My name is Barry Laukkanen. I was born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. My dad, being an avid angler and hunter brought us kids into the bush every opportunity he had. This is the reason I love the great outdoors so much. Even to this day, whenever I hear the white throated sparrow sing its song or smell a Coleman stove, childhood memories come flooding back. We never owned a camp and always stayed in a tent. I'm glad because it taught us how to cope in all kinds of weather. My dad never gave up on a trip because of the weather and he taught me many tricks that would help me later on in life. My dad's favorite fish was the brook trout and we either fished from shore or used a canoe.
Ice fishing was also a big part of my childhood as winter gave us an opportunity to fish lakes that were hard to access in the summer. This is how I was introduced to winter camping. When I was 14, my dad decided to take my brother and me into Lake Superior Provincial Park on an ice fishing trip for the weekend. Because it was a long drive and no motorized vehicles are allowed in the park, we had to snowshoe into the lake pulling toboggans with our camping gear and fishing equipment. It was cold that night and I will never forget how proud I felt in the morning, standing by the warm fire, about making it through the night.
Over the next 10 years many more winter trips followed, including 3 trips in colder than minus 30 degree Celsius temperatures. Because some of the lakes we fished were hard to get to, staying overnight gave us an opportunity to get in two days of fishing. When I was 19, I was a cook in a family style restaurant and saw an ad for a fishing guide and decided that was what I wanted to do. I got the job, but after six weeks things did not work out. I was disappointed at the time, but the following year, Pine Portage Lodge based out of Wawa, Ontario needed a guide. Guess who got the job? I had almost no experience fishing walleyes or using a boat and motor. Spending many hours in a canoe had taught me about balance and respecting the weather--two things that are important if you want to be a good guide. As for catching walleyes, growing up fishing mostly brook trout made this easy. And all my years spent camping and roughing it had prepared me for doing shorelunches and dealing with bad weather. I ended up working for the Watson family for six years as this was a dream job for me and their lodge truly was a Hilton in the bush.
When my dad retired at the age of forty-nine, he wanted to buy a business and keep working. Gravel River Resort was a business that needed to be fixed up and altered; it was just what we were looking for. When my parents bought Gravel River, the plan was to turn it into a resort and capitalize on the outstanding fishing that the area had to offer. Gravel River Resort is located along the north shore of Lake Superior, famous for its steelhead and brook trout fishing. This is where I first learned how to catch Steelhead. I guided out of Gravel River for many years and spent many hours exploring Lake Superior in my 14 foot boat.
After five years at Gravel River, I met my future wife at church in Nipigon. She was a teacher at Nip-Rock high school and it wasn't long before we were engaged. We decided to buy a house in Nipigon, Ontario and now I needed a good paying job. It was my dad who saw the ad in the newspaper looking for a fishing guide at the Old Post and Village up on Lake St. Joseph. It was kind of neat because I had just read an article about the Old Post in a magazine. I can remember being nervous because Lake St. Joe is a large lake and can be very dangerous due to rock hazards, but it also had a reputation as a top notch fishery. At Pine Portage Lodge, I was known as a Walleye guide and rarely fished for Northern Pike. Going to the Old Post was scary because it was famous for its monster Pike and as a guide, I would have to learn quickly. After two weeks on the lake, I had fallen in love with Lake St. Joe. The fishing was great and because the lake was so big, each guide could call a different area to take their groups each day, never overlapping one another. I have lost count of the number of days that I fished all day without my group seeing another boat until we got back to camp.
Then came the opportunity to get a job at the mill in Nipigon. Because we were starting a family, this was a no-brainer. I managed to guide on Lake St. Joe in between layoffs at the mill and always enjoyed my time there. In 2007 there was a fire at our mill, leaving me without work. It is ironic that I now live in Nipigon, home of the world record Brook trout, my favorite fish. Because I now have four children, extensive guiding experience and live in what I call "little Alaska" without a job, I decided to start Hardcore Fishing and Adventures.
I am 38 years old and am willing to go on a few more hardcore adventures yet. Nipigon is home to a variety of trophy fish and hosts an abundance of wildlife with rugged mountains and stunning scenery to match. We have so much to see and do that I know this will be my home for the rest of my life.