Fish On!

Another hugely successful trip added to the list.  The fishing was not the best compared to the last few trips, but most of that is probably due to the weather.  There are plenty of fish in this water, and there are LOTS of spots that should hold fish on this lake.  We had cold fronts followed by record cold temperatures, followed by 25 mph winds and sideways rain.  The fish were scattered throughout the lake.  We were able to catch fish in spots where you would expect them to be in given conditions and time of year, but also found fish in spots where they had no business being at this time of the year.   Seems like they were as confused by the weather as us.  Very few big fish were caught with most of the walleye in the 14-18 inch range, and the Northern were even tinier with no fish over 30".  It took a lot of work, but we wound up with 350 walleye total for the trip, plenty to eat but never more than 20 by anyone in one day.

On the plus side, this is about the nicest camp we've stayed in, with large living and comfortable seating areas, plenty of eating area, and a huge deck overlooking the docks and lake.  Boats are underpowered with only 6hp on pretty big water, but we understand the outfitters desire to minimize lower unit disasters in motor-vs-rock encounters.  All in all, Carillon could be a spot to revisit in hopes of finding better fishing conditions.

Link to Neil's Slideshow

Friday, July 10, 2009: Packing Day

The day we anticipate for 2 years is finally here! Plans for departure were accelerated at a feverish pace as Pike Flu symptoms spread over the past 10 days. When the outfitter offered to fly us in on Saturday morning rather than Sunday all hell broke loose to treat our flu and get on the water a day early. Garrett and I boarded our plane at noon for a direct flight to International Falls and the Indy crowd hit the road at 6:45pm EST. G and I made it at 11pm, CST and the owner of the Falls Motel picked us up to transport us to the “slightly” smoked accommodations. The Indy connection confirmed a 7:30am drive-by on the way to the border (14 hours total driving from K-town).

Saturday, July 11, 2009: Shipping Day

Indy crowd right on schedule. After a last minute stop at the usual gas station and adjacent tackle shop, we headed to the border for the anxious and always botched crossing. The Sigurds took the lead and managed to barely convince the border babe that G belonged to me and that his “other” parent knew about and supported the trip into the North Woods. The Vowell vehicle encountered a tense moment when Robert responded that the purpose of the trip to Canada was “shipping”. The Shields van denied having any alcohol and passed without incident (when unloading the van, however, Randy and Tom discovered a few cases of beer). You would think that we could handle a few questions, but seem to screw it up every year. The outfitter is only 10 minutes down the road from the border and we pulled in to the parking lot at 9am. The 1st flight of 8, including the rookies, departed at 10:10am and landed at 11:45am.

We flew directly over Latrielle Lake on the way in. The short straws of Randy, Clayton and Robert, after dropping off a small group at another lake, joined the rest of us at Carillon at 3pm.

The 2nd flight attempted a stunt landing on 1 pontoon, but deferred to a more conventional 2 toon landing to the relief of Robert and the observers. The winds and surf made “shipping” pretty difficult that 1st day and we only delivered a few small packages of Walleye to the dock. Spaghetti dinner and rookie orientation (Tom Lacaria and Garrett Haldrup issued bear bells and other non-speakable activities) before bed at midnight. The southeast-facing cabin sits 25 feet above the lake.


A wood walkway passes a small storage building and rises to the large front deck. 3 bedrooms off of a large sitting, eating, and kitchen area with an open air ceiling above the dividing walls provide for stereophonic snoring enjoyed equally from every inch of the cabin. A great cabin and setting with a lot of lake to explore and plenty of days to fish it.

Sunday, July 12, 2009: Fed Extra Day

As originally planned, we would have arrived on Sunday. Everything to this point has been a bonus and well enjoyed. Up at 4:30am for a so-so sunrise and a cereal/pop-tart breakfast. G slept until 10:30am. Off to outflow at east end. Walked the bear trail to Kapikak River. Luke landed a northern next to a bear victimized duck before we ventured back by the rapids/falls/abandoned boat and into the main lake.


Westerly winds made the return trip a soggy/lake spray venture. We found refuge in G’s Bay and caught several W and a few N’s. Corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes for dinner. A post-dinner fishing tournament at the twin islands in the cabin bay found 2 fish. Rookie G caught 1 for the team of Tom and me and Ben caught the other for his 2 man team with Andy. Bob presented awards and snoring commenced at 11.

Monday, July 13, 2009: Chopping Day

A blue sky morning greeted with eggs and corned beef hash. A large group headed to the west lake. Luke and Robert headed north and to the inflows. They observed a moose. The other party headed south to the beaver dam lake. We did not see a beaver. A great weather day produced several nice W. G and I returned to his spot and he caught a 25" N, the largest of the day to counter my 10" W, the smallest of the day. Both were good enough for the daily contest award. Luke chopped down a 25 foot pine to clear the cluttered landscape and reduce my photo opportunities. Andy smoked some W for hors d’oeuvres and pan fried some for dinner before our lone outside fire and habitual snoring at 11pm.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009: Chipping Day

Another clear sky sunrise (the last we would see the sun for several days). Randy cooked a pancake/bacon breakfast as the rest of us ventured out for W for a shore lunch. After breakfast, we fished G’s Bay with Randy and Tom and made our way to a perfect shore lunch spot selected by Andy and Bob. When we arrived the winds started to howl from the south. Andy deep fried the candy fish to perfection and we enjoyed the last of the decent weather. Bob married walleye ceviche with the last batch of traditional gimlets for pre-dinner treats. Andy grilled hotdogs/brats/hamburgers before the rains started at 8. G-vegas smoked us at Texas hold-em before an early slumber and night of rain.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009: Quoting Day

Intermittent rain and warm winds from the southeast greeted us this day. Robert and Clayton prepared eggs and bacon breakfast before we bundled up in Glad bags to tackle the rain. G and I fished sunken island on west lake til noon with big group. After lunch, we ventured out with Ben and Luke to drop off fish guts and then to abandoned cabin last occupied in 1999. A beaver like creature was not prepared for our visit and scampered out the door shortly after we arrived. We traveled back across the lake in the worst weather of the day. Robert informed us that “there is rain in that water” to explain our drenched condition and he later declared that “when the storm is over, it is done”. This brought comfort to us all. Andy did a marvelous job with blackened W, red beans/sausage/rice. We were a little unsettled when Tom declared he was ”in love with the chef.” Cabin fever was starting to set in at this point as the winds shifted and started to blow a little colder from the NW. We played some “pass the trash” and high/low. Luke was the 1st out and Randy garnered the win. Both secured a prize from the pile supplied by Bob. Fell asleep at 11ish to the sounds of snoring. No rain for several hours and we were hopeful that Robert’s logic would hold for tomorrow.

Thursday, July 16, 2009: Sasquatch/Squirting Day

Awoke to heavy downpour at 4am and cold winds from the N. Sausage/Gravy and biscuits before tackling the elements. Robert and Luke ventured to the east outflow to investigate abandoned boat. The remainder headed out to NW inflow before working back towards the cabin. Everyone hunkered down in the cabin by 4pm for some cards, but no break in the weather, as predicted or hoped for. We spotted a tribute to Sasquatch in the woods, but did not see or smell her and she did not throw any rocks our way. Turkey dinner before Texas Hold’em. G, 1st out for another prize. L was the big winner and awarded a double breasted water gun for his efforts. Hit the hay by 11.

Friday, July 17, 2009: Ground Hog Day

Another cold/cloudy/windy day. Up at 6 for pancakes and then off to G’s Bay with Tom. T and G hit a lot of W’s and G renamed the spot G&T’s Bay. Robert, Randy, Ben, and Luke dislodged boat at east outflow and traveled down the Kapikak River towards Cat Lake. Randy bumped his head on the bear trail and softened his fall with his teeth. Clayton and Matt limped home as their Lloyd Ruby motor finally gave in. They made a quick motor transfer and fished it hard all day as did Andy and Bob. The afternoon saw glimpses of clear sky and sun before quick retreats to clouds and rain. Robert returned to the bear trail to retrieve his stringer, minus the previously attached fish. We officially ended the fishing with a big group at G&T’s Bay. Candy fish and hush puppies for dinner, some packing and bed by 11.

Saturday, July 18, 2009: Return to Sender

Weather finally broke on our last day, but boats all out of the water and cleaned for the next group. All gear at the dock by 8:30am and final awards ceremony at 9. Big Walleye went to Clayton - 23" and Rookie Tom secured the prize for largest N at 28". 2 prizes remained and were claimed by G as early b-day presents. Motion to promote rookies to veteran status passed with unanimous and bi-partisan (Sasquatch believers and non-believers) support. Naps ensued as we waited for the planes. The 1st plane arrived after 11am. Loaded it up as the 2nd plane landed and taxied on the watermac. 1st plane would not fire and passengers disembarked for troubleshooting by pilots. 2nd plane beached at sandy shore. Fortunately, the planes are nearly identical and include 2 ignitors. With both ignitors of the 1st plane kaput, the 2nd plane had 2 good ignitors and one could be used to start the 1st plane. Brad, the senior pilot, quickly identified the problem, removed the cowling and good part from the 2nd plane, ferried over to the 1st plane and kind of repeated the procedure. With some concern regarding the explosiveness of the 1st plane at start-up, the pilots loaded the 1st plane with 6 of our chubbiest to absorb any shrapnel. G and I and the Vowells watched from safety as the 1st plane fired, no explosion, and we were all in the air by 1:30 and back in FF by 3pm. No line at the border and late-lunched at McD’s. Dropped me and G at the Falls Motel and the Indy 9 hit the road by 3:45pm CST. G and I did some hiking and shopping before a dinner at the Chocolate Moose. We passed on the Walleye dinner and were in bed by 9.

Sunday, July 19, 2009: Back Home Again

G and I up at 4:45am and shuttled to airport to board our 1st flight at about the time the other crew approached Indy. We landed in CHS at 2:30pm. Kim and the girls greeted us and officially closed the trip for 2009.

A great trip. Fewer and smaller fish than we expect, but the memories were LUNKERS, as always. We are looking forward to the 8th Bi-Annual Trip with the NLFC in 2011. Rumors show Latrielle, Favourable , and Brennan on the short list for the 2011 games.

The Line-up


Bob Haldrup

Randy Shields

Andy Haldrup

Bob Vowell

Neil Haldrup

Clayton Wright

Tom Lacaria

Matt Wieborg

Ben Vowell

Luke Vowell


Garrett Haldrup

Welcome to this year's rookie class of Tom Lacaria and Garrett Haldrup, I know we are all looking forward to the traditional rookie orientation on day one of the trip.  Who will ever forget the hilarious (only slightly dangerous) orientation on the last trip!

Current plan for departure/travel etc. (as of 6/27 - 14 days)

Looks like the outfitter (Northern Wilderness Outfitters) is going to get some if not all of the group in on Saturday afternoon as long as we can arrive at their docks by 2pm Saturday.  Backing up from there, we need to depart the Vowell's no later than midnight friday.  Plan on staging there by 10pm latest for weigh in and packing.  This will give us 15 hours to get to and through the border. 

This year, unlike years past, we will be departing from Ft. Frances, just across the border, which saves us the last 5 hours of dodging moose and bear on the drive to Red Lake.  We will have about 2.5 hour flight out from the border to the outpost at Carillon.  Northwest operates two 9 passenger turboprop Otters, which have only been in service since 1958, so we should have a nice flight up.  Good news - only one of them has technically crashed before. (the other one just sunk). No worries. 

Fun fact: a direct flight path from Ft. Frances and Carillon will take us directly over Latreille and Margaret lakes which are only 25 miles southwest of Carillon.  Brownstone Lake (our 2001 trip) is just 8 miles west, and flows directly into Carillon. Raiding party anyone? If there are any Google Earth users out there, the cabin at Carillon Lake is located at:

Latitude51 30' 42.04"N
Longitude92 7' 55.86"W 

They do have the most ominous and threatening weigh limit advisories on their website, so please pack as light as possible (you know who you are).  Our weight limit of 80 pounds per person INCLUDES all of our food and beverages... and we will have to fly in ALL our food, so expect more fish, less cookies. Pop-tart and budweiser quotas are under serious review. Less tackle = more pop-tarts (you know who you are).  RECAPPING: PACK LIGHT. Your 80 lb includes all your tackle and other gear, underwear, shirts, cameras, leeches, etc.  Less underwear = more leeches. (you know who I am).

Seems that Neil has struck up an online bromance with an angler who has fished this water before. Jerry has generously sent us a map with most of the spots we should avoid fishing carefully marked. (click here for larger, printable map) Text of some of Neil's correspondence with Jerry is located on our blog.  Jerry and his group will be flying out of Ft Frances on the same day as us, so we may have an opportunity to meet them and swap lies.

A blurb from the NWO website describing Carillon

Carillon Lake is located about 100 miles north of Lac Seul. We just completely remodeled the cabin and are happy to have another beautiful and well-equipped cabin in the Canadian wilderness. This is our largest cabin with 3 large bedrooms and can accommodate parties of at least 10 fishermen comfortably. Hot showers, running water, propane lights, large refrigerator/freezer, gas barbecue grill, gas fish cooker, large mattresses, comfortable lounge furniture, large kitchen table that can accommodate at least 10 fishermen for eating and playing poker, large 14’ boats with padded swivel boat seats, and other amenities to make your stay in the wilderness a time to remember. There is plenty of room to fish for everyone who will have the opportunity to drop a fishing line in this lake. For those large groups of 10-12 fishermen Carillon is the lake to have a great time on!

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