Let me preface this report with a warning, Extreme likelihood of fishing withdrawal can be a major side effect after visiting a place like Aba!!!
The usual suspects are present, Brock, Chuck, myself & in Eddie’s place this year was Chuck’s friend Todd. Eddie your presence was missed this year man but Todd was a awesome sit in. Brock has fished Aba a few times before but it has been many a moon since his last visit & he visited during high water season, this is low water season, would his fond memories pay off? OH HELL YEAH!!!! IN SPADES!
Not going to say this place is unique but it has to be pretty rare that you have a world class fish factory in the lake you’re on but have also a world class river such as the Albany run through the lake & have another river, the Opichuan, end its run in there as well. There is a portage to a nearby lake (Opichuan Lake) that offers a chance at species not found to readily (Lake Trout, Whitefish) while the main lake (Aba) holds Walleye & Pike by the ton. Brook Trout can be found in both the Albany & Opichuan but we had no luck this time. Many species of Roughfish also cruise these waters, several types of Sucker (Redhorse, roundhead, shorthead) but a main attraction or should I say SHOULD be a main attraction is Sturgeon. We had no luck this outing in finding them, next time I hope.
2 camps dot this place. One is no more and I think the story was 20+ years since it last saw visitors. The camp we were at likely saw its last visitors close to 20 years ago, outside of the natives that use it as a stop over I imagine. Brock has been to Aba twice in the past & at this very camp, it holds such a special place in his heart, he couldn’t wait to return! Jason Meyer is a man that is trying to stake a claim in these long lost camps & the last one of his we visited on the Albany 2 years ago (Caviar Lake) was such an amazing adventure & the Albany such an amazing place, this had epic written all over it!
Other camp long since abandoned.
The drive to Nakina is never a fun one past the initial 5-6hrs, it turns into a bit of a slug really. But when you see the Blueberry road turn off, the juices start flowing again. This time was different for myself as the few fly in’s I’ve been too we’ve had pretty stellar weather. The fly out day was another beast. Delayed by 3-4hrs, I can’t remember, we heard rumblings of one of the pilots wanting to relax for abit as the weather was throwing him around. When we got the all clear we got a very capable pilot that wasn’t jittered by the weather, how hard could it be…….! Well really it wasn’t terrible overall, a lot of up & downs but the landing………..had to check my shorts. Plain was “fish tailing” and rolling….not fun but hell we made so all is good! The fly out was full on great & the weather for our entire 7 days was mostly ideal. A little warm the first day but then it shifted to much cooler, more ideal temps. Highs of 15-18* lows down to around 8-10* (one night it did drop quite low, maybe 2-4*) a little rain here & there but my good weather streak continues. I couldn’t make the trip last year but heard the weather sucked.
First hour on Aba saw Chuck & Todd checking out the front 40 around the cabin. Brock & I decide to head to the outflow of the Opichuan. Once there Brock angled the boat almost dead center & held it there as the flow was quite easy but we went on to have 6 consecutive double headers on our first 6 casts. He missed on the 7th but I would go 17 for 18. All Walleye were definitely eaters to some really nice ones. We spent 2 hours there just blasting fish at will. We parked the boat to shore fish, having the same luck. Shortly after that Chuck & Todd came over & they also hammered fish till well after Brock & I left. Talk about a start, this place was already shaping up to be legendary for myself.
Sunday morning we all decided to explore around to see what’s what. Chuck & Todd went towards the Opichuan while Brock & me decided to check out the in & outflow of the Albany. We found some serious weed beds, one with a nice drop to 18-20ft. Caught mostly snot rockets, the occasional 24+ until I chucked my spoon when a nice beasty came calling. It would be the biggest we would catch at this weed bed all week, but the potential for monsters is there in spades. Down the other way Chuck & Todd would go on to find a very nice trench that would produce huge Walleye. Affectionately termed as “Big Fish Alley” this would be a great place to go and troll because…well, big fish live here. This day might have been the slowest production wise for Brock & me but saying that there was still a metric ton of fish caught. We also started to discuss where we should possibly try for night time sturgeon.
Monday saw really the only hiccup of the trip. After our morning start, Chris & I were trolling around base camp (roughly) when our brand new motor quit. This was a brand new Tohatsu, still had all the tags on it, it seized up solid. Lots of oil, lots of gas, water was cycling properly, I guess it wanted to be an anchor rather than a motor. THANKFULLY on our trip in we brought a spare Merc that definitely has seen better days but it ran well enough to keep Chris & I in the game. Chuck & Todd found that the Albany inflow was spectacular spot. Nailing untold numbers of Walleye with some truly giants among them. Chris & I had settled on Pike, trying to unlock the monsters that were no doubt roaming around, no luck this day.
Tuesday the real adventure began. The day before Chris & I headed up the Albany slightly checking for rock gardens. There is a magical place up stream a bit called Frenchman’s Rapids. This is a place Chris remembers very well but he was last there in high water & remembers the trek up being quite tricky with a few rock gardens that would make our trip unlikely. The prop on our Merc had been spanked off stuff many times before so if we nailed something good it was potentially an end for us, however Chuck’s boat has a skeg so he led the way up. The first couple of Kms went slow but uneventful then we were faced with the first set of rapids. Kinda looked like it might be the end of the road. Chuck pulls over to the side & the only way my brain recalls what happened next was like the part in Top Gun when Maverick says he’s going to bring them in closer when Merlin says “you’re going to do WHAT!!!” Brock being Maverick & me being Merlin. Before I knew what was happening Chris starts shooting his way up, I try to do my best in guiding left or right to avoid prop busters & in the end we flatten out perfectly. Chuck was soon to follow. We would have 3 sets of rapids altogether that we would have to navigate through for the 10KM (one way) trek. Some truly spectacular scenery. The area looks much different in high water Chris recalls but when we hit a pool about 1 km away from the actual Frenchman’s this is the spot Chris recalls most. Chuck & Todd head up still towards Frenchman’s & I wasn’t aware that this was the intended spot for us. No way to call Chuck so we just sat & fished, eventually they did come back. This pool is the stuff of legends. Hard to believe that someone would get sick of pulling in Walleye…..not just Walleye but serious quality ones (2.5-3lb almost all, plus many larger that that). Your arms actually got sore. The trek home went off without a hitch but can’t lie, had the heart pumping running the rapids but also knew Chris has experience doing that so not worried. After dinner we would hit Big Fish Alley for an evening troll before trying our hand at Sturgeon. Chuck nailed a great Northern while jigging for Walleye, biggest of the trip so far but another one would come calling soon that slightly (possibly, not by much though ) bested it.
Wednesday saw the weather turn slightly rainy so we decided to stick it out for a bit as thunder & lightning boomed off around us. A later than normal start but it wasn’t that far off we decided we were going to try and walk the Opichuan searching for Brookies. Now we didn’t find any brookies but we did find a awesome river to walk. All told we covered about 1km of this pretty rugged terrain with no Brookies to speak of but Walleye & Pike were caught seemingly at will. Some evidence of past fishermen was hanging from trees, now whether it was natives or not who knows but some serious jigheads looked like Christmas ornaments. After a few hours of this we were back at out boats and we putted around when Chris & I hit this side bay off Big Fish Alley. A perfect pike bay if there ever was one, we troll around with modest luck in the small to not so small pike category when we began chucking top waters. Water was glass & it wasn’t long until we had fish almost every cast, small but fish none the same. We hit this back shallow pad & I chuck in the Whopper Plopper when there was a massive water explosion. I knew it was a good fish the second my rod loaded up but I didn’t know it would be a PB. This girl didn’t really put up a massive fight, to the point Chris thought it was way to green to come in, but in she came. Once in the cradle she put up some fuss, pretty much ended my Whopper Plopper but hell I’d gladly sacrifice any lure for a fish like that. I basked in that big fish glow for quite awhile, didn’t need to cast just savor that moment. What else happened after that mattered not to me.
Thursday saw another big adventure day as we had decided to make the trek over to Opichuan lake. There is a portage trail that the local native(s) keep open for their trap lines. The bottom of our lake had a quite small (low water season) creek/stream/connection to a back bay, or in high water likely just the bottom of the lake with a rock jam. Chris had brought his 3.3 outboard for this trek as we hoped that on the other side of the portage trail would be a boat or two. Plan was for one team to make the trek one day then the next day the other team would have a go. Well the rock jam kinda put an end to that when we decided all 4 of us would give it a shot and worse case would be 4 to a boat. Well the way there went off they way we figured it would & there was a few boats at the other end of the portage. A nice flat back canoe which may have been the one we heard about back at Langenbruner’s that had been “soft borrowed” from one of their camps, however there was a bunch of stuff stashed under it that was fresh. So rather than potentially piss off someone we went 4 to a boat. Opichuan Lake is a beautiful setting and quite possibly the nicest looking beach this side of Miami. We starting marking fish and depth. There are Lakers & Whitefish here as well as the usual suspects & the Lakers were target number one. After a brief check in at one of Wilderness North’s cabins (really nice place) we hit the lake. We marked a lot of fish in the 40-60’ range but couldn’t get any takers. Brad eventually nabbed the only 2 fish we get this day & both were Walleye’s caught 60’ down which surprised everyone. We cut the lake trip a bit short as we wanted to hit the outflow & try once again for Brookies. No dice but it was a nice trek. After making it back to base camp & having dinner we’d hit Big Fish Alley and try again at a different spot for Sturgeon. Lots of Pike & Walleye but those damn Sturgeon were being tricksy.
Friday, our last full day here and the week had caught up to us in one way or another, so we played it rather low key & just fished our lake. Once again way too many fish to even begin counting, became the norm and if you went a few casts or trolled for longer than a few minutes without landing a fish you started to think something was off. Don’t think we tried for Sturgeon this night, maybe we got our drink on can’t remember but hell we had fun no matter what.
Saturday our flight out was delayed once again because of unstable weather. A few hours late but we hit a perfect window as the flight was stress free. Got back loaded up our cars and drove home. Stopped in Cochrane for the night when we heard about all the crazy weather up there. Calling for tornados and the like, we were lucky to make it out that day as we could be stuck for a day or two….which really wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the world.
Anyway I want to thank Jason Meyer (JMeyer on here)for the opportunity to fish this truly world class place & hope he has a major success with it. This is a double edge sword the way I look at it, put out a report showcasing a place that has fallen off the radar & to have by far the best fishing experience of my life, don’t think I’m alone in this thought, but also don’t want to see a place like this get hit hard in the years to come. I will say it’ll take a certain type of person to stay here as it really is 4 walls & a roof but that is the way we like it. There is a stove & fridge, BBQ & deep frier so you’re taken care of that way…OH & I must point out the new crapper he built. Likely the most expensive crapper I’ve been in, given the price of lumber these days not to mention the cost to fly it in there, & the flight in is among the more pricey ones however everything about this place is worth every dollar put in. I’d highly recommend it to anyone that digs things rough around the edges. Also want to thank the usual (& new) crew as this trip is still fantastic but these dudes rise it up a few notches, always good drinks, fires, chat & food (Brad is aces!!!) Also while we saw no animals other than Eagles & other birds we did see wolf and moose tracks as well. All fairly fresh. I did hear 2 distinct tree knocks while in the crapper one morning that if you are a believer in certain legends you might think you’re not alone but likely just a woodpecker…although not like any woodpecker sound I’ve heard before…(not a believer myself but it was odd) .Todd found a moose jawbone & I came out with a beaver skull, nice little memento.
CHEERS!!! thanks for reading