Northwest Ontario
Fishing, Hunting & Travel Map

A Walk Through the Seasons in Canada's Heartland

By Marilyn Bilsbarrow

Winter, spring, summer and fall -- isn’t it amazing that each season of the year brings such changes? Not only in the sense of the beauty and temperature, but also in what is offered to the sportsman. Here in Patricia Region, situated right in the centre of the “Great White North”, opportunities for the sportsman are endless. Take, for example, the springtime. The walleye are hopefully having a good spawning year and if you’re in the right place at the right time, you might catch a glimpse of this wonder of nature. It’s spectacular to see a female hovering over a bed of rubble with several males close behind her hoping to be the lucky one to sperm her eggs.

There is an everlasting amount of activity going on in the water with northern pike, musky and perch but there is even more going on when you look on the land. The pussy willows have popped out and the buds are ready to burst on the trees. The moose and deer are tending to their newborns and to come across this spectacular sight is miraculous.

Northwest Ontario SeasonsThe bears are out of their den with their cubs that were born a few months ago. Isn’t it hard to believe those bruins were only one pound when born? Bear hunting is becoming very popular and plenty of areas are available through various outfitters in the Patricia Region. Archery seems to be the up and coming way of hunting bears now and it takes a special breed of person to sit in a stand for hours very patiently.

If you’re out in your boat during the spring waiting for fish to bite, nothing can come close to the marvelous feeling of being alone in the wilderness with just yourself and your favorite fishing buddy. No hassles from the rush hour traffic and no constant ringing phone is a God send right about now.

Spring blends very quickly into summer before you even know it. All of a sudden those buds on the trees have turned to large green leaves and you can hardly see 20 yards into the bush because the undergrowth has just shot up out of nowhere.

The days are nice and long and it doesn’t get dark until 10 o’clock or so. You can stay out on the lake for hours at a time in the daylight and not have to worry about having to make it back to camp until dark. There usually isn’t very much traffic out there in the many quiet secluded lakes in Canada’s Heartland anyway. What could be more pleasant on one of these classic days than to catch a few fish and then have your own private shore lunch on a secluded beach. There cannot be anything much closer to heaven in the eyes of a fisherman.

If you spot any wildlife now, those little newborns are quickly growing up and will soon be able to fend for themselves. The fishing takes on a different technique because the fish are usually deeper trying to find cooler water.

Also, this is the time of the year when you have musky season. They say that once you have witnessed one of these big brutes on the end of your line, you are possessed. A musky “hunter” for life!

There are 1000’s of bays and shorelines to cast into when you’re looking for this elusive fish. There are many times when you really envision yourself as being the first person ever to cast into this area that you have picked as a prime location, since there may not be another person for miles.

Summer is also a superb time to “rough it” in this vast wilderness in Northwestern Ontario, Canada. Numerous camp operators offer outposts that are only accessible by air or water and when you frequent these establishments you get the real feeling of remoteness. This, of course, is not for everyone. You can also go the other extreme and visit an American Plan Camp where you are roughing it more softly by having your meals cooked and your bed made for you, etc. In fact, since Patricia Region offers everything for anyone interested in the outdoors, there are also camps that offer remote fly-ins with American Plan.

Well, before you know it, those lazy days of summer start getting shorter and all of a sudden the leaves are turning different hues of yellow and gold. One thing that you will notice here in the fall is that there is not very much red in the fall colors. Maple trees are few and far between - the only red you will see is closer to the US border or closer to the ground here in the north. There is only moose maple and it does not grow very tall. This is many of our guests favorite time of the year in this Region.

You can go either fishing or hunting. Musky, walleye and northern fishing is still good and lake trout are getting ready to come up on their spawning beds. You can now get out the ole’ shotgun and take nice long walks through the bush or down old logging trails looking for ruffed grouse, spruce hens or rabbits. Even the smell in the air is fall-like.

There are plenty of places to explore. You can even walk into old gold mine settlements where the risers over the mine still stand. The history behind some of these places is amazing. Sometimes you can allow yourself to dreamily slip back into time and imagine what it would have been like if you would have lived there many years ago.

While you are out hunting small game, now is the best time to watch for moose sign and keep mental notes of where you think the best places to hunt next month are. The best signs to look for are fresh tracks and droppings, where the moose have been feeding and bedding down and where they are going to drink water.

In early October, you can retire your shotgun temporarily and get out the rifle or bow. This is usually when the moose are rutting and the temperature is starting to drop. It is now starting to get frosty in the dark hours. Many hunters and guides have been practicing their cow or bull calls all year. Wouldn’t it be a rewarding hunt if you called your moose out of the bush up close to where you are watching and bagged it right there?! Most hunters and guides have their areas picked out well in advance so that they do not have to disturb the area looking for just the right spot. This is one time of the year when you are probably not so anxious to be alone. Trying to pack out one of these huge animals by yourself would not be very much fun. Also, the companionship of a hunting partner is very special. Its wonderful to compare hunting stories around a campfire and it’s special to be able to recount one of your experiences to a person that really relates to what you’re talking about.

Late October or early November brings on the rut of the whitetail deer. This area of Northwestern Ontario is rapidly becoming “thee” place to go if you’re looking for huge, healthy deer. The population has exploded and at least 2 record deer have been taken in the last couple of years. If you haven’t heard about the famous “Dryden Buck” you can have a look at it at Patricia Region on the northern fringe of the range of whitetail and the hardiest of the breed lives here.

The leaves soon fall off the trees and the entire countryside shortly becomes covered with a clean white blanket of snow. Many hunters wait until this time of year to go after their deer or moose. They say that it is much easier to find where the game are hanging out and also if you happen to wound an animal and have to track him or look for blood, your life is made easier with the snow.

Come the middle of December though, the temperature has indeed dropped and the season is closed. Christmas comes and goes and hopefully you get that new rod or gun that you wanted from Santa this year.

Before you know it, it’s New Year’s Eve and the next day, January 1st is the opening day of the Lake Trout season. It is a great way to spend the first day of the year -- out on the ice with friends or family. Ice fishing for lake trout will last only a few months. You can also be fishing for walleye if you like, It is a splendid time to go riding on snow machines and just take in all the beauty of Patricia Region.

Some local outfitters and clubs groom many miles of trail and you can literally travel for a week or more if you so desire across new trails everyday, moving from town to town. The winter does seem to last a long time but there is plenty to keep you occupied. Towards the end of the winter, just before walleye season closes in April, there are many days where you can be out on the ice and get just as good a tan as you would have in Florida. There are days when you could even go shirtless, with the sun being so nice and warm.

In the wink of an eye, another year’s cycle is completed and spring is rolling around bringing with it an endless amount of fresh, new anticipations and wildlife.

To look at the changes of seasons through the eyes of a sportsman enjoying the outdoors in Canada’s Heartland is truly a wonder. Everywhere in the world there is something new and changing going on year ‘round but here in Patricia Region, the changes in season are very dramatic and the offerings to someone wanting to spend time outdoors cannot be surpassed.

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