If you look at a typical map of Ontario, you’ll see a lot of white areas, or blank spots.
Until recently, I used to think there was nothing much there, except trees.
Little did I realize how wrong I was.
You see, there’s a reason nothing’s. there.
It’s because Ontario’s such a damned big province, they had to draw the map on a such a large scale to make it all fit on one sheet. And lot of details can’t be shown.
But if you look at a smaller-scale map, you’ll discover these blank spots are riddled with lakes, rivers, canoe routes and fishing spots. It’s a veritable outdoors-man’s paradise.
This is where I live. This is my back yard.
It’s all Crown Land, consisting mainly of trees, water, logging roads, and the odd deer camp. Where you can pretty much do what you want, and camp where you want, as long as you follow the hunting and fishing regs.
And even then, it’s unlikely that anyone’s gonna check up on you.
I love exploring this area. My canoe stays on top of my SUV pretty much the whole summer. Because I never know when I might feel like taking a ride and seeing what I can find.
Where I go depends on the mood I’m in.
It might be a quick exploration trip after work, to re-con future fishing spots.
Or I might go to an established fishing lake and just plop the canoe in the water.
Or it might be a day-long adventure, where I pick a spot on the map and see if I can get there.
Despite the detailed maps, though, you never know what condition the back-roads will be in.
Sometimes, the road’s a main logging route, and could be easily drivable with a Honda Civic.
In other cases, the road aint’ so good.
The all-wheel drive starts slipping. I start bottoming out on rocks, and the branches start scraping against my fenders. Combine this with the fact that I haven’t seen a soul for miles, I start to get nervous. I usually head back at this point.
Other times I’ll follow a semi-maintained road for 15 kilometers, dodging boulders and rain-filled potholes .
I’ll be almost within spitting distance of my destination, only to find one of the large puddles has turned into an established pond with cattails and frogs and minnows literally swimming around my tires. Which means of course, turning back and doing the same boring route in reverse.
Of course, these are just for the lakes that are accessible by vehicle.
To get even further into the bush, I park my SUV, take off the canoe, and start paddling and portaging. My rule of thumb is that each portage eliminates 90% of anyone who’d otherwise want to come there.
Some of the canoe routes are well-established and maintained.
Other times, I’ll play Lewis and Clark, and drag my canoe across beaver dam after beaver dam, through trail-less dense brush, till I’ve reached the point of exhaustion and need to turn back, defeated.
And I’ll swear that I was probably the first person to see this area in months. Maybe years.
And why do I do all this, you ask?
Well, a lot of it has to do with the fish.
If you’re a fisherman, you’ll understand.
And if you’re not a fisherman, believe me…it’s SO worth it.
If you put in the time and effort to find a good fishing spot, it will eventually pay off. And it has, for me.
So far, I have a repertoire of 4-5 “secret” lakes that are guaranteed to produce some decent bass and northern pike. Friar’s Mom knows of at least a few of these spots.
If I’m lucky, I’ll occasionally find the Holy Grail, and land a pickerel. Or even better yet, some nice speckled trout.
But it’s not just about the fishing. It’s about getting out there in the fresh air, where I can just turn off my brain, paddle, and take in the water, the sun, the loons, and the Canadian Shield.
Not to mention, the thrill of finding those “Secret Spots”, that so very few people know about.
Beautiful river banks. Unspoiled stands of old-growth forest. Natural amphitheaters of granite cliffs with cascading waterfalls. Swimming holes so refreshing you shiver with delight. Or the mother-lode of all blueberries.
Yes, my back yard.
Which I’ve been exploring for the past 5 years, and haven’t’ even begun to cover even a fraction of, yet.
But I can’t wait to go out again, and see what else is out there.