Mar 10, 2018

Ohhhh Canada!! 

By: Chris Carns 

There are numerous reasons an outdoorsman should experience a trip to Canada at least one time in his or her life (hopefully more). The most glaring of those reasons is that it really is a, “Once in a lifetime opportunity.” And, next, is that the fishing can be truly out of this world good. Regardless of what species you are after, or in most cases multiple species, you can find a resort or lodge that will more than fulfill your hopes of catching a lot of fish, and likely one for the wall.   

But it really isn’t about the “catching.”  Rest assured there will be plenty of that.  A trip to Canada to fish, hunt, or explore is memorable and remarkable for countless other reasons.  The greatest of which I just mentioned and that is the once in a lifetime experience coupled with the memories that will never go away or fade.  And we, as sportsmen and women know, the memories are something you can’t put a price tag on and really why we do it in the first place.  

Sure, you can go to different places in the U.S. and catch fish.  Some places you can catch a lot of fish, but that isn’t entirely the point, is it?  Any trip is about the adventure and possibility.  Going north of the border ensures you of both.  First, you will be in a new and different country-that right there is an impressive feat.  And while the differences for the most part may be subtle, they are certainly evident as soon as you cross the border.  It is just “different” and really can only be explained by doing it firsthand.  On top of that, even the drive up being filled with anticipation and excitement, is a major component of the trip.  Driving up, the anticipation builds, the stories get more vivid, the fish get bigger, and the camaraderie and fun is just beginning.   

I am very fortunate in that I have been to Canada numerous times, from the age of 8 was my first trip.  Yes, I was spoiled on Canadian fishing trips from a young age.  In all those trips, there are countless things that happened both good and unfortunate that I will never forget.  And while yes, similar events could happen on any trip- there is just something very unique and inviting about going to Canada that keeps outdoorsmen like me, and women going back year after year.  It is truly “getting away” and getting in touch with nature in a very solitary way.  

I will say, there is one misnomer I hear regularly and that is that, “In Canada, you can just drop a hook in the water over the side of the boat and catch as many walleye, northern, perch…. as you want.”  Now, if you are a fishermen, you know that is false.  Sounds good.  But, not for real. As a wise man once told me when I was a kid after a tough day fishing in Canada, “You know Chris, it’s called fishing, not catching.”  (That wise man would of course be my dad)  So, yes, even in Canada sometimes the fish don’t cooperate. 

A big and enjoyable part of fishing is the challenge. So, it is necessary, even in Canada, to have some knowledge and know how to catch fish.  While the odds may be more in your favor, there are always things like timing, weather, equipment, mayfly hatches, and a multitude of other curve balls Mother Nature can throw at you.  But, it must be said, that even with all these factors, your odds are greatly better in Canada on a lake that is many times HUGE, and many times only fished a handful of times a year, than the great majority of similar lakes in the U.S.   Plus, as mentioned, it is the Canadian experience (can’t be stressed enough) that trumps the catching every time.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to catch fish and lots of ‘em.  But the serenity, calmness, relaxation, and unforgettable memories forged between parent/child, friends and family on a Canadian trip are really ones that I have not been able to match in my fishing, hunting, and other outdoor experiences.  There is just something about being in Canada. 

Now, once you decide you are going, you are in, the decision is made, you have to start looking at your options.  There are several areas to consider.  Do you want to drive there?  Take your own boat or rent?  Have meals prepared or make your own?  Do you want to be the only group on an entire lake (yes, that is doable)?  Fly in on a float plane (really cool experience in itself)?  Are ‘creature comforts’ important?  How rustic do you want to go?  WIFI or no?  TV? If renting a boat, what features are you looking for?  How about a canoe trip?  Camping or bring RV?  Live on a houseboat?  The options are abundant and can be overwhelming.  

Usually, the best place to start are friends, relatives, or acquaintances that maybe have made the trip in the past.  Well…unless they are Vikings or Bears fans, then you may want to do the opposite (Ha ha, just kidding of course….) Otherwise, you will likely have to do your own research to find the right spot for you.   Some great places to start are the All Canada Shows, other Sport Shows with Canadian Resorts or Outfitters present or certainly go to the web and do some research.  Most, if not all, Canadian resorts and lodges have very friendly hosts that will encourage and gladly answer any and all questions you may have.  In all my experiences at different camps in Canada, the folks running the camps were always friendly and easy to deal with.  I will say, while the internet is great and you can certainly find information there, if you are wanting to be thorough, it is a good idea to meet (or at least talk to directly) the folks that run the camp you decide on for what will be a once in a lifetime trip north of the border.  

Now, there are advantages of course to each option of a Canadian trip.  Some like to cook and want to be able to fish as early, often, and late as they can.  Some would rather have more of a schedule and not have the job of planning meals, cooking and doing dishes, clean up, etc.  (And I will say, most resorts serve meals that will, afterward, call for the next hole in your belt).  Some want to be totally “off the grid” with no way to be reached.  Others, need to stay connected and want some sort of nightly entertainment.  There really is no wrong answer-only right ones when it comes to deciding where to go on a Canadian fishing or hunting trip.  It really depends on your group, and what you decide you want to include.  

And, I can’t leave out the shore lunches, OHHHH the shore lunches (that is an article all by itself).  There is very little that compares to walleye, northern pike or perch fresh out the cold Canadian water breaded and fried over an open flame or camp stove.  It is literally almost sweet to the taste…ummm mouthwatering…truly outstanding.  

Really, once you decide on the particulars of what you all want and how you want to do it, the heavy lifting is behind you.  Now, the fun starts; and that is really what it is all about.  From the planning to the return trip, it is not something that will be forgotten any time soon.  Or, any time for that matter. Again the entirety of the trip is a once in a lifetime opportunity.  Enjoy it all. 

Once you do it, you’ll get it.  And you will be itching to get back for another trip.   

As Michael Curtiz once said, “The only things you regret are the things you don’t do.”  I really encourage all fishermen, hunters and outdoorsmen to “pull the trigger” on a trip to Canada north of the border.  You will not regret it.