Wilderness fishing paradise
Back with the boys to beautiful bass-filled Beauchêne
It just never gets old, that first view of Birch Lake as you round the last corner on the dirt road and drive down to the shoreline outpost cabin. Earlier this month, I made my seventh consecutive pilgrimage to Quebec’s pristine La Réserve Beauchêne, and already I can’t wait to go back. The reasons are many.
For starters, there’s that first view of Birch Lake and the cozy, off-grid cabin, and that welcoming feeling of solitude that goes along with it—just imagine having a wilderness Canadian Shield lake all to yourself for four days, with no other anglers than you and your fishing buddies.
The view of Birch Lake from in front of the outpost cabin; the author and a typical Birch smallmouth
Then there’s the camaraderie of fish camp (speaking of buddies), complete with some friendly angling competition, good food, après-fishing cards and cocktails, and plenty of laughs. Joining me this year once again was my old neighbour and fishing pal Jon Baker, who has been on every single trip since 2011, along with long-time friend Billy Shields, who’s been joining us since 2013.
Sadly, one of our stalwart crew members from the beginning, Pat Trudell, understandably couldn’t make it this year due to the recent passing of his mother. (We will make up for it next year, Patty!) In his place, we brought along another good neighbourhood friend, Gord Browning. It was great for Gord, as he’d long heard about our Beauchêne exploits and was keen to get in on the action. And it was great for us because Gord happily agreed to take on Pat’s camp chef duties. Now that’s what you call a win-win.
The Beauchêne 2017 crew: (left to right) Gord Browning, Patrick Walsh, Jon Baker and Billy Shields
Most of all, though, it’s the fishing itself that draws me back to Beauchêne year after year, whether it’s to Birch Lake or the Foley Island outpost cabin on the west end of Lake Beauchêne itself, where my buddies and I have twice set up our base camp. This year, the topsy-turvy weather seemed to have the smallmouth bass—my favourite Beauchêne quarry—in a bit of a funk, so it took a bit longer to figure things out. We managed to crack the code, though, and boated countless beauties.
Beauchêne bass: (left to right) Jon Baker and a big Birch smallie; the author and his first bass of the trip; Gord Browning gets on the board; and Billy Shields hoists a chunky specimen
Surprisingly, I even caught and released two incidental lake trout, a walleye and one northern pike, all on the drop-shot. That was on nearby Lake Little Beauchêne during the morning of our second day at camp. That’s another one of the cool things about staying at Birch Lake: you can also book time on the neighbouring backwoods lakes, all of which see very little angling pressure. There are never more than two two-man aluminum boats at a time on these waters, again adding to the feeling of wilderness solitude.
The author's Little Beauchêne pike, walleye and laker
Typically, I’m happy to just stay on Birch Lake and fish its waters the entire time, exploring the myriad nooks and crannies and endless structure, from rock piles to sunken timber to shoals. But when the guys want to check out the other lakes, I’m game. This year, for example, I’m glad we put Devil Lake on the Friday morning itinerary—it was there that I ended up catching by biggest smallies of the trip. Jon and I even had a couple of double-headers.
Devil fish: (left to right) The author and one of several big bass out of Devil Lake; Jon Baker and the author and one of their double-headers
Stay tuned for a more detailed report in an upcoming issue of Outdoor Canada magazine. In the meantime, a big shout-out and thank you once again to Beauchêne’s general manager, Tony Avramtchev, for the generous hospitality and great fishing.
To learn more about La Réserve Beauchêne (rebranded Beauchêne Wilderness Lodge last year), click here.
And to read about my previous Beauchêne escapades, please click on the links below: