Still Fishing

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Breaking news–propane prices have stayed low! I’m trying to rev up the fact that propane prices haven’t moved much in many months, but it’s pretty tough to make something out of nothing. So for now, I guess, we should be thankful that they have stayed low, helping out everyone’s budget.

Had a good holiday week in Florida at the end of March. Caught and ate some fish, soaked up the sun, did touristy stuff, got all tanned up. It was a good time spent with our Cambridge friends at their condo. Oh, I should also mention that these friends are also one of Waterloo County Propane’s many wonderful customers.

Speaking of fishing, a friend of mine that I also play hockey with on an old timer’s hockey team called the ‘Old Crocs’ took me fishing with him on Sunday April 24. We originally were to go to the Detroit River to fish walleye, which meant that I would have to be up at about 1:30am Sunday morning to get to his house, and then drive many hours to get to the Detroit River by sunup. I was looking forward to going fishing, but not to getting up at 1:30am. As it turned out, a late day report from another fishing crew said the Detroit River was running high and dirty, which made the fishing poor and we were advised not to waste our time going there. The Detroit River comes out of Lake St Clair and flows into Lake Erie, which of course is down by Windsor. So, change of plans. Now we would meet up at 5:00am at the car pool lot on Townline Rd at Highway 401 and proceed to Lake Simcoe to fish for perch. A little better of a start time, and a shorter drive. On the way to Lake Simcoe, my buddy Steve says to me ‘how many perch do you want to bring home?’ I thought, ‘well he’s optimistic’. I ask him what the catch limit was, and he told me 50 perch on a regular license and 25 perch on a conservation license. I consider myself a conservationist, so I told him 25 perch would be just fine, and besides at my advanced age I am no longer required to purchase a fishing license and I really don’t know if that affects the catch limit. Now, I’m envisioning if we are fortunate enough to catch 25 perch, they are probably 5″ to 6″ long and 25 would make a tasty feed.

We get to Lake Simcoe around 7:30am, it’s about 2°C, overcast and a little windy, and now I’m wondering if I have brought enough clothes. Steve has what’s known as a bass boat. About 18 feet long, flat on top front to back, with the steering wheel and a couple of seats recessed into the middle of the boat. Absolutely no protection from the wind, rain, or–heaven forbid–snow. This boat has a 225 hp outboard motor on the back, which will let you get to most of the destinations we were going to visit in very short order. So, off we flew at full speed, onto the 2° overcast and windy lake, while I pulled my clothing as tight as I could to prevent frostbite from any exposed skin.

Although Steve is a school teacher, he is or was a professional angler, so he has all the gear. His boat is equipped with many doors in the flat floor for every conceivable thing. One door for fishing rods, which are matched to the target species for the day, another has alternative clothing like coats, pants, mitts, toque, and raingear, another is a live well which has lake water pumped into it to keep your catch alive, another contains extra seat pieces so you can erect seating at each end of the boat, one has specialized tackle, again for the day’s target species, another houses batteries and pumps. Quite a craft, kind of reminded me of a mini aircraft carrier.

Steve also has all the electronic fishing apparatus, and because he has fished Lake Simcoe before, has marked on his GPS any and all waypoints where he has been successful catching fish. Almost seemed like driving to the fish market–just head for the waypoints, use the electric trolling motor to keep you on, and head for the other waypoints where we would cast to the waiting fish. Well, it wasn’t quite that easy, but almost.

After our initial flight over the lake to our starting spot, it took my hands some time to warm up so I could get a better feel for the biting fish. As the day progressed, the temperature rose to a balmy 4°C and the wind dropped, but it did stay overcast. We moved from spot to spot, catching perch at all locations. The bigger perch went in the live well, and as the days went on the live well was getting a little crowded. Seems my thoughts of 5″ to 6″ perch was a little off. These perch were 12″ to 15″ in length, and fat as well. We caught well in excess of 100 perch.

We came in off the lake about 3:00pm that afternoon, loaded the boat on the trailer and headed home. I must mention that Steve’s buddy Don, whose last name escapes me, was also with us that day, and a fine fellow he was. Apart from my 25 perch, there were some extra perch in the live well that Steve was going to do up for his mother. At that moment, we didn’t know how many extra perch were in the live well.

A fairly uneventful ride home, and at the car park on Townline Rd, Steve pulled out 25 perch for me and put them in a 5 gallon pail for my 10 minute ride home. I have to give Steve credit, he was the perfect host, put us on all kinds of fish in the lake, and his gear was top notch.

I arrived home and my sweetheart asked how the fishing was, and I pointed to the pail, to which she said ‘holy smoke!’ or something like that.

So now yours truly has to set up a fish cleaning station down behind the barn to fillet these fish. And I did. These perch weighed 1.5 to 2.5 lbs and it took me an hour and a half to fillet them all. By now it’s getting later in the day, it’s cold, and my teeth are starting to chatter. So I took the pail of fish parts with the tractor to the far reaches of the farm by the forest and dumped them out to be cleaned up by the coyotes and raccoons. Heard a lot of coyotes yipping and barking in that general area that night. A couple of days later I was in that location and saw no sign of any fish parts leftover.

This fishing trip was on a Sunday and on Monday evening, my sweetheart and I had a major fresh perch supper with our two grandchildren in attendance. Our grandson just loves fish, but his sister doesn’t like fish at all. After some encouragement she tried some of the fish, and then asked for more, enjoying every bite.

As I sit here with a belly full of fresh perch, I’m reminded that summer is all but here (although this weather would have you thinking differently). Have a spectacular summer, be safe around the water, and take the time to be a friend to others.

Yours truly,

Peter Rivers

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