For me, fishing began with my grandfather. An immigrant to Toronto looking to provide some fresh food for his family, my grandfather explored many of the same urban fishing opportunities we do today.
I spent many familiar summer days by his side, as he taught me how to use a rod and reel and bait hooks. Soon, this hobby transferred over to family camping trips. I would sneak out of the family tent to take my bike down to the water in search of my first bass. The longing to hoist a big bass like the pros did in the 90’s computer game, Trophy Bass 2 Deluxe, afflicted me like nothing else.
This affliction stayed with me, albiet suppressed, as I grew older. After I finished school I had open access to a vehicle, and was free to roam as I pleased.
Many hot summer days and nights in 2011 were spent entertained by the barrage of brown bullheads in the Milne Dam Conservation Park. I was first drawn to the locale by the sights of large carp breaching the surface of this shallow pond.
I was quite thrilled upon my discovery of this excellent catfish fishery. Prior to this find, my friends and I had spent countless hours trying to catch anything at all. From Toogood Pond, to the beach at Milne, to renting a boat in Bewdley, we were quite empty-handed.
One memory from 2011 that stands out was seeing a freshwater drum caught at Frenchman’s bay. I was getting my bait constantly stripped by gobies when a gentlemen across from me on the shore by the bridge caught a beautiful freshwater drum on a 1oz black/white reddevil pattern casting spoon. I also saw plenty of big carp jumping.
As September grew near, the passing hobby of hunting bullheads at Milne was quickly overshadowed by the impending salmon run.
Up until this year the salmon run was not a fishing event to me. I had once tried to catch one as a kid, dangling a worm in front of a passing salmon on the Rouge, but I had never thought to pursue them in the following years. I began reading about the salmon run on several fishing forums and quickly saw it could be the scratch for my lifelong itch to catch a “big” fish.
I was lucky enough to catch the run just as it started. In September 2011 I made it a point to catch a salmon. I tried my best, hitting the Rouge mouth, Highland creek mouth and Credit mouth. I eventually went to Bronte creek and spent two consecutive days there, only putting down the rod to sleep in my car.
The hours I was able to pour into my hunt for my first salmon would be the beginning of my obsessive hunt for fish.