Annual outing to Lake Temagami

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TEMAGAMI, Ontario — Each day here is a new adventure, a fresh start, and an amazing experience, and all together a menu of offerings that treat one’s senses to a satisfying full course.

It’s real hard to argue the pricelessness of the calming affect of the calls of a pair of loons as they keep track of one and the other, the glory of a movie-grade sunset, or the sweet smell of a breeze filled with cedar and pine.

Settling in

Day one found our gang refreshed from the 600-mile drive, gear handling, boat ride, and cabin set up we endured yesterday.

No fishing after arrival, just an evening of bed prep, grocery inventory, and a quick but hardy meal of Venison Helper and a side of black beans and rice.

Add to that the first of many warming fireplace blazes. The rush to ignite the kindling caused a smoke storm in the cabin.

That’s what happens when a rush replaces the need to open the damper. No wonder then, why the cabin and our clothing took on the unmistakable week-long smell of burning logs.

Meals

Day two featured the first of several big, lumberjack breakfasts built around a towering stack of pancakes, thick meaty bacon, a matching pair of sunny side up eggs, and a couple mugs of coffee.

Meals for the week would follow a carefully planned menu including meatloaf, baked ham, grilled brats, and more than one walleye dinners.

We fancy up this annual outing a bit with breakfasts of sausage gravy and biscuits, a nifty egg casserole, and late night snacks of all-beef hot dogs cooked to order in the 100-year-old stone fireplace.

In 60 years of experience on this annual retreat, I have yet to hear someone say they lost weight while here.

Tackle

The big event, of course, is our daily explorations and nightly walleye, or as so many Canadians call them, pickerel outings.

Although anchoring and still fishing is a popular local technique here, we prefer to troll worms and spinners.

The weight forward spinners of Lake Erie legends have become our go-to lures because they seem to snag less than other lures and they consistently out catch everything else that we’ve tried.

Worms harnesses are given equal chances to earn their keep and so are lures such as Rapalas and Flicker Shads but, invariably, they are replaced by a night crawler tipped spinner of sorts.

Fishing

Lake Temagami is protected from fish hogs by a self-monitored slot limit which protects the prime spawning size fish and a very restrictive but understandably sensible four fish daily limit.

The lake fishery overall benefits from the restrictions and a better fishing experience is the obvious result.

The Ontario Fisheries Ministry offers two types of fishing licenses for non-resident anglers.

A Conservation License allows for a two walleye daily limit while a full (more expensive) Sportsman License doubles the daily limit.

Walleye

A local cottage owners association operated a walleye hatchery for several years in hopes of improving the Temagami walleye population after years of decline, but in all respects, the Ministry imposed slot limit has made the most visible difference.

Lake Temagami is a huge lake with an equally huge history that our grandparents knew well and our parents may have too.

It is a grand place to experience a wilderness vacation, even as our world overtakes and literally consumes the natural places that many of us treasure.

And yes, we percolate our coffee with lake water, just as we did a half-century ago.

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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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