American Plan or Housekeeping?
Variety is the spice of life, and visitors to Ontario's Algoma Country certainly have lots of options when it comes to places to stay and species of fish to target. Algoma Country lies smack in the middle of Ontario and boasts some of the richest fishing opportunities in the province. From the popular and abundant walleye to trophy-class northern pike, leaping smallmouth, beautiful brook trout and lake trout, this region of Ontario has something for every fishing taste, spirit, and ambition.
Along the trail, a fisherman is going to get weary and lodging is going to become a necessity. Most of the fishermen who visit Algoma Country are invested in one of two lodging options commonly known as American Plan and Housekeeping packages.
The American Plan is a lodging option that also provides food service. Many full-service fishing lodges offer their guests this option. Most American Plan options include a hearty breakfast in the morning, a box lunch for out on the boat, and dinner served in the evening. Camps that offer fishing guides often throw in the classic Ontario "shore lunch" option of fried fish for the midday meal at least once or twice during the stay.
A few of the more upscale camps only offer food and lodging packages for their customers, but most lodges provide their guests with the choice of American Plan or a second option known as a Housekeeping Plan.
The Housekeeping Plan provides lodging and the guests do their own cooking and cleaning. Generally, these camps come equipped with a refrigerator and freezer combination, a propane oven/stove, and all the pots, pans, and required dishes. Most of these camps also offer a barbecue grill and in many cases a fish frier for each cabin. The customer simply brings their own food from home.
Most Housekeeping Plans also feature a cabin with inside plumbing, hot and cold running water, and showers. Some of the more remote fly-in camps feature an outside portable toilet. These remote camps also typically require the guest to bring a sleeping bag, linens, and towels.
Mixing It Up
A growing number of camps mix up the options by allowing their guests to enjoy a less expensive Housekeeping Plan package, and then during their stay offer a "camp cookout" put on by the staff. Normally this "cookout" is offered once during the guest stay and essentially becomes a potluck with the camp being responsible for cooking the fish, potatoes, slaw, and after-dinner sweets. Each cabin provides cleaned and ready-to-cook fish, beverages, and a dish to pass.
The fellowship of getting the whole camp together for an evening meal reminds us that fishing is only part of the reason we travel north to Ontario. Spending quality time with friends, family and new acquaintances is the extra benefit of "fish camp" we often forget about.
The Costs & Benefits
Obviously, the cost of the American Plan is greater than the Housekeeping Plan packages. Personally, I have enjoyed both the American Plan and Housekeeping Plan options many times over the years. While the American Plan is nice from the perspective of not having to worry about cooking and cleaning, this plan also ties the guest to a regular schedule of meals served at pre-determined times.
With the Housekeeping Plan option, the cost of food is divided among the group, creating cost savings. Also, anglers can come and go as they please, providing the option of fishing early or late in the day as weather and ambition dictate. Housekeeping Plans also allow the guests to plan special meals that quickly become "trip traditions" among the group.
While most anglers who visit Ontario are going to be participating in either an American Plan or Housekeeping Plan lodging option, there are other options to consider. Across Ontario's Algoma Country there are a number of communities large enough to offer visitors the option of staying in a motel and eating their daily meals in local restaurants.
Just a few of the communities that offer great fishing in local lakes plus convenient motel and cafe services include Sault Ste. Marie, White River, Wawa, Hearst, Chapleau, and Nakina. These same communities are large enough to have grocery and variety stores that allow visitors to pick up necessary supplies for lunches, beverages, and snacks.
Camping is yet another way to enjoy the fishing resources of Algoma Country. Both Provincial Parks and private campgrounds abound in this region and provide anglers with an opportunity to enjoy camping and fishing on the same adventure.
With the proper permits, it's even possible to get off the grid and "rough it" by camping directly on Crown Land. Wilderness camping is a popular option for those who want to keep civilization and services at bay!
Fishing Second to None
Regardless of the lodging package, a group of anglers decides upon, Ontario's Algoma Country serves up some of the best fishing opportunities in North America. From full-service fly-in wilderness adventures to "do it yourself" day trips, camping, and community stay, there is something for every angler and every budget in Algoma Country.