Friday, December 25, 2015

Nipigon Expedition 2015

For about as long as I've known Nick Brevitz he's been enchanting me with tales of monster Brook Trout that live in the Nipigon River in Northwest Ontario.  In the spring of 2015 we began making plans to visit the Nipigon.  Of the twenty or so people that had originally expressed interest in the voyage when it actually came time to make the trip it was down to just the two of us.

The objective of the mission was simple.  We would travel to the Nipigon and attempt to catch trophy Brook Trout while also laying the groundwork for future expeditions.

Approaching the border crossing I was nervous.  I took deep breaths and reminded myself to not make any jokes throughout the process of crossing the border.  I've heard that border officials do not like jokes.  Not even funny ones.

After making it through the border crossing relatively unscathed the first thing we saw in Canada was a nice little welcome center.  The three babes working the counter seemed to be impressed with my charms.  This is where we purchased our Ontario Fishing Licenses.
 Sir yes sir!
 So we told the ladies at the welcome center that we were heading to the Nipigon.  I had been pronouncing it Nip-i-gone but I guess the correct way to pronounce it is Nip-i-gin.  I asked them if there were any other Canadian place names that Americans mispronounce and they said that they have heard every possible pronunciation for Kakabeka Falls.
 Before leaving the center I studied the map of the Nipigon that was on the wall.  My mind filled with wonder and excitement.
Shortly after leaving Thunder Bay we stopped at a rest area that also serves as a memorial to Terry Fox.  I couldn't believe that I had never heard about this guy before.  After having a leg amputated because of cancer he attempted to run across Canada in 1980 to raise money for cancer research.  After I returned from this trip I watched the ESPN 30 for 30 about him.
Nick admired the view.
Pretty soon we made it to the town of Nipigon Ontario.  Nick read the sign.
Here is a photo of the sign that Nick was looking at.
Canadiens have this land known as Crown Land and you can pretty much camp anywhere on Crown Land if you have the proper permits.  The first night we couldn't find any Crown Land so we set up camp in this field where there was a sign that said, "No Camping".  I told Nick if the authorities came we could just inform them that we were Americans and that would be enough for them to leave us be.
The next morning after breaking camp we decided to try fishing the Nipigon downstream of the Alexander Dam.  The river was much bigger than I ever thought it would be.
We found a secluded bay.
Nick caught a Walleye that was tagged.
Here is Nick with his Walleye.  After fishing this we drifted downstream and fished.  Eventually the current picked up and we had a mighty struggle getting back upstream to where the car was.

When we made it back to the landing we ran into two guys who were launching their boat.  I noticed they had a Wisconsin License plate and I asked them where they were from in Wisconsin.  They seemed like nice guys.  Little did we know at the time that we had just run into Midwest Fly Fishing Legends Keith Behn and Dave Pinczkowski.  We took a moment to admire the stickers on Dave's camper.  He seems so be a fan of a the band known as the Allman Brothers.

Soon it started raining so we headed into town to check out the museum.  This is all that remains of the world record Brook Trout.

This is another cool Brook Trout mount from the museum.

That night we drove around looking for a suitable place to set up camp.  It started to get dark so we ended up staying in a parking lot on the south end of Lake Nipigon.
I think I was boiling potatoes or something.
The next day we did some more exploring and fishing.  After seeing this rainbow we drove to the end of it and took some of the Leprechaun's gold.  It was nice to have funds to buy the gas we needed to return to Minnesota.
The brook trout were much darker here than in the Driftless.  I think Nick must have caught this one since I usually only dabble with trout on a fly.
Here is the falls on the Wolf River.
Nick caught a Brook Trout.
Everywhere we went the Lupine were in full force.  I think they are my third favorite flower after Sunflowers and Morning Glories.
They make pink ones as well.  I was reading a book and it said that rubbing Lupine all over your body is a good cure for Chlamydia and Syphilis.  I'm happy to say I haven't had any symptoms since July.
That night we finally found a nice place to camp on the banks of Lake Josephine.  Nick was studying the map to figure out where we would fish next.
 The socks were hung on the clothesline with care a lot in hopes that a huge Brook Trout would soon be caught.

We managed to catch a few decent Lake Trout.
 I was so happy.
 We figured there might be trophy Brook Trout at the end of this road.  There wasn't.
 Here is a fierce section of the Nipigon.
 We ran into our friends Keith and Dave on the road one night.  They were really nice to us.

Here was Nick preparing our Lake trout to eat.  This must have been around 11:00pm.  Since we were usually fishing all day we usually wouldn't even start gathering firewood for dinner until it got dark.  Things take a lot longer in the bush.  We usually wouldn't get to sleep until well after midnight and were always waking up early to go fishing again.  This trip was far from relaxing but it was really fun.
 I was boiling more potatoes.
 Lake Trout ala Nick
 It was around this time where Nick said something about how doing this kind of thing was the best.
 Lake Trout roasting on an open fire.
 The next day I caught my biggest Brook Trout of the trip.  A whole twelve inches.
 It flopped back into the water before we could get a good photo.
 The Nipigon.
 The Nipigon.
 We ran into our friends Keith and Dave again.  I think they felt sorry for us in our canoe but they invited us to visit them at their camp one night.  It was good time.
Here was Nick fishing another small river that we found.
I convinced Nick to pose in the Lupine.
 On the way home we did some fishing on Minnesota's North Shore streams.  I caught this Brookie.
 More Flowers.
The Nipigon Expedition 2015 was a good one.  Usually Late June would be prime time for catching trophy Brook Trout up there but I guess the late spring had something to do with water temps not being ideal.  When I go back I will bring a motor boat and a vast array of sinking fly lines.  I still have a lot of learning to to in that department but I am lucky to have many friends that I can glean advice from.

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