Ontario Bass Anglers

Fishing at a Different Level: Interview with Darcy Heitzner

While Dock Talk 365 does cover fishing techniques and strategies, I also like to feature a different level of the angler perspective. I recently had the chance to interview Ontario’s Darcy Heitzner. I spent more time asking Darcy about the importance of fishing in his life than his techniques, and I am glad I did. It is clear Darcy approaches fishing at a different level as he fully understands that there is a lot more to his sport than just catching a fish.

Lets start by talking about the fact that you are a very proud dad. How many children do you have? And how are you introducing them to fishing?

I am extremely lucky to have 2 sons; Elijah, age 5, and Joseph, age 4, that both love getting out in the boat.  I’ve been getting them into fishing by taking them fishing for pretty quick sessions of a couple hours at a time, to spots where we can get lots of bites.  Going for crappies and bluegills in the spring or perch in the winter are sure fire ways to keep the whole family interested.

I never take the boys out without a couple of dozen worms, for both their entertaining and fish catching abilities, and a steady supply of treats in the boat never hurts either!

How were you introduced to fishing? Who were your early influences when you started fishing?

I was fortunate to have a few good folks in my life to get me into fishing when I was growing up, beginning with my dad.  Every fire needs a spark and he gets 100% credit for lighting that one. He’d take my sister and I fishing from shore, or if we were lucky a rented tin boat, on Lake Simcoe and the Kawartha Lakes.  We usually caught our share, but I remember going ice fishing with him one time,  getting skunked and stopping at the grocery store on the way home to buy a whitefish to snap a few pics with!  I still have the pictures, they’re classic!

I’ve also been so lucky to have had a couple of seasoned tournament guys kind of show me the ropes over the years.  One fella, Rob Hyatt out of Calander Bay, would take me out to prefish for tournaments that he was fishing and really didn’t hold back in sharing techniques, baits, and just how he approached a day on the water. Every time on the water with him really helped to shorten the learning curve and cement my passion for fishing competitively.

A few really good buddies have also kept the fire burning with some good competition, awesome sessions and unforgettable memories of fishing over the years.

darcy-h-02What role has fishing played in your life?

Fishing has played a huge role in my life since I was a kid.  Not sure why, but through every stage of my life I’ve always been drawn to spending time on the water.

I grew up in a small town.  As a kid and throughout high school, my buddies and I would hit local ponds during the summer, creeks and rivers in the spring and fall for trout and salmon. My dad and I would also put out an ice hut on Lake Simcoe every winter.  I loved watching fishing shows, reading fishing magazines, looking at and organizing tackle.  It wasn’t always at the top of my priority list, but I always seemed to make time for it.

I ended up attending college at Sir Sandford Fleming School of Natural Resource Sciences in Lindsay, ON, largely due to my love of fishing and the outdoors. There, I spent a lot of time fishing the Kawartha’s from shore, in a canoe and by boat with old buddies and newly met friends.

When I finished school and got a full time job, it was on.  I bought a truck, bought my first boat and since then, I’ve been trying to acquire as much gear, tackle and most importantly on the water experience as I can. It’s an obsession, a craving, a desire, a need that I can’t explain.  Thank god I have a great wife who somehow understands, or at least puts up with it!

What are the lessons you have either learned from or have been supported by fishing that you hope to pass onto to your children?

Fishing has taught me the life lesson that planning, preparation and practice lead to success; a lesson I’d really like to pass on to my kids.  In fishing, and with most things in life, there’s no such thing as luck.  As Hemingway said  in The Old Man and the Sea: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

What is your favorite place to fish recreationally?

Recreationally I really enjoy fishing Lake Simcoe, a huge body of water that gives up numbers of genuine trophy smallmouth bass through the summer and fall, and is an unbelievable winter fishery for perch, lake trout and whitefish through the ice.

Lately, I’ve also really been into spending time fishing Georgian Bay.  A world class trophy fishery for a wide variety of species from esox and bass to cold water trout and whitefish.  Thousands of islands and hundreds of kilometers of shoreline, you can really get a lot of water to yourself.  Georgian Bay fishes huge and in many areas sees considerably less fishing pressure than Lake Simcoe or the Kawartha Lakes, making for some pretty uneducated fish.

What is your favorite place to fish in a tournament?

With respect to tournament fishing, for me, it’s really more about the competition than the water body.  Of course, I like competing on water bodies that fish to my strengths…I’m intensely competitive and wish I could dust the competition in every event I fish! lol

It’s really rewarding figuring things out on a new lake though, especially if it involves expanding the comfort zone and fishing outside the box a little.

darcy-h-03How has your overall fishing been in 2016 and what have been some of the highlights?

Fishing has been great in 2016:

Spring saw a few 40″ plus pike boated, including my personal best 43″er.  I also got my boys out in the boat a bunch of times so far this year and have had a few great days of hitting crappie and sunnies for the pan, as well as some great days chasing bass.

This summer, my regular tournament partner, Jay Forsyth, and I joined a new club, FATT (Fun Affordable Team Tournaments) Bass Anglers out of Midland.  The club is made up of a beauty group of great sticks, fishing a series of 7 team tourneys and a few open events, in Central Ontario.  I can’t say enough good stuff about this club from the blast off to the weigh-ins, to the caliber of anglers, the paybacks and even the bodies of water that we fish.

Fishing highlight of the year has got to be the FATT Georgian Bay tournament.  We ended up making an insane run of 100km each way through nasty conditions, only having 4 hours to fish and boating a 23lb pus mixed bag of bass, including the events big largemouth at 5.84lbs and big smallmouth at 5.49lbs.  It’s rare, but some days the plan just comes together!

Still looking forward to getting out a bunch through the fall and fishing a couple of late fall ‘Snowflake’ events on Georgian Bay.

Looking forward to approaching some folks for sponsorship during the off season and taking my passion for tournament fishing to the next level.

As we approach the cold weather of late fall and winter, where will we find you fishing and for what?

As winter approaches and the bass get to putting on the feedbag, I’ll be heading regularly to both Lake Simcoe and Georgian Bay until the season closes at the end of November.  Now is the time when the fish start feeding hard and you can see some top shelf quality as well as quantity.

After that, I’d really like to pull the Crestliner down to the Lower Niagara River for some steelhead and brown trout action.  It’s a fall through spring fish factory that I haven’t been able to tap for the last couple of years, but would really like to get back there to take advantage of this phenomenal cold water fishery.

I am not a fishing company marketing executive, but I can’t think of a better angler to sponsor than Darcy. He gets it. Darcy fishes at a different level and has the ability to articulately represent a fishing company as this interview demonstrates. 

Keep track of Darcy on Twitter and Instagram.