The FNDC/DYT Learn to Fish event was born in 2015. The idea was created [with]…a desire to support better access to the great outdoors in beautiful British Columbia for Deaf and hard of hearing individuals.
One of our staff, Jen Gow, wrote the article below (along with Rhys McCormick) for the FNDC 2019 Winter newsletter. We share it with their permission. For the full article or the newsletter: visit https://www.fndc.ca/newsletters.
We went along to the FNDC Fishing Day in September at the Fraser Valley Trout Hatchery in Abbotsford. It was a bit of a trek for us as we live on the North Shore, but it’s well worth the effort to join FNDC events. It gives my daughter the chance to get together with her D/deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) peers, and for the rest of us to meet friends, old and new. These are especially valuable opportunities for us, since our daughter isn’t around DHH friends at our local school.
Run by the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC, the hatchery is a great place to visit. As well as the functioning hatchery itself, they have a large indoor facility. The staff taught us about some local BC fish in the auditorium before we toured the fish exhibits and got to see the fish ‘in the flesh’ in the aquaria.
After lunch, we were instructed on how to fish before we headed over to the stocked fish ponds on site for some hands-on catch-and-release fishing. There was fishing gear galore and plenty of space around the ponds so that every child could try their hand and not have to wait. The fish weren’t leaping onto our lines that day (was it the temperature, the clouds, the recent otter raid?) but we caught enough for the kids to gather round the buckets to get a close-up look and feel of the trout.
It was a great family day out, an event that was accessible and fun for all. The day finished with some door prizes. Much to our amazement (and delight!), we held the winning ticket for the top prize – a family day out on a guided fishing trip for sturgeon. We couldn’t believe it – we had won the fish lottery!
Fast-forward to the end of October, and the four of us joined Mark from Big Valley Sportfishing Adventures on his boat with Rhys, the event organizer. We headed up the Fraser River to a top sturgeon fishing spot of Mark’s. While he was busy setting up four rods off the back of the boat, Rhys explained everything to us.
It wasn’t too long till we had our first bite. Mark passed the rod to me and I suddenly found myself at the end of what felt like a massive tug of war. Next thing I know, a huge sturgeon exploded out of the water before landing a huge cannonball on the surface and disappearing back to the depths. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Mark estimated it was about 7ft long, and I wondered what the heck we were going to do with this prehistoric beast when it was near our boat. In the end, I needn’t have worried – this one got away after the line snagged.
That one got our adrenaline going, and over the course of the day we caught several other sturgeon, with everyone having a turn on the line. It was great to see the range of sizes, indicating a healthy population of these extremely long-lived fish. Mark’s expertise not only helped us land these beauties, but his knowledge of the river and its fish really enriched our day; and Rhys’ skills made sure that it was all fully accessible to our daughter too.
Thank you FNDC, Rhys and Mark!