The Fins and Feathers

A trip to see how the northern half lives

As a confirmed upland wing shooter, I admit to being a little envious of the hunters who go home from northern hunts boasting limits of grouse. So when given the opportunity to see how the northern half lives, we loaded up our ATVs and headed up to Gowaganda Lake Lodge with shotguns and fishing rods in tow. We felt the key was to go early enough to capitalize on the area's fabled fishing for bass, walleye, and pike and still be able to hunt birds before the moose hunters began to migrate to the area.

Gowganda Lake Lodge is located right on Hwy 560, an easy day's drive from Toronto and area. In addition to access to Gowganda Lake itself, the lodge has boats on seven remote lakes that offer a pleasant ATV ride and excellent angling.

Two ATVs hit the Trails at Gowganda Lake Lodge
Two ATVs hit the Trails at Gowganda Lake Lodge. (Photo credit: Tom Goldsmith)

Shortly after we had stowed our gear in our cabin, we headed to the main office to discuss the lay of the land with owners Ron and Giselle Quick. The lodge office also serves as a general store and is a hub of activity, with guests and travellers finding groceries, fuel, bait, beer, and liquor. Ron suggested that we take the ATVs and head to Stumpy Lake for walleye. Stumpy Lake didn't disappoint. Trolling minnows on floating jig heads provided us with our count of chunky walleye in short order.

Some beautiful catches
Some beautiful catches. (Photo credit: Tom Goldsmith)

So Begins the Grouse Hunt

The following morning it didn't take long to confirm that local grouse numbers were in good shape. Both spruce and ruffed grouse were found alongside the area's numerous trails. Within a couple of hours, we had easily collected enough to bring back home for a good feed. So we placed our birds on ice and headed to the water for some bass fishing. By midday, we combined some smallmouth bass fillets with a couple of spruce grouse from the ride in and concocted an excellent, if not eclectic, variation of the shore lunch.

Back at camp that afternoon we made short work of processing the rest of our birds and fish in the well-equipped cleaning station. Then in the warmth and comfort of our spacious cabin, we ate dinner and headed to bed early so we could do it all over again the next day.

Harvested Grouse
Harvested grouse. (Photo credit: Tom Goldsmith)

In addition to birds and excellent angling, Quick's offers a fall bear hunt in BMA 40, and moose hunting prevails later in October when the camp has a free bull tag draw for camp guests.

Gowaganda Lake Camp is proof positive that good grouse numbers and healthy fish populations needn't be out of reach of city dwellers. Picturesque lakes, miles of trails to access birds, and northern hospitality at its finest, aren't as far away as you may think.

Gowganda Lake Lodge

(Photo credit: Tom Goldsmith)

Gowganda Lake Lodge
Hwy 560 Box 67, Gowganda ON  P0J 1J0
PH: (705) 624-3446

About Tom Goldsmith

Tom Goldsmith has been contributing paintings for covers, features, and My Outdoors humour illustration for Ontario OUT OF DOORS for more than 20 years. More recently Tom has come aboard as our Gun Dogs columnist, where his long-held passion for dogs and hunting with them is evident. As you would expect, Tom is a keen observer of nature and, as such, is afield throughout the year. But, he admits a particular fondness for when he can run his dogs against a backdrop of autumn's full pallet of colours.

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