With the cancelation of the 2020 Northern Ontario Walleye Trail this season due to COVID 19, I have decided to continue featuring the anglers that compete in the NOWT Circuit since they are some of the best walleye anglers throughout Ontario.
This week's NOWT Pro Angler is someone I had the pleasure of talking with through social media to check up on him after he got a jig in his eye during the 2015 spring Mattagami First Nation Walleye Tournament. He and his partner did, however, manage to finish 11th after missing half a day. He now recommends up and coming anglers always wear sunglasses, even when it rains.
I would now like to introduce this week's NOWT Pro Angler, Jake Pepin.
Q: Where were you born?
J.P.: I was born in Sault Ste. Marie Ontario
Q: Who played a role in getting you started in fishing?
J.P.: My father, Mark Pepin, and my grandfather, John Pilon, were the most significant influence that started me into fishing.
Q: As a youth, where did you fish, and for what?
J.P.: As soon as I was big enough to wear a life jacket, my Dad took me to pine island for jumbo perch and Ehco lake for Walleyes. We had a small steam that flowed along with our property. Once I caught on to that, I fished that creek every day till I was big enough to ride a bike, and then I was all over the west end of the sault catching creek specks. My Grandparents had a camp lower island lake when I was young. I’d spend the summers out there perfecting the art of rock bass, smallmouth bass, and perch fish off their dock. I would fish off that dock daylight till dark.
Q: At what age did you start fishing?
J.P.: As soon as I was big enough to wear a life jacket and snowmobile helmet
Q: How did you get into walleye tournament fishing and why?
J.P.: I got into walleye tournaments because I used to fish lake trout and salmon tournaments with a work friend, Mark Lytham. He needed a partner for the Cashe tournament when that was part of NOWT. I took him up on the offer and loved how it was run and found walleyes to be a challenge. After that, I was hooked.
Q: What was your most memorable fishing experience and why?
J.P.: The most memorable fishing experience was on Ehco lake with my father and my sister, Chantal Pepin, when we were young kids. My dad caught a 30-inch walleye and my sister just landed a 26-inch and I asked my dad if I could net the next fish. My father agreed and said, 'Yeah, you can net the next fish.' No sooner did he say that he hooks into a fish, and it was giant. Net in my hand, I was excited and ready to net this fish. Up come comes the fish, and it had to be a 30-pound channel cat. I jumped up off the seat, dropped the net, and started crying. No way I was netting that huge thing. The catfish ran and snapped the line. I will never forget that outing, and my sister and dad don’t let me live it down to this day.
Q: List any anglers that helped you learn more about fishing over the years.
J.P.: Every angler I’ve fished with over the years, I’ve learned something from them. That’s what makes a great angler is the ability to learn every time you're on the water. As a youth, my dad and grandfather taught me a lot. As I got older, Stan Robert taught me how lake trout fish inland. At 16 years old, I started bushwhacking with Clint Baic north of the Sault and up in Wawa. The walleye addiction started with my tournament partner, Steve Johnson, and we are still learning off each other. When I fished the NWT, that was my most significant learning experience of my career as an angler. I was lucky enough to pre-fish for a week with Ed Stachowski. That was an eye-opener for me and helped fine-tune my skills. I got to learn why I was catching fish and how they relate to structure. It also really taught me how to fine-tune reading a fish finder. In the tournament, I fished with Bill Shimota and Todd Zemke; just an excellent experience. Fishing the NOWT, the guys are all great, always willing to help and send you in the right direction. Denis Martin, Perry Calverson, Jody Villeneuve, Jason Doyon, Nick Huckson, Jamie Robinson, Terry Bernath, Shane Turcotte, Joe Giuliani, and Norm Torkerlson all went out of their way over the years to help and give advice. Can’t forget Jason Maskine from the MWT, my open water buddy.
Q: List sponsors and tournament finishes.
J.P.: Sponsors: Junction Tackle, Mark Pepin Trucking.
NOWT finishes: 2nd in Dubreuilville, 3rd in Dubreuilville, 2nd in Dubreuilville, 4th in Sagamok, 5th in St. Marys River AFGC tournament, 10th in St. Marys River MWT.
Q: Biggest fishing supporters over the years (example, wife, family, and friend(s)).
J.P.: My most significant supporters would be my parents, Mark and Shirley Pepin, and my sister Chantal Pepin. Chantal usually knows where I am in the standings before I do.
Q: What are some of your favourite fish you like to fish for, and why?
J.P.: Favourite fish is speckled trout. I love my roots bushwacking and chasing trophy specks is my passion. I spend spring, fall, and all of the winter trying to catch that nine-pound speck!
Q: What is your favourite fishing technique(s) for walleyes?
J.P.: My favorite techniques for fishing walleyes is power fishing from pulling cranks to pitching of rip jigging; love when they're on a reaction bite.
Q: Why do you fish walleye tournaments?
J.P.: I fish walleye tournaments because I’m an adrenaline junkie. That is what makes me tick. Catching a five-pound walleye during a tournament is the only thing that gets me shaking other than a 50-inch bull moose. I enjoy a challenge and love the social part of it as well.
Q: Why did you agree to have your bio done?
J.P.: I agreed to the bio because David does a great job on them. I always enjoy reading all the other fellow anglers bios.
Q: Any tips you would give to a new walleye angler looking at fishing the NOWT?
J.P.: Get out there, fish, have fun. That’s why we do it, and it’s not over till it’s over don’t get discouraged one bite will change your day.
Q: What would be some of your most significant accomplishments over the years?
J.P.: I would say the most significant accomplishments I made over the years of fishing isn’t about the money or the high finishes, its all the great friendships I’ve made over the years with all the awesome memories. That’s what it’s all about!
If you follow Jake on Facebook, you can see that during the winter months, he turns his attention over to his other favorite game fish by the pictures he posts.
I want to thank Jake for taking the time to have his angler profile done.
Remember this season while launching your boats to continue practicing social distancing. We need everyone to continue doing their part, not just a few, so we can continue to enjoy our passion.