Algonquin Trout Fishing Canoe Trip
- Sept. 2015

I've never done an Ontario trout fishing trip at the end of the season (Sept. 25 - 29). A weather window opened up, so I asked my friend Dan Collens if he was interested, and off we went! First, we got him rigged up with a trolling rod, similar to the outfit noted in this trout fishing trip report from 2014. I was not sure if the fish would be at depth, or in the shallows at the end of the season.

For this trip, I decided to try a new location in Algonquin park, Little Trout Lake, via Ralph-Bice, from access point 3 out of Kearney. It was a long drive, and a pretty rough road in to the launch point, but manageable.

Little Trout Lake

I didn't expect a lot of people in the park at that time of year, but I had read a lot of reports about good trout fishing in the area. Indeed, there was a large guided group just launching as we did, and on Little Trout, more than half of the camp sites were taken. Clearly we were not the only canoeists with "trout fever". Lots of people were trolling around the lake in canoes.

Accesss point 3

We settled on a east-end campsite with a northern exposure, after visiting the site opposite. Our concern was that if it was quite cold, a southern exposure would be preferred to warm up in the morning. Alas, the southern site was simply better overall, so we took our chances.

North-facing Camp site

After a slow cold morning, we finally got out on the lake to fish. We started trolling at various depths, across various drop offs mid lake. While this strategy has worked for me on summer trips, I had no idea what to expect at the end of the trout season. Depth trolling didn't work at all (not even one bite), so we started a combination of trolling and casting the lake shoreline. After several hours, we had covered most of Little Trout Lake, accept where we had come in off the portage. With not even a bite. Clearly this would take more work to find the elusive specs and lake trout! We were not the only fish losers though... passing another camp site of fisherman, they also admitted defeat. A bit bummed, Dan considered eating this monster mushroom, either for the hallucinogenic effect to ward off the fishing blues, or hunger. Thankfully, we settled on dehydrated chilli.

Monster mushroom

The next day, we resolved the fish had to be somewhere, and were probably not at depth. They were getting ready to spawn, so it was simply a matter of finding where they were aggregating. We tried a few more coves tucked away here and there, without any luck. So, we decided to apply some Sherlock Holmes logic, and try the last unlikely spot, the portage landing ("When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.")

Quietly easing into the bay in our canoe, We began casting into the shoreline. Within a few minutes, we were getting bites, and then managed to land a beautiful speckled trout! Of all the places the trout could choose to meet up to have sex... they decided on the portage landing (not a choice I have made, or would at least admit to publicly).

First spec!

Floating around in the portage bay, we were actually able to see the trout milling about 3 to 5 feet down! There were dozens of them, just 'hanging' out... probably waiting to spawn. For the most part, they simply had no interest in our lures... we could drag them in plain sight of them, simply to be ignored. The experience was a bit surreal for trout fishing, but very entertaining. As we had started in the bay late, we went back to camp and enjoyed our single trout for dinner, with plans to return the next day. Passing the other fisherman on our return, we were able to enjoy some gloating as they asked if we had caught anything... hee hee.

The following day, we ate quickly, and returned to our magic spot. It was sunnier out, and substantially harder to catch any fish. Once again, they were plainly in sight as we drifted over top of them, causing them to mosey off. We spent the better part of 4 hours fishing, but did manage to catch 3 fine trout (all specs).

A hard day's work A hard day's work

The prior night, I had prepared the trout in my traditional manner, dusted with fish batter and fried in olive oil with fresh herbs. This was good, but Dan had brought a big load of butter, which we used with the latest batch of fish instead. Which... I must admit, tasted even better fried up than in olive oil! With three trout, we were able to experiment a bit with different variations of our herbs and spices. I have several times at home, bought the freshest possible trout at the market and cooked it exactly as I do when I camp... and it simply does not compare to wild trout cooked within hours of catch. And speckled trout has a subtly finer taste than lake trout (although lake trout tastes better than splake, a FrakenFish, man-made, not found thankfully in Algonquin.) Plus, speckled trout are just plain plumb pretty to look at.

Trout in butter with herbs, yum

With the warm sunny weather that late afternoon, we did complete a bushwhack hike to Little Queer Lake behind us (yes, that is what it is called.) Not much to look at, as the north end is extremely shallow and marshy. Little Trout is far more scenic.

The Weather Gods punished us on the last day with cold drizzly rain, so we did not tardy as we packed up. Once again, we floated over top of the trout at the portage, and also at the west end of Ralph-Bice. More trout than we could count were milling about in the portage bay of Ralph-Bice. I convinced Dan that we should try and catch one or two, which he was not that keen on with the rain, until I said, "think of the marraige points you'll earn if you bring home some trout for Joanne for dinner, dude!" So, we tried, but the trout were even less interested in our lures than the day before (this being the second last day of the open trout season). They clearly had other things on their minds.

As we paddled down Ralph-Bice, the rain came on, and it was quite cold as well. To pass the time, we contemplated why Ralph Bice got his name on this lake (prior, known as Butt Lake), and what was he like? What was his favorite snack food (Bice cream)? What show did he like the most (The Bice Capades)? Favorite meat (Bison)? I could go on, but I think you get the idea!

so, I have now fished and caught trout in the early season within a week or two of ice out, the depths of Summer, and in the Fall. I'm not sure I would repeat an end of season trout trip, as catching fish that truly do not want to take your lures seems wrong somehow. I'm sure I'm just justifying my love of fishing, but in the Spring and Summer, when they eagerly take your line, I feel more sporting. Yeah, that's the ticket!