A chance to get out on the water early in the season, check. Chance to get the kids involved in fishing, check. Opportunity for the family to spend time together, in the out of doors, check. That’s what the 2016 Orillia Perch Festival mean to me, entering the family in it for the first time this year. I was as the Hamilton Boat show and was put onto the festival by an outdoor writer, and decided to check it out. The festival is put on by the local Chamber of Commerce, and last for about 4 weeks. It’s very affordable to enter, just $20 for adults and $5 for kids, which gets you access for the entire time.
I was lured by the hope of schools of hungry perch, where the kids would be able to catch
them like pulling rock bass of the dock, but we missed the few days where the perch had come in shallow. Not to be deterred though, we had two great days as a family. Day 1 for us was also the first day we put the boat in the water, a full month earlier than normal, which I was excited about. We had preregistered for the event but still had to check in and get our badges and forms at the registration centre. The kids were very excited to get their very own badges and forms :). With our administration duties completed, we were off to the public launch to get things going.
Our plan was to be on the water for about 90 minutes. It was a short time but the kids are still at the age where they are learning patience in a a boat, but we also had long drive times and needed to be home. We headed out to an area on the lake called “the narrows” which is an area of shallow water where two lake join, but also where the “tagged” fish that have extra value were released. Most of our journey was in a no wake zone which allowed for ample opportunity to speak to other anglers. What we heard on the water is what we had heard in early reports. The fish had not come in shallow yet, and it was tough fishing.
We happened upon one young fella who had spent over 8 hours on the water and collected two fish. He pointed us to where he’d caught them and off we went. We fished for almost 2 hours, and our only success was my son Jacob who caught our one and only perch for the day. He was very excited, and spent many a moment describing to the rest of us how he seemed to be the only person who had any fishing luck.
At the end of our journey we headed back in, pulled out the boat and headed to HQ to have our perch inspected for live release, and to get an entry ballot for our young master angler. In those two short hours we managed to get our first sunburns of the year, a reminder of the importance of hats and sunscreen even on cool days. We headed on our 2 hour journey home, ready to return in two weeks time.
Our second day a few weeks later was much the same as the first, minus the fish. We got skunked! The only solace came from talking to scores of other anglers who were in the same boat. It seems the best fishing days came during the week days, when we were not on the water. The most fun on our final day though was the OPP kids day, where the local detachment along with scores of volunteers hosted tones of activities for kids of all ages. There were sack races, soccer dribbling, casting exercises, a chance to sit in an OPP helicopter, complimentary BBQ and so much more. Really, having the kids have a positive association with Police, and with Fishing, I’m a happy father.
This was our first year with the perch festival, and while we had fun, I’m not sure if it will become a regular thing. A two hour drive each way is a big commitment for our family, so we have to be judicious in how we use or non work time. We are grateful to all of those who dedicated time to hosting the festival, well done!