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The River of Grass

The Everglades were decidedly not a safe place for two inexperienced Canucks.This truth had been quickly established during the drive through the park when we stopped off to prospect for bass in one of the many ponds along the Tamiani trail. In shorts, wading out towards the ledge of the limestone shelf and casting towards the deeper water that seemed to hold such promise, the subtle shapes that slid off the island and cruised towards my location went largely unnoticed until a sudden feeling of paranoia overcame me with the realization that the trail of bubbles honing in on me belonged to alligators looking for an easy meal. I hightailed it out of the water as fast as I could and stood at a safe distance from the shoreline while one of them surfaced a few feet away and inspected me like a piece of meat at the butcher’s counter at the Winn-Dixie supermarket. Read More »

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Muskies with Marc

The sun had not yet risen on a cold, late November morning as we headed down the dark highway towards the boat launch near Sorel on the St-Lawrence river just East of Montreal. It is the fourth oldest city in Quebec, once a major industrial sector with oil refineries and steel mills and processing plants and other heavy industries that were built on the shores of the river. There had once been giant shipyards that built frigates for the Canadian Navy and most of the industries that remained were  involved in metallurgy, heavy equipment manufacturing, ethanol and grain processing plants, most with needs requiring their own dockage along the river to both ship and receive materials. These factories were surrounded by small,tough, working-class francophone communities where most of their inhabitants, like the generations before them, toiled in the industries along the river. It only seemed fitting that we would be fishing for the toughest fish in these waters.

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Fortune and Glory

IT WAS SOMEWHERE AROUND LAKE HURON that we decided to drive south towards hogtown and spend our last day fishing with Greg Amiel’s Fishing4Tails charter service for steelhead and king salmon before heading back down the final leg of the highway towards home. After one month of fishing everyday, we needed a little fishing to break the trip up and it was the perfect opportunity to finally fish with Greg. We had initially become acquainted  through a variety of internet fishing social networks but this marked our first occasion to meet in person and fish together. Despite the sketchy last-minute arrangements, mostly exchanged through text messages as we worked our way across Northern Ontario, he was incredibly generous with his time and created a hole for us in his busy schedule. Read More »

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The bass apocalypse

Hunched under the canopy of a large elm tree that sheltered us somewhat from the deluge, we waited for what seemed an eternity for the violent tropical storm to relent. We hadn’t even had a chance to wet our lines before the skies parted and the downpour began. The ominous grey clouds in the darkening sky painted a gloomy forecast as they raced over the treetops , as if impatient to reunite with the distant horizon. The torrential summer rainfall cascaded in vertical sheets that undulated across the waters surface,  now whipped with such wind-driven force that it bubbled and frothed like boiling water. Off in the faraway distance, thunder claps resonated and shards of lightning splintered across the sky in delicate fingers that spread out and touched the ground, momentarily caressing the earth in its electrostatic embrace. There was an atmosphere of instability in the air and optimism in our hearts and we hoped this was the weather pattern that would see a reversal of fortune in our hunt for the big bass that had mysteriously disappeared for the last two years. Read More »

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The Unatrouter

This is neither a cautionary tale nor a work of fiction. Rather, it is a factual account of the activities that took place a week ago last Friday, as all official records will indicate, during my latest trout adventure. Little did I know that the roles were to be reversed and that it was the fisherman was to be the catch of the day.

For one almost fateful morning my person was the subject of a joint manhunt co-ordinated by agencies of both the United States of America, land of the not so free anymore since the passage of The Patriot Act, and Canada, land of the timid politicians who do not want to ruffle the feathers of the bald eagle. And then there was little old me, middle-aged, fish-addicted, and somewhat still suffering from two months of cabin fever who needed to feel the tug of a fish the way a junkie needs a fix. I was a trout junkie. A trout terrorist…..the Una-Trouter!

The day started quite inocuously, the sun was shining, birds were chirping in the treetops, squirrels played and life was finally returning after a long winter. Then it began to turn into a hellish nightmare which had nothing to do with the fishing. You see, I was fishing border waters and had parked my suspicious black truck at the end of a dead-end country road in the middle of nowhere, not fifty feet from a snowbank and large obelisk shaped stone with U.S.A. painted in red across it that demarcated the borderline between Canada and the US. This border is the longest unprotected border in the civilized world and many parts of it, like this one, are basically patrolled by squirrels and crows. Read More »

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fishing

Fishing as a sport has often been described as an activity mostly consisting up of long periods of boredom followed by short and intense periods of exciting activity. While this proposition is not entirely untrue, the statement misses the point of the exercise entirely and fails to underscore the importance of the events that happen outside those moments of intense activity – which for many is a big part of why they fish. The down time between catching fish allows us those requisite moments of respite from civilization for solitary reflection and introspection, observation and thought about the quarry and nature, or of time to talk and further deepen a close friendship. If one takes a moment to think about it, if we only fished to catch fish that the whole enterprise could logically be viewed as an exceedingly productive way to waste ones time.  The scientific method and catch statistics can back me up on this. Should one be so inclined to do the mathematical calculations of catch rates vs. effort or hours fished they would also quickly arrive at the conclusion  that ninety percent of their time was spent staring at their inert lines and not much else.  In the real world people get fired for such a lack of productivity. But here is where logic and mathematics fall to the wayside and where statistics hold no currency. Read More »

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a day in the life

It was the first day of the season and while I didn’t catch anything I wasn’t too concerned as it was still early in the season and had come equipped with modest expectations of not catching anything at all. It was more of a reconnaissance trip, first to check on the water levels to determine if they were low enough to crossover to the island in the middle, and to see if the fish had begun their annual spawning run. It was a beautiful day and it felt good to be outdoors after a long winter, to feel the warmth of the sun upon your face, and to watch the migratory birds flying in tight formations in the cerulean sky as they have done since the beginning of time. It had been two weeks since Milad died and I desperately needed an affirmation that life was for the living and that it stopped for nobody, despite the heartbreak and grieving. Read More »

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A day in Buzios

The Captain

Although the city of Buzios in Brazil was originally founded by fisherman who named it in reference to a type of shellfish that was prolific in this part of the ocean, there was very little information in the travel guides that made any reference at all to the fishing. One fact that stood out in my mind was that it was a resort village on the northern coast of Brazil that had been discovered by the French actress Brigitte Bardot in the sixties and that somewhere on the island was a bronze statue of her likeness staring thoughtfully out to sea. Read More »

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Stoned Fish?

It seems that all the trout in my neighbourhood are really stoned – at least according to the findings in a recent study of the St-Lawrence River near Montreal, where a team of researchers have discovered large quantities of anti-depressants in the local trout populations.

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