I’ve made the 16-hour journey to the booming metropolis of Minaki, Ontario (population 250) nearly every year since 1989. The Winnipeg River system flows through this area of northwest Ontario and spreads out into countless lakes, bays and channels, all loaded with the greatest freshwater fishing has to offer. Smallmouth bass, walleye, northern pike and muskie are the usual diners on the assortment of plastic, metal and wood meals we strategically send their way. Some years are easier than others to catch these beauties…this year fell somewhere in the middle. We fished hard…I’m talking pounding the water for 10 hours at a time, non-stop casting under the blazing sun, wind and waves. We were rewarded with some good numbers, however nothing of real size to brag aboot (like that accent?)
The beauty of the trip is not only the fishing, but the amazing landscape of the great Canadian shield….conifer forests growing out of solid granite islands…crystal clear water with visible fields of massive bolders lining the bottom of the lakes…the fresh smell of pine and wildflowers…amazing sunrises and sunsets…calm mornings and evenings when the water looks like a sheet of glass…amazing wildlife: bears…bald eagles…loons…deer…beavers…foxes…it’s all there.
But not to be discounted, an equally awesome part of the trip is the people you get to share it with. Family and friends of the family are who make up the crew, but because my Uncle Bill couldn’t make it there was a feeling that something was missing. Still, Wally, Tom, Sam, Steve, my cousin Joe and my brother Quinn are what make the trip great. Driving up in groups of 2 or 3, towing boats from Chicagoland all the way up is part of the fun. Conversations about God, politics, family, the good ol’ days, past trips, evil Corporate America, movies and music…we always joke that by the time we hit Janesville, WI we have all the world’s problems solved and life figured out…then we realize that we still have 14 more hours to drive.