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Napken Lake Chronicles: Trip 6 Tales and Triumphs

Napken Lake: Trip 6, August 23 – August 30, 2019

Napken Lake Chronicles: Trip 6 Tales and Triumphs

This year marked my 6th trip to Napken Lake. This year was a little different than past years – except for two days of relative calmness, the wind was a major factor, but more on that in a minute. 

We started out as usual from NW Pennsylvania on Wednesday, August 21st. It was early, dark, and raining hard as we stopped to pick up a couple of the guys.

This year’s crew consisted of five guys, four regulars, and one new addition. There was me, of course (not pictured), and Larry, Bruce, Bob, and Randy.

Randy’s First Trip to Canada Since the 1970s

Napken Lake Chronicles: Trip 6 Tales and Triumphs Randy’s Background

This was Randy’s first trip to Canada since the mid-1970s. Randy is the hardworking 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 storyteller. He does tend to snore rather loudly, as I found out.

Randy’s Fishing Experience

Randy didn’t have a lot of experience fishing, but before the trip to Napken Lake 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 lot funnier when you hear him tell the story!

The Crew and Our Journey to Napken Lake

Napken Lake Chronicles: Trip 6 Tales and Triumphs

 Meeting the Crew

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. We were able to get out quite early and were at the lake by 9:30. We took the Caravan this year. 

No issues getting the plane loaded or unloaded, which was a big milestone for us!

Meeting a Website Visitor!

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.

UPDATE: Mike sent me these photographs of their time at Napken Lake. Very impressive!

The Challenges of Fishing at Napken Lake

Dealing with 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 too 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 rainy, 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…

My Go-To Spot: The Weed-Filled Bay

Why This Bay is My Favorite

This bay has a lot of weeds towards the end of it and has always been my “go-to” 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.

The Big Catch

Napken Lake Chronicles: Trip 6 Tales and TriumphsWell, on this day, a beautiful fat 41-inch 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.

Randy’s Similar Success

As mentioned, this bay would provide Randy with a nearly identical fish on the next day – just a half inch shorter. It was great that someone who has rarely fished was able to experience the thrill of catching a trophy like that. 

Challenging Weather

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.

The One That Got Away

A Close Encounter

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-inch and I’m pretty sure my guess would be right, but who knows?

Randy’s Continued Pursuit

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.

A Successful Trip

Napken Lake Chronicles: Trip 6 Tales and TriumphsSmooth and Safe Journey

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.


Napken Lake Chronicles: Trip 6 Tales and Triumphs

Abundance of Fish

And, as usual, we caught lots of fish, and 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!

Small Incidents on the Lake

First Incident: Stuck in Weeds

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 sitting 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.)

Second Incident: Missing Prop

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 them 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.

And finally, you can find the other Napken Lake trip reports by clicking here 

Ok, now you can go. 

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