Maestro and I arrived at the Lake Joseph Centre located just south of Perry Sound Ontario late in the afternoon on Sunday July 11 after being on the road for nine hours. The Lake Joe Centre was constructed in 1961 to provide residents of Ontario living with vision loss a place to network and enjoy down-time by the lake. It recently under-went a $7 million renovation that has involved the complete rebuilding of the 94-bed resort.
(Photo of vacationers fishing)
My mission for the next two days was to introduce vacationers with vision loss to the sport of fishing, including the 12 youth chosen to take part in this year’s Wayne Gretski’s Score Camp. Preparation for the fishing activities included installing a talking depth sounder on Lake Joe’s “Lion’s Pride”, a 25-foot pontoon boat, and rigging up the eight fishing rods I brought along.
My goal was to seek out and catch Smallmouth Bass, schools of which range widely throughout the lake. My fall-back plan was Rock Bass. To this end, I tied tubes on each outfit, with a drop-shot hook about 18 inches up the line to be later baited with live worms.
(Photo of Lawrence rigging up one of the eight fishing rods donated by Shimano Canada)
After completing my preparations, I rounded up a number of eager Lake Joe staff to venture out on the water with me early the next morning to pin down some fishing spots. I learned from several of the staff who fished recreationally that both Rock Bass and Smallies had been biting well the week prior, but that the cold front that swept through two days before I arrived had shut things down.
(Photo of vacationer with fish)
We set off the next morning with a map of the lake and my talking depth sounder. It seemed 99% of the lake was over 100 feet deep, with shallows consisting of either sand, flat rock, or a mixture of rock and sand. There’s almost no weeds growing in Lake Joseph, and the water is quite clear. I recorded the locations of several likely spots on my talking Breeze GPS, but our time was limited as my volunteer staffers had to be back at camp by 8: am to serve breakfast. We did manage to get a few casts in, but no bites. The results of the morning excursion left me just a little apprehensive about our prospects.
I took the first group out that morning at 10: and it was all I could do to keep eight lines in the water. For every fish caught, I probably re-tied 12 rigs due to tangles and snags. The number of fishers combined with the roof over the boat meant teaching casting was also not an option. I wanted to avoid the use of bobbers as much as possible, but with no electric trolling motor on the boat, this meant fishing vertically off the boat which in most instances was anchored to avoid drifting in on the rocks. The tube / drop-shot rig I was using meant the blind fishers were able to directly feel the bite, either on the tube or the live worm.
Another group went out in the afternoon for three hours, and then did it all over again the next day. We caught some fish, and even Smallies, but not the numbers I had been hoping for. Regardless, all had fun, and with the verbal descriptions offered up by the Lake Joe staff of the surroundings and with a few of my fish stories thrown in for good measure, time past quick enough. Before I new it, I was saying good-bye to the vacationers, Score participants and staff for another year, but not before spending an evening with the Score participants on their screened porch talking about strategies for achieving success in life based on my travels, research, and personal experience. In a nut shell, I tell them life is like fishing, you need to be able to change your approach to suit the ever-evolving situation.