and the last of it:
Day 5 and time was beginning to run out. The plan for the day was to make another short portage and fish a large pool that is formed from the creek that exits the lake. The hike is a pretty trail that goes along the river past some large rapids and then dumps over a waterfall that makes the portage necessary even for a seirous whitewater paddler.
This pool holds some large fish that are unpressured so they are usually eager to take the fly. We got in the boat and made our way casting down the shore line. I quickly raised a nice musky off of a submerged log. After seeing my Dad’s nice musky the day before, I was confident this one was just as big. My brother put the boat in reverse to keep distance between me and the fish. I would pop the fly louder and with more speed and force and the fish would push a wake trying to catch up. This went on for close to 100 yards with the fish chasing, nipping, and moving plenty of water and then he was gone. This was how the rest of the day went. We probably had 7 legitimate strikes and never landed a fish. I had one fish on that would have been probably my nicest musky on the fly and somehow the hook came out after several minutes of constant pressure and a good fight. It was a disappointing day with a lot of action. On top of all of the missed fish, the motor ran out of gas and would not start after refilling it. We pulled so many times that we finally pulled past the spring and had to paddle back up to the takeout against a decent current and a strong headwind.
Sometime during the night, the wind picked up and when we awoke, there were huge rollers across the bay in front of camp. The wind was probably 30mph with stronger gusts. We decided instead of going out on the lake, we would go pick berries and mushrooms. The five us piled in my parents car and headed towards one of my mom’s picking locations. My brother and I picked raspberries, my mom picked mushrooms, and the others picked blueberries. It was a good morning in the woods.
The wind blew the rest of the day but my dad and I went out for a night of fishing anyway. We made our way across the bay to another area of the lake that was out of the wind.
My fishing luck continued to be on the bad side and I missed another fish. I was beginning to think that a 6/0 treble hook must have been too small. About dark we headed back in for the evening with the wind still howling.
The next morning my brother and I went out for the morning and I was bound to fish the fly rod even with the strong winds. We fished the better part of the morning with heavy winds and the occasional shower. Neither of us raised a fish by lunch time. After lunch, my dad asked me if I was wanting to go back out in the wind and rain. What are you to say when it is your last chance to fish a lake you love and won’t see again for another year? We put on the Gore-Tex and headed out. We decided to go to an area that we hadn’t fished all week that is about a 20 minute boat ride from the dock. The wind was in our face and we went through a very sharp rain to get there. Once back in the bay, it wasn’t as bad and we began fishing a “secret” bay where fish will stack up when the waves are rolling in. Have I mentioned how my luck was going lately? True to form, the fish were in the back of the bay in cloudy water. I missed two nice fish fairly quick and then my father missed one shortly after that. We continued to fish the usual spots where we were and weren’t raising any fish. We had about an hour left and were working a really nice looking shoreline with several fallen trees. I cast across a pair of crossing logs and began my retrieve. As the mepps was getting close to a limb just below the surface, I speed up the retrieve to skip the blade over the limb. As the bait came out of the water, a musky came over the logs and missed the bait. I started reeling faster and watched the predator in action. With a quick motion of his tail, he propelled forward and opened his mouth. This time I was hooked up and the fish knew he was in trouble. He rolled, dove, jumped, and pulled out all the tricks. After he was tired out, we discussed how to get him in the boat for a picture. The net we had with us was for walleye and not suitable for the quality musky that was resting by the boat. I reached underneath the fishes mouth and felt around for his gill openings and slipped my hand in carefully so not to cut myself on the many rows of sharp teeth and gently lifted him out of the water. After a couple of pictures we laid the fish on the seat and marked both ends so we could get a measurement. It turns out it was 39.5” and a real beauty.
We fished for about another hour but I already knew my trip was over. While we worked a few more places, I just looked back at the past weeks events and remembered why I enjoy this trip so much every year. The fishing is just a small part of why I go to Canada that adds to the adventure. There is the company of family and friends, solitude, the sound of loons in the middle of the night, harvesting fresh food from the land and water and washing it down with some good Canadian suds, and on and on. During the drive north, I talked with my brother and another friend about possibly skipping Canada next year to go on a trout trip out west, but that last fish has me reconsidering.