By Darrin McGrath | Vol. 12 No. 4 (February 21 2019)
Wally Collins has been a long-time member of the St. John’s City Council. Wally represents Ward 5 which encompasses the Goulds, where he lives. The Goulds has a rich history of agriculture and much farming still occurs there. There are also areas for hunting and angling nearby and Collins is an avid angler and hunter.
Despite having a busy work schedule in municipal politics, Collins always manages to find time to get outdoors. He’s been shooting rabbits over beagles for more than fifty years. He is also an avid partridge hunter, moose hunter and angler.
“Right now I don’t have a beagle or a setter anymore. But I really miss it. On a fine day in the fall, I find myself thinking what a day this is rabbit hunting. I think when I retire I will get a hunting dog again, either a setter or a beagle,” Collins says.
One issue which Collins dislikes about the current inland fisheries regulations on the Avalon Peninsula is the fact that the trouting season opens February 1st, closes on April 15th, and then re-opens on May 15th and runs until September 7th. Collins understands that the closure in April is to keep people off the spring ice which may be weakening, but he disagrees with re-opening the season on a weekday in mid- May.
“I don’t agree with the trouting opening on May 15th, which is on a Wednesday this year. Anyone who is working probably can’t get the time off to go trouting then. This year the May long weekend falls on Saturday May 18th to Monday May 20th, why doesn’t the trout season open on the Saturday of the long weekend to give everyone, all anglers, the same chance to get at the best fishing holes. The May 24th weekend is a special time for trouting in this province, so why doesn’t the Government open it then, instead of in the middle of the week,” Collins says.
To support his argument, Collins points out that a number of different hunting seasons all open on Saturdays including duck hunting, partridge hunting, rabbit hunting and moose hunting. He thinks that the trout season should also open on a Saturday, namely the Saturday of the May 24th long weekend. In Wally Collins’ view, allowing a mid-week opening to the summer trout season gives some anglers an advantage. By the time some people get off work and get to go fishing on the weekend, some holes in brooks and gullies will have been fished out.
For example, Collins says he knows of a nice trout hole in on Horse Chops Road, but it gets fished heavily when the season opens. This means anglers who can get there in the middle of the week have better fishing than those who might have to wait until Saturday or Sunday. Collins believes that the provincial government needs to step in to address the opening day for trouting. However, he says that he has not yet broached the subject with any of the provincial MHAs.
Collins’ argument seems very similar to the debate over Sunday hunting which went on in the 1990s. By disallowing hunting on a Sunday, government was only giving people who worked five days a week one day on which to hunt. Thankfully, Sunday hunting was rescinded and now hunters who are employed five days a week, have the entire weekend to pursue their sport.
The idea of opening trouting on the Saturday of the Victoria Day long weekend seems logical. The May 24th has a long, storied associated with trouting in this province. Why not make the Saturday prior to May 24th the opening day for trouting? Or, if May 24th falls on a Saturday, then it would be the opening day. Collins wonders if this wouldn’t add more excitement and anticipation to the long weekend and give all people the same chance to start fishing on the same day?
With regards to ice fishing, Wally thinks that the regulations allowing each angler three lines is okay, and he thinks the daily bag limit of twelve trout per angler is fair to the angler and sustainable. He usually makes a trip each winter to central Newfoundland with some buddies to fish ponds such as Rodney Pond, Benton Pond and Square Pond.
“In the spring and summer I love trouting from my boat in different ponds. I use a gold bait spinner with worms. It’s a great way to relax and catch trout. I don’t go after sea-trout, but I enjoy fishing from my boat,” Wally says.
Since Wally Collins spends so much time trouting along the Southern Shore he often sees caribou. He believes that the caribou are slowly coming back and has recently seen small herds of 15 – 20 animals at Cape Race Road, and at St. Shott’s.
While trouting in the spring and summer Collins has noticed what he believes is a change in the behaviour of caribou. Namely, that does and their calves are staying near the shore of ponds such as Blackwood Pond or Frank’s Pond. They swim to islands to avoid coyotes and protect their calves, he says.