My anticipation of another thick walleye mingles with the warm sunlight that plays off the golden sheen of the cedarstrip boat. We're bobbing off a wooded island. My daughters are fishing and clowning up at the bow. My wife Francine jigs in front of me, completing the scene of contentment that comes when family and fishing unite in wilderness solitude.
A few days ago we boarded a de Havilland Otter. With faces glued to the window we lifted off over a vast boreal fabric of lakes, rivers and wetlands. The shadow of the floatplane raced across the landscape as we banked hard and descended toward Esnagi Lake, a 43-km pine-rimmed gem carved from a foundation of granite and sand. We stepped off the floats onto the dock at Lodge 88, a collection of elegant log structures set into a sloping hillside. We settled into our kitchen, bathroom and shower-equipped cabin and we've been roughing it ever since.
Today pangs of hunger signal the harvesting of a few choice walleye for a shore lunch. American Plan is available but we opt to cook our own breakfasts and lunches, being careful to save room for the immense and delicious dinners. The girls add a few fish to the creel before jumping from the boat into the cooling water. In spite of the frolicking girls, Francine and I continue to catch and release big walleye, keeping a few eaters destined for a pan of hot oil. After a shore lunch of golden fillets, fried potatoes, and coleslaw we work our way back toward the lodge.
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The hours drift by like the soft summer wind as we idle through a group of more than 50 loons before stopping to stretch our limbs on a spit of sand. The smell of barbecuing steak hits us as we round the point near the lodge. Francine and I enjoy a cold beer before dinner, sure to save space for the evening marshmallow roast in front of our cabin. Another day ends with stars, love and laughter around the bonfire.
Only a few more days of roughing it to go.