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Fly-in Fishing Trips

A Sound Angling Investment

Updated: By James Smedley

It’s a given that remote fly-in fishing lodges, accessible only by air, offer tremendous angling on unpressured waters. Anglers from all over the world visit northern Ontario’s Algoma Region because it offers some of the best fishing in the world. Heading into the woods for a week-long fishing vacation might cost a bit of money, but when we think about what we can pack into that timeframe, it’s a pretty efficient use of funds. While great fishing is the backbone of the trip, there’s much more that goes along with a wilderness adventure to Algoma Country.

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The Flight

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Taking off and landing on water is an exciting way to start a trip and aviation historians will be delighted to fly in a venerable floatplane like a De Havilland Beaver or Otter. Many of these planes have been in service for more than 50 years and, with maintenance and upgrades, continue as a safe and comfortable way to transport people and gear in and out of the bush.

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Flying over the northern Ontario wilderness provides a new perspective on a rolling landscape where meandering wetlands, rivers and lakes appear in every size and shape imaginable. Signs of civilization fade until there’s nothing but forest-enveloped waters. When the pilot throttles back and banks downward, we speculate on which lake we’ll soon be skimming across.

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As we circle over our destination at a low altitude we enjoy the first glimpse of our lodge or outpost camp. Keen anglers will also look at this as an opportunity for aerial reconnaissance of the lake. Weed beds, shoals and drop-offs are highly visible in sunny conditions. We should make note of the location of these hidden fishing spots and be sure to visit them.

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We Have a Choice

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With so many different types of fly-in fishing adventures available, we have the luxury of choosing the type of accommodation and service we want, as well as the species of fish we hope to catch. There are full-service lodges where we share the company of other anglers over sumptuous dinners in communal dining rooms. Having all our meals provided is part of the holiday for some. Others choose to prepare their own food in the fully equipped kitchens of their cabins. For those interested in peace and solitude, being dropped off at an outpost camp – like our own private camp on a lake full of fish – is an intriguing choice.

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Another major factor to consider is the species we like the fish and how we like to fish them. Walleye and pike are probably the most popular species but there are many options in Algoma including trout, bass, muskellunge, whitefish and perch. But our choice goes beyond species. Using walleye as an example we can select a lake that suits our angling style. If we love catching walleye in shallow weeds don’t choose a deep and rocky body of water. Is the lake known for large numbers of small fish or fewer fish with large average size? A little advanced research lets us select a destination to nourish our angling expectations.

Close to the Action

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Making our home on the waterfront means getting on the water is as fast as strolling down to the dock. No more long drives hauling the boat to and from the lake and putting gear away each night. We’re here for a week and having fishing at our fingertips ushers in a rare type of relaxation that comes from knowing we’ll get to fish as much as we want.

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For some anglers, this might mean fishing all day every day. Those who might not share the same zeal can head back to the lodge or cabin at our leisure to read, relax or whatever we choose. Being close to the action provides a level of independence that lets everyone do their own thing.

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Family Fishing

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A remote fly-in trip is synonymous with great fishing and if we are trying to introduce young children to the sport, the presence of eager fish is a big plus. Generally children, and quite often, adults, like catching more than they do fishing. Heading out and learning a few rudimentary fishing tactics and setting the hook into a quality fish is the kind of affirmation that makes fishing fun and accessible for everyone. For those predisposed, it can also lay the foundation for a lifelong love of angling.

For youngsters, frequent short trips are much more palatable than all-day adventures. This makes casting from the dock an ideal scenario. Children experience a level of independence that lets them fish when they want, for as long as they want. Depending on the lake and the time of year, fishing from the dock, or even from shore, can yield catches that elicit broad grins from budding anglers.

Honing Our Skills

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For avid anglers being in the presence of eager fish for an extended period of time is particularly gratifying because it gives us the opportunity to try a variety of tactics in pursuit of our favourite species. Using walleye as an example, many anglers are satisfied using the tried-and-true lead head jig and minnow, but those who like to vary the way we boat fish are presented with the perfect opportunity to try new presentations.

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Crankbaits, bottom bouncers, slip floats, slip sinker rigs and soft plastic all have tremendous potential in a remote body of water. When the authoritative strike of a big fish provides a ringing endorsement, we are given the confidence to use that same tactic down our angling road. Whether it’s walleye, pike, bass or trout, when we have lots of fish to work with, experimentation with tactics and techniques makes us better anglers. And it’s a lot of fun.

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As we soar back over the northern Ontario wilderness, our flight home is accompanied by newfound knowledge, honed skills and more than our limit of warm memories. A fly-in to a remote lodge or outpost camp is an experience that bears repeating and ruminations of a return trip will probably start stirring long before our reluctant return to civilization.

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About James Smedley

Professional photographer and writer James Smedley’s contributions - more than 400 written pieces and close to 1,000 images - to U.S. and Canadian books, magazines and newspapers have earned him over 40 National and International awards. In addition to teaching photography workshops, James is Travel Editor at Ontario OUT OF DOORS Magazine. James has fly fished for brook trout and arctic grayling in far northern rivers and continues to cast for trout, bass and steelhead near his home in the northern Ontario town of Wawa where he lives with his wife Francine and daughters Islay and Lillian.

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