|Boundary Waters Canoe Area- The Ultimate Outdoor Experience|
June Newsletter 2010
The Assenmacher trip report
The 1st trip of the 2010 season was with the Assenmacher group who made sure it was a trip to remember! The group consisted of Andy, Nick, Jordan, their Mother Rosie and a lifelong friend Mike, all of whom are very knowledgeable about wildlife and plant life. They taught me a lot over those few days and I hope they learned a little from me too. This group caught on to the portage routine and paddled like no other group I have ever taken out. We broke all sorts of travel records. All of the men in the group have a lot of fishing experience; three people in the group caught their biggest Smallie or Walleye of their life.
What a beautiful day for travel it was in the high 70’s- sunshine and blue skies. We started off at the Mudro entry point (23) and this was one grueling day. Before it was over we had traveled over 20 miles and did 7 portages. We made our way across the 7 portages and entered Crooked Lake and had a shore lunch near lower Basswood Falls. We ate wild rice sausage w/ hot pepper cheese and crackers. We were whipped! I asked the group if they wanted to stop but they were up to the challenge and we decided to make our way all the way to Thursday Bay. As we passed the pictographs on Crooked Lake, we took some time for photos. It was 1:30pm and we were about 1 mile past the pictos. All was quiet when all of a sudden we heard Andy yell in a repetitive fashion… getting louder and louder, “wolf…wolf…wolf…wolf!” We made our way around the bend and there she was… a beautiful gray wolf standing on shore. She ran down the shoreline a little closer and stood on top of a flat boulder. Of course we were all fumbling around trying to get our cameras…then… she was gone. We all yelled and laughed. We were in disbelief that she was out in the middle of the afternoon. Just a minute later Mike looked up the lake and saw a deer swimming across the lake from where the wolf was heading. It dawned on us that the wolf was probably tracking the deer. At this point that we understand just how special of an event we just witnessed. I have been going into the Boundary Waters for 12 years and I have heard many wolves howl but have only had two previous sightings. I was ecstatic.
We arrived at Thursday Bay by 3:30pm and we were all dog tired. I cooked beef burritos while the group set up camp. This group was not afraid to do a little hard work to attain their goal. We were all tired…so tired we either took a nap or just fished from shore. To my surprise they were catching quite a few Northerns and Smallies from shore. We are so tired that we decide not to have a fire and go to sleep early to give our bodies a rest in preparation for the next few days.
While we were sleeping, the rain that was in the forecast slowly crept into the area. It was a steady rain. I woke at 5am but didn’t want to wake anyone else as I knew we all needed more rest. I woke again at 6:30 am, I heard someone rustling outside so I got up and started the coffee. We had a big breakfast of hash browns, eggs and bacon. The rain stopped and we all made an agreement: each person could keep 2 walleyes and if we had too many at the end of the outing we could let some of them loose. Rosie and I were going to troll just off the shore. I told her to let out 100 ft of line. We weren’t even 100 yards off the camp when her rod bent. At first I thought it was a snag then I saw the object was moving with us. “It’s a fish!” She reels in the 22” walleye. The rest of the boys were still near us and Rosie wasted no time in telling them of her good fortune.
The rain started. Then it started to rain heavy… at a heavier pace than I like. Rosie’s rod bent again and she reeled up a 15” Walleye. At this point the rain was really coming down and just a few minutes into our outing I ask her if she would like to return to camp. She says, “Why not, I already met my quota!” I laughed. We hung at camp where Rosie read under the tarp and I did some camp chores. When I was all done, I sit down under the tarp. I looked over at Rosie and asked her if she felt like having some hot chocolate. She looked at me…eyes wide open and says, “yesssss!!!”. There is just something special about having hot chocolate when sitting under the tarp in the rain. Hot chocolate kind of makes it all okay. A few hours later Andy and Jordan showed up. They had no walleyes but did catch some Smallies and Northerns. We all sat under the tarp and talked about the area and the rain.
Then Mom (Rosie) started to worry about Mike and Nick and talked me and Andy into a search and rescue mission. At first I laughed then I realized that it was almost 4pm and they had been fishing for over 7 hrs in the pouring rain. She started me worrying. Andy and I were not even 5 minutes from camp, when we saw the men making a beeline right for us. We paddled towards them and just when they were in talking distance, they picked up a stringer that any fishermen would be proud of. It was a mixed bag of Walleyes and Northerns. Nick is quick to say that he caught 27 fish. I am excited for them and when we returned to shore we took some photos. We let the Northerns loose and had walleyes and chicken garlic and rice for dinner. Mmmm mmm good!! While we hung around camp an Eagle landed at a tree right in camp. Andy and Jordan said that the eagle was sitting right on top of them while they were fishing. We took a few photos. This was another rare event. I have had it happen but it has been a while.
The one thing I hated about this campsite is that there wasn’t any good wood. It was all Red Pine or Birch and soaking wet from the rain. To have a fire will be a futile attempt. While we relaxed around camp, the rain came to a slow stop and as the sun faded. It looked like tomorrow was going to be a better day. As we sit by the lake we have an evening like only the Boundary Waters can provide.
All was quiet and the Assenmacher crew asks Nick to call in the Barred Owls. That really got my curiosity up. Nick stands up and lets out a Who…Who….Whoooo with a purrrrr at the end. I am very impressed! Nick has a gift. He is the Owl whisperer. A few minutes later we hear a faint response. Nick tries again… the Owl responds even closer. The Owl was moving down the shoreline towards us. We all wait as this chorus unfolds before us. Soon the Owl was on the point right across the lake from us. She seems hesitant and uncomfortable to cross the waters. She holds tight as this goes on and on… she sounds like she’s in love. We all sleep somewhat early and all night long that Owl was calling for Nick Who...Who…Whoooo
We wake that morning and it was an incredible looking day. We ate MY FAMOUS Bagel sandwiches for breakfast. We got out fishing early… Mike and I got a few fish. Mike caught his largest Smallie: 20”er. When we reached camp we cut some firewood that we found in an area that I knew had good wood. We fished from shore and a few hours later Jordan and Andy showed up with 4 nice walleyes. Nick found a new Walleye hole, a little while later Nick and Rosie showed up with 4 more Walleyes. Since we were having NY strips for dinner, we let them all loose except the 3 that weren’t going to live and Nick cleaned them up then we stored them in the cold pack to eat the next day. We all sat around soaking in the wilderness experience, full from the NY strip and potatoes. The evening was settling in when all of a sudden the same Eagle swooped right in and landed even closer to us than the night before. We were all in disbelief. Everyone was snapping photos when Rosie said “That Eagle has obviously been eating fish from fishermen for a long time. Too bad we don’t have any fish to offer her.” That was all it took… it was as if a seed had been planted in my head. This was something that we shouldn’t of done but I looked over and said “what about the left over steak pieces?” and in unison they all say…”Do it!” I grabbed a piece and walked down to the shore. I walked out on some small boulders and placed the meat on the rock. I stood up, hopped to the shore, looked over at the eagle and realized that she was already coming. I fell to the ground. I wasn’t even 4 feet away when she swooped down and grabbed the steak. We were all laughing and very excited…all that and no one got a photo! It happened too quickly. We have a good fire and Mike and Nick stay up a little longer. What a day!!!
We ate breakfast broke down camp and were on the water by 8:30 am. We made our way over to where we would spend our last night…Lower Basswood Falls. We saw deer, loons and a mink that everyone caught on camera. We got a prime site right next to the falls, set up camp and relaxed. Jordan woke me up at 5pm and asked if I wanted to fish with him. I snapped to attention because I know of a great fishing hole above the falls. We portage around the falls and are on the spot within 1 hour. All the way there we were fishing and talking about life in general. When we reached my spot I pull over on shore and tell Jordan this is one of my favorite spots and it wasn’t long before he caught one. Then a few minutes later he had a large one on when we finally land this dandy fish. It was 26” and heavy, maybe 7 to 8 pounds- the largest of his life. This was also the second largest fish that I have ever seen in these waters. He catches a few more and we head back to camp all the way Jordan was smiling. He couldn’t wait to tell the rest of the gang. Nick and Mike catch a mixed bag of Northern, Smallies and Perch. Andy had a Monster Northern on when it broke his line and swam away with his $8.00 lure. We all looked at Jordan’s photo with envy. Another good fire and hit the tent by 10:30 pm.
I woke to an all night rain and what turned out to be an all day heavy rain. But if there’s one thing this group wasn’t afraid of, its hard work. We had 7 portages and 12 miles to travel. It poured the whole way and we still made it back in record time: 4 hours and 40 minutes. We cleaned up when we reached town and met at the Chocolate Moose for lunch to talk about the past few days. Mike said it was one of the best things he has ever done- this is coming from a man who is doing research work for Michigan State for waterfowl in the upper peninsula. Nick rated it as one of his top ten achievements. By this time Jordan was on the phone with his girlfriend. What did they talk about?…his 26” Walleye! All were satisfied.
In closing, this group worked as a team and did the best I have ever seen. There wasn’t one complaint. They traveled into the wilderness, not with apprehension but with curiosity and enthusiasm. I would also like to say that Rosie has done a fine job raising her boys. They are all fine young men who are a credit to society and Mike isn’t so bad either. GO GREEN!
Now that the season has begun we will be featuring trip
reports every month. Since we have very busy schedule the newsletter might be
sent to our readers on an erratic schedule. It will be sent within the first
week of every month. We also will have new slide show starting in the July
newsletter as everyone’s photos are sent to us.
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Marchar Wolverine Lake, Michigan 48390