Public lands are tough. Fishing and hunting opportunities and often limited due to over use and too much competition. Or are they?
We decided to figure this out for our selves last weekend. Dave and I loaded up the car with the canoe, our shotguns and fishing rods and headed north of Kington to the north Frontenac parklands. Snow had fallen in the Kingston area the day before however it had melted in the city proper. This was not the case as we approached Parham on highway 38. Snow had began to accumulate and it as obvious the plow had made its rounds on the roads to the north.
The snow was a surprise although not altogether unwelcome. Prints would be fresh and our quarry (grouse) would be more visible. We continued on in anticipation, admiring the fresh blanket of white and the quaint architecture of small town Ontario.
We arrived to our destination, parked the car at the trail head and began our hike. We intended to camp that evening but decided it would be better to get on the trail early and worry about our camp later in the day. With our hopes high we began our trek with guns loaded and eyes peeled into the mysterious Frontenac Parklands.
The parklands have long been on our list of properties to visit. These parklands constitute a large area north of highway 7 from Lanark county west to highway 41. These lands are a prime example of the Canadian shield where rock outcrops and plutons are common. Topography is highly variable and the forests contain a rich variety of conifers and deciduous trees.
These lands are also home to some pretty exquisite looking lakes containing all manner of finned creatures. One of the more prominent of these being the brook trout. With this knowledge in our heads, we were sure to pack our spinning rigs and so after several kilometers of hiking we stopped at one such lake rumoured to contain these desirable creatures. To be clear, many of these lakes are put and take, as in they are stocked by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. We tied on a couple of small silver spinner baits (panther martins and mepps to be exact) and took a cast into the pristine waters.
After a few casts Dave sounded off that he had a hit, and a follow and another hit. Seconds later he had a fish squirming on the bank and our impressions of the area grew. Minutes later I felt a familiar tug and set the hook on a chunky little brooky.
These creatures are impressive, for their fight, but also for their colour. Nothing looks quite like a brook trout sporting some colour on its belly.
After a couple fish from the first lake, we moved on in search of another quarry: grouse. We walked for some time taking in the scenery and covering alot of ground however no grouse were seen. The curse of public land seemed to be on us. Although I’m not one to put much stock in the metaphysical, the curse seemed as real as the ATV tire tracks we followed along the path.
We continued to hike along the path for several kilometers, and remained grouseless. Discouraged we decided to change our tactic by taking a smaller path into the bush. The path began to petered out into nothing until we ended up hiking in old logging cuts. With all the small bushes and conifers around we were sure we would scare up a grouse. Approximately 16 kilometres later, many of which were off the beaten path in the woods, we sluggishly stumbled upon one bird. One bird which, we were not even close to being ready for. It seemed we had our answer to the public land question. We did however manage to get a couple more brook trout for the pan from another little lake, which rounded out are dinner nicely.
We visited several different lakes in the area and drank in as much of the scenery as we could in one and a half days. Regardless of how much this place gets hit by other hunters and trail riders, it hasn’t detracted from it’s beauty.
It also hasn’t detracted from the deer population which seems to be thriving despite the numerous tree stands we encountered.
North Frontenac is gem. Its an amazing amount of land generally close to Kingston. Although it receives a lot of pressure, it remains a great destination for many other activities. The area boasts several campsites and lots of room to roam free on or off trail. Bring a topo map, compass and enjoy!
Cheers from the wild