Hitting the hardwater for brookies and rainbows in the middle of a snowstorm
When the email arrived in early January from avid outdoorsman, long-time angler, guide and outfitter Stephen Lukacic (above right) to invite me on a backcountry ice fishing trip for trout in Ontario’s Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve, it took me all of a minute to reply. Sign me up! I knew I’d have to juggle some work and family obligations, but any hassles would certainly be worth the effort. And heading into a second year of living in the city through a pandemic, I figured a day on the ice was just what I needed to combat the winter blahs.
“We have naturally-reproducing brook trout populations in many of the lakes, as well as lakes stocked with thousands of rainbow and brook trout,” Steve wrote in his email. “We also offer some of the only lakes in the world with naturally reproducing and stocked populations of the Haliburton Lake Trout—a glacial relic genetically unique from all other strains. It’s an incredible place and I’m the only outfitter that has winter guiding access. Fishermen and outdoors enthusiasts come from all over the world to experience its wonders and attractions.”
I also knew just the fishing buddy to get on board with the idea, my old friend Ted Campanaro (below). We both turned 50 last year, having known each other since high school, and the pandemic prevented us from properly celebrating the milestone together. What better way to mark nearly 35 years of friendship than to spend a day ice fishing. A regular open water bass fisherman, Ted hadn’t ice-fished for years and had never caught a brookie or rainbow so he was excited to cross them both off his bucket list. Little did we know that Mother Nature was going to throw us a curveball in the way of a snowstorm to make the trip even more of an adventure.