Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Fireside lodge on Little Vermillion Lake

Four of us, Steve, Rick, Gary and myself left for Ontario, Canada on July 5.  We arrived at Fireside Lodge mid afternoon on the 6th. We settled into our cabins, had an orientation on the lake system, was given a warning about the motor eating big rocks just below the water surface and enjoyed a very good evening meal. I'll say now that all of the evening meals and breakfasts were wonderful with all we could possibly want to eat.  The lunches were sandwiches, chips, fruit, and cookies, very satisfying.  If you go hungry here, you're too picky.  That's all I'll say about the food. We then got into our two boats and headed for Chicago Bay on the lower west side of Little Vermilion. Rick and Steve were in one boat, Gary and I in the other.  Rick and Gary use conventional equipment, Steve and I are fly fishermen. Gary caught a small pike, I had lots of casting practice and I'm sure Rick and Steve caught fish. I drove the boat back that evening to be sure I could handle it in an emergency, I thought my arm was going to drop off. Thank goodness Gary was the captain the rest of the trip.

Sunset from our back deck

We had long days, sunrise was about 5:15 and sunset was about 9:15.  Seemed like it was light for about an hour before and after those times.

Monday we boated to Muskinonge Lake, better know as Musky Lake. We had to boat to the west end of the upper lake and then motor up a very windy, over 50 bends, creek. The trip up the creek took up to 45 minutes, depending if you made it over the beaver dam or not.  Rick and Steve got stuck each time up, but not back down when the current was helping. Gary and I made it each time.  After the fishermen knocked part of it down, the beavers built it back up at night. That morning I caught my first pike.

And then later that morning I got a little nicer one.

These were two of the smaller ones I ended up catching, but it was so much fun and tiring that I didn't take anymore pike pictures. I took very few pictures at all once the fishing got hot. As the afternoon worn on, it looked like a storm coming so we left for the lodge about 4 pm.

We beat the rain.  Most of the week, we had nasty looking skies, but except for a few drops near the end of the week, all of the rain came after we got to the lodge and mostly at night.

Tuesday we went to the upper arm of the lake, Gary and I fished Boot Bay and Chairman Bay.  Most of  this will be about Gary and I because we were fishing together.  Steve and Rick, especially Steve, always caught more than we did.  This was Steve's 10th or 11th trip, so he had a slight advantage. Gary and I had a slow day and it turned very cold on the way in.  We each caught nice smallmouth, he caught twice as many as I did.  I don't recall if I caught 1 or 2.  Hey, at least we were fishing and having fun.

Wednesday we went back to Musky Lake.  This time when Steve and Rick got stuck on the beaver dam, we had to pull them off.  Both Gary and I caught several nice pike.  Rick and Steve also got into some real nice smallmouth.  On the way up the creek, we saw 2 beaver and there were a couple of eagles.  We also saw loons and gull every day. The loons calls were just like On Golden Pond.

Thursday we started at Cedarbough Lake.  We had to motor up a very small creek to get there.  Not nearly as long as the one to Musky Lake, but very twisty and narrow.  Gary only put me in the trees once, so that wasn't too bad. No way I was going to complain as long as he was driving. We also went back to the upper arm and fished Ament Bay and then fished Chicago Bay again. It was a slow day and Gary and I quit about 3. This was Steve's best day of the trip: one of the items on his "bucket list" was to catch a Musky on a fly.  Thursday he was successful.  When he sends me a copy of the picture, I'll add it here.

Friday we went back to Musky Lake.  In spite of the long ride, it was my favorite place to fish.  Gary and I led the way followed by several other boats.  We cleared the dam, then had to pull Rick and Steve off the dam.  Then we pulled a couple off the dam.  The next boat tried the other side, got no "running start" and hung up.  Since there was other help there and the small holding area above the dam was getting crowded, Gary and I went on. Here are some pictures of the dam.

Stuck again!!!

This was my best day as I caught 20+ pike, most of them between 30 and 36 inches long.  They were all caught on a single fly, a Murdich Minnow.  Gary did even better than I did. Besides all of the fish, we saw an eagle sweep down and take a pike off the water and then to the trees to have a meal.

I caught a fish on each of these flies, plus another one that I lost due to operator error.  The pike I caught on it managed to undo the snap and I did not notice until the fly went flying off the line. I caught the smallmouth on the fly on the upper right.  I don't know it's name, but Terry Tanner tied one like it at a SMFF meeting and I liked the pattern. The fly at the lower right is the minnow that I used all day on Friday.  This one was tied directly to the wire leader and you can still see the pary I cut off at the end of the day.

It was a very good trip.  Alan and Audrey, our hosts at Fireside are very friendly people and went out of their way to greet us each day.  I enjoyed the company of Gary, Rick and Steve.  maybe all 4 of us can fish together again someday.  I highly recommend Fireside Lodge. The pike had my 8 wt rod bent double a few times, but I still prefer Ozark Trout fishing.

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