Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Memorable Moments on the Water in 2010
by walleye_hunter

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 01/01/2010
Entry & Exit Point: Other
Number of Days: 1
Group Size: 1
Trip Introduction:
2010 fishing report.
As 2010 comes to a close I decided to spend a few minutes reflecting on my most recent year of fishing. I spend a lot of time fishing the lakes of northeast Minnesota and southwest Ontario. Some call this area canoe country, others call it the boundary waters, it is also referred to as border country or God’s country. I call it home. I love fishing this area for many reasons. Rain or shine the scenery is always fantastic. The wildlife encounters are always reviving and memorable; whether it is a bull moose feeding on lily pads or the sounds of a songbird in the morning. The campsites are great. And the most significant reason is that big walleyes always have, and always will have a special place in my heart.

In the summer I love watching a slip bobber float across rock piles on the big, deep, clear lakes. Watching my bobber quickly disappear when a big walleye grabs my leech or night crawler is quit a thrill. It is usually not a numbers game and I spend a lot of time not catching fish but I do catch some big walleyes each summer. I like to think I know a lot about walleye fishing; the locations and behaviors of the big females, seasonal movements, etc. The truth is I’m just a guy that fishes a lot with a few fish stories. In the winter, it is lake trout that have me awake at 3:00 am and heading up the Gunflint Trail. Not only is it a blast to catch them, they are delicious.

I took quite a few day trips lake trout fishing in January and February. I didn’t catch any big lakers but caught a lot of fish between 2-5 pounds. In March our winter camping trip somehow became a few nights at a cabin on Gunflint Lake. It took us a while to get going Friday morning for various reasons but we were finally checked in by about 2:00 pm. I managed to catch a couple of trout before dark but the rest of my crew didn’t do so well.

The next morning I met my brother and a friend before dark as we prepared for a long day trip. The other guys I was with did not have RABC permits or Canadian fishing licenses but I gave them a few spots to fish that day to ensure they would be set up for success. After a long snowmobile ride it did not take long to start catching some feisty lakers. We caught a lot of fish that day, all between 3 and 12 pounds. Here are my two biggest releases from the day.
The last two days of that trip were a blast. The fishing was good and the weather was gorgeous. I kept one big trout that trip that had decided to inhale my airplane jig. This fish was my biggest of the winter and a little bigger than I like to keep but it smoked up real well.
I also caught the prettiest lake trout of my life. I really like the colors on this fish and would have mounted it if it was about 10 pds bigger.
At the end of March after all the snow had melted off the lakes I had a real interesting day trip. Walking was very fast so I went a few lakes in that day. Shorty after I found my reef and started fishing I saw a wolf running towards me on the ice. After it got too close for comfort I got up, grabbed my scoop, and chased it back into the woods. A bit later I got up to relieve myself and another, smaller wolf was coming towards me. This time I grabbed my auger when I chased it away. I had a hard time fishing the next couple of hours as I found myself on wolf watch. I understand they were just curious but I have a lot of respect for them and don’t trust them anymore than I would trust a couple of mean dogs.

I wasn’t catching any fish so I moved to a nearby point and quickly caught a couple of nice 3 pd lakers. A while later I hear something on the ice behind me. When I turned around there was a wolf that had come out of the woods and back onto the lake. He passed by me at about 30 yards and continued down the lake. I was going to fish for a couple more hours but felt uncomfortable walking out by myself after dark so I packed up my things and headed home.

In May I took my mom to one of my favorite walleye lakes in the BWCA. I had done real well on this lake last year including a 28” and 31” walleye. In order to get to this lake we had to paddle for about an hour and then take one portage so it can be a lengthy day trip if it gets windy. We had been fishing one of my best spots on the lake and I couldn’t figure out why we hadn’t caught any walleyes yet. Then my mom hooked into a big pike. I had forgotten the landing net so it was an absolute riot trying to grab this fish from a canoe. It seems that I often like to surprise myself and forget something. After a few half-hearted attempts my mom told me I would never be able to grab it. I suddenly got very determined and aggressively grabbed the fish by placing my right hand behind its head and sliding my left hand under the gills. The pike measured in at 41”. We did manage to catch a few walleyes later that day also.

At the end of June I took a 3 day solo fishing trip to another one of my favorite walleye lakes in the BWCA. I had camp set up by about 4:00 pm and headed out to fish a rock I call the ‘shark fin’ for the evening. I caught some smallmouth but did not catch a single walleye by the shark fin. I headed back to camp and was wondering if I should have chosen a different destination for my trip. I decided to fish from shore for a while as I enjoyed a drink and a cigar. I managed to catch one eater right at dark and it was nice to know I had the next day’s shore lunch in the cooler.

I woke up the next morning to a light drizzle and prepared breakfast while studying the conditions and coming up with a plan of attack for the day. I was paddling by 8:00 am and soon reached my first spot. It is a nice saddle between two little humps that top out at about 10’. Again, nothing but smallmouth. I pulled anchor and moved to a flat rock that has a nice finger coming off it. I cast my bobber out and it quickly disappeared. The first walleye of the day was a 29” release. This same finger produced two more trophy fish latter in the summer.

I caught a couple more walleyes and some pike before I headed to a campsite for shore lunch. The campsite was a mess so I picked up a few things before I fried fish. After an awesome lunch I headed back out on the water to try a few more spots. I only caught bass that afternoon and made it back to camp by 4:00 pm. When I had gotten to camp there was a nice little note from the Forest Service on the fire grate letting me know they had cleared the trail to the latrine and thanking me for keeping a clean camp. I smoked a cigar at camp while I sat on a piece of granite and listened to the birds. The songbirds are a real treat as I don’t have many at home, too many cats in my neighborhood.

After dinner I headed back out on the water for some evening fishing. I caught a couple 14” walleyes and then a storm moved in a little too close for comfort. I went to a small island and fished a point from shore that has been good for me in the past. As I was watching the storm to the south of me I realized I was not any more protected from lightening on that little island than I would have been out on the lake in my canoe, but I felt safer. I caught a 16” inch walleye that was quickly filleted to take home with me the next day. A few minutes later my bobber went down deep and fast. The next few seconds were filled with anticipation as I knew there was a good chance that I would have a heavy walleye at the end of my line when I set the hook. It turned out to be my second 29 incher of the day. I took my camera out of my pocket, set the self-timer and placed it on a rock. After the camera flashed I put the fish back in the water hoping my picture had turned out. I was very happy when I saw I had gotten a great picture. The storm soon passed and I paddled back to camp and went to bed.

Day three was another change in weather. The skies had cleaned and there was a very cool north wind. The first reef I tried only produced a pike so I decided to try a spot I had never fished before. I watched a couple groups paddle by from an area outfitter that were staying together because of their concerns about the wind and a lack of confidence in their navigation skills. It looked like a canoe parade coming down the lake but I figured they would have it down good in a few hours. I wished them well and assured them that they were going in the right direction. After all 8 canoes had passed my bobber went down hard and it turned out to be a heavy 28” walleye.
I fished for a few more hours before I went back and packed up camp. I was very satisfied with my trip on the paddle out. Once my car was packed up I drove to Grand Marais and got my boat which I had dropped off at my brother’s place. I took my boat up to Gunflint Lake where I stayed in a bunkhouse at Gunflint Outfitters and fished for two more days based from there.

In mid July I took a weekend trip with a friend. I was really hoping that I could put him on a big walleye and after only catching little walleyes Friday evening and Saturday we gave it one more shot Sunday morning. We paddled over to one of my best reefs on the lake and it wasn’t long before Bernie hooked into something solid. The fish wasn’t as big as I thought it would be but measured in at 26” and turned out to be the biggest walleye of the weekend. We didn’t have any more action on that spot so we moved to a different rock pile. The fishing was real good on this spot and we were able to take a nice mess of 16-18” walleyes home with us.

In August I decided to give my lake nemesis one last try for the year. The lake is in Canada so I took my boat as I enjoy the comforts of boat camping at times. It is a beautiful lake that I know has a lot of big walleyes in it but the water clarity is over 20’. Many of the lakes I fish have a clarity of around 10-15’ but this lake is ultra clear, making walleye fishing ultra difficult at times. Walleyes are spooky fish; big walleyes are spookier than small walleyes, and walleyes in clear water are spookier than those in stained water. After three failed attempts earlier this summer in lake nemesis I finally started to figure things out and dabbled in some nice walleyes. Here is the first walleye I caught from lake nemesis, a nice thick 25” fish. Not my biggest walleye of the summer but my most satisfying. The picture is a bit goofy but a lot of my self-timer pictures don’t work real well. Now that I have started to figure that lake out a bit I am looking forward to spending some more time there next summer, Lord willing of course. Hopefully I can catch a couple of the 12+ pd walleyes that I know are in that lake.

Overall it was a great year of fishing. Elk and deer hunting were successful and as always, a great time in the woods. And here’s wishing everybody a great year of fishing in 2011 and safe adventures during all your outdoor activities. I’m already starting to day dream about my favorite outdoor activity; chasing big walleyes on the rock piles in the summer. Hoping that 2011 is the year I catch a 34 or 35” walleye.