Archive for the ‘The Outdoor Friar’ category

Best Fall Colors of 2014

October 15, 2014

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Honest-to-Goodness True Fishing Stories.

May 3, 2014

Fishermen tend to be full of shit.

I can tell you this from first-hand experience.

We’ll talk about the one that got away.

Or we’ll only show you photos of the big ones we caught, while holding the fish in front of the camera lens to make it look huge.

We’ve all done that.

But what we don’t tell you,  are the countless times we’ve gone out for the entire day, and gotten skunked.

And what you don’t see, are the dozens and lame-ass minnows we get,  that we throw back and don’t talk about.

But I think it’s time to come clean.

To break precedent, I’ve decdided to showing of my less-than-spectacular catches.

And these photos are true.

Honest to God.


Trophy Pike.

Small Pike IMG_6741


Another trophy.    (And come to think about it, this wasn’t the smallest pike I got, either)

trophy pike DSCN7672



Trout fail.   This huge monster is the net result of driving 90 minutes each way, and paddling the entire day.

At least I didn’t’ get skunked, though.

Small Trout IMG_1680



Trophy Walleye



Small Walleye IMG_2844


Okay…I can’t lie.  My fishing guide caught this one.   He wins.

IMG_2851 Even Better Trophy


Anyone who’s gone after perch, knows how easy they are to catch.

And how sad it is…when you can’t even got one large enough for the frying pan…

Small Perch IMG_3053


This one’s the best.   I was casting for trout, and I got a clam.


One of Those Days….

August 12, 2013

Sometimes when you go fishing,  you know it isn’t going to be a good day.    It’s too windy.   Or too cool.   Or the water’s too choppy.

Or maybe you just feel lethargic…and you suspect the fish probably do too.

But if you put in enough time, if you keep coming back,  sooner or later, you’re going to get one of those “perfect days”.

Where the water is like a mill pond.

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Where there’s just enough mugginess in the air to keep things interesting.

And when you approach the shoreline, you feel excited, because you KNOW there’s gotta be fish there.

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And even the signs in the sky seem to be favorable.

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And when you find that right spot and BAM…!   BAM…!  BAM…!  BAM…!   You can do no wrong.

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Blgo 1 Large IMG_3365Blog 1 Smallie IMG_3355Blog 1 Smallie IMG_3362

And you’ve had one of these “perfect” fishing days.

And they’re rare.

You might only get 1 or 2 day s like this the entire year.    If you’re lucky.

And you might come back to the same spot 3 days later, and it will be a whole different ball game.

They may not even be biting at all.

Or they might be biting even BETTER than before. .


You just never know.

I guess that’s why they call it “fishing” instead of “catching”.

Either way, I’m addicted.

Blog 1 Lake Calm IMG_3349

Moose Recon: Mission Accomplished.

April 28, 2013

This is a good time to go moose-spotting.

Especially in the highways near Provincial Parks.

The critters are attracted to the leftover salt on the roads from the winter.

So, at least once a year,  in April, I do a mini-road trip and bring my camera along, and try to find some moose.

It never fails.

I always find at least one.

Like I did today.

So I’m happy to report:  MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

Moose IMG_1693


Moose IMG_1683


Moose IMG_1684a

As a bonus, I try to include Junior Bear into a photo as well.

And that mission too, was accomplished.

Moose IMG_1694

Comparing Seasons: The Same, but Different

April 19, 2013

I have a favorite country drive in the Madawaska Highlands that I like to do at least once a year, especially during the fall.

I’ve blogged about it before, and I always take lots of photos,  many of which end up as watercolor paintings.

This year was a bit different.

Due to a ski injury, I was out for the rest of the season, which gave me the opportunity to see my favorite sights during the winter, for a change.

I find it kinda neat to compare the seasons….

Cmc Fall


Cmc Winter


Bend Fall


Bend Wintera

FyMt Falla

FyMt Wintera

Qville Falla

QVille Wintera

Barn Falla

Barn Wintera

Three Trees Falla

Three Trees Wintera

Fence Falla

Fence Wintera


Ski Hill Wintera

BW Falla

BW Winter

A Snow-Ghost Kind of Day

February 6, 2013

Ghost 1

aaaGhost 2

Ghost 4

aGhost 5


Ghost 3



Travels with the Bear: A Rare Visit to Manitoba

November 21, 2012

I’ve been all around this country but I’ve never spent much time in Manitoba.

I dont’ know if I’ve ever spent more than 36 consecutive hours in that province.   I’ve always considered Manitoba as a place to drive through, to get to someplace else.

This summer, though, I finally had the chance to see some of it, when I was sent to Winnipeg for a few days.



From the air,  the area around Winnipeg is as flat as a table-top.

This was in late June, when the fields were still fresh and green.  Within a month, they would be golden brown.

Winnipeg itself is just west of where the forests of Ontario end.   West of the city, it’s all prairie.    North and east of Winnipeg, the lakes and trees start again.

South of Winnipeg, is North Dakota   (which is as exciting as it sounds).

From the hotel, the city itself is surprisingly green with lots of trees.

But I wasn’t very interested in seeing just buildings and streets.   Junior Bear and I wanted to go see the back roads and the farms and prairie grass.

We didnt’ have to drive very far to find some empty roads.

Where I’m from in Ontario, it’s all forests and lakes, so I found it a novelty to see the flat landscapes and endless open sky.





One thing to realize, though, is that while this part of the country is sparsely populated, this is NOT wilderness.   Far from it.

Pretty much every square foot of land has been cultivated and plowed under to make room for wheat and canola oil.

This was a relatively recent phenomenon.    The prairies only started to get settled in the 1870.  Before this, this whole area was mostly virgn tall-grass prairie, which went on for hundreds of miles.

I would have loved to have seen that.

Only a few small patches remain today.   Junior and I managed to find one.    o

More empty roads.

Again, there is no real wilderness in Southern Manitoba.  Everything is a grid-square of farm roads, all mapped out, and all easily accessible by car.

The best you can find with the more “remote” roads, is when the pavement turns to gravel.

We found a grain elevator.   Once the icons of the West, you’d find one in every town.

Today, grain elevators have mostly been phased out.   But I managed to find one of the few remaining ones just north of the city.

They’re interesting buildings, because you can see them from far, far away.   They’re often the highest object within 20 miles.

Unless you count highway off-ramps, which are the biggest “mountains”  between here and the Rockies.


I had to see the Red River Floodway.    I flew over it many times, but I had to see it first hand.

This is a ditch that was constructed in the 60’s to divert the Red River around Winnipeg in case of flooding.

The Red River is unique because it starts in the south and flows toward the north.     During the spring thaw, the snow-melt down south has nowhere to go, because the river up north is still frozen, creating ice-jams and hence the frequent flooding.

This happens so often, they built the flood way to prevent this.    It was finished in 1968 and has been used 20 times and has saved Winnipeg billions in flood damage.

It’s quite an impressive engineering feat, especially when seen form the air.   The ditch encircles the whole city.


Here is the town of Landmark, which claims to be “The Centre of Canada”.

So of course, I had to take a picture of Junior Bear.

Hooray!  We are about as far away from the  Atlantic and Pacific oceans as we can get.

And that’s one more interesting location to add to his resume.

Speaking of bodies of water,  the amount of significant lakes or swimming holes around Winnipeg is pretty much zero (unless you want to swim with the catfish in the silty brown  Red River).

But 90 km to the north, the trees and the lakes start again, and you have Lake Winnipeg and Grand Beach.

This is a damned huge lake (400 km long).   Its on the same order of size as the Great Lakes, and Grand Beach is supposed to be one of the top-rated ones in the world.

Though I could tell by the huge parking lots and number of cottages here, that his place is an absolute ZOO in peak season.    Highly-rated beach or not,  this isn’t the type of place I would find relaxing.

But when I was there on a weeknight before peak season.  So I Junior and I had the entire place pretty much to ourselves.

It was a kind of squally day.  No rain, but it made for good photos.


On the way home we managed to see a REAL bear.

Then, we left the trees and water and headed south back to the prairies.

It was the longest day of the year.    At sunset (around 10:00 PM), I managed to capture the skyline of Winnipeg against the fields.

Nice visit, but I was glad to get Ontario.

Fall 2012: One Last Fling

October 9, 2012

I thought I was done with the fall colors.     Half the leaves have fallen…the remaining hues are fading into a washed-out yellow or a dull, rusty brown.

But this weekend, I found there were still some pockets of color here and there.

After this post, though, I think I might be done the fall photos for the year.

These next four photos are from Letterkenny road, near Quadeville, Ontario.    Rumor has it, Al Capone hid out here in the 1930’s.   It’s still an out-of-the-way place, even today.



How would you like to cycle up that hill? (I reluctantly admit, I know people who do). 



This whole ares is part of the Madawaska highlands.    It’s mostly forested hills, with the occasioanal farm cut into a hilly ridge. 


I like this one with the cows, and the bright red maple sitting in the field all by itself.


More cows.


This area still had most of its leaves, and was very YELLOW.

With this one, I deliberately cut off the top of the tree to hide the sky, to allow the bright red to contrast with the green:


And here’s red against the azure blue sky.    An artist would never paint such colors on their canvas.    It clashes, to the point of almost being obnoxious.  (….Almost!)


This was from a Monday hike, on the forest floor:


A few more around some farmland…



Finally, here’s a comparison of how quickly things change.  This first photo is from September 28th:

And here it the same scene later, on October 7th (a mere nine days later).

Hard to believe it can all be snow covered in 8 weeks.

Perfect Waters

September 24, 2012

I can’t count how many times I’ve been on the water this summer with my canoe, but it’s usually 2-3 times a week, on average.

Sometimes maybe four.

I almost always take my camera along, because you never know when it will be one of these evenings, when everything is just right, and you get that perfect shot.

Last week, I had one of those evenings.

Oh, and as an added bonus, I got a small pike.

Scrappy little guy, he was.

And it made the evening even MORE perfect.



Random Photos From My Latest Fishing Trip

July 15, 2012

Flying in and out of Kaby Lodge, this is what most of Northern Ontario looks like from the air:


Some days the weather was great:


Some days it wasn’t:


Lotsa beavers.


Here’s a photo of an adolsecent bald eagle (though not with the best of lighting).


Chipmunk falls.    Not only a great place to stop for lunch, but also a  good fishing spot.


The lake is teeming with walleye.   On a typical day, I’d catch 25 ?  30?  40?  (I dunno….literally DOZENS…I’d lose count!).

Most were in the 17-18 inch range.  But this was my biggest one, at 22 inches:


Here’s a typical stringer for our shore lunch.   We would eat shore lunch every day, and keep a few for the freezer for home.


Here is a typical shore lunch.   Which I love.


Half the fun of staying at the lodge was playing with the two dogs, Jasper and Riser, who are obsessed with retrieving sticks, especially Jasper.

I like how Jasper is fixated on the stick.

This is considered perfectly normal behaviour for Duck Tollers.


The younger pup (Riser) would keep stealing the stick from Jasper.  He was being a little shit, and he knew it.     Jasper would then yap incessantly at him to give it back.   This game went on and on…those dogs crack me up.


The lake has lots of pike too.  People catch them well over 40 inches.    I didn’t get any monsters like that this time.   But I did get two respectable-sized ones, 29 inches and 30 inches.

Both fish were caught within 30 minutes of each other.   It was one of my best afternoons.


This pike wasn’t huge, but I’ve never seen one with teeth as large as this, for a fish that size.


Not all of them were trophies, though.    But still fun to catch.


I had a lot of fun.   So did the Bear.

We will both be coming back.