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Monday, April 8, 2019

Falling for fishing at the Orillia Perch Festival


   One-Tank Trip for April 6/19

    (c) By Jim Fox

   All members of the family can fall “hook, line and sinker” for fishing at the Orillia Perch Festival.
   The annual event to lure tagged fish runs from April 20 to May 11 in this city north of Barrie.
   Scenic Orillia is in Ontario’s vacation playground with two large freshwater lakes – Simcoe and Couchiching – and numerous smaller ones.
Anglers pack the area around the Narrows seeking the elusive tagged perch.
   There are also three provincial parks in the area: Bass Lake, Mara and McRae and the port of Orillia on the Trent-Severn Waterway.
   Situated in “Ontario’s Lake Country,” the festival attracts thousands of people in this catch-and-live release program in its 39th year that’s one of Canada’s largest registered fishing derbies.

   There are more than 60 tagged perch worth $500 each along with “bonus perch” and thousands of dollars in daily and weekly draws with a grand prize of a fishing boat, trailer and 50 HP motor.
   It’s hosted by the Orillia and District Chamber of Commerce with the perch release supervised by the Orillia Fish and Game Conservation Club.
Young anglers showing their catch at the Orillia Perch Festival.
   This year, the ice is still around in the two big lakes with a “fairly solid cover,” said the chamber’s festival director Doug Bunker at mid-week.
   If ice remains on opening day, it’s “not unusual but does limit access to some fishing areas at first,” he added.
   “Many times perch are found just under the edge of the ice as they relate to it as a structure to hide under,” Bunker said.
   “So they will still be hungry and some anglers in boats will do quite well.”
   One of the most-popular fishing spots is the “Narrows” that connects lakes Simcoe and Couchiching and thaws first.
   This is no fish story but in 2017 Matt Pattenden of Orillia caught two tagged perch worth $500 each and became angler of the year.
One of the big perch catches at the festival.
    Headquarters is at Tudhope Park, 450 Atherley Rd., with registration costing $20, adults; and $5, children to age 16.
   Details: orillia.com/perchfestival ; 1-888-326-4424; Ontario’s Lake Country visitor information: ontarioslakecountry.com; 1-866-329-5959

   Drop me a line
   New to fishing? That’s no problem as there’s a Learn to Fish program from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.
   It’s available at seven Ontario provincial parks and two conservation areas to introduce children and adults to fishing.
   Called a “fun and engaging” two-hour program, it combines a practical teaching session with an hour of supervised hands-on fishing.
The Learn to Fish mobile unit travels around Ontario and is shown here at Heart Lake. (Photo by Wayne Eardley)
    Learn how to rig, bait and cast a fishing rod; identify and catch local fish species; get a fishing licence and follow regulations; discover more about fishing in Ontario; and fish safely and sustainably.
    The program is offered four to six times a week from mid-June to late August and with the Learn to Camp program.
   It’s available at Balsam Lake, Darlington, Earl Rowe, Emily, Grundy Lake, Sibbald Point and Six Mile Lake provincial parks, and Heart Lake Conservation Park (Brampton) and McLaren Island/Long Sault Parkway Campgrounds (Cornwall).
   There’s also the Learn to Fish Outreach Program with a mobile unit that visits festivals and events to introduce new anglers to recreational fishing.
   The unit has information videos, a build-your-own fishing lure activity and a fishing simulator.
   Also available is a free 40-page Learn to Fish Guide. ontario.ca/page/learn-fish

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Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca

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