I am a senior who has enjoyed going to BAIT for several years. This is my testimony of why BAIT is an important event to me annually. I live alone, with my guide dog. We don’t have family in Ontario, so getting out to events is difficult for me. I am totally blind and have no hearing. I use cochlear implants that has restored some of my hearing, but hearing is all dependent on technology. we live in a changing world. Some changes are welcomed, while other changes are unwanted. BAIT is the one thing that has remained as a positive constant event that has made a real difference in my life. For the first 3 years I attended BAIT, my husband went with me. We had happy times. He was also visually impaired. He helped me to communicate, as at this time I could not hear to communicate. Over the years since David’s death, going to BAIT felt bitter-sweet, at first, but now it is a real joy once again. My life changed when David, my husband died, but BAIT was still an event I could look forward to. I have had the same pro angler over the last 8 or 9 years I have been attending BAIT. I feel so secure knowing he would be there to assist me to fish. I know his boat, so being out on the water for more than four hours with him is stress-free, and I experience the feeling of being on the water, and I listen to the sounds of nature, and hear the fish jump when I am lucky enough to hook one and get it into the boat!
Many people who go to fish are experiencing changing vision, which makes going out to unfamiliar places difficult. Bait is where the people feel safe and are transported to the event, given a guide to help make sure they get to all the places, the area where we eat outside, the area we have breakfast, the cabin we stay for two nights, and to where the boat is docked ready for us to go on to fish.
It isn’t often I have the opportunity to meet new people, but at BAIT several new interesting people attend each year. Though I can cook, it is not often I am served meals and enjoy food with the company of other people. Each person has a sighted guide during the weekend, called a Shepherd, who is always nearby to lend a hand to get meals and guide us where we want to go. The Shepherd is important for the safety of each person who is blind. I know some of the shepherds, and they know how to guide people who are blind correctly. The program, during the day we go fishing ,arranges for qualified people who look after our guide dogs, so we can feel good leaving our guide dog with people associated with the Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind School. We come back to our dogs who have been taken out for a walk, given water and attention while we were away having fun. For me it is rare that I have someone to care for my guide dog. I love him dearly, but because I live alone I would have to leave him alone if I want to go somewhere that the dog can’t go. They are so used to being with their blind handlers, that being alone is stressful for them.
At first I didn’t want to go back to BAIT, for it was a time when I was so happy being with my husband. But I decided to go back and be with people I knew, and those who wanted me to join them. I am so glad I didn’t stop doing what I enjoyed, fishing being on the water. I am glad that I have the opportunity to be active and enjoy the good times that Lions provide to those who want to enjoy the thrill of fishing and being close to nature.
Yes, it is true, the more things change, the more they remain the same. And BAIT remains the same wonderful opportunity to fish and interact with friends and new friends.
This year was the 26th BAIT weekend. I hope the Lions can continue to attract the pro-anglers to assist with fishing and lend their boats and all the equipment to go fishing. I also hope that Lions will continue to find members who are willing to do all the work of shepherds, cooks, transportation providers, security officers, and so many assistants required to register everyone and look after all the needs each person has.