Msg 5 Posted: 03:54 AM 12/13/05 (CST)
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Story on my school trip:
Distant Campfires and the Story of us
By Chris Wallace
Boyfriends, girlfriends, cheer leaders, football players, captains, band kids and catchers. A combination on the outside that appears to not make any sense, it even had some of us worrying if we could do this. These kids could be brought together because of a high school class that only seniors are allowed to take. A course that deals with everything from the stars in the Celestial Sphere down to the tiniest grains and types of rock and everything in between. This class brings together for one reason, and that reason is the love of the outdoors.
Experience? Who needs that; this class welcomes the kids who have never been camping, or fishing, or hunting, or even hiking. Everyone brings something to the table and every one has enough to share with others. This class strengthens the bonds not only between kids and friends but between kids and adults. We students transition from being kids to adults during our senior year; we develop and mature to who we want to be as people.
The date came closer and closer, knowing that one day that coach bus would show up to take us to a destination unknown for many of us. The miles ticked off the sun began to set, passing towns one by one on the start of our quest. Finally arriving at Camp Menogyn, we were greeted with open arms by a very friendly staff, which was very eager to introduce 36 kids to there first winter camping trip.
We went to bed early and woke up even earlier for a hearty breakfast that really stuck to our bones. With the sun still climbing through the trees we attached our polks, cinched down our snowshoes and set off for the trip we have been waiting for since we were freshman, a trip truly once in a lifetime.
The girls were the first to find camp, and in a matter of a few minutes we had a nice firm path leading through our home for the next three days. Stepping off this trail surely meant you were going to be surprised by going up to your waist in snow. One by one the tents were assembled, water was boiled, congratulations were said to each other for making it this far, lunch was cooked, and trail mix passed around, staring out into the lake and taking in as much scenery as our senses could take in. The virgin snow, which was as pure and untouched, that only dreams are made of. The defiant jack pines, standing strong; holding as much of Canadas forest on this side of the border, being crowded by the Minnesotas hardwoods, the little bit of cold that could only bite on the tip or your nose, the rest of your body surrounded by layers of warm clothes. The water rolled easily over your tongue, this is some of the purest water to drink, and you can smell the aromatic scent given off by this untouched forest that towered over us in all directions. This trip consumed and used all your senses.
The fishing was nothing short of fantastic; I have traveled all over the Midwest, and have caught a trophy of almost every species. After latching into one of these Lake Trout, I can truly say this is the fish of fishes to tangle with through the ice. There is something very gratifying about auguring through 30 inches of ice, by hand, lowering a lure through the depths, in search of the Denizen of the Deep, Salvelinus namaycush, the lake trout, I now feel for once I am truly tied into nature now, I can feel the lakes heartbeat through the line, its heartbeat traveling through my rod, up through my hands and into my heart and soul.
An hour into the trip, I felt a slam on the other end. I set the tube jig home and that Lake Trout shot out like a cannon, immediately the silence was broken with me yelling FISH ON and the drag screaming away. There is nothing you can do but hold on for the ride of your life and hope that sooner or later it starts to get tired and to keep a smile on your face. Stuck in a tug of war that lasts for just a few moments, yet for that brief time frame you feel like youre on the top of the world. Its a breathless sight to see that gorgeous fish a few feet under you, I still remember that awesome red and oranges that can never be found on any canvas painting.
That first run lasted a little over 20 seconds. It made three or four more runs before we got it up the hole. A beautiful 27 inch laker with all the colors of a wild fire on it, this was a gorgeous fish and the picture with my smile will prove that to you! I ended up catching 4 more and all of them were over 20 inches with one more being about 27 inches, plus a chunky 24 incher and two smaller ones. My buddy caught two, and another friend caught one too. The fish fry that night was awesome, inviting my teacher, principal, another chaperon and our group of 9 people; those were some of the best fillets I have ever had. The way it flaked off with a twist of your fork and simply melted in your mouth. The smell of the firm red meat sizzling in the hot butter with onions, salt, pepper, garlic, lemon juice, intertwining with the campfire is a smell that wont soon leave my nose.
The most memorable part of the trip came Saturday morning as the sun came up. I was sitting on the ice, all by myself watching the sun rise come through the trees, the lx3 had the usual red glow, I was just staring off into the sun rise, thinking over on how in just a few months, I will be pushed into another world of unknowns; being an adult and fending for myself, jigging away my worries and living in the moment and than being brought back to reality by another one of the freight train style hits we had been experiencing. I couldnt help but to let out a laugh, all I can think of was it couldn't get any better than this, sun rising with another awesome sunrise going right off our nations border, reel screaming and the rod pulsing with the pulls of another BWCAW lake trout. The sight of the suns rays hitting the back and shimmering down the hues of the trout that had just freshly been taken out of the water is something you can only experience if you do it.
There wasnt just the fishing that made this trip great, the explorers made a trek to the top of a portage that seemed to lead to the heavens and the view from the top was nothing but phenomenal and one of the coolest views that you will always remember.
Some people preferred to get a good fire going and laugh away the day and talk about their hopes, dreams, wants and needs. The logs and branches popping and the mesmerizing glow the fire has of staring into, with some hot chocolate in your hand. Everyone knows this feeling.
Others yet went off into the woods as far as they could go, and would just sit down and let the woods absorb them in the beauty of everything, the stillness, the quietness and its grip slowly tightening over another person, whispering into their ear to come back soon, let your self escape from everything, leave your worries at home when, you here, enjoy what there is for you here and have the time of your life in an area that took thousands of years to achieve what it is has now, those people are the ones will be back to experience it again, those are the people who will protect this place with all their might, to not let this place be developed, people who will keep the water running pure, the snow untouched, the lake trout plentiful, people that the BWCAW needs for it to make it for our kids, and their kids.
The BWCAW has a mystifying way of it self, it always craves people to come and experience one of the last wild places on Earth. It craves the attention from people, to experience the BWCAW, to care for the land, to care for them, to find youre self. The Outdoor Adventures class has them same feeling and that for 85 minutes out of every day your senior year, you are to live outside yourself.
Can be found at: http://www.chriswallaceoutdoors.com/index.php?subaction=showfull&id=1110426482&archive=&start_from=&ucat=1&
Here is a link to the pictures: http://www.chriswallaceoutdoors.com/photos.php
Here is a report from a trip last year that will be useful:
I took my first trip in the winter to the BWCAW this past weekend, and words can't describe the fun I had up there. The scenery and views were some of the best I have ever seen up there, and I have spent almost 150 days up there.
I took my lake map, found the steepest break on the lake, which was right across from our campsite, which was really fortunate. The side of the lake dropped right off and than came up just as fast in the middle of the lake for a slightly exposed island. Deepest part between the island and shore was 48 feet of water and from island to shore was a little over 55 yards, so this was a real steep break. Off this island was a long gradual point on both side which helped to funnel the fish I beleive.
We started punching holes from the shore at 5 yard intervals. The steepest break we found between holes from 13 feet of water down to 28 feet of water. I set up my first hole here and began jigging a 4 inch berkely power tube with a 1 / 8 glider jig head. My second rig was tip with a cut cisco sitting on the bottom right before the break from the island down to deep water.
An hour into the trip, I felt a slam on the other end. I set the tube jig home and that laker shot out like a cannon. That first run lasted a little over 20 seconds. It made three or four more runs before we got it up the hole. A beautiful 27 inch laker with all the colors of a wild fire on it. This was a gorgeous fish and the picture with my smile will prove that to you! I ended up catching 4 more and all of them were over 20 inches with one more being about 27 inches, plus two 24 and the two smaller ones. My buddy caught two, and another friend caught one too. The fish fry that night was awesome, inviting my teacher, principal, another chaperon and our group of 9 people, those were some of the best fillets I have ever tried, the lakers we catch from Lake michigan did not even compare.
It was a great trip and a few of us are leaving in two weeks, we want more and cant get enough of the reel burning runs the lake trout gave us. Simply unbelievable.
The most memorable one I caught was saturday morning. I was sitting on the ice, all by myself watching the sun rise come through the trees, the lx3 had a the usual red glow, I was just staring off into the sun rise jigging away and than brought back to reality by another one of the freight train style hits we had been experiencing. I couldnt help but to let out a laugh, all I can think of was it couldn't get better than this, sun rise, reel screaming and a fish tugging on the other end! The wait between now and the next trip will be unbearable. I think I found my favorite speceis to fish for now!
I am looking forward to going out with Ely after the big boys this winter if he still is planning on going. I am going to be using a 42 inch heavy action rod with an Abu Garcia C3, with 20 pound power pro. Ely has said that they will hit it and just keep on going, reel breaker fish, so I am hoping with 300 yards of pro, I should be able to atleast slow them down a little bit.
Up in the BWCAW where I was last winter and am going back the fish were very nice but nothing like Basswood and other lakes have to offer. I might have been underprepared but one rod I brought up was a st croix avid, medium heavy action and 8 mono, it worked just fine for this fish. Are there big fish in that lake, I have no idea, but I know I am going to be in trouble this winter going after the big ones with that.
Take a lake like cenaiko, I am using my crappie stuff, but I go up to four pound test, bugs, small spoons, waxies, all work.
As far as set ups go, I am looking for the steepest break I can find, saddles, humps, cliff walls, anywhere there is an area for the lakers to corral the baitfish of sorts.
Deep water doesnt always mean fish too, I was in 28 feet of water, which I thought was shallow all the way down to 48 feet of water if I remember right, I will have to check my book.
All but a few came out of 28 feet of water or right around there, two small ones were caught in 13 feet of water just as dark came, my guess they were moving up to the shallows, could be wrong though.
The lx-3 was very frustrating but, worth its weight in gold, to have a fish chase a lure that was sitting on the bottom, all the way up to three feet under the ice, letting the lure free fall back down to the bottom and it still follows it down and then up and back down, I was ready to throw the rod down and go sit by the campfire. It made a huge difference, three fish I cranked up to the depth they were at and they smacked it. One dink I caught, I set the hook and it came up the hole, he was right under the ice.
I never tipped my tubes or stuffed them with cisco, what I did try was the old cotton ball and alka seltzer trick, I dont think it caught any though.
White or grey tubes imitating cisco
Beaver flicks under a tip up works
Airplane jigs in in 1/4 oz and up
Big swedish pimples
Slammer spoons I think would have there place.
This year the bait I am going to put alot of time in with is the Salmo Chubby darter in the fat head or ghost pattern, I think they will have a good spot in my box this winter.
Whites, Silvers, Grey, Gold were the colors we did best with, chartreuse we caught one, but again imitating the forage in the lake.