I remember back in the late 60's and early 70's the public outcry that Lake Erie was officially declared "dead". No surprise there considering more than a century of unrestricted industrial dumping, near non-existent controls on agricultural runoff and free flowing sewage. Closer to home, the story was the same with the Don River. Even today, a drive along the Don Valley Parkway south of Bloor St. shows a tired old river beaten into submission with controlled banks and an industrialised estuary. But things are not what they seem.
Last month on an outing just north of the Toronto city limits, my friend and I noticed several youths on a resdential street carying fly rods. Having grown up in the general area, I assumed they were in pursuit of the "mighty" Don River chub. On our return trip, out of habit, it was decided to check out the water to see if there was anything interesting going on. What a surprise, the dirty old Don had a full blown run of salmon!
As with boyscouts and most fishing fanatics, we were prepared for all possible situations. The back of the vehicle contained just about any type of tackle you would ever need. So within minutes of our discovery we were actively trying to outwit these migratory visitors with a variety of baits ranging from spinners and spoons to roe bags and flies.
So.. who says the Don River is dead? Not me!
What other commonly held beliefs are full of crap? Carp are a garbage fish, sunfish and catfish aren't worth eating, pike and musky lose their teeth during the summer.
I learned these "fish tales" as a youngster from my "enlightened" peers and it's taken half a lifetime to re-educate myself on the pure joy of angling. No longer will I be victim to good-old-boy fish snobbery. Any fish is a worthy fish, they can't all be trophies. I'll take my opportunities as they come and keep an open mind when it comes to my expectations.
The main reason for this posting is for you the reader to keep an open mind. The most common fishing myth is that you have to travel great distances to find productive water (unfortunately, most people don't know what's in their own back yard). In recent years my most valuable fishing equipment has been my collection of Backroad Mapbooks, Google Earth, and the MNR's Guide to Eating Gamefish. These publications have allowed me to find hidden hotspots in my area and given me an idea of what can be caught there.
By the way, salmon are not the only species available in the Don River. It has healthy populations of carp, shiners, bullhead catfish, chub, suckers, rockbass, sunfish, the occasional largemouth bass, pike in the lower stretches, and rainbow and brown trout.The Don is dead... don't you believe it!