Here is a quick video of some of last week in Canada. I'll post a write up a little later. I'm not happy about being home. Enjoy:
Here is the write up:
All in all, the drive up to Canada was uneventful which is always a good thing on a 1500 mile trip. This year I left around lunch time since I would be making the maiden voyage of my new to me Subaru Outback. I passed all of the familiar landmarks that I have come to look forward to on the trip like the state lines, the big cities, the area attractions, humorous billboards and signs, certain bridges with scenic rivers flowing beneath, and this year I was able to add the Subaru plant just south of my Uncle’s house. I arrived at his house about 10:30 this year so that gave me roughly 3 hours to sleep before it was time to wake up and get on the road. My brother was arriving at the Minneapolis airport at 9:30 a.m. so we were going to try and make it there a little earlier than normal so he didn’t have to wait as long. Along for the ride was my 12 year old first cousin once removed, Riley. This would be her first trip out of the country and was a last minute guest. She only had to give up a weapons training camp (she is in the process of earning her black belt) to go on this trip so we were happy to have her. We arrived at the airport around 11:00, the border around 4:00, and the cabin around 7:00 where we were greeted with a cold beer and a warm greeting from my parents. After a couple of beers and talking about how hard the fishing had been over the past couple of weeks, we laid down and listened to the loons out on the lake as we fell asleep.
The next morning we awoke to a nice looking day. We did the necessary chores of launching the boat and going to town for fishing licenses, adult beverages, and miscellaneous food items. We did stumble upon a new one at the package store this year. It is the Canadian equivalent of Red Bull, a high gravity (only 6% condensed can of Molson called a Cold Shot.
Once the chores were done, it was time to go fishing. For the first afternoon, it was me, my brother, and father in a boat and we went out looking for Musky. Over the last few years, my Dad has really been concentrating on fishing the backs of the bays where the fish will be laid up under lilly pads or in the bull rushes. He used to always avoid these areas because he thought they only held snakes, a term used for juvenile musky. Within a couple of hours we landed a couple of snakes, probably around the 25” range. The fish were on the move and were really coming after the lures. A little bit later I managed to catch a nicer fish that I estimated to be around 32” but my dad said would probably go 36”. Looking at the picture now, I think I am going to lean towards my father’s guess even though he tends to be a good guide and over exaggerate the lengths a little.
One of my Dad’s life long friends also owns a cabin on the same lake and his son and daughter were in town. They are both avid fisherman and like to portage the same lakes my brother and I do so we knew we better hit them as quick as possible. We decided to head over to Boot Lake first thing the second morning. Boot Lake is a pretty little lake that doesn’t get a lot of traffic and holds a large quantity of small Musky. Not a lot of size but what they lack in length, they make up in character. You have to follow a creek that comes into the back of a bay for a couple of hundred yards, then walk through the marsh grass to the bank where you find the trail to Boot.
The weapons of choice for Boot are fly rods and poppers. The wind happened to be coming out of the West pretty hard which isn’t what you want on the main lake or on Boot but you play the hand your dealt. We did the best we could battling the wind and had only picked up three fish before lunch. After some lunch on “Lunch Rock,” a few pulls off the bottle, and some wild blueberries, we got back on the water.
The next section of shoreline was a little more sheltered from the wind and the fishing really turned on. With only three fish before lunch, we were really hurting as far as numbers were concerned. We managed to end the day with 14 muskies on the fly, probably 13 of them on a popper.
Great video compilation. Brings back a lot of memories, and things to look forward to. The guy using the baitcaster looked to have a monster on the end of his line.
Were you on Lake of the Woods, or closer to Dryden?
Was the cabin through an outfitter, a rental, or a personal place?
The next morning was calm and sunny so my brother and I went exploring on the main lake with our fly rods for walleye, bass, and musky. We started out throwing bugs for bass and walleye but I only had one strike from a quick smallmouth who somehow managed to escape the hook. The sky was full of what the local weatherman calls popcorn clouds so I made a few attempts with the camera to take a panoramic. This was the best of the bunch and I can’t tell where the camera stitched the three pictures needed to make the panorama. Pretty cool I think.
After getting shut out for walleyes and smallmouth, we went back in the bays looking for shallow water Musky on the fly. My brother managed to get the skunk out of the boat with this fish.
After lunch, I decided to stay in and take a nap but woke up pretty quick. The lake was like glass so I went down to the dock and pulled the canoe out of the boat launch. On the way back in from the morning fishing, I had spotted two smallmouth that were pushing four, maybe five pounds just out of casting range of the dock. I rigged up the five weight with a leech pattern and paddled out to the area where I had seen the fish. A couple of minutes later I spotted the larger fish and made a nice cast leading him by several feet. The fish spotted the leech and went over to investigate. He got right up on it like a bream, and opened his mouth. Somehow, I again missed a fish. After that, he wouldn’t even look at another fly. I continued to paddle around out in front of the cabin, casting at smallmouth whenever I would spot one cruising the muddy bottom. I changed flies constantly trying all sorts of patterns but only had refusals. I decided to go further down the bank and came up on a musky, maybe 35”s, laying motionless on the bottom. I still had a hefty leech on so I cast it a little behind him and stripped it past him coming from behind his sight. This is a proven technique throwing other gear at Musky that just seems to trigger a strike. As the fly came from behind and entered his sight, a quick flick of the tail and he inhaled the articulated leech. A light hook set and the 3X was cut by his razor teeth and he headed for deeper water. About that time, I noticed my brother and dad coming back so I paddled back towards the dock. The smallmouth were still there and my brother asked if I had thrown a crawdad pattern at them. I hadn’t thinking there wasn’t likely any crawdads out in the mud flats in front of camp. I tied one on and the first cast one of the bruisers picked it off the bottom. I didn’t stand a chance with this fish. He was pulling the canoe around and I couldn’t even turn him. A little too much pressure and the tippet snapped. A little discouraged, I tied on another crawfish pattern and cast to the next cruising fish. A poor cast landed the crawdad right on top of the fish. In an instant the smallmouth rose straight up and inhaled the fly as if it was a popper. Again the fight was on and this time the fish took me straight into a tree on the bank. Shortly thereafter, the tippet broke and I was left in defeat. My brother couldn’t have been amused anymore as he sat laughing on the dock, soaking up the sun, and enjoying an ice cold beer. That sounded good to me too so I paddled back to the dock.
Day four of the trip, hump day, and we decided to go to the other end of the lake and portage to the lake trout lake.
It is an easy walk over and again it was pretty windy out on the lake. The plan was to troll for lakers with lindy rigs and minnows until we found a school of fish and then jig for them with light tackle. Fishing was average for the lake and after a couple of hours of trolling, we (my brother and dad) had boated four fish that probably averaged 16”’s with the biggest being 25”. For the last hour, we broke out the spinning rods and jigged road runners and bucktail jigs where we had caught the other fish. I felt a bump as the jig fell and set the hook. I was into a nice fish that was really peeling line off the reel. The same thing had happened last year and I was excited to be in on the battle. The fish are suspended about 35 feet down in about 60 feet of water so the fish I had on had a lot of water to move through. After several minutes, I managed to get him to the top and had him in the net. This was a nice fat lake trout and measured 27”. It was almost identical to the one I managed to land last year.
After fishing Shrub Lake, we headed back to the main lake and fished for Musky. I think we managed to catch three small fish before heading back for dinner. On the way back in, my dad decided to stop and make a few casts where a creek comes in from another portage lake. This creek always has a good bit of water running, a lot of times, there is a musky around. Sure enough, he spots a quality fish cruising towards the creek mouth and he pitches his mepps in front of it. The fish turns and follows to the boat. A couple passes with a figure eight motion of the lure to get the fish hot and he strikes. My dad felt the fish and set the hook. This is the fish you see him fighthing in the video that has already been on for several minutes before I got the camera rolling. This fish was pissed off and was doing all that it could to throw the lure. As it turns out, when the fish turned on the lure, my dad snagged it on the outside of the head right by the eye. We manged to land the fish and it measured 41” but was really heavy and looked even bigger than it was. I wish I would have gotten a picture of it but didn’t.
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.
What a neat looking trip. The video was awesome! It was kind of Blair Witch Fishing. I really enjoyed the video, pics, and read. Thanks for sharing with us!!
Thanks, Brian Martin
GMREEVES, I thought you may appreciate this one caught last fall by my Father-in-Law on a caribou slash fishing excursion.
Yep, that's a big laker. I have yet to see any like that in the lake we hike to to fish for them but would love the chance. The largest to date has been a 31" fish and no where near the trophy size lake trout that you see in other places. I think that fish in your picture would have dumped are little spinning reels in a heart beat!
What an amazing trip!!! It must be nice to have a place in Canada to go to!!
Awsome video and pics!!! Maybe i'll up there one day.
"We try to be perfect, but we're only fishermen. We wade out into the water, we don't walk on top of it."