Fishing fever: Why P.E.I. families are hooked on angling

Fishing fever: Why P.E.I. families are hooked on angling

P.E.I. families love their fishing, as seen by a flurry of photos on social media taken on opening day this year.

"We got a lot of pictures coming in, we love to see those pictures," said Rosie MacFarlane, freshwater fisheries biologist with the P.E.I. government, referring to photos posted to the Fish and Wildlife PEI Facebook page.

More than 9,000 Prince Edward Islanders purchased licences last season.

"There's always been strong interest on P.E.I.," said MacFarlane.

MacFarlane points out that fishing is affordable. Parents don't need a licence if they're just helping their children and not fishing themselves. And it's even free on the family fishing weekend — the Victoria Day long weekend — when no one needs a licence.

"I think people are looking for things to do with their kids that don't cost a lot of money and fishing is a really good one," said MacFarlane.

"They like to get their kids outside and away from screens, I think many parents, myself included, have that issue with children and screens so it's nice to get them outside and do something in nature.

Family pond

There's a very special family connection to fishing for 3 1/2 year old Isaac Arsenault, fishing for the first time with his parents. He caught his first fish at Marchbank Pond on the Blue Shank Road. The pond belongs to his father's family, the Marchbanks.

"We enjoy fishing," said Isaac's mom, Rebecca Arsenault. "It's good quality time with your family and we love being out in the nature."

This is the first time that young Isaac got to join them for the early morning start.

"Our tradition has been getting everything ready the evening before and heading out nice and early on fishing day with a picnic."

Lots of questions

For Phil Thompson, opening day was a chance to get back to fishing, his time in about 20 years. 

"Honestly, it was my first time fishing in 20 years, I never had any time I was always working," said Thompson, who brought along his six-year-old daughter Hanna, fishing for the first time in Bedeque.

"I just started a new job with less hours so I said, 'What better time than now?'"

Hanna had lots of questions on how to catch fish, he said, including if they could take it home for a pet.

"I think it's a nice way to spend time with my daughter and hopefully we will do it more often."

'In their blood'

For 19-year-old Katie Gallant, opening day brought back memories of her grampie, Lawrence Gallant, who passed away in 2007. 

"My grampie worked a lot on fishing boats and hauled Irish Moss, hence why we all love being outdoors — runs through our blood," said Gallant.

She was fishing on opening day with her dad, Jim Gallant, who had just been given his father's sign that reads "Lord help me catch the one that got away." It seems to have brought them good luck.

"I have been fishing since I was big enough to hold a pole, about four, and never missed the first morning yet," said Gallant.

Head to the water hole

"I grew up fishing from a young age with my father and it only seems natural that I do the same with my own boys," said Bobby Stevenson who was at Oyster Bed for opening day.

"This day and age with computers and video games it's great to get them away from all the electronics and have some quality time in the outdoors."

"Every year on the long weekend in May we head to the nearest water hole and spend the weekend with friends big and small fishing," said Stevenson. 

"We just set up tents and campers beside the pond and that's where we stay."

Great outdoors

Katrina Arsenault-Pauley had five of her combined family of seven kids out fishing on opening day.

"They have been all fishing since they could hold a pole, we're a family that loves the outdoors," she said.

They even collect their worms from the garden or dew worms, and then they're at it every weekend and even some weekday evenings, said Arsenault-Pauley.

She would like to see more ponds stocked, to allow more P.E.I. families to share the experience.

"If we're not fishing, we're clamming, if we're not clamming we're hunting, always outdoor moments in our family."

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