I was very excited to take my grandson Alex (15) on his first fishing trip to Canada! I have been talking to him about Canada since the day he was born.
A few days before we left, Alex came out to help me pack and to test the motors. He did a great job driving the boat for the first time!
Friday, August 12, 2022
Alex spent Thursday night with us and two of his cousins; Mattie and Harry. At breakfast, we realized that he had forgotten his meds. Jim saved the day by meeting us on the road so we could stay on schedule.
Drove through a lot of rain, but we arrived early in Two Harbors, MN to blue skies and sunshine. Gassed up the truck and had lunch at Culvers. I introduced Alex to the rest of the crew as they arrived. Mark Cunningham drove up with his son-in-law Ben Flemke. Mark Wanous brought Warren on his first trip in several years. Ron Cunningham’s new truck contained most of the Strawmatt family, Kendall, Cade and Kylie. First trip for Kylie.
The drive on the North Shore of Lake Superior was pretty and uneventful. Gassed up at Ryden’s and got in line to cross the border. Very slow until the second lane opened. Everyone had completed their ArriveCAN app, so no problems at the border. We stopped at the Beer Store in Thunder Bay (they were pushing 16 oz tall boys) and Mark Wanous stopped to buy eggs (can’t bring fresh eggs across the border).
Tried to check into the hotel, but I was told that I had booked the rooms for the wrong night – what a bonehead! The Comfort Inn was sold out. The two ladies at the hotel called around while I searched on-line, but every hotel room in Thunder Bay and surrounding towns were completely sold out. We were fortunate to find a campground with space available, so we booked it.
The Trowbridge Campground is just out of town, just off of Highway 61, was very handy. We setup two tents, which of course were packed in the front of the trucks :(. We ordered pizza delivery from Angelo’s, which was pretty slick! Nice campfire burned up the two bags of firewood that we purchased. The crew bounced back nicely from my foolish mistake to have a fun night.
Saturday, August 13, 2022
Light rain overnight meant packing up wet tents. Breakfast at Tim Horton’s before heading north.
Very little traffic on Highway 527. No logging trucks. Just met one Jeep on the gravel logging road. Sunshine and blue skies with no sign of rain, so the main gravel logging road was dusty, but smooth. Water levels were down from the May trip, the washouts at the beaver dams were in good shape.
The old logging trails were overgrown, but we only stopped 3 times for Alex to clear down tree branches. Many places on the last 6 miles were like a green blizzard – hard to see the road at times.
Setup camp and got the boats in the water, but no time for fishing.
Nice fire, grilled steaks and enjoyed roasted corn on the cob from Ken’s garden.
Clouds moved in and the rain pushed us under the canopy before bed.
Saw 3 Ruffed Grouse on the road and 1 Spruce Grouse around camp. No other wildlife.
Sunday, August 14, 2022
Damp morning. Ken made biscuits in the Dutch oven. Good day for biscuits and gravy. The kids explored the area and found a big mushroom, a frog and a big bug.
I could not get my old 1993 motor started. Strange since it ran great when Alex tested it before we left, but something must have shifted in the truck and broke the kill switch on the motor. I tried to hotwire it, but no luck. (Note – after I got home, I dropped off my motor at Meyers Landing to replace the broken switch. A couple days later, Ron, co-owner and service manager called to tell me that he had a switch on hand and got it fixed and running great! I told him it was amazing that he had a part for a nearly 30 motor in stock! Must have had a lot of dust on it. He said that he would not order another one for inventory.)
Ken and Wanous had trouble getting the two Evinrude motors to work. Seemed like it was a problem with the gas tank – got one to work great, but it took some trial and error for the other one to get started.
A beautiful morning!
Still water with no wind, can make for some tough fishing, but not this time. Alex caught his first Walleye on our first pass at Slip Bobber.
Alex caught the first 3 fish before Grandpa was allowed to join in the fun.
We took a boat ride up to the first lake going north and marked the Honey Hole – a rocky reef 4-8 feet deep surrounded by deep water. I caught 3 Walleyes and a decent sized Northern while Alex tried to take a nap in the front of the boat.
I took Alex to our old camp, where we stayed from 1980 until the road washed out in August 2015. The muddy landing was like I remember.
The path from the lake has mostly healed, but with some of the deep holes still very visible. It was easy to follow the old path until it just closed up with brush just after the big deep hole near camp.
It is pretty clear that nobody has camped here since we left 7 years ago.
The berries were full and ripe. Hard to beat fresh blueberries!
We went to the island to clean fish. Alex cleaned both fish and did a good job for his first time. He is very careful with the knife.
Mark Wanous and Warren drove past the island with their motor sputtering. We towed them back to camp as the sunset behind us.
Everyone at camp agreed that the fishing was outstanding! Lots of big Walleyes from the Clear Jack Lake and the main lake. Mark W and Warren caught their limit in 90 seconds!
The big beaver dam that we found on Clear Jake Lake in May is breaking apart.
Ron caught a big Walleye with a very dark back.
Kylie’s first fish was a 19.5″ Walleye! Cade landed a 28″ Northern and he had his leader sawed off by a huge Northern.
Ron and Ken mixed up Mark’s secret fish batter recipe. The beer battered Walleyes were light, tasty and not greasy.
Monday August 15, 2022
Full moon rose over camp on a clear night. Beautiful morning, sunny with a light breeze. Pancakes and bacon for breakfast. Alex split wood and tended to the fire.
More fiddling with the tanks to get the Evinrude motors to work with the tanks.
Lost Lake Day! The bay below Lost Lake Creek was filled with weeds. Tied up the boat and slowly bushwacked our way up to Lost Lake. Alex took a couple of falls, but we found the canoes and prepared to launch on a beautiful sunny day.
With crystal clear waters, this is such a pretty lake!
Alex has grown to better balance my weight in the canoe.
We drifted the first shoreline with the breeze with only one Northern bite. We paddled the rest of the lake, pulled up the canoe and started our hike back to the boat. A cold beer after a tough hike tasted great!
We fished Slip Bobber again and Alex quickly caught the first 4 Walleyes – two keepers.
I hooked a 36″ Northern that put up a good fight until Alex slid him into the net perfectly.
We scared off an eagle from the fish cleaning island, but he did not go very far, keeping a close eye on us from a neighboring island.
Alex cleaned his stringer of fish on the island.
Mark, Ron and Ben had slower fishing on this day, but still excellent. They caught 18″ and 20″ Walleyes just after we left our spot. Ben’s Perch was barely bigger than his jig!
Mark and Warren had motor trouble again, they switched tanks with Ken and pulled them back to camp. Ken and Cade cut firewood with the 6-wheeler.
Mark Wanous picked up a treble hook in his boot. He didn’t know it was there until his foot stuck to the floor of the tent. Bad place to go barefoot!
Blackened Walleye fish tacos from the grill were a big hit.
Tuesday August 16,2022
Clear night – Bright stars. Heavy dew on the tents. Ben saw a Spruce Grouse and Ken saw a Ruffed Grouse near camp.
Ron made an outstanding French Toast breakfast. Alex ate 10 slices!
Kylie displayed her flexibility sitting on the bow as the Strawmatt family went out fishing on the last day.
Mark, Ron and Ben were also ready to start fishing.
Mark Wanous got the motor working again.
Alex and I quickly caught our take home fish, with Alex landing a dark 17.5″ Walleye.
I caught a pretty blue Walleye.
Alex cleaned the fish on the island and put them on ice.
We took a boat ride to show Alex the North end of the lake. The landing to the Italian camp, Boy Scout island, the High Bank, the infamous river outlet and the creek to Mule Lake. We came back to pick up the markers at the Honey Hole – caught 3 decent sized Northerns. Wind kicked up with light rain.
Mark, Ron and Ben had great luck jigging.
Mark and Warren caught a lot of big Walleyes on Clear Jack Lake. An impressive stringer!
To complete the trifecta, Mark, Ron and Ben towed Mark and Warren back to camp for the third straight day. We hauled the boats back to camp. With Mark W. and Ron in the boat, Mark C. in the box and me driving, the 6-wheeler had a full load on the final trip.
We packed what we could before enjoying a fish boil and onion rings.
The traditional fire visible from space was impressive!
Wednesday August 17, 2022
Finished packing up camp. Rain over night made packing wet tents a messy job. Enjoyed egg and cheese sandwiches before tearing down the kitchen. Packed and ready to go at 12:15. After a few failed attempts, Alex was able to set the timer to snap a team photo. Good group!
A minor problem with my hitch slowed us down a bit, but people found a lot of fresh blueberries in the woods. Grader was smoothing the logging road – a job that never ends. Saw a truck rolled over in the ditch as we got on highway 527. Saw a black bear run across the highway 61 between Thunder Bay and Border. As expected, no problem at the US border.
Hotels were booked solid on the North Shore, but I found 4 rooms at the Mountain Inn at the Lutsen Mountain ski resort. Beautiful views as the fog from Lake Superior rolled into the valley.
We enjoyed a nice meal in a private dinning room at Papa Charlies Tavern before trying to figure out how to work the shower at the Mountain Inn. The teenagers explained this over engineered shower system to the old guys.
As we reflected upon another great trip and said our goodbyes; Alex, Cade and Kylie promised to be the next generation to carry on this 40+ year tradition!