Fish On!

South Lake, Ontario 
August 11 - 18, 2012
 Clayton Wright's new Club Record 30.5" Walleye

Trip Log thanks to Bob: opinions do not necessarily reflect the reality of events that occurred, but, hey at least he took the time to make some stuff up of a semi-reasonable nature.

 Bob Haldrup, Andy Haldrup, Clayton Wright, Bob Vowell, Jim Shubert, Derek Warren 

8/9:  Rendezvous in Lebanon at 7:00pm with Clayton, Robert, Andy, Derek, and Jim.  After the obligatory repacking we hit the road north at about 7:30pm.  10 minutes later we stop at the first rest area to complete the packing, unpacking, repacking ritual.  Now we are FINALLY on the road!

8/10:  Arrive at the border about 7am local time (smooth 13 hour drive) and make the routine stop at the “Holiday” for gas, phone calls home, and computer chips for Orvis’s satellite tracking device.  Breakfast at the Chocolate Moose and the cross the border at about 9am.  Only minor freeze up from “CupO” as he inadequately described our tobacco quantity as “a handful” after lying about the amount of alcohol we had in our possession.  Oh yeah!  “The”  Rookie forgot to sign his passport but the crossing guard was so tickled watching Jim explain “a handful” that she only warned us about the nasty American guards and suggested we find a pen before we returned, then waved us through.  Arrived at the Fabulous Balmer Motor Hotel about 2:30pm local time to complete our restful 19 hour drive.  Checked in, naps, restless walks to town, worms from George the disgruntled sport shop owner, drinks and dinner with a floor show, then off to bed for an 8:45am departure in the morning. 

 Departure Lounge - Red Lake International  The Fabulous Balmer Motor Lounge

8/11:  INCOMING!  At the airport and unloaded, checked in and ready to go, but our travelling companions (3 invalids from Iowa or something) were extremely late. The new kid at the airport said everyone was overweight so a mad scramble to shed gear and nonessentials before we are cleared for departure.  Finally in the air at 9:30 and arrive Sandy First Nation about 10:15.  On the float planes by 11:00 and a mad dash to camp…..on the dock at 11:30 and planes unloaded, gear hauled up the mountain, camp organized to our satisfaction, gear assembled and on the water by 1:00pm.  First day fishing is spent exploring the hotspots, checking the inflow and outflow, and literally “breaking in” the new gear.  Bob tosses at least half of his new reel into the lake, and Andy breaks the tip off his new custom 6’6” rod turning it into a more manageable 6’3” model.  The pair does manage a nice 38” Northern and the lake feels fishy!

 The shack Gearing up

8/12:  Orvis manages to talk “The” into the first expedition of the week and they are off to the outflow where Derek promptly learns about moss as lichens as he does the slow slide into neck deep 65 degree water while maintaining a firm grip on his rod.  The day ends with “candy fish” for all and the best spots are beginning to be identified.

8/13-17:  Fishing, fishing, and more fishing, gimlets, shots, filet lessons, euchre, (try to get Andy as a partner) deep fried everything, bear prints, moose, eagles, lost boats, rain, wind, more rain, more wind, did I mention rain and wind, but best of all A NEW CLUB RECORD!  Clayton and Robert anchored on the big flat all day. Clayton hooks and Bobby lands a huge 30.5” walleye……….eclipses the old record by 2” and has everyone choked up at dinner as the boys recount their adventure.  Clearly the highlight of a great week of fishing.

 Blue Brothers Walleye Slayer

8/18:  Camped cleaned, packed, and ready for the next group by 9am.  Planes arrive and in the air to Sandy by 10am.  Back at Red Lake and on the road by 12:30 local time for a easy run downhill to Indy.  Made the traditional stop at Culver’s to pay homage to the clubs Badger roots and drop Derek and Jim in Lebanon by 8:30am Sunday morning.  Home by 10:00 and another memorable adventure is in the books.

 Did we mention rain?... The Vomit Comet

Big Hook delivers another great lake.  Everyone found spots where the Walleye fishing was crazy, the Northern were fun and predictable, the crew was lively, and the scenery was spectacular as always.  Never know where the days go, but there is always 2013 to look forward to.


Pre-Trip Info

This is the farthest north the group has ever traveled in search of trophy walleye, monster pike and dancing northern lights. We will be fishing about 350 air miles due north of the Canadian border at International Falls.

After what should be about 19 hour drive, to Red Lake Ontario, we will fly on commercial service from Red Lake International (a strip of weedy asphalt with a shed nearby) 185 air miles north of Red Lake, to one of Ontario's most remote outpost cabins, located in the spacious grand wilderness of the Opasquia Provincial Park. the Opasquia Wilderness Park is approximately 1.5 million acres of pure wilderness. Accessible by float plane only, the park has no road access even during the winter highway season.

The Outpost at South Lake is operated by Big Hook Wilderness Camps and offers the most remote housekeeping outpost cabins in Northwestern Ontario. This is the only outpost on the lake which will give us an entire classic Canadian shield lake to ourselves. The South Lake main body of water is about 10 miles from end to end with numerous side bays and an incredible amount of structure to fish.  This is an 8 man camp, and we have 6 confirmed fishers:

  • Bob Haldrup, Andy Haldrup, Bob Vowell, Clayton Wright, Jim "CupO'Ice" Shubert, and this years rookie "The" Derek Warren who is some vague or imagined relation of Jim, possibly an in-law.
Not sure whats up with 'The", but it seems like a good nickname to start off with... one thing for sure, with only one rookie, "The" will be very busy.

Big Hook runs a first class operation with well maintained cabins, boats, and motors - other highlights/basics that are included at camp.

  • 14' Lund boats with seats and 15 hp Yamaha 4 Stroke motors
  • life vests, fish nets and gas
  • generated lights, fridge and freezer
  • wood fire heater
  • on demand solar water pump with hot and cold running water
  • propane stove and back up propane lights
  • complete cooking and eating utensils
  • beds with foam mattress and pillows
  • shower 

Interactive Google Map with comments from Outfitter

Our current plan would be approximately this:

  1. August 9 (Thursday) - 7-9pm - Depart Indy
  2. August 10 (Friday) - 5pm-ish - Arrive Red Lake Ontario
    1. Check In, Dinner, Beverages, Bed
  3. August 11 (Saturday) - Early departure to Sandy Lake Reservation
    1. Transfer to float planes - fly to South Lake
    2. Arrive South Lake by noon, unpack, gear up.
  4. August 11-17 - fish, eat, sleep.
  5. August 18 (Saturday) - early morning pickup
  6. August 19 (Sunday) - Arrive home by noon.

If you are hungry for news of the north, Nathan Hartle is the Big Hook chief guide and posts a great weekly blog at If you go to his blog, check out his posts from August last few years for some idea of what the fishing will be like at that time of year - basically fall for that far north. Finally, the Big Hook website has outpost info, maps, tackle guides, etc. at;