North Shore Fall Grand Slam

Kayak Fishing Lake Trout

Always have a plan B. Plan A was kayak fishing lake trout every day but because Lake Superior is so unpredictable, conditions were only ideal for our first evening of fishing. Even so, we capitalized and made the best of it when we could.

Kay Fishing Lake Trout in Lake Superior

The three lake trout we kept. These were the smallest ones we caught estimated between 8-10lbs. We did not have any decent cameras with us so the crappy phone picture in dim light will have to do.

Plan B was fly fishing in the rivers which we spent most of our time doing after paddling out over 4 foot rollers. I did not feel like I could really focus on jigging lake trout while abruptly bobbing up and down in a 12′ kayak.

Fly-Fishing Pink Salmon

Lake Superior Pink Salmon

A quick picture Drew snapped of one of his humpies before tossing it back.

Pink Salmon, ‘Humpies’, were in thick and there were a lot of fresh fish around aggressively chasing down and hitting streamers. Combined with a mix of brook trout (and few bass + one walleye), it made for constant action and kept us entertained all day.

Fly-Fishing Brook Trout

Lake Superior Brook Trout

The colors on the brook trout are prime this time of year.

Lake Superior Brook Trout

One of the nicer brookies that Drew caught stripping a minnow imitation through a deep hole.

Going back to that first evening of kayak fishing – we did hook up with lots of fish in the short time we had, losing or missing a lot but also landing some dandies including this 20lb class fish which was healthily released.

Kayak Fishing Lake Trout in Lake Superior

No net for this one – after getting dragged around in circles I finally managed to drag it into my lap and broke my rod. But it was worth it.

Kayak Fishing Lake Trout in Lake Superior

A quick photo before releasing this fat trout. It’s always a thrill fighting a fish like this.

Paddle the Pads Bass Fly Fishing Tournament 2017

Saturday marked the debut for a new fly fishing tournament hosted by Great Lakes Fly Shop. The tournament was specifically open to fly fishing anglers; canoes, kayaks, and non-motorized drift boats only. All proceeds were donated to The Minnesota Land Trust to support clean and sustainable water on the St. Louis River. Official Facebook Event Page.

Paddle the Pads: Bass Fly Fishing Tournament

Anglers endured pouring rain and tough conditions. At the end of the day the results were in:

First Place: Carson Spohn @ 18’5” inch small mouth bass
Second Place: Hansi Johnson @ 17’5” inch small mouth bass
Third Place: Leif Birnbaum @ 17’5” inch small mouth bass
Fourth Place: Erik Suppes @ 15’5″ inch small mouth bass
Fifth Place: Nate Gervenak @ 14′ 3/4″ inch small mouth bass
Sixth Place: Daryl Valentine @ 14’3/4″ inch small mouth bass

(an official coin was flipped to determine placement in event of a tie)

Paddle the Pads: Bass Fly Fishing Tournament

(2nd, 3rd, and 1st place winners L-R Hansi, Leif, Carson)

Paddle the Pads: Bass Fly Fishing Tournament

After the contest, there were brats, beer (thanks to Bend Paddle) and a warm fire!

Thank you to the following sponsors:

  • Echo Fly Fishing
  • Bent Paddle Brewing Co.
  • Patagonia Fly Fish
  • The Ski Hut
  • Duluth Coffee Company
  • Johnson’s Bakery – Duluth MN

February Trouts

Two Thousand Seventeen is off to a good start. We had a strong showing early on in February. There was even a day on the weekend that wasn’t blowing 60mph and I was able to get my kayak out in some deep water jigging lake trout and herring.

Sunrise over Lake Superior on a chilly February Morning

Sunrise over Lake Superior on a chilly February morning.

It didn’t take long to find a limit!

Kayak Fishing Lake Trout and Herring on Lake Superior

Kayak fishing lake trout in February on Lake Superior – it might be just a little crazy.

I met up with Joe that same afternoon and within a couple of hours we found limits of rainbows too! It was a banner day!

Lake Superior Rainbow Trout

A typical Joe expression.

Big female rainbow trout fly fishing Lake Superior

Lake Superior Rainbow Trout Herring Lake Trout

The fish pile at the end of the day.

Rattling in a Giant: The Backstory

Just a couple of days after taking this giant I was contacted by another hunter who found out about it and apparently had been after this deer. Hunting over a half mile away, he had been capturing regular images of this deer on his trail camera – right up until the day before he found his way over to my stand.

This image was captured three days before I took this deer, over a half mile away.

This image was captured three days before I took this deer, over a half mile away.

There were pictures showing him in velvet…

Minnesota Archery Buck

Minnesota Archery Buck

The same hunter had seen this deer the previous year and had more pictures from then showing just how much more he grew in a single season.

Minnesota Archery Buck

Minnesota Archery Buck

I am always fascinated to find out where these deer have been and how far they might travel on any given day. It is always a mystery figuring out how these big deer operate, where they move, when they move, how far and why.

Rattling in a Giant

It was Thursday and I was heading to the woods after work. The air was crisp and the wind was hardly blowing. After checking the wind direction I knew exactly where I wanted to sit so I made my hike in and set myself up high in a tree using my modified lone wolf climbing sticks and hang on stand.

As dark neared I could hear what sounded like foot steps in the leaves out in front of me. It could have been a squirrel but just in case I pulled out my rattle bag an shuffled it around just a couple of times. Almost instantly it sounded like the steps turned and came my direction so I quickly put the rattle bag away and got ready with my bow. But then I didn’t hear much more from in front of me. Instead I heard something coming through the thick brush directly behind me. Turning my head around I waited to see what was going to emerge. A mature buck came pushing through the tangled mess. Judging by the sheer mass of this deer, I made up my mind right away that I was going to take this deer if given the chance.

I didn’t want to be stuck in such an uncomfortable position so before he got any closer I faced back forward and sat as still as I possibly could. I had no shots behind me so I was going to have to wait and see if he would make his way past me. Looking for the fight, he was taking his time and carefully studying the area. I could only hear him take one or two steps at a time and then just stand there behind me. I didn’t dare turn to look as I did not want him to catch my movement. I still had about 45 minutes of shooting light left so I knew I had some time to wait this deer out.

After about 20 minutes I could finally hear him take a few more steps further from me so I slowly turned to find him again. Once he moved I spotted him 15 yards away. I could see that he was quartering away and I was starting to worry he might head back into his thick safety cover. But then he turned and began making his way toward me. Walking directly past me to my right within 10 yards of my tree, I still didn’t dare move to make a shot as he could have seen my movement. After taking a few steps at a time and stopping and taking a few more steps, he was angling perfectly directly in front of me and quartering away. As he came into the open directly in front of me I made my draw and released an arrow.

The impact immediately shattered the shoulder blade and I could see him take off on 3 legs. I listened and could hear him crashing in the brush maybe 50 or 60 yards in front of me and then nothing. I waited quite a while and in the mean time called in some help and packed up my gear. I was very grateful to find the buck right where I last heard him as there was not much blood to follow from this particular shot through the shoulder.

Minnesota Archery Buck

This deer field dressed out at 230lbs which would have put its live weight pushing close to 300lbs!!! I tried to correct the red-eye in this photo but now I look like I just crapped my pants. That awed look on my face is probably close to what I actually looked like when I walked up on this giant 🙂

I think this is the biggest deer I have taken to date. Again, I am very grateful to my friends Mitch, Joe and Heidi for coming to help me get this deer out of the woods. It took all 4 of us and a deer cart a couple of hours to haul it out. And the buck was so heavy it pretty much wrecked the deer cart bending the steel frame.

Minnesota Bowhunting Buck

Minnesota Archery Buck

Minnesota Archery Buck

They said I wouldn’t look at the camera. (I just couldn’t stop looking at the deer!) So I gave them a quick look at the camera 🙂