Article : The Great Canadian Dilemma

…My caddis pattern matched the ones crawling around my waders and buzzing my head. Thousands of these bugs in the air and the fish were going crazy! The caddis imitation drifted over the location where fish churned the surface. Another swirl and my fly disappears - an instinctive hook-set and a solid silver fish bends the rod to the cork…

…Off in the distance I spotted the tell tale “V wake” of a large fish traveling towards me. Finally, the “V” is at a castable distance and I can see the shadow of a big fish cruising along the sand bottomed flat. Keeping a low profile I lead the fish with a gentle cast. The weighted pattern sinks to the bottom and its time for a short strip. A pause lets the fly settle - another strip and there is a solid thump as the fish intercepts my fly. Then, water sprays as line rips from the surface and the backing knot clicks through the rod guides…

These situations are not what you might envision. The first vignette describes river mooneye fishing, not trout fishing. The second situation describes the thrill of hooking into a Great Lake’s carp, not a south-seas bonefish or red drum.

It is amazing how many fishing opportunities go unexplored right here in southern Ontario. There is world-class angling in the shadow of our largest cities that is simply ignored because it does not involve the traditional “glamour species”. People travel thousands of miles in search of top quality dry fly trout fishing; but, they won’t drive 15 minutes down the road to hook up with mooneye - on the same tackle -- with the same excitement and feisty battle.

Sure the sunny south offers some added attraction when chasing bonefish or redfish, but carp are also very wary just like pressured bonefish and they fight as hard as any redfish.  Still, people shun anglers that chase carp. Funny enough, any client that I finally persuade, or even beg, to try fly-fishing carp quickly gains a new respect for this awesome and readily available fish.

In Ontario and through the rest of Canada there are many other species of fish that are neglected. In southern Ontario alone there are numerous species that get no respect from anglers that throw fur and feather. When, was the last time you purposely flung a fly at a mooneye, carp, pike, musky, smallmouth or largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, perch, rock bass and even the lowly creek chub.

Yes, chubs can be fun! They have saved many slow days of trout fishing. With a four weight rod and a string of nymphs or wet flies it is pretty common to hook up with three or even four of these feisty and aggressive fish at the same time! Multiple flies on the same leader can provide casting challenges but the multiple hook-ups can make an occasional tangle worth the effort.

These alternative species all have their own unique characteristics. Learning how to catch these different fish can really add to a day on the water.  Fly-fishing success should never be measured by size or even numbers of fish – but by the amount you learn. This sport is limitless to what you can encounter.

Open your mind to some of Ontario’s great angling opportunities. Before long you will be saying, “Why didn’t I try this earlier” and “why isn’t anyone else fishing here?”  But, don’t think about it to long, just enjoy the bounty of fish tugging on the end of your line. 

by Steve May -

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