This adventure at Discovery Lake Lodge and Outposts started sometime in the fall when I was invited to join my Dad and brother in-law Chris Hasling for the trip. Chris had won the trip for two in a raffle at St. Joe’s Church, a memorial to Paul’s Dad. We met Paul and Cheryl at the St. Paul Sports Show. I was figuring this would be an interesting adventure based on first impressions. The ride up was confirming my thoughts, the directions were correct and off at the same time, 13 miles from Souix Lookout (closer to 20, the off part) and 7.5 miles from Kirk Lake Road which was about the 13 mile mark. You find a small yellow sign marking your way down a 2 mile drive. You see the buildings and are immediately impressed. Later you find out the Paul and Cheryl have built each of these one building at a time over the last 22 years. By building, I mean including the millwork of almost all of the materials found in the cabins. These two are a very hard working and caring couple. Paul may have a strong personality but his heart, dreams, and passion shine through.
Turns out Chris couldn’t make it. I know he missed the cooking my Dad and I put together for the week. Maybe next time Chris. Thank you for the opportunity to go fishing for a week with the most influential man of my life!
July 4, 2014 (Departure Day)It took a bit of effort to leave, the original 12:30 departure turned into 5 pm before we knew it. Thankfully I had already reserved a room for us at the Tee Pee Motel in International Falls so we didn’t have to worry about where we were going to stay or how late we were going to get there. I was looking forward to seeing fireworks on the way up as a bonus to running late. Unfortunately the rain put off most viewing opportunities and we made good time to International Falls. The Tee Pee Motel was a decent stay, especially including the price.
July 5, 2014
We woke up and showered to hit the road. We decided to checkout The Coffee Landing Cafe for breakfast. The cafe is just off 3rd in a corner building. I was looking forward to a denver omlete or something similar. Scanning the menu, I didn’t see the traditional omletes, but was intrigued by several and decided on the Wild Rice Omlete which included peppers, onions, mushrooms, parmasean cheese, and wild rice with some toast. Dad ordered the same and we were both impressed. After doing our produce shopping we headed for the border. After being welcomed to Canada we were on our way to Sioux Lookout. One thing I did not expect about Canada is that at least in this part there was nothing or very little between towns as far as people and their things. After 4 hours we were in Sioux Lookout getting our Ontario Fishing License at Al’s Sports. After arriving at Discovery Lake Lodge it started to rain so Dad and I settled in for a bit. Eventually the rain stopped and the sun peaked through the clouds.
Dad and I went out for a couple hours. Paul said to go to a spot on the map and you will catch some walleyes. It didn’t take long and we were into them. We kept 5 the first night between 14 and 17 inches, pan frying them for dinner. We love to eat fish, no side dishes needed.
July 6th, 2014
We ate one of my favorites Dad’s Breakfast Burritos for breakfast and headed out to Bawden Lake again. We caught a few walleyes and had 3 for lunch, I whipped up some fish tacos. I still have to get the pic from Dad. We went to try for some pike and smallmouth. Being a fly fisherman I was really looking forward to catching some smallies on the fly. The shoreline looked awesome with varying rocks, logs, and vegetation. I caught two all week. Turns out all smallies have a death wish so they are not allowed to take over the lake. We didn’t know that at the time so we let those two go. As we pulled up the submerged rock and grass island Dad hooked the nice pike below.
As you can see in the background rain was moving in so after releasing the pike and the second smallie we headed in for lunch. We ate and took a nap since it was downpouring. About 4 the skies mostly cleared and we went out for another couple hours of constant walleye action. We brought 6 home for dinner or lunch the next day. The mosquitos were intense and it was getting late so we decided on italian sausage and pasta for dinner.
July 7th, 2014
We decided to go to Zarn, a large, deep lake containing lake trout and pike. Dad and I have never really targeted lake trout so we gave it our best shot.
As I was rigging our trolling setups, dad was bored so he thought he would give the jigging rap a try. Shortly after I saw a big flash but the fish missed. A few minutes later Dad yells there he is and poof the rap was gone as if the braid were cut with a scissors. I was finally done so we head for some structure and ledge. We trolled around for a bit trying to figure it out. Dad got snagged and we lost one setup so I tied on a DT-20 Rapala and we headed to the north. After marking a fish or two Dad got one to the boat. Our first Lake Trout.
We continued on finding a group where I had one to the boat, dad lost one, and I missed another. We trolled some more but I was no longer marking the fish we were seeing before so we headed back for lunch. It was drizzling so we went into town for more lake trout supplies, turned out I forgot an entire tackle box at home so we did not have any of my spinning tackle. After picking up more 1/4 ounce jigs for walleyes, some large 1 ounce jigs for lakers, a few spoons, and some more weight we headed back to Discovery Lake.
Upon arriving back at camp Paul informed us that he and a friend would take us out Lake Trout fishing in the morning. We went out to Bawden for the evening. This was our toughest night for walleyes we caught two keepers and only a handful of others. The wind was the opposite as it had been and with the thunderheads rolling through we didn’t want to venture too far. Good thing too, we heard it coming, a heavy downpour continued for awhile after we had cleaned the fish and cooked them up. We played some cribbage and had a few drinks. I enjoyed sipping on Kinnickinnic Whiskey from Great Lakes Distillery in Milwaukee all week. Thank you Tony Stifter for bringing your bottle to the tying night, inspired me to pick one up for the trip! Hy-Top liquors in Columbia Heights has a large selection of liquors which was news to me.
We headed out once Terry got there. They asked who wanted to go with who. I knew Dad would have more fun jigging so I let him go with Paul. I went with Terry who had two pool cues and wire for his rigs. I decided to use my rod even with the large 7 oz weights used to get us down in the 50-70 ft of water. It took us a bit to get our first. Dad and Paul had caught 5 or six on jigs by then. I told Terry we had caught a few over by the islands and he didn’t want to go there so we trolled around his spot for an hour or so. Finally, I convinced him we should go up there. We had 4 fish rather quickly. He looked at me as if to say I am done if you are. I said lets make a quick turn and head back to the island one more time. Shortly into the run, I felt a peck. Then again peck, peck. And another nibble, peck, nibble. Then THWAP a big hit and I was into a big lake trout. Terry was smiling, saying “I like the way your rod bends compared to my broomsticks.” After a thumping fight the fish came to net. A massive 32# lake trout. My heart was racing. I gave Terry my camera, he didn’t realize his fingers were in the finder and I didn’t see it with the adrenaline flowing. Thankfully the picks turned out.
Later in the day after a much needed nap and lunch we went back to Bawden Lake for more walleyes and pike. I cast the popper trying to get some smallmouth but could not find them. I probably caught 100 small northerns during the week on the popper. They would engulf the large 2/0 cork poppers, it did start to get annoying since I was hoping to get one of the large smallmouth that should be haunting the shores. We decided to go catch some walleyes and we did. Sorting through we got our limit to take home.
We headed to Zarn and were planning to go to Jorrick, a short portage from Zarn containing some large walleyes. Unfortunately there was not much gas for us to make the long run after fishing for lakers. We put on the large jigs and frozen minnows. I watched the electronics trying to figure it out. After a bit, I said that has to be a fish Dad. A smack, Dad landed the first. We moved around I was able to watch my jig drop down in 50 feet of water and see the fish rise to and snatch up my falling lure. It was pretty fun and we caught several more fish and missed some too.
Again, a much needed nap. We woke up and headed out to Bawden. We fueled up and headed to Star where we saw a young moose eating. We had seen a moose the night before as well. We missed seeing the big one up close. After the tour we began fishing near the first point from the channel to Star. We began catching fish. Everywhere we went we were catch walleyes. Tonight all were going back as we already had our limit packaged and frozen. We caught fish from 12 to 24 inches, most were 16-18. Feeling good we headed home to put the steaks on the grill. Veggies in the saute pan. The last of the whiskey in the glass. Dad’s last chance to catch me in our cribbage series, he was not successful.
Having had such a good time and needing to mow the lawn at our own cabin we decided to leave a day early and break up our drive.
July 10th, 2014
We left around 8 am and were in Grand Marais around 2pm. We put some gas in the truck, debated if we should get bait, and grabbed some DQ. Town was hopping with people, we were glad to be heading up the trail. We mowed the lawn, moved the concrete bags, and decided we could go fishing. I quickly drove to Gunflint Lodge to the boat house and picked up some leeches. I usually go to Ugly Baby Bait but Dad said Gunflint was closer. Anyways, we had the boat in the water and were fishing again. It took moving a few spots but we did get some fish including two 19″ers that were very thick and dark compared to the 19″ers from Canada we let them go. We try to let most fish over 19 go to reproduce and I feel like it is paying off as we have been catching more young fish. When we first came up here I think the smallest walleye was 15 inches we had caught. Feeling accomplished we called it a night, it was beautiful out. Scattered clouds, no wind, and a setting sun. My bed at the cabin was a welcomed comfort. The cots at Discovery were probably the only downfall. I eventually used two mattresses and that seemed to work just fine.
July 11th, 2014
We left the cabin and headed home as I had a guide trip on Saturday and Dad was going to visit Uncle Mark and Aunt Robin with Mom. I made it home in time for dinner with my family.
I look forward to when I can take my family up to Discovery Lake Lodge.