So I know I have not written anything for a while, my apologies for this, however as you are about to find out, my 2017 season has been extremely busy. I have caught so many fish on my bucket list this year its not funny, You will see that I have broken many of my own personal best records and some that may be very hard to beat for years to come.
Just over 1 year ago to date I got a phone call that was absolutely devastating to me. I received a call from the Picton Harbor Marina in Picton Ontario that my boat, ( the boat which was my livelihood,and how I put food on my family’s table ), was taking on water and sinking fast. Right at the harbor, My boat had been parked there for about a week with no problems awaiting my first clients of the 2016 Bay Of Quinte Fall season. After a quick investigation I realized that someone had most definitely tampered with the vessel and tried to sink it. The Live well hose had been taken from its regular resting place, and put into my battery box, the scuppers were plugged with garbage so as not to let any water out and the pump to my live well hose was turned on. The vessel filled up with water, damaging all my electronics, camera gear, wiring, and many other costly items. This would prove disastrous for the continuation of Sea’s The Day Fishing Charters, or at least during the fall of 2016, essentially shutting business down for.
The next few months were hard for me as I was contemplating on how to either fix my boat and get back on the water or figure out what was next for me in this adventure called life.
I tried to figure out how to motivate myself as winter neared. I have always thought that the measure of a man is not judged by how hard he gets hit or how many time he gets knocked down, but instead how he can deal with the hits and how he can keep striving to keep getting back up and moving forward.
After last fall, (a hard lesson to get over for sure), the following is how I played the cards I was dealt.
After not being much of a man at all for the first 2 months (after the sinking). In December I finally decided that it was time to get back on my feet. I needed to figure out what it was that I had going for me. 1st and foremost was my family. My wife and kids have always supported me and my crazy ideas. 2nd I was starting to form a great relationship with the fellas of the Canadian Fishing Network (AKA, CFN), Mr Scottie Martin , and Mr Red Andal. I had a couple great sponsors behind me and my fishing career such as, SeaFour Lures, Liquid Mayhem, and Fish-Bum Outfitters Apparel, and now Okuma/Savage Gear has picked me up as a sponsor as well.
It was at this time that I decided to try and get the things that were going for me and put them to good use. I started making calls to previous clients, and started organizing trips for Ice fishing Adventures. once I had a good base of clients booked for ice fishing and I realized that I can still make a go of fishing over the winter months. I decided that I would fish harder that season than ever before, basically telling the moron that sunk my boat, that he, CAN-NOT, KEEP ME DOWN.
I made a call to Scottie and Red of CFN to come out during the winter and try showcasing an ice fishing episode for walleye Wednesday, (A weekly social media short film that showcases fisherman all over the country). I explained I would put on a hell of a show for them and I had something special planned. They replied they would do one better and bring Filipino TV with them to film the show, then they would air it on their network. this would be the 2nd time in my career I would be featured on a television network for fishing , I was stoked. This was the push I needed to keep the dream of fishing for a living alive. Now I have been on the water as a fisherman making my living on and off for over 20 years but doing it this way with rod and reel is my dream job.
Filipino TV and CFN came out in January of 2017 for what was nothing short of an incredible weekend of multi-species fishing at its best. we showcased women’s angling, getting kids fishing, fishing for the hardest of hardcore anglers for some back lakes Brook trout, Family Fishing opportunities. you name it we crammed it into a full weekend of fishing mayhem.
Next, during the first 4 months of 2017, between January to April I fished hard with clients, and friends, putting over 40 days of fishing on ice. I started utilizing my social media accounts more proficiently for the purpose of getting the name of my fishing business out, and a bit more widespread. I made sure to help out my sponsors where I could by attending sportsman shows across southern Ontario to help represent their products. Scottie Martin had also invited me down to his secret spot to help out with a day of late season ice fishing where he hosted a fishing club group of children from Holy Cross High school out of Kingston Ontario. This was a special day for them (and for me) because Scottie had a surprise for us. The fishing legend himself, Mr Italo Labignan was also there to share the day with the kids while he was also shooing an episode of winter walleye using a new product called the TipN’ Jig.
Fishing as hard as I did was not without purpose. I had 2 main goals in mind, the 1st was, that when I finally am able to get a boat back in the water, my name will not have been dormant for the period of time for which I am down. The 2nd and may be a bit vindictive but was to show the person responsible for the destruction of my vessel again, that he can knock me down but, don’t EVER count me out.
Now during the Winter months I had of course started thinking ahead to the summer and knew that I was not in a position to be able to purchase a boat any time soon but still wanted to be guiding. I looked for weeks, online, and cold called some northern Fishing lodges to see if they would be in need of a guide for the coming season. In March I had finally landed a guiding gig in Northern Ontario, at a place called Slippery Winds Wilderness Resort.
I would highly recommend the resort as a great place to visit, the fishing was phenomenal and the guests were a blast. Even though there were some good size fish being caught, I would not call this a trophy fish area, however for great quantity of decent fish I would recommend it to anyone. I got to meet and fish with some truly remarkable people. from the Governor of Kansas (Uncle Sam), and Rodger Comier the host of Midwest Outdoors TV, Don Lamont of Hooked Magazine, Tim Holschlag small-mouth angler and fly fisherman Author, It was an experience that will be hard to beat.
Now, once I knew I was going out in northern Ontario, I called Scottie and Red of CFN, told them the news and shortly there after (without getting into too much detail ) The Coast To Coast Crusade was born. For those of you that do not know what the Crusade was, or was about. This summer after my stint at Slippery Winds Lodge, I decided to travel across the country to help raise awareness for a great cause. Feed My Starving Children was the organization. The idea behind the crusade was to help showcase great fishing opportunities across the country showcasing the people that support CFN across the Nation and put them in front of the camera. we had so much support from small businesses across the country that we made a jersey to support them by putting their Logo’s on it and I would wear it on every episode created.
(Jersey Sponsors were: Yvonne Brown of Ontario Women Anglers, Sea-Four Lures (also the company that actually made the jersey), Fisherman’s Edge, Creek Candy, CFN, Sea’s The Day Fishing Charters, Chasin Eyes Fishing Charters, Cliff Chinook Charters, Great Canadian Female Anglers or ( GCFA), Red Shiner Fishing Destinations, Up North and Outdoors, Artrageous Promotions, Gremlins Baits, Ontario Fishing Club or (OFC),)
Each of the sponsors, plus an array of other businesses, put together so many donations of product towards the cause that there was an online auction held through CFN to try and raise money for the Feed My Starving Children organization. Although the amount of money raised could have been a bit better (in our eyes), it was still a great success and people from all over tuned in to watch the crusade unfold.
It was here during this crusade that I started to understand that my direction in the industry was beginning to change and mold into something I never would have imagined. Thanks to CFN and the anglers Of Canada that were involved across the country, I started to really enjoy the sport of fishing again, I started to understand the true magic of what fishing can mean. It was bringing a community of people across an entire Nation together. I was not just showcasing an individuals spot in one province or another, but people from all over the country were tuning in to watch the average weekend warrior showcase a fishing opportunity within our country, something that has never quite been done before. This fascinated me more than I thought it would have to be completely honest.
here are just a few of some great people I met across the country
Not only were we doing a great thing for a great cause, and meeting some incredible people but I was making a memory of a lifetime by going after some of the most sought after game fish in the country and knocking down my personal bucket list considerably.
While I was away on this Crusade, back at home in Napanee Ontario, my family and I were on a completely separate life changing adventure ourselves. My family was apart of something very cool this year. We finally became home owners thanks to Habitat For Humanity. Just prior to leaving in the spring My wife, children, and I had put in an application to purchase a home through Habitat For Humanity. This was a very intense application process and we honestly thought that there was no chance for us to be one of the families chosen to become a habitat home owner. Never the less, I believe it was the week before I was leaving to head out to Slippery Winds Lodge, I received a phone call around 8pm at night. It was Habitat and their comity letting us know that we had finally been selected as the Napanee Ontario’s family for this years build. This phone call seemed like I had just won the lottery, even though each family is required to purchase the house that is built, my wife and I would not have been in a position to have purchased this home for some time without the efforts of Habitat.
Anyway while I was away, my wife Rachel had picked out a lot, where our soon to be home would eventually be built. Rachel tried to keep the location a secret from me at first but Habitat had an article in our local paper which was sent to me from a friend, while I was at slippery winds. I soon knew the address and location, thanks to google (LOL).
It did not seem long and time was flying by when Habitat announced the ground breaking for our new home to begin the build. it was suppose to start the first week of July so I had booked a flight home on the 7th so that not only would I be able to get my hands dirty starting the build of our new home, but I would also be home for my wifes birthday as well, knocking off 2 birds with 1 stone. When I got home, unfortunately Habitat had run into a couple delays getting permits, and they would not be starting the build until the middle of July instead. not to worry I was still there to visit my wife and children before heading back into the bush for the remainder of my time at Slippery winds.
After Leaving the lodge, I worked my way throughout each province and I was able to catch species I thought I would never have the chance to target in this life time. I managed to go for rainbow on the Bow river in Calgary, Cutthroat trout in the mountains of Alberta, a very cool little fish indeed. Pink Salmon in Squamish, Chinook Salmon on Vancouver island, with Cliffs Chinook Charters, and the ever famous Fraser river where I got my personal best fish ever, let alone on a rod and reel, a Sturgeon, 8 ft approx 330,lbs of absolute power. I must give credit to Capt Robert of Kilby Lodge Fishing Charters and B&B. Then I was on route back home in September back to the family and to help out finally with the build of our soon to be, new home.
I would not make it home before I ended up with a few more fishing stops and another personal best channel cat fish which happened on the Red River with Capt Kyle Gizowski of Wind-river Professional Guide Service, a beast at 34.1/2 inch of muscle. what a great experience for sure.
after some more stops along the way home, such as, Thunder Bay, Timmins, Perry Sound, Toronto, I was finally home, back with the family. I spent almost every day of September and into October on the build site accept for a week where I was back on the old Canadian Empress with the St Lawrence Cruise Lines because they were short handed and needed the help. the house was finally done by the end of October accept for the hydro, Propane installed, and the boiler still needed to be hooked up. Our family moved into the house officially on November 26th 2017.
Since being home I have gotten back out fishing on my own waters, the infamous the Bay Of Quinte, in search of the elusive giant Quinte gold Nugget, “(or Walleye)”. This year has been extremely successful with so many giants being caught. I have fished with so many great anglers this year and this fall did not disappoint either. I was able fish with Mr Greg Amiel who is a very accomplished tournament angler and someone I have looked up to in the industry for many years , and good friend Kevin Gibson. I have fished with kevin on several occasions over the past couple seasons, however this last time was a bit special as I managed to get my new personal best open water walleye. a very special moment for me indeed. She was a 14lbs giant, something not too many walleye anglers get the chance to witness in their entire lives.
So in conclusion to this Long blog of mine. I wish to thank a slew of people for the success of my 2017 season from everyone already mentioned in the blog above, and all the people not mentioned that has been a huge part of this years successes, for example,
With over 160 days on the ice and open water during 2017 I wish to thank the following. Brian Dickenson of Calgary thanks for a place to bunker while I was in or even near Calgary for that period of time, David Nagel of Whistler BC, you certainly know how to treat a guy and show him a good time in whistler, Richard Dunlop of Seafour Lures, Ted Doberstein, for getting CFN involved in a great charity, Donald Stokes thanks for getting my vehicle fixed while on my visit in BC, Bill Mafturack, Gord Ellis in Thunderbay (ill never forget sharing a Persian with you LOL, next time, I hope to wet a line with you), Ed Mckenzie and Kevin Gibson, I have learned so much from both of you and you are 2 great guys, I enjoy every minute we have spent on and off the water together, and the people of Timmins for certainly making me feel welcome and being a huge part of the crusade, and huge supporters of CFN, and of course CFN’s Scottie and Red, you guys have been a huge part of making this season as successful as it was I have now been featured, mentioned, and showcased in over 38 episodes of CFN social media platforms, from 20 episodes of the CFN coast to coast crusade, 15 of your 100 episodes of Walleye Wednesday’s, 3 episodes of Filipino TV shows, and of course countless of other mentions and photos featured on your social media accounts. thank you so much for helping me to remember what fishing is, and always really has been, and will be about. making friendships, creating memories and adventures, and enjoying the time spent on the water.
lastly I would like to thank the person responsible for sinking my boat last year. seems crazy right? well if it weren’t for that individual(s) I would not have had the season I had this year. Nor would I have found different directions within the industry to become a part of, and I may still just be going through the motions of fishing but not enjoying it like I started to again this year.
Now next season is sure to be full of exciting adventures for sure. It is even starting to take shape into something new, but that is for another bolg.
So remember when life knocks you down, its all about how you get back up?