50 Mission Cap - Our First Fly In
Pickle Lake Outpost, White River, White River Air, End of August 2014
After two trips together, one trip via a boat in Lady E Trip Report 2008 and one that we drove to Brennan Harbour Trip Report we were thinking we would try a fly in trip. After reading countless posts about 50 or 100 fish days we decided to make the plunge.
Researched via many of the sites I have mentioned before – Walleye Central, Canada Fishing Guide and OFN Community to name a few. Check my links page here Links Page
We looked at many options and many locations - and after many chats decided that we really wanted to try a fly in outpost experience with a few qualifiers...
We wanted to be able to drive there in under 11 hours, the camp had to have a generator, running water and indoor plumbing and we wanted a numbers lake w big fish potential
After chatting with many great outfitters, soliciting feedback from others and balancing that against our criteria we decided we chose White River Air
Pickle is a smaller lake, about 2 miles (split by a very shallow narrows) and 3/4 of a mile wide located about 40 miles from White River Air's base on Tukanee Lake
We met up early on the Friday to begin our trek up - our plan was to make enjoy the ride but get to White River as soon as we could.
A not so quick stop in the Sault to pick up a flat of worms at the Trading Post and score a few secret lures (very helpful gentlemen in the shop knew Pickle specifically and gave us the great tip of stocking up on metallic jig heads and harnesses due to the dark stain in the lake)
Once we got past the Sault it was an eye opener for 4 guys who had never been past Sudbury on 17 - the views along Superior were incredible and the ride flew - until we got stuck an hour outside of Wawa with a crash and sat on the highway for 2.5 hours...
We checked into the White River Motel @ 9:00 PM - headed to our cottage for the night, a few pops, excited discussion and it was time for bed
Up early - ready to be at the Air Base for 8 - get there, pay our bill and head down to the dock to talk to Dan - head honcho at White River Air and Chief Pilot - Dan said we wouldn't be going out until 10:30ish - so we headed back into town for breakfast and one more supply run at the local gas station We were finally on the plane at 11:45
I have to admit - I was nervous about the flight- so was my brother - our running joke was to hum or sing a few lines from 50 Mission Cap to each other
Our gear was weighed along with our beer - Dan had been great with us - from the get go I was honest and said as newbies I couldn't see us coming in under the 125lb per man weight limit - we wanted to know how much the overage charge was - but Dan said not to worry, he'd get us in and we wouldn't be charged. Sure enough we were well over - but Dan didn't blink - our group of 4 plus another group of two were loaded up onto the Turbo Otter and we took off
Other than being a bit claustrophobic in the beginning (I was up near the front of the plane, squished between two large guys back and front and wedged against a mountain of gear and the window side to side) I thought it was awesome - it only took about 10 minutes for me to stop crying and open my eyes!
15 minutes later we touched down on Pickle lake - and unloaded ourselves and helped the departing group load up.
I could go on for hours about the nuances of our time on the lake - in a nutshell it was incredible:
We had a cabin that had hot and cold running water, 2 generators (1 for the pump, 1 for the cabin), 6 beds plus a futon (my home for the week) for 4 guys with a kick ass patio overlooking the lake w a front seat view of sunrise and sunset
Our boats for the week were serviceable 14 foot lunds with 6 horsepower Yamaha two stokes - no issues at all with the engines but there was another boat and motor on site
The fishing was also spectacular - for us at least. There is a very healthy population of walleye (mainly 12 - 16 inches) in Pickle and an abundance of snot rocket to mid size pike. We had planned to eat a lot of fish in our meal plan - and within our first our on the lake we already had 6 14 - 17 inchers ready for the next day's fish fry
We didn't keep track of our numbers but a fair estimate would be 60 fish per day between 2 boats - this number dropped once we realized we could catch dinner fish or small pike whenever we wanted and started focusing on bigger fish
The lake has two bays to the southwest and northwest of the cabin where you could troll down the middle w a rapala or run into the reed and cabbage beds and catch pike all day long
In the main lake the deepest part was 47 feet with an average basin of 30 feet - eventually we would figure out that focusing on the steepest breaks with the wind into them was our best tactic for walleye - either jigging, drifting with a bottom bouncer and harness or trolling bouncers and crank baits. I remember one night in particular where we drifted down a shoreline with the two boats within touching distance jigging up walleye almost at will. Literally when your jig hot the bottom you got a hit, it was like fishing a for panfish in a stocked pond!
Our biggest 3 walleye for the week were
27.5 inches (caught by me - a new personal best) - 1/4 ounce jig tipped w a minnow
26 inches (caught by my bro - a new personal best) - drifting 2 ounce bottom bouncer with a harness
23 inches - 1/8 ounce jig tipped with a minnow
We probably had another 3 or 4 walleye that were over 20 inches
Our biggest pike was 33 inches caught trolling a minnow bait and we had another 3 pike over 30 inches.
I think there are bigger pike in the lake - but we couldn’t find them - and considering we all caught more pike in the first 2 days of our trip versus the rest of our fishing lives - we aren't experts
Top producing baits for us were:
Jigs with 4 inch grubs and paddle tail minnows tipped w a minnow or crawler (1/8, 1/4, 3/8) in chartreuse, pink, gold, yellow and orange
Crawler harnesses on 2 ounce bottom bouncers - colour didn't matter as long is it had some metallic in it
Crankbaits (Trolls to 20, J 11, Cordell Minnow Diver, Rapala J 13, Husky Jerks H12)
Spoons (Silver Minnows, Williams Wablers, Red Devils and 5 of Diamonds)
There are two parts to the lake - and since we were so busy exploring the first part - I don't think we gave the other section (getting to it was a bit of a pain as the boats didn't have shallow drive) - it has a deep basin in one bay that is 60 feet deep
We did catch respectable walleye and pike in that section - but we only fished it for 4 or 5 hours max
The Wrap Up
Our trip out was delayed by a day – the plane couldn’t pick us up due to fog and a very low ceiling – we unpacked a bit and headed back out to fish – for fun and for dinner. We actually got onto a good larger fish bite – and my bro picked up the second biggest walleye of the trip @ 25 inches (sadly - think this is when we finally put the last piece of the bigger fish puzzle in place)
We were out the next day early but alas our delayed departure wasn’t done- car trouble outside of Thessalon and a 4 hour wait for a tow, then rental car pick up, gear switch meant an expected arrival of Saturday at 11 PM turned into a 6 AM arrival on Monday
I will honestly say that it didn’t diminish the trip for any of us though – yes it was a pain, added some pressure on the home front – but we had enjoyed ourselves so much it was just a bump on the road – not a trip killer
We loved the experience - I don't think we want to do anything else now besides Fly In outpost
Wear gloves/don't get cuts/keep your hands clean -and have a good first aid kit I got cut up on 2 fingers and both thumbs in the first few days on pike and one 23 inch walleye - nothing big - put bandaids on but wasn't diligent enough - by Thurs AM my thumb had enough of an infection that I needed to open up cuts to get some iodine in it - it worked but for about 4 hours I thought I was in bad shape. Once taped up - and effort was used to get a glove on the cuts - I was fine but in future I will wear a landing glove more and if any small cut arises be way more focused on keeping it clean
It is more work than a lodge - getting firewood, cooking, cleaning, fileting fish, filtering water, dumping fish and garbage all take effort but the idea of "owning a lake" for a week made up for it
The fishing was much better/easier for us than what we experienced at larger drive to lodges (Brennan Harbour) and drive to lodges (Lady Evelyn)
Being the only people on the lake is special - people told us so but until that first night I didn't get it - now I do – not sure if its serenity, the quiet, sense of ownership you develop about “your lake” but it was contagious and addictive
Plan for the unexpected - everything we read said take an extra meal or two in case you get weathered in - sure enough the day we were supposed to fly out the plane couldn't get in and we were there for 1 more night (we had beer and food but cigars and smokes were in high demand)
People leave stuff - the 4 gentlemen before us left us with a 3/4 full bottle of Baileys, a huge tin of Folgers coffee and about 20 dozen fresh minnows (there minnows weren't ready when they flew out and their check in flight was delayed by 2 days) - there was also extra spices, aluminum foil, toilet paper and zip loc bags (realize this may just have been luck on our part - I wouldn't count on it for future trips)
Overall White River Air was a good company to deal with - for the life of me I cant remember the name of the woman who registered us and chatted with us on the phone primarily - but she was amazing - and Dan is brief but fair.
As newbies I would say the only negative was waiting around to fly out– it felt like we were told to come at 8 when there wasn’t a hope in heck that we were flying out until 12 that day.
After a few more of these trips we have come to realize this is just the way it is, could be weather, could be scheduling but we have yet to fly in or out at the time we expected.
If you are thinking about a Fly In Trip I would recommend White River Air - they have a huge selection of lakes, its not a bad drive and as mentioned Dan and his crew were generous with weight allowances for our group.