Catching the Big One: A Novice Fisherman tells her tale!
By Liz Dadson



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Leaving Kincardine Harbour on Media and Sponsor Appreciation Day for the Chantry Chinook Classic Salmon Derby, Friday morning, aboard Dwindle's Dream

Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson hopes to catch the big one at Media Day

First mate Chris Dwinnell (L) and Gary Byers of sports radio in Owen Sound, enjoy the beautiful morning, waiting for the fish to bite

Dale Hainer (L) of Ontario's Outdoors, jokes with captain Rick Dwinnell of Dwindle's Dream charter fishing boat during Media Day, Friday morning

Chris Dwinnell nets a catch reeled in by Gary Byers

Liz Dadson (L) of the Kincardine Times catches the big one, with help from first mate Chris Dwinnell, and coaching from the rest of the team aboard Dwindle's Dream, Friday morning
photo by Lisa Thompson

Heading back to Kincardine Harbour after a long morning of fishing

Safely through the channel and home

I'm not a fisherman.

I don't fish, and I'm not at my best in the early morning.

So, it was with some trepidation that I agreed to join the merry band of fishermen, Friday morning, for a four-hour stint of trying to catch the big one, on Media and Sponsor Appreciation Day for the Chantry Chinook Classic Salmon Derby.

The hour was 6:30 a.m., it was cold, but I was properly outfitted in jeans, sneakers, workshirt and a ball cap.

After coffee and donuts, my group clambered aboard Dwindle's Dream, piloted by captain Rick Dwinnell, with his first mate and son, Chris.

I'll be honest, I was expecting to be seated in a fishing boat, casting a line about for unsuspecting fish.

That is not the case. Fishing is quite high-tech, complete with fish-finders, down-rigging, fishing poles sitting in handy-dandy holders across the back of the boat, and just trolling through the waters until the fish start to bite.

We cruised out about four miles into the beautiful, blue Lake Huron waters, and a pole started to twitch so Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson grabbed it, but the fish got away.

She managed to land the next one - a nice little three-pound lake trout.

About an hour later, another line twitched, and it was my turn. Chris handed me the pole and I stared at him with a rather pathetic look on my face, and said, "Okay, what do I do now?"

Fortunately, he has encountered this before and he instructed me on how to hold the pole, and start reeling in the fish, keep the tip of the rod up, reel in gently, let the line run if the fish takes off, etc.

I also received excellent coaching from my fellow boatmates, Gary Byes of a sports radio show in Owen Sound and Dale Hainer of Ontario's Outdoors.

Then three other fishing poles started twitching so while I was concentrating on the thrill of reeling in an actual fish, my boatmates were doing the same thing. 

Their catch was netted and I was still reeling what appeared to be a monster fish. Finally, after about 15 minutes (but what felt like an hour-and-a-half to my aching arms), Chris netted the fish and pulled up a marvellous 12-pound Chinook salmon.

Amazing! What a rush! It was beautiful, it was poetry in motion, it was like a ballet.

Then reality set in and I had to hold this fish for photos - I reached for it and it thrashed around, eliciting a scream from me, and laughter from everyone else.

With photos out of the way, my monster fish went into the cooler, and when we returned to shore, my buddy, Chris, cleaned it for me and I have about five pounds of salmon which I and my family will enjoy for supper!

And the best part? My monster salmon was the largest in Kincardine and Port Elgin, earning me a rod and reel, which I should take out and try and catch an even bigger fish!

Oh, and before I forget, the Media and Sponsor Appreciation Day saw 14 boats and 40 media personnel and sponsors taking part. Eight boats and 24 guests left from Kincardine, while six boats and 16 guests left from Port Elgin. Plus captains and first mates.

The 31st annual Chantry Chinook Classic Salmon Derby runs July 26 to Aug. 10 along the Lake Huron coastline, with weigh stations in Kincardine, Port Elgin, Pike Bay and Wiarton.

For more information, click here.


First mate Chris Dwinnell keeps things rolling along as the fish start biting

Gary Byers (L) reels in a fish, while Chris Dwinnell sets up another fishing rod

Gary Byers with his 7.5-pound lake trout

Chris Dwinnell cleaning my 12-pound Chinook

Huron-Bruce MP Ben Lobb (R) holds up the fish he caught aboard the boat of captain Al Wilkins

Liz Dadson, editor of the Kincardine Times, holds up her 12-pound Chinook salmon, caught on Media and Sponsor Appreciation Day, Friday morning
photo by Lisa Thompson

Liz Dadson weighing her monster fish
photo by Lisa Thompson

My monster Chinook salmon fighting to get free
photo by Lisa Thompson

First mate Chris Dwinnell (L) holds a nice lake trout caught by Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson

Dale Hainer holds up the beautiful Coho salmon he caught

Liz Dadson

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Monday, July 14, 2014