Last year we had the pleasure of fishing with Dan Joseph while up at Slippery Winds lodge in Canada and had a great time. This year Dan approached us with some ideas for another shoot and we jumped at the chance to fish with him again, and this time he was going to bring along his brother Manny. Their plan sounded just too good to pass on, the guys told us they had a spot where we could get some good numbers of big Musky and would follow it up with a secret lake loaded with big small mouth bass. How could we say no?
Of course as always our trip was hampered by rain, so much so that we had a few days that we just couldn’t get out on the water, but on the days we did get out the fishing was fantastic.
The first part of the trip was slated for a small section of the River Du Norde in La Chute Quebec. The great thing about this section of river is that it is rapid locked and there is no access to the section unless you run the small rapids or have property on the river. We stayed at the lovely Motel Eddy, which just so happens has access to the river. To say Motel Eddy was a one star motel would be a stretch but it was clean and on the river and that was all we needed. This limited access meant we had the stretch of river all to ourselves.
I would guess that this section of the river was less than a mile long, but we would soon learn that it was holding plenty of the big fish we wanted.
If you are familiar with Musky fishing you know that the guys that do it are lure fanatics. The lures they like are big, heavy and push a lot of water, to the point that we would cast up river and use the lures to pull us against the current. Because I knew what was in store for me I wanted to make sure I had the right rod and reel for the job of the endless casting we would be doing. I contacted our friends at OKUMA Fishing to get their advice on a new setup for the trip. They pointed me to the Isis 400 bait caster and paired it with the new EVX Graphite Musky rod 9’3” in length. Now normally I would have to turn down a rod of that length because I just can’t travel with it but this rod collapses into itself down to just over 7 feet, and that fits in my rod tube just fine. I can’t tell you how happy I was to have gone with this set up. I could toss the big lures a mile with little strain on my body which meant I could do it all day long, and it had plenty of backbone to drive the big hooks home and get the fish to the kayak quickly. I can easily see using this rod for a lot more than musky, tossing lures for calico bass in the kelp or tarpon in Florida are in its future.
Five minutes into our first day of fishing Manny broke the ice with a fat musky and maybe five minutes later I had a smaller one, which was the theme for me the first couple days. I caught plenty of fish but seemed to be keeping the small ones busy while Manny and Dan nailed the big ones. To add to my frustration one of the Musky I landed decided to fillet my thumb with his sharp gill rakes. Thankfully had I had some of the new Buff fishing gloves that I could wear for the remainder of the trip to protect my thumb from more damage. Our schedule during the trip was, get up early and get in some first light fishing for a few hours, head in for breakfast then do an afternoon/evening fishing session. It was a lot of time on the water but it was so worth it.
On our second day we hit a different section of river that would allow us to paddle and fish for several miles. The plan, to paddle and fish upriver for about four miles and fish and drift our way back. Once again Manny gets a fish within minutes of our start and I got one soon after. We thought this was the start to an epic day but other than these two fish we had only one other hit the rest of the day, and it came unbuttoned. We blamed the slow fishing on the overnight rain that had really dirtied up the water. Fish or no fish it was a great paddle along a gorgeous stretch of river.
The next day we hit the small section of river once again and once again got some great fish but were only able to fish for a couple hours due to the downpour that kept us motel bound for the rest of the day.
The last day on the river was one of the best, Dan got a real big musky and I sight casted to and landed a real nice pike. There is not much cooler than seeing a fish below the surface and tossing the right lure to it, in this case a Sebile Magic Swimmer, and watching him crush it. Thank god I had on my Maui Jim sunglasses so I could spot the fish. I also finally got my big Musky of the trip this time on a Sebile Splasher, alas we got no still photos of it as it managed to escape the cradle we were using to land the fish before we could get a shot.
As I mentioned the weather on this shoot was tough with a lot of rain, but we managed to get what we needed and had a great time. Thankfully to add to my comfort while on the trip in the cold conditions I had a new pair of Simms waders, I have been wearing waders on my kayak for a long time and I have to say, the quality of the Simms waders is beyond compare, it was great to be warm, dry and comfortable on my kayak even when the rain was coming down. To protect the stocking foot of the Simms waders I wear a neoprene water shoe from Body Glove. Good layers under those waders added to the comfort, the Exofficio Sol Cool shirts wick away moisture and their fleece Migrator shirt kept me warm, put a rain logic jacket on top and my entire body was warm and dry.
My primary rod and reel setup for this part of the trip was the OKUMA EVX Graphite Musky Rod 9’3″ with an OKUMA Isis reel loaded with 30ld. Seaguar Kanzen Braid and a short 130lb. Seaguar fluorocarbon leader.
Most of my fish were caught on the large Sebile Magic swimmer in red and white or the Sebile Spasher, all my hooks were swapped out for Mustad trebles.
The kayaks we used on the trip were the Ocean Kayak Ultra 4.7 and the Trident 13s, all rigged up with Scotty Rod Holders.
Most of the still shots were taken with the Canon Powershot D20 water proof camera and on board video was taken with the VIO POV camera.
For most of the shoot I used a Humminbird portable fishfinder on my kayak which we kept powered up with a Goal Zero Nomad solar panel.
Part two of our trip, a visit to a secret lake near Maniwaki Quebec, will be posted next week.