2015 Spring Fishing Trip Opeongo - Big Crow - Hogan - Little Crow - Opeongo

Wednesday, May 6 – Day 1

We arrived at Opeongo ahead of schedule.  We procured out permit and got away on the water taxi 20 minutes earlier than scheduled.  It was a smooth ride up the lake as the wind and waves were non-existent.  We spotted an adult Bald Eagle perched in a tree at the narrow to the North Arm of the Lake.

Twenty minutes after leaving the store we arrived at the portage to Proulx Lake.  We unloaded our gear and bid farewell to our driver.  With the gear organized we loaded up the canoe on the cart, opting to take the cart trail instead of carrying all the gear.  I took the big equipment pack and food barrel while Dad pushed along the canoe with his small pack and rods and paddles.

Opeongo to Proulx Lake portage landing.
After a few minutes we were at the small pond where we quickly loaded up the canoe and were off across it.  On the other side we were quickly on our way again.  We reached the end of the portage just before noon.  It had taken us a little longer than if we had carried everything but we were in no hurry today.

Pond, Opeongo to Proulx Portage.

 Proulx Cart Trail
It was an easy paddle up Proulx and the lake was quiet with no one camped on it.  I fished while we paddled but with no luck.

The paddle down the Crow River was enjoyable.  Just past the portage to Redrock Lake we stopped and had lunch while we floated along in the canoe.  After a brief respite we were on our way again.  We were soon into Little Crow Lake and a short paddle up it had us at the narrows leading into Big Crow.  Once into Big Crow I threw my line back into the water but again with no luck.

Beautiful paddle down the Crow.
Lunch on the Crow River.
About 20 minutes after entering Big Crow we were at the cabin.  Total travel time from when we started the portage to Proulx Lake was three hours.

Big Crow Cabin.
The lock to the cabin had been cut and removed which I found disappointing that people take it upon themselves to break into these cabins.  Dad had brought a lock and with the hardware at the cabin we rigged up our own locking system.

We unloaded the gear and got the cabin set up.  Once that was done we headed out to fish.  After paddling around the lake for a couple of hours we didn’t have any luck.  Along the way we stopped to check out one of the sites at the north end of the lake.  It had a nice little beach but you’d be hard pressed to find more than one suitable spot to pitch a tent.

After that stop we scoured the shoreline for fire wood and after about five minutes we had a full load.  From there we headed back to camp where we broke up the wood.  When that was done we sat on the deck of the cabin and enjoyed a glass of wine before dinner.

Happy Hour!
Once happy hour was done we set about preparing fajitas for supper.  With dinner and dishes done we enjoyed an evening coffee overlooking the lake.  With an hour of daylight left we headed out to fish, hoping that our luck would be better than it had been.

Evening paddle and fishing, Big Crow Lake.

Sunset, Big Crow.
With darkness setting in we still had no luck so we headed back to the cabin and got a good roaring fire going.  We enjoyed the fire and some wine for a couple of hours before turning in for the night.

Evening campfire, Big Crow Cabin.
Thursday, May 7 – Day 2

We awoke to a beautiful morning just after 8am.  I put a kettle of water on for coffee then got ready for breakfast.  Dad made the lunch for the day while I cooked up breakfast.  Eggs, back bacon and homefries were enjoyed on the porch and finished off with a relaxing cup of coffee.

Beauty morning!
With breakfast over we cleaned up the dishes and packed up for our day ahead fishing Hogan Lake.  We got away from the cabin around 9:45am.  We fished on our way up the lake but with no luck.  At the portage to Hogan Dad found a nice paddle leaning up against a tree.  We left it there until our return later in the day.

Start of the Big Crow to Hogan portage.
We started down the portage just around 10:30.  After 15 minutes we took a break where the portage and the cart trail diverge.  We continued on up the portage and just after we left two ATVs went down the trail towards the lake.  Dad got a look at them but was unable to tell if they were Park staff or native fishermen.

Rest stop at cart trail junction.
Ten minutes after our first stop we came to a logging road.  I waited for Dad to catch up then we headed one.  On the board walk section of the trail there was a tree down so I had to drop the canoe and slide it under.  This gave us a little break before venturing onward.  Ten minutes later we were at the junction where the portage and the cart trail cross.  We took a break there, noticing that the Red Trilliums and Trout Lilies were in bloom.  After a short rest we carried on and 15 minutes later we were at Hogan Lake.

Only obstacle on the trail.
Heading up the trail.
We paddled and fished the western half of Hogan for about an hour before stopping on a site for lunch.  After lunch we continued to fish the western part of the lake but with no luck.  We did see an adult Bald Eagle which was our second of the trip. 

Cliffs on Hogan Lake.

Lunch break.

Hogan Lake.
Knowing it would take around two hours to get back to the cabin we departed Hogan Lake around 3:30.  The walk back over the portage was uneventful and seemed easier than our trip this morning.  When we reached Big Crow the paddle was waiting for us so we claimed it.

We fished as we paddled down the lake but again with no luck.  As we got farther down the lake I noticed two canoe on the opposite side of the lake from our cabin.  The one canoe then started paddling across the lake towards the cabin.  Sure enough, when we reached the cabin there was a canoe pulled up on shore and two guys wandering about behind the cabin.  Apparently they were looking for the spring that was supposed to be on site.  I’ve never found the spring myself and they searched for a few minutes longer before finally leaving.

When I went to unlock the door a new lock had been put on with a nice note from the Park staff.  I guess the two ATVs we saw earlier that day were them coming into the lake.

We sat on the porch and enjoyed a glass of wine and the evening before preparing dinner.  After a while we got supper going and were soon enjoying Thai chicken with rice.  After a cup of coffee and cleaning the dishes we headed out for an hours fishing with still no luck.

Nowhere else I'd rather be.
End of another day.
Back at the cabin just before dark we got a good fire going and enjoyed some more wine under a clear sky.  After a couple of hours we turned in for a good rest after a busy day.

Friday, May 8 – Day 3

The morning was breezy and warm .  It was supposed to be a hot day with the humidex in the low 30s.  With water on for coffee I set to making our farmer’s breakfast.  We dined again on the porch and enjoyed a couple of relaxing coffees as we were in no hurry to go anywhere today.  Once we were done and dishes cleaned we grabbed our fishing gear and headed off down the Crow River.  It was a nice paddle down the river and soon we were at the trail to the big pines.

We headed off up the trail towards the pines.  I had been to the stand several times over the past 20 years and they were slowly dying off due to old age.  From the trail itself there are about 3-4 trees still standing and a couple of dead ones.  Beyond the trail there are only a few others left.  We took some pictures of the giants and then headed back to the canoe.

Heading to big pines.

Virgin pine.

After the trail the plan was to walk the short 215m portage and fish below the rapids at the end.  That didn’t work out too well as the calm pool below the rapids was further down from the end of the portage and there was no good place from shore to cast.

Walking back along the portage Dad found a short trail to the river that lead to a calm section between two sets of rapids.  We started casting about and very soon Dad had hooked into two small Speckled Trout and myself one.  After a while the trout caught onto us and we didn’t catch anymore.  We headed back along the portage to the canoe.  We cast around the river above the log jam for a little while but didn’t have any more luck so we headed back to the cabin for lunch.

First catch of the trip.  It's a monster.
After lunch we headed back out and into Little Crow.  On little Crow Dad spotted two juvenile Bald Eagles flying overhead.  That brought the total number of eagles for the trip to four.

We paddled around the lake a few times and down into one of the deep bays but with no luck.  Just as we were leaving Little Crow Dad hooked into a decent sized Speckled Trout but it spat the hook right at the side of the canoe.  We didn’t have any other luck on our paddle back to the cabin.

We arrived back at the cabin late afternoon.  The hot humid day had me yearning to go for a swim but given the frigid water temperature I only ventured up to my ankles for a brief period of time.

After relaxing for a while and enjoying a glass of wine I got a fire going to get a nice bed of coals for cooking up the steaks for tonight’s dinner.

Getting the fire going for steaks later.
We ate dinner by the fire.  The humid day had spawned some thunderstorms to the north and south of us late in the day but we had been spared save for a few rumbles of thunder and some threatening clouds.

Storm clouds in the distance.
After cleaning up from dinner we headed out to fish for a couple of hours.  As we passed by the site at the mouth of the Crow River the occupants were out fishing the river with a radio playing away.  So much for no radios allowed in the interior.  But what else would you expect from those who would trespass through your cabin site.

With no luck yet again we headed back to get a fire going for the evening.  We enjoyed the fire for a couple of hours while periodically being serenaded by Barred Owls and loons.  Tomorrow was to be the worst day weather-wise according to the forecast so hopefully the turn in the weather would also mean a turn in the fishing.

Saturday, May 9 – Day 4

Awoke around 8:30.  A light rain falling on and off this morning.  Looks like one of those days where it could rain all day.

I cooked up breakfast of bagel egg sandwiches and we sat on the porch and ate and enjoyed a cup of coffee while we decided what to do.  The lake is calm and there are dark billowy clouds all around us.  There is thunder in the distance from time to time.  The rain started up again after breakfast so we were forced to retreat into the cabin, sitting with the door open so we could enjoy the view of the lake.

The rain didn’t last long so Dad headed down to the lake to fish while I wrote in my journal for a bit.  There were a few more rumbles of thunder but the rain held off.  Dad didn’t have any luck and ended up getting snagged and couldn’t get it off.  We then decided to head out and fish, hoping the weather would hold for a little while.

We got into the canoe and got Dad’s lure unsnagged then headed down into the bay from the cabin.  We saw some cormorants perched in a tree and on one of the big rocks in the bay a couple of gulls were mating.

With no luck as we paddled around the bay we headed up the north shore of the lake.  Dad got a hit and landed a nice 2.7lb. Lake Trout.  We released it and continued on.  A few minutes later and I hooked into a 2 ¼ lb. Lake Trout.

Lake Trout #1.

Lake Trout #2.
The wind had started to pick up and thunder boomed in the west and large storm clouds loomed overhead.  With the weather threatening we decided to head back to the cabin to wait out whatever was coming our way.

Back at the cabin we brought everything inside and covered the firewood with the canoe.  The day is still balmy and if the sun ever made an appearance it could be downright hot and muggy.

Ready for the rain.
As it was now after noon we decide to have lunch while we waited for the weather to decide what it was going to do.

Although the sky had looked threatening it didn’t amount to anything and with lunch done we headed back out in the canoe to fish.  We did a figure 8 of the main body of the lake but with no luck.  We returned to the cabin just after 3:30 and brought the chairs back down to the fire pit.

Will it or won't it?
The rest of the afternoon is spent relaxing down by the lake.  The sun makes an appearance now and again as the clouds go rolling by.  We enjoy a glass of wine before getting dinner of beef stew and garlic biscuits started.

Lazing on a Saturday afternoon.
As we finish dinner it starts to rain again.  We scramble to get the chairs back inside.  The dishes are done and now we just wait to see what the weather will do.  It would be nice to get back out for one last evening paddle and fish and to have a campfire.

Luckily the rain only lasted for an hour.  We grabbed our gear and headed out into our bay.  As we pushed off from shore Dad had his lure dangling just above the surface of the water.  A 6 inch Speckled Trout came up and grabbed it.  That would be our only luck that evening.

There had been a light misty rain on and off while we fished our bay.   Just before 9 o’clock we arrived back at the cabin and the rain had stopped by then.  We got a fire going and there was the odd drop of rain but nothing significant enough to chase us indoors.

We enjoyed our last fire until around 11 o’clock then called it a night.  Our water taxi wasn’t picking us up until 2:30 tomorrow so we were in no hurry to get away as it would only take us three hours to get back to Opeongo.

Sunday, May 10 – Day 5

Awake at 7:45.  Really cool today compared to the last several days.  It was so cool that I fired up the wood stove to warm the cabin up a bit.

With the fire going we went about making breakfast and packing up.  The day was not only cool but grey and there was a light misty rain falling.  Looked like it was going to be a damp paddle back to Opeongo.

We finished packing up after breakfast and took the gear down to the canoe.  Before loading up we took our traditional departure shot.  With that done we were on our way home around 10 o’clock.  I fished while we headed up the lake and about a 100 metres from the cabin I hooked into decent sized Lake Trout.

Ready to leave.

Lake Trout #3.
Soon we were into Little Crow Lake and I caught a small Speckled Trout part way down the lake.  We were soon into the Crow River and with the rain holding off it was a nice paddle.  I needed to make a pit stop so we pulled into the portage to Redrock Lake.  From there we were soon into Proulx Lake.  The wind had picked up and this point coming from the south so we had a bit of a head wind as we headed towards the portage to Opeongo.

With the portage in site I noticed a couple of birds flying around low to the water and perching on an old submerged log just off to our right.  By their flight I knew what they were but wanting to identify them to species I broke out the binoculars and had Dad head in their direction.  It turned out it was a pair of Common Terns.  I got some good pics and a video.  This a pretty good bird for the Park and I had seen them only on two other occasions, once on Merchant Lake and Lake Travers.
 Common Terns, Proulx Lake.

Leaving the terns behind we continued on our way to the portage.  As we reached it there was another party there who were just coming off it.  Despite having just one canoe they had parked it right across the mouth of the landing making it impossible for anyone else to beach there.  We did manage to sneak in and soon we were loaded up and on our way back to Opeongo.  This time we didn’t use the cart.  We were lighter and the long uphill section at the start was easier to do carrying than carting.

Proulx to Opeongo portage landing.
At the pond we took a break.  We weren’t in any hurry as we were about an hour ahead of schedule.  After our respite we continue on down the trail, foregoing paddling across the pond.  Arriving at the dock at Opeongo at 1:30 we are an hour early for our ride. 

Rest stop at the pond.
There is a taxi there from Opeongo Outfitters who is waiting for his 2 o’clock client.  We chat with him for a bit while we have lunch.  Slowly more and more parties begin to arrive at the dock.  Our taxi arrives and it ends up being a full boat down the lake; four canoes, eight people (not including the driver) and gear.

Loading up one last time.
The ride down the lake is good and we are back at the access point at 3 o’clock.  It was another great fishing trip with Dad.  The temperature was good, the weather was decent for the most part, the fishing not bad and as always the company was great.  I hope to have many more years of fishing with Dad ahead.


  1. I'm pretty sure they are lake trout, you can tell because of the forked tail

  2. Definitely lake trout and nice trip with your dad.
    Thanks for taking me along.

  3. Tips for Minimizing Mortality Risk While Releasing Fish:
    -Keep fingers away from the gills. One slip under the gill plate can easily kill the fish.
    -Keep the fish in the water when taking the picture. Studies show the survival of trout diminishes rapidly after just 20 to 30 seconds in the air.