I wrote this report on my blog a little while ago, but thought you guys might also enjoy reading about this region so I'll copy it over here. Be warned, this wasn't the "roughest" adventure in terms of fish species, but hopefully the rough, remote wilderness will make up for that :)
I am writing about this trip even though it's been over 5 months since we returned because it was such a great experience and I want to have something to look back on other than the pictures taken. This trip took Carl and I nearly 2 years to plan so I was obviously very excited to head north when the time came. Unfortunately, upon receiving his schedule in June, Carl was unable to get the vacation time and so would not be able to make the trip :o After scrambling to find a replacement for a couple days, someone finally responded that they wanted to come! A huge shout-out and thank you to my friend Jason for rearranging his schedule to be able to make the trip; he even missed his final math exam!
The plan was to head north, far north... to the James Bay region of northern Quebec. We would be travelling over 1200km north to where the "Route de la Baie James" meets the Transtaiga road, then nearly 700km east on gravel. This final destination, the Digue Duvernay, represents the furthest point away from civilization one can attain in North America by car. In fact, the nearest town, Radisson, is 740km away. For this reason, it is critical that you plan ahead and think of everything; a seemingly small malfunction can get very costly very quick in remote regions such as these. We brought a satellite phone, GPS, extra spare tires for both car and trailer, tire repair kit, extra gas, spare bearings, and a whole lot more!
A little backstory on the region: The only reason roads exist this far north is because of Hydro Quebec's many dams and the infrastructure required to maintain them. Besides their workers, we only saw other fishermen over the entirety of the Transtaiga. In fact, it is the Hydro reservoirs in which we would be fishing. I've attached some maps to help situate things a little better:
This is not meant to be a guide on how to prepare for such an adventure in any way; do your own research and plan accordingly. That being said, I strongly suggest "signing in" when you reach the start of the Route de la Baie James; where you will be given a map of the area as well as important local information.
"Road Isolated on 375km"
That 375km point is just an area to get gas, food, and rest. Much of this area is occupied by the Cree, so most people you meet will speak English. I highly recommend stopping at the different viewpoints suggested on the map, there aren't that many. A highlight was definitely the rapids of the Rupert River, the largest I had ever seen!
We also stopped to do a short bit of fishing on the Rupert and take a break from driving. I managed to catch the first fish of the trip, a nice Northern Pike!
Fishing the Transtaiga essentially consists of fishing the different Hydro reservoirs and streams that run along the road. They were all created by the damming of the La Grande river in the 70's. In order, they are named: LG2, LG3, LG4, LaForge1, LaForge2, and Caniapiscau. The ones further west mainly hold Walleye and Pike, and these turn to Lake and Speckled Trout as you drive east.
Our plan was to drive to the end of the road (literally), and then fish our way back. We fished the many small streams that crossed the road along the way, and were rewarded with some beautiful Speckled Trout, small pike, and a new species! I caught my first Lake Whitefish under Jason's expert fly fishing guidance; this was a very important capture to me as it was the final Quebec sportfish I had yet to capture.
Our first "real" stop was at the Duvernay dyke; getting there was not easy! Thankfully, only one flat tire on the car and one lost bolt on the trailer and we made it to the end. Jason was very excited to fish this area as he had never caught any Lake Trout over a few pounds and this was one of the bodies of water known to hold the largest in QC. His hard work was rewarded and he caught 2 lakers nearing the 10lb mark! I unfortunately caught none and we left soon fter due to poor weather conditions.
The next day, we made our way to "Brisay", the hydroelectric dam forming the reservoir where Jason had caught his trout the day before. We decided to fish from shore after reading large signs warning of strong, unpredictable currents. Here I caught my first Lake Trout of the trip, not a trophy, but it still felt very special to be catching fish in such a remote location :)
The next few days kind of went by in a blur as isolation started to set in and our level of malnourishment increased. The combination of bad weather and fatigue was preventing us from cooking proper meals so we were essentially surviving on protein bars and Gatorade. Note that Jason has never been on this sort of trip before, so one this far away from home was a rude awakening. At one point we even started listing all of his new "records" from the trip: furthest north, biggest Lake Trout, most teepees seen, etc.
Of course, we were still catching fish the whole time :) After having fished Caniapiscau, Brisay, and LG3; the Sakami River on LG2 was to be our last fishing spot. And what a way to end the trip! My girlfriend's dad had given me some spots on the river and they sure panned out. We were on a hot Walleye bite and were catching fish on just about every drop of the jig.
After catching a ridiculous amount of Walleye, we were feeling quite satisfied with our fish excursions and got ready to make the trip home. In the end, we made it back and only had one punctured tire on the car. My boat and trailer, on the other hand, did not fare so well. One tire exploded, both mudguards fell off, many bolts were lost so the frame was weakening, and all the benches in the boat had ripped off. Once home, I made the decision to bring the boat/trailer to a welding shop as the extent of the damage was more than I had time to fix on my own. $300 later and my rig was as good as new :)
This trip was one of the best experiences of my life and I am very proud that I was able to overcome the many challenges presented throughout. I also want to thank Jason for putting up with me and trusting me to get us home safely. With that, I'll leave you with some pictures of the scenery we were rewarded with on our adventure: