It's been a while since I've posted, I've had an absolutely crazy fall and winter season but hope everyone is doing well. I finally had a chance to go through my pictures from our Annual fishing trip this year and thought some people might be interested in the story. Luckily we wrote out a journal while we were there so I remember the order of events, but anyways here it goes:
Uncle Scott and I had an absolute blast last year fishing with Hearst Air Service for the first time. We had an extremely interesting week fishing the Martison Lake Outpost Camp. Click Here for Report . Last year we booked our trip at the fishing show and Mel had lots of cabins available, so we chose Martison. We were extremely impressed with the outfitter and how well run the camps were. We also experienced the absolute best fishing of our lives on that trip. Scott and I have decided that over the next few years we would like to fish every lake Hearst has.
We called Mel two weeks before the fishing show and found out that all the lakes we were considering were completely booked for our 3 week time-frame. Scott went behind my back and put a deposit down on Sunshine lake. I was less than impressed because during my conversations with Mel, I distinctly remember her telling me that Sunshine is a numbers lake, and an incredible fishery for quantity, but not for size. I was on my hunt for my first 40" fish this year! Scott doesn't quite remember whether he had caught a 40 or not, but he was also on the hunt to join the 40 club. I'm not going to lie, I was bummed. I wanted to try out Mcleister, or Napken, or Quantz. These lakes were all booked so I decided to make the best out of it. After all fishing is a blast.
We also had two new members fishing with us this year, Howard and Kelly who went to high school with Scott and have become great friends of mine as well over the last 10 years.
June 23rd 4am we were all on route to Hearst, Ontario. The drive normally takes us 10 hours, we've developed a pattern on our stops for gas and food, and we love staying at the Queen's motel in Hearst and enjoying a nice hot tub and relaxing night before flying into the wilderness. There are lots of cool landmarks and historical sites on the way up, the drive is quite enjoyable I love seeing the changes in the landscape the further north you go.
Howard and Kelly having a bit of fun, it was a beautiful day for our drive. We were hoping for the same weather all week! There's a great little diner in Hearst where we enjoyed a lovely dinner. , I forget the name but they have great google reviews. Named after a person if I remember correctly.
Fast forward to the next day. We arrived at the base nice and early, hoping to catch the first flight out. We weren't so lucky but I don't really mind. I love standing on the dock and listening to the people coming back from the camps and all their stories. Tons of big fish were caught the last week. We were all excited.
Our Beaver arrived and docked, unloaded the last party and we were up! This might be one of the few times I've ever been caught on camera doing work but it happened I swear!
We were up and away in no time! In the air for a super smooth flight over some absolutely stunning terrain.
Arrival and the Bet
Last year Scott and I made a small wager for who would catch the biggest fish. Unfortunately for me I ended up paying for Scotts meals on the journey home. This year we all made the same bet. $20 each, biggest fish takes it home. I had done my research, I was excited, I had the gear, and I was winning the money this year.
After looking at the lake, my inner kid took over and I again became super hopeful we'd lock into some monster pike.
Scott and I looked at our boat, there's a measuring tape sticker on the side that only goes up to two feet. "Guess there aren't any big ones in here"
We modify it to fit our adjusted expectations. We went to 46" on the side. *Mel if you read this I would like to formally apologize for vandalizing your boat.*
Day one of fishing was absolutely incredible. The fishing was ridiculous. The weather was equally as nice. Every cast I threw I was either catching a fish, or seeing a hungry pike chase after my lure which I found super entertaining. It was non stop action all day, Our normal strategy is to pick out the inlets, outlets, and structure and try prime spots. Move on to secondary spots. There were literally fish everywhere it almost was annoying because no skill was needed. This was great for Howard and Kelly as they have never experienced anything like this but Scott and I were getting a bit frustrated at our inability to locate the larger fish. We began venturing out deeper, and trying to read structure and find some "Big Fish" spots. After a lunch break we decided to sit down and scope out where they were. On our previous trip we found the large pike located close to a walleye feeding ground. Simple plan arose. Find the walleye spots close to shore but close to deep water and fish there. It payed off immediately. I casted towards a rocky point and felt a huge hit on my spinner. Set the hook and the battle was on. Scott walkey'd Howard and Kelly to come over and I had an audience for landing my personal best fish, a 38" fat pike. My heart was racing. It wasn't a 40 but my god, it was heavy and so full of life. Unfortunately uncle Scott can't use a camera to save his life so I have no pictures of this fish. It was a beauty though.
We were all ecstatic, I couldn't believe day one we had so much action and a nice big fish like that to top it off.
"Do you guys want to hand over the money now?" I bragged. Little did I know....
To top off this perfect day we were treated to an incredible sunset. Kelly and I are both into taking pictures and our prime targets are normally sunsets and animals. We kept calling each other out of the cabin as it continued to get better and better for an hour or two. I took about fifty pictures over the two hours but I'll only share three or four.
The Penetration and the Pattern
Another great weather day, day two we started locking down a patter of where we could locate certain sized fish. I had the chance to see 4 fish over 30" including a nice fat 34". Howard and Kelly's boat was also figuring it out as they broke the 30" mark with a nice 34" pike. The fish were again plentiful.
We continued to catch Walleye's with bite marks and scars on them. Every time we'd see one we'd get excited as some of these walleye's were pretty big and the teeth marks were quite large.
Late in the afternoon Scott and Kelly were tired and wanted to lay down for a nap. Howard and I decided to go out for a cruise before dinner.
We were having great luck in a spot, catching fish after fish in the same location. We would catch one trolling, stop the motor, blow back, troll again and catch another one in this glory hole. We decided to cast it. I was putting a new lure on my line when Howard casted and his reel popped close and the five of diamonds spoon landed on my pants. I told him to wait a second so I finished attaching my lure and went to pull the lure out of my pants and realized two of the hooks were in my leg. I freed one with a quick pull but the other one was in there pretty good. Back to the cabin we drove.
Howard felt horrible and was treating me like gold, offering me help up out of the boat and offering to drive home. "Howard I have a hook in my leg, I'm not paralyzed." We walked in to tell Kelly that her husband won the biggest catch contest . She freaked out haha. Luckily I watched a great video on how to extract these bad boys and Howard had seen the same one. We attached strong line to the lure, Howard gave it a good pull and out she came. Cleaned up and all good. Minus my pants which had to be cut into shorts. I screamed when the hook came out to mess with Kelly but it was rather painless. No one wanted to fish with Howard moving forward. I recorded it on the GoPro if you'd like to see it.
Here we were on day 3 of our trip. We had witnessed some amazing scenery, we were catching a boatload of fish everyday. I had figured out the trick to netting 30's, Howard and Kelly had figured it out, Scott had yet to catch a decent pike. The trick we found to catching the bigger fish was fishing the deeper pencil weed, and casting spinners or topwater buzzbait a couple feet in the weeds, and retrieving them outwards. Scott and I were still on the hunt for a monster. We did some thinking, seeing as we have one average sized brain between the two of us not much thinking was done but one thing stood out. We caught the biggest fish so far where we believe it is feeding on Walleye. We decided to hit that spot 6 times a day that we determined peak times. We would troll by the point, and then cast lures of different sizes and depths at the two distinct rock points. There seemed to be a fair amount of submerged stumps or logs, we had hooked into some good ones, one had Scott convinced it was a big pike as he reeled it in and it would hit various structure and feel like it was pulling.
We were trolling by the "Big Fish" spot and Scott says ""*** I'm snagged.", He starts pulling on the line to try to free it, throws the boat in reverse. I look back and I see Scott's snag start to move to deeper water. "That's not a snag" I yelled. We go into full on panic mode. I'm grabbing the camera making sure it's on. Tried to get the GoPro going but before I know it it's already at the boat. I grab the net. Fish sees the net and says "hard no bud" dives deep. Scott reels him up again and I net the fish before it has a chance to turn around. Massive high fives and cheers from us and from Howard and Kelly who were close enough to catch the tail end of the battle.
Crap, there goes my $60 !!**** This pike was 45", it's a good thing we vandalized the boat or we likely wouldn't have gotten an accurate reading.
You'd think a photographer that gets paid to take pictures would have got the whole fish in the picture, but I'm blaming Scott for not moving to the back of the boat. Regardless I was jealous but also so happy. Scott caught the fish of a lifetime. This had been a rough couple years for him with losing some close relatives but that is the magic in fishing. When you're on the water doing what you love all of that goes away. People are always asking why I go on these trips when I could go to Cuba or Mexico, and the answer is simple. Spend a week where your sole purpose on this planet is just existing and trying to catch fish, where your cell phone, Facebook, or the news can't bring you back to reality. It really is magical.
We had a cute little friendly Rabbit come visit us every evening. He'd hang outside and we'd feed him some carrots or other bunny friendly items. One evening Howard and Kelly were coming back from a trip, beached their boat and scared the little guy and he jumped in the lake. He kind of just layed there confused and then started taking on water. Howard saved the dumb bunny in the net. Kelly will send me the picture soon but for now here is the little trouble maker looking cute and innocent.
We didn't have the luck of seeing any moose or bear this trip like we had hoped but we did see an abundant amount of nature.
The Hunt Continues.
Over the past few days we had great luck catching lots of fish and figuring out where the decent sized ones were. I hadn't lost hope on my 40" quest so I was trying everything I could think of to get it done.
I was hoping the 50+ referred to inches and not quantity, so I gave it a go. Didn't work out for me and back she went. This cabin is loaded with great stories, A lot of lures have been left with notes by people wanting to pass on the good luck. I tried a couple but nothing seemed to work. Later that evening we were fishing the "Big Fish" spot, No pike were ready to hit our lures so we killed the motor and started jigging. Not two seconds after I hit bottom I feel a big hit. "Fish on!" This thing felt huge, possibly because I was fighting it from on top rather than the side but I was positive I was joining the 40 club if I could keep it pinned. It put up a great fight and into the net it went. A super super fat 36" fish. What a fight though, my heart was racing. Quick picture and away she went.
We hit lots of fish over the next couple days
Howard discovered that the pike would just destroy buzz bait on the surface and this was super fun to watch. At one point him and Scott had one fish hit the buzz bait 8 times in a row. They woke me up to come film it but of course the fish was camera shy. This being said, some of the best fishing on the lake is right off the dock. Howard got broken off by an absolute monster that swam under the dock and said cya later. I would encourage you to continue to try even if you don't catch right away, There seem to be cycles that come through and hit.
Had a few surprise catches as well. I was very disappointed I hadn't caught a clam until this guy chomped down
We were treated to an absolute pristine sunset on our second last day with some colours I've never seen before in the sky. Being this far north the sun sets crazy late. This video is a time lapse starting at 9 30 ending at 12.
The GoPro wasn't as good at picking up the colours as the DSLR's were.
This was a great last evening and goodbye to our beloved Sunshine Lake. There is a lovely journal with entries going back about 8 years that was a fun read. We left our own journal with our stories and some maps of the good spots. This is a great place to take the family, or even a honeymoon. There is a nice beach and amazing sunset views every night were gorgeous.
Here are some pictures of the cabin and camp.
I would absolutely classify this as our best trip to date, the fishing was so consistent and the weather was incredible.
As always we can't thank Mel and Family enough. They run an absolute top notch operation and we are set on trying every lake over the course of the next few lakes. We booked Hilmer lake for this upcoming summer as soon as we landed. If you're interested I recommend not waiting until the fishing shows as the last two years we've been disappointed with our choice of lakes being booked up. Hearst has a lot of returning clients that come every year and they fill up fast. If you have any questions about Martison or Sunshine let me know! Monster hunt continues for next year!
Thanks for reading