Kneeling in the doorway to the tent I felt a little deflated, it was going to be a hard week…

“What Lies Beneath,” “Minnow Trap,” “Moose On The Loose,” and “Remember Adam” road signs marked the highway northward. Stop for school buses, slow down for construction, keep an eye out for aliens and moose, and prepare yourself for Ontario’s shittiest, bumpy stretch on the 11 from Kap to Hearst is the bigger message. Some favorite drive albums blazed away, like Tool’s Aenima, the best of NOFX and Pink Floyd’s the Wall, and only twice did two on-coming, texting, big-rig truckers scare the life from me and put the Chev onto the shoulder. Usually it’s women on their phones that I count most while on the deep hour haul. No joke.

But it was 900 kilometers door-to-door. Plenty time to reflect on other things like fishing days back. Thinking toward Nipigon and it’s fish there I couldn’t help but remember the first few encounters with specks, pike and lakers past. Spring on the river in Attawapiskat with old man Abel and friend Jeremie there was a lost pike of legendary folklore. Float tubing in Zec Dumoine during my teens it was a Mickey Finn of brown and red, that put a speckled trout in the small wooden net. And finally, having no clue what I was doing on Temagami, it wasn’t so many years ago that I iced my first ever lake trout. These fish, some before and many others after, have filled my memories and lead the way to numerous great experiences thereafter. The drive isn’t actually so long the more you have within to keep you entertained.

For a brief minute, little Ben was a bit reluctant for a big hug but that didn’t stop StevieZ, Amelie, Neve and baby Emma from sharing some love. Affectionately, Emma’s “AnBlue” would be welcomed in Mattice by all. A wonderful rib dinner there was time with the kiddies, seeing to Steve’s gear for the trip, and some Preds and Pens before heading off to bed.
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THE RUN 885.

Parallel poops at the Klotz Lake stop, Stevie took the man’s while I wrecked the handicapped stall. It’s tradition to take a rest at this little oasis somewhere miles between not here nor there yet. An easy six hour tour from Hearst to Lake Nipigon we fully fueled our bellies at the local greasy spoon in Beardmore before heading to the launch.

It would be a perfectly calm day on the lake and this excited us. The Agent Stevie Zebco of Mission Fishin’ Impossible fame had it in mind that my boat; being the same as his boat, had a load capacity of 1350 pounds. At some time he convinced me he was correct, despite a belief that 850 was the actual figure. Fully loaded we pulled away from the launch………….. At about… 8.1 mph full throttle, exceeding like 1200 lbs in the Lund, we would quickly realize we are fawking idiots when Steve pointed out the small sign in my boat beside the console which reads… max capacity 885 pounds or six persons. Needless to say, we dumped seven full gericans of fuel, a 25 liter jug of water, two coolers and heavy rubbermaid full of food. The first run would be Steve, all camping gear, fishing gear, generator and some other food. I would return later for the rest.

Where we were going was uncertain. Mapping software, Google Earth and other satellite imagery programs had given some clues to existing campsites but to their actual existence or what shape they might be in remained a mystery. Up on plane we glided out faster and further and further onto the lake to find out before finally reaching the first destination in question, that campers were already there…

No real worry. Although we were an hour offshore there were supposedly more campsites nearby, and it so happened we quickly found one. Stevie loved it immediately but I felt “it would do fine.” Greatly sheltered, a nice big clearing enough for four 4-man tents, the only thing it lacked was a good landing for the boat and a nice view. Dumping the gear and Steve to get started on making camp, I sped away back to the launch to retrieve all that had been left behind, returning two hours later.

Must have spilled a little gasoline on my chocolate chip cookie. While I had been eating it on route I thought the smell of fuel was off my fingers but, it must have in fact been from the cookie itself. Petro in the belly, the octane gave me quite the indigestion in the form of… yeah you guessed it, gas! Could not stop belching gasoline.

Steve had cleared a little brush and put up his tent but plenty still remained to be done.

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Unpacking some things and then tending to the shelter, kneeling in the doorway to the tent I suddenly felt a little deflated once realizing it was going to be hard week. The air mattress was leaking quite badly and despite some efforts with a duct tape repair, it was evident I would be sleeping on the ground for the duration of our stay. Holding nothing in for any length of time, the cushion of comfort was reduced to a mere rag.

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But camp was cozy! With variable degrees of rain expected every day for the next week and accumulating to a possible 100mm’s, it was important to have everything up from the start. Happy with our home and both starving by this point, Stevie cooked us up some hearty stew before we made off for some fishing in the evening hours.

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The shorelines called out speckled trout to us. The magical mix of sharp stone above, round boulders below and the deep abyss nearby, the whole place was super fishy. Around camp you could smell thick schools of baitfish in the breeze. It was no surprise it took us less than a minute to hook a first trout.

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Water temperature averaging around 50F, the late day sun dropping the conditions were right. Stevie Z found his mojo in this moment, and with a hot stick pounded out trout after trout. I couldn’t catch a one, he was a man on fire. Until we called it for the day, over the following two hours The Agent hammered the fish picking up some real lookers at his brookie party.

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A busy day, come quitting time, some apple pie moonshine never tasted so sweet.
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THE GROUND.

The inside of the tent smelled like an ESSO station come morning, and despite their still being fuel in my digestive tank, the engine sure as shit didn’t feel like turning over. Stiff as a board I had to guess that all 200 pounds of me must have taken turns sleeping pinpoint on each hip. Soft and tender like a fresh hematoma, bilateral pains on palpation, I had been left to wonder if a moose stomped my ass while sleeping.

But if I wasn’t complaining I wasn’t complaining.

The weatherman had been right out to lunch it seemed to, because it was a glorious morning to go fishing!

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Three boats passed us by in the early morning. The other campers had left. Curious to see what we had missed out on and maybe snag some cut wood left behind, we made it a point first thing to check out their digs. All I could think upon arriving on their deep, sandy beach is we missed out. It was the Taj-Ma-Hal of campsites complete with a privy, table, giant fire pit, enough room for eight or more tents and a great swimming beach.

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Stevie and I fished anywhere and everywhere covering miles and miles of shoreline. Through the hours we spotted a few other boats afar but, after this day we would barely see a handful of others the remainder of the week. It is heaven on earth to be out there really, and each new spot we hit some fish or didn’t, it felt greatly rewarding either way to have explored such places; places that months beforehand I was simply staring at on the computer and wondering about… Cause that’s what it is! What it can be if you want it to be. You dream about it doing it, plan it out to the every detail, dream some more about doing it and then just get it done! Reap the rewards of your efforts in every way.

Some specks here, some pike there, it was early afternoon shortly after passing by another incredible campsite that we pulled into a warm back bay. From front to back the water temps climbed 10F but the water turned thick. Unable to know for sure by sight, Stevie and I raised a few followers before eventually peggin’ a goody.

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This big start only meant one thing… it was time to get down to business.

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It wasn’t gang busters in there but the sun was at it’s highest point. Catching a few pike, spotting bait, plus hooking an nice incidental walleye only meant for better potential in what I will call the “Muddy Bay.” We’d return again for sure but would have to wait for a morning or evening window to capitalize on the fish lurking there.

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An east breeze and dropping barometer gave goosepimples. The late afternoon began to cool off and the rain was coming. Lots of time left in the day though, Stevie and I fished many islands for specks, catching or losing fish off every single one of them.

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By evening we’d had a good enough tour we called it a bit early to have a warm fire and whiskey. Quality pike and specks in good numbers this day. Despite having tonnes of food we ate little through the day and were good and hungry reaching camp. Some flies got into the chowder water which leaked from the thawing Zip-Loc into the pot, so what this left us with was more of a seafood stew rather than soup. It was delicious. Had earlier raided another campsite we had found for some wood, which made Stevie happy. Can’t have enough dry wood!

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TICK-TOCKERY & MICE.

The winds picked up through the night and some rain fell. In the wee hours I woke several times, once to better secure the boat which probably didn’t even need it. An achy super stiffness and pounding headache come sunrise there was no hope for comfort so I slipped out from the tent to warm a pot of water for coffee.

Everything was quite soaked. It had turned colder. Thankfully there is a working bilge pump on the boat. I love Nipigon. Takes a little more of you sometimes, but always gives a little more in return.

Steve and I had planned to surf our way over to one of the big islands on the lake. We’d need to fish a west side because the east wind had enough knots forecast through the morning to keep things rolling, then storms were expected late day. Feeling like a sack of crap but in a happy place, I got everything ready and we got moving.

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Remembering from satellite imagery a possible campsite, once we crossed over to the island the first thing to explore was this site. Finding it there upon another big beach landing, a flat, well utilized and protected camp was waiting. Picnic table, fire pit and a full and friendly transgender bathroom made this spot totally acceptable. You could throw a rock concert here it was big enough.

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The cold front had the fishing a little off but I nabbed a couple lesser specks off the smaller islands around us. Stevie since night one had been in a bit of a slump, he started on a real tear but was only picking at fish the past couple days… just giving me a chance to catch up some I think he was.

Some other boats out and about over this way, after the noon hour we’d figured there was no reason in staying to fish fished waters so we made a run out into the blue zone then over to some specky shores. It would pay off. On the troll I’d take a couple more specks and even a surprise shallow laker too.

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It was a tougher go for sure. We left pike alone figuring they’d be the hardest hit by the cold front and I didn’t want to burn spots on a lower percentage day. There was still plenty time. Jelly Bellies and beef jerky motivated, we switched up for the evening and took our first real crack at lakers… A swing and a miss!

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To our playful amusement, tiny blind mice got under our feet at the camp. “Gerbils” with a “Guh” Stevie Z would call ’em. Steering them here and there with twigs, watching them peek out of corners and climb their way onto things, it was kinda like we were the “French fried Cajun Delacroix,” playing freely with “Mousy, down in Mouseville Florida.” The Green Mile.

But more than eager and ready to retire, the chili first warmed the body and “shiner” soothed the soul. A “limp noodle,” I pulled the sleeping bag to the shoulder and fell hard asleep on the even harder ground.
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FUCK FLIES & SUCKER HOLES.

The sun and wind wrinkles the skin, turns the blonde hairs lighter and reds to whiter… or so it seems. A much better sleep, while grooming I listened early to the marine forecast which called for afternoon thunderstorms but overall no wind through the day. We could chance any wrath of God to please our fish addictions, it was this day I had been waiting for most.

The boat rode away early into a thick fog. The better part of the morning we would try our luck again for lakers somewhere new, but despite marking some great arcs and bait schools the stubborn, big ole greys kept lock-jawed.

I had numerous new bays to probe for pike. Actually couldn’t care less if fish were caught, I figured some sun, no wind and a little warmth would draw them shallow midday and the hope was to find them laid up and tanning some place.

After four or five dead zones; which under different conditions may very well be hot spots, The Agent and I lined up one tight, corner pocket shot and sunk the 8-ball for a win. Absolutely staggering number of fish and giants, everywhere! First one got hit on the way in.

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There was just one… little… issue I had. We were seeing the fish, they were seeing us. A clear water bay midday is often worse than a muddy one. Cloudy puffs of mud would be seen springing up from everywhere around the boat. Our casts were spooking more fish than hooking them. I could see suckers and even walleyes laying still on the muddy bottom in totally pike infested waters, but the pike were the fish that were spooking and leaving as we fished or approached. All these giant gators around in what I will call “Clear Bay,” and nothing but a few stupid hammer handles eagerly taking lures while bait for larger pike rested at ease in the shallows. I pulled us entirely out of there within a half hour, the timing was all wrong. Only way I might have stayed is if I was alone and using a fly rod or some super finesse presentation… That might turn some heads in a positive direction but why not just wait for prime time right?

You come into a shallow, spring pike situation like this and you leave. Some anglers won’t but in my experience it’s best you do. Don’t give negative fish a chance to see your lures, see your boat, hear your motor, spook, run and get riled up. Leave them be for a time because unless the days forecast is going to chance drastically, they will be there later when you can go back and hit them at the right time. On a dark, dirty, choppy midday you’d have a much better chance, but under calm, sunny skies when the fish have already proven negative, wait it out ti’ll evening when they begin to feed under the right light.

Stevie Z understood. Plan was we’d continue to search out the remaining bays for pike, then go fish the few islands nearby for specks through the afternoon and, return around six o’clock or so for the toothy bite.

At various times, during sun and showers did the speckles co-operate. Stevie picked up a fish or two but the hot stick was still mine. The fish weren’t huge by any means, but in the world of brook trout they weren’t little slouches either. Hard hitting, always feisty, one of them was jumping out of the water like a rainbow would. Again as it turned out, every island we hit held a fish or two, and oftentimes they were paired up.

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The day was flying by. We danced and yelled at eagles to take flight from trees and swatted at the “fuck flies” which occasionally nipped through our socks. Evil bugs! They love the warmth of the black Lund in the sun and the heat off the motor.

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It was about 3:00pm when the first cell opened up on us and we were forced to retreat into some nearby island woods. Lasting about a half hour all things seemed good again for awhile. The days travel for the most part was calm, scenic and fishy until then.

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Not the big storm, this above picture was just the little 3:00pm cell that hit us first. Around 5:30pm we took shelter from a doozy that lasted an hour and half. Non-stop thunder and lightning right through, with sheets of rain it was rather miserable in the trees waiting it out. I stood, head bowed under a cedar for 45 minutes before asking aloud where Steve was… He was directly right behind me.

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When it lifted enough to get back in the boat we rounded the island to observe the oncoming weather. Another storm was fast approaching that looked even worse. A half hour run back to camp we decided to bail quick on our evening pike plans and make haste. Stevie said we’re in a sucker hole and he was right. Five minutes before we could reach home base the wall of water crashed into us. Couldn’t look up into it at all, the rain pelted my cheek and stung the eyes. Almost there, just get through it, I thought.

Soaked before the storm passed, back at camp a couple hours earlier than planned, once the rain subsided we enjoyed a hearty meal and some scotch by the fire. The mozzies this trip were not too bad surprisingly, so sitting out at nights was usually peaceful. Only storm left on the horizon this day was the one brewing between us and all those Clear Bay big pike we’d have to return to again… some other time.
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WET WOOD.

You can work with it, but it ain’t as easy.

Camp was a swamp. The bright idea I had of my tent door opening just under the gazebo seemed brilliant during the pitch, but come game time it was a bit of a foul. The water drained off the canopy onto the fly and siphoned to a neat puddle at my tent porch. Some water then built up and trickled between the ground tarp and tent flooring, forming lakes between the layers. It required some hazmat time to clean up the spills or otherwise deal with the swish-swash beneath my sleeping bag. In hindsight, maybe it would have been smart engineering to try and pool all that runoff water to make a water bed? Some backwoods luxury that would have been.

The hips were beginning to heal too. It’s funny how the body adjusts even in a deep sleep. I had two small chicklets for pillows, one about the size of half a pillow which was flat enough I placed it under my arse at night. Turning frequently in the nights to take some weight off the shoulders, it seemed semi-consciously that my hips would learn to stay on the pillow through the hours. It helped… but so to did the fact the body was beginning to adapt to the ground. Sleep was improving and so to was the bodies stiff response to its hard nights.

It was and would be the coldest morning of the week, I think maybe? The weatherman couldn’t quite get things figured out either. The forecast was rain or showers all day, including storms, with additional north winds and a high of about 14C. Stevie Z and I decided we wouldn’t stray too far from camp, working nearby waters for specks and lakers. There was still some fresh shore to explore and plenty productive spots to re-examine. With the low barometer we hoped for a few biters in the least. The morning started off okay!

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The lakers I noted were yet again uncooperative. Not sure if it was a morning or afternoon troll we tried for them but so far we were suffering on that part of our game.

Many more miles were covered throughout a day that saw everything from windows of blue bird skies to Stevie and I taking shelter from downpours in the late afternoon. The pisser of it was, the winds never came and 90% of the rain remained onshore. Out in the middle of the lake almost all the doom and gloom skirted around us, so I began to feel like we missed an opportunity to travel far, explore anew or maybe chase after those pike again. Still… it was a cold front to pass and best guess would have it that the pike would be fine left unspoiled for the perfect time later. Nipigon even on an off day with slower fishing is still a world-class boat ride.

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More than any other fishing, people online ask me about this lake the most; must get two dozen emails or more a year. I try to be helpful and often am with regards to planning, preparing, travel, expectations and tactical things. A friend helped a few of us get started there some years back and for that I am grateful. And since that help, I have thoroughly enjoyed many trips and many other parts of the lake which have been explored thereafter. A more common question folks who read the stories tend to ask is, where did you camp and where did you launch? Camps specifically I am not so eager to divulge because imagine you are me, preparing for a trip, driving 16 to 18 hours at an expense, with only the hope that your plans will work out once you arrive. But, you reach the lake after all efforts to find campsites occupied. The trip changes shape just like that! So it’s not selfish, it’s a smart choice. And it is my reality and why I choose to safeguard some specifics to just close personal friends. If I lived there it would be different, because options could be briefly adjusted and found to be endless over a years time, I wouldn’t be faced with just a week or two to enjoy… Like I have in recent years especially, using topographical data, satellite imagery, map resources and many other means to choose your own adventure on the lake exist for anyone. Get there, get exploring, build on your experiences. There’s still plenty helpful hints in these stories too, that will get you places on Nipigon. Besides that, specks seem to be everywhere, even on the oddball weather days.

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A first heavy downpour was headed straight for us by late afternoon. Again, much of the precipitation had stayed away on shore. Because yesterdays rain gear was still wet and back at camp drying, I pulled out the boat reserve to find it was covered in mould. Put the thing away wet back in 2015 and hadn’t used it since. Still, it was wear-able and kept me very dry.

The second cell moved in shortly after and it forced us to beach at a nearby island. Inside the trees there you could follow a well used game trail, I did for a few paces. Suddenly a pain shot right into my foot when stepping on a stick that punctured through my Croc, through my neoprene sock, through my dry sock and into the sole of my foot. Hobbling and yelling, Stevie came rushing to my aid. “Pull it out! Pull it out!” I cried to The Agent. Broken off close to the shoe, the short wet wood wick was tricky for Stevie to grip, but he got it. I thought for sure it had broken skin cause it HURT but, it didn’t. Just a wimp I guess.

Somebody else was having it much worse than me though. Cruising an island shoreline I excitedly said to Stevie, “moose, moose… right there!” Stevie looked it’s way but didn’t seem to see it cause he kept looking all over the place.” “Right THERE,” I said! To which Stevie replied, “I know, I know, I see it,” although he kept looking all over the place. “Do you not see it,” I asked? “I’m looking for it’s mom,” he answered firmly!

We were awfully close to shore in about five feet of water. Between expertly calling the calf to keep it in view, The Agent explained while I took pictures that it’s very rare for a calf to be without it’s mother. The little moose, soaking wet having presumably just swam ashore from somewhere, was in a bad place being on its own. Had mom not come ashore yet? Had she come ashore somewhere else and was only just a distance away in the bush? New campers had just arrived nearby on the same island, so maybe they were keeping a low profile? Still, Stevie found it unfortunately odd that the calf was alone and figured that if anything had happened to it’s mother, the little moose wouldn’t be long for this life.

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A short while later back at camp we finished with our chopping. There was plenty meat to feast upon this night and a big fire to burn.

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With a few luxuries at are disposal I tried SAT phone calling the wife but she didn’t answer. Stevie’s cell phone didn’t work out there on the lake but because he was at a low charge and the IPod Shuffle could use a little energy boost, we fired up the generator JUST for that. Haha! Thought it rather funny actually.

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There had been enough steady rain come evening it was best to call it early. A tough days fishing but something you can expect to have one or two of during a week on the big water. Despite a little spitting before, after dinner Stevie did want a fire to dry out a little. Split some wet wood and with a touch of gasoline we burned a wee one to warm our soggy toes, while the late evening rain dried off, providing more pleasant surroundings.

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C’mon! You didn’t think we ate that calf moose did ya?
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THE GENERATOR.

For the Coleman coolers it was officially their day seven. In the cold box, some one liter ice packs with a little ice still, and the remains of a block were in the bottom water. In the frozen box we still had two large blocks of ice nearly and completely solid. Packing things right in a 5 or 7 day cooler, there’s good chance ice can last double that if you plan what and how you’ll eat, and limit opening them. Never had an issue on any trip, so no need to take out a loan to afford a new Yeti.

The day would be perfect with no wind. Overcast but clearing in the afternoon. We would take a PIC in a pot to burn all day in the boat, to keep the fuck flies down a little. And we would also start our morning fishing lakers, getting to them earlier than usual.

Off the rigger I tried my experiment, Stevie Z just wanted to see SOMETHING work for these fish. I had made light inline spinners to run above inline weights and leaders for flat-lining. The idea behind this is, more flash, more vibration, and it would appear in the water to be a smaller fish; the spinner, being chased by a bigger fish; a spoon. Basically a gang troll but different. But, instead of flat-ling this time, I put this combo on the rigger and dropped it to 66. Five feet beyond that spinner a solid laker finally popped the line from the ball when it hit the trailing Williams. My guest was first up. It was a cracker and The Agent was totally over-the-moon happy to reel this one in.

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Of all the fish all week I think he liked this one the most. As he said to me, “you put so much time into them, when it finally works and you get one it’s awesome.” It’s what I love about fishing them too. It’s like muskie hunting sometimes. There are days you can really beat them up but most times on Nipigon I haven’t found that to be the case, especially for the bigger fish. For those fish, it’s a longer wait quite worth the reward.

A couple hours later it was my turn. Flat-lining a Husky 225 back, when the counter hit 280 there was a good bit of line to return to the reel before we’d see this feisty grey. In 156 fow, the line was straight down below the boat and the counter at 154 when the slow process of bringing it to surface began. Burped clear a couple times and depressurized, another big fish a little lean, taped out well into trophy status shhhtuff!

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Public Enemy, Tupac and some N.W.A. called these fish out… as did some patience and persistence. It was now early afternoon and being that we were nearing Clear Bay we decidedly made a B-line there just to be certain the pike were still around. A follow and a hit before entering the best part of the bay, it was quickly apparent they were.

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But I took us back out so we could return to them all come evening. Still sensed those pike were a little off, on siesta so to speak. The islands around called to Stevie and I to go chase some specks instead. We’d been doing unusually well in the late morning and early afternoons, the morning bites slower and the evenings hit-and-miss. Wondered if the prey pike/game trout activity differences were in play here..? Fueled with a full Shuffle of tunes, some smoked cheddar and BBQ jerky, handfuls of candy and various salted nuts, our blood pressures climbing and fluids well retained, I plucked some nice trouts… Stevie, not quite so.

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By around 4:00pm we switched gears back to lakers for a couple hours. On Nipigon I generally like the 9 ti’ll 12 and 4 to 6 hours for these fish. The Agent and I had been inspecting some offshore depths but also playing in and around some submerged structures, when just before packing it in a laker on the flat-line hit. We were actually soooo close to quitting that I had just put my hands on the rod to remove it from the holder and reel it in when the fish bent the tip without really pulling drag. Quickly I popped it out and handed it to Steve and that’s when the the laker loaded the line, strained the reel and peeled off seventy feet. Making fast work of the other line and rigger, the boat went to neutral and Steve had his work cut out for him.

Good fight but Stevie certainly eased it back. Good tension but hard to know where the drag was set at? Too tight, too loose? Seemed maybe the latter. It took a long while regardless and when there was about forty feet of line left to go, the fish vertical to us and on the graph, it started hammering head shakes and left Stevie’s hopes pretty limp thereafter. The fish got off… We both wanted to see that one! Thank goodness he had that morning grey to count, cause my buddy was having a rough afternoon so far. It was finally time to go for pike anyways.

When knowing a spot is trophy pike loaded, believing it will cough up hordes of these hungry predators during the right time and conditions, it pays to wait and experience that moment at it’s best. I remember it was my friend and past Kesagami guide, Davey Reddick, that first put this in my head… and to his credit, it’s that same thoughtful approach which has helped me and others alongside boat many big gators since. When Stevie and I returned at last to Clear Bay at the right time, the fishing was truly special. Hammering out many forty plus inch pike and uncountable 35-39’ers in a few hours, a number of big fish double-headers too, that evening is something I know we both won’t soon forget. Stevie broke his old personal best pike with a remarkably gnarly and fat pike. He was on cloud nine for that time and would totally appreciate the reasoning behind the wait.

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We couldn’t keep up until the bite began to slow for the evening, and Stevie was totally back in the saddle too. There was no way in Hell we stung half the big fish in there, and so we swore to come back next chance and hook up with the remains.
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ONES.

Overnight the wind and rain pelted down. A hefty north-easter came up from out of nowhere and turned the lake up-side-down.

Cozy inside the tent, the tent floor dry but floating atop the puddles beneath, I cold bed bathed in privacy before slowly beginning the day.

It wasn’t until late morning when the winds died off and rain stopped that Stevie and I finally got our asses in gear to get going. Around 1:00pm or so I had our first fish of the day. Another flat-lined tank.

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An hour later, another decent pike too.

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The single pack of 18 worms for specks was still half full of lively crawlers. To keep them alive and well I soak a rag several times through the day, and leave the container covered and in a little shade if possible. The cold, damp air through the cloth is all it takes through the week.

Nailbiting and cutting fresh oranges between our snacks of chicken wraps, remembering what water we covered where, I cannot..? Do know that come evening we entered Clear Bay again and all had changed. The wind and rain during the night before had dropped the water temp from the mid 60’s to high 40’s. The shallows were a ghost town. Across a shoal and outside of the small bay into a larger bay basin, I noticed big bars on the sonar suspended at 12-15 feet over 20-30 feet of water. The fish had moved out and scattered obviously, but for whatever the reason we didn’t bother trying any new pattern for hooking up with ’em.

Much of our time was spent in silence. Not an awkward silence, not even an overly tired silence, but just a comfortable silence. The right fishing partners for the right kinds of trips make the biggest difference. With Nipigon as one example, it’s my boat and I Captain it… but having someone like Stevie with me who can do anything or, will willingly try in every way to help, makes any trip easier. The same wave-length, the same energy and the positive attitude are perfect to have alongside. Stevie’s has been a friendship I have been blessed with since we met in Moose Factory a decade ago, and there’s little we’ve learned that we can’t do together when it comes to tripping, EXCEPT share a room or tent. Both power-snorers, I can hear him through my earplugs even when his tent is a mile away. The Agent Stevie Zebco of Mission Fishin’ Impossible fame, an admirable fishing buddy who makes time spent better. Tough day fishing this one was though… nearly finished the bottle of scotch before bed. Stevie’s booze had long been polished off.

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THE AGENT STEVIE Z.

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Other than coffee from the jug and a few bottled waters, I dipped my cup in the lake to drink the entire week. No issues, but just didn’t do it near shorelines or if noticing any collected film or pollens on the surface.

This was our last full day of fishing planned, as tomorrow with a good forecast ahead, we would break camp and return to Stevie’s in Mattice. Some slower days and some incredible ones thus far, I considered the trip to be a good success. Speck numbers exceeded average, big pike numbers exceeded average and even laker size despite the low numbers was better than average. On all new water with much time spent exploring and eliminating areas, that’s really good fishing. I’ll have a solid milk run to expand on in the future. Over the eight days we spotted about a dozen boats at different times, but only once in passing was anyone fishing nearby. No towns, no resorts, no service, no contact really, Stevie and I both appreciate this sort of atmosphere very much. A true break from the ordinary.

An incredible thing to note as well was the fact I only lost one lure and one fly all week. Stevie lost only a few as well. There was this one pike that stole a jig on day two, but later on in the evening of this day, about two kilometers from where the theft occurred, I would hook that pike, open it’s mouth and retrieve the stolen lure.

The week had gone by and we hadn’t once returned to Muddy Bay. Being up early and having made lunches the night before, cooking a little less breakfast we got a jump start on our final, full 12-hour day of fishing. The morning pike bite in Muddy turned out even better than Clear Bay’s magic evening hours two days beforehand. I kicked off the catching!

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But getting us warmed up was about all I did. A couple more forty inchers afterwards I am sure, there was one which was rushed on a double-header because Stevie’s was just far superior.

Something got into Stevie. That first night when he went all ape shit hooking all the specks, it was pretty much like that again but with the pike. Between first day and final day it was a good trip but, Stevie had suffered some slower than slow points digesting many fish. Now this happens, and I could only bear witness to a man possessed as he caught giant after giant and again, crushes his best pike of the week which had already beat a best pike of the week that, had ousted his previous best pike from years ago. A freak of nature who certainly tore up the Muddy on this fateful morning. Fishin’ made possible by the Agent.

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The bay was exhausted and so were we by noon. Just wanting to sit down, relax, have a bite and enjoy the window of sun, we left Muddy with plans to try fishing some new islands nearby. That worked for us too… but kinda, sorta not to the same degree of fun for Stevie after his pike morning.

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We spent over 70 hours in the boat through the week. It was tiring some and Stevie took a first boat nap on this the last day. Had hoped in the early evening that we might get one more laker on the line for him but it didn’t happen. Come early evening there was this bay we had been passing by since first checking it out on day one. The week earlier, as we had entered and moved deeper into that bay, the water cooled. It appeared so pike friendly but the water there did the opposite of what it needed to. Returning there this time the opposite was in effect. And with little day left we stumbled on another mass population of shallow pike. It was sick! Many giants again lazily laying down with snots mixed in of every size.

But we had kinda burned them all wrong and kinda showed up too late in the day. We caught some but the aggressors were the smaller fish and that only served to put the tankers on tilt. The only over forty that was caught was one which sliced my hand and broke my rod. In a wee tantrum, it was released very quickly.

The big Lake Nipigon was made a little smaller this week. A final fire that night burned into a good sleep and easy morning. Little rain, the gear was as dry as could be given the damp week we had. Rolling up my sleeping bag and sheets I scoffed at the mattress rag and thought about maybe burning it still.

After a coffee break, Stevie noticed some fresh moose tracks that had come right through camp in the night. I wondered about the little one..? And later, when taking down the tent I was returning the pegs into the small tent peg bag when I noticed in there a tiny tube of glue and a patch….. YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!?! I both cried and laughed.

The boat fully loaded for one trip back we made plane and surfed home with ease. We even stopped here and there for some fishing along the way.

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“No Ragrets” for Stevie come end of this trip, and other than that mattress… I guess I only have the one.

Some Great Outdoors.

Thanks for reading,
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Bunk.