Thunder Bay

'I'm still kind of in limbo' Ontario angler says as fight continues over secret fishing spot

The saga of Ontario angler Mike Borger's secret fishing spot isn't over yet.

Freedom of Information decision over trophy brook trout spot appealed; decision expected soon

Mike Borger holds one of the big brook trout that prompted someone to file a Freedom of Information request to find his fishing spot. The FOI request was denied by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, but an appeal of that decision has now been filed. (Mike Borger)

The saga of Ontario angler Mike Borger's secret fishing spot isn't over yet.

Earlier this year, someone filed a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to find out where, exactly, in Algonquin Park Borger and his son were fishing when they hooked some trophy brook trout during a springtime fishing trip.

That initial FOI request didn't work; the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) didn't confirm nor deny the existence of information that would identify which lake Borger was fishing. However, the individual who filed the FOI has now appealed the decision, saying the subsequent media attention proves that information does exist.

"I had to provide them with a number of reasons why I thought the information shouldn't be released," Borger told CBC News when asked about the appeal, which he heard about in early September. "I'm still kind of in limbo; I'm waiting for a decision. I don't know whether they're going to release it or not."

"I really, truly believe they don't want to release the information, they're just following protocol," he said. "I don't expect it's going to be released, but you never know."
Mike Borger with brook trout he caught from a secret lake in Algonquin Park this past spring. The location of that lake spurred an FOI request to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. (photo credit: Mike Borger)

Attention was drawn to the lake after Borger uploaded a 40-minute video detailing a recent trip there to Youtube. The video shows Borger and his son reeling in some trophy brook trout.

The lake, Borger said, is a special one.

"I knew the response would be huge, simply because of the species of fish," he said. "When it comes to brook trout, especially trophy-sized brook trout ... they're rare."

"A lot of anglers will fish their entire life and not accomplish what my son and I did in Algonquin Park," Borger said. "People travel to places like Labrador and spend thousands upon thousands of dollars in pursuit of trophy brook trout, and don't do as well as my son and I did three hours north of Toronto. So, it didn't surprise me in the slightest."

Could set precedent

He's concerned, though, that divulging the lake's location would set an unfortunate precedent.

"Freedom of Information ... to the best of my knowledge, was never intended to be used for this purpose, to find out personal information," Borger said. "This would set a very large precedent where other people could be affected nationwide."
This campsite and lake used by Mike Borger in Algonquin Park this spring became the focus of an FOI request. (Mike Borger)

"They've potentially opened a large can of worms with this."

Borger's issue isn't with the person who filed the FOI; rather, he's concerned over how the MNRF has handled it.

"Following protocol to the nth degree sometimes is not the way to go," he said. "I truly, truly believe they could have very easily just denied the request."

"It could have all been avoided if some common sense was used."

Filer identity will remain secret

And yes, Borger does know who filed the FOI. He's not divulging that, however.

"I am absolutely not a vindictive person,`he said. "I have absolutely no desire to say anything publicly, because it serves no purpose."

"All I'm going to say is, if the general public at large actually knew who filed the request, I guarantee you it would be a crazy story," Borger said. "It's one thing if a private individual is trying to find the name or the location of my fishing spot. It's a very, very different thing when it's not necessarily a private individual, and the person is looking for this information so that it can be exploited for their own monetary gain."

"People can draw their own conclusions."

Borger is expecting the MNRF to issue its decision on the appeal any day now.


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