July 16, 2014 Just back from my Ely to Beaverhouse trip. It is no easy matter to guide/lead 3 senior citizens 100+ miles across Quetico in 8 days. You have to keep up a steady pace and it hurts to pass on through primo fishing water without time to do it justice. All you can do is hope you make it into camp several nights with enough time and energy to get after the fish a little bit. Despite rain every day except one, we had good bass fishing on Lost Bay of Basswood, Camel, Sturgeon and Quetico Lake. We even got a few trophy walleyes on Conmee the one night we were there and caught our one walleye feast in just a half-hour of angling on Sturgeon. We caught a few trout our last night on Quetico Lake to capture the Grand Slam.
Those portages from Isabella to Sarah were brutal- it was pouring rain so hard that day the slopes of those trails were 3-4 inches deep of running water. It got so dark in the woods during afternoon thunderstorms I was wishing I had my headlight on for some of the portaging. A couple days later we triple- portaged the Death March Portage route into Delahey Lake- this was a picnic compared to the hilly, rocky, wet, treacherous footing into Sarah. I am not in any hurry to portage from Isabella to Sarah again.
We only saw 4 groups of fellow paddlers between North Bay and Quetico Lake. While it is true that the logistics and costs of a Quetico trip are more onerous than a BWCAW trip, there is no denying that for those who go, the wilderness canoe trip/fishing experience in Quetico is simply unmatched.
Despite another rainy week, I can see from the pollen line that even collector-type lakes like Sturgeon have dropped a foot or so in the past few weeks. Water levels are still high for mid-summer on lakes draining large areas but inland lakes are looking more normal.
This was my second Quetico trip with Bob and Linda as they did my Hunters Island trip a few years ago. Since then, Bob has beaten back a cancer scare and rebounded from a quadruple by-pass heart surgery. It was inspiring to see how well he did triple-portaging his way across Quetico. If he can do it, a lot of other people can do it to- if they want it bad enough. Bob said it was the best trip he has ever done and he has spent a lifetime in the outdoors fishing and hunting. I think he was just so proud of all the work and lifestyle changes he undertook to get himself ready for this trip. I know I was impressed. The other guy who went along on this trip did not appreciate my “play the game at the highest level” approach to canoe tripping. Going cheaper, easier, faster, shorter etc. is not my style and I preach this fact at every opportunity. He was a total hack of an angler but I still managed to coach him through things and get him some big bass, walleyes and trout. Kind of the ultimate challenge there.
So another Quetico summer comes to an end for me. It has been another great year of wilderness sportfishing adventure with some really great clients. Next week I am off to my Sutton River brook trout trips. I suspect the bugs up there will be even worse than the Quetico has been but the brook trout fishing is always to die for so that is the price one must pay.
I took a 3 hour hike into the woods behind our house this morning to set up a trail camera over a mineral block. The deer and moose have been working it over pretty good so apparently at least a few made it through the long, hard winter. The low was 40 degrees last night- a hint that this summer that took forever to get going is past the point of no return. I walked through the best blueberry picking I have seen in a decade- and only about 1/3-1/2 of the berries are even ripe yet. It is a bumper crop all over for sure.
I will check back in mid-August when I get back from my Hudson Bay trips. For those of you bound for canoe country- safe and happy travels- and take lots of good photos and send them to me for possible publication in BWJ.