Jump to content
Moosebunk

A Solo Roady North III. "The New Fly Fisher."

Recommended Posts


A SOLO ROADY NORTH III. "The New Fly Fisher."




Boils down to reflections and connections I suppose... The desire to just get away alone, hit the open road and ride through whatever may come. Some stops planned, others left to chance. "A Solo Roady North" each spring seems to fulfill a need. A reward and rejuvenation of sorts, and yet always a test of will and stamina for a slowly aging soul...



41838e83-15f0-40bc-a712-aedab9951de0_zps



The Opaz to Mattice along highway 11 was violently shaking the boat rivets loose when I received a call from my good buddy the agent Stevie Z of "Mission Fishin' Impossible" fame. "Hey man! Was that you we just passed in Smooth Rock," he asked? "You bet, saw you out on assignment. Brake lights came on twice, thought you were gonna turn around and lay chase but knew it was you nonetheless," I claimed. Too much on the go for Stevie Z to join forces and little space for the extra body aboard, with me in spirit as always, after a long chat we said our goodbyes.


Beyond the first ten hours of driving, the tumbleweed corridor Hearst to Longlac and Jellicoe blew the Chev straight to the bugs, dirt and dust of the 801. Bob Marley was blazing "Stir It Up," and what was a completely clean boat the entire route north, became totally filthy unrecognizable after just the first of the 48 miles remaining. The Lund, my baby, would survive, thank you Jeebus!


As it was last year the destination would be Lake Nipigon via Onaman River Resort. http://www.onamanriverresort.com/


Fully booked campsites and cabins every June, my friend Rob is kind enough to let me squat anywhere space can be found. The busiest man on earth during the fishing season, he and his aging father have a tonne on their plates with seeing through the day to day operations of O.R.R. Well over a thousand visitors each year, the grounds, cabins, rentals, charters and angler's needs are endless.


A self made man with a rooted appreciation for hard work, nature and experience, Rob has endeavored in and against the elements and isolation to build a life he has best hoped for. I marvel and to a lesser degree relate to his story of a northern life if you will.


Ole Wilf was first to say hello when pulling up to the office. Rob was down at the dock tending to some work so I dusted off the boat and motor then got to pitching my tent. Basically, I set up camp right at Rob's side door to his house, understanding that in a day or two it would all be relocated to a distant site many miles out on the lake. Once Rob came home that evening, a gin in hand we shared a late dinner and talked of the upcoming week. Bill Spicer with The New Fly Fisher television show would be arriving Sunday morning. Being late Tuesday, the four days until then we needed to find safe harbor and make a suitable campsite on the lake, pack and shuttle all things and, I needed to prefish one vast and completely new-to-me area of Lake Nipigon. And lastly, there was some hope to find a little time for some personal fishing and a vacation.




Day 1. DEAD MILK RUN.



Morning skitters and blackflies weren't too bad at all. Horny to fish, upon a picnic table quick work was made of breakfast and a big lunch to-go. Overcast, gentle east breeze, it was thought around noon Rob would ride out and find me on the lake where we would then anchor my boat some place before looking for a camp.


The morning fish was peaceful but horrible at the same time. One speck and three laker areas were absent any line takers. Restless on a flat calm surface around twelve the Lund stepped up on plane and I was off into the deep blue distance. Figuring on meeting Rob somehow, someway, I kept on fishing awhile until it became evident he wasn't going to come out today. So, curiously helpful I started looking around myself.


D1-01_zpshnsmhsdg.jpg


D1-02_zpszxbqspxf.jpg


On route back to O.R.R. Rob was spotted out fishing at the river mouth. Boating over to him a little deflated by the fishing and what I hadn't found in any suitable camping sites, the mere mention of this seemed to momentarily upset my friend. He assured me we would find a good spot and that staying at the resort just wasn't an option. There would be no way he could give decent attention to the NFF show if held back with all the other guests and operations. Besides this, he expressed that in fourteen years he has not had a summer vacation of any kind and he was very much looking forward to taking a break away to camp, fish, and relax some place quiet and remote on the lake. This in mind, the minor stresses of a days crappy fishing, two edematous feet, muscle aches and pains and a distended belly from a rather intense bag of Sweedish Berries, Mike & Ikes and Skittles, my head quickly re-wrapped around the fact that I was here to make it easier for Rob. Before heading off to bed I promised we'd leave together the following morning to find a camp.


Nine days to go and I forgot my tooth brush too.




Day 2. CAMP BUNK.



Puttered around camp and visited with other anglers during the early morn, then come 11:00am we were off.


D2-01_zpscftjasmh.jpg


D2-02_zpsxutths5k.jpg


D2-03_zpsejpcg6ic.jpg


D2-04_zpscnndzjgg.jpg


D2-05_zpsun2wi8oa.jpg


The 24-foot Boston whaler fully rigged with a nice sleeping cabin is the ultimate big water ride. Rob has it set up with autopilot as well, that hands free travel and trolling taking the comfort level up a notch. Being that he charters 50 to 60 days a season for laketrout and specks, he picked the perfect rig for guests to enjoy a day. I always feel safe and spoiled when aboard.


Though one thing with Lake Nipigon is you always need to keep your head up and wits about you. It is remote, you're often isolated, it's out there man! Traveling over some waters which Rob has done so time and again, after veering off regular course to peer into a distant bay for a prospective camp site, once back up on plane and leaving we almost smoked a hidden shoal. The water color ahead suddenly changed blue to gold in a small space, as I happened to be looking out because of recently mapping out the area from home. Can't stress how helpful and important this has been for Lake Nipigon travel over the past years. Do not take safety for granted. Rob's boat stopped nearly ten feet from a table top square shoal inches under the surface in the middle of nowhere. It could have been instant disaster but he was quick to cut the power and hit reverse. On one side of the hazard the drop is drastic to 180 plus feet of water, the other side shallower into the 30-40' range. The normal route would have been fine but just a little off standard course and we were both quickly reminded how treacherous and many the shoals can be on Nipigon.


At home over the years I have used Fugawi's topographical software to print maps specific to any and all areas planned to fish. Using the Nipigon Recreation Map, Northern Ontario Fishing Guide, another copy of a Lake Nipigon map and, most importantly Google Earth, the personal maps created incorporate as much info as possible, including fish spots. Marked shoals are first noted on my print-outs from those other map sources then, using Google Earth I can examine as best possible and define the size and shape of the shoals. Some are marked with only a single dot which does little to note actual size and area. The maps are always being updated... here's an example of one for the Macoun Islands. Each square is a kilometer. Take away all the added pink danger zones and imagine navigating through this big expanse of water or trolling islands on just blind luck.


D2-05a_zpso8pgrh3c.jpg


Nipigon has little hydrographical data and certainly nothing available for sonar use in the boat. There is no phone reception. On the lake I'll run my Lowrance with Navionics (which shows nothing) but also my handheld Garmin GPS which has topographical data. That unit helps with orientation and route planning. The map book keeps the head in the game. I also have a compass and two small radios, one for current marine forecasts and communication, the other to pick up some tunes and news from Thunder Bay. My next boat will have a kicker but because I don't have one now, the Yamaha always gets tuned up in the spring and early fall before big water fish seasons. Take note again that it's big water out there and you have to think safe as possible. The map planning has helped me avoid damage and maybe even death more than once...


Back on course Rob and I probed into numerous safe bays exploring for a camp site. One he really liked was on high ground, sparsely treed, having easy and safe access with good docking but, the ground was very uneven, mossy and loaded with dead falls. Despite the caribou evidently there and the trails in and out, it would require work and leave me guessing as to how my boat would be best anchored at nights. It had potential.


I hoped most to see a spot Rob had said he used for a shorelunch years back. Not remembering the state and space it could provide us, after navigating our way safely through a rocky bay we went ashore. It was perfect in my eyes. So much clear space and flat ground, there was little work to do in that respect to get it camp ready. To make all comfortable I had brought my bug tent, gazebo and two four man tents. Rob had also packed a two man tent as extra, though he planned to sleep on his boat. We could pitch all this and more if need be. Plans were made for following day to get out early with all the gear and make the camp. The next couple days I would stay behind alone to find fish... which as it turned out was already in the works, big sunning pike were everywhere.


D2-06_zpsmrunqtmz.jpg


D2-07_zpsuj9gy6eh.jpg


Late afternoon under a hot sun, Rob and I took reprieve from the heat with a leisurely laker troll that turned into an hour long speckie hunt. Rounding a small island he was pulling his preferred bait while I was quarter casting from the bow. Close ahead a fish rose to a bug and with a quick bass flip I swear the lure didn't even touch the water before the speck had it in it's mouth. Just a little guy but a start... and nice to finally get on the board.


D2-08_zpsgl915jgz.jpg


Heading back to Onaman Resort there was relief for me and excitement for both. Rob was looking forward to this break away and I was stoked having seen those pike nearby camp. It had been told that Bill was looking to make a speck episode yet, he hoped to incorporate some pike into that as well. Rob admittedly doesn't bother with pike much as they're kinda low on the prize table with other trophy species such as speckled and lake trout available, as well as walleye. Kinda hard to get after them shallow with his boat too. With likely a half day tomorrow followed by a full day on the Saturday, the goal was to quickly find a few more pike areas but mostly cover ground searching out specks. Add that to what Rob keeps in his back pocket for speck spots closer to home, and all should be built solid as one big ole swamp donkey. Giddy up and bring on the show come Sunday.


D2-09_zps9czofjn2.jpg




Day 3. SCORCHER.



Hot and sunny by 6:00am the early heat was a welcome pleasure to rise to. Bugs still non-existent, outside in the yard after breakfast I was able to comfortably break down camp and begin loading my boat. Rob was busy with guests and the usual morning chores, and seemingly stressed a little as he was hoping to slip away as early as possible so to get back sooner. With a little time to spare I made the wait go by quick visiting with some folks. One such fella some will recognize from the local fishing forums, Tyler. A long time online friend who'd I chat with over the phone now and again, it was nice to finally meet this guy. One seriously solid angler, Tyler guides too out of Sault St. Marie. I have been meaning to travel out his way for a few years now as the Atlantic salmon come calling my name now and again. We swapped some Nipigon stories and lures before saying our goodbyes.


D3-01_zps2wgfbvhj.jpg


By 10:30am after some heavy lifting and plenty sweating, the cooler air on the water was refreshing. Smooth sailing, Rob and I had some 40 miles to cover on the lake. Thankfully for my boat the winds were nil and I landed ashore high and dry.


D3-02_zpslrr0f3wt.jpg


D3-03_zpsphiiemyh.jpg


D3-04_zpsq6krn8ps.jpg


A beaver out back of the camp was busy and so were we. Having been in forestry Rob is a whiz with a chainsaw and axe, he made quick work dropping anything that stood out while I followed behind cleaning it up. In no time really, the tents were being set up and afterwards Rob built an outhouse. Whiskey Jacks and the odd mouse watched on as we worked. The camp so far was awesome... although I'd wait for later to finish erecting our guest's tent.


D3-05_zpsy4cj0xgn.jpg


D3-06_zpsbn4mqtzs.jpg


D3-07_zpsdyecr4wr.jpg


D3-08_zpsa94jlu0n.jpg


Once Rob was gone and after an early 4:00pm supper I hopped in The Bomber. All new water there was a specific area Rob was hoping I would check out. Trolling along much was OK for a time but before I knew it a rock garden labyrinth swallowed me up. Twice the motor tapped bottom as the light was a little low and the water very sketchy. Navigating out of the shallows was nerve wracking for a time and my skeg thanked me once free and clear. No specks are worth a break down out here I thought, so it wasn't long to be gone from the spot. Told myself that under high sun and calm waters only, would I return. Some pelicans and a number of eagles must have thought I was nuts to be there to begin with.


D3-09_zpswuwdzndy.jpg


D3-10_zps2udrrq3r.jpg


D3-11_zpsweb9odzb.jpg


The motor admittedly was idling a little off. It did not take well to the couple knocks but somewhere along the way it leveled out... maybe after a good run. It is eerie being out there by yourself... like it is exciting, humbling and inspiring too. I was fishing among islands which have been stared at on a map for at least a decade, and I am sure few souls venture out to them at all. In my time and little boat there was never any definite the chance would come to see this place on Nipigon. Around this island or that depending where I went, looking near or far there was Kelvin, Geikie, The Rabbits and even Logan and the Murch... and many islands between. And not another boat on the horizon.


Trolling some islands into the evening finally paid off with some specks. Waypoint created, waypoint created, waypoint created was the standard protocol. I'd mark the spot the fish was caught and keep moving on, for no sense in burning any other fish around before Bill's arrival.


D3-13_zps4v54od8e.jpg


D3-14_zps6hbpcjjc.jpg


D3-15_zpsyh71ayqf.jpg


D3-16_zpsvgvovsv5.jpg


A rather long and labored day, sore achy muscles and sandpaper teeth were put to rest after brushing my teeth with my finger. Sitting out to enjoy the sunset I thought of my girls back home, wishing to make a call. Caribou nearby, the beaver still out back and certainly a moose around here somewhere, there was company enough oot and aboot. So all was goot.


D3-17_zpsftqd41ae.jpg


D3-18_zpsvihqqdbj.jpg



continued...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Day 4. COLOSSAL.



Man alive did the sleep do me well in the peaceful outdoors. Pop in earplugs so the night critters and early birds don't disturb and just doze away breathing fresh air. Upon waking, checked the marine forecast for the day ahead and it was calling for a high of 30C and only a wispy SW breeze. What this basically means on Nipigon is you have 120kms south to north from Orient to Windigo and 85kms east to west from Humboldt to Gull. That's a big puddle playground and I chose to go north and fish smaller islands while enjoying the morning coffee with breakfast...


D4-01_zpssolwhzto.jpg


Orange is often the color that brightens Nipigon's shorelines. From the Arctic to the Great Lakes this can be seen. Orange lichen... and under a blue sky it's hard not to photograph. Keeps the shorelines interesting to the eye.


D4-02_zpsnj3pfpfc.jpg


Circled three islands in the span of five hours picking up five specks and losing the biggest and best one. Again, did not circle back on spots but rather plotted the points and kept moving. After the night before and first fish of the day, I decided to be done taking pictures unless it was a great big fish that was better than any previous. Specks are gnarly buggers to keep hold of and will do anything to wiggle free and flop on a deck. Setting up the tripod for timer shots was fast becoming a pain in my arse so I quit with the speck pics. You'll have to trust that a 22-incher was the best but that still wasn't as long and fat as one caught the evening before. These were all I snapped before I snapped on this day... and no, I don't like holding these fish by the gill plate but it is just easier at times, they will release and live, and I know because of catching tagged fish repeatedly. We will leave it at that! :)


D4-03_zps1bdcaf2e.jpg


D4-04_zpszdte06of.jpg


One thing I was quick to find was the fish were relating to two things, structure and water temp. All specks were taken off points but this was done so on the colder side of the islands. Preferred water temperature for these fish is 55 to 60F and it was that temp where I was finding them. Yet many areas were 60-65F as well, and it was in this range that every fish off any point or elsewhere, was a pike. The dance between these two is uncanny from ice out to ice up. The specks start super shallow in the back bays April and May but before long the water begins to warm, the pike finish their spawn and recovery, and then slowly their metabolism and need to feed grows with the increasing temperatures. They lay chase and push the specks further and further out onto the lake where they are often forced to take refuge along the cold, rocky shorelines adjacent deep waters. And the pike still follow if they can, sometimes driving the specks to even deeper water... Finally fall arrives and the specks start to get their happy temps back while the warmer water pike slow down a little. Over the years so many specks have been caught that appeared to escape the jaws of their worst enemy. And if pike aren't enough to deal with they also have the eagles, pelicans, cormorants, gulls, otters, ospreys and even giant lake trout to worry about.


After six hours fishing the blazing afternoon heat was giving me a headache. Planning to swim and take a short siesta, around 2:00pm on route back to camp I was passing by a rather big calm back bay and decided to investigate. This turned into one of those great moments in fishing...


Back of the bay tightened up to what looked like a creek coming in, but it wasn't. The whole place was a warm water bath. The bottom was mostly sand and a little silt with the odd short cabbage strand stretching up. Port side off the bow creeping in slow on the MinnKota with the sun over my shoulders I sight one mutha of a pike ahead. It's cruising slow... it's on the hunt! Three quarters of a full cast away my lure drops five feet beyond the fish and the first couple cranks pull the offering right to it's nose. I see everything and watch on as it turns head right ninety degrees, flares it's gills and inhales the lure. Hard runs, screaming peels, a leap out of the water and two powerful drives below the boat to shake me aren't enough to pull free. Rarely netting pike I do this one, for I know full well what this fish means. It is the biggest pike in my life leaving me 3/4's to an inch shy of joining a fifty club I have always hoped to belong. A 49 inch pike weighing 31 pounds and pennies. I snapped two photos. It was all incredible and it stupid right made my trip.


D4-05_zps1y1lgz1z.jpg


D4-06_zpsterxzqw9.jpg


After reviving and releasing the pike I went on to fish a little longer. This same bay I found pike everywhere, and even spotted many in the 35 to 40 inch range that I couldn't even bother casting to. A couple holes where the water clarity was poor, I watched on as dozens of swirls and pike shadows vacated the area around my boat and motor. Best plan at this point was to leave, fish nothing, sting nothing and like I had done with some other spots, leave them fresh as can be for my coming guests. It wasn't that difficult to do actually, not after catching the big fish. Had that not come first though, it would have been an epic few hours of pegging dozens of 40+ inch fish.


At camp I celebrated with a cold beer, a swim and a scrub, followed by a hot stew and a gin. Put the guest tent up, chopped a little wood and recharged the trolling motor batteries as well. Brushed my teeth... with my finger! Clouds rolling in and raining some spit in the distance there was still enough time sneak back out and try for more specks. Instead of the usual gear I spooled up the 6wt. fly rod and readied that for the evening. Several hours passed with nothing and after fishing a ten hour day that covered a tonne of lake I was more than happy to retire.


D4-07_zps8irqcssf.jpg


D4-08_zps7fmjumct.jpg




Day 5. A RUMBLIN' ARRIVES.



Big pike nightmares it may have been, for something kept me tossing and turning through the night. Sticking my head out of the tent a little later morning I was met with grey skies and dead calm. Storms are a coming so I thought, and once listening to the marine forecast storms were actually a coming. Unsure how the day would unfold and expecting Rob and Bill a little later on, I got moving in good time and set out for a fish...


D5-01_zpsduxvqdql.jpg


D5-02_zpsyukp5kwa.jpg


... But it was short lived. Just two hours passed before thunder and lightning chased me home. Able to skirt around a few storm cells, back in the bay at camp it appeared for a time I might remain in a calm spot. Not such a bad place to be really, for you might remember reading that upon us finding the site there were all those sunning pike around which I was eager to get back to. Well, I hadn't even touched them yet... and it was kinda hard to stop now that I did. First fish was 46.5 inches and there were others that followed it in the shallows which were just as big. Pike fishing ( I mean not pike fishing) here was sheer torture. I left the bay alone after just minutes of casting.


D5-03_zpsgb841ivx.jpg


D5-04_zpsbvggcwq1.jpg


Off the lake and some rain starting I slipped into the tent around 11:30am and pulled the sleeping bag over the shoulders. The pitter patter on the fly and dripping off the trees was relaxing. Warm and dry inside while awaiting the arrival of the others, I thought for a time about how more people need to do this. They should get out there and live, feel in tune with nature and be a part of some place bigger. Get those hands dirty, forget the tooth brush and bathe in cold waters... I drifted off to sleep and woke again to the hum of an approaching outboard.


Between scattered showers Rob rolled in along with Bill and cameraman Max. All in great spirits we shared a few handshakes before helping to settle our guests. The rain spit off and on through the early afternoon hours but, by around 4:00pm the skies thinned out and the guys were ready to jump in the boat for some fishing.


Not leaving the bay we were camped in I felt it best we fish those hungry and aggressive pike first. Long travel for the fellas, a walleye supper planned, and the chance of more rain or storms to come our way it was a no-brainer to keep close. Bill rigged up a couple 9wt. rods. Specific pike/muskie tapered lines to shorter mono leads finishing with a flexible 40lb wire tippet, a big streamer and popper were tied and ready. Max on the other hand had a couple suitcases of filming equipment, though the dood wastes no time in prep and didn't miss a beat all week.


Over the next five hours I was witness the best "BIG PIKE", pike fishing I have ever seen. The first giant to cruise by the boat was an upper forty inch fish pushing fifty. Bill had taken his first cast and this was one of the followers to the boat. The excitement level shot up a thousand percent. When hooking up on second or third cast he reeled in a 44" pike... and it just didn't stop. Other than the hour and a half when we left the bay to check another area for pike and specks, the three plus hours fishing was a forty fest. Bill landed an impressive five over within short time and numerous high thirties which we didn't always measure. It reached a point Bill was pulling his fly away from anything deemed under forty inches.


D5-05_zpsinifl7qh.jpg


Camera rolling throughout, each big fish becomes a little bit more of a process. The fishing spot was so hot and yet so small, it was unbelievable how stacked with giants it truly was. Using the MinnKota on remote, I worked the boat slow from deep to shallow, this allowing Bill the raised casting deck to himself. The ability to sight many fish and expertly chuck bugs with his experience made for great T.V. in my mind. Whenever he hooked a fish I would turn the boat to the depths and while he played it, I would slowly be extracting it away from the bulk of any other fish. For the pike, it was surely like an alien abduction to the mothership somewhere in deep space. Once out and away the trolling motor could pop into anchor and leave Bill and I safe to handle the fish without worry of blowing into shore or submerged rocks, or, spooking other pike.


D5-06_zpsivxyo8y5.jpg


Bill was really stoked with how it was going and felt that in just an evening alone we had more than enough footage for a single pike episode. Being mic'd and on camera during this kind of action, I actually kinda forgot we were making a show.


Considering how Bill was just slaying one after another I wondered afterwards how things would have gone had two people been fishing. Maybe say, Bill with the fly and me spinning? Fly fishing is definitely more work, and it's slower and methodical. Although Bill can cast extremely well, distances for fly fishing are less than that with conventional gear. Wind, line getting hung up now again, stripping flies in, variables like this make it trickier for sure. The camera rolling and the extra time needed to speak about the fishing, pause and point things out, reset and such, takes a little time away as well. Thinking about this, that slower coverage of the water with fly fishing and our necessary camera time, it was still unbelievable to me how great the pike action was for Bill. I had caught forty plus inch fish earlier in the day within minutes as well, had seen others sunning and roaming, Bill was reeling in big fish while big fish followed in wait. This wasn't letting up. Two people beating the water on this evening and we surely would have caught a couple dozen trophy sized pike. Heck, of the ones we measured, Bill was at a half dozen or so already in just a few hours... wait ti'll you see the show! I will say this of fly fishing and it's been known to me for years, NOTHING (other than maybe live bait) is more enticing to fish than a fly... As Bill said, "'pike are very fly friendly" and he is not kidding, they kill themselves fighting over who gets to smash one.


D5-07_zpsphbei8sb.jpg


D5-08_zpsuoyx1fmt.jpg


D5-08a_zpsc4dv79uw.jpg


As abruptly as the fishing started, it stopped. "I'm done! I'm done! Incredible," Bill says. "Just awesome. Best pike fishing of my life." He then looks to Max and says, "now we're going to do something we don't get to do to often... let the cameraman fish." Max, who fishes a little around his home could count on three fingers how many tiny pike he had caught in his life. I handed him my spinning rod after taking one cast myself to show him how best to impart action on the lure, he takes a cast and catches a fish. On the job and spoiled after that he was.


D5-09_zpsecvjp59g.jpg


D5-10_zpsnkjduttu.jpg


Happy and relaxed and in his element, Rob and his dog Loki waited patiently on shore for our return. A walleye feast with some fresh cut french fries, each man was quick to grab their preferred beverage to wash it all down. I sat down with Bill a moment, "Well I guess I'm gonna get to fish Nipigon all week with a legend," so I says. To which Bill quick and humbly replies, "no legend, just one normal average guy who got a lucky break." A solid answer, no Bull, quality character, the dood can fly fish. A good vibe, the week ahead would be great.


D5-11_zpsnxonwq5r.jpg


D5-12_zpswkw99hii.jpg


After a round of Dalwhinnie in good company by the fire, a sudden sharp breeze cut across the back of my neck. "Here it comes! G'night fellas," and I sprung from my seat and dove into the tent. The world turned vicious with an intense thunderstorm and heavy straight downpour for an hour. When it ceased, one violent gust from out of nowhere raised the roof and temps dropped quick. A serious rumbling of weather arrived.




Day 6. GALE FORCE.



"LAKE NIPIGON. SCATTERED SHOWERS. SEVERE WIND WARNING IN EFFECT. WINDS 40KM/HR GUSTING TO 77KM/HR. BECOMING LIGHTER THIS EVENING INTO MIDNIGHT."


Didn't know if I should chuck the radio in the lake or hug and thank it profusely, but one thing was for certain... leaving our safe place was out. It was a no fish day.


The winds howling over the island and only blowing around corners, we were well protected in our bay so most of us were slow to rise that morning. During and after a big breakfast it was apparent that Rob's plans were to snooze in his boat and maybe watch a movie. Bill even snuck away for a good morning nap too. Rain hit us off and on and the changing winds relentlessly pounded on the camp until dinner. At one point the mosquito tent collapsed and tied to the gazebo it all tried to lift off the ground. That was it, I decided that tent had to come down. Besides, there hadn't been a single black fly or skitter bother me since arriving at the camp, and I'm sure the fellas were fine with the bugs too.


Max took the opportunity to shoot some time lapse of the rapidly moving skies. Bored out of our wits and wanting badly to fish, Bill and I could do little but sit and chat. When two anglers with a huge passion for fishing come together this makes for endless conversation. He and I shared plenty about fishing, traveling, work, family, guiding, the business and prostaffing, as well as some harder times we've endured with friends, health and wellness. He's been on T.V. since shortly after the time I moved to Attawapiskat and became more serious about fishing. His fishing though, falls back to years before I was even born. Being that I tend to ramble too much at times, when Bill spoke of his experiences I really listened. He is an interesting and easy guy to talk with.


We had a late lunch around three o'clock and afterwards the rain began to let up and skies break. The winds stayed strong pushing mostly offshore now, although there were times it had been white-capping into the bay. It was 5:00pm and I crawled into the tent for a wee snooze but before doing so warned Bill and Max we'd be good to go now for just another evening of pike fishing around camp. The boat out back was charging up too, and Rob and Loki while in his cabin were still nowhere to be seen. He later told me he got plenty time in to read his autopilot manual that afternoon.


D6-01_zpssgnfynzx.jpg


D6-02_zpssdjpklrl.jpg


D6-03_zpsoxl2ldsk.jpg


D6-04_zpseszgigb9.jpg


D6-05_zpshxq0y3gj.jpg


D6-06_zpsnww5sblz.jpg


D6-07_zpsjz5wrxqo.jpg


By 6:30pm we were all back on the water fishing and shooting more pike footage for the show. The action was just as we had left it, with continual and multiple trophy sized pike devouring Bill's fly. Simple mathematics became tricky and we kinda lost count of over forty inchers at around twelve or fourteen. Two more hours in on this spot for about six to seven total and we wouldn't be lying if we said it was an average of a 40-inch plus pike every half hour. Bill would reach his limit, off would go the camera and either Max or I or both would take turns hammering the fish. Most of the video was pretty clean too, until I backed into a rock and broke my prop during one of Bill's catches. The cussing that came out of my mouth on record might just make for a good rated R blooper, but I was quite peed off for sure. Not since 2010 have I dinged a prop (skeg yes, prop no) and thankfully that extra original stashed on board which my father had rebuilt and balanced back then, was in perfect pitch when I swapped it out with the broken one. We were still in business and the show would go on.


D6-08_zpsllpwfldz.jpg


D6-09_zpsgimq4ozg.jpg


D6-10_zpsx32wqhzk.jpg



continued...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Day 7. "SPECK ON!"



After a big pork chop dinner night before, Rob really outdid himself at breakfast when he whipped up some peach pancakes and bacon with real maple syrup. Sooo good and filling, and the grease and sugar grit meant only one thing... my finger... some paste... and a little digital dental detail.


Looked to be a great day ahead with the morning lake glass and clouds thinning out. Rob had some speckle spots in mind for us to hit so with he and Max in one boat and Bill and I in the other, we all set off together.


D7-01_zps20ynhzic.jpg


D7-02_zps7biqkdn5.jpg


The first hour or so was slow. Bill needed to feel this out, I needed to feel this out, Rob needed to feel out how Bill and I were feeling. It was a practice in finding a boat speed that wasn't too fast for Bill's quarter casts and stripping, but not so slow that we weren't covering water. For Rob, he was behind with a much bigger boat trying to stay close but gauging my every stop and go move was a chore for him. We worked at it while Max stayed intent behind the lens and Loki ran laps around Rob's boat.


Before long Max needed closer footage so he bailed from the whaler and into mine. It made sense but it still bothered me some that Rob was now alone with Loki; it seemingly didn't bother Rob though at all. He understood that the Lund was an easier choice and better laid out ride for the purpose of fly fishing, and so during the morning he didn't stray far and passed on a few other spots to try as we eliminated water.


On the fly Bill both casted and trolled. June/July/August the specks are rather scattered and covering plenty water in search of small, isolated pods is something that must be done. Bill trolling a streamer and me a lure we kept on the move until picking up a fish. Once we found a bite Bill would then have the chance to cast the area and pick up other specks. Have found over time that these fish often swim in pairs, and using this approach really began to work well for us on this day. By lunch at 2:00pm Bill and the show were well on their way...


D7-03_zpsyzbyzab5.jpg


D7-04_zpsktecwu5x.jpg


Mid afternoon Bill had caught good numbers and we'd lost some dandies too. Anchored outside a calm bay I tied to Rob's boat for an offshore lunch. Rain fell hard for just a minute while I cooked up bowls of chili and Rob bbq'd some smokies. Upon setting adrift we almost immediately picked up a couple more speckles before rounding a prominent island point. The waves there were building fast and wind kicking it's heels. Decided we best go back around the way we came and move up the other side of the giant island. Finally, coming around to that opposite shore, but then heading off into an almost same bearing, the chop there was even worse. Fishing specks tight on the line and protected would be doable but it would suck. Not knowing why this wind was suddenly here and wondering if it could grow nastier I opted to get us back to camp and just be safe. Traveling onward for seven miles at 10-12 mph against the waves beat the shart out of Bill but it was as gentle as it could be. We had plenty weight in the boat riding us low too. Had we not run far from Rob it would have been much easier for all involved if the guys jumped in his boat so I could hammer through alone... The Bomber is a surprisingly big and sea worthy 16' boat and the 60 Yammy gives it good juice. But, it's not a deep V that slices thru so it can ride hard and grind, and it's not long either so it does dive a little more between the waves. Next boat will be an 18+ with a kicker, but in the meantime I'll take what lessons come my way with an often more than capable little boat.


We lost the late afternoon and evening for speck fishing although we did manage 5 or 6 hours worth through the day. Back at camp around 4:00pm wasn't so bad as Bill at least saw a glimpse of what speckle fishing on Lake Nipigon is about. Good numbers caught but just no real donkey, we guessed the rest of the week ahead would bring us more. Rob cooked up a hearty spaghetti supper and afterwards only Max and I slipped away for an hour off camera to enjoy some pike fishing. They were starting to get a little spookier around camp... go figure! Although we did still beat the ever loving crap out of them.


D7-05_zpskjyt5gea.jpg


D7-06_zpsdopq7lck.jpg


D7-07_zpsqwhm9pyw.jpg


D7-08_zpsknpa7lmk.jpg


Easily two dozen pike during a one hour feeding frenzy, we called it quits early so Max could get back to work. A decent skyline and the winds dropping he needed to get the drone up. He was masterful to watch, his skills piloting certifiable and simply rad.


D7-09_zpsbpfflaea.jpg


This whole experience for me was quite enjoyable so far. Despite really tough weather fronts and some minor mishaps I was more than happy to give up much of my "Solo Roady" vacation to a help a friend out and do some guiding. Honest truth, the work involved with the camp and elements and fishing is very rewarding in and of itself, like the month at Plummers had been for me last year as well. Sometimes I have wondered though if guiding would have that same appeal if I was to take it up at home. A morning coffee from the Tim's drive-thru, paid well to take people out in the boat all day, finish at the family table to a home cooked meal... sounds easy, too good to be true. Heck, even if the weather gets bad just take a rain check... Maybe be better off to wait on that kind of guiding until I'm a little older cause for now it just doesn't quite fit with the kind of things I'd rather be doing.


Great fishing, warm fire, smooth scotch, good cheer... and a sky full of stars. Hard to beat that, unless you find a new tooth brush.




Day 8. EAST STINGER & STEAKS.



Max and Rob slept like a rock, Loki stood guard for the beaver, I tossed and turned a little while Bill shivered and froze not catching a wink all night. The temps plummeted fast to +3C overnight and the morning chill was crisp. Had packed an extra fleece sweater, socks, long Johns and jogging pants just in case this happened to one of the guys, and had I known ahead it probably would have suited Bill better had I passed them along at sunset instead of now at sunrise. Reality with Nipigon is it makes it's own weather, you're always over cold water despite any solar heat, and I've seen ice in my cup some mornings in August. Spring, summer and fall can almost always stir into one on any given day. After a big breakfast to heat the blood and pump it flowing, we left our nest to soar under the open sunny skies.


D8-01_zpsqmq1cmws.jpg


D8-02_zpsf5hjtucb.jpg


D8-03_zpsseaauqqa.jpg


Trying a vast piece of shoreline real estate we spent hours covering water and picking apart points. On every decent looking spot we approached we hit pike. Water temps were above 60F with little fluctuation and this probably didn't work in our favor. The only breeze we had was a dead straight easterly. The overall area itself had speck wonderland signage written all over it, and after the day before we each really expected better fishing. Finishing off the early route plan I decided we'd run and gun all my waypoints plotted during the solo prefish. No pike on most of these spots, the two specks we did stick came unglued... and numerous nibblers proved they were a little lethargic after the overnight cold front and subsequent wind change. Us and poor Bill watched a tank speck swim by. Calling out the strike the fish surely nailed his fly and ripped him a new one, then came off at boatside. It was the only real aggressive fish that hit all day. I know it deflated me.


Back late afternoon Max shot a little drone footage around camp before Rob returned from having been out somewhere well west on the lake. His report was slow fishing too... and when Rob can't catch specks it means they are right shut down. For the evening I asked he take Bill and Max out, for the wind could be ify in the far directions we hadn't yet fished and, a little time for myself to play with a fly was in order...


D8-04_zpsaydpg8gn.jpg


D8-05_zpsbftozusx.jpg


... Should have stayed with the guys.


Nearly killed myself on an unmarked shoal but hammered on the brakes and trimmed up just in the knick of time. The motor tick, tick, ticking atop in a foot of water. Close call and stupid of me to have my eyes fixed on a distant shoal well off port only to run into the one straight ahead of the bow. Took a couple more gentle knocks finding the best way off the rocks. After this, came around a corner into a pike bay that hadn't seen anyone since my prefish evening and the first small pike sliced my thumb and lost me my spreaders. Not giving back the beautiful fly Bill had given me, the fish endlessly gnashin' and bashin' about and me bleeding all over the boat, and it's raker bleeding all over the boat too, a quick rage boiled up inside and the fish got one Tyson knockout blow. Eagle food... things hit their head, it happens. Took me forever to get into my First Aid kit and clean up the carnage that razor snot rocket left behind.


Maybe it was being a little tired, maybe the tough day on the water, maybe all the weird weather, it wasn't a foul mood by any means but there was some stress behind my orbits.


I continued on down a quiet shoreline trolling specks while waiting for the bleeding and throb to subside. After a short run my sonar lights up below and above this sudden loud buzzing scares me into thinking I disturbed a wasps nest.


D8-06_zpsxxuwj88w.jpg


Overhead the cloud of mayflies is unreal. So many so that their wings are humming loud and the skies is more grey. Having paid no attention for a minute when I look back down to my rod in the holder it's pulsating with a fish. On the other end of the line this thing is going ballistic except that it won't take drag. Guessed then and there it was likely going to be a whitey as they often won't pull hard enough to rip their own lips, many will actually hold back from the damage point and that's why you can get a lot of spastic action lasting a good while, but never any big reel peel.


Well I'll be! Before growing bored of 'em and leaving the spot I picked up another five. Interesting half hour though and some great size to these fish too. Minnows below the mayflies and whiteys seizing the opportunity for both, it was predator and prey National Geographic style.


D8-07_zpsxpnez3ei.jpg


Boys coming back to camp I was there waiting in the bay picking off pike on the fly. Good feeling reeling 'em in on my own fly rod. Had one BIG fish follow slow and begin to flare up when I stupidly stripped and pulled the fly ahead. It missed by an inch, then thought the better of it and swam away. Tubby and around 43-44 inches it would have certainly been my first over forty on the fly. Had to settle for eight below average fish in the 24 to 36 inch range. Boys themselves had a more promising evening. Rob caught three specks while Bill had on two but lost them. Bait over fly may have won this day but Rob’s tactics suit his means more than Bill’s, plus he has the home court advantage.


Steak and shrimp, fried mushrooms and onions, baked potatoes, much of it cooked on an open fire, Rob treated us to a royal buffet once again. A campfire Master Chef! Stuffed belly, even Loki enjoyed every bit of his plateful. Understandably Bill and even Max packed it in soon as dinner was done, but Rob and I stayed up awhile to enjoy drinks by the fire. There was a pressure I felt coming into the last day to find Bill that one donkey speck to close the show on. Rob told me I worry too much. Then we talked about hot celebrities for awhile, the bush clearly getting to us.


D8-08_zpsd08ocqao.jpg


D8-09_zpstfiswcki.jpg


D8-10_zps372vb5lk.jpg




Day 9. LAST OF THE MOHICANS.



For the life of me sitting here writing this now I can't remember how the theme music to "Last Of The Mohicans" goes but, I can tell you that out there on the lake it was that and "Don't Worry Be Happy" which continually played in my head. Here you go! Take just a moment and get this tune in that noggin' of yours and then try and get it out. Been stuck in mine since 89.




Oooomelettes and bacooon for a fastbreak our final day was the perfect sunny calm. A big speck would be nice and there was some nervous anticipation at my end. Rob planned to stay behind and chill until our scheduled mid afternoon charter at 2:00pm. To finish out his and my work vacation there was going to be an evening laketrout troll even if our morning speck fish was a bust. No pressure on Bill, none on me either... yeah right!?! Max on the other hand was the only guy around working a real job everyday while staying cool as a cucumber.


My lucky Costa Rican beer shirt had come on the night before for the whitey bitey so I was good to go get out and pound 'em now. Everybody in the boat, away we went. Things started off a little sketchy when first pulling up to an island that turned out to be the wrong one. "Gimme a second here doods, sumthin' ain't seem right..?"


Once we did come off plane on the actual intended shoreline we were quick into fish. And good fish too. What a relief!!! Bill's fly did all the damage and he reeled in several nice show closers that were full of color and life. Some perfect specks really. And after the week of crazy weather with the on and off finicky trout, we all couldn't have been happier with our end result during those final few hours.


D9-01_zpstu21covp.jpg


D7-04a_zpsjpolvarf.png


The afternoon came quick. As many fish as were caught, were lost. The hot sun turned the pike on midday but the lake stayed flat. It was Nipigon at it's most kind and gentle. Rob back at camp loves these kind of stable days for lakers and personally I like them for everything. We all hopped aboard the big boat and by 3:00pm were dropping balls and stacking spoons. The first hour went slow but then over the next three we popped five nice greasers and everyone got their turn to get slimed. Max even caught his first ever trout, period!


D9-01a_zpscoxjr1x0.png


D9-02_zps93museyf.jpg


D9-03_zpsvoyjcjbh.jpg


D9-04_zpsomz10dsk.jpg


With the sun setting Bill closed the show back at camp. Cleaning the boat out I overheard him thank Rob and I for the week, and several days later he wrote of me online, "cool guy, awesome fisherman," which does humble considering his experiences with angling. It really was a great and unique experience I may never have again and so I enjoyed every bit of it. Bill and Max are both great men who love what they do and that's really easy to be around. To have Rob out and able to step away, relax, enjoy the moments and de-stress a little during his busiest month at the resort, that was a treat to have well. He is a good friend. Camp fires, sleeping under the stars and exploring new waters in the pursuit of fish is just plain good for the soul. Catching giants makes it even better. The pike fishing was insane, the speck and laker fishing quality as always. Nipigon has never disappointed me and that is why I have returned there every year since first going. This trip being able to sample such fertile new waters makes me want to plant more fishing seeds there again and again. Such a beautiful lake and one that can certainly be visited always.


D9-05_zps4jefl6hy.jpg


D9-06_zpsinazdtom.jpg


D9-07_zpsgs13n4dr.jpg


D9-08_zpszpuqjatr.jpg


D9-09_zpsyrr1wsju.jpg


D9-10_zpsxqpbmnvn.jpg


D9-11_zps1g8kb7sx.jpg




A rip and a face wash back to reality early the following morning. With all pitching in we broke camp and ate breakfast in just a couple hours. Rob wasn't back at the resort for long before many people were visiting to either share a fish and camp story or ask questions. Ole Wilf was holding up OK considering he'd been a busy fella during Rob's absence. Max back on land took a minute to grab some drone footage around the grounds while Bill readied their truck to leave. Quick fare-the-wells and they were off. Looking forward to seeing the speckle show early 2017 and maybe a second one in 2018 highlighting the pike. The New Fly Fisher... hmph! Who'd a thunk it?


D10-01_zpsexkmhdri.jpg


And with all gone that's when it hit me... the sudden drain. Rob let me grab a quick shower and shave after a bite of lunch, brushed my teeth with my finger again too. "Enjoy those first three seasons of Game of Thrones and thanks again for having me take part in this Rob. I'll see you and Loki again in March..." and I turned the Chev back into the bugs, dirt and dust of the 801, to drive on out to home.


As always,

thanks!



Bunk.

Edited by Moosebunk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That whole trip looks just insane! That monster gator is something to behold, head on it like a bear!!!

Just fantastic buddy!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm pretty sure the NFF wouldn't had done nearly as well as he did with the pike and brookies if you weren't there to scout. Nicely done Bunk!

 

That almost 50 is a fresh water shark.

 

Never been, but I want to experience Nipigon someday.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another fantastic report Bunk. Nice to take the time to give everyone a good read. I feel like I am there when I read your reports!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This one I couldn't put down! Like Chris said, that 49" pike is ridiculous. You could have climbed one of the nipigon rock walls had you strung all those pike together.

 

You and Rob did a great team-guide... sounds like you guys got just as much, if not more, out of the week than the NFF guys!

 

Having been to ORR, fished with Rob and Loki, this report spoke to me. (thanks to Spincast for inviting me up there a couple years ago). Fantastic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Im so envious bunk!

 

Amazing report/read as always!!!

 

Man I wish that gator squeezed one more inch!!! Unreal fish nonetheless.

 

Again, cannot wait until you head up to my neck of the woods!!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for reading guys!

 

 

I'm pretty sure the NFF wouldn't had done nearly as well as he did with the pike and brookies if you weren't there to scout. Nicely done Bunk!

 

 

Brookies the fellas likely would have done fine without me, I think... although again my boat for shallow fishing and fly fishing is better suited, and tactics too may be a little more fly friendly. Most of our specks were caught on spots and shores Rob already knew like the back of his hand. Only my own specks in the prefish part of the report and a few that came unpegged for Bill were on shorelines Rob had not recently fished but surely has before. Pike on the other hand, well again if Rob hadn't been adamant about camping and, remembering that old spot he thought could work, then I wouldn't have been dropped off in an area with bays nearby teeming with pike. Rob was never worried that we wouldn't catch fish out there, he knew from the start the waters were fishy, and he told me he had confidence I'd get 'em on the line. It was a good team effort yes, but location is key. He put us on the right spot first, then I just focused in and found many spots on the spot.

 

You and Rob did a great team-guide... sounds like you guys got just as much, if not more, out of the week than the NFF guys!

 

Having been to ORR, fished with Rob and Loki, this report spoke to me. (thanks to Spincast for inviting me up there a couple years ago). Fantastic.

 

Definite win for all involved on this team. I know some of us are still feeling high coming off this trip. Always a better read when you have a real connection so glad you enjoyed this one. Maybe see you there some spring down the road. Hard to beat a fishery that has trophies in four different and amazing species.

Man I wish that gator squeezed one more inch!!! Unreal fish nonetheless.

 

Ahhhh man, me too bud. Next year I hope.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great report, fished with Bill a few times before he went all featherchucker on me :whistling: , we worked together 30 years and retired in the same year, great guy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Man... what else can u say... EPIC!!! Great read Bunk!!! Thanks for putting the time in to write and post this report.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What can one say Bunk. All my prose has been used on your previous work. This one is a keeper. I haven't read it all yet and look forward to finishing it. Give a heads up on the date the show will air.

 

Now don't tell me a bush kid like you has to be told by an old city slicker like me that you can make a toothbrush out of a twig. I have awaken many times and found myself without a toothbrush over the years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You have many gifts, Bunk, and top of mind are fabulous tale-telling and passion for big fish. I really enjoyed reading this report!

 

And yes, Nipigon is now on the Bucket List. I guess it always was, but now it is for sure!

 

Doug

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Back at it this morning on the local fishes. Trying to get gar out of the system one last time so to move on to muskie and trout.

 

z08_zpsxzjhtbkw.jpg

 

 

I really enjoyed reading this report!

 

And yes, Nipigon is now on the Bucket List. I guess it always was, but now it is for sure!

 

Really should be at the top of everyone's list, especially in Ontario. There are days the numbers of fish caught for some species can equal the far north but most times it's simply the quality of fish on Nipigon. Coolest thing about it is, anyone can do this from Toronto, Ottawa or wherever else in the Province for about at least a tenth the cost of big fly-ins. It's just gas money split... or if four guys got a cabin at Onamans for a week, add about $350PP. You'd like it there Doug.

 

clap, clap.

 

C'mon Raf!!! Just one more clap to show you mean it. lol.

 

Now don't tell me a bush kid like you has to be told by an old city slicker like me that you can make a toothbrush out of a twig..

 

Ummmmm I didn't know or even think of this but I can see it working out. Coulda chewed pine needles too for some fresh breath. lol.

 

Great report, fished with Bill a few times before he went all featherchucker on me :whistling: , we worked together 30 years and retired in the same year, great guy.

 

That's cool Dave! You know, we certainly can't all fish the same eh! Fly fishing makes catching most everything a bigger challenge IMO but I gotta give props to those who find satisfaction in taking it on and sticking with it. I've caught some gar, pike, trout, whitefish, bass and such on the fly before as well and every time found it to be a greatly rewarding experience.

 

Man... what else can u say... EPIC!!! Great read Bunk!!! Thanks for putting the time in to write and post this report.

 

So folks know, Meegs here rushes out some spoons to get to me before I leave on the trip. They are custom and mint looking MAGs which I unfortunately had little time to use this time around. I do however appreciate the gesture and will tell anyone, Meegers is a class-act who produces some quality lures for salmon and trout. FYI peeps!

 

 

Thanks for reading ya'll!

Edited by Moosebunk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×