The Laurentides Wildlife Reserve Expedition47°20′00″N 73°21′00″W
"Be patient and calm—for no one can catch fish in anger"
Camping for us has become an annual ritual and every year we look forward to discovering new landscapes, not to mention the opportunity to disconnect for a few days. In our home province of Quebec, we are fortunate to have the Laurentian Mountains as our backdrop, and several areas surrounding the province consists of breathtaking valleys and mountain peaks with spectacular views. This year, we set to embark on a fishing trip that was roughly four hours away from Montreal. Our destination was the Laurentides Wildlife Reserve, which is a government-protected site that spans over 7,861 square kilometres (3,035 square miles) and that is bigger than most European countries. Within this area, there are over 2000 lakes and 9 Rivers, as well as summits that reach heights over 1000 feet.
The fishing season starts early May and ends in September, during that time, the quantities of fish are measured by declaring the amount you catch each day. Everyone is limited to fifteen per day and once the maximum number has been caught (which ranges in the hundred of thousands), the fishing is done for the season. This process ensures that the fish population of the lakes do not suffer from overfishing thus preventing substantial damage to the ecosystem. The reserve offers a number of fishing and accommodation packages and guides are available for people who are new to the activity. If you’re new to fishing like us, you’ll want to take their “Ready-To-Fish” package that provides you with accommodations, fishing access, loan of fishing gear, and rowboat. We also recommend you rent a motor, so you can breeze through the lake easier but keep in mind that they aren’t some sectors of the reserve. You can head over to the reception area just off site and you can pick up all the necessities you’ll need for a successful catch.
For this year’s trip we decided to leave our tents at home and spend our time in one of their many cabins. Some people in our group weren’t too keen with sleeping in tents and they were relieved when we told them we wouldn’t be sleeping outside! We stayed at the Chalet Sept-Iles, which is located just off the Route 175. It’s a large two-story cabin with six rooms, two bathrooms, three showers, and a fully equipped kitchen complete with pots, pans, plates, and more. All that you need to bring is the appropriate clothing, sleeping bags, pillows and of course, food. The interior feels undoubtedly rustic with wood seating throughout, and a large dining table that seated our entire group. It also served as a place to layout all of our equipment! Just down the hill is Lac Sept-Iles, which is home to Brook and Lake Trout. We were told that the lake was roughly 170 meters deep and that meant it would be harder to catch them as they like to stay very close to the bottom.
The following morning, we woke up to the sound of heavy rain and it seemed like it would not relent. However, it wouldn’t stop us from going out on the lake. After our breakfast the rain had subsided and we hoped that it would last. If we really wanted a better chance at catching fish, our guide, Francois, recommend we venture out to Lac Fortier. He said the fish were biting there and that some of us would be coming back with a few!
The lake was roughly a twenty-minute drive away from our Chalet and it required that we do a little off-roading to get there. Luckily, we had the right vehicles for the job. It was our first time fishing and we were completely clueless. Francois taught us how to hook the bait, where are the best places on the lake to fish, what kind of fish we should expect to catch, and most importantly, how to throw our reels in to get a good distance.
Fishing is a game of patience but the payoff of catching the elusive fish that lurk in the dark waters below is well worth the hours waiting. After we caught our first fish, the rest kept on coming! In total, we caught twenty-six as a group! Back at the cabin, we learned how to clean and gut the fish we had caught. Thankfully, the Lake Trout we had caught didn’t need to be descaled because of its fresh water habitat. It was a really simple process, which involved cutting the fish from its stomach, then pulling out its innards. We cooked the fish two different ways, we fried them with salt and pepper with a little flour. We also stuffed them with onion, garlic, lemon, and baked them in the oven.