Esnagami Wilderness Lodge - June 12 to 19, 2021
Before putting pen to paper, I like to craft a theme that will provide the overall framework for each of my journal entries, and so with sincere thanks to Kenny, who as always provides me with plenty of material to work with, I’ve decided to entitle this narrative:
Just in Case
Because he is such an obliging guy, about 3 weeks before we were scheduled to leave, I suggested that since I do most, if not all the driving, the least he could do is provide me with a new vehicle – preferably one that he had registered in my name.
As luck would have it, he just happened to be on his way to a Kia dealership at literally the exact moment I made my request, where, and I kid you not, he purchased a brand spanking new Kia Carnival. And while he apparently forgot to put it in my name, the gesture was nevertheless appreciated - and I even liked the colour.
We started off with a group of ten several months ago, but for a variety of reasons, some of them tied to COVID, we were down to 4 by the time June 12th rolled around. For example, Mike Moffatt and his buddy from Quebec who were supposed to be with us, were unable to make it until the following week because the travel restrictions that were put in place between Ontario and Quebec had just recently been lifted.
Al Haniford, who has been Barry Gold’s fishing partner for more years than I, and probably Barry or Al can remember, had to bail because of a COVID related issue, but fortunately Barry found an able replacement in the person of Joe Prunean, who he became friends with when they worked together some years back.
Al, there was a secret ballot held in order to determine if we liked you or Joe better, and I’m sure that when the time is right, and after you’ve had a couple – better make that more than a couple - single malts, Barry will reveal the results from a safe, socially responsible distance.
BTW, Joe, who was also eligible to vote, willingly shared his M&M’s and candied nuts with Kenny and I, so you probably know where this is going.
Rocks and Trees and Trees and Rocks
This classic song by Canadian icon Stompin’ Tom Connors - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pcqud4yGNiA - best describes the scenery along Hwy #11 while traveling from the Toronto area to Geraldton/Nakina, although because we took Hwy #17 across the top of Lake Superior on the way home, we were able to add some water into the mix.
Fortunately, other than the rocks and trees and trees and rocks, our trip from Kenny’s cottage in Keswick to the Between the Bridges Inn in Geraldton, went off without a hitch, although Yvonne who runs the Inn, did tell us to keep an eye open for a bear that had been paying her establishment regular visits over the past couple of weeks, so just to play it safe, we put our dinner leftovers right outside the door to Barry and Joe’s room.
It’s Only a Problem When You Put it in Reverse
The day started off relatively warm with a bit of light rain thrown in, and on our drive to the float base in Nakina we spotted a bear cub, which was the first upright (more on this later) quadruped we had seen during the entire trip so far.
Maybe it was Yvonne’s bear following Barry and Joe in hopes of getting a shot at more leftovers?
Once we landed and greetings were exchanged with Sue, Eric and the rest of the crew, Kenny and I got settled into our cabin, geared up and got the boat organized.
As tradition demands our first stop was Fire Island where we were on to fish in no time, many of which were between 18 and 22-inchs. With surface temperatures ranging from 59 to 60 degrees – which was pretty much the case for the rest of the week – I was a bit surprised to find fish in 6 to 8 ft. of water right up on the sand, particularly in the middle of the day. That said, there were also plenty to be had in 20 ft. of water.
The fact is we all found loads of fish everywhere and at various depths throughout the entire week.
Because Eric mentioned that the Pike were still in the shallows and given my experience with him this past spring on the Moose River, where we made very few casts without either a hit and/or a hook up, Kenny and I concluded that it was definitely worth a look see.
Unfortunately, but for one very small Pike that Kenny managed to coral, no one else was home.
Having pretty much struck out in the river, we elected to troll the river basin on the oft chance those toothy critters had moved out into some slightly deeper water. We trolled all the way from the mouth over to Cemetery Point where Kenny got a massive hit that ripped apart and otherwise destroyed his titanium leader.
So much for paying more for a leader than I did for my first car.
Next it was off to what we once called one fish point, but over the years had climbed the ladder all the way up to 7 fish point. This year it produced 2 fish, and I’ll leave it to you, the readers, to figure out what it was now being called.
After a delicious dinner featuring BBQ back ribs, based on the earlier intel we had received regarding the supposed whereabouts of the Pike, we fished the small bay just around the corner from, yup you guessed it, 2 fish point, where Kenny distinguished himself by catching one small Pike, a very nice stick, and a rock.
Having had our fill of Pike fishing – as opposed to catching - we motored on over to Fire Island, where the fishing remained hot in both the shallow and deeper water off its northernmost point.
Barry and Joe eventually joined us, having first stopped at Turkey Dave Point, where Joe caught his first trophy, a 24 - inch Walleye. Joe usually fishes on the French River, and while a beautiful area, it no longer appears to produce much in the way of numbers when it comes to Walleye. Truth be told he probably caught more fish in one part of a day on Esnagami Lake than he caught in his last 10 trips to the French River – and trust me when I say that he was just getting started.
I Didn’t Say it Was Your Fault – I Said I Was Blaming You
While things were going along swimmingly in the Gold/Prunean boat, the same could not be said for the goings on in the Ball/Gold craft.
As mentioned, there were fish all over the place, and while I had no trouble whatsoever catching them, Kenny was not so fortunate. Because he was clearly getting frustrated and somewhat cranky (I had him about 20 to 1 at one point) I stopped fishing so he could catch up, and while that never happened, he did catch our biggest fish of the night, a 22 - inch Walleye.
Back in the cabin, it was clear that he was still pissed I had been out fishing him by a significant margin, and offered up the following explanation as to why a mere mortal such as myself was able to best him throughout the entire evening.
When working an area that holds active fish, if the wind is blowing in the right direction, I will line up a drift, and once completed, if the wind is reasonably light, I’ll backtroll over the same area, which was in fact the pattern I was using this evening.
According to Mr. Gold, while backtrolling was not in and of itself a problem and was otherwise a perfectly acceptable way to fish most anywhere, this method was no longer suitable when fishing Fire Island.
Not surprisingly I pressed him to give me one plausible reason why that made any sense whatsoever, but the best he could come up with was that it must be true because there is no way I have enough talent to out fish the master, so the next time we fished Fire, I was instructed not to back troll - just in case he was right.
Given this rather byzantine explanation, I replied, and not very politely, that he had better get used to looking in the rear-view mirror, because I planned on doing nothing but back troll for the balance of the week regardless of the conditions or where we might be fishing.
What a putz…
I’ll Try the Tuna Fish – But Go Light on the Minnows
Given his comments on back trolling, this is probably as good a time as any to explain why I chose “Just in Case” as the theme for this particular trip.
Throughout the week, whenever I would ask Kenny why he was doing a particular thing, like ordering 2 or 3 sandwiches for lunch every day and only eating one, requesting an orange that sat in our fridge for almost the entire week, or bringing along about 8 rod and reel combos, when 3 would have been more than enough, (BTW I used the same jig head for the entire week) he would simply reply: “Just in Case.”
Not surprisingly when I asked, “in case of what?” the answers ranged far and wide, including that he ordered the orange just in case he needed a little energy boost while out on the water (as noted, but for the day he ordered it the orange never left the fridge), to the reason for ordering more than one sandwich, which was based on the notion that just in case we got stranded while out on the lake, HE wouldn’t starve.
The extra sandwiches of course had nothing to do with the fact that a certain Chocolate Lab showed up at our door each morning and most afternoons like clockwork.
I must admit it was a pretty smooth move on his part, because when he did or said anything that on the face of it might not make any sense, all he had to do to explain why was say: “Just in Case.” Truth be told he had me saying it before the end of the week.
On the flip side, have you ever done something and then wondered aloud why you did it? I made the mistake of doing just that one day, and without missing a beat Kenny looked at me and said, “Because your stupid.” The fact is, that at least in this instance the man had a point.
And now finally to fishing.
It was sunny and warm throughout the day, and while there were several storm fronts bracketing the lake, fortunately they gave us a miss.
Still clinging tenaciously to the Pike in the shallow’s theory, our first stop was Louella Bay. We quietly worked our way from the west entrance to the bay all the way to the back, but only spotted a couple of small ones. Moving over to the south shore where the water was somewhat deeper, there were some active fish around, and I managed to land one about 20” on a silver/blue Williams Wobbler to which I had attached a white grub as an attractor.
Next stop was the weed bed back of Whisky Jack Island, but other than a couple of hits on the Williams and a Silver Shad imitation crank bait Kenny was using – no cigar.
So enough with the Pike already, because the time had finally come to make our long-awaited return to Tuna Fish Island. The Walleye were spread out over a 150-foot-sqaure area on the east side of the island in 14 to 20 feet of water, and in about 2 hours of fishing we caught at least 40, the biggest being 21 inches. After doing the math, I estimated that we were averaging approx. 3 fish per pass.
By mid - afternoon the wind began to pick up, so just in case we decided to fish closer to the lodge rather than risk a bumpy, wet ride home. We stopped off at Turkey Dave Point, where fortunately the wind was coming out of the west, thereby giving us a perfect drift, and in a couple of hours time we picked up another 30 Walleye.
Barry and Joe did the grand tour stopping at Black Flag, Anchor Island, Wildcat Narrows, Cemetery Point, and Betty Falls, and while there were no trophies, they caught some very nice fish at every place, but one.
The only exception was Black Flag, which normally produces all manner of fish, but today they inexplicably pitched a no hitter.
The guys from the New Fly Fisher were in camp filming a show, and talking to the camera man, he told me they got some incredible drone footage of a Pike attacking a fly on the surface, so I can’t wait to see that segment once they broadcast it.
Having had our fill of both sun and fish for the day, we decided to hang back after dinner, which was just a well because Eric and Kris Jaśkielewicz dropped by for a visit.
Kris, who not only designed and hosts my two websites – www.cabin14.ca and www.greatbearlakeoutdoors.com – is also the guy behind Eric’s fly-fishing website: https://www.flyfishingesnagami.com/. Besides being a first-rate web designer, Kris is a skilled carpenter, accomplished angler, and never goes anywhere without a large supply of Polish charcuterie together with all the appropriate condiments.
This evening (and again later in the week) he produced an amazing platter comprised of various smoked sausages, cured, lightly smoked bacon, pickles, smoked cheese, and spelt bread.
As Kris explained it, he considers himself to be the Polish version of Skip the Dishes.
You Only THINK That You’re on Solid Ground
While fishing Louella, and later in the week Jackfish, Kenny and I both noticed that there were bubbles coming up from the bottom of both bays.
We speculated that perhaps they were either underground springs bubbling up – Esnagami is in fact a spring fed lake – or perhaps the decaying vegetation from years past were releasing some type of gas.
As Eric explained, both Louella and Jackfish were essentially bottomless peat bogs, and the bubbles did in fact come from decaying plant matter.
To further underscore the bottomless nature of these “bogs” he told us the story about a husband and wife he was guiding in Jackfish many years ago. The husband had asked him how deep they were fishing, and after Eric told him it was about 3 to 4 feet, for reasons that will never likely been known, when Eric turned his back, the guy jumped into the water.
After hearing the splash, Eric immediately spun around only to see nothing more than the guy’s hat floating on the water. Fortunately, he managed to extricate himself from the mud and crawl back into the boat, but the incident was a clear reminder to always adhere to guide rule #243:
“Stay in the damn boat!”
He also told us about a train that had derailed somewhere in northern Ontario several years ago, that resulted in all 3 of its engines and several cars falling into a lake that was thought to be no more than 8 feet deep.
The engine and cars sank over 100 meters into the mud killing three people in the process, and the divers who went down into it to retrieve the bodies had to work under unimaginable, pitch-black conditions to effect the recovery.
Apparently, these “bogs” serve the Pike quite well because they often lay their eggs in the mud, which not surprisingly ensures that they are well protected.
Kenny, who fished in Louella a couple of days later while I was on the river, decided to try it out for himself – just in case Eric was stringing us along I suppose – and while he didn’t jump in, which clearly would have been the best way to confirm Eric’s story, he did push almost the entirety of his 7- foot rod into the mud and never struck anything solid.
Apparently, Size Does Matter
As we all know there is just no pleasing some people.
Ever since he caught the biggest Walleye of the year several years back on a very large minnow, Kenny always asks for the biggest ones available, and has been constantly bugging Eric to bring in some REALLY big ones for his exclusive use.
Before parting company the previous evening, Eric took me aside and told me that along with the new supply of minnows that were just flown in, he managed to acquire several 6-inch sucker minnows just for Kenny, and therefore he would be in for something of a pleasant surprise when he topped up his minnow bucket the following morning – or so we thought.
When we pulled up to the main dock after breakfast, does anyone want to hazard a guess what he said when Ethan showed him what they had flown in just for him?
Despite all the trouble and expense Eric went to, Mr. Gold had the audacity to announce that they were TOO big, and even climbed out of the boat so he could personally instruct Ethan regarding the proper size to put in his bucket.
It likely won’t come as a shock to anyone that I let him have it with both barrels, following which he reluctantly agreed to take a couple of the big ones along – just in case.
Having decided to spend the morning Pike fishing, we covered most of Jackfish and put up a zero. We even gave Blueberry a shot, but in fairness it was a bit too early to be fishing there, which was confirmed by the results – nada.
Our last stop on the great Pike hunt was Pike Island where Kenny caught both a Walleye and our only Pike of the day.
Weather conditions were perfect with clear skies, and a very light breeze, therefore given the success we had at Tuna Fish the previous day decided to give it another go – and as usual it did not disappoint.
Fishing in 14 to 16 feet of water, we caught over 80 Walleye in about 3 hours, including my first, and what was to be my only trophy this week, that stretched the tape to 24 ½ inches.
Barry and Joe fished the Henry’s for most of the day and lost count of the number of Walleye they caught. Apparently, all you had to do was find a rocky area, toss in a jig, and hold on tight!
Once again, having had had enough sun and fish for the day, we just chilled out in our cabin after dinner.
Someone decided to fire up the sauna that evening, and we could hear people splashing into the lake and then beating a hasty retreat into the warmth of the sauna.
They were very fortunate not to have to worry about the mosquitos that were no doubt lurking close by hoping to get a shot at all that exposed flesh, because we noticed that there appeared to have been a recent Dragon Fly hatch, because there was a thick cloud of them hovering around the sauna, intercepting any of the little buggers that may have had designs on the swimmers.
They Were Just Jumping Right Into the Boat!
Today was going to be my annual trip down the Esnagami River with Eric, together with this year’s special guest Kris.
Greg flew us down to the River Camp on Merkley Lake in the 185, and after doing a little bit of clean up around camp, we loaded up the canoe and headed down stream in hopes of finding a few willing trout.
Because there had been some very warm weather the previous week, the trout fishing in the upper section of the river had really taken a nosedive. The trout are extremely sensitive to changes in water temperature, and once the water warms, they tend to head off to parts unknown, so we were not entirely sure what to expect in the lower reaches.
In terms of our approach, the thinking was that the fish may hanging tight to the bottom, so Kris and I started off using a sink tip, together with my go to Esnagami River trout fly, a black bead head Wooley Bugger.
On my second cast at the first set below Merkley, I caught one that was between 16 and 18 inches, and it was not too much longer before Kris had one in the net as well.
Because we are nice guys – well maybe Eric and Kris are - and the New Fly Fisher crew were still somewhat short on trout footage, we decided to move on because if they didn’t manage to land any on the upper section where they were fishing today, they talked about possibly coming down to fish this run, so why not leave them a few?
Eric, who likes to mix things up, put together a rig with a dropper that he fished sub surface, and then tied on a caddis further up the leader that he would skip across the surface during the retrieve. It certainly paid some unexpected dividends, because at one point when he pulled the caddis off the surface at the end of his retrieve, a small trout, who clearly had his heart set on it, came flying out of the water and landed right in the canoe!
Although we used our fly rods most of the time, Kris made a few casts with his spinning gear and managed to catch several Golden Trout – Walleye to the uninitiated – and while fishing the Honey Hole, Eric switched over to his spinning rod for a few casts and caught a very nice trout on a small crankbait.
Speaking of Golden Trout, I got a solid hit and truly thought I had a nice trout on. It bulldogged, peeled line, ducked under a submerged log and generally behaved like a big trout, but when I finally got it beside the boat, it weren’t no trout, but rather was the biggest “river” Walleye I had ever seen. Eric took a shot at it with the net, but just as he was ready to dip it – the fish suddenly dove and broke the line.
Both Eric and Kris believed it would have measured over 24 inches and seemed quite happy that I’d managed to get into such a big Walleye.
I the other hand was pissed off, because not only did it fool me into believing that I was tussling with a trophy size trout, it also broke the line taking my Wooley Bugger along with it. If I had caught this fish at let’s say Fire Island, that would have been just peachy, but I didn’t come all this way to catch trophy Walleye in a trout fishery!
Remember what I said earlier about there being some people that you just can’t satisfy?
On the way back to the River Camp, we couldn’t resist stopping at the first run once again – sorry New Fly Fisher guys – and both Eric and Kris caught several more, on black bead head Wooley Buggers I might add, including the biggest of the day, a chunky 20 incher that Eric bested.
The New Fly Fisher crew finally did fish that pool later in the week and shot some excellent drone footage of trout taking a Bomber off the surface.
The weather was perfect as was the company, the bugs were virtually non-existent, and overall, we caught 20 plus trout, and while we had our best luck in the first run and the one just below the Honey Hole, we managed to pull at least one out of every run.
Liam drew the short straw once again and had the distinct pleasure/chore of guiding Kenny for the day.
They started off in search of Pike, but other than 3 small ones Kenny caught trolling a small, blue/silver Vibrex spinner behind Pike Island, there was not much doing at Betty, Louella, or Jackfish.
Although the Pike weren’t being overly cooperative, in terms of Walleye they did very well, catching over 70 between the north side of Pike Island, Tuna Fish, Fire Island, the Well and what we call “Eric’s Island” that is located just inside of the fish sanctuary, and which had fortunately just opened for fishing today. And while they didn’t catch any trophies, there were plenty of fish in the 18 to 23 - inch range.
I should mention that Kenny had an angling epiphany or sorts, although in actuality it began yesterday.
I’ve been bugging him for some time now to give some thought to ditching the minnows, and fishing with plastics or an untipped Marabou jig, as they have proven time and time again to be every bit as effective as live bait.
Yesterday while at Tuna Fish, I was using nothing more than a CHT jig head with a white twister tail, and was catching every bit as many, if not more fish than Kenny who was using a minnow.
For reasons yet to be revealed, he abandoned the minnows and switched over to a small green/sparkle plastic shad, and the rest as they say is history, because not only did he catch a mess of fish at Tuna, he continued to do very well using just the shad for the balance of the week.
After several days of going completely naked, or if you prefer “minnowless,” in the event that the images conjured up by the former might give you nightmares, he began to complain about having to keep hauling the minnow bucket in time and time again, but when I suggested he could solve the problem by turning them loose and getting rid of the bucket, his reply not surprisingly was that he had better keep them – just in case.
Moving at a Snail’s Pace
If there is anyone more adept than Kenny at catching what I would describe as an “alternative species” I’ve yet to meet them.
And while until today his specialty was fresh - water clams, he now expanded his repertoire to include snails. Yes indeed, because while at Eric’s Island upon inspecting his jig after extricating it from a snag, much to our collective surprise he found an escargot about the size of a quarter clinging to it.
I suggested we keep it just in case he managed to catch a few more, because in the event he did, we could ask Chef Chris to whip up some garlic butter and have them for an appetizer this evening. Let’s just say that he declined my request.
And speaking of Eric’s Island, as group shore lunch was to take place at Brian’s Bay, the logical thing to do would be to fish in the immediate area, but we are anything but logical, or I suppose all that bright, so we started our day fishing a locale that was about as far from Brian’s as you could get.
After catching a few at Eric’s we gave the back side of Pike Island another go, but I guess Kenny must have caught’m all yesterday.
A check of the time clearly indicated we had better get on our bike if we wanted any lunch, but we did manage to get there a bit early and stopped at Loon Island, but other than a couple snags there was not much going on.
While trolling around Loon, I noticed that most of the boats in camp were floating just off the lunch spot politely waiting to be invited to pull in – much like Seagulls are wont to do when they know lunch is in the offing – although unlike Seagull’s and the other guests, we weren’t so polite and just pulled in without being invited.
Kris, who was sensible enough to fish in the general area of Brian’s, had a very good morning having caught all manner of Pike, the biggest being 28 inches, by working the rocky points in the Henry’s with a spinner.
Lunch, which was delicious as always featured:
• “Buffalo” Style Walleye Strips
• Lemon/Wine Walleye
• Onion Rings
• Baked Beans
• Fried Rice, and a relatively new menu item,
• Corn Bread
When you combine a hot sunny day together with being stuffed to the gills with a ton of good food, it probably won’t come as much of a surprise if I were to tell you that we were not all that motivated to get back at it, and there was indeed some discussion about heading back to our cabin for a siesta.
Not wanting to take a chance on being labeled a couple of wusses, I pointed the bow towards Maun Bay, where we trolled around for an hour or so in the hot, blazing sun, with only 4 Walleye to show for our efforts.
When you fish with someone for as long as I have with Kenny, we often find that we’re on the same page without having to say a word. In this instance we gave each other a “what the *&$%# are we doing here” look, and because no further explanation was required, I just throttled up and headed for home.
On the way back Kenny suggested making a quick stop at Gull Island, where he caught 3 Walleye in about as many minutes.
Barry and Joe made their way over to Black Flag again, and fortunately the fish were back in abundance, including a couple of Walleye that were only one-half of an inch below the trophy threshold.
Now that’s what I call a couple of honest fishermen!
After dinner we putted over to Fire, and together with Barry and Joe, caught a boat load of fish. When we first arrived around 8:30 the fish were in about 20 feet, but as the sun began to set, they move back up onto the sand.
We were treated to a beautiful Fire Island sunset, which almost topped off yet another perfect day.
I said "almost" because the actual cherry on the sundae was when Kris showed up with yet another fabulous charcuterie platter, which we attacked with a vengeance having skipped dinner because we were still too stuffed from shore lunch to do it justice. He also brought along a very nice Cognac, which we savoured ever so slowly after laying waste to the platter.
Hat’s Off to the Stranger
If anyone who reads this is familiar with the band Lighthouse they will get the reference, but if not, you’ll just have to buy the album and figure it out on your own.
To be clear, I hate wearing a hat, but the reality is that with age, often comes a thinning of the shingles, and even though most of my shingles are still intact and otherwise in pretty good shape, the coconut got somewhat scorched while on the river, so I bit the bullet and acquired a hat from the tackle shop.
Unfortunately, the only one that fit was called “Fish -O-Flage” or something equally as dorky, so my first foray out onto the lake wearing a lid was downright embarrassing.
Much to my surprise Kenny kept whatever comments he must have had to himself, although Barry did say that because he had never seen me wearing a hat, he didn’t recognize me at first, and thought that perhaps Kenny had ditched me (or I him) for another partner.
Wishful thinking on someone’s part no doubt.
There was rain in today’s forecast, and just as we hit Reeds Narrows the skies opened up giving us, and my new hat a good soaking. The rain didn’t last very long, but afterwards it got very hot and muggy, but there was a nice breeze blowing throughout the day that made it reasonably comfortable.
Thanks to Liam, Kenny was finally able to take me directly to the Well – you may recall that last year he took me on a wild goose chase trying to find it – and rather than fish myself, I sat back and enjoyed watching him catch about 20 Walleye in just over an hour.
The Well is a very small area where for some reason or another the Walleye stack up in there like cordwood. If you ever need a couple of fish for shore lunch, this is a great place to go, because not only is it usually full of fish, there is a very nice shore lunch spot about five minutes away on the east side of Louella Island.
Having given the Well a good going over it was off to Black Flag, where we ran into Barry and Joe. They immediately told us there were no fish around, but their credibility came into question when they tried to hide the fact that they both had a fish on when we pulled up.
Being the gentlemen anglers that we are, we let them have the point and began trolling Hot’n Tots – both blue/silver and orange/gold worked equally as well - along the shoreline towards Jackfish and caught several Walleye in a fairly short space of time.
We had had enough trolling, and so decided that it time to make yet another visit to Tuna Fish. On the two previous occasions we visited the fish were generally in 12 to 14 feet of water, but today there was very little action at those depths, so I moved out to about 18 feet and bingo!
The wind was blowing in from the west around both sides of the island, and as we were fishing the east side, there was a sweet spot where the winds converged that acted much like an anchor by holding us precisely in place, and as fate would have it, right over top of the fish.
In all my years fishing Esnagami I don’t ever recall catching so many fish in such a short space of time. For over 30 minutes our jigs didn’t even touch bottom before we had a fish on. It was somewhat spooky to realize that there were so many Walleye sitting just under our boat anxious to attack anything that moved.
It finally slowed down, so I moved the boat out into the middle of the bay between Tuna Fish and Louella, shut down the motor, and we enjoyed a leisurely lunch while gently drifting along.
Having had our fill of Walleye fishing for the time being, Kenny wanted to give Pike Island another shot, but not unlike the previous day, we put up a zero.
I had been hoping to try Sully Bay, and as we were not all that far away, decided to see if there were any Pike in the shallows. Well, there were not, but we did catch a couple of Walleye in the narrows at the top end of the bay.
While we were poking around inside the bay the wind freshened considerably, but fortunately we were able to cross the lake directly into the wind, which while it made our crossing a slow one, it was smooth sailing overall.
Stopping at Turkey Dave for a couple of final casts, we picked up another 10 Walleye just slightly west of the point.
Yet again, we had enough, wind, sun, rain, and fish for the day, and decided to kick back after dinner and make it an early night. We must either be getting old or maybe just smarter.
It’s Steak Night – So What Don’t You Want?
For the first time this week we had crappy weather throughout most of the day, although the unbroken cloud cover and cooler temperatures did provide a welcome respite from the ever-present sun that had all but fried us over the past week.
Kenny had been agitating to try Zipper Bay since we arrived, and although I reminded him that I had offered to take him there on the first day – an offer he declined - I relented nevertheless, and he did catch one small Pike just outside of the narrows leading into the bay.
Wanting to try something different, I began trolling along the north shore of Ara Island towards Reed’s, but the wind was so strong it was very hard to control the boat and keep our lines straight. Strong winds notwithstanding, we did catch 5 Walleye and a piece of trophy driftwood. Next time I’m at the lodge I’ll give this area a good going over when the wind is not so strong, because there are clearly fish to be had there.
The wind started to abate somewhat, so we decided to take a chance and cross over to the Henry’s where if it did kick up again, there would be some quiet water to fish. And while things were certainly quiet in the Henry’s, I’m not complaining because we had a very pleasant afternoon poking around all the islands even though the fish were somewhat few and far between.
On the way back we paid Turkey Dave one last visit, and once Kenny caught a Walleye, we turned the corner for home and spent the rest of the afternoon packing up our gear for the trip home the following morning.
I should add that we did consider stopping at Fire, but the wind was really blowing and Barry and Joe, along with my buddy Glen, who was fishing on his own, were working the point, so rather than risk playing bumper boats, we gave it a miss, although in retrospect maybe we should have stopped because Glen caught a 29 ½ Walleye just after we passed by.
In case you are wondering about the title of this chapter, Friday is usually steak night at the lodge, so to commemorate the event, I thought I ‘d share one of the funniest movie scenes (the movie is Hell or High Water) I have ever had the pleasure of watching, and which also happens to be all about steak.
To call it a great week would, as I have said countless times, be damning it with faint praise.
Eric, Sue and the rest of their staff together with the fishing, food and service were first rate as always, and even the weather was in a cooperative mood.
Thanks also go to Kenny, Barry, Joe and Kris for the laughs, companionship and of course for all the Polish goodies – not to mention the Cognac.
It’s Critter Time!
Kenny and I are always on the lookout for wildlife, and while there was a bumper crop of Bald Eagles this year, and someone was lucky enough to spot a couple of Woodland Caribou, we were very much surprised by the complete absence of Terns.
They are usually found in abundance, but we didn’t see a single one, even though we visited all their usual haunts hoping to be entertained by watching them dive bomb any unsuspecting critter, or human that got too close to their nests.
And speaking of critters, to mix things up I elected to save the critter count – which includes the trip to and from Keswick – until the end of the narrative.
Drum roll if you please Maestro:
• 108 Crows (4 deceased)
• 1 Rabbit
• 2 Dachshund’s
• 1 Chocolate Lab (at very close quarters)
• 1 Fox
• 1 Bear Cub
• 2 Bonaparte Gulls
• 1 Moose (deceased)
• 2 Beavers
• 2 Turtles (1 deceased)
• 4 Sandhill Cranes
• 9 Bald Eagles
• 4 Cormorants
• 1 White Throated Sparrow (heard but not seen)
• 1 Nuthatch (heard over and over and over again - and lucky for it – not seen)
• 2 Woodland Caribou (vicariously)
• A mess of Loons
• A bunch of Mergansers, and
• A little yellow bird of some kind that Kenny claims to have seen (currently under review/investigation)
And finally, finally, I’m going to leave you with a riddle, or as some might call it, a conundrum.
What would you do and/or say if, while sitting in your hotel room and minding your own business, your roommate requests that you to call room service and ask them to send up a plunger?
And to give you a hint, the reason was not - just in case…
PS: Henry/James/Al – we missed you guys this year – well some of us did anyway - and hope that you will all be able to join us in 2022!
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- Esnagami Wilderness Lodge - June 12 to 21, 2020
Latest from Harold Ball
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