By Sarah McMichael
Gord Pyzer is a staple in the Canadian fishing community. Having worked for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources for 31 years, he is known for his science-based approach to fishing. Currently, he is the Fishing Editor for Outdoor Canada, and Field Editor for In-Fisherman. In part two of our chat with Gord we hear more about his favourite kind of fishing, and what he’s up to in 2016.
What is your favourite type of fishing?
“This is a question I get asked a lot. Both what is my favourite kind of fishing and what is my favourite fish. And the answer to both questions is whatever I’m doing today, that’s my favourite. It’s funny, in the summertime I can see a bunch of kids fishing at the end of the dock, and they’ve got a stick and they’ve got a piece of line over the side and a little tiny hook with a little piece of worm on it and they’re watching perch come in. I can lay on the edge of the dock with the kids, and at that point in time that is my favourite fishing. And you know Bob Izumi and I have flown down to Australia and we fly fish for the wildest strain of brown trout left on Earth in Tasmania, and when we were doing that that was my favourite so… I’m a pretty easy guy to please.”
Do you have a “favourite catch” then?
“If you were to scratch me, smallmouth bass are probably my favourite. Although interestingly I probably spend more time fishing for walleye, and in the wintertime I’d say lake trout and black crappies are my favourite fish. Every individual fish seems to offer something, like black crappies in the wintertime, they’re a fish that are made for sonar. They’re just so intriguing from that perspective, when you put your sonar under the ice and you can watch them come in and read the mood of the fish as they’re coming onto your bait.
If you were to say I could only fish for one fish for open water it would probably be smallmouth. Although I’m probably better known for my musky catches. I think I won the Molson Big Fish contest when it was run in Ontario, and the biggest musky I ever released was about 7 pounds off the world record. We used to go 14, 16 hour days for muskies, and they were a terrible, terrible passion. But if you were to scratch me I’d probably say smallmouth bass.”
Why smallmouth bass?
“Smallmouth when you catch them, and you hold them in your hand, and you look at them they’re actually looking at you. They seem to be individuals, whereas the other fish like walleye or crappies or perch, they seem just like fish. But there’s something about smallmouth that they just seem like individuals, and I think that’s the intriguing part of them, they are far less predictable. They do many, many different things, and so the search for them and understanding how they behave in a water body and how they can adapt to different conditions, and the fact that they seem to be individuals and in a fair chase situation they seem to be a very good adversary, an equal adversary, kind of makes them my favourite.”
Why do you think people should try fishing?
“It relates to what we were talking about in terms of those good values. I donate probably two or three trips a year to a couple of different causes. And one of them happens to be the Generation Next Angler program. I’ve donated trips to them for the last few years, and at the Mid-Canada Boat Show, they auction the trip off.
Interestingly this year, the fellow who bought the trip, one of his companions was a lady who had never essentially caught walleye before. I picked them up lakeside at the dock in my boat, and she had her sunglasses on, her nails had been polished, and she was in very nice clothing. And at the end of the afternoon she caught the second biggest walleye I have ever seen in my life, it was 15 pounds, 35 inches. I’ll never forget, she said “Gord, I’m stuck on the bottom,” and I turned around and I could see her rod tip going up and down and I said “You’re not stuck on the bottom, you’ve got a big fish!” I grabbed the net and she pulled it from under the boat, and it was huge, it was massive. She held it up and I took photos and she was laughing, and when I snapped the photo my flash went off, and the walleye jumped right out of her hands, and it hit the side of the boat and did a cartwheel and went back into the lake.
We quit counting at fifty, and that was before noon, and we know we caught over a hundred walleyes that day. We kept a couple for the shore lunch and we let everything else go, and when we sat around the campfire laughing and chatting with each other, that’s what fishing is all about. The interesting thing is within five minutes of being in the boat we were on first name basis, it was as though we had known each other our whole lives. And that’s what fishing does. It’s not the fish, it’s just being out there. It’s the total experience, and until folks do it and experience it they don’t understand it.”
“It’s not the fish, it’s just being out there. It’s the total experience, and until folks do it and experience it they don’t understand it.”
What are your plans for 2016?
“I’m always out on the Lake of the Woods. My home away from home when I get the chance, I love fishing for salmon on the west coast, that’s my kind of busman’s holiday. So I hope I get the chance to go up to the Queen Charlotte’s or off the coast of British Columbia. There’s always a time or two that working on assignments takes me to the far North into the Northwest Territories or northern Saskatchewan or northern Manitoba. They’re always highlights, those are the lakes that people dream of.
Last year I got the chance to fish for bluefin tuna in off the coast of P.E.I., and that was something that was on my bucket list. That was a trip that blew my mind. We’re talking about fish that are a thousand pounds! It is the most affordable trip if there are 2 or 3 anglers. It’s about $2000 a day but you’re out for the entire day, so if there’s four of you, that’s about $500. Now that’s the price of a couple of tickets to the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey game. And you mean to tell me you can go to Prince Edward Island, go out at dawn in this magnificent trawler, 25, 30 feet long, and be out in the beautiful sunshine and heat catching one thousand pound tuna. It was the trip of a lifetime, and I just think most folks miss those kind of opportunities. I hope there’s another bucket list trip coming up this year, I just don’t know what it will be.”
Make sure to check back next week for ice fishing tips from Gord!
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. All photos courtesy of Gord Pyzer.