When you see someone with his fishing rod during his wedding photos, you know he is a passionate fisherman. Ontario’s Jesse Riddle is not only passionate but also may be a little crazy, at least according to his Instagram handle. In today’s interview, we find out why he is passionately crazy about fishing and especially chasing down Ontario’s steelhead.
Your Instagram handle is @crazy_fishing_dude. What aspects of your approach to fishing live up to that handle name?
One of my friends back in high school first called me “crazy fishing dude” and I instantly thought it was perfect for me. From a young age I was obsessed with fishing. I would memorize fishing catalogs, read and reread fishing magazines, watch endless fishing shows, and beg my dad to take me out fishing. Nothing changed as I got older except I fished a lot more gaining much needed experience and absorbed all the information I could get my hands on.
I worked in two local fishing stores as well over the years. I would fish several times a week, often daily at the local creek even in terrible weather conditions. So really, being crazy, or obsessed with the sport really helped me to gain experience and knowledge to help me consistently catch fish.
What is the craziest thing you have ever done in order to catch or try to catch a fish?
Since I’m mostly a river angler, most of my crazy situations involve trying to balance atop a log in the river to get my fly or lure exactly where the fish are. Fish usually hold in the most difficult and inaccessible part of a log jam. Slippery logs and cold late winter water have led to a cold, miserable walk back to the car more then a few times.
Did you catch any fish the day of your wedding photo shoot?
I’m widely known as a person who loves fishing so fishing wedding shots were a no brainer. No fish were caught that day! There actually was no fly attached to the tippet to prevent an accidental snagged wedding dress which would have been my death. Also, I smartly got married the week before trout season so I couldn’t have tried to catch a fish anyway! And yes, I did fish the opening weekend after my honeymoon…my wife is awesome!
What is your favorite species of fish to catch?
I love steelhead fishing! I am blessed to live on the north shore of Lake Ontario which is full of tributaries that host annual runs of these silver sticks of dynamite.
There are many reasons I love fishing for steelhead. They are the hardest fighting freshwater fish I’ve ever caught, leaping and flipping two or three feet out if the water! They are crazy! They are also not the easiest fish to consistently catch, so it’s a good feeling to catch them on a regular basis.
Steelhead are also notoriously finicky. You really need to learn how to read the water and adapt your presentation to get them to bite. Doing so in my opinion helps you constantly improve your game.
What are your favorite bodies of water to target steelhead?
I have fished many different creeks and rivers in Ontario for steelhead. Once a fisherman learns how to read water, catching fish in any of these streams is relatively the same. I’m nostalgic with a few streams I fished hundreds of times growing up, but love trying new water.
What are your favorite techniques to fish for steelhead?
Although I use lures and bait at times, I’m mostly a fly fisherman. Over the years I have really gotten down a good technique of indicator nymph fishing for steelhead. Although other baits and lures may be more popular, nothing is more natural to a steelhead then a small aquatic bug floating by its face. It’s what a baby steelhead eats all day long, it’s often times merely a reflex to grab the nymph. When steelhead are bombarded with roe all day by dozens of anglers, something small, natural and different is often the only way to get them to bite.
I see a classic Jitterbug in some of your pics. With all of the modern topwaters out there, this is a classic that is too often overlooked. When are you fishing the jitterbug as your topwater choice?
Without a doubt the Jitterbug is my favourite surface lure. Sadly many view it as an old timer bait. It’s been around since the 1930’s! Nothing else gurgles and wobbles like it! Although new technology has allowed some pretty good looking lures to be made, you can’t beat the originals! Tried and true!
Your photography is really good from your fish pics to your product shots. Do you have a background in photography? What equipment are you using to get such bright and clear shots?
Thanks for the compliment! I do have a Canon SLR camera which takes epic shots, but mostly like most people, I take most of my photos with my smartphone! Phones have amazing cameras on them these days! Taking epic shots has never been so easy!
Thanks Jesse! To find out more about Jesse’s fishing and steelhead success, follow him on Instagram.