Monday, August 17, 2009
Shallow lakers - in early August??
On the way to Poplar Point
Our third day - Tuesday - came clear and calm. The decision was made for us to go "west of Fond Du Lac" to try for lakers in the morning, and, based on the success or failure of the morning attempts, go for more lakers in the PM, or pike. Fond Du Lac is the village where all the native Deni guides live. They commute (by boat) daily to work as guides for Blackmur's. The area where we fish for lakers is known as Poplar Point, and is the end of the eastern arm of the lake, where the lake opens up into a freshwater ocean. When the waters are flat, as they were this morning, it is a 1 hour and 30 minute run, wide open, to reach Poplar Point. When the water is rough, it can be a very unpleasant 2 hour run - most of the time, trips to that end are postponed in bad weather. As you can imagine, the guides - with years of experience under their belts - are expert boat handlers.
This is the only element of the trip at Blackmur's that I find a little frustrating -when you fish the far away areas, your amount of actual fishing time is reduced due to the extending running times. When you factor in the run each way, and the shore lunch, you may only have 4-1/2 hours of actual fishing time left.
Typical day 3 laker
When we planned this trip, there was no plan in the works to do ANY lake trout fishing. Typically, in the first week of August, the lakers are seeking their comfort zone with regard to water temps by hanging in the 100 - 120 foot deep range. You can catch them by pulling a 3-way rig with 6 - 10oz. weights, but I don't care to do that usually. However, this year has been different. The cold water temps that have stifled the weed growth in the bays have had a different effect on the lakers - they never went deep! Cliff mentioned that some people in camp the week before caught lakers trolling lures on unweighted flat lines - that is unheard of for early August. Also, some of the lakers caught had been big ones - around 40". So - we decided to give a morning to the lakers.
The calm waters allowed us to get to the point a little bit earlier than anticipated, and the 2 boats rigged up and started fishing. I flatline trolled a T-55Flatfish while Andy opted for a spoon. We were into fish immediately. I could see that the other boat had fish coming in as well. Bottom line - the 2 boats combined for 20 lake trout in the morning. All about the same size - great eating size. One interesting sidebar: Billy was in the other boat and, in late morning, had still not landed a trout. Jim had 6 or 7. We got a call on the radio, and Billy noted that he was being "Wolfed" [referring, of course, to my last name, and the fact that I couldn't buy a fish for the first 2 days]. In the same breath, he asked to borrow a 3-way weight, as he had lost his on a snag!! The nerve! Of course, we gave him his weights, along with a Williams Whitefish spoon, and he caught 3 lakers in the next 20 minutes.
The beginning of a Fire Fish lunch
10 minutes later - Fire Fish is served!
Lunch was the fresh lakers, cooked as "Fire Fish". The Deni usually do this one per trip, using either pike or lakers. The side is taken off the fish, skin intact, and not de-boned. The pieces of fish are placed directly over the open fire on a grate, skin down, and turned once. The pieces are then cut so there is a section with bones and one without bones and the meat is peeled off the skin. It is so simple it's scary, and the meat is delicious. This shore lunch took place on a classic windswept rock at the mouth of a bay. It is so beautiful out there that words can't do the spot justice. The rock striations are vivid, the moss vibrant green, and you wonder how anything - like the few trees and shrubs - can possibly live there. The pictures don't do the area justice, but they're better than my words.
Misc. Shorelunch pics
The afternoon was spent looking for pike in the bays on the north side of the eastern arm. We had steady, if unspectacular, action. No trophies fell to our lures this afternoon, and the big fish of the day was actually my 36" pike. Every cast in these waters might result in a trophy pike but, on this day, we had to be content with the normal-sized fish and their aggressive strikes.
On a positive note (for me), we won our team bet - 70" to 60", reducing the lead to 2:1