Bassin' in Beauchene
Even forgotten tackle can't ruin a trip to this Quebec fishing mecca
There’s not much that can wipe the smile off my face whenever I arrive at Quebec’s famed La Réserve Beauchene. After all, the place is renowned for its pristine wilderness setting and incredible fishing for big smallmouth bass and wild brook trout, along with walleye, lakers and pike. And last Wednesday was no different when fishing buddies Jon Baker, Pat Trudell, Bill Shields and I once again made the 400-kilometre trek to Beauchene from my home in Aurora, Ontario. It was the fifth annual trip for Jon, Pat and me, and the third for Bill. (See below for photos.)
Yes, we were all smiles and eager to hit the water when we arrived at the Birch Lake outpost cabin, which would serve as home for four days. All smiles that is, until we finished unloading my pickup only to discover yours truly had managed to leave behind his meticulously stocked tacklebag. You know that nasty feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when something goes horribly wrong? I had that feeling.
What to do? Sit down, crack open a beer, take stock of the situation and suck it up. Well, that’s what I did. Driving back was not an option, so I first did an inventory of what I had remembered to bring: a mixed bag of soft plastics, some Gulp! minnows, and, stuffed into a side pocket of my soft-plastics bag, a Freedom Tackle spinnerbait and a Gene Larew Biffle Hardhead in copper with an Owner hook.
And luckily, we had stopped at Ellwood Epps tackle shop along Highway 11 north of Orillia on the way up, where I stocked up on some of my favourite big-bass drop-shot baits—Xzone Fat Slammers (in Watermelon Red Black, Smoke Copper and Cisco). I also grabbed two packs of Lunker City Fin-S Fish (in 4" Pink Ice Shad), along with a pack of five light drop-shot weights.
Oh, and I had my 9-wt. fly rod and a bunch of flies. Plus, the boys were happy to share their respective supplies of drop-shot weights and hooks.
I would make do, and boy, did I make do. For the most part, I drop-shotted the deep transition areas in 10- to 20-feet of water—my biggest producers were the Pink Ice Shad Fin-S Fish and the Smoke Copper Swammers. As for pulling lurking predators out of the shoreline shallows, the Freedom spinner and the Biffle Hardhead (paired with a Zoom Swimmin Super Fluke in Disco Violet) worked a treat, as did wacky-rigged five-inch Yamasenkos in silver/purple/back.
If you noticed a theme here in the plastics colours, there was: lighter colours fared best in the dark waters of our home lake, Birch, as well as in the other back lakes we ventured to (Little Beauchene, McConnell and Devil). I also caught a couple of fish on the fly when the wind laid down enough to make fly-casting from the boat safe for my partner, Jon, who was at the helm.
In the end, I caught the most and biggest bass of all my trips so far to Beauchene. And, of course, the guys did well, too, with their respective favourite techniques. On Little Beauchene, for example, Pat got hard into a pack of four-pound-plus smallies using leeches, while on Birch, Jon had a blast eliciting explosive shoreline strikes with topwaters. Bill even picked up a lake trout while trolling across Birch. Great fishing, guys!
The lesson here? At La Réserve Beauchene, you can—and should—expect to catch fish.
Even if you forget your tacklebag.
Want to read about the author's previous visits to La Réserve Beauchene? Just click on the links below.
Jon Baker and a Birch Lake beauty
Pat Trudell and a Little Beauchene lunker
Bill Shields and a chunky Birch Lake specimen
Patrick Walsh and a drop-shot result
One of Patrick Walsh's bass on the fly
Jon Baker and one of his shoreline topwater catches
Jon Baker captured this awesome dawn scene
Patrick Walsh (left) and Jon Baker on Birch Lake
The group's outpost cabin on Birch Lake
The Beauchene boys (left to right): Pat Trudell, Bill Shields, Patrick Walsh and Jon Baker