The Monster of the Black Lagoon,
I thought it looks kind of funny, but my
wife was not laughing. She was standing in
the boat with her favorite trout rod, a 7.5 ft,
5 wt Sage, and bent all the way to the handle.
It really looked like she was stuck to the
bottom, and in some way she was, not really
to the bottom, but to a huge pike lying there,
totally unconcerned of the titanic efforts on
the surface. But listen; to be honest, it was
no fun. Marta was hooked to this fellow for
the best part of half an hour, when we (Marta,
our son Sebastián and me) decided that it was
time for a Draconian solution, and cut the line.
or What to do When the Brookies are not Biting
By Jorge J. Santiago-Avilés
The monster (not really from a lagoon) but from
a nice lake in Quebec (which wasn't black at all,
but of a nice shade of green and fairly transparent)
was seen only once, when it took the streamer. Its
size (I would say it exceed 20 pounds) was estimated
by the huge amount of water it moved when trying to
get rid of the streamer.
It was the end of June, and the good size
brookies (our favorite quarry in cold water
fishing) were deep. The ones reacting to our
dry fly offerings were not much larger than
the ones in Pennsylvania, but still, a lot of
fun to catch. After trying for brookies for
a few days, we decided to fly out to one of
several walleye/pike lakes the lodge owners
had available to their guests.
The author and his fishing buddy (my son
Sebastián) checking out the Beaver.
We came to Caesars Lodge persuaded that we will
find the brookies Quebec is so famous for, good
in size, as well as in quantities. The trip from
Philadelphia was most pleasurable, with a nice
stop in Ottawa while heading north (Sebastián
loved the waterfront and a trip in the Ottawa
River, Marta was taken by the nice open-air
markets, and I liked everything, as I always
enjoy traveling to Canada). Returning home,
we stopped in Montreal, and we all loved it!
After a couple of hours driving on an unpaved
road (where we stopped close to a bridge and
were regaled with the view of several moose
crossing a river), we reached a lake where
the airplane will pick-us-up for the trip to
the lodge. For Sebastián, I have no doubt
that flying in the pontoon planes was the best
part of the trip. Of course, the pilots treated
him like a prince, as he had the privilege of
sitting in the co-pilot seat, handling the steering
control for a few minutes. Looking at him you
could immediately see that he was in cloud seven!
As we landed at the lodge, we received a most
welcoming reception and description of their
facilities and rules (for example, not to
release any trout that as a result of being
hooked or played, was bleeding, as the brookies
are very delicate and the mortality is high).
As soon as we had our boat and cabin assigned,
we changed, prepared our rods and left to
check-out the home lake. The structure by the
lakeshore was very suggestive of good fishing,
you know, the right combination of sunken trees,
rocks, and deep water close to the shore, all
the good stuff that we look for.
Not more than 100 yards away from the last cabin
in the lodge, and perhaps Marta's fourth or fifth
cast, she hooked a good size fish with a woolly
worm. As she always de-barbs the hooks, I was
trying to persuade her not to play the trout much.
Well, we landed it. It was a nineteen-inch fish,
perhaps a pound and a half. This really lifted
our spirits and raised our expectations.
The Beaver pilot and co-pilot, Sebastián really
liked the flying part!
It was a beautiful first day that ended with
a great "French" style dinner and a beautiful
sunset. The complete family was enthusiastic
and looking forward to a great rest of the week.
We were up early next day ready for action,
when we noticed it was very cloudy and a light
rain was falling. This was the beginning of
a so-so weather for the rest of the week, as
we never had a full day of sun during our stay.
Keeping our son dry and in high spirits became
the biggest challenge, but don't get me wrong,
Sebastián is a great sport. He rarely complains,
enjoys the outdoors and also understands that
the weather can be very moody at times. Although
there were times when he was wet and victim of black
flies, Sebastián continued fishing with his
spinning rod and did very well. For Marta,
things were not good. She did not get any
more strikes from brookies in the home lake
for a day and half, so it was time to change
to plan B.
Within hiking distance (half an hour to one
hour hikes) the lodge has four or five lakes,
all with boats with outboard motors. We decided
to ask Nancy, the charming and knowledgeable
young lady in charge, for advice. She told
us of a nearby lake with a 'great deal of trout,'
although perhaps a bit smaller in sizes. Great
deal of trout, that was the phrase we were
waiting for, and immediately went to reserve
the next day in Pep Lake.
After the usual hearty breakfast (they can do
the most amazing sweet crępes) we motored to
the trailhead and started to walk, as soon as
the hike began, so did the rain, strong at time,
it left us drenched, even wearing raingear.
But not all was bad, once we reached the end
of the trail, pushed the aluminum boat to the
waters edge and started the outboard; the rest
of the wet day was bliss. The brookies were
mostly in schools all of about the same size,
from 10 to 11 inches and full of energy. The
first one fell to one of Sebastián's jigs, and
from that moment on, we must have hooked and
landed over fifty. All good fighters and quite
a few jumped. They seemed to prefer shallow bays
with vegetation, pretty much like bluegills.
We cast a size 14 Adams and three or four
simultaneously attacked the fly. In some cases
they will jump and landed on top of the fly. It
was a wonderful spectacle in the most beautiful
setting; we loved it!
Sebastián and his first brookie, note the
spin-casting outfit he prefers.
After the hike and boat ride back to the lodge
we decided to try another of the hike-in lakes.
It was a bummer day, we all got skunked! Except
for a few chubs (no trout during the day) in the
evening hours, I landed a good size brookie in
the home lake. That was when we decided to try
plan C, fly-outs to pike/walleye lakes.
The lodge has three planes, and as far as
I remember two were Cessna 185. The third
one was a DeHavilland Beaver, one of the
airplanes considered the workhorses of the
bush. We arranged for a two days fly-out
to one of the outposts (interestingly, you pay
for the distance from the home lodge and not
for the days spent on the outpost). We left
the lodge in the Cessna and returned in the
Beaver (no doubt Sebastián's favorite plane).
He loved the flying experience, and liked the
radial engine, the loud sound and sheer bulk
of the Beaver.
Marta and one of the northerns, note her
favorite five-weight trout rod. The same
she used to battle the monster.
The lake was very pretty; it was sort of three
lakes connected by narrow channels. We had
access to two of them, and they were full of
fish. Using streamers, we landed pike up to
10 pounds, and Marta landed walleyes on small
streamers and sinking lines. Just outside the
cabin, casting from the pier, we landed five
or six pike.
For Sebastián, the outpost cabin was just
wonderful; we had to carry the water and
firewood. At the end of the day, we decided
to take a shower. We did it by heating water,
getting all naked and dumping the warm water
on us, just outside of the cabin door, looking
at the stars and telling stories of bears
chasing naked people.
The next morning, I cast Sebastián's favorite
lure from the front pier, an impressive blue
fellow I was sure will scare any pike, well,
I got an immense strike and got cut-off.
Loosing his lucky lure was an event Sebastián
did not take lightly; I had to promise that I
would replace it with several lures of his
selection upon reaching Philadelphia.
The cabin by the Black lagoon. It was such a
pretty place, and so much fun for the whole family.
We spent one more day fishing the home lake
(a few chubs and a good trout from the landing
pier in front of the lodge main building) before
taking the plane back to the lake where the car
was parked. It was a pleasant and adventuresome
week. The lodge was well run and well equipped,
the food was excellent, and the fishing better
than fair. Not having excellent fishing was the
unfortunate result of being late in the season
and having an extended cold and rain front upon
us most of the week. Fishing in Canada has always
been a pleasant experience for our family and we
are looking forward to return for some more
brookies, smallies and pike (with the usual
muskellunge and walleye thrown in) to the
friendly and beautiful neighbor to the north.
~ Jorge J. Santiago-Avilés
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