Trolling For Clams

Approaching the border we had all our credentials in order but when I handed the passports over I had fumbled around and failed to have one of them opened to the right page.

Whether it was his cynicism or just a dry sense of humor, the border guard made quick note of that. “After all that work you still didn’t get it right.”

“Where you headed?” he asked.

“Lake Pak ash a kan” I replied, or something like that.

As he turned away he mumbled what I assumed to be, the correct pronunciation which was nothing like what I had said.

Just as we laugh at those from south of the border trying to pronounce simple Wisconsin names like Wausau, Weyauwega or Oconomowoc.

“Any weapons, tobacco, drugs? How much alcohol are your carrying (as if Wisconsinites can’t leave home without it)? One case of beer, I replied.

Then he made another comment that I took to mean “have a nice day.”

I was wrong.

“That wasn’t a comment but a question” he stated. My look of confusion and the long line of cars behind us no doubt influenced his decision not to bother with me any longer.

“Have a nice trip.”

We were now in Canada-going fishing!

Lake Pakashkan is about 125 miles from Thunder Bay which is 500 miles from Green Bay. The last 40 or so, down unmarked logging roads.

11706 acres of sunken islands, rocks and sandbars with a little water here and there just to make you think it’s safe to drive a boat.

Virtually everything has to be brought in. Food, fuel, bait, toilet paper. Otherwise it’s 40 miles back over those same washboard gravel roads to the nearest town, Upsula, which may or may not have what you need.

Naturally the weather was cold, raining, and windy but after ten hours of driving we launched the boats anyway.

And caught fish. Lots of fish.

The rule was; “nothing under 16 inches, nothing over 18” but a big one could go into “the book.”

“The book” was started around 2002 and contained  pertinent information about landing  a Northern Pike over 35 inches or a Walleye over 24.

These were caught in places such as “Jon’s Hole, Harry’s Hideout, Hog Run” and included the time, place, type of bait used and of course, the name of the one who caught it.

Fish were caught, measured and released but once in the book, bragging rights were forever.

It’s an honor system.

Some, it seems might have been just a little less than honorable over the years but hey, that’s fishing.

The biggest Walleye recorded was 33 1/2 inches caught in 2003 on a jig and crawler while the record Northern was listed as a 47 incher on a rapala in 2010.

No record for the smallest but I do have a picture of one that just has to qualify as the smallest fish ever recorded-here or anywhere else. Hannas-fish.pdf

We did place a couple bets on the biggest for the day between the boats. I won one with a 21 inch Walleye and lost the other to a 24 incher.

The latter also went into “the book.”

Nights were filled with, what else but eating fresh fish, cooking for ten and listening to the stories of the day and past trips.

Tough Fishing

Games of ‘Liar’s Dice’ and banter lasted until the last dog was hung.

Morning came early with coffee brewed in a real coffee pot on the propane fueled stove, a pocket full of licorice, beef sticks or trail mix and we were off.

Just like the Post Office, “neither rain nor sleet nor black of night….” lightning was about the only thing that would keep us from  stalking lunker “eyes.”

Breakfast around 9 followed by more fishing ’til 430 then supper, followed by more fishing, ’til dark.

Catch fish, clean fish, eat fish, tell lies, sleep, repeat.

Someone discovered an new way to make old fashionds with crushed cherry starbursts and carbonated water. Plus booze and bitters, of course.

Some will say it’s just about the fish but others contend it’s  bonding with family and friends, enjoying the outdoors and finding adventure on foreign soil.

It’s the fish.

And some of that other stuff.

Saw a moose.

All clams were released unharmed.

Lake Pakashkan (Pa-cashˊ-kun).

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