Entrepreneur hopes to make ice fishing invention a bigger catch in more stores

Ice fishing season is winding down in many parts of the province, but one northern Ontario entrepreneur is already looking ahead to next season to get his invention called 'The Trigger' on more store shelves across Canada.

Brendan Syrette hopes to expand sales to more Canadian Tire stores and beyond

A competitor at a fishing derby in Garden River First Nation using The Trigger. (Waubgeshig Rice/CBC)

Ice fishing season is winding down in many parts of the province, but one northern Ontario entrepreneur is already looking ahead to next season to get his invention on more store shelves.

The Trigger is an ice fishing apparatus that holds the rod and sets the hook when a fish bites. It's the brainchild of Brendan Syrette from Batchewana First Nation near Sault Ste. Marie.

"It's a great tool to utilize while you're out on the hard water. If it goes off, probably eight times out of ten I got a fish on the ice," said Syrette, while set up at an ice fishing derby in Garden River First Nation.

It can be adjusted to different sensitivity settings based on the species of fish the angler is trying to catch. Syrette's company, Black Fox Fishing, secured a contract with Canadian Tire late last fall to sell The Trigger at eight stores in northern Ontario.

The Trigger can be set to different sensitivities based on the species of fish. (Waubeshig Rice/CBC)

'A dream come true'

"It's been a dream come true to be able to get into the doors of a corporation like Canadian Tire," he said. "They've allowed a Canadian company — a First Nations Canadian company — to get into their doors. And we tend to keep all manufacturing in Canada and in Ontario if we can. And we'll continue to do so. It's part of our belief."

Since 2015, Syrette estimates he's sold about 8,000 units through his company's website and at outfitters and stores in the region. Word of mouth spread quickly, with people sharing their catches using The Trigger on social media.

He hopes to expand to stores across Canada by next season, and his team is even looking at markets in Finland, Sweden, and Russia to sell The Trigger.

Brendan Syrette is the founder of Black Fox Fishing and the inventor of The Trigger. (Waubgeshig Rice/CBC)

"Whenever there's a photo that comes in of people catching fish on the trigger, we're so happy to hear that and see it in action," said Michael Babcock, Syrette's partner and vice president of Black Fox Fishing.

"The best part of selling the trigger is that it works. So we're selling something that is a utility tool for fishing people across the world."

'It's a lot of hours to get here'

It's been a long journey into entrepreneurship for Syrette, who's originally a carpenter by trade. "I found about 40 or 50 ways not to make the Trigger," he said. "It's a lot of hours to get here...(but) now we can do a lot of testing out in the field with new products and new ideas."

Now, his fishing company is his full time job. His advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs?

"Be ready to work, and be ready to devote your time and dedicate your time and efforts into your dreams. Always push and take advice. Don't be afraid to find mentors and people that can help you along the way," he said."

"Remember that it's not always about the money. It's about what you can do for people. And that's the great benefit."

Syrette signed a contract with Canadian Tire at the start of the season to sell The Trigger in eight northern Ontario stores. (Black Fox Fishing/Facebook)


Waubgeshig Rice is a multi-platform journalist reporting for CBC's Ontario markets. Originally from Wasauksing First Nation on Georgian Bay, he's now based in the CBC Sudbury newsroom. You can email him at and follow him on Twitter @waub.