Moosehorn Lodge, near the community of Sioux Lookout, is not a bad place to be if you are an angler. I suspected as much when booking the trip to a destination surrounded by so much water. Fellow angling fiend Gord Ellis and I have spent the last couple of days plucking lake trout from Vermillion Lake and walleye from Minitaki with friend and fishing guide, Ben Beattie. Today we hit giant Lac Seul for muskellunge.
The launch ramp off Highway 516 into Lac Seul's Deception Bay shows Sioux Lookout takes its fishing seriously. The Gibraltar-like launch and dock installation maintained by the community is superior to any other small-town launch facility I've visited. And, although Deception Bay seems more like a river than a lake, it's a fitting access point to giant Lac Seul.
We negotiate a series of island-studded wide sections linked by dogleg turns complete with narrows, neckdowns and roiling current. From Ben's commentary, it’s obviously a habitat favoured by muskie. "That’s where I landed a 48- and 53-incher on consecutive days,” Ben says as we cast and troll steep transitional spots between the muskie shallows of summer and deeper late-season hangouts. Extensions of points with cabbage, saddles between islands and mainland, looming rock shoals -- all have stories associated with truly giant muskellunge.
Stories of our own are proving elusive. Not that we don't have chances. Our first comes when casting a saddle adorned with dead standing wood. The second comes when working a rock pile off a point. In both instances thick musky ghosts out of stained water behind Ben's offering, are entertained by his figure 8 efforts at the boat, then swim away with marked calmness.
There are false alarms too when valiant pike, one approaching 40 inches, attack our muskie lures. One such pike is implicit in our closest chance at boating a Lac Seul ‘lunge. With the sun sinking behind the trees, we are trolling a broad flat near a narrows when I see Gord's rod bounce in the holder. "Maybe just tapped bottom," I say to Gord who is scrutinizing his musky pole when it suddenly arcs sharply, accompanied by the whine of the level wind reel. Gord dives for the rod and leans back hard just as a high 40s muskie launches itself into the cool night air well behind the boat.
"It’s off," says Gord reeling in dejectedly to find a scraped-up two-foot pike hanging from his lure, “Wow, hit a Jake with a pike trailer.” We all exchange knowing glances in the growing darkness. Gord unclips his lure, "Guess we’re done."
A few days in Sioux Lookout has been a teaser. Minitaki, Vermillion and the seemingly endless interconnected waters around the community beg for a more thorough investigation. And giant Lac Seul will suck you in and never let you go. Just ask Ben Beattie. He left an office job in Southern Ontario eight years ago and seems content to live out his days on the waters surrounding Sioux Lookout. For an angler, there are far worse fates.