I had a chance to get the scoop on fishing and guiding the Greater Toronto Area with fishing guide Joseph Teofilo. Joey has been guiding these waters since 2015 but has been fishing many of them his entire life. He fishes for a lot of different species and we ask him about his steelhead, pike and bass fishing. Lots of good fishing information in this interview.
You guide in the greater Toronto area. What makes this area so rich from a fishing perspective?
From a fishing perspective the Greater Toronto Area is a perfect place to go fishing either a hour west or east. Regardless of where the clients are from, I am able to go anywhere and river jump 3 to 4 different rivers if one or the other is not producing. Without having to go 3 hours up north you can still get the same amount of fishing and great days on the water with less than an hour of a drive.
You just started guiding in 2015. What made you decide to start guiding?
Reason I decided to start guiding is because I fish almost every river known that feeds from Lake Ontario east to west, and many rivers up north as well. I go fishing whenever I possibly can on my spare time, and scout new waters where no crowds will be. No crowds, more fish is what I go by. Sure there’s lots of fish in the “well known” spots but my passion is to explore untouched waters and find areas where the fish are beyond stacked and nobody will spend the time getting to because its “too far of a walk” or in their case “not worth exploring”.
I live for fishing and the reason behind it all is because I enjoy giving others a good time on the water. Seeing someone happy catching his or her first steelhead, or brown trout is priceless.
Where does the confidence come from to go from going out for fun to taking others out with the job of helping them to catch fish?
I guess its just in the passion for the sport, fishing is not just a pastime for me, fishing is a lifestyle. Without fishing I don’t know what I’d honestly do. It is something that allows me to get away from the real world and just enjoy myself, the fish, and the people around me sharing the same passion.
I’d have to say the confidence is from my friends whom I would always take out on their first steelhead adventure. I would rig them up and do everything I could to make sure they caught a steelhead. Sure enough they did and the smile and addiction that came with it….lets just say their bank accounts are now down below zero…lol.
What has been the most surprising thing about guiding so far?
The most surprising thing about guiding so far is realizing that every river and every body of water changes on a day to day basis. Taking out clients one day and returning the next with different people and the fish are either no longer there or just not active. Guiding is not easy, you must find new water, always have a plan, and always make sure the guests are having a good time. Engagement is key and if there smiling you are doing something right.
What has been your most proud moment as a guide so far?
My most proud moment so far would have to be taking out this one client who had a love for fishing but never would catch anything when he went to the river. He was always frustrated. One day he saw me on the river taking pictures and just doing couple drifts here and there and asked me “why do you only do 5 drifts per pool?” I answered “not really fishing right now, kinda studying if that’s what you’d call it, if the fish are active you will hit within first 5 drifts, if not then find new water for better potential.” Taking pictures to realize how high water levels are and labeling which pools have fish are key to planning a full day ahead of me.
So later that day I got an email and it was the man from the river that early morning. I took him out to the same river I saw him at and sure enough we were hitting fish after fish. The smile on this guy was the highlight reel of my guiding by far. To this day we still go out and we are good friends because of it, constantly sending me pictures of his catches.
What are your favorite rivers to fish and what makes each of them a top Toronto area destination?
My favourite rivers to fish are by far the Ganaraska, Wilmot and Graham Creeks. Each of these rivers are my favourite because they are 15 minutes apart from each other and they are so bountiful of fish that your always saying “Ok last cast”….then take 100 more casts after. Each river is different and the fish are all different. One river they can be hitting bugs the other roe. and i guess memories shared would have to be another reason why those are my favourite rivers to fish.
What are your favorite bass and pike fishing waters?
My favourite bass waters would have to be Rice Lake, Lake Simcoe and Sturgeon Lake. Rice Lake I grew up on my whole life and know every hump and bump in that water. Huge smallies in abundance, once you hit one 3 pounder there’s 20 others of them there.
Lake Simoce tough lake, been fishing it awhile now and its a lake where you look for maybe one or two fish per area and get maybe 5-10 bites all day however those bites are usually 5 pounders plus.
And Sturgeon lake, has some of the biggest largemouth you will ever see out of a Kawartha Lake. If you like fishing brush piles, and bullrushes flipping and pitching style, this lake has it all. It is so fun to pull a 6 pounder out of the back of a bullrush pile and just see its mouth wide open with that jig lodged in the roof of the mouth. Such a rush of adrenaline absolutely love it.
Pike fishing waters I’d have to say the mighty Georgian Bay and Sparrow Lake. Georgian Bay has probably the most pike you’ll ever catch in one day and some big fish as well Sparrow Lake on the other hand is a fun lake where I take many people to enjoy a fun day catching the average 25 to 30 inch pike in well numbers. Such a beautiful lake with deep rice weeds and just loaded with pike. If you can find the area where they situate and put a pattern together it is a fun lake. Spinnerbait with a swim bait on the back of it is by far the best tactic there to get your big pike.
If you were limited to guiding for only one freshwater fish, on only body of water, with only one method, what would your picks be?
I’d have to say steelhead and the Ganaraska River for sure, and method I’d have to say fly fishing 100%. Steelhead is just an amazing fish in general, they are so beautiful, so tough and so picky with what you use they are a real challenge for all customers. One thing I say is anyone can go fishing and catch a bass or perch or pike, but when you go for steelhead you can’t just “go fishing for them” you must know how to catch them, what to use, and where they situate.
Fishing for steelhead is a science and if you don’t know how to do it you will not catch them, unless snagged. The Ganaraska is one of my all time favourite rivers not just because there is a lot of fish but because there is so much water to fish and the rapids and pools the fish situate in are awesome fly fishing areas. Seeing a giant steelhead crush a wooly bugger swimming across the top of a pool is sick. Ganaraska fish are much stronger than other fish because of the longer trek they do and dams they must hurdle over, a Ganny fish and a Wilmot fish are two different specimens and the Ganny steel will out fight and ultimately give you the tug of a lifetime.
Fly fishing is an awesome way to fish. I had been fly fishing for awhile but never considered myself a “pro” or “avid” fly guy as fly fishing just does not end, it is one thing to centerpin and throw your float and drift but fly fishing its all about placement and precision. You must always watch your line and any sudden jump or movement in that line that doesn’t seem right, don’t think…set the hook. Fly fishing is above all one of my favourite methods to do and if you have never tried it i strongly recommend you to try it.
Thanks Joey. Follow Joey on Instagram and contact him through their for a fishing guide trip.