May 21, 2009 was the beginning of our Memorial Day weekend Canadian fishing trip to Club Haltaparche in Quebec, Canada. There were 7 of us driving 2 trucks. We had 3 gas outboards and 1 electric motor.
I arrived at Doug's house at 3:20AM (yes that's right) to load up. We had just enough room to fit all of our equipment and food.
We were on the road by 4:40AM heading north. We got off the highway in Lyndonville,VT and took 5/5a past Lake Willoughby (Beautiful glacier lake). It is a more direct route to Derby Line (US boarder) than continuing on the highway.
Once we passed through customs in Derby Line, VT into Quebec we took Rt 55 to Trois-Rivieres. Continuing on Rt 55 it eventually merges with Rt 155 continuing to La Tuque.
We exchanged money at the Bank, bought our fishing licenses, and bought gas for the trucks and the boat motors. We bought worms that were shipped to us before we left. The tracking indicates they spent a long time in the back of a UPS truck so many had died. We ended up buying more worms in La Tuque.
There are 2 ways to drive to Club Haltaparche. Both were dirt roads. We took the longer more indirect route in as we wanted to stop at a river with large water rapids we would pass by. A couple miles outside of La Tuque we headed down Rt. 10 which is a dirt road. Tragedy 1: Within the first 30 minutes of dirt road driving I cracked my windshield when a rock from a passing truck was kicked up and hit us. Rick, Ryan, and Derek wanted to fish the streams we passed on the way in. It seemed every narrow bridge crossing we came to we stopped and they jumped out to fish. After the 3rd bridge stop I powered my truck to the front to lead the charge. (Who says a Ford Range “Build Ford Tough” can’t keep the big Dodge Ram in the dust. I didn’t stop at the next few bridges as the thought in my truck was we could fish at the falls.
It took 11 hours to get to the Falls. We decided to stop there for the night and fish. We set up camp with 2 tents and headed to the falls. What a beautiful river.
Being that far north it didn’t get dark until 9:30PM. The wind picked up and it rained a bit that night. We were ok in the tents. Doug slept outside on a hammock with a tarp over him. He said the bugs were bad. It started to rain and the wind blew the tarp off that covered him. Can you picture Doug running in the wilderness after his tarp in the middle of the night? Needless to say he got wet.
May 22, 2009 we were up early, packed up, and on the move by 6:00AM headed to Club Haltaparche which was still several hours away. When our dirt road ended at what we were told was Rt. 7 Rick wasn’t sure if we should go right or left! We went right (turned out to be the WRONG Direction). After 10 miles or so we turned around to backtrack. We continued the opposite direction. Rick wasn't sure if that was the right direction either until we came to a waterfall on a river he thought he recognized. We got out to fish. Eventually a large Paper Company truck came by so we asked for directions. The truck driver didn't speak english. We thought we understood his directions but as we continued we kept coming to “Y” intersections and didn’t know if we should bear right or left.
We passed a sign for the “Barrage Gouin Lodge” http://www.barragegouin.qc.ca/index.php?lng=2 and thought it was a good idea to backtrack and get directions again. The lodge is on the shore of Gouin Dam, near Saint-Maurice River. This turned out to be a “Great Lodge” for fishing and bear hunting. We may do a walleye and trout fishing week there someday on their big lake. Rick and Doug really liked the houseboat fishing idea. I thought the bear hunting would be great especially if I could bring Kevin. After driving aimlessly around the wilderness on dirt roads for an extra few hours we thought it was smart to get more gas there. We got clarity on directions and finally pulled into Haltaparche at 11AM.
We unpacked our trucks and set up camp. We were given maps of the Club with the roads. The camp supplies the boats at the different lakes. You bring your own motors and gas and hook them up and go. There were no life jackets or oars in the boats. I brought a life jacket for myself figuring a nice swim in 40 degree water was not something I wanted to experience.
I used my GPS for the whole trip and marked waypoints at all of the places we stopped (Looks great on Google Earth).
We made sandwiches and headed out to fish. Because we only had 2 trucks Steven M, Ryan, Derek and Rick went out as a team. Steven K , Doug, and I went in my truck.
Our first destination was Big Rock on one of the streams. We all had chest waders on and headed up stream. I eventually broke off from Doug and Steve K and went down stream below Big Rock.
There didn't seem to be a lot of fish in the streams because the water temperature was in the low 40’s. We were catching "white fish/chubs" which the trout eat which was a positive sign. The water really needed to be 6 or 8 degrees warmer for the fish to get active, hungry, and start to leave the lakes for the streams.
We drove to some of the other streams accessible by the roads. Several of the Club roads were not well maintained so 4 wheel drive came in handy. They were better suited for ATV’s. Several of the club bridges were interesting. I like to 4 wheel so I managed to navigate all of them with my Ranger. I did get out of my truck twice to look at the bridges up close … eek … A third time I got out to look at a wash out that had turned into a ditch just to plan my course and make sure I could make it. Steven M drove his Dodge Ram (at least 2000 pounds heavier and a foot wider than my truck) on the same roads and decided to turn around at one of the bridges … just too risky.
Saturday, May 23, 2009 Doug, Steve K and I decided to fish the inlets on the lakes. We used one of the motors and went to various locations. Tragedy 2: My chest waders ripped and became hip waders so I became limited to water up to mid thigh.
Several Canadian fishing crews arrived in the afternoon. They were going to fish the lakes and troll. We talked to several of them as we have never been the trolling kind of fishermen. They gave us some large spinning plates so we could try our hand at trolling the next day. Each night we ended up at one of the culverts fishing.
Sunday, May 24, 2009 we headed off for another lake. Steve K, Doug and I took a small motor. Our plan was to head to the far end of a lake to the inlet and fish (2 miles or so). We got the boat ready and headed out. I saw an oar in one of the boats there so I put it in our boat. Maneuvering the boat with long pieces of wood didn’t prove to be very successful the day before. We were going to troll to the end with our new Canadian Rigs.
Tragedy 3: We didn’t get to far when I realized Doug left my multi tool on the dock so we turned around. As we approached another crew arrived. When we got back to the dock it was not there. I was thinking someone had picked it up. We looked down and realized it fell in the water below the dock. We could see it on top of the mud. Whew … We used our fishing net to scoop it up. A near miss …
We headed back out to troll to the end. We passed one camp on the left side of the lake and one further down on the right side of the lake. The wind was blowing pretty hard so we had a tail wind pushing us to the left side of the lake and toward the end where we wanted to go. Tragedy 4: The engine was running strong and completely died. We drifted with the wind and ended up on the left side of the lake. Luckily we had the oar. We tried to start the motor for 30 minutes with no luck. My guess was the fuel filter. Being so far in the wilderness we would stick together whatever we decided to do. Our options: 1) Radio for help with our 5 watt radios. (may have worked if I hadn’t left it attached to the visor in the truck) 2) Stay with the boat and hopefully someone will come by or see us. 3) Go through the woods on the left side to the camp. I did have my GPS (Garmin 60CSx) with me. 4) Use our one oar to cross the lake to the camp on the right side. The truck was on that side up the road. We chose 4. We alternated paddling against the wind to the other side of the lake. The object was to get to the opposite side without being blow much further down the lake. Then we could use the trees on shore to block the wind and move easier toward the camp we passed. 2 hours later we pulled the boat on shore at this camp. The two men at the camp (82yrs and 72yrs) helped us. They were very hospitable. They didn't speak hardly any english but we understood they stayed at their camp all summer, entertained their grandkids when they visited, fished, and hunted bear. After a great visit one gentleman motored me back to the dock. I thanked him and drove the truck back to their camp. We loaded up and headed back to our camp. I soon pulled over to let both of those men pass me on their ATV's going to one of the lakes to fish.
Back at camp we took another motor and headed out to another lake. I ended up catching our groups first trout by trolling.
There was a beautiful sunset each night. I enjoyed taking pictures.
Monday, May 25, 2009 we were up by 5:00AM and on the road by 6:50AM. We took Rt 25 (a more direct dirt road) home which was much shorter. We arrived in La Tuque in just under 3 hours and continued our trek for home. I dropped Doug and Steve K off at 5:50PM and I was home by 6:30PM.
Don McNally went with us many years ago. The club lake "Sleepy Don" is named after him.
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