The first 2011 reports are in!!!

Here's the first report from Herb Guarascio:

Got back yesterday from the "arctic". Highlights from our fishing trip to Taltson Bay Big Pike Lodge on June 11 to 17, 2011 include:

Being joined this year by my sons James and Joe, as well as Matt. (Doug had to work.)

The Numbers:
Biggest fish was Joe's 48.5" northern pike out of "Beck's" or Hook Bay. It was just enough to edge out Matt's 48 last year which in turn had edged out Joe's prior Ontario record of 47.5, so the brotherly competition continued. Not sure what Joe's 48.5 weighed but all the fish were BIG and HEAVY. I bet the 43" fish were close to 30 pounds! So, go from there... Next year, we bring a scale and will use a cradle to weigh some.

My biggest was 46". As an added bonus, she came straight out of the water and "danced" vertically on her tail. We had more than one trophy completely clear the water by more than a foot! The fights were amazingly insane - better fights than even last year. One almost pulled Matt in on the strike, and that's saying a lot. There were many boat side strikes (including when you accidentally dropped your lure in the water) and many times I thought we'd break a rod against the side of the boat with "runs" under and around the boat. Tons of fun - literally!

Matt's biggest this year was 45 and James was 44 (though the guide lost one for James at the boat that looked like it might have been bigger while trying to hand land it).

Everyone of us caught 6 to 9 REALLY nice fish that were 42" long or longer.

We had well over 60 trophies between the 4 of us (over 40"). Frankly, we stopped counting and measuring for trophies after Wednesday unless they looked like they were 42" or more, just to go easier on the fish. Releasing them in the water had the added bonus of getting your lure back out there quicker during the famous "turn on" or feeding windows. Our guides appreciated it too since they both looked like they need half a dozen stitches in the hand after getting bit or hooked while releasing fish. (Good thing we brought first aid kits with fancy supplies and adhesive stitches.)

For our Ontario fishing buddies, where 38" is a trophy, I know we had well over 100. Honestly, just too many to count. Really.

We didn't usually do daily tallies but one day, James and I caught 150 pike and walleye between the two of us.

The walleyes were really "in thick" this year. For whatever reason, we hit those perfectly with our week. There were places you could catch them every cast. They were the hardest fighting walleyes I have seen anywhere. And like the Northerns, the walleyes were FAT. Without ever fishing for them, there were days when we caught several dozen just while fishing for Northerns. There was no need to target walleyes; they hit "Doctor Spoons" and musky bucktails. Most were 20" to 26". We kept a few stringers for the camp that were so heavy it took two of us to lift them.

Matt caught a 29" walleye that was 9 to probably even 10 pounds.

Everyone set a personal record of some sort....what else can you say? Great fishing, as always.

I will try to send a few pictures later.

The Wildlife and Outdoors

I have enjoyed wildlife since I was a kid, so it was a real treat to be surrounded by it for a week. And overall, we had nice weather, so in the "land of the midnight sun" where it never gets dark in mid-June, it was hard to come in off the water. Many a night we were still fishing after midnight.

We had a 500 to 600 pound black bear wander out to Beck's Bay while we were fishing. Our guide said it was a mature 5 year old, but "only average" in size. It was really an amazing creature. I thought the guide had been bluffing when he said he wouldn't let me skip lunch and leave me behind to shore fish "because of bears".

We had quite a few moose sightings. To our guides, its like having someone offer you a free black angus steer for your freezer, so for the rest of the week they were...."prepared". Fortunately for the mooses, they didn't make encore appearances.

It must have been mating season for the whooping cranes. They were dancing around in the marsh.

The eagles were everywhere. We saw 5 in on place at the same time. We got some great videos and photos of one from 15 feet away.

When we got off the plane in Yellowknife, NWT, James and Joe laughed in disbelief at how big the mosquitoes were. One night, James got 40 bites on his right arm that he left out of his sleeping bag. After that, no one cared about the warning labels against indoor use of mosquito coils. Our roomed looked like LA smog in the summer, but you could sleep without donating a pint of blood.

For the Taltson Bay regulars-
They claim the water is even lower this year. It didn't seem like it to me, but Don and others would know.

Becks was good to us, as always. Thubin didn't turn on until the very end of the week and even then didn't have the really big fish it held for us last year....probably a hand full of trophies at 41 or 42. But man, was it fun when it was "on" and you had a hit every cast.

In general, the fish seemed more scattered this year. They were outside Becks and at the same time way back in the shallow bay; and sometimes right down the middle. Though you would find the occasional "pot of gold" (say where the wind had pushed some to the back of one bay or on the wall), in general, it was one or two at a spot one day, and none there the next. You usually had to move around vs just camp out in Becks or Thubin.

The weeds grew a lot just during our week. The cabbage was still well below the surface, but you had to pull through it in spots by the end of the week. After Sunday, we had a week of warm sunny days so it grew a lot.

Lure size, shape, or color seemed irrelevant.

The diamond mines are in full swing and new ones are in the plans. Yellowknife hotels are booked solid.

It was great to fish with Rick and Steve again, and also a lot of fun to have Taltson first timers Mike and Tom (and James and Joe).

We had a great trip. I wish you the same!

~~ <*)########<

The next report comes from the team of Mike Podracky & Tom Driscoll. Mike writes:
I just returned from my trip to the Trophy Big Pike Camp with my long-time Lake Erie fishing partner, Tom Driscoll. Also in camp with us were Herb Guracio and three of his sons (Matt, James and Joe) along with Rick Sweeney and Steve Ciambros. First, it was a great group of hard core fisherman like Tom and I. It was a pleasure to be in camp with them, and I was amazed to find people who fished as hard as us. Rick and Steve took the prize, however, for staying out the longest each day. Very impressive they could pump out casts like that all day long.

The fishing more than lived up to our high expectations. The weather really cooperated as it drizzled the first hour or so we were in camp, and not a drop after that. The winds basically were cooperative too. Now on to the results.

Tom and I caught 25 pike over 41 inches between both of us. Our best day was ten trophies when the fish were suicidal hitting any lure that landed in the water. Conservatively, we caught about 110-115 pike between 38-40 inches. We fished Thubin two days: one day was good and the last day very good. The fish were smacking the Stalker in Thubin with abandon, although we missed more bites that we caught with the Stalker. We fished part of the other five days in and around Becks, and the main river channel. Tom and I both caught our largest fish at 45 inches at Becks. Everyone in the group caught as many if not more trophies than even we did. Herb's sons are quite the fishermen.

The best pike baits were the Stalker in firetiger, a Mepps Musky Maribou bucktail, gold doctor spoon and silver/gold Williams Wabbler. I loaned Tom my only Williams Wabbler that I brought along, and hadn't fished with in ten years. He caught most of his trophies on it and refused to give it back even hiding it from me at night.

It was also amazing how many walleyes we caught and their size. We landed about 125-130 walleyes during the week "accidentally" while fishing for pike. Probably 25% of them were 24-25 inches with the biggest at 26 1/2. Those walleye hit so hard sometimes you thought it was a pike. Tom caught one 14-15 inch walleye that a large pike attached while reeling it in. As usual, the pike released the walleye before it was landed, but that was exciting.

A large number of hawks hung around Becks most of the week. A few times we fed one particular hawk a small walleye, and it was awesome to see the hawk swoop down and snatch the fish with those huge talons. The talons looked as big as my hand. We also saw about a 500 lb black bear near Ray Beck's old cabin that lumbered away after sniffing us. The bear must not have liked the smell of pike slime.

Tom and I never fished so hard in one week, and hit the wall around day five. We rallied later that night, and finished the week strong not wanting to go home. Bruce ran a good camp and our overall experience was terrific. The great group of guys we fished with made it even more so, and we thank them for their friendship during the week. The best testimonial I can give the Trophy Big Pike Camp is we will be back in 2012 ready to do battle as the lodge lived up to its name. Also, we will be much more educated on how to catch those huge fish.

Mike Podracky & Tom Driscoll.