S: Nungesser Lake - 2011
FC: BirchPoint Camp | Nungesser Lake Ontario Canada September, 2011
1: The Crew: "The Guide" "Happy Feet" "Spanky" "The Drunks"
2: "Early to bed, early to rise, fish all day, make up lies."
4: Heath, Gary, and Sam
5: The Keller Boy's
6: Pick-up | Portage | Nungesser Lake, Ontario
7: Camp | Rapids | Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day. | The Location
8: The Best Walleye Fishing I've ever experienced By Gary McBride My friend and neighbor Chad Keller knew my passion for the outdoors and fishing in general and asked if I would be interested in joining him, his father George, brother Heath and Heath's friend Sam Busching on a trip to Canada for some Walleye and Northern Pike fishing. I accepted on the spot. Our trip took us to Nungesser Lake in Ontario, Canada. In order to meet everyone and get some tips on what type of fishing gear to take we got together for a fish fry. Our freezer was full of Bluegill and Crappie fillets caught earlier this spring and summer. Chad hosted the get together and I fried fish. I had heard that these guys could eat so I prepared 160 fillets for them and their families. Now these are some big guys at 6 foot 7 and 300 lbs. and I can tell you that these guys can do some serious damage to a dinner table. There were no fish left and many of the various sides and desserts were mostly gone as well. I came away from our get together learning several things. I learned they love their families, life and having a good time and you better be ready for a lot of “smack talking” and good natured ribbing. This was not a trip for the sensitive or weak. I learned that the best type of rod to use for the Walleye was a Med Lite spinning rod with 8 to 12 pound test line in either mono or braided line. The Pike rods were Med Heavy bait casting rods with 25 pound test and tipped with a wire leader. We were going to use 3/8 ounce jigs in various color combinations tipped with minnows for the Walleye and various stick baits and spoons for the Pike. I spent the next few days leading up to our trip to start stocking up on baits and selecting the proper rods, reels and line weights. I had learned that it was already fall like weather in early September at Nungesser Lake so I packed accordingly.
9: The evening before our departure we packed the car and that little experience should have been a tip off to what a fun filled trip this was going to be. We had talked about the importance of packing light. I really took this to heart and spent a lot of time to make sure I did just that. Well if you could have seen the driveway where we staged all the equipment, food, luggage, beer, tackle and personal items you would have said there was no way we were going to get all that into Chad's Chevy Tahoe. Somehow, with a luggage rack on top and a small hitch rack in back we were able to get it all packed. We left on Thursday morning around 7:00 and drove just beyond Minneapolis and spent the night. On Friday we got to within 3 hours of the lake and spent the night as we were going to be picked up for a river trip to the lake on Saturday morning. It was cloudy with a light rain and cool when we reached the river, but we were there and we were all really excited to make the river trip to the lake and get settled. It was a beautiful experience with great views and scenery as we navigated the tight turns on the river and finally reached the lake. In no time we reached our cabin and unpacked. We got organized and quickly put our rods and reels together and headed for the dock. We were fishing out of 16 foot Lund boats with 25 hp engines. There were two fishing in one boat and three of us in the other. I was fishing with Chad and his father George, who had fished on this lake many times over the years and thought this was the best Walleye lake he had ever fished.
10: George had come prepared with portable fish locators which were useful in determining depth. He knew many spots that had been successful in previous years. We got several dozen minnows for each boat and were on our way. The cloud cover and cool temps made for a chilly boat ride of 20 or so minutes to our first stop. I started out using an open faced spinning rod with 12 pound mono. George gave us a lesson on how to thread the minnow on the jig and that was very important in order to catch fish and conserve on bait. It was no time at all before George set the hook on the first of several hundred Walleye to be caught during our trip. It was a nice fish and went on the stringer. There is a slot limit on the lake and you can keep three fish up to 18 inches and one over 18 inches each day per person. The approach was to drift over the spot you wanted to fish. As we did this we made note of the depth where we were catching fish and repositioned the boat to drift the same area again. Shortly thereafter Chad caught his first fish, a Walleye of maybe 14 or 15 inches. After boating the fish Chad turned to his father and said“"do your thing"”. Now I didn't quite understand what that meant. So I watched as Chad handed the fish to him to take it off the hook for him. George did this as he grumbled something to Chad about his being 6' 7" and over 300 pounds and he's still doing this for him. It was no time at all before everyone had boated a nice fish except me. Initially, I wasn't feeling the bottom and sensing the bite. Then after I started sensing the bite I was setting the hook too hard as in bass fishing and missing the fish. Well that opened the flood gates for the “smack talking” and I got it from everyone. But I deserved it, and yet I knew it was very early on day one of many. What goes around comes around. After several missed fish I finally hooked my first Walleye and the lid was off. We fished for a couple of hours when the wind increased and it began to rain so we headed in. We had a nice stringer of fish for dinner.
11: We settled in with a cold beer and a hunger for fresh Walleye. Heath Keller took the reins as chief cook and went about slicing and dicing while Sam Busching and I readied the Walleye for the skillet. In no time at all the fish were sizzling to a light brown and ready for the table. Heath had worked some special magic on whole onions that were cooked on the grill and I think we opened some green beans. Needless to say everything was great. If you have not had the opportunity to eat fresh Walleye you need to try it. I think it is the best eating fish there is. The meal was the first of many to come with Walleye and was just outstanding. Oh did I mention that there were at least three fish per person. Not to worry with this crew, they know how to eat and there wasn't a morsel wasted. After dinner Chad started talking “trash” and before you knew it we were all doing it. With dinner and a couple of cold drinks down we started in with big fish of the day bets. We decided to ante up 25 dollars each with the big Walleye of the day getting $25. Sam was the banker, as the rest of us were not deemed trustworthy. Luckily there was a bedroom (if you could call it that) for each of us. I think mine was a storage room but it did have a bunk bed in it. The first night it was very cold and no one had a good nights rest, but we adjusted nicely for the rest of the trip.
13: "What I do is called fishing. If it was easy, we would refer to it as catching, and there would be a lot more people doing it."
14: Sunday morning I was up early and made coffee. Heath or “Cookie” as I called him staggered out and started rattling pots and pans. In no time the cabin was filled with the smell of bacon frying and coffee brewing. There were potatoes cooking next to the eggs and toast ready for butter. You add the OJ and you had yourself a meal to get a great day started. The weather remained the same with clouds and light rain but the wind had settled a bit. After loading up we were off for another adventure on Nungesser Lake. We rounded a point and came upon a Bull Moose swimming for a nearby island. What a wonderful sight. At first all you can see is this enormous rack and huge head and ears. Then as he neared shore and walked out of the lake we were all blown away by his mammoth size. Seeing his dark rich brown coat shining in the light and that large set of antlers made this a good day already. Needles to say there were several pictures taken. As we arrived at our first spot to fish, an American Bald Eagle landed in the top of the tallest Pine tree near the waters edge and observed us during our fishing. I am sure that he was hoping that a dead fish might materialize. What a beautiful and magnificent bird. Sam took some great shots with his camera. We had hardly gotten started fishing when Chad set the hook on a nice fish. After a short but strong fight I was able to skillfully net the fish for Chad. Seeing that it was a big fish, the tape measure and scale came out. I think it was 24 and three quarters inches and a little over 3 pounds. Then the “trash talking” hit a new level and I didn't think it was ever going to end. This was from a guy who won't handle fish? The day was very productive as everyone boated many fish. Heath and Sam found a spot they deemed their honey hole where they caught 50 fish each. We fished until about four in the afternoon and decided to quit. We must have caught near three hundred fish.
15: Another fine meal was prepared with fried fish and an attempt by Chad at grilling some fish in a lemon pepper method. It seems we had almost everything except the garlic powder and the lemon. Then I think Chad forgot to put the salad dressing in the mixture as well. It turned out great in spite of that. Another great meal was followed by a cold beverage or two and a heated chess game between Chad and Sam, the first of many. Later Sam came out with the day's winning money and presented it to Chad. I couldn't take the trash talking anymore so I went to bed. The weather warmed the following days and even got hot and so did the fishing. We continued to fish new spots that George knew. The technique and drift fishing produced large numbers of big Walleye. We would occasionally hook onto a Northern Pike. They were not trophy fish but what aggressive fish they are. Everyone had a few encounters with them each day. I had changed over to a lighter rod with 8 pound test and improved my catch rate. In doing so I caught the big fish of the day for the next two days. That didn't stop the “trash talking” but it did slow it down a bit. We had shore lunch a couple of days and I was reminded how special a treat that was. We were able to get out of the boats and stretch our legs. Fresh caught Walleye frying in the pan, a can of Pork and Beans and some fruit along with a cold beverage it just doesn't get any better than this. On the fourth day I caught a nice 22 inch Walleye and had the early lead. We had moved to a new location and were catching some nice fish on the other side of the lake. George had turned and was looking at a sandy beach off in the distance and asked if that was another Moose. As I looked it seemed to be a lighter colored animal so I grabbed my binocs and checked it out.
16: The Wildlife
17: It turned out to be male and female Caribou. We radioed Heath and he and Sam drove over for some photos. The animals were very cooperative and they got some great shots. Well back to fishing. George had just told Heath to reposition their boat farther out because he knew there was a pocket that held some larger fish. On their first pass through the area Heath hooked a fish that felt like a log because it didn't want to move. He knew it was a big fish and played it perfectly. After several minutes the fish came to surface and Sam got a look at it. I remember him saying “HOLY S---”. Well that got everyone's attention. Sam grabbed the net and landed the fish. Then the real hollering and dancing began. Are these really grown men? They had a lot to celebrate, the fish measured in at 29 inches and weighed 6 pounds 12 ounces. It was a great fish. Pictures were taken and the fish was quickly returned to the lake. Well there went my chance to win three days in a row. Heath now had bragging rights and he let everyone know it. Later that day Sam landed his big fish of the day a nice 25 inch Walleye and the celebrating started all over again. They really did have bragging rights in that boat for the day. The weather stayed warm and the wind was cooperating and the fishing was excellent. Aside from guiding and taking Chad's fish off the hook for him George caught a lot of fish. There were many times he was returning large 22 inch plus fish without getting too excited. I knew he had done this may times before and it was nothing new to him. Thursday was more of the same with hot weather, abundant wildlife, great catching, shore lunch and laughs to last a lifetime. Heath had the big fish at 24 or 25 inches late in the afternoon when he and Sam called it a day and went in. We decided to hit a spot George hadn't tried yet before going in ourselves. George and Chad had each boated nice fish and I decided to go to my heavier rod and a Black jig.
18: The Fish
19: Chad's BIG Catch | Gary | Heath | "Nothing makes a fish bigger than almost being caught."
21: Good things come to to those who bait.
22: Gary and Heath
23: FISH: an animal that grows the fastest between the time it's caught and the time the fisherman describes it to his friends.
24: On my first cast I hooked what felt like a big fish. It just didn't want to move off the bottom. My rod was bent double and I lightened the drag a bit but that didn't seem to help. The fish made several long runs and tried to go under the boat a couple of times. Finally after several minutes the fish came to the surface and Chad yelled that it was a monster fish. Now I really started to get excited. Chad grabbed the net and in one quick motion landed the fish. It was the big fish of the trip at 29 inches and weighing in at 7 pounds 3 ounces. Again pictures were taken and the fish quickly returned to the lake. We packed up and headed in. When we arrived at the cabin Heath and Sam asked me how we did. I said we got one more and left it at that. A few minutes later Chad and George came in and Chad said, "Gary why don't you show Heath and Sam those old Walleye pictures on your camera". So I pulled up the big fish pictures just taken and handed the camera to Sam. He looked at the fish and said, "Wow that's huge". Then he checked the date and time and said, "Wait a minute, you just caught this fish". Then Heath wanted to see and the fun began. Later that afternoon we decided to leave a day early and made arrangements but we still needed five fish to fill out our limit to take home. We decided to go back out and get those fish. The temperature had cooled some and the wind was perfect as we started to fish. As we drifted over some of the same pockets we had fished earlier in the week the fishing was the best of the trip. We all were catching fish on each pass and they were quality fish. We had our fish to fill out our limit in five minutes. For the next couple of hours we were in Walleye heaven. What a perfect end to an outstanding trip.
25: This was my first time on Nungesser Lake and I would highly recommend it. The beauty of the lake and the wildlife along with great fishing make this a special place. My thanks to all the guys for including me in their fishing trip. It will stay in my memory forever. George's guiding and knowledge, Heath's handling the bulk of the cooking and catching the second biggest fish, Sam's good nature, friendliness and calling me“"Old Man"” and Chad's sharing, great sense of humor, practical jokes and keeping everyone laughing as well as doing most of the driving all made for a Nungesser Adventure. They are all great people and fishermen. Until next time, here is to tight lines, good hook sets and planning your next outdoor adventure. | "May the holes in your net be no larger than the fish in it." ~ - Irish Blessing
29: "A bad day of fishing is still better than a good day of work."