Celebrate The Credit River On October 4th

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A tributary of the Credit River.

A salmon walk, a restoration planting, seminars discussing the health of the Credit River watershed, and the ghost ponds found throughout it – there’s something for everyone at this year’s Friends of The Credit Stewardship Forum hosted by Credit Valley Conservation (CVC).

Held on October 4th, 2014 at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) Campus, this free event will celebrate CVC’s 60 years of conservation through informative seminars and fun outdoors sessions.

The Credit River holds a special place in my heart, as it does for so many other anglers and outdoors enthusiasts. A tributary of the Credit is where I learned to fish, spending day-after-day chasing brook trout. To this day, it is my favorite river to visit, a place where I can spend a whole day wandering along the water and not mind if I don’t catch a single fish. I learned about fish stocking and Atlantic salmon thanks to the Credit. In fact, my interest in the Credit River watershed led me to the first Stewardship Forum, which quite literally changed my life.

Attending the Forum is a great way to meet other conservation-minded people, learn about the history of CVC and the watershed, get introduced to monitoring and community-outreach programs run by CVC, and learn about interesting ecological initiatives. During the outdoor sessions you can spend time around the beautiful UTM campus and connect with nature.

Some of the seminars and outdoors sessions include:

  • From Clouds to Streets to the Credit River: The Story of Rain Water Control and how it Evolved in last 60 Years
  • Two Roads Diverged in a Wood: How do we Lead our Children Back to Nature?
  • Migratory Bird and Plant Walk
  • Dark Diversity: The Loss & Restoration of our Native Species
  • Credit River Salmon Walk and Aquatic Insect Sampling and Talk

Every single attendee I have spoken with at the forums has greatly enjoyed the day and planned to return the following year. Join in on the fun and register today!

View the Forum schedule here.

Register for the Forum here. (Attendees are asked to register by September 24, 2014)

Get Ready For The Fall Pike Smashfest

When the leaves start changing colours and the temperatures start dropping, two thoughts run through my mind:

“Is trout season really almost over?” and

“Woohoo, toothy-critter time!”

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Toothy-critter time!

In the past three years, the end of trout season reminds me that I did not hit the rivers near as often as I had planned. When we lived on a brook trout stream, I was out there every day. Now, it’s a bit of a drive to get to my favorite spots. As the end of September hurtles towards us, I always try to cram in a few more days with the brookies.

Yet, as trout season comes to a close, I am gearing up for one of the best times of the year to be on the water. With the cooler temperatures signaling the approach of winter, the pike start putting on the feed bag, and this can lead to some truly amazing days of fishing.

As this time of the year approaches, I start keying in on feeding flats with plenty of weed left. Last fall, Darrell and I were fishing in just such an area and happened to notice schools of minnows jumping out of the water. The minnows were being chased by pike, so we started casting into the schools and landed pike on almost every cast. It was fantastic.

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While we don’t have many trophy-sized pike locally, the fall smashfest is too much fun to resist.

Not only are the pike abundant at this time of the year, but they are also extremely aggressive, allowing anglers to use power-fishing techniques, which is much more to my liking. Go-to baits at this time of the year are spinnerbaits and chatterbaits, anything with flash and vibration. In general, bigger spinnerbaits seem to help attract bigger fish. Crankbaits, especially lipless varieties, can pull in the fish when nothing else does. For even more fun, try tossing a topwater lure.

While white and chartreuse baits work through the spring and summer, adding some orange makes a huge difference on in the fall on my local lakes. Days where the fish seemed to be shut right down have taken dramatic turns when I finally toss out an orange spinnerbait.

Some of our go-to lures.

Some of our go-to lures.

A benefit of using spinnerbaits is that it saves your line from getting too many knicks as the knot is usually outside of the mouth. When targeting pike, don’t forget to check your line often, and retie if you find knicks. Some anglers prefer to use stainless steel or titanium leaders while targeting pike. I prefer to use a fluorocarbon leader as it’s invisible and can be tied directly to the lure.

Targeting pike in the fall can produce a memorable day on the water. There is little to compare with the smash of a hungry pike. My best days have left me with sore arms, shredded lures, the smell of pike emanating from the boat, and a permanent smile on my face. If you haven’t been out for pike before, the fall is the time to get out there and give it a go. Be prepared for the smashfest.

Making Time For Fishing

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It’s easier to make time for fishing when you have a fishing buddy (or buddies).

I speak to a lot of people who express a desire to go fishing. During these conversations I usually hear something to the effect of, “I’d love to go fishing, but I just don’t have time.”

It’s true, time is a valuable commodity, and with all the demands of daily life, it can seem like an overwhelming task to find time for fishing. Over the past few years I have encountered this problem myself. Sometimes, I find that I have committed to too many other things and I have no choice but to go without fishing. However, there are many ways I’ve found to combat this over the years. Here are a few ways to make time for fishing.

Keep Some Gear with You

I often have a rod and small selection of tackle in my car. It’s usually a small, cheap rod that can be used for a variety of species and techniques, and a few common lures like inline spinners, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and jigs. If I find myself driving by a lake or river with an open season (I always have a copy of the regs for my area), I might stop and take a few casts. I was on my way home from an appointment once and felt overwhelmed by everything. I hadn’t been fishing in days, but happened to be driving by my favorite lake and had a rod in the car. I spent 15 minutes there, casting and catching sunfish. Not only did I get my fishing fix, but I felt relaxed and ready to deal with life.

Invest in a Collapsible Rod

Collapsible rods make it possible to keep some gear with you in more places. Last summer I was in school and between classes, assignments, five hours of driving, and chores at home, I had very little time for fishing, even on weekends. After a few weeks of misery when I couldn’t find time to hit the water, I started packing my collapsible rod in my backpack. When I had a break between classes I would walk down to the river, or go for a short drive to other water bodies.

Have a Fishing Buddy

Having a fishing buddy means there is someone else who will remind you that you need to go fishing. I am lucky to have a live-in fishing buddy who is always ready to hit the water. When you feel like there are too many things on your plate and going fishing is the last thing you should do, your fishing buddy can remind you that hitting the water is a good thing. Sharing this activity with another person also makes you feel less guilty about putting other things on the backburner. Besides, getting fresh air and sunshine is more important than having a spotlessly clean house.

Keep it Simple

I enjoy all sorts of fishing, but some are easier to do in a short amount of time. I may want to hit up my favorite river with the fly rod and chase brookies, but that means making sure my waders are clean and going for a 45 minute drive. I may want to hit the big water and troll for big salmon and trout, but that involves a long drive, lots of money for gas, and a full day commitment. So when I’m struggling to make time for fishing, I usually choose a destination that is close to home, costs nothing to get into, and requires minimal gear. By keeping it simple, I get the most enjoyment out of my short time on the water.

Tie it in with Other Activities

It’s easier to go fishing if you tie it in with your other activities. Taking the dogs for a walk? Choose a destination where there is some water, pack a rod and some gear, and take a few casts along the way. Taking the kids to a splash pad? There are a lot of splash pads near lakes and rivers. Running into town for groceries? I have chosen the grocery store based on whether or not it’s near water so I can take a cast.

Fishing isn’t about spending all of your time on the water. While it’s great to be able to get away and spend the whole day fishing, it’s not always practical. By looking for options that fit into your day, you can get that fishing fix and have some fun. Be the person who always has a new fishing story.

Happy National Dog Day!

Thanks to Twitter, I discovered that today is National Dog Day. It is hard to imagine life without a dog. Before we brought Jack home, I went without a canine companion for a few months and it was awful. I enjoy coming home to these happy faces, and I love including them in our adventures.

Jack is our Australian shepherd. He is one of the smartest dogs I have ever met. When you talk to him, you can see him trying to piece things together. I swear he always knows exactly what I am asking him to do – sometimes he does it, often he chooses to ignore it. He will not make eye contact if he does not want to do something. If I tell him that Darrell should be home shortly, he will park himself at the sliding door and watch the driveway until he sees the truck. Jack also happens to be sneaky, athletic, afraid of thunderstorms, great with cats, and a total suck. He was like a magnet up in Owen Sound last weekend, with several people wanting to look at him, pat him, and talk about him. Jack loves fishing, but more than anything, he loves Darrell.

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One of my favorite pictures. We took him for a walk and he started running all over the place, taking the giant logs in stride.

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The cats love to cuddle with Jack.

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He is always watching something.

Molly is a setter mixed with border collie and any number of other breeds. We adopted her at six months old, from a single parent family that loved her very much, but did not have the space or finances to look after her. I was warned that she had been abused as a young puppy, and to this day you can still see her hesitate around some people. She loves children. While Jack is the dog that runs away from kids and prefers to play with other dogs, Molly is the one that pulls us towards kids and sits patiently while they pet her. Fishing is a tolerable activity as far as Molly is concerned, but jumping out of the boat and getting wet is even better. Chasing birds is what she lives for, and walking in a straight line is not for her. When she is unsure about something, Molly runs to me and won`t leave my side.

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Molly is never far from Jack.

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It is impossible for me to sit down without having Molly come over. I love her for it.

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If reincarnation is real, I want to be this happy dog in a second life.

So Happy National Dog Day to our pooches. Maybe they will get a treat with dinner.

Please share some stories about your dogs!