Dead Moose/Party Barge Adventure

Posted by MNAngler On July - 13 - 2011

Sunday, July 3rd was my last day on the Gunflint Trail. My family and I had decided to leave early to avoid traffic and allow me to settle down before I started my new job. But we wouldn’t be leaving til late.

That afternoon, Ken and I decided to head to Bearskin Lake where his uncle has a cabin. We had visited with Ken’s aunt and uncle the day before on the way back from replenishing our water supply. His uncle showed off his new (used) pontoon he purchased from a family friend.

Ken and I hit the water at about 2:30pm. We put in at West end of the lake where there is a big bay with a lot of big rocks. I had been itching to go back there after learning about jigs. I hoped the bottom bouncing jigs would coax some lunkers out from the rocks.

The wind was blowing pretty good when we got on the water, so we headed into the bay to the leeward shore so we could get our equipment rigged. We parked the canoe right against shore. I put on a texas rigged Slurpie worm and dropped it in front of us while Ken got setup. I thought it would be funny if I caught a fish on my first cast before Ken was even ready. I bounced the worm a couple of times, and felt a hit, but my hook set came up empty. Ken was concentrating so hard, he didn’t see any of it happen. But he suggested we pull off the shore to at least drift.

We got about 30 feet off shore and two casts later, I got another hit. Missed again. This time Ken noticed and couldn’t believe I already had a hit before he was even ready.

I continued to cast as Ken finally got his super fluke wet. We continued down the shore and Ken got several hits on his bubble gum fluke, but he couldn’t land them. I also missed several more hits on my worm. I determined that the hook on my worm wasn’t exposing itself enough on the strikes, so I switched to an orange/brown jig and pig.

Again, I was getting nips and in one cast, I actually saw the fish that nipped at it. In fact, there was a gang of about 6 little smallies all after the bait. Even after I hooked one of the little guys, a few of them still went after it. Until they realized their friend was being pulled away.

A few minutes later, we heard some buzzing. Not just a little bit of buzzing, but like a swarm of buzzing. We thought it was coming from the woods and couldn’t believe how loud it was. “If that’s the sound of flies, that’s a hec of a lot of them,” I remarked. We made our way down shore a bit and found that the source of the buzzing wasn’t from the woods, but right on the water’s edge. It was most definitely a swarm–feeding on a dead moose. Ken insisted that we get up close and personal so that I could snap some pictures for this here blog. It was a bit too close for (olfactory) comfort, but I’ll suffer (to a point) for your reading pleasure. Here they are:


After that little adventure, we kept working the bay. Ken kept missing bites while I kept getting none. On the opposite shore of the moose, I finally hooked into a decent fish. But “decent” must also mean “smarter” because he was loose within seconds and hooked my lure under a log. We paddled over to it, but I couldn’t even see the lure, so I couldn’t get an angle to dislodge the hook. I had to snip the line. I was sad because it was one of my more productive Booyah jigs, but it was also falling apart because of the action.

Down the shore some more and Ken had more missed hits and I less action. He landed a couple, but they were all the size of the one I had earlier. The Texas-rigged flukes can be kind of tricky, so I gave Ken some tips, which helped–kind of. He was able to get fish closer to the boat, but only a fraction of them in the boat. One of which was a bit overzealous as it had swallowed the fluke as far as it could and it was still sticking out by 1/3 (pic right). I had switched between some wacky rigging, Texas-rigged worms, and power worms and only got a few nips. One resulted in another under-log hook up. I lost a power worm and bullet weight on that one.

As we worked that shore, Ken noticed a pontoon with a bright red canopy in the main part of the lake. Having seen his uncle’s new pontoon the day before, we knew it was him. We watched as he worked his usual channel and when he turned toward us, we made a bee line to try to intercept him. He turned before we could get to him, but not before we got his attention. It turned out there were others on the boat. They must have thought we were a couple of crazies waving our paddles at them and yelling. But ultimately, they confirmed only one crazy on the boat, my father-in-law, while he was waving his hat in his hands.

Knowing that we wouldn’t catch up with them, we continued to fish where the arm of the bay opened up to the main lake. We only had to do that a few minutes when Ken’s uncle’s boat turned to toward us again. We paddled toward them and was able to intercept them this time. We exchanged the normal pleasantries and they invited us on board for a drink. So we paddled up next to them and tied our canoe to the side of their pontoon. We had a nice visit for about 20 minutes or so where we found out the big smallies don’t come out until evening. Great. That would explain why we were catching little ones this trip and the trip a few years ago when we caught what seemed like hundreds of little smallies < 10". We caught so many, we lost count and actually got bored of catching them. I guess we won't be making any more afternoon trips to Bearskin.

After our chat, we disembarked and headed for home. It felt like we were a plane getting an in-flight refueling. The outing wasn't a very productive one, but it was still fun. I think next time we'll have to figure out a way to fish the lake in the evening. Maybe talk our way on to the pontoon while it's still on the dock.

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