My Need To Be Koi, Roy

Just got back from a nice trip to the beautiful Haliburton’s in Ontario and had a chance to get out on the water in search of Largemouth Bass. This area is synonymous with great angling opportunities for not only Largies but Smallies, Muskie, Walleye, Trout etc etc. My story though gets very interesting when talking species.

Setting the stage, I was fishing a rather large weedbed with friend and aspiring angler Trevor Forbes (he’s catching on quick) and my boys, with all of us having limited success. Small fish were around but is was slower than we expected when all of a sudden I popped one close to 4lbs…  Trev grabbed the net but just as he did I saw 2 really nice followers. I told him to drop the net, not worry about my fish and “everyone dunk your Senko’s straight below the boat”. Of course nothing bit but shortly after I landed my fish I saw another straggler or follower if you will, but this fish was different… very different!

This newly spotted creature was bigger than the Bass and I mean a LOT bigger… probably 12-15lbs however the most prevalent feature to stand out was its color… this big daddy had a reddish hue with orange markings on it’s head… I swear!

In fact this fish looked so different that not only did I doubt my normally pretty good fish vision with ID, but I had all hands on deck look and tell me what they saw. Now Trevor and my boys combined don’t have a whole lot of solid years ID’ing fish but they do see colors and shapes… and we all agreed, this weren’t no Bass… or any other gamefish in Ontario waters.

The bright beast showed itself one more time and again we were astonished… hell we even dropped Senko’s to the big red devil but no way was this puppy eatin’ our plastics. We finally went back to the cottage.

The next morning Trevor and I both thought the same thing… let’s see if not only can we pop a Largemouth but investigate the area to see if we can get another bead on Big Red… guess what… It was in almost the exact same place… showing itself every now and then.

Now my wheels started to turn. I pretty much surmised that this was some sort of invasive species… probably a Koi (just a guess) of some type dropped in the lake by some unassuming innocent pet lover; wait did I just say that, I meant some moron that doesn’t know Carp from Crap!!!

Now I’ve gotta’ catch this dude, somehow!

Of course since I was in the Halibutons I left my Carp gear at home, my only realistic option was to try live bait or snag the beast, but here’s my problem.

Let’s say I did snag a Koi Fish and it hit the media “Fish’n Canada Host Snags Invasive Species… First Time In The Canada: Keeping Haliburton Clean and Pristine”!!! It would all be great to the positive thinkers “way to go Bowman, you ridded our beautiful lake of an alien”.

But we all know that’s not the way things happen now-a-days. The Nay-Sayers, the Do-Gooders, the Tree-Huggers… “That so called fishing pro snagged that beautiful fish… hang him by his feet with circle hooks in down town Haliburton” they’d be yelling, a proper “poacher-lynching” for that Bowman guy

Quite honestly… I don’t need that crap.

So, what to do.

I jumped online to seek out the closest MNR office and gave them a call… what the heck.

Essentially I was looking for confirmation that I could indeed attempt to snag what I deemed as an invasive species… but I wanted it on paper or at least a verbal.

After leaving a couple of messages, to my surprise I had a call back the next day. Now if you know our MNR and especially the cut-backs, this is a very quick response of which I was very pleased.

I told them my scenario and literally asked if it was ok to try and “stick” this fish but after a few seconds of silence the answer was both surprising and very encouraging:

MNR “Pete are you going back tomorrow” he asked

Pete “I can, no problem”

MNR “Let me get a boat gather some gear and grab a couple of nets”

Pete “ Are you kidding… that’s awesome, see you tomorrow!”


The next day I met 2 MNR staff at the boat launch and quickly took them to the area of the fish.

Their first move was to have me go in with my electric and see if the fish was still there. The problem was, there were lots of clouds in the sky and a bit of chop on the water… not good for sight fishing.

After 3 or 4 minutes sure as H, there was Goldie. I yelled confirmation and they told me to try and catch it… however I wanted. Problem was though, I didn`t have the right gear. I tried live worms but that was fruitless… tons of Rockies and Pumpkinseed.

I dug around for trebles but I knew it wouldn`t work in that wind etc so I told the team to come in and drop the net… by now I knew exactly where the fish would be swimming.

The MNR dropped the net in the perfect area… money in the bank!

After about 15 minutes the lift started.

First came the Rock Bass… lots of em

Next came the Largies… 3 small ones in a row

Next came the Sunfish… lots of them as well

By the way, Ontario`s MNR are passionate about all of our fish species… every single one was released alive and the same care was given to a 3” Sunny as it was to the Bass. I was very impressed.

But how bout’ my big glow fish???

Nothing! Couldn’t believe it! Everything was perfect!

It got late in the day and my new fishing buddies had to get back to the office to sort all of their gear but they encouraged me to try at least one more time for the big aquarium escapee. If I caught it, I’d drop it in my livewell, give them a call to find a meeting area, transfer the fish into their possession and then their biologists could go from there.

I returned 2 more times to the scene of the crime and… nothing… are you kidding me???

On my last outing I got there just as the sun hit the tree-line on a perfect Ontario morning. There was a warm mist on the water, I had a thermos of coffee constantly flowing and an absolute perfect vantage (and conditions) to see the big red piglet. If it was there I was 100% confident that I would see it.


The beast had vacated the area. My heart had sunk, it’s been a long time since I spent that much time on any fish let alone one that I honestly didn’t even know it’s real identity! I was devastated. I guess I should have taken the chance on that Haliburton Lynching

I’ve got a feeling it swam into the net but somehow escaped, felt the danger (apparently they are very smart) and peeled off into newer weed pastures to graze, probably never to be caught and put in its proper place… an MNR bin for study!


People of this great country heed this advice; please use our natural resources with common sense. You know better than to take a Goldfish, a Koi, a Neon Tetra and symbolically release it in praise of the fish gods or your wimpy soft heart… AND if you know of someone on a lake, river or stream that has pet aquarium fish, inform them that it is unethical and illegal to release those pretty little creatures into the wild, cause if I get another chance, Mr Koi or whatever the hell that was, is going to feel my wrath… and at least 1 prong in its butt!!!


6 Replies to “My Need To Be Koi, Roy”

  1. Hey Pete, you were right on your assumption. The fish in question is indeed a “Koi”, a “Japanese Koi” to be more specific! These fish, when kept in an aquarium or pond, remain relatively small. But, when released into the “wild”, grow to astronomical proportions!! They tend to grow to the size of their environment and feed mainly on vegetation. That is probably why you are not having any luck catching it with live bait. Besides, “Gold Fish”(Koi) are “extremely” skiddish and net shy. The only way that you might catch it, is to spear it, but even that, may be a long shot! In closing, I agree, this was a nasty thing to do, but, the “fish” in question, is relatively harmless to the environment, since it is a plant eater. Here is an idea!!! Try using some “Gold Fish” food from your local pet store. Spread it on the water, and wait for the “Koi” to take the “bait”. When it does, quickly net the fish. Pete! A “Koi” is a “Gold Fish”, treat it like one, it just might work!! You have a fish tank in your office, so watch and observe!! Good luck, it should work!

  2. Hey Pete, here’s another bit of information. “Koi”, like “Goldfish”, are mainly bottom feeders and that may be why it is hard to locate at times. When “Goldfish” are hungry, they disappear to the bottom and remain there for quite sometime. “Goldfish” only appear at the surface for short periods of time to bask in the sun (warm water). “Goldfish” also prefer thick vegetation, so you might want to look in those ares of heavy cover(well aerated areas). “Goldfish”, as you know, are also related to “Carp”, so here’s another idea. Try using a “Carp Bait”, like a dough ball. Those concoctions consisting of oat meal, flour, corn, etc; etc; should work just fine. Remember, it feeds on plant based food, but fish on the bottom like you would for “Carp”. In your life time, you have caught almost every species of fish that swims. Wouldn’t you be thrilled to catch your very first “Goldfish”? That would be an “episode” for the Fish’n’ Canada Show. Well, maybe the “Blooper” reel. I hope I have given you more insight into what you are pursuing. With determination and trepidation I know you will succeed. I have faith in your skill and expertise. Good luck “Bowrod” (Pete). P.S.: Remember, use a plant based bait and fish on the bottom!

  3. O.K.! I have another piece of advice! “Gold Fish” tend to stay within a limited area, and rarely travel very far. They are very territorial, so I would definitely keep looking in the same area. If you are still in a quandary, and all else has failed, I would suggest a visit to your local pet store. They would definitely be able to give you further details on “Goldfish” behavior. I am just as determined to see this fish caught as you are. If you happen to locate this “Evasive Species” again, I would also suggest that you use “EXTREME STEALTH” in your approach! Move “VERY SLOWLY”. Netting the “goldfish” may be the only way so don’t even use you electric motor, paddle out to the area. Let me know how you make out with attempt. Good luck!! Calvin (Super Fan)

  4. Pete! Here is another bit of trivia that might perk your interest. You warned people not to release “Tropical Fish” into lakes, rivers and streams but there is one misconception that needs to be cleared up! Most people think they are doing the “Tropical Fish” a favor by releasing it into the wild,”WRONG”!! They are actually “killing” it! “Tropical Fish”, and this is a fact, “CANNOT” survive the cold Canadian winters. “Tropical Fish” originate in the “Tropics” in “WARM” waters.(20-25 degrees celsius). Besides, they are probably long gone by then from being preyed on by larger fish. Don’t worry Pete, they are not an “Invasive Species” since the “Tropical Fish” do not establish themselves and remain relatively small their entire lives. As for the “KOI” or “Mr. Gold Fish”, well what can I say, he will survive and live to a “Ripe Old Age”. Ultimately he will also continue to be an “Evasive Species” and a thorn in your side! I share you pain!

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