Chef Michel Gagnon, Consultant, Val-d’Or 8 portions Preparation and cooking time: 45 to 60 minutes
Today, I’m on my way to Preissac to restore my reputation as a fisherman, which is (let’s be honest) awful in my immediate circle and completely non-existent in any other. In hockey terms, I could be described as a mucker. I work hard. I spend a lot of time on the ice trying to improve. I don’t have any choice but to jostle my teammates if I want to touch the puck. And I’m not particularly talented. I’m the Francis Bouillon of sport fishing!There are a few faithful friends who believe in me. But I think they bring me along more because I houseclean when I’m frustrated after not catching any fish the whole day rather than because of my ability to bring home dinner.
So, when I learned I’d be spending a day on the lake with the renowned Félix Goulet for the TV show ATventure, I asked to myself: “Have I finally earned my chance at a legendary day of fishing, like so many others have when I’m not there?” Well hey, yeah!
One word to describe my first impression of Félix Goulet: credible! When we arrived, the guy was sitting in a boat and yelled out: “You’re gonna catch a big one today, Pascal Binette!” He’s prepared, friendly, well-equipped, modest, and he knows his stuff. The day got off to a strong start. Almost in front of the Preissac marina, “Master Goulet”, perched in his Princecraft, detected an appealing drop-off in the bottom of the lake on his sonar screen, which was as big as my living room TV. We talked wind direction, mixing of waters, light in the water, and the visibility of fish in deep water. With my regular fishing buddies, we usually talk about women and, well… that’s about it! I cast a line into the water, heart bursting with hope. The “Guidenator” had armed me with a bottom bouncer rig with six feet of monofilament, and a blue and silver jigger… Two gizmos I’d had in my tackle box that had never seen the light of day. I nonetheless put my faith in the Master. And I was greatly rewarded when I reeled in a magnificent 2½ pound Sander vitreus – better known as a walleye. And so we were off for a day of fishing like you see only on TV – and, what’s more, that was going to be seen on TV! We circled (thanks to a programmable electric motor) around the underwater structure where that assembly of lovely walleye were holding court. We spent the morning catching beauties, and it was with a tear in my eye that I saw our holding tank fill. For the first time in my life, I heard myself repeating that now-cult mantra in my mind: “16 inches. We’ll put him back in the water…” I was already anxious to go strut my stuff into town, and it wasn’t even noon.
We had lunch on a deserted island before changing spots to tease out smallmouth bass, a fish known to be as combative as Brendan Gallagher, and for its ability to execute jumps worthy of the Cirque du Soleil. That’s when I learned the power of a good guide. We were in a spot that was clearly known to fishers of lac Preissac: when we arrived, there were already four or five other boats. Félix manoeuvred our boat around them, eyes fixed on his screen, finally stopping a short distance away from the others. It was magical! Our lures didn’t even have time to hit the lake bottom when they were savagely attacked by powerful bass whose vigour is inversely proportional to their size. (Size, after all, isn’t what’s important. It’s tenderness…). So all afternoon, we caught fish. Often two at a time. All under the crestfallen gaze of the fishers around us, who weren’t having nearly as much luck. At some point, we reached the incredible number of 50 fish caught (obviously, we only kept those 12 inches or bigger – or I should say 12 more tender…). The day was coming to an end, but Félix didn’t want to stop there: “It’s too round a number. Your buddies won’t believe you. We’ll go up to 53. That’s more believable.”
A perfect day of fishing topped off with cold beer paid for by Marika when we got back to the dock! Pure joy. If you want to experience a fairytale day like mine that you’ll be able to rub in your buds’ noses for years to come, hire the extraordinary Félix Goulet.
Best wishes, and I hope my story lures you away from your Candy Crush videogame to come play outside in Abitibi-Témiscamingue. Unforgettable!
Watch episode (French)