Esnagami Wilderness Lodge Revisited
It Was Murder!
A murder of crows that is.
When driving almost 3000 km’s to and from Nakina, ON, - the first half being along Hwy #11, the majority of which does not offer much in the way of scenery – you either sleep most of the way like Kenny, or if you’re behind the wheel, find something to do in addition to driving that keeps you sharp, focused and most importantly – awake.
While our June sojourn featured a wide variety of critters en route, other than the occasional bug that made a lasting (or should I say - last) impression on our grill and/or windshield, this time around we were strictly limited to Corvus brachyrhynchos or American Crow, which is but one of over 30 distinct species of this omnipresent bird.
Therefore, this trip’s version of “Where’s Waldo” consisted of doing a crow census to and from Kenny’s home in Richmond Hill, ON and it turned out to be a veritable feathered frenzy, as we tallied 137 in total. Optimism ran high at one point, because it appeared we just might top the Raptors NBA bench scoring record of 100 on the return trip alone, but unfortunately the crows went into hiding once we hit 80.
Arriving at the Between the Bridges Inn in Geraldton around 5:30 pm. Kenny took over the driving duties and backed our vehicle into the parking space adjacent to our room.
He’s my hero.
The Green Carpet Treatment
To say that Eric and Sue roll out the red-carpet for their guests would be incorrect – because in our case anyway - it was green.
Last year they put in a series of wooden walkways to make it a bit easier to navigate the somewhat rocky and uneven terrain around the lodge, including a section from the main lodge to Lakeview, the cabin Kenny and I would be staying in.
When we first arrived, our little section of walkway was just exposed wood, but upon returning from fishing one afternoon, found that it had been covered in green “carpet,” no doubt to improve one’s footing when it invariably got wet. The “carpet” was in actuality roofing material, but it certainly did the trick and looked pretty good too boot.
Now about that escalator to and from the dock…
Having 10 days of fishing ahead of us, we took our sweet time getting organized, which also afforded us the opportunity to have a nice leisurely chat with Eric and Sue and catch up on things since we were last there.
This was going to be one of their busiest weeks of the season, with 24 guests in camp throughout a good part of the week.
Unlike many other lodges, who rely primarily on American clientele – one lodge in the area had only 2 quests in camp for several consecutive weeks - they were indeed fortunate to have a sufficient number of Canadian customers to make operating a viable proposition.
Because it had been a good many years since I fished the lake in August, unlike during our June trip, I brought along my portable sonar in anticipation of having to fish some new areas and possibly deeper water.
August was also noted for being prime time for big Pike, because they would be concentrated in the thick, mature weed beds, and had been beefing up throughout the summer months on the abundant forage the lake has to offer.
One thing that puzzled me – I tend to get puzzled a lot, but will limit it to just the one thing for purposes of this narrative – was why, after such a hot summer, the Pike would be in relatively shallow weed beds rather than hanging out in deeper, cooler water?
Eric, who has forgotten more about the fishing patterns and structure of the lake than most, if not everyone else who has fished Esnagami will ever know, enlightened me by explaining that the most prolific and productive weed beds are spring fed, meaning that things are nice and cool way down in the cabbage, so the Pike have no incentive to go off in search of greener, or in this case colder pastures.
While we intended to spend a good portion of our time stalking gators during our stay, today our plan was to visit some of our spring fishing haunts and try to get a sense of what the late Summer fishing patterns were likely to be.
We hit Fire Island, Tuna Fish and a couple other of the usual suspects, and to say it was slow would not be an understatement – in fact when it came to Tuna Fish, dead would be a more apt descriptor.
As the bulk of the guests would not be arriving until Saturday, we took dinner in the lodge dining room, which was now being used since the Province had implemented stage 3 of their reopening protocols, but opted to dine en suite the following day until Eric and Sue could determine if it would be safe to offer use of the dining room to everyone in camp.
Following a very good steak dinner, we ran over to Fire Island, but it was – now what’s that word – let me think – oh ya – dead! Because we never have, nor will we ever concede to being “skunked” on Esnagami Lake, we swallowed our pride and went over to Wildcat Narrows.
Now I don’t want to leave you with the wrong impression, because Wildcat is usually a fish factory, but we were so used to catching more than we could count at Fire, Wildcat was one of those places we rarely visited.
Fortunately, there were a few around, but most were rather small – 14” to 16” - although we did manage to catch a couple that topped 18”
If today was any indication, and assuming we wanted to catch more than just a few fish, we were going to have to come with a new game plan that did not involve slavishly adhering to our Spring fishing blueprint.
I’ve Been Everywhere Man – I’ve Been Everywhere
(Geoff Mack ain’t got nothin’ on us)
Whiskey Jack, Aquarium, Reed's Narrows, Blueberry, Jackfish, Cabbage Patch, Black Flag, Betty Falls, Banjo Bay, Turkey Dave, Fire Island – we were everywhere man – we were everywhere!
The day started off somewhat inauspiciously with a couple of Loons having a domestic outside of our cabin at approximately 4am. What their particular problem(s) was is anyone’s guess, but I would suggest they consider getting into counselling, and come to an understanding that all squabbles must take place between the hours of 7am and 7pm.
Eric had kindly set up a gator excursion for Kenny and I with his son Liam at the helm, so right after breakfast we were out on the prowl.
With the exception of Turkey Dave and Fire, Liam guided us to all of the aforementioned places, several of which we had never fished previously such as the Aquarium, Whiskey Jack and the Cabbage Patch.
Esnagami Lake sports innumerable weed beds, some that are rather large and well known, and many others that without having precise coordinates, you would likely drive over or past without being any the wiser.
Luckily, Liam knew exactly where to go, and we managed at least one fish from each weed bed we visited. Regrettably, they were all on the small side with the exception of the Blueberry Island Monster – or so we thought - (more on this shortly) and a 40” + that came up out of the weeds and took a look at Kenny’s Johnson Silver Minnow in a yellow, five of diamonds pattern while fishing the Aquarium.
My top lure of the day was a medium size William’s Whitefish with a hammered gold finish, while Kenny switched over to a #5 “Fire Tiger” Blue Fox Vibrax spinner that wound up being his go to Pike bait for the balance of the week.
The most effective way to fish it was to buzz the spinner across the top of the weeds, and then let it flutter down right on the edge of the weed bed. The same presentation also worked with the William’s, although I sometimes let it drop into the pockets, if there were any on the top of the weeds.
Now as for the Blueberry Island Monster.
The weather kind of sucked most of the day. While not overly cool, it was overcast, and the wind came up later in the morning and continued to blow throughout the afternoon, which despite Liam’s best efforts made it very difficult to stay on, and effectively fish some of the smaller weed beds.
When arriving at Blueberry, which has a small, but wicked, deep sunken weed bed, I hit a small Pike on my first cast. A couple of casts later I hit another fish that started taking line at an alarming rate – so alarming that at one point we considered giving chase, because if it didn’t stop soon - I may have been spooled.
The Pike on this lake, and I suspect others, once hooked like to bury themselves in the weeds, and if they are any size at all, it takes some heavy lifting to get them out.
We managed to recover most of my line, and after some serious pulling landed a Pike that may have just crossed the threshold between Hammer Handle and adulthood.
So why you may ask did such a tiny gator damn near spool me?
Well, when a Pike of any size hunkers down in the weeds, and you happen to be drifting in the opposite direction at about 100 mph. you are fooled into believing that the Loch Ness Monster is on the other end of your line.
It was definitely fun while it lasted, and we all had a good laugh, as I suspect did the fish.
We gave some thought about making a run for Pike Island, but given the weather conditions, started making our way towards home, where we hit the dock at just after 3pm, resembling in many ways, 3 thoroughly drowned rats.
Liam did an outstanding job throughout the day by getting us on fish regardless of the challenges the wind presented. On the way home he handled the boat beautifully, and while we got wet – there was no avoiding that – our ride was incredibly smooth.
You trained him well dad – and it’s trite to say that in this instance the apple clearly didn’t roll far from the tree.
Much to our surprise, everything settled down around 6pm, and therefore abandoning all thoughts of moving on to plan “B”, and like a couple of drooling Pavlovian dogs, headed directly over to Fire Island.
Fortunately, the fishing was much better this evening, and we caught some nice Walleye – including a couple over 20” – in anywhere from 20 to 5 feet. Kenny also caught a decent size Pike, his first ever on a jig, bringing the days Pike total to 12.
To top things off, Esnagami Lake treated us to a beautiful sunset.
Let’s just hope the Loon’s got the memo and keep their beaks buttoned up until a more civilized hour tomorrow morning.
We Definitely Need to Fix That
The day started off somewhat cool but with plenty of sun, but by midafternoon the wind had picked up, and there were any number of rain squalls that hit both the lake and us throughout the afternoon.
Overall it was a very slow day, primarily because our heads were still in June mode. Other anglers did well, particularly around Woman Island, where there were plenty of Walleye to be found – especially in the weeds.
Our total for the day consisted of 1 Pike Kenny caught while “jigging” his Vibrax spinner behind Pike Island, and about 15 Walleye.
As noted above – we definitely need to fix that.
Before going on, a word on becoming the founding members of the newly inaugurated Dead Minnow Club.
While it’s not really necessary, as mentioned in past narratives, we prefer to fish with minnows. Our problem was that while they appeared to be in the best of health when loaded into our buckets, and despite ensuring they were kept in the water whenever possible, after several hours out on the lake, pretty much all of them were doing the backstroke.
That said, and while a stinky dead one will catch every bit as many fish as a feisty live one, it was perplexing, nevertheless.
Surface temperatures were on average, holding between 67 and 69 degrees for most of the week, so perhaps that was a contributing factor, or maybe they succumbed to COVID?
Perhaps we should have insisted on ones that had self - isolated for at least 14 days, and worn gloves and masks when handling them…
After dinner Eric joined us for an evening fish, and while striking out for Pike at both Last Chance and the 2 to 7 Fish Point weed bed, we did manage to coral a few Walleye at Fire and Turkey Dave.
The Forecast Calls for Pain
Pain in the %*&# that is.
Kenny’s brother Barry and his son Adam arrived this morning for a 5 - day stint, and we were able to say hello and fill them in on what we had been up to before heading out.
The weather, not unlike the fishing was to remain unsettled throughout the day, with relatively high winds, cloud and the occasional rain squall to mix things up.
And speaking of the weather…
In the 20+ years that I’ve known him (both of us probably are in line for a medal or citation for bravery) Kenny has never appeared to be overly concerned about the weather.
Until now that is.
One of the advantages, or disadvantages depending on your point of view of staying in Lakeview, is that you can access the lodges wi-fi from the comfort of the cabin.
Every morning and evening, Kenny constantly regaled me with up to the minute weather reports, that for the most part predicted doom and gloom for the balance of our stay. It even got so bad that at one point he started talking about leaving early.
I put pay to that by informing him that hurricane’s and ice storms notwithstanding, I was not going anywhere and wished him well on his 12 to 14-hour solo journey across the Province. When asked how I intended to get home, I explained that my plan was to ask Eric for a job – I would work for food – and then catch a ride with him after close up.
That curtailed the weather reports for the time being, but when he started up again, I not only suggested that he was beginning to sound a lot like his brother Barry, who has been known to provide weather updates on a regular basis, but when examining the evidence, the weather reports not only seemed to change every 10 minutes, they were invariably wrong.
My approach is that if you want to know what’s going on out there, for starters look out the window, and if there is any uncertainly about what the day may bring, dress in layers, always bring your rain gear (Guide Rule #1), and if it looks like it might get gnarly – head in.
BTW – the weather could not have been better for the balance of our stay.
Our first stop was Last Chance where Kenny picked up a couple of Pike – the biggest being 24” – and then we hit Whiskey Jack where I hooked a small one. We even caught 2 decent Walleye in the back of the bay adjacent to Whiskey Jack on both a large, silver Williams’s Whitefish, and Kenny’s Fire Tiger Vibrax spinner.
Kenny then insisted we head back to Tuna Fish (see comment above regarding the need to move on to plan “B”) which for the second consecutive time we pitched a no hitter. Working our way back towards home, we stopped at Cemetery Point, which is usually a late season go to spot, but unfortunately there was not too much doing – not today anyway.
We then decided to give the 3 reefs just off of Cemetery a play, and I managed to catch a 22” Walleye trolling a silver/blue Hot -N -Tot alongside the eastern most reef.
The structure was very interesting, with very deep water surrounding each reef, but the wind was too strong to fish them effectively – but we would definitely be back once the wind settled down.
After enjoying a very tasty prime rib dinner, for desert Chef Troy threw us his own version of a “culinary curveball” by serving up a simply delicious apple pie, with a never before seen at EWL garnish – at least not in my experience – ice cream!
And just when you think you’ve seen it all…
There would be no fishing this evening as the wind and rain continued unabated, so we broke out the cribbage board, and Kenny took 2 out of 3 falls – barely I might add.
3 Tons of Fish You Say? Must Have Been a Really BIG Frying Pan
This morning, we broke our fast with a hearty portion of Sue’s famous “sticky buns.” The trick with these round mounds of mouth – watering sticky sweetness is to try and avoid eating too many, thereby leaving no room for breakfast.
We made it to the dining room before Barry and Adam, and had been just on the verge of implementing our plan to scarf down the remaining buns, hide the evidence and go into full denial mode when they walked in.
Today was to be yet another banner day, since not only was I being relieved of my guiding duties because Eric was taking us out, he was also going to prepare a shore lunch.
The day remained overcast for the most part, with light winds and a very comfortable temperature of 20 degrees – which happened to be a far cry from the 4 degrees Kenny’s weather report had predicted.
Eric took us to all manner of Walleye and Pike spots that for the most part we had never wet a line, including Scooby, Walleye Ally, This and That Reef, North Bay, and several tiny weed beds that I likely wouldn’t have found in a million years.
We caught fish pretty much everywhere we stopped, with the tally at the end of the day coming to 8 Pike – the biggest Pike being Kenny’s 30” – and about 20 Walley, 3 of which joined us for lunch.
Lunch was on Eagle Point, a little used group shore lunch location on the north shore of the lake.
While Eric was getting things set up, I asked him if he had any idea how many fish, or pounds of fish he had cooked up since taking over the lodge.
He paused for several seconds and then said that in his estimation, during the 32 years he has owned EWL it would be north of 6000 pounds.
That’s a shit load of fish, although it has clearly not had any impact on the quality of the fishery whatsoever, which in my opinion, is in large part a testament to the catch and release program he implemented (and has maintained to this day) shortly after arriving on the scene.
We enjoyed a pan full of Lemon/Wine Walleye, warm German Potato Salad, beans of course, and homemade cookies to top things off.
It was not only delicious and much appreciated, but was the first time in a long while that I had been able to enjoy a shore lunch with Eric when he was not cooking for 20 or 30+ guests.
Barry and Adam had spent the day with Liam and caught over 60 Walleye in and around the Henry’s and Omishashoe Island.
The Stars Came Out Tonight
By the time dinner was served, the skies cleared making it a good bet that it would be the perfect night for some star gazing and astral photography.
Now I’m going to fess up right from the get-go because the picture below was taken a couple of years ago. I took it around the same time of year at my former camp, which is not very far from the lodge as the crow flies and represents an accurate representation of what we saw that night.
The problem was that I neglected to precisely calibrate the focus while it was still daylight, which is very important in that you must use manual focus for this type of photography, and while the pictures looked good in the viewfinder display, they were just slightly out of focus once I enlarged them on the computer – my bad.
That said, the star show was truly spectacular, and I even managed to get Kenny out on the deck to have a look.
The 4 of us headed over to Fire Island, which was now coming back online (a boat had fished it that afternoon and did well) and absolutely lousy with fish, and while we didn’t catch anything over 20”, it was double header after double header for both boats.
Throw in the aforementioned star show, and it was a perfect ending to a perfect day.
Truth Be Told – It Was Just Where He Left It.
There was something of a panic last evening at dinner, in that Adam had somehow lost, or misplaced his fanny pack which contained all of his cash, id and the like.
Taking a page out of Kenny’s playbook, I suggested that if I happened to come across it, he should not draw any adverse inferences in the event all of the cash had gone missing.
Following another thorough search, it was found wedged between Adam’s bed and the fridge in his cabin, with everything in- tact – including I might add, the cash.
When asking his dad where it had been found before the entire story had unfolded, he replied with a wry smile:
“It was just where he left it.”
Dire weather predictions notwithstanding, Mother Nature had another perfect day in store for us. Nice and warm, virtually no wind and a bit of sun and cloud. Yup – perfect.
Today we were going to do some serious travelling and fish some new water in hopes of improving our overall daytime numbers, so much travelling in fact that near the end of the day I had to change over to our second tank.
At first, we went down river just beyond the Rock and Former Stick, in search of both Walleye and Pike, and while there were some very impressive weed beds in the area – no cigar.
But rather than bore you with a detailed account of all of our trials and tribulations throughout the day, let me offer up this summary:
• Rock and Former Stick – 0
• Trolling random shoreline and reefs on the way towards Trout Bay – 0
• Tuna Fish (guess who insisted we stop there) – 3 Walleye including one rather nice one!
• North Shore of Balsam Island – 1 Pike.
• Cabbage Patch – 1 hit, 1 on and lost.
• Jackfish – 0
• Betty Falls – 0
• Reefs off Cemetery – 0
• Turkey Dave – 8 Walleye (‘bout time)
On our way back to the lodge we saw Barry and Adam fishing Cemetery Point. They gave us a wave, that we returned while continuing on our way, but at dinner were informed that what we thought was nothing more than a friendly “hi how are ya” was in fact their attempt to call us over, because Cemetery was red hot.
They had been having a rather slow day as well until they stopped there in the afternoon, managing to catch over 50 Walleye in a rather short space of time. The fish were in 8 to 15 feet of water, with a significant number of them 20” or better.
Good Things Actually Do Come in Three’s As Well
We had made a quick stop at Turkey Dave, and just as we were about to head in, when I fed the motor some gas, it conked out. I gave it several pulls, checked and loosened the vent screw – they apparently don’t work on those tanks in any event – but it would only start on full choke, and the only way it would continue running is if I popped it into gear while at max rev.
Fortuitously, the lodge was just around the corner, and we spit and sputtered along until we were no more than 50 ft. or so from the end of the dock, where it conked out again, and for good measure completely seized up.
Kenny manned up, and our resident Gondolier paddled us to safety, although if you listen to him tell it, you would get the impression that but for his strength, determination and seamanship, we would have surely perished.
Did I happen to mention that he was my hero?
It was back to Cemetery after dinner, and the fishing remained extremely hot. I stuck with a jig and white grub, which actually out fished the live – or in our case dead – minnows.
As for my reference to things happening in 3’s, in this case it was all good for a change:
1. Kenny spotted a rock that we were just about to hit at the last moment , thereby allowing us to avoid crashing into it.
2. Given how far afield we travelled throughout the day, our motor trouble began just a few hundred yards from the lodge.
3. The skies waited to open up until the moment our feet touched the dock following Kenny’s heroic efforts with the paddle, and
4. I’ve decided to add a 4th – the fish were still at Cemetery in abundance that evening.
The Pelican Brief
Group shore lunch was on tap at Brian’s Bay today, and if we wanted to eat something other than rice and beans, we would have to temporarily suspend our catch and release program and start using “live” ammunition.
Luckily, the fish were still in residence at Cemetery, and we had our shore lunch fish in no time at all.
Although the day started off somewhat damp, by noon the sun was out, and I fished the rest of the day in just a t-shirt.
After dropping our fish off at Brian’s Bay, we scooted over to Loon Island where we caught both a small Pike and Walleye, before heading back over to the lunch spot.
The food was excellent as always, and while it was tough, I managed to limit my intake, and as a result had some room left for dinner.
Afterwards we headed east, both to get a few shots of the Pelicans – that’s right, Pelicans – who were reputedly hanging around in the vicinity of Woman and Omishashoe Islands, and fish what I now refer to as the “3 Rivers Triangle.”
The “Triangle” is more in the nature of a fishing pattern, where you drift or troll over a large weed bed that is framed on 3 sides by 2 marker bottles and a rather distinct rock outcropping, and while we gave it a good play, Kenny managed to scare up but one rather small Pike.
The Pelican’s on the other hand were more than cooperative and I got some very good shots.
Say Hello to My Little Friend!
Notwithstanding the fact that the entire camp is festooned with notices not to feed either of the Lund’s dogs, and any number of admonishments from yours truly, they were duly ignored by Mr. Gold, with the result that River – who was the primary recipient of Kenny’s largess – became a regular visitor.
Once back at the lodge, when Kenny opened the door to our cabin he literally froze in his tracks. I peeked over his shoulder and could see that the place looked like a bomb had hit it, with the garbage can having been overturned, and food and paper strewn over the entire floor.
Kenny admitted that at first, he thought there was a bear inside, until he noticed a little brown dog, waging her tail no doubt eagerly awaiting the treat, that in her mind anyway, would soon be forthcoming. And while we had no idea how long she had been in there, fortunately the only things on the floor were food scraps and torn up paper.
We did go out after dinner, and while it was a beautiful evening, the fishing was slow, and therefore decided to make it an early night.
It’s Whirler Time!
It was to be another perfect day weather wise – just say’n – so we pointed the bow east with the intention of giving Trout Bay a thorough going over.
We fished Trophy Reef and covered virtually the entire north shore with our efforts being rewarded with 6 Pike (none of them big), several Walleye, and the crème de la crème, a Whirler (Whitefish to you rookies) that would have easily topped 5 pounds.
I had been marking large numbers of fish in 40 feet of water off of Trophy Reef, so we decided to drop our jigs and see what was what. Kenny got a hit, that at first, we thought must be a good size Walley, but after a few seconds his rod started to pulsate in a way that left no doubt what kind of fish it was.
As we seemed to be destined to primarily catch Pike during the day, I took us over to the Cabbage Patch, where Kenny caught a small one and another that stretched the tape to 31”.
Following a quick stop at Blueberry Island where we washed lures for 10 or 15 minutes, Kenny asked if we happened to be anywhere near Tuna Fish. Reluctantly I told him it was but a short boat ride away, and buoyed by our earlier, albeit very limited success, he insisted we give it yet another shot.
As soon as we arrived Kenny hit a 23” Walleye, which was followed in quick succession by 6 others, included a 20 incher. While it appeared that Tuna was back, and that Kenny’s persistence would finally be rewarded, it shut down right after the 7th fish. Perhaps we should have been there earlier?
Fire Island continued to produce that evening, although after hearing some thunder rumbling in the distance, underscored by a rather impressive bolt of lightning, we “bolted” for the safety of our cabin.
Later that night, or more particularly early that morning, we were treated to one of the more impressive thunder and lightning storms I have witnessed in a long time, and even though the show started at 4am, we both got up and watched it rage on for the better part of an hour.
Hmmm – I Must Have Made a Wrong Turn at Albuquerque
Barry and Adam left for home this morning as did Sue, Liam and Rowan.
Although we had been catching a fair number of Pike, with only 2 of them barely managing to qualify as trophies, before he left to take his family to the airport in Thunder Bay, Eric loaded us up with some lures that he assured us were designed to put some of the real big gators into our boat.
Therefor being suitably armed and motivated, the weed beds of Maun Bay beckoned.
As we were driving along chatting aimlessly, I commented on how different things looked now that the water had dropped over 12” since June, as there were rocks and weeds sticking up everywhere that we had likely just driven over or blown by without even noticing them.
The fact is, one of the reasons it looked so different is that I zigged when I should have zagged. Instead of keeping left towards the narrow opening into Maun, I had been bearing right while yacking away, with the result that we found ourselves in the middle of what for us, was an entirely new weed bed, with the entrance to Maun being nowhere in sight.
Hell, we could find Maun later, so we started working the area, me with a “Shadzilla” and Kenny with his go to spinner, and he pulled out 2 Pike, one of which was 25”.
It slowed down some, so I recalibrated our position, and made our way into Maun. We worked the weed bed at the mouth of Maun Creek, but there was nothing doing, so we decided to throw on some Hot N Tots, and troll around in hopes of churning up some Pike and/or Walleye.
Trolling in 8 to 10 ft. of water between the 2 points that frame the first large bay you encounter on the north side, we caught at least 1 Walleye on every pass, and by the time we decided to move on about 45 minutes later, had boated a total of 16.
We stopped once again at what I now call the Where the Hell Are We weed bed, but only managed one follow.
Going back to Hot N Tots and trolling along the edge of the shoal that runs south from Joe Medogan Point, we picked up another half-dozen, including a 22 incher.
The wind had died right down, and it was downright hot, so after trolling around most of Jack Pine Island, and catching but one small Walleye, we decided to make it an early day and headed for home.
After dinner we hit Cemetery first, but the fish had decided to take the night off, so it was back to Fire where fortunately they were on the job and finished off the day strong by catching 30 Walleye.
I’d like to offer a comment regarding the overall size of the Walleye we were catching – and in particular those at Fire Island. I think it’s fair to say that over the years, including this past June, the size of Fire Island Walleye have on balance, averaged 18” +,
This August however, and while there were fish in abundance, those over 18” were somewhat rare, with the average size being between 14” and 16”. I mentioned it to Eric, and he explained that it was not unusual for the smaller fish to move onto the shallower shoals at this time of year, but very soon the bigger fish will come up out of the deeper water, and push them off as they start to bulk up for the winter.
So, in other words – no worries - it was just a seasonal thing.
RFS (Random Fish Search)
It was another beautiful day – just say’n – and being our final one, rather than putting a specific plan in place, we decided to randomly visit any number of places we had fished throughout our stay, and maybe even try a few new ones.
Our first stop was Fire, where we picked up 2 Walleye, Cemetery was next, and after 3 more Walleye it was off to the Aquarium where we hooked 3 Pike, including 1 on the “Shadzilla”.
While fishing at Cemetery we could not help but notice that there were a significant number of Gulls, Raven’s and Turkey Vultures circling over the point. I’d never seen anything like it at Esnagami, and we speculated that perhaps there was some critter that had either passed away on shore, or was maybe just having a nap, that was the cause of all the commotion.
Either that or they were keeping an eye on Kenny and me – just in case.
Next on the RFS Tour was Whiskey Jack, and on our first pass over the weed bed, hit a double header Pike. Mine was on a silver Vibrax, while Kenny continued to catch fish after fish on the Fire Tiger Vibrax. We then hit a small bay on the south shore of Balsam Island that the wind had been blowing into all morning, but unlike the last time we fished it a couple of years ago, no one was home.
Tuna was next – nada – followed by the Cabbage Patch and Jackfish – nada again – but when we started trolling Hot N Tots from the southern entrance to Jackfish, south to Black Flag, we caught a dozen, several of which topped 20”.
Rather than go out this evening, Kenny decided to stay in, pack, and watch the Raptors game with Eric.
Earlier in the week I had promised Chef Troy to take him out after dinner, so this presented the perfect opportunity to make good on that promise, and we made our way over to Cemetery (the birds had thankfully disappeared) where we caught a couple dozen Walleye, including 2 over 20” for Troy.
Hey – he had a good guide.
Days 12th and 13th
We caught the early flight out, and other than some complete idiot in a Honda Civic who decided to pass us on a blind corner, and would have been otherwise obliterated by a tractor trailer had I not instinctively braked when he made his move, thereby giving him barely enough room to tuck in before being smashed to bits – the drive to Sault St. Marie was uneventful.
The dining room at Giovanni’s was open, and that evening we reflected on the past 12 days over a delicious, leisurely dinner.
We hit the road just before 7am the following morning, arriving at Kenny’s around 3:00 pm.
Who says that 13 is an unlucky number?
After all we arrived home on Day 13th and with any luck, may not see each other again until the Spring!
Although a bit longer than what we are routinely used to, it was an excellent trip that featured superb service and food, loads of fish and for the most part, exceptional weather – just say’n.
We certainly caught more Pike than we ever had in the past – 35 if I did the math right – and although there were no monsters, we were both shown, and stumbled onto some new places that will definitely be on our itinerary come next June.
So until next time, Kenny and I bid you all a fond adieu, stay safe and tight lines...