Outdoor Notebook: Annual Canadian trip provided tense moments
What are the results when you combine three boats, three pickups, along with nine eager walleye anglers? A great trip.
Last week, we enjoyed a trip to Northwest Ontario. For several of the guys this was a very familiar trip while two of the anglers, Dick and Gary, were on their first trip, with this group, to enjoy an outstanding walleye fishing trip.
The “Osseo Jinx” and this writer have taken this trip for 20 plus years and will be ready to make it again next July. The waters where we fished were a flowage on the English River in Ontario Canada. We stayed at Halley’s Camps, our usual destination.
We headed out from camp Monday morning and almost immediately began to catch nice sized walleyes. The area where we were fishing is a conservation area and anglers may keep only two walleyes. Any walleye that is larger than 18 inches must be returned to the water alive.
When on a fishing trip of this kind our first task each morning is to catch enough walleyes for shore lunch. Some days, we had to struggle to get enough walleyes under 18 inches in length to keep.
Our shore lunches are quite simple. Some of the guys slice potatoes and onions. Others gather wood, build a fire and heat the large fry pans while some fillet the fish. The potatoes and onions are first to be cooked followed by delicious, never frozen, walleye fillets.
One day, I experienced a quick shower when the rock I stepped out of the boat onto was very slippery and my foot slid. I wound up in the water with my right arm hanging over the side of the boat. Duane, who was still in the boat, grabbed my arm and pulled me back into the boat.
Friday morning, which was our last day to fish we pulled all three boats up to the gas pump and asked the dock hand to fill each of the boats with gas. I don’t trust the gas gauge but the dockhand said that the gas spit back when he was filling it so it must be full.
As we headed out we commented about how dark the sky was. Again we set out to get enough walleyes for shore lunch. Corny, along with Dan and Duane, headed for a lake called Tourist Lake while Tom’s boat and mine stayed in One Man Lake.
We were tuned into the weather and decided to seek shelter from the storm. We pulled into the docks at One Man Lake Lodge. As we pulled up to the docks, we welcomed help from the manager of One Man Lake Lodge. The rain and hail were pelting down on us as we tied the boat to the docks.
As we walked into the Lodge, we were handed a welcome cup of hot coffee and a place to hang up our rain gear. While we waited out the storm, we were entertained by a floatplane that came in to pick up some of the guests to take them to their flight connection.
When the storm calmed down we headed out to fish another hour and a half before shore lunch. We gathered on a bald rock and started a fire as the wind continued to blow.
Following shore lunch, we separated with the plan that we would fish several spots on our way back to the resort where our week of fishing would end. The wind increased and those in my boat decided to quit fishing early. We headed out into the big part of the lake.
Dr. Mike was running the boat while Dick and I tried to keep from getting soaked. We were out several miles and the waves were running four to six feet high. After fighting the waves for what seemed like forever the motor started to miss and then quit.
Dr. Mike yelled, “Put your life jackets on!” We tried to reach help with our walkie-talkies but were unable to get any response. Here we were with no power drifting in high waves toward shore, which, of course in Canada, is all rocks. We were out of gas. What we later learned was that we had not gotten a full tank of gas that morning.
As we attempted to keep the boat from drifting any closer to shore a boat appeared quite a distance from us.
Dr. Mike stood up in our boat waving a canoe paddle.
That boat turned out to be the “Osseo Jinx” and his two fishing partners, Bob and Gary. We had difficulty making clear contact with them on the walkie-talkies but were finally able to get the message across that we were out of gas. They could not get close to us because they would have been in trouble with the rocks. We had put out two anchors and in the rough water had still dragged the anchors over a mile.
The “Jinx” headed into the resort and told the dock hands that we were stranded and needed gas. The guys brought out some gas and after a challenging time trying to put the gas in the boat we had a rough, wet ride back to the resort.
As mentioned previously we have fished this area for many years, have experienced rough very rough water at times but have never run out of gas. We vowed to have larger anchors in the boat next year.
Longtime Northwoods outdoors personality Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column for the Star Journal.