We spent the afternoon and evening of our arrival fishing near a small waterfall that could probably be considered more rapids than falls, but given the choice, I wouldn't take a canoe over it. Above the falls about one-half to three-quarters of a mile was a lake. The outfitter told us he kept a boat on the lake, but there was no motor on the boat.
We talked about making a trip to the small lake, but since we had plenty of exploring to do on Otatakan, we didn't make any plans. Yet.
The fishing under the waterfall had been fun and we caught plenty of fish there the day we arrived. It was only a taste of what was to come.
After a breakfast of fish and fried potatoes, we filled the gas cans for the boats and headed out to go fishing. I can't remember where, it doesn't even matter. The scenery was fantastic and the lake was about eleven miles long. Around the lake, the shoreline rose up in most places and the forest was mainly tamarack and spruce. We did find some places where there were hardwoods, but they were few and far between.
All around were rocks that rose up from the shore and formed small islands on the lake. In one place, right next to a rock that seemed to jut straight up out of the water, we dropped a line down and hauled it up, six feet at a time. The water was more than sixty feet deep.
It was spring, the third week of June and the water was still fairly cold. We started fishing shallow and moved a little deeper and found fish in ten to twelve feet of water. Lots of fish. And they were everywhere. It seemed there wasn't anyplace on the lake that didn't hold fish if you were fishing at the right depth.
We were told in advance that if we picked that lake, we should not expect to catch any trophy walleyes or northern pike, but that we would catch a lot of fish. Many, many walleyes and plenty of northern pike if we wanted them. (We love walleye and we love northern pike almost as much.)
And it was all true. Ninety percent of the walleyes we caught were between 19 and 24 inches long. There were a few that were smaller. None were bigger. Northerns averaged between 20 and 30 inches. Nothing amazing in terms of size, just numbers.
The first evening, we kept enough fish for dinner and breakfast. All morning long we caught walleyes, one after another. I can't tell you how many we caught. We didn't count. At lunchtime, we pulled the boats up on a rocky shore and I made a fire. Chris and Dad cleaned some fish. I made coffee in a coffee can (a long time dream of my Dad's, I don't know why, it just was.) and it turned out pretty good. We cooked some fish, ate some lunch and went out fishing again.
One fish after another. I'm not kidding. It sounds like the mother of all fish stories, but it was true. We fished, caught fish and threw them back. Some we kept for dinner and breakfast. We brought some meals of meat and chicken along, but we could have eaten fish all week, and mostly we did. Breakfast and lunch were always fish. Except for a couple of meals in the evening, we ate fish.
Mostly we did not keep track of how many fish we caught, but by the third or fourth day we understood why the pilot was bringing us more minnows on Wednesday. I did not understand until we started catching fish why they supplied minnows by the quart and not by the dozen. I suddenly realized it was because no one had time to count that many minnows. They had a scoop that held a quart of minnows and that's how they sold them. On Wednesday, the pilot brought us twelve quarts of minnows. It was a good thing too. The 12 quarts we brought with us initially were nearly gone by Wednesday.
Even when I'm not catching fish, I enjoy fishing. There's just something that takes me to the center of my being about sitting in a boat on a lake fishing. I can fish for hours and not stop, even if I'm not catching fish. It can be 100 degrees in the shade or 20 degrees and sleeting and I'll still be there even if the fish are not biting.
The fish were biting and they bit all week. On one morning, Chris and I sort of kept track and we caught more than one hundred walleyes before lunch between the two of us. More than one hundred. And that was just half the day. What did we do that afternoon? We fished of course and probably caught just as many.
We didn't keep them of course. We were on vacation and who wants to clean that many fish? It was also way over the legal limit.
There's more about the fishing to come in upcoming posts and a lot more about our adventure, so be sure to stop back next week and I'll tell you about my springer spaniel Autumn when she decided to abandon our boat.
A true story by MJ Logan
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