The essence of an outdoor experience in Ontario is one of sparkling lakes, abundant wildlife, and the grandeur of unspoiled forests.
To find that, the wilderness voyageur often has to travel long distances, but fortunately, that is not always the case.
Lake Simcoe, one of Ontario's largest lakes, lies just three hours north of Buffalo, and can provide the avid outdoors man with a little taste of the "Great White North".
The region is no secret to Western New Yorkers, however, some people have been visiting here for generations.
Doug Bowden is a Lockport native whose family has enjoyed Simcoe for generations. "My grandparents originally came over from England, and they filtered through Toronto. They purchased some property up here, they did that back in the early 1930's, and we've been here since. We come up in the summer, and we go back for the wintertime."
The region is one of great beauty, surrounded by beautiful countryside, and the lake is an outstanding fishery. For anglers, there's a school of good reasons to make the trip to fish Lake Simcoe.
Wil Wegman of the Ontario Ministry Of Natural Resources knows the lake well. "The diversity of the fishery is one reason, the quality of the fish that you can catch can be outstanding."
The list of species is extensive. Anglers can pursue Small mouth and Large mouth Bass, Northern Pike, and Walleye. Cold water species are Whitefish and Lake Trout. The lake is also well known for its big Yellow Perch, a species that can be found throughout the year.
"Our fish are above average quality, a lot of 10 to 12 to 13 inch Yellow Perch, and those are fine eating fish," says Wegman.
Ironically, it is the frigid months that attract the most anglers.
While fishing the summer months can be a peaceful, uncrowded endeavor, ice fishing is an entirely different experience.
"It's the most intensively fished inland lake in Ontario, but only because of the winter fishery," says Wegman. "So you've got the period from January 1st through March 15th that sees more people fishing it than the rest of the year combined. So we do see our share of boaters, and definitely there are fishermen out there, but it can be pretty relaxing and not too busy during the open water season."
If you're planning a trip to Simcoe, there's a lot of great places to stay, motels and hotels with all the amenities that you could ever ask for.
But if you really want the true Canadian experience, you might consider roughing it just a little bit, and Sibbald Point Provincial Park is a great place to do just that.
"It's a wonderful park at the south end of the lake," Wegman says.
"A little bit further to the north as we get to Orillia, there are two provincial campgrounds, Marra and McCrae Provincial Park. Smaller parks that give you that real taste of what it's like to camp in Ontario."
And after all, that's what it's really about in the great Canadian outdoors, the chance to experience nature on a more intimate level.
"I'm roughing it a little bit," says Wegman. "I'm connected to the water, right on the water to be able to camp on the lake that you're staying at. I think it brings a closer connection. At least it does for me, and that's what I love about camping."
So there are a lot of good reasons to make the short trip up north, and all of them combine for a rich, memorable experience.
"We've developed some very nice friendships along the way" says Bowden. "So we've got some people up here that we hang around with, and the fishing is fantastic. It's got everything you need! "
Wegman agrees. "Once they fish this place, they'll find that connection themselves, and they'll walk away and think, 'when can I make another opportunity to fish Lake Simcoe?'"
A great place to start your trip, as 2 The Outdoors did, is to check out the region's most comprehensive website, www.luresandtours.com.
Happy camping !