CFL Pass

A fish story: Guide Jamie Pistilli helps Redblacks' Brad Sinopoli land huge musky

When you’re a team that’s plummeting toward the bottom of the CFL barrel, there’s going to be a lot of noise from outside the dressing room — a fan base that wants answers why its team has lost nine of its past 10 games.

But the negativity gets tired to talk about and listen to. With lots of words already wasted talking about bad mojo and bad football, maybe we need a good old fish story to calm the nerves, ease the tension.

Catching a big musky has long been in the thought process for Redblacks receiver Brad Sinopoli. So when he hauled in a 48-inch, 30-pound monster a couple of weeks ago on the Ottawa River, it was a dream come true.

Fishing guide to the stars (and everybody else, too) Jamie Pistilli took Sinopoli out during the Redblacks’ bye week at the end of August. It sure paid off.

Said Sinopoli, beaming with a smile as he retells his story: “At first, I thought it was weeds, (the fish) really wasn’t fighting. When I brought it closer, I saw it flash through the water — it didn’t fight much. I just wanted to get it into the net, once you do that, you can celebrate. We caught it close to the boat — the majority of musky catches are pretty much beside the boat. I was shaking for a good 10 minutes after. it was an experience unlike any other. That’s the biggest (fish) I’ve caught.”

Explained Pistilli: “He goes, ‘I’m snagged on weeds.’ I looked at my fish finder and saw 12 feet of water and said: ‘Uh, I don’t think you’re snagged.’ Then we saw his rod kind of keel over. He pulled really hard and all of a sudden this thing came up. He looked at it and it was like, ‘Oh, my goodness.’ To get your first musky and it’s that big … it was ‘Wow!’

“They pull really, really hard. But it’s not like a lengthy battle where they’re pulling out a lot of line. We use really heavy tackle — I have a 100-pound test line. They stress out really quickly so it’s good to get them into the boat fast, then release them.”

Sinopoli, who met Pistilli a few years ago, grew up in Peterborough, where he got a taste of fishing.

“We didn’t have a boat, we’d fish in Bridgenorth off the causeway, we’d be under bridges or under docks,” said Sinopoli. “I’d throw a worm on the hook and see what I got. Fishing for musky is a completely different focus. The whole mystery is where are they, what depth are they at? I’m wondering how many musky are in this river — are there only 10, are there 1,000? It’s that cat-and-mouse game of figuring out where they are.”

Pistilli, who reeled in his own 44-pounder last year, has taken out other CFLers — Redblacks defensive linemen Mike Wakefield and J.R. Tavai and offensive lineman Alex Mateas among them — and he’s had NHL players on the water as well. For more information on Pistilli’s fishing charters, the website is

Asked about Sinopoli’s fishing ability, Pistilli said: “You can see his passion, not only for football and achieving goals — he was like, ‘I need to catch a musky.’ He fishes like me, cast, reel. He’s a machine, which I love. Cast, reel, cast, reel … it’s actually a lot of work — you’re using a lure that’s almost a foot long. There’s a lot of resistance, it’s a big forearm and shoulder workout. You always have to pay attention.”

The lure Sinopoli was using was a specially made spinner — a red and black one with a Redblacks logo — from the local Musky Factory Bait Company.

Pistilli has a partnership with the Brookstreet Hotel, with fishing getaways offered. Becoming a fishing guide — he’s been doing it full-time for four years — is something he’s been thinking about for a long time.

“I’ve had a couple of different career choices,” he said. “Whenever I was done work, I’d fish. I had a TV show. Sitting at a desk wasn’t really for me. This was the next progression of life for me. I like to be out and about, talking to people.

“It’s easy when they’re biting, but there’s a lot of hard work goes into this. If it was easy, everybody would be doing it. You go out and try to relive the dream every time you’re out. We have amazing fishing right here in Ottawa. It’s nice to show people not only the sights, but the sights under the water as well.

“I’ve always loved to catch fish, but I have probably more joy watching somebody else catch their first musky or the biggest fish of their life. This year, I’ve probably had 15 people catch their biggest fish. People hug you, they say it’s the best day of their life. People that show up and want to put in the work, there’s a very good chance they’ll see or catch one.”

SECOND AND LONG: Looks like the Redblacks, with 16 players on the six-game injured list and seven more on the one-game last week, are getting some help, maybe in time for Saturday’s home game against B.C. Receivers Brad Sinopoli and Rafael Araujo-Lopes both practised yesterday, so did returner/receiver DeVonte Dedmon and linebackers Avery Williams and Kevin Brown. Asked about the players, Redblacks coach Rick Campbell said: “It’s good news, we’ll see how it goes. (Dedmon and Araujo-Lopes) could be options this week. We have to see how they fit in and if they’re in shape — we have to figure that out today and tomorrow. Anybody that’s out here practising could be in play.” … Asked about the approach to playing the second game of a home-and home series, Campbell said: “It’s really a new game, whether you win the first half of the back-to-back or you don’t. Obviously you have film and you know stuff that’s going on with them, but it’s a new week and a new game. When the ball’s kicked off, both teams won’t even remember about last week — at least, I know we won’t.” … Stephane Nembot was getting some starting reps at right tackle, but the Redblacks may again go with an all Canadian offensive line … Receiver Caleb Holley was also getting some first-team reps.

THE END AROUND: The CFL Simulation gives Ottawa a 0.06% chance of being in the playoffs, worse than Toronto (2.65%) or B.C. (2.86%). Ottawa’s chances of winning the East are pegged at 0.01%, the same as their chances to win the Grey Cup … A Hamilton win or tie (Friday in Edmonton) or an Ottawa loss or tie Saturday clinches a playoff spot for the Ticats … In a Carstar promotion, fans buying tickets for Saturday’s game online ( for $30 will also get a Big Joe bobblehead … There’s an Ottawa Football Alumni Quarterback Club Thursday, 6-8 p.m. at The Prescott. Guests will include Redblacks DBs Sherrod Baltimore and Chris Randle and former Ottawa football players Jim Cain (Rough Riders, 1961-69), Mike Sutherland (Renegades, 2003-05), Justin Phillips (Redblacks, 2014) and Darren Joseph (Rough Riders, 1992-94 and Renegades, 2002-03). Upcoming Quarterback Clubs: Oct. 8 at Casino Lac Leamy Bar 7 and Oct. 29 at Buster’s Kanata … Former Redblacks DL John Biewald, who’s from Ottawa, has again been signed by the Argos.


Senators defeat Maple Leafs in pre-season test

Losing is on a Groundhog Day loop for the Ottawa Redblacks

SNAPSHOTS: Leaf Morgan Rielly has much respect for D.J. Smith’s coaching skills