Fishing: The Common Language

When four anglers share a boat, but not a language, for a couple days, they speak the common language of fishing -- aided with thumbs up, high fives and fist pumps.

One of the great joys of living in Northern Ontario is having so many incredible fishing opportunities, for so many different species of fish, lying literally at our doorsteps.

As a matter of fact, we are blessed with over 400,000 lakes, rivers, reservoirs, pits and ponds and close to 2/5 of all the fresh water on Earth. And you can name just about any popular sport fish species worth catching, and Northern Ontario offers world-class opportunities in abundance.

But, as I was reminded once again this week, it sometimes takes a visitor from far away to remind us of the enormous bounty.

Good buddy Dale Saunders, from Winnipeg, came over to fish some of Northwestern Ontario's Sunset Country waters with me this week, accompanied by friends Jerry Klebanowski and Adam Kurzyna. Jerry emigrated to Canada from Poland as a youngster in the 1970s, along with his family, and today operates a highly successful real estate business in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

ontario walleye

A highlight of Adam Kurzyna’s trip to Northwestern Ontario’s Lake of the Woods was catching walleye for the first time on lures that he had carved and painted by hand back home in Poland. (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

Adam, on the other hand, is Jerry's cousin. He is an avid angler who lives in Bialystok, Poland and doesn't speak English. But let me tell you, when four anglers share a boat for a couple of days, they speak a common language -- fishing.

And so it was, using a variety of universal signals, including thumbs up, high fives, fist pumps and a little translation from Jerry, we communicated perfectly.

Still, at the end of the two days of fishing, I was eager to hear Adam's assessment of his first-ever Northern Ontario experience.

ontario walleye
Language is never a barrier when anglers get together as Gord Pyzer and Adam Kurzyna celebrate Adam’s first-ever Northern Ontario walleye. (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

"I sent Adam some links about the species that he might catch in Lake of the Woods," Jerry told me, "and he learned there was a huge variety. There are no bass or muskies in Poland, so he was eager to try to catch these two species. He also wanted to catch walleyes as he has never caught them before, or enjoyed a Northern Ontario shore lunch."

Read: Classic Shore Lunch Recipes

And did the fishing live up to his expectations?

When Jerry translated my question, I watched a wide smile quickly stretch across Adam's face that told me everything I needed to know, but then Jerry translated Adam's response.

ontario bass
Accustomed to fishing modest size lakes in Poland, Adam Kurzyna, shown here with Dale Saunders was especially impressed with the enormity and beauty of Northwestern Ontario’s Lake of the Woods. (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

"I caught almost 100 walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike, black crappie and yellow perch," Adam said, after checking the clicker that he wore around his neck to record each fish. "Unfortunately, the muskie season doesn't open for two more weeks, so I didn't get a chance to fish for them. But I am beyond ecstatic with my two days of fishing on Lake of the Woods.

"As for a highlight, I probably enjoyed catching the walleye the most, because I landed so many of them on lures that I made before I flew over to Canada. It gave me great satisfaction to see that the baits I made by hand enticed so many walleyes to bite."

And what, I was curious to know, surprised Adam the most about his first-ever fishing experience in Northern Ontario?

"The size of Lake of the Woods," Adam laughed. "It is so big and so beautiful. You drove us almost an hour down the lake in your boat to our first fishing spot. And the rocky terrain was something new as well.

ontario walleye

The smiles and “thumbs up” tell you everything you need to know about how Jerry Klebanowski, Dale Saunders and Adam Kurzyna felt after spending two days fishing on Northwestern Ontario’s Lake of the Woods. (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

"In Poland, I go fishing about twice a month for northern pike, European chub and European perch. I normally fish Lake Siemianowka, Lake Biale and Lake Studziennicze, as well as the Narew, Suprasl and Biebrza rivers.

"Lake Sniardwy is the biggest lake in Poland, but it is only 44 square miles in size. Lake of the Woods, on the other hand, is one million acres with 14,000 islands and 65,000 miles of shorelines.

"I also learned so many new fishing techniques that I can't wait to try when I get back home to Poland."

Like I said, forget Esperanto: fishing is the universal language.

About Gord Pyzer

Gord Pyzer is the fishing editor of Outdoor Canada magazine and field editor of In-Fisherman magazine. He is the co-host of the Real Fishing Radio Show and host of Fish Talk With The Doc.

Recommended Articles

5 Places to Shore Fish

Fish’n Canada shows you where to go shore fishing in Ontario.

Top 5 Baits for Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass

What baits do you use to target bass? Find out why these 5 are the best!

Don’t Be Afraid Of Muskies

Muskies are fish of 10,000 casts and are found in large bodies of water in Northwestern Ontario.

3 Great Ontario Walleye Destinations

Karl of Extreme Angler recommends must do walleye lakes in Ontario.

Top 5 Flies for Smallmouth Bass

The inside scoop on bass flies from the hosts of The New Fly Fisher.

Lake of the Woods

10 Facts You Didn't Know

Eating Northern Pike

The Best Recipe to Cook This Fish

Top 5 Musky Destinations in Ontario

The Musky Hunter shows you where to land the best musky in Ontario waters.

Walleye on Lake Temiskaming

Fish'n Canada heads to Lake Temiskaming to tackle Ontario Walleye.

Summer Brook Trout

Expert Advice for Fishing Ontario Lakes

Long Nose Gar

A Fish for the Bucket List

Terrestrial Flies for Brook Trout

These fish feed like crazy and look for opportunities for a big protein meal.

Ontario Brook Trout

Fish these 10 sweet spots.

The Tigers of Sunset Country

The most picturesque of all freshwater fish.

Summer Smallmouth

Bass Techniques to Help You Catch a Trophy

Walleye Sunsets

Walleye Fishing on Lake Nipissing.

Experiencing Prince Edward County - The Angler’s Way

Walleye fishing on the world-famous Bay of Quinte.

Planning for Pike

Start Planning for Trophy Fishing

Discover the 3 Best Bass Fishing Lakes in Ontario

Check out these lakes for hard-fighting smallmouth bass on your next fishing trip to Northern Ontario.

St. Francis Titans

Fishing the Original Muskie Capital of the World