The Love Affair Still Lingers

Believe it or not, Lake Nipissing is the reason I do what I do. 

How so?

Well, when I was five, maybe six years old, my parents packed up the family vehicle and took the kids on a fishing trip to a tiny tourist camp located on La Ronge Creek, on the north shore of the wonderful Northeastern Ontario waterway situated between North Bay and Sudbury.

It was my first fishing trip ever and I was in dreamland. 

I'll never forget struggling, deliriously happy, as I tried to turn the handle on my baitcasting reel to thwart the efforts of the giant northern pike, huge walleye, or mammoth muskie that was trying to pull me out of the boat and into the water.  Or so I thought at the time.

More than half a century later, the love affair still lingers. 

Funny thing, too, while my job now takes me to fabulous fishing locations around the world, my heart skips a beat whenever I "come home" to Northeastern Ontario.

Indeed, these days, in addition to the wonderful walleye, pike, and muskie fishing for which Lake Nipissing is justifiably famous, it has developed into an amazing fishery for smallmouth and largemouth bass as well.  And the muskie fishing is so spectacular, especially in the western arm where the lake funnels into the French River headwaters, that many muskie hunters are predicting a new world record will be caught soon. 

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About the only argument they will get is from the anglers who fish for the big toothy critters in nearby Lake Nosbonsing, or down near the mouth of the French River where it enters Georgian Bay. 

And speaking about mammoth fish with teeth, I caught my biggest northern pike ever in Kesagami Lake. A fishing buddy and I flew into the lodge via float plane from Timmins and it was remarkable to see the sheer numbers of shimmering waters. I remember wondering at the time, how many of these untouched lakes harbour gargantuan fish the size of which would make my hands tremble and knees knock. 

Well, fast forward to the other day when I was fishing with the same friend and he told me that an acquaintance, a well respected pike specialist, had just returned from a secret spot situated in the James Bay / Hudson Bay Lowlands of Northeastern Ontario with tales of enormous 40- and 50-pound pike. 

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Are you kidding?  Blindfold me, take me there and I won't say a word, I promise.

But it stands to reason when you consider the thousands of lakes and countless miles of river in the area bounded by Attawapiskat, Kapuskasing, Chapleau, Gogama, and Iroquois Falls. And most of it harbours great northern pike fishing.

Oh, yes, and walleye, yellow perch, whitefish, speckled trout, and lake trout too!

Ah, lake trout. 

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Just mention Lake Temagami and the Lady Evelyn Smoothwater area and my eyes glaze over. But I am never sure if it is because of the fish or the picture postcard surroundings in which they live.

Gotta confess, too, that while huge lake trout draw many anglers to the region, I love launching a small "car topper," canoe or kayak and exploring the Region's quilt work of remote backcountry waters. The trout are more modest in size, but what they lack in stature they make up for in spirit, spunk, and sheer splendour.

And when I keep a small one for shorelunch, preparing its bright red flesh simply and cooking it over a crackling driftwood fire on a pristine island point where I am dwarfed by white pines hundreds of years old, I pinch myself to make sure I am not dreaming, and hope that this Northeastern Ontario love affair will never end.

About Gord Pyzer

Gord Pyzer is the fishing editor of Outdoor Canada magazine and field editor of In-Fisherman magazine. He is the co-host of the Real Fishing Radio Show and host of Fish Talk With The Doc.

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