For the last five years or more Mark Peterkins of One-Way Ministries has tried to get me on board with his annual fishing trip to a member only lake in Quebec. The Caughnawana Hunting and Fishing Club was established in 1899 but goes back much farther than that – as far back as the 1700’s. Wealthy Americans like Vanderbilt and his friends would board a New York train and take it as far as Manawaki, Ontario where he and his group would be met by Indians and pack horses. From there they would ride another hundred or more miles through very rough terrain to Lake Caughnawana about 120 kilometers from Temiscaming, Quebec, north of Deep River. Even today Temiscaming remains rather at “the end of the line.” Passenger
trains don’t even go up there anymore and for this reason Mark rented two Jeep Cherokees for the six of us who traveled in convoy from Ottawa. It took about six or more hours to get to Temiscaming. Once we arrived there we were met by John Friesen and his young friend Matt who came from near Huntsville and the Muskoka Bible Center. After meeting up at the ESSO station the roads became increasingly more difficult to maneuver. By the final turn off which took us the final fifty-eight kilometers the travel might be called, “off-roading.” In fact it is so “off-roading” that we followed a young male moose (still bigger than our car) for a short distance. He outran us. This is so remote an area that you must stop at a kiosk, give your name and identification, car license and so forth just in case you fail to come back and check out.
We arrived on Monday, took a brief rest and then squared up our gear, met at the water’s edge and went out on the barge for a couple of ours. We took turns with some just sitting in chairs and basking in the warm sun. Fortunately, on the water there are not so many black flies and mosquitoes so one has a slight chance of basking in the sun. I must warn the readier that there is always direct correlation between the amount of fish one catches and the thickness of the biting insects. Bugs are absolutely thick!
I did catch the first one, a speckle just a little over a pound – a perfect pan sized trout. This doesn’t sound like much of a fish when compared to some of the salmon and trout I have caught in excess of twenty pounds but when you have him on light tackle and a fourteen foot fly rod the fight is really something! They have the ability to bend a rod double. One more was picked up by John before we went in for supper.
Caughnawana Lodge is a private club where each of its limited seventy members must pay an annual fee of $1,500. (There is an additional cost per day to stay in the lodge with gourmet meals provided.) This means that fish stocks are quite abundant with different lakes hosting different species and different restrictions. In Caughnawana there were both Lake Trout and Speckles but just over the hill in Green Lake there were only Lakers. There are huge ones but they are rarely caught since they run in deep water and only flies can be used. Heavy metal plugs are not allowed. By July the fishing is pretty much over as the trout head into deeper cooler waters. One has about a two month window in which to catch fish – lots of fish.
I was with a great group of guys, Mark of course and his colleague Jerry O.. I rode down with Richard L., while in the other car were Steve H. and his son Matt. Arriving in Temiscaming and meeting us there were John F., and his co-worker, Dan. After an amazing meal put together by the lodge hostess, Jane, we settled in for an evening of informal discussion.
The next morning after a hearty traditional fish camp breakfast we put ourselves into three boats and took off across Caughnawana, docking at one side of a mountain, gathering up our stuff and hiking over the mountain to a wharf on the other side where four more boats awaited us. After getting them launched and started we all put on our various flies, divided the lake up and set out to try our luck on the Green. It turned out that white was the color of the day and within a short time I had hooked six and landed five, all of them almost identical in size. We had planned to gather on a small island for lunch where Brian our guide would have a shore lunch ready to go.
In all and with another two hours remaining we had amassed a catch of about fifteen, one short of the limit. Brian cleaned them up and fried them over a blazing campfire. Along with homemade bread and baked beans we had a marvelous, tasty and filling lunch. This is an authentic Canadian experience that perhaps less than ten percent of Canadians ever have.
Since there was a lot to do in order to get cleaned up, organized and back over the mountain (by the way, it was fairly easy going south to north but almost straight up north to south. I almost croaked.) Again, we faced another great supper, this time, steak, mashed white and sweet potatoes, stuffed bell peppers and more.
The next morning at eleven we loaded and made our way back to our respective cities.