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Keeping It "Reel" With The Great Canadian Fishing Store

Canada's awe-inspiring lakes and rivers are a breeding ground for incredible fish, making it a global freshwater fishing paradise. But Canada's bounty extends far beyond its breathtaking lakes and rivers. Nestled within this angler's paradise lies a secret community: a network of skilled craftspeople forging exceptional fishing gear. From lures meticulously designed for native fish to rods built to conquer any challenge, these local masters are revolutionizing the Canadian angling experience. 


We sat down with Matt and Adam, fans of the Red Green Show and founders of The Great Canadian Fishing Store, an online Canadian retailer. Their mission is to provide better access to unique fishing products while supporting their local community.  They shared insights about the fishing industry in Canada and the importance of regeneration. 


Please tell me a bit about The Great Canadian Fishing Store. When was it conceived and what do you think sets it apart from other fishing websites? 

Adam: We launched in 2023 with a focus on offering lures and baits from independent Canadian manufacturers. Seeing as so many products are made overseas these days, and lack the quality we were used to, we wanted to create a one-stop shop where anglers can discover unique and high-quality lures and baits from passionate and talented makers from across Canada, all the while supporting local and small businesses. We’ve brought on over fifty of these partners so there’s quite a selection, and we’re not planning on slowing down. 


Matt: Over the past five years due to the pandemic, a significant number of small businesses shut down due to the restrictions put in place which caused the large businesses to thrive. Now more than ever, it’s important to support our own economy and support Canadian family-owned businesses. Due to all the restrictions on businesses, there was a positive outcome… a lot of anglers with more time on their hands with limited access to baits, thus spurring their creativity and talents for making their own baits. A significant number of our partners started during the pandemic and we are grateful for their ambition to create something new for us to all enjoy.

 

Matt and Adam - Can you each share a core memory from your first time fishing experience? What got you hooked? Pun intended!


Adam: This is a very vivid memory for me. My dad isn’t a fisherman at all, but growing up, he was always finding new and exciting ways for us to spend time together; a lot of camping and outdoor activities. This particular year he wanted to try his hand at fishing, as some of his friends were really into it. Of course, him being who he is, he went all out. He got the best gear he could afford at the time for the both of us, read as many books and magazines as he could (no YouTube back then), and got us in that year on that group’s annual fishing trip. I had no clue where we were going or what we were going to do, but it felt exciting. It felt like an adventure. 


It was a trip filled with firsts. The first early morning rise with the men. The first time on a boat as it sheared through the still lake. The first catch - a pike - filled me with absolute fear and then celebration. It was a bonding experience that made a significant impact on me. Not just the love of fishing that it instilled, but the search for adventure, the appreciation for the great outdoors, and the shared memories that a group of men and a tag-along boy made. I still have both rods, but I use his now.



Matt: I still have vivid memories of my childhood, camping with my family and extended family, traveling all over southern Ontario to all the provincial parks to enjoy the wilderness, outdoors, and of course, fishing. Going on “missions” to find worms and frogs to use as bait or snorkeling for lake mussels to use as bait as well.


The beauty of fishing for me, is that it was much more than just the act of fishing, it was being out in nature and enjoying the sights, sounds, and being on the water.


Two distinct memories I have from childhood are:

  1. My dad and I, along with all the other uncles and cousins would camp out the night before the trout opener on the Credit River (this is back when you could still drive your car right up to the river bed). We’d arrive the night before, get a fire going, and wait patiently for the clock to hit 12 am before jumping in the water to start fishing. This particular outing, there were so many trout in the river that you could reach in and grab them with your bare hands, and if you were not careful, you could accidentally step on one and fall into the river.
  2. The second memory was a camping trip up to Six Mile Lake, where we would frequently go with extended family with our pop-up trailers and boat. A day out on the water wasn’t complete without us taking the boat out to “picnic island” where we would bring coolers of food and hang out there for the afternoon. The most memorable part for me however is having my uncle snorkel to the bottom of the lake to find mussels, to then attach to my fishing line, and then swim right up to the bass and dangle the mussels in front of their face for me to then catch.

What makes Canadian Fishing so special? 

Adam: No other place in the world has this many lakes. With over two million freshwater lakes providing over 200 species of fish is definitely what makes fishing in Canada special. 


Matt: four distinct seasons that bring their own set of characteristics and styles of fishing into play based on the species.


Can you please describe the types of fishing you can do in Canada? 

Oh, we’d say you can have it all here. Being such a vast country, we’re very grateful to be able to do all kinds of fishing. Not only do we touch the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, we have the Great Lakes and can even access the Arctic Ocean. So whether it’s on a boat, or from a bank, surf fishing, wading through rivers, or drilling through some ice, we’ve seen and done it all. 


What would you tell someone who wanted to fish for the first time? What would their starter kit look like?

The beauty of fishing is that it can be simple. A basic medium-fast rod, an 8lb line, some hooks, some weights, an inline spinner, a spoon, some soft baits, and if you really want to ensure you’ll catch something, some live nightcrawlers. Finding out what’s local to your water system and picking up a book, or doing some online research on whatever species you’re after will be a big help. And, always check your local rules and regulations for what’s permitted and when you’re allowed to fish a particular species. 


What time of year is the best time to fish in Canada?

Definitely the summer. Most species are open, the sun is shining, and cold drinks are calling! (Beer on the pier, water on the water).


What types of fish would you expect to catch in Canada and during what seasons?

Spring - Trout, Pike, Crappie

Summer - Bass, Walleye, Pike, panfish

Fall - Salmon, Muskie

Winter - Perch, Walleye, Whitefish, Trout


What are the best places to fish in Canada? Name your top three. 

Every angler has their secret spots, and we definitely have our fishing holes that we wouldn’t want to divulge. So, without giving away too much, here are some locations that are known for amazing fishing. 


Fraser River, B.C for the salmon and sturgeon

Northern Saskatchewan for pike and lake trout

Lake St. Claire and Lake of the Woods in Ontario for bass, walleye, pike

Algonquin Provincial Park has countless lakes filled with trout, bass, pike


Please share why there are so many different types of bait for fish.

As the old saying goes, when it comes to baits, you’re catching the angler, not the fish. There are countless styles of baits and colours, and although it’s true that certain colours work better in different water conditions, the style of bait comes down to angler preference. Ultimately, the bait/profile that the angler feels most confident using is the bait that they’ll learn to use most effectively, and in turn, catch the most fishing using, which then just reaffirms their belief in using that profile as their go-to bait.


Generally speaking though, when using any bait, you should be trying to imitate a living creature in the water. For example, a creature that crawls (crayfish), a creature that floats (frog), a wounded/struggling bait fish, or a healthy bait fish swimming along. Adam Merrifield, author of “Mighty Smallmouth” and GCFS partner, does a great job explaining this in more detail.


So the most important thing you can do as an angler is decide what type of fish you’d like to catch, find a known bait that works well for that species, and become really good at using that particular bait.


Matt and Adam- What was the craziest thing each of you saw someone try to catch a fish with? 

Adam: I saw an elderly gentleman on a pier hook up a chunk of pineapple. Still wonder if that would have worked…


Matt: Gummy worms.

 

Follow up question- what was the craziest thing each of you saw someone try to catch a fish with, and it actually worked?

Adam: Marshmallows. Not just for roasting —it does work!

Matt: Can confirm, marshmallows work!

Matt: This is very similar to what Shawn Ricketts does by making a lure out of a beer can, but my uncle many many years ago did something similar with his cans to catch pike, and it worked. Anything shiny with a hook on it will catch something.

Matt: While in Algonquin Park, I didn’t have live worms but I did have a big bag of gummy worms, they work just as well for catching fish!

How many rods do you each personally own?

Adam: I have three at the moment that are my go-to’s, but it’s getting harder to resist the urge when you’re constantly surrounded by fishing gear. I fear I may cave soon…


Matt: I have a few… but like pairs of shoes, can you really ever have too many?

  • 1 centre pin float rod
  • 2 fly rods
  • 3 ice fishing rods plus 2 tip ups
  • 1 travel surf rod for fishing while on vacation
  • 2 telescopic rods for fishing while on vacation as well (smaller profile, fits into suitcases)
  • 3 spinner rods
  • 1 bait caster rod
  • 1 study rod for trolling

But with all that said… I could use a few more.


Adam: He clearly has no self control…

 

If you were to come back as a fish, which one would it be and why? Serious answers only, please. 

Adam: I have immense respect for Sturgeon — such an incredibly resilient fish. They can live up to over 100 years. They pre-date the dinosaurs, and they’re historically and culturally significant to so many cultures.


Matt: Adam stole my answer. If not for a sturgeon, definitely a musky. They’re the apex predator in the water, can live up to 18+ years, have an average of 500 razor- sharp teeth, and are one of the largest freshwater species in Canada.

 

Each of you, please finish this sentence– “I would rather be fishing, but when I am not fishing, I am …. ?”

Adam: Traveling or cooking.


Matt: Thinking about fishing.


Gone Fishin’ Matt and Adam— The Great Canadian Fishing Store. Use code: REDGREEN for 10% off at checkout. 

 

1 comment
by Leslie Wright on May 30, 2024

Awesome article !

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