Little Current Fish and Game reaches half-century milestone

Charter member and past president of the Little Current and District Fish and Game Club (LCDFGC) and current President Bill Strain look through the old club record book. photo by Robin Burridge

LITTLE CURRENT—This Saturday, June 11 the Little Current and District Fish and Game Club (LCDFGC) will celebrate its 50th anniversary.

In honour of the celebration The Expositor spoke with charter member, past president and current secretary Doug Hore and current President Bill Strain about the club’s inception and endeavours over the years.

The Little Current and District Fish and Game Club has stocked 1,203,710 walleye fingerlings since 1987, plus several million fry. The fruits of their labour can be seen above coming back to spawn.
The Little Current and District Fish and Game Club has stocked 1,203,710 walleye fingerlings since 1987, plus several million fry. The fruits of their labour can be seen above coming back to spawn.

“The first president back in 1966 was Fred Noon,” said Mr. Hore. “Ed Kift was the vice president, Cliff Beange was the treasurer and Wayne Buck was the secretary.”

The directors included Dave Strain, Doug Hore, Gary Trimmer and Jim Williamson, Willard Bretzlaff and the first meeting was conducted by Robert Priddy from the Espanola Fish and Game Club.

“We only had half a dozen members at first, but every month we picked up a few more,” continued Mr. Hore. “There were lots of fisherman and hunters, sportsmen, on the Island and at the time we felt if we could organize a group we would be able to get stuff done as it came up.”

Mr. Hore said that some of the early meetings were held at the Little Current Legion, some in people’s garages and even some at Mr. Hore’s barber shop.

“Our membership grew to over 100 and then over the years it dropped down to 11, but now it’s back up over 100,” he said.

Mr. Hore recalled the LCDFGC’s first fundraiser back in 1967. “Out at Sheg creek at the time we had lots of smelt, but big groups of people were coming and leaving their garbage all over the place,” said Mr. Hore.

“We were doing smelt watches to make sure people cleaned up and decided to use the building that we use as the fish hatchery today to cook up some smelt,” Mr. Hore added. “Then someone came along and wanted to buy some so we decided to open a booth. We sold coffee too, but we became so popular we had to go from two frying pans to a deep fryer and eventually two deep fryers. We did that for four or five years for the week the smelt were really running and raised some good money for the club.”

Mr. Hore shared another story of the club stocking Wrights Lake with speckled trout in 1968.

Little Current Public School (LCPS) students on a field trip to the Little Current and District Fish and Game Club walleye hatchery. The program, which started with just LCPS students, has now grown to include students from six Island schools.
Little Current Public School (LCPS) students on a field trip to the Little Current and District Fish and Game Club walleye hatchery. The program, which started with just LCPS students, has now grown to include students from six Island schools.

“It was a steep mountain and we have to carry them (the fingerlings) up the mountain which was about a mile and a quarter,” he shared. “We had a local conservation officer with us, Art, who commented what a hairy walk that had been. When he put down his pack it flumped to the ground and it turned out Doc Alston had put a big stone in it.”

Some other good memories Mr. Hore recalled were the family picnics at Louisa, raising pheasants and turkeys and the old clubhouse on LaCloche.

“Mr. Fielding donated a building to us out on LaCloche that we fixed up, had as our clubhouse and used for meetings,” he said.

“We have always had a good working relationship with the MNR(F) (Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry), and before them the Department of Lands and Forests,” said Mr. Hore. “The local conservation officers were always members of the club, as were their bosses out of Sudbury, which was a big help—knowing what was coming down the pipe and what the government would support.”

The splake derby was also a big hit, said Mr. Hore, as was the pro bass derby that the club hosted one year.

“When the government started the hunter safety course, because before you could just buy a licence, five of our members became instructors and taught the course,” Mr. Hore said. “We taught it for 21-22 years. In the beginning it was $3, but we always donated the money back to the club.”

“I recall what fishing used to be like,” said Mr. Strain of why he joined the LCDFGC. “I put myself through college guiding and I wanted to be able to give back and to help bring back the fishing like it use to be.”

Over the years Mr. Strain said it was the projects that have brought the members together. “All you have to do is say you need some help and 10-12 guys show up to help,” he said, smiling.

“The hatchery in 1986 has really been the glue that has kept everyone together,” said Mr. Strain. “It’s amazing how the guys come out to help with the school groups. We started with one school and we have now expanded to six.”

“We are a very jolly group and we have had a lot of laughs over the years,” added Mr. Strain.

Both Mr. Strain and Mr. Hore commented on the members’ wives who “deserve a lot of credit for supporting the members and the club in general.”

Dating back to the club’s beginnings, club activities include: 1967, starting the smelt frys; 1968, stocking Wrights Lake with speckled trout, the first Zone D meeting in Little Current and hosting a perch derby; 1969, chicken shoot; 1974, stocking Wrights Lake again; 1975, perch derby; 1976, joined the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters; 1977, supported municipal motion that all deer hunters had to have written landowner permission and discussed bringing in wild turkeys; 1978, ordered 100 turkeys from Orillia Club; 1979, started feeding the deer in South Bay; 1980, stocked pheasants on Manitoulin; 1982, looked into constructing a rifle and hand gun rang and started ice fishing derby; 1985, contacted MNR with regard to stocking walleye fry; 1986, contacted MNR about a walleye jar hatchery (jar hatchery was constructed at Sheguiandah at a cost of $277.85), walleye rearing pond was constructed and club’s first wild game dinner was held on December 4; 1987, slake derby; 1990, second walleye rearing pond constructed; 1996, made application to turn Bass Lake Stream into a sanctuary and seven years later the stream was finally declared a sanctuary; 1997, installed an osprey nesting pole on Strawberry Channel and created two spawning pools on Bass Lake Stream; 1998, building a third walleye rearing pond; 1999, topographical survey for profile of Bass Lake Stream ($2,140); 2000, first scholarship to the Manitoulin Secondary School Student Aid Fund ($300); 2001, started collecting walleye eggs on Pike Lake; 2002, lobbied government for a cormorant cull; 2003, sought funding for fish ladder; 2004, started the river watch program and had a booth at the local trade fair; 2005, purchased two trap (hoop) nets ($1,500) and competed the engineering design for the fish ladder; 2006, hosted the first school field trip from Little Current Public School, completed the fish ladder at a cost of $16,300 and the viewing stand at a cost of $4,500; 2007, continued with the river watch program and completed more work on the Bass Lake Stream; 2008, added more spawning beds that were engineered by Dave Holla from the Great Lakes Environmental Services; 2009, school field trips extended to include Lakeview School; 2010, fundraising fish fry and the river watch program; 2011, attended the Manitoulin Trade Fair again; 2012, more rehabilitation work on the Bass Lake Stream ($4,500); 2013, more rehabilitation work on the Bass Lake Stream ($3,800); 2014, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters awards Bill Strain the Larry Wallace Memorial Volunteer Award and the Rainbow Board of Education recognizes the LCDFGC with the Community Partnership Award and Northeast Town Mayor Al MacNevin presents the club with an award acknowledging their educational and walleye stocking program; and 2015, the club stocks its 1,203,710 walleye fingerlings since 1987, plus several million fry and builds stone steps to Bass Lake Stream.

Past presidents of the club include: Fred Noon in 1966; Doug Hore in 1968; Don Cooper in 1969; Fred Noon in 1970; Bob McDonald in 1974; Ron Towns in 1975; Tim Morrison in 1976; Don Morphet in 1977; Steve Smith in 1979; Carman Ferguson in 1981; Doug Moore in 1982; Bob McDonald in 1985; Doug Hore in 1986; Rupert Grigull in 1987; Bob McDonald in 1988; Kevin Hutchinson in 1989; Bill Strain in 1990; Rick Gjos in 1992; and Bill Strain since 2006.

The anniversary dinner starts with cocktails at 5 pm, followed by dinner at 6:30 pm at the Little Current Recreation Centre. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased by contacting Bill Strain (705-368-2554), Bruce Burnett (705-368-3163), Kevin Hutchinson (705-368-1359) or at Doug’s Barber Shop (in the basement of the Anchor Inn Hotel) in Little Current or call 705-368-2073.