My Watermark is Grenadier Pond in High Park Toronto, Ontario.
I first visited Grenadier Pond back in the summer of 2005, when I was looking for new places to fish. It took me about an hour and half by public transit to reach the pond, and the walk from the subway station to the pond felt very long and tiring. When I finally reached the pond, I saw many sunfish and minnows cruising along the bank, some ducks resting under a tree, and quite a few chipmunks running around. I immediately set up my fishing rod and started fishing. Within a matter of seconds, I was hooked onto a small sunfish that ended up escaping as I was reeling it in. For the rest of that day, I caught many more sunfish, a few catfish, and one small bass. I was very pleased with the results, and for the rest of the summer, I went there as much as possible. Exploring the shores of Grenadier Pond and trying out new spots kept me busy, and the thought of landing a fish kept me going, even in the awful heat of the summer.
As the years went by, I started to notice the decrease in the number and size of fish that were being caught. At first, I thought the water quality of the pond was starting to deteriorate, and that was causing the fish to either die off or grow slower. I believed this for a while, and during that time I started to visit the pond less and less frequently every year. During my later years in high school, I did not visited High Park, and instead went to Toronto Islands, where the quantity and species of fish were greater than Grenadier Pond. I loved being able to catch good sized fish again, but quickly grew dissatisfied with the extra ferry fare that was added to my every trip. I started to explore Toronto more, in hopes of finding other good fishing spots that were not as costly to access. I ended up finding a few other areas were I was happy with, but in the back of my mind, I always wondered about the state that Grenadier Pond was in, after I stopped visiting a while back.
During the summer of 2011, I decided to return to Grenadier Pond to see how the fishing was. To my surprise, fishing at the pond did not seem to worsen over the years, but did not improve either. Small sunfish and catfish accounted for vast majority of my catches, and the number of predatory fish, namely bass and pike, were scarce. At this time, I was aware of the importance of catch and release, to sustain and grow a fishery, and to ensure that future generations would be able to benefit and enjoy the same things I did. I realized that there were many fisherman who were keeping all of their catches, big or small, and in large quantities. The law granted license holders the ability to keep a large quantity of sunfish every day, and this was what I was witnessing. These people were not not breaking the law, but I felt that this did not allow for much growth of the fishery. I was not very happy, and wished that the government would stock more fish into the pond, or protect the existing fish somehow, as I feared that failure to prevent over-fishing would result in the collapse of the fish population.
Fast forward a few more years to the fall of 2014, and it seems that the fishermen, park users, park managers, and the ministry came to a conclusion to seal off the north half of the pond as a no-fishing area to protect the fish and other wildlife there. I had a mixed feeling about the change, as I loved to be able to sit under the trees and fish, but the fact that fishing in the pond has been restricted gave me hope that in the future, the fishing will be great again.
Grenadier Pond has be an important place to myself and many people in Toronto, who are able to enjoy many outdoor activities such as fishing, jogging and biking so close to home. I wish to see Grenadier Pond protected, so that kids, adults and the elderly will be able to enjoy a great fishery that's readily accessible for many generations to come. The restriction of fishing area was definitely a step in the right direction, but the threat of anti-fishing groups, littering anglers and irresponsible dog owners all threaten the future of this pond. Hopefully the ministry, the city, all the fishing, and non-fishing groups can work together to develop a solution that will save and improve one of my favorite waterbodies.