We just returned from 7 days at Kearns Lake with Thousand Lakes Outposts – LarryS and his sister Pat with Wil and my partner Gary. This was our third trip to this lake – you can see the other reports at: http://www.walleyecentral.com/forums…ghlight=kearns
Not a lot was new to the Taj Mahal Cabin or to the boats/motors (15hp 4 stroke, 14 ft lunds) so I’ll just briefly summarize the fishing which was very very good.
Walleye – were much deeper than the last trips (this trip was about a month later) and we found the sweet spots between 17 and 25 feet of water. We did get two large walleye – LarryS’s 27 incher and my 26 incher – but there was a gap down to the 23-24 inch range where we caught somewhere on the order of 35-40 in that range. Must’ve been a good year class. Smaller walleye in the 16 to 20 inch range were as usual all over the lake and quite easy to catch at the right depths. 40-50 per day is pretty easy to achieve. We were glad to have crawlers and leeches as twister jigs were not nearly as effective as in the past.
July 1 – Canada Day 2014 – we arrived at the Mattice lake base in Armstrong after 10 days at Kearns Lake through Thousand Lakes Outposts. The lilacs are just starting to bloom (great fragrance), the black flies are at their peak (yuck) and the water levels are receding from the highest levels people have seen in decades. Sounds like a spring time trip and given the very late ice out and cold spring, it essentially was.
Six of us – including LarryS and his sister Pat – spent 10 wonderful days at the Kearns Lake outpost. This is our second trip there and you can see the first trip report (2011) at:
I won’t repeat the Taj Mahal cabin conditions and contents (you can get the details from the previous report) except to note that the indoor bathroom has been totally remodeled (in cedar panels with new shower stall), there’s a remote generator start in the cabin, the satellite phone works essentially all the time now and there’s brand new 14ft Lunds with brand new 15 hp 4-stroke motors (the cabin is now no more than 10 minutes away from anywhere on the lake). All are very nice upgrades.
Back in 2006 I spent a few days on Kearns Lake with Thousand Lakes Outposts and I saw some of the hottest walleye fishing ever. We only needed 45 minutes to get enough “A footage’ for a whole show. I’ll be going back again in 2009 – and I can’t wait!
I have fished J-V/Kearns lake every year since 1983 and it is by far the best lake I have ever fished, including some in Alaska. It is a lake where you can catch 30-75 walleyes a day that weigh up to 12 lbs. Most in the 2-7 lb range. If you are after northern you will catch plenty of them as well. My largest was 31.6 lbs. Every year we have had several in the 20 lb plus range. Why go any place else to fish! The camp is very comfortable, with just about everything you will need provided.
As I set the hook into what was probably my tenth walleye in about eight or nine minutes, my ultra-rugged fishing buddies in the other boat couldn’t believe what they were seeing. Chef Tim Matthews and Chef Ken Veneruz from the Culinary Arts Program at Confederation College were literally catching fish and after fish. I know that sounds cliche, even predictable in a story like this, but it’s true, absolutely true. I remember Tim saying over and over with his classic British accent, “RD, this is brilliant!” And, Ken’s most commonly used line was “Holy sh** RD, I can’t friggin’ believe this place!” Also, on the trip, and the ‘eye behind the lens’, was Adam Laidler, from Neebing Ontario.
Tim and Ken had been on fly-in fishing trips in the passed, but both were in agreement that the fishing at this particular fly-in, was the simply the best they’d ever seen. Another guy who was in agreement that day, was yours truly, who had previously been on somewhere around 150 fly-ins, covering most of Canada. And, the location you ask? Kearns Lake located around 90 miles north of Thunder Bay Ontario, square in the middle of northwestern Ontario’s world-famous walleye factory in the Canadian Shield.
On day one of the trip, two boats left camp together with Tim and Ken in one, and Adam and I in the other. As I am always one to do some exploring on these trips, Adam and I went a little up farther up the river and found a spot with a tight elbow and some good current.There, started catching fish, with ease, but it was raining some, so the video camera stayed in its waterproof case.After about an hour or so, we went back down river to see how Tim and Ken were doing.As we approached their boat, all we could see was fish being hauled in and all we could hear was two guys laughing and giggling like a couple high school girls talking about their latest boyfriends. Tim and Ken had found this honey-hole that I later named “Chef’s Rock”. And, that was just one of the places where we (as us rugged individuals like to say,) “just hammered ’em!”
Just as we arrived, luckily, the rain stopped. So, it was time to “go to work”. With Adam posted up on shore about twenty feet from both boats, he was able to get enough footage for the entire show in about twenty minutes.Then, we got him back into my boat for some additional video and close up shots to be edited together later on. This was my record for the least amount of time I’d ever needed to capture what I refer to as the “A Role” of a show in nine years of producing my series. It really was nuts – and as bonus, the weather was perfect for shooting a show. No wind so we’d get great audio and a nice grey sky, perfect for camera lighting.I still can’t believe how the rain stopped for me… perfect.
Thousand Lakes Outposts is owned and operated by the husband and wife tag team of Dwayne Bolen and Teri Fero, from Thunder Bay. Purchasing the operation last year, they have two camps at this time. One on Kearns and the other is on Stonehouse Lake which is basically right next door to Kearns. Back in 2005, I was at Kearns Lake with the previous owner and the fishing was just as insane then as it was on this trip in June, 2009. But, I have to say, what I saw in those four days, just a couple weeks ago… clearly was the fastest and most ridiculous walleye fishing that I’ve seen in my entire life. And, that is quite a statement to make! No hogs really, but most were surprisingly chunky compared to most lakes I’ve been on. We all caught a few walleyes in the 25 – 26 inch range, but most were between 17 and 20.
The whole trip actually ‘began’ back in January when our office received an email from Dwayne who had seen the previous show on the air as a rerun. One thing led to another and before you knew it, we were on our way back to Kearns Lake to tape another show. I had heard through the grapevine that the camp had been sold, but to whom, I didn’t know. I did after I read the email Dwayne sent us… It’s not often that I go back to the same outfitter more than once, but in this case, I was eager to return, based on what I had seen a few years earlier. If you ever see my show and you know it’s the second time I’ve taped a show at the lodge I’m at, you know it got the “Rugged Approved” stamp from this Rugged Dude!
Flying in to a remote lake is about as rugged as it gets… in fact, it’s not only “rugged”, in the context of the word as I use it, but it’s also very exciting and to many people, the anticipation can be overwhelming. I know guys who couldn’t sleep for a whole week prior to their very first fly in fishing trip. As I mentioned earlier, I have been on many fly in fishing and hunting trips over the last ten years or so, but even still, the whole fly-in thing is more exciting than Christmas morning is to a little kid. (Even if the little bugger did some snooping and found out he’s getting a brand new GI Joe with the Kung Fu grip!) After all, other than flying in, how else can you go fishing on a lake that sees only a handful of anglers each season? I have seen drive-to lakes where the fishing was pretty damn good, but no matter which way you slice it, there’s nothing like a fly-in.
Sounds good right? But, trust me, there is a problem. Not all fly in fishing trips are good ones. The outfitting business has grown a lot over the last twenty years or so, and while there some excellent operators out there, it seems to me, there are more and more “not-so-good” ones. Many people assume, especially those people who have never been on a fly-in fishing trip before, that you will catch fish after fish after fish as long as two things are involved: Canada and a float plane. This is absolutely not true. I’ve been on trips where we literally had a hard time catching enough fish for a simple shore lunch. I was on one trip five years ago, where we didn’t catch enough fish to put a show together. Seriously… and I do happen to know how to fish. Not all fly-ins are going to produce phenomenal fishing. So, I recommend you do your homework before you send in your deposit to the outfitter.
There are several reasons why Kearns and Stonehouse have such consistent fishing. The most obvious is lack of fishing pressure. There are no other camps on either lake, and that in itself makes a big difference. I have been on many trips where there are six or even seven fishing camps on one lake. This may be okay if it’s a very big lake and the camps are spread out, but I’ve seen some fly-in lakes where it seemed to be a “little busy” for my liking. Also, check references from previous anglers of the lake. The outfitter should be able to provide you with a list of people who you can contact.
When we arrived at Kearns Lake, there was a group from Minnesota who’d been there for five days, packed up and ready to head home. This bunch of rugged dudes had been going to Kearns and Stonehouse for 26 years! That’s a good sign… and one of the guys told me that he’d been on other fly in trips before he made Thousand Lakes Outposts “his” yearly trip. So, he’s been around the block a few times. The coolest thing to me about this group is that they had a few kids with them and one of them caught a 46 inch northern pike! And, that my friends, is how you get kids into fishing and away from useless, time wasting video games! Nice. Hey, I should work part time as a Rugged Teen Counsellor!
Okay, back to the action – our trip took place in mid June, just after the walleye spawn. The season usually opens around the third week of May, so anytime from then onto the end of June you’ll find walleyes hanging out in the rivers where they spawn or near the opening where it flows into the main lake basin. And, that’s where we did the majority of our fishing. And, did we ever hammer ’em! It really was nuts… People often ask me how many fish per day I caught. How the hell do I know? Let’s just say, tons. I can guess that between the three of us fishing, actually four us fishing, (Officially Rugged camera dudes get to fish too!), we easily caught 500 walleyes in the few days we fished. And, keep in mind, when you’re producing a TV show, you have to use a lot of your time doing other things for the production. Scenery shots, interview bits, still photos… Just shooting the shore lunch that Tim and I did took three hours. So, I guarantee, that if you go on a fishing trip, you’ll spend more time fishing than I would.
And, did we eat well? Uh… yes. Very well, in fact! We ate fresh fish at once a day. Then, factor in the chicken, steaks, bacon, eggs, sausages, pancakes… I should probably stop now because I’m starting to drool on my foot and that gets weird after a while, especially when it starts dripping down between your toes.
One of the things I really like about both Kearns and Stonehouse Lakes, is that they’re big enough so you can fish new water each day, but small enough that you won’t get lost. I’d say Kearns is about four miles long and Stonehouse about half that size. You don’t have to worry about super-high winds either. Any lake can get windy, but there are plenty of bays and islands to fish around if a good wind picks up. I’ve been on trips where the wind was such a problem we could hardly get out at all. Can you imagine paying for a fishing trip where you can’t go fishing because the lake is too rough? That would suck.
Another bonus is the lack of “motor-mangling-rocks-and-reefs” that I’ve seen on many lakes in Canada, especially in the Canadian Shield. There are a few spots where you need to be careful, but Dwayne tries to keep them marked with floater buoys. For the most part, it’s pretty easy cruising. Neither lakes are deep, but I did find one section of Kearns where it gets down to 50 feet or so. That’s where I caught the chunky fish you see below. Since we were catching so many fish in the river, I figured I’d try some deep water just to see what we’d catch… and there it was. I’ll bet if you fished that deeper water in July or August, you’d slay ’em, big time! Deep diving crank baits that look anything like a minnow, would be hard for suspending walleyes to pass up. And, that is precisely what I caught this one on.
The camps themselves are in excellent shape and Dwayne is a fanatic about their upkeep. If something needs repair, it’s done. Hot and cold running water, shower, well equipped kitchens, including two refrigerators (remember the food part?)… Basically speaking, the camps are well set up and there’s plenty of room for a group of eager fisher dudes and fisher chicks to spend a kick-ass holiday.
Flying in to a remote lake for a fishing trip is a great way to spend your much-deserved vacation time and I highly recommend you put this on “your things to do list”. Just make sure you do your homework and pick a good fly-in… like the one I’ve just finished writing about.
RD, “The Rugged Dude” is Host and Executive Producer of Officially Rugged with RD, see by millions of viewers across North America.
I was compelled to write you a note after our 2009 archery moose hunt. First, I want to thank you for all you have done for us. It all started with your suggestion to move us to an area that you believed had more moose so we might have better success this year. I have to admit, I was hesitant to move from the area where we had previously hunted the three years prior. Knowing that you had our best interest at heart we agreed to move to the new area. This area was everything you said it would be. You scouted for us and set up a tent at our camping spot, complete with a brand new wood stove. We didn’t expect you to provide us with detailed maps. You even pointed out where you thought we might find a bull. You were right on the mark. I proceeded to shoot a 48″ bull exactly where you put the “X” on the map! You are one heck of a guide. I have archery hunted moose at three different outfitters over the past 15 years. I have never saw a guide with so much enthusiasm and knowledge. Your passion for moose hunting and your integrity is unmatched. You exceeded our expectations and went above and beyond. I would highly recommend your services to anyone. In fact after a lifetime of hunting I can truly say “it doesn’t get any better than this”. We will be back again next year.
Hi Dwayne, thought I’d drop you a line and say thanks for a great hunt, I cant say enough about the camp it was great having hot and cold running water (and shower)!, and best of all having wood floors in the tents, you have a beautiful place no comparison to other camps I’ve been in. Although the temperature for that time of year was unusually warm I was amazed at the amount of moose activity we were still having. I had a great time, everyone in camp was awesome and I can’t wait to see ya all again this fall.
I want to again thank you for the services you provided to make our hunt one which truly will never be forgotten and marked I’m sure as one of the most memorable. If you could have controlled the weather the ‘what ifs’ would be completely out of our stories. Right from the start everything from the camp, pre-season scouting reports & terrain and were spot on. As the weather broke and the rut heated up a hunter couldn’t have asked for a better setup. We kept on the move never running into other hunters and finding moose. If you told me in 5 consecutive days you called 10 different bulls into range & in three of those mornings you had two bulls working at the same time, well I may not have believed you but know I can say I’ve done it! Thank you for the time and energy you put into our hunt and see you again in 2013!