Spring in Eastern Canada is the time of year where frozen lakes turn into flooded rivers, and for kayakers this means one thing; Stakeout. Widely considered the most epic freestyle big wave tour on the planet, this is the place to be if you’re a passionate wave boater in search of big features. Within my two Stakeout trips I’ve been blown away with how much fun these waves are, and while Eastern Canada has many great features to offer, there are a few that will keep me coming back for years to come. So if you’re planning on making the journey in 2019, take these waves into consideration for your first Stakeout.
If you prefer left tricks you’ll love this wave. It has a very dynamic right shoulder that’s ideal for big lefty panams and airscrews. You’re constantly riding a line between the pit and shoulder to get the steepest pass and you’ll definitely improve your technical edging while trying to avoid the “toilet bowl”, a surging wave on surfer left that’s known to give down time and brain freezes.
Best levels: Between 14 ft and 17 ft on the Ottawa gauge.
As far as places to stay in the Ottawa Valley, I recommend the accommodations at River Run Rafting, as it’s only 10 min from the wave. While they do have camping, I’ve stayed in their cabins and it’s a big bonus to have a warm place to sleep and dry out your gear after a cold stakeout day.
Ruins is a giant V shaped wave that’s fast, powerful and can really give some air. The wave isn’t steep but the ramp is boily and hard, so if you can be patient in a front surf while waiting for a pass you’ll be rewarded with a big take off.
For safety reasons I think it’s important to have someone there that knows this spot. The wave is formed between abandoned hydro buildings that create a nasty hazard on the river left side. River right of Ruins is what people call Bird Island. When paddling in from above you need to paddle all the way out to the Island to avoid this mess of old building sieves.
To surf Ruins you can either drop in from above the island or catch it from the eddy by riding in the right shoulder. Neither is easy. I found this to be the hardest wave to catch out of all the features I went to, but also the most rewarding once caught.
If you can time this wave then you’ve had a successful Stakeout. Though I’ve only been once, Molly is hands down my favorite wave. It’s steep, green, has eddy access and is a fair bit easier to catch than other features.
Located on the Mistassini River 60 km north of the town Dolbeau-Mistassini, it’s about a two hour journey on a dirt road before crossing a bridge over the river where Molly is conveniently located. Molly wave is best between 700 and 830 on the gauge.
The most difficult part about this wave is timing the water level. Bring enough gas and be prepared to camp and wait. I’ve heard several stories from people who have stayed out in the rain for a week waiting for the wave and still got skunked. It rises quickly so you’ll want to check the gauge frequently. If the Mistassini is on the rise you’ll want to be leaving Ottawa City when the river is at 600.
I would be curious to hear some local’s perspectives on their top three waves, but at the moment this is my triple crown that I dream about coming back for. Plan on the first two weeks of May as a safe window for the best levels. Good luck and happy Stakeouting!
I also want to give a massive thank you to everyone who paddled with me and helped me out on my previous Stakeout excursions with beta, rides and places to stay. Raphaël Boudreault-Simard, Chris Loughran, Jordan Slaughter, Brooke Hess, Send boys (Dane Jackson, Kalob Grady, Adrian Mattern, Bren Orten), Seth Ashworth, Andrew Oxley, Liz and Hal Davie, Katie Kowalski, Ben Marr, Leif and Natalie Anderson, Anna Wagner, Anna Wagner’s Insurance, Nicole Mansfield, Nouria Newman, Rebecca Harris and many many others. Thank you I love you guys!