We spent a week up in Quetico. It wasn’t until the 5th day that we finally saw another human being. A pair of kayakers wandered into our bay. They glided up the far shore then turned around and disappeared.
For the most our daily routine didn’t change too much. We’d get up early then troll our way up to our smallmouth spot. Fish for smallies for a few hours, then do some exploration, trolling all the way of course.
It was the morning of our first day and Scott and I decided to troll our way around a pair of island at the northern end of Ranger bay. I had my 7 foot trolling rod set up with my grandma lure. There was a nice channel between the two islands that seemed to hold good potential for some Northern Pike. We spent some time working our way up and back that channel. On one pass, I hooked a pike. While I was working him to the boat, another pike struck my grandma. Now I had two pike on the same lure. We rowed to towards the shore. I got out of the canoe and onto a rocky shoreline to finish the fight. I had just got them up to the shore when the pike that hit second thrashed and took the rear hook right out of the lure and was gone. I landed the other pike.
Here is a photo of the very same lure. You can the that the surface has been gouged by those sharp pike teeth. You can also see that that tail hook is missing. Taken by the pike that got away. The two pike on one lure made for good campfire story that evening.
We caught plenty of smallmouth bass, Walleye and Northern Pike. We only keep what we would eat for dinner each day. After the first day we decided not to eat any Northerns. Their bone structure makes them difficult to clean and they yield the least amount of usable meat. The menu would consist of Wallies and Smallies and that was fine with us.
Here’s a shot of Gary with a stringer. The fish up there are quality. The SmallMouth fought hard and it was difficult not smile as they ripped off drag and bent rods. We’d fish all morning then take a break around lunch time although we rarely cooked lunch. As the week progressed, canoe butt forced us to take more frequent breaks.
One day, we were out fishing. Gary and Jay were in their canoe. Gary had a jig bouncing on the bottom. I don’t recall the circumstances that lead to this but Gary had his rod in the rod holder while he was focused on something else. The canoe drifted and somehow the rod came loose and sank to Davy Jones’ locker unseen. We were close by when we heard Gary discover the missing rod. Of course he was upset, quality rods and reels are not cheap. To lose one is tough.
One night we set a large steel cook pot full of water on a nice flat rock on the edge of the fire ring. It wasn’t right on the fire but really close and soon the water was steaming. We took turns submerging out hands in the steaming water. It is strange how something like hot water seems so alien after just a few days in the wild.
I was usually the first one up every day. I didn’t sleep too well. I’ve had the same waterbed since the mid 1980’s Sleeping on the ground is really difficult evening after exhausting days of paddling. Usually at first light I’d take a little walk out to the front porch and drink in the scenery. Once the rest of the guys got moving, we’d get the coffee on and soon we’d be back in the canoes and fishing.
The weather at that time in September just happened to be perfect for us. It was warm and sunny for most of the time and evening though the nights were brisk it wasn’t too unpleasant. One morning we returned to our favorite smallmouth bass spot. We were jigging with night crawlers like has all week when Gary hooked something. He reeled it in and what do you know! It was the rod he had lost a few days prior! I know! How impossible?
I had brought a big flashlight that had an AM/FM built into it. The idea was that we’d tune into the weather every day to get an idea of what to expect. The only problem was that we’d scan the entire dial but couldn’t find any signal. We tried every night and got nothing. One night I was trying to find anything on the radio. Nothing was happening..and then..it was the beginning of that long instrumental section in the Pink Floyd song Sheep from the Animals album. We stood around the fire listening to Sheep in total amazement. When the song concluded the radio went dead again and stayed that way for the rest of the trip.
The trip was amazing we saw bald eagles, found a moose skeleton on our island, we caught loads of great fish.