Growing up I spent the summer months at the family cottage in Port Stanley and in many ways it felt more like home for me than what London did. Located on the east side of what was called Picnic Hill and overlooking the Lake and the harbour, my grandfather built that cottage with his own hands. Quite large for the times with five bedrooms, and a large living room and dining room, it had a massive fireplace in the center of the living room that was perfect for those chilly spring or fall days. I can recall many days of hauling kennel coal in bags up those steep stairs to the cottage. The fires and memories were great, but those eighty-five steps...not so much!
My parents, Sid and Thelma Nash, had a sailboat in Port Stanley and I spent lots of time on the water with them. My parents were active members of the Kinagio Yacht Club where dad was one of the Commodores. Mom and dad loved racing their boat, the G-Wizz and won many races with it. My mom was a trailblazer (or perhaps a rebel) as it was very rare for a woman to race in the 1930's and 40's! I'm sure the times I spent on and at the lake plus my family's passion for sailing had a big influence on how I feel today whenever I'm out on the water. Every time I get on a boat I truly feel like that is where I belong.
The only fishing I did back then as a kid was the catch and release of Catfish in Kettle Creek. I continued with river and creek fishing in my early adulthood with my buddies and with my kids when they were younger. Once I discovered the thrill of fishing on the open waters of the Great Lakes though, I never did fish the rivers again with quite that same level of enthusiasm.
My open water fishing started when I bought my first boat - a little 14' cedar strip runabout. Rigged up to troll and flatline only and with no previous experience, I headed to Goderich on Lake Huron in the fall of 1974 with my buddy, Terry Jordan, to see if we could catch some salmon. The lake was rough and the boat was small so we were putting around the harbour when we saw this great big fish chasing minnows near the surface. I had some flatfish in my box so we put a line out and in less than thirty seconds it was torn off by a monster of a fish that we never did see.
Luckily there was a little tackle shop in the harbour so we immediately took our rods and reels in and re-spooled with 30 lb. test line. Within two hours of being back in the boat with our beefed up gear, we landed four huge Kings, the largest at just over 30 lbs. This my friends is how it all started for me.
After that day in Goderich there was no looking back...but there was one problem. If I was really going to do this right, I'd need a bigger boat! So I said goodbye to my little 14 foot runabout and bought an 18 foot Chrysler Hydro Vee with a 150 hp Merc complete with fish finder, a radio, and lots of new gear (of course).
At the beginning I spent a lot of time scouring Lake Erie for whatever fish I could find. It was the mid-1970's and there wasn't a whole lot going on at the time other than a few Rainbow, the odd Coho and tons of Sheephead. I'd heard about the Coho on Lake Ontario from some fishing friends running out of Bronte Harbour and Oakville so I decided to check it out for myself.
At this point I had caught hundreds of fall run Chinook and more than my fair share of Spring and Fall Steelhead on the Lake Huron rivers and outflows.
However, from the time I hooked my first Coho Salmon on Lake Ontario it was like I had hit the mother lode! I had never tangled with the likes of these 15 and 16 lb. salmon that could run you around in circles in the open waters on Lake Ontario. My passion for fishing the Great Lakes had a stronghold on me. I was hooked!
Little did I know at that time how much this passion was going to consume me and what a large part it would play in my life. Bigger boats, more gear, better rods, new downriggers, new electronics, and more fishing tackle than most people could ever imagine. You know the saying, 'If you get a job that you love, you'll never have to work a day in your life'? Well, that's exactly what I decided to do - as the owner and Captain of Blue Goose Fishing Charters for 35 years and now as the president of Triple Threat Fishing Lures.
Hope you'll enjoy my stories as much as I enjoyed reliving the memories! And I hope you'll enjoy my new custom lure collection too!
~ In my next Blog I'll share some tips and some great experiences from my time as a successful charter boat captain fishing on the Great Lakes. ~