Goose Bay Camp - Lac Seul
By Les Wolfe
Posted on 8/22/2018 4:58 PM
My longtime fishing partner, Andy Merical, has fished out of Lac Seul Lodge south of Ear Falls several times, however, when he attempted to make a reservation last January, they were booked solid for 2018. Andy consulted members of the group and others to compile a list of camps in the same vicinity and after summarizing his research we met and selected Goose Bay Camp making reservations for August 11-17.
Andy and I met Greg Lofstedt and Gary Lorenz, Mayor of Ankeny, in Story City caravaning to International Falls were we met up with Curt Kesterson and his son, Connor, coming from their condo at Leech Lake. Connor was making his first trip to Canada having graduated from Ankeny Centennial HS last spring and reporting to ISU the day after we returned to begin Freshman engineering classes 08/20.
On the way we had lunch at Gordie's in Cloquet where Dick Wilson drove into the lot as we were leaving on his way to Lake Vermillion. We made it to the Timberland Motel in Dryden on Friday night where we talked to a group from Wisconsin headed for Donnelly's on Minnitaki.
After a sit-down breakfast at the Husky Truck Stop we headed west to Vermillion Bay and north toward Ear Falls arriving at Goose Bay Camp shortly after 10 AM. The owner, Andrea, immediately marked a paper map so that we could be productively fishing asap. We unloaded clothes and food into the cabin and launched the boats on the bedrock boat ramp. Docks were 8' wide and well anchored with electrical service.
We were on the water by early afternoon where it was over 90 with no wind. Andy and I were in his new Ranger 621 with 350 hp Merc Verado, 36v Ulterra and 3-12" Hummingbird Solex. Lac Seul is often referred to as "Heart Attack lake" because of the numerous shallow reefs. There are a few red/green navigation markers and jugs marking other shallow obstructions but we often went from 50'+ to 6' in just a boat length or two. Approaching several island cautiously we caught some "eater" size walleyes on crawler spinner rigs with bottom-bouncer. Lac Seul has a true "slot" limit; no walleyes between 18.1" - 21", only 1 > 21" and no culling; you must kill your fish. In order to preserve the fish in this hot weather, the Camp provides coolers and a freezer in the "cut house" for water jugs and fish. Andy brought an insulated fish bag large enough for our fish and several jugs of ice. Beginner's luck, Connor caught a 29" walleye on a crank bait in his first 20 min on the water; that got us excited!
We hired a guide for our first full day (Sunday) not only to put us on fish but to lead us through a couple narrows so that we could record an electronic trail to McKenzie Bay about 20 miles SE where Andy had fished from Lac Seul Lodge. Our Indian guide, Dennis, rode/fished with Greg & Gary, and our second stop turned out to be the best producer for the entire trip. Greg has some interesting stories about communicating with Dennis. We returned to this island nearly everyday where we caught many 16"-18" eaters, numerous slot fish, and 20-30 walleyes 21"-26". Andy and I ventured out to another island in the same bay Monday PM that also produced a lot of fish under, in and over the slot.
In 6.5 days my largest fish were 2-24.5", 25.5" & 26.5"; all had similar catches with no one approaching Connor's 29" in the first minutes of the trip. I counted fish on Thursday; Andy and I caught 43 spending nearly 3 hours in the afternoon exploring (not fishing) a couple other bays. I would say each boat caught 40-50 fish per day. We were a little disappointed to not see more fish in the upper 20-inches; we are getting used to seeing at least 1-30"+ fish from these lakes but not this year.
During the trip I learned more about boat control from Andy. In calm water he used the bow trolling motor but when the wind got to about 15 mph he would use the kicker motor to maintain trolling speed using the bow trolling motor to steer. When wind got to 20 mph he would stow the trolling motor and use the kicker exclusively deploying a drift bag at the bow to dampen the effect of the wind wanting to spin the bow with the drag allowing better trolling speed control with the kicker at higher rpm. It was a lot of work but very effective. Unfortunately, Curt hit a rock, bent a blade on his SS prop and bent the prop shaft; fortunately it was late on Thursday and the motor functioned on Friday at low speed.
The cabin was typical with a great room (living room, kitchen (well stocked with pots, pans & utensils), dining area and 1 bed), 2 bedrooms (5 beds) and a full bath; the shower/laundry building was next door so we could all shower without heating up the cabin during this hot weather. The cabin had a nice deck with large table/chairs so we had dinner each night outside. The cabin had ceiling fans, but I'm glad Curt brought a couple big floor fans to cool the cabin down.
As I mentioned above, it was very hot (90's) Saturday & Sunday cooling slightly Monday with a cold front passing through that evening dropping temps to the upper 50's Tuesday morning with a couple hours of light mist before clearing. I wore my rainsuit Tuesday morning but it was in storage the rest of the week.
The camp has been around for decades, Andrea (in her 50's?) had lived in the main house her entire life. I got the impression she was in complete control of the camp as everything was well maintained. Rent was about $2500/wk split 6 ways plus fuel, ice & bait. We refroze jugs of water but still needed some bagged ice during the hot days and took night crawlers with us so we did not buy any minnows. Andy & I burned 84 gal of fuel including 51 gal at camp cost of $6.50/gal. My total cost for cabin, motel, truck/boat fuel & my share of group food was $1030.