Friday, September 28, 2018

2018 Wilderness Report #14

A foggy Central Lake morning
 The 2018 has wrapped up at Big Hook Wilderness Camps.  A chilly, rainy, and even snowy September proved to be a challenge for an efficient close up this fall.  Autumn was premature this year, as the temperatures in September  plummeted instantly around Labor Day.  As you can see in the pictures to the right, the cool weather induced a prompt change in the foliage. Just about all of the birch trees donned a vivid yellow and many were shedding their leaves as we shut down camp.

The colors popped in early September
We closed the doors on the 2018 Big Hook season on September 19th.  However, two days prior to shutting down we endured a wicked ice/snow storm that blanketed the Opasquia Provincial  Park.  Snow, coupled with 40 mph winds battered us and a thick coat of ice adhered to the buildings and the boreal forest. Our water lines were completely frozen solid and the airplane resembled an ice cube.  It took over a day to defrost from that storm. 

During the storm, Ryan and I had a black bear visit us at Central.  We typically feed the grey jays (whiskey jacks) the left over crackers accumulated from the season, helps them fatten up for the winter.  I sprinkle a couple at a time on the picnic table adjacent to main cabin at Central. Well, Mr Bear thought he could help himself to a couple and quickly wore out his welcome.  A quick shot in the rear end with a pellet gun deterred his feast and he high tailed it back into the woods.  I incurred another interesting wildlife encounter the very next morning.  I overheard a pack of wolves yipping just north of my cabin at Central Lake. They were quite vocal for an extended period of time.  It was pretty hair raising and I told myself "wolves don't show up for the crackers." The geese were also active and heading south in massive flocks; that's really when you know winter isn't far behind. 

Catching some late season walleye at SW Lake
We managed to complete a couple of projects this September before the rough weather settled in.  West Lake received some TLC with a new laminate counter top installed.  We also completed the kitchen at West with new tongue and groove pine paneling and updated the shelves. At Central Lake, Cabin #1 had four new vinyl windows installed with new trim.  All the cabins at Big Hook had the floors painted with a fresh coat of gray paint.  Other than that, the weather pushed us pretty hard to get everything winterized.  42 motors had to be fogged and maintenance checklists completed.  Boats were inspected for leaks and rivets were pounded or replaced if water was found.  Numerous other tasks had to also be finished before we headed south for the winter.

Ed Jones, a dedicated fisherman
and friend 
Big Hook had several fishing parties in the second week of September to close out the year.  The walleye behavior was typical for fall.  Most fish were harbored down in deep 20+' of water.  Vertical jigging on deep reefs and steep drops yielded the best bites.  Numerous northern pike were still hanging in the weed beds however many were found suspended and caught while trolling crank baits.

Ed Jones, a long time guest and friend of Big Hook Camps lost his legs, half a hand, and almost his life last year.  Needless to say, he was unable to make the journey north in 2017.  However according to Ed, the dream of fishing at Big Hook again helped him through his difficult times.  And in August of 2018, with the assistance of his friends, family and sheer determination, Ed once again fished the waters of Central Lake.  His beaming smile and positive attitude infected everyone at camp that week.  Thank you Ed for being a passionate fisherman and a true friend to all of us at Big Hook Camps.

Finally, thanks to everyone for a great 2018 season.  We could not do it without all of you.  I read a great quote today, "Fishing knows no borders and never discriminates.  Its can be visited and revisited many times with losing its charm...but sharing it with others, is the best part of all."

Good luck on the water for the remainder of 2018.