I awoke with the smell of last nights campfire covering me, I breathed in, savoring it. I love that smell. The boys and I played catchup with the old man. He was already on his second cup of campfire-coffee, rancid stuff, but good in a pinch. We got our gear hauled back into our water chariot. I scooped what was left of the 3 bags of ice we purchased on the way up, which was maybe 12 cubes total, and tossed it into our cooler. “I’m going to need water” I thought. I had a beaner of a headache grinding through my brains. Damn you beer. Damn you rum.
A Smoky Morning
The boys and I dragged our feet and collapsed off the dock into the boat. Still too tired to function. The old man had a childish smile on his face as he gave the pull-start a yank and let the engine purr back to life. The boat was going in a north-easterly direction, headed towards an area we skipped the day prior. I looked towards the horizon, and commented on how smoky it looked up that ways. One of the boys mentioned that ‘Smoky the Bear’ must be slacking off. We chuckled and continued driving ahead. We had heard reports of forest fires getting pretty nasty way up North but that we were in the clear. Good thing too, as we had some fish to catch.
Trolling, Trolling, Trolling, Rawhide
We started the morning off with some serious trolling, which for you non-fishermen, is when you drag your lines through the water while the boat is gently moving through the waters. You cover more territory this way, and have to cast less, the perfect type of fishing while recovering from a mild hangover. We trolled for maybe 15 minutes when the fish woke up. We began pulling out fish after fish, finding the occasional hot spot where we’d stop for some casting. The fish were practically jumping in our boat. And who could blame them, we had cold beer, a full bag of Sunflower seeds, and a great sense of humour.
Underwater wishes and northern pike fishes
My underwater camera proved useful for fishing. Whenever we’d get a bite, someone would reach for the camera and try to snap a picture or video of the whole event, and if possible, a picture of the battle underwater. We were lucky to get a few good shots. However I should give props to the clear waters up North too. Most of the fishing done in lakes elsewhere would be way too murky to grab a photo of anything but algae.
Lake McLennan Waterfalls
Vince and Tamara, the owners and operators of Bears Camp, mentioned that there were waterfalls nearby. Saskatchewan Waterfalls just has the ring of an oxymoron. But we went along with it, expecting to find some sign laughing at us, or maybe just a small drainage pipe from a nearby cabin. After tripping over a couple of fallen trees, we heard the hiss of water falling and the recognizable splash caused by waterfalls. Holy crap, they weren’t kidding. They’re no Niagra Falls, but this is is photographic proof that Saskatchewan is not flat. Well, not completely.
She’s Gonna Be Cold
We made our way back onto the lake and caught some more fish, had a couple laughs as a few got away. My hangover was just about gone. Knowing perfectly well that cold water almost instantly cures hangovers, I notioned to a nearby crop of rocks. “It’s time”, I told my Dad. He laughed and pulled into a bay where some rocks dropped off into about 12 feet of water. I climbed out of the boat gently and watched as my brothers followed behind. “She’s gonna be cold” yelled the old man. I laughed nervously. I jumped from the edge giving one semi-girlish scream before entering the cold waters of Lake McLennan.
A Cold Dip in the Lake
The cold water stole my breathe, my survival skills kicked in. Don’t breathe in yet, too cold. I began treading water, my temperature cooled, but my breathe came back. Now to just let my body adjust to the water. My older brother Logan jumped in and soaked me, the splash on my face was incredibly cold. We laughed and egged our youngest brother to give’r a go. He laughed and called us idiots, and chose to continue fishing instead. We harassed him until our chattering teeth wouldn’t let us speak anymore. He then brought up what Vince had said about the “One Inch Lake”. He got the last laugh. This time.
Race to the Rocky Island
Logan and I saw a small rocky island in the middle of the lake. We hollered to the old man, “We’re swimming for it”. He laughed, probably preparing to drag at least one body out of the water. Through luck, fate, or possibly our healthy diet (not likely), we both managed to make it to the rocky island. The old man maneuvered the 16 foot tin water chariot close enough to the island that we could step off the rocky ledge, back onto our seats. We swiftly grabbed our towels and a beer. Hangover cured.
The Best Shore Lunch. Ever
It was getting close to 1:00pm when all the bellies on board were loudly telling us that food would be appreciated. We met up with Erik’s boat, the old man’s comrade, and yelled “Shore Lunch”. We followed Erik’s boat to a secluded firepit near a slow moving river and a bearproof cabin. The old man cleaned fish as I dangled my feet from the small bridge that crossed the river. I complimented on the finished fillets. “Nice cutting pops.” I said. He replied in his farmers accent, something he’ll never shake,”This ain’t my first rodeo.”
Butterflies are too manly!
Hot dogs were brought out of the food cooler, along with all the condiments. Ketchup, mustard, and relish, each a necessity for any good fishing trip. We breaded some more fish, buttered a skillet, tossed it on the fire and let the fish cook as we roasted hot dogs and inhaled trail mix by the handful. While the fish was finishing, I did a quick walk around the old bearproof cabin and managed to find a butterfly who was willing to do a photo-op with me. I walked back to the fire, and devoured some of the tastiest Northern Pike and Lake Trout I’d ever consumed.
Last Sunset in Northern SK
We managed to get a few more hours of fishing in before the sun began its descent into the clear glass-like waters of Northern Saskatchewan. We would be leaving early the next morning back to Regina, so we had lots of packing and cleaning up to do. We took a few pictures, watched the sunset in the middle of the lake, and enjoyed the peace and quiet that this remote part of Canada has to offer.
Henry David Thoreau once said “Many men go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” I think those words tie our little adventure together perfectly. We met some great people, who found a passion, followed it, and now call it their life. We made some great memories, escaped the day to day routine, and had a few laughs. It’s memories like this that make fishing what it is.
Check out Bears Camp at Lake McLennan, Saskatchewan, for more information on fishing, boating, and experiencing an affordable Northern getaway.