STRAY CASTS: Taking kids fishing turned into a busy, beautiful day

The Stray Caster thanks Derek Strub, the Grand River Conservation Authority, and all the sponsors who helped make the May 10 Take a Kid Fishing day such a spectacular success.

A bunch of us noted that in the past, such days were cold, often wet, and usually most inhospitable. The Stray Caster personally remembers two disastrous days in a row at the Grand Opportunities Fly Fish­ing Forum where he ran a beer tent during weather so cold that selling hot chocolate and coffee would have been more pro­fitable.

There were simply hordes of kids at the event this year. They learned how to tie flies, tie fishing knots, how to cast, got a half hour fishing for some huge trout at the Hampton Barn pond, heard tips about fishing lures, and received pro tips from Shimano anglers and prof fishermen. As well, the kids had a chance to learn all about various species of fish that inhabit our local waterways, as well as about bows, arrows, and target shooting.

All the kids received reels this year, as well as a grab bag of lures and fishing gear, and the only tattoo of which the Stray Caster approves: it washes off.

The Stray Caster was able to re-learn a very good knot at one station, after suffering quite humiliatingly at the fly ty­ing table. As he ages, he has come to learn that things constantly seem smaller than they used to be. In imitation of my beloved grandmother, who pull­ed in quite a few fish in her day, the Stray Caster has now adopted part of her fashion, and dons a pair of reading glasses so he can see such things as the coffee cup that is set before him. But helping the kids with flytying indicated there might be a need for another visit to the optometrist.

And after that, Friends of the Grand River members conducted a barbecue that provided free hamburgers to all the kids. Parents were forced to pay a whole dollar for their bur­ger. That’s quite a deal.

And while the kids were off and learning, the Stray Caster reconnected with a number of old friends he has not seen for some time. Those included John Dadds, who ran the fly tying section, Larry Halyk, who talked about the various species of fish, and Terry Ryck­man, of Friends of the Grand River, who promised to try and not set fire to the trees that towered over his barbecue.

Oddly enough, we also talk­ed about stiff joints, sore backs, and how getting older is not necessarily endowing us with more endurance while we stomp along rivers and chase endless fish.

We learned, too, from old friend Dean McFadden that the Conestogo Lake, as well as the river below, now has a good popu­lation of walleye swimming around in it. That is particularly nice for a lot of ang­lers, because the walleye, and the pike season, opened on the weekend. Dean said he met an angler last year who had a nice stringer of good tasting walleye – and that was on the river.

We’ll wish everyone good luck in their search for that species, while reminding them that the limit this year is four, and only one can be over 18 inches long. That might sound a bit restrictive, but we can say after following all the slot re­strictions at Lake Anywhere for nearly a decade, not only did the fishery improve in numbers, it also improved in the size of the fish there. These things do work, and the Stray Caster is pleased to promote it.

And, finally, thanks to all those people who noted, in only a few days, that this column is back in business. We not only managed to find a home for all the tackle that we wrote about last week, but we also had an offer to provide a whole bunch more tackle. That program seems to be continuing indefinitely, and we thank editor Dave Adsett and The Wellington Advertiser for the op­portunity to clean out the excess gear from our crowded basement.