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By mrl0004
#604753
[report]"There are certain people who like to be getting something done all the time. In anything they do, they want results, and fast. These people should avoid musky fishing. Of all man's activities, musky fishing may well be the biggest waste of time. It ranks ahead of golf and jogging and is right up there with chasing geese and hunting snipes."

Several months ago, my buddy Greg asked me if I wanted to go to Canada with him on his annual trip to his family's cabin. I didn't even have to hesitate to agree to go. However, I had just moved to Birmingham, AL for a new job and was on a 6 month "probationary period" where I wasn't allowed to take vacation. I made some promises and did what I needed to do to get the go ahead. I told Greg I was good to go. Now the hard part, waiting.

The day finally arrived that we would depart Alabama for our 27 hour-drive to Canada. The first leg of the trip involves a straight 9 hour drive to Brookston, Indiana to meet up with Greg's uncle. There were some interesting sites along the long ride up....

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We arrived in Indiana with enough time to have a beer or two and get a couple of hours of sleep before the final 15 hour portion of the drive, Indiana to Canada. We will drive up through Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota before arriving at our destination. The road offered some more sites to pass the long hours....

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We must be getting close....

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Finally...

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Time to stock up on some necessities. We could only bring 1 case per person across the border. That's not enough for 8 days of fishing.

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We finally arrived to the cabin about 6:00pm.

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Just enough time to settle in have a beer, eat some grub, and hit the water for a couple of hours.

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Here's a 51" musky on the wall that Greg caught when he was 16.

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We headed out and fished for a while, had one smaller musky follow my fly out, and since that was the first musky I had ever seen, I just froze. While I was mesmerized by what I was seeing, Greg did what any good friend would do and caught the musky so I could get a better look at it. The fishing kind of slowed down after that, so we headed in for the night to make plans for our first full fishing day.

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The next morning we woke up and had some fresh wild blueberry muffins that Greg's mom made. They were amazing and went well with the coffee.

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The next task was to launch the boat that Greg's uncle brought up for us to use.

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This lake is pretty big compared to what I'm used to, but in the grand scheme of Northwest Ontario, it's just a dot on the map.

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Zoom out a bit and you can see what I mean. I am starting to think Canada doesn't have any land.

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It is quite scenic though. One of those places that just being out on the water is enough, catching fish would be a bonus. Which is a good mindset to be in while musky fishing.

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We motored out to the first place we wanted to fish...

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After several follows on the day, I finally got one to eat. My first musky...

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Well, that was pretty awesome. I don't think you can fully appreciate this fish until you've fished for them. I've always heard people talk about how much work it is. You'll cast to way more fish than you see, and you'll see even more than you'll catch. The fish of 1,000 casts, I believe it.

The wind started to pick up pretty good after lunch, so we decided to motor in to get home in time for happy hour.

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We returned to find some fresh picked, fried chanterelle mushrooms and cold beer.

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For dinner we had fried walleye that had been swimming not too long ago. This was also the first time I had eaten walleye, and I agree with the notion that it's the best tasting freshwater fish out there.

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After dinner, we headed back out for a musky fix. It was like crack, I couldn't get enough. I have to go out and at least get a follow. I need to see that fish appear out of the depths below my fly.

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I tied one of the many flies that Raz sent me. It was the biggest and I had hopes that it would lure in a bigger fish.

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A likely musky hideout....

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Greg got on the board first with a small northern pike.

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The last spot we motored up to for the day looked real good. A small creek flowing in has to have a musky swimming around somewhere.

And it did...

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Small battle wounds...

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After that, we tried one more spot on the way out. You know the game, "Just one more spot."

It doesn't get dark there until 10:30pm, so we were able to fish for quite a while everyday. A nice bonus after a good day of catching two musky was enjoying the sunsets over the lake.

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One of the coolest things at night was listening to all the common loons call on the lake. I've read that the loon's freedom, independence and simplicity characterize the true spirit of wilderness. Its wild calling does more to create the indescribable feeling of being apart from civilization and being close to the primitive than any other natural phenomenon in the wilderness country. Each night, as I went to sleep, I cranked the window right behind my bed open and let that wild call of the loon lull me off to sleep. Catching musky by day, and going to sleep as loons call right outside my window, this is living!

The window right behind my bed...

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The next morning, I enjoyed some wild blueberries on peanut butter toast before heading out on our fishing adventure for the day.

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Our plan for the day was to do our first portage. There are so many smaller lakes that connect to the main lake by trails, that it makes fishing newer water pretty easy. Greg and his family have boats hidden at most of the portage lakes that we fished, the only thing you have to bring is a motor, gas, a paddle, and whatever you need for fishing. So, after getting geared up, we set off for our first portage of the trip.

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Once we got on the water, it didn't take long for Greg to connect to a musky...

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We only packed in one fly rod to reduce the gear load, so after Greg caught one, I was up to bat. We had a lot of follows, but then the action kind of slowed down. I tied on a popper that made some serious commotion and bubbles in the water when stripped.

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After the fly change, it didn't take long...

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We fished for quite a bit longer with little action, so we packed out and headed in for lunch. Lunch was easy most days. Cold cuts, chips, leftovers, etc.

Intersting chips...
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It's a good thing we came in when we did, because the weather turned south in a hurry...

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That allows for some good reading...

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Or some foraging to stay stocked up on delicious things to eat...

Blueberries...

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Raspberries...

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Wild strawberries...

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Chanterelles...

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That night we took it easy and planned out our fishing for the next day. We decided to run the 18 miles to the other end of the lake and fish that area. We would leave in the morning and pack a lunch, and be back sometime in the afternoon.

The next morning, we waited around until 8am so we could listen to the weather on the radio. The forecast was "Cloudy all day with 40km winds that may shake the trees." Sounds like another musky day! So we headed out...

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Greg had a follow pretty quick...

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A little figure eight-ing to seal the deal...

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And he wasn't having it, so we press on...

This looks good...

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As soon as the fly hit the water, there was an explosion. It was just a pike...

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You quickly learn the difference between a musky strike and a northern strike. We continued to work the bank and I had several follows all the way back to the boat by HUGE smallmouth. Easily 4-5 pounders. However, once they followed the fly to the boat, they just stopped and looked at the fly, then swam away. That was extremely frustrating because I really wanted to tie into some big smallmouth.

We decided to break for lunch before continuing...

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After lunch we had to throw on the rain suits and a storm popped up out of nowhere.

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We thought that would turn the musky on since they love nasty weather, but we couldn't move another fish. So we headed back in to catch happy hour.

We sat on the back deck and shared fishing stories from the day over cold Canadian brews. Not a bad way to unwind for a bit...

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I couldn't wait for dinner to be ready...

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Apparently thermacell doesn't affect Canadian mosquitos...

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Oh yeah, big filets topped with sautéed chanterelles...

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We motored around behind the cabin using the trolling for an hour or so after dinner to see if we could find some smallmouth, but no dice. Back to the cabin and get ready for another portage the next day.

Greg's mom made some awesome blueberry and orange oatmeal muffins for breakfast, and we planned out our day. The portage was an afternoon outing, so for the morning we went exploring. I was going for musky and Greg was trying to target smallmouth. I had several follows, but they wouldn't eat. Greg finally connected with a hefty smallmouth that acted like a smallmouth and refused to give up the fight...

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After that we headed back in to meet up with Greg's dad for the afternoon portage. Our goal was smallmouth, although this portage lake holds walleye and musky too. Because all 3 of us were going to be in a small boat, I was the only one fly fishing while they spin fished.

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The first spot we tried out Greg and his dad began catching smallmouth on chartreuse spintail grubs and jigheads, so I tied on a chartreuse clouser and cast out. I waited to a ten count and then slowly stripped the fly in. It didn't take long for my line to get heavy and start cutting through the water away from me.

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We continued to fish around the lake, picking up a smallmouth here and there.

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Another one of Raz's fly produced one after I lost my clouser.

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We found a spot off of a beaver lodge that was holding quite a few walleye, but they were 20ft down. Greg and his dad were tearing them up, and I watched. I knew if I could get at least 20ft down I could catch one on the fly. I stripped out 20ft of line and let it sink. I was using a sink tip and a pretty heavy crawfish pattern fly, so it didn't take long to get to the bottom. I slowly stripped and jigged the fly back to the surface. I did this about 15 times or so before I finally felt a fish hit. Another first: walleye on the fly!

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Spotted a loon on the way in. These things were incredibly hard to get pictures of.

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Also saw a bald eagle. 'Merica!

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After another dinner of fresh fried walleye, we headed out to musky fish. As was becoming the norm, I had several follows, but couldn't connect. Greg managed to get one to eat before we called it a night.

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The next morning it was a balmy 50 degrees outside. Made some hot coffee, ate some venison sausage and eggs and read a book about walleye while waiting for it to warm up a bit. We decided that we needed to go into town and get some gas for the boats and some minnows for our lake trout trolling the next day. We drove into Vermillion Bay and laughed at some of the things people buy to musky fish.

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That afternoon, we decided to do another portage to one of the more remote lakes. It's full of smaller musky, but they're very active. We would have to walk a bit more for this portage, but one of the lodge's has a boat and motor there that we could use, so we didn't have to pack in a motor. Just gas and our fishing gear.

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The bay narrowed into a small river...

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Which narrowed into nothing more than a small beaver creek...

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We beached the boat and started the trek. The first 100 yards or so was through some pretty boggy marsh grass.

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We saw some huge moose tracks on the trail before arriving to our lake...

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Greg wore his good luck 3 wolf and moon shirt, so we knew the fishing would be good.

And it was...

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Then Greg caught one...

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Then I caught another one...

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Then Greg caught another one...

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This pattern continued for several more rounds...

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After the action slowed, we decided to head back to the cabin in time for happy hour. There's a boat here somewhere...

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Oh, there it is...

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Weaved our way back through to the main lake...

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Ate some brats for dinner and headed out to walleye fish for the evening.

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The next day we headed out for yet another portage. Greg's dad wanted to take us to a portage lake that only has lake trout. So, we loaded up and headed out...

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Fly fishing was not an option, but my desire to catch lake trout was stronger than my desire to sit and watch. We trolled minnows, but most of the fish were pretty deep.

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We couldn't get any to eat, so we headed back for dinner. Grilled pork loin, pea salad and potatoes...

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After dinner we headed out to see if I could get a pike on the fly to complete my lake slam.

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After several spots, it finally happened...

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I also got to watch a common loon land on the water. The pictures are pretty crappy, but you can get the idea. They basically coast in and land on their chest and just kind of slide through the water.

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The last full fishing day was full of bad weather. Woke up to lightning and rain. So we waited it out. Once we finally could get on the water, the wind was horrible.

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I couldn't cast to save my life and when I finally did get a good cast going, this is what my line did to itself:

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I had at least 4-5 follows, but couldn't get a musky to eat to properly end the last day of the trip. Greg had a good sized musky come up out of nowhere in the cloudy water and look at his fly. It was easily a mid-40" fish. Unfortunately, this is the only picture I was able to get of it:

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We had to head back in time to load the boat up. This was a sad sight after 7 days of solid fishing.

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We had one last dinner of fresh fried walleye as we reflected on one hell of a week.

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We left at 1:30am Saturday morning to head to Indiana. The trip tradition is to make it back to Brookston in time to go by the Top Notch Bar for a steak. A last hoorah of sorts. Luckily, we made it.

VIPs enter in the back of the restaurant.

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We even had time to fish the local neighborhood pond. Most were tired of fishing, but I don't think I ever get tired of it.

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The next morning we woke up and made the last 9hr trek of the trip. It was bittersweet to see this sign again:

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One last stop off...

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All in all, it was one of the best trips I have ever been on and I can't thank Greg and his family enough for their hospitality. It wouldn't have been as enjoyable without all of them. The food was phenomenal thanks to Greg's mom, his dad helped point us in the right direction most of the time and his uncle Steve was simply a joy to be around. He kept us belly laughing most of the time.

I not only discovered a new to me species to pursue, but I found a new appreciation for lake fishing. We worked extremely hard for the those fish. We covered roughly 150 miles of shoreline, spent 63 hours on the water, and made thousands of casts, most of which were 9 or 10wts with big musky flies. Most of the time we were dealing with 20-30mph winds too. When we weren't fishing, we were collecting things to eat or sitting around drinking beer and talking about fishing.

"A typical conversation between musky anglers might go like this:

'How'd you do today?'

-'Great day, raised 8 fish. One went about 40 inches.'"

That's musky lingo for "I saw eight fish, but didn't catch any."

I'm hooked.

Now I have to hope Greg needs a friend to go again one year![/report]
Last edited by mrl0004 on Wed Jul 29, 2015 10:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
By Kfoxwyo
#604754
Holy mother of dog, TR of the year candidate right there..
User avatar
By _9er
#604755
One helluva trip! Canada Musky shangri la.

Hate to tell you, but that's like loosing your virginity to Penelope Cruz... It's all down hill from here but you'll be haunted by that exotic flavor forever.
By Greenery
#604756
What are the rules about posting after you had a semi-approved intro over 2 years ago? Yeah, I probably need to see myself out...

I enjoyed this TR.
User avatar
By augustwest
#604757
mrl0004 wrote:[report]...one hell of a week.[/report]
Great effort, thanks for the ride along.
User avatar
By marlo
#604759
That was done right! Thanks for taking the time to post that up man. It took me about a year fishing every second weekend for the toothy fuckers to finally pop the cherry. Looks like your buddy Greg has a special place there.

Great book by the way.

:cool
User avatar
By Transylwader
#604761
Fuck sakes Matty, outta the frying pan into the fire!
That was the shit!
Maybe you should start dating a Canadian chick, eh? :cool
By steelhound
#604762
You're doing something right.
I've fished for those bastages for 4 years with 1 follow and no eats.
That place looked like Mecca thanks for taking us
User avatar
By SLSS
#604764
Damn fine. Thanks. :cool
User avatar
By McH
#604766
Can I be Greg's friend too??

Awesome looking trip Man!
Thanks for taking the time to post that up.

:cool
User avatar
By fatman
#604768
good stuff, Matt :smile
User avatar
By Da Ax
#604769
So far above epic, words fail me. 'Bama boy doing it right.

I see that the local sasquatches love lobster tails. Good to know.

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