Welcome to The Best Lack All Conviction Blog
This blog is not about anything other than the things I want to write about.
For a long time this blog tried to be about darts and may yet again talk about darts
but for now it is about whatever suits my fancy.
If that entertains, engages or inspires you, then I guess we are in good company.
My sister also has a blog that is written by her pet border collie.
Callum the Border Collie ands his Autistic Human
Please following her page and showing her some support. She has been having a tough time since our mother passed due to cancer.
There are a lot of resources available to point out the fishing opportunities that Toronto provides, and I think it is safe to say that most are more authoritative than what I am I about to provide.
What I can offer though is some personal perspectives and observations.
After a break from fishing of about thirty years, this past summer I got my wife a rod and reel for her birthday, and with Covid holding sway over the city, we were able to make fairly frequent trips out.
It was a tough time, but I think it was a tough summer for everyone who fished in Toronto.
Still, even when the results weren't what we wanted, it was still good to be out.
One of the easier spots to get to from where I live. I also just happened to go there on maybe the hottest day of the year. To make it worse there were just too many people around, like a crazy amount of people. Hindsight being twenty/twenty I think I would like to return in the earlier spring or later fall, where there won't be such massive crowds or oppressive heat.
A few years back I developed transverse myelitis, which left me partially paralyzed and walking with a cane. This can make getting around a bit more arduous and occasionally impossible.
The heat combined with not really knowing where I was going (everything looked different from what I thought it was from Google maps) meant that I didn't have a chance to really explore a lot of spots.
I certainly never made it as far as the lake itself.
I think I need to give Ashbridges a second look.
The East Don river at Charles Sauriol park is the only site on this list that I could just walk to (or in my case hobble) and it is in my opinion about the prettiest. As for the fishing, other than the salmon and sucker runs is limited to mostly creek chub. If you happy catching creek chub, however, then you will be happy as they are in relative abundance and not too tricky to catch.
We did make a couple trips out for salmon but large families with dogs and kids running about 'salmon watching' made things tricky. The wife had one on for a few seconds, but that was the extent of it.
I do wonder if the Don holds anything else catchable. A bowfin or two maybe? The Don is a difficult environment, but sometimes you just gotta dream big.
I consider myself a bit of a genius for avoiding this spot all summer long and not going until temperatures and crowds cooled off a little bit.
We tried both on and off of the little fishing/observation platform. Things looked good and promising, and having reviewed data from the TRCA (Toronto Region Conservation Authority), I knew that there were fish to be caught. Maybe more pan fish than anything else, but we had humble aspirations.
We went on two occasions and got utterly skunked each time.
Our only consolation was that we got to break in our new thermos. There is something about thermos coffee that is extra special.
Will we return? I think likely, but maybe next time we'll bring some corn and focus on the carp.
Highland Creek Mouth
This site was maybe one of the trickier ones to get to considering my mobility issues, but also one that gave me some high hopes as it seemed a natural spot to attract fish.
I think shore fishing lake Ontario is just naturally challenging, with wind and waves playing havoc with the idyllic fishing I had in mind.
I also had a wet (and slightly scary) reminder that the lake has tides, and that the route you took to your spot might not be there during high tide.
I do think the spot has potential though and we weren't completely skunked, pulling a couple of brown bullheads from the actual creek itself. I wonder why highland creek has them but not the Don? Maybe it's the tendency of the Don to flood?
Leslie Spit Fishing Node
This spot was suggested to me by the TRCA and it did seem to have a lot going for it.
Getting there is easy enough, although there is a fair amount of walking and cyclist dodging to get there.
Once there you are just as likely to encounter a non-fishing person as you are a fishing person. At no point, though were we unable to fish.
My excitement about the place, however, was dashed against the rocks. The big giant stones that were used to create this 'node'.
With these monstrous blocks you need a hundred meter cast just to hit water.
The highlight was the dubious distinction of catching my first round goby.
I might go back, but its low on my list.
If I lived closer to downtown, Ontario place might be a no brainer. As it is, we only made the one trip and so had to make a little guesswork to find where to fish in the areas on Ontario place where fishing is allowed.
I am fairly confident that we were in an OK, but maybe not the greatest spot.
I did see something of a decent size jump, but actual catch was limited to round goby.
We will return and possibly explore a few different spots, but maybe not before we try the Islands again.
Port Union Waterfront
This was another spot recommended by the TRCA, who sited it as having a 'sizeable smallmouth population'.
The conditions here are almost exactly similar at least as the lake is concerned as Highland Creek mouth, as it is essentially the same stretch of lake.
This area is a newer bit of Toronto park land, it is it actually quite nice.
Fishing was a bit tricky though as access to the lake seems limited to small shallow little bays filled with swimmers and families enjoying a day out. I am pretty convinced though that if I could somehow get a small boat out there I could catch fish.
Seeing as they wont let me take a canoe on public transit, I might have to retire this site.
As for fishing highlights, later in the day we did see a few carp move in.
Rouge River Marsh
With the possible exception of the Don river, the Rouge marsh is the one place I have fished most in my lifetime.
When I was there thirty years ago, people were saying it was 'fished out' and when I was there this summer people were saying the same thing.
I had slightly avoided going to the Rouge, because I was worried about crowds, but while there were quite a few people fishing, we did manage to find a spot each time we went, usually just to one side of the railway bridge.
While we caught nothing noteworthy, we at least managed the most variety and abundance, with perch, bullheads and sunfish among our haul.
It would have been nice to catch a pike, but maybe better to try in the spring?
I might also try for carp but not sure how to avoid catching bullheads while I'm trying to catch carp.
I am almost tempted to leave this one out, as I don't think we were able to give the islands a fair hearing.
We intended to fish the channel at Hanlon's point, but with Covid holding sway over the city, just about anyone with a boat was on theirs and taking up every inch of the mooring wall. We also did try the trout pond for a bit where we were driven out by lack of space and bugs. We then did try Ward's island for a bit to see what the Eastern channel might hold, but didn't last there very long.
It was also a hot day.
It is a bit of a long trek on transit for us, but I think we will certainly give the island another go.
As for highlights? Just a cheeky bluegill that had the audacity to stare at us.
Great Tilapia fishing until they kick you out. They didn't even seem to care I had a fishing licence.
With my luck, I cast my line in the shark tank and catch a round goby
First and foremost, I must say I never imagined that I would return to fishing, but I have no regrets that I have. In fact I am really wishing spring would hurry up.
As for not having any exciting results, I am just getting back and relearning a lot that I haven't needed to know for a long time. As much as the heat and other conditions made it a tough summer for fishing I think that I also could have used a little more patience or even a little more fishing zen.
I do have things I am looking forward to, such as spring pike and white suckers. Maybe even a bit of a focused effort to go after a carp or two.
Sometimes its just nice to be out.
So I just turned fifty, but can't say I feel too excited about the fact. Now, having a New Years birthday I have often done not much of anything, but had thought maybe just maybe, some sort of thing, or gathering, or get together might happen.
Of course, with Covid there is fat chance of that happening, just as we still haven't been able to do a memorial gathering for my mom, who passed away in September.
So, I do try to keep busy, playing board games with the wife, playing online darts (and playing terribly I might add) but really I am afflicted with the covid/winter doldrums.
To make it worse I have suddenly become acutely aware of how long it is until the Spring fishing season.
You see, this past summer I introduced my wife to the sport by getting her a rod and reel set for her birthday. I myself, returning to fishing after a 30 year (give or take a day) hiatus.
It was a tough summer for fishing with all the heat, but most weeks we would get at least one day of fishing in, somewhere in the Toronto area.
Well, now it is the dead of winter and my next fishing outing may as well be a thousand years away.
Oh, I know that there is ice fishing, but I don't have the gear, I don't have the cash and I don't have the wheels. Plus, i went when I was a kid and can't say it measured up to normal fishing) Besides, I dont think public transport can take me anywhere it happens, so nope gotta wait for spring.
Well, except that when I look at some of the fishing groups on Facebook like Toronto Urban Fishing Ambassadors I am still seeing people posting pictures of the fish they are catching (and releasing) right in the dead of winter. Not from a hut, but just fishing. Out in the cold.
What? Are these people insane?
Yet, there they are, some with really nice looking pike caught right in downtown Toronto, complete with the CN Tower in the background to remove all doubt of their location. A few others have posted pictures of steelhead and so on.
So thankfully, I am not also crazy.
It's not that I am not tempted, but lets be realistic, anywhere to fish is a minimum 55 minute transit ride, and so I travel and hour, fish for thirty minutes, get too cold, and then travel an hour back home.
That, or add five minutes to my fishing time and add my early demise through hypothermia to the mix.
Still, if I was crazy I might just roll an idea around in my head, of waiting for either the courage or a slightly warmer day (or both) to maybe head down, let's say to Ashbridges bay, which in Summer can get a bit over-run and try my luck with the pike (or carp? Hey, I'm no snob)
Heck, it would get me out of the house, and I could still socially distance.
The only question is would I get pike bites or frostbite?
Life can happen quickly sometimes. Often, far too quickly when things like cancer become evolved. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, but it had not been detected early and it spread, and in what seemed like a gust of Autumn wind, ny kind, patient, funny, wise likeable and ever strong mother was gone.
I count myself lucky that I got to say goodbye, that there were no unanswered questions as often haunt family relations. Indeed, I count myself fortunate to have been raised by such a great woman.
My mom did not live a standard life, however as she raised and cared for and lived with my Autistic sister all of her life, sacrificing much and doing it willingly.
Just a few years ago my mother was knocked over by an automatic door and broke her hip. The property management company (First Capital) has shamefully taken no responsibility but it was a huge set back for my mom who was far closer to the end of her life than anyone knew.
It was almost as big a set back as when my mom and sister were forced to leave their long time home when it was torn down by developers to make way for condominiums.
Thankfully, my mom was able to find a new home. Much more expensive, but not too far from where their now long demolished old home was.
This is where my sister now lives alone, with just her dog for company, after a lifetime of never being alone except for the shortest of periods.
With my mom gone, there is the impending certainty that my sister will lose another home.
This would be traumatic for the best of us, but for my sister who has never found herself able to set foot in what we all call the real world would be destroyed. My sister is funny, and creative and big hearted, but she has because of her Autism and how life has been unfolded lived a life of exclusion. She has suffered a mental health system that is much less forward thinking and progressive as we have now, as well as the crippling limits of her own mind.
Then my sister did something that I did not expect, that truly took me aback. It was not something that most people would bat an eye at, but for my sister it was momentous.
She has started her own blog. It is about her life with Autism. It is written from the perspective of her dog, Callum, because she can not allow herself to do it as herself. These are her stories.
She is doing it to try to save her home. It might be futile in the long run, but so far the response has been fantastic as it has been generous.
I am immensely proud of my sister who has gone from doing no work other than household chores to writing a regular weekly blog.
I hope you will take a look. The deepest thank you to any who help or share her blog
I am sure my sister would also love whatever positive and encouraging comments you wanted to leave on her blog. She will take them all to heart, because that is who my sister is.
You may have noticed that this blog has reverted back from 'Dartboard Chats' to its original title of 'The Best Lack All Conviction.
That is because, while I had a fun little run writing about darts (and invariably my frustrations!) I only have so much I can say on the subject and even less than that which might be of interest to a general (even dart loving) audience.
No I am not giving up writing about darts for good. If I have something to say, I will. It is more of a case of taking off the shackles and opening up what this blog is about and can be.
I may be giving up on a focused niche but by expanding the scope of the blog I hope I can keep it fresh and interesting for both myself and you the dear reader.
I may even spare you some of the reading by throwing in a little multimedia.
So many possibilities. I hope you can all join me for what's next.
Practice, dedication, hard work. These are all good things in life, and especially in darts.
They will take you places, potentially miles and miles from where you were when you first picked up a dart.
There is, as I am starting to see now, a limit. You may go beyond your wildest expectations, but you can not go beyond your talent.
Now this is not to discourage people from trying, because even for those without obvious aptitude, you can't really know what the limits of your talent are until you put the time in.
For me, working at and practicing darts is a habit for me, and to tell the truth I wouldn't want to slip back to being any worse than I am now, but I am starting to realize that there is nothing remotely special or transcendent waiting for me in my darting life.
As with anyone, I have flashes where it all falls into place, and the darts fly beautifully, but recently a darting friend asked me when I might reach a certain darting milestone. The answer at first was that it was very far off, because I wasn't good enough 'yet' but then, upon reflection became never, as I am simply just not good enough.
This is disappointing, but I accept it. I may not be a very good dart player, but I am still much better than when I started, and that is something. My lack of ability also does not take away the work I have put in (and due to force of habit) will continue to put it.
It was fun to dream for a while, but now is the time to put away childish things...
Thank you all, as always for reading.
-Dave Fox Sproull