I’ve had my eye on a lake since late last year. Like most of the lakes I obsess over, I’m not really sure how it came to my attention, but once it did, I couldn’t shake the idea of fishing it. It was a hike-in lake, for starters. That immediately pushes something to as close to the top of the “must fish” list as you can get. It was also rumoured to hold big fish, something I don’t care too much about, but always piques my interest, even just a little.
Time passed, the water froze, and thawed again, and a trip slowly started coming together. Since the drive was a little longer than normal, it grew from a one day trip, to a 1.5 day trip. I figured out, and built, a way to get my canoe into the lake easier than simply carrying it. I plotted out my routes. Picked out the flies I felt were going to be effective. Finally, I set a date for my first true trout bum trip.
Of course like any true fishing trip, it got pushed back a week due to illness, which actually wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened. I wasn’t feeling too good about things and had been feeling really unprepared as a result. The extra week gave me a chance to figure out the smaller details of the trip, like what I was going to take with me, clothes-wise and things like. I was sad not to be fishing, but happy to have the extra time to prepare.
That extra week must have been just what I needed because the drive in was perfect. Everything went exactly the way I expected, from the amount of time it took to get there right down to where I stopped for the night. I pulled into the my campsite for the night–at exactly the time I had planned on getting there, no less–and quickly set up camp and got dinner going. I kept things simple for the trip. I was going to sleep in the car to avoid having to set up a tent–it’s not really my favourite thing to do–and made an easy meal of canned soup, which I ate in front of the fire.
This being my first time sleeping alone in the woods, I expected the worst. In fact, I fully expected to have nothing but stories of me cowering in the car, spooked by some noise in the bush, only to discover it was a grouse or mouse or something that definitely isn’t a giant, blood thirsty bear, crazed hillbillies or whatever else would have been going on in my head. Instead, I spent the evening relaxing by the fire and I even heard an owl I hadn’t heard before–I think it was a barred owl, which is fitting since the barred owl, and the hoot I heard, is almost a supernatural sound if you don’t know what you’re hearing. After a couple of hours of fire time, I called it a night. I knew I would be up early, whether I wanted to or not, so staying up to midnight wouldn’t do me any favours at all.
As predicted, I had an early start to the day, which was fine by me since it meant more time on the water. I made a decent breakfast and then got everything ready for the hike in. I was expecting to discover a few pain points during the hike in, mostly with my canoe mover. This was the first time I had used it and I was expected to discover a few things that would need improving. Sure enough, I found them. The biggest was a section that I had missed gluing together. It popped out every time there was anything the wheels needed to go over. It added a bit of time to the trek, but was an easy fix.
After a fair bit of huffing and puffing, the lake came into view. This is my favourite part of going to hike-in lakes. Even with all the fancy bits of technology that make finding lakes fairly easy, it’s still very easy to make a wrong move and end up lost, even if it’s only temporarily. The moment the lake comes into view is, at least for me, confirmation that I’ve read the maps properly and that I haven’t just dragged my canoe a kilometre on the wrong direction.
The fishing itself is almost irrelevant to the experience of getting to the water. Whatever happens once I’ve found the water is just gravy, really. Having said that, the fishing was fairly tough that day. It was at the end of a rainy spell, which almost always means tough fishing. There also was virtually no insect activity on the water, which was really surprising. I saw a handful of chironomid shucks in the water and there was a small caddis hatch at one end of the lake that only seemed to interest the swallows and a handful of fish. I had some fun, though. I managed a few to the point and lost twice as many. The best thing was, being wild trout and not hatchery fish, even the smaller fish put on a good show and a great fight.
The trek out of the lake revealed another easy to fix issues with my canoe mover, but aside from that, it was easier and faster than the walk in.
The next day I stumbled across the term ‘trout bum weekend’ that someone used to describe their solo trips into the woods after fish and fell in love with it. Although I don’t consider myself a trout bum, as such–I’ll chase just about any fish, it really depends on what’s the dominant species in the area I’m in–I loved the phrase so much I used a version of it for the title of this post. It was too perfect not to. On to planning the next trip and the adventures that will surround those fish.