The best way to get to Bear Lake from Fort Wayne is to go north to the Soo Locks, then east 150 miles to Lang Lake. Then take a boat ride 18 miles through four sets of narrows to Bear Lake. After arriving this spring, there were chores to do. The water intake pipe needed to be placed out in the lake and water pumped into the head tank. It's nice to know there are still places where you can pull your drinking water right out of the lake.
This year there were ten of us which is a larger than normal crew. This would be the first Canadian excursion for Ben and Dan. Ben is attending flight school at Purdue and young Dan just finished high school. We also welcomed an ex-submariner from Logansport named Greg Scott.
Boats were readied and motors were pulled out of their winter hibernation.
The Island on Big Bear Lake is just the starting point for our crew. The younger guys pack a lunch and a two-horse motor and boat across Big Bear to portages that take them to 'back' lakes. Some of these back lakes are only about forty acres and are produced by beaver dams. Some of them are as big as Lake Wawasee. The oldsters in our group sometimes forgo all the portaging and just fish Big Bear.
The weather and the black flies have been pretty mild for the past five years. This year, with a few young-bloods on the trip, the weather decided to get tougher showing us an east wind, three of the six days. The black flies also showed up in large numbers. The black fly pest may have visited those of you who have visited Canada in the spring. It's only an eighth inch long, but they attack in the thousands. One of the regulars, Kirk Gemple, gave me a stickum patch to wear on my collar. The strip did catch about a hundred flies, but when there are thousands, a few hundred less is an insignificant number. The black fly pest lays its eggs in fast moving water. After a few days, they hatch out in the millions, and live for about three weeks. If you are in their territory when they hatch, they can make for a very tough trip. The only effective defense is a head net. One day the flies would show up in droves and the next day they might be gone.
The weather and flies combined to present a challenge to the most ardent outdoorsmen but the newcomers proved up to the task. They not only fished through wind and rain but took one day to make a triple portage and climbed the La Cloche Mountains.
If your planning a spring trip to Canada, you may be visited by a few problems like cold weather, black flies and pesky Canadian border guards, but as in most things you take the good with the bad and have a great time no matter what challenge you run into.