altTeach him to fish and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.

It could have been during the cocktail hour at The Bitter End Yacht Club, or maybe it was later at the bar at Leverick Bay…my memory is a little fuzzy, but it was definitely the British Virgin Islands and only a few weeks ago, but I do remember Sandy and Elinor Marr of Nutmeg Charters describing how they always drag a fishing line when they are cruising and often their dinners come in right over the transom. One of their favourite delicacies is landing a tuna, then cutting in into strips and hanging it with clothes pegs on the stern lifeline for a few days to dry. On the flight home, I began thinking how few of us take advantage of the savoury delights that lay just beneath our boats. I looked for recipes for Georgian Bay Tuna, or Lake Ontario Marlin, but without success so it was time to seek some professional help.

On the advice of David Keith, a lifelong fishing fanatic and one of my ski buddies, I was directed to Darryl Choronzey – fishing pro, raconteur and host of the nationally syndicated TV show “Going Fishing”. It was a little too early in the season and still too cold to get out fishing so we agreed to meet at Darryl’s lake just outside Owen Sound. After a short introduction and my explanation of the reason for being there, I grabbed my pen and notebook and hung on as best as I could through four hours of rollicking stories, insights, anecdotes, opinions, controversies and instruction from a truly passionate man who lives and breathes fishing and wildlife conservation. Many of the stories are best told over a few beers. A number of the insights needed to be heavily edited. A majority of the anecdotes seemed a little too racy for CY. Most of the opinions were followed with “but don’t quote me on that”. The controversies would require a whole book unto themselves, but the instruction and guidance came from a gifted and wily pro.

Boaters on the West Coast get it. East Coasters understand it, but boaters in Ontario just don’t get it! Every boat you see in BC has fishing tackle and whether they are trolling or jigging, a bounty of fresh seafood eagerly awaits them just over the rail. One might think that to fish properly, your boat should be decked out like the charter boats with rows of rods and big stainless steel down riggers. That’s not the case, according to Choronzey, who says that a good rod and reel can be purchased for less than $75, a tackle box can be put together for well under a $100 and using some of the new innovations from the fishing industry, much of the heavy duty equipment is no longer necessary.

If trolling, try a Deeper Dive from Walker Downriggers of Stayner, Ontario for about $15. You get a device about the size of a hockey puck that does the job of getting your hook to the right depth. If you think that a down rigger is necessary, but think they look unsightly, look into a Tallon Marine system; it allows you to convert a downrigger holder into a wine glass holder in seconds. Truly a fellow Galley Guy invented this! Space aboard is always a problem so check out a collapsible landing net for under $40. With an anodized aluminum 30'' slide-a-way handle that snaps into place in the unbreakable Lexon yoke when landing a fish, but stores compactly until you need it. If you want to save big money, lay out some line and start trolling.

We, I mean Darryl talked about some of his favourite places to fish. He’s been everywhere during his career and is very proud of the trophies on his wall. The “hot spots” he suggested were fishing for pickerel and salmon in the North Channel, big mouth and small mouth bass in the Thousand Islands, walleye and perch in Lake St. Clair, rainbows just off Kingsville on Lake Erie, bass on Lake Muskoka and the great salmon, rainbows and steelhead in the not so secret ‘Blue Zone’ on Lake Ontario. According to Darryl, fishing in the Blue Zone is great because Lake Ontario is so cold from July to October that the great fish are at a depth of only 9-12 metres. Trout like the water at 15º degrees and the salmon like it about 10º. Often on a Lake Ontario crossing, you will see the Port Credit charter boats in that big expanse of clear, deep water at mid-lake trolling. Here, where the currents of the Niagara divide the lake, the moving water attracts immense schools of bait and their bigger silver predators. Silver steelhead, often referred to as lake run rainbow trout can be caught as fast as your lures are put in the water, but this area, with depths of 300 feet or more, is also rich with Coho and Chinook. According to Wayne Andrews of Andrews Charters, when fishing the Blue Zone, “expect to be worn to a frazzle with non-stop fishing action”.

Not all of us grew up with a fishing rod in our hands or the ability to wield a filleting knife like a surgeon or the knowledge of how to clean and fillet, but my take on this is that catching, cleaning and cooking fish has been done since the beginning of time so, it can’t be that difficult. If you spent the last 20 years wielding a laser pointer in a boardroom and forgot some of the finer points of preparing a fish dinner, fear not. Surf the Internet and especially “You Tube”. Darryl sounded a bit like Forest Gump when he talked about his favourite ways to cook fish. He loves fish that are smoked, dried, pickled, baked, poached, steamed, barbequed, planked, pan-fried and deep-fried, especially if the fish is coated with “Darryl Cronzy’s Canadian Fisherman’s Breading and Batter Mix”. (He forced this Galley Guy to make that shameless plug – honest.) After getting our lines wet for a while, Darryl invited us up to the house for lunch. Simple and delicious, pan- fried trout, breaded with you know what, on a fresh roll with lettuce, tomato and onion!

Every cookbook has a great fish recipe or two and the Internet is alive with every conceivable method of preparing a feast of fish worthy of your crew and shipmates. Enjoy, enjoy!

Remember to get yourself and all your boating friends a proper fishing license. There are some species that are not recommended for eating and certain members of society should be selective on the types and amounts of fish that they consume. Environment Canada lists the provincial government’s recommendations for consuming fish: www.ec.gc.ca/MERCURY/EN/fc.cfm

By Greg Nicoll

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