Friday, September 4, 2009

Reflections on Basket Lake

Chompy and me

With only sky above and water below, the only reminder that you are a civilized being is a softly puttering motor that eases you across a gently rolling lake. Serenity now. The waves tenderly lap at the side of the boat as you scan the shore trying to identify anything that may have looked different a billion years ago. Pass the sunscreen.

First thing's first

That pretty much sums up the week I just spent in Canada in pursuit of the elusive walleye. I was fortunate enough to be invited to by a couple family friends to fish with them on beautiful Basket Lake in Ontario. We arrived at camp last Saturday afternoon and immediately began pulling tender, unsuspecting walleye from the depths.

Scott with a happy walleye

Truth be told, it required a little more cunning this year than it has in the past. Evidently the summer temps were a little screwy this year, so as a result, the fish behavior was a little less predictable. Generally when fish are found at a certain depth in one area it can be assumed that they can be found at that same depth across the lake. Our experience was a little different, so we needed to use every available tool to gather as much fish data as possible. They play their game, we play ours.

Three Sisters N 49° 42.629 W091° 57.870

Gull Rock N 49° 41.628 W091° 58.017

The orienteering was a big part of the fun for me. It's satisfying to acquaint yourself with unfamiliar territory by considering things like gps coordinates, heading, time, wind direction, water depth, temperature, shoreline features, etc. It's probably the same satisfaction people got from naming constellations...the organization of something that seemed random. There were places like Gull Rock, Three Sisters (or Destiny's Child), Fran's Island, Ray's Bay that people had already named for reference. Catching the fish really just seemed to confirm that we knew how to use the information, because we'd just reel 'em up really fast, unhook 'em and whip 'em back into the water. It's like, "Yeah, I found you and tricked you. I just wanted you to know that."

Anti-bear garbage hoist and our cabin on the left

The closest thing we had to bad weather

The weather was fab all week. In fact, the last time they saw more than two nice days in a row was like back in June, so we were very fortunate to be able to do this comfortably. Ten hour-a-day fishing is much more fun when you're not sitting in a puddle, and that's really how I prefer to remember Canada. I don't want to remember the nine-hour drive through desolate, boarded up towns, or their goofy road signs, although we did see a sweet sign that said something like, "Use of seat belts is compulsory". Wacky Frenchies.