When it comes to fishing, accessibility too often translates to abuse. Such is the case of the Oxtongue River and the rainbow trout.
The Oxtongue is an especially beautiful waterway that flows southward through Algonquin Park and into Lake of Bays and the Muskoka region. There aren't a lot of rivers that qualify as ideal habitat for the rainbow, but the Oxtongue, with its ragged rocks and deep pools, is certainly one of them. Its water — pristine, fast, and highly oxygenated — is what the rainbow demand.
But its proximity to Southern Ontario's human population has caused a dramatic loss to that of the rainbow trout.
My family and I own a small piece of property along the river, and for a decade we've been hatching a plan: Restore an unbroken ecosystem from Algonquin Park through to Lake of Bays through the creation of a spectacular trail system that encourages hiking and catch & release fly fishing.
Our plan is ambitious: It calls for a restocking of the river with thousands of rookies. It calls for landowners to give their blessing to the creation of continuous trails along the shores of their properties. And it calls for further acceptance of catch & release culture.
But we are already making great strides. Several landowners have indicated their support. (Discreet plaques along the river's edge with the landowners' names will acknowledge their generosity.) The Oxtongue Heritage Association has enthusiastically endorsed the plan. And we have assembled a team of local residents who are eager to serve as stewards.
The initiative will offer a new generation an invitation to interact with Mother Nature the way she intended — all the while restoring the natural heritage of the river.
— Yuill McGregor