Thursday, August 27, 2015

Canadian Fly-Out Fishing Trip: Day 3

Thursday, August 20

The second day of our fishing trip started around 7:30am when Andi hopped out of bed and hurried off to the kitchen to make breakfast for everyone. I woke up with a little less spring in my step, and snuggled in my sleeping bag for a few minutes longer. If I wasn't forced out of bed by small children, you'd better believe I lingered there for as long as I liked.

Meanwhile, chef Andi whipped together french toast, eggs and sausage for our cabin crew of four. We accessed the weather outside and it seemed cloudy and windy (but not raining!), which was better circumstances than the day prior. After breakfast, Joe, Lisa, Andi and I piled on layers of clothing and hit the water for a day of fishing on Lake Jeanette. Andi and I parted ways with Joe and Lisa and agreed to meet back at the cabin around Noon for lunch together.

Andi decided he and I would fish on the east side of the lake for the morning. The boat ride there was beautiful with thick rows of pine trees on each side of us. We picked a rock point and began to jig for walleyes, drifting along the shore in the wind. Within a few minutes, we hit a sweet spot and reeled in one fish after another. Over and again, we drifted along the same bit of shoreline with continued luck. I'd estimate Andi and I caught around 40 walleyes within an hour or so; the biggest fish going to Andi with a recorded length of 25 inches.

Having seen my fair share of walleyes during this trip, I now realize what a catch this was! The fish weighed an estimated six pounds, and felt and looked solid in his hands. I snapped a few pictures of Andi with his prized catch, and then he released the fish back into the water.

Later, Andi decided we'd anchor the fishing boat about 20 feet up the shoreline and bobber-fish for walleyes instead. To make an anchor, he pulled the boat up to the shore and hopped out to collect large rocks to fill into a rubber bag. Unfortunately in the process, Andi stepped too deep and filled his Bogs with water. I felt so badly for him! One wool sock and boot were completely soaked. I lovingly encouraged him not to be a tough guy and said it'd be fine with me to boat back to the cabin for clean socks and shoes, but Andi would have none of it. Instead, in chilly 60 degree weather, Andi sat in the fishing boat for the rest of the morning with one bare foot and zero complaints.      

Now with an anchor of rocks firmly planted in the water, Andi equipped both of our fishing poles for bobber fishing. Together we sat in the boat fishing for walleyes, and for once rain wasn't hammering us in the face or wind completely rocking our boat. The air was silent around us except for the sounds of a few birds in nearby trees and a Loon calling out in the distance. This fishing thing wasn't too shabby ... if only the air temperature would warm up a little!

As if it was even possible, the fishing was even better in this new spot 20 feet up from where we were before. As fast as Andi and I could throw out our lines in the water, fish would bite them. Sometimes, we'd both have a bite at the same time and laugh as we questioned who'd be the first to reel their catch into the boat. There was only one expert fisherman in our vessel after all (a.k.a: Andi) who was willing and able to take fish off the hooks. By the end of the morning, Andi and I had a stringer full of walleyes to bring back to the cabin. With our Canadian fishing licenses, each person could freeze and bring home four walleyes. The rest of the fish we kept that morning were cooked up for lunch alongside fried potatoes and toast. 

Speaking of toast, have you ever seen such a thing?

The world's first toaster. (I assume.) Good thing Andi was along on this trip, or I'd have likely starved.

After lunch, Joe declared it nap time so he went to lay down. Lisa, Andi and I sat in the living room and read our respective Kindles for a while until we heard sounds of a seaplane flying over. After residing in a remote location for a few days and hearing nothing but the sounds of nature around us, the three of us were immediately drawn to the window to watch the plane fly over. It's probably another outfitter dropping off or picking up other guests on the lake we assumed, thinking nothing of it. A few minutes later, we heard the plane again and it sounded close by. Lisa, Andi and I rushed outside onto the deck to get a closer look. The large orange seaplane landed on the lake and did a "drive-by" our dock narrowly missing Andi and I's fishing boat. We watched as the plane did another giant loop and looked as if it was coming back toward our dock again. "What the...?" we all wondered. "Does the pilot want to come in here? Why?" Andi asked aloud. The plane didn't have any markings on it and wasn't the classic red and white colors of our outfitter, KaBeeLo Lodge. We were so confused. I imagine it's how someone shipwrecked on an island feels -- somewhat bewildered and excited by contact from the real world.

Andi quickly moved our fishing boat out of the way, and we watched as the seaplane pulled up to our cabin's dock. Lisa ran back into the cabin to wake Joe up from his nap because he wouldn't want to miss this! Three people hopped out of the plane and onto our dock with an 'Eh there!" They identified themselves as employees of the Canadian Ministry (which we later gathered is equivalent to the United States' DNR).

The two Ministry employees and the seaplane pilot began to unload a serious amount of gear onto our dock while we peppered them with questions. "Why are you here? What will you be studying?" The people answered all of our questions as they unloaded more and more gear from the seaplane. It was like one of those clown-cars -- how much more stuff could they really pull from that plane?!

Soon, the seaplane bid farewell and flew off leaving the two workers and a pile of their stuff on our dock. "Where is their boat," I whispered to Andi, not sure what was happening before us. It turned out the people's boat was an inflatable watercraft they unfolded from their gear and blew up right there on site. They added a boat motor onto it and proceeded to load gill nets, a cooler of food, a chainsaw and more into their boat before they set off to work on the lake collecting research for the next four days.

After all that excitement, Joe, Lisa, Andi and I decided there was nothing left to do but go fishing. The sun was shining and the air temperature actually felt warm for the first time on our trip. The four of us decided to cruise down to the Sesikanage River flowage that connects Lake Jeanette to neighboring Betty Lake. Joe told us in past years, their group had trolled the river for Northern Pike and spotted all kinds of wildlife on the river banks - moose, caribou and bear.

At the mouth of the river, Joe deemed the water 'too weedy' and decided he and Lisa would split off to fish somewhere else on the lake. Andi voted against the river as well, and decided we'd troll for Northerns along the lake shore. We did so until the sun set and it was time to head back to the cabin for dinner where Joe treated us to homemade fish chowder.

After dinner around 9:00pm, Andi convinced me to go back on the water for some night fishing. We pulled on our rain gear (again!) and sported headlamps on our foreheads to see in the dark. Andi anchored our fishing boat near a rock point by the cabin and we fished for walleyes using glow-in-the-dark bobbers. It seemed like a good idea in theory, but we didn't catch any fish the entire time we were out on the water. ZERO - which was so different than our successes fishing during the day. Eventually, we called it quits and came back to the cabin to end our evening.

Next up -- Our last day on Lake Jeanette, and it was a nice one. Spoiler alert - the sun shined!

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