Monday, December 9, 2013

Trout Lake

     With a name like Trout Lake you'd think there'd be trout in the lake.  The DNR said there was.  So we went but not after a gut busting breakfast at the Naniboujou Lodge.
     The lodge was built back in the late '20s, the ones that roared, with the idea it would be a playground for the wealthy.  Early members were Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey.  It was to be a humdinger of an affair with a golf course and people strolling the grounds in white flannels.  Don't know how that would have worked out once the guests showed up in July only to find the daytime high was forty-eight above.  Winter was out of the question.  Luckily the stock market went boom before anything beyond the main building was built.  
     A walk through the lodge is worth the drive up from Grand Marais.  Vaulted ceiling, massive fireplace and a rainbow of garish colors put it in a class by itself.  Look it up on the internet and check it out.
     In short, we chowed down.  Whatever sounded good, we ordered.  Carmel rolls, omelets, cereal, coffee, milk, juice.  And we ate it all.  Guess we were hungry.
     Trout Lake wasn't either far up or off the Gunflint Trail.  Over the years the DNR had thrown in both lakers and rainbow trout.  Didn't know about how we'd do with lake trout but I figured we might catch a few rainbows (lesson: one decent day does not make a trout fisherman).  The lake isn't large by any means so I figured we could work a fair amount of the shoreline, weather permitting.
     At the access we learned there were indeed trout in the lake.  Three young men stood on shore bobber fishing with worms for bait.  And had a stringer of foot long fish that numbered no less than a dozen.  We struck up a conversation seein' as how we weren't goin' anywhere till they'd had their fill.  To paddle out would spook the pool.  As much as I wanted to get out on the water there was no way I'd mess up another person's good time.
      As things worked out, they quit fishin' when the trout quit hittin'.  Or maybe they'd caught them all. Whichever one it was, once Allan and I were in the little bay out from the access we pitched our little spinners to dead water.  Such is life.
     By now the wind had come to pay us a visit.  Enough of a breeze to bring about a change of plan and reduce the amount of shoreline we could safely fish.  On the upside I managed to tie into a single trout.  Didn't know much about age classes back then but lookin' back on all the trout I saw, they might have once shared the same bucket.  Each and every one was twelve inches or thereabouts.
     Plan B was to troll for lakers.  The guide said they'd be relatively deep in the middle of June when we were there.  My plan was to pull into the lea of the upwind shore then let mother nature take us to the far, downwind shore.  In an effort to get our lures deeper I clamped a half ounce of sinkers to our lines.  Then as we approached the middle of the lake we continually payed out line with the idea of trusting sheer, dumb luck to get us a hookup.  Not exactly scientific but it was the only trick in my bag.
     Like all wind drifts in a canoe, we quickly turned sideways to the waves.  I don't know about other canoemen but being sideways in whitecaps makes me a little nervous.  And gets me to pay attention to the feel of the water.  And loosens up my hips.  It's actually go with the flow time as opposed to the hippie/zen notion of supreme mellowness flaunted back in the '60s.
     Didn't catch a laker that day but we didn't capsize either.  Coulda been worse.  Twenty-one years have passed and I'm still waitin' on my first lake trout.

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