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    Friday, June 19, 2009
    Testing Ontario While It Tested Me

    I suppose it was only a matter of time before I tried my luck at the Great Lake Steelhead.
    Good friend Paul Castellano with Cast Adventures (www.castadventures.ca), a guide on the Niagara River in Ontario, had been busting my chops for the past year, trying to rid me of my wild steelhead snobbery to give his fishery a try.
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    Castellano with a nice Niagara River Steelhead.
    I’d always wanted to see the Niagara River; it’s monster rapids and multitude of species intrigued me, so it didn’t take too much persuasion when it came time to choose a destination for an episode of Fly Nation.
    Never would I have imagined that I was about to witness one of the most incredible rivers I had ever seen…..
    The pictures of Niagara Falls truly do not give it justice.  It’s bright blue water, and majestic water falls leave me at a loss of words (yup, that‘s actually possible).
    I had two missions on this trip. 1)  Catch Great Lake steel using West Coast swinging tactics. 2)  Get my casting certification (CCI) at the Spey Clave that was being held that weekend.
    On the first day, Castellano brought us to a magnificent fishing spot.  Like a scene fresh out of Jurassic Park, the water swirled in a dangerous pool and the lush green brush cascaded down towering rock walls.  It was incredible.
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    Truly spectacular.
    It was hard to get a swing with the ever changing water levels and deep swirling water, and it soon was clear to me why I was the only knob at the pool with a Spey rod and sink tip. Indicators, glo-bugs and split shot seemed to be more of the theme here….. Damn.
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    Stubborn as all hell……Tying streamers when I should have been tying……
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    ……These!  (Josh Nugent photos)
    The East Coasters put on a clinic!  I couldn’t believe how many fish these guys brought to the beach. It was evident why Castellano was said to be one of the top guides on the river.
    The next day, Castellano loaded us into his boat, and we hit the river again.  I was determined to get one on the swing. An hour, two split shot, and an interesting snake roll off the bow of the boat later, I had finally hooked and landed my first Great Lake steelhead caught on a swinging fly.  It was awesome!
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    It’s on!  Swing vs. drift…. (Naoto Aoki photo)
    The highlight of my trip though?  Freakin’ carp!!! Never did I think seeing a carp would have me fumbling so bad that I’d forget how to cast, but a school of 40+ pounders did exactly that. I wasn’t able to hook one, but you can be damn sure that I tried!
    With mission one accomplished, it was off to the Grand River Spey Clave. I’d spent the entire week sweating bullets, as I had registered to take my CCI exam through the Federation Of Fly Fishers. Friend and fellow angler Neil Houlding had opened his home to me and had spent the evening helping to keep me relaxed and confident.  But with Simon Gawesworth as one of my testers, it was hard not to be nervous.  Blowing head winds, a crowded park, and rolling cameras didn’t do much to help my nerves either.
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    Almost four hours later I passed my exam.  (Sigh of relief….) A swig of whiskey with Gawesworth and a celebratory dinner with the guys ended my trip with a bang and, before I knew it, I was on a flight out of town.
    Posted by April Vokey on June 19, 2009

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