JUNE 24, 2018
alan skeoch
June 24, 2018
(Excuse the mention of Skeoch family in story…too many of
them,  I  know that…including  dog Woody.  There are people
here whose names  I  could  not record…particularly the two
young boys who caught the big fish.)
The  best fishing in Ontario is not located in some  pristine lake hidden away in the dense coniferous  forests  of Ontario.  Nope!  Not there! The best
fishing is  just a  couple of  kilometres out from Port Credit in Lake Ontario.  Deep down, 200 feet or more, there is  a large school of  salmon feasting on
alewives and  others.  Salmon that grow to be huge.  Salmon that a few fishermen compete each year to see who can catch the biggest of these

The rebirth of the Credit River did not occur overnight.  For decades the River went into a sad  decline until the Atlantic salmon disappeared  from the river

as the twin damages of  timbering and damming in the 19th and 20th centuries removed the shade of overhanging trees which provided cool water that
salmon loved to lay  their eggs and the dams for power mills … lumber, grist, wool …slowed the river down  so much that the white  water rushes were
eliminated  and  the river became a lazy watercourse unappealing to the adventurous  Atlantic salmon.  The dumping of  sewage and sawdust into the
Credit River did  not help  much either.   Brian Lambie, President of the Port Credit Salmon and Trout Association put the matter bluntly.  “People of Ontario tended to think of rivers
as a place where sewers  go.”
But all that has changed. The Credit River has  been reborn helped by many  midwives  some of whom  planted  400,000 trees along the banks of the river as it winds its  way down
to Port Credit from its  headwaters near Erin and Orangeville.  Tress shade  salmon  eggs.
Even now, Brian Lambie, the president of the Port Credit Salmon and Trout Association, said most people in Toronto don’t even know you can catch big salmon in Lake Ontario. “They tend to think of Lake Ontario as a place where our sewers go,” he said.
But there were no Atlantic Salmon in the Credit River.  And the comeback of those beauties was unlikely.  In the 1970’s enlightened  conservationists (including
many fishermen) came up with a  solution.  “Let’s try Pacific salmon, they are tougher.”  And so chinook and coho salmon were ‘seeded”  in the upper  Credit
River.   They  loved the new home it seems.  800,000 salmon eggs were introduced and 90,000 Pacific  salmon fingerlings began to run the new rapids down  the
Credit to Lake Ontario.  Today, 2018, the Pacific  salmon are established as  between 5,000 and 10,000 return to run up the river every  fall to get back to what they
thought (first run) was their place  of birth.   Nowadays the headwaters  of the Credit … there river is  some  100 km long…has  become their place of birth.  They
are the Credit River salmon, no longer Pacific  Salmon.
Brian Lambie’s leadership with fishermen has helped to make the Credit River into a $180 million industry where huge salmon like the one pictured here (caught June 25,2018) are
common enough to support a Port Credit Fish Derby where fishermen and a few fisherwomen haul their caches to a  weigh station on the banks of the river and the top catch
gets a $2,000 cash  prize.  This  year the top catch weighed 22 pounds and  is pictured just below the smiling face of Brian Lambie who acted as spokesman for the Salmon Derby.
Andrew Skeoch supervised the weighing competition.  Competing fishermen who caught more than one big salmon had to choose which  of their catch
would  be  weighing in.   Of these which would you select?
These boys were professional s at catching salmon.  The huge fish on the right was  a top contender that just barely missed qualifying for
one of the big cash prizes.
Some caught big ones.   some caught little ones.  One boat caught that big orange stuffed toy floating in the morning mist.
Some of The Port Credit Fish  Derby contestants are returning to the Port Credit harbour with huge fish in their lockers.  Some returned  with nothing. In the distance
is  the hulk of the old Ridgetown, a  Laker that was filled with cement year  ago to act as a breakwater at the mouth of the Credit River.
The winning team brought in a 22 pound salmon.  Here they are pictured with Brian Lambie.
One man whose name I need to find, had the job of determining the biggest fish.  His word was  not up for debate.
Brian Lambie, centre, with  two of his many assistants.  These assistants had to slip their fingers  through the gills of these huge fish, careful not
to slice fingers on the serrated teeth of the salmon.  Remember salmon are predators …  helped  to clean
up the Credit River by gobbling up as many of the alewife fish as they could  find.  The alewife replaced the Atlantic salmon
and had to be reduced if a  salmon stock could be re-established.  Take a look at the teeth on the salmon held by
Andrew Skeoch on the right below.
 This  salmon is preparing to get even with this fisherman on the right.  Salmon  and fishermen should be  friends but they are not.   The salmon
compete to catch and consume smaller fish.  The fishermen are after the prize money in the Port Credit Derby.   Enemies.
I counted  three women among the fishers. It was  a  male crowd  of 60 to 70 men.
These guys got the third prize of $750 cash.
In spite of the pouring rain, Bib Cutmore, Marjorie Skeoch and dog Woody enjoyed  the merriment of the competition.  Woody
showed no interest in eating a  salmon.  “Too big…too many teeth…,” he growled.
Someone, likely Brian Lambie pictured above, fired  a shotgun at 6 a.m. on June 24th to start the Derby.  A flotilla of motorized fish
boats festooned  with long fish rods raced out into lake Ontario for the six hour Fish Derby.  Two hundred  feet beneath these boats those big coho and chinook salmon
slid silently in the dark looking for unwary alewives  or any other edible thing that moved…some were no doubt surprised
to find the moving lure had a nest of lethal fish hooks.
“Where have all these fishermen come from?  Several came from Georgian Bay but the person who came the farthest was  Kevin Skeoch
who flew to Port Credit from South Korea just to join his brother.  The Skeoch brothers  failed to catch a  big fish but that  did  not matter.
“It’s the chase that really matters.”
2013 article  Toronto Star

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