Dave Schabell / Bill Hagedorn
Nick Schack Foursome - Week One
Spanish River Fishing Trip
May 14th - June 5th
|We did not make a trip to the Blue Heron in 2012, opting out for a fly-in trip to Pine Portage instead.
What a difference a year makes. One year ago, my
brother Mark and I pulled into camp only to find the
river UP and flooding. Little did we know at that
moment, but we would not get to dock our boats at
camp for the next two weeks, but that the muddy
water forced the big pike into the clear water bays,
where we caught 10 pike in the 35 inch range. This
year our biggest pike was 35 inches and the next
largest was 29 inches. We did catch a lot in the 24 to
26 inch range.
The Muskie which the "Friends of the Spanish River"
reintroduced to the river starting back in 2001 are
really starting to show up. Nick Schack caught one
that was 36 inches long in Week One. Nick caught
one about 10 inches longer a year ago. This year I
caught the big muskie of the trip at 44 inches a week
later, and then we caught one trolling for walleye,
and one out in the bay that went 32 inches while
casting for walleye.
We have mixed emotions about the muskie.
A) They are huge, thick, heavy eating machines.
What are they eating??? We are afraid, perhaps small
bass, perch, and perhaps some walleye.
B) That word will get out on the muskie and the
complexion of the camp could change from dew worm
dipping walleye guys, to heavy equipment muskie
fishermen. Right now there is year-round closed
season on the muskie in the river, and a 56 inch size
limit in the bay.
Pictured above top left is Nick's
36 inch muskie.
Above center is a muskie, short of
30 inches caught across from
camp while trolling for walleye.
At left, is my 44 inch muskie
caught after dinner in an area
known to hold them. Above
right, a 32 incher caught out in
At left is the big Northern Pike of
the trip, a 35 incher which stirred
things up in the boat on a slow
day. Below center is a 29 inch pike
that Bill caught early in the trip.
Underneath this verbage is a fish
that everyone should recognize - a
largemouth bass - but very rare in
We manage to catch one about
every two years.
Walleye were everywhere this spring. We caught them
from Day 1 and they were still going strong when we left.
We caught a limit each of walleye to take home (4 each)
and had two nice fish dinners at camp.
There were many in the under 16 inch range, but the
three above are 27 inches, 25 inches, and 22 inches
Deborah says that the MNR (Ministry of Natural
Resources) say that the populations are depleting. You
couldn't prove it by us. We caught so many we were
sport-trolling for them catch-release on slow days.
The weather was manageable throughout the trip, albeit with some downright cold mornings. I wore
a hood and gloves on the trip out to the bay most days. By mid-morning it warmed into the 50s and
by mid-afternoon it reached 60 most of the time. Rain wasn't an issue, but the wind kicked up out of
the west in the afternoons making for some rough trips (five miles) back to camp. We were able to
get out and fish at least a part of the day everyday, normally fishing until 2:30pm, napping from 3 to
5pm, having dinner and getting out again until dark which happened at about 9:30pm.
I enjoy fishing the bay in the evening, but the weather only allowed us to make the trip once after
dinner. Did I mention the bugs??? Normally, I just go mind over matter on bugs, but this year we
got the black fly/mosquito daily double and there were nights when they were relentless. I gave in
and shared some of Bill's OFF on a couple of occasions.
No Schabell Blue Heron fishing trip report would be complete
without at least one picture of me holding a crappie. This is
because we only caught one crappie.
This is a species that we suspect might be falling prey to the
muskie population. Gagen Bay aka "No Fish Bay", lived up
to its moniker this year. Lots of fishing, little catching. Bill
had one major blowup on a windy day that we suspect was a
muskie that simply missed his buzz bait.
We are sport fishermen who fish for fish, regardless of
species. As my brother Mark would say, we fish for whatever
jumps on our hook. I throw mostly 5 inch Kalin grubs which
attract all of the species present. ALL of our fish, with the
exception of some of the walleye are caught and released to
fight again another day.
Some of the smallmouth bass we encouter are amazing. Most
run from 15 to 21 inches, with our biggest being just short of
21 inches. Pound per pound they are my favorite fish to
catch. I'm tempted someday to come back up during bass
season which starts the third Saturday in June. In the
meantime, it's catch, admire, photo and release.
|Note that the smallmouth above hit a 6 inch
Zara Spook on the surface that Bill was
casting in hopes of a Pike or Muskie.
The water temperature was 49 degrees and
the air temperature was about 50.
I'm getting pretty good at cleaning walleye with my electric knife, and Bill is a pro at zippering them and
preparing them for the fryer. What I consider a MAJOR BENEFIT of staying at the Blue Heron, is that they
have public deep fryers in which to fry your fish. This was a busy spot this spring with everyone catching limits
of walleye and enough for the dinner table. We had two fish dinners in our three week stay. We serve them with
Onion rings, Mac and Cheese and a tossed salad.
Got Milk??? The milk in Northern Ontario comes in plastic bags, three to a package. Food costs are somewhat
higher than in the states, but readily available. We are about five miles from the nearest town which has a
grocery store and a Kwik Shoppe. Our normal dinners consist of steak, pork chops, chicken breasts, along with
spaghetti and meat balls, hamburgers, and Dinty Moore Beef Stew over noodles. We don't go hungry at fish
Fishing season started for me back on Easter Sunday (April 5th) when I lauched the boat under low water
conditions at Pickwick Lake, Tennessee. I fished there for three weeks (trip report elsewhere on the Happenings
Page), and then continued for 23 days at the Blue Heron in Ontario, Canada. As stated earlier, we never missed
a day on the water and caught hundreds of fish. Never did the boat leave the dock at either camp without
boating at least one keeper. We put the new giant-sized dip net to work, preventing me from having to reach
under the muskie's gill plate and hoisting him aboard.
Cal and Deborah Matheson are good friends and excellent hosts. Cal went above and beyond the call of duty,
towing my truck for over an hour through logging roads to town to the repair shop to replace a fuel pump.
Other than that the truck, boat, motor, and trolling motor performed admirably all spring, for which I'm
thankful. We look forward to next year when there is a rumor that Mike Listerman might be joining us for a
week. Brother Mark and nephew Andy and his daughter Kaitlyn are booked in for Week Four.
Because this was my 24th trip to the Blue Heron, I probably do not appreciate
as much as I should the splendors of nature that surround us every day on the
water. On this trip we encountered a fully grown male moose, several otters, a
mink, and a deer swimming across the river. Didn't see any bears this trip,
which is rare for us. The muskies must have eaten them.
This was Bill's return to fishing and the Blue Heron this spring. He underwent
serious shoulder surgery last winter and had to forego the trip and fishing in
general in 2014. It was good to have him back. Nick Schack brought three
first-timers up for Week One, but an early spring, and high winds put a damper
on their trophy Northern Pike hopes. Nick said they had a great time and plan
Good Lord willing the boat and truck will once again be up to the task next
spring and we will depart on May 11th for a May 12th arrival for the 2016 trip,
which as previously stated will extend for four weeks through June 11th. I'm
already looking forward to it.
My brother Mark and I will be in Ireland in early September where we plan
on doing some Northern Pike fishing. Should be a hoot!