The book is a collection of short stories and photos about my fishing adventures on Lake Nipigon and the Nipigon River. Enjoy the magnificence legendary fish in a pristine environment.
"Hi...my name is Guidofisherman and I'm a Fishaholic!"
Sounds like an introduction at an A.A. meeting. Truth is, there is a lot of similarities. Both are self imposed addictions that can be costly, affect family life, often hanging around people of a similar kind and definitely a hard habit to control. One often ends up on day long 'benders' trying to satisfy that special urge, only to do it again the next day. While I make this a light-hearted analogy, I respect those individuals that have successfully met the challenges of any addiction. "Everything in moderation", my mom used to say. Too much of a good thing can be dangerous or unhealthy. The challenge is..."What is the balance?" I'm not at the point of hiding my fishing purchases or lying about my problem to family and friends, but I do admit this was my most prolific fishing season ever. It is all relative.
Brook Trout in the Nipigon system (lake and river) have gone through significant changes changes over the past 100+ years. Anthropogenic factors like increased fishing pressure, habitat destruction, and introduction of exotic species have adversely affected the numbers of brook trout. Populations reached an all-time low in the 80’s. Whether we like it or not, these fish are managed by the MNR and regulation changes need to be based on facts and data to protect the species from us. Regulations went from 15 fish or 10 pounds prior to 1979, to 2 over 18” , then 1 over 20” in 1997 and eventually to 1 at 22” in 2005. Combined efforts were published by the MNR through a workshop. Here is the PDF link to the 74 page report.
While it would be a dream to return to the pristine brook trout fishing of the past, we must work together as fishermen and biologists to establish practices and conditions to ensure the future of this marvelous fishery for all to enjoy. I chose to be a part of the solution and gather the raw data through the tagging program to see if the regulation changes were positive. Regrettably, the MNR is not as transparent as I would like. Other than this one report, little has been published about the data gathered, results and interpretations. If it is on the MNR site, it is so buried you can’t find it. This has been disappointing given all the extra time and cost thinking we are making a difference. The MNR continues to experience cut backs to programs and personnel and I want input as part of the fishing public. I admit to being ticked at the bureaucracy of the MNR for not apparently doing much with the data other than justifying a regulation change. The data is still valuable and needs follow up.
Here are a few of my observations. Since the 2005 regulation change to 22": 87% of the spawning population is now protected, catch rate has improved, the number of spawning fish has doubled yet remains at 25% of the management levels from the 1930’s baseline, 95% of all fishermen now use some form of “catch and release”, and high recapture rates show brook trout in these areas are vulnerable to angling, but also indicates that these fish respond well to catch and release when performed properly. In summary, there are more fish and they are generally larger fish than prior to 2005.
The tagging program which provided the raw data only and not any interpretations has run its course. It has been a lot of work for me and others, but I felt it was necessary to contribute rather than just sit back and complain about the condition of our fishery. After all, what is an alternative to the tagging program for making sustainability decisions? It was about gathering data to make informed decisions and educate, not about personal glory or bragging any more than someone who publishes a “grin” shot as we all do from time to time.
There are still a lot of unanswered questions and challenges for the Nipigon brook trout without even getting into the plight of Lake Superior Coasters. History has shown over fishing, abuse and decline, and while the species is still fragile there are signs of improvement. Here are a few recommendations from the report: Participants expressed concern over limited information available for Lake Superior brook trout. Recommendations were made to collect more information on both brook trout populations (abundance, size, & distribution), and their associated sport fisheries (angler catch & harvest), that the brook trout in the upper reaches of the river and Lake Nipigon are a separate population and therefore, should have its own management plan, that a formal research plan should be developed that includes a brook trout life history study, and that goals should be established for rehabilitation.These can’t be answered without planned actions, research and programs to ensure brook trout sustainability.
I tried to do my part and contribute, now I’m done. Time to just enjoy the fishing.
And what are you doing?
Alan Muir (Guidofisherman)