by John P. Jungas
At one of our OWN HARDWARE conventions I was visiting with a man who was also real interested in fishing. He was telling me of a lake in Canada where he had been that was really yielding a lot of fish, walleyes, northerns and lake trout. It was so interesting that it would be worth a try.
I talked to my fishing buddies, A. J. Penner, John F. Stoesz, C. J. Baier and Nick Hiebert and we decided to go. John Stoesz owned the chevvy garage and he had a nice two-wheel trailer with a foot-deep box, four feet wide and six feet long. We loaded all our gear and clothes in the trailer, covered it with a canvas cover and we were on our way. Since we all had our jobs, we usually left just after an early supper and drove all night.
Mamaguis Lake, our destination, is located about half way between Thunder Bay, Canada and Kenora. Our turnoff was near a very small town. There was a sign Jorgenson Resort and it was approximately 150 miles out of Thunder Bay. We arrived at this town in the early morning and had our breakfast. A large sign said Homemade Ice Cream, so we enjoyed this for dessert.
We took our tackle and got into a large boat with a 50 horse motor and started out. We were to go 25 miles on water to the north shore, then load everything onto a large truck which they take there over ice in winter time and travel over the roughest, curved hill road you have ever seen for another seven miles. It was a handmade road cut out of heavy timberland. Logs and branches were used to make bridges wherever needed over running water. The motors were fastened in back on two by sixes so they would not get hurt. Those riding in the cab of the truck had to keep their heads down not to hit the ceiling while going over the bumps. We made it.
At the end of the seven miles we came to another lake. On the shore was a large government surplus rubber life raft. Again we had to load everything on this raft and using a smaller motor traveled another three miles to reach our island, which we called our home for the next few days. We had to carry everything, food, tackle, including motors, up a slight hill for another block or so until we reached a quite large cabin, consisting of a small kitchen and one large room with seven or eight single beds all nicely made up.
After lunch we had to carry motors and tackle down the other side of the island (another block or so) to two boats waiting for us. Nick and I had the guide one day and he took us to the mouth of a river running into our lake, Kukusus. This lake was loaded with islands and the river was hard to find. Fishing was out of this world. On our way back to our cabin we would stop at a rock sticking out of the water and the guide would clean the fish for supper. While he was doing this, we would dash from the rock and catch more. It really was fun.
One day while Nick and I were fishing in a bay, we decided to go back to the mouth of the river. Nick ran the motor. He went around one island after another. I told him he was wrong, but he claimed the river was just around the bend. He went around one bend after another. When I told him that we started out going against the waves and now we were going with the waves, he finally stopped the boat, opened his tackle box and looked at his compass. His remark was, "By gosh, I am lost." I told him to look over the water and we were just where we had started from. We kept on fishing but never found the river again.
It started to rain and it got to a real heavy downpour. It was lightening andthundering so hard that we would have liked to have been in our cabins, but we were still a few miles away. After an hour or so it cleared up and we met the rest of our gang coming from the river. We were all wet and glad to go home.
One night a storm came up and a heavy wind blew our door open. Nick got up and held the door shut while the rest of us lay on our beds and laughed. In the morning we found that a tornado had come and gone. One boat (not ours) had been blown out of the water and smashed in the woods near our cabin.
Nick and I did a lot of fishing together. On arriving at this island by the rubber life raft, we noticed a small boat on the shore. Nick and I decided to take one motor and try fishing in this lake. We started out from shore and started fishing. I looked back and saw water gushing into our boat from the very bottom. I yelled at Nick to go back to shore and showed him what was happening. We really got back to shore fast. I got a wash cloth and a stick and shoved it into the rotten hole and we were again on our way. What fun!
One evening, coming from fishing, we noticed the screen in the door was torn. A bear had broken in, had thrown our food box on the floor and helped himself. Our guide had brought along a deer rifle, so he loaded it and we went to bed.
In the early morning we all heard a noise. Our guide got up, took his rifle and went to the back door. There the bear was! After the first shot, we were all out of bed and saw our guide shoot another four times. He did not want the bear to suffer. It was a brown bear and really not good looking. We put his head into the garbage can to make the newcomers believe it was a live bear.
One of the highlights of the trip was that I made a cast within three feet of the shore and got a twenty-pound northern. They don't use landing nets here; the guide makes sure he has a club along. After getting hit behind the head, the fish is so stunned that you can pick him up as dead. After ten or fifteen minutes the fish is as alive as ever.
Our time is up. We must again go back to the resort and get ready to go back home. Nick can't find his billfold, so he is sick about that. It had a lot of money in it too. We take the rubber life raft with al our fishing gear and the fish, and head back to the island where the truck should be waiting for us. We get there but there is no truck. What now? It had been agreed that they would come and get us this morning. After waiting awhile, it was decided that Nick, A. J. and I would take along our tank of gas and walk back the seven miles and bring back the truck. John Stoesz and C. J. Baier would stay and watch our gear. We just took the gas along in case the truck was empty. We decided that each of us three would carry the gas can five minutes, then hand it over to the next one. When it came to Nick's turn, he always seemed to be so tired and had to rest.
By the way, while we were walking we started to talk about being attacked by a bear. I told both Nick and A. J. that if one should come after us, we would each one of us run in a different direction so that the bear would get only one of us. We thought the bear would get the one who had the shortest legs and couldn't run as fast. Nick would likely be the one to get caught.
We finally got to the truck. The guy was just getting ready to get us. Nick and I drove back the seven miles, picked up John Stoesz, C. J. Baier, the motors and all fishing gear. When we got back to our first lake, we loaded all into the large boat and the guy took us back to camp. We changed clothes in our cabin, paid our bill to Jorgenson and left for home. By the way, Nick found his billfold under the airtight stove in the cabin. He had dropped it while changing clothes.
We were going to go home by way of Kenora. It got dark on us and it started to rain real hard. Our trailer was so loaded that the wheel on one side rubbed on the fender so we had to stop. Finally we took a screwdriver (we had no chisel), chopped off the fender, threw it into the ditch and drove on. Got home early in the morning and all was well.