The Chapleau Crown Game Preserve is one of my favourite destinations. It's one of the largest game preserves in the world and its 4,300 square km miles teem with fish and wildlife. Over the years, I’ve taken a number of canoe trips there and each has been memorable. With that in mind, I really wanted my wife and children to experience it as well. However, with limited time and a four-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter, a canoe trip was out. That left only one option: a fly-in trip.
Martin and Jennifer Wearn of Air-Dale Fly-in Fishing operate a handful of rustic outpost camps, each nestled in the heart of the game preserve. After I called Martin and explained my needs, he recommended his Abbey lake camp. “That’s where I bring my own family to unwind. Abbey has it all; a beach for swimming, fantastic scenery, a nice little cabin and easy walleye fishing.”
As our plane taxied to the dock at Abbey Lake, I gazed at a perfect wilderness retreat. An older log cabin, complete with a covered porch, perched on a small rocky point. Smooth granite sloped gently to a small beach and dock. The view from the porch took in the entire south end of the lake. It was the quintessential log cabin on a point.
While my wife and daughter, Riley, busied themselves with settling into our cabin, my son Brendan and I quickly loaded a boat and motored to a nearby island. Dropping down 1/4 ounce jigs dressed with a worms, we were both into fish within seconds; a prelude of what was to come.
Concentrating on a few key spots, my little clan caught fish at will. The narrow 5-km-long Lake is small enough to figure out easily and big enough to not be boring. Abbey’s rocky shoreline breaks fast into heavily-stained water. The dark water meant bright citrus-coloured jigs excelled for walleye and, to the children’s delight, the fish seemed to bite consistently all day long.
During the warm August days we also spent time swimming, cliff jumping (to my wife’s chagrin) and picking the incredibly abundant blueberries. On an old portage trail between Abbey and nearby Cam Lake, we found the mother-lode one sunny afternoon and filled an entire pail.
As a parent and an outdoorsman, instilling a love and appreciation for the outdoors in my kids is paramount. This trip went a long way towards that.