Driving versus Flying Commercial on your Fly In Fishing Trip

A Pros and Cons Perspective

Our chariot waiting to fly us into Root Bay

For many if not most of us getting to the jump off point for a fly in fishing trip requires some travel. Ontario is a vast land, where I live in the Greater Toronto region it would have taken us 18 hours to drive to Sioux Lookout. To put that in perspective in the same amount of time I could have driven to Daytona Beach, Florida or in less time I could have went to Nashville or Kansas! For the bulk of our trips we have driven to jump off points like Nakina, White River, Spanish, Mowat’s Landing and so forth. This year for our with Slate Falls Outposts Root Bay Trip we decided to fly commercially (Air Canada) to Thunder Bay, then drive to Sioux Lookout. We didn’t make this decision lightly as we struggled with the notion of having everything we needed for a week at an outpost while meeting baggage requirements for commercial flights (and not paying a small fortune for extra bags). In the spirit of sharing I thought I would break down our group’s perception of the pros and cons of both.

Driving

Pros:

  • Pack what you want (within reason)

  • Create your own schedule (traffic issues not withstanding),

  • Typically, a cheaper option than flying,

  • Shopping can be done ahead of time which can reduce costs (take advantage of sales, bought a lot of cabin items at Dollar Store etc.)


Cons:

  • Long travel time especially on the way home. With some weather delays leaving camp on our Ogoki Lake Trip Ogoki Lake Trip Report we ended up driving right through the night – I was exhausted and it took a few days to get back to normal

  • Vehicle Logistics – you need a large vehicle or multiple vehicles to take 5 guys plus all the gear needed for a trip

  • Traffic and other road delays. We have experienced it all – brutal traffic south of Wawa, a broken down car Pickle Lake Trip Report, a long tow truck drive and other various chaotic issues. When you have a lot of hours to cover these delays can impact your trip


The van we rented to drive to Nakina, Ontario - we ended up calling it the Iron Maiden. She was functional but not very comfortable

Flying Commercial

Pros:

  • Speed – a 15-hour drive to Thunder Bay was a 1 hour and 20-minute flight.

  • Someone else manages the logistics

  • Time away/vacation time – I don’t think we would have considered Sioux Lookout without flying commercial. At 18 hours that is more than likely 2 extra nights away if you don’t want to drive straight through.

  • Freshness – I wasn’t sure what to call this but basically even with some major delays on our trip to Sioux Lookout we arrived at the bunkhouse much more alert and ready to go than we had on our previous drives

  • Points – on our trip 4 out of 5 guys covered the cost of our flights with credit card points. If you time it right between regular spending and sign up bonuses it was not hard to get a $350 ticket fully covered.

  • Personal Car wear and tear – let’s face it there is a price to putting 3000 + kms on your own vehicle


Cons:

  • ·You are at the mercy of the airlines and rental car agencies – I am giving grace because we did fly in the wake of a global pandemic but our flights were changed numerous times, one was cancelled and we had to re book and our original rental van reservation vanished as both Hertz locations in Thunder Bay closed

  • Packing – packing for a week isn’t easy but we did manage it with only our fishing gear counting as extra bags (and only 3 extra bags for 5 guys) I am going to write a short post sometime soon on how we tackled it

  • Shopping – we made out fine, there are lots of options in Thunder Bay but our list was not well organized (My bad fellas!) and we paid approximately $40 more per guy than we did when we shopped locally

  • Cost – not withstanding the points option flights plus car rental was more expensive than driving – even when we rented a large van (see picture of the van above). Plus there costs for airport parking fees or taxi to the airport and so on

  • Delays - we were lucky on our trip - even with delays our timing was fine but I do realize that when flying commercial things like weather delays or traffic issues can really jam you up.

I am not sure this Root Bay view would have happened without flying to Thunder Bay commercially

Which Travel Method do I Prefer?

I am comfortable saying that our group preferred flying commercially. At least when comparing it to our drive to Nakina in 2018. I think for any trip that is over 9 hours long, where flying commercially is an option that would be our plan. The flight home from Root Bay was perfect! Being home in the Greater Toronto on the same day we left camp at 7 PM with plenty of time for a hot shower and meal - priceless!

For anyone looking for input on what/how we did it please feel free to reach out at northernjacks1@gmail.com

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