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We Came, We Saw, We Conquered

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canada 06 01202.jpgHome from my first lake trout fishing excursion to Camp Manitou in Ontario Canada. Where, oh where, do I start? 

I had never caught a lake trout before this trip.  So when Matt Koerbitz, owner of Camp Manitou and Happy Landing Lodge, offered me and a few close friends a chance at ice out lake trout I jumped all over it.  Last week the anticipation of catching my first lake trout almost made me come out of my skin. 

On Wednesday, Todd, Theo, Earl, and I were on our way to International Falls, MN to stay the night so we could get up early Thursday and head for camp.  Russ and Kurt, two of Theo's uncle's, came up later and met us in I. Falls.    

After breakfast we headed for camp via the short stop at the border.  Did I say short stop?  Nothing about crossing the border into Canada is short when you have as much stuff as we did.  Being that we are all good citizens of America, or at least I have been lead to believe, you would seem to think the four young handsome men in our truck would have no problem getting across.  But since Canada only allows you to bring one liter of booze per person across the border we figured we would tell them that we had more like we were supposed to and pay duty.  Just us good citizens, as mentioned before, trying to do the right thing.  Nope, they wanted to run ID checks. Then they proceeded to take everything out of our truck and told Earl to pack it all back up once they found nothing.  Oh, as for our reservations Mr. Authority (jarhead/border patrol guy), they don't send us anything in the mail in case you were wondering, so NO I don't have any info on our reservations.   What would you like to know next?  Do I really have three liters too much booze and two too many cases of beer?  Yep, I sure do and admitted it so I could pay YOU duty and go on my merry way to camp.  But no, you seem to think that is more than four grown men can drink in three days.  News flash, you're wrong!  canada 06 05502.jpg        

After finally getting across the border we were on our way to Camp Manitou to enjoy three days of lake trout fishing and many memories.  We arrived at the launch where we were to be picked up by boat at 11:30.  Umm, too bad we had told them we would be there at 10 cause we weren't thanks to the border buddies we made.  No problem!  Our ride was waiting as we arranged and loaded all our gear into a large boat with the six of us.  Off we went for a 10 mile boat ride to an island on Lower Manitou were camp was eagerly awaiting our arrival. 

canada 06 042.jpgUpon arrival, we found very nice accommodations.  We were greeted by Matt and shown to our cabin for the weekend.  Once everyone was settled in we were off to the boats to meet our guide.  Sounds pretty good so far doesn't it?  That's were this story takes a turn. 

Well based on first impression, Henry our guide seemed a little reserved but probably the kind of guy that knew the lake trout honey holes (neither of which held true for Rusty).  Notice the name change.  After only a few hours with Rusty, the nickname was on him, and he had started to ease up.  When I say ease up, I mean he got downright loud - which was perfect.  As time went on, he seemed to be more and more like me and seemed to make a perfect fit in the boat.  I don't think Rusty always thought it was so great, but so be it.  He made me laugh, he made me question all my old fishing techniques, and he made me a whole lot smarter by the end of three days (or at least he would argue that he did).  This man Rusty was one of the most outgoing, loud, and biggest "know it alls" I had ever met, which was a great mirror of myself.  As I got to spend more time in a boat with Rusty I started to appreciate his knowledge and heart, for trying to make sure we enjoyed ourselves and had a great time in camp.  Rusty not only took us to the trout, he cleaned them, cooked them, and downright worked his tail off for us. 

After fishing hard with no luck the first day, Rusty proceeded to tell us about a portage lake and how good the fishing typically is.  We all got a little curious so I asked if he would be willing to take Theo's Uncles in there and give it a whirl.  That morning we all headed out with high hopes and a few new spots to try.  Rusty and the boys headed right for the portage and showed us a spot to try along the way.  On our third pass Todd boats the first trout in our boat and the blood starts pumping.  Shortly thereafter Theo and Earl boat a few trout, and then I got one.  So we are all starting to get the hang of this trout fishing stuff.  We fish a little while longer and they seem to shut down mid-morning but we do catch a few pike. 

canada 06 025.jpgBeing that Todd was sleeping in the front of the boat and I was already hungry, we headed for camp for some lunch and a nap.  Awaking from our nap the other boys were coming in with fish stories from the portage lake.  I was hearing things like they caught 15-plus trout and lost numerous others and I was excited.  But I was a little confused on the whole "losing fish" thing.  There is no excuse for losing fish that is unless you are using either a rusty hook or a Johnson Century spincast reel - both of which were used by the group that day.    

So back to our guide Rusty - in case you didn't catch it earlier, his real name is Henry.  On the first day when Rusty and I were having one of our fishing conversations he mentioned to me what we should be fishing with.  He even went as far as to show me what to use.  He said, "That tube jig head you're using is too light and won't get down deep enough to catch'em."  So I had to inquire on what size I needed. 

canada 06 030.jpgThat is when all my faith and trust in our guide Henry went out the window.  He proceeded to reach in his pocket and pull out the rustiest tube jig hook I had ever seen.  And from that moment on he was no longer Henry, but rather "Rusty."  To one up that, when the first fish came to the boat he pulled his pliers out to take it off and it was rusted shut.  If you think he didn't catch any hell from me through out the weekend you are lying to yourself.  Poor Rusty took it like a champ, though.  That was until poker one night when he decided to pick me up and body slam me onto a table in the dining room.  Sorry about your table, Matt.  To be continued tomorrow...


Look Out Lake Trout

Here we come Canada!  Earl, Todd, Theo, myself, and all the rest of the boys (a.k.a. the crew) leave tomorrow for lake trout fishing at Camp Manitou.  It is going to be soooo much fun.   Hope you boys are ready for what's about to go down!  When I return I will have pictures and lots of stories to share.  Until then, Fish On!   


Ice Out!

Today Waconia is officially open.  The wind over night busted up the ice and opened the lake to boat traffic.  We can finally enjoy soft water again.  Fish On!


Get this party started!

rainy river 06 02 015.jpgIt's that time of year again when we have to blow the dust off our boats and summer gear.  I have been anxiously waiting for the sound of snowmobiles to give way to the roar of outboard motors.  

Like most of us here in Minnesota, I use ice fishing as an outlet to pass the time between open water seasons.  I am fortunate enough to be able to ice fish a lot, but nothing compares to the feeling of standing on the deck of that Z 20 Ranger Boat.  Being that my boat is in Arkansas at the Ranger factory I was at the will of my friends.  Many thanks to Josh Braun, Josh Raw, and Jeff Z for being so willing to put up with me for a few days on the water. 

Josh Braun and Josh Raw arrived in Baudette Friday morning and I met them at the Birchdale boat ramp.  The anticipation of setting the hook on my first walleye or sturgeon of the season was overwhelming.  I couldn't hardly handle it.  I was gitty, like a little kid on his first day of school.  The conditions were fair to good for this time of year.  The wind was blowing about 10 mph, the sun was hiding, temps didn't break 35, and it snowed for about 6 hrs on us. 

raw_rainey_iceout_06.jpgJosh, Raw, and myself made the most of the chance at whacking down a 10 plus pound walleye.  Ok we didn't catch any 10 pounders but we did catch about 35 walleyes and really enjoyed our day on the Rainy River.  Raw was able to boat the first walleye, the most, and the biggest (28").  By the way Raw, I still owe you for all of the above.  I will catch up with you on that next year.

Friday night we made visits to the Muny, Wigwam, Sportsmans, and River Bend to take in a little of the local atmosphere.  Knowing we would have a big day on the water on Saturday we needed to get to bed and get some rest. 

rainy river 06 02 005.jpgSaturday I met Jeff Z , Jen, and Robot at Luckys' and once again we were off to the Birchdale access for some walleye and sturgeon action.  The weather had broke and the sun was out.  The walleye fishing was still a bit slow so come early afternoon we made the decision to sturgeon fish.  We boated five or six nice sturgeon and then headed back to town to get freshened up for the big Mardi Gras party at Sportsmans. 

After all the fishing and partying I was wiped out and knew I had a long drive home in the morning so we headed back to Baudette and crashed.  Was up early on Sunday and on my way home.  After beating the pavement for the better part of 5 hours I was glad to be home.