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    Gordon Atlantic employees Travel Blog

    Trout Fishing: Dumoine 2011

    Posted by Gordon Atlantic Insurance on Sat, Jan 28, 2017 @ 09:00 AM

    TroutFishing is a sport for young, old, rich or poor.  The pull of a line and an exciting retrieve are the thrills that drive anglers to boats and shores with all the weapons they can afford.  But it’s the time in the boats, getting to the shore, and the stories that are the soul of fishing.  This is the story of fishing in Quebec, economy class.

    Quebec is a vast province, but getting to remote regions doesn’t need to cost a fortune.  The Dumoine region is accessed 2 hours north of Ottawa, a day’s drive from Boston, and only 4-5 hours from upstate New York.  Our fishing expedition took us another hour across primitive roads, roughly 30 km from Deep River, Ontario where there are great outfitters and less campy fishing opportunities available.   There are also fly-in opportunities out of Rapides des Joachims on Air Swisha, just across the Ottawa River in Quebec.

    The licensure requirements in Quebec have two levels: the province (Quebec license) and the “Zone Ecologique de Control” (the ZEC).   The only real trick is deciding which ZEC to fish; once you do this, you’re limited to that zone.  If you’re in for a week, a one week Quebec license and two three day ZEC licenses is a good way to see more country, though a week in a single ZEC is still more water than you could possibly visit in the course of a week.   A ZEC map available at the outfitters in Deep River is worth the investment; the reverse side lists the known species to each lake.  Ours was mostly a brook trout show, though pike, walleye and lake trout are plentiful, and we caught all these on appropriate water.

    Brook Trout cannot compete with many favorite anglers’ favorite catch, bass, nor its co-habitants, pike and walleye (cousin to the perch), as these fish will decimate the small fry trout before they mature.  Thus, once a lake has been infested with these species, trout cannot survive.  This is the basis for important and tight regulations never to introduce live bait (minnows) into trout waters.  If you’re going to fish with minnows, catch them yourself in the water you’re going to fish.   Don’t contribute to the eradication of a great fish.

    During Quebec’s separatist movement in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, Americans and many English speaking Canadians found Quebec less than hospitable, and fishing by outsiders declined.  In addition, the Dumoine region was clear-cut logged, changing the landscape substantially.  Today the forest is mostly new-growth poplar and birch, but old growth white pine, spruce and white cedar remain in a few pockets.

    A more welcome regulatory structure makes fishing regions more accessible again to outsiders.  The old logging roads are the upside to the logging operations of the 1970s.  Many lakes, formerly accessible only by extensive wilderness traverse (paddling across water and portaging - - walking around in the woods with a canoe on your head) are today readily accessible by 4-wheel drive vehicles.  Secondary unimproved logging roads, accessible by 3- and 4-wheel ATVs will get you even further in.   As with any wilderness travel, the further you‘re willing to go in, the more wildlife and fewer humans you’ll see.

    Accommodations are primitive, if you’re on a budget.  But primitive is a relative term.  Our camp is owned by the Dumoine Rod and Gun Clu and includes a gas fridge. 3-burner stove, bunk beds, and a screened porch looking out across the lake.  We were delighted to find a fine folding card table and folding chairs where we wiled away non-fishing-hours playing cards.  Having spent enough rainy nights in our youth stuck in a tent trying to heat water to make rhaman noodles soft, we were living large.  The little tricks we’ve learned over the years to maximize comfort make staying at Camp Cullen as comfortable as the Ritz.  And the Ritz can’t touch the view …or the sounds of owls and loons in the short solstice night.

    Part of the allure of wilderness camping is the richness of life, even in a place with a growing season of about 60 days.  On the final mile in we spotted a large snapping turtle laying eggs in the road sand by a beaver pond.  That evening, as we fished our own Lake Cullen, we were shadowed by a beaver whose lodge was just around the corner from ours.   A black bear sighting, wolf prints in the mud, watching a loon grab the trout one of us had just released (apparently he hadn’t fully recovered) were other wilderness encounters we won’t soon forget.

    The bugs of Quebec deserve more than a footnote.  Bug spray isn’t enough, though the Native Americans’ use of bear grease was the best they had.  Full head-nets are a must, and a sleeping canopy net can make the difference between a good night’s sleep and a bad one.

    A good, but fairly typical day was our third.   We began with a delicious hot breakfast then paddled our boats to the landing where the truck was parked.   We headed to Lake Benwah, which has only native trout and is closed after a certain number are taken.  We caught and kept three fine native brook trout from this mile long lake.  After Benwah, we explored two other lakes known for large pike, but were skunked.  Back at camp by mid-afternoon, Peter made a fire to fry our fish, and I went for a swim.  About halfway to my island destination two loons came in for a close look at the splashy, noisy swimmer on their lake.  Later, washing down campfire trout on crackers with a cold Canadian beer while waiting for our evening fish, I wrote in my journal.

    My hardest decision for the day still vexed me: would I go with a gold Phoebe, or silver Kastmaster against the pike that night?

    Here's a video slideshow of my trip, enjoy!

     

    Geoff Gordon

    Tags: Dumoine fishing, fishing, trout, trout fishing, dumoine, quebec fishing, fishing blog

    Fishing in Dumoine – licensing changes

    Posted by Geoffrey Gordon on Mon, Jun 18, 2012 @ 10:23 AM

    turn off the road toward quebecWhen visting the Dumoine region of Quebec, I’m struck first by what has changed, and then by what has stayed the same.   The man-made changes are usually more surprising, because the natural changes are such a part of the environment to be predictable in their dynamism.

    This year the man-made changes included a new licensing station location.   The licensure in Quebec is a byzantine operation created by the quebecois government many years ago; its original intent is hard to figure, but the net effect is a complicated system that seems to be more about holding on to make-work desk jobs in tired old air conditioned offices than managing a fishing stock. 

    Fishing in Quebec is controlled by ZECs (Zone-d'Exploitation-Contrôlée, meaning controlled harvesting). The first stop has always been to obtain a transit pass at the Rapides des Joachim (Swisha) ZEC.  Then, about an hour in, one has to buy a Quebec fishing license and a ZEC Dumoine 1, 3, 7-day or year fishing license at the ZEC Dumoine station.  A 3-day Quebec and Dumoine license costs about $90.   What the woman at the Swisha ZEC (where we got our transit pass, just off the paved road) didn’t tell us, was that the Dumoine licensure station had moved to a trailer about a mile back out on the paved road.  So after an hour on bush roads, we found the station closed and had to re-trace our steps to get our actual fishing licenses.  Fortunately, these stations keep long hours, so the extra two hours of driving across poor sandy roads didn’t prevent us from fishing early the next morning.  

    Moving both ZEC licensing offices closer together and near where the road turns to bush road makes sense, even if we did miss the trailer the first time by.  Maybe they’ll combine the offices, but that would mean losing the opportunity to pay someone to transcribe name and address information and collect a fee.   

    swisha air signThe road across the Swisha ZEC hadn’t changed much, be we were pleased to see that the Dumoine roads had been dragged, culverts cleared of beaver dams, even a new culvert installed.  Thus, the roads were greatly improved from last year.

    The changes that are constant are in the natural world.   For our five day stay (with three days of active fishing), we learned that the water temperature (taken at West Trout) was a balmy 62 degrees after the mild winter.  This is generally too warm for trout to feed aggressively, and our trout count (3) was weak.   We were skunked at our first lake, Whiskey, a normally well-stocked, easily accessible lake, and a proven good early hit.  In addition, high pressure weather followed us in, making the sun hotter and the wind calmer over each successive day.   That’s pike and walleye weather.

    Our second attempt at trout was at a highly controlled, natural-only (no stocked fish) Lake Benwah.   A special pass is required, and fishermen must report total caught, pardoned (released) and kept (eaten) on departure.   This usually productive water yielded two trout, only one worth keeping, with two canoes on the water early, and working for about three hours.     Thus, we changed our program to meet the conditions.  That afternoon we headed into the waters of the Fil de Grande, a mostly river, relatively fast moving body of water on the way home from Benwah.   Upstream from where the river crosses under the road is Lake Dixon.  At Lake Dixon we got well into the northern pike.  In fishing lingo, we touched a lot of big fish.

    The next morning, we decided to explore our camp lake, Lake Cullen, known for northern pike and walleye, a little better.   We got our even earlier that we had for Benwah, and fished new areas of the lake with great success, before breakfast.

    A great way to become familiar with the region is to join a club such as the Dumoine Rod and Gun Club, which maintains an array of cabins with easy access, on great lakes.  Members of these clubs also have years of great experiences they're usually glad to share.

    On balance, the trip was a success.  One noteworthy change was the lack of bugs.  Normally the black flies and mosquitoes are ruthless, infinite, and never ending.   One should never travel to water country without proper preparation.  In addition to your favorite bug spray, don’t leave behind a bug head net

    bug jacket,

    and even if you’re in a bug-proof cabin, I strongly recommend Coughlin’s mosquito netting to assure a good night’s sleep.

     

    Changing objectives on conditions is part of the experience of fishing in Quebec.  While we only ate trout one night, the fishing experience was fulfilling.  We’ll have to see what next year’s conditions bring.  Maybe we’ll get lucky and miss the bugs.

    Geoff Gordon

    Tags: vacation, travel, trip, Dumoine fishing, Dumoine licenses, ZEC Dumoine, Lake Whisky, Lake Benwah, Lake Dixon, Fil-de-Grande, canada

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