Fishin' and paddlin' in western Ontario with a new pal.



I soloed to a lake north and east of Kenora, Ontario last June and had a fine, wet, and cool trip. It was fine because it was wet and cool, which meant cloudy days, which walleyes like. I tend to concentrate on smallmouth, but the walleyes were bunched and hungry and whereas I have a large appetite for fishing, the walleyes had larger appetites, wearing me out and sending me packin’ via paddlin’ each morning and evening. They were bunched in a bay that was fed by a shallow chute of water below a falls. They hit everything and it got to the point where I started using lures I’d lugged for years just to be able to finally catch something on one of them. For a change of pace, I started paddling back and forth across the current, trolling a long-dusty crankbait. I caught walleye each time I crossed the current and started keeping count, wondering how many I’d catch in a row. I caught 17 on 17 crossings and lost the lure on the 18[SUP]th[/SUP] crossing to a pike.

So, I told this fellow paddler in St. Louis about this spot and we returned in July. She flew into International Falls, Minnesota, and I met her there with my SUV and tandem Kevlar canoe. We bounced down a utility pole road for about five miles, negotiating standing water, muck, steep grades, and boulders. We parked right beside a lovely lake and began paddling. The lake is lovely because its skinny and its banks are cliffs, so it’s a cozy paddle. It led to a beaver dam and we dragged the canoe over that, waded some, did a portage, paddled a pond, and did another portage, arriving at the lake that teemed with Team Walleye.

We pitched our tent on a big island and went fishing, but Team Walleye was largely gone. We caught some bass and pike, but I kept wanting to find the walleye, which is a mistake I often make, thinking because I once caught fish at a spot, I’ll catch them there again. There was a little waterfall across from our campsite and that was a fun spot, since it was a consistent producer of ten or so fish. We’d fish that spot several times each day, going over to catch bass and walleye. We’d catch our allotted ten, paddle back to lounge, relax, and then go catch a reloaded ten.

I showed her a waterfall at the end of the lake and she liked that.

“What’s its name?” she asked.

“It doesn’t have a name.”

“Why not?”

“No one here to name it.”

I took her to some other waterfalls by paddling to the lakes above and below ours. She hooked a rare five-pound plus smallmouth on the lake above. It was right beside the boat, so we got a tantalizing look at it. I returned to that lake in August and caught a 40+inch pike, so it seems a good lake for big fish.

On the fifth day of our seven-day trip, we started fishing a strait where the pinching produced current and that was the sweet spot. It produced good numbers of fat bass and walleyes and on the final morning, I caught an especially persistent bass who hit my surface lure three times before finally managing to hook himself right beside the boat. A smallmouth on a short length of line is quite a ride. I’ve attached pics, in descending order, of that fish, a nice, long fish, a fish my paddlin’ pal caught, and an evening composed of blue notes.