Dunlop Lake Loop

A few weeks ago, I did a short 3-day backcountry trip to the Dunlop Lake area in Algoma. This was a combination of an exploratory, fishing and unwinding trip. Being the second week of July, it wasn’t the ideal time to be trout fishing lakes, especially with a fly rod. We were also still under a fire ban, so there would be no campfires to help ward off the hoards of mosquitoes.

It was another super enjoyable trip. Despite the overall slow fishing, I still managed to get into a couple nice trout. Check out the full trip report below.

July 2023: Dunlop Lake Loop
A 3 day loop through some Algoma country back lakes

Mid Summer Update

While early season started with plenty of water in our rivers thanks to a good snow melt and plenty of rain in April, May and beyond brought some near drought conditions. As a result, most of our rivers in southern Ontario have had some of the lowest water levels I’ve ever seen. Local creeks and even the Credit River have been almost unrecognizable. Ontario was also under a fire ban for most of the summer (which has just recently been lifted). Things seem to be returning to normal now, with some more frequent rains and storms. Hopefully it will top the rivers off to provide some stable late summer and fall fishing opportunities.

That said, there are still plenty of rivers and lakes with more than enough water, even in dry years such as this one – and that’s where I’ve spent most of this season. They aren’t particularly close by for me, so it does mean some extra driving. Sometimes I’ll try to make the most of my trips though and stay a night (or, a week, or more…).

On the longer trips, I’m in the back country with a canoe and tent (or hammock). I’ve got a new trolling setup for the fly rod this year with the new(ish) universal Scotty rod holder, which works well for pretty much any rod type – casting, spinning or fly rod. Of course, I’m not only trolling from the canoe. I’ll also cast (mostly streamers) when I’m not travelling or trying to locate fish – but it’s nice to keep a line in the water even while travelling.

Trolling with a fly rod from a canoe on a back country lake.

Closer to home, trout fishing has been mostly done while drifting in the pontoon, on rivers with plenty of water and where covering ground is easy and quick.

A super enjoyable and convenient way to access otherwise unreachable water.

I’ve got two Scotty fly rod holders on my pontoon (the red XL-IR above), but they’re used only for transporting my rods. I bring two with me, so that I can rig them up with a different setup and easily switch between them. That’s one great thing about pontoon boats – you can load basically everything you would ever need and not have to worry about carrying it on your back or hip.

Sunset on the river during a float.

I haven’t exactly had the most success with the browns this year, especially when it comes to big browns. A combination of timing and losing fish – but that’s how fishing goes, especially when learning new water. It’s about time to start thinking about getting out for some night fishing though – and that will surely change my luck. There’s also the hope of hitting a good late Hex hatch (Hexagenia Autrocaudata).

I’ve had a couple nice browns hooked up, only to be lost on a jump or poor hookup. Still, there have been plenty of 10-14 inchers, which are never a disappointment.

One recent trip float also netted a decent Rainbow Trout that put a nice bend in the 4 weight.

A decent rainbow from a float down a southern Ontario river.

And let’s not forget the numerous brookies. Suffice it to say, while no trophies were caught this season (in the front country), the trout trifecta has been a common occurrence on outings. Can’t complain about that!

For hatches, Stoneflies have been in a great abundance this year. They began showing up earlier than normal and they’re still sticking around in good numbers.

A southern Ontario golden stonefly. These have been on the water in good numbers this year.

You may have seen the top of these flies (as pictured above), or you’ve seen them fluttering over the river. But there’s a good chance you haven’t seen the bottom side of a golden stone, which is what the fish see from below! If you tie your own flies, that’s a pretty important part of the fly. So, here you are…

The underside of a golden stone from a local river.

The other hatch that has been fairly abundant on some rivers this year (aside from the usual Isonychia) is the Brown Drake. This is a good sized mayfly that can bring some solid fish to the surface. It seemed to stick around for quite a long time this year. At least twice already, a good month after fishing them earlier in the season, we saw some size 10-12 mayflies in the air before dusk and mistakenly thought they were Isonychia. It wasn’t until catching one much later that we realized they were actually Brown Drakes. We thought for sure they’d be done by now. That might explain our snubs from some decent fish those evenings.

A brown drake from later in the season than anticipated.

Hard to believe it’s the end of July already. There’s only two more months of trout season left, with just a couple major hatches to look forward to. Smallmouth bass will be getting some attention as well, along with at least one more late season backcountry trip for trout.

Algoma Headwaters Backcountry Trip

Last month, I embarked on my most ambitious solo backcountry trip to date. This time around, I chose a nine day, 30+ portage canoe trip to Ranger Lake and the Algoma Headwaters region in northern Ontario.

Some of the main trip highlights included some beautiful native Brook Trout and Lake Trout, no bugs (still too early for them!), great weather aside from some below freezing overnight lows, a couple injuries, taking a swim in some muck and some seriously challenging (and confusing) portages.

You can read the full trip report on the page linked below:

May 2023: Ranger Lake / Algoma Headwaters
A 9 day solo trip to an infrequently travelled northern Ontario canoe route

And here are a few photos from the trip (many more on the full trip report)!

Early Season Backcountry Brookies

In May of 2022, I embarked on my first solo backcountry trip, doing the Lake Lavieille / Dickson loop through Algonquin Park. Read the entire trip report on the following page:

May 2022: Lake Lavieille / Dickson Loop
A 5 day trip to Big Crow Lake in the Algonquin backcountry

Big Crow: There and Back Again

This post has been moved to the following page:

September 2012: Big Crow
A 5 day trip to Big Crow Lake in the Algonquin backcountry

SealLine Pro Pack

When I get an idea in my head, it doesn’t take long before it becomes reality.  This was the case again with the backpack I bought yesterday and planned to use for my upcoming Algonquin trip.  I purchased a MEC Brio 70L internal-frame hiking pack, along with an assortment of dry sacks for keeping all my gear inside dry.  It actually seemed like a great hiking backpack for the price, but after trying it on and doing a bit more research I realized it might not be the best (or even most cost efficient) method of packing gear for a canoeing+portaging trip.

Long story short, I returned the backpack along with most of the dry sacks and purchased a SealLine Pro Pack (pictured below).

 

You can get a sense of the size of this pack by the full-size guitar sitting next to it.  This beast has 115L capacity, which is about 64% more than the previous backpack!  On top of that, it’s 100% waterproof, which means it can sit at the bottom of the canoe getting wet, all my gear inside stays dry without the need for additional dry sacks and I don’t end up carrying a soggy backpack around.  Finally, the profile of this bag is actually better for portages since it sits lower than a typical large hiking backpack and won’t interfere with a canoe resting on your shoulders.

It worked out that the cost of the SealLine was about the same as the cost of the cheaper Brio backpack with all the required dry sacks.  Now all I have to do is find enough stuff to fill it!

Algonquin Bound

It’s been rainy and miserable the last few days, so I haven’t gotten out for any more fishing this week. Instead, I’ve been planning an extended weekend canoe/portage trip!

This is something I’ve always wanted to do: portage into the Algonquin Provincial Park back country. However, I haven’t really been able to find anyone adventurous enough to do it with; and I’m certainly not about to solo a trip like this, at least not for my first few attempts.

Well, I’ve finally found a victim (I mean companion) to endure this experiment with me and we’re planning to do a 3 day trip, leaving Thursday, September 13th. I’ve done some limited camping in Algonquin’s developed campsites in the past, but I’m completely unfamiliar with its interior. Along with Google, the following book has been my main planning reference so far:

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