It’s been a couple weeks since I got back from my fly in trip to McLeister Lake, and high time for me to give the report. This was our second time flying with Hearst Air, last year to Hilmer Lake. We were well prepared this time around for how this outfitter works, what the lodge would be like, and what the cabin / equipment boats would be like. So while we didn’t have the same “first time” feeling, we were still really looking forward to the trip.
We arrived at the air base on time, and the crew was ready for us. After settling up our account, placing an ice order and getting our emergency phone, they began loading the Turbo Otter filled with our gear, and us of course. The flight in was about 30 minutes and provided some great views, and helped create that separation from the rest of the world that you are looking for on a fly in. We touched down and began bringing our gear up to cabin. As returnees, we needed less of an orientation, and began unloading, prepping the boats, hauling water etc. In no time the plane was off, and we were in our boats ready for fishing. There was no group at the cabin when we arrived, so that helped speed things along.
We had talked to the pilot, some other guests at the plane base, heck even the motel owner, looking to find some hot spots. The usual answers ensued, fish the weed beds, wind blown shore lines, and the river. We’ll that pretty much covered the whole lake, so off we went.
I could go on about the trip, but I’ll shorten it up. First off, the cabin and equipment were great, no complaints. The fridge / stove / camp lights all worked. The outhouse was as expected. Two minor issue we encountered were really nasty mosquitos in the evening and in the morning, but during the day we were fine, and a standard mosquito coil burning in the cabin solved the insect issue for us. The second is we had one motor on the boat which was a bit fussy. During out camp check we pointed it out and the swapped it out on the spot. There was a spare on site the whole time as well.
On the wildlife, we saw bear, moose, beaver, eagles, and hawks. We shot a cool video of a bear, standing on a beaver lodge, eating berries. For any of you who go to this lake and head down the river, you’ll have more beavers than you can count welcoming you. The weather was stable, we had mostly sun, a bit of rain, some rainbows and one evening of spectacular northern lights. Now, onto the fishing.
We had no trouble catching fish, we estimate that we caught, as a group of six, about 600 plus fish for the week. That includes all sizes and species. The largest walleyes caught were a couple 25 in and one 25.5 inch. Our pike were smaller on average than we hoped, but we still caught about 10 fish over 30inches. We use 30 inches as a benchmark for a nice pike. I caught a 30, a 31 and a 31.5, but the monster pike I know that are in this lake evaded me. The fishing was more challenging than I expected. I say that because if you read the logs and talk to other anglers, the place to be is in the weeds, and I’ve typically been more of a deep / rocky / shoal type angler. We spent a lot of time trolling and jigging in the river and had some very productive outings. I say at least 60% of our total fishing time was spent in the river, which you can drive down for miles. You’ll see from the slide show below, we had no lack of great fishing, and I would recommend this lake as a great option for people. There were two main basins to the lake, a narrow section to join them, distinct weed areas and some rock Islands to work on, so really there was something for everyone. The water as fairly shallow, so make sure you take gear that won’t go too deep and you’ll be fine. The most productive tackle for the week was size 50 and 60 Williams Wablers, the 5 of diamond were the best. I had much luck with Rapala Tail Dancers in the Hot Chub color, as well as the Rapala Scatter Rap in minnow and Shad Rap bodies. The jig heads and bodies were varied, and we mostly tipped with worms, but I used artificial minnows were good results as well. All in all we had a great week away, and I hope the photos do the justice!
Just seeing the slide show from last year’s trip now for the first time – great job Scott! Makes me look even more forward to this year’s trip in 4 weeks! Bring on the big ‘eyes and monster northerns!