Where To Go?
The winter months are a fun time for me. Beyond the obvious I relish the time spent researching, planning and booking the upcoming seasons trips.
The problem is after so many trips over the years I tend to become jaded. Hate to say it, but it's true. It takes something special to capture my imagination and spark my interest.
Most of my adult life has been spent in search of large native brook trout. If I have a favourite fish this is the one.
In recent years walleye and pike have been at the forefront. Not that I'm complaining, I love fishing for them, but brookies they're not.
So with that in mind I began my search for a quality brook trout destination, with the large brawling rivers in northwestern Ontario being my focus.
Joining me on this trip would be my young son as well as my dad and uncle, so price factored heavily into the equation as well. It simply couldn't be too expensive.
In the summer of 1989 I paddled the Dusey river, a large tributary of the Ogoki. Back then it was largely unknown. There were no portage trails, the location of rapids was mostly guesswork, and best of all it teemed with trout. By all accounts it remains exactly the same way today, an untouched jewel.
Many of my recollections of the river are hazy at best. In my younger days I took few notes and never even carried a camera. Still, the trout stood out in my minds eye: dark of back, blazing orange bellies, and dime sized speckles ringed with enormous blue halos. These were trout worth pursuing.
After a quick search it was determined that 7 Lakes Wilderness Camps based in Nakina operated an outpost camp on Dusey lake.
Oddly enough I had no memory of Dusey lake at all, but digging in and researching it, the location looked promising.
It's a 6km long widening of the Dusey river and seemed to be smack dab in the middle of the best trout water.
Best of all the lake was reported to be abounding with walleye and large pike, an unexpected bonus. The possibility of world class fishing for all three species was too much to resist and I quickly got on the phone to Brad Slagel, owner of 7 Lakes.
Brad is a true salt of the earth character and as I found out a die hard trout fisherman.
After talking with him on the phone the trip sounded almost too good to be true, especially considering the price, and I quickly booked.
What I hadn't realized is Brad also has another camp on Dusey for himself. He maintains the second land use permit for two reasons. First to ensure that another outfitter doesn't encroach on his little piece of eden, and second to use as a base for himself when potential customers feel the need for a guide.
While I certainly don't require a guide, Brad suggested he may fly into the second camp for a couple of days while we were there to show me around.
How could I possibly say no to that? And so the stage was set...
Biblical Floods, High Water And Breaking The Ice
Flying into camp on Saturday June 2, there was a large group of young men waiting at the dock to fly out. They were a bit bedraggled as during their trip they had faced some truly daunting conditions.
Rain of a biblical nature had raised the river several feet. This was followed by a cold front, snow, and then more rain.
As one of the lads said as he boarded the plane, "we were half expecting a swarm of locusts to descend!"
They reported great fishing for walleye and pike, but were a bit more subdued regarding the brook trout. Apparantly the high water was making wading next to impossible, and much if not most of the trout water was buried under 6' of raging water.
Not exactly what we were hoping to hear, but still we'd have a fun time finding out for ourselves.
After unpacking we donned our waders and while I was readying our tackle my 5 year old Brendan began to fish off the mostly flooded dock.
His excited cries brought us all running, the young lad had broken the ice with a chunky pike! As it turned out it would be one of many he'd catch off the dock during our stay.