We all have the special little things that make our lives worth living; some folks go kayaking, some go golfing and others just enjoy a good glass of scotch. Mine is fishing. I have been fortunate enough to fish various places across the country and have always enjoyed myself regardless of the outcome. I get to live in a Sportsman’s Paradise (Idaho), with bountiful streams and lakes just waiting to be fished. I walk up tiny streams in late summer and hit the mountain lakes in the spring. Work for Steelhead on the Clearwater and try my luck on the Selway and North Fork as well. What more could a fisherman ask for… right?
Every year I make a different kind of pilgrimage, to the lakes of Minnesota to enjoy what started as a simple vacation and has turned into a full blown addiction… Muskie Fishing! It was something a kid from Kansas knew nothing about. Bass ponds were abundant but I was unaware of the thrill this predator fish could produce. Since this discovery, my dad, brother and I have religiously fished for Muskie, Pike, Walleye and any other fish found in the North Woods.
Over the years we’ve tuned our skills and kept on casting, but anyone that knows anything about Muskie fishing will tell you that it’s the “fish of 10,000 casts” (which is ironic given we fish the “Land of 10,000 Lakes”). We’ve tried for years to catch these beasts and still struggle to this day. But we have become more adept at finding their locations and have recently been able to bring in a few each year. If they made pedometers for fishing poles, I would register some 7500-9000 casts per year trying to catch these fish.
Enter “Big” Lake! The name has been changed to protect the lake from all you readers out there wanting to find my favorite spot. Now that’s not to say that if you offer an invite to your favorite spot that I wouldn’t share the wealth! We started heading to this lake in northern Minnesota about three years ago. It’s nothing spectacular and not on most fishermen’s top 10 lists. But for us, it is heaven, quiet camping with little boat traffic and good fishing to boot. After our first year on “Big” Lake we started to notice some of the chain lakes that stem off from it and we began to wonder about the fishing in these lakes. Most paddlers are pretty familiar with the BWCA (Boundary Waters Canoe Area), or have at least heard of the area. Our favorite spot is not necessarily part of the BWCA, but some of the chain lakes can be connected to other lakes that are part of the BWCA, so you can imagine the terrain.
We made our trip last year in the spring (early/mid June) and spent about 12 days out. We had decided before the trip that we would take the new NRS Gigbob with us and if the weather provided, take it out to one of the chain lakes. I had brought this new boat along with the hope that we could take a break from the hardcore fishing and try it out on some MN water. We had also scoped this lake in the past and had yet to wet a line in it; pretty tough fishing without a boat.
We loaded the GigBob on our motorboat and cruised to the other side of the lake. I loaded the GigBob on my back and headed down the trail. The trail wasn’t too bad: a few ups and downs but mainly level and not too long either. We made the jaunt in less than 15 minutes and started setting up the boat. Inflating the GigBob is a breeze; having no frame allows you to easily roll out the boat and have it set up in a matter of minutes. Now going back to a statement I made earlier, anyone that knows about Muskie fishing will most likely have some stories about Minnesota Mosquitoes; they generally go along with fishing in the North Woods. Our trip was no different, the skeeters were vicious! Think about it; the remote area we were in and the fact that these bugs probably hadn’t seen human flesh all year… my pasty Idaho skin was a fresh treat for them. Awful! After fighting with the bugs and trying to see through my mesh bug net, we had the boat inflated and ready to hit the water.
Since it was my birthday, my Dad let me make the first voyage on the uncharted waters. It was a pretty windy day out on the water so drift fishing tended to work out the best. The boat had no problem cruising across the lake in the wind. I set up and drifted through a large weed bed and wham, the first Muskie of the day! Nothing huge, just 24” but a great start. It was at that point that I realized my mistake… I had left all my tackle and even my pliers in the other boat. It’s moments like this that make you realize how important pliers can be, Muskies have sharp teeth and they will clamp down with force.
I continued to fish like this for some time. I’d row up the lake, drift back through the weed beds and time after time I pulled in a fish. After my one drift through the weed bed without a fish, my lure had met its demise. The fish had destroyed my inline spinner, reducing it to a bent piece of metal incapable of spinning a blade. My day of fishing had ended; I went back to shore and passed the GigBob off to my Dad, who took his own turns around the lake.
We made a decision that day, that we would bring more GigBobs next year and would spend more time on this lake searching for the elusive, yet plentiful Muskellunge. The trip is set for the end of August, first of September and my Dad and I have been chomping at the bit. We have become believers in the GigBob and the ability it gives us to fish untouched water. We’ll be leaving the boats set up for the entire week and I already know that many days will be spent back at our little private lake.
I also made another decision that day: if I ever have children… they will get the same opportunity that I have been given. Enjoying these peaceful days out on the water with my dad made me realize how lucky we all are to have such beautiful places to go and relax. The boats just facilitate a dream of putting myself into places that others have yet to, or very rarely, go. There’s just something about separating oneself from the daily grind and boating into your favorite fishing hole!
NRS Southeast Wholesale Account Rep
Here’s a video of Luc landing a Muskie from the GigBob.