While under normal circumstances, normal being something in rather short supply this year – particularly for me – I have about a twelve day gap between my week at Beaverland Camp and Esnagami Wilderness Lodge, and at least another six or seven day hiatus before heading off to Great Bear Lake.
The fact is, that between Beaverland, Esnagami and Great Bear, I only spent a total of three days at home from June 8 to July 14, giving me barely enough time to do some laundry, and otherwise reload my tackle and gear.
Look, I’m not complaining, and while it’s a tough job, someone has to do it – so why not me?
The jaunt from Beaverland to Esnagami was seamless, in that Kenny Gold and his brother Barry picked me up in camp on June 14, whereupon Kenny immediately tossed me the keys, pointing out that I had a long drive ahead of me.
While Kenny’s record for the longest distance he has ever driven on this particular trip is about 2km, he claimed to have done all of the driving between his cottage and Beaverland, and while I was tempted to ask him why Barry was at the wheel when they pulled up, decided to let it pass.
I’m sure Kenny likely dreamt he was driving while comfortably curled up in the passenger’s seat counting sheep, pumpkin seeds, or Lord knows what else - so why burst his bubble? There would be plenty of opportunity for that sort of thing in the weeks to come!
The nine and one-half hour drive to Geraldton was otherwise uneventful, but for two very important, and totally unexpected acquisitions.
Kenny forgot to pack his pumpkin seeds – don’t get me started on that - so we stopped in Cochrane at Dionne’s Valu-Mart on the oft chance they carried them - pumpkin seeds being something of niche item - and not surprisingly we struck out, but Barry made, what to him and Kenny anyway, was a rather startling discovery.
In a small cooler at the very back of the store, was none other than several pieces of the famous (or did they say infamous?) Chicago 58 – All Beef Kosher Salami.
A somewhat animated discussion then ensued between Barry and Kenny having something to do with the fact that the Jewish family who once owned the company sold out to some Italians, with the result that in Barry’s opinion anyway, it was no longer as good as it once was.
Although I really had no idea what they were on about, I did remind them that Italian’s certainly know a thing or two about salami – they may have even invented it – therefor leaving the kosher aspect aside, how bad could it be?
Regardless of who was now making it, this was a find that couldn’t be ignored, and not only that, it was cheaper here than in Toronto! Two or three were of course purchased, which if you’re the least bit interested, tasted just fine.
The pumpkin seed dilemma was weighing heavily on Kenny’s mind, so much so that when we stopped for fuel in Kapuskasing – this was about the 10th fuel stop, because Kenny gets nervous when the fuel gauge dips below half – he insisted on visiting the small variety store at the gas station - just in case.
He was gone a while, so I stuck my head into the store to see what was up, and there he was at the check out counter, with both an ear-to-ear grin, and several packages of pumpkin seeds!
I would have bet money, and given long odds that there was no way he would have found them in that out of the way place, but then again, who would have thought that Dionne’s carried Chicago 58?
With that crises having been averted, we had a stress free drive to the Between the Bridges Inn in Geraldton, stopping only for ice cream in Hurst, and several more for fuel whenever a gas station was spotted.
Father and son team Henry and James Zohar, together with Al Haniford had already arrived at the Inn, so we had a couple of drinks and a bite to eat with them, and just otherwise caught up on what everyone had been up to over the past year.
We were fortunate to have Brad and John Sommer from Illinois, another father and son duo who we met at Great Bear Lake the previous year, joining us this year, but they would not be arriving for several more hours, so we were going to have to wait a bit before we could hook up with them.
So How Do You Like Your Weather? Crisp…
While the Between the Bridges Inn has a good restaurant, it normally doesn’t open until 7am, meaning that if the guys wanted breakfast, we had to find somewhere in Geraldton – like the Crown & Anchor - that opened earlier, in that our flight to the lodge was schedule for 8am, and we had about an hours drive to the float base in Nakina.
As luck would have it, the very accommodating folks at the Inn did us a real solid, and opened the restaurant at 6. They set up a small buffet with various breakfast meats, potatoes, etc., and the cook prepared our eggs to order. Nice…
It was very much appreciated not only by us, but also by a number of other guests who were travelling to the lodge that morning as well.
The day dawned sunny, still and crisp, but as the day wore on, the sun disappeared, the wind picked up, and it got down right chilly. The thermometer at the lodge was showing forty-four degrees Fahrenheit, meaning we were going to have to put on a few layers before heading out on the water.
Once everyone got settled in and geared up, and because it was their first time on this rather formidable body of water, Kenny and I took Brad and John on a tour of the south/east portion of the lake.
First stop was at what we call “Turkey Dave Point” where John proceed to catch two Whirler’s – or Whitefish to you rookies.
It was then off to Fire Island, Cemetery Point, Wildcat Narrows, Anchor Island, Betty Falls and Banjo Bay.
Everyone caught fish wherever we stopped, but particularly at Wildcat, Betty and Banjo. Brad and John caught in and around forty Walleye throughout the day, and John also boated a 28” Pike. Kenny and I landed about fifty Walleye, with Kenny loosing a very nice pike in Banjo, likely because he was not using a leader, as we were only targeting Walleye at the time.
After dinner, and because it was still rather cool and breezy, we decided to stay in and play a few games of Cribbage before turning in.
Funny thing was, around 8:15 that evening, the wind dropped and the sun came out, so perhaps we should have gone out, but someone had thoughtfully fired up our propane heater, and the thought of gearing up, and leaving our nice warm cabin really didn’t appeal to either of us.
It Was a Bright – (bright) – Bright – (bright) Sunshiny Day!
So say the lyrics to “I Can See Clearly Now,” and so say the Esnagami weather Gods.
The weather had done a complete 180, and while we had some fog first thing in the morning, it had pretty much burned off by the time we finished breakfast, and the day remained sunny and warm, with light to non-existent winds.
Once Brad and John got everything loaded into their boat, which given the amount of gear they had, should have thought about hiring a Sherpa in order to save some time and effort, we went on an excursion of the north/east part of the lake.
We worked Bonaparte Island, Sanctuary Reef and Walleye Island, but surprisingly only managed to catch a few fish. This clearly had nothing to do with our considerable skill as fisherman, but was directly attributable to fact that it was dead calm, and as a result, nothing was moving, especially the fish – and if you believe that…
After having caught a fish pretty much every couple of minutes the previous day, Brad and John were getting a bit frustrated with this one every ten or fifteen minutes nonsense – although todays fish were on average, considerably larger than yesterdays. We assured them this was nothing more than an anomaly, and that things would definitely pick up, particularly when the wind kicked it up a notch or two.
After a brief pause to eat lunch, we took them over to Fox Bay, and while the action was still on the slow side, they managed to catch several nice Walleye, using a bottom bouncer and night crawler combination.
As the Walleye were not being overly cooperative, the time had come to see if the Pike were also lying low, so we made our way over to Louella Bay to do a little “hunting” as we like to call it.
I guess our “hunting” licenses’ must have expired or something, because there was nothing moving at all – at least not that we could see having given it a good going over.
Kenny and I had about enough, and decided to make our way back to the lodge. We left Brad and John at Wildcat, after being given assurances that they could find their way home, having punched all of yesterdays locations, including the lodge, into their GPS.
Once back, we had a couple of pre-dinner cocktails, together with a few slices of the Chicago 58.
Unlike yesterday, we went out after dinner and took a run over to Bonaparte Island. We picked up about ten Walleye off the eastern edge of the island, in water that was between six and twenty feet deep. On the way back we hit Fire Island, and only managed to come up with one fish.
The other guys fishing there had not fared much better, and it appeared as though Eric was spot on when he said that Fire had yet to turn on, likely because the season was a couple of weeks behind where it would normally be this time of year.
Henry and James didn’t bother with Fire, and trolled the shoreline west of “Snaggy Point” where they caught five Pike. They also managed to befriend a Bald Eagle, which I will tell you more about a bit later in this narrative.
U Can’t Touch This
There is no question in my mind that good ‘ol MC Hammer was thinking about the Brook Trout fishing on the Esnagami River, when he wrote his song, which coincidentally bears the same title as noted above – because when the river is on, as it was today - “U” definitely can’t touch this!
Today was going to be something of a “day off” for both Kenny and myself, as I would be heading down river with Eric and Jim – who had travelled to the lodge from Ireland for the second consecutive year – while Kenny would be going out on the lake with whatever guide got the short straw that day.
Well Codey, you now understand the meaning of the expression:
“One man’s misfortune is another man’s fortune.”
The three of us flew down to the River Camp, and before heading out, took a look around in order to ensure that everything was in order for the guests who would be coming in later that afternoon.
Using a light sink tip and a black, Bead Headed Bugger with a few strands of “flashabou” incorporated into the tail (Jim used a similar rig, and also took a few fish on a dry fly); we had the kind of day that most anglers can only dream about.
We caught and released thirty-five trout, most of them in the fourteen to seventeen inch range, and also landed four that were eighteen inches or better.
And to give you an overall sense of just how many active fish there were in the stretch of river we fished, I’m not exaggerating in the least, when I tell you we lost every bit as many as we caught.
While we caught trout in every run we fished, the most productive were the first set below the River Camp and the “S” Bend, although the “Honey Hole” was none too shabby as well.
Eric, who knows the river like the back of his hand, and loves nothing better to fish it, had to actually be coaxed into fishing, which I admit had me scratching my head, but when I asked him what was up, he responded by saying that he was really enjoying doing the “guide thing” and putting us on fish.
I know exactly where he was coming from.
Jim and I also had a “friendly” going in terms of who could catch the most Golden Trout – or Walleye if you prefer.
We definitely each had four, with there being some doubt as to whether I had caught a fifth. Lets just say that we weren’t keeping too close a count on the “Golden’s,” and when all was said and done, decided to call it a draw.
And finally, just to top things off, the weather was perfect, and even the bugs took the day off for the most part.
Eric/Jim, if you ever read this, I can’t thank either of you enough for the best day of Brook Trout fishing I have ever had the pleasure to experience – and I’ve had some pretty spectacular days on this river in years past.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, or lake in this instance, Kenny and the rest of our group, while not catching any trophies, also had a very productive day.
Most of the guys fished Black Flag where they caught a ton of Walleye, while Kenny and Codey fished a spot known as “The Well,” (more on “The Well” later) and boated about seventy Walleye over a very short period of time.
I seem to recall that when we went out after dinner, Kenny insisted on taking me to “The Well.” Well, I guess they must have fished it out, because but for one Walleye, “The Well” appeared to be well, dry – or so we – well Kenny primarily - thought.
Le Déjeuner á La Sommer
Brad and John kindly offered to prepare a shore lunch for Kenny and I as a thank you for doing the tour guide thing, and while we don’t normally do shore lunches, it would have been impolitic to turn down their most generous offer.
We decided to have lunch in Trout Bay on, wait for it - Lunch Island - and on the way there, (and on the way back) Kenny insisted we stop at “The Well.” On both occasions it produced a big fat zero, and despite suggesting that perhaps he may be mistaken, he was steadfast, because he recognized a particular rock with orange lichen on it that marked the spot.
And although I pointed out that there were at least a thousand rocks sporting orange lichen scattered all over the lake, he continued to insist we were in the right place, and the problem was not him, it was me, because I was a lousy guide.
Now why didn’t I think of that?
Anyway, we moved on to Neil’s Reef and picked up several fish, then headed over to Trout Bay, and fished both Black Flag and the Gene Pool.
Between us we brought in ten fish for lunch, and divided up the jobs as follows:
- Brad lit the fire and filleted the fish – he is an absolute machine with a fillet knife.
- I prepared the potatoes/onions and got the beans going,
- John coated and fried up the fish, and
- Kenny leaned against a rock while sipping a diet coke, and of course ate his share of the lunch.
We enjoyed a fantastic lunch on one of the most picturesque shore lunch locations Esnagami Lake has to offer, which consisted of:
- Crispy fried fish, that were dipped in an egg wash, then rolled in crushed saltine crackers, and some of the coating the lodge included in our shore lunch kit, and just as they came out of the pan, Brad finished them off with some salt and lemon pepper.
- Fried potatoes and onions, with Montreal Steak Spice and Cajun seasoning, and of course
- Pork and Beans.
At any shore lunch it usually doesn’t take long for the Gull’s, or as some prefer to call them “Goony” birds to show up, but on this occasion word must not have gotten around, because there was only one solitary Gull hanging around to help clean up.
This lucky bird not only had ten fish carcasses to chow down on all by his lonesome, we also left him a little bit of fried fish, and a spoon full of potatoes - just so he wouldn’t feel left out. We were tempted to come back the next day to see if he was too fat to fly, assuming of course that some of his buddies didn’t arrive a bit later to give him a hand.
After lunch, we put Brad and John onto the reef in the middle of Trout Bay on the oft chance some fish had moved up onto it, but there was not much doing either there, or on the big shoal towards the back of the bay.
I suppose it was not all that surprising, because Trout Bay has traditionally been at its best a bit later in the season, but what the hell, we were there anyway, so why not give it a shot?
Having pretty much struck out in the bay, we moved back to Black Flag, followed by Neil’s Reef, where we left Brad and John while we worked our way back towards the lodge.
The Aquaman Swimeth
As we were about to head out after dinner, someone who was strolling past our dock, pointed out that our minnow bucket had become untethered, and was about to float away.
I thanked him, pulled the bucket into the boat, and told him if he’d been there a few minutes earlier, there was something else, or more particularly someone else in the water, who had also become untethered, and was on the verge of floating away.
To make what would otherwise be a long, and rather complicated story short, Kenny somehow managed to roll out of the boat and into the water, and in the process lost his cell phone, which despite conducting a thorough search over the next several days, was nowhere to be found.
There was a rumour going around that a fish had swallowed it, because if you dialled his number, you could hear a ringing sound coming from under the water over by Fire Island, but it never was confirmed.
It’s also worth mentioning that he blamed me not only for the Aquaman incident, but also for trying to run him over with the boat while he was flailing helplessly in the water.
Let me just say that I will not dignify either of these ridiculous, and clearly self - serving assertions by issuing either a confirmation or a denial – but if he had stayed in the water just a minute longer…
Once the Aquaman changedinto some dry cloths it was over to Loon Island where we caught a single fish, another at Scooby Narrows, several at Fire (which seemed to be coming on somewhat) and two more at Turkey Dave Point.
You may recall I mentioned that Henry and James had befriended a Bald Eagle. In fact they had been giving him a couple of fish each evening, and shot some spectacular video of the big bird taking the fish right off the water, and flying it back to the nest, where the female, and a rather hungry Eaglet were waiting for their dinner.
Shore Lunch Redux
The day dawned sunny and warm, but unlike yesterday where we had a light breeze, it remained pretty much dead calm, and you know how much the fish like that – or so we thought at first.
Today we would be joining our fellow guests for group shore lunch, which was going to take place on Louella Island, so we decided to fish in that general area - at least until after lunch.
Not surprisingly, Kenny insisted we stop at “The Well,” which produced yet another zero, and even though he kept insisting that this was the “place,” I could tell he was beginning to waiver somewhat under my relentless cross examination, which consisted of only one question:
Are you sure???
We stopped at Tuna Fish Island – formerly known as Neil’s Reef – but there was not much happening. We then headed north, and tired the rather big bay just north/west of Caribou Straights, and while it looked very “Pikey,” there were none of the toothy critters to be found.
Next, we fished Bonaparte, and only managed to catch three or four in fifteen to twenty feet of water.
As it was getting close to lunchtime, we decided to give Tuna Fish one more shot before heading over to Louella
I don’t know who flipped the switch, but my jig didn’t hit the bottom before we were into what turned out to be a shit load of fish – and not little ones either.
Fishing off the eastern most point of the island in about fifteen to twenty feet of water, we caught a bunch of fish in the low twenties, together with Kenny’s twenty seven and one half, which given its rather impressive girth, we at first thought was a great deal bigger.
Because Tuna Fish is only a stones throw away from Louella, there were a lot of boats around, and once they saw what we were up to, it looked like the Spanish Armada was about to invade the island.
No worries though, there were plenty of fish to go around, and John caught a twenty-four and one half, and twenty-five inch Walleye, despite the traffic jam.
After a fantastic lunch, which included my all time favourite, Eric’s Lemon Wine Walleye, we went back to Tuna Fish surprisingly without most of the fleet in tow, and fortunately there were still some active fish around. We stayed until 4pm, before heading back to the lodge, with the obligatory stop at “The Well” where we washed jigs for ten or fifteen minutes.
It’s Eagle Time!
Too bad someone forgot to tell the Eagle.
Henry and James were gracious enough to let Kenny and I tag along when they went to visit their pet Eagle, but unfortunately he was not on his “hunting tree” as Henry described it.
Although both Eagles were at the nest, James couldn’t coax either of them to come closer, despite throwing a couple of fish into the water, which we have no doubt they saw.
Once we had packed it in for the day, Kenny introduced Brad to Forty Creek Rye Whiskey and ginger ale, which unfortunately for Kenny and his supply of Forty Creek, Brad really, really liked – lol!
I Think I’ll Give It An 11 Out 10
The weather started off picture perfect, and fortunately stayed that way throughout the entire day.
Brand and John were going to be heading down river, so I lent them a few lures, flies and a couple of rod/reel combos that would hopefully put some Brook Trout, and perhaps a “Golden Trout” or two into the net.
Our first stop was of course “The Well” where Kenny did actually catch one Walleye. Maybe this really was the right spot after all – NOT…
Given our success the previous day, we made our way over to Tuna Fish, and while there were a few fish still to be had, it was a bit crowded on the east side, so we worked around towards the back end, when we encountered my very first Woodland Caribou!
I have been fishing Esnagami Lake for over twenty-five years, and until today, I had never actually seen one in the flesh. Unfortunately we were some distance away, but did manage to get close enough and take a couple of pictures before it hightailed into the forest.
We tried Bonaparte yet again, and although it was slow, I did catch a twenty-four and one half inch Walleye. Sanctuary Reef had a few fish on it, and while there; we noticed a boat working the south shore of the first island just east of the reef.
It was time to look for greener pastures, and we were just about to head off in the general direction of Joe Clarke Springs (?), when the other boat hailed us. It was none other than Eric, Kyle Randal of Wilderness Journal fame, and Kyle’s cameraman, who were filming an episode of the Journal.
Even though there were apparently plenty of fish around, they were off in search of some bigger ones, and were kind enough to cede us the spot, and from that act of kindness, the legend of Dumb Luck Island was born.
We had a perfect drift, and between us caught about seventy Walleye in one very small area. Many were over twenty inches, with the biggest being Kenny’s twenty-seven incher.
After several hours of non-stop action, we decided to head home, both because we were getting tired, and had run out of minnows. Not that you needed them mind you, as the fish were more than willing to take a jig/grub combo, or a plain marabou jig.
After dinner we followed Henry and James to check out the Eagle, and fortunately he landed atop his “hunting tree” shortly after we arrived.
We were fishing upwind of Henry and James, and regrettably didn’t hear James calling us before he tossed a fish into the water. We made a bee line in their direction, and just as the Eagle swooped in, I did manage to get one decent picture just as his talon’s brushed the surface of the water and picked up the fish.
We also caught some very nice Walleye in the same area, bringing our days total to just over 100.
Barry and Al caught a bunch of fish at Black Flag earlier that day, with Barry landing a twenty-four inch Walleye.
Brand a John had a fantastic day on the river, catching countless “Golden Trout” and both a seventeen and seventeen and one half-inch Brook Trout. Many of the Walleye were caught on a fly, while the trout succumbed to a #4 Panther Marten and a small “Shad Rap” Rapala.
Perfect weather, tons of fish for everyone, including some big ones, seeing the Eagle in action, and spotting my first Caribou – yup – giving this day an eleven out of ten was not an overstatement…
I’ll take the high road and simply say that Kenny is somewhat directionally challenged, particularly when in came to directing me to the actual location where he and Codey caught all those Walleye several days ago.
Because Kenny never drives the boat, his back is always to the lake, and as a result, he sees the lake in much the same way as we view traffic in our rear view mirror.
Therefore in order for him to navigate effectively, using either a map or GPS, he would either have to turn them upside down, or face forward for a change.
I had fished “The Well” many, many years ago, and have to admit that where Kenny kept taking me didn’t feel right, but then again he was apparently just there, so why argue?
On our way back to the lodge later in the day, while travelling south through Reed’s Narrows, we spotted a couple of boats clustered together on the east side, about half way through the narrows, who were clearly on fish.
I immediately asked him if that just might be the infamous “Well,” and for the first time in either my recent or distant memory, he was speechless.
After a few moments of silence, he somewhat grudgingly admitted that because he and Codey had first approached it from the top end of the narrows, and our initial approach was from the opposite end, he might have screwed up.
See above regarding his navigation skills.
In any event the mystery was finally solved, and we both had a good long laugh about it.
But I digress.
After a mercifully quick stop at “The Well,” or as I now have taken to calling it “Dumb Ass Point” this morning, we hightailed it over to Tuna Fish.
Brad and John tagged along, and we all caught several nice fish, including John’s twenty-six inch Walleye, but it was otherwise kind of slow, so we left Tuna Fish to them, and made our way over to Dumb Luck Island.
What a difference a day makes, and although we caught a few, the fish had either moved elsewhere, or because it was dead calm and hot, and the water we were fishing was relatively shallow, they developed a case of lock jaw.
We took a break around noon, floated around and ate our sandwiches. The rest of the crew, who had been down river a ways, came over for a chat, but unfortunately they hadn’t faired much better than us.
Once lunch had been disposed of, we had just started fishing when Kenny spotted a couple Eagles perched atop two separate trees, no more than a hundred yards from our location.
He had just landed a small Walleye, and we decided to see if we could get closer, pull a Henry and James, and perhaps coax one of them to take the fish, and get a few action shots in the process.
I won’t go into detail about how Kenny dispatched the fish, because I don’t want to have PETA up my nose on the oft chance one of their members reads this, but dispatch it he did, and we moved towards them as slowly and silently as possible.
My camera was already set up from our previous Eagle encounter, and once we were within twenty yards or so, Kenny let the fish fly. Both birds clearly saw it hit the water, and the only “action” was when the larger of the two took off and headed inland.
The smaller bird just sat there, and while it didn’t appear to have any interest in the fish, was not the least bit camera, or people shy, and posed for what turned out to be several very good pictures.
We decided to make an early day of it, because being the last day and all, it would take a bit of time to pack, and the fishing was no screaming hell in any event. On the way back we spotted Brad and John at Tuna Fish, and stopped to see how they were doing.
They had been at Black Flag with the rest of our crew for much of the day, and while they caught loads of fish, didn’t land any trophies, although Barry did catch a thirty-five inch pike in that same location.
We fished for a half hour or so, and caught a few while watching Brad cool off by taking a dip in the lake, and I have to admit, we were somewhat tempted to follow his lead given the rather oppressive heat.
Chef Troy prepared a delicious steak dinner that evening, following which; Kenny and I went over to Fire Island, and much to our surprise - it was deserted. We thought that at least some of our crew would be joining us, but they apparently stayed in, settled their accounts, and packed up for our morning flight out.
It probably made sense for Brad, and John in particular, to stay in and pack given the amount of gear they had - as a matter of fact, John should have started packing a couple of days ago - but the other guys travel relatively light – with the possible exception of Barry - and it usually doesn’t take them very long to stow everything away.
That was unfortunate, because Fire had burst into flames!
We caught well over forty Walleye in just over one and one-half hours, in depths ranging from ten to twenty feet, and while there were no trophies, there were plenty in the twenty to twenty-three inch range to make it interesting.
Not only was the fishing great, Esnagami Lake threw in a killer sunset to top off what had otherwise been a fantastic week.
So Long, Farewell, Au Revoir, Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu and Goodbye…
Over the years we have become accustomed to having an extraordinarily good time at the lodge – with this year being no exception.
The service, accommodation, food and of course the fishing, were as always, first rate, and while I have said it many times before, if there is a better overall value in terms of a fly-in fishing experience, best of luck finding it.
We have a great group of guys that was augmented by the addition of Brad and John Sommer, who – and I think I speak for all of us - would be welcome to join us again anytime. They are great people, and it was a pleasure having them along.
As mentioned earlier, I have been fishing Esnagami Lake for over twenty-five years, and yet it never fails to throw a few surprises my way each year. Neil’s Reef, or Tuna Fish as it was re-christened this year, being a perfect example.
In years past I had always fished either the south or north shore of this small island, but never thought to move out into the deeper water off the eastern most tip.
As I’m fond of saying, good luck invariably trumps good management, and it was just plain old dumb luck, and nothing more, that put me on the exact spot where all those active fish just happened to be hanging out.
We had a pleasant drive to Sault St. Marie on Saturday, while enjoying the spectacular vistas along the north shore of Lake Superior, and after checking into our hotel, as is our custom, headed over to Giovanni’s, for some very good Italian food. Our good buddy “Elvis” the waiter came by and said hello, as did several other staff members who recognized us from years past.
Unfortunately Brad and John were unable to join us in the Sault, having travelled home via Thunder Bay and Duluth, it being the more direct route back to Illinois.
Finally, I would be remiss in not mentioning that James pulled off a good one while Barry, Kenny and me were checking into the hotel.
He had enlisted the young lady at the front desk – who played her part flawlessly I might add – to inform us in no uncertain terms, that we were not allowed in the pool area. The reason being that this was not a clothing optional facility, and last year there had been numerous complaints, because the three of us obviously didn’t get that particular memo.
We damn near started to plead our case when I noticed James, Henry and Al standing off to the side, barely able to contain their laughter.
And don’t forget mis amigos, we are already booked for next year!