Thursday, May 21, 2015

Canadian Opener, Deja Vu??, part 1.

Our ride!
After the fast paced events and crappy weather associated with last week's Minnesota Fishing Opener at Leech Lake, Friday finally came as Pete picked me up then headed over to pick up our pilot, Garith Anderson and continue on to SurfSide Seaplane Base in Lino Lakes, MN.  The weather was raining during the previous 2 days and Friday was forecasted to clear up yet the last minute change included fog in the morning. Arriving at 6:00 AM we had a pretty low ceiling and the owner said that until we see the lights on top of the 500 foot tower across the lake we were staying put.  After 2 hours of BS and coffee the ceiling lifted enough to take off for Lac Seul.  The flight plan was to head north following Interstate 35 then over Eveleth/Virginia and landing at Sand Point Customs on the Canadian side of the Crane Lake area.  The low ceiling was with us the entire first leg of the route and we were forced to "Scud Run" at about 500 feet above the ground.  Scud Run is a term based on our military's Scud Missile system where they fly below the radar view and follow the terrain.  I thought it was pretty cool as you could easily see the wild turkey's in the fields and the deer but Pete wasn't as comfortable as I was.  An hour into the flight Garith noticed something unusual in a tree, 3 black bears!  I guess it gives one a perspective of how low we were really flying.  Landing at Sand Point Customs we were greeted by the agents who took our passports, asked the usual questions including our alcohol cargo. You are allowed 1 liter of booze or 1 bottle of wine or 1 case of beer per person, any more than this requires you to pay duty on the excess.  Well we had an extra bottle of wine and a case of beer over our allocation and when we declared that the guy said "It's your lucky day boys, the tax computer is down".  With that we got back in the plane for the short 1 1/2 hour flight to Chamberlain Narrows and Lac Seul Outpost.  Arriving at 1:00 it was time to unpack and get settled in and meet the guys who included Bruce and Mike, Wayne, and Tom.  Because opener was on Saturday and northern pike was the only fish you could catch, some of the guys were out trolling rapala's while we took care of a number of maintenance items at the cabin including sweeping up the constant sand and washing windows.  Wayne, Tom, and Mike came back from "northern" fishing to report that while pulling Rapala's, they could not keep the 22"+ walleyes off the line, a great sign for Saturday.

Bruce with a typical 22+ inch walleye.
Saturday was gorgeous, just like opener at Leech the week before.  Bluebird skies and a gentle breeze provided the perfect setup for a great day of fishing.  With 7 guys, normally we would have 3 boats however the lodge had a limited supply of boats and coupled with Bruce's change in plans to bring his own because of transom issues, we had 3 in the rental and 4 in Tom's Smokercraft.  This is my 4th trip to Lac Seul and this year Bruce (our host) asked me if I would fish with him.  Normally I fish with Pete but it would be a nice change of pace to fish with the master of the area. Our first stop was north and around the corner however there were 2 houseboats parked in the sweet spots.  Anchoring close to one of them, the walleyes were biting but the noise of the generator was a huge deterrent to staying there.  Next we heading further north off a point, anchored and caught a number of really nice walleyes, a couple of northerns around 36 inches and a few for our dinner later that evening.  Moving back down towards the cabin we hit a small cove that proved to be quite productive before finally ending up directly across the cabin off a sandbar that formed a nice eddy, the perfect place for a walleye to stop.  The lack of wind allowed us the perfect anchor position to fish either inside the eddy, right on the current break, or in the deeper water. Hammering the walleyes just doesn't do it justice as waves upon waves of walleyes from 15 to 26 inches keep coming thru on their way to the main lake after spawning.  The fish were plentiful and hungry as the weather and the bite gave me the opportunity to fish with a 3 inch white Gulp Minnow Grub that was on fire.  The success almost forced Bruce to switch however I think there was a primary reason for the hot Gulp bite.  Although the bite was light and both Bruce and I agreed that scent was a key factor, with Gulp I could cast my jig 20 - 30 yards then drag it back covering more area.  With minnows the typical tactic was to simply drop it off the side of the boat, wait for a walleye to swim by then hang on.  By working more water I feel it's an effective tactic to get your bait in front of more fish and I like being more proactive anyway.

My 26 incher.
Continuing catching one after another we stayed across the channel for the next couple of hours.  I ended up with the my largest fish of the trip, a nice 26 incher. Because of the spawn these fish were skinny but hungry. We ended the day with about 70 walleyes caught and released then kept about 8 for our fish fry later that evening.  I would say that over half of the walleyes we caught on Saturday were over 22 inches, quite impressive.  Interesting that I probably caught more walleyes in the first 2 hours of fishing than I did for the 3 days we spent fishing Leech the previous week. Volunteering to clean all of the fish I filleted 14 walleyes on Saturday night and zippered 8 for frying. With the help of Garith, we deep fried those fish to perfection. There is nothing better than fresh caught walleye to end the day. A few cocktails of TX whiskey provided by my good friends Joe and Matt really rounded out the day.  I wouldn't say that I was tired of catching fish however admittedly it was a pretty satisfying day.  Things were about to change dramatically in the next 12 hours as we woke up on Sunday morning with a strong northeast wind and temperatures in the low 50's and dropping.  It was a repeat of the the previous week where we had beautiful weather for opening day and it went downhill from there.  With sheets of rain traveling horizontally down Chamberlain Narrows there wasn't much of an incentive to get in the boat and subject ourselves to the punishment outside.  We had lots of time before making any decisions so when someone suggested we have omelets for breakfast I thought it would be fun to test my skills.  The ban on poultry and eggs coming across the border forced Bruce to buy eggs in Dryden and eggs they were!  A three egg omelet was a big as a 4 egger yet everyone seemed satisfied.  Bruce, his son Mike and I decided that we came to fish so let's go fishing as we bundled up for a 3 hour session.  Trying to get out of the wind because our anchor would not hold, we were not very successful yet we did manage to keep a few fish towards our take home numbers.  This would have been the perfect time for the anchor lock function on a bow mounted trolling motor.  Unfortunately neither Tom nor the rental boat had that luxury as we struggled to stay in the bite zone.  Unlike the previous day my Gulp wasn't working as well so was forced to switch back to a plain minnow and jig.  The challenge to catch fish on artificials is great but there is no reason to be stupid.  The rain became relentless as all three of us decided it was insane to continue so we headed in to dry our clothes, warm up, and have a cocktail to reflect on the day.  What came up that evening was quite an experience for me however I'll wait till next week to finish the story!

The good news is the boat should have started to be built on Wednesday so it shouldn't be long now. It's probably good as I need to get some things to get done around the house.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Looks like the water is a little lower than last year. Glad you had fun. We will be there in 2 weeks.