Monday, August 28, 2017

Ellen Island Camp—Lady Evelyn Lake, Canada, and Princess Fishing with my Husband

Lady Evelyn Lake, Ellen Island Camp, remote fishing trip
The Glitter Globe/S.R. Karfelt

My husband calls it Princess Fishing.

I call it compromise.

He baits my hook, suggests the best way to cast, and when I get a fish he takes it off for me. 


Don't judge. Fishing isn't my thing.

You don't see him hanging out at a writer's retreat with me, pen in hand, do you?

We have our things. This remote fishing trip is his blue heaven. 

Lady Evelyn Lake, Ellen Island Camp, remote fishing trip
Hubby's Blue Heaven

It's pretty obvious why, isn't it?

Every year we pack a small mountain of supplies, most of it mosquito repellent, and head for the Wilds of Canada. 

After driving all day, and spending the night in a hotel in New Liskeard, we head for Mowatt Landing. It's at the end of a long unpaved road, where the land meets the water. 

Once there you take a raft or boat ride to the bottom of a dam. You get out and hike to the top of the dam. There you get another boat to Ellen Island. The portage isn't bad. In fact it's fun.

Road? There are no roads where we're going.

This year I was at a writing retreat so I showed up a few days after my husband had already gotten to Ellen Island. It took me longer, one ferry ride, two propeller planes, another two jets, and a drive from the North Bay airport to Mowatt, but I was flying from Alonissos, Greece this time.

The travel gods were kind. While it took a few days and a few airports, eventually I found myself standing once more at Mowatt Landing. This time I had all the luggage I'd been hauling around Greece for a month. It got heavier every single step. Rain clouds approached. But I barely had time to sit on a suitcase and take in that amazing feeling you get when a long journey goes smoothly, before the sound of an approaching boat broke the solitude.

Lady Evelyn Lake, Ellen Island Camp, remote fishing trip
Mowatt Landing

Dear Hubby arrived and we were off to the bush so he could fish and I could sleep the first couple of days. The days are long this far north in summer. The weather can be anything, and it usually is. This year was an extra helping of rain, but the mosquitoes weren't too bad, so no complaints. Hubby doesn't mind fishing in the rain anyway, (he says it's good fishing weather) and I had plenty of reading and writing to catch up on while waiting for my idea of boat weather.

Ellen Island is beautifully rocky and covered in evergreens, with smooth paths, individual cabins and spectacular sunsets. The cabins are new and boast separate kitchens and bedrooms and a bathroom with a compost toilet. Compost toilets aren't my favorite thing, but they're well tended to here. The bathroom also has hot water all day long, but electricity is usually only available from around dinner time until about midnight via island generator.

On rainy days and Saturdays when most people tend to come in from fishing earlier, it is usually available longer. 

There are good paths around the island, and I hike them, spending time enjoying the solitude, quiet, and the views. 

Eventually the sun came out and the Princess Fishing commenced. I get more photos than fish, but I'm cool with that. He gets more fish than photos, and most of his photos are of fish, but that's his thing.

Lady Evelyn Lake, Ellen Island Camp, remote fishing trip
Water Lilies on Still Water

My family has been fishing Lady Evelyn Lake for years and the guys have their favorite spots. Usually they fish for Walleye on dark or rainy days, and Pike on sunny days—but they've caught both on either days. 

Lady Evelyn Lake, Ellen Island Camp, remote fishing trip
Water Lilies on Sunny Water

There are islands to have a shore lunch or picnic on, and landlocked lakes where you can fish for Bass (Angler Lake) or where wily fish rarely see fishermen (Sugar Lake). Those both require a hardier portage than getting to Lady Evelyn does. I have been to both and wasn't interested this year. 

Lady Evelyn Lake, Ellen Island Camp, remote fishing trip
Water Lilies on Dark Water

My kids love Angler Lake because it's crystal clear and you can watch fish after fish bite your line, but it's necessary to hike in with gas and a boat motor to access one of the available boats. You'd also need to book it with your camp so you don't get all the way out there and find someone else is using that boat. Usually the way to Angler is rough due to thousands of mosquitoes descending on the only human they've seen in a couple weeks. You. Believe me all your DEET is salt and pepper to hungry insects. The path is always rough. It is worth the effort just the same.

Lady Evelyn Lake, Ellen Island Camp, remote fishing trip
Water Lilies on Clouds

On sunny days when the water is still and fishing isn't so great, there's plenty of other things to do. Franks Falls is beautiful, and you might get lucky with a fish just the same. Sometimes we swim there. Willow Lake is also spectacular, nearly empty of all but an eagle or beaver, and sometimes a moose. Its also dotted with shady coves where fish like to hide on hot days. Those fish wanted nothing to do with me this trip, but I don't care. I love floating over the quiet water and picnicking on empty islands. 

Lady Evelyn Lake, Ellen Island Camp, remote fishing trip
The sky and water change daily, but it's always beautiful.

There's fishing right around Ellen Island too, and you can swim right off the dock. Sometimes there's a bonfire at night, and I've glimpsed the Northern Lights during visits. 

Lady Evelyn Lake, Ellen Island Camp, remote fishing trip
The swimming raft at Ellen Island Camp

Some of the camps provide meal plans. We've stayed at one in the past, but we prefer to make our own schedule and meals at Ellen Island. All the cabins have water coolers and fresh water is provided. There's wifi available in the office area of the owners' (Jeff and Jane Landriault's) cabin. There's also helpful staff who come by at least once a day and see to the cabins and visitors. 

Lady Evelyn Lake, Ellen Island Camp, remote fishing trip
Leaving Lady Evelyn in the foggy morning this year.

Leaving is the hardest part about visiting Lady Evelyn Lake, even for those of us who aren't wild about fishing. For my hubby and kids it is downright painful and they're already planning next year's trip before we're off the water.

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