Getting away for a few days is a tricky task around here. It’s difficult to find a sitter for horses, cats, and dogs, and difficult to drag ourselves away from the grind of daily life. It had been two years since Darrell and I were able to go away on a vacation. That was far too long, so when we were able to piece together a few days last month, we jumped at the chance to ditch our responsibilities and head up north for some camping and a whole lot of fishing.
We chose to visit two lakes that we had spent some time at in the past. These lakes are up in the Killarney area and have very little traffic. One lake has no cottages, the other has only a few, and we were able to camp in between the two, allowing us to fish each one without moving camp.
Having gone to work on the Friday, we got a later departure than originally planned, and arrived at the lakes just as the last rays of sun were disappearing behind the pine trees. Since it was the weekend, several of the cottagers had beat us to the small parking lot where they would leave their cars and pick-up their boats. There was nowhere for us to park, so we had to drive up an old logging trail to get to a clearing where we could stop for the night and sleep in the truck. The poor old truck was bouncing all over the place, scraping off of trees, climbing over boulders, and leaning to the side. Not for the first time, I was thankful for having 4×4.
Sights like this are even more enjoyable on vacation.
I awoke to a melody of bird songs the following morning and had to go for a walk over reindeer lichen and ripening blueberries before I found Darrell coming back from an early excursion. The truck rumbled back down the logging trail and into a open area where we set up the tent and stowed the boat trailer.
Having wheeled the boat down the lane to the smaller lake, we paused a moment to enjoy the soft, sweet smell of the pines, the continuing melody of the birds, the circus of northern leopard frogs leaping at our feet, and purple blooms of the pickerelweed.
The small lake held a healthy population of largemouth bass, and a ridiculously abundant population of baitfish. Every little bay was crammed with massive schools of bait. We were looking forward to doing some frog fishing in the slop using our Scum Frogs, but the bass wanted nothing to do that. They were deeper. Spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and a wacky-rigged senko were able to trigger some bites. I even pulled out the fly rod out and had a few take a streamer. Darrell had the most luck pitching a texas-rigged creature bait.
The baitfish weren’t small.
First fish of the trip.
We saw bigger ones, even lost a couple of them, but the smaller ones were the only ones really willing to play.
After a day and a half in the smaller lake, we dragged the boat back up the lane and put it into the big lake.
The bigger lake was the scene of some epic smallmouth bass fishing a few years back, but try as we might, we couldn’t seem to find anything but the little ones. I simplified and starting tossing out a curly-tailed grub. It caught me a lot of fish, but still nothing of size.
Working around one of the islands, I cast out a chatterbait and reeled back at a quick pace. Smash! First big fish of the trip and I watched a beautiful smallie jump out of the water. The net-man was a little slow, and after playing her close to the boat, all I got was a splash of water as she threw the hooks and disappeared.
With my adrenaline pumping, I had to focus on slowing down my retrieve so I could keep the lure in the water. A few minutes later I pulled in another smallie and this time it made it into the boat for quick pic and then was released. Darrell maneuvered the boat back to the beginning of that drift, and we started casting at a patch of lily pads. Fish after fish came off of that patch, each bigger than the last. My face was sore from grinning, and Darrell couldn’t stop laughing. We visited this spot a few more times before the end of our trip.
Darrell definitely caught the most beautiful fish of the trip. This picture doesn’t do it justice.
Another great one. Not the biggest ever, but still a lot of fun.
Over the course of four days we caught several fish, saw some breathtaking scenery, explored new areas, observed an amazing variety of bird species, and even saw a wolf. We also caught up on a lot of missed sleep since the mosquitoes chased us to the tent before dark. After dark there were enough of them to carry us away.
On that final morning I found myself getting grumpy at the thought of having to leave such a perfect area. How could anyone want to leave two beautiful lakes and all that amazing wilderness? We had one final fish around the lake and managed to pull a couple more in before we had to load the boat on the trailer.
Slightly smaller, but always appreciated.
This one nailed my jig the moment it hit the water.
On our last visit to this area, we had some fun getting the boat out of the lake. This was no different. We may have had a smaller boat this time, but the launch had filled in with even more sediment. I’m always happy to have Darrell around in moments like this. He seems to know how to solve them.
The truck sank into the mud pretty quickly.
Darrell brought the boat over, needing to push-pole it for the last bit.
Then he lifted the boat onto the trailer, winched it in, and drove out. All in all, pretty painless.
Two happy and exhausted anglers.
As usual, I felt like crying as we pulled back out onto the road. I really hate leaving this place. Even though I’ve only been up there a few times, it surprisingly feels like home. There’s always a part of me left up there.
The glum mood finally dissipated as I thought about returning to all of my animals. I scrolled through the fish pictures and felt a smile return to my face. As vacations go, I’d say this was a successful one.