Opening up the sport of fishing to people with vision loss is the goal of the Blind Fishing Boat initiative, and 2010 has by far achieved more than any previous year since taking my love for the sport public in 2007. Activities included: participating in 17 fishing competitions earning one 1st and four other top-five finishes,; presenting to over 460 people with vision loss and providing one-on-one on-the-water fishing instruction to 16 new fishers with vision loss; publishing 15 articles in mainstream fishing magazines and another 31 on the web; exhibiting for a total of 119 hours at outdoor shows; delivering 21 public presentations to approximately 2,670 people; and, completing four-days of filming for an up-coming feature presentation. The year also included the capture of a number of amazing fish, and ended with several exciting new sponsors coming on-board,. Finally, even though specialized technology is not required by those with vision loss to fish, access to mainstream marine electronics is still something non-sighted fishers desire, which is why researching and sea-trialing accessible electronics remains a high priority.
Lawrence and Maestro presenting on stage
February and March are my busy months for exhibiting and speaking. Once April comes, I’m pretty much on the water every weekend until well into November. Never-the-less, I still managed to provide one-on-one fishing courses to 16 new fishers with vision loss, offer 21 seminars to an estimated total audience of 2,670 people – 460 of whom were people with vision loss, And exhibit at four outdoor shows for a total of 119 hours with an estimated outreach to 186,000 show attendees.
Lawrence with 2 bass
In order to, “walk the talk”, I decided early in the year to compete in both Bass Master and Walleye League tournament series, in addition to the one-off competitive and charity events I usually fish. In total, I fished 17 competitive events, winning once and placing another four times in the top five. My year-end standings in both the Bass Masters and Walleye League series placed me right in the middle of the two groups of competing members. I’m quite pleased with my over-all results taking into consideration I partnered with 13 different sighted fishers in 17 events, and competed against an estimated 1,015 different individual competitors. I believe I accomplished my goal to fish with and compete against as many different fishers as possible, and demonstrated first-hand that fishers without sight can fish as equals.
Lawrence with 36″Northern pike
2010 Fish-Capture Highlights:
36” Northern Pike caught using 8lb mono on a Rapala Tail Dancer;
24” Rainbow Trout caught on a #22 nymph;
5lb Lake Trout caught on a Berkley Chigger Craw;
18.5” Brown Trout caught on a floating hopper pattern;
10lb 2 ounce Walleye caught on a Dives Too Rapala;
25” Cutbow caught on a #16 bead-head nymph;
24 lb Common Carp caught on pineapple flavoured jumbo corn;
4 lb Bass caught on Slammers from Strike Zone;
Sea Mullet, Spot, Croaker, Sea Trout and Puffer caught on blood worms;
Crappy, Pumpkin Seed, Bluegill, Rock Bass and Perch; and,
6’, 120lb White Sturgeon caught on 1lb of Sockeye and a #5 barbless j-hook.
Lawrence with 10lb Walleye
Blind Fishing Boat quarterly up-dates are now distributed to over 1,300 people with vision loss and their families and friends. The Blind Fishing Boat.Com website is also growing in popularity, and is now the world’s leading resource on fishing, accessible marine electronic aids, and outdoor access for people with vision loss. 31 informational articles were written and published on www.blindfishingboat.com in 2010. Coverage on different Internet websites also continues to expand with Google now reporting well over 10 pages of search results and 108 video and still images. Finally, in partnership with the Canadian Carp Club and Ontario Fishing Network, I’ve launched a second website this year called, www.ontariocarpfishing.com, which educates people interested in fishing for Carp.
Lawrence with common carp
To reach out to sighted fishers, I’ve continued to write a series of articles I call, “Feel the Bite”. Five articles were published in the “Professional Anglers Association” official on-line magazine, “On-Line Fishermen”, which has a readership of 250,000, mostly in the U.S, and 10 articles were published in “Ontario Fishing Network Magazine”, which has a readership of 13,500, primarily here in Ontario. Finally, in addition to being featured in Readers Digest, Outdoor Canada and Ontario Out-of-Doors, six newspapers, two TV stations and one radio station covered the Blind Fishing Boat in 2010.
Lawrence piloting the blind fishing boat
The Marine Instrument Talker continues to be my primary source for information concerning water depth, temperature and speed, as my work with the “Depth Talker” I purchased over E-Bay is on-going. I have more reports published on HumanWare’s Trekker Breeze, and I’m still in the middle of trialing Minn Kota’s new I-Pilot, a GPS-controlled electric trolling motor that I’m more than a little excited about.
It’s not unusual to receive an invitation to appear on a TV fishing show, but I have long-since learned that in the show business the term, “Hurry up and wait”, really does apply. This hasn’t been the case regarding my documentary project however, with over four days of shooting now concluded. I’m going to hold back on providing more details until the release date draws closer.
Photo of Lawrence with kids fishing
With the sale of the Blind Fishing Power Catamaran, sponsorship support from Laurentian Marine has concluded. A big thanks to Alfred and Doug for all their assistance over the past three years. On a more up-beat note, Orleans Boat World has stepped up to the plate with a sponsorship involving Ranger Boats! This is the first time Ranger has sponsored a blind professional fisher, and a first-ever sponsorship involving their Reata Series of boats. 2011 will have the Blind Fishing Boat logo gracing the hull of a Ranger Reata 1850, powered with an E-TEC 175hp thanks to the continued support of Evinrude/BRP. Eukanuba will continue as the Blind Fishing Boat’s “title sponsor”, with strong support also coming from: Shimano, Rapala, Minn Kota, Berkley, Scotty, Porta-Bote, Ontario Portable Boats, Snag Proof, Tru-Tungsten, Salus Marine, HumanWare and Maruku.
Lawrence with 6-foot Sturgeon
Blind Fishing Buddies:
My network of blind fishers continues to expand world-wide, and pressure is building to create a blind fishing forum. Work is also continuing to match sighted fishers with non-sighted fishers. So far I’m able to manage using the phone and email, but the day may come when more sophisticated on-line “dating-type” software might become necessary. A big thank you to the following 28 sighted fishing buddies who stepped up to the plate in 2010:
Lawrence and Maestro fishing
2011 is year number five for the Blind Fishing Boat. There’s little doubt the last four years saw tremendous progress in making fishing a truly integrated sport, but at the same time, I know there is still so much more to be done. A new website in early 2011 is the first task to finish, and then there will be the building of new innovative / educational displays for exhibiting at the outdoor shows. Fishing from the new Ranger Reata 1850 will help tremendously in terms of piloting and on-the-water instruction. Development of electronics is advancing and more sea-trials are definitely being planned. And then there is researching and filming the documentary, speaking events and seminars, more articles to write, and tournaments to win!
2010 WWW.BlindFishingBoat.Com Articles:
2010 Blind Fishing Boat Highlights
Ranger / Evinrude / Orleans Boat World Pro Staffer
Bay of Quinte Walleye
Protecting Canada’s Wild Fish Stocks and Fishing Heritage
North Carolina Visually Impaired Persons Fishing Tournament 2010
America Cup International Fly Fishing Tournament
Catch and Release
CNIB Lake Joseph Vacationers Go Fishing!
Drop-Shot Drifting for Mid-Summer Smallies
Renegade Pro-Am Bass Tournament June 2010
2010 Spring Tournament Up-Date
Ontario Carp Fishing.Com
Feel Bass Bite Using Jigs
Little Things That Make a World of Difference
Working partnerships are fuelled by Eukanuba
Blind Anglers International Tournament
California International Blind Sailing Regatta 2010
Spring Crappy with Art Cunningham
Opening Day Rainbows
Navigating Black Rock Desert Blind
Rehabilitation of Blind Vets
Learning to Baitcast – Blind?
Fishing Tackle Organizing Tips for Fishers with Vision Loss (Blind)
Outdoor Canada — Use your senses to become a better angler
Toronto Sportsman Show 2010
Toronto Spring Fishing and Boat Show 2010
Ottawa Boat and Sportsman Show 2010
The Fishing Touch, Published in the January-February issue of the PAA’s official on-line magazine, “Online Fishermen”
The Ice Fishing Touch, (Published in Ontario Fishing Magazine Jan 2010)
White Cane Week and the Blind Fishing Boat 2010