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DIY trip report to Nipigon R iver not just a fishing report


bonessk01
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Coming at this from a somewhat western point of view as we travelled from SK to get to this Mecca of trout and salmon. I got a late start on our first day so only made it as far as Winnipeg. The next day we woke to clouds and rain and it chased us all the way into Ontario ,so much for high fire ratings. We checked into the Northland motel a nice but little independent motel on the south side of the TransCanada as you come into town from the west. Due to a late arrival I had to wait for Canada's smallest Canadian Tire store to open in the morning to get my fishing license renewed. I made a new friend of the stores very affectionate black lab. license in pocket it was time to hit the road for the Alexander dam. I followed a local hauling his boat in the same direction which made it a lot easier to find the ramp down to the river, not that we could have missed it. I Off loaded the  peddle drive kayak and made my way upstream against a moderate current, but was able to make decent headway without having to break out the kayak paddle. Low water conditions allowed me to park the boat on a rock bar and fish the channel formed between it and the western shore of the river. As I paddled upstream, I had seen salmon rolling on the surface so the adrenalin was already kicking in before I even had a line ready to cast. The morning was dark with low clouds threatening to rain with a stiff north wind coming right down the river. With limited tackle on hand, I went with the old adage dark day dark lure and put on a small Brass spoon. I started laying out quartering casts down and across the rapid that laid out into a fast slick with a short wing dam of rocks coming off the west bank, out towards the bar I was on. The East end of the bar was occupied by Kyle a local fellow I got some help with later on in the morning. As I was casting, I noticed him hook up to a fish and couldn't help being nosy so ran over to see if I could give a hand. He had it well under control as he already a the decent Pink salmon in the net and was releasing it as I arrived. He shared some suggestions on lures and techniques. After returning to my spot I made another cast across and down and was rewarded with a solid strike. With Chinooks, Coho, Pinks, Steel head and Brook trout all in the river, I had no Idea what to expect. The fish wasn't large but in the current he felt a lot  bigger then he actually was, when I was able to beach a decent sized Pink Salmon in a shallow pool on the west end of the bar. I'd broke the skunk so the pressure was off. I started to switch up lures and fell back to an old standard but likely wouldn't have thought of it if it hadn't been one that Kyle had also suggested when I talked to him earlier, a blue back 4 inch Rapala. It made perfect sense in hind sight, with the number of smelt in the river and lake making up part of the natural forage base, it probably should have been my first choice. I moved upstream to the head of the rapid and cast across stream to the shore. I cranked it down to get the current to catch the lure and it just started to cut into the main current when it was stopped dead. The first solid thump left no doubt that this was no little pink salmon, and in a split second this fish had me back tracking down river on the rock bar. When I got to the bottom of it and had no further bar to run on all I could do was keep the pressure on, and hope to get the fish through the main current seam of the river and into the slack water on the downstream side of the bar. At one brief pass and I got a glimpse of white barred fins and I could have melted on the spot this was a fish I had dreamed just seeing once in my life time. But here I was No guide, on a DIY trip, with a truly world class Brook Trout on a lightweight spinning rod in full spawning colours. A quick call out to Kyle and he was good enough to come over and help get the fish as gently to shore as it would allow. After a few very quick photos it was released to make more memories for some other lucky fisher I hope. I was too pumped to get right back to the casting. Kyle was willing to share more of his expertise so I asked how his morning had been(since I hadn't got to the river before 10 am). He quickly pulled out a couple of Chinooks, and a Coho that he had caught as well as the Pinks I had seen him catch. I had to admit he had his technique down pat. Which was using a swim jig with a leach like rubber trailer. As the morning broke towards midday the pinks were still rolling but less inclined to strike. With hunger building, I headed back down stream to the boat launch. We loaded up and headed into Nipigon for Lunch at the Northern Grill Restaurant just west of the Petro-Pass card lock gas station. We had a great lunch and decided to take in some of the fall colours checking the streams and rivers out to the east. We stopped at the Granite and Little Granite Rivers along with a couple of others on our way to Schrieber, and ended up walking the board walks into rainbow falls. A small but highly scenic little waterfall inside Rainbow falls Provincial Park. We saw fish in a few of the smaller streams but not enough to make the trip back down again the next day. On arrival back at the motel I set about trying to arrange a very last minute charter out on The big Lake Gitchi-Gumee. I'm slowly checking all the great lakes off my bucket list, and a trip for lake trout and possibly a salmon would leave me with just lake  Lake Erie to finish them all off. A call to Archie's Charters got me a quick return call, but he was sorry to say he was already booked. It didn't surprise me, I should have had this locked down before we left Saskatchewan. But with Covid playing havoc with everything I just didn't want to book something and have to cancel because of regulations changing every day it seems. Archie however had a fall back for me in Ian Parker, who fills in for Archie with his fully rigged Kingfisher. So a quick call to Ian and the charter was set for 9am the next day to meet at the Silver Islet harbour. We woke to dead still air and heavy fog. The drive out to the harbour is along your standard twisty, turny, hilly,  blind curvy road  in the dark and fog did I mention the fog! as we approached the hamlet of Silver Islet the fog had lifted and we were greeted with and absolutely remarkable sight the waters of Lake superior were glass calm with seagulls and eagles overhead you couldn't have painted it any prettier.  A very short trip out of the harbour and Ian was setting lures and downriggers to depth and low and behold I'd like to say we had some great conversation as we waited for the fish to become co-operative but there was no time in the 4 hour charter  we had one quad header , two double headers, and I think 4 singles forgive me on that one I lost count after the quad header. Talk about a fire drill! For value for money I don't think I'll be able to beat this charter. Ian was good enough to share his techniques and opinions on suspended fish that I can't wait to try if we ever get the chance to head back down to ND or Montana to fish their big lakes for Laker's and salmon. We consistently took Laker's in 20 -40 Feet of water over a 100 to 150 foot bottom I have to wonder now how many late season fish I have been fishing underneath of. The day ended with three nice 5lb Laker's and a small un-releasable chinook in the box. Ian had the fish cleaned on the trip back to the landing with the cleanings being quickly and skilfully picked off by Eagles and gulls. We finished our trip off with a stop overnight in Thunder Bay. Entertainment provided by a live performance of a play written by a local to the area woman about the stresses of the COVID situation on three women a comedic ,dramatic, musical with a bluegrass theme. Wow what a pack of talent that town has! I couldn't put the rods away just yet, so I did a walk along Mc Vicars creek and found some more pink salmon to play with. I landed 2 on a small beadhead fly I made up to look like a dragon fly nymph in chartreuse seemed to do the trick. I'm not sure why Pinks have such a poor reputation I had a blast catching them. With a quick stop at Kekabeca Falls and then a long stop on HWY 17 because of a fatal car accident that blocked the road for 12 hours we made it back to the flatlands of Sk Until next time enjoy your day and your waters Ontario  Fishers.

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Thats my setter  Sophie she's put a lot of food on my table over the years but age is going to keep her out of the fields this fall I fear. The Nipigon river was a dream that came true for me so if you have that one body of water you've always dreamed of fishing work towards making it happen but remember to just enjoy the moments even if the fish don't co-operate that's why there are photo's that aren't fishing related. Thank you for the kind words. enjoy your day folks!

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22 minutes ago, bonessk01 said:

 just enjoy the moments even if the fish don't co-operate that's why there are photo's that aren't fishing related. 

I've always said you don't need to catch fish to have a great fishing trip.

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Posted (edited)

had a flock of speckle bellied geese go over the house yesterday won't be long and the sandhill cranes and snows will be coming through. I've spent my share time laying out for waterfowl but am more inclined to the upland fields these days

Edited by bonessk01
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9 hours ago, bonessk01 said:

had a flock of speckle bellied geese go over the house yesterday won't be long and the sandhill cranes and snows will be coming through. Ive spent my share time laying out for waterfowl butt am more inclined to the upland fields these days

Good eats on the fly there!  One of these years I have to try sandhill crane, "the ribeye of the sky."  Maybe we will get a season for them, or maybe I will do another hunt out west!

Doug

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4 minutes ago, akaShag said:

 One of these years I have to try sandhill crane, "the ribeye of the sky."  Maybe we will get a season for them, or maybe I will do another hunt out west!

Doug

We go up to the West Arm of Nipissing a couple times a year and usually see a few cranes but when we were there a few weeks back we must have seen close to 100 all in the farm fields and one flock alone must have been at least 50 birds.

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Best part of the trip was just the DIY on the river  lot of luck picking the time of year to try and hit fish running in a river but when it comes together it is really rewarding the pink salmon, chinooks and coho were all present and I would have been happy with even one kind but to get them all there was a trifecta.

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Enjoyed the write up👍 man it's been a long time since I've seen a Pink, we used to get into them pretty good on Young's Creek down on Lake Erie , but that was 30 years ago, the males can get pretty grotesque with the hump, kipe and teeth.

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My only other experience on this river was a 1 hour stopover last year underneath the hwy. 17 bridge where the river is wide and fast. because of that little taste I knew I had to try and get back there but I was under the false impression that it was all similar, finding the river upstream to be much more manageable was a real eye opener. Don't know what its like at other times but this fall it was braided with shoals and rock bars that made it perfect for light tackle fishing. My only regret was I'd left my flyrods behind when I left home. I won't make that mistake again.

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bonessk01, being from Saskatchewan you may...or may not...find this story somewhat interesting.

After WW1 two English brothers who survived the horrors of the trenches of France fighting the German's decided to leave England and emigrate to Canada for a better life and become farmers. They ended up near the "wilds" of Estevan Saskatchewan in 1919 and bought adjoining pieces of land. They each built a soddy and started to get set up shop.

In 1920 they decided they needed to start families but seeing as young women were pretty scarce on the prairies 100 years ago they mailed off letters to some English newspapers saying they were looking for a couple young ladies who were seeking adventure.

My Dad's family were from Derbyshire England and my Grandmother's 2 sisters thought it sounded like a great idea and answered the call and within a few months they sailed to Montreal then hopped a train to Saskatchewan and married the 2 brothers. 

The 2 sisters absolutely loved Saskatchewan and what it had to offer and wrote to my Grandparents in 1929 and told them they should also move out there. England wasn't offering much back then so they decided to do it and sold their home and packed up the family, including my 8 year old Dad, and made the move to Regina.

The Depression hit basically as they stepped off the boat but everyone survived and loved the place. When the war started my Dad left the prairies in 1940 and joined the Navy and then his family moved to Toronto but none of them ever lost their love of Saskatchewan.

The 2 brothers and their 2 mail order brides raised great families and had successful farms and lived long and happy lives out there.

Edited by lew
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