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Wilderness Angling Vacations

What international visitors have known for years: Algoma Country is the best place for a summer vacation.

Algoma Country is a traditional Canadian tourist destination, welcoming guests from around the world who come to experience the soul-cleansing pleasures found in a remote wilderness vacation. The exceptional angling amidst a serene and beautiful landscape remains a constant, but travel restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have caused a dramatic shift: U.S anglers are no longer flocking north and Ontario residents are looking at 2021 vacation options closer to home.

The result has been Canadians discovering the outdoor experiences to be had in our own backyard. More and more locals are visiting established lodges to enjoy the solitude, impeccable service, world-class angling, and wilderness adventures they’ve been overlooking for years. And with the industry adjusting to meet the needs of Canadians, the trend is bound to continue. If our eyes have not been opened to the reasons to vacation in Ontario’s Algoma Country, maybe it’s time we took a closer look.

1. Remote Wilderness

The fact that we have remote wilderness, where we can enjoy an angling vacation far from crowds, is beyond the comprehension of many. Remote wilderness vacations simply don’t exist in many countries because there is no true wilderness. In Algoma Country and Northern Ontario, there are broad swaths of roadless wilderness where there are more moose than people. Scattered within is a well-established tourism infrastructure; remote lodges where we’ll encounter no one but the staff and fellow guests and the fishing for northern pike, walleye, bass and brook trout has not been impacted by angling pressure and remains world-class.

2. Catering to Canadians

Remote fishing lodges were almost exclusively the realm of U.S. anglers and this is reflected in the terminology. “American Plan”, for instance, refers to an all-inclusive level of service that includes meals. With more Ontarians discovering the joys of vacationing in their own province, Algoma Country tourist operators are catering specifically to Canadian guests.

Debbie Johnston, the owner of Mar Mac Lodge, operating on 27- mile-long Esnagi Lake for almost 50 years says they have restructured packages to be more appealing to Canadians, and specifically to those who may have never considered a wilderness resort in the past, she said.

"American plan" is now "Deluxe Fishing Package" and the "Housekeeping Plan" (where guests prepare their own meals in fully equipped kitchens) is now "Classic Fishing Package." The Canadian-friendly terms are just part of the shift towards attracting clients from within our borders, she said. “We are super excited about our brand new Discover Fishing Package and Boreal Escape Package.  Either would be awesome for new Canadians or those new to angling or even Southern Ontarians who have never strayed past Barrie.”

World-class angling remains a strong draw but there are also packages designed around paddling, photography, hiking, and the peace and beauty of the northern boreal forest and waters, Johnston says. "Vacationers can experience a rare combination of unspoiled wilderness, unparalleled beauty, and exceptional comfort at many of the wilderness resorts that were originally built as fishing lodges."

3. Angling Vacation Options

Access says a lot about our destination. We know we’re in the wilderness when a floatplane is the only practical means of reaching a fly-in fishing lodge. The thrill of taking off and landing on water, as well as a low-level flight over the woods, waters and wetlands is a brilliant prelude to the remote fishing lodge experience.  Aviation aficionados will be intrigued to fly in historic and meticulously maintained aircraft like the Cessna 182 and De Havilland Beaver and Otter.

For those who like to keep their feet on the dusty ground, taking a locomotive into a train-in fishing lodge is a sound option. Our gear is loaded into the baggage car and we sit in comfort for a rail side perspective on the Northern Ontario wilderness during a stress-free ride to the remote fishing lodge. Here, amidst the wilderness, we’ll find an oasis of service and civilization where our every need is catered to.

Fly-in and train-in lodges offer a broad range of services including packages where all meals are provided and served in the main dining room. Guests can also opt for the flexibility that comes with bringing their own food and preparing meals in fully equipped kitchens.

Cooking our own meals is the only option at an outpost camp. This unique vacation adventure is akin to having our own private wilderness cabin on a lake full of fish. Accessible by floatplane, the drone of the departing aircraft is replaced by the sound of waves lapping the shoreline. The Outpost Camp is often the only cabin on the lake and, with all the amenities for comfortable wilderness living, it provides a tranquil environment for unwinding in true solitude.

4. Drive to Gems

Vast and sparsely populated, Algoma Country is home to an abundance of drive-to fishing lodges. Paved roads provide easy access to economical destinations where we can bring our own boat and enjoy surprisingly good angling. With thousands of lakes scattered across the region, a small town motel or rental cabin can serve as our full-service angling headquarters. The options are abundant and discovering our own drive-to gem is as easy as hitting the road.

5. Unparalleled Angling

The vital companion to Algoma Country’s full range of angling accommodations is fishing. World-class walleye, northern pike, and bass are the most popular but trout, salmon, and muskellunge are just a few more species sought after. The high calibre of angling is great for avid anglers who can try new tactics or land their personal best. It’s also accommodating for children and beginner anglers who don’t have to be experts to catch fish. With jaw-dropping angling as the common denominator, it’s time to discover what an Algoma Country fishing lodge experience is all about.

About James Smedley

Professional photographer and writer James Smedley’s contributions—more than 400 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 the 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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