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Get Busy Fishin' Or Get Busy Tying. Report

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Kicked off the ice fishing season back on friday february 8th... I was abnormally late getting started this year.



Renison Exploration



From Moosonee to Smooth Rock Falls; via a brand new ice road that travels around Moose River Crossing to Otter Dam to Fraserdale and onward to paved southern highways, is now a driveable alternative to the Polar Bear Express Train. I didn't need all of the road, just the stretch from Moosonee to Moose River Crossing that runs along the railway.


A tower 60km outside of town located at a place called Renison (on any topo) showed a trail easterly to the Moose River. I figured I'd make an easy ride there on the Bravo towing the auger, fishing gear, and some extra gas in the sleigh. From Renison I'd find my way onto the river and backtrack a few kilometers to a couple fishing spots that I know hold pike. It was a new direction, a day for exploring really.


Kissed Bren goodbye and armed with GPS, some extra insurance gear, food and fishing stuff I set off at 10am. A short 10km ride and I met up with the beginning (or end) of the new ice road. I was impressed. The road was well maintained, quite smooth, and it allowed for me to make as best time that a 250cc Bravo can make. (about 70km/hr max)


Only five minutes up the road an impressively large black wolf; the first I have ever seen, crossed my path and made a quick getaway into the nearby spruce. I thought that pretty cool, as I've found many tracks over the years but never the beast.


Continuing on I crossed Hancock Creek, then Kwetabohagan River and the Cheepas River. The road being ice and scraped at times right down to the dirt, I was forced to hug the shoulders as much as I could to prevent the snowmobile's sliders from overheating and sticking. After Cheepas though, it became impossible, and so I rode up onto the railroad tracks where there was plenty of loose snow beside and between the rails. Things cooled down enough to continue on full steam ahead.


I arrived in Renison about 11:30am, only 1 1/2 hours or so after leaving. There were no signs of skidoo tracks guiding me off the rail so the Bravo broke it's own.

Snow was deeeeeeeeep as this winter we have had major dumpage. Great thing about the Bravo is it is good and light, and with the extra wide ski skins rides up on top really well.


From behind the tower at Renison I could see down a hill, across a swamp, and into two spots along the treeline that looked to be trail access points. When I rode to them I was sad to find they were both completely overgrown and blocked with fallen trees. After a short tour to scout the swamp I got my speed up on approach of the hill but pulling the sleigh behind I made about half an ascent before getting bogged down. Stepping off the skidoo I sunk into loose powder to my navel.




At this point right here, had I been riding my bigger skidoo, I would have been done for, good and stuck and digging for ages. It's for this reason that for years I have never ventured too far off alone to explore with the Renegade. Having the Bravo this year though it's given more confidence.


The sleigh disconnected (as shown in the pic) I was able to lift up the skidoo, set it atop the snow at it's side and then slowly walk it up the hill. When that was done I went back for the sleigh and dragged it up too. The process didn't take all that long but when I was done the heart sure was pounding and I was drenched in sweat.


Exploring Renison didn't come without a plan B. Another 8km up the way the Moose River and railway tracks were only about 100 meters apart. A cabin at a place called Tommyville was the easy marker and a trail did exist there. I didn't like the idea of going all the way there and then having to back track on the river about 15km, but, I had no other choice.


Upon reaching Tommyville things looked good until I pulled up beside the cabin and stared down a steep and snow drifted hill. The river right there, I knew if I was to go down there would be no coming back up.




At 12:30 I thought about my time left, my fuel, and having to break trail through deep snow from this point all they way back about 50km to Kwetabohagan River. I decided to abort the mission to these new spots.


On route home when crossing the Cheepas River I stopped the skidoo and looked downriver. Not a trail on it, I'd never skidoo'd it before either. The river has a few thin ice areas I figured I'd best be careful of, yet with all the powder thought we'd stay afloat okay. Only a 10km ride or so and I could arrive where the Cheepas monster of february 2007 lives..... so I went.




Was an easy ride afterall, but slow. The skidoo kicked snow into the sleigh weighing it down and twice I had to stop because my speedometer kept dropping, boggin' me boggin' down. Freaking great fun though. World was my oyster for the afternoon, a real treasure found all to myself.


By the time I got drilled and set at the home of the Cheepas monster it was 3:00pm. An hour went by, I sat there, had lunch, and nothing. The sun tucking in behind some clouds and a west breeze picking up I got the chills from being still a little damp from the ride. I took a walk to warm up.


Not that far gone the bell rings on my set rod. I bolt over and pick up my first pike of the 08. A wee fella.




Just got re-rigged when over at my skidoo my rod tip there is bending. Zip my butt over to it and get another small pike. While I'm fiddling around without pliers and spreaders to get my Cleo out of this runts throat the bell goes on the set line. Looking over though it's not moving, so I continue to get my hook out. Just as I set the runt free the rod there drops and goes nuts. I'm up and running, and when closing in line is coming off the tight dragged Abu C3.... set the hook.... nothing. Good fish lost.... if it was the Cheepas monster this is it's third time eluding me.


Clouds rolled on by but I stayed around until 5:00pm then packed it in for home. No more action with the fish. The sun setting I later picked up trail at Kwetabohagan and followed that up to the ice road.




Although the Renison pike exploration was a bust, it turned out a fun day. About 220km of adventure and a number of small rewards.



Big Red Renegade 600



Two days after the Renison tour my buddy Steve and I set off to do some powder riding. The day before I had got my big skidoo back from the shop. Poor buggah had needed an engine rebuild pretty much as two new pistons and one cylinder found home under Big Red's chassie.


Awesome, awesome day for riding, we took off out of Moosonee and for the first 20km's or so I took it easy on Red to break her in. Idle was definetly wonky from the start though, I couldn't get the rpm's to settle down below 3500 after releasing the throttle. My skidoo wanted to just keep going forward. I played with the idle setting a little but no matter what I did the problem continued. To go along with that, while I was riding I sometimes felt the machine would get subtle and sudden bursts of speed.


No worrying about it in the moment we kept going, heading towards the Cheepas River where I had skidoo'd through days earlier. Steve was riding his brand new Yamaha Apex 1000cc long track. Frizickin' sled of his was really slick and quiet as a mouse with the 4 cylinder. He had a little space on the back to bungee down a geri of extra fuel so we could play out in the snow a little longer than normal.


Once we hit the Cheepas it was heaven. Winding around riverbends at mach 9 in nearly two feet of top snow was a great way to kick-off Big Red's return. Steve took time for a pic upon my request.




We came to the railway bridge and ice road on the Cheepas and stopped for a break and refuel. Upon leaving there to which way we came Steve for the first time in the day takes the lead, punching the throttle hard. I watch as he spits up snow and digs right into the river ice.... which in turn actually breaks because he was sitting on a thin spot and waves of water come up and eat the snow above the ice. I'm like "ohhhhhh shiziznit" cause I could be sitting on thin too, and punch the throttle to get off.


It was all just a flashing moment but I no sooner get moving that Steve smokes a hidden ice ledge that was under the powder and it sends him totally airborne. His skidoo; now a plane, in flight rocked right, left then right again before throwing him off to the right and then landing on it's side.


Steve's OK. He's landed clear of the machine in deep snow. We stand his new Apex upright and find it's suffered a little though. His key that was tethered to him has ripped out taking part of the ignition with it. I'm like... "crikey bro... this sucks, but, thank god it happened so close to the road, we can come pick it up with the truck."


Steve dusts himself off, tries his key in the broken ignition and she won't turn. I check it out and remove a broken piece inside and then he tries again. Low and behold it starts. Steve's Apex once started too can have the key removed and continue running... hahaha... we're back in business.


We didn't quite bomb off the Cheepas as quick as we did on to it. When back on the Moose River though we put the throttles down again on a long 8-9km straight stretch and rode hard. Steve's Apex digs itself such a deep trench in powder that with it's extra weight topped out he said at 117km/hr. I didn't know he was full out at that when I passed him doing a little over 130km/hr. Hehehe.


Just before Kwetabohagan Steve goes off trail and hit this big rock head on.




Lucky for him it was head on. He was sent straight up and managed to keep his balance. Had that been a left or right ski impact my bet is that machine of his would have been saddling him when it landed. Frenchmen I tell ya... whenever I tour with these guys it's a gong show. lol.


We made it out alive. Put about 100km on. It was definetly a long time coming for me to get out on a "real" skidoo ride, and this tour provided multiple orgasm play.


Big Red went back to the shop that same week and after some investigation turned out the idle issue was caused by water in the carbs and solenoid backing up fuel into the air filter. Once that was dried out everything was good again.



4:10 To Yuma.



Fish this one bay in the summer and fall for pike. If the train is on time the action in there can be good on either topwaters or trolled spoons. Never ice fished it, so on the 13rth of the month concluded it was time to give it a go.


From a buddy I bought an 8 inch auger extension for the Jiffy so I could give the 10 inch blade a rest, keeping it sharp for March. It was a nice when I left Moose Factory but on the way I ran into this.




Came out on the other side of that wee squall alright.


Upon drilling some holes found there was a problem. This auger piece I was sold (the one I won't admit to buying because "it was sold" to me) was shot. The blade seemed sharp but the spike was done. It took me 45 minutes to drill two holes each through about one foot of solid black ice and 1 1/2 feet of soft. I had to sit on the auger to get it to penetrate the black ice at all.


This was sooo not fun at all. By the time I was done the two holes I was whipped and dripping saline through seven layers. Set up my rig then had a quick "work accomplished" beer followed by a shot of hot chocolate. I was chilled again instantly cause it was another day in the north... COLD!



yeah, patent is pending so find your own ingenious idea... OK. lol.


Day was turning out sunny although the winds remained a little gusty. The drilling followed by the beer got me drowsy and I ended up taking a nap on the back of my skidoo for a little over an hour.




When the 4:10 train to Yuma hit the pistols started firing, it was just like over at the Cheepas monsters house. A first bell woke me up and I was quick to ice one mini-snot and then over the next 25 minutes iced four more. The bite turned off around 4:30 as quick as it turned on. Picked up two that were a half decent size. I wasn't about to take many pics of these fish though because with wet hands that gusty cold wind was blistering on the phalanges. Here's the best anyhow.




I was happy with that. A five pike day. If I had of known to show with a better auger at about 3:45 I could have saved nearly two hours of sleeping in the shivery wind.


Took off around 5:00 but snapped a couple nice pics. First shot was the mouth of the bay I was fishing and the second one was on the new ice road. Good fishing for february on the Moose.






On my off days from fishing; not work, the usual routine over the winter finds me making lures or tying flies. Last year was all muskybuck inlines and a few bucktail jigs, the year before were spoons, inlines and bucktails, and before that was mainly flies. This coming summer I have a few trips planned in which atlantics, arctic char, brookies, lakers, pike and eyes may be targetted. Not quite finished yet as I still have some sculpin pattern bucktail jigs to tie, I have got a decent start. I've tied flies only as, I hope to cast the 6 and 9wt's a little more this year, and, I'm equipped with enough lures for the trips.




To get a scale, the big black bunny hair leech in the middle is about 4.5 inches long. I tied alot more than what are only seen in this pic.




These mice patterns are for bigger searun specks. They look OK but I can't cast worth a crud so on the water they may look retarded to a fish. I tied the two bigger ones weedless using a flourocarbon weedguard.




These two atlantic salmon flies are popular to those who fish atlantics. One is the Ally's Shrimp and the other the Blue Charm.




These bushy-headed freakizoids are weighted with wrapped lead wire around the hook shank so I get them down. They're supposed to be sculpin-like bunny hair immitations. One I call Bunk's Devil Bunny because... well because it looks like the devil. Scary like.


Having a student working for me on the weekends had helped me free up time from seeing patients. Now I'm just the guy she consults while I do important work like tie flies, watching fishing TV shows and poker, and go on-line to read about shhhtufff on fishing boards.


That is all.... almost.



Run & Gun Onakawana



Back June 17th, 2004 a friend and I took the Little Bear train out of Moose at mile 186 and got dropped off south at mile 116 Onakawana. From there we paddled our tushies down the dirty Abitibi River through Allan’s Rapids, onto the Moose River and home. Was about a 90km trip and relatively boring and tedious, and yet with some interesting highlights that make it another story for another time.


I wanted to go back up there. Since 2004 I have had it in mind to skidoo up to one spot that was on that entire Abitibi portion which I figured would hold fish. This past Sunday my buddy Steve with the Apex switched his work shift to come along on the expedition.


We set off at 10:00am figuring it was 75-80km. We had no idea of trail conditions but I knew that a local outfitter had been taking southerners back and forth from Moosonee to his camp up there. The trail turned out to be mint. There was not one problem area the entire trip and because of that we got up there in 1 1/2 hours and enjoyed every bit of the scenery along the way. This was a relief because I had heard this river could be dangerous in places and, it's a big isolated area and that needs some respect.


Upon reaching the spot Steve and I spread things out. For a small area the bottom must have been quite contoured as depths were variable within short distances. The deepest hole was probably only around 8 feet and many places had strong current. Ice conditions were weird. About 2 inches black ice at the bottom of two feet of different layers of soft ice and slush.


Once the lines were down it took about 20 minutes and the first fish to hit a chunk of fallfish on a Williams.




This 22 inch ling turned out to be my first ling ever. I said to Steve, "I caught a new species, the trip is a success."


Things slowed after this fish for about an hour though. Decidedly after jiggin and snackin' awhile Steve was to head to the southern set-up to clean the hole and I'd go north. On the way there, the north bell goes. Steve is too far off and I'm right there anyway.




A bright colored walleye with a weird bloody tail. Fish on the dirty Abitibi River (even the lake) take on such cool colors. The pike are really silvery and mauve, the ling light brown not dark at all, and the walleye white and beige.


After just the two fish it shut down. Sad state of affairs that was too because the day ended up just amazing. -3C, the wind died around 4:00pm and the sun came out after the clouds cleared.




I was sure this spot would be pikey... and after moving around to try new holes we covered a good lot of space. Dunno...




5:00 is quitting time around here and so we got on route home. Weren't 10 minutes heading back when we barrelled right into a snow storm. Visibility turned garbage but the trail could be made out well enough and we did well to get off the Abitibi in good pace. The day overall was fantastic. It was great getting up there finally and it was an awesome month for exploring and probing a couple new spots.


Next morning on the way to work I stopped in at Moose Lodge to pick up a coffee. Sadly, the owner and friend died that morning.


Bob was from Newfoundland but spent many years working in the north. He was a cook by trade.


Since I took the job in Moosonee back in 04 Bob and I have pretty much visited weekly. He'd always ask about my girls first then the fishing. Like many other east coasters he grew up fishing specks as a kid, then, later on when he lived in parts of Nunavut developed an affection for arctic char. He told me once he'd often make pizza with arctic char on it for his Inuit customers and friends. Over the past few years I couldn't count how many times he's invited me to Newfoundland to fish with him once he moves back there. I always figured it only a kind gesture as Bob's health was failing him.


He was the kind of man that tried to please everyone that mattered, and he often did me. Times in his life he "didn't have a bucket to piss in," he'd say, but he was happy then. In Moosonee since I've known him he went from a chip stand and home to, two homes, a restaurant and small motel. The money finally came and he remained generous with his friends.


As diabetes took it's grip the last two years or so Bob deteriorated fast though, to the point of chronic renal failure needing dialysis 3 times weekly, and, frequent congestive heart failure. Oftentimes he'd still ask about my girls, then the fishing, but then about this pill or this cough, or that health problem. I'd always answer but many times play it down. As a friend I knew Bob would be happier not dwelling on sickness and his inevitability.


A couple weeks ago I made it my point to head over for a visit. Bob was cheerful that day. He asked about the girls then fishing. Before long he changed conversation back to when he had less in his life but he had his health. How it upsets him now to have worked to finally get somewhere and his death is coming at a young age and he's stuck suffering until that day. Too weak and dependable on others and the system just to stay alive. He invited me and the family again to come out to Newfoundland when he moves out there, so we could fish specks and drink scotch.


I got the advice I've received other times before from people on their way out. Those words that can come in so many ways yet always end up meaning the same, "don't put off ti'll tomorrow what you can do today," or, "live for today," "live in the moment," "cherish everyday as if it's your last," etc. But Bob said it, not at all cliched like that but in more of grief stricken, thought out, personal and genuine manner. He wishes he'd done more for himself though, and kindly he reminded of how fortunate and wisely he thinks I'm getting by. Who knows about that though, really.


Last saturday I took my littlest one over to Moosonee for lunch. I thought about heading to Bob's but had eaten in there a number of times already that week so I decided on the other place. My loss.


I don't want any symapthies in the replies people. Just letting Bob go cause I miss him some. He was a kind soul and oftentimes part of daily life here, and always so good.

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you always have great reports! Thanks so much for sharing. You live in such a beautiful part of the country. Wish i could make it up there one day, but in the summer.

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Sweet report Bunk. And what's this I see you're using deer hair for your tails on those shrimps patterns hehheeeh.


Wow. All I can say is wow.


thanx for that


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Another Gem of a Report Bunk. Your fly tying is getting pretty damn good, definalty better then I 've been capable of in the last year or 2. Thanks for the picture of the flies...i almost forgot about my fly post....almost lol


It's closing in on march ...how many days till you hit the K-Sawg??



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It's closing in on march ...how many days till you hit the K-Sawg??



Not this weekend Dave but the one after is when I'll likley start the trips in with Bren. She's picking up live minnows next week and I have a dozen or more frozen fallfish for deadbaiting. I can tell ya, I live all winter for these 3-4 weeks in March. Aiming for a 25+ pounder or a 45+ incher.


MNR is reportedly setting up camp in there this winter.

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Can't wait for your Nipigon Report MB. With any luck, I'll be in it. Keep 'em coming Bud..

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I read your reports, on the edge of my chair, wanting to move ahead faster, to see what comes next, my eyes darting forward as quickly as possible... rivetted... Your every word brings your adventures alive.


Well written, well said and even more importantly well lived.


Your an inspiration... in so many ways!


Thank you for sharing




He will be alive always in you... your friend!

Edited by Jen

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I'm glad someone has got the MNR motivated the MooseCree Band guys who were down in teh summer were NOT happy about the reports of the walleye being netted. I wonder who gave them that information???



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Thanks very very much Jen for the kind response. Appreciated, and happy you enjoy my reports.


I'm glad someone has got the MNR motivated the MooseCree Band guys who were down in teh summer were NOT happy about the reports of the walleye being netted. I wonder who gave them that information???-Ramble


Thing of it is Dave they could be there for a number of reasons.


1. You know the Band here is in charge now. Their "Adventure Corp" has bought the lodge. Now that they are invested they will protect. It's hard to say if an MNR presence is found in there this winter, that it was the result (maybe even help) of the Band.


2. MNR has known for some time of the plane loads of walleye being scooped up out of there by poachers out of Quebec netting and fishing illegally in Kesagami. (especially down Newnham) The local outfitter here counted 13 private planes on ice over one weekend a few a years back. Poachers filling their planes, flying out, picking up beer and flying back in. They all head east to cross the boarder where they're then out of OMNR jurisdiction. I've been on the ice and see a few planes come and go myself, but, they're a little shy to land around us now.


3. MNR has been in there the last 2 out of 3 years. I've been checked by them. They've come with OPP air support before too, so they're looking to fry big fish I'd think. One of the fellas involved with the Band's "Adventure Corp" is a racist pr!ck. I wouldn't put it past him to complain to the MNR that I'm going in there, or that "whiteman" in general are going in there, because afterall... anyone non-status is just a trespasser on Traditional Lands. (as an aside) - Heck, I took a group skidooing into a rarely visited back lake about 5 years ago, only to go back a week later to find trail accesses signed up with "Traditional Territory" signs, and word from a hospital employee that this fella was at our work telling people to make sure we have our fishing licenses and to not leave garbage in there. (we left a burnt out fire pit in the middle of the ice and four auger holes) You should see the dump he and his father have left in there. 5 years of his "respect for the land and waterways" has settled the little lake with a couple cabins to get drunk at every spring.


4. Charlie seemed some interested in my winter excursions in there. Heck, I published my successes fishing on that lake. From the Detour Mine Road it's not all that far to skidoo in there, even though snowmachines aren't allowed in the park. I am sure that winter ice fishing exposure for that lake wouldn't be in Charlie's or The Band's best interests. Again, protecting assets. Charlie did not like hearing about the netting when I told him.



Thing is this Dave. If the lodge was to fold up again because of mismanagement it's still a win - win situation for MooseCree. They will continue to have it making money, or it'll remain protected park from non-status and yet with full Native usage.

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Great report and pics!!! :thumbsup_anim:


It looks like you've got the fly tying down to a fine art!


Congrats on the Ling and that's an excellent Walleye, although he does look very cold for some reason. :whistling:

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You have a great talent for writing; your posts include the entire experience, not just the fishing.

As a reader I feel I am sharing your adventure.




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I was actually searching for the yearly Kesagami report when I stumbled upon this gem. You are still one of the few who can immerse me into a report and leave me in a better state coming out the other side. Nicely done once again, my friend. Pics are first class too!

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Bunk seems like the letter to the MNR last year worked!!!

There was a 2 page story in the Ottawa Sun on Saturday about the ice road from SRF to Moosenee, good reading. Those Northern Ontario lings are of a different color than down around here for sure. Used to catch lots on the Mattagami in the spring.

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