Cooler nights are upon us, calling to mind the coming of fall. Crisp mornings lead to beautiful days spent outside. The bugs are nearly gone and the wildlife is at its peak, preparing for the long winter months ahead. This is when I look forward to ATVing through trails with my shotgun and spinning rod strapped in for the ride. The cool air rushing past my face and the expectations ahead at each turn keep the excitement high for the entire trip.
Will the destination lake be up ahead, or will a flock of grouse await my arrival? This is the beauty of an ATV excursion—one never knows what will be around the bend. Do you have a fins and feathers trip on your agenda this fall through the untouched wilderness region of BIG Northeastern Ontario?
ATVing during the fall is an absolute adventure—fishing, hunting or adventure trail riding. Personally, I can’t pick just one so I head out prepared for everything!
Planning Your ATV Access Only Trip
The planning is one of the best parts of ATV access fishing. Temagami, Marten River, Mattawa, Timmins, and areas north of Sudbury are all great places to consider if you’re planning a fins and feathers excursion. Lodges and outfitters are available in and around each of these communities and would be happy to host your group, provide assistance with trail networks, fishing and hunting tips and techniques along with lists of productive local lakes. Use this handy guide to planning your next lodge vacation, or check out some of the outfitters we’ve included below:
- Island Lake Camp (Field near Temagami)
- Lake Herridge Lodge (Temagami)
- Northland Paradise Lodge (Temagami)
- Olive the Lake (Marten River)
- Marten River Lodge (Marten River)
- Mattawa Adventure Camp (Mattawa)
- KapRiver Outfitters (Kapuskasing near Timmins)
- Saul Outfitters (Matachewan near Timmins)
- Sportsman Lodge Wilderness Resort (Wahnapitae near Sudbury)
For those that are looking for a day trip or the do-it-yourself explorers, pull up essential maps with litho- and topo- imagery from a variety of great resources, including the MNRF’s Fish Online tool. When planning the trip around a species, narrow down the variety of locations and supplies required. I look into back lakes that have been recently stocked with trout species. This includes lake trout, speckled/brook trout and splake – a hybrid of lake and brook trout. A helpful tip is to look for lakes with repetitive stocking patterns at higher volumes. Another great feature would include brute stock fish in the stocking lists.
Once you have your route, lakes and species sorted out, the real preparation begins. Some key items that should always be packed include
- a medium power 6’6” or 7’ two piece spinning rod
- a storage tray with inline spinners
- spoons, jigs, soft plastic minnow baits and worms
- firearm and ammo
- a GPS and compass
- first aid safety kit
- extra food and water
- a tire repair kit
- and extra fuel!
Nothing beats packing with simplicity and functionality in mind, then confidently exploring areas with techniques that are tried and true.
The fish are getting ready to put on the feedbag in preparation for the winter months and are chasing baitfish and forage around the lakes. Surface temperatures are cooling, allowing fish to cover more water and come out of the depths to feed. This is a great time to target deep shorelines and weedy areas adjacent to deeper water. Most fish are willing to feed shallow, but push back down to digest in the cooler, deeper water. Look for the steepest breaks and the healthiest vegetation as these are the highest oxygenated areas on the lakes that many fish call home.
Grouse, just like many fish species, are on the move this time of year, collecting and gathering for the long months ahead. Look for conifer trees like pine, cedar and spruce that provide cover and shade for the grouse to roost in the evenings. With the leaves falling from deciduous trees, grouse become more visible and are often found grazing the edge of trails in search for buds, leaves, twigs and conifer needles.
An interesting fact: grouse eat grit (sand and pebbles) to break up their food, so focus on the sun-struck areas of your trails. They warm up the quickest and if frost settles overnight, allow grouse an early opportunity to root through the surface materials. Sandy, gravel pebbled-lined trails have led to some of my most successful grouse hunts. Another noteworthy area is logging cuts, as many food sources are left behind along with the desirable hard-to-reach buds and top sections of conifer trees.
As much as I’m reluctant to say goodbye the wonderful summer we’ve had, another season is approaching and I always embrace change with open arms. We are extremely lucky to live in such a beautiful part of this world where we are blessed with four distinct seasons. The fall is one of my favourites and what better way to transition from summer to fall than with a combination of both worlds. Give your ATV some general maintenance, take a look at our list of partners and book your trip today. Get out there and explore some new lakes and trails. You could very well find your new favourite fall pastime… Searching for fins and feathers via ATV.