We were pumped. Our Friday early morning, 60-mile flight to the outpost cabin on Joe’s Lake via Walsten Outposts in Kenora, Ontario, had been a smooth one, and after months of planning we were excited for our week-long, mid-June trip!
Kenora is about 2 hours, 15 minutes northwest of International Falls, Minn.
My brother Joe and I furiously threaded line through our rods and tied on jigs in the cabin, and after throwing some jerky into a backpack, hustled down to the boat. A couple of tugs on the 15 h.p. Yamaha motor and we were on our way to the first spot we marked as a good one on the map. It was walleye time!
Going to Canada each spring has been a tradition that began with our family about 32 years ago, and we have made the visit over the border now from Minnesota annually for 29 years. The usual suspects are me and brothers Jerry, Gene and Joe. This year, however, just Joe and I were able to make the trip and that had us wondering if we could stand each other’s company for a week!
Having fished on lakes/rivers out of many of the “fishing fly-out” towns in Ontario, such as Nestor Falls, Sioux Lookout, Red Lake, Pickle Lake, and towns north of Winnipeg, Manitoba, we decided to give the Kenora region a try. I also should note we rarely return to the same lake to fish as we always are looking for a new adventure. We keep track of the walleyes we catch each year in a notebook so we can recall months later how much success we actually experienced, and not rely on our sometimes foggy memory! The previous year, 2014, the four of us fished a lake out of Sioux Lookout, caught 580 walleyes, several big northern pike (four over 40 inches, two over 36), and we still decided to try a different lake this year!
And while many of the outpost lakes we have fished in the past were relatively “sterile” of wildlife except for eagles, we were pleasantly surprised with the “wildness” north of Kenora, and at Joe’s Lake.
The very first morning we saw a moose calf feeding in what would turn out to be our best fishing area of the trip, a nice inlet with a decent flow of water. When I see a moose, I always flash back to my first trip to Ontario those many years ago. When we rounded a point in the boat, and saw a moose running on a distant shore, I said: “Hey, look at that horse.” The laughter in the boat didn’t stop for a LONG TIME!
At Joe’s Lake, we had decent temperatures all week with the air and water temps staying near the 68-degree mark for the most part. It rained a few times, but mainly at night.
We fished the entire 3,000-plus-acre lake, but found our best success near that inlet. We had steady walleye action from the beginning thanks to a steady wind. Joe was great on the net on Tuesday when he landed my 29-1/4-incher, a 24-1/2- and 22-1/2-inch walleyes. I knew I used up all my luck for the week on that day!
The next morning, as we did all week, we were listening to the radio over our morning coffee, and were lucky enough to get the essential news of the day — such as the scouting report for the season on the offensive line of Winnipeg Blue Bomber football team! They love their football in Winnipeg.
As I sat watching Joe prepare the morning eggs, I looked over at the big window in front of the kitchen sink and overlooking the deck, and shouted, “Hey Joe, there’s a bear on the deck!” A big, black bear (VIDEO) was peeking in the window, after evidently licking our barbecue grill! My shouting scared him off the deck, but “Bruno” hung around in camp for about 20 minutes before our banging of pans, finally scared him into the woods.
A friend who is a veteran bear hunter, Bernie Barringer, told me after looking at pictures/video that the bear weighed between 260- and 280 pounds! I must say I was relieved about 1-1/2 hours later to see it crossing the inlet heading north, a mile or so from the cabin. We did not want it to try to enter the cabin when we were away for obvious reasons.
Kevin flew in to drop off some ice later that morning and we motored back to the cabin to tell him about the bear in camp. While we were describing what happened to him by the dock, Joe noticed tracks in the sand … two moose he thought, and they were headed north toward the inlet. Kevin chimed in that the bear probably was tracking the moose!
“Bear take out more moose calves than wolves around here,” Kevin said. And a short time later, we did see a bull moose feeding at the inlet. Possibly, one of the two of that made tracks on the beach.
Joe, who had caught a nice 27-inch walleye on Thursday, was praying to get “one more big one,” on our last day of fishing on Friday. His prayers were answered that afternoon when he hooked a big one. He was running the motor (we take turns), and it took him around the back of the boat in about 17 feet of water. His back was to the fish when it went around the boat, and I was fortunate enough to get the net and make a quick move, dipping it about a foot down and flipping it into the boat. It was another 29-inch walleye! (VIDEO)
“I didn’t even see it come up,” was a beaming Joe’s comment afterward.
I ask all the walleye anglers out there: Is there anything more beautiful in the water than a big walleye swimming up from the deep? I think not.
Joe’s walleye capped off a great week of fishing on a lake that featured walleyes from 5 inches to more than 29 inches. The lake is just an amazing walleye fishery! We finished our week (actually eight days), with 365 walleyes and 19 northerns. Our biggest northern was 29 inches. A good thing is that on Joe’s Lake it’s catch-and-release fishing for all but a few small ones you can keep for shore lunch –SO future anglers all have a chance at some monster fish!
We caught our walleyes on jig and minnow, jig and leech, and Lindy Rig and leech.
Making The Trip
Walsten Outposts is located in Kenora, Ontario, which is about 2 hours, 15 minutes, north of International Falls, Minn. Walsten Outposts has nine outpost cabins, and has been in business since 1962. Owner Kevin Walsten is the third generation to run this family business. A skilled bush pilot, he has the dedication, knowledge and experience to ensure your trip is without bad surprises. Kevin provided us great service by flying in ice, minnows and even a couple of glasses so we could enjoy our after dinner beverages in something other than a plastic cup!
I highly recommend Walsten Outposts and its AWESOME FISHING AND SERVICE!
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Guide Outdoors Readers: Tell us below about any of your experiences, fishing north of the border!