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La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve: Seven Strengths

La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve: Seven Strengths

How people feel about La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve can vary widely. It’s a very individual thing. For some, it’s an endless road to nowhere. For others, it’s a breathtaking area, rich in fish and game, where the opportunities abound for enjoying time in Nature with family and friends. Personally, I definitely belong to the second group. In fact, even when I’m just driving through it to get to points further south in the province, or heading home, I appreciate every single moment of my journey through the Reserve. My intention here is to encourage you to see the Reserve the way I do, to appreciate how beautiful La Vérendrye truly is. Here are seven strong points that I hope will be convincing enough…

1.Off the grid

Already, I can tell what you’re thinking (I’m a bit telepathic, just saying …), “Wow! Really?!? That’s not actually a plus!” Quite the contrary, my friend. Being out on the land without phone service or Wi-Fi, is a perfect opportunity to unplug, reconnect with Nature, your beloveds and the folks you are with.

2.The Rivière des Outaouais Bridge

The Rivière des Outaouais Bridge is really my favourite spot in La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve. I’d even go so far as to say that it’s one of my favourite places in the world! As you wind your way across the bridge, there’s a sense of  hovering on the water. The River is incredibly wide at this point and you’re surrounded by water and peninsulas the whole time.

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The Rivière des Outaouais Bridge

3. Lake Names

There are more than 4,000 lakes and waterways in La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve, many of which have names that evoke the Indigenous communities in the area.  Have fun trying to pronounce and read these beautiful names! It’s entertaining, that’s for sure!

4. Rest Stops

Rest stops are plentiful in La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve. Many of them have picnic tables, and toilets and some even have lovely beaches, so you can soak your feet. Stopping here is a great idea on a road trip with children, who get antsy sitting in a car too long.

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Photo | Marie-Claude Robert

5. Landscape

The beauty of La Vérendrye is positively breathtaking: waterways dot the landscape, flora is rich and diverse, and the imposing rocky outcrops give us a sense of perspective. If you take the time to appreciate the natural world around you, the journey no longer feels like an endless road to the middle of nowhere.

Johanne Vienneau, Executive Director of the La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve, Abitibi-Témiscamingue Sector, describes the sunrises and sunsets there as ‘utterly sublime’.

For me, it’s the majesty of the white pine and the deep green of the spruce that really strike me. Definitely worth the time to take in.

Photo | Dominic Boudreault

L’un des magnifiques couchers de soleil dans la réserve faunique La Vérendrye.

Photo | Dominic Boudreault

6. The Shop at the North End

There’s a kiosk at the northern entrance to La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve. The shop there sells some very handy things for anyone staying in the area: bait, firewood, bug repellent, etc. You’ll also find some great items with the La Vérendrye and SÉPAQ emblem on them: clothing for adults and children, accessories like ballcaps and hats, cards, beer glasses and more. Frankly, I cannot go in there without buying something!

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Verendrye-boutique-buck_Wcarre
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7. Les Chutes Rolland (Rolland Falls)

The rest stop at Rolland Falls has been renovated so even if you stopped there as a youngster, it’s worth checking it out again. There’s a 2-km interpretive trail leading to the falls, with helpful information about flora and fauna in the area, the Algonquin First Nation and log driving. Better yet: it’s free!

In addition to these seven strong points, La Vérendrye offers a variety of ways of enjoying the area, such as fishing and hunting trips, campgrounds and chalet rentals. So many ways to explore the Reserve other than simply driving through it. To accompany and enhance your experience in this fabulous area, might we suggest that you crank up your favourite tunes? As an incentive, we are offering a bonus gift: here’s a playlist to add to your collection, featuring 10 local artists from Abitibi-Témiscamingue.

The Best Lures for Catching Walleye

The Best Lures for Catching Walleye

A visit to the Zone Chasse et Pêche store in Val-d’Or and some browsing on the Web turned up lots of expert advice about the best lures to use for fishing walleye in Abitibi. I’d like to share my findings and personal favourites with you here.

Before I get to lures, just a little reminder about the new government bait-fish regulation. It took effect on April 1, 2017 and is intended to minimize risks associated with using bait-fish, commonly known as minnows. Click here to see the new regulation.

  • The use of live bait-fish is prohibited everywhere in Quebec.
  • The use of dead bait-fish in the summer is prohibited everywhere in Quebec.
  • For winter use, go to the Ministère des forêts, de la faune et des parcs du Québec (MFFP – Quebec Department of forests, wildlife and parks) Web site by clickling here. (map available in French only)

And, remember that walleye must now be transported whole or in ‘wallet’ filets. The MFFP Web site states as follows:

  • When a fisherman has in his possession elsewhere than at this permanent residence fish caught while sportfishing, the fish must be in a state that makes it possible to determine the species (for example, by leaving sufficient skin on the flesh to identify it), the length and the number. When a length limit applies, the fish must be transported in such a way that its length can be measured. Here’s the link.

Here are the top five tried-and-true lures to use for catching walleye in Abitibi

poissons nageurs

Floating Minnows

The Hot ’N Tot and the Thin Fin are two of my faves. The Hot’N Tot, with its genuine metal lip, classic shape and wild movement, is a legendary bait. It’s excellent for trolling. Walleye cannot resist its side-to-side searching action. What is also great about the Hot ’N Tot, is that even if you scrape the bottom (which is ideal when fishing for walleye), it doesn’t get snagged because it flips upside down when it hits an obstacle. It really helps in areas that are rocky or where branches have sunk to the bottom. Whether it’s a bright sunny day or twilight, the Hot ’N Tot will help you to provoke strikes and be very productive.

The Thin Fin is a classic go-to that all serious fishermen need to have in their tackle box. With its multi-ball rattle, the Thin Fin emits a clicking sound and a vibration underwater as it moves. The lure sinks head first and has an erratic, darting action that imitates natural movement. The longer and more pronounced the tongue, the deeper it goes. You’ll see that the Thin Fin is very effective early in the season when the walleye is shallow. My husband really loves the Thin Fin for fishing walleye. In fact, he used it to land his biggest one yet: 9.5 lbs!

This is all well and good, but you are probably wondering what colour swimming fish lure is best for walleye – there are countless ones to choose from. Happily, I have an answer for you!

Perch imitation is a very good choice because it’s prey of choice for walleye. They’re crazy about perch!

Natural black and silver works everywhere. Using the most natural colour will give you better results in clear to moderately clear water.

Walleye imitation because the walleye is notorious for cannibalism. You can go for an imitation of a fish whose appearance and action remind the walleye of its food. Daniel Robitaille, professional fisherman, fishing guide and columnist for the Quebec hunting and fishing magazine, Aventure Chasse et Pêche, recommends the 7-cm. gold/black Flicker Shad. He says it has done an amazing job virtually everywhere he’s tried it!

marcheurs de fond blanc

Bottom walkers

Walleye can often be found just a few feet above the lake bottom. The bottom walker is just a metal pin bent to 90° with a sinker attached to it. The rule of thumb for choosing the proper sinker weight is an ounce for every 10 feet of water. The three- to four-foot worm harness goes behind the bottom walker. You can use a little Indiana-type spoon for the harness, in pink, fire tiger, chartreuse or silver, colours that work well for walleye. The classic technique is to troll slowly, using an earthworm. The sound of the bottom walker hitting the rocks excites the predators, who are territorial.

live target bait ball

Live Target Bait Ball

This realistic lure works really well in clear water. It imitates a school of small fishes, and as such is an attractant for walleye, who see it as a big lunch in one fell swoop! Its medium dive lip and slender body allow the bait to dive quickly and hold in the strike zone longer.

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Flexible Bait

Flexible bait is used with a jig head. You insert the hook under the belly and bring it out at the top of the back. Flexible bait vibrates, and so there’s a lot of action in the water. It’s exactly the kind of food the walleye is looking for. You can cast or troll with this lure.

Jigger

Jigger

Despite their small size, jiggers are formidable allies in the search for the most beautiful walleye. These guys have a fat little body and a lively tail that vibrates at high speed. Jiggers will yield excellent results early in the season with fish that are starting to feed again. The jig must move up and down slowly. The deeper you go, the heavier the jigger head you need; the same applies when there’s a current or wind. The deeper the colour of the water, the better it is to select highly visible colours like orange, yellow, green or chartreuse. Chartreuse is the colour that got me my best walleye so I highly recommend it ;-). In crystalline water, natural colours can often work very well. The biggest sellers at Zone Chasse et pêche are pink, white, blue and chartreuse. I have purchased a few pinks and blues and intend to try them out this summer!

Disappointment-Free Fishing

Disappointment-Free Fishing

Every year the retreating ice signals the frenzied start of fishing season.

Just a few minutes from Val-d’Or and we are in the great outdoors, speckled with numerous lakes awaiting us. With rod in one hand and tackle in the other, we’re ready for a brand-new day of fishing, on the hunt for the best-looking pike in the lake!

We become more patient as we bask in the silence on the water and take advantage of these moments of serenity to admire nature, feel the gentle rocking of the boat, listen to the birds, breathe in the fresh air, turn our faces to the warmth of the sun and admire all the colours of the natural world.

Then, a bite!! The adrenaline starts to flow! We get ready for that last tug that will land our prize in the boat. Every fish that comes out of the water is followed by a surge of pride!

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In the Réserve faunique La Vérendrye, over 800 lakes are accessible for fishing. They have walleye, lake trout, northern pike, speckled trout, smallmouth bass, and sturgeon.

In our bubble, the only thing on our mind is fishing and we experience the restorative effect of nature and the sense of well-being it brings. If we want to appreciate every second of our fishing days to the fullest and not give in to disappointment, we have to appreciate the natural landscape around us and keep our expectations in check.

Lunchtime? Time to return to shore, light a small fire and toast our sandwiches – yummy!

Fish aren’t biting? Time to try some different techniques or different bait. We’ve got all day to meet our quota. In the heat of the afternoon sum, we find a little beach on the shore and play in the water for a few minutes. Then it’s back into the boat for a cool one!

We come home sun-tanned, our catch in the basket – what a wonderful way to spend a day, to spend the summer! And we’ll have plenty of fishing stories to tell as well.

And what could be better than fresh pike sizzling on the grill? If you’ve never had it, give it a try. It’s unbelievably delicious!

 

Translated by Anne Laflèche