Story & Photos submitted by: Brendan Troy
The alarm goes off and that immediate reaction kicks in, ‘I can sleep for another 30 minutes.’ The first few rays of sun are slowly gracing my bedroom window and I remember that today is not a day to sleep in. Today is one of those days that you don’t forget, that you lose yourself in a moment of nature and tranquility, a day that I go fishing with my dad.
Hastings County is incredibly lucky to be situated within a formidable land of rocky outcrops, expansive tracts of native forests and lakes. So many lakes. These lakes, many of which are very accessible, hold a vast diversity of fish both in size and species. Some may surprise you with Musky large enough to mimic a submerged canoe, or a Lake Trout hardy enough to survive 60 feet below the surface. Our lakes call to us during the summer, inviting us in with their cool, clean waters and we definitely invest within them. Their shores are pock-marked with cottages and primitive dwellings, someones claim to nature and the lake.
On this morning, my old man and I decided to try our luck on Limerick Lake. Found just 35 minutes north of Madoc, or 25 minutes south of Bancroft, the lake is just to the east of highway 62. A wide open main body sprawls out with many tentacle-like bays that hold a wealth of fish species. The lake is an impressive 829 hectares and 30 metres (roughly 100 feet) in its deepest areas. This allows much space for so many fish to hide.
Something I feel is a right of passage for a Canadian father and son, we tied the canoe to the top of our family mini-van and ventured north of highway 62. As sure as the sun setting and the moon rising, we had to stop once to tighten and adjust the canoe to ensure we didn’t litter the highway with fibreglass fragments. Grabbing a coffee from Mcdonald’s in Madoc almost seemed like treason seeing as how Timmies sat just across highway 62. Fuelled up on caffeine and adrenaline, it was a short drive to the Limerick Lake Lodge and Marina where we were able to park and launch our boat. From there, the nostalgia set in and it was time for my father and I to pretend we were Bob Izumi.
Departing from the friendliest marina I have yet to see, the lake opened up in-front of our canoe. Paddling past the personally labelled boat slips it's evident that this is a real home-made marina with no commercial vibes. We paddled through the weed-filled bay and out to deeper waters. Lily pads and bullrushes filled the perimeter of the lake. Tree stumps, submerged logs and weeds gave a natural feel to the large bay, not to mention much structure for under-water predators. We tried our luck in the weedy areas first hoping for a large bass or pike. While that didn’t pan out, the panfish quickly showed their presence. The old pro in the front of the boat started pulling out Pumpkinseeds, Perch and Rock Bass. While not the most exciting fish to catch, these species show a healthy lake and provide food for those larger sport-fish.
We continued our personal fishing show venturing further into the lake. Aside from the occasional friendly boater, the lake was calm and quiet. The iconic Canadian sound of the Common Loon echoed across the bay and we watched as 3 loons flew overhead. As my dad and I reminisced over days on the lake and my dad doing his best loon impressions, we finally found the bass. I pulled in a small, though very exciting Largemouth Bass. After releasing the future trophy fish, my father hooked into a beautiful Smallmouth Bass. Just like the best fishing show on Sunday morning TV, the bass leaped high into the air and I could see the real excitement on my dad’s face. I got the net ready but this beast wasn’t ready to cooperate and quickly took a run for deeper water. That sound of the screeching drag only heightened the anticipation to land this modest fresh-water monster. Safely in the net my father and I got to rejoice with the fish and take a quick look at it’s beautiful colouring and thick belly. The fish was quickly returned to its underwater domain as we celebrated above.
The sun was now high above and doing its best to cook us in our little boat. We paddled back to the expansive marina as Snapping and Painted Turtles dipped under our canoe. A soaring Great Blue Heron flew just over the canoe as it searched for a good spot to relax in the peace of Limerick Lake. We arrived back at the van and did our best to tie the canoe on top before the journey home. Obviously, as always, we had to pull over once to tighten the canoe before the short drive back home.
While we wouldn’t have made Jeremy Wade proud as we never found the true monster, the value was found in our time spent together. The perfect picturesque setting of Limerick Lake was accompanied by an amazingly friendly experience at the marina. So friendly that they have a state-of-the-art Tesla charge station in the parking lot. Though the parking area is questionable for some nicer vehicles, this only increases the accessibility of the lake. While I didn’t know much about the lake before venturing out, I’m glad my father and I experienced everything it has to offer. Limerick Lake is one of the best in the area and I can’t wait to search for monsters in its depths again.
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As one of our six Local Wanderers exploring Hastings County, Brendan enjoys hiking the trails, family paddling adventures and fishing.
Our Local Wanderer Initiative is funded and supported in part by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Sport and Regional Tourism Organization 11 - Ontario's Highlands.