possibly the world’s largest smallmouth bass
Pound for pound, the smallmouth bass is the gamest freshwater species–so claimed Dr. Henshall. Despite its many attractive qualities, the world of the smallmouth is dwindling, and locating quality Canadian bass water is getting to be a difficult proposition.
Situated just across the Ontario border in western Quebec, the Beauchêne Reserve has been a premier smallmouth fishery for many decades, and today stands as one of the most productive spots anywhere in Canada. Although it began as an exclusive sportsman’s club for executives, Beauchêne has been available to the public for many years. Though the facilities have been upgraded consistently, the many charms of the original Beauchêne have not been lost.
A three-pound bass is a trophy in most waters; club Beauchêne consistently yields bass that go three pounds, and often larger. There’s a wealth of natural foods in the many lakes on the reserve, from crayfish and frogs, to leeches, mayfly nymphs and abundant forage minnows. Four pounders are not uncommon, and many an angler has tangled with, and landed smallmouth that topped five pounds.
Late spring and early summer fishing offers plenty of topwater opportunities for both those who like conventional tackle as well as the fly rodder. A slowly twitched minnow lure or popping bug often brings explosive strikes. As the summer warms the waters, the bass will retreat to deeper levels, but are still very vulnerable to small jigs and crankbaits.
Lake trout, pike and some very large walleyes are also present, though the smallmouth are the primary reason anglers journey to Beauchêne. Lakers run five to eight pounds on average, and the pike about the same size, with the occasional trophy over l5 pounds. Walleyes can be elusive here, but they can occasionally exceed ten pounds.
In recent years, the owners of Beauchêne have instigated a brook trout stocking program in some of the smaller, outlying lakes, and it has been a great success. Brookies in the one- to three-pound range are possible, with four to six pounders taken annually.
Lake Beauchêne is the largest lake in the reserve, and the focus of most anglers’ efforts. Little Beauchêne is reachable via a short portage. Almost a dozen other smaller lakes in the reserve are available by road, each of them promising quality angling for bass, walleyes, brook trout, pike or lake trout.
Beauchêne’s main lodge is a sprawling, two-story white mansion that sits on the lake shore, beckoning anglers at day’s end. Double occupancy rooms all have private bathrooms, heat and electricity. Many intact groups of four to eight prefer one of the individual cabins that are also on the club grounds. Each one features bedrooms, plus sitting room and full bathroom/shower facilities. In any case, anglers will all gather together for the well prepared meals, served family style, with a French Canadian accent.
Beauchêne offers a number of trip options, including 3- 4- and 7-day visits. The lodge is reachable via gravel road or charter flights from nearby North Bay can be also arranged.