This year's destination would be Chapleau Canada. We have been going on this fall trip for fifteen years, and each year we pick a new location. Six of us were traveling together. The plans were laid down before the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centers and the tragedy had put quite a damper on the trip. There was a concern of going across the border and we expected to incur some delays.
Chapleau is a small Canadian town that lies 620 miles north of Waynedale. It was originally a remote trading post, part of the Hudson Bay Company and it was established sometime prior to 1874. When the railroad came through in the early 1900's, it became a rail town and when the rail management moved to Montreal, the main industry became paper mills and tourism.
We stayed at a place called Pellows Cabins. It is a fishing camp located about fifteen minutes (by boat), up the Chapleau River. They own five cabins with sleeping arrangements for different numbers of fishermen. If you are planning to go there, be sure you get explicit directions from Huey before getting to town, as the locals won't necessarily know how to get to Pellows dock. After arriving our group toured the town for awhile trying to locate Huey, the proprietor of the fishing camp.
Our ride up the river to camp was beautiful and it was great being back in the Canadian wilderness. The camp provided 25 hp, four-stroke, Honda outboards, and 17ft. aluminum boats. They also provided canoes for anyone wishing to try the lakes that were inaccessible by motorboat. The weather is always iffy on the September trip and this week provided for some tough fishing. Wednesday brought rain and caught us at one of the canoe accessible lakes. We had towed our canoe to the mouth of an inlet and portaged over three beaver dams to get to there.
We had talked to other groups in camp and they told us the best method for catching Walleyes was to drift, bouncing a night crawler off the stony bottom. At any sign of activity you were to open the bail of your reel and let out line. Then light a cigarette, take a few puffs, and close the bail. Draw in slack until you feel some resistance and then set the hook. This method worked amazingly well, and we had landed eight fish before the rain started. We continued fishing, and Boyd added a Northern Pike to the captured fish, hoping the rain would let up...but it didn't. We sorted down to two Walleye apiece and headed back for the cabin.
That night the rain came in earnest, and continued, through Thursday. We went back to Chartrand Lake again about noon, hoping that it was about done raining, but instead the rain picked up as well as the wind. It was difficult to re-drift the same area we had drifted the day before, as an easterly wind pushed us through a different part of the lake. We caught a few walleye, but headed back before dark. We were wet and arm weary from paddling the canoe through the wind.
It rained most of Thursday night and let up Friday morning. We all headed up-stream to the South end of Henderson Lake, hoping for some favorable weather. Dan Auer and Randy Furnis caught the majority of the Walleye on Friday, but the rain picked up again and we boated back to the cabin for some cards and refreshments.
Oh yes, about the border. There was only about a fifteen-minute delay going into Canada. The Canadian border guards were asking to see the driver's license of whomever was driving. It appeared to be a cursory check, but after talking to some of the other groups, we found that they had been stopped, and ran into difficulty
One of the group's drivers had a DUI (Driving Under the Influence). He had been arrested in the States 20 years previous and though it was a misdemeanor in the States, it is a felony in Canada. He and all his group were told to pull over, and all of them were checked. Anyone having a DUI on their driving record was forced to either go home, or pay $200.00 Canadian to get into Canada. On the way back we stopped at the duty free store and watched the Canadian border guards pull over group after group of American tourists.
If you are planning on traveling into Canada, you may want to make sure the person driving has no DUI's on their driving record. You may slip by, but then again, make sure anyone in your group with a previous DUI has an extra $200 Canadian on him, just in case.