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Napken lake trip 1

Fall 2014

 

There we were. I had just completed my first flight in a float-plane and was standing on the dock at Napken lake looking into the clearing at a real log cabin that promised a considerable more amount of comfort and protection from the elements than a 12 x 12 sheet of plastic that had served us so well in earlier days. On this first trip to Napken Lake there were 6 hardy souls. Uncle Larry, George, Bruce, Mark, Bob and myself. The weather was cool, after all it was late August and this far north it wasn’t unexpected.

So after unloading the plane and stowing our gear in the cabin we split some firewood since it promised be a chilly night. All of that took about an hour, but it seemed like a lot longer. I was excited to get out on the lake and see what I could find. So, the fishing gear was set up, the boats checked out and we were off. My partner in the boat was Mark. He was a young guy in his 20’s and this was his first Canadian fishing trip. He was an avid fisherman and was looking forward to trying his skills in a new environment. We had looked at the map and decided that north was the direction we wanted to go.

 about a 10 minute ride from camp you would enter the main part of the lake and an enticing bay opened up on the left so we took the left turn to see what might be down there. The bay slowly turned shallow and towards the far end there was a beaver house to the right and everywhere we looked appeared to be a great place to scratch our itch and start fishing. It may be worthwhile to note that a majority of people come to these lakes looking for Walleye. They are fun to catch and very tasty on the dinner table. However, this far north they do not get as large as more ‘southern’ walleye with the largest we’ve ever caught in this lake being 25″. (Still, that’s a pretty nice fish).

I prefer fishing for trophy northern pike.  A trophy pike is usually regarded as one that is 40″ in length or greater. At this length they can easily reach 20 pounds and for each inch longer the pounds skyrocket. Northern pike are known for their voracious appetite, their willingness to hit just about anything that swims in front of them and their exciting and sometimes wild fighting ability. That’s why I enjoy searching them out. It’s the thrill of finding and catching the big girls that gets my adrenaline flowing. Also, as a side note – if at all possible I release every one of them I can.

It’s very difficult to find and catch the big girls but on this lake, in just about any weedy spot, you can catch the little ones without even trying very hard. What I consider little can be as small as 8 inches up to the mid 20 inches in length. They are practically everywhere and catching a few of these was the perfect way for us to get started. Over the next few days all of us managed to catch lots of fish. The walleye guys did great and kept the food on the table and everyone managed to catch several pike in the high 30 inch range.

Over the next few days all of us managed to catch lots of fish. The walleye guys did great and kept the food on the table and everyone managed to catch several pike in the high 30 inch range. My personal best on this trip was 39 inches – a truly nice fish and one of several that I caught between 36 and 39 inches.

The largest fish caught by the group was 43 inches – Uncle Larry pulled off this feat and the fish was a monster. As usually happens, it was caught just a couple of minutes down from the camp.
My favorite memory of this trip came on the last full day. Once again, I was with Mark and for reasons known only to God and the fish, he hadn’t caught anything that would qualify as a big fish. So, I decided I would focus on driving the boat and seeing if we could get him into something that would be worth bragging about. Towards the end of that day we were at the far northern end of the lake talking about the tremendous day he had just experienced.

 Over the course of that one day he had caught 7 pike that ranged from 37″ to 39″ in length and numerous ones smaller. That’s what I would call a successful day. But we weren’t done yet. 

At the northern end the lake quickly grows narrow through a short channel – maybe 50 yards wide and 150 yards long. On the eastern bank sits a beaver house and on the west are shallow weeds. Between the beaver house and the weeds is a sharp drop off that goes approx 14 – 16 feet deep. 

We decided this was probably the best spot we had seen all day since any fish that wanted to go from one end of the lake to the other had to pass through this short channel. All we needed to do was sit there and (hopefully) catch them and more importantly we were hoping there might be a monster pike in there thinking the same thing and waiting on it’s dinner. 

As we drifted along, Mark spotted her first – she was lurking in the weeds, just laying below the the surface. He sent a short cast in her direction but got snarled up in the weeds so I plopped a spinner right in front of her and suddenly the fight was on. 

Both of us were shouting – this was a trophy fish, our guess was 45 to 50 inches. She took off like a bolt of lightning heading for deeper water and the southern part of the lake with the drag screaming on the reel. After a fun workout, I finally had her to the boat and Mark was just about to grab the net (although we weren’t sure if our net was going to do a lot of good – this was a BIG fish) when she decided she wasn’t done and dove straight down from the boat. 

That was all it took – in that instant she threw the hook and was gone. Mark and I just stared at each other, we were frustrated at having lost such a nice fish but we were excited to have at least gotten a good look at her. At least we had a good story about the one that got away!

This channel would provide at least one more ‘monster’ story in the following years and could always be counted on to give up some truly nice fish. Of course, it wasn’t that easy – I have since found that when the fish turn on in that channel it is an amazing place but when they aren’t ‘on’ it can be tough to catch a cold. It all seems to depend on the weather and the time of day – rain, wind – there is a certain hour to be there. Sunny and warm, you need to be there at a totally different time. (What, you thought I might actually share those times?)
This was a truly remarkable trip. As we flew out, we began making plans to come back the following year, and we did. (minus Mark)

More to come…

Rod

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