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> > Trip to Ontario

Martinlf has attached these 5 pictures to this report. The message is below.
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My nephew and me
My nephew and me
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Pretty country
Pretty country
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Pike on the fly
Pike on the fly
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Lost this guy's tail
Lost this guy's tail
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Wildflowers for Jonathon
Wildflowers for Jonathon

Report at a Glance

General RegionCanada
Specific LocationOntario
Time of DayAll day, every day
Fish CaughtWalleye, Smallmouth, Pike and almost a Muskie

Details and Discussion

MartinlfJuly 27th, 2014, 4:49 pm
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3233
My nephew Marv had planned a trip to Canada for himself and his dad in early July. However, my brother Marvin passed away on Easter Sunday. When Marv asked me to take his place, I agreed, and thus began a series of events that would connect me to both of them in new ways. The memorial service followed by several months of planning, and then the trip itself, all led me to get to know Marv better than I ever had before. He was a young kid and I a teen when we were around each other most in past years, and he had moved to Arizona long ago, but my brother often talked about how much Marv loved to fish, and I had often relived his experiences through my brother’s stories.

Marv is a hardware guy who has just begun to fish with the long wand, urged to by my brother, using me as an example, as I learned on the trip. He brought multiple spinning rods and a heavy baitcasting set up, along with a big satchel full of plugs, spoons, spinnerbaits, and in-line spinners. I brought two 9’ fly rods, an 8/9 weight and a 10 weight, two reels, and a bunch of 4-7 inch long flies. Kyle, Tony, Paul, and Kurt all had given me helpful tips (thanks guys), and John Dunn and Mike Taylor, fishing buddies from the Little J campground where I stay at times, offered more advice, flies, and even tackle if I needed it. Finally, just before leaving for Ontario, I spent a wonderful afternoon with my old friend and mentor Bob Clouser, talking flies, looking at photos of pike he had caught, and tuning my casting stroke for the bigger stuff.

Our first day out we started out catching walleye for lunch, and fed a small one to an eagle that came from a pine on a far-off crag when the guide held it up. They obviously had a mutually beneficial relationship. I was the only one who tried the fly rod that day, and despite windy conditions I managed several pike on the fly, using a big long ugly fly Bob had showed me how to tie. Then I switched to spinning gear, along with my nephew and the guide, catching many more pike and some smallmouth. Late in the day I spotted a log just under the water. Pointing it out to my nephew, I reminded him that Marc our guide had told us that muskies sometimes lie just under the surface looking like a log. But, I said, "that's way too big to be a fish." Okay, you know what's coming. My nephew said that when the log began to move toward his spinnerbait his heart stopped. He fought the fish for about 10 minutes (fortunately he was using the bait casting rod and reel, with 50 lb. test braided line), but as the guide was netting the fish a stinger hook caught in the netting, the main hook slipped out, and the half of the muskie not in the enormous net gave a roll, and the fish was gone. Marc was devastated, but amazed that Marv was not angry, or even much upset. My brother had raised a son who takes everything in stride, in a very Zen like approach to life. He told Marc that things like that just happen, and that he was thankful for the fight and the good look he got of the fish. Marc estimated the fish at 54 inches or larger, bigger, he said, than any he has ever caught there in Lac Suel.

The second day was similar to the first, though darker, colder, and with some rain off and on. Also, no second shot at another muskie. But we had a good time, delicious walleye for lunch again, and a ride back to the lodge in pelting rain. We were exhausted and slept hard.

The third day we awoke to bright sunshine. Bad for trout maybe, but very good for pike. The wind had laid down also. The guide took us through Little Vermillion Lake to several lakes interconnected by "creeks." We all started with conventional tackle in a small lake called Cedarbough, and the pike fishing was pretty good. Then we moved to Masquinongé (Muskellunge) Lake, known ironically more for its pike action. It was a popular single barbless hook catch and release lake, and you know the fish there had seen plenty of fishermen before. The guide parked us on some weed beds, and I decided to pick up the fly rod. Since Bob's fly was pretty much shredded, I switched to one of my own design, a white synthetic fiber minnow, with big holographic eyes, a red marabou throat, and long red cheeks tied with red saddle feathers. On Marc's advice, we had been moving pike flies and lures fast. "Don't give them too long to think about it," he said. But for some reason I let this fly sink down into the weeds then I gave it short erratic strips, more twitches then anything, and pike began to slam the fly on almost every cast. Even better, they were bigger than the pike we had been catching on spinning tackle. I hypothesized that these bigger pike had seen plenty of hardware, but that a seemingly injured minnow fluttering up and down was hard to resist. I boated so many larger pike my nephew finally took the fly rod after lunch, and he began to catch pike as well, though the action seemed to slow a bit. Finally, near the end of the day I even got our guide to make a few fly casts, handing him the rod I had been using. I really wanted him to hook up too, but we had run out of time and water and had to head back before it happened.

The trip was a lot of fun. It seemed from the comments we got everywhere we went, few fish those waters with a long wand. I was happy to catch my first pike on the fly and better still, to see my nephew hooked up on a fly rod. He’s planning a trip up our way next spring, and he’s assured me that his Dad enjoyed our last trip, and will be with us for trout and bass in the coming year.

"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Jmd123July 27th, 2014, 8:52 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2611
Lupinus perennis there, Louis!

Sounds like an epic trip. I actually caught a 25" pike on a 9-weight once. But that was in northern lower Michigan, and they get bigger the farther north you go...

No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
CrepuscularJuly 31st, 2014, 1:14 pm
Boiling Springs, PA

Posts: 923
Nice Louis! sounds like fun.
EntomanAugust 1st, 2014, 1:43 am
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Glad to hear you had a great trip, Louis! Your story goes to show that the family that fishes together stays connected in ways much deeper than pleasantries shared during occasional visits... Thanks for sharing.
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
PaulRobertsAugust 5th, 2014, 8:38 pm

Posts: 1776
Sounds like a wonderful trip. Sorry to hear about your brother's passing, but nice that you've connected with your nephew. What a nice way to do that -chasing pike in Ontario. Really nice photos too. I especially like that first one.

You know, that twitching fly trick reminds me of a technique I've used. I'd read about the retrieve in IF magazine years ago and darned if it doesn't work, almost magically. It involved using a heavy skirted "bass jig", dropped into pockets in weed beds and clumps, nearly holding it in place and shaking it -actually vibrating it with the rod. Wow, that worked like a charm! It brought pike from beds I'd normally only catch bass from using the usual sweeps and falls that bass respond to. I understand why bass respond to certain motions, but I don't know why pike respond so predaciously to a shaken vibrated jig. I've never attempted it with fly tackle, bc I used such heavy jigs. Sounds like you may have applied something akin. Neat.

Not surprised most anglers don't go to the long rod. Most people just want to catch fish, as quickly as possible, and as you know it takes some time to slow down and adjust to the tempo of fly fishing -not to mention the learning curve with casting. I think, unless one is a romantic at heart, they have to go through a lot of fish catching before they can comfortably go to the long rod.
MartinlfAugust 6th, 2014, 12:58 am
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3233
Very interesting info on the jig technique, Paul. My nephew posted a description of the trip on Facebook, and he noted that I really lit up that last day when we started catching so many pike on the fly rod. That day made the trip for me.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
GusAugust 6th, 2014, 3:32 pm

Posts: 59
Really good write! Sounds like y'all had a great time.
"How do you help that son of a bitch?"

"By taking him fishing"

-A River Runs Through It
MartinlfAugust 6th, 2014, 8:51 pm
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3233
Hey Gus, how'd you know I grew up in Tennessee?
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
MartinlfMarch 30th, 2018, 5:18 pm
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3233
Bumping up for Adirman.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell

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