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Family voyage to Amisk Lake

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Family voyage to Amisk Lake
Jamestown North Dakota 121 3rd St NW 58401

(First of two parts)

“Each of us has an ‘Up North.’ It’s a time and a place far from the here and now. It’s a map on the wall, a dream in the making, a tugging at one’s soul. For those who feel the tug, who make the dream happen, who put the map in the packsack and go, the world is never quite the same.” — “Up North” By Sam Cook.

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It occurs to me as we cruise toward Warehouse Bay on our first day of a two-week trip, that I have spent approximately one year of my life at Amisk Lake, Saskatchewan, this being my 43rd trip since 1967, with a number of them two weeks in duration. And it has been a good year.

Laurie watches the shoreline for deer, moose and bears while daughter Katrina and her husband Brad make sure grandchildren Ben, age 6, and Erin, age 3, remain seated in the boat while we are running.

Before long we are in the bay, past the shoals that guard the entrance. I shut down the big motor and show Brad how to fire up the kicker — an 8-horse Mercury.

It is not a pleasant day, the wind blowing and spitting occasional rain. I troll toward the end of the bay and immediately we have action — walleyes and pike — most on a yellow Rapala Husky Jerk, some on an orange Rapala floater. Katrina takes the largest of the eight walleyes — a 24-incher — on a fire tiger pattern Dardevle, and Ben nets the fish for her with assistance from Laurie. Then Ben catches his first walleye ever on a gold floating Rapala. We keep enough fish for supper and after three hours head for camp.

It is still overcast the next morning when we head for McKenzie Bay, a 12-mile boat ride across the lake, but fishing is worth the trip. We watch loons and rafts of white pelicans as we fish, drifting and casting 5-of-diamond pattern Dardevles and boating one fish after another. Then I troll a bit and nail them on a perch pattern Rapala. Brad’s best is a 26-1/2-inch walleye taken on a red-and-white Dardevle Devle Dog.

In two hours and 15 minutes we take 18 walleyes — green and gold beauties — and release all but a few to eat, and head for camp. Erin falls asleep almost before the boat gets up on step, and back in camp Katrina lays her on the bed, still clad in her life jacket. After a two-hour nap, Katrina awakens her.

“She’d be a monster to put to bed tonight if she sleeps too long,” Katrina explains.

The weather turns glorious the following day, and we go back to Warehouse Bay. The kids busy themselves playing with aquatic vegetation that we snag while retrieving our lures. We enjoy the sunshine and cast Dardevle Imps — red-and-white, alewife, mackerel, red/orange — they all seem to work. In three hours we have taken 10 walleyes so we return to camp.

“The Sturgeon Bay Narrows is not my favorite place to fish, but Brad has never been there. Do you want to try it?”

Everyone agrees, so we motor to the far end of Sturgeon Bay and begin trolling in the Narrows. We catch a number of pike up to four pounds, then I hook a 28-inch walleye on an ancient Helin Flatfish that I painted red-and-white some 40 years ago after fish chewed most of the paint off the lure. Unfortunately, the walleye swallows the lure so we are forced to keep it. The kids are busy playing with lily pads and swamp grass.

Once again the weather deteriorates during the night and we have a nasty east wind to contend with. We catch about 20 pike in Warehouse Bay up to about six pounds, releasing all of them. We manage to get our caps blown off several times in the gusty wind before quitting for the day. Not a single walleye taken this day. With a storm looming, we race for camp and the safety of the cabin.

A storm strikes the next day with wind and rain, so we stay in camp. It gives me time to digest what we have seen — a cow moose with twin calves north of Roblin, Manitoba, a black bear on the edge of the road a mile out of Denare Beach in Saskatchewan, a whitetail deer in the cove behind Hudson’s Bay Point in Warehouse Bay. (Laurie spotted the deer with a binocular we have on board.)

Ben and Erin entertain themselves on the playground equipment in camp, and we prepare for more days on the water.  I’ll tell you about it next week!

Bernie Kuntz, a Jamestown native, has been                                         an Outdoors columnist for The Sun since 1974

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