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Dupuis to be honored for his dedication to fly fishing, conservation, catch and release

Feb 17, 2019 08:18AM ● By Editor
Retired Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry biologist Rob Swainson (left) says Ray Dupuis Sr. was the first to raise the alarm bells and ask the MNR to do something about the decline of Nipigon brook trout. Photo: R. Swainson 

From CBC News · February 16, 2019 

A well known angler and life long resident of Nipigon, Ont., will be awarded a prestigious honour next month.

Ray Dupuis Sr., 86, will be travelling south in March to be inducted into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.

Dupuis is being recognized for his life long promotion of fly fishing, catch and release of brook trout and his leadership in conservation.

As a young man, Dupuis spent hundreds of hours fishing speckled trout on the banks of the Nipigon River. He said in the 50s, there were "loads" of brook trout from one to nine pounds, but catching the fish then was a trick due to the log drives on the river.

"In those days they were always driving wood down the river," said Dupuis. "And we got to know how to cast out between the logs and stick the point of our rod down underneath the logs and then reel. We got quite a few fish that way."  

Dupuis' is being recognized for his promotion of fly fishing, catch and release and conservation.  Photo: R.Swainson

In the 1970s and 1980s, he began to notice a sharp decline in the number of trout in the river. Dupuis began to release all the trout he caught and encouraged other local trout anglers to do the same.

Dupuis' said his promotion of live release and harvest limits for the Nipigon's famous specked trout was not always an easy sell.

"I haven't kept a trout from the Nipigon River in over 25 years," he said. "That live release...we got in quite a few heated discussions with other sport fisherman on that. But it's workin' real good."

In 1985, Dupuis was recognized as the Ontario Molson Big Fish Angler of the Year for his many trophy sized fish he caught and released.

Retired Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry biologist Rob Swainson worked closely with Dupuis for over two decades. Swainson - who Dupuis credits with pushing for many of the regulation changes that helped save the Nipigon River fishery - has high praise for the veteran Nipigon angler.       

"Ray was the first to raise the alarm bells and ask the MNR to do something about the decline," said Swainson. "By sharing his incredible knowledge gathered through all those years fishing on the river, Lake Superior and Lake Nipigon, he saved me years of work. His help allowed me to right away tackle the real issues ... water level fluctuations and over- fishing. Ray's vocal support of the proposed recovery efforts was instrumental in garnering the public's support."

Last year, Dupuis was nominated for the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame by his childhood friend Dan Gapen.

Gapen is also a member of the Hall and is famous in the North American fishing industry for his tackle company, television shows and many books.

Dan Gapen's father Don owned the legendary Chalet Lodge, on the Nipigon River, and he and Dupuis spent many childhood days fishing together around the region.

While the two were close childhood friends, their bond has continued into their 80s.

"Now in our later years, we've gotten together and it's been really great, to have such good friendship and long time memories," said Dupuis."We have been away for a long time from each other, but we are still good friends after many years."

Dupuis said he is humbled and excited to be entering the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, located in Hayward, Wis.

He will be joined at the induction ceremony in Minneapolis this March by 17 of his children and grandchildren.

To read the original article, listen to an audio report and read related stories, follow this link to the CBC News website.

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