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Author Topic:   Return to Lake Nipigon
Buckda posted 04-22-2009 04:49 PM ET (US)   Profile for Buckda   Send Email to Buckda  

Plans are underway for a return trip to Lake Nipigon in the summer of 2010. Trip dates are not established, however, it is likely to occur in July or early August to take advantage of warmest weather and the world-class pike and trout fishery activity.

Reference for my original trip planning and reports from the expedition Matt and I took to this lake.

Lake Nipigon is the largest inland lake entirely in the province of Ontario, and is located “on top of” Lake Superior North and East of Thunder Bay, Ontario.

The lake is very remote and fuel is limited; but there is an excellent on-the-water ramp/shower/fuel facility at Beardmore, Ontario (High Hill Harbour) – and local stores for basic provisions and supplies.

There are no hydrographic charts of the lake. The Canadian Hydrographic service does offer a chart titled “Plans for Lake Nipigon,” (#6050) however, the usefulness of this chart for navigation on the lake is limited at best. It would make a nice wall hanging in a large den or rec room next to the trophy fish, spectacular photos and many memories you will bring back from this trip. It is a special order chart from West Marine (1-800-262-8464). Ask for Cliff in the Charts Department (ext. 6864)

The best electronic cartography available is in the form of topographical maps available from Garmin for users of Garmin GPS units.

For paper cartography, which I believe is a must have on this trip, there is a locally-produced chart available form Chaltrek in Thunder Bay (1-807-577-8848, OR 1-807-473-4499). Ask to speak with Josh who can hook you up with a Nipigon Basin map for $14.99 CDN that shows the entire lake and marks shoals, etc. This chart does not provide true navigational information such as depths, etc; but it is useful for planning purposes. There is also another locally produced chart available from The Hook Shop in Beardmore (1-807-875-2527). Armed with these charts and a paper topographical map set to provide bearings (available from Wabakimi 1-807-767-2022), a reasonably safe expedition into the waters of this vast lake can be undertaken with some confidence in not becoming lost and, unless navigating true backwaters, most shoals and obstacles can be avoided with prudent navigation.

The Hook Shop is able to provide information on fishing as well as other important local knowledge about the lake, but it’s best to plan for a half hour in-shop on-site in order to get the real scoop and to have their best attention.

The Lake is almost entirely within a “non-working” provincial park – meaning that crown land camping permits (currently $9CDN/day) are required in addition to your fishing license. There are also special size/species limits in effect on the lake. There are also hook regulations – only one hook per lure (treble hooks allowed) and all of the barbs on the hooks must be bent, filed, or clipped off. The Canadian Ministry of Natural Resources is serious about this, so do a good job. In 2008, they fined $250 per violation and collected quite a tidy sum from American anglers on the lake – but not from us, though we were boarded and inspected.

The Lake:
Lake Nipigon is a big lake. We did not experience any larger seas than solid 3-4’ windblown chop on our excursion in early 2008, however, we did see photos of much uglier days. The lake can dish out 6-8 footers and the water is cold and deep. Expect conditions to be variable with the weather, and cool nights with fog.

The Wildlife:
The area is almost completely wilderness. If you love nature-watching, this trip is worth every minute. Woodland Caribou, Wolf, Moose, Black Bear, Beaver, Otter, Mink, Eagles, Pelicans, Loons and more. Come prepared to live amongst the wildlife, including the insects. Black flies and mosquitoes are not uncommon. Physical barriers as well as chemical deterrents are recommended. Bring you camera and a good set of binoculars. I can pretty much guarantee that I will again have self defense aboard in case of aggressive wildlife, the permit for such a device is additional and a bit of a hassle at the border, but you may wish to follow suit. The sighting of a wolf on the last trip cemented it for me. Not that I expect to ever need to use it – but it is better to have and not need than to need and not have.

The Trip:
Be prepared for self-sufficiency that is in direct proportion to where you plan to spend time on the lake.

If you have an RV or a truck camper, you may wish to stay at the campground at High Hill Harbour or just north of the harbor. If you want to camp in a tent or aboard the boat, there are plenty of coves, islands, rivers and bays where there are campsites established (in varying states of repair). The best word to describe all campsites is “Rustic”. No facilities. The campground offers showers and full facilities. If you stay at the campground, you will not need a crown land camping permit.

If you sleep aboard or on shore, you will need this permit. If you plan to be flexible, you should buy the permit for the whole week to cover your bases as there is really no convenient way to obtain a permit once on the lake. The Hook Shop may sell these, but it is about a 10 kilometer drive in to Beardmore.

Flexibility is the operative word.

This is an extremely early posting for a trip that is not set to occur for about 14-16 months, but I wanted people to be aware of it, think about it, and perhaps begin to prepare for it.

I’ll post more as I get additional information, or if there is some cause for comment.

In the meantime, those of you who might be interested, please begin to do a search to prepare yourself for this trip, and consider seeking out resources that might be useful which we did not find for the previous trip, or which have recently been developed. (i.e. if someone can find a really, really good map with depth information, that would be a coup).

Thanks, happy Whalering and best regards,


mateobosch posted 04-23-2009 10:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for mateobosch  Send Email to mateobosch     

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