Friday, 9/23/2022. Day 6
It sprinkled overnight. There’s a higher chance of rain later today and into Saturday. Saturday sounds like a clash of the seasons as thunderstorms are a featured headline. Today, it is overcast.
After listening to the weather radio and getting some coffee and other food in us, we head into the woods of our island in search of firewood. The pile that we cleaned up when we first got to the site is mostly burnt up, and if it’s going to rain then we want to get fuel back in camp and processed. We’re not sure if tomorrow’s a move day or not, I think it will be a later in the evening or tomorrow morning call.
This is a fairly large island for one campsite, and at it’s highest it rises 120 feet from the water. I swear, the bathroom must be right by the peak, but you’d never know based on the view. I find a winter/wind knocked down aspen that has been down several years… It’s practically the whole 40′ tree just lying on its side, calf-thick branches draped parallel to the ground at a good working height for the saw. I break off what I can, carry that back to camp and then come back with Joe and the saw. In the end, we bring several 4′ logs and thick branches back to camp. If we don’t use it, whomever comes after us (and maybe them) should have a good supply.
Back at camp we make pepperoni quesadillas, drink coffee, wine, and hot apple cider and watch the clouds roll by. Other than a motorboat which kept a respectable distance, we haven’t seen anyone since Iron or interacted with another person since our entry on Stuart River.
In the afternoon we get out in the boat for a few hours and lazily circle our island. I have the fish finder back by me for this turn, and I am able to figure out why it was chirping so much the other day but not showing us anything – screen zoom was set to auto, so it was only showing us the bottom 20 feet or so, and we were going over 30+ feet of water. The fish are mostly in 10-15′, except for lakers who are still deep at 50 feet or more. We troll lures, try jigging with plastics, and I even put on the slip bobber for a while but nothing is biting. A bald eagle silently watches us from a rocky cliff on the island for 20 minutes before it gives up on us and departs.
Undeterred from our lack of catches so far, Joe and I start raking the shore around the canoe landing with lures to see if anything will bite. I get a 10″ smallmouth and release it before thinking to get a photo. Joe says I made this fish up. A little while later I get a 16″ pike which is easily more toothy head and bones than meat. A “hammer handle” as they’re sometimes referred to. I give up and head back up by the fire and Joe keeps trying. Pretty soon he’s hollering that he got a fish on, and this guy measures at a more respectable 20″ – another northern pike. Its got more meat than my earlier fish and so it goes on the stringer. Joe was at the end of his cast and was just about to pull the lure out of the water to recast when the pike took it. He says it was basically like he just lifted the fish out of the water.
Joe experiences his first time filleting a northern, and we have enough meat for a large pike appetizer before dinner. I make a mental note that I need to learn how to fillet pike to try to minimize bones, because unlike bass these guys have lots of pin bones in the meat and connecting to fins. Joe finds its easier to break the cooked pieces up and look for bones before eating. I’m basically a slob, pulling pike bones from my mouth every few moments.
Later that evening we will have our first dehydrated meal of the trip – Mountain House Chicken & Dumplings. Joe ends up not caring for the texture of the dumplings and I get part of his half.
We’re in the tent around 11. We are leaning towards traveling tomorrow, the forecast seems to have improved slightly. T-storms are still mentioned, but it sounds like the weather system is slowing down some as the storm chances have pushed out a day.
1.8 miles paddled today, 29.7 total; 0 portages today, 12 total; 0 rods portaged today, 1547 rods total; 0 additional beaver dams encountered today.
Lac La Chill, baby!