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World Class Speckle Trout Fishing
John Winters' fishing friend, Randy Beamish, with perhaps the greatest trophy in freshwater: a magnificent, wild Ontario brook trout
Algonquin Park's brook trout lakes are a national treasure.
“Brook trout are symbolic of the wilderness,” says good friend and trout enthusiast John Winters, who notes that the brilliantly beautiful char demand pure water, typically found only in small remote pristine headwaters. “The lakes are sensitive to human disturbances and because of their low productivity, brook trout populations are vulnerable to over-fishing.
Retired Algonquin Park Superintendent John Winters says that brook trout are symbols of pristine wilderness and prized by anglers around the world
“It is why brook trout, some folks also call them speckle trout, are one of the most sought-after fish in the world. They are the state fish in eight states in the United States, where sadly, few naturally self-sustaining populations remain today.”
Trout enthusiast John Winters, shown here with a typical Algonquin Park brook trout, says paddling a quiet canoe, catching and releasing wild trout and keeping a couple of smaller fish for shore lunch is a great day in paradise
That this is not the case, however, in south central Ontario's awesome Algonquin Wilderness Provincial Park, where for many years Winters served as the Park Superintendent, and where trout enthusiasts from around the world make bucket-list pilgrimages.
“There are many lakes in Ontario, as well as the rest of Canada, that support non-native brook trout populations,” says Winters. “The fish are raised in hatcheries and stocked to provide superb put-and-delayed take angling opportunities.
“But there are very few examples of these stocked trout ever successfully reproducing, in spite of the tens of millions that are planted each year. This means that the lakes in Algonquin Park represent the most southerly self-sustaining brook trout populations on Earth.”
If there was ever a candidate for Ontario's provincial fish, Gord Pyzer believes it would be the brook trout, as displayed here by fishing friend Mark Stiffel
These same small, picture-postcard, granite-bottomed lakes—most are less than 40 hectares in size—are located on what Winters calls the “dome,” the highest point of land in this part of Ontario. Small underground springs, seepages, and streams flow off the dome into larger rivers forming parts of the Muskoka and Ottawa River watersheds.
Another characteristic of the dome lakes is that they are clear and cold, with surface water temperatures generally reaching only 20° C and bottom temperatures ranging between a chilly 13 ° C and 18° C, even in the middle of summer. Cold, oxygen-rich spring water bubbles up from the bottom to keep the lakes invigorated and refreshed.