Holy Cow Canoe Rentals Now At Fairy Lake

canoe rental

Holy Cow Canoe Company now has canoe rentals at Fairy Lake in Acton.

Fairy Lake in Acton, Ontario has long been one of our favorite fishing destinations. Whether it’s chasing crappie in the spring, bass in the summer, or pike in the fall, we love all that this little lake has to offer. While the fishing is great from shore, it’s even better if you can get on the water and fish out of a boat, kayak, or canoe. Not only can you reach more fishing spots, but you can explore the different areas of the lake and practice your wildlife ID skills.

Holy Cow Canoe Company, a local business, is now offering canoe rentals at Fairy Lake out of Prospect Park. With both their 15′ Ultra-glass line and the 16’6″ Ultra-glass Algonquin Prospector line, everybody can experience a day on the water, even the family dog.

I asked Naomi McQuade, Program & Administrative Director of Holy Cow Canoe, what it means to the company to be able to offer this program in their home town. She replied:

Holy Cow Canoe is committed to bringing youth and the residents a safe and enjoyable outdoor activity, and we are proud to say Halton Hills is our home that we can share this wonderful family orientated activity. We are excited, and positively ecstatic of the warm welcoming by park goers.

Like most new programs, things were a little slow to start, with spells of bad weather not helping. However, rentals have started to pick up. McQuade says that dozens of residents have voiced their excitement about the new program and people have said that they are “bringing Fairy Lake back to life”.

The Town of Halton Hills is fully supportive of this program, and you may even be able to spot the mayor going out for a paddle. Holy Cow Canoe is looking to take their involvement with the lake even further by organizing a lake cleanup day.

With customers from throughout Canada and the United States visiting the Holy Cow Canoe factory in Halton Hills, the company brings people to the area and, says McQuade, they are encouraged to take their first paddle at Fairy Lake.

Rates start at $20 for an hour rental, and a cash deposit of $25 is required. At this time cash is the only payment method accepted, and there are several convenience stores nearby with ATMs. There are special program rates for youth, seniors group, and general group rates of 4 canoes or more. Rentals are currently open 11AM – 8PM each day.

Everything you need is included in the rental: Canadian-approved lifejackets, wooden paddles, and a safety kit.

If you are planning to fish for the day, please remember to catch and release, or use very selective harvest. For smaller lakes that receive a lot of fishing pressure, it is important to release as many fish as possible to maintain a healthy fishery. Have a look at the fishing regulations for this area before heading out.

With a splash pad, sports fields, numerous picnic areas, and a playground, Fairy Lake is a perfect place to spend the day with your family and friends and have some fun. It is exciting to see the new program at the lake, and we hope more people will get out and appreciate this amazing resource. We can’t wait to get out for a paddle ourselves.

For full pricing options and more rental information, check out Holy Cow Canoe Company’s website. For questions, special time slots, and special rates, email rentals@holycowcanoe.com.

Fairy Lake will be host to a geocaching event on July 9th, 2014, 7-8PM. Geocaching is a great outdoor activity and fun way to meet other people.

The Joys And Follies Of Our Grand River Bass Derby Weekend

Charles Dickens once wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…”. Although we didn’t quite reach those extremes, the quote nicely sums up how I feel about this past weekend.

Our only plans for this weekend were to hit the Grand River and take part in the Grand River Bass Derby. I bought our tickets weeks in advance, Darrell and I had long discussions about the exact locations we wished to fish, and we knew what gear we would need for each day at least a week in advance. That was our ‘age of wisdom’.

Saturday morning dawned as the ‘best of times’. The sun was starting to shine through the trees as we dropped off of the car at our take-out location and headed upstream to the Conestogo golf course where we would be putting the boat in. We had gotten an early enough start to have great parking spots and no traffic while carting the boat and gear to the water. We chose to take our old Springbok, affectionately known as ‘Leaky’, for this stretch of river because she’s a light boat that is easy for us to drag down to the water when there is no launch. After loading the rods, tackle bag, safety gear, and a cooler that serves as a makeshift livewell, we set off drifting down the river.

Grand River

A beautiful start to the morning.

The Grand River.

The Grand River.

Darrell, always eager to reprise his role as a river guide, push-poled us through the first set of rapids while we both took casts and each landed our first smallmouth bass of the derby. They were several inches shorter than the length required to enter them in the derby, so they were quickly released. Drifting into the first pool I noticed the sky was now that perfect summer blue with a few puffy white clouds to break up the tableau. We marveled at the changes in the river since we had last drifted that stretch. With the spring flooding the Grand experienced, things had changed more than normal, and none of the overhanging trees we usually relied on for bass-holding structure were anywhere to be seen.

Leaky acquired her name for obvious reasons. She’s an old tinny that has been in Darrell’s family for decades and has been well-used. Every dent in her has a story. We have never taken her out without getting wet feet, despite Darrell’s patch jobs, so we were expecting to see some water in the boat. We were not expecting the water to be ankle-deep only 20 minutes into the journey. Here was our ‘age of foolishness’. It had been some time since we last put Leaky in the water, and we really should have tested her in advance of the derby. However, neither of us wanted to call it a day, and the water wasn’t coming in so fast that we were in danger. We moved our gear around so it would stay drier, baled the boat out, and kept on fishing. The water actually served to keep us cool and ended up being welcome as the temperature rose.

leaky boat

Not long after the first baling.

As for the fishing, we cast a variety of lures and for the most part, we had nothing but a few small fish to show for it. I spent much of the morning throwing a Rapala FlatRap. The action of this bait must really mimic the minnows in this river, because it usually catches me a ton of fish in the Grand. Darrell switched up between a wacky-rigged senko and a spinnerbait. When I decided the FlatRap wasn’t quite cutting it, I went with a Z-Man Original ChatterBait. It had the right type of profile I was looking for, and just the right vibration and flash. For once it looked like I knew what I was talking about, because just a few casts later my lure was smashed and I was reeling in a big…pike? Hmm…not the smallie I was looking for, but what a nice fish. Too bad my ChatterBait was destroyed in the process.

grand river

My biggest pike from a river.

leaky boat

Leaky waiting to be pulled out.

We reached the end of our drift after landing a few more smallies, pulled the boat out at Snyder’s Flats, and headed home for a nap. After dinner we decided to hit a stretch of river further upstream with the fly rods. Having spent some time talking about fly fishing with a fellow blogger, Mel at The Pond Stalker Blog, I was thinking it would be a blast to chase smallies on the fly. However, when we arrived and found nothing but brown trout feeding all over the river, we changed our flies and started trout fishing. The trout were smart enough to avoid our flies.

Sunday morning began with a jolt when the cats woke me up and I realized we had forgotten to set an alarm. For this outing were heading to Riverbluffs Park in Galt to fish a stretch of the Grand that had shown us some decent smallies in the past, but also had a great population of crappie last time we had visited. As well, we wanted to fish out of Luma, our regular boat (just another tinny, but a much sturdier one), and Galt has a boat launch. Cue the foolishness. I sat in the boat as Darrell launched it, and as soon as I was clear of the trailer, the boat would not move. Looking around, I realized I was stuck in mud. I tried to push my way out, but it eventually required the motors being pulled up and Darrell doing some shifting to get us clear. Guess we should have looked at the launch first.

We were one of several boats enjoying this stretch of river, and there were far more smallies to go around in this portion. We started by landing some small guys, then by playing with sunfish and rock bass. Darrell found a great channel in the river which allowed us to get further upstream than the other boats and we saw, but missed, a couple of real nice fish. Drifting back down we found some more big smallmouth cruising in the shallows. I nearly had the great moment with my fly rod when a big bass followed my frog imitation in. Unfortunately, as soon as it saw the boat it was gone. The fishing was better than the day before and we were having a great time, but we still couldn’t find anything approaching the 20 inches we would need to win the derby. By early afternoon we decided to call it a day. And that was when the ‘worst of times’ hit.

After loading the boat on the trailer, we went to pull it out and one bunk came loose, causing the boat shift, and ultimately fall off of the trailer onto the ramp. I won’t bother repeating the words that went through my mind at this point. We took the gear out, and with the aid of a wonderful gentleman who saw it all happen, we got the boat on the trailer, added an extra ratchet strap, and headed for home. Needless to say, we didn’t feel like attending the prize ceremony after that.

Despite the troubles, we did get two beautiful days on the water. We caught some of the great fish that the Grand has to offer, we participated in a fun derby, we saw scores of other anglers getting out there, and we had a good learning experience. I can’t wait for next year, but I hope it will only contain the best of times.

You can view the results of the Grand River Bass Derby here.

7 Tips For Introducing Someone To Fishing

goofy fishing

Photo from goofycartoon.blogspot.ca/

There is nothing more rewarding than introducing someone to the wonderful sport of fishing. Getting to share the passion for angling and the beauty of the water is a gift for the experienced angler, as much as the novice angler. However, it is easy to forget that not everyone wants to head out on the boat for eight or more hours of straight fishing. There are a few things you can do to make sure a new angler has a pleasant introduction to fishing and wants to go back out again. Here are just a few tips to make those early outings more enjoyable.

1. Watch the weather

As anglers, we often check the forecast to make sure we don’t head out in dangerous weather, but many of us will still go out in the rain, heat, or extreme cold. Most of my non-angling friends think I am crazy to go ice fishing, and even crazier to go once the temperature drops below -10C. Pick a nice day to take your novice angler out fishing. They will enjoy it more if they are not soaked from rain, or suffering from heat stroke, wind burn or frostbite.

2. Go for quantity over quality

You hear this all the time when people talk about taking kids fishing, but the same holds true when introducing an adult to the sport. People stay more engaged and have more fun if they are consistently catching fish. The quality part can come later. My attention span is short and waiting for fish to bite got old pretty fast when I was learning to fish. It was only the constant bites from crappie and brook trout that kept my attention and hooked me on the sport.

3. Break up the outing

Whether you are fishing from a boat or from shore, it is important to allow new anglers to take a break and do something other than wet a line for a bit. This may be as simple as finding a nice spot for a lunch break, going in for a bathroom break, going for a hike or a cruising in the boat, or even taking a nap. If something else catches their eye, let them do it. If the fishing is slow I like to break up the day by taking pictures, identifying wildlife, or reading a book. Never insist that your new angler needs to spend all their time fishing.

4. Keep it simple

Use simple gear and simple techniques when introducing someone to fishing. A spinning rod (or spincasting rod) with a bobber and worm is pretty simple for anyone to use. Give them something easy to cast, with a bait that is easy to use and catches fish. Jigs and inline spinners on an ultralight spinning rod are great setups that can be learned quickly and used effectively. Give them simple instructions, and be more concerned about helping them cast and retrieve than you are about catching a fish for yourself.

5. Find out their preference

Find out if your new angler has any preferences for a day on the water. Is there a type of fish they really want to chase? Do they want to keep a fish for dinner, or do they want to practice catch and release with everything? When I started fishing, I was really afraid that I would be told to keep fish. I had no intention of eating them and I didn’t want to kill them. After I was shown how to properly release my fish, I felt even better about hitting the water. However, if someone really enjoys eating fish, helping them catch their dinner may be the perfect way to get them hooked. Also, find out if they care about using bait or artificial lures (having to to use bait would have ended my fishing career before it started), and if they feel comfortable in a boat or would prefer to fish from shore.

6. Go local

Find somewhere close to where your new angler lives. This cuts down on traveling time and makes it less of a headache for them to go fishing. As well, finding areas to fish is difficult when you are new to the sport, so introducing someone to an area that they can visit without you is a great idea.

7. Know when to call it a day

Everyone gets bored at times, even when fishing is involved. If you sense that someone is getting bored or tired, call it a day. It’s better to go home after only an hour or so and leave a good impression, than to keep them out for several hours and make them hate it. I’ll make a confession – to this day I still prefer to end the trip when I’m the last person to have caught a fish. Silly, yes, but it may be the trick you need to leave a new angler on a positive note and feeling great about their day of fishing.

By following these tips you will have a good basis for introducing someone to fishing. Of course, not everyone will take to the sport, and everyone is different and will have their own preferences. Just remember to keep it fun and easy, and tailor the outings to each individual.

Good luck and go fishing!

Free Fishing and So Many Bass Derbies

freeFree fishing week is nearly upon us in the province of Ontario. From July 5th to July 13th, 2014, Canadian residents can fish in Ontario without a fishing license. This is the perfect opportunity to get your friends and family introduced to the sport that we love so much. Maybe you have a friend who used to fish but hasn’t hit the water in years. Take this time to rekindle their interest. Maybe you have a family member who is interested, as I do, but never seems to have the time to get out. During this week there is one less thing for them to worry about, so get them out there. Maybe you don’t fish but want to try it. This is your chance.

During these license-free days, there are many events for anglers to participate in. Whether it’s a kids fishing day, a family fishing event, a bass derby, or how-to fish program, there is something available for everyone. See here for a full list of events.

Here are just a few of the events planned for this year:

Grand River Bass DerbyJuly 5-6, 2014, Grand River, below the Belwood Dam to above the Paris Dam. This is the first fishing derby I ever entered, and it’s the one I fish each and every year. The Grand River has some incredible smallmouth bass in it, and this is a great time to chase them. Not only is the fishing great, but the fellow anglers are awesome, and even if you don’t catch the big one, there are some neat draw prizes to be won. This is a live release derby.

6th Annual Friends of Island Lake Bass Fishing Tournament: July 5-6, 2014, Island Lake Conservation Area, Orangeville. I’ve never had the chance to fish this event because I’m always on the Grand River this weekend, but I do love fishing Island Lake, and there are some huge largemouth bass in it. This is a great place to spend the weekend.

Urban Fishing Festival High Park: July 5, 2014, 10AM-1PM, Grenadier Pond, High Park, Toronto. The OFAH/OPG Travelling TackleShare program will be at this event with everything young anglers need: rod/reel/bait/tackle. This is a great way to get kids out fishing without having to buy their own gear.

Fishing 101 for Women: July 6, 2014, Grand River, Caledonia. This is a free event for women looking to get into fishing, or take their knowledge to the next level. Participants learn about fishing regulations, fish identification, tackle, how to tie knots, and how to rig various presentations. They also get a chance to get on the water and fish. I cannot begin to describe how amazing this event is. I was lucky enough to be an instructor at the first seminar this year and it was an incredible opportunity. Don’t miss out on this chance, register ASAP!

These are just a few of the events that will be happening during the free fishing week. Check out the Ontario Family Fishing Events website for a complete list of events.

Whether you decide to attend an event, or just hit your regular fishing hole, the point is to introduce new people to this wonderful sport. If everyone who plans to be fishing during this week took even one new person along with them, that would be a lot of new anglers.

Get out there and go fishing!