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 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.
While the daytime temperatures reached the low to mid-sixties on Sunday and Monday, and then the mid-seventies and into the 80s on Thursday,
and back into the 70s on Friday, the morning temperatures were in the forties, making me wish that I had packed a pair of gloves.
When packing here at home with the temps in the high 80's and 90's it is hard to pack your heavy winter fishing jackets, but invariably when you get
to camp you need them.  You can see from the picture of Andy at upper left, the early morning cold makes you bundle up for the trip out to your
fishing spots.  The perfect fishing day for me the first few days would have been to eat breakfast, go back to bed for two hours, and then go fishing
when it warmed up.  That was not a popular idea with the group (nor myself - just kidding) as many of our best fish were caught early in the
morning.  The picture in the upper center is of Mark and Andy teamed up for a day of fishing.  At upper right,we encountered some heavy fog on
Thursday morning making navigating nearly impossible.
The Bald Eagle population is alive and thriving on Kabinakagami Lake.  The Eagle in the photo at left
seemed to be amused perched on his treetop, keeping a close watch on the anglers in the bay in front of
him, hoping that one of our throw-backs struggled on the surface, which would have provided him an
easy dinner.  Above center, Steve McGrath was the first to put a plus-30inch Great Northern Pike in
the boat, on our first morning on the water.  At right, Roger Beiting shown fishing in his favorite bay
(Curly's Bay), where he and Bill Hagedorn encoutered several "Special Needs" pike.      
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.
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 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 enroute.  
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 (859-441-3910) 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
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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.