Well it's been awhile since I've had anything worthy to post, hope this makes up for it. This is a trip that almost wasn't for a few factors. Over the past few (3-4) years my buddies & I have been on scouting missions for new or expanding entrepreneurs in the outfitting game where we fly into "dead/dormant" cabin's and report on everything we see. We don't hunt but we report on Moose, Bear, Elk...etc & of course the fishing. Well this year we flew into the historic Albany River to a widening of sorts called Caviar Lake. There is interest is this place because 1) it is rather cheep to buy but has been vacant for roughly 20 years, not including the natives that have used it as a stop over 2) it is the last outpost camp on the river but is tricky to land in the low water season (not really) 3) it is still a "wild" river, meaning no roads, logging or otherwise have tipped it's shores...yet! it sits about 70km (as the crow flies) from the "Ring of Fire" a massive area containing rare earth elements that has been under pressure to get mining, talks are ongoing still. Nakina Air Services was extremely unsure about landing there and was giving our outfitter the run around, even though as we found out they were scheduled to pick up a group of American's from Wisconsin at Caviar after their canoe trip (cool dudes). When all was said and done we had about 2 weeks to get stuff gathered before departure. As we would find out things look a lot different in low water.
The inflow to Caviar as we circled to get the best angle to land. As it was low water season, the pilot would not go anywhere near the cabin because there is no dock so there is a shoal that appears in the middle surrounded by deep water thats where we would be dropped off. Leading up to us flying in with all the drama surrounding this trip it was said we might have to swim over to the cabin, launch the boats and retrieve our gear, thank Christ that didn't have to happen. As it turns out the outfitter would fly into the lake with another guy a week before us to fix up the place and have everything run smoothly.
Unloading our gear on to the shoal, or as we would call it later "Sturgie Island"! It is rather a quick hop over to the cabin. Now we weren't expecting much, we all packed our tents, but aside from no screens, holes in the walls, roof..etc, it was quite livable, the rain that would come had tarps & pots placed all over but it lended a charm to the place.
"Oh and one last thing, there is no shitter" was one of the convo's that we had before the plane left us. No worries from us however I don't thing the guy's did much exploring as there was a perfectly good one about 30ft from the cabin, deep in the woods.
It'll do, it even had a recliner seat, floor was a bit sketchy though!!!
With all the drama out of the way we could do what we came here for & thats fish & explore. The Albany is quite famous for its Walleye & Pike fishing but it's main draw is the world renowned Brook Trout fishing. One of the last remaining places where monster Brookies can be caught. 1-4 lbs are fairly common 5-7 lbs are caught yearly but it the chance at the over 7 lbs that brings folks here. One guy we all know landed at another spot closer to the headwaters earlier this year and pulled in a 7.3 lbs so they are there just have to find them. I am sorry to report that not a single Brookie would be caught on our trip, not for a lack of trying, just couldn't find them. However my group is also enthralled with catching Sturgeon, which the Albany is just such a place where we can do this legally. Actually if anyone is looking to head up that way know that there is many MANY species of fish you can write off your bucket list. Giant Walleye & Pike, Giant Brookies (if you find them), Sturgeon, Sauger, Whitefish, Redhorse, Perch, Burbot..etc and I imagine more the closer your get to Hudson's Bay. Our Brookie hunt would take us up & down river, portaging motors boats over unassailable rapids, lining boats around fast swifts/rapids, all in all we had a 20km stretch of river we wanted to explore and it would be a fun adventure even if no Brookies were caught. Our first trip would be to Kagiami Falls, about 5 kms away but it would not be an easy trek. We would portage to boat over the inflow island as that would be the easiest route, followed by another portage over a small island and a lining of a very quick swift to finally beach the boats & hike the final 1.5-2 km to the falls, but man was it worth it.
Kagiami Falls drops about 40 ft in little over 1/4 km, stunning place!!! Tons of eater size Walleye & Pike everywhere you threw a spoon, fly, drifted a worm. We pulled out all the stops, every conceivable rod was packed & tested. One guy thought he had a brookie on for a minute, saw it flash but was in heavy current and it was lost. We really should have packed to stay the night as the trek in took a lot out of us but the return would be even more so.
To the untrained (us really) what we did that day might not seem like a lot but it would take us 2 full days to recover 100% from that trek. In the mean time we would fish between the in flow & out flow trying to figure out the hot spots. It took us little time to figure out our best spot for sturgeon. About a 1 km walk along the shore, almost directly across from the shoal (Sturgie Island) was a long stretch (about 200-300 ft) where there was a quick drop off down to about 20ft and a flat bottom where we could be relatively snag free for the 3-4oz weights. We opted for evening/night and they would come out to play. Truth told we would be allowed one per night, that is all the river gods deemed we were worthy of but there were a few other monsters that would come to play. None of us had caught a Sturgeon before & after last years disappointment we were determined to bag one this year. We all punched our Sturgeon card this year but one would prove to be king of them all. But as I said earlier we were alloted one per night so these pics are all from different days. Funny thing was with the one a night thing, we also seemed to go in order, One guy would get one, next night someone else..etc, only after we all tagged one did the first guy land another, followed by the second guy....it was weird!
My bud would be the first, the second one I'll leave to last because its pretty awesome.
This would be the third one, I would be last as usual
Now this was the Sturgeon to beat. We all had a blast fighting these prehistoric fish, really put up a great fight but all would pale in comparison to the one Brad pulled in. the fight would be a draining 15 min & test both him and his equipment. Just a altogether awesome sight
Roughly 4.5 ft long and 30+lbs, he could barely lift it for the photo.
Now I mentioned other monsters, well as with the Sturgeon there was one Walleye that beat all others and that was one that I caught on the night Brad caught his Sturgeon. Biggest Walleye I've ever caught was about 25" maybe 6 lbs, I'm going to say It will be a long time for me to best this girl. She was old but full of spirit & we don't measure or weigh to often & it is one time I wish we did but rough was 33-34" and 14 lbs. You can catch some bigger in the great lakes but a river in Northern Ontario, not likely. We bagged a gross number of 24-28" walleye, even more sub 22" ones, 100 fish days were not uncommon.
We didn't land any truly huge Pike, there were some on the line just couldn't seal the deal. My bud Chris had what he thought would be a 45+ for sure but his boat mate was slow on the cradle job & GONE!. I had one on my Walleye rig that would have been a PB for sure but it snapped off after a long battle on me gingering it because I had no leader. Biggest one landed & pictured was a 38-39"
Also during the leisure days I nailed another lifer, a Sauger. Don't know why they have been so elusive for me but I nailed a beauty, actually a huge one according to all other folks. I'm covering its tail but can say 100% its a sauger & not a saugeye, no white spot on the tail.
Funny it was the only Sauger of the trip as well!!!
After the few days of recoup, we were chomping at the bit to head past the outflow & head towards Tom Fletts rapids & beyond (Marten's Falls, Gurley Creek) but as I've said a few times now this was low water season and after a few challenges, long before Tom Fletts we decided to err on the side of caution. If anyone has been up that way I'm sure you are aware of the slickest stuff on earth. Hard to describe really, its a coal black algae that when dry, no problems what so ever. The instant moisture is in the air this shit is slicker than oil on ice, I mean WOW!! No algae I have ever encountered was like this stuff. And with our maps being next to useless because of the high water on them, we didn't want to ding a prop and become stranded, stupid fast current/swifts and massive rocks everywhere. No rapids on our maps yet ahead lies a brutal portage & beyond that another, nowhere to be seen on any of our maps. Had we canoes or kayaks, possible, although heading back would have been soul sucking I'm sure. We made it to a unnamed creek that held more of the same. We were quite bummed about not being able to push through but we live to fight another day & next time we will be prepared. We would spend our remaining days fishing everywhere we could. Hike around looking for sheds, wild edibles & a bit of rock hounding. Bugs were still quite fierce which I'm told was rare, and we got into quite a few Redhorse.
A survey marker I found way off the beaten path, pretty awesome.
Ranked as one of the best trips I've done I could not recommend this trip enough to anyone willing to be adventurous! It would likely not be worth your time or money if you just wanted to fish around the cabin (depending on you of course), however we ran into information trouble (lack of) and was not fully equipped to handle what we had hoped to do. Even The American's had never been past Caviar in the 5 trips they done, they could not obtain credible info. Our Pilot was calling us crazy for even trying. However since these past days, we have reached out to the Native reserve in search for info. We know there is a rail portage around Tom Fletts and another one around Martens' Falls however we don't know when the last person to use it was. It is the ground between the outflow & Tom Fletts that we're most interested in of course.If I was a betting man I'd say that the natives stay well clear of that section till high water season, if the run the river at all any more.