The ultimate ice fishing adventure in Algoma's backcountry
What are the odds that a small hole in the ice on a large frozen lake will deliver a catch of a lifetime? Whatever those odds, today’s ice fishing adventure will need to multiply them by three as we head out into the Algoma backcountry in search of the trout trifactor. One day, one lake, three species of Trout: Lake, Brook and Rainbow.
A few years ago, during our first ice fishing visit to Snowshoe Camp Resort in Ontario’s Algoma Region, the morning coffee conversation with owners Laura and Brent turned to the trout-filled lakes beyond their home lake. As it turns out, dozens, if not hundreds, of lakes dot the surrounding backcountry with trout aplenty. As the saying goes, “Some things in life are worth waiting for,” and here we are.
At its basic concept, ice fishing is pretty uncomplicated, with a hole in the ice, a rod in your hand and a hook and bait below. Of course, you can improve your odds with multiple holes, roads, baits, fish finders, and local knowledge. Today’s adventure takes all that to another level, with snowmobiles ready to tow a sled that turns into a fishing hut filled with gear deep into the forest. The local knowledge is by fishing guide Adam Vallee of Angling Algoma. I have spent enough days fishing with Adam to call him a friend, including the day the idea of a backcountry trout adventure was born.
Fishing on Frozen Lakes
We made quick work of the first ten kilometres along the lake before turning into the woods onto a trail wide enough for one sled. Luckily the trail is packed down, making for easier travel and proving that these lakes are no secret. We spend the better part of the next hour snaking through the forest before popping out into a postcard setting worthy of a memorable winter adventure.
A long narrow lake bordered by a rock wall on one side and a forest on the other, the only sign of life is a lone wolf that can be seen crossing the lake in the distance. If we don’t manage to catch any fish, just being here is worth the effort. To the less experienced ice fishermen, aka me, one frozen lake looks like another; with a GPS in hand, Adam puts us on a spot that, according to him, features water depth and bottom structure that will tick a trout species off our list.
You can’t catch fish without hooks in the water; Adam drills a few holes in the ice and sets up rods. Before the first hook with a tasty minnow hits bottom, it’s fish on. Rod number two, same result and just like that, we can check lake trout off the list in the first five minutes. For the next hour, we live the ice fishing dream with rods going off all around, one, two, three at a time. With the lake trout count up to a dozen, we decided to move on.
Spot number two, shallower with a river mouth providing some current, should be a good spot for rainbow trout. We set up the hut, fire up the propane heater and settled in. Fish on, another lake trout; rather funny that we are momentarily disappointed with catching more fish. Minutes tick away that become hours without a bite. From a morning fish a plenty high to now with the trout trifactor in jeopardy, we decide to move again.
Spot number three, according to Adam, should be good for brook trout. Holes drilled, rod set, we pause to take in our surroundings. Sunshine and blue skies above frozen lakes and tree-covered rolling hills blanketed in snow and silence, we are mere specks in this immense landscape. Fish on, another lake trout in nine feet of water, crazy. The next time the rod bends, another unexpected trout species for this location is at the end of the line. A beautiful rainbow trout puts the trifactor back into play.
A Memorable Ice Fishing Adventure
Again the fishing action slows, but time does not, and with a long way back to the cabin, these are anxious moments. No need to worry, brook trout come in at 4 pm, Adam proclaims. This is why I say a local fishing guide is worth their weight in gold, ten minutes after four; we have three brook trout on the ice and the Algoma backcountry trout trifactor done and dusted.
As daylight fades into darkness, we pull up to our warm, cozy cottage back at Snowshoe Camp Resort. Hard to believe that a conversation over coffee a few years ago became such an unforgettable adventure.
As the saying goes, “Some things in life are worth waiting for.”
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