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Maddie and I

One of the greatest thrills of fishing is spending time with young adults, like Madison Tait of Winnipeg, MB who are keen to learn everything they can about catching fish in Northern Ontario. • Credit: Gord Pyzer
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Maddie and I

Sharing the love of fishing with the next generation of anglers

I'll never forget the first time I met Madison Tait. She was a little, freckled-faced six-year-old, sitting in the front row of seats with her dad, Cameron, and brother, Brennan, while I was up on the Hawg Trough presenting fishing seminars at the Mid-Canada Boat Show in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

At the end of the seminar, as I always do, I asked if anyone had a question and that is when I spotted Maddie's hand fly up.

"The little girl in the front row," I remember saying, pointing to Maddie, who was now standing up on her little legs, "what's your question?"

Given her tender age, I expected her to ask me something like what is the biggest fish I've ever caught or the colour of my favourite lure, but instead, when the emcee handed her the microphone, Maddie belted out, "How can I go fishing with you?"

The audience laughed and I told Maddie to come and see me after the seminar was over which she did.

And that was the start of a wonderful relationship.

In fact, over the next decade, Maddie, Cameron and Brennan have attended many of the seminars I've presented in Winnipeg, either at the Mid-Canada Boat Show or the Cabela's main store where Brennan now works. And we've kept in touch via e-mail and social media. But, I've never taken Maddie fishing as I promised her I would those many years ago.

Until, that is, last Tuesday.

 Madison Tait caught the “big fish of the day” when she landed this beautiful 23-inch walleye while fishing with Gord Pyzer on Lake of the Woods, in Northwestern Ontario’s Sunset Country. (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

Cameron, who is no slouch with a fishing rod or a skillet -- he is an instructor at Red River College in Winnipeg where he teaches budding chefs and he represented Canada at the "Food Olympics" in Europe -- had towed his boat to Sunset Country to spend a few days with his family, fishing and swimming and just having fun on Lake of the Woods.

When he contacted me and asked if we might be able to get together, I jumped at the chance to finally "make good" on my decades-long promise to Maddie.

I picked them up on the dock in the morning and we headed out onto Lake of the Woods on a warm, calm, summer's day. And we had a blast. In fact, we had originally planned to spend a half-day of fishing, but when we looked at our watches it was 4:30 in the afternoon.

Fifteen-year-old Madison Tait had never caught a smallmouth bass before she tackled this beautiful 3.25-pound bronze bomber while fishing with Gord Pyzer on Lake of the Woods (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

And Maddie, who is a beautiful young woman now, showed Cameron and me how to catch the fish. She not only nabbed the biggest (23-inch) walleye of the day on a 1/4-ounce orange Flasher Jig tipped with a minnow but when we decided to target smallmouth bass, a fish she had never before caught, she teamed up with her dad to hook a gorgeous 3 1/4-pound bronze bomber!

They don’t all have to be trophy size fish to put a smile on your face when you’re fishing in spectacular Northern Ontario. (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

I say, "teamed up" because Maddie had just cast out a small popper and was waiting for the ripples to die down before it chugged her bait. But when she popped the lure for the first time, Cameron cast his jig beside it and hooked a bass that had obviously been spying her bait.

(Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

He quickly handed Maddie the rod and she fought the high-flying fish like a veteran before I finally netted it and bought it into the boat for a couple of quick photos. Then, she carefully let it swim free.

But, here is the important lesson of the day: You read and hear so many negative things about the youth of today, but don't believe it. There are tens of thousands of "Maddie's" out there and they're great super kids. Polite, honest, sincere and respectful. And if you take the time, as Cameron and his wife have, to carefully nurture and properly expose them to the outdoors, they grow up to be outstanding citizens.

(Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

Indeed, the leaders of tomorrow

Maddie is as good as any angler I've ever spent a day with fishing and Cameron tells me she is an even more wicked waterfowler dropping high flying geese and swift passing ducks in the fall. And she cleans everything she shoots.

And don't forget, either, she is only15 years old!

Do yourself a huge favour this year and take a youngster on the fishing trip of a lifetime to one of Northern Ontario’s spectacular resorts, lodges, outpost camps or campgrounds. You’ll make memories that will last two lifetimes.

I am betting you know a "Maddie" who would celebrate the chance to spend time some quality time with you this summer fishing in Northern Ontario, either at one of the outstanding full-service lodges, fly-in outpost camps, campgrounds or guided fishing operations.

Don't let the opportunity get away!

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