Travel: Fly Fishing

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Travel: Fly Fishing

By Catherine Daley

A Sporting Obsession

I have lasting memories of the 1992 movie A River Runs Through It, and I can honestly say that it has nothing to do with Brad Pitt. Images from the movie stayed with me because of the beautiful fly fishing scenes. And, in 1993, the academy agreed with me and awarded it an Oscar for best cinematography.

My daughter was a rower when she was in university. For some reason I equate the timing and fluidity of fly fishing with the choreographic nature of rowing – watching a crew of eight sweeping their oars in perfect unison. Fly fishing is all about the fluidity of the waves (referred to as loops) as the line unfurls during the cast. Unlike other casting methods, when you’re fly fishing you’re casting the line rather than the lure. Apparently there’s a great amount of physics involved in performing the proper cast, but photographer, fly angler and co-host on So Fly Podcast, Gabriel Bizeau, says that you can liken it to mastering a perfect stroke when playing golf – it takes a lot of practice. During the off-season, you might find Bizeau honing his technique in an empty field. “Consistency is the main skill – you have to be precise. You want to make your loop as small as possible when you’re swinging. If you deviate from your path with your arm, you get tangled and that’s when you start swearing,” laughs Bizeau. “It’s not as peaceful as everyone thinks. It’s about keeping focused – it’s a mind game.”

Bizeau started fly fishing with his father at a young age. He attended a hunting and fishing club in his home town in Quebec when he was around the age of five, and in the winter he took fly tying classes.

A box of trout candy.

Tying flies is an art form that anglers have been trying to perfect for hundreds of years. Unlike other types of fishing where you drop a lure into the water and a bobber signals that you have a fish, fly fishing is about enticing the fish to strike (bite the fly). Artificial flies are made by fastening hair, fur, feathers and other natural (or synthetic) materials onto a hook. Flies are tied in different sizes, colours and patterns to resemble local terrestrial and aquatic insects, baitfish or other prey that are attractive to the species of fish that you’re trying to target. “It’s a very personal thing, but you’re trying to replicate, and animate, a fly, so that it looks alive to the fish,” says Bizeau. “You can work from old patterns or invent your own flies. When I’m making fl ies, I’m always thinking about how it’s going to swim. Will it float well? And what kind of fish can I catch with it?”

Bizeau’s favourite hand-tied mouse fly.

Like many anglers, Bizeau is adamant about preserving our resources, and is strictly catch and release. The barb on the hook is flattened so that it’s easier to remove from the fish and does less damage.

The trout of Bizeau’s dreams.

The sport of fly fishing is becoming increasingly popular, and Bizeau admits that, for him, it’s become an obsession. “When I’m tying flies in the winter, I’m dreaming of going fly fishing in the summer. You have to stay focused. If you’re not ready and you lose a fish – it’s the worst.”

Many of us would probably be better fishermen if we did not spend so much time watching and waiting for the world to become perfect.
– Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through it and Other Stories

You don’t have to drive far to find great fly fishing spots like this in Southern Ontario.

Southern Ontario is packed with tributaries, streams, rivers and lakes with wonderful fly fishing opportunities. For catching giant brown trout Bizeau suggests the upper Credit River. The lower Grand River is great for largemouth bass. And for a feisty fight (one of Bizeau’s favourites), Lake Ontario is teaming with carp.

Rob Cesta, owner and operator of Drift Outfitters, lands a big one.

For more information visit in Toronto, or Grand River Outtting & Fly Shop in Fergus at

Photography, Gabriel Bizeau,


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