Jim McLaughlin has been part of the recreational fishing community for over 30 years. Affectionately known as “Big” Jim, he is a respected veteran of the industry, as well as a much-loved mentor to children and young anglers entering the sport. He is currently a spokesperson for National Fishing Week, as well as a sought-after speaker, emcee, and publisher of Just Fishing, Canada’s oldest & largest free fishing publication.

For these reasons — and many more — “Big” Jim McLaughlin is one of our Champions of Recreational Fishing.

Over the next few months we will be chatting with Canadian anglers who contribute to the overall success of sportfishing as a heritage activity. Here’s what Jim has to say about his career on the water.

Who introduced you to fishing? Can you describe any fond memories you may have of that experience?

My parents introduced me to angling at roughly 6 years of age in the Rideau Canal which runs through Ottawa….

[My] first fish was a bullhead!!!

What is your favourite fish to catch?

I love them all, but largemouth bass hold my heart.

What are your thoughts on the fishing community? Has it grown with the use of social media? Is it competitive?

It certainly has grown through social media and it remains as competitive as ever.

What’s the worst or most embarrassing day of fishing you’ve had?

Not that it’s happened to me?? But I’ve heard its embarrassing when you leave the plug out at a tournament and get heckled…

Why do you believe recreational fishing is important to Canadians?

I truly believe it is a simple way to relax and maybe rustle up the good old fish fry…

What issues currently affect recreational fishing? What can we do to solve these issues?

I’m really not impressed with the way the odd person gets confrontational and thinks they own the water, even when you are nowhere near them… They really need to learn that the water is for all of us, and be aware that it is illegal to harass an angler.

Do you think anything needs to be done policy-wise to maintain our fishing heritage?

Something I would like to see is more enforcement in the field, but with the load that is on COs with tasks not in the field and the limited budgets, it does make it hard…

Big Jim

Are you able to share a special fishing photo with us?

A pumpkinseed with granddaughter Gracelyn… [It was a] great day etched forever… on the secret lake… wink wink!