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Old Growth and Trout at Gord Lake

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Old Growth and Trout at Gord Lake

An aerial view of Gord Lake, Northeast of Sault Ste. Marie. • Credit: James Smedley

Remote fly-in outpost fishing in Northern Ontario

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Autumn is just starting to tint the greens of the old-growth forest north of Sault Ste. Marie. The float plane affords an aerial view of highways, logging roads and power lines fading into a tapestry of orange, red, brown and green. Dark waters meander through wetlands and flow through valleys to rest in deep cradles of granite.

The pilot points to the larger in a cluster of lakes and throttles back. The engine surrenders to the sound of wind and lapping water as my wife Francine and I carry a week’s supplies up a moss-lined granite path to the island cabin at Gord Lake.

As is our custom my young daughter Islay chooses her own lure and before we round the first point the tarnished Williams Wabler fools the first trout of the trip. Cold weather and the promise of fresh trout steer us back towards the cabin, but the brief outing nets us two more lakers before we reach the dock.

the pine clad cabin at Gord Lake in Northern Ontario 
(Photo credit: James Smedley)
stands of giant old-growth pine and cedar surround Gord Lake.
(Photo credit: James Smedley)

Under the crackling wood stove, frying fish and rowdy play of Islay and her little sister Lillian, a DeHaviland Beaver lands undetected. With the arrival of my parents, Faye and Gord, our entire crew settles comfortably into our wilderness accommodation. Clad in rough-sawn pine siding, the cabin is perched on a knob of granite under a canopy of evergreen. The functional layout includes a front porch, large dining/living room and adjoining bedroom complete with propane lights and appliances.

Gord Lake is part of the West Aubinadong River system and nucleus to a dozen ponds and lakes accessible by paddle and portage. Traditional portage trails now double as hiking trails with new signs -- like Boreal Trail, Towering Pines Trail and Giant Trail -- reflecting a renewed appreciation for one of the last great stands of virgin pine in the province.

Gord Lake, located Northeast of Sault Ste. Marie in Northern Ontario.

Dad and I do manage to dart into a side lake to pluck a large brook trout out from under a fallen cedar, but most of our fishing is on convenient and obliging Gord Lake. Eager lake trout and the occasional brookie are perfect for Francine and girls who get bored if they don’t hook a fish every 10 minutes. All our trout are caught flat-lining spoons near surface. While large fish elude us, leafing through the guest book reveals recent catches of lakers over 10 pounds and specks over three.

Our limited fishing excursions are sandwiched between hikes and paddles through what seems like a fairy-tale land of giants. My mother, wife and daughter can barely join hands around the trunk of one old pine, and the cedars are almost as large. Trout meals are eaten in the pine-charged fragrance of evening campfires. The setting sun silhouettes sprawling, windswept limbs that stand head and shoulders above the rest of the forest. Clear nights illuminate the rings of rising trout on still waters. In this rare pocket of wilderness, the better part of a week slips quickly away. 

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