Chapter 9: Trout Fishing in PEI

Victoria Day – May’s Long Weekend

“The fish were so plentiful, you had to go behind a tree to bait the hook.” ….R. Fee Roach

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Mid May’s long weekend ‘Victoria Day’, also known as ‘picnic day’* brings young and old alike out on the first sunny weekend holiday. Trout fishing season officially opens and for this weekend only, families can enjoy the experience without the required fishing license. As morning dawned, it was cloudy and overcast. By noon, the wind removed the cloud cover and the sun beamed through the trees. Out came the fishing poles and worms, but not a seasoned fisherwoman, I forgot a bucket for my catch!

DSCF2647A stocked pond in the Caledonia hills, (Ben’s Lake), that has been in business for several decades brought some entertainment and for about $3.50 per pound, I could take my ‘catch’ home. The pond is stocked each season with over 5000 pounds of young trout, each weighing about a pound each. The young fish are brought from a fish ‘hatchery’ nearby, and are plentiful on this spring day.

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After the fish are caught, they are weighed. In a wet sink outside you can clean and fillet your catch, leaving the discarded fish heads and ‘innards’ to be ground up and recycled back into the pond for fish food. Nothing is wasted here!! (Cleaning our catch ~ I did NOT participate in this activity!) DSCF2663SignThe rules for our fishing experience were clearly displayed on the side of the ‘weighing hut’, where we were supplied with fish nets and buckets. Expecting the fishing experience to last for at least 2-3 hours, we were finished, with fish caught, cleaned, and on our way home in little over one hour! It might sound like cheating but it was a novelty that we could enjoy the fresh air, sunshine, and bring home our catch of the day, without sacrificing the entire day.

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Early in the season, there were few flies or mosquitoes. The water was moving rapidly and was free of moss and long grasses. Young families, arriving by the carload were squealing with delight, jubilant over their catches. Little children were experiencing their first fishing trip of the season. DSCF2653DSCF2655 That evening, we feasted on our speckled trout, and made a customary toast to Queen Victoria. I had come a long way from peanut butter sandwiches and orange Kool-aid™!

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*PICNIC DAY: THE EARLY YEARS

As a kid in the early 60’s, a tin lunch box was packed with peanut butter sandwiches on soft white bread, and orange Kool-aid™ in a mason jar to drink. I would then set off to picnic with friends. The destination was within walking distance of course, and the ultimate goal was to find a ‘secret spot’ in the woods; spread out a blanket and feast on the contents of my lunch box.

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Real Trout Fishing – Later The Hard Way

Al“There are two types of fisherman – those who fish for sport and those who fish for fish.” ~Author Unknown~

Real trout fishing (an arduous task for the faint of heart) is an experience in itself. Arming ourselves with fishing licenses, plastic tubs with clay & dew worms, rods, reels & rubber boots, we set off to find those ‘fishing holes’ that may or may not be known to the locals. Lathered with bug spray, we were determined to be undaunted by the black flies, who also came out in droves for the occasion. Many bridges over rivers and brooks by North Lake had a vehicle or two parked with anglers fishing nearby.

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“The fishing was good; it was the catching that was bad.” … A.K.Best

We settled down under one such bridge, and perched on the rocks to wait for the first ‘bite’. A pair of geese and a lone pigeon, startled by our presence, flew off in a huff, verbalizing their displeasure with squawks and honks. A short while later we had to move on. The trout were not biting here! The only thing biting was the black flies!     ********************************************************************************************* This is trout fishing at its finest, with a large dose of patience being the order of the day! Punts and dories dotted the riverbanks along this pond near North Lake, waiting like faithful servants, for their next fishing trip. trout fishing2 The scenery on our trout fishing tour was by far, the most rewarding. Though we didn’t catch trout for our dinner that particular day… we brought home lasting memories of a day like no other. Invigorated by the fresh clean air, sleep came quickly to us that night, with visions of large trout dancing in our heads.

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