Isabella River - June 2005
by gshaw

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 06/09/2005
Entry Point: Little Isabella River (EP 75)
Exit Point: Little Gabbro Lake (EP 33)  
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 4
Trip Introduction:
The intent of this trip was to land some great fishing. We've been relatively skunked in the past couple years, and this year we were heading out a couple weeks later than usual. The plan was to enter through Little Isabella River, catch some scenery, shoot some rapids, and bust our nuggets over portages connecting the lakes of Bald Eagle, Turtle, Gabbro and Little Gabbro. We base-camped on Turtle in hopes for some lunker northern action, then exited via Little Gabbro entry point #33. Pics may be viewed in the profile for gshaw or at http://www.ryanquick.com/bwca/photos/2005-06-10/
Day 2 of 4
Saturday, June 11, 2005

Ryan and Dave are the loudest snorers I’ve ever heard. Sleep didn’t hit me until after first light. Once awake (later than I had expected) I felt fine, though, and ate a quick breakfast to hit the lake by 10am. It rained on and off all day with a break in the clouds around 3pm. The northerns were few and far between at that point, making us really worried the fishing would be horrible all weekend. The ones we did boat were larger than the “snakes” we are used to so there was hope for salvation. The largest northern caught the whole weekend was from shore off our boat launch; easily 7 pounds. All the northerns in that area were also very heavy for their length, too. The textbooks were right in this case, as due to the overcast skies, black was the color of choice for most of the weekend. Plastic leeches on dark jigs, specifically. Scott, having never seriously fished before, nabbed a couple lunkers for himself, and pictures for his daughter. Early evening posed a chance for some topwater action and Ryan’s dark green Moss Boss was the bread and butter – until a monster snapped the first of many lines and ran off with leader and lure alike. Ryan still hasn’t recovered. RIP, boss, RIP.

A southern wind made the Northern shores the most productive, which soon died. After a mostly unproductive day fishing (albeit more productive than Day 1) we landed for dinner and then for good as heavy rain/wind looked like it was rolling in.

We fried up the 12+ pounds of fresh northern from the morning catch and ducked into the tents after the rain started around 6pm. After about and hour of ogling disgustingly ugly women in June’s issue of Maxim the rain actually stopped, resulting a few hours of daylight and a heavy wind. Instead of turning in for the night at 8pm again, some time behind the rod and reel from the boat launch were in order. A snapping turtle, just as curious about us as we were of it, kept us company. The dinosaur was about 2’x2’ and most likely at least 50 or 60 years old. In playing with the turtle, we almost missed a glimpse of the largest fish I’ve ever seen first hand (this still doesn’t say much, though). Easily a 3.5’ northern; and since all the fish in Turtle Lake were heavier than their length suggested, I couldn’t even come close to estimating its weight. It followed up my white Mr. Twister on a white jig a couple times, but never pulled the trigger. At this point it was a race against daylight and weather to land “Bessie” as I hadn’t a clue as if this was her regular hangout. We failed at nabbing her and it basically gave me a goal for the next two days.

Less wet and less frustrated, we called it a day. That portage out two days from then still looming in our minds, though.


Things I Learned:
·Don’t give up on a cast until it’s IN YOUR BOAT.
·How fish behave and how I would behave as a fish are completely different. I’m sure I’d get eaten by a delicious bass.
·Men’s magazines are more frustrating in the BWCA.
·Spend hard earned money on a good sleeping pad. Blowing up a leaking one every hour deprives you of sleep.