I woke up at 3 a.m. in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Took a shuttle to the airport and by 5 a.m. I was winging toward Laronge. From there we headed to Points North (the literal "end of the road"). When the fog lifted a little while later, we were on our way to Misaw Lake, deep in the Year of The Blade.
Bernie Golling, a former police officer from Pittsburg, manages the lodge here at Misaw, and this is the fourth or fifth time he's invited me up here (I've lost count). I'm more than willing to comply, having made acquaintance with a couple 49-inch pike, huge numbers of grayling, and lake trout up to 25 pounds here in past. (I've also been to Golling's Rocky River Lodge in Alaska, largely because Bernie does such a good job of organizing his camps and keeping pressure to a minimum so the fishing stays hot.)
We landed softly on the new airstrip at Misaw, made our way to the lodge for breakfast, and before long we were enveloped by a gorgeous summer day. I was accompanied by Pat (the "Face of Misaw") Thompson, our bush pilot, and our guide, Edwin Lariviere. We slipped the bonds of civilization with the help of a 40 Yamaha, buzzing even further North across flat water under blue skies laced with cotton-candy clouds. Misaw, about 8 miles from Saskatchewan's border with the Northwest Territories, is rather "back of beyondish." No planes appeared overhead. No copters. No prospectors in sight. No roads mar the boreal forest. White wolves and black bears sometimes wander into camp, and why not? We're the guests, here.
A little later I asked Pat, here, to hold Edwin's 46 incher. That's Edwin playing my 40 incher in the background. Ok, it was a cluster. But teamwork prevailed and all were safely released, though something recently gashed the side of this kraken and I would love to hook the monster that did it.
The pike here at Misaw have broad profiles and unique coloration. An overall patina of gold is often punctuated by splotches of bright dandelion yellow. And about the only way to get a close look at one today was to strictly observe the commandments of the Year of The Blade.
As on Great Slave last month, the best bait to use today was a straight-shafted spinner. And it didn't take Edwin long to piece that together, since he's been watching the same phenomenon unfold almost daily since the camp opened for the year, over a month ago.
The rainbow-trout pattern Mepps highlighted in the photo above was Edwin's weapon of choice. As on Great Slave, a size #5 Dressed Aglia was deadly. This is not a large bait for a toothy freshwater kraken like this one, which was the camp's biggest today . We combined to put several other 40 inchers in the boat and — it seems needless to say — all were taken on small bucktails.(Not that I didn't try to buck the trend — the bottom of the boat was littered with swimbaits both hard and soft, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, minnowbaits, and spoons of various sizes, shapes and colors.)
More on the Year of the Blade tomorrow, as we invade the kraken-infested Schwandt River with an arsenal of travel rods destined for inclusion in the 2013 In-Fisherman Gear Guide.