How did Perching for Simcoe Gold Leads to Pan Am Gold! In October of 2019, one of the true hi-lights of my fishing career occurred. At the 2019 Pan American Bass Championship held in Cornwall! I, along with the rest of the 2019 Team Canada, managed to eke out a gold medal victory. Defeating a stacked Team USA. With the likes of bass fishing legend Roland Martin & his son, Scott. The #1 ranked bass angler in the world Jacob Wheeler. And top bass pros, Cody Meyer, Jacob Powroznik, Dustin Connell, Brian Latimer & Mark Daniels Jr. just to name a few.
Team Canada consisted of myself and partner Rob Lee. Canadian fishing icon Bob Izumi and his son, Darren Izumi. Stephen and Phil Hegarty, Brian Hughes and Anais Chaves, Scott Lecky and Andy Kinstler. Matt Massey and Robert Greenberg, Jason Gramada and Nicolas Gendron and Bob MacMillian and Ryan Flaro. Anytime one reaches a career goal, one often reminisces about the past. Reflecting on how they got to where they are now. My love of fishing, and eventual foray into the sport of competitive fishing, is rooted deeply in the town of Orillia and the Orillia Perch Festival.
The Orillia Perch Festival
2020 commemorates the 40th Anniversary of the Orillia Perch Festival, an amazing community family-friendly event! The Orillia Perch Festival has grown to become one of Canada’s largest registered fishing derbies. The 40th Anniversary event will last a week longer than usual. It is running from Saturday, April 18 until Saturday, May 16, 2020. There will be lots of prizes awarded, as usual, and both adult and kid’s cash prizes to be won. The great thing about fishing is that it doesn’t matter if you’re young or old. Male or female. Rich or poor. Everyone can enjoy this wonderful outdoor sport. The Orillia Perch Festival is for and open to family members and friends of all ages.
Remembering Perching in Orillia
Fishing and in particular, fishing for Yellow Perch is a popular pastime for Orillia residents and visitors. Many of my youthful summer vacations were spent in the town of Orillia. With my aunt & uncle and cousins, the Lems of “Golden Dragon” fame! During those vacations, many fond memories were created. Getting dropped off or biking to the once publicly accessible Orchard Point government pier to fish for whatever would bite. Often those fish would be the famed Yellow Perch of Lakes Simcoe & Couchiching. Of course, even in those days, I was a bit of a foodie. I have fond memories of fries with gravy, Cherry Cola floats and Boston Cream Pie at the fabulous Golden Dragon.
In those moments, you would never think it would ever lead to representing Canada on the world stage of fishing. Over my long fishing career, I have been lucky and honoured to proudly represent Canada at two PanAmerican Bass Championships. As well as a World Bass Championship and numerous B.A.S.S. Nation & TBF Divisionals. I am equally as proud to be the “Honorary Chairperson” for this year’s 40th Anniversary Orillia Perch Festival! I am a strong advocate of accessible angling for all and an event like this hits all markers. It is affordable to enter, doesn’t require any fancy equipment to participate and is still fairly accessible.
What is the Honorary Chairperson
The position of “Honorary Chairperson” for the Orillia Perch Festival is extremely prestigious. The phenomenal event boasts a long history of amazing people and personalities who have had held it. There have been 3 generations from one of the most well-known fishing families in Canada. Denny, Bruce and Michael Leeson have held it. TV personality Italo Labignan from Canadian Sportfishing. Bassmaster Elite Series emcee, Facts of Fishing host & Canadian funnyman, Dave Mercer as well. Canadian Fishing Royalty, Bob and Wayne Izumi have all embraced this role in the past. Even Canadian duct tape aficionado and comedian, Steve Smith had been an Honorary Chairperson. Although he is probably better known to many as “Red Green”. Rumour has it Red Green even came up with a since lost recipe, at the festival. “Perch in a Work Sock”.
Long-running community events such as the Orillia Perch Festival do more than provide a positive economic impact in the region. They offer opportunities for visitors to experience the great fishing a city like Orillia has to offer. Perch Fishing is a type of angling that can be can be done with the most basic equipment. Or you can also do it out of a top of the line bass boat. I love targeting perch through the ice when Lakes Simcoe & Couchiching are frozen over. Through the spring ice out and often right up until Pike season opens. They are fun to catch and are amongst the most delicious freshwater fish that swims in our waters. Both Lakes Simcoe and Couchiching are world-class Yellow Perch fisheries!
Looking Back At It All
In the 40 years the Orillia Perch Festival has been running, the little town has grown into the “Sunshine City”! As for myself, I’ve delved into the world of competitive fishing. I have managed to win my fair share of tournaments, a Pan Am Gold, a Pan Am Silver, a B.A.S.S. Nation Divisional, a TBF Divisional and a few “Team of the Year” & “Angler of the Year” awards. Yet, I still loved coming back to my roots and certainly the Orillia Perch Festival. Come on up and visit a beautiful part of our province. Create some traditions and memories with your friends, kids and other family members! They’ll last a lifetime! Above all it is because of these memories that Perching for Simcoe Gold Leads to Pan Am Gold!
I’m truly grateful to be bestowed this great honour by the Orillia and District Chamber of Commerce and Event Co-Ordinator, Doug Bunker. I’m looking forward to seeing and meeting all the participants and the Orillia residents at the Opening Ceremonies and Closing Ceremonies.
Sponsors: Skeeter Bass Boats. Yamaha Outboards. Huntsville Marine. Garmin Electronics. Power Pole. Navionics. Ultra Tungsten. Daiwa Rods & Reels. V-T2 Livewell Ventilation System. Rapid Fishing Solutions. Stringease. Vigor Eyewear. Z-Man Fishing. TH Marine. Liquid Mayhem. Sunline, NPS. EGO Nets. Owner Hooks. Bass Mafia. Yo-Zuri. Duel-Hardcore.