Friday, September 2, 2011
Fly Fishing on Kiskhutena Lake and Lake of the Woods
I got back home late yesterday from a great trip to lower Ontario. My fishing buddy Larry Fulkerson and I drove up (930 miles from here - we make it a day and a half drive) and spent the first three nights (2-1/2 fishing days) at Young's Wilderness Camp on Lake of the Woods. We heartily recommend this lodge. Every group has their own cabin but meals are taken in the main dining room. We both gained weight! The food was excellent. We had a nice 16' boat with a 40 h.p. Yamaha motor, front-mount trolling motor, and pedestal seats - perfect fishing machine.
The winds were a little bit on the stiff side so we fished the leeward sides of the islands and found plenty of cooperative smallmouths. Larry caught the biggest one - a really husky 18" fighter. He caught it on a Stonefly Bugger. I got semi-even that afternoon with a 15-1/2" largemouth on a brown/white Clouser. This was our third trip up there and it was the first largemouth we'd seen. I think it was the next day I caught a 31" Northern pike on a size 6 "Electric Chicken" - chartreuse over hot pink Clouser Minnow.
The third morning, we flew to Young's outpost cabin (about 15 minutes by float plane) located on Lake Kishkutena, a 7-1/2 mile long lake loaded with islands and rock outcroppings. A storm was coming in when we got 'dumped off'. The cabin was big and comfortable - 3 rooms and a bath. After getting everything into the cabin, we sat around till mid-afternoon waiting till we quit hearing thunder. We then went out and fished within a mile of the cabin and caught a lot of smallmouths. The next day, the weather was better but it was still windy, so we did our "lee of the islands" fishing again. Most of the smallmouth were in the 14-16" range. I had one hit that I thought was a smallmouth but then it headed deep and doubled my fly rod over. After several minutes, I got it up and realized I had a 36-40" musky. Just as I finally got its nose out of the water to grab it with my 'lipper", it spit out the 13" smallmouth that had hold of my Clouser and took off. That poor smallie had three long tooth marks down each side. I had heard of that happening but had never witnessed it before. The last fishing day, Larry 'tied' me with his own 36-40" musky caught on a "Schminnow" (Norm Zeigler's pattern). Even though we were using 30 lb. Mason hard mono for a leader, Larry's musky was able to get the leader in its mouth and bite it off just as we were ready to try to make a grab for it. Fighting those two big guys on fly rods was really exciting!
That last day at Kishkutena was gorgeous, warming to the mid-70's, and the smallmouths were really hitting about everything we threw at them. The most fun was in the mid-afternoon when I put on a popper. They really slammed that. In spite of a heavy epoxy coating, that poor foam popper was beaten to pieces by the time we went in to pack for the trip home!
All in all, it was a great trip and both Larry and I had a ball. I would like to give a plug to Perry & Carol Anniuk (the owners) of Young's for running a real class operation. It's just North of Nestor Falls, only an hour and a half out of International Falls, so if you're hunting someplace to fish in Canada without driving forever and a day, it's a great place to go. Guides are available. If you fish without a guide, Perry will provide you with a map with the locations of the 'hot spots' marked. Lake Kishkutena is a great lake to fish with a dense population of smallmouth bass, musky, lake trout and perch.