A 1000 Islands fishing vacation is one of the greatest ways to spend part of your summer. When I was a kid, my brother and I each had a fishing pole and together we’d drop or cast a line from my father’s boat or the docks at Calumet Island Marina. The shallow water was clear enough to let us see maybe 5 or 6 feet down and spotting the type of fish to go after was fairly easy. Outside the harbor in deeper water, the St Lawrence was fairly low-visibility compared to today. The easiest fishing in the harbor was for the small ones that would take any bait we put on the hook. Ideally, we were looking for large or small mouth bass (something to eat) but always ended up with perch, sunfish, or the small rockbass. They’d all end up back in the water (in fact, I don’t recall ever catching an actual “eating fish”, though my father did fry some perch once – I suppose to show it could be done). Perch are bony little fish; lots of work to eat! I did latch onto a pike from the bow of our Steel King in the harbor, but alas, it was too small to keep. Another occasional find in the harbor was carp, but that wasn’t a favorite.
The “real fish” were found outside the harbor; for us, off Grindstone Island. The good ones were large mouth and small mouth bass, and we feasted on many of them over 10 years of summer visits. Once my father did bring in an eel. My young imagination wondered if it was electric and almost cautioned him not to grab it, but before I could say anything, he had removed the hook and sent it back to the cool river water.
Occasionally, trolling was the order of the day. For that, I learned about a different kind of fishing pole, very stiff, with steel line. Muskies and Northern Pike were the targets and, though I found trolling to be a bit of a bore at that age, the thrills begin quickly when we hooked one. Even when I was freezing aboard a wooden flying-bridge Pacemaker one cold November west of Calumet Island, snow coming down, the prospect of seeing that fighting fish kept me in the game. In the end, it was just a cold day fishing, with no reward other than having been there. Good enough.
If you are planning a 1000 Islands vacation this year, don’t leave out fishing. You won’t find a better place for it! For a start, take a peek at the information the Clayton Chamber of Commerce has on fishing the area.
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