implemented should you risk a peek in your local tackle venders clearance bins.

I like to conduct my on-line research about new baits brought to market between seasons. It’s during these slack line moments that I also sort  baits according to how each performed under various conditions. I spend just as much time remembering those glory days and the baits I used, as I do thinking how I could have turned around those less productive days. By spending time focusing on the lessons I learned I’m able to identify where I need to expand both my fishing skills and bait collection. In practical terms, it often means investing more time to research and experiment with new-to-me  products and tactics designed to address the sort of challenges that have been causing me grief.

Like everyone I enjoy telling stories about the big ones, but just as importantly, I always take time to revisit those unproductive moments with my fishing buddies at the end of each day. By thinking and talking our way through our feelings of disappointment, it becomes possible to learn from our mistakes. Sorting through the subjective emotions that cloud logical thoughts allows for clear objective problem solving, and that’s exactly the mind-set needed when you plan your next tackle purchase.

Ontario Bass Nation Qualifier

I just fished my first Provincial B.A.S.S. qualifier among 199 other competitors. It was an individual event with boaters and non-boaters rotated daily. The event is hosted each year by a local club selected by the presidents of the 21 clubs that make up the Ontario Bass Nation. This year the event was held on the Bay of Quinte, a body of water located along the north-east shore of Lake Ontario. Even though tournament limits excluded our going out into the lake proper, it still left us the 40 mile long bay to explore – a lot of fishable water.

My day one boater was the current president of the Ontario Bass Nation, Mr. Paul Kroisenbrunner. Paul’s a true gentleman to fish with, even though we were competing against each other aboard the same boat, (the Qualifier uses individual weights). Paul keeps his Stratos impeccable and his 175hp Johnson works perfectly. It was a true pleasure to fish from with its expansive rear deck.

We caught most of our fish up one of the many rivers that empty into the Bay. Paul, being from southern Ontario, is a seasoned Steelhead / Salmon River fisher and understands currents and the best way to present baits. Having grown up myself fishing trout rivers, I too took readily to the challenge. A combination of tubes and drop-shot techniques were the ticket. Paul also spotted some additional fishable waters further up the river that he saved for day two, with good results. Each of our respective bags presented the tournament director and his weigh-in officials with some of the first Smallies of the day.

Day two had me aboard Mr. Doug Catton’s brand new Ranger Comanche 520C. The Ranger easily pushed 70 MPH, and proved as nimble as a cat as we passed by quite a number of boats that left ahead of us on day two’s start.

Although our first few strategies failed to produce the numbers we were looking for, our continuously adjusting and trying different styles of water eventually paid off. Seven-inch Senkos seemed to be the ticket in the end, fished along weed edges in 8-10 feet of water.

Weigh-ins was well organized with 100 boats and 200 bags of fish to process. Mr. Reno Viola and Mr. Andrew Pallotta co-hosted the stage. Andrew also provided the staff and equipment to ensure the fish were weighed in without mortality using Shimano’s water weigh-in system.

Final results had our own club president, Mr. Frank Ramsey, taking home top prize with over 33lb of fish caught in two days. Another of our club members, Mr. Charles Sim, qualified in position 11 of the 12-person team that will represent Ontario at the 2014 North-East Regional championships to be held somewhere in the state of new York. Our club, the Ottawa Valley South Bass Masters, finished close to the top.

In addition to the actual event, tournament organizers held a one-day junior tournament the day prior, took over 30 military vets fishing, and hosted a kids fishing derby. Hats off to all the volunteers, sponsors and organizers – job well done.

Jenda Paddle Sports Kayak Fishing Derby

Each year Jenda Paddle Sports in Ottawa kick off the summer with a kayak fishing tournament. Held on the Rideau River, winners are determined by the longest fish for each species, including a prize for smallest fish over-all. The format is catch, photograph and release, and then turn in your digital camera’s card at the end of the day if you have an entry you think warrants entering.

Jason Kirby, owner of Jenda Paddle Sports, organizes the event with assistance from his wife Laura and quite a number of key sponsors associated with kayak fishing. Jason always includes a great BBQ for competitors as part of their entry fee.

My fishing buddy David mingy and I set off in our kayaks from the Baxter Conservation area with the other 35 competitors. To ensure I didn’t deviate into the boating channel, we attached a bear bell to the tip of one of Dave’s rods mounted in a rear rod holder, and a second small brass bell suspended just off the stern using a wire coat hanger and some duct tape. Unfortunately, the bear bell fell off somewhere between the staging area and the shore from where we launched, and in spite of my bending the coat hanger in every possible configuration, we just couldn’t get that small bell to ring in any sort of consistent manner without Dave having to perform the shimmy while seated in his kayak.

Navigating by talking compass on a river isn’t feasible due to the river’s numerous turns and twists. However, there are lots of sounds along the Rideau River for me to focus on as navigational aids. Whether it was cottage owners tending their lawns, birds in trees, or cars passing along nearby roads or overhead on bridges, there were plenty of audible clues to keep me well oriented. Of course, I took GPS coordinates at the start point just in case I had to return solo. Otherwise, I simply listened for the splash of Dave’s paddle, a system that works well given that my kayak is virtually soundless thanks to my Mirage Drive peddle system from HobieCat.

It wasn’t long before we got into some nice largemouth Bass chucking craws along weed edges. My biggest for the day was 17.5 inches, and my largest Walleye, also caught on a Texas-rigged craw, was 16 inches. Neither fish were big enough to win me a prize, but I came close.

By noon the recreational boat traffic on the river had grown fairly intense. When motor boats were travelling in my direction it wasn’t always easy to determine which side of me they would pass – often sounding like they were heading directly for me. After a boat had passed, the sound of its fading motor for the next five minutes or so provided an excellent audio indicator to either follow or use in maintaining orientation. Of course, there was also Dave’s yelling when I headed off in a direction that he judged as less than prudent.

Half the fun of an event such as this is the story telling and catching up with old friends at the end, and even on the water. Kayaks don’t pass each other at blazing speeds, and given that we were all travelling along the edge of the boating channel, one couldn’t help but stop and chat with fellow competitors. A truly social day with some great fishing and exercise thrown in for good measure.

New Ranger 620 Fisherman / 250 HP High-Output E-Tech!

Continuing through 2013 as a Pro Staff member for both Ranger Boats and Evinrude E-Tech, I recently took delivery of my 2013 fishing boat that I’ll be using to both introduce blind people to the sport of fishing, and to take part in the roughly 25 fishing tournaments I compete in each year. Thanks to the great support from Orleans Boat World, the transition from last year’s Ranger to my new boat was absolutely painless.

In 2012 I had the privilege of owning a Ranger 619 Fisherman rigged with an Evinrude 225 HP E-Tech. I loved that boat as it provided me the best of two worlds. Equipped with a full rear deck extension, the boat served more than adequately as a Bass fishing platform. Remove the deck, and the boat quickly converted into a Walleye / Musky trolling machine. My 2013 620 goes further in several important ways.

The new 620 also came with a rear deck extension, but now even with the extension in place, there is still more than ample room to move about the cockpit, and with the extension removed, there’s plenty of room for four guys to troll for Walleye all day.

Both the 619 and 620 have mammoth front casting decks. The extra nine inches in the 620’s length is made evident in the cockpit. Snap out carpet in the cockpit also reduces maintenance and worry.

While the rear storage boxes in the 620 aren’t as wide as they are in the 619, the fact that there are four instead of three, more than makes up for their reduced width.

Once again I let Ranger Boats put the colour package together. The 45th anniversary colours were complimented this year by Evinrude with a custom painted motor to match. The black / silver with red pin striping is quite the crowd pleaser.

Lowrance HDS Gen-II fish finders are flush mounted in the bow and driver’s consoles, which is also where one finds the key pad that replaces the key. The three deep-cycle batteries for the Minn Kota Terrova 101 are positioned mid-ship along with the starter battery in a special battery compartment in the floor.

The front deck houses five compartments. A centre rod storage box that easily swallows up 12 of my longest rods, an aerated 5-gallon bait well just ahead of the starboard console, a built in cooler in front of the passenger (port) console, and two quite large and deep compartments – one of which now contains my PDFs, safety gear, paddles, etc., leaving the other wide open for guests.

To aid with launching and trailering, I ordered the retractable keel roller system for the trailer. Once the trailer is in the water, I can simply turn the secondary winch’s handle, raise the three rollers positioned below the keel, and easily slide the 620 off the trailer. The same works in reverse, eliminating the need to power the boat on to the trailer by simply winching the boat all the way up using just one arm to turn the handle. An emergency break on the trailer also removes the need to place bricks behind trailer wheels, and the up-graded “American Racing” rims on all five tires (including spare) are a nice touch.

Finally, a really cool refinement Ranger made to the 620 was the reduced height to the walk-through windshield. Sure, it means slumping down somewhat to get out of the rain when underway, but it also means less of a “sail” for the wind to catch, and less chance of the windshield getting in the way of rods or landing nets. It just also looks a whole lot cooler!

Multi-Species Tournament

To kick off each year’s tournament season, the Ottawa Valley South Bass Masters club organizes a fun tournament in which seven species of fish need to be caught, with the total length determining the winner. Species include: Northern Pike, Walleye, Crappie, Rock Bass, Perch, Bluegill and Pumpkinseed.

This year we held the event on the Rideau River. Last year’s event on the Ottawa River was won by my partner and I, but it was tough fishing. This year most teams did well, but everyone was missing a Walleye.

Three of the ten teams caught six species. The winning over-all length was 72 inches. My team caught five species with a beautiful kicker Pike that I caught on a 1/16 oz jig on 4lb test Super Slick Power Pro line. Unfortunately, not only could we not find a Walleye, but catching a Perch also seem to be near impossible. Turns out five other boats also had trouble finding a Perch.

Great weather, great company, and a fantastic BBQ afterwards at Tim Baker’s home made for a near perfect day.

2013 Spring Sponsorship News

Each winter I find my time divided between ice fishing and preparing reports to sponsors on the past year’s activities. I’ve been lucky over the years in that my sponsorship support has been amazingly stable, with the exception being a very small number of companies that either “folded tent” or were absorbed by others in the industry. Such shifts often open up holes that need attending and new opportunities, which have led to the following sponsorship line-up changes.

Jackle:

Shimano has recently entered into an exclusive North American distribution arrangement with Jackle Lures out of Japan. Jackle produces amazing professional-grade tournament hard and soft baits which I’m really looking forward to trying out.

Plano Molding Acquires Frabill:

As a Plano Pro for the past six years and a Frabill pro staff member for the past 2, the merging of these two fishing equipment pioneers simplifies my life by reducing by one the number of reports I need to produce on a quarterly basis. On the other hand, the one report will just have to be that much larger to fit everything in so I’m probably not that further ahead. Never-the-less, it should be really interesting to see the cross-over of technical expertise between the two brands and the new innovations that will no doubt transpire.

Columbia:

As T’s, hoodies, jackets and vests sporting all manner of corporate logos take increasingly more space in my closet, trying to figure out what the heck to ware is becoming a greater challenge for my wife – you know, “honey, which one is the grey T with the Shimano logo”? Often, wearing corporate-branded clothing also means putting fashion before function. Well, I’m glad to say that thanks to Columbia and their line of top-quality “Performance Fishing Gear” (PFG), I’m no longer going to need to worry about brand profiling equity. While it may not end my obligation to maintain current tournament-style shirts that correctly list in order of importance the logos and names of my respective sponsors, what it does mean is that I now have clothing that supports my outdoor lifestyle.

Columbia’s Omni-Wick is famous for keeping one feeling dry, and their Omni-Heat technology translates into lighter and warmer clothing on cold days. Omni-sun protection means less worry about applying sun block, and their Omni-Cool technology lets me take cover from the sun and feel cooler doing it. Columbia also has a great track record of supporting conservation projects, which means I’ll feel comfortable and responsible at the same time.

Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal

Queen Elizabeth II Diamond JubileeOn February 12, 2013 I was honoured to be awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for the technology training program I developed and over-saw for blind Canadians seeking to stay abreast of advancements in office place technologies. 35 blind professionals and a team of trainers spent five days at the CNIB’s Lake Joseph Centre participating in 12 hours of training each day as well as networking activities in the evenings. I was nominated for the honour by both my Director and Director General at the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and was awarded the Medal by my Assistant Deputy Minister, Mr. Greg Meredith.

The commemorative medal was created to mark the 2012 celebrations of the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the Throne as Queen of Canada, as well as the thrones of six other countries, upon the death of her father, King George VI, on 6 February 1952. The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal is a tangible way for Canada to honour Her Majesty for her service to this country. At the same time, it serves to honour significant contributions and achievements by Canadians.

The following excerpt from a letter sent to the Deputy Minister of my department, Mr. John Knubley, from the President of the CNIB, Mr. John Rafferty, explains the significance of the training programs I developed and implemented in partnership with the CNIB:

I’m writing to let you know about the timely and valuable support an individual in your employ is providing the CNIB, and to bring to your attention a training opportunity employees with visual disabilities in your department and the government in general should find of benefit.

Mr. Lawrence Euteneier, a manager in the Rural and Cooperative Secretariat at Agriculture Canada, in his volunteer position on the Board of Directors for the CNIB Lake Joseph Centre, proposed that the CNIB provide Canadian professionals with visual disabilities technology training. The training would both assist with career advancement and productivity by training such professionals to make the most of advancements in information and communication technologies.

The CNIB has since made Mr. Euteneier chair of an Advisory Committee on Technology Training. Mr. Euteneier has considerable experience in this area having both served as the “Advisor on Technical Accessibility for the Senate of Canada, and by developing and deploying world-leading technology aimed at closing Canada’s digital divide experienced by people with literacy or disability issues. Mr. Euteneier’s receipt of the “Public Service Award of Excellence” and the Governor General’s “Meritorious Service Medal” further speaks to his expertise and commitment in this regard.

As you are no doubt aware, advances in workplace technologies are being introduced at an ever increasing rate. What you may not know is that a number of these technologies are not necessarily built to comply with accessibility standards or best practices. Further challenging blind professionals is a nation-wide deficit in training programs developed for such individuals to maintain maximum proficiency through the use of technology.

lawrence-diamond-jubileeThe market the CNIB wishes to address by offering a technology training program includes those blind or visually impaired Canadians who currently use computers, but who would like to know more about how to better utilize what they have at hand and are interested in developing the skills needed to adopt more recent innovations relevant to the working professional. Programs such as Windows Seven and MS Office 10 are examples of two recent office place innovations for which customized training will be of assistance.

Federal employees with vision loss will make up a sizable portion of the CNIB technology training program’s intended beneficiaries. To this end, I have attached a description and registration form for the training program the CNIB plans to begin delivering this September. We hope this information will assist your employees with visual disabilities and their managers to plan their training objectives for the year. Please feel free to share this information with your counterparts in the other federal departments.

Blind Fishing Boat / Feel the Bite! year-in Review 2012

Top 10 2012 Highlights

10-Catching my personal best Sunfish 11”

9- Biggest fish and 3rd over-all at the Blind Anglers International Tournament

8- Recruited to HobieCat’s Kayak Fishing Team

7- Finishing 7th out of 52 at the Canadian Ranger / Stratos Invitational Bass Tournament

6 -Appointed Director of Conservation for two area fishing clubs and President of Blue Fish Canada

5- Named pro staff writer for Gary Yamamoto’s Inside Magazine

4- Earning my SCUBA certification and diving on the St. Lawrence River

3- Winning the B.A.S.S. Multi Species Spring Tournament

2- Being included in the national exhibit, “From Far and Wide – Honouring Great Canadians”

1- Meeting my new Mira guide dog “Moby”!

Show Exhibits / Seminars:

This year my show seminars focused on how fish use their different senses. Six outdoor shows featured my exhibits for a total of 14 days (131 hours). The exhibits included various watercraft and the latest in both blind technologies and fishing innovations. A big hit were the over 750 autographed cards I brailed with the names of kids who visited my booth.

Tournaments:

I competed in a total of 19 competitive events in 2012 earning 7 top five finishes including one first and two big fish. I finished 15 out of 30 in the Ottawa Valley South Bass Masters series, and 7th out of 38 in the Ottawa Regional Walleye League. My competitive fishing season ended with a 7th place finish out of 52 teams competing in the Ranger/Stratos Invitational Bass Tournament, not bad considering we were up against many of the region’s best Bass fishers.

Fish Captures:

Water levels throughout Ontario were the lowest in years resulting in fish moving into deeper waters. This worked to my advantage as I prefer vertical touch-based techniques over sight fishing (LOL). It also meant I caught all manner of fish species in unorthodox ways such as  Lake Trout and Musky dropshotting on my favorite Trokar TK150 hooks, catfish and drumb on ultralight Shimano spinning gear, and quite a number of amazingly large panfish bottom bouncing Lindy spinner rigs. Suspending jerkbaits like Rapala’s Clack’n Minnow seem to out shine spinnerbaits this year and accounted for many of my largest Bass and Pike.

Blind Fishing Boat:

I gave the key note address again at the 24th “Blind Anglers International Tournament”, and organized a 5-day technology training program for the blind at the CNIB Lake Joseph Centre. I’ve been actively sea-trialing aboard my 12-foot Porta-Bote various versions of a new talking compass called MaxPAC, and even managed to orchestrate what could very likely be the world’s first treasure hunt for the blind using six of HumanWare’s talking Trekker Breeze GPS systems.

Plans for next year include organizing in partnership with area Lions a blind kayak fishing tournament for elite blind fishers. Jenda Paddle sports has agreed to provide HobieCat kayaks with Mirage drives, a leg-powered propoltion system coupled with a hand- controlled rudder. As well, my continued volunteer commitment as a director with the CNIB Lake Joseph Centre, a 48-room facility for the blind located on the shores of beautiful Lake Joseph in central Ontario, will hopefully soon result in the Centre acquiring a dedicated fishing boat.

Feel the Bite!:

It’s through innovations such as Shimano’s graphite fishing rods, no-stretch Power Pro fishing line, and ultra-dense Ultra Tungsten fishing weights that I’m able to feel as much as I do – making it possible for me to write and speak with authority on the use of touch when fishing. I think I set a record this year on the number of articles published under my Feel the Bite! tag-line. In addition to contributing twice-weekly to Lindy’s on-line audio fishing report service, I’m also writing for Gary Yamamoto’s Inside Magazine, ODU (Outdoor Unlimited) Magazine, National Pro Staff.com, and Ontario Fishing Network. There are also the numerous “how to” and adventure reports I post on my blogs “Blind Fishing Boat” and “Feel the Bite!”

Ranger / Evinrude:

With support from Ranger Boats, BRP Evinrude and the good folks at Orleans Boat World, I spent the year competing aboard a 619 Ranger Fisherman powered with a 225hp Evinrude E-TEC. All my guest pilots / fishing partners couldn’t say enough great things about this rig. This year’s weather was also one of the windiest on record; providing ample opportunity for the Ranger’s rough water handling and tracking characteristics to shine. The 619 Fisherman’s performance haul saved our butts during the B1 Berkley Bass Tournament on the St. Lawrence River when 30 boats out of 150 competitors broke down due to severe weather.

As always, the E-TEC performed flawlessly and its quiet operation made communications with my guest pilots painless. The Minn Kota Terrova’s I-Pilot continues to awe my guests with it’s quiet power and “spot-lock” anchorless GPS-based holding feature. The new Scotty high performance electric down riggers are amazingly fast meaning more line time in the water. Configuring the two Lowrance HD sounders to display water depth readings from both the transom and below the Terrova at the bow made it possible to accurately track the ledges and drop-offs that we had little trouble finding thanks to Navionic’s highly detailed maps.

SCUBA Certified:

To better understand how fish live I put in over 60 hours of training with the good folks at Freedom at Depth to certify in SCUBA. Covered head to foot in 7mm of black neopreme and relatively dry throughout thanks to the new “Aqua Lock” water-tight seals at neck, wrists and ankles built into the new Henderson wetsuits, the only part of me actually touching water directly are my lips.

Nothing is more freaky than suspending 90-feet down and having no idea whether I’m rising or still sinking – never mind knowing which way is up. My only means of communicating with my dive partner are through a series of hand-to-hand gestures developed by Freedom at Depths Director and primary trainer, Hubert Chretien.

Feeling my way along the bottoms of lakes and rivers is giving me a new perspective of how fish associate to cover. My next goal is to acquire two-way radio SCUBA masks to compensate for the intense sensory depervation associated with diving blind.

On Ice:

Ice fishing conditions in eastern Ontario were excellent. I focused most of my energies on Walleye, pike and pan fish with good results. A Rapala gas auger, a frabill flip-over shelter and a Lowrance sounder with the audio bite alarm made all the difference.

Kayak Adventures:

With support from Jenda Paddle Sports I was fortunate to be recruited to HobieCat’s Fishing Team. I’ve always been a paddler going all the way back to 1977 when, at the age of 13, a group of Venturers (one above Scouts) and myself paddled two 25-foot warrior canoes from Port Credit on Lake Ontario, down the St. Lawrence River, along the eastern seaboard, and over to Prince Edward Island, a trip that covered over 1,200 miles (2,100 km).

I really wanted to try the Mirage drive offered by HobieCat, and I’m pleased to say it lives up to all the hype and more. Not only does the peddle drive system allow me to fish more effectively by freeing up my hands, but in combination with the hand controlled rudder, I’m able to effect far greater control over my course headings. In fact, it works so well I’ll be organizing, with support from local Lions clubs and Jenda, a blind kayak fishing tournament on the Ottawa River this coming spring for elite blind anglers using HobieCat kayaks outfitted with Mirage Drives, and Trekker Breeze talking GPS systems.

Media:

News Talk 1010, Renegade Bass, 580 CFRA, and Angelo Viola’s show are some of the radio programs I interviewed on this year. NBC Sports Outdoors began in January to air a TV episode of “the Best and Worst of Tred Barta” that I featured in alongside Tred fishing for Sails in Guatemala. AMI TV (Accessible Media Inc.) also began airing nationally the episode of “Accessibility in Action” that featured me fishing in my Blind Fishing Boat.

“Honouring Great Canadians”:

Being included in Canada’s Governor General’s new exhibit, “From Far and Wide – Honouring Great Canadians”, was quite the surprise. The exhibit is located directly across from Canada’s Parliament buildings, and features 32 Canadians with photos and descriptions of why we received our various medals of honour.

Blue Fish Canada:

I launched the “Blue Fish Canada” charity in 2012 to protect Canada’s fishing heritage. Our mission is to conserve native marine ecosystems and to promote sustainable fishing practices. It took a year to secure the necessary incorporation and tax certifications, but as of November, Blue Fish Canada is now a federally incorporated non-profit and  registered charity. All proceeds raised from my documentary go to Blue fish Canada.

Documentary:

At the time this report was written, my producer, Mr. Alex Sliman, CEO of Cinilande, and my director, Mr. Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais, were busy organizing the next steps associated with the production of the documentary. It’s been 2.5 years since this amazing trip commenced, but I’m told that isn’t unusual in the world of media. There’s now “sound at the end of the tunnel”, and it would seem a completely new and relatively unknown to me phase of this project is about to commence. Film festivals, theatres, TV and radio appearances, or at the very least a really cool U-Tube video! The waiting hasn’t been easy, but if nothing else, fishing has taught me to be patient.

Wrap up:

I will always be pushing the envelope to make fishing more accessible to the blind, and I enjoy the pressure and challenge of fishing competitively; however, the need to preserve Canada’s marine ecosystems and promote sustainable fishing are issues I want to focus on more. Ensuring fishing is an activity that everyone can enjoy for years to come can only be guaranteed if native fish stocks are able to flourish. It’s why I pursued and earned a Masters degree in environmental studies. It’s why I pushed to have the documentary made, and it’s the reason for the creation of Blue fish Canada. Stay tuned

Thank You:

A super big thanks to all those who have volunteered their time to participate in blind fishing adventures, to Salus Marine for providing the PDF’s that kept everyone including Maestro safe , and to my sponsors, friends and, of course, my family. I know that without your support all of what I’ve documented in this report and more would not have been possible. My hope is that, on balance, I’m able to give back far more. And of course a big thank you to my departed buddy Maestro.

Contact:

If you know someone who’s wrestling with vision loss, a number which is expected to double from 14 million Americans and Canadians in the next 20 years, offer them a seat in your boat. After all, nine fish out of ten are felt on the line way before they are ever seen. Just stay away from bobbers – no one has invented one that beeps yet. Shoot  me an email if you have questions, (lawrence@lawrencegunther.com), or visit my website www.LawrenceGunther.com for tons of how-to tips for both sighted and blind fishers alike.