I was thrilled to have Andrew Pelton return to our special place after over 5 years (life – marriage, work, etc. – gets in the way sometimes). Andrew convinced his long time friend Tyler Knudson to drive to this wilderness paradise. Fred Bouwman has been a fine partner on these trips since September 2011.
Our trip started smoothly. The guys arrived in the early evening of Tuesday, September 11 (Never Forgotten) to finish packing, loading and strapping down the clamshell boats. After a nice dinner, we hit the sack early to get ready for our adventure.
Andrew and Tyler were excited and up at 2:40am, long before my alarm at 3:30. We were on the road before 4:00. Quick stop in Rice Lake WI, gas in Two Harbors, MN and at Ryden’s at the border. Crossing the border with shotguns normally creates quite a delay, but this time we breezed through quickly. Getting our hunting licenses was a more complicated procedure. AJ Trading Post, south of Thunder Bay, had processed our hunting licenses in the past, but a computer issue forced us to visit the Ontario Service Centre in Thunder Bay. No parking for trucks and trailers was a sign that the Centre were not designed for our needs :(. Andrew and Fred went to the Beer Store, while Tyler and I took a number and waited to be processed. We got our licenses and were on the road again. Quick stop for bait at the Silver Minnow. No traffic on Hwy 527 or 811. Water levels were very low, so the washouts were not a problem. Made it to camp, without using the chainsaw, at 6:10. a little over 14 hours – 5 hours from Thunder Bay. Setup camp in the fading daylight, then enjoyed a great steak dinner, a nice campfire and slept well.
Low water and heavy weeds made it tough to get out to the lake from the river. Strong winds made boat control difficult. Fishing was spotty, but we caught enough for dinner.
Enjoyed a great dinner of Cajun fried Walleye with Red Beans and Rice around the campfire before rain pushed us under the canopy.
Friday started with light rain, but started the skies cleared out to make a very comfortable day on the water. Fishing picked up along a submerged rock pile near deeper water. Andrew and Tyler had a double!
We picked up some nice walleyes in deeper water.
Andrew and Tyler caught some majestic Northern Pike.
We noticed smoke coming from an island and we found a smoldering fire that looks to be started by lighting.
We chased a Bald Eagle from our island fish cleaning spot, he flew across the channel to watch us carefully.
We cleaned up a nice mess of fish for dinner. Blackened Walleye Tacos were wonderful!
Andrew built a nice fire – not quite visible from space.
Saturday was the opening of the Grouse season. Tyler and I went hunting near camp after breakfast. Andrew joined us as we walked 2 miles without seeing a bird 😦
After a cloudy start, it turned into a beautiful blue sky day, but fishing was slow.
We cleaned a nice stringer of fish on the island.
Andrew took Fred fishing, while Tyler and I walked through our old camp to try to find some Grouse. No luck on the Grouse, but it was amazing on how overgrown our old camp has become is just 3 years!
While it was clear from all the down trees, no trucks or ATVs had visited our old camp in quite some time, I was surprised to see a lawn chair, without any webbing, waiting to greet us.
Our old path has been reclaimed by nature, with just a well defined moose trail to our old landing.
We enjoyed a fabulous sunset on our last night on the water.
When we arrived back at camp, we noticed that somebody had cleaned a couple grouse at the bridge. We later learned that they pulled out our lawn chairs and enjoyed a couple of our beers – guests are always welcome at our camp.
We enjoyed pan fried walleyes with Italian breading with pasta. Andrew built a nice fire under a clear star filled night, until we saw lighting in the distance. Heavy rain pushed us into our tents. During the storm, Andrew’s new canopy collapsed under the weight of the water.
Easy to sleep in with the lingering light rain and thick clouds overhead. After breakfast, we decided to skip fishing and hunting to just pack up and head home. The skies cleared, which made packing up camp less miserable. The boats were nearly filled with water when we pulled them up on the trailer.
Left camp at 2:15. After several miles, we stopped a few times to talk with various members of the extended family of a trapper named Paul that were Grouse hunting on their 4-wheelers. When we stopped to talk, we found that both rear support beams on the 6-wheeler trailer had broken off, which we disassembled and stored in the truck. Trapper Paul’s brother-in law Curt noticed a loose strap on the clamshell boats. We found that the 4×4 we had used to separate the two boats had fallen off. We removed the seats and reset the boats the best we could before we strapped the boats together.
Paul told us that he had a big wood pile at his cabin with several large pieces of lumber that we could have. We accepted his gracious gesture and stopped at his cabin (I think I scared his wife when I knocked on the door) and found an old 4×4 that worked great.
We were able to get to Thunder Bay by 8:00 and after dinner, safely across the border and into our hotel at 9:45.
Traveled a total of 1,143 miles from home to camp and back, but we remember the 156 miles of logging trails. Over time, I think will remember this trip more for the breakdowns that for the fishing, but I am so glad Andrew made it back to our special place.