Another Northern Ontario Adventure with the Bear, Part II.

(Continued from Part I)

**********************************************

Flying over the Algoma District via bush plane,  north of Superior, it amazes me how many lakes there are.

This is only one small corner of Ontario, but there are hundreds of lakes here, if not thousands.

If you ever looked at map of Ontario, and wondered what’s in those blank areas between the highways, this is what it looks like:

There is plenty of evidence of logging…the area is crisscrossed with logging roads.  This is a fact of life, pretty much anywhere you go up North.

But there are also large undisturbed areas of boreal forest.

Some of the bigger lakes might have a fishing or hunting lodge on them, only accessible by plane.    But there are countless smaller lakes, far from the main waterways, that are harder to get to.

I often wonder how months (or years) go by before these areas even see a human being.  Aside from the odd trapper checking their trap line by snow-mobile, I suspect a lot of these places don’t get that many visitors.

This is pretty serious wilderness.  There’s no cell phone coverage.    There’s no internet.  The  nearest McDonalds is 250 km  to the South.

If your plane crashed and you were stuck here,  it would be virtually impossible to get out by yourself.  The nearest paved road could be 20-30 km away, and you’d have to cross swamps and rivers.

And even in July, this place can get cool enough that you’d have to worry about hypothermia    A local told me that that people rarely survive more than 5 days after being lost in these woods.

a

But if you’re a fisherman, this place is PARADISE!

All these unspoiled lakes, TEEMING with fish!  Very much like it used to be hundreds of years ago.

And that’s why people have built hunting camps and lodges in these areas….veritable oases carved out in the bush to cater to fishing fanatics like myself.

These fly-in camps provide you with your own motor boat, cabin with hot showers, fresh bed sheets, and breakfast and dinner cooked by certified chefs.

Now, people will probably ask:  “Friar, if you love the wilderness so much, why don’t you just camp out on your own, and do this?

Well, my answer is: been there, done that.

For years, I’ve driven and/or canoed for hours, only to find crowded campsites filled with yahoos,  on marginal lakes that have long since been fished out.   (Even 8 hours North of Toronto).

Not to mention dealing with the damp and cold, the heinous bugs, the lack of toilet facilities, keeping a fire going, cooking in the rain, and worrying about food and fish guts in bear country.

Don’t get me wrong…I have no problem with wilderness camping.    There are times I want to camp.  And times I want to seriously fish.  But it’s hard to do both at once.

Here, all I have to do is show up and fish.

a

But you have to be careful out here.  The  lake can get choppy at times (one day there were 3-4 foot whitecaps with 30 mph winds!)   Every once in a while,  people die up here.

But other times, the water can be like glass.

And the fishing….OMG…THE FISHING!!   It’s like being a kid in candy store!

Down south, it’s considered a “good day” if you catch 1-2 walleye.

Up here,  if you find a good spot, you can catch 10-20 in an HOUR.    One one day, my guide and I estimated we got 50-60 between the two of us.

(Anyway, after the first few dozen, you just stop counting).

(This is PAY-BACK TIME for all those other crappy fishing trips where I got skunked!)

Of course,  we didn’t keep all those fish.  It was mostly catch-and-release.   (Besides, you’re only allowed to have four in your possession).

And I like to let the big guys go (like the ones above).  They’re the big breeders,  I want them to go back and make even MORE fish for me to catch later.

And there are plenty of smaller, frying-pan-sized ones for shore lunch.

And if there’s a better way eat freshly-caught walleye, I dont’ wanna know about it.

.

There were tons of pike, too, but I didn’t’ catch any big ones.    My guide claims a 40-inch monster followed my lure, though.     A 9-year-old kid sitting next to my dinner table had caught a 36-inch “gator”.

Other highlights of the trip included getting caught in a wicked thunderstorm.

Precisely during lunch time, of course (that was FUN.)

There was the odd wildlife sighting, like moose:

Not to mention the bears at the garbage dump on the outskirts of the camp.

This is apparently an evening ritual:  the staff throws out the day’s garbage, and the bears patiently wait for the food to arrive.

Some people have commented to me that this is negligent.

But they have to understand that this isn’t a Provincial Park where a garbage truck takes everything away.   This is in the middle of nowhere..there’s no other place to throw away the trash.

And from what I’ve seen, the bears and the camp seem to have reached a mutual understanding.  The bears stay near the dump, dont’ come into the camp.

Both parties keep a safe distance from each other…and the staff does a lot of yelling and flailing their arms…to let the critters know we humans should be avoided.

Anyway, it seems to work.

What I also liked about the camp was one of the dogs:   a Duck-Toller obsessed with sticks.

She reminded me so much of my sister’s Duck-Toler, Tipper. (Except Tipper is obsessed wtih rubber balls).

So I had found a play-mate, another dog to corrupt.

I had my share of “Zen” moments, too.   Like sitting on a rock at 9:45 PM…catching walleye from shore (something unheard of down south)…

…and  watching the golden sunset reflect off the scraggy black spruce trees.

Or just sitting on a calm-glass lake,  and catching fish-after fish.  This rock produced about 12-15 walleye in an hour.

These happy memories are burned into my head, which I can now retrieve at my leisure, for years to come.

And isn’t this the whole point of these trips?

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19 Comments on “Another Northern Ontario Adventure with the Bear, Part II.”


  1. Great shots. We’ve not done enough fishing this year.

  2. Friar Says:

    @Betsy
    There’s another 2 good months of fishing weather left. You still have time to get out there…

  3. Eyeteaguy Says:

    12-15 in an hour? Bull ship. That was the same dumb ass fish, you just caught him 12 times.
    You know why northern Ontario is so remote? Its because it wants to be left alone! And you fly in an wake it up.

    Sheesh.

    Eyeteaguy

  4. Friar Says:

    @Eyeteaguy
    Yeah, but the fish weren’t all the same size. So I probably caught maybe 4-5 different fish, over and over again.

    The walleye are pretty smart. For every one you catch, there’s one that gets away, after it sucks the minnow of your hook. Maybe I just catch the retarded ones.

    And…OF COURSE I had to fly there and wake up Northern Ontario. That’s what a Friar does. It’s my nature.

  5. XUP Says:

    Even if I never go out there into the wilderness, I always feel very comforted and happy to know it exists and that we humans haven’t messed up every square inch of the planet yet. Also, every time you post a picture of you and fish, you reveal more of yourself. Way back it was just the fish and your hand; then the fish and your hand and a bit of your torso, then your legs and arms, now we got chin, mouth and nose. Next time you’ll have to work from the top down.

  6. Friar Says:

    @XUP

    Yes, but the eyes are the window to the soul..and I’ve delierately kept those hidden. You’ll have to still have to keep guessing what I look like.

  7. seestor Says:

    What a place of beauty! Amazing. I should head to the wilderness again this summer. It’s been too long.

    Seestor

  8. Davina Says:

    OMG, Friar!

    The lake does look like glass! Lots of potential for paintings here.

    I thirst for places like this. Used to go camping at a place called Sasquatch park in BC. Made the mistake of going on a long weekend during the summer. Lots of kids during the day and lots of loud parties and drunkenness at night. No more.

  9. Friar Says:

    @Seestor
    Yeah..you’ve been so much into your running, you probably haven’t canoe-camped in a few years.

    @Davina
    When I lived in Hamilton, we once drove 9 hours up to Temagami, and went up a bush road to find a quiet lake. Friday morning we had the whole place to ourselves. My evening, it had turned into a zoo with 30-40 noisy campers and idiots blasting their stereo at 4:00 AM.

    Or, once we canoe-camped in Algonquin on a long weekend. And kept seeing the same campers every day, following our same canoe route. And it was a fight to get a campsite by nightfall, every time.

    Never, ever again.

    That’s why I go to these fly-in-camps now

  10. Davina Says:

    At Sasquatch Park there was a lot of entertainment. 🙂 One night we heard some action. The next day we were chatting with the rangers. A couple of guys were out drinking on the lake. A chase ensued, one fell out of the boat (apparently) and swam to shore. The rangers ended up chasing this guy on foot through the campground in the middle of the night with their flashlights, lol. The rangers were pretty ramped up by the story. It was funny.

    We heard lots of fights too between the good campers and the bad campers. From our tent we could hear this woman go into the party spot to ask them politely to be quiet; she got told off.

    We started to camp there after Labour Day, but then you get the big trailers and have to listen to generators running. Finding a quiet place to be by yourself is the only way to go. Yep.

  11. XUP Says:

    NO! That’s fine. I don’t need to see your soul or the top of your head. I know what your fish look like and I know what your Vikings look like and that’s good enough for me.

  12. Friar Says:

    @Davina

    And that’s why I try to avoid Provincial Parks like the plague!

    @XUP

    Always keep them guessing…that’s my motto.

    (Plus, it helps keep away the stalkers!) 🙂

  13. Karen Swim Says:

    Wow Friar, you really do find the greatest places! Your pictures took my breath away and I could just imagine being there fishing enjoying the unspoiled beauty of nature. I love the places that have not been sullied by mankind, it’s nature the way it was intended where we are forced to humble ourselves to its forces. Looks like the perfect vacation for you and the bear. 🙂

  14. Cath Lawson Says:

    Hi Friar – Ontario is huge. I’ve messed about with Google maps and places that look near to each other take forever to get to.

    And in the north – everywhere seems so isolated. I think it was you who said that in some places, you need to drive over 100 miles, just to get basic stuff like cigarettes or beer.

    The place you stayed looks really cool and I can understand what you’re saying about the bears now and how it’s different to a busy provincial park (I’m disappointed to hear that Algonquin gets so busy – I thought it would be a cool place to visit).

    How long did your plane journey take?

  15. Friar Says:

    @Karen
    It’s funny…from what I’ve seen, most of the guests at these places are American, from Michigan or Ohio. They’ll drive 12-14 hours to get here. Even further than what I drove.

    Seems we Canadians are so spoiled, we don’t appreciate what’s in our own back yard. It’s probably too far of a drive for most Torontonians, who’d rather go “North” 1-2 hours to their yuppie cottages in Muskoka.

    (Which is fine with me…let them all stay down there!) 🙂

  16. Friar Says:

    @Cath
    It never ceases to amaze my how big Ontario is. It has a population of 13,100,000. But only about 6% (750,000) live in Northern Ontario. And most of that is in the “Big Cities” of Sudbury, the Soo, TImmins, and Thunder Bay. The rest or dinky little towns like Wawa.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Ontario

    On the paved main highways, it’s not so bad. Most small towns or villages will have a grocery store, a Govt. Beer store, a restaurant, motel and gas station. Maybe every 20-50 km.

    Just make sure you fill up before it gets too late. Even where I live, there’s a 250 km stretch with no gas stations open after 10:00 PM.

    But in some of the more remote areas, you might go quite a while before you get any services. They have signs warning “Last gas stations for 100 km”.

    The plane trip took about 30 minutes. It was only about 100 km from Wawa, as the Otter flies.

  17. Eyeteaguy Says:

    I went here http://www.anglersatlas.com/lakes/25421/ last week.
    Any ass can catch bass. So I am an ass. But I also caught a 3.5 lb lake trout. We were having no luck so I came up with a cunning strategy. I fell asleep, thereby lulling them into a false sense of security. I was awakened by my down rigger flailing about. Three seconds later my brother in law landed another one, but his was only 3 lbs.

    Fishing is a great way to spend time outdoors, in the sun, talking with another human and sometimes you catch dinner.

    I didn’t take any picture of my lame ass fish. I would never sink to that level.

    Eyeanglerguy

  18. Friar Says:

    @Eyeteaguy

    Fortunately for me I was not an ass, because this lake hate W-A-L-L-E-Y-E, and not B-A-S-S. (Too far north for bass).

    But thanks for coming out, anyway.

    (Actually, a 3.5 lb lake trout is impressive. Those critters are somewhat trickier to catch).

  19. Truth Czar Says:

    You really should mix in a salad from time to time, fat ass.


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