Well, I'm back and both my hands are completely toasted. Every year, a week of hard fishing in Canada chews 'em up. Turns out this year, a giant pike would too.....
Dad, Cousin Mark and I hit the road 6:30 am sharp, headed straight north through I-Falls, Dryden, Ear Falls and down a 61 kilometer gravel road to Kabeelo Lodge. Kabeelo's a pretty special place. Years ago, I shot a couple of television stories up there and fell in love with the place. The Shercks have been going back for the annual family trip ever since. This year we set up shop on Bear Paw Lake for four days.
First bit of business? Load the DeHavilland Beaver for the roughly 25 minute flight out to Bear Paw. I never get tired of hearing that radial engine fire up on cold mornings... Chug, chug, chug, chug....
Once unloaded and unpacked in Bear Paw's new cabin, we set up a couple boats and headed out. Bear Paw's reputation is all about giant pike. Fact is, every one of Kabeelo's lakes we've been to has big pike (40+ inchers), but for some reason, people want Bear Paw. We were more interested in the lake's walleyes. With heavy wind and fog (due to near freezing air temps), we dropped Northland jigs and spinners and got to work. Wasn't five minutes and dad had our first big fish.
We actually found hundreds of walleyes over our first two days. The best part? A few of them were what you'd consider a Kabeelo trophy, 25+ inchers. Nothing at 30, but who cares!
We caught so many fish on Northland Fireballs I eventually switched over to Rapalas. Guess what? The Wallies ate up those too!
Our second evening, Dad hooked a nice fish on the rocks and fought it to the boat. Wow! A monster of a pike. Now, some of the old outpost nets are a bit too small for these kinds of trophies, so I leaned over to pick this big female from the water, as I've done hundreds of times over. One quick swirl and the big pike had taken a swipe at my finger. Why I didn't snap a photo of my hands and rain suit covered in blood is beyond me. Would have been fun to have! The shots a day later just weren't quite as tough-lookin'...
We did find a few of the big pike in the lake, althought the cold weather kinda screwed up any pattern. And yes, I mean cold. Did I mention we had snow the last days of May? Good Golly!
I think our other two highlights came after we flew out of Bear Paw and back to Kabeelo's main lodge. We like to stay there a day or two and fish Confederation Lake for Lake Trout. Problem is, the last couple of years, they've been tough to find on Grandpa's old "Green Box". So, this year, I took out my Humminbird portable unit. We never did see anything shallow, but a check of an old spot revealed piles of fish suspended from 40 to 60 feet. Dad asked, "How do you now those are fish? " Seconds later we had doubles and triples going!
It's always with sadness that we drive out of Kabeelo's gravel driveway and head south for home each year. I think the Kabeelo crew knows it too. Lorraine, our longtime buddy up there, surprised us with handmade beaver tails for breakfast before we left. While I can't get into all the details of this northwoods delicacy, I can tell you, Lorraine deserves to be the focus of a national cooking show just for this dish alone.
The only thing she won't tell us about this breakfast creation? How she sneaks up the beaver lodge and, first, grabs those fast swimmers off a log and, number two, then wrestles the tails off those scrappy guys! Thanks Kabeelo for another great family trip. We'll see you in 2012!