Stray Casts: Interesting work being done in the bottom part of Upper Grand

The Stray Caster visited the Friends of the Grand River website on Sunday for a very selfish reason.

The Stray Caster was grateful that FOGR member Terry Ryckman had kept a ticket for him for the annual Sage Rod draw at the Fly Fishing Forum. The draw is actually for much more than the rod. This year’s was a four piece, four-weight beauty with a travelling case, line, and a gorgeous reel. While the Stray Caster did not actually drool when he saw it, he did salivate a little.

The problem was the Stray Caster was able to attend only the morning part of the Friends of the Grand River Fly Fishing Forum on June 7, which just happens to be Mom’s birthday. So, the Stray Caster was de­sirous of knowing exactly where and when he could pick up his prize. He does not buy tickets in order to lose. Further, it turned out that Mr. Ryckman had been doing a real favour, and the ticket he saved was the last one left for that rod. So, we also purchased a $5 ticket on another, lesser rod.

In both cases, the Stray Cast­er was assured that the win­ners would be posted on the website. Hence the search. The Stray Caster still does not know who won, including him. No postings, yet. He suspects from the lack of a telephone call, only common courtesy, that he did not win – yet again. (Cue gnashing of teeth sound ef­fects).

But, while on the site, he noted that some work that has been talked about since the early 1990s is now starting to take shape.

Let’s face it, from Wilson’s Flats in Pilkington to West Montrose the Grand River offers the one of its more boring stretches. It is flat, shallow, slow moving, and, be­cause of those three features, it warms up well beyond any-thing that trout would like.

The late Walt Crawford long held the view that the river needed to have huge rocks placed into it, because water rushing around large rocks would create holes, crevices, and pools. He further believed creating piles of rock riffles and placing trees and other cover in the river would help to de­crease its temperature, make it move faster, and thus oxy­gen­ate more (which attracts game fish), and thus eventually be­come a better fishery. The trees’ branches could also pro­vide hiding plac­es for trout.

The Friends of the Grand, the Ministry of Natural Re­sources, local gravel company The Murray Group, Trout Un­limited Canada, and a whole bunch of other people are now working to realize Walt’s dream of extending the cold water fishery farther down the stream. It was a pleasure to see on the FOGR website just what has been done, and some of the things that could be done.

The forum itself gave The Stray Caster an opportunity to meet and greet old friends and acquaintances, including Wally Ward, who has been carp fly­fishing and trout fishing only a few times this year, but will no doubt be getting away as soon as possible, likely with Steve Oakman, another angler with whom the Stray Caster has wet a line or three. Ted Shand, Ian Martin, Larry Halyk, Ken Col­lins, Steve May, and FOGR presi­dent Larry McGratton were among those who were on hand. Several of them gave very interesting presentations, and the seminars, as usual, were packed, and everyone from the novice to the old pro could pick up some tricks and tips to help catch more fish.

* * *

The Stray Caster spent some time on Saturday (com­ing home from mom’s) looking at several streams and rivers in the area, and noted that the bass are spawning.

Which brings us to one of those suggestions that people desperate to catch fish will not enjoy. Male bass guard their young. They stay right out in the open, often in shallow water, to protect young fry as they start their way in the world. It is admirable work, and they keep all predators away.

That means, though, that they will attack just about anything that comes near to them, including any lure cast by an inconsiderate angler. In other words, they are so easy to catch it is not worth the effort and it certainly is not sport.

Even those who catch such fish and release them should be aware that even if they quickly drag father bass in and let him go, predators have likely mov­ed in and killed off the bass fry. Or, dad gets so upset, he runs off and hides, leaving the kids defenseless.

So, the Stray Caster asks all anglers, from novice to old pro, to have some consideration until the end of June, and not go after any bass until the sea­son opens. Consider it a Fath­er’s Day present to all bass guard­ing their kids.