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Fishing the North: While other kids were playing, Steve had a rod in his hand

An angler from a young age, Steve Gravel says there's nothing he'd rather be doing
170822Steve Gravel
Walleye angler Steve Gravel was nice enough to answer some questions for this week's Fishing the North

Anglers recently headed to Kapuskasing to compete in the Kapuskasing River Walleye Tournament.

This was the fourth event on the Northern Ontario Walleye Trail and another important event for anglers to capture valuable points to improve their standings in the 2017 Angler Of The Year race.

This year I was on hand working on a project for both the NOWT Board and the Kapuskasing River Walleye Tournament board committee.

During the event I had the opportunity to speak with several anglers who were competing.

One of these anglers happened to be NOWT Pro Steve Gravel.

After talking some fishing and the Evinrude HO G2 outboards we both are running this year, I asked Steve if he would be interested in having his profile done.

Steve was very interested and asked me to email him my questions for his profile.

Q: Where were you born?

A: Cochrane, Ontario

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

A: Both my mother and father. My father had a trap line north of Cochrane and I spent the majority of my childhood out there fishing and trapping.

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

A: When I was a youth my family fished for mainly walleye and some trout. 

It was always a family tradition that on every 1st of January we would all go out and fish the opener for Lake Trout north of Cochrane as well as the May long weekend for walleye. 

From Grades 6-8 at the Commando Public School I couldn't wait until February arrived as this was when Commando Lake opened up for trout fishing.

When all other kids were playing in the school yard I was the only one sitting out on the lake with my little jigging rod and some bait catching some nice trout. 

Nothing better than finishing school, heading home with a limit of trout for family supper.

Q: What age did you start fishing?

A: I can't recall the exact age when I began fishing, but I do know that when I was old enough to reel up a fish it didn't matter what the weather was like, my parents had me out there fishing.

I recall as a youth trying to get my father to take me out fishing with him during the week instead of going to school, but I never did win that battle. 

When he would return from fishing he would tell me that if I wanted to go fishing on the weekend I had to clean his fish. Lets just say that I learned how to clean fish at a very young age. 

Q: How did you get into Walleye Tournament Fishing and why?

A: In 2011, my wife and I purchased our first boat, something finally bigger than a 12-foot and decided to try our first tournament, the Kapuskasing River Walleye Tournament. 

I can still remember the excitement and nervousness when we pulled up to the starting line and took off with the group.

Racing down the river with the anticipation of finally arriving at your first fishing spot, getting that first walleye in the live well and with a 23rd place finish that year, I was hooked.

I just couldn't wait for the next one. To this day I get the same feeling.

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

A: I have been fortunate enough in my life to have a number of memorable fishing experiences, whether it was catching or cleaning my first fish, driving a boat for the first time or riding my bicycle for miles to catch some big Northern Pike.

The one experience that really stands out in my life is when I took my daughter and son out fishing for their first time and they reeled in their first fish. 

Just watching their faces and the pure excitement they had when they finally had the fish in the net was priceless. It's something that I will never forget.

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

A: Definitely my father and uncles when growing up. Once I started fishing the NOWT I had the opportunity to meet several anglers, but one in particular was Daniel Heins.   

At that time, I had no clue who Danny was, but he offered me many tips about tournament fishing that definitely helped me out then and continue to help me out to this day.

Q: Can you list your sponsors and tournament finishes?

A: Dufour Waste, Quality Food Hampers, Laird Signs, Blind River Tim Horton's, Transcan Service, Royal Lepage - Murray Pritchard, Tunnel Lake Trading Post, Engel Coolers, McDougall Energy, Northshore Power Sports and Evinrude/BRP.   

Since 2011 when I began fishing the NOWT circuit I have a 1st place finish at the Dubreuilville Magpie Tournament, a 2nd at the Sagamok tournament, a 4th and 8th place at the KRWT, a 7th, 9th and 11th place at the MFN, a 12th at the Geraldton Walleye Classic, along with other top 20 place finishes.

Q: Biggest fishing supports over the years?

A: By far my biggest fishing supporters are my wife Liane and my 2 children. 

They know that fishing is my passion and they do what they can to help me prepare, especially the children when tying harnesses.

They think the beads are the greatest thing. 

My wife and I are both shift workers and she does whatever it takes to allow me to leave for several days at a time for the tournaments.       

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

A: I have always been a diehard walleye fisherman and being born in the Cochrane area there was never a shortage of lakes I could fish. 

When I moved up to the Blind River area, I found myself targeting more brook trout and lakers. 

There is nothing better then ice fishing for lake trout in deep water, when you see one swimming up on the locater, hammering your jig. The fight of a 10lb plus lake trout on a small jigging rod sure gets your heart pumping.

Q: What is your favorite fishing technique (s) for Walleyes?

A: I would have to say that bottom bouncing is my No. 1 technique when it comes to Walleye fishing. 

I find that trolling worm harnesses and live bait rigs help me cover more water, allowing me to find the active fish. 

Once late fall arrives and the local rivers in Blind River are void of fishermen, nothing beats a heavy jig and big bait.

Q: Why do you fish Walleye tournaments?

A: I like the challenge. I have always been a competitive person, and what better way to test my skills and knowledge than to compete against some of the best Walleye anglers in Northern Ontario. 

I can still remember early in my tournament years, the first time my partner and I caught a 7-pound Walleye during the tournament. 

It was nerve racking seeing it in the water and chaos when we actually got it in the boat. The excitement and the feeling of accomplishment just keeps me wanting more.

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

A: I hope that with me sharing my experiences, I can help grow the sport and get new anglers both young and old involved in the NOWT. 

Being fortunate enough to have sponsors I feel that this can also help promote them especially after everything they do for me.

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

A: If there is anything I can say to a new angler wanting to fish the NOWT for their first time, it would have to be preparation prior to getting on the water. 

The importance of looking at depth charts, mapping and Google Earth can definitely speed up the process when trying to locate productive spots on a new body of water. 

Depending on the water body, temperature and time of year a lot of the areas can be eliminated prior to launching the boat.

One other thing, when getting out on the water for your first tournament don't get intimidated by all the big fancy boats, just go out there and have fun. 

All them anglers were once new comers and were in the same situation as you at one time. Remember, "a bad day fishing is still better then a good day at work".

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

A: I would have to say finishing 1st place at the 2016 Dubreuilville Magpie Walleye Tournament.

I would like to thank Steve for taking the time out of busy schedule for this article.

If you're new to NOWT or someone that has a passion for fishing and see Steve at a tournament, don't be shy to say hello as Steve is a very knowledgeable and approachable angler who is willing to talk fishing anytime.

The fifth event on the NOWT is the Mattagami Fall Classic Walleye Tournament. 

If you haven't already registered, please contact Crystel Vallée 705-363-7024 or Jessica Naveau 705-221-4248 or visit the tournament website.

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