The following story was published in The Whitewood Herald and The Fort Qu'Appelle Times. Jason Matity is instrumental in the development of my passion for sport fishing. Through the 1990s, he and I spent days on a boat or along the shorelines of lakes and rivers in Manitoba and Saskatchewan fishing for a wide variety of species. He taught me almost everything I know about the sport.
By Chris Istace
Jeff Matity calls it being “sensitive to the soft-core” when he explains what he and his brother Jason are trying to accomplish with Matity’s Get Fishing.
The former Whitewood residents struck out on their own when, in 2012, they ended “Reel ‘Em In,” a fishing show that aired on CTV for seven seasons.
Their new project – which includes the website matitysgetfishing.com, seminars, media appearances and other activities under the Matity’s Get Fishing banner – is part of a plan to share angling knowledge to experienced outdoors enthusiasts, and introduce the sport they love to a new generation of fishers.
“Being sensitive to the soft-core is helping people who do not fish regularly get introduced to the sport with easy-to-learn lessons and important information about successful fishing,” said Jeff, who resides with his family at Echo Lake near Fort Qu’Appelle, Sask.
“We want people to be comfortable out there. We want them to be successful, then confident in what they’re doing.”
There’s little doubt about the brothers’ dedication to angling. Over the past 25 years, both have fished for a wide variety of species throughout North and Central America. As they made their way through school in Whitewood, the Matitys would spend most of their spare time fishing on Round Lake where their family had a trailer at West End Resort.
At home on their family farm along Highway 9 just south of Whitewood, they consumed copious amounts of information about the sport through television shows, videos, books and magazines.
Jeff, who earned a degree in biology at the University of Saskatchewan focusing on fish behavior, says the brunt of his fishing education came from resources provided by In-Fisherman broadcasts and publications.
“I taped all of the In-Fisherman shows and would watch them over and over and over again,” he said. “I have to say that if I get an honorary degree in fishing, it’s because of In-Fisherman.”
Jeff was especially drawn to the work of the magazine’s editor-in-chief Doug Stange, whom he calls a “Picasso with a pen.” Ultimately, Jeff came to know Stange personally by working on In-Fisherman projects with him.
“The passion those people had for fishing was very infectious and I think that’s where my passion for fishing came from,” he said.
Jeff had a career as a teacher and principal for more than a decade, but has since returned to the field of biology. He is now an aquaculture technician at the Fort Qu’Appelle Fish Culture Station.
Meanwhile, Jason left Whitewood High School to earn a journalism degree at the University of Regina and become a television journalist for several years. He is now working in corporate communications in Regina.
Alongside Jeff’s background in biology, Jason’s writing and videography skills have been instrumental in the success of “Reel ‘Em In” and, now, Matity’s Get Fishing, says Jeff.
Jason’s fervor for fishing, however, rubbed off of his brother. Their shared passion for the sport formed a strong bond between the two. More than 20 years after leaving Whitewood, the fruits of their deep interest in angling have also benefitted the fishing community at-large through the television show and the videos produced by the Matitys for matitysgetfishing.com.
“All we ever wanted to do was share our passion and love for fishing and the outdoors,” Jason said. “We hope that others can enjoy it as much as we do. (Our efforts) are meant to say, ‘Hey. If you’re out at the lake and curious about fishing, this is how you do it and how you can be successful at it.’ We appeal to those types of anglers; people who want to get into it and don’t know where to start.”
Besides the matitysgetfishing.com website and the educational videos it contains, the Matity brothers also lead seminars at Cabela’s in Regina and Saskatoon. Jeff conducts an outdoor education excursion program for school groups and maintains the Matity’s Get Fishing Facebook page, where he shares angling tips and lessons from other online sources.
Jason, meanwhile, maintains a media presence by representing Matity’s Get Fishing on CTV once a month and occasionally on News Talk 980 Radio. On the Father’s Day weekend for the past four years, he has also been emcee for the Riverhurst Walleye Classic fishing tournament in Riverhurst, Sask.
“A lot of this is an opportunity to blend ourselves as outdoor educators and anglers and to be able to do it however we want in whatever format,” Jason said, adding that the tight relationship between he and Jeff is integral to any success they can garner.
Jeff agrees and believes that the project is part of what they were both born to do together.
“Because we’re brothers, this is something that will not happen without one or the other of us involved,” he said. “When we go out filming, we say a prayer and leave it all in the Lord’s hands. We really hope to get as many people fishing in this province and worldwide as possible. That will be our legacy.”
While being “sensitive to the soft-core” is the foundation of what the Matitys are trying to accomplish, there are other important aspects to their mission with Matity’s Get Fishing. Conservationism and responsible angling are themes that run through much of their work with the public.
“We want to get people fishing, but we also wanted to really help people understand the value in not only traditional fishing, but conservation,” Jason said. “Enjoying the great outdoors is important, but so is the lesson of conservation, especially with the growth we’re seeing in the province.”
That’s why he is happy to see an upswing in the “catch-and-release” mentality among the province’s anglers. More and more fishers are catching larger fish and letting them go knowing that these specimens are most fit to continue healthy populations.
“The result is the fishing has gotten better,” he said. “Part of that is because we are better anglers, but a lot of it is we don’t keep everything we’re catching any more.”
Conservationism has also moved the Matitys to get involved with organizations with the same intentions, such as the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation.
“It’s not going to be the everyday people who stand shoulder to shoulder to protect wildlife,” Jeff said. “It is the people using the resource responsibly. With the growth we’re having in the province, there is a real opportunity for there to be a lot more people using the resource. If it’s managed properly, it will still be there for generations. There will still be fish to take home.”
Although the Matitys have already come to be a popular source of fishing information in Saskatchewan, Matity’s Get Fishing is still in its infancy. Both Jason and Jeff admit they have made great gains since establishing the website in August of 2013, but at the moment, it’s still a sideline project.
Nevertheless, this does not mean it won’t become a full-time operation at some point. They are growing the enterprise in a responsible and accountable manner to see where it leads them.
“We’re going in the right direction,” said Jason. “We’re still working to get sponsors and support, but we want to make sure we’re doing it in a sustainable way for us. It’s not a venture – at this point in time – we will be able to abandon our jobs for. That’s something we want to do, but that’s a far off goal.”