Seriously winter…. what happened to you?
You used to be cool. You would come creeping around every November after deer season heralding Christmas, and bringing hardwater for ice-fishing or an excuse to dip south for some R&R. Then like a flash, March would roll around and, poof! you would retreat back to the southern hemisphere….
But not this year, oh no… That would be too normal. Just to see how stir crazy you can drive us, you decide, what the hell, lets play a cruel joke by repetitive flash freezing and dropping sloppy dumps of snow at random times.
Let me just say, you can stop the joke now. Its not funny any more…
Since winter is taking its sweet time to retreat this year, Ive decided to reminisce on springs gone by; specifically back to a trip to Algonquin two years ago that I have been meaning to write a post about. We had a particularily good spring and the weather worked out perfect for us on this trip as did the fishing. I know the trip pre-dates my blog, but a flashback is warranted due to the epic nature of the trip.
A group of six made up of myself, Dave (a regular on this blog) and four other friends decided to do an early season portaging trip to Algonquin Park to celebrate the esteemed ritual of the Bachelor Party for Dave before he took the plunge into matrimony. As a survivor of many other urban bachelor parties, including my own, I was curious to experience what a backwoods party would be like. Even more curious as to how the brook trout fishing was some 50+ km into the heart of Algonquin.
After much preparation and figuring out how to transport a sufficient amount of “beverages” for such an arduous trip, the day finally arrived and we set out for the north side of Algonquin.
Our launching point was from Brent on the north side of the park.
After a relaxing night at cedar lake campground we roused our selves out of beer induced comas and embarked into the mists.
Our trek took us across Cedar lake into the throat of the Petawawa. As our trip coincided with the spring melt, river levels were high the waters were raging. This made for stunning scenery and some spirited paddling.
Little did I know that the worst was yet to come, because on the first day, “my inaugural day of portaging in Algonquin”, we were to face whats infamously called Unicorn Hill. Well, la di da, doesn’t it sound nice and cozy? The name kind of lulls you into a sense of relaxation.. .. F that. Unicorn hill consisted of a coronary giving, death defying, 3km hike uphill through a twisted path that served as a portage around a particularly long stretch of rapids. This portage was definitely not for the faint of heart. Maybe that’s why the crowds seemed to miraculously thin out after that. After almost passing out a couple times and losing half my weight in sweat, we finally made it through. Following that, we had a bit more paddling and a couple of minor portages and we finally made it to our campsite. I was bushed but I was also there for a purpose, and nothing would stop me from testing the waters of the Petawawa with my rod. I think it was at this point that things got serious and we actually started trying to figure out the brook trout fishing, because so far we were fishless and Dave still hadn’t caught the first brook trout of his life.
We fished near the campsite with no luck and proceeded to hike further up he river. Past schools of sucker and down some steep embankments we manged to locate a few decent holes. Low and behold, Dave hooked up and we were staring at the first fish of the trip and of Dave’s lifetime.
What a first it was! It demonstrated some amazing colour and patterns as well as being fairly girthy for a stream caught trout. This was to be the first taste of trout we would have on the trip.
Although the trout tasted good, it was not enough to feed 6 big guys after a hard day of portaging, and so the E and B were broke out with a chunk of cheese for good measure.
The rest of the trip went by like a blurr of good times and lots of brookies. Id love to recount more details for you but I will let the pictures do the talking instead.
Smaller trout, like the one pictured below, were common and plentiful.
Our journey took us all the way to High Falls and onto the Nippissing River. Possibly some of the most beautiful country I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing.
Below the author is pictured cooking some of the delicious trout for the group.
The endless meandering waters of the Nippissing are something to behold. In some sections it felt as though we were stuck in a time loop, paddling the same stretches over and over again.
This provided ample opportunity to pull out the camera.
As much as I love to catch and eat brook tout, I have to emphasize that conservation is key. Although we did keep some fish on this trip, the majority were caught on barbless hooks and were released with no real harm done. Do your part to preserve these fish if you decide to venture into this section of Algonquin. Collectively we need to recognize how special the brook trout in Algonquin really are and do are best to protect them.
T’was a fine trip with a fine bunch of gentlemen and will not soon be forgotten.
Cheers from the Wild
P.S for those planning a trip to the “Gonq”, here is a link to the best map available: