Opening weekend for Walleye and Pike was the 3rd Saturday in May for the area where Shekak Lake is located, and our group would be there the very next day, as the first anglers on the lake for the year. It was time for what has become the annual Fly In Fishing trip, and it looked to be another good one. The four originals were back, my brother, Chris, and two good friends Dan and Scott. Our group has included other good guys in the past (and hopefully will again), but time of year and budget always play a role in who goes each year. We had spent a lot time talking about where we wanted to go fishing this year, with Chris playing the lead roll of trip organizer. We had to answer our usual questions; when, budget, American plan vs housekeeping, amenities, group size, lake size, species… you get point.
When you have a group of guys you have to try and come up with something that everyone will enjoy. I really liked it this year as I was not the organizer, and was looking forward to paying my share and showing up with my stuff. We benefited from the help of the one man knowledge base of Mike Borger, of Canada Fishing Guide fame, who put us onto White River Air as an operation. They’ve been on our radar for years, but it was Mikes contribution that put us over the top. We were fortunate to secure Shekak Lake, which is one of their deluxe outposts, meaning we’d have some power from a generator, and hot and cold running water, so we wouldn’t exactly be roughing it. Check out my walk through of the cabin:
We made our journey to White River Air, where we stayed at the White River Motel. After a stop at the local Robins Donuts for coffee, and the local bait shop for some crawlers, we were off to the lake where the planes take off. We’re pretty much veterans of fly in trips now, but you still get the butterflies of excitement as you board the Beaver and hear that engine rev up. Our flight to Shekak was only 15 minutes and was one of our smoother rides. The pilot was kind enough to give us a bit of a fly over of the lake so we could orient ourselves to the real thing, having spent most of our time looking at satellite maps. In short order we were landed, tied up to the dock and our gear unloaded. A quite orientation tour to show us how the pump, generator and diesel heating unit worked, and the plane was off again and we were assembling rods. We had brand new 14ft Lund Boats with 9.9hp Mercury 4 strokes to use for the week, comfortable in deed.
One thing that is important to remember on these trips, is that even though they are remote lakes that see very little fishing pressure, there are still some basic principles that apply. First, the fish won’t be “everywhere” on the lake, and you need to expect to spend some time learning the lake and learning where they are for the time of year. Second, high sun, hot days with no wind are tough days to get fish going, particularly on clear water with little weed growth. Third, if it’s not safe to be out in the boat, then don’t. Fourth and finally, no matter what your plan was going into the lake, be prepared to modify.
All these principles were put into play on our trip. The first day, even though it was May, was a scorcher with no wind and no cloud. Combine that with it being our first day on the lake, and a shorter day at that because we just few in, and it was our least productive days. Don’t get me wrong, we caught fish, just not in the numbers or size we were looking forward two. We also began to realize that the season was much later than we had planned for.
Water temps on the surface were already 58 degrees, and would only climb (they were 63 when we left). The spring walleye bite was probably already winding down and they were likley already in transition to summer. More evidence of this was that none of the walleye caught were milking, meaning the spawn was long done.
Day two we had more of a plan in place, but a major change in the weather welcomed us. Intense wind made fishing the main lake us challenging the first two days were for us, the next five more than made up for it. We had 5 days of mostly cloud with some rain and modest winds, also known as ideal walleye conditions, and we didn’t miss any of it. We all caught a lot of walleye and some big ones. Fishing for walleye also presents a great opportunity to catch some big northern pike, which were were happy to boat in numbers as well.
Shekak is a relatively small lake, say 15 minute boat ride from the cabin to the furthest location we’d fish. That allowed us to both fish any location we wanted, and still be able to zip back to the cabin for our meals. It’s always fun to see what are become the “go to” baits and techniques. This was an interesting week for me, because none of my traditional lures were working, so I diversified the offering. In no particular order, the Rapala Shadow Rap Minnow, the Berkely Pro Grub, any worm harness, and my new favorite Bass Magnet Shiftr Shad on a swim bait hook were my most productive lures, and accounted for most of my fish, and all the big ones.
One other principles Chris and I have always believed in paid off for us big time, the simple idea that “you can’t catch em in the cabin”. We typically log a lot of hours on the water, and we got into some just plain epic bites that others missed out on. You can’t predict them, but sometimes the bite turns on, and then you simply catch em and get your bait back in the water as quick as you can and ride it out. In one such session we boated over 20 walleye each, and between us may have had 5-10 that would be eater size, the rest were all too big, and some way to big to eat!
After 7 days of great fishing, great fishing weather (for the most part) and one of the best appointed remote cabins we’ve been too, it was time to head out. The plane landed, we helped the next crew get set up, and we were off to start the long journey home, and talk about the next trip.