By: Scott Way
Averie Rose Bonin is gearing up to start 9th grade, but she's been gearing up for early mornings on the lake since she was just 7 days old. Now a well-spoken 13 year old with an infectious passion for the outdoors, her adventures are inspiring other young anglers to get hooked on fishing. As the host of 'Hooked' on Bell Fibe TV, Averie and a team of Canadian pros are sharing their knowledge while reeling in some of Ontario's best fish.
It's undoubtedly exciting, albeit a little strange, to find yourself a public figure at 13, but Averie is embracing the role with a signature maturity well beyond her years. "Meeting people at boat launches, or fishing shows, who already know who I am is kind of exciting, but it's also scary at the same time. I don't always know what to say, because it's just me, I'm not very good at small talk (laughs). But it's super cool meeting new people who are into the sport just like me. And especially new kids, who are just trying it out for the first time, or who love it as much as I do."
So how does a young girl from a small Ontario town get such an early start in the outdoors?
"My dad is the person who first introduced me to fishing. He always tells the story of how he put me in my stroller and took me to Humber Bay Park in Mississauga when I was just seven days old. It was spending time with my dad that really sparked my love of fishing."
Since then, fishing has been the focus (when she isn't playing hockey), and Averie is quickly becoming one of Canada's most recognizable young fishing ambassadors. But before all the cameras and the crankbaits, her ambassadorship started in the place most young people go to for entertainment: YouTube. Even as high school looms just a few weeks away, she continues to release videos on her YouTube page that can't help but highlight her affable personality and obvious skills. As the host of 'Hooked,' she's also worked alongside other well-known fishing personalities like JP DeRose, Paul Castellano, and Simon Frost. Whether captaining her own ship (which she often does), or working with a team of friends and family, it's clear she's netted more keepers in 13 years than most of us see in a lifetime.
As for why Averie chose to channel her passion into making videos, it comes from a strong foundation built around helping others. "In March of 2018 I had the opportunity to go to the Bassmaster Classic. It was such an amazing trip, and thanks to our family friend Dave Mercer, I was able to meet some of my favourite pro anglers. When I got home from the Classic and told my friends all about it, only three people knew what I was talking about. I thought this was pretty crazy considering I live in a town on the lake where fishing is something you can do at any time. That’s when I decided to start making YouTube videos. I love being on the water and I love fishing. YouTube lets me share my experiences and with it I hope to inspire others to get outdoors and try fishing for themselves."
Her page grew quickly, from just a few followers in 2018 to a large fan base that now includes Facebook and Instagram as well. That following is helping to bring more eyes, and more reels, to the outdoors. And with her youthful eagerness, outdoor brands looking to encourage the growth of the sport are taking notice.
Enter Bell Fibe TV and 'Hooked.'
In an interview with the Simcoe Reformer, Averie's partnership with Bell came together, as it often does when you're too young to drive, with a little help from dad. “They called us and asked us to go in for a meeting,” said Averie’s dad, Ryan. “She had school, so I went. They loved it, they watched a bunch of Averie’s videos and thought she was awesome.”
According to Averie, "(i)t is an understatement when I say that I have the best dad. He believes in me a lot, and really helps me out so much. Not only with the filming side of things, but with everything I do. And my mom helps out too, she helps get the camera gear ready. Always packs lunches for us, and makes sure I wear sunscreen. It really is a full family effort. We all have put lots of time into it. My sister and brother love to be a part of my videos. And they really are OK with me and dad being on the road so often. Sometimes its ten o'clock at night, its dark out, I'm in the car with my little homework light on. But you know what...I would not trade it for the world."
Viewers can catch Averie and other Canadian anglers throughout Season 1's six episodes. Season 2 is currently in production with 12 episodes in the queue, and will air on WFN in the U.S and the Sportsman's Channel in Canada, as well as other VOD streaming services.
Thanks in part to the success of 'Hooked,' Averie also teamed up with Smoker Craft boats, who are encouraging her and other young anglers to hit the water in an Adventurer 168 SC fishing boat. With pro level features like a recirculating livewell for tournaments (where she often does well against adults in full size bass boats), a rod locker, and an additional 10" of width compared to her last boat, it's got the space and stability needed to tackle the big waters of her home base on Lake Erie.
"The support I've gotten from Smoker Craft over the last few months has truly been amazing. They introduced my family and I to Yamaha and the incredible people at Don Hyde Marine. They genuinely believe in me and my goals, and I cannot wait to see what lies ahead."
Naturally, Averie is taking the opportunity to bring as many young anglers along for the ride. "Fishing makes me happy and I’m sure that if other kids have the opportunity to get out and try fishing they may just find a new hobby that makes them happy as well."
With the new boat in tow, the plan is for Averie and her fellow anglers to hit the water running for the foreseeable future.
"I’m super lucky to have had a chance to film with, and learn from, some of the best anglers in our region. I learned the basics of steelheading with Chris Giles, caught GIANT smallmouth bass on Lake Erie with Simon Frost, trolled for walleye with Captain Paul Powis out of Erieau, fished the white bass run in the Trent River with Nick and Mika Pujic, checked off a bucket list fish with Rob Jackson when I caught a 49 inch gar on the Ottawa River and after a 45 minute battle, finally boated a 140 lb sturgeon under the guidance of Anthony Moreschini. I’ve also been lucky enough to go out several times with Paul Castellano or as I like to call him Coach Paul. I call him Coach Paul because he’s taught me so much this past year. He hasn’t just taught me how to catch certain fish in different situations, or how to approach a tournament, but he’s also been a great friend and truly believes in the importance of getting more kids involved in the sport."
To keep encouraging new anglers, Averie intends to stay focused on giving kids and young adults the chance to try fishing.
"I think one issue affecting recreational fishing is the fact that very few kids get a chance to experience it. We need things like fishing clubs both in and out of schools. Places where kids can learn about the sport. There are some youth programs out there doing great work, such as Fishing Friendzy, The Next Cast Youth Fishing Program and the Shimano Ontario Youth Championship, but I’d really like to see fishing clubs in all schools across Canada."
"We need to get outside, to explore and to be active. Recreational fishing is just one of many ways kids can get out and have fun."
Keep an eye out for Averie and her team around their home base on Lake Erie. If you see them heading for a honey hole you may want to ask for directions. Or for a couple tips.