A Canadian Fly-In Fishing Trip… Yes, You Can!

A Canadian Fly-In Fishing Trip Yes, You Can

“Load ’em up, let’s go!”

When I was a kid growing up in Ottawa, I used to love watching the old Red Fisher show. To me, that show was even cooler than Scooby Doo! Back then, Red was the only fisherman on Canadian television, so he was very famous in the Great White North, a household name. Every Saturday morning, I’d get up and stagger out to the kitchen and grab a big bowl of Captain Crunch (which by the way, always was, is today, and will always be, the most awesome cereal in the world!) Then I’d head over to the couch and get ready for Red. We only had two channels back then, so finding the show was easy.

I can remember vividly, watching Red climbing into float planes and going into these pristine remote lakes, away from everyone and everything. I can also remember vividly, getting my fishing rod out of the closet and tying my line onto the leg of the old stand up TV set. I would pretend I was fighting a fish when Red had one on his line. I can also remember vividly, my mom threatening to ground me for life if I got even “one goddam piece” of cereal on the carpet. Man, was I careful!!

A Canadian Fly-In Fishing Trip Yes, You Can

“A very nice outpost in northwestern Ontario – Ogoki Frontier”

Red often had an “Indian” guide with him. Most of his guides back then were Ojibwe, Cree or Dene, depending on where in Canada he was fishing. I always thought the guides were so cool. There was a certain level of celebrity amongst them and I was always in awe watching them cook those great shore lunches.

Back in those days, I would never have imagined me getting in a float plane and flying into a remote lake where it’s “fish after fish” until your arms are sore. And, that never happened until the year 2000 when I started taping shows for my Officially Rugged series. I don’t ever remember my arms being sore from catching too many fish, but I do recall sitting in a float plane or two. Okay, more like a few hundred… for 9 years, I travelled all over Canada, to something like 150 fly-in fishing or hunting lodges and cabins. I kept thinking, “Me?”

Many people dream of going on a fly-in fishing trip but don’t think they could ever afford such a holiday. Yes, there are fishing trips that cost over $5,000 per person. And, that covers just the fishing lodge expenses. You still need to get to the float plane base, which could be way up in northern Saskatchewan or the Northwest Territories, for example. These remote places are relatively pricey to get to, especially from the US. One of these trips could easily cost $7,000 – $8,000 when it’s all said and done.

A Canadian Fly-In Fishing Trip Yes, You Can

“Two very happy (and rugged) fishermen!”

But, wait… There is another way, a far less expensive way to go on a killer, ultra-rugged fly in fishing trip to one of Canada’s remote wilderness lakes. I have been to many fly-in “outpost camps,” also known as a do-it-yourself trip. There are mainly two different types of fishing trips in Canada. One, the American Plan lodge or resort provides a full service trip. And, that means there would be a full staff on hand, including cooks, food servers, attendants to clean your cabin, dock hands to clean the boats and keep things organized down by the water, make your bed and basically, help you whenever you need help. Most of these places will have guides and upscale boats. To me, an upscale boat at a fly-in lodge is probably something like a 40 horsepower four stroke motor on a wide 16 foot aluminum boat.

A Canadian Fly-In Fishing Trip Yes, You Can

“Plan ahead and be organized”

The other main type of fly-in fishing trip is known as the outpost camp and the only similarity between it and the American Plan lodge, is that you’ll be fishing in a remote lake. An outpost camp is often the only cabin on the entire lake, so you’re on your own for the week. No cooks, no guides, nobody to make your bed or rub your feet at the end of the day. To me, this is by far the best way to experience a fly-in fishing trip. After going to a bunch of American Plan lodges, I actually started dislike going to them because there were always schedules, other guests around and not nearly enough peace and quiet for my liking.

At the outpost camp, you basically fend for yourself. But, don’t worry, there is almost always radio communication back to the base camp and you’ll normally have a check-in or two from the float plane pilot during your week long trip. If they’re in the area, they’ll sometimes pop in to see how you’re doing and to see if there is anything you might need. It’s pretty obvious though, that if you have very little wilderness experience (or even no experience) you should probably not do this type of trip. The old saying, “Don’t bite off more than you can chew” is a good guideline. On the other hand, if you can operate a small boat and outboard motor (most likely a 14 footer with a 15HP on the back), clean your own fish, cook your own food and you feel comfortable in the bush, you should be just fine.

A Canadian Fly-In Fishing Trip Yes, You Can

“I hope you can cook!”

You’ll be bringing your own food, so make a list and be organized. Here is a article I wrote that will help you a great deal when it comes to your menu planning.

Check it out here – Planning Your Menu

The cabins will be equipped with a fridge and stove, mostly run by propane. There will be basic cooking gear like pots and pans, dishes, glasses and coffee mugs, utensils, coffee pots and maybe even a cutting board or two. I always bring my own chef knife and cutting board “just in case.” You’ll also need to bring your own towel, sleeping bag, pillow… and most camps require you to bring in your own toilet paper and even dish soap for washing dishes. Most cabins will have running hot and cold water with a shower, run by propane most times. A woodstove will help you to keep your onions warm at night. And, even in mid-summer, northern Canada can be cool.

A Canadian Fly-In Fishing Trip Yes, You Can

“The shore lunch is required!”

My point to this story is that an outpost trip is not expensive at all. For as little as $800, you could be on an entire lake all by yourself… just you and your ultra-rugged fishing buddies, on your own schedule, on your “very own lake for a week.”

There is so much to know about the outpost camp fly-in fishing trips. If you’re ever considering going on your first fishing trip and you have decided on the outpost, send in an email and ask me a million questions. I’ll probably even call you on the phone if you want me to. I can recommend some great places and I can warn you about some really shitty ones too. They’re out there, sadly.

Two rules apply to the outpost camp. One, never get out of bed until you smell coffee brewing on the stove. Let someone get the coffee started. And, two, Captain Crunch is the only cereal permitted in camp. But, at least you won’t have to worry about my mom threatening to ground you if you get even “one goddam piece” on the floor.

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Comments

  1. I have been wanting to visit places like Banff in Canada for a long time. This summer seems like it would be a great time to take the trip. If we could get some fishing in it would be the best visit ever.

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