Girl Guides Go Fishing!

Part of my role as the Conservation Director for the Ottawa Valley South Bass Masters club is to find ways to pass on knowledge to others on fishing sustainably. What better way to accomplish this than to bring 38 Girl Guides ranging in age from 5 to 17 shore fishing after school.

Management at the Dows Lake Pavilion generously offered up a sizeable discount on the parking next to their facility located on the shores of a small inner city lake, which was formed as a result of the creation of the Rideau Canal system. Sail outdoors offered up the worms, and a dozen OVSBM club members volunteered their time, expertise and a half dozen or so fishing rods each. Species being targeted were panfish, and the technique was float fishing.

Fishing was fast and furious. Each and every girl caught at least one fish, with most catching five or more. 100 night crawlers divided into quarters lasted just long enough – we just had enough.

Mid-way through the event we took a short break from the fishing so we could cover off the instructional component of the evening. I provided a short presentation on the type of fish we were catching and where they fit into the ecosystem. Tips on fish handling were given, and then I turned it over to Julie Charen, a competitive well sponsored member of our club. Julie entertained and informed the girls with stories and explanations of the various types of fishing gear and techniques she uses to catch fish, and provided demonstrations and samples to make the presentation that much more engaging.

The evening fish was the last event of the year for the Girl Guides, and when the parents showed up around 8: p.m. to take them home, it was interesting to hear just how many girls were able to astonish their parents with their impressive catch reports. I have no doubt a number of those parents will be picking up fishing supplies this summer to satisfy their daughter’s requests to go fishing.

A big thanks to Sandra Kuchta and the rest of the Girl Guide leaders for facilitating things at their end. The girls were just a pleasure to fish with. Their enthusiasm for the sport was truly impressive.

CTV’s Amazing People

Following the evening news on CTV there’s a segment called “Amazing People” hosted by Kimothy Walker. Candidates are nominated by the viewing audience. Kimothy and her producer then select stories of people they think might inspire others. In February a formal celebration dinner is hosted by CTV at which time the top amazing person of the year is named.

I was both surprised and fortunate to have been nominated and selected as a CTV Amazing Person. The following link will take you to the segment produced by Kimothy and her crew at CTV, filmed on a lake not far from Ottawa:

http://ottawa.ctvnews.ca/features/amazing-people

2013 Speaking / Show Events

The past couple months were nuts as usual, but thankfully outdoor show season is coming to an end.

My presentations have ranged from speaking about the different senses fish use to find food, to Minn Kota’s I-Pilot technology.

When you have the privilege of sharing booth space with a Ranger Fisherman 619 and HobieCat’s new 12’ Pro Angler kayak, you can feel pretty confident that you have some of the best eye-candy at the show. My new guide dog Moby did great filling in old Maestro’s big Mutluks too.

With open water around the corner there is still much planning, organizing, preparing and doing ahead. Blind Fishing Kayak Tournament, Blind Fishing Adventure, Girl Guide Fishing Adventure, CNIB Lake Joseph Centre Blind Fishing Program, St. Lawrence River Institute Conference Presentation, ump-teen fishing tournaments, and so much more…

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.

Berkley B1 Bass 2012 Tournament

For the 4th year in a row Berkley, along with a host of other premier sponsors, staged the Berkley B1 Bass tournament.  The event was held on the St. Lawrence River out of Valleyfield Quebec, a section of the St. Lawrence famous for incredibly large and strong Smallmouth Bass.  The event itself has been a sold-out affair since its conception by its founder Ben Woo, and is arguably the largest Bass tournament on Canadian waters with 150 teams competing. It’s not only the largest, but some might argue the most challenging.  However, the rewards more than make up for the effort with a brand new Bass boat and 200hp E-Tec going to the winning team.This year I had the pleasure of being joined aboard my Ranger 619 Fisherman powered with a 225hp E-Tec by my good friend Scott Campbell.  Both Scott and I fully appreciate the enormous task trying to find where the Smallmouth are staging on this huge stretch of water, and our goal for the day was to turn in a respectable finish.

Ste. Francis was formed as part of the St Lawrence Seaway project in the 1960’s when large sections of the river were flooded to allow ocean-going ships to pass between the Atlantic Ocean and North America’s Great Lakes.  Ships are restricted to a relatively narrow channel that ranges in depth from 20 to 60 feet, and is bordered by vast stretches of shallow water ribboned with shoals that come within inches of the surface.

Bass on Ste Francis can either be found in water less than 6 feet in depth, (Largemouth), or over 20 feet deep, (Smallmouth).  This means the remaining 99% of Ste Francis’s vast acreage is relatively devoid of fish.  Additionally, it’s not all waters below 20 feet that hold the monster Smallmouth.  This productive territory too is limited to only those sections of the channel noted for fast current and structure.  Knowing where these spots within the spots are situated comes only with countless hours of pre-fishing.

O.K., now that I’ve set the stage, it’s time to bring on the main characters.  One would assume this would consist of the 149 other teams Scott and I were competing against, but not on this day.  Front and centre were winds of 30km/h gusting to 50 out of the north-west, swinging around to the south-east by noon.  Unfortunately, neither of the two weather patterns made the drive to and from our chosen fishing grounds pleasant.

We exited the Valleyfield harbour with the idea of running for 30 minutes up towards Cornwall; however, the mounting waves turned this into a run of almost an hour and a half.  Coming back was no easier.  Thankfully, the hull design of Ranger Fisherman multi-species boats are designed to handle rough water by permitting their operator’s to maintain sufficient speed to skip from one wave top to another.  Too much or too little speed would have the boat landing on either the face or back of waves, making crisp throttle control and engine response paramount.

Scott was up to the challenge and brought us safely through the worst of the rough seas un-scathed. Unfortunately for many of our competitors this wasn’t the case, with numerous boats experiencing breakdowns on the water, including damage to their lower ends while attempting to skirt around the waves by following the shoreline. Many other teams who did make it back on their own power reported having speared waves resulting in rods and sonar units being washed overboard.

Rather than waiting aboard our boat to weigh in after day one, Scot and I realized our bag of fish wasn’t going to put us in the money. We elected instead to get the Ranger up on to the trailer before things got hectic at the launch.  Having the Ranger safely stowed also allowed us to show support for the remaining competitors as they weighed in their catches.  A 25lb bag of Smallmouth was the top catch for the day.

With weather conditions for day two not looking any better, tournament organizers decided instead to avoid sending competitors out for another round of pounding from the elements.  There’s no doubt that Ste Francis is a large body of water, but even if you have the right equipment and experience, it isn’t always enough.

Big thanks to Ben, Vicky and all their team for staging another great event.  Thanks too to my sponsors for making it possible for me to compete in tournaments such as this with a fishing boat package that keeps me high and dry.

5th Annual Ranger & Stratos Fishing Invitational

Once again I took part in the Ranger – Stratos Invitational Bass Tournament.  The charity fund raiser is organized each year by Orleans Boat World.  This year saw 52 teams competing on the Ottawa River out of Rockland Ontario.

Weather for the day was gray with light drizzle – perfect for Smallies.  My partner, Myles West, and I blasted off as team #32 aboard my 2012 Ranger 619 Fisherman powered with a 225 hp E-Tec from Evinrude.

We started by working weed lines along the openings of bays and picked up three quick keepers.  However, when we started throwing cranks around a stone retaining wall all heck broke loose.  A 4lb Largie was quickly followed up with numerous 3lb+ Smallies. By 10: we had culled ourselves into a fairly decent bag.

Our second largest fish of the day didn’t seem to be fairing all too well so we decided to release it back into the river.  It was a 3.5lb Smallie, but thankfully, we caught a suitable replacement.

With five hours to go, we switched up baits with the hopes of landing a real kicker.  The Ottawa River is known for some amazingly big Bass – they have to be if they want to avoid being Eaton by the numerous super-sized Musky that make this river their home.  Unfortunately, other than some amazingly large Catfish and Northern Pike, we just weren’t able to bring aboard a kicker to finish off the day.

Our weight of 14.75lbs was enough to earn Miles and I 7th place over-all and a cheque for our efforts.  19lbs took first place.  The weigh-in was orchestrated by Renegade Bass folks using Shimano’s live release system, and the BBQ and prize bags were sponsored by Ranger Boats, Evinrude, First Mate Lures, and last but certainly not least, Orleans Boat World.  Most importantly, a sizeable chunk of cash was raised for charity.

Renegade Pro-Am 2012

Each year eastern Ontario’s premier tournament Bass fishing organization, Renegade, hosts a pro-am event pairing renegade pros with potential newcomers to tournament Bass fishing.  This year’s event took place once again on Mississippi Lake just outside Carlton Place Ontario, and involved 27 teams.  I was fortunate to be partnered with Claude Bergeron, proprietor of “Bergeron School of Karate”.  We fished from my 2012 ranger 619 Fisherman.I learned a lot about the merits of slowing things down.  Claude’s a firm believer that a spot that has proven itself in the past will always produce; it’s often just a matter of waiting while maintaining a positive mental attitude.  No doubt, Claude’s level seven black belt has honed his ability to stay focused.  His approach bore fruit as we commenced culling by 11: in spite of our going without a serious bite for the first two hours.

The 225hp E-TEC ran twice that day – five minutes leaving the start, and another five getting back.  Otherwise, we spent the day moving around a large weed flat using the Minn Kota Terrova with plenty of occasions holding stationary with the Terrova’s I-Pilot anchor lock feature.  Claude himself uses a Minn Kota Talon to achieve a fixed anchored position necessary to dead-stick soft plastics at the end of long casts.

Claude is a huge proponent of fishing Senkos wacky style unweighted using octopus style hooks.  By noon that’s pretty much exactly what I was throwing too.  Instead of an octopus hook however, I elected instead to use a weedless wacky hook, but on reflection, I don’t think I was that much better off in terms of keeping weeds off my line.

Claude’s method is to make long casts into gaps between the weeds and simply wait.  He’ll give the Senko a few twitches once it’s resting on the bottom, and sometimes let it sit for as long as a minute before quickly reeling in.  We both picked up weeds on the retrieves which meant we only actually fished the spots where our baits initially landed.

Claude’s slow and systematic style of fishing has paid off on many occasions.  He and his partner finish routinely near or at the top.  It also confirms what many of us already suspect but often have difficulty putting into inaction.  It isn’t necessary to be in constant motion to find fish.  Even if the fish aren’t biting now, at some point in the day, they will feed.

Funny enough, when comparing notes at the end of the day with the other anglers, many reported catching most of their fish in the first 2-3 hours – the same time period Claude and I caught nothing.  Conversely, when Claude and I started catching Bass, the bite for many of the other competitors dropped off.

Claude and I may not have won the event that day, but what I learned was invaluable.  Slow down, and catch more fish.

Big thanks to the Renegade organization for allowing me to participate in the event, to the volunteers who assisted with launching boats and hosting the free BBQ, and to Renegade’s 2012 MC Big Jim McLaughlin for making us all feel like winners.  Shimano, Berkley, Paddle tails and Bennett’s also stepped up to the plate in big ways to reward each and every amateur – an over-all experience that’s well worth the investment.