W A L L E Y E   H U N T E R
Fishing Articles by Bob Riege
Good Night Irene... I'll See You in My Dreams
by Bob Riege
The 600 hp radial Pratt & Whitney engine revved up on the De Havilland Otter from Ignace Airways and nosed itself out into the bay to start it's take off, within a few hundred yards the lift took the floats off the surface of the lake and we were airborne. Packed along with us were the traditional homemade pies that are sent out with each party made by the daughter of Brad and Karen Greaves. My wife, Ginny and I, along with her parents and several of her brothers and their families were scheduled to fish Irene Lake for one week in late June. The lake is only about a 15 minute flight from the base in Ignace, Ontario.
Irene, a crystal clear cold water lake offers an 8 man family style camp located on a long, shallow white sand beach. This camp we called Sunset Beach. Ginny and I were in the group that stayed there. The views of the sunset are spectacular. Ignace Outpost Ltd. also has another camp just 1/4 of a mile from Sunset Beach and it takes only 2 minutes to travel from one to the other. It has the capacity of 12 people as well, and is located on a point overlooking a sunken reef and some of the best fishing on the lake. This camp we named Big Point Retreat. Ginny's parents and her younger brother and his family stayed here.
With the ability to have 20 people stay in two locations this is a super place for family reunions, church groups, or corporate retreats. Fishing, sight seeing, meetings (on the water or in the facilities) are some of the activities that can be enjoyed at these camps. Sunset Beach has a white sand beach, almost unheard of on Canadian lakes. People can sun bath, build castles in the sand, roast hotdogs on the open fire or tell stories as day becomes night.
Big Point Resort is only about. Both camps also have a wonderful sauna, the perfect way to end the day. We were also adventurous and motored up the lake a short distance to find yet another beach where we found arrowheads and pieces of pottery left behind by members of the 1st Nation years ago.
Of course fishing is probably the primary reason that many come on a fly-in. Walleyes in this lake are truly trophy sized with a few that are actually of good eating size. Lake Trout are in abundance and even in mid summer, are seldom deeper than 45 feet. Smallmouth bass are readily available and often exceed 20 inches. Pound for pound, smallmouth are undoubtedly the best fighting fish in Canada. Northern pike round out the fishing menu on this lake and were the favorite of Ginny's folks. It is not uncommon to catch one fish of each species in the same hour often in the same area. There are 4 other lakes accessible to fish from Irene Lake.
Upon arrival we were instructed to talk to Stan Kleiss who was flying out of the lake after fishing it for a week with his party. Stan is a legend on this particular lake. He and his party have been making the trip to Irene for about 20 years now and if there is a person who has fished all parts of this lake and adjacent lakes Stan is the man. After landing and greeting everyone in Stan's party, I met with Stan in the cabin to go over the large map on the wall. Stan told me where they had been catching fish and what seemed to work for his party. Believe me that was helpful and allowed us to cut down some areas and concentrate on the fish that were the most active. After a few pointers from Stan's party and taking a couple of photos of his group by the plane, the Otter was quickly loaded and it sprang to life once more.
The method that we used to find fish, was to backtroll along weed edges and look for rocky points that had wind crashing into them. Then all we had to do was to watch my portable Bottom Line depthfinder to see if there were any fish in the area. When we found all of these factors we presented our bait or lure in two ways. First of all we would backtroll using jigs tipped with leeches, or a Cabela's Living Eye Minnow. (by the way our biggest fish were taken using the Living Eye Minnow, if you haven't tried them you should)
Backtrolling jigs in shallow water on wind swept points and sunken island locations allowed us to net a lot of walleyes. Many times there were northern pike and smallmouth bass mixed in with feeding walleyes.
Irene lake is fed by the Gamble River. If you remember last year I had some articles out about fishing Gamble Lake. Gamble is just two short portages away from Irene and the lake that is adjacent to both is Doan. This is smallmouth heaven. All three lakes have trophy smallmouth.
Because the weather had been warm I knew that the smallmouths would be on the move. When the water gets warmer the fish will move right up onto the rock shoals and points. One day you may fish these spots and get very few fish and the next day it will be full of them.
Since the water is shallow now you must adapt by using more subtle methods and seductive presentations. I normally switch to a light spinning rod and load up my reel with a clear, light line, such as Berkley Vanish in six pound test.
I usually switch to a jig tipped with a leech, during these shallow conditions. These little rascals have a way of slithering and wriggling that drives a reluctant smallmouth absolutely crazy.
If the water is quite shallow, work a floating minnow bait across the surface in a pumping retrieve. It will take your breath away when your lure suddenly disappears in an explosive spray. Or, if the water is deeper, retrieve the lure faster so that it dives down near the range of the fish. Sometimes even bumping the lure on rocks or tree stumps will trigger fish into bashing it.
The best structure are those that top off right at the surface. However, a sunken island that tops off right at the surface also should have some sort of cover to attract the fish and provide protection for them. Usually this cover is in the form of boulders or cabbage weeds.
The key spots on the lake were areas that had small boulders mixed with larger ones. We found most of our big smallies in among the rocks that looked like Civil War cannon balls. If we worked these areas over we were bound to take a number of good sized smallies.
Lake trout were taken while trolling silver spoons or red eye wigglers on a long line in water about 18 to 25 feet deep. Watching the Bottom Line depthfinder allowed us to find schools of lake trout and determine at what depth they were located. The long line trolling worked well and we caught numerous fish in the 22 inch category. Some unusual baits that we found to be successful were the Lindy Gator Spoons in blue and silver and the silver Lindy Tiger Tube.
Most of our fishing was done fairly shallow and we didn't have to use anything over a 1/4 oz. weight to get the bait down to where the fish were at. Ginny and I both had spinning rods, one rigged with a gold jig the other with a red Fuzz E Grub. When going after northern pike or lake trout we took our G Loomis bait casting poles and steel leaders, but by in large we didn't bring along a lot of heavy duty equipment. That is not to say that we packed light either. We were very fortunate that the weather was warm and heavy jeans and turtlenecks were not required, but we still packed them just in case. If you are going to fly-in, it is best to pack with layering in mind. Remember, just because it was warm when we were there does not mean that this is a normal weather pattern for Canada. Another reason to pack wise is that you are restricted as to how much weight you can bring on board the plane. When in doubt, less is better.
We had great weather, good conversation, the enjoyment of each others company, a sand beach, beautiful sunsets and a sauna to end the fishing day. Irene was a dream come true. Good Night Irene… I'll see you in my dreams and hopefully next year about the third week of June.
Start building those special memories for years to come and if you want more information contact: Ignace Outposts LTD, Ignace Airways Brad and Karen Greaves, Box 244 IGNACE ONTARIO, P0T1T0 CANADA 1-807-934-2273 office, 1-807-934-6647 fax or on the web at: firstname.lastname@example.org or www.ignaceoutposts.com.
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