Booth Lake Trip Report - Aug 11th-14th 2016

by Craig White

Background: After last year's trip report contest win, the boy and I had planned to invite Unkie to join us on a 4 day trip to Big Crow, using our prize for the water taxi. The more I thought about it though, even with the taxi, it seemed like a pretty long way to go to get to Big Crow if we hit bad weather and had to be on the move. Throw in the lack of warm water fish, and an August trip, and the decision was made to re-route our adventure to Booth Lake. (The prize was also quickly re-routed to a new Thermarest from the AO Oxtongue store which has worked out great, and is highly rated by the 7yr old demographic . . .)

Day 1:

The boy and I were up early and on the road from the East, while Unkie would give us a half hour head start, then start his journey in from the West. We met up in Madawaska about 10am, and it wasn't long before we had permits in hand and were loading up amongst a good number of other canoes.

Thursday was beautiful, sunny and calm, we likely thought it was hot at the time, but missed it dearly the rest of the weekend. Just getting off and going up toward Farm Lake, new territory for all of us. We spotted a big snapping turtle beneath us as we headed through the river.

Getting settled into the boat under sunny skies approaching Farm Lake

We made good time up to the swift coming down from Kitty Lake. We contemplated trying to pull the canoe/boy up through the swift, but for the sake of 90m we just carried everything around and put in on the other side. We fished our way across Kitty with a little bass action, so we planned to pop back down here for some fishing from Booth depending on weather and campsite location. We had a reasonable amount of gear for a double carry, not excessive, but enough for us all to double.

Back for second load on the Kitty to Booth portage.

The Winisk was full loaded, although quite safely all below the gunnels, it's a lot of boat to carry sometimes, but all that space really shines with an extra passenger + gear!

Do you see the relaxed occupant amidst the gear?

We received a tip from a family heading out, that at least 3 of the 4 sites on the big island were open, and had kind of planned to head that direction. So this was good news and we set off. We passed by the first site, before deciding to set up on the 2nd. It was big, open, had good swimming, and fit our itinerary well. We were put off at first as it looked like someone had left some gear in an attempt to "claim it" but we realized that it had just been abandoned including a full size Coleman cooler, tripod stool, very large padded camp chair, and some great clothesline cord, all in great shape.

The boy set up shop in between his camp chores in Unkie's hammock/swing... this was a highly contested seat (at least until the rains started)

I swear this kid can get comfortable in a hurry anywhere.

We enjoyed the beach, a little fishing, and just settled in for the rest of the day. We expected some rain Friday, so went to bed with things well organized.

Gorgeous sunny summer afternoon on Booth Lake.

Day 2:

Rain started overnight Thursday, but we had a decent morning Friday around the showers, and collected some eater-size pike and a bass for a big fish lunch. Overall the east wind and poor weather seemed to make the fishing tough though.

The boys with a hard earned morning's catch.

Friday afternoon was all rain, but we eventually geared up and headed out to troll deep for lake trout. This is where things start to get really fishy . . . Just as we were reaching enough depth for Unkie to think about starting the steel line run, the boy's rod bent over in a BIG way. Several minutes of heavy fighting and a lot of excitement brought a rather large pike to the surface not far off the side of the boat. Now, there are no pictures of said fish, but there is truth to the tale that it was too big to fit into the small net we brought along for bass. The head went right in, just like it's supposed to, but as the net is only 15" deep or so, the fish refused to curl up, and not enough body would go in to allow the pike to be scooped!!! Not wanting to rock the boat in the pouring rain, we were unable to get him corralled by net or by hand before he finally got loose, and swam away. The official record agreed to by all parties present was that the fish was caught. The net was just too small. The fisherman had to rest as a while as his arms were awfully tired. How big was the pike? We'll get back to that later.

As it continued to pour rain, Unkie hooked up with what we thought was a lake trout on the steel line, after another big tussle, the ugliest trout I've ever seen came into view, (later officially re-named as PIKE TROUT). This pike swallowed the entire laker spoon, and was not going to a) get away, or b) survive. Decision was made it would make a fine dinner despite the big meal of fish already for lunch. Note the "mood" of the picture, heavy mist, rain, water in the boat, it was soggy! However, two big pike had our mood quite good.

A careful veteran fish landing.

Now, to wrap up the fish stories .. the retained pike measured in at a solid 30" long. We furthermore all agreed that the first was a notch larger, so without exaggeration, we told the boy he could proudly hold up Unkie's fish for a photo, and claim he did even better than that one!

The boy with Unkie's "slightly smaller" pike-trout.

Day 3:

Saturday brought lots more rain, and not a lot more fish. We'd been hoping it would clear, but no such luck. We had breakfast burritos, topped off with the leftover pike from the night before - delicious. It was apparent that we wouldn't out-wait the rain. So we loaded up for a trip back down to Kitty, to hope for some better bass fishing. If under those heavy wet conditions, you can still carry your gear down a slippery trail, and STILL be smiling, you're doing something right!

Soggy walk to Kitty Lake for day trip.

(Note: we didn't bring THAT much food for a large cooler, especially not on a day trip! This is the abandoned one, and we hatched a plan to bring it and the stool out with us, hence the one-handed carry technique . . .)

Pulling up after a soggy morning on Kitty Lake for a shore lunch of KD and "wiener trout" ...

The boy helping land Unkie.

Utilizing the small beach space on Kitty Lake.

Lunch time gave us a break in the rain to attempt to dry a little before the next round. Somehow we did seem to time our meals very well around the weather. No sooner had we got back in the boat it rained again.

We caught a few bass. But again, fishing was tough, and they seemed far more reluctant than they had on our way in Thursday. There were a few claps of distant thunder as we made our way back to Booth, and lined up to launch behind a couple other groups. Nothing more came of it, (except for more rain) and we were soon back at camp. Again, we fit supper in perfectly between more rounds of rainfall. The beach and hammock were somewhat distant memories by now, and we put up an additional tarp, to have space for sitting, and space for hanging wet clothing.

A view of the soggy camp site.

We managed a good campfire. We'd later find out that a ban went into effect after we'd come in on Thursday. But would come off before we were out on Sunday .. bizarre! We put the fire to good use, trying to dry some items between the showers.

Day 4:

The weather was starting to turn on Sunday. The wind finally changed to blow from the west, which gave us a nice tailwind to ride home on. It did of course still manage to shower on us a couple more times. But we carried back down to Kitty Lake, detoured to pick up the stashed cooler from the day before, and rode the breeze back down Farm Lake as we wrapped up a great 4 day adventure and all headed for home!

A last look back at our campsite.

Despite a "tough bite", soggy conditions, and lack of chances to really use our nice beach, I think we all really enjoyed the time, and each came home with a few more stories to tell! This was the first trip together for the three of us. But it certainly won't be the last.