On part one of this two part Fish’n Canada Show, we hosted the first ever “Fish’n Boot Camp” at Chaudière Lodge on the French River. Joining us, was good friend and world-renowned fishing legend, Roland Martin, Johnny Unser from the racing world’s famous Unser family, Roy Armes CEO and president of Cooper Tires, and 40 other very special guests, or ‘recruits’.
Putting on an event such as this is no easy task, but add to that the filming of a television show and you’ve got one huge project!
After a “very” short but refreshing sleep in Ontario’s beautiful bush country, oh yeah did we mention our Boot Campers like the night life as well??? our recruits awoke to a classic misty morning on the French River. It’s a perfect time to wait for the fog to lift, and take advantage of the downtime with more in-class sessions.
The campers quickly started to connect the dots and associate what they know about fishing with what’s being taught with questions and answers like baitcast vs. spinning reels.
“One of Ang’s favorite components of teaching someone the next step in fishing” says Pete “is taking on the dreaded bait caster. This boot camp is the perfect arena for such a clinic”!
Ang says “Not everyone is willing to admit that it scares the bejesus out of them to throw a bait-caster, and even fewer are willing to demonstrate their lack of finesse in this area. It can be a very humbling experience but it can also be one of the most satisfying and rewarding lessons learned and taught at this camp”.
“ I’ll be honest with you” Ang continues “teaching these guys to bait-cast from scratch and watching them use their new found confidence out on the water turned out to be one of the most satisfying moments of this camp”.
SUNSHINE AND RAINBOWS
As the fog finally lifted the last of the boot-campers headed out for another day on the water. The fog and dark clouds have given way to sunshine and rainbows. During this outing, Angelo had taken out our MC for this event, SportsNet 590’s own Dan Gibbons for a shoreline bass clinic. Ang wanted to see what Gibby had learned that week. They’ve worked together for years, trying to get Gibby to follow through on both with his technique but also his persistence. In fishing as with most skills, practice can result in perfect.
Well, this outing must have worked. With minimal tutoring, Gibby set into a gorgeous French River Largemouth in which he dedicated to Mr. Viola himself.
On another boat, Chaudiere Lodge guide Marcel (who specializes in Muskie) had a group of guests out for a long day stalking the legendary fish of a thousand casts. This outing though, they were trolling which is a much easier way of Muskie fishing with a group of people.
The result… a fantastic French River Muskie that the boys hooted and hollered about and brought back great stories for the rest of the campers to hear.
While all this was going on, Angelo had now dropped off Gibby and picked up Roland Martin and Roy Armes as they made the rounds checking out what other boot campers were up to.
At one point they came upon a group being guided by Steve Niedzwiecki and to the group of anglers luck, Roland started giving them advice… something that very few on this earth have experienced.
“I hope these guys realize the magnitude of having Roland Martin giving them on-the-water coaching” said Ang “heck even Pete and I are waiting for that one!”
Roland Martin is an incredible man. Even when he’s relaxing… he’s ‘on’.
The time on the water continued. With the boot-campers grouped together by such things as species and interest, the French River is dotted with pockets of education, inspiration, and good times.
While all this was going on Pete had yet another group out and was giving them tips on working shallow Largemouth.
“Although the guys started out throwing all kinds of baits, I gradually had them pretty much all move to some kind of Senko. One of my guys (Wayne Sandford) previous fishing experience was catching a single Mackerel… that’s it! I like guys like this since they are 100% open to suggestion and are eager to learn. I set Wayne up with a 4” black Yamamoto Swim Senko and gave him my thoughts as to how to work it. Low and behold he proceeded to haul in Largemouth after Largemouth (whew… got lucky on that one HA!).
Not to be outdone, the rest of Pete’s group quickly gravitated to Senkos.
Pete says “Teaching people to fish is rewarding on its own, but watching them succeed… man that’s as good as it gets.”
It was looking like everyone was having some form of success and all were having a fantastic time at Bootcamp… and that was our intention.
Later that evening Angelo got the word from a good friend and local musky expert Pat Tryon who happens to be here vacationing at the same time as Bootcamp that he saw a giant musky holding on a shoal not far from camp and could be catchable in the following few hours.
“I had already decided” says Ang “to take 2 of the students from the baitcasting workshop out on the water that night to see what they had learned, this would be the perfect stage to show off their new found skills”.
We set these guys up with 8′ Carrot Styx and big in-line bucktails. This kind of gear isn’t the easiest to use but, along with Ang’s on boat mentoring, our boys should fare out very well presenting the baits… it was up to them and the Muskie gods to see if they connect!
“As we prep to catch this last sliver of daylight” Angelo states “the excitement level for this big-fish adventure had just hit extreme….anything could happen… what a bonus it would have been if those boys encountered Muskie Magic on that night!”
“Just knowing we’re about to enter the realm of a giant-fish” continues Ang “was making me a little bit nervous, I had 2 totally green big-game fishermen, we were on a time-clock with dwindling daylight, and a 50 plus inch water wolf was lurking under the surface waiting to annihilate something, anything. Things could have gone real bad real quick. I don’t mind telling you this felt very surreal and we hadn’t even made our first cast!”
Not only were Ang’s newly found Muskie team challenged with firing giant baits on big stiff sticks for the first time, added to that is they were doing it in fast fading light. Casting bait-casters is scary enough on its own but under those conditions… it can become a real monster in a big hurry!
“Well unfortunately the boys didn’t catch that giant French River musky of a lifetime” says Pete “but it’s safe to say, they all brought back a lifetime of memories”.
“They call the Musky the fish of 10,000 casts” says Ang “now Mike and Doug know why, but I’ve gotta’ hand it to both of them, if I was heading into battle these are the kind of soldiers I’d want next to me. They were so focused on mastering the Baitcaster challenge, that connecting with a fish might have distracted them from their goal. The boys passed with honours!”
As the fishing for the last day ended and the entire group gathered back at the Bootcamp headquarters, all that was left was the awards ceremony… these guys really deserve it!
Congratulations to Ryan Ulias the overall champion, Wayne Sandford for the mystery award, Harold Boake for the Horses Ass award and finally Greg Beauchamp for the skunk award…
Angelo ends the show with great words; “Hey guys, when do you want to start working on next year’s camp?”…………………. let the games continue.
GETTIN’ THERE with RAM TRUCKS
To get our Fish’n Canada Cooper Tire boot camp at Chaudiere Lodge, we first took Highway 400 north from Toronto. We then took Highway 69 north to Highway 64. We headed east on 64 to Dokis Reserve Rd., then a half hour later we were at Dokis Marina, where we dropped FNC1
If you don’t have a boat, you call the lodge from the payphone on the dock, and get picked up by the staff for the short ride to the lodge.