What does it take to start a tradition? There are many answers to that question and several of us have had one tradition going for nearly 25 years. It all started when my frequent hunting and fishing partner, “The Osseo Jinx,” (Tom Twesme) called and suggested that I get my date book out and mark out a week in July. I marked my book and then asked why I had done that. Tom’s reply was that we were going to Canada walleye fishing for a week. He went on further to suggest that I phone another good friend and have him do the same thing.
Tom and I have just completed our annual walleye trip for 25 consecutive years. During those years, several other friends have joined us, including our sons. Tom had to miss one of those trips because he was in the hospital having his appendix removed.
Each year we return to Halley’s Camps, which are located on the English River in Northwestern Ontario, Canada. This area of Ontario has a tremendous number of lakes and rivers.
The trip this year included Dan Krueger, Duane Frey, Tom Cornelius (Corny), Bob Pederson, his son, Greg, and this writer. Also accompanying The Jinx on this trip were his sons, Mark and Troy. Troy did a lot of traveling to be with us. He is on the faculty at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Fortunately, Troy and his family had escaped any damage to their home from the big fires in that area earlier this summer. He described what it was like as they left their home for two nights when the fire approached the area where they live. It was an especially frightening experience for their two young sons.
The area of Ontario where we fished is a trophy fish area where anglers purchase a conservation license and may only keep two walleyes. Some anglers say that a two-walleye bag limit is too restrictive; however, as a result, the walleye fishing remains excellent.
The camps in the area where we fished have adopted a trophy fish promotion. This promotion is encouraging anglers to catch and release and also to return good-sized fish to the water. To encourage this release, anglers who catch and release a walleye over 28 inches, a small mouth bass over 18 inches or a northern over 38 inches qualify for a trophy cap and a pin representing the species they caught.
In past years, we usually qualified for three to five hats. As you can imagine, whenever one of the nine of us had a big fish on, everyone was asking, “Is it a ‘hat fish?'” This year, the nine of us qualified for 16 hats!
Each year when we return from our trip, we all say this was the best trip ever, and this year that statement would seem to ring true. In the trophy area, walleyes over 18 inches may not be kept. Some days, we had a tough time catching walleyes small enough to be under 18 inches.
Each day, The Jinx treated us to a shore lunch over an open fire. It is almost impossible to beat the taste of freshly-caught walleyes. Our plans are to return next July for an excellent fishing trip.
A rumor is circulating that it is possible that a dog-fish tournament may be held on Boom Lake and the river.
Longtime Northwoods outdoors personality Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column for the Star Journal.