Fly Fishing Northern Canada
It was just after 8:00 PM when we arrived in
Cochrane, Ontario hoping that the hand drawn
directions that the outfitter sent us would
lead us to our final destination the following
morning. My two fishing partners, Rick and Mark,
and I were a bit run down from the trip but
obviously excited about the next 6 days. My
day started some 15 hours and 700 odd miles
earlier in Cleveland and the next morning could
not arrive fast enough. We had booked a fly-in
trip and intended to fish for Walleye, Northern
Pike, and "remote" Brook Trout that were reportedly
well worth the trip. None of us had ever fly fished
for Northerns and the prospect of catching a brook
trout a lot bigger than 6 inches was intriguing.
Seven months had passed since Mark's wife called
and asked me to plan a fishing trip that would serve
as his Father's Day gift. Now that we were so close
to wetting a line, the anticipation was killing us.
By Mike Skoczen
We passed the time during the long drive rehashing
the details of our preparation for the trip even
though we had already done so in what must have
been hundreds of emails leading up to the target
date. We dug through our fly boxes to show off
the different flies that we tied and discussed
articles or books that we read regarding our
destination and our expected targets. We made
bold statements about who held that one secret
fly that would out produce all others on this
trip and joked with each other about who "the
skunk" would partner up with on this trip, openly
admitting that we hoped that it would be none of
us. I tied up some pike leaders using both hard
mono and steel wire as a tippet (the hard mono
worked better but that is a story for another day).
The anticipation of the adventure ahead of us kept
building with each mile that we put behind us.
We found our hotel, checked in and got some dinner
before resting up for our final leg of the journey.
With the aid of a full stomach and a few drinks I
fell asleep thinking about the pike that I would
be fighting with the next day.
Morning came and found all of us wide awake before
7:00. We got dressed, visited the continental
breakfast, and decided to try and find our way
out to the "airport" early, we weren't scheduled
to fly out until 11:30. We took our time and
arrived just before 9:00. As luck would have it,
the group that was to fly out before us was late
and the outfitter decided to give us their time
slot. We got checked in, paid up, received the
normal safety talk and then got our gear weighed
in. The outfitter normally allows for 80 pounds
of food and gear per person, a tough task considering
that we needed enough food (and beer) for a week.
Even though we thought we planned carefully we came
up almost 80 pounds over our total limit (someone
had brought some extra gear that they could not live
without) but again as luck would have it, we were
also getting the larger of the two sea planes (the
Beaver) and were not charged for the extra weight.
As we waited for the pilot, the maintenance crew
told us about how they had to spend three nights
at our camp the previous week to repair the damage
caused by a bear over the winter. We were less than
an hour away from our destination now and even the
crew's musing about who was slowest amongst us could
not lessen the anticipation, I could almost feel the
tug of my first pike on a fly.
The flight was smooth, enough so that the pilot
let me fly the plane for a few minutes to the
horror of my two companions. It was the first
and probably the last time I will get to fly a
plane. About 45 minutes after take off the pilot
took control back from me and skillfully landed
us on the small lake that was adjacent to the
cabin we would be spending the week in.
After tying off to the dock we went up to inspect
the cabin before unloading. The bear had come
back again, causing some minor damage to the
cabin windows but not much else. A can of bug
killer with several large puncture holes in it
laid on the ground. My guess is that the bear
didn't like the taste of the chemicals and
decided to go elsewhere.
The pilot offered to take us to a different lake
that had not been visited recently by a bear.
There would be no brook trout fishing opportunities
at that lake but he promised that the pike fishing
would be better. We now had a tough decision, we
really wanted to fish for both pike and brook trout
but without windows on the cabin, the bugs would be
unbearable. After some discussion we decided that
if we could repair the windows and keep the bugs
out we would stay at this camp (oddly enough, the
possibility of the bear returning didn't factor
into our decision at all). We got some duct tape,
repaired the windows and screens, decided that we
would be safe from the bugs and unpacked our gear.
Finally, the wait was over! I rigged up my 7 wt rod,
grabbed my flies, and headed out to the lake to make
my first cast.
To be continued... ~ ms
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