Over the years the Ottawa River has had a reputation of having some decent fishing, and the largemouth fishing has always been fairly strong, up until the last few years. There’s a lot of speculation that fishing pressure may have hurt it a bit or that the winter kills they’ve had up there in the last bunch of years have killed a lot of bass. Regardless, it’s been pretty good to my son Darren and me over the past couple of years and we have fared pretty well up there.
It was the fourth and final one-day qualifying tournament of the Renegade series and it took 17.93-pounds to win. We had 16.61-pounds for third place, including a 5.34-pound largemouth that was the third biggest bass weighed in during the tournament. We caught our fish by fishing various visible objects on the shore – lily pads, weeds, reeds and wood. Finishing the tournament in third place moved us up into third place in the Team of the Year standings, just 1.81-pounds behind the leaders.
After the Renegade tournament I was off to Lake Erie for a fishing day with some of the folks from the marketing department at Columbia Sportswear. We headed out to Long Point on Lake Erie to fish for smallmouth in the area of Long Point Bay and we caught a number of fish by wacky rigging Havoc Flat Dawgs.
Then the folks from Ontario Tourism contacted me and asked if I would take some people from the Japanese media out fishing, so I loaded up the Ranger and headed to Elmhirst’s Resort on Rice Lake. It was mid-afternoon when I arrived and met up with Miho Akimaru and a number of other media people. Miho, also known as Mippi, is Japan’s most famous female saltwater angler and she appears on a number of TV fishing shows as well as in magazines and at fishing events.
It was a hot, absolutely flat calm day with zero wind when we got out there. As we were fishing dropshot rigs along a weed edge on a hump, Miho caught her first walleye ever. She was really excited as she had never caught a walleye before. Near the end of the day she hooked up with a smallmouth on a crankbait. It was fighting kind of weird and when she got it near the boat it turned out that she had two smallmouth on at once – one on each treble hook. Unfortunately one of the fish got off, but it made a great ending to a fun afternoon.
After spending the Labour Day weekend at home it was off to Bark Lake in Haliburton to do our annual SC Johnson/OFF Deep Woods fishing promotion. This year they invited a number of Home Hardware and Canadian Tire staff, who had won a fishing contest, up for a day of fishing. After a fun day on the water I had to pack up and head straight down to Eastern Ontario to meet up with my son, Darren, for the Renegade Classic.
Darren was pre-fishing with a friend while I was in Haliburton and they had a great day on the water – they probably caught north of 22-pounds of fish – so we were pretty well set for what we wanted to do for the tournament. Our game plan was to run about 120 to 150-miles, one way, from Morrisburg out to Lake Ontario to fish a couple of spots and then run back.
Well, as it turned out, on day-one we couldn’t even get out of the St. Lawrence River. We ran about 90-miles, got to the mouth and there were solid, six-foot waves on Lake Ontario. I looked at my watch, did the calculations and decided we would have zero fishing time – if we even reached our destination. It was pretty disheartening to know that we couldn’t reach some of our best smallmouth areas. We played around a little bit trying to catch some smallmouth near where Lake Ontario meets the St. Lawrence River but only got one small fish, that didn’t even measure, before we had to start back. We had 40-minutes to fish on the way and managed to catch three largemouth that weighed 8.96-pounds. That was it for our day of fishing and we ended up fifth from the bottom of the entire field.
We had nothing to lose on day-two so we made the run again but, when we got to the lake, it was nothing but eight-foot waves. We tried to catch some smallmouth bass but fishing in eight-footers is not an easy thing to do. So, with an hour and a half to fish, we headed back and caught five largemouth along the way. They weighed 11.4-pounds and put us in 29th place out of the 40-boat field. All in all it was a very disappointing tournament for us.
After the Renegade Classic we got together with Charter Captain Scott Walcott, from West Lake Willows in Prince Edward County, to do a night walleye show. We fished until about three in the morning and ended up catching four walleyes, including a giant that was over 11-pounds. Overall it was a great night and we got some good footage shot for the TV show.
Then it was back home to do the CTC Fall Product Parade show, which was held in downtown Toronto. I spent some time with the folks from Mystik Lubricants in their booth and the following day I was at the CRC booth talking about PhaseGuard 4 and some of their other products. I’ve always found it interesting to work at these corporate-only trade shows and talk to people who are behind the scenes. It’s cool to learn about the trends, the products that are available, what the consumers’ read on these products is and where the market is going.
While I was working the show, my son Darren was fishing the CSFL Lake Erie Open on the Thursday/Friday and Wayne was fishing in the Tri-Bays Classic on the Saturday/Sunday. It was one of those few weekends where I was actually committed to working and they were both fishing in tournaments.
Darren had a mediocre day-one, weighing 16-pounds and change, and he was sitting way down in the standings. On day-two of that tournament he happened to draw a non-boater who was a friend of ours, Sue Watson. They proceeded to weigh-in 25 ½-pounds, which was the largest weight of the entire tournament, and he moved up to second place, just ounces of winning his first pro-am event. It was without a doubt one of my proudest moments as a father. There were a lot of really good fishermen in that tournament and this was only Darren’s second tournament as a boater. For him to do that well was just amazing.
To top it off, Wayne and his friend, Joslyn Leung from Angling Outfitters, won the Tri-Bays Classic. Overall it was a good weekend for the Izumi clan – even though I didn’t even pick up a fishing rod!
Then it was time to pack up for one of the tournaments I look forward to fishing every year, the Berkley B1 in Valleyfield, Quebec. This tournament has been going on for a number of years and it’s one of those events that has really had my number. My son Darren and I have fished this tournament for three or four years and, as much as I love Lake St. Francis, I’m going to confess that it’s a love/hate relationship.
We won a Renegade qualifying tournament there a few years back with what, at the time, was the biggest weight Renegade ever had for a five-fish limit – just a hair under 25-pounds. But for whatever reason, and as great a fishery as it is, there are times that Lake St. Francis has thoroughly kicked us in the rear end.
It’s an incredible fishery where you have the option of fishing smallmouth shallow or deep, or you can target largemouth, but every time we’ve gone after largemouth in a tournament we have not placed in the money, so I promised Darren we wouldn’t fish largemouth. Well, by the end of this tournament that promise may have been broken.
On day-one we stuck to our guns and went for smallmouth. We didn’t catch a lot of fish but we did get some good ones and weighed in 22.40-pounds, which put us in fifth place. On day-two we hit all of our shallow smallmouth spots but by 11 o’clock our livewell was empty. It was pretty dismal. I looked at Darren and said that we had better go and catch some largemouth, just to save face. So we changed gears and ended up with a mixed bag of smallmouth and largemouth that weighed 13.32-pounds, which dropped us down to 19th place. Even though we cracked the top-20 we left the tournament saying that Lake St. Francis beat us again.
I got home for four-hours on the Monday after the B1 tournament to unpack and re-pack before driving over 20-hours to Northwestern Ontario. I had planned on meeting up with the Crappie Country folks, Dan Dannenmeuller Sr. & Garrett Steele, on Tuesday night at Crystal Harbour Resort in Sioux Narrows. They fish the professional crappie tournaments throughout the USA and they’ve had a great track record over the years. I met them at ICAST a few years ago and I wanted to show them a little bit of the crappie fishing we had here in Canada as neither of them had ever fished up here for crappies before.
Darren and I arrived late into Sioux Narrows so we met at Crystal Harbour Resort for breakfast the next morning. After fueling ourselves up we got out on the water to see if we could catch some crappies but sometimes things don’t go as planned. We tried a variety of soft plastics but just weren’t catching much. Since the fishing was so slow my son Darren, who shoots the show for us, asked if he could put the camera down and fish for a little while. I said sure, so he tied on the smallest Johnson Thinfisher that’s made and started jacking the crappies. We all switched our soft baits for Thinfishers and ended up getting the show done, catching all our fish on these metal baits. I will say that it’s nice to have a cameraman who also fishes!
The next morning we had to shoot a bit of video at the resort, do a few interviews and get some footage about the lures we were using. Garret Steele, who is also an accomplished Country and Western singer, even played some tunes for us with the camera rolling. But, because I’m a fish head, I wanted to go fishing and just have some fun. So we went out and caught some more crappies before we had to head back, as we had to drive over to Clearwater Bay that evening to stay at a friend’s cottage.
I was following my GPS trail and looking at my Navionics chart as we were making our way back but obviously I wasn’t looking closely enough ands I missed the trail by about 10-feet while going between an island and the mainland. I didn’t realize that there was a big rock in the middle of the channel until I heard a bang and my 250 Verado’s lower unit was done.
We had to go about a mile-and-a-half by electric motor to Indianhead Lodge and, when we pulled up to the boat ramp, the owner recognized me immediately. I had met him and his son years ago at the Kenora Bass International. Back then I had said to his son that one of these days he would win that tournament and it turns out he did win it a few years back. It was pretty neat to hear that story. After a little reminiscing, we called back to Crystal Harbour and had one of the guys’ wives to come and pick us up so I could get my trailer and truck to load up the boat. After getting the boat loaded, and saying our goodbyes, we headed off to Clearwater Bay where my friend, Phil Reid, had arranged for our American friends and ourselves and to stay at his friend’s beautiful log cabin. We had a wonderful steak dinner and stayed up ‘till the wee hours.
Darren and I had to get up at 3:30 in the morning to meet a driver who was going to take Darren back to Winnipeg to catch a flight to Toronto for a Taylor Swift concert that evening. After I dropped him off I went to the Tim Hortons in Keewatin. I got there at about 4:35 but they didn’t open until five so I sat out there, caffeine starved, for 25-minutes until I could get a coffee for my drive up to Reid’s Birch Island Resort in Minaki.
I had gotten a voice mail couple of days prior from Jeremy Torrie, who is the director of a movie that was being shot at Reid’s called Julianna and the Medicine Fish. It’s based on a book by Jake MacDonald and it’s a pretty cool story. The plot includes a world record muskie, but that’s all I’m going to say about it. Canadian actor Adam Beach stars in this movie and, from what I understand, it was being shot to air on CBC, APTN and PBS.
Phil Reid had told me that they needed extras for the movie so I thought that maybe they wanted me in the background as an extra. Well, as it turned out, they had written me into the movie a few
days earlier. I didn’t realize that I had so many lines until I opened the email that they had sent me a day or two in advance. Because I was busy filming and entertaining the folks I was with, I didn’t even read my lines until the morning of me being on camera. When I got up to Reid’s I pumped a little more coffee into me and the cameras started rolling. I can’t wait to see how it turned out.
The following day we did some walleye fishing, caught a ton of fish and had a wonderful shore dinner. It was a relaxing time after a pretty hectic couple of weeks of hard traveling. Then it was time for this old fella to hit the road for the 20-plus hour drive home with the Ranger in tow.
I got home for a day and then it was time to get down to Lake Erie and check it out before Darren and I fished in the Canadian Tire Open out of the Niagara River. As you’ve read these columns you’ve probably figured out that it doesn’t matter if I’m in my vehicle or in my boat, traveling long distances does not spook me. Well in the case of the Canadian Tire Open, Darren and I decided we would run further than anybody in that tournament and we ended up running from Chippewa Creek – which is just above Niagara Falls – clear down to Nanticoke. I had four deep water spots in that area where I had located some large fish and I thought we’d catch 20-pounds so quick it would make your head spin. Well, between the four spots we caught one smallmouth that was about a half-inch too short so we moved to some shallow water and put together 17-pounds of smallmouth, just to have something to weigh in. Even though we didn’t do as well as I expected, it was a great event, we had a lot of fun and I got to visit with a lot of my friends at the weigh-in.
The following week Joslyn Leung, who owns Angling Outfitters, and I headed to Port Burwell to go perch fishing with Captain Jim Fleming on Drifter II Charters. We got out in 46-feet of water and the three of us caught our limit of 150 perch – along with one sheephead, one eight-pound walleye, one 12-pound channel cat, two white perch and one silver bass – in less than four-hours. It was so much fun to get out there and just catch fish, even though I had a lot of perch cleaning to do the next day!
The next weekend I was scheduled to fish the Bass Pro Shops Lake Simcoe Open but because the forecast was for high winds they cancelled the tournament. Instead of fishing I decided to start getting caught up with some work, which is what I’ve been doing for the last couple of weeks. I’m pretty close to caught up so I’m going to get my boat ready and head down to the New York side of Lake Erie tomorrow morning to get my fishing fix.