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Paddling along the winding shoreline, we slowly made our way across Craig Lake taking note of places that might hold fish and campsites that could be utilized on future journeys. We waved at the few people we did see and they smiled and waved back, understanding a mutual respect and love for this wilderness area. A small stand of trees was growing from a rock that jutted through the calm surface of the water. This stand of trees was an ideal perch for an eagle; on later nights we determined that this must have been a favorite fishing perch for this eagle and his mate.
It wasn't long and I joined the eagle in his attempt to catch a fish or two. I decided that as long as I was paddling around the lake I might as well troll a Rapala and see if anything was interested. Soon I was into my first fish, a smallish walleye, of which there seemed to be plenty in this lake. I returned him to the water and continued on my way. Although there was rumored to be some large pike and even muskie in the lake I could find neither. I did manage to catch both smallmouth and largemouth bass in addition to the walleye. We decided that the next day we would portage into Clair Lake and fish for smallmouth.
We awoke early that morning and after a breakfast of pancakes we set off toward Clair Lake. Paddling across to the far shore of the lake we noticed a small whitetail deer, glowing orange in the early morning sun. We took this to be a good omen for the day and landed our canoe at the portage and set out to Clair Lake.
Clair Lake is a small lake and the bottom is littered with huge slabs of rock, perfect cover for smallmouth, and were there ever smallmouth. It didn't take long and we were catching fish. Tossing surface baits towards shore and watching the bronze bombers attack was a delight. None of the fish we caught were huge, but you can't beat the excitement of watching a 12-inch bass attack your lure within inches of shore. Once again we returned all of the fish to the water to grow and be caught again by other anglers. We fished the morning away and then returned to Craig Lake.
Although the fishing on this trip was splendid, it is not what I will remember most. The sights and sounds of nature stand out as the highlights of the trip. Here are just a few of the incredible things we witnessed:
With all the beauty that true wilderness has to offer it is amazing that I made it back to work and back to civilization. If I find any solace in leaving the wilderness behind it is that I can share my experiences with others and put a sparkle in their eye as I tell tales of that weekend in July.
Have you had experiences like this? If so, why not share them with others on Paddling.net and put a spark in someone else's life as they dream of someday following in your footsteps.
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