The CNIB Lake Joseph Centre is a beautiful 22-acre beach-side facility located on Lake Joseph about 1.5 hours north of Toronto. In addition to providing intensive life-changing programming to people with visual disabilities, it has some great fishing to offer as well.
This year My good friend David Mingie and I travelled together to Lake Joe at the beginning of the camping season to train the new staff on running a blind fishing program. Over a three-day period David and I checked out eight staff on operating the 18-foot Lund Alaskan fishing boat, and taught the fishing basics. Tactics were all verticle fishing for three species — panfish using micro jigs, drop shotting for Smallmouth Bass, and jigging for Lake Trout. We caught them all.
David and I also had the privilage of taking a number of the Centre’s first guests of the year out fishing. It was deaf-blind week, which didn’t seem to pose a problem at all once we got our guests aboard the boat and a Shimano spinning outfit in their hands. Everyone caught fish.
We started every session with some confidence building panfish captures and releases, and then moved on to seeking out the larger predators. It really was a truely rewarding few days. I could easily have spent the entire summer teaching folks to feel the bite.
With the staff trained up it was time for David and I to head back. The staff took over and from all accounts the fishing program was a daily favorite among the over 900 guests that visited the Centre this past summer. My hope is to eventually offer a more intensive training program that would send participants home with the skills needed to confidently and safely join any sighted person aboard their boat for a day of fishing. Let’s see what happens….