June 2020…

So we are into June…

…and everything appears normal. Gulls are nesting, the eagle is lurking, the goose babies are disappearing one by one and the camp looks good! Before we talk about some of the things that have been going on up here there are a few updates on travel. As you know the border remains closed till June 21, and as of now the Province has mandated non-essential businesses closed till June 30….that’s us. There is some talk about different regions of the Province opening up earlier, but we will have to wait and see on that. Thank you do all our understanding guests who have moved their reservations to 2021, or later in the season. We appreciate your support and your business and look forward to a more normal opener next year. For those still planning on this summer, hang in there, we are hoping for the best!

More tales from the lodge…

Today’s story is submitted by Nancy Moskal from Edgerton, Wisconsin. Both Nancy and Joe (“The Professor”) have been coming for many years and you will notice some of the pictures I’ve included might be classified as “baby photos”….ah, so cute! Here’s Nancy recollection of fishing one of her favorite lakes…

Joe and Nancy and the VBL wood boat…
The infamous Clearwater Creek

Summer Day on Clearwater Lake

If you’ve ever taken the journey up Clearwater Creek to Clearwater Lake you may have had a day like this one.  It’s mid-summer and I’m in our 17’ fishing boat along with 3 other adults and one teenage boy excited to be on this adventure together.  This time of year the creek is a bit low with submerged logs and rocks lining the creek bottom.  There are remnants of old beaver dams.  Charlie, the teen in our party, and I are at the bow of the boat scouting for obstacles.  The creek meanders through lowland marsh for miles and it’s slow going. I don’t particularly enjoy this route to Clearwater Lake and worry that our friends from Chicago might feel the same. Becky interrupts my trance when she points out water lilies in bloom and arrowhead flowers along the banks. An occasional Bald Eagle soars overhead riding the warm air currents.   

Over an hour later we finally reach beautiful Clearwater Lake and my spirits are lifted.  The hot sun glistens like diamonds on the water surface broken by a gentle breeze. This is one of my favorite wilderness lakes.  It’s shoreline has massive granite outcropping with rock faces displaying pictographs hundreds of years old. I imagine the indigenous people hunting and fishing here.  It makes me wonder what has changed over millennia on Clearwater Lake.  Rocky points smoothed by erosion jut out into the lake providing rest stops and shore lunch spots.  There’s a few islands and two waterfalls on the Eastern shore that spill into the deep trout holes.  Several bays have submerged large boulders and vegetation providing shelter for fish, small and large.  I’m excited to show our friends our little piece of paradise and fish for lake trout, whitefish, and pike.

My husband Joe and friend Matt secure one of Gord’s boats from the remote launch and head off to the trout holes.  I agree to guide Becky and her son Charlie in our fishing boat.  My plan is to go after Northern Pike.  I provide verbal instructions and casting demonstrations and they spend time practicing casting and retrieving large floating Rapalas.  When I feel they’re both ready they fish as we drift slowly and deeper into the quiet bay.  Becky makes a perfect cast into a pocket of weeds and suddenly a fish explodes from the depths and attacks her lure.  It’s a monster pike!  I’m excited for Becky and coach her on how to maintain control of the fish. But what should I do next?  I’m shaking. My husband always manages the large fish I catch so my skills at landing a big fish are untested. Becky reels in the fish to the side of the boat.  It’s too big and ferocious looking to lift so we have to manage it there.  The fish is pretty stunned by now so I quickly measure it, unhook it using the jaw spreader and long needle nose pliers, and release it. Becky is thrilled!  She’s caught the biggest fish of her life, a monster 38” Northern Pike! I’m happy for her, for the fish we released, and for this day on Clearwater Lake. Charlie is pouting as he’s only caught small pike.  Our party wraps up this day with a fantastic shore lunch provided by Gord.  Becky, Charlie, and I get to return to VBL in Gord’s wooden fishing boat.  He sure makes those twists and turns of Clearwater Creek fun and exciting! I have plans to return to Clearwater Lake this year via the portage trail, a much faster route.  Lake trout, whitefish and pike will be my quest.

Circa 1995
Looks like some Clearwater Lake trout, back in the day (1995)

Editors comment…

Back in the day doing the creek was the way we accessed Clearwater Lake. In most years it was only the spring when the water was high that this was possible. My best time ever to get up the creek was about 20 minutes. This was up “on plane” for most of the way. The old 20 Mercs were pretty tough motors, but I did enough damage over the years, including putting the whole boat up on shore, that I finally came to realize the beauty of the portage trail….a short 15 minute walk. The clincher for me was when the new Yamaha 4 strokes came along. Great motors but not designed for bouncing off logs and rocks. Since then we have upgraded the portage boats and trail to make this our sole access….be sure and give it a try some year if you like adventure! Thanks Nancy for the great story!

For the birders in the crowd…

It’s been a strange bird year with large flocks of terns hanging around as well as tundra swans and now this sighting on Gull Rock of a flock of 16 whimbrels. These are a rare sighting for our area, as these birds nest in the Arctic tundra.

whimbrels on Gull Rock
Whimbrels over head…note the long curved beak

Fishing….shore lunch….

Well, with an empty camp somebody has to do a bit of fishing so it might as well be us! We are struggling with finding the walleye and could use some help, but there is one spot that has produced in the evenings. I won’t give it away but let’s just say this was a secret spot of guest Kurt…the “Perch Master”. Susanne caught this musky last night there while we trolled around for walleye…

Rick and Mary with a lunker
There’s a nice walleye!
A bonus bass from another day.
Towing home the Johnson! Caution: Rated R for extreme virus hair!
Ghost camp 2020

Enjoy a virtual fish fry….

Finally let me leave you with this….

Some may find this image disturbing and I might agree. It’s a result of being empty and the reason things need to return to normal.!!

Preparing for the “Tour de VBL”

15 thoughts on “June 2020…

  1. Gord, these virtual fishing posts help, but I am still hopeful that we will get to actually experience this come fall. If not, 2021 will have to do. As for the bike, we are all glad you didnt wear the leather chaps or spandex shorts.

  2. Nancy – wonderful story! You were a great teacher and guide for your friends who have memories they’ll never forget! Reading this makes me say, “Gord, let’s go fishing in Clearwater this week”! Maybe we can smoke some trout…

  3. I have become a faithful reader of “The Beaver” of late, and enjoy the stories. I noticed in one of the pics, that once again Mary has lost her drink! Susanne: Given the current legalities in Canada, couldn’t you find something more interesting to smoke than trout?

  4. Thanks for the updates and awesome pics!! Looking forward to seeing you in August. Tight lines.
    Nick Stemper

  5. Thank you for the update, very informative.
    I really miss being in the Eagle Lake area, the concrete canyons don’t match the granite of NWO.

  6. Regarding hiking into Clearwater Lake from Eagle: “I finally came to realize the beauty of the portage trail…a short 15 minute walk”, writes Gord. Seriously folks, there is no way to cover that distance and moderately difficult terrain in 15 minutes. I can tell you from many treks back and forth on that trail that 25-30 minutes is more realistic for most people. Super-athletes, like Gord, may be able to do it in 15 minutes, but not by hiking. They actually trot on the trail with a pack on their back and fishing rod in one hand and a can of gas in the other. This requires a tremendous training commitment. So if you see Gord jogging around camp with a half-barrel of beer on each shoulder, you’ll know why.

    1. Joe, back in the day I recall you swinging from vines to cross the portage trail in record time. These days it’s tough to not get your walker tangled in tree roots…

  7. Loved seeing the pics from 1995. We were such a good looking couple back then! The teen in the pic is our nephew Andy who is now 40 with a family of his own, boating and fishing in FL. He wishes he could be at VBL right now with all the chaos in this world.

  8. Say it ain’t so Gord…..those are yoga pants you are wearing for your bike ride are they ??? 😱

    Nice mustachioed look there too……almost Musketeer looking 👍

    See ya in early September as long as things straighten up by then.

  9. Beautiful story, Nancy! I’ll never forget spotting those same pictographs with “the professor” so many summers ago. Great memories. Gorgeous lake.

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On behalf of the Boyes Group, I would like to pass on our sincere thanks for hosting the Muskie Madness Week and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at VBL and had a great time!! This was our 7th year on Eagle Lake and we have stayed at a few other lodges but VBL takes the cake hands down! You can definitely count us in for next year. I’m happy to see you post some of my pics, they turned out well. Thanks again Gord for a wonderful week of fishing and your stellar hospitality, you run a first class operation, we look forward to seeing you next year!

Trevor Benner

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