Friday, May 06, 2005

Goin’ Fishing

I leave for the Adirondacks and my cabin, The Bolt Hole, on Monday, May 9th. I have spring-cleaning to do up there, and lawn mowing, and tree cutting and lots of other chores around the yard and in the cabin so I’ll be quite busy. But then, on Saturday, May 21, Terry’s cousin, Joe will roll into the yard around noon with his son, David and a former co-worker, John. This is stage one of our biennial fishing trip to Caesar’s Lodge in northern Quebec. We’ll drink some beer and go over our gear while packing it into his Suburban. Then it will be dinnertime to be followed by a short nap. At 10 PM Saturday, we’ll lock up the cabin and head north on Route 12 and then I-81. We’ll get to Ottawa/Hull around 1-2 AM and (if we don’t get lost—again—in the maze of streets) head further north through Maniwaki and Grand-Remous on highway 105 until we reach highway 117. We then turn northwest for a few miles before turning north onto a dirt road that provides access through La Verendry Park. We usually stop at this point for a bit until the sun comes up as we don’t want to travel the dirt road in the dark nor do we want to be too early at the seaplane base at Coursol. This is a well maintained logging road that is as wide and hard packed as most two lane paved roads. We take this for about 120 miles (three hours over this “improved” road) to Coursol Base where we park and load up a seaplane for our flight into the wilderness. From the Bolt Hole to Coursol will take us about 10 hours.

Joe and I have been doing this for about 10-12 years now. We hooked up with Caesar’s Lodge after hearing of them from one of Terry’s co-workers, Felix. Seems Felix goes up to fish for walleye every year and has never had a bad time. After meeting Oliver Brossard at the Outdoor Show at Rockland County Community College and looking over his information, we knew we had to try out his facilities. We have been going back ever since.

Usually we have our sons (Joe’s: Joseph and David; mine: Rick) as fishing partners. They were only 10-13 years old on that first trip; they are now 25 (Joseph) and 22 (David and Rick). The last trip, in 2001, Rick was at basic training with the Marines so it was just David and Joseph. This time, Rick has to work and Joseph is getting married in August so he wants to save some money. Hence, John has filled a slot in our party. This will be his first trip but I’m sure he will enjoy it as much as we do. We have gathered lots of memories of big fish (mostly walleye and northern pike), great boating, moose, eagles, tricky weather and all around great fun.

Our trips have been necessarily booked in July or August to work around the school year. At first that was the kids' problem as well as mine. Then they went on to summer jobs and college that affected the schedule. Next it was the Marines and marriage plans. On every one of our trips we had a good time and caught, what was to us, a lot of fish. But every time, someone, either a pilot, or Oliver, or even his mom would say to us how we really had the misfortune of fishing the wrong time of the year, that we should get there just after ice out when the fish are spawning in the shallows. Joe could do so because his work lets him take vacations any time of year, the boys could do so when college classes end in the first week of May, but I was locked in Middle School until the third week in June at the earliest. Having retired last year, that is no longer a problem. I just hope the ice is out when we get there on May 22. Certainly, daylight should not be a problem. As we approach the Arctic Circle we should have light until 9, maybe 9:30 at night even though we will be a month before the Summer Solstice.

We have never been to the same cabin (I almost said lake) twice. Oliver has about a dozen cabins on nearly as many lakes, although a few of them are on huge Goin Reservoir it is almost as though they are on different lakes. In addition, there is Caesar’s Lodge which serves as both a destination and a main base. Our little group stopped there on our way out of the wilderness on the first trip. We wanted a hot shower and someone else’s cooking for at least one meal. We haven’t been back since. Not because the Lodge isn’t nice, rather the wilderness cabins have been upgraded to the point that nearly all of them have hot water so we can shower when we want—and Joe’s cooking grows on you after a while.

I did take the family up one summer to the main Lodge for a short week. The lake there has Lake Trout and some rainbows. There is a short walk to a small lake with lots of rainbow trout (we had a tough time trying to get our hooks below the smaller4-6 inch trout near the surface to reach the larger 10-12 inch ones below) and another short walk to a lake with pike. You can also take a day excursion to one of several lakes with some great pike fishing. We had a good time and really enjoyed the trip. The Canadian couple, in the cabin next to ours, were very friendly and shared the one large lake trout the husband caught (maybe 7-8 pound) and grilled for dinner. (Although Terry wasn’t real happy about the 120-mile long dirt road as it had quite bit of washboard along its length making for a bumpy ride.)

It was on this trip that Rick and I were flown into a small lake about 20 minutes away and provided with a canoe from which to fish for pike. We would cast to the shoreline catching 18-20 inch fish every few yards and generally having a ball. The sides of the canoe were only a few inches above the water so, once we unhooked a fish, the lure often dangled just above or even at the surface of the lake. As Rick held up one pike to show me, he let his lure slide across the side of the canoe. “Nice fish,” I said. “And so is that one!” Just then, a pike darted from under the canoe to attack the lure, that shiny thing at the water’s surface. Now he had one in the hand and another on his line. Luckily, the pole’s butt end was between his feet and he just clamped his ankles down on the reel or it might have gone overboard.

I wonder, what excitement awaits us this year?

No comments: