Aboard the old Lund on Amisk Lake
(First of two parts) With all the things that can go wrong on a fishing trip, I was a little concerned beforehand -- taking grandson Ben on a boat, for example, at age two years and four months. And relying on a pair of 28-year-old outboard motor...
(First of two parts)
With all the things that can go wrong on a fishing trip, I was a little concerned beforehand -- taking grandson Ben on a boat, for example, at age two years and four months. And relying on a pair of 28-year-old outboard motors on a 40-year-old Lund boat that had been parked in the Saskatchewan bush for the last three years. (I brought along a new marine battery and properly gapped spark plugs -- as it turns out, none of which I needed.).
So when the motors both ran like new ones, and Ben didn't blink at boat rides or stringers of fish, I knew the trip would be a good one. And so it was, last week, a fishing trip with daughter Katrina, her husband Brad, and little Ben to Amisk Lake, where I have been fishing almost 40 times since I first visited the lake in 1967.
It is at least a dozen miles to McKenzie Bay but with the enormous lake like glass due to the absence of wind, that is where we go, and within 15 minutes of dragging floating Rapalas we have two walleyes on the stringers. "I think I have another fish," Katrina announces. "... maybe not."
"Maybe not!" Ben parrots with a grin. Then he goes back to reciting lines from the many books Katrina reads to him at bedtime. Meanwhile, I maneuver the boat with the trolling motor. It is good to see and hear the shorebirds, smell the water and watch white clouds drift across a deep blue sky.
One time Katrina hooks a big pike on a small Five-of-Diamonds Dardevle spoon, battles the fish for 10 minutes or more, and brings it twice to the boat. I get a good look at the fish and estimate it at 14 or 15 pounds. But then the fish unceremoniously becomes unhooked and is gone.
"At least we got a good look at it," I say in consolation.
By early afternoon we can see ominous rain clouds at several points of the compass, then one drifts overhead and a few large raindrops dimple the mirror surface of the bay. Thinking the cloud will soon pass, I put on my wool mackinaw and keep casting. My wiser partners quickly don their raincoats, and then the raindrops increase to a downpour like I never have seen in all the decades I've fished in Canada. The deluge continues for an hour, and my coat is soaked. Just as suddenly, the rain stops.
"You're wet and I'm wet," Ben happily tells his mother even though under his parka, life preserver and raincoat he is bone-dry.
Two hours later we have taken 20 walleyes, most of which we released, and we prepare to depart for camp -- fish go into a large bucket in six inches of water to keep them fresh, pull up the trolling motor, put down the 50-horse, return all lures to tackle boxes and stack rods in the rod-holders. The old Evinrude rumbles to life and we are off for the 30-minute boat-ride to camp.
One-third of the way there another cloud moves overhead, dumping more rain and small hail -- another "first" for me on Canadian fishing trips!
Our second day is a repeat of the first except for the rain -- bluebird weather and great fishing. I catch and release a 36" pike taken on a crackle frog pattern Dardevle Imp, and we catch 18 more walleyes on blue, gold Rapalas, a black-and-white Cop-E-Cat spoon, and Katrina's Sparkle Tail wobbler.
Day three greets us with a roaring wind so we stay in camp. I know that beyond a few islands several miles from camp the open water will be raging with six-foot waves. So after lunch I sit with a cigar on the bow of the old Lund that Jake bought used sometime in the 1970s, and I study the improvements he made to the old boat -- rod racks to accommodate 15 outfits, carpeted floorboards, seven rod-holders on the gunwhales, a bracket built to mount a trolling motor, three-foot yardsticks screwed to gunwhales for measuring fish, base plates installed in many places in the boat -- even on the bow -- so anglers can place a seat anywhere and have a backrest ... Jake put a lot of thought into this old boat. It fills me with melancholy to remember the fine days we spent in the old Lund that are gone forever.
More walleye and pike fishing next week...