Day long side trip on Pout Lake with 63 year old Paul Murray his eldest son Wayne and myself. Ten days in September 1976.
Pout Lake (49.531358, -86.375684) is located 6 miles south of McKay Lake by river, which is 15 miles south of Longlac Ontario by logging road.
The three of us decided to explore two other nearby lakes. A bush trek and lake loop to Broadsword Lake, Robb Lake and back again to Pout Lake. We wanted to test the waters for fish and visit an area not yet logged (in 1976) of its trees.
This event happened several days after first motoring the length of McKay Lake by 14 foot outboard towing a 10 foot pram east to the mouth of Pout River that drains north into McKay Lake.
Just getting to Pout Lake was a solid hard day slog. After stashing the 14 foot foot and motor, we rowed, walked, crawled over boulders, tripped, rowed some more to get the 10 foot pram and all our gear to the 120 foot wide, 5 foot tall beaver damn at the mouth of Pout Lake. Low bush blueberries along the way were a welcome treat. No bears!
This large beaver damn at the north edge of the Lake raised the lake level 5 feet, flooding brush and creating extensive cover and habitat for small fish to hide in. We tent camped across the lake around a sheltered point in the south spur.
We needed several days to rest up after getting there and let nicks and bruises heal. We were hungry to fish for Walleye first.
So a week later, the three of us left our tent camp after breakfast with one rod each, minimal tackle, trail mix for food, canteens, dry socks, first aid kit, repellent, axe, compass, topographic map and one small flat bottom boat.
The boat was overloaded with 3 men and our gear. There was only 3 inches of free board left preventing us from swamping. We all wore tennis shoes and thin clothes, just in case. We rowed slowly and carefully 3/4 of a mile to the end of the south spur and across to the east side of Pout Lake. We landed and hauled the pram ashore and up a steep bank and headed east. We blazed trees on both sides with the axe thinking we would return the same way.
We did not.
There was no trail. We forged our own through the bush over trees and wet moss a foot thick in places. One mile south east through the bush we arrived at the west end of Broadsword Lake. A long thin lake aptly named. We pushed into the lake and slowly drifted east. We fished with jigs and spoons. We had several light hits but did not land any Walleye or Pike. We would have released them anyway.
The north shore of Broadsword Lake is stunning. The entire length slopes upward at a fair angle and is covered with the tallest straightest birch and maple trees I have ever seen. The thousands of trees created a cathedral. The morning sun behind us made the white birch trees glow like Greek marble columns against the misty shadows behind.
We stopped fishing and drifted slowly east with the wind in hushed awed silence for an hour. Along the way mink, otter and chipmunks played on the south bank of broken rock and at the waters edge, oblivious to our silent passing.
The east end of Broadsword Lake is low, muddy ground. Moose have trampled it flat, making a level road, not a trail, that lead north 1/3 of a mile to the southern spur of Robb lake. That second leg was the easy part of the entire trek.
We pushed in and rowed 1/3 of a mile north up the lake spur to the west end. We rested and ate trail mix for lunch. Lake water from canteens to wash it down.
Land surrounding Robb lake is lower, muddy, and not as scenic as the narrow cathedral of rock lined Broadsword Lake. It was now afternoon, bright and very warm. Paul took the axe and decided to scout ahead and blaze a trail back to Pout Lake. Wayne and I drifted east and fished halfway down the lake and caught nothing, again.
About mid afternoon Wayne and I returned to the west end of Robb Lake. No Paul. We knew we could not go back the way we had come. So we started after Paul's trail following his white blazed axe marks on the lodge pole pines. After a short while here comes Paul, tired and beat. His trail started off west toward Pout Lake but then veered off southeast as he tried to avoid swamps and rough ground.
Now it was late afternoon with 3 hours of sunlight left. We left Paul's blazed trail at the corner of his southwest jog and headed due west toward the east end of Pout Lake.
A mile and a half slog though thick bush, up and over ravines, logs, obvious bear dens and swamp we went west, straight at the setting sun. Wayne took the bow and I handled the the stern as pushed off though the bush as the mosquitoes urged us along. No black flies thankfully, the early September frost had knocked them all out.
With the setting sun just at top of the treeline we arrived exactly at the southeast corner of Pout Lake and put in. The aluminum pram survived the trek with no leaks.
Only 1-1/2 miles was left to row, against a light wind back to our camp. It was just dark when we arrived, dead tired and still soaked.
We fired up the Coleman stove, lantern and fixed supper.
It was a dead calm and perfectly clear most nights. The northern lights appeared most nights and entertained us before bed while we ate popcorn. We went to sleep every night and woke to the echoing cry of Loons on the Lake.
Paul has passed on. Rest in peace.
We will miss you.
Tent camping at McKay lake campground is suicidal. The campground lies between the woods and the camp dump and fish cleaning area. The bears use the campground as a road to get there and back again, all ..night ..long and into the morning.
So either bring a metal camper or get elsewhere the same day you arrive.
Stiff fines if you catch more fish than your daily limit.
Across the Mackinaw Bridge and north though Sault Ste Marie on HWY 17 to HWY 631, north, northeast to HWY 11, west to Longlac. A must stop in town at Skinner's Acre for gas, tackle, food, maps and colorful conversation.
South through Longlac on the main logging road, 12 miles to the turn off east and south 2 miles to McKay Lake where the camp ground and boat landing is.
Signs may be shot up or run over so have a copilot use the map and mark progress and distance!
Skinner's Acre in Longlac has all the last minute gear, maps and food you need.
Buy the topographical map of the Longlac, McKay lake area. Replace it as they are republished, more logging roads and bridges are added often.