Guide Review - LacBakerFishing - Daniel Ouellet
On Monday, July 13th, my wife Kourtney and I arrived at Lac Baker in Northern New Brunswick in the late afternoon during our weeklong summer vacation. We had dropped our kids off at the grandparents’ house on Saturday, and since then we were on our own for 9 days. Our vacation began with 4 days of fishing, or as we dubbed it, the “Fish-cation” before our trip to Boston for the remainder of our time. Monday, we arrived for what would be the grand finale of our “Fish-cation”, targeting Lake Trout with guide Daniel Ouellet.
Initially, I had found a classified ad for guided Lake Trout fishing while surfing the web one evening, and couldn’t believe how reasonably priced it was. As you may know from my fishemon article, when trying to catch all the species in New Brunswick, lake trout was one I expected to be very difficult. I mentioned it casually to Kourtney, and she said “let’s go on our vacation”. What a lucky boy I am! We set our plans to camp Monday night in a campground in Lac Baker, where our guide would pick us up bright and early Tuesday morning for the fishing trip.
Arriving in Lac Baker was quite an adventure. Even though we were still in New Brunswick, we were right on, and sometimes mistakenly over, the Quebec border. Imagine our surprise when we crossed a bridge and all of the signage changed colour and language! There was no “Leaving New Brunswick” or “Bienvenue au Quebec” signs to let us know we were changing provinces, but luckily, it turned out to be a blessing, as we had been looking for a store to purchase some ice and the ones we had driven by so far were all closed. With a transition to Quebec, the time zone shifted back an hour to the Eastern time zone, and the stores were miraculously still open!
With ice and beverages in our possession, finally we were back at the campground in plenty of time to watch one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen. As the sun crested the mountains of the northern Appalachian range, we realize just how beautiful this place truly was. No photo could ever capture the beauty, but of course, we had to try.
We were greeted bright and early with a pickup from Daniel right at the dock only footsteps from our camp site. “On Lac Baker, 10% of the fishermen catch 90% of the fish”. The confidence with which we were greeted left the anticipation incredibly high. Daniel has a few tricks up his sleeves to ensure that he always catches fish, and he’s not afraid to teach his clients about the entire technique, often in very “colourful” phrases.
Lac Baker and the surrounding communities are predominantly French, which can make for some interesting conversations when you haven’t spoken French since High School (which wasn’t yesterday). Daniel, on the other hand, speaks fluently in both French and English and was happy to speak with us entirely in English and even do some translations for us when we conversed with locals. A former English teacher, he knows how to turn a phrase as well as any.
Using a downrigger was a new experience for me, and it’s pretty cool. For those unfamiliar, a downrigger generally consists of a horizontal arm and a cannonball connected to it by steel wire. The line from your fishing rod is then “pinched” to the downrigger by a clip or “release”. The design allows you to troll your lure or bait at a specific depth. The hum of the downrigger wire as you slowly troll around (Dan calls this the mermaids singing), and the constant bend of the rod as it maintains connectivity with the downrigger ball was something to get used to. At first, I found it difficult to tell the difference between the usual bounce of the rod and whether or not there was a fish at the bait, but once the real deal was on the line there were no further questions.
We were blessed with another beautiful day, and it wasn’t long before there was a fish on the line. A “small” 17” Laker was the first catch of the day, and my first Lake Trout ever! With the sun rising over the mountains in the background, aside from my presence in the photo, it was really quite the scene! Within the next 15 minutes or so, I had landed 2 more 16-17” trout. Unhappy with the size of the trout we were seeing here, Daniel elected to move us to another of his locations on the lake. In a lake this size, Daniel really has a great sense of direction and knows the lake extremely well. Using no GPS or visual markers, Dan is able to take you to exact locations of humps in the lake where the trout tend to be plentiful.
During this transition, Kourtney and I decided to change seats, as Dan mentioned that the back of the boat where I was seated generally catches far more fish than the front. Wouldn’t you know it, within minutes of changing I caught an 18” trout from the front seat! It wasn’t long though, and Kourtney finally managed to bring her first Lake trout aboard.
When we had set out that morning, Daniel told us about his seagull friend, Ronald. Ronald is an enormous sea gull with a bright red spot on his beak. Every day Ronald follows Daniel’s boat around the lake, knowing that sooner or later Dan is going to feed him. Even this sea gull knows how to recognize the successful boat from the pretenders!
Throughout the morning, Daniel is quick with the jokes and happy to share with you tales and his extensive knowledge of the area. A lifelong resident of Lac Baker, he knows his way around and knows the urban legends and enough anecdotes to keep you laughing and learning between fish.
After a few beautiful hours on the water, by 10:00am our final tally was 11 Lake Trout, with the largest being just a hair under 20”. No monsters today, though Daniel showed us photos of a 30 pounder his client had caught only two days before! Given the plentiful nature of the fish in the lake and the potential for giants, it should come as no surprise that we were already thinking about when we can return to fish with him again.
If you’re looking for a place to spend some time and catch some beautiful fish, you owe it to yourself to give Daniel a call or check out his website. LacBakerFishing knows how to make sure you enjoy yourself, and will definitely put you on the fish. From May 15th to September 15th each year, Daniel’s clients catch over 400 Lakers, and in 9 years of guiding he’s only had one afternoon in which he didn’t have success. Don’t we all wish we could say that?
Trust me, however, if you ever spend a summer evening in Lac Baker, it’s about a lot more than just the fishing.
Daniel Ouellet can be reached by telephone at 506-992-9820 or via the web form which I used here: http://lacbakerfishing.com/en/
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