On behalf of my father, Jim, and myself, I first want to thank you for your hospitality during our visit to Miminiska Lodge last week. We sincerely enjoyed our fishing trip. You should be very proud of the facility you manage and the people who you chose to work at Miminiska. A very special thanks for encouraging us to speak about my grandmother and the significance that my father and I share with her memory at Miminiska. You had asked for more insight on our story and the island we call “Gramma Dot’s Island”. I can share the following….
Our first trip to Miminiska was in 2007. My father and I flew on a float plane from Thunder Bay to Miminiska on August 15th – arriving at mid-morning. The staff fed us breakfast, prepared our boat, and packed us a lunch. We were on the water with a guide named “Thomas” by about 10:45 AM. He took us to the north shore of Wottom Bay and showed us the jigging techniques that he likes to use in these waters. It took us about 10 minutes to catch our first walleye. It was at that moment we noticed a boat that was approaching from the north. It was one of the dock hands who was sent out to inform us that my father’s mother, my grandmother, “Gramma Dot”, had died that morning. We returned to the lodge and made arrangements to travel home. The staff arranged transport on a float plane to Fort Hope where we were able to connect on a commercial flight to Thunder Bay that evening.
My father and I returned to Miminiska the following year – arriving August 14, 2008. On the first day we decided to join the group at Shore Lunch Island for lunch. But on the second day, we decided to pack a shore lunch kit of our own and find a landing somewhere on the lake where we would build a fire, fillet our catch, and have our own shore lunch. It’s great experience – but it does require you to catch at least 4 good size walleye in the morning.
We worked the shores of Church Island and then made several stops as we moved westward through The Narrows. We caught nothing. By about 10:45AM, we had made our way further west to a small island at the mouth of Long Bay. The wind was from the north and we decided to drift and jig on the eastern side of the island. We made several passes without any luck. Not even a bite. With no fish in the boat we began to doubt whether we would have fish for our shore lunch (perhaps just potatoes and beans). We took a final pass and everything changed. Within 10 minutes we had landed 4 perfect sized walleye in our boat – exactly what we needed for our shore lunch. Why the fish began striking so abruptly we did not know. But they stopped just as abruptly. We tried a few more passes and conceded that the hole had gone dry again. As we sat quietly for a few minutes hoping for the one additional fish that did not come, I asked my dad what date it was. It was August 15th. The time was 11:15AM – nearly one year to the minute that we learned of my Grandmother’s death. Neither one of us had spoken about her up to that point on the trip. We sat in silence for a few more minutes. And then I told my dad “I think Gramma Dot just bought us lunch”.
From that day on, we referred to that island as “Gramma Dot’s Island”. It’s a reference point for us as we fish the West Arm and the Walleye Mine. But it has also been a subtle memory of my grandmother. On each return trip to Miminiska, we have always made a point to fish the waters around that island – but to this day, we have never caught another fish. It’s a reminder that the 4 walleye that Gramma Dot gave us for lunch that day was something special.
My grandmother’s name was Dorothy. She was born January 16, 1915 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. This part of Michigan is rural and heavily forested and the people who live there have always had a deep connection with the outdoors. Her family had very few luxuries and very little money. She learned at a young age to be strong and resourceful to survive. Her flower and vegetable gardens covered her yard, she gathered wild fruits and berries, canned everything imaginable, sewed her own cloths, hunted small game and deer, and even raised chickens. And she loved to fish. To her, all of this was natural. She loved the outdoors and would have fit in perfectly at Miminiska!
She also had a softer side with a warm radiance, infectious laugh, and inviting smile. Everyone wanted to be around her. Even the children in her neighborhood called her Gramma Dot. She saw the best in everyone she encountered and gave everyone her best. Everything she did was with enthusiasm and a positive attitude.
We often teased Gramma Dot about her wine making capabilities. She could make wine out of just about anything. One of her favorites was dandelion wine (yes, she would make wine out of weeds!). It was classic Gramma Dot – and it was exactly how she lived her life. No matter what she faced, she made it into something better. By most accounts, her life was difficult with numerous challenges every step of the way. She had a lot of “weeds” in her life. But she also had the gift of enduring optimism and determination to deal with the weeds that life gave her. And that’s the inheritance she left with her family.
When my father and I came for Sunday morning breakfast we found a large slate on our table; painted were the words “Gramma Dot’s Island”. The staff had made that for us as a marker to be placed on the island. It was a generous and kind act that meant a lot to my father and I. We packed the stone in our boat and set out to place it prominently on the island. Our first stop was Church Island where we set the stone on the altar and asked the Resident for a proper blessing. We then stopped at the entry to the narrows and were rewarded with the largest stringer of walleye we had ever collected at Miminiska (my dad says it was because we went to church beforehand). Upon arriving at Gramma Dot’s Island we circled twice and concluded that the best place to mount the stone was on a rock ledge on the northern face of the island. It is located roughly at the center of the north shore at about 3 meters above the water line. A petrified pine log lies 5 meters to the east. The marker faces slightly northwest towards the summer sunset.
The small island at the mouth of Long Bay is a very unassuming island. Soft on one shore. Rock solid on the other. Petite and often underestimated. Frugal with its fish. It’s a perfect expression of the dear woman we call Gramma Dot.
We sincerely hope that those who visit Miminiska, and those who live in this region, see her marker and the name of this island as a tribute to a rare woman who changed the lives of everyone she met – and a woman who had an amazing respect for the type of outdoors reminiscent of the Miminiska region.
Jim and Tom L.
So satisfied…nope that doesn’t quite say it.
October 20, 2017
I love the monthly e-mails because it keeps Wilderness North memories in my mind when I am many months away from the annual Syers pilgrimage to Sunset country. I appreciate that you have reupped and invested in Miminiska by upgrading several of the cabins. I treasure the delicate balance your people seem to have reached between being too involved with the guests or just letting them be if they are experienced enough to know what they want. Your guests can get expert advice and tips to get them on the fish or they can just show up for meals. You have practically mastered the art of measuring the degree of involvement that most are seeking. And whether its Tyler years ago or Brian and his team at Miminiska this past year… there is a consistency and warmth that makes us feel so much more than being one of hundreds of guests having a the same experience. I enjoy seeing Alan and Krista even if it’s just for a few moments as they multi-task.
We’ve voted for Wilderness North since the Liddles. The only year we didn’t come was because we literally couldn’t get into Striker’s during the week that Mark locked in his vacation with his employer. So satisfied…nope that doesn’t quite say it. To have sustained the level of excellence with consistency over a period between 15-20 years and to make these trips the stuff of dreams and to do all this while carefully managing a fishery so that a man of modest fishing talents like me can consistently catch more than my fair share of fish (remember now, that’s why we are supposed to be coming after all?), well that’s just what you do!!!
-William (Doc) Syers
D’Alton Does it Again!
July 16, 2017
Our group of six friends had an opportunity to visit D’Alton the 2nd week of June and the fishing did not disappoint. D’Alton walleye numbers and size continue to be very strong, with our group catching and releasing 207 walleyes over 20 inches, including 5 Master Anglers (walleye over 26 inches).
Dan Solecki led the charge with two beefy master walleyes measuring 29.5 and 26-inches, followed by my 28.5 inch, Michael Downey’s 28-inch and Tom Kaltenecker’s 26-inch. Wayne Senneke and Frank Kaltenecker get the oh-so-close award with a couple of walleye just shy of 26-inches.
We also caught respectable numbers of northern pike mixed in for the fun of it, with several feisty critters measuring in the 30-inch range.
The walleyes were in transition the week we visited D’Alton. We found concentrations of fish, including trophies, adjacent to areas of flow the first couple days, then they moved out and we followed them on their journey which took us anywhere from a half mile to three miles from where we had originally caught them. Large pods of fish spent the remainder of the week holding in neck-down areas which we determined were their pre-summer holding areas. Drift jigging with ¼ oz orange jigs tipped with a small to medium size minnow or half a crawler in 5 to 10 feet of water produced good numbers, while the majority of our larger walleyes were caught on slip-bobbers and jumbo leeches that the Silver Minnow Bait Shop, supplies Wilderness North. We also had some short bursts of action on windblown island faces near the neck-down areas, where we’d cast ¼ oz jigs with four-inch white twister tails towards the shallow rocks.
By publication of this report, many of the walleyes will have probably moved out to main lake points, islands and reefs for the summer. Look for them deep (15 – 20 FOW) during the day under calm conditions, and shallower during windy or low light conditions (5 – 10 FOW).
I’d also like to give a shout out to my buddy Dan and much credit for an assist in landing my 28.5-inch Master Angler walleye. I was busy trying to free myself from my rain jacket when a fish took my leech and slip-bobber under. After setting the hook, I handed the rod to Dan to reel in the fish while I continued to free myself from my rain jacket imprisonment. However, after a short time fighting the fish Dan realized what was possibly on the other end and said “Ah, I think you might want to take this one, it feels like the Master Angler walleye you’ve been waiting for all week.” Then he graciously passed the rod back to me to finish landing my largest walleye of the trip. After a couple of quick photos and releasing the big walleye back to her home, we had a good laugh, and agreed we both deserved credit for that fish. Meanwhile, in a boat less than fifty yards away, Wayne and Michael were busy landing Michael’s 28-inch walleye, which hit his leech and slip-bobber rig at virtually the same time. It was a great morning!
The most memorable event of the trip was when we came upon a cow moose with her calf swimming across the lake and, from a respectable distance, were able to capture video of them climbing out of the water and onto shore. It was an incredible display of mother nature at her best! If you would like to see the footage, please go to Wilderness North’s Facebook page or mine, or send me an email and I’ll share the video with you.
It was another awesome trip. The great thing about Wilderness North’s camps is there’s always excellent fishing and you’ll always have the added story or two that will stay with you until your next adventure to one of their lakes.
Hope you enjoyed this fishing report and good luck on your adventure north this summer!
Two Personal Bests at Miminiska Lodge!
July 4, 2017
Without a doubt this was the best experience that I have ever had on a fishing trip to Canada. I have been going to Canada for over 25 years to fish but this trip was the best experience I have ever had. Lynette made our trip absolutely worry free she is a fantastic planner. The staff at the lodge could not have been more accommodating, the whole experience was wonderful. The extra trip fishing for trout on the river was a great time. Mark and Joe were so helpful! I have been in contact with some of my fishing buddies and they are excited to see what all the good news I have explained to them. As soon as we can all get together I am sure we will be booking another trip with you. Thanks again for a great time! See you on the water!!!!!
Jim and his beautiful brook trout!
Brook Trout Paradise
November 15, 2016
I’ve fished all over the world – from minnows to great whites, I’ve been lucky enough to catch most of the world’s sport fish species.
The brook trout experience offered by Wilderness North is right up there with the best trips I’ve experienced. Genuine wild fish from remote, wild places – this stuff is the real deal. And all on the fly too! I simply adore fly fishing for brook trout and Wilderness North have added value by combining float planes and canoes that allow you to penetrate remote habitats containing virgin fish. The guiding I enjoyed was first rate too – all in all a five star experience for fly fishing junkies!
First Timers Success at Zig Zag
September 9, 2016
Krista and Alan: Our group’s experience at the Zig Zag lake Outpost during the last week of July was an Outstanding adventure…from the wildlife viewing to the tremendous fishing we encountered.
1) The South end of Crescent lake has a large weed bed. We typically would cast in this area and it produced many pike.
2) Halfway from the Cabin to the South end of Crescent lake is a small creek on the Western shore. This creek flows out of a small lake that has very clear water. We found trolling about 75 yards out from the creek mouth (into Crescent), and 200 yards in either the North/South direction was very productive for Pike and Walleye. (Note: You can navigate into the small clear lake if you’re careful. It holds a lot of small pike)
3) Slightly North East of the cabin at the mouth of the Jackfish River is a small Island. It has a steep shelf running away from it for most of its circumference. We caught several walleye and pike in this location while trolling theses shelves.
4) About ¾ of a mile North West of the cabin on Zig Zag lake there is a large weed bed. We caught several pike there, with some in the 38-42 inch range.
5) At the far North of Zig Zag lake is a large set of rapids that flow into Zig Zag from Moule lake. We did not catch many fish here, and these rapids are essentially impassable with the boats we had.
But there is a portage to an inlet with a view of a second set of rapids farther North, and then a trail along the Western shore that follows that small inlet and then leads to that second set of rapids. This is a ‘hike’, but we went there one afternoon and found some ‘holes’ on the lee side of the rapids that produced walleye on every cast (with jigs).
The most productive bait/lures that we used were as follows:
– Casting for Pike: Red and White Daredevils with a copper back.
– Trolling for Pike: Red and White Daredevils with a copper back.
– Trolling for Walleye: Hot-N-Tots (Typically the Blue/Green/Yellow Bottom), and, the same Red and Whites used on Pike caught several walleye.
– Jigging for Walleye: Pink Jig Head with a white twister tail, with a piece of worm or leech on the hook.
Note: Our group caught several hundred fish and released all but what we kept for shore lunches ‘unharmed’ back into the water. I attribute this to ‘pinching down’ the barb on all of the lures/hooks that we used.