Considering the raw ingredients it’s no surprise this fly-in trip to Shekak Lake, 35 air miles north of White River, is turning out to be memorable. In addition to a serendipitous meteor shower last night, seven-kilometre Shekak Lake is living up to its reputation as a great walleye and pike producer. In fact, the large average size is surprising; tonight’s dinner of only five walleye fed our group of 4 adults and 5 children. With hot running water, showers and flush toilets the deluxe log outpost camp rivals many homes. However, the primary ingredients of the trip’s success are the friends we’re sharing it with.
I don’t see Jay Nixon nearly as much as I did when we were teenagers, spending our summers creek fishing specks and playing guitar around campfires. Now with children of our own -- Karen and Jay’s daughter and two sons, and my two daughters -- we’ve assembled a cast of characters well suited to a remote fly-in fishing vacation.
THE BIG ONES GET AWAY
One morning, my wife Francine and I stumble across a 20-foot hump in the middle of a 40-foot basin. Dragging live bait and jigging plastic is answered by 17- to-21-inch walleye and soon Jay and his wife, Karen, join us on the glassy lake.
Karen is the least experienced angler in the group but it is not long before she aggressively sets the hook into a big walleye -- only to reel it to the rod tip with equal zeal. The heavy fish hangs from Karen’s rod briefly before snapping the line with a quick head shake. “Shouldn’t reel it right to the tip,” says Jay. His sage and timely advice is duly noted and Karen follows up with a few smaller fish before we all head in for a late breakfast.
Next morning, Jay and Karen return from the north end of the lake. “We’d get a fish or two every drift,” says a beaming Karen, pointing to a windblown bay up the lake. After lunch we head north with a full complement of anglers. Our four aluminum boats drift with the steady breeze under a cloud-dappled sky. We all catch fish but my daughter Lillian is particularly deadly with a jig and chartreuse grub combo. After a few hours, hunger calls and the kids peel off to the camp.
Another walleye feast is followed by an evening bonfire. My daughter Islay pulls out my old guitar and as it is passed around the adults are treated to some jaw-dropping performances from their children. Even Jay and I pair up to sing a few tunes from 25 years back. Jay and I were around the age of our children when we first met and started playing together. It’s heartening to see the tradition continue in our offspring, and alarming to see how time flies.
Clear skies promise another meteor shower tonight and basking in this harmony of music and of family -- with the promise of plenty of great walleye fishing yet to come -- no one has to remind us to cherish every minute.
Learn more at the White River air website www.whiteriverair.com or phone (807) 822-2222.