Every Fathers Day weekend for the last decade or more, I have taken my two sons Tyler (20) and Izaak (18) camping and fishing to Algonquin Park. My brother Marcel (aka Red) has also taken his son Josh, and a few friends have taken their sons along. Somewhere along the way, girls (aka sisters, wives et al) were officially "uninvited"; even though they had never made the trip with us in the first place. Hence the term "All Boyz weekend, a time when boys can be boys and men can be men, and all can enjoy the great outdoors that weekend.
This year, our weekend would begin in the village of Kearney, just outside of Algonquin Park's (AP) west entrance. Here all 11 of us met and registered with the 'friendly' attendant behind the counter. Seems we disrupted her knitting though so no wonder she wasn't too thrilled to have us all there. Sorry'bout that mam - we'll try and call first next year. We then drove the hour via dirt rode to our drop-off spot where we unloaded the canoes and kayak, put them in the water and then loaded them all up with our gear for the next three days. Our first portage and paddle was short and sweet followed by a lengthier paddle and twice the portage. Once more decent paddle and we would arrive at our home base "Jack Bice Lake" in the beautiful wilderness of A.P.
Because there were 11 of us and only nine could stay in one site we had to split the group up into two different campsites. Not a big deal when you are staying in a drive to campsite perhaps, but here the site was about ½ km away. Oh well we made the best of it and ate meals and hung around the campfire at night at one of the two sites. The next day would be our fishing day … a rather unique experience that one of our crew - Gerry Heels had tried there before. Basically it involved tying up to a tree that sticks out of the water from 67 feet below and fishing with frozen dead shiners (live bait not permitted) just off bottom. In order to cover and fish the area effectively one canoe would tie up to the next and so on and so on.
The famed trapper, hunter, angler and outdoor writer Ralph Bice loved A.P. and spent so much time there Park officials elected to change the name of the lake we stayed on from Butt Lake to Ralph Bice Lake. There wasn't a cottage around for miles and the crystal clear waters were that way since the beginning of time - not because of the change brought on by zebra mussels that invaded this country relatively recently.
Typically lake trout fishing can be very good here especially during the early season and then later again in the fall. During our stay however a major heat wave shut down the lakers so we only managed one scrappy lake trout that Gerry caught one evening not far from our camp. At least that fish offered everyone a taste and it augmented our meal of steaks, chops and all the fixens just perfectly.
That evening we watched in awe as an incredible lightning storm that lit up the far sky for well over an hour... a great way to end our last night. Our canoe and kayaking trip to the interior of Algonquin ended as peacefully as it began the next day with the same paddles and portages that brought us all there and likely will again during our all Boyz next year.