Barely off the float plane from last years adventure the fellas were quick to start asking about 2011 fishing trip plans. Grant and Carl I know wanted Pym's pike and waiting in the wings were the always ready, willing and able Mike and Stevie Zebco. Getting to work seeking options for this gang, they were presented three choices and in the end it was to be what everyone really desired, Hearst Air Services Pym Island Camp on the Attawapiskat. Our sixth man in would turn out to be a woman this year, Amelie, such a welcome new addition.
The morning of June 23rd Mike and I, and Carl and Grant departed in two cars from my place near Ottawa at 6:00am. By 5:00pm we had arrived at Stevie Z and Amelie's home in Mattice, just outside of Hearst. A heavy supper and short night sleep there, we were up, through the Timmies, and at the airbase for 6:15am that next morning.
DAY 1. PYM PATTERNS.
The day was grey but forecasted for sun where we were headed. The 7-day forecast written down proved perfect for the first six days while away in Pym. The two hour flight had us stop and drop other excited anglers in at Quantz Lake, giving us the chance to see this big body of water rumored to be loaded with walleyes.
On touch down our old friend Norm was on the dock to greet us, along with the previous group of anglers waiting to head home.
The Pym Island camp is awesome. A huge 3-bedroom and 1 main room space with electricity, hot running water for showers and dishes, a floor freezer, a fridge and freezer, propane oven and stove, BBQ, satellite TV, enormous dining table, couch, shower house, large deck, stereo... you name it, it's got it. Our gang just walked in that morning and within the hour were set-up and feeling right at home.
Ten miles is a moccassin to our Guide Norm, (aka The Dood) and anything over ten is a moccassin and a toenail, a moccassin and a half, or if under, just a heel of moccassin. Plan for the day, we'd fish a moccassin up river.
The Attawapiskat was a whole new flow the minute we left the dock. In 2008 water levels were five feet higher than normal during the same time of year, this year, it was five feet lower. Clearer, warmer and shallower now, river rocks and obstacles in places were fully exposed and before traveling too far it dawned on me that many spots some of us had fished in 08, were now high and dry. In fact, as the week went on I learned that 90% of the areas where I caught my own trophy fish last time, were now non-existent. Previous expectations had to be quickly disposed, this was to be an entirely new fishing experience.
Gridlock, gnawing noise and thick smoggy air gave way to the soaring birds, the mikosow (eagle), kahkakiw (raven), kekehk (hawk), ohow (owl) and niska (goose), and the roaming animals, the moswa (moose), maskwa (bear), atihk (caribou), mahihkan (wolf), and the mahkesis (fox). Surrounded by wildlife peering at us from the shoreline shadows and bluing skies, we likely missed much while focused on one thing, the riverís kinosew (fish).
That first afternoon was the eye-opener. Instead of warm water shorelines in eddies and bays, this trip was fast becoming about deeper cabbage beds in mid-river and off-shooting channel slack waters, and also the back-sides of islands and river-bends. Any cabbage key for pike, and current and eddies over rock for walleye, the pattern was far more typical to summer fishing, rather than early-to-late spring. Everyone began to dial into reality and so the fishing day finished with all catching and spotting some great fish. If one person could call day one theirs, it was Amelie.
Stevie Zebco's lovely wife, Amelie and I worked together in Moosonee for a couple years before my departure. A new mom with a new nursing career in Hearst now, she's always been the epitome of awesome. A tough poker player, Rock Band Pro, compassionate professional, loving mother, and a precisely witty friend, we can all say how much of a pleasure it was to have her along with the boys this trip. And, for a girl who wouldn't touch fish almost the entire week, she sure beat the water's pike and walleye to a pulp. There were many times she made us howl with laughter at the dinner table, smile in the boat, and even feel humbled when she often jigged up the most fish caught in a day. She sure put a dent in her "box of rubbers" this week, slipping new ones onto a jig with almost every river eddy that held biting walleye and pike. Two lures for Amelie were almost about all she used, a white double-tail 4" Mr.Twister and a Johnson Silver Spoon. The Queen Slayer, we enjoyed her company immensely.
Grant slipped away with Norm after supper to try his luck. The fishing nearby the cabin is likely the best to be found anywhere along the 80km stretch of fishable waters there are around Pym. The sun having nearly set and while enjoying a 15 year old healthy serving of chilled Dalwhinnie, Grant returns...
40 sumthin' year old male patient presents to the cabin smelling of ETOH, B.O, deet and fish (in that order) while having a pleasant yet urgent demeanor along with a marginally altered mental status. Chief complaint, "I got a huge fuxpletive treble from my Top Raider stuck in my arm..!!!"
On exam, it is noted that the patient indeed has a large steel treble hook from his Top Raider fishing lure embedded into the medial aspect of his left forearm. Small amounts of sanguinous discharge ooze from the entry site yet the patient states repeatedly, "I DON'T FEEL PAIN!!!"
The single hook is sunken in about as deeply as it can be and the point has nearly rounded and resurfaced. Patient's tetanus is up-to-date and he is apologetic for not getting a pic of the giant pike that was previously thrashing his arm all about while it was once attached to the other hook of his lure when at boatside. His anxieties are quickly medicated with a shot of rye and a Coors Light chaser. Partially sedated, an unfocused pic is taken of the wound before surgical intervention is scheduled.
In the cabin OR, the area is prepped with alcohol and 5cc's of 1% Lidocaine is injected to fully freeze the wound site. Feeling nothing minutes later, Zebco assists by forcefully pushing down on the skin around the hook point while I pull up on the hook. Once the barb is through and above the skin, the hook point is cut below the barb and the remaining hook removed back from the direction which it initially penetrated. Patient is pleased with the outcome, while onlooker Carl pukes several times in his mouth.
Assisted by Amelie we dilute Hydrogen Peroxide 2:1 with purified water and irrigate the wound with 10cc's, only to observe Grant's subcutaneous tissue begin bubbling, a little. Assisted again by Amelie we re-dilute the Peroxide to about 10:1 and flush furthermore with approximately 80cc's to achieve better result. Observing closely, one can see the irrigant enter the lower puncture site and exit out the other hole atop, a full wound cleansing is the result.
First sterilizing a needle driver and then following aseptic technique, the wound is closed with two #3.0 Prolene sutures. The patient tolerates the procedure with more Coors and laughter, while Carl appears to be dry heaving from his mouth while a cheeseburger emesis ejects from his nasal passages. Most of us remain in stitches the whole time through surgery. Fish hooks and vomiting are fun.
Amelie dresses the wound with Kleenex and kling, reviews signs and symptoms of infection as well as wound care, and gives the patient follow-up appointments for a dressing change and reassessment in two days, as well as suture removal come the final day of the trip. The patient expresses that his hand is numb for a few hours into recovery, but in the end, the surgical site heals beautifully six days later, full sensation and use of his extremity is restored, and no one ever suffers... except Carl.
That night a symphony of snoring and digestive noise rumbles through the cabin. Full on cheeseburgers, booze and Pym life, we're off to a pretty wild start.
DAY 2. HUSTLER'S.
I woke 6:30am to get the kettle boiling and french toast and ham on the stove. This was my day for some R&R with Norm and Amelie, the trips prep already a little taxing, being chauffeured downriver through the Pow Island channels is an exciting notion. The boys, they were headed downriver on the main channel and planned to meet up at the FishTrap.
Breakfast right through to mid afternoon Amelie and I caught numerous walleye, she picked up her first trophy pike and I nabbed three of them. The fishing was just what the doctor ordered. In the shallows off the backs of some islands we could spot schools of suckers and walleye swimming about, and even the odd sturgeon would clear the surface. Amelie had hooked into a mid to high 40 inch pike that got the best of her at boatside. It was a very impressive pike. Upon meeting the group later that afternoon we were all parked and fishing on a small creek inflow when I nailed my fat giant of the trip.
Grant, Mike, Carl and Steve had taken quite a tour downriver on this day. Carl was a madman speed demon on the river, and unbeknownst to me had some mad skills with the canoes too. Bluebird skies and high heat made fishing a little tougher for them through the afternoon, and the evenings mayfly hatch didn't help either.
In all though, Mike broke into his week with a trophy fish, as well as Amelie and I, and the others got some pigs too. Day two was probably my best day, lots of eyes and pike with the bigguns too, so I'll claim it.
Alot of fish for me came on Lil' Hustler inlines and spinnerbaits, NorthAms spinnerbaits, Rapalas, Flipping jigs with big 6-inch grubs or shads, and 4-inch YUM pink/white grubs on 3/8oz Jig-a-Joes.
Surf N' Turf supper with all the fixins is a second night favorite. I was fast asleep before the belt could even be loosened.
DAY 3. END OF THE WORLD.
Norm, Carl and Mike, Steve and Amelie, Grant and I. That was the days pairings and the plan was to head all the way downriver past the Highbanks to the "End of the World."
The group had shared in this, and by sunset on this day we took notes of the many fishing spots we'd now named. With over 80km's of river to fish and two lakes (one seasonal but big at 11km X 5km) there were some interesting holes we laid claim to. End of the World, Highbanks, The Chute, No Name Bay, FishTrap, Pow, Everglades, Silver Stick, Bermuda Triangle, Trappers Cabin, The Fingers, Scottydog Creek, Torpedo Bay, Shorelunch, Waterfall, Oldguy Bay (in memory of our late friend Trevor), The Rapids, Carlzeddy, Pink Rock and Sucker Islands.
Under variable clouds during a long excursion through miles of shallows, swifts and small rapids, we all found ourselves at the End of the World and about as far as we needed to go for the day. On route down that afternoon Mike and Carl were having an absolute slay day on the eyes, and Carl managed back to back solid gold bars. If there was a day for Carl, this was his day.
Nicknamed "The Gouin" for the trip, our smallest but mightiest member in the group had us chasing him at times all up and down the river. Our second trip together, there are just not enough adjectives for admirable to describe this dood. Personally, it's his energy, his drive, his good spirits, his passion to chase big fish, his help and committment, his jerky and pulled pork, (and now moose and goose too) that draw me to Carl and have me enjoying his company more and more as I get to know him. He's got that similar edge too... the one that pushes himself and others to do better and try harder. Pike Blankets he was last year, coaxing his fish with the Sexy, this year nothing much changed except the addition of big eyes off a jig-tipped Williams Wabler.
Another staple dinner for our trips is the walleye tornado night. A "weather event" as Grant put it, was moving in on us that evening, so the supper seemed quite befitting.
Our little camp nuisance one minute and buddy the next, Grant's aptly named pup, "Pike," even got himself a taste of the goods before bed.
Edited by Moosebunk, 08 July 2011 - 07:36 PM.