Backcountry Ice Fishing

Backcountry Ice Fishing

Written by:
Aldo Pescatore-Tardioli
The So Fly Crew

Winter Camping in the time of Covid

We all know the story. A year ago the world came to grips with a problem it had never faced before. Changes were made, and lives were impacted. One of the hardest hit sectors, financially, hospitality. Closed doors and empty bar stools are the norm and we’re all eagerly anticipating the day we can tip a pint with our pals.

My name is Aldo and I’m one of the co-hosts of the So Fly podcast. We’re a fly fishing podcast based out of Toronto. Before I was a podcaster I was a bartender and owner. I’ve been watching as my friend’s have stressed over the past year, trying to adapt their businesses and survive in this COVID world. They needed a break – even a little one. I chatted with my So Fly pals Yilma and Mitch and decided that we’d organize some much needed R&R for our friends far away from cell phones, the internet, and cocktails to go.

Temagami is a wicked wilderness region about a four hours drive north of Toronto, Ontario. With a land area the size of Belgium it’s home to hundreds of lakes and rivers and endless kilometers of canoe routes.

In the winter these lakes freeze over and get coated in fluffy, soft snow, and the canoes get swapped out for snowshoes. It’s a perfect place to get away, enjoy the outdoors, and do some ice fishing.

So the plan was set. With lockdown lifted and COVID tests taken, ten friends drove up north to the town of Temagami. We’d be heading out with Temagami Outfitting Co – a full service outfitter that helps pack out and guide trips into the Temagami backcountry. We’d be taking advantage of the fully guided experience and were more than happy to have owner Erik lead us into the bush. TOC has set up a semi-permanent winter camp on a lake not to far from town. This is winter camping at its best. We’re talking wood stove heated sleeping tents, a dining tent, and all the meals cooked by Erik.

The drive up was wicked. The further we got away from Toronto the deeper the snow was and the less stress we started to feel. We rolled up to the outfitting building our home for the night before we headed into the woods. Erik and his wife Karen were waiting with big smiles, a roaring fire, and cold beers. That set the perfect tone for the rest of the trip.

The next morning, after some strong coffee, we packed into the shuttle van and headed off to the trail head. We put our gear into sleds, strapped the snowshoes on and headed down the trail to camp. The camp looked like the perfect place to host a forest party. Canvas tents with pine bough lined floors made for fresh sleepin’. We put our stuff away, got the ice hut set up, and started punching holes to fish. Everyone got settled in and stoked for the weekend ahead.

The best thing? No real schedule. Just freedom to do what we wanted, when we wanted.

We spent the days hiking the trails, fishing the lake, enjoying beers and slammin’ the wicked food cooked up by Erik.

The hiking trails were just incredible. Temagami is home to the last old growth forest so we walked trails lined with 300 year old trees and had picnics beside frozen rivers. Back at camp, fish were caught and grilled over a fire right on the ice.

What we needed was to unplug and reconnect. Reconnect with other people and the outdoors. After months of lockdown spent in Canada’s largest city we had all been isolated from each other for too long. It’s funny how something so simple like spending time with other people is maybe what we took for granted the most. Getting a chance to just be in the presence of others, out in the middle of nowhere, was a fantastic feeling that went miles in helping our souls. Until next time, Temagami.


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