Now is the time to plan wilderness fishing trips

Lake Temagami in Ontario, Canada.

Regular readers of this column are well aware of my lifetime attraction to the wilderness fishing available due north of the international border.

My full-course Canadian affection has been fed in bites ranging from family vacations to the easily reached bass lakes of visitor-friendly Ontario to remote camps that are reached by floatplane, the only way in and out. I’ve fought big pike on the rock-strewn Georgian Bay and teased much smaller speckled trout from the swift rapids and glistening black pools of the Lady Evelyn River.

My favorite place north of the border is Lake Temagami, a semi-wilderness, well known far and wide for its trophy lake trout. Not that I couldn’t be tempted to hop a flight to a shoreline camp somewhere else but certainly only if the outing wouldn’t interfere with our annual Temagami trip.

Sport show time

I mention Ontario now among falling snowflakes and frigid temperatures only because in coming weeks will be sport show time and that means Canadian camps will be featuring specials, discounts, in an effort to fill their reservation lists. And yes, they typically have a few good dates still open.

Keep in mind that several Ontario camps now offer non-resident black bear hunting as well as fishing. Sport show specials can be a real deal when one considers the favorable currency exchange rate. It changes slightly day to day but currently it averages about 32%. That translates to $100 U.S. will exchange for $132 Canadian.

Exchange rate

But a bit of advice: don’t count on getting the whole benefit from the exchange rate at cash registers along the way north. Ask the teller at your bank is he or she has taken in any Canadian currency from travelers who have returned home. When it shows up grab it because it’s the only exchange in which you’ll not have to pay some sort of shipping or service fee.

Know the lingo

Understand the language when you are talking to camp owners. Understand that camps often offer several layers of creature comfort. Top billing is an American plan in which you will get a cabin or resort room, three served meals, and perhaps a fishing boat. An American plan is perfect for a family vacation. We signed on for an American plan with the Severn Lodge while touring a local sport show and it was indeed, a family vacation we still talk about decades later.

Other less costly plans include housekeeping (cottage) rentals, maybe a side trip or one day guided fishing, a shore lunch, or even a fly-out experience. If it’s a camp that sounds good, sign and go.

Stateside vacations

That’s not to say there aren’t countless places that need visiting right here in the states. Some fishing buddies and I are thinking seriously about a three- or four-day spring trip to Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee, one of the finest crappie lakes in the country.

Rather than tow one of our rigs we will probably book a package that includes room, boat, and even bait. We may even hire a guide for day one, a shortcut to finding the right spots and the best techniques. We are hoping to find a good place to base our Reelfoot trip at one or more nearby winter outdoor shows.


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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.


  1. I found it interesting when you said to sign u for an American plan when doing guided fishing. My brother wants to do a big fishing trip to Canada soon since we both have it on our bucket list. We’ll be sure to find a floatplane that we can take in to fish.


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