Fish On!

Sharpstone Lake, Ontario 8/22/14 

Recap 8/22-27, 2014  

Overall a great trip, HUGE lake with fish holding structure and flowage in abundance, no large walleye boated, but plenty of 20+ daily, and no problem bringing full stringers of 18's back to the camp for dinner.  Nicely maintained camp on a well protected bay fronted by a sandy beach. Trip is far too short to cover the water even in good weather, and maybe too short in general for the length of travel required.  Jack makes an epic journey from California to join us and the rookie performs well enough to earn rookie of the year award.

8/21, Thursday:  After obligatory fits and starts we rendezvoused near Crawfordsville for the drive north at about 6:30 am.  Picked up John Sigurd in Rockford about 10 am and headed upstream toward the border.  Stopped at the “Holiday” in IF for a final gas fill and crossed the border to Ft. Frank about 6:30pm local time.  13 hour journey was smooth and uneventful.  Dropped our gear at the “Rainbow” and a had a very passable meal at Boston Pizza…………..although the IPA got failing grades from the rookie.  Settled up with Beth and hit the sack.

8/22, Friday:  on the road at 5:30am and arrived at Halley’s base near Minaki by 9:00am.  They were ready and after some consultation regarding incoming weather we loaded the plane and were in the air by 10:00 headed for Sharpstone.  Arrived about 11:00 and caught the current camp residents finishing breakfast.  After unloading and reloading we organized camp and gear and were on the water by noon and headed south planning to stay close to camp.  Fishing wasn’t great so we kept moving downstream and found a couple of decent spots on the way to the first south end outflow.  Rookie got on his first “hotspot” and is hooked!  Iceman killed at the falls from the shore and everyone likes the look of the lake.  Weather moved in as predicted and Jack/Clayton-Bob/Iceman headed back to camp…Andy and Matt continued downstream to check out a couple of spots and then back
 tocampfortraditional 1st night spaghetti dinner.  Camp raided by natives and beer and gimlet fixin’s removed to protect us from too many hangovers……thanks 1st Nation……always looking out for the visitors.

8/23, Saturday:  And the rain came……and came…..and came.  Suited up and headed upstream.  Tried a few spots close to home and waited for a break to run up river.  Matt and Clayton headed south running with the wind, Jim and Bob headed upstream to the channel and Andy and Jack scouted uncharted territory.  Some of the holes were working and some weren’t.  Made it to the north inflow and headed back to camp.  Wind and rain made it tough to hold the boats or feel the bite but plenty of fish for candy fish night and hopes of better weather in the morning.

8/24, Sunday:  and it rained………..but we headed down stream locating a “new” flat we discovered on day 1,  ASH landed his promised 40”, 46” to be exact….a new club record and a beautiful fish.  No pictures but clearly documented by Jack, “the netter”, Jim and Bob “the admirers”!  Went to the far south outflow and the honey hole did not fail.  Fished all the south end spots with some producing and some not.  Managed plenty of fish and did a Cajun dry dusting which was widely hailed as or new favorite.

8/25, Monday:  and it rained…………went upstream stopping at new reefs and made it to the north end holes where we caught fish and visited with our native friends………this time they need smokey treats to go with our beer………great hospitality.  Found a new spot on new water to the east end marked by group before us.  Nailed a huge rock (2x’s) but boats still intact.  Beef and dogs for dinner and hoping for clear skies……stars are a rare commodity this year!

8/26, Tuesday:  heavy clouds but NO RAIN!  Started south and hit all the spots, the honey holes all produced and Clayton got on a deep water pattern in the flow that produced a string of big fish.  Hated to give it up but the last day was great and even had nice enough weather to rest on shore in the “overcast” and pretend we were enjoying the sun!  Cajun batter tonight and even had a little northern to compare with the walleye.  Walleye still wins!   Organized our departure and planned some early am fishing before the plane come in the morning.

8/27, Wednesday:  Jim and Andy out early to big fish flat under the only blue skies of the week, Matt and Bob follow 30 minutes behind………….Matt trying his hand at fly-fishing and got 3 northern to the boat…..success.  Caught 50 fish in an hour of fishing on the flat and headed home hitting one or two spots before boats out!  Cleaned the camp, boats, packed and showered and had just settled down when Jamie showed up to take us out.  A little earlier than expected but everything was in order.  Even got a “nice job” on camp maintenance.  In the air by 11:00 am and back at Halley’s to settle up, load trucks and head south.  On the road home by 12:30 local time and across the border without incident at about 4:00pm.  Everybody in their own beds by 7 am Thursday…………………..another successful and memorable journey.

 Some takeaways:    Fish cranks deep in flowing water 
Pack less clothes than you think
Less soda and Pringles when there are no kids
                                               Move Cajun walleye up in the rotation                                                Pan fry all the veggies in butter
Let Jim make cheesy potatoes for every meal

                                                FISH SHARPSTONE AGAIN!

Pre trip Info:  Posted November 2013

Outfitter Website - Halley's Camps/The Outpost Company

Current Travel Plans 8/12/14:
8/21- Andy, Matt, Clayton depart Carmel 5 am
- Bob, Iceman depart  Lebanon 5am
- Jack arrive ORD 6am local, shuttle to Rockford
- Drive to Rockford IL, via Bloomington IL, I-37/I-39
- Cars arrive Rockford, pick up Jack 8 am local.
- Cross border International Falls 5-6 pm local
- Overnight Rainbow Motel, Ft. Frances, Ontario
8/22 - Depart Ft. Frances by 5 am drive to River Air, Minaki, Ontario.
- Departure flight 10 am to Sharpstone.
- on the water by Noonish.
8/27 - Picked up am by outfitter.
- Drive to Chicago, drop off Jack.
8/28- Arrive Indy thursday am.

HERE WE GO AGAIN: Halley's Camps operates the only outpost on this massive body of water located in northwestern Ontario, with portage opportunities into Manitoba if we could possibly begin to cover the main lake and numerous channels and bays.  Sharpstone is part of the Berens River whose high flow rates creates ideal walleye and northern habitat which equals lots of big fish.

This is a smaller 6 man camp, that Bob reports is mid range in amenities (oh yeah did we mention this will be something like his 18th trip to this place) but is definitely serviceable.  
Most importantly, the equipment is in good shape.

This trip features the usual suspects for an off year trip - Bob, Andy, Clayton, with cameo appearances by Jack, and Jim Shubert, and this years newbie - Matt Douglass. Matt is Andy's lifelong friend from college daze, and will be making the transition from buggy whip fishing for teeny trout to the toothy monsters of the northern wilderness.

This will be about 17 hour drive through International Falls, then Kenora to Halley's base camp in Minaki, Ontario.  Looks like we will be flying in on Friday morning 8/22 and out on the following Thursday 8/28. Probably means leaving Indy after work Weds, with overnight in Minaki or possibly an overnight stop at the fabulous Alaskan Motel

From the Halley's website; "The Berens River is one of the great waterways that run from east to west across the rugged Ontario wilderness. The cold water and oxygenated current of the Berens River produces legendary walleye and northern fishing. There is plenty of lake, current and waterfalls to fish trophies at this outpost!
Located 145 miles north of our float plane base in Minaki, the log cabin is perched on a beautiful sandy beach in the middle of the river system. The cabin comfortably sleeps 4-6 guests. You bring your own food, bedding, and fishing gear and we’ll supply the rest."