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Huck Finn 2012 Huck Finn 2012

Although we all need an occasional weekend of kicking back and just relaxing with friends or family ... for me it’s those action packed ones that get my juices flowing and are the most memorable. For those who know me, action packed fishing is tough to beat and fishing excursions occupy their fair share of the limited memory space allotted within what little brain matter I have left  ... But every once in awhile, there’s an exception. Take this past weekend for instance ... April 28 and 29 2012.

There was a time in my life when the 4th Saturday in April would mean only one thing ... “Opening of speckled trout season” and lots of fishing for me. For the last ten years however I haven’t made a cast on this day and yet it has meant something even more gratifying.  Fortunately for my sanity ... it still involves brook trout  but instead of me fishing for them it see’s young participants of the annual Huck Finn Kids Fishing Day event do all the fishing.  This past Saturday marked the 10th anniversary of the popular event – and it was great!   

Thru my day job, I have been on the organizing committee since day one. Last week, members of the committee met up with “Kirk” an old time fish farmer who raises the 11-14 inch brookies that are purchased by the Pickering Rod and Gun Club for this event. We stocked 500 of these fish ... but not before I tagged ~30 of them with special blue tags – as possible prizes for the event a few days later. Although the cold weather may have kept some anglers away on the big opener... there were still hundreds of families at Elgin Pond in Uxbridge who showed up. Many were young kids who took part in the traditional Huck Finn parade thru town – dressed just like the Huck Finn Character. All received a remarkable grab bag and a free copy of this classic book as well ... plus there were several left for others later on. Many of us recall reading this classic in school but it was suggested that today it might even be on the banned book list.  Anyway, just before the first casts were made promptly at 10 am , the unveiling of a super sized trout replica at the pond was made by Pat Higgins (the event chair) and other dignitaries to commemorate 10 years of the Huck Finn event ... pretty cool.

Throughout the day, kids were able to borrow rods and reels, live bait and receive free refreshments hot dogs.  They could also saunter over to the Free Play Zone where there was other stuff to do like go down some fancy slide. They could also learn how to tie their own lure from the fine volunteers at Muskies Canada. Adults could enjoy a free McDonalds coffee courtesy of their mobile truck. The kids who caught fish ... and about 75 were caught – could have a free picture taken of the them and their catch. One luck girl who caught the largest tagged trout won a kayak. Many kids would have their fish cleaned by yours truly. When interviewed by a Toronto Star reporter on Saturday and asked how I got stuck with this dirty job ... I replied that I never really looked at it that way at all ... but more of an opportunity to hear about the fish stories of kids who may have just caught the first fish of their lives. If these events are what it takes to get kids hooked for life on this sport today, then I'm ok with that.

Well known TV and radio sports caster Dan Pollard who has been our MC for all these years told us a great story about how last year a young lady brought her first trout over to me at the Fish Cleaning Station. She was under the initial impression I would clean the fish for her ... make it look presentable and all.   Instead I promptly cut its head off, slit its belly open, and removed all the guts right in front of her. “He did it all so fast and I just stood there completely bewildered – I didn’t know whether to turn away and throw up or to keep watching because it was so fascinating.” Apparently she chose the latter and was thrilled to go home with a beautiful trout – all cleaned and ready for dinner that night. Last year I cleaned about 100 brook trout during the day and this year it around half that ... so I guess there’s still a fair number of nice trout in that there pond left to catch!

 Immediately after the event ... I met my wife Loretta and youngest son Izaak and we drove into downtown Toronto to meet Tyler –our oldest son who lives down there.   We parked at his place and walked the half hour or so to Rogers Centre to see the Blue Jays play Seattle. We made it with 10 minutes to spare before the 1st pitch at 4 pm and we heard the most incredible children’s choir sing  the American and Canadian National Anthems. I can never understand why some people want to get rid of anthems at sporting events.  Man, the way I look at it, if they aren’t played here – then where else would you get to hear them regularly?   I love both our Canadian and the American anthems and proudly stand and sing both each time I get the privilege to.

It was an “ok game” for most part – just 3 runs for the Blue Jays in the 3rd ... but then their bats finally came alive in the 9th and we saw a beauty grand slam by Blue Jay ace Edwin Encarnacion to end a four game losing streak.  While walking back from the game ... I saw reporter Jackie Krendalls of CTV News 2 Barrie who was getting ready to do some type of broadcast for affiliate CP24. We said a quick hello (she’s interviewed me a few times for work related stuff) and then we were on our way to treat ourselves to a fancy dinner at “Goo’s Izakaya,” a renowned Japanese Restaurant in the City. Tyler had been here a few times before so knew just what to order.  Izaak, Ty and I are big sushi and particularly sashimi fans ... Loretta, not so much. We did get her to try raw beef and raw lobster though – a fairly major accomplishment in her mind. Let’s just say the rest of us loved it and all the other authentic dishes that were served one after the other in a truly unique and fun atmosphere.

Sunday I had to work ... but once again, work for me can be fun and very rewarding so I consider myself extremely fortunate. I met my colleague Emily along the 400 and we drove up to Gloucester Pool. A few days earlier we had set six trap nets for our muskie egg collection. This is all part of the Lake Simcoe Muskie Restoration Program spearheaded by Muskies Canada. Later in the week though, we closed off all of the nets ... so Emily and I went to open them up today so that they could possibly have muskie swimming in them for Monday. Despite a stiff breeze from the northwest that made some of our sets a challenge to open ... and a hole in one of the nets that we had to repair, we still got the job done without a hitch.  Water and air temps were still cool enough that we had to wear floater suits so this has been one crazy spring season weather wise ...  now all we have to do is hope that ripe muskies show up soon so we can collect eggs from them. (All muskie and other fish caught are released unharmed.) Eggs will be reared and young muskie raised at the hatchery over at Fleming College in Lindsay... and ready for us to stock into Lake Simcoe this fall.

Emily inspecting a hole in one of the nets

Well ... that was my weekend ... I still haven’t created any new, exciting memories by wetting a line myself since the hard water season ended ... I know plenty of fishing action will come soon enough though. And I said, sometimes other memories deserve a little bit of space in this little brain of mine...

Thanks for reading my first ‘blog’ folks, hope you liked it.

 Wil Wegman
"Focus On Fishing"

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