You are currently viewing Napken Lake trip 6

Napken Lake trip 6

  • Post author:
  • Post last modified:April 22, 2024

August 23 – August 30, 2019

Well, this year marked my 6th trip to Napken Lake. This year was a little different than past years – except for 2 days of relative calmness, the wind was a major factor, but more on that in a minute. We started out as usual from NW Pa. on Wednesday the 21st of August. It was early, dark and raining hard as we stopped to pick up a couple of the guys. 

This years’ crew consisted of 5 friends, 4 regulars and one new addition. There was me of course (not pictured), and Larry, Bruce, Bob and Randy. 

This was Randy’s first trip to Canada since the mid 1970’s. Randy is the hard working parts manager at the local Ford dealership and still has enough energy left at the end of the day to run the family farm. He’s also family – His Grandfather and my Grandfather were brothers, so I guess we’re cousins on some level. Randy has a great sense of humor, loves to hunt (especially turkeys) and is a great story teller. He does tend to snore rather loudly as I found out.

He doesn’t (didn’t) have a lot of experience fishing but before the trip was over he ended up with a trophy northern pike (40.5″) that apparently nearly caught him. He was by himself, in the wind and while fighting the big fish the boat was pushed onto shore and nearly toppled him. It’s a a lot funnier when you hear him tell the story!

The rest of the crew have been introduced in the write-ups for the previous trips so we’ll leave that for the reader to discover. Anyway, we flew out of Hearst Air on Friday morning. Was able to get out quite early and we were at the lake by 9:30. Took the Caravan this year. No issues getting the plane loaded or unloaded which was a big milestone for us!

Side story: Last March, I received an email from a visitor of this site. I’ll just use his first name – Mike. Anyway, Mike and some friends had booked a trip through Hearst Air to Napken Lake for the middle of August and he wanted to know if I had any advice for them about the lake. Of course I sent him an email with details about my experience with the lake and as it turned out his group was to be the ones that we relieved on the dock as their trip ended and ours began! So it was nice to actually meet someone who had taken the time to read some of my stories and I hope I was able to help them out in some small way. Apparently they had a lot of wind the week they were there too, but I could tell they still had a good time. Thanks Mike, maybe our paths will cross again someday.

The wind… Napken Lake is mostly oriented north to south. Our first 2 days were bright blue sky with a stiff breeze blowing from the south. Not to bad, but the clear sky seemed to keep the fish from being terribly aggressive. I think the best we did on those 2 days as far as size was a 32″ northern – although the smaller ones were ‘on’ as usual. On Monday, things changed. The wind became quite fierce, still blowing from the south. It was tough to find a spot that was sheltered from the wind, so the fishing was hard. It had turned overcast and by the end of the day the rain had started. Tuesday was windy and rain, plus the wind had shifted and was coming from the northwest. That meant the temperature was a little cooler as well. Apparently the fish liked it – I was in the first bay over from the camp on the main part of the lake, taking a break from the wind and waves…

This bay has a lot of weeds towards the end of it and has always been my “goto” spot when all else fails. It’s pretty easy to catch fish here – though mostly smaller ones, I have seen some upper 30″ inch pike taken from here. Well, on this day – a beautiful fat 41″ northern decided to make a lunch of my lure! I was alone, and getting the fish in the boat was a bit of a struggle. As I lifted my net over the side, she apparently got those razor teeth in the netting and tore a hole right through the bottom of it. 

Luckily she fell into the boat! After untangling things and telling her to be still for a moment, I snapped this picture. I really wish someone had been with me to take a decent photo but this is OK. She was released unharmed and has promised to grow a few more inches for next year.

As mentioned, this bay would provide Randy with a nearly identical fish on the next day – just a half inch shorter. The rest of the trip was more wind, more rain and tough weather conditions for fishing, although we were out in it all day every day – it was a good workout running the boat whether trolling or casting. 

One other note – about “the one that got away” – in the narrows on the way from the camp to the northern part of the lake, I lost a very large fish. Randy was with me on that day and we both saw a glimpse of it as I got it alongside the boat, a few seconds before it threw the hook. I could guess that it was larger than the 41″ and I’m pretty sure my guess would be right, but who knows? Randy came back to the spot a few times and twice hooked what he thought might be the same fish before it also managed to get off the hook. According to him, on one of those occasions it actually pulled him out into the middle of the narrows. I guess those big fish get that way because they are difficult to catch.

This was the most uneventful trip we’ve had to Napken Lake. Nobody almost died, the airplane flights were smooth and there were no cases of ‘beaver fever’. I kind of like it that way. We caught lots of fish, a couple of real trophies.

Oh, and I saw a bull Moose and a Woodland Caribou. I can hardly wait till next year!!!


Whoa, hold on there!

  Totally slipped my mind to mention a couple of ‘small’ incidents that took place. I believe it was the second day of fishing, I was by myself and while catching a smallish pike I had drifted nose first into a patch of weeds. Once the fish was released, I attempted to engage reverse on the motor and it wouldn’t shift. I could go forward, which I didn’t want to do because it would only dig me deeper into the weeds, but I couldn’t go backwards. I suddenly came to notice that I didn’t have a paddle in the boat either, so there wasn’t a ‘good’ way to push myself out of the weeds, or even turn around! There was a way, which involved me getting out of the boat, but I didn’t think that idea qualified as a ‘good’ way. Fortunately for me and the dry state of my clothes, My uncle and Randy happened to go buzzing along about 400 yards away. After yelling, and waving and jumping around a lot they noticed me setting there along the shore and came over to investigate. A quick tow back to camp and a swap with the spare boat and I was back in action. (and I made sure I had a paddle with me this time)

  The second issue was similar, but this one happened all the way at the northern end of the lake. Again, I had drifted into some weeds and when I engaged reverse to back out of them nothing happened. It shifted into reverse just fine, and the rpms came up on the motor – I just didn’t have any ‘thrust’ action going on. Tilting the motor quickly revealed the problem. The prop was missing! Gone. Over and out. Once again, my uncle and Randy would save the day. They had gone further north and were somewhere around the bend. I knew that eventually they would be passing by me so I decided to just fish and wait em out. It wasn’t long before they appeared and after making a few jokes about my boating ability they threw me a line and towed me back to camp. Luckily I knew exactly where I could get a prop. (see the first incident above). If they hadn’t been up at that end of the lake, it would have promised to be a long day and probably a cold night until they would have decided to come looking. Even with a paddle on a good day, going all the way across the lake would have been a real workout. (these aren’t canoes!). That day wasn’t what I would have considered a ‘good’ day – with a strong wind blowing and waves with the hints of whitecaps on them, I don’t think I would have even tried.

  Ok, now you can go.

Wild Outpost is a website for outdoor enthusiasts of all levels, from seasoned adventurers to those just starting out. We offer a wide variety of resources to help you plan your next outdoor adventure