By Roger Sabota
Special to the Star Journal
Several weeks ago, nine anglers met in Superior with the goal of driving to Northwestern Ontario in search of walleyes. Those nine fellows included Duane Frey, Dan Krueger, Tom Cornelius, Maurice Micke, Mike Riggle, Tom Twesme (The Osseo Jinx), Troy Twesme, who is recently retired from the Air Force, and his 13-year-old son, Ethan. Troy and Ethan are from Colorado Springs, Colo. We travel in three trucks pulling three boats.
Over the past 20-plus years, many of these fellows have been a part of this group that each year has traveled to the same resort in Ontario, Halley’s Camps.
The Halley family has been operating various “camps” in the area where we have headquartered over the years. We stay in one of the cabins at Caribou Falls Landing on the English River, which seems to be an endless expanse of lakes.
Chris Halley, his wife, Amber, and others in the Halley family have been involved in the operation of the resort for many years. His parents, Louis and Yvonne Halley, began the dream of owning and operating a fishing resort in 1945 on Black Sturgeon Lake north of Kenora, Ontario.
Since then the family has expanded their operations to include lodges and outpost camps on other areas of the English River. Caribou Falls Landing, where we stay, is Halley’s drive-in lodge. Two of the fishing lodges are all-inclusive and are only accessible by boat or float plane. They also operate a fly-in service that will take anglers as well as hunters into more remote areas where they have cabins.
We prepare all our own food each day at various places on the water, depending on what area we are fishing. Readers of this column over the years have read the description of our shore lunches that we prepare each day over an open fire.
Shore lunch consists of freshly caught walleyes dipped in a beer batter and fried, fried potatoes and onions and cans of corn and pork and beans. Obviously we take a break mid-day to prepare this feast.
The first day out it took us less than 20 minutes to have enough walleyes for shore lunch. The weather that first day was outstanding and as usual we ate too much. The second day was not angler friendly.
The weather made it necessary for us to prepare our shore lunch back at the cabin on the kitchen stove. We have had to do his before but you could count on one hand the times it has happened.
Part of one other day we experienced nasty weather in the morning, which gave us a chance to prepare a leisurely breakfast feast before we ventured out, when the weather calmed down a bit.
At a few of the favorite spots on the rocky shores of this large body of water the Halleys have constructed a lean-to where anglers can get out of the rain or prepare their shore lunch.
On a typical day we will fish about four hours in the morning and following our lunch break we usually fish another three to four hours. If we are not continuously catching walleyes we will move to another area. Having three boats is an advantage because if one boat of anglers is having good success and another not much action that boat will move. It is also very helpful to have the three boats in our group in case one boat runs into difficulty as I did a few years ago when my boat ran out of gas and we were drifting toward the rocky shore.
We have chosen to fish in this area, which is designated as a trophy water area, where the limit is two walleyes per person per day. That means that we can only bring that number of walleyes back with us.
Some anglers feel that this is too restrictive but we feel that is the reason the fishing has remained so outstanding. The number of walleye that we catch and release in a day keeps us returning to the same place.
Some question our practice of occasionally taking a young son or grandson along on this trip but our guideline has always been that the young person must be at least 13-years old. In addition because of the number of walleye that we catch there is not much time to be bored.
As usual, as we parted in Superior, we all talked about what a great trip it had been and were making plans for next year.
Longtime Northwoods outdoor enthusiast Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column for the Star Journal.