INTO THE WILDERNESS

by Steve Sweetnich






What happens when you fly due north 1400 miles with a fishing rod and bag of beef jerky? 

You find yourself in one of the most remote, beautiful and hostile environments on the planet.  Just a few miles south of the tree line, the Canadian Taiga, or Borreal Forest, is of staggering proportions. It ranges across the nearly 10,000 kilometer breadth of Canada from Newfoundland to the western most borders of the Yukon at times, reaching over 1000 kilometers in north to south width.

At its southern most extension the Canadian Boreal Forest reaches Thunder Bay, Ontario along the north banks of Lake Superior. Surprisingly you will also find Boreal Forest up to a point just south of Tuktoyaktuk and the Arctic Ocean in the Northwest Territories.

The landscape is out of a Dr. Seuss book, beautiful but strange, where the trees, exclusively spindly spruce and birch, rarely grow more than 30 feet, and it is impossible to walk a quarter mile in any direction in a straight line without encountering a marsh, stream or lake. 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taiga.

Gangler’s fishing camp on the North Seal River provides some measure of comfort and civilization in this harsh environment, with water pumped right from the lake, but concessions to indoor plumbing and electric generators. 
http://www.ganglers.com/

If you enjoy the outdoors, fishing in particular, there are few places south of 58 degrees 46 minutes latitude that can compare.  Northern pike, aka “alligators”, are commonly up to 48 to 50 inches, with 30 inchers “throwbacks”.   Walleye so plentiful, that 100 fish per day per person was only limited by how much time you could spend on the water.  All “catch and release” however.  And, with sun up at 3:30 am and sunset at 11:30 pm, the days were long and rewarding. For a week, you and your fishing buddies are the only human residents of over 100 square miles of Canadian wilderness.  Walleye and pancakes every day for breakfast is easy to get accustomed to.

Often, your shoreline friends would include the occasional moose, bear, or even wolf; which can grow a lot larger than I thought possible.  Commonly well over 100 lbs.  Wow.  Eagles are your constant companions on the water, and it is easy to spend as much time enjoying the beauty as casting your lures.

Highlights of the trip for me included the last leg of the flight to the campsite in a 1953 DeHavilland Beaver pontoon plane, which is a real throwback, built to last several lifetimes, and which will probably be flying long after my fishing days have ended.  Also a thrill was negotiating our boat caught crossways in a river rapids after the motor was damaged hitting a rock, and praying all the way back to the dock when caught in a surprise 30 mph gale with 6 foot waves. 
 
Not for the faint of heart, but worth the thrill, and the trip of a lifetime.