Looking back over twenty years of annual fishing trips, I confess there was always one thing missing…the fish. Each year there is talk of the new tackle, the new strategies, that “this could be the year”, but the results are the same: great nature shots, wonderful food, and an emphasis on how good it was to “get away”. At some point we end up convincing ourselves that the actual fishing was never the real intent anyway. Sound familiar? Well, our group decided to do something about it and to put the emphasis for our next fishing trip on…wait for it…the fishing!
Our initial research led us to consider the idea of a fly-in fishing trip to a Northern Ontario Lodge, but we anticipated the cost would be prohibitive. Then, we stumbled upon Hearst Air and their Outpost Camps. We looked at what it offered: a fly-in location to a remote area (only one cabin on the lake), quality fishing for Walleye and Pike, and, low and behold, a surprisingly affordable price tag.
The planning actually turned out to be surprisingly easy thanks to the help of the lodge, who never let on that they knew we were a rookie group. We took into consideration the fact that we’d have no power, no running water, and no chance to “head into town” for anything we forgot. With this trip, there was one flight in, a mid-week check fight, and the flight home. You had to bring everything you needed with you. We already owned fishing equipment; however, we did need to augment our supplies with quality rain gear, extra tackle, first aid supplies, and a satellite phone (booked through the lodge) for emergency contact. The one challenge we had was with how much food to pack. We wanted to make sure we brought enough to ensure we were all satisfied, but not so much that the plane wouldn’t be able to take off. Embarrassing memories of years of not catching enough fish for shore lunches lurked at the back of our minds, though this year the fears would prove to be unfounded.
The lead up to the trip seemed to take forever; but at last we arrived at the air base that would take us into the remote north. A thirty minute (surprisingly smooth) flight put us at the dock of our cabin, where we would enjoy exclusive access to the lake for our week-long stay. We wasted no time in getting on the water, and after four minutes in the boats, while some of the guys were still getting their lines in the water, we heard the first call of the angler… “fish on”. It was a small Northern Pike, but this quick success raised all of our hopes. On this trip, we might actually catch some real fish.
Our lake was noted as a Walleye lake, with lots of small Northern Pike, but the occasional ten to fourteen pound fish could be caught. Our group, consisting of novice to average fisherman, had the haul of a lifetime! We boated over five hundred fish in a week, including a couple huge Pike, the largest being a forty-inch plus!
With six guys, we had to consider the fact that we all liked to fish different ways. This trip catered to us all. We could jig, we could troll, we could drop shot, we could cast, we could top water – everyone was able to try their own favourite style, and they all produced fish continually. The fish hit, they tugged, they inhaled, they smashed, they ripped, they did all those wonderful things that get your adrenaline going when you get a fish on. And it happened in good weather or bad. The fishing never failed to disappoint.
Each day was highlighted by a shore lunch of freshly caught fish. In the evening we had a campfire to talk about they day, and plan for the next. It’s amazing how much easier you sleep after a full day of catching fish and with the lack of sound and light in a remote location. Make no mistake, fishing was the priority, but relaxation was high on the list, and it doesn’t get much more relaxing than Northern Ontario, bright starts, the sound of wild life, and the feeling of stress falling off you as you discover a new connection with the outdoors. The kind of connection that actually involves catching fish. Lots of fish.
My experience on my fly-in fishing trip taught me a few things, and I’ll share them with you. First, fishing is way better when you are catching fish. Second, you become a better fisherman in a short period of time when you are on lake with a quality fishery. Third, nature, good food, and like-minded friends are key ingredients for any fishing trip. And finally, if you ever decide to stop settling for less-than-memorable fishing trips, it may only take a little bit of research and planning to make your dream fishing trip a reality!