A View Down-Under: Bathymetric Maps of Algonquin Provincial Park - Volume 1 The Chars: Brook Trout, Lake Trout and Splake

Back 2011, A fellow by the name of Stephen Molson, a regular contributor for many years previously on the algonquinadventures.com forum, published a fishing map book for purchase. This is a review of that book.

Not being dedicated or much good at fishing, I looked forward to the collection of maps in the book as a tool in my quest to better myself when it came to trout fishing. The arrival of my copy of the map book in the mail was accepted with anticipation that quickly turned to amazement and sheer satisfaction at seeing yet another Algonquin Park type of publication being worth much more then its face value of 'xx' dollars.

Opening the book

The book with more then fifty pages is not waterproof; It is laser printed paper, with a protective plastic front cover and laminated back cover, all this is assembled together with spiral bound. The approach might seem homegrown but the contents within are certainly not.

The book opens up with some background information as well as an introduction to the "bathymetric" maps (I had to look that one up!) contained within the book - Detailing both the advantages and benefits of fishing and navigating with the maps presented can offer the canoeist or kayaker. There is even a brief methodology describing the equipment used (GPSr) and sounding apparatus to achieve Stephen's mapping results as well as index contours which help with identifying key depth locations with respects to the seasonal habits of fish.

More then just a map book!

With decades of fishing experience, Stephen presents in well written form his equipment and fishing techniques that he has used for decades, to provide the reader with a base of experienced knowledge in which to draw upon. As a reference guide which someone like myself (Who is terrible a lake trout fishing) can learn from to help make informed choices with respects to gear selection and use.

The book dives deep into the author's picks in matters such as lures, reels & rods; The reasoning behind any particular choice and even touches on the subject of fly fishing. Experienced fishermen might do well to read this area of the map book even if all that fishermen is after is the maps themselves - A trick or two might be learned here.

Understanding the fish and their prey

There's more to just tossing a line in the water. Sure, it can be that easy or if you are like Stephen (Or want to be) - A successful fisherman who can reliably fish and even feed oneself should the need or desire arise. Here, much of the book discusses in detail the habits and environment of lake trout, brook trout (speckled trout) and splake. Breaking down each season's fishing temperatures and target depths within any given season for each specific species of trout.

Much is offered in how each species responds to prey availability with respects to seasonal/temperature fluctuations and weather conditions, coupled with the underwater structures of any given lake; Stephen has done well to present the facts as they pertain to the many facets of understanding the behaviour of trout and how to effectively equip oneself, with not just gear but a complete understanding of where, when and why one might want to fish a chosen area to provide themselves with many hours of fishing entertainment ending with positive results.

Here's a few passages from the book to give you an example of the info provided within the book:

Brook Trout
Summer: (Water Temperature 60-75F)

"As the surface waters warm into the mid-60's most of the fish tend to migrate to the deeper depths and move closer to the safety of deep water. Venture out to the 20'-25' ranger during the mid-day times and troll deep diving 3" crank baits. At low light troll stickbaits that run a few feet below the surface over 15'-20' of water that is in close proximity to waters 30' deep. Stay out of shallow (maximum depth less than 20' deep) bays unless there's a spring seepage or spring-fed influx creek of some kind. Locating springs is a difficult challenge however, and not all of them will hold fish."

Here's another sample:

Teaching tool

"Putting all the pieces together doesn't always guarantee fish. Even the most experienced angler suffers 'skunk' days despite doing everything 'right' in perfect conditions. Conversely the novice angler can be paddling unfamiliar waters , toss out a gawdy lure or hook/worm combo on a mismatched rod/reel/line and catch a 5 pound trophy fish. That's one of the appeals of the sport - There's no guarantee of success and everyone has a chance to experience that dream catch of a lifetime. The difference between the experienced and the beginner though is that the experienced can find and be on active fish more consistently across a variety of situations and seasons in less time and effort than the unknowledgeable one. This is achieved by a combination of skill, knowledge, familiarity with the waters and/or ability to understand and associate fish patterns in conjunction with a quality bathymetric map. It takes time, trial and error, an open mind and good observational techniques to develop these skills.

Finally, one never stops learning about fish behaviour and the sport itself. There will always be mysteries and questions whose answers will undoubtedly remain elusive. Fishing can be a great learning experience that help teach many virtues, the least of which is patience and respect. A bad day can humbles a veteran as much as a lucky day exalts the rookie. Take things as they come in the flavour offered and enjoy the experience."

Thirty pages in and there's still more…

There's even discussion on 'catch and release' fishing, which I've personally seen most people do. Why there is even remarks about tools used specifically for catch and release (I had no idea). From net selection to surgical forceps, these tools help assist the angler in making a delicate job a successful one in that the released fish will survive the 'procedure' and continue to thrive. Great care must be taken with the handling of fish and Stephen has described his method and tools used to release fish successfully.

Stephen has also included a few fish recipes of his own (Complete with photos), that can take anywhere from 15-25min over a fire or stove to provide a hearty meal. I too have experienced backcountry fish meals and nothing beats it - A great feeling of satisfaction comes over oneself when one can feed themselves from the waters of Algonquin Park and the taste is fantastic.

The Bathymetric maps

There is fifteen maps in total and with the mention previously of Stephen's method of acquiring his map data, the maps themselves are to be considered highly accurate. The majority of the mapped lakes contain either lake trout or brook trout, or both. The mapped lakes include a variety of areas of The Park; North, west, south and east. Four of the lakes are along the highway#60 route, with the rest being near access points and a few remaining maps being in the 'interior'.
This book offers maps for all sorts of people; those that have explored the fringes of Algonquin Park and those that have paddled deeper into her interior.

Two more things..

There's a Volume two book, containing an additional 18 maps, again with the majority of them being on the fringes of the Park. Like the first book, it also contains a few mapped lakes along highway#60. Most of the maps are of the east side of The Park.

Though both books are not waterproof, Stephen offers individual maps in laminated form for purchase. Should you want to leave the book behind in drier conditions, a laminated map onboard your watercraft of choice will help provide you with reliable media in any weather condition. Non-Permanent markers could also be employed to chart and plot your progress through the day.

Final thoughts

It is with a certain amount of pride that I have come to see this map book come to fruition; I have known Stephen for many years in the 'online' world and he has contributed greatly to the passion that is "Algonquin Park" in the theatre of the internet. Stephen's knowledge has been well represented here and I hope that others will find his book and maps as productive as I have.

Both books can be ordered online via Stephen's web site;

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