Monday, 29 December 2014



L.M.”Buzz” Lein, writing as J.P. Savage

From Nipigon Historical Museum Archives:

“One of these years we are going to become unpleasantly aware of the fact that the fish population in our area will be on the decrease.  This isn’t going to happen right away, nor in five years, but it is going to happen. Then, we will sit around and weep large round tears, watery remembrances of better days past.

Why are the fish going to become less numerous?  Fishing pressure and a lack of basic knowledge of fish farming.  It is that easy.

At present in the area people are fishing in virgin waters and there are not too many fishing on a per square mile of water basis.  As the area opens up and more roads are built, more people can get into previously unfished lakes.  The number of fishermen is increasing yearly whereas the area of fishing water isn’t.

There is only one thing to do – increase the yield of fish per acre of water.

This is easy to say, but very difficult to do because no one knows what to do.  And no one is going to know what to do because no one is doing anything.

What about lampreys?

As viewed from here, this is another classic example of locking the door after the horse is stolen.  Up until the time money income from lake trout started a spectacular decline, the lamprey was an unpleasant parasite whose presence was deplored and ignored.

It is not probable that the lamprey-type threat will occur in the large inland lakes of Northwestern Ontario although it is possible that Lake Nipigon may some day be infected. But it highly probable that fishing pressure at some future date will reduce the fish population to the point where an angler will keep his fishing tackle as an interesting reminder of what used to be.

It isn’t necessary to permit all this.  It isn’t even necessary to let the fish population be wiped out.  What is necessary is a quick start on the factors influencing the growth and yield of these delightful aquatic denizens.

But, if anyone is doing any biological research along these lines it is a well-kept secret and secrets aren’t kept long in Northwestern Ontario.  Therefore, it is assumed that there is no specific research.

What should be done now is to have a corps of biologists out through the district working at biology and not being game wardens as well.  If such a corps were out working on specific problems, on specific locations, something might be learned.  It wouldn’t be learned cheaply, nor would it be learned quickly, but it would be learned. Once the biologists discovered what should be done, a practical program to carry this out could be started.

The big question right now is when is something constructive  going to be done, and on a scale that will be produce results?”

Written for the Times Journal , June 1962.


Nipigon Historical Museum Archives: L.M. “Buzz” Lein Research Files, 1978

Excerpts from: Canadian Geographic Aug/Sept 1978

Page 62

Commercial Fishing in Northern Ontario, by George Adams

“Commercial fishing started on Lake Nipigon as early as 1898 but wasn’t important until about 1910…

…with the continuance of favourable prices and successful establishment of better market conditions in the early 1900’s the industry expanded considerably.

Indicative of the active interest in commercial fishing  at this time was a 20 year lease that the Canada Fish Company negotiated in 1902 with the Province of Ontario for rights to fish Lake Nipigon.

The conditions of the lease, at $15,000 per year included a railway to the lake to be built by the company.  The fishing license  in this lease allowed 500 tons annually for the first three years and twice that amount for each year thereafter. Fortunately the full conditions of this license were not utilized.

Originally open water commercial fishing was confined almost entirely to lakes near suitable transportation.  The construction of the National Transcontinental across the top of Lake Nipigon gave access after 1907 to lakes in the formerly remote area.”



Letter from Edward R. Hewitt, New York, N.Y.

To: Mrs. Girvan, April 17, 1934.

Copy in Nipigon Museum Archives

My dear Mrs. Girvan:

I am very familiar with the Nipigon country having made two trips there.  On the last trip I happened to be there at the end of the season when the Indians were catching their winter fish.  I arranged with them to let me catch them  the fish and I started in and caught all they needed.  They would have taken them anyway.  I got 1500 trout over 3 and a half pounds and 65 over 6 pounds.  I had one 28 inches long and 28 inches girth which would have weighed about 14 pounds.  I saw five trout on this trip which were cleaned which weighed from ten to 12 and a half pounds – their insides were removed when I weighed them.

A friend of mine on the Canadian Survey in 1879 got one near the mouth of the Nipigon weighing 19 and one half pounds. This is recorded in the survey.

At the top of the Virgin Falls I got 13 fish one day none of which was under six pounds and one of them 14 pounds and another 8 and three quarter pounds.  This was in 1889.

I have also gotten a great many along the shore of Lake Superior but they were rarely over 6 and a half pounds and rather blue in color.

It would give me great pleasure to see that country again but I fear I will not get there and my old wild place is spoiled anyway.  I would not care to visit it now.

Signed, Edward R. Hewett ( 9spelling keeps changing)



Letter from the Nipigon Museum Archives:

From John Alden Knight of Orange New Jersey

To: Gregory Clark, Toronto Star,  August 5, 1938

Dear Greg;

While chatting with you in your library this summer, I was interested in looking over a copy of a letter from Edward R. Hewitt, wherein he declines, with the usual Hewitt abruptness, an invitation to fish the Nipigon.  In that letter he mentions quite casually the taking of some large trout at the top of the Virgin Falls in that river.

Now you have seen the Virgin Falls and you can understand what would happen to a man who might have the ill fortune to be carried over them. He treats the taking of those monster trout quite casually in his letter.  I have heard him tell the story several times at the Anglers’ Club luncheon table and I thought you would like to have it as I remember it.

The trout referred to were easily to be seen lying with their tails almost at the lip of the falls, completely out of casting range from the shore.  Using very heavy tackle, so that the fish could be held from going over the falls when hooked, Hewitt had himself maneuvered into the centre of the pool above the falls by means of fastening two long ropes to the prow of a canoe.  The ropes were then snubbed around trees by Indain Guides, one on each bank.  I believe that he used as a lure a piece of trout belly with the fin attached.  And there, hanging on the brink of eternity, he hooked and landed several of those huge fish.

Truly, he is an amazing old man.


John Alden Knight