Welcome to Week LXII of 'Fishing Parkland Shorelines'. Like most of us I am a novice fisherman, loving to fish, but far from an expert. In the following weeks I'll attempt to give those anglers who love to fish but just don't have access to a boat, a look at some of the options in the Yorkton area where you can fish from shore, and hopefully catch some fish.
Last week I started in the kitchen and the pike patty burgers turned out so great I ventured back to the stove a couple of days later.
Well actually I was back cooking because I had a couple of fillets of pike left I hadn't used for the burgers, and wanted to use them up.
I figured I'd try something simple, more or less adapting a long time recipe to incorporate the pike.
The result is pike hash.
Again I flaked the fillets to debone them, added some bourbon molasses seasoning and Frank's Red Hot Sauce.
I chopped an onion and some left-over boiled potatoes and was ready to go.
I chopped up three stripes of bacon and fried those crispy, adding the onions part way so they would sweat and soften. Then in went the spuds and pike, which I left fry until the bottom was getting crispy brown. I gave the mixture a flip and left it to crisp the other side.
As the second crisping was going on, I filled a frying pan about half way with water and set it on the stove to boil. Once boiling I cracked a couple of eggs into the water to poach. The key with hash is you want the egg yolks runny, so it is a quick poach.
The hash went on the plate, and then using a slotted spoon to left the eggs out of the water, so they drain well, laid the eggs on top of the hash and served.
If you want to add a finishing touch for company I would sprinkle a few chopped chives over the eggs, and add a quartet of fresh tomato wedges around the edge of the dish.
This is a great dish to use up a few left over fillets. Try it.
As a journalist by trade, with a definite interest in sports, interviewing Canadian champions is generally still a pretty big thrill. Whether it`s a Royal Bank Cup winner like Kyle Turris or an Olympic shooter such as Cory Niefer, you remember the interview.
So when I was put in contact with Terence Courtoreille I was pretty excited.
You are not likely to recognize Courtoreille's name, but I was afforded some background information that caught my attention both as a journalist and fisherman.
Courtoreille is a Canadian champion fly fisherman, and is in fact one of the all time greats of the sport having won the title twice, the only angler to so that.
So I was quick to contact Courtoreille, who lives in Hay River in the Northwest Territories (NWT), and he was gracious enough to consent to an interview back and forth through email.
As you might expect from anyone achieving the top level in their chosen sport Courtoreille started young, although he said fly fishing did not initially come easily.
"I remember fishing as early as five, or six-years-old, and loved fishing throughout my childhood," He said. "But, I actually didn't start fly fishing until I was about 20-years-old. I fished mostly with my brother in those days and he picked up fly fishing after attending university in southern Alberta and later moving to Calgary.
"I suppose it was only a matter of time before he introduced me to the sport. It was a painful and frustrating transition but it only took a couple years of untangling knots and unintentional piercings before I was totally 'hooked'."
Born and raised in the NWT, Courtoreille said he now loves to fish for Grayling.
"Our local Grayling stream is about an 1.5 hours away and fish that as often as possible," he said. "This has proved to be valuable experience as most of the World Championships that I've attended have Grayling as the main species."
Of course many of us started fishing at a young age, and have kept at it, without thinking about doing it competitively, past the friendly wager over the first fish of the day, or the biggest of the trip, with our buds.
"The shift to competition fishing was unintentional at first," said Courtoreille. "In 2003, a group of local fly fishers in the NWT decided to attend the first National Championships held in Manitoba's Parkland Region. It was another excuse for a fishing trip and I thought it would be a good opportunity to learn more about the sport. Low and behold, two of my teammates placed in the top-three that year, I finished in the top-10, and the NWT team finished third overall.
In 2003, they fished Spear, West Goose and Tokaryk Lakes, the Shell River and one bank fishing session at the reservoir at Lake of the Prairies.
"We knew our early success was a bit lucky so we had to attend Nationals the following year and the year after that," said Courtoreille. "It wasn't long before I was totally immersed in the competition scene."
I was curious how competition fishing differed from just heading out on a weekend to fish for fun.
"In recreational fishing we typically fish the areas and patterns that produced results in the past," explained Courtoreille.
"In competition fishing we don't have that luxury.
"Competitors are assigned their sections of water by way of random draws and often the first time you see the water is during the competition. As a result, we're forced to use unconventional techniques and patterns.
"Also, there's a difference in mentality. In recreational fishing we're raised to catch the 'big one' but in competition fishing, it's exactly opposite of that. The scoring system encourages numbers, so it's actually better to catch a lot of smaller fish versus a few big ones."
Courtoreille obviously found the right mindset, achieving success only a few years in competition with his first Canadian title.
"This was my fourth National Championship, in 2006. (That event was held near Fergus, Ontario on the Grand and Conestoga Rivers), and from our experience we were learning how important preparation is for these events," he said. "At this competition, we travelled to the area a full week prior to the competition. During this time we had two local guides working with us; one was a fishing guide and the other was an entomologist. We spent our prep week fishing the practice waters and studying insect life and tying flies in the evening."
Interestingly Courtoreille said he was not drawn to fly tying.
"Oddly enough I never started fly tying until I got into the competition scene," he said. "Now I'm sitting at the vice almost every day and tie for other teams when they're traveling abroad. I have a few patterns that have become standard additions to our competition quiver, but feel guilty about claiming those patterns as my own as I mostly steal ideas from current patterns and vary to meet the conditions of the day, although that's probably how most patterns are created. As an accountant, I'm probably not creative enough to develop my own pattern from scratch."
Still research and adaptive fly tying is a must at competitions.
"For me, our team was the most prepared going into this competition than any other previous competition," said Courtoreille. "I scored 52 fish in this competition with my largest measuring a whopping 30-centimetres.
"Needless to say, this is where I learned that targeting smaller fish usually pays off."
The championship was of course hugely gratifying for Courtoreille.
"Up to this point, I think I had three top-10 finishes of which two were in the top-five," he said. "I was getting close, but couldn't find my way into the medals.
"However, rather than feeling relieved with the win, I felt very fortunate for how things lined up. I was part of great team who supported each other and shared information freely. Without this support I could have never succeeded.
"I also consider myself more of a river fisherman than a lake fisherman, so having a competition with all river venues fit to my strengths. Thankfully, things just lined up."
It was back to a local area for us for Courtoreille's second crown.
"My second championship came in 2010. The Manitoba Parkland Region hosted these Nationals for the second time. So I had some experience with these lakes from the 2003 competition," he said.
"In 2010, the venues changed to all lakes (Tokaryk, Patterson, Spear, West Goose and Twin). So three of the lakes were used in both competitions, and I keep notes of all my past venues as well as the notes from my teammates. As a result, we had some good intel going into the 2010 competition that not only help me win individual gold, but helped my team win team gold as well."
As a competitor the second title meant a different feeling for Courtoreille.
"Absolutely, these events are quite competitive so to have success twice was something I wasn't expecting. This was also my first success on a lake competition, which was a bit surprising for someone who prefers moving water," he said.
So is there a secret to success in competition?
"I don't think there's a single tip that I could give. Contrary to what most people believe, competitive fly fishing is a team sport," said Courtoreille. "Five anglers working together will produce better results than five individuals. Competitors who embrace the team concept will generally succeed more often. I'd recommend to anyone to try competition fishing, even if it's only once. It will provide you with an opportunity to meet new angling friends and learn more about our sport."