After moving from her native Alberta to Nashville, Terri Clark made her mark on both sides of the border with her trademark cowboy hat, guitar, and voice. She has been named Canadian Country Music Association entertainer of the year eight times, female vocalist of the year five times, has sold over five million albums to date, and is the only Canadian female artist that’s a member of the Grand Ole Opry.
Clark recently discovered fishing and took time out from her busy schedule to talk about it, and her music, in an exclusive interview with Ontario OUT of DOORS.
My grandfather used to be a commercial fisherman in B.C., years and years ago, so I think it runs in my bloodstream a little bit. When I started to fish with my neighbour, he got me hooked on it..
OOD: Have you fished all your life?
TC: It’s new, actually. I bought a cottage in southern Ontario, … on Lake Erie. I have a neighbour who is a really big bass fisherman, so I started to go out with him on his bass boat and just got hooked — no pun intended.
OOD: Who taught you to fish?
TC: My grandfather used to be a commercial fisherman in B.C., years and years ago, so I think it runs in my bloodstream a little bit. When I started to fish with my neighbour, he got me hooked on it.
OOD: What was next?
TC: I, of course, decided I wanted to buy a boat and started out with a little 16-foot tin boat (that had a leak in the bottom) with a 9.9-hp or something like that. After fishing out of that for a summer, I wanted to upgrade, so I got a Lund aluminum fishing boat with a 45-hp engine, and it actually had a steering wheel, so I started going out more.
OOD: What do you fish for?
TC: I really just like bass fishing. I perch fish, too… you don’t really want to throw them back because they’re good to eat, but I don’t want to deal with cleaning them. I’m more into catch and release fishing.
OOD: Largemouth or smallmouth?
TC: Largemouth. I spend more time getting my hook out of the weeds than I do catching fish, that’s for sure.
OOD: Is Lake Erie the only place you have fished?
TC: Pretty much the only place I get the downtime to go fishing is at my cottage. It’s my favourite place to be. I love the fact that the lake is not rocky and there aren’t a lot of things in the water I can run over in my boat… I love the sunsets. I love to be out on the water on that lake.
OOD: What do you get out of fishing?
TC: It’s really relaxing. I feel it’s one of the only places I can honestly let everything in my life go — every business thing that goes on — and just relax and be in that moment. I love the outdoors. I’ve taken up golf recently for the same reason.
It’s a bit of a therapeutic, meditative thing, casting and reeling in, and casting and reeling in. The way it feels when you actually get one on the hook and it’s a fighter. You bring it in and it’s a five pounder. You’re screaming and yelling and reaching for your camera. It’s an exciting feeling. Even if you don’t catch anything though, just being out on the water, is 80% of it — it’s the whole reason you’re out there in the first place.
OOD: Do you have any great fish stories?
TC: The other day at the cottage I caught what I thought might be a smallmouth bass, and it was enormous — I mean the thing was 13 pounds. I went running back with the picture of myself with this smallmouth bass. My neighbour looked at the picture and “Oh, That’s great.” I showed it to somebody else and “Oh, that’s great, good for you.” Then I texted it to a friend who is a sports fisherman and he said, “What is that, a sheepshead (freshwater drum)?” Basically, all my neighbours let me believe I caught a 13-pound smallmouth bass, but in the reality, nobody had the heart to tell me that it wasn’t.
OOD: Is that the biggest fish you’ve caught?
TC: I would say so. I caught some good 5 to 6-pounders (bass). Nothing I would call a trophy fish yet, but I think I have a lot of fishing left in my life.
I didn’t get out there as much as I wanted to last summer because I had a gig in Nashville and had to be in Nashville more fulltime.
OOD: Any places you want to fish, any fishing goals?
TC: I would love to fish up in the Muskokas sometime. That’s in my future plans, to trailer my boat up there and stay for a week and fish on some of the freshwater lakes up there. It’s not that far. It’s only about four or five hours away so I’m going to do that, so that’s kind of next on my list. Also, there’s some real nice lakes in B.C. I would love trying to fish in. I’m not so much a sea-water person, I would just like to stick with largemouth bass and freshwater.
OOD: Your favourite place to fish is Lake Erie, I presume?
TC: Right now it is. That could change as I get older. That’s the only place I’ve fished, so it’s my only frame of reference. I know there are tons of great lakes to fish in in Canada. I might try to see more when time permits.
OOD: Any plans to write a song about fishing?
TC: There are plenty of country songs about bass fishing, so you never know. There’s a song on my new album called Just Add Water. It mentions a pole and bobber, and being in a blissful place. You’ve got a pole and bobber, just add water. That’s all you need to be happy.
OOD: Could there be a more dedicated song?
TC: There’s none in the works right now, but now you’ve inspired me, so you never know.
OOD: Years ago you did a poster for Winchester AA. Was that just a promotion, or are you a shooter?
TC: It was more of a publicity gig to be quite honest. I’ve shot guns before and I’ve actually shot clay pigeons before…
Where my cottage is, it’s a big duck-hunting Mecca. I haven’t been duck hunting, but I could get a few ducks to eat if I want them.
My neighbour is actually a world champion duck decoy carver — he has won international competitions. He carved me a northern pintail as a gift a couple of years ago. I keep it in a very special place because it’s so delicate. The craftsmanship is amazing.
OOD: You have no ambitions to hunt?
TC: No, [but] I get why people hunt. I’ll eat it.
OOD: I understand your fans had an opportunity to go fishing with you through the crowdfunding campaign for your new album Some Songs.
TC: People pledged for certain exclusives. The money from those exclusives went towards making my album. One of the exclusives was to go fishing with me. It was fairly pricy, and nobody bid on it, but I’ll put it up there next time I do a similar campaign to see if anyone bites.
An abbreviated version of this interview appears in the April 2015 edition of Ontario OUT of DOORS.