Lifelisting up north the adventure

A few weeks ago, we decided to go north fishing for lifelisters.  Splake, warmouth, and longnose suckers were on the list of hopeful species we wanted to hook into.  We researched some good spots (we thought) and had a hot tip for longnoses from a guy who has a cabin on the Rainy.

We started out heading north of Deer River, MN to apparently the only lake in the north that has warmouths in it.  According to our research the DNR showed a large population in Big Ole lake with an access so we figured if they are like the rest of fish I classify as sunnies, it shouldn't be that hard to catch one right?  Wrong, well maybe.  After traveling for about 3 hours and what seemed like forever down some tiny gravel roads, carp hunter in tow (our exploring boat where we can't get the big one), we arrived at the access to Big Ole, only it wasn't an access at all, atleast not for boats.  What we found was an unmowed road that led to a trail that was about 150 yards down a hill thru trees on a narrow path it would be hard to drag a canoe down.  The bay there was totally choked out with weeds with no good way to fish from shore.  Strike one. 

Then we headed further north to Erskine lake by Effie, MN where we fished twice last winter and once for the species contest this summer for splake.  We had seen many splake fishing here in the winter, but couldn't get any hits, this summer we went back boatless to fish from shore and I caught my rainbow trout for the contest and my lifer golden shiner, no splake.  This time however we were ready, boat, depth finder, electric motor, it was time for a splake.  After taking all the stuff off the boat, we drug it down a rocky bank to the lake, loaded up all our gear, put the motor back on it and shoved off.  The wind was whipping but it was warm and sunny.  We started the hunt with the depth finder looking for good drop offs and likely habitat, the lake is only about 40 acres so it didn't take long.  We marked what may have been A fish and that was about it.  Not giving up hope we started fishing night crawlers, dead minnows, and then ended trolling little crankbaits, no bites, no fish, nothing.  I'm pretty convinced this lake is void of any remaining life.  It has 3 species of fish in it rainbow trout, white suckers, and splake.  After wasting the majority of the day here, we went back and drug the carp hunter and all our stuff back up to the bank to it's trailer and headed further north.

When we went thru Big Falls, MN we decided to try the Big Fork River for a bit and have some sandwichs we made for our adventure.

Here we are having a quick lunch break and another pic of the carp hunter.  I'm bending over looking at all the annoying little burr like things stuck in my shoes and socks from walking in the deep grass.  No the beer isn't mine, I'm a Dew guy!!!

There are really cool rapids here and the water is super fast.  We climbed around to a few different areas trying different baits as we went.  The DNR said there were reports of longnoses this far south and greater reds I think, we however didn't have a bite of any kind, we did lose a bunch of tackle in the snaggy rapids though here and I rescued some old lady's shoes from a rock in the river.


After going once again biteless and some much needed food we headed north again up to our cabin.  When we got there it was already dark, so we spent the night on Kabetogama lake at the cabin and left for the International Falls and the Rainy early the next morning.  Here I am prepping for what was looking like another great day for fishing.

We were not far from the falls themselves and the river shore was very muddy and slippery.  After several hours of no bites from any kind of fish, I set my pole on the bank and explored a little bit.  This is when I spied what looked like the perfect skipping stone.  When I looked closer I thought it was a spacer or some sort of a washer and was just about to throw it way out into the river, when I seen the writing on it.  It was an 1887 silver dollar!!!  What a cool find this was, I love coins almost as much as I love fishing.  From here we packed up and headed further down the Rainy river in search of longnoses, we tried several spots and little rivers that entered it, no fish, no bites.  Our final spot is here below at some pretty cool rapids, we fished the rest of the day here, lost a bunch more tackle in the snaggy waters.

I'm standing up on the rocks above some really wicked looking current.  We ended our two day fishing trip here, not only were we completely skunked of any kind of species we never had a bite the entire trip.  Anyways I spent the rest of the ride home talking with my dad about my new coin and how cool it would be if it could tell a story about all the people that owned it and all the places it had been, I fell asleep around Bemidji and slept the rest of the way home dreaming about huge fish and lost treasures.

That's my story anyway, it maybe should have gone in the fishing reports area but I didn't know so here it is.  Hope you guys like it and the pictures I thought were really pretty.  Fish on!!

Species List: 
Shiner, Golden
Sucker, Longnose
Sucker, White
Sunfish, Warmouth
Trout, Rainbow


andy's picture

Fishing can be tough, and targeting specific species can be even tougher.  Striking out is part of the process and it gives you a whole bunch of things to mull over and talk about before you make another attempt.  Still sounds like a great expedition, just loading up the truck with all your gear and seeing some new places is always worth the effort.  Thanks for sharing!  I hope your next trip is more successful.

FishingPals4Life's picture

Thanks Andy,

It was still a great trip, any trip is a great trip.  I really love to fish, and like my dad tells me that's why it's called fishing and not catching!  We've had many many really good trips and caught lots of fish, it was this one that I wanted to share cuz even if you don't catch fish or a specific fish it's still the best fun out there and I found some lost treasure too!!  He always says when ever we leave to go fish, I wonder what all the other kids are doing today.

You and your Dad have great attitudes! Enjoyed your writeup and pics. The longer the dry spell, the sweeter the rain. Just ask Pyromaniac about his NHS!

FishingPals4Life's picture

Thanks Waxworm2 I'm really glad you enjoyed reading it!  8)

Eli's picture

We all get skunked every now and again. It sucks but it's part of the game.

Finding a silver coin over a centry old is pretty cool, though. 




Flytyin'Joel's picture

It stinks getting skunked!  Upper MI roughangler and I went Muskie fishing last week, but we didn`t catch any.  We just got follows.  At least you and me  had a good time looking at the scenery.  Awesome that you found that coin.

Graceclaw's picture

That spot with all of the rapids looks REALLY hard to fish. I would definitely walk up and downstream as much as possible looking for a spot which isn't pure rocks and rapids.

That's a wicked old coin dude- I used to be a coin collector myself. I have an almost complete 1940+ penny book (darn you 1967D!)

Kokanee killer's picture

nice pics and stream   keep chugging along it will come

good fishing

Hengelaar's picture

Cool report, even if you didn't catch any fish.

Beautiful looking areas. And, corny as it always sounds, blank outings are important, too. Always something to  learn and stuff to see. Still a cool experience



And congrats on the awesome coin find! That is pretty damn rad. Who knows what path that thing took before you found it.

Fishn sure is neat