There's something special about getting ready to leave for a Canadian fishing trip at 6:00am on a Saturday morning. The boat is hooked to the pickup and all the gear and groceries are packed and ready to go. Big Jim Teusch does the grocery shopping. This year he spent about $500 for the week's provisions. "There's nothing more vicious than a grocery store full of women shoppers on a Friday evening", he commented, as we stood around the boat talking. "Luckily I had my wife with me to run interference."
Brother Dan and Kirk Gemple usually spend about $200 dollars on snacks. They were delayed a day, as Kirk was attending his daughters graduation ceremony.
It was drizzling rain when we arrived at Lang Lake for our water taxi back to Big Bear. Carol, the lady transporting us through Lang Lake and Big Bear, commented that the black flies were as bad as she had ever seen them. They had had an exceptionally wet spring, and the insect populations were at an all time high. My nephew John from Wisconsin is in charge of bringing the insect repellent, and it looked to be a year when we would need all the deet we could get. The black flies were already buzzing around our heads as we loaded the boats for the half-hour trip back to our camp.
We arrived on the island and everyone pitched in to unload the boats and transport the gear and food up the hill to the cabin. After everything was stowed in its proper place, John and I went out to troll Big Bear. We picked up a couple of lake trout and they proved an excellent complement to the burgers that my brother Bill grilled later that evening.
Surrounding Big Bear Lake are many smaller lakes that make up the boundary waters of southern Ontario. These smaller lakes are accessible by boating across Big Bear and then portaging overland. Over the past 20 years, small boats have been placed at these back lakes, which include johnboats, rowboats and canoes. The type of boat you will be using determines the gear you carry. The portages vary between 20 minutes and two hours. Some are just a quick up and over and others involve portaging and navigating across two or three lakes. As in most adventures, getting there is half the fun. We take provisions for a shore lunch, as well as any beverages and of course all the necessary fishing gear. If you are using a canoe, you take paddles. Johnboats and rowboats require 2-hp gasoline boat motors along with an extra canister of gas.
They were experiencing a late spring up in Canada, as the tulips and lilacs were just beginning to bloom. On one of our portages we met a grouse with a covey of new chicks. She fluffed up her feathers and did a mock charge, when that didn't work, she shoved her chicks into the brush and faked a broken wing, leading us down the trail and away from her chicks. After an appropriate distance she disappeared into the brush and returned to her brood.
Brother Dan had some anxious moments on one of these portages. Dan left Kirk in the boat on Big Bear and went to check on one of the back lake boats. It was a little up and over to a place he had never been before but he should have been back in about 25 minutes. When he didn't find the boat where it should have been, he decided to hike around the lake to locate it. The brush was heavy, and somewhere he took a wrong turn. What started out to be a little boat locating expedition turned into a seven-hour bushwhacking adventure. He finally found a back lake canoe that he recognized, used a beaver stick to paddle it across Upper Cranberry Lake and then hiked back to Big Bear where he was finally spotted by Jim. His adventure provided some anxious moments for his sons back at the camp.
Fishing was great. Northern Pike, Walleye, and Lake Trout were taken. One meal was of beef tenderloin brought all the way from Hill's Market and grilled to perfection by my brother Bill. All-you-can-eat tacos were prepared by Jim Teusch, and a huge fish fry was the meal for Friday evening. Saturday morning we were again standing around Bill's boat, planning next year's adventure and getting ready for a return to reality, with another reservoir of memories filled to overflowing.