Sunday, June 1, 2014

Back From Lac Seul, Part 1

Our Ride Awaits!
Staying on plan and picking up Pete at 5:45 on Tuesday morning we headed over to meet our pilot Garith before driving to Surfside Sea Plane Base, our starting point.  Loading the plane took a few minutes and by 6:30 we were in the air.  I have to confess it was pretty exciting as they put me in the copilots seat where I could monitor everything that was going on.  Before leaving Bruce Fishbeck, one of our electrical engineers at work helped me with downloading an app for my phone used by private pilots for navigation.  With a flight plan set we started the plane and idled out into the lake for takeoff.  First thing I was told by Garith was never leave my seat until the engine is stopped.  Not that I didn't need to be told but it was still good advice as I have a fondness for my head staying attached to the rest of my body.  After warming the engine to the required 60 degrees C we pointed the plane into the wind and hit the throttle.  The de Havilland Beaver is a workhorse of a plane.  With the capability of carrying 2000 pounds of cargo it's a big plane yet didn't take long to get the floats on plane before lifting off the water. Actually I used one of my apps to monitor our speed at takeoff and was impressed at lifting off the water at about 50 knots.  The weather was light rain and a pretty low cloud ceiling so we flew about 1000 feet above the ground, watching
Our host, Garith!
for towers and other obstacles.  Admittedly I was somewhat surprised how low we flew yet after a few minutes it felt comfortable as the view was outstanding, even in the rain.  Our destination was Round Lake, on the northeast corner of Mille Lacs Lake, it was very cool to see the terrain that I drive by frequently.  As we arrived over Mille Lacs, one could see the skies were clear to the north giving us clear sailing to Lac Seul. Landing on Round we picked up Tom then headed for Sand Point Lake Canadian Customs just north of Crane Lake before departing for the Chamberlain Narrows.  Leaving Surfside at 6:30, we touched down at our destination at 11:15 4 hours, 45 minutes later.  It sure beats driving, which would have taken almost 11 hours to get to the outpost camp by road and boat. Our pilot Garith was fabulous!  As stated, Pete let me sit up in the copilots seat because he knew I would be interested in what was going on.  There is a lot going on to fly the plane from retracting the steering rudders, pumping the flaps to lower them for takeoff and landing, keeping the gas tanks balanced (there were 5 on this plane holding about 140 gallons), adjusting throttle, propeller pitch, fuel mixture, elevator position, altimeter, radio frequencies, GPS destination points, and other critical aspects of flying.  The engine is a 9 cylinder Pratt and Whitney rotary engine and has a distinct rumble as it powers up as smoke clears from the cylinders.  I'm not sure how many hours Garith had behind the stick but I can attest to the smoothness of our takeoffs and landings as well his willingness to share some of that knowledge with a curious passenger.  Spending 10 hours next to the guy was a pure pleasure and hopefully I will get another chance to fly with him.

Sunset on Chamberlain Narrows
Arriving at Lac Seul Outpost our arrival committee, Bruce Wiley and Wayne had flown up a few days earlier and as requested, had the frying pan ready for our first lunch, fresh walleye!  It just doesn't get any better than that, get off the plane, unload, and fill up on the best meal there is.  After getting settled in and cleaning up,  Pete and I loaded the boat and by 1:30 we were fishing.  The Chamberlain Narrows area is a necked down area in the northeast section of Lac Seul, a huge reservoir about 200 miles north of the US/Canadian border.  There is always a little current going through the narrows and is a major migration route for walleyes moving to and from the spawing areas.  Because the spawn was just completed the fish were shallow, often less than 5 feet.  Our first stop was across the channel from the outpost, about 300 yards.  Unfortunately the boats did not have depth finders so it was figuring out via the old fashioned way, drop your jig until it stops then pull it up and go from there.  Pete is very familiar with the area and is knowledgeable where the shallower underwater points and sand bars are located so it wasn't that difficult.  The current allowed us to drift the areas looking for active fish before anchoring to pitch jigs.  Starting at 10 - 12 feet we started catching fish almost immediately.  It seems like the fish would move through in waves as we could catch 5 - 10 walleyes before it would be quiet for a 10 minutes or so before starting again.  Fishing till around 7:00, I guess we caught and released over 60 walleyes as we kept 4 of them for supper.  Lac Seul has a nice slot limit where all fish between 18" and 21" must be released and you can keep one over 21".  We basically let everything over 18 inches go back in the water.  A short ride back to camp, I cleaned everyone's fish before firing up the cast iron frying pan to make supper.  One of the things I showed the guys was how to "zipper" a walleye.  It's always fun to teach old guys new tricks and this was a good one.  A simple way to remove the pin bones in a walleye fillet, it makes cooking and eating them a lot more pleasurable.  After a great meal and cleaning up we we settled down for a nice cocktail of TX Whiskey, brought to me by my good friend Matt Davis from Texas, and enjoyed the beautiful sunset on Chamberlain Narrows.

There is too much to write in a short time as there is a lot going on.  Trying to get the garden in before the rains came this weekend, it's always something.  I have some video's to download and as Paul Harvey would say, "The rest of the story" will have to wait till next week.  Hopefully I can get back on schedule with some interesting accounts, pictures, and fishing tales of my trip.


Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service said...

It's kind of refreshing to know you can still catch and locate fish without electronics. That being said, I brought my Vexilar to Lac Seuel and changed out the ice transducer for a soft water transducer. I was there in the fall and the fish were 28-32 feet so the Vexilar helped finding the right hump or finger with fish on it. Anyway, it's yours next time you go there.


Dave Anderson said...

Well, if I would have known the boat didn't have a depth finder I would have brought my Vexilar FL28 with a soft water transducer! I guess I didn't think that far ahead. Sort of like fishing reds however as most fish were pretty close to shore. Your funny as I had the exact same discussion on Wednesday with my boat partner, Pete. Oh and learn.