When people find out how into fishing I am, I usually get one of two comments; Either “You’re nuts!” or “How often did your dad take you when you where a kid?”. Truth is, my dad didn’t take me all that much; he’s a golfer and really isn’t into fishing. I’ve probably fished with him a total of 10 times in my whole life.
He used to take my cousins, sister and I to stock ponds, but that was mostly to get outside in the summer and enjoy the fresh air. For me it was my Zio’s who would bring me fishing. (“Zio” is Italian for “Uncle”). Zio Mario or Zio Bruno would take me out with them almost every weekend, and fishing with either of them would be two completely different experiences.
There were a few similarities between both of my uncles. They didn’t own a boat, so besides the rare occasion when we would rent a one, fishing was always from shore. They didn’t believe in Catch-and-Release. They fished for dinner and that’s that. They use live bait most of the time and don’t read much about fishing. They just go out, hope the wind is “from the west they bite the best” and chalk the rest up to luck.
Fishing with Z’Mario
I still maintain to this day that Zio Mario likes the idea of fishing more than actually fishing. He never changed the way he fished. He uses the same 8 lbs. Super Silver Thread from a spool he bought in the 80’s, original edition Shimano Symmetry reel, and whatever the guy from “Cousin George’s Live Bait” told him to use. We could spend 8 hours without a bite, and he would always say, “We were getting them here last time!”. That could’ve been months or years ago.
If it was just the two of us going, we would NEVER leave at the time we planned; it was more like when he woke up. The only time we would leave early was when we went with his friends. Fishing with Z’Mario would usually mean surf casting into the great abyss that is Georgian Bay, from shore in the Collingwood area in the middle of December, and watch the rods from the truck. Once in a while, I could convince him to bring me to a river or out for bass, but it was usually surf fishing for rainbows. To this day I have not caught a fish in the surf, and I spent the better part of 5 years fishing like that with Z’Mario.
On one occasion, however, Z’Mario brought me for brook trout which changed me forever. He brought me to a tiny spring-fed creek. It was my first time fly fishing and using hip waders, and I pulled out a 12 inch “Speck”. Since that day I have had an obsession with fly fishing and Brook Trout. That was the last time he took me to a river, but I still go to that spot every chance I get.
The last time I fished with Z’Mario, I brought him bass fishing from shore. The plan was to run and gun some spots near Orillia, but by the time I was done fishing the first spot, he had just finished setting up his lawn chair…needless to say, run and gun is not his game.
Fishing with Z’Bruno
The polar opposite is my Zio Bruno. He is older than Z’Mario only because the calendar says so. He does things that would make anyone say “You’re nuts!”
For instance, he went fishing one day (without me) and hooked a lake trout from atop of a bridge with no way to land it. So he decided to jump 20 feet down off the side of the bridge, breaking his shin in the process. He still managed to wade out in the current, land the lake trout, drive an hour to the hospital, get a cast, drive 3 hours home and eat that fish that night! I still remember him saying, “This one tastes better than the rest; this is the one I broke my leg on.”
I have some of my fondest memories fishing with Z’Bruno, but not many of them were actually about fishing. With Z’Bruno, two things where guaranteed: A coffee and a bagel from Tim’s for breakfast, and a cooler lunch. It wasn’t just any ordinary cooler lunch though, it was an Italian lunch. Some of nonna’s homemade bread, a brick of cheese, some homemade sopresata, prosciutto, olives, wine for him, and despite my constant protest, a Brio for me. I still hate Brio; I drink water! All of it was cut on the spot with the fillet knife in his tackle box and we would stop at any picnic table we could find on the way.
There was one time when we fished the Muskoka River, and he decided he wanted to cross so that we could fish the other side. With out waders we walked across the river. The current was so strong, we ended up 50 feet downstream from where we started.
The thing with Z’Bruno is that he LOVED fishing. We almost always caught fish and he was constantly tinkering with his tactics. He never read magazines or went online, he would just tinker. He made Pike spoons from old kitchen spoons, fixed reel seats by melting lead to it and made all sorts of home made lure concoctions that almost always worked for some reason.
I have grown as an angler since the times I spent fishing with the Zio’s. I strongly believe in conservation and I practice catch and release and selective harvest. I read as much as I can, always trying to learn new tactics and I can’t remember the last time I used live bait. But it all stems back to fishing with my Zio’s. As unlikely it seemed that I would end up a Bass Tournament addict who loves fly fishing, I still owe my love of fishing to my uncles. I am grateful I had so many people who took me fishing as a kid, I appreciate it so much more as an adult and feel like its my responsibility to share that with future generations.
Then again, all those Sunday mornings spent watching Bob Izumi and Al Linder on TV while I waited for my Z’Mario to wake up so we could actually go fishing may have contributed a bit…..hmmm I guess everything happens for a reason.
I asked some other anglers to share a story about who got them involved in the sport we are all so fond of now. Read on to see what they have to say.
“When I was old enought to walk my father had us out fishing. As a family we would head out and have a picnic and fish from shore. Sometimes I miss shore fishing with all the family around. ”
My grandfather Malisa got me into fishing when I was 5 years old. My grandparents lived on the coast of the Adriatic Sea and I was living with them at the time spending most of days on the beach. My grandfather and I would regularly go and fish from the piers. I remember barely being able to hold up the long fishing rod while fighting a fish. He would let me fight it on my own for a few minutes before I got tired and would take over from there. Thats how my “obsession” started.
Mine was Zio Vincenzo who took me up to Collingwood for salmon in the fall when I was about 5 yrs of age and then my father would take us fishing at the Humber in Woodbridge or Canal Rd every Saturday morning from May to October. My first fishing pole was one of those thin fibreglass bicycle flag poles with a line tied around it and man did we catch everything.
My Grandma and Great Aunt were the first to put a fishing rod in my hands. We had a family cottage near Sauble Beach and many summers were spent targeting multiple species in that area. My interest for competitive bass fishing spiked throughout high school and after a day on the water with Lawren Wetzel – I was hooked.
My Dad and Grandpa played a big part in getting me into fishing. I remember
taking extremely long boat rides to a rock my Grandpa called “Red Rock”. It
was worth the drive because we would catch a ton of fish. Unfortunately I
was never given the co-ordinates.
After mulling over this all afternoon, I’ve decided that my love of angling is due to the influence of three men; my maternal grandfather Alex MacDonald, my Godfather and uncle Bill Macdonald, and my father Paul Boland. None of them ever fished a tournament, but each of them taught me key elements of fishing and life that I’d be lost without.
1) WORK HARD, LEARN YOUR CRAFT
My grandfather (affectionately referred to as “The Old Man”) taught me grass roots fishing at its finest. I spent many hours digging my own worms, and I hiked for miles along the bank looking for the perfect casting angle. Fishing with the Old Man was work. We worked hard for what we caught. Any line heavier than 6lb mono was considered unsportsmanlike, so you’d better have a good knot and know how to play your fish.
My uncle Bill first put a rod in my hand when I was 3yrs old. When I was 18 he started taking me to northern Ontario for weeks at a time. We fished deep shield lakes and the French River for pike, walleye and bass. We navigated with hand drawn maps provided by lodge owners. We fished out of a canoe or 14′ aluminum rental boats. We’d spend 7-9 hours a day on the water, many times waiting out severe storms as the summer rain came down in sheets. We persevered. We made it work. We caught fish.
3) LOVE AND EMBRACE THE MOMENT
My dad wasn’t a fisherman. Touching worms was gross. Touching fish was gross. Cleaning fish was horrific. My dad sucked it up, did all of that and more. He spent hours hauling me around the lake in a leaky 12′ row boat. He spent many more hours patiently waiting in tackle stores as I stared in awe at all of the latest and greatest gear. My dad put up with all of that just so he could bond with me in my world. He embraced each moment good or bad, because he was doing what he loved the most; spending time with his son.
My family has always fished. I was placed in the boat wrapped up on the floor in front of my mother in a Springbok when I was 3 weeks old. It was during my family’s vacation on the Trent Severn just outside Campbellford. Then when I was 6 my grandfather bought a cottage just outside Parry Sound. I would spend my whole summers up there fishing every day and sometimes all day. I left it for a few years when I was a young and stupid, and after taking some time to chase cars and skirts I returned to fishing and spending time on the water with my grandfather. So I would have to say I owe my love of fishing to Colonel Arthur Peters my grandfather.
Some of my earliest memories of me fishing have to be with my father on Buckhorn Lake in the Kawarthas.
Renting a cottage there for 3 weeks at a time every summer, this became my home water very quickly. When he became more active in the tournament scene, he had included me in that as well. by the time i was 12, i had already had more tournament experience then most 35 year olds.With that being said, the experice from fishing tournaments, trade shows and political side of the industry, my father, Jim Pezzetta, is the reason why i got addicted to fishing.
The question – Who introduced me to fishing.
The answer – My Dad! Yup, like many kids my Dad put the first fishing rod in my hands at age 3 and I haven’t looked back. Some memorable catches were at age 5 I caught a pike (that had real teeth cool), at age 9 I caught the elusive Walleye and at 14 my first Musky. The fishing bug doesn’t run in my family as much as it does in me but that’s the beauty of it. We don’t all need to be pro’s and have boats etc. to love the sport. What better way to spend a summers day then fishing with friends and family? Nature is my church and water is my bible, love it and it will reward you.