|The Great 2012 Pine Portage
Fly-In Fishing Expedition
Dave Schabell, Mark Schabell, Andy Schabell
Roger Beiting, Bill Hagedorn, and Steve McGrath
August 16th - 25th
|We left Alexandria, Ky., on
Thursday morning, August 16th at
7:40am and arrived at the Laker Inn
in Saulte Ste Marie, Michigan late
that same afternoon. The Laker
Inn, decked out in Tennessee
orange, was very spartan, yet
accomodating and cheap. I
wouldn't take the wife and kids
there on vacation, but for a bunch
of enroute fishermen, it worked out
just fine. Our accomodations the
next day at the Parkway Motel in
Wawa were MUCH nicer.
|We arrived at the seaplane base in Wawa,
north of Lake Superior at 6:30am as instructed
on a gorgeous Saturday morning, August 18th,
were quickly weighed in, loaded and soon
airbourne for our destination of Pine Portage
Lodge, some 140 air miles away.
We landed smoothly in camp at about 7:45am
and were treated to breakfast prior to settling
into our accomodations and preparing for our
first full day of fishing.
|The building at left is the main lodge offices and
dining room at Pine Portage Lodge. It is built of
cedar logs, and the interior furnishings are all of
primarily cedar construction.
Our digs were in the building at right where we
occupied three of the four units.
Below is the boat dock which stretches farther
and farther out into the lake as the water levels
continue to drop.
Below right is our group seated at our assigned
breakfast and dinner table awaiting our next
feeding. Lunch goes out onto the lake with you.
You normally are on the water by 8:15am and
don't return until 5:45pm. Dinner is at 6:30pm.
|Bill Hagedorn (right) and
myself, the "old pros"
caught the two biggest
fish of the trip.
Bill's is a 38 incher,
caught legitimately on a
Zara Spook, while my
40 incher was caught
quite by accident, while
trolling for walleye on
the last day of the trip.
However, we will take
them anyway we can.
Both were beautiful fish.
|Bill's second best fish, was the
muscled-up 35 incher at far left. He
was caught within an hour of the 38
incher, and also on a Zara Spook.
My 32 incher, my largest until the 40
incher was caught trolling, was taken
in the 3rd Gap on a jointed perch
Rapala. I also caught a rare Silver
Pike that afternoon.
All of mine and Bill's pike were
taken on light equipment with 10
pound test line or under and
|Shore Lunch is a time-honored Canadian Wilderness fishing tradition.
While we pack sandwiches on six of our seven fishing days, we always set aside one day
for a traditional shore lunch. We cheat by pre-catching and filleting our walleye in
advance, and the lodge provides a kit with all of the necessary skillets, dishes, utensils and
firewood for a successful shore lunch. There are designated shore lunch spots on the lake,
with some being a primitive stone campfire-site, to sites with elaborate preparation tables
and picnic tables and a concrete fire-containment pit.
We stumbled upon one of the nicer shore lunch spots at Driller's Point, when we couldn't
locate the one we had intended to use on Wigwam Point. It turned out to be a good break
for our team, and provided us a nice venue for this year's shore lunch.
Roger Beiting was our fish fry chef. Bill Hagedorn did the potato frying, I set the table and
took pictures, and Mark did dishwashing honors.
While there we took the opportunity to take a few pictures.
Pine Portage is a very special place.
The Watson Family and their staff pride themselves on serving "Those Who Love The Great Outdoors" and take pride in having their guests
"Rough it in comfort"
You can drive straight through to Wawa from Northern Kentucky in 13 hours if you would so desire, or do as we did, break up the trip going
up, and come home straight through. We departed the seaplane base in Wawa at 9:40am on Saturday morning and were in Cold Spring at
10:40pm that night, with one stop in Mackinac City for lunch, and a couple of gas stops en-route.
It is not a cushy trip. The boats are 16 foot Deep V Closed Bow Misty Rivers, powered by 15hp Yamaha motors (20hp motors are
available). It takes about 30 minutes to get to your fishing spot, and to get back to the lodge again at the end of the day. There are no seats
upon which to sit while casting, which can take its toll on your ankles and lower back, and no trolling motor to position your boat. You
navigate by "drift lines" or simply throw over the anchor or troll, but the rewards are detailed in the photos above.
This was probably my last trip to Pine Portage as a full-fledged 24/7 7-day fisherman. Perhaps someday down the road I might be coersed
into going along for the ride, or to do some low level guiding. I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunities over the years to visit and
enjoy Pine Portage, and suggest that anyone who thinks they might like to make the trip to do so - you won't regret it.
I, or any member of our party, would be happy to coach you (859-240-2963) on how to go about setting up a trip of this nature. The ballpark
cost for the 10 day trip with motel stays enroute, supplies, licenses, van rental, meals enroute, fly-in, fly-out, boat, motor, gas, meals in camp,
and accomodations with housekeeping maid service comes in at around $3,000 per person. Trips of shorter duration can be arranged. Most
anglers go to Pine Portage to fish (jig) for walleye (pickerel) and overlook the incredible Northern Pike fishery that exists there.
As my nephew Andy likes to say, "It's truly a Trip of a Lifetime."
|Roger Beiting, Dave Schabell, Mark Schabell, Bill Hagedorn, Andy Schabell, and Steve McGrath
|Andy probably boated the most plus-30inch pike on the trip. He is shown above, right and left with a pair of dandies, which most fishermen would
be proud to have hanging on their walls. ALL of our fish, with the exception of walleye that we caught for shore lunch and to take home were
released to continue to grow and hopefully provide some other angler the pleasure that they provided us, in the future.
The pike Andy is holding in the center photo is a more-typical sized pike that we caught on this trip. Andy caught it from shore while we were
having lunch together one day. It is in the 24 to 26 inch class, and we caught literally hundreds of pike this size. Roger Beiting probably caught the
most pike on the trip, primarily this sized fish, which hit explosively and fight like caged tigers.