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Insight from outside: Fishing with the Cottage Coach

After a lifetime at the lake, our very own Cottage Coach, Adam Holman, has developed some interesting angles on angling. To learn how he got hooked on fishing at the cottage, we applied our trusty OFF!® Deep Woods® Sportsmen Insect Repellent and joined him on the dock for his most teachable moments and memorable insights. 

My earliest memory of fishing is at my parents’ friends’ cottage on Balsam Lake. We used to fish in a swampy area, and I remember their son trying to remove a hook, and he got it stuck in his finger. Ever since, even with a lifetime of fishing experience, I’m still scared of getting hooked.

People say I have a “Hollywood” hook set—I think fish are bigger than they really are. Once I was fishing with my brother-in-law at a cottage, and I set one of those hooks a bit too hard. It flew back out and got stuck in his neck. Luckily we had nurses on site! My sister and my wife had to take out the hook and the barb at the cottage.

When I was really young, my friends and I used to snorkel a lot, and I’ll never forget the first time I saw a bass underwater through my mask. I was so scared! My dad said he could hear me across the lake, and I’ve never climbed back into a canoe so quickly. I’m sure it was a little bass, but it looked massive underwater!

I never took fishing too seriously until I realized how much knowledge is involved. Once I started researching how fish think—which fish are attracted to which baits, which colours they like, when to fish, and how the moon and its gravitational pull can affect them—that’s when it all really clicked for me.

I absolutely love bass fishing. I’m a big plastic Senko guy. I’ve tried so many different colours and different weights, but a Senko Texas Rig is by far my favourite lure. Or a Wacky Rig if I know there are no weeds.

Worms have come full circle for me. Ever since my son was born, they’ve become a bigger part of fishing. It’s just easier and more fun for him, because if you throw a worm on a hook, you’re almost guaranteed to get a bite. Now when we head to the cottage, he knows we’ll be stopping at the little bait shack on the way so he can get his container of worms.

The biggest bass I’ve ever seen was one that I can’t say I caught—my wife caught it. We were fishing on the hidden lake in Haliburton where we got engaged. We had to hike in, and Jenny landed a four-and-a-half-pound bass. Watching that rod bend might be my favourite memory of anyone catching a fish.

I’m not one to just toss my bait in the water. I really look around and pay attention to the structures. I look for trees or rocks or any place where the bass might hide, and I try to figure out what they’re thinking. When you do your research, you can dial in on where the fish are pretty quickly.

Ice fishing is a totally different game. Walking out on that ice and not having any idea where anything is—that’s the tricky part. So I do recon first. I go up and make sure the ice is safe, drill a couple of holes, and drop down a camera to see if there are any fish or good hiding places in the water. I went ice fishing with friends a few weekends ago, and because of the recon work, we caught fifty fish in a day.

You can be targeting one type of fish and then pull in something totally different that you’re not ready for. So you should always be ready for anything. Have a net. Have gloves. Have pliers, because some fish will really swallow a hook. You can grab a bass by the lip, but you can’t grab a pike or a walleye that way.

You can spend as much money as you want in the fishing world. Prices just keep going up. But the rod and reel I use right now was a huge splurge that my wife bought me for my birthday a few years back. It’s lightweight and has a ton of feel, so I can feel when I’m bouncing my bait off the bottom or going over rocks.

The cottage is still my favourite place to fish. My father-in-law likes to load up the boat and explore other lakes. But for me, it’s about getting up early when the mist is still on the water, launching the boat, and being the only one out there. If you’re early enough, you can use a topwater lure, and it’s just so much fun seeing the fish come after it.

Wherever you fish, especially if you’re out there in the early morning or in the evening, you want to be able to savour every moment. That means turning off your phone and having all of your gear on hand—especially bug spray so you’re not getting distracted from the fish. To stay focused, I use OFF!® Deep Woods® Sportsmen. It uses DEET for up to eight hours of non-greasy, stain-free protection against mosquitoes, ticks, black flies, and deer flies.

Ready to embrace the outdoors this summer? Make the most of your time outside with OFF!® Deep Woods® Sportsmen Insect Repellent. Prevention is the best protection from mosquitoes.