60 years of fishing, friendship and fun

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Road trip! I’ve been thinking about this trip for 51 weeks. It’s nothing new since I’ve been there and done it 59 times over.

Yep, the same trip for nearly 60 years starting when I was an ultra-avid pre-teen fisherman. But even with that lengthy history, each week on the same remote Lake Temagami Island is a new adventure and a highly anticipated event.

We stay in a family-owned cabin, the only structure on a three acre, heavily forested island, some 20+ watery miles from the town of Temagami, Ontario. The only access to the island is by boat or float plane.

Because we take gear and food for the week, flying wouldn’t be practical or affordable. Thus we tow boats for the trip in, the trip out, and our daily excursions that focus on walleye fishing. Bass season comes in on the day we typically leave for home but this year we may stay one extra day just to fish for these plentiful, hard fighting fish.

Guy trip

It’s an all-guys trip with a roster that changes year to year. For instance, one of the regulars and his wife had their first baby last year so he stayed in Kentucky to welcome the addition. But he’s back this year and full of stories about his growing daughter.

Grandson Josh Miller also missed last year because the fresh out of college engineer had started his first full-time job. He’s back this year, too.

Josh joined our troop at five years old and so did Danny, his younger brother. Dan too, missed last year due to college obligations and a summer internship but he’s back.

They have a special guest this year, their paternal grandfather, Pappy Miller, from Bryan, Ohio. Add in my son-in-law, David Miller, and this trip has become a Miller time experience for sure.

I’ve been building our menu for weeks. It is pretty much the same from year to year but it does require a bit of tweaking, just for fun.

Our daily meals start with a big breakfast, an event that starts in the cabin kitchen as one by one we crawl out of sleeping bags to the smell of freshly percolated coffee. Two pots later we actually sit down to eggs, bacon, pancakes.

The first up

My good buddy, Paul Fedorchak, rules the morning kitchen and is always the first up and fortunately perks a great cup of coffee.

Since there’s no electricity on the island, or anywhere near it, all cooking takes place on the top of a┬ásmall propane stove. Lunch includes leftovers, sandwiches, and crumbs. The crumbs are what started out as chips, cookies, or other snack foods that started the trip in good shape but 600 miles of road rumble and seven miles of boat bounce later they are typically nothing but crumbs.

After a dinner of meatloaf, ham, or fresh walleye fillets, we name the fishing teams for the evening, do the dishes, and head out for several hours of fishing.

This year will mark 76 years for Pappy Miller, so there may be a surprise cake, candles and song in store plus a couple special meals based on Venison Helper or some other experimental concoction.

Our Temagami trip highlights each passing year. It’s something we talk about on and off, something we all hold dear and a generous blessing that we respect.

The Canadian wilderness is special. The sights, the smells, the endless green, the sound of loons calling, the clear water, the occasional moose or black bear, the glow and warmth of the nightly fire, the friendly wagers, the card games under lantern light, the bubbling skillet filled with fillets, even the familiar comfort of a tattered sleeping bag.

The trip

Our drive is simply a day’s worth of good roads that ends only after we’ve navigated several miles of dusty gravel that leads us to a mid-lake launch ramp.

Current passports are required and one can expect border guards to be for the most part, courteous but no-nonsense in their questioning. Understand that they already know the answers after scanning passports so one needs to be honest and forthright.

In recent years, the money exchange has become very favorable for U.S. visitors to Canada. Although the rate of exchange varies daily one can expect at least about $1.25 Canadian for each U.S. dollar.

That in itself makes travel to Canadian destinations a bargain. You just have to keep in mind that kilometers are not miles and the whole metric system provides for some challenging conversion challenges.

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Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian.

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