Lake Tours, April 2010

Opening the season

It's spring, unseasonally warm sunny weather in the forecast and it's opening season for trout. Usually at this time of the year, it's up into the wilds of Algonquin but after a previous weekend driving the Lanark and Calabogie backwoods, we decided to spend a few more days exploring and looking for trout lakes. Armed with maps, GPS and some info on back lakes we drove up on Wednesday evening. We arrived at sunset and busied ourselves collecting some firewood, putting up the tent and generally getting ready before it got too dark. We did take a few casts into a very active set of fish picking off bugs in the surface and picked up a small rainbow trout for our time. Later that night, in front of a warm fire, we watched the full moon come up over the trees. It felt like daylight the moonlight was so bright.

Day 1

I got up early and did a little casting. Picked up a another small rainbow and this time, took a quick picture. Our plan today was to fish the rainbow lake from a canoe and then portage into a brookie lake further into the hills. To prepare, a large breakfast production was needed, so the fire was rebuilt, coffee, english muffins, oatmeal consumed - repeat until full. Our plan was to move daily so we tore down the camp and then went fishing. It's a pretty lake, except for some garbage common to public lakes. It was a windy morning so we went to the lee side to drift the shoreline and despite our best efforts, the sunny weather put the bite off and no fish for us.

We moved to a second lake, even prettier than the first with rumoured brookies. No fish were caught but the lake was fun to fish with lots of downed trees in the water and good looking spots to cast. We let the wind carry us and then after a full pass of the lake we found a nice shore spot, suitable for camping and a possible return location. We had lunch, pita, tandori roasted chicken, cheese, carrots and dessert brownies.

Then it was time to move. We paddled back to the car, loaded the canoe, inspected the maps and took off. First stop was to search for a hard to access lake which had no nearby road access. We wanted untouched brookies so we needed to find a lake with poor access. The first roads we tried got us close but not close enough. The second road we tried got us to a second lake with fairly easy access but also a way to portage into the first lake. We went there. We carry the canoe into this lake and move quickly to the second lake. The lake looked perfect except it was a maximum of 5 feet deep everywhere we looked. Lots and lots of baitfish, million of small minnows flew by, the brookies would be hard to catch as they would be well fed. Unclear how this lake would hold brookies unless extremely well fed by springs in summer.

The full tour accomplished without catching a fish, we portaged out to our first disaster. Getting into the canoe was fine, then we had to go down a creek and past a tree with only a little room. Reaching out to push back a bit the canoe tipped but not all the way and then very slowly, as we fought to keep our balance, the canoe finally went fully over. Lucky we could stand up and grab our stuff and throw it on shore. The water was cold but not too bad as the ice had been off way earlier this year so we unloaded the canoe, we lifted her out, flipped to dry and then hopped back in. We paddled back to shore, took off the wet clothes and inspected. Wet wallet, wet keys, wet MP3 players but the peli case and Nikon DSLRs were ok. Not too bad except for our wet clothes. We hiked out of there and set up camp for a big fire night. Lucky for us, lots of wood available. After setting it all up, we relaxed with some beer and dinner and then by bedtime we were mostly dry.

Day 2

Morning comes along and I get up first. I wander down to the water and see the dream scene of brookie after brookie leaping out of the water. I can barely reach them from shore but they are actively feeding so you have to try, no ? Not sure what they are eating but it took a bunch of casts to get this 12 incher. A second fish quicky followed and was hooked but earned itself an early release for it's squirmy efforts.

A nice leisurely breakfast, bacon, eggs, coffee, english muffins follow with more lake discovery planning as we eat. We decide a third lake is in order so we pack up and load the truck. Around noon, we get ready to leave, I jump into my truck and turn the key and it wouldn't start. It turned over but would not start. Grrrr. Here were are KM from anywhere, no help around and no truck. We leave it for a while to see if the battery would come back for another try but not luck, so we start to walk out of there. We hear chainsaws and find some men working on their hunt camp. We ask for and get a ride back to our truck and boosting it worked fine. Must have been the lights on when the doors were open most of the night but still very suspicious.

To take some time while we waited for the truck to bounce back, a stroll took us by more water which led to a second lake. We'll have to go back some other time (with spare battery).

Post boost, we decide to drive a bit to charge up the battery and pick a new lake to explore. The first lake was right near a major road, stocked but we stopped for lunch and to test the ability of the car to retart. If the battery was close to dead or the alternator was not charging, we needed to be close enough to find a boost without a long walk. Lunch consumed, car tested and it started fine, we chose our new destination. On the way however, the GPS informed us of a geo-cache on a gin clear lake with rainbow trout and it was a bit out of the way. Explorers that we are, we immediately changed plans and went for it. The road was kind of nasty, but dry so that was fine, except for the final cliff towards the lake. Still concerned about the car starting, we vowed not to risk fate by leaving doors and lights on while repeatedly accessing the car. Eventually I found the light switch which prevents any lights from coming on when the doors are opened.

The lake was gorgeous, crystal clear to 20 feet, and I was able to see fish swimming by in the clear water. This would be our spot for the night. We cast from shore for a while and then went and fetched the canoe. The lake was medium in size and deep right at shore. The shoreline around most of the lake was covered in drowned trees, likely some flooding in the past 20 years or so. We saw three active beavers swimming around, clearly their job was maintaining the water levels.

We went for an evening sunset fish, with a full tour of the lake and saw dozens of fish, some rainbows and many many largemouth bass. The rainbows totally ignored our lures and the largemouth mostly did, except one small excited bass that took a small spinner intended for trout. Just watching the fish was great.

The sunset was followed by a large fire, many drinks and an enjoyable dinner of pasta and tomato sauce with bacon added for camping effects. Sleep came easily and my body, sore from all the exercise eased into bed and no complaints.

Day 3

The last day and we're ready to fish, except during our huge breakfast, we pulled out our books and read for a couple hours first. Around 11, we head out for a few hours only to discover the same mellow fish all swimming in plain sight and not interested at all in anything we throw past them. It was strange to see mixed bass, rainbow trout but they were not feeding. Again, fun to watch, less fun to not catch any.

On the lake we start to hear thunder and it's getting closer, with dark clouds. We get off the lake, pack up and load the canoe onto the car. We eat lunch and prepare to leave as we hear louder and louder booms. We get into the car, say a silent prayer to the car and battery gods and turn the crank. She starts fine and it starts to pour rain very very hard. We slowly make it out on the muddy trail hoping the mud is not built up enough for us to get stuck on the way out. We made it to the highway and on the way passed some dude in a mini-van with unknown capabilities. Rain, mud, cliffs - I would not want to be that guy when the full rain fell and the trails muddied up.

Heading home, 3 days, 5 lakes, some fish. Excellent.