Sunday, August 6, 2023. The morning was overcast, but we were optimistic that we’d get into some big fish sooner or later.
Here, Arthur and Jack head out for the day.
Mark was ready for the day, including the chilly ride out to wherever it is we were going fishing.
We started out pike fishing in a place called Widdess Bay, which was beautiful. Because both guides (Curtis and Aedan) agreed to fish the same area, we were hopeful we were in a good spot.
By 9:00 Mark caught a pike about 40 inches long, with two large bite marks on it, as if it had gotten into a fight with an even larger fish. We felt sorry for the big brute, so released it quickly back into the water.
At 10:38 Mark caught a bonfide 40-inch pike, which was an awesome fish and looked like it has a head to grow into.
At 11:32 Mark had another 40-inch pike. Curtis is holding Mark’s fish in this photo, which Mark later said is one of his favorite photos.
I, meanwhile, had caught a couple of puny pike. I’ll admit that part of me loved seeing Mark super happy. The competitive part of me wanted to throw Mark into the water.
I had little to show for myself after a full morning on the water, even after using a variety of lures. I had had several large pike come towards the boat, but I couldn’t get anything large to connect. The only thing that made me feel reasonably decent was that one of my small pike made up part of our lunch.
While I ventured off to take photos and pout, Curtis and Aedan cut up my fish and another fish that Jack or Arthur caught.
Our lunch spot was in a small bay with a short, sandy beach and plenty of small trees to take a leak behind. The ground was snarled with mosses and logs and it was hard walking, but it made me stop to take in my surroundings. It had gotten sunny and warm enough for me to peel several layers and for Mark to get down to short-sleeves.
The two guides worked well together, starting a fire from scratch, slicing up potatoes for French fries, cutting up fish into six-inch (or smaller) chunks to also fry. They opened a can of baked beans and a can of corn and within 30 minutes lunch was ready. They even had a small bottle of Hellman’s tartar sauce. It was a tasty lunch, and while I felt the luxury lunch came at the expense of fishing, it was good to relax, look around at the landscape, take photos, and enjoy other parts of what northern Saskatchewan has to offer.
Curtis making lunch.
I photographed fireweed (above), wild blueberries and wild cranberries. Blueberries were everywhere and super tasty. I asked Aedan about bears and he said, “Yeah, we have bears.” He showed me a three-foot diameter hole in the ground and said that a bear had come to this very spot to eat the grease from the last shore lunch. When the guides are done cooking, they dump the grease on the ground.
It would come to pass that while I did not see a bear, Arthur and Jack did. They also saw caribou swimming in the water, going from one island to the next. I’ve been to Canada on numerous fishing trips and have never seen a caribou. I kind of wanted to throw Jack and Arthur in the water, too.
But back to lunch. As we ate lunch, seagulls showed up—first one, then, before lunch was over, a dozen. They fought over the fish guts, head and skin in the water.
We returned to the lake to go after pike again, and at 3:45 Mark pulled in a 42-inch pike. At 3:57 he got another. At 4:06, in a place called Barkwell Bay we saw a fuzzy creature about 50 feet from shore with something in its mouth. We got closer and it swam to shore and jumped out onto the rocky land with a fish in its mouth. With the number of big pike in the bay, I was amazed that it could survive.
A guide named Art later confirmed it was a mink. My lousy video is here. The lousy photo here is a snapshot from the video. I had no time to grab my zoom lens.
I’ll note here that for about a half hour I trolled with a large black and orange Medussa lure that Curtis had. It’s rubbery, mostly black with gold and green, and really ugly. Not a single thing hit the lure when I used it.
While we got enough sun to take off several layers during lunch, by the afternoon, the sun was covered by clouds and the clouds looked rather gnarly. We put more layers back on and were happy to make it back to the lodge before it rained.
Afterwards–in celebration of having finally caught a fish in Canada–Arthur allowed himself a Kokanee beer, which is a “native” Canadian beer. It turns out Kokanee is brewed in Creston, British Columbia, which began brewing Kokanee lager in 1959 and was purchased by the Labatt Brewing Company in 1974, at least according to Wikipedia.
I’ll note here that it might be good luck to drink Kokanee after catching one’s first fish at Cree Lake Lodge.
After a few adult beverages we took time to enjoy the sunset.