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Don't be an angling copycat

In this Fishing in the North, David Reid talks with Darcy Guenette who encourages new tournament anglers to find what works for them
2018-06-14 Fishing the North Darcy Guenette
Darcy Guenette. Photo provided

Each year I enjoy meeting new anglers that fish the Northern Ontario Walleye Trail. This year while waiting for the final weights to be posted at the first NOWT event, a gentleman came up to me and introduced himself.

During our conversation, he started telling me about his experiences fishing in some of the NOWT events over the years, and in 2015 he started fishing them with his son Mat, now 15.

It's these kind of stories that I find my mind going back to the time when I was little boy and my father paddled me around a lake in his canoe so I could fish.

I have a feeling that this father and son will have some great memories to reminisce about in the years to come.

It is my pleasure to introduce Darcy Guenette.

Q: Where were you born?

A: Sudbury, Ont.

Q: Who played a role in getting you started in fishing?

A: My mom and dad, Gaetan and Therese, are definitely to blame for starting my obsession.

Q: As a youth, where did you fish and for what?

A: When I was around six or seven, I would walk to a creek a few miles from our home and literally fish for large minnows with a small hook and a little balled up piece of bread. It was the only place I could walk to and fish. Later I fished various lakes in and around Sudbury where I could get to by bicycle for walleye, pike, bass, perch and brook trout. In my teen years, my parents built a house on McCharles Lake near Lively, Ont. – now I was in heaven. I could fish every day for walleye, pike and bass.

Q: What age did you start fishing?

A: I think the first time I went fishing I must have been around five years old. I remember the time clearly; my dad picked up a bamboo pole, wrapped some line around it and we caught a few perch.

Q: How did you get into walleye tournament fishing and why?

A: In 2006, I was camping at the Cache Campground and was present during the fall tournament on Kenogamissi Lake. I had not entered that tournament but, like many other days I was out fishing and got to witness all the action and excitement. On that day, I caught some nice walleye and later compared my catch to the weights on the tournament leader board. I don’t remember where I would have placed but it was good enough that it gave me the confidence that I could maybe have competed. Witnessing the excitement, the prize presentations, the amazing boats on display all really gave me the bug to compete in the next tournament.

Q: What was your most memorial memorable fishing experience and why?

A: I have many very memorable fishing experiences, but my most memorable fishing experience would have to be when I was 15 years old with my uncle Moe and cousin Al. One weekend at my Uncle’s camp at Nepewassi Lake just south of Sudbury, we were out fishing for Muskie; I was using a large Swim Whizz jerk bait that my Uncle lent me and had it hooked up behind a 6 inch steel leader. We were trolling pretty fast and at one point I thought I may have gotten into some weeds and started to reel in very quickly so that I could ensure the lure was clean before the next good area. 

Well, my line didn’t make it all the way in. About half way in, I got the biggest hit I’d ever felt and then nothing. Whatever it was, likely a Muskie or Pike, inhaled the lure deep enough to cut the line ahead of the 6 inch leader. I was devastated. 

During the following week, knowing I would be going back to try to get this fish, I went shopping, bought two Swim Whizz lures – one to replace my uncle’s and one for me to use – plus some 18 inch leaders. The very next weekend, we went back out and I got myself setup with the same lure but this time behind an 18 inch steel leader. Luckily enough, after about an hour or so of speed trolling, I hooked into and caught the biggest fish of my life which turned out to be a 38 inch Muskie weighing around 20 lbs; not a huge Muskie by any means, but a fish of a lifetime for me at the time. It was a very proud moment.

Q: List any anglers that helped you learn more about fishing over the years.

A: Of course my mom and dad who gave me my start, my uncle Moe Richer, my uncle George Richer, my friend Richard Simon, and more recently, my friends Jonathan Morin, Mark Jensen, Matt Guacci and Ken Perreault. Of course, I have to mention my fishing idol, the venerable Bob Izumi whom I watched on TV every chance I had.

Q: List sponsors and tournament finishes.

A: My sponsors include Battery, Battery Timmins, North Bay Toyota, Twin J Hide-A-way, TAP it Draught Services, and Full Beard Brewing.

My tournament finishes include a second, a third, a seventh, an 11th, and a 20th place finish at the MFN spring tournament. I also have a few other top 30 finishes in the MFN Fall Classic and The Cache Fall walleye tournament.

Q: Biggest fishing supports over the years. Example: wife, family and friend(s)?

A: My biggest fishing supports over the years have to be my mom and dad, my wife Chantal who has been very supportive during my many hours away from home, my brother Shawn, my uncles Moe and George, and of course my new permanent tournament fishing partner, my son Mathieu who has encouraged me and renewed my excitement in fishing tournaments.

Q: What are some of your favourite fish you like to fish for and why?

A: My favourite fish to fish for is of course the walleye, because they make great table fare, the challenge, their size, and because of the varied ways, locations, depths you can catch them (i.e.: you can catch them jigging, trolling, still fishing, casting, pretty much any way; you can catch them in depths anywhere from a foot deep to 45 feet deep, on rocks, on sand, in weeds, in logs and they can be caught in small lakes, rivers, reservoirs, large lakes and the Great Lakes). I also enjoy fishing for trout, particularly lake trout and brook trout especially through the ice in the winter. They also make great table fare, can grow to large sizes and provide a great fight even in the winter since they’re a cold water fish.

Q: What is your favourite fishing technique for walleye?

A: My favourite fishing technique for walleye is trolling, either with crank baits, spinner baits or go-getters. Trolling helps me cover water more quickly and the excitement of catching one while trolling is hard to beat. Although trolling is my favourite technique, it hasn’t necessarily produced the most or largest fish. I’ve also had excellent success using a slow death rig on a bottom bouncer, and have caught large walleye on a simple jig tipped with a minnow or leach.

Q: Why do you fish walleye tournaments?

A: Well first of all, I fish walleye tournaments because I love fishing for walleye. I also fish them for the competition, to test my abilities – both physical and mental – to learn new things and of course the prize money isn’t a deterrent. And more recently and possibly more importantly, fishing tournaments allows me to spend some bonus quality time with my son Mat. It has helped me get to know him better, to teach him fishing techniques as well as important fishing ethics, and the exhilaration of us bringing in a large walleye during the tournament and then experiencing the rewards that go with a successful tournament with my son is second to none. I will never forget those moments.

Q: Why did you agree to have your bio done?

A: Well I didn’t have any reason not to agree. Plus I’m happy to share any information or stories that might inspire others to either start fishing, fish more and/or to start fishing tournaments.

Q: Any tips you would give to a new walleye angler looking at fishing the NOWT?

A: I definitely have some tips for new walleye anglers looking at fishing the NOWT. Firstly is to find what works for YOU, don’t waste your time and energy trying to figure out how others are doing it. As I mentioned before, there are many successful methods for catching walleye and the ones that work for you may not be the same as those that work for someone else.  Having said that, if you’re starting from scratch, getting a few tips from someone with lots of experience can give you a great kick start.

Second, is to pay attention to detail. The smallest things can sometimes make a big difference, but, just because a certain colour or certain bait or presentation worked one day, doesn’t mean it will work every time. However, take note of all the conditions surrounding that success (i.e.: time of year, time of day, depth, water temperature, wind speed and direction, colour, etc… and if those same conditions present themselves on another occasion, you will very likely enjoy that same success).

Third, unless you have the memory of an elephant (I definitely don’t), keep a log book of your fishing activities, list your successes and failures, and note all the items I mentioned above. That information will likely be invaluable for years to come. 

Finally, go into the tournament with a positive attitude. Don’t get discouraged, and be patient, because that next big walleye could hit at any time. And if you do decide to start fishing tournaments, don’t forget to respect your fellow competitors, always be an ethical fisherman, and most important of all, have fun.

Q: What would be some of your greatest accomplishments over the years of fishing?

A: Some of my greatest fishing accomplishments would have to be landing that Muskie as I mentioned in my most memorable fishing experience above, catching a 30 inch/11lb walleye while trolling with a crank bait in six feet of water when I was 21, and catching a 30 inch walleye through the ice just this past winter.

As far as tournaments go, I would have to say that my greatest accomplishment would be my son Mat and I’s third place finish in the 2017 MFN spring tournament. And certainly, another of my great accomplishments related to fishing would be that I believe I have instilled a similar love and passion for fishing as well as ethical fishing habits in my son as what is instilled in me. I am confident he has a promising future as a fisherman, and as a tournament angler.

I like to thank Darcy for introducing himself to me and for agreeing to do this interview.

If you think you would like to fish one of the Northern Ontario Walleye Trail events with your son or daughter, please visit the NOWT website at for an event near you and start building your own memories that will last a lifetime like several other father and son teams are already doing. You'll be glad you did and so will they.

Whether you're an angler or hunter; a camp, lodge, resort owner; or just holding an outdoor event and would like some exposure, please feel free to email us at