Throughout all of our lives, there have been many special defining moments that helped shape who we are today.
Unfortunately, most of us don’t realize at the time just how profound that effect may be. In most cases, we don’t even know that we’re actually having a moment. At Fish’n Canada, we’ve always believed that sharing our love and passion for the outdoors, and in particular fishing, will somehow make a difference in people’s lives.
Well, there are defining moments written all over this episode. It’s called Fish’n Boot Camp and it has all the earmarks of a life-altering experience for 40 grown men.
PLANTING THE SEED
This whole idea started a couple of years ago during a wilderness fishing trip in northern Canada. On this particular trip, Ang and Pete were accompanied by Roy Armes and Scott Jamieson of Cooper Tires. After an incredible day of Pike fishing, they started reminiscing about previous fishing excursions and how fortunate they were to have been blessed with so many incredible opportunities and experiences. This all led to one conclusion: The boys needed to find a way to share these experiences with other folks who might otherwise never get a chance to sample Mother Nature’s defining moments.
“You might be saying to yourself that we’ve probably been sampling a few too many camp pops making a comment like that,” Angelo muses. “After all, we’ve already been sharing these experiences with you, the television audience, for thirty years.
“But we’re not talking about that. We’re talking about touchy-feely, in your face, mano-a-mano fishing experience, camp style. And that was it! Why not put on a Fish’n Boot Camp?”
That night, the seed was planted.
THE FISH’N BOOT CAMP
And here we are two years later with our first official Fish’n Boot Camp.
For this pilot project, Cooper Tires was put in charge of selecting the campers. With no surprise, they all came from the tire industry with ties to a distributor based in Orangeville, Ontario, called Tire Discounter Group.
Fish’n Canada, meanwhile, took on the task of assembling the faculty, writing the curriculum, and selecting the venue. That last part was a no-brainer: The only choice for venue, as far as we were concerned, was Chaudière Lodge on the legendary French River.
“For the faculty, aside from me and Ang,” explains Pete, “we’re bringing in a rod expert and long-time angling specialist Scott Delong, from Carrot Stix rod company; a local fishing expert who knows these waters like the back of his hand, the owner of Chaudière Lodge, Steve Neidzwieki; auto racing superstar Johnny Unser of the legendary Unser Racing Family; and as a surprise bonus for the campers, we also invited our old fishing buddy and rock star of the fishing world, none other than Roland Martin.”
When the campers arrived at the lodge, the looks on their faces said it all. There was a certain electricity in the air, we all felt it. Something very special was brewing. It’s the magic that happens when you assemble a bunch of like-minded people in a wilderness environment for the purpose of fishing.
The only person unaccounted for was Roland Martin. We found out later that he missed his North Bay connector plane at Toronto and had to spend the night. Luckily, the next day Roland pulled up to the dock, raring to go as if nothing happened. Let the party begin!
Inside, we’re taking fishing workshops to the next level and beyond.
Not all campers are at the same level in terms of fishing expertise, so specific workshops are required in order for them to get the full benefit of this experience. “We’re using our KLP method of teaching,” says Ang. “Knowledge, location and presentation. The three most important elements in all of fishing.”
Pete adds, “If the participants can come out this learning just one new thing about fishing, then our job will be done here.”
Along with the inside classroom sessions, clinics were put on outside by our boys. Everything from knot-tying, to rods and reels, and so on were covered. Angelo and Pete definitely enjoyed the Boot Camp experience!
ON THE WATER
“Although I get a real thrill out of teaching people how to fish,” says Ang, “watching them catch fish is still one of the most enjoyable things I can do as an experienced angler. So after a quick knot-tying clinic, I took Scott Jamieson and Johnny Unser out on the water to see what they had learned.
“It’s interesting to note how people process information and then execute what they’ve learned,” Ang continues. “It was obvious, at least at that point, that Scott was a better Bass fishing student than Johnny. Scott proceeded to catch the heck out of the Largemouth! But that’s okay; at these camps, everybody learns at a different pace. It’s what you take home with you that counts.”
Perhaps the only thing preventing Scott from catching all the fish in that particular bay, Ang suddenly got a call: A legendary Chaudiere shore lunch was waiting back at the lodge. “Reel ’em in boys!”
After an amazing Walleye feast, it was back out to practice more trade.
A FRIENDLY COMPETITION
“Roland was taking it easy on his first morning on the French River,” says Ang. “But he’d already hinted at something special for me and him later that day and suggested that I bring along a few bucks. I sensed some kind of bet brewing.”
When sharing a boat with the one and only Roland Martin, magic is destined to be. It doesn’t matter if he’s fishing, sitting, talking, even sleeping! That said, the moment Roland grabs a rod, it’s like a champion gladiator wielding his mighty sword. You can be assured, a spectacle is about to happen!
“As we cruised one of the many Bassy looking back bays,” Ang recalls, “Roland finally jumped into action and hopped to the bow of the boat. This guy sees fish like no other.”
Immediately thereafter, Roland found a nice French River weed bed and the game was on.
After watching him miss the first two fish, Angelo and Roy decided to make a wager with each other as to how many fish Roland could land “out of ten.” Ang chose six and Roy bet seven.
There was plenty of drama, coaching and, of course, hootin’ an’ hollering. Long story short: Mr. Bass landed six out of ten, and Angelo was five dollars (or pesos or something) richer. Minus Roland’s cut, of course.
END OF DAY ONE
The only thing that can cap off an on-the-water Roland Martin spectacle is to wrap up the day with great food, music and beverage. Hey, we didn’t say that Boot Camp couldn’t be fun! With half the group out at the campfire and the other half enjoying a Roy Armes/Steve Neidzwieki jam session, the next few hours were set.
The next episode of The Fish’n Canada Show dives deeper into the Boot Camp curriculum through workshops and on-boat instruction. We’ll see if our 40 recruits have what it takes to bring their fishing skills to the next level.