I have loved fishing for as long as I can remember. Due to my mediocre skills and stubborn patience I can even enjoy long stretches of not catching fish. I just like being outside, with even the slightest chance that I might get a fish to bite. Last week, however, I saw something that turned my stomach and made me sad to be lumped under the monikers: fisherman or sportsman.
I was fishing on the Manitou River, near the mouth at Michael’s Bay when I came across the remains of 10 salmon. It is not uncommon to see fish skeletons where people have cleaned their catch and just left the guts behind. Unsightly, smelly but I suppose the animal scavengers are pleased for an easy meal. The distressing sight was of three whole Chinook salmon, or so it appeared. Looking closer at the two large females (about 15 pounds each) you could see that they had been sliced open for the sole purpose of stripping out her eggs. The large male (around 30 pounds) was just left to rot. All of the fish were fresh from the lake and in very good condition. Of course, with the life cycle of these fish, they do die after they spawn but these ones were healthy and bright and should not have been wasted.
Just as I was taking pictures (to follow, next week) a Conservation Officer arrived on the scene who was following up a complaint reported to the Sudbury Enforcement Unit of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. We are still waiting for permission for a media request from the ministry before we can post any more particulars. The officer encouraged anyone with information on poaching to report it. It makes for a safer and more productive experience for those following the rules.
The experience was just so disappointing because it was the first time I had gone salmon fishing in the river for some 30 years. The reason for such a salmon hiatus was for exactly the same gut wrenching discovery I made on the Mindemoya River back in the day. It left such a bad taste in my mouth that I didn’t do something I love because of the idiots among us for that length of time!
When I relayed what I had discovered to my students on Monday morning one of them took the initiative to do some research. It turns out that one female Chinook salmon will produce between 4,000 and 13,000 eggs. Even with the relatively low success rate of eggs hatching, even a percentage is a huge number of hatches. Those eggs that don’t hatch out still provide valuable food for a myriad of other creatures. My class has participated in the micro-hatchery program over a number of years so my students have been heavily invested in salmon success. If see something wrong out there, speak up!
The NOJHL Jr. A Espanola Express, featuring Mindemoya’s Liam Bridgeman, had a busy weekend. The Express got off to a good start on Friday night against the Soo Michigan Eagles, skating to a 4 – 0 victory. It was the Soo’s first game of the season. On Saturday, as the US border is still closed to Canadians, Espanola stood as host for the Soo’s home opener, where the Eagles avenged Friday night’s loss with a 4 – 2 win of their own. Then on Sunday afternoon it was off to Blind River for the Express, to take on the Beavers in their home opener. The Express were battling at 1 – 1 in the 2nd when the Beavers quickly took advantage of a couple turnovers, and the Express saw themselves fall behind 3 – 1 in the space of 40 seconds. The lead and a series of penalties proved too much for the Express to overcome, and they lost 4 – 1, falling to 1 – 2 in the 3 game weekend set.
Mackenzie Shigwadja (daughter of Wiikwemkoong’s Melissa and Shawn Shigwadja and granddaughter of Dominic and Brenda Beaudry) is in her first year at Brock University. Even as a freshman she is already playing Brock University lacrosse this fall. Mackenzie, of course, is a former National Lacrosse Champion with Team Ontario so I guess it isn’t a big surprise! Good luck, Mackenzie!
Year-ender ball tourney
Gerard Baibomcowai is the ubiquitous sports organizer in Wiikwemkoong. If he wasn’t involved, many leagues, games and even sports pools would just not happen! This past summer he organized a fun, co-ed slow-pitch league. To end the season, he also organized a tournament for all the bragging rights.
He had five teams entered for a full day of fun at the ballfield in Manitowaning. Without lights on the field Gerard had to limit games to five innings or an hour whatever came first. The championship game to the Twisters scoring 10 to the six runs put up by Doze Guys to win the title.
The Twisters took home $1,000 and featured: Daphne Corbiere, Danielle Shawana, Justine Keeshig, Courtney Pheasant, Deana Debassige, Chase Assiniwe, Jason Peltier, Blair Morrison, Zach Pitawanakwat, Launie Pheasant and Nelson Morningstar.
Doze Guys were still $500 richer and included: Jenna Stoneypoint, Warren Simon, Kyla Toulouse, Teejay Wabegijig, Kyle Baibomcowai, Ruby Simon, Robin Abitong, Brooke Eshkawkogan and Aj Elliot.
Interestingly, Gerard had $70 in “change” to be used for the kids in attendance to return foul balls and home-run balls. With all the heavy and ‘crooked’ hitters and a dollar per/ball it didn’t take him to whittle down his money!
A good sport is good for sports.