When “Big Jim” McLaughlin called me months ago and instructed me to keep the week of October 16th to the 23rd open on my calendar, I of course obliged the Big Man. As time grew nearer details surfaced on who, what, and where were revealed. A trip to Georgian Bay to fish walleye for the week. An old friend of Jim’s (Mike Richardson) is a guide in the area and offered up his services as well as his right hand man Jeremy Kennedy. Accommodations were setup by Mike and his lovely wife Edna in what could only be described as a mansion on the shores of Georgian Bay. What a treat this was going to be!
Then the guest list started to appear. Bob Izumi was scheduled in to come join us and do some filming with his son Darren. Dave Mercer arrived with his team and also did some shooting. My good friend Tim Allard, Outdoors writer and Photographer was along as well. Representatives from many fishing tackle companies were also up to fish with the group. From my perspective it surely was a treat. One thing I can say about everyone I’ve met in the fishing industry is this, no matter how famous you’ve become at the end of the day you are still someone who just loves to fish and we all connect on that level.
I wasn’t able to spend the whole week with the crew as I was needed back to work late in the week and had another trip planned for the following weekend so I drove up alone. I decided to take the route that would take me up through Algonquin Park. I was a bit late for the leaves to be in full flame but I love the park at any time of year. I stopped in at the Visitors Centre for a leg stretch.
I was hoping to see a Moose on my ride but could only manage a photo of one in the display area.
I knew when I pulled out onto the final highway North and I came upon this truck. Following this guy took me to Walleye Heaven.
On the first day Tim and I joined Jeremy in his 18 foot Lund. It was an awesome ride that accommodated us easily. This was the view from our office every morning.
Jeremy decided we should stop just off one of the many shoals in the area. This proved fruitful for myself with my best walleye of the trip on a Knuckleball and a KO Minnow. Tim was awesome with the camera on this trip and you’ll definitely notice the quality difference in his photos versus mine. Huge thanks to Tim for allowing me to use these photos.
We made a move shortly after that to try another area that Jim had run to with Captain Mike. There it was somewhat silly. Walleye after walleye. Jigs bounced on bottom was the numbers game while the crankbait bite that Jim had informed me for months was going to get the bigger fish to move was taking place just like he predicted.
Dozens of walleye came over the gunnels of the Lund. At one point Tim reared back and set the hook. Upon hearing the drag scream out of his reel I let Jeremy know I thought Tim was snagged. Tim quickly corrected me! This was no snag. Our eyes lit up when she surfaced. Tim played her like a pro and she paid us a visit.
What an awesome fish she was. At first we thought it was a muskie but when we saw it was a Pike we got really excited. I just love big Pike!
The wind really picked up that afternoon making boat control difficult.
We ended the evening by joining Big Jim and his crew for an evening jig drift. What a start to the week.
Bob and Darren Izumi arrived that night and the game plan was put in place for the next morning. Jeremy joined Bob for the show shoot first thing. Tim and I commandeered the Lund and did our thing. We stuck close by for photos and to give Darren a spot to shoot from if he decided to. It was neat to see the behind the scenes shooting of what I’ve been watching since I was about 8 years old every Saturday morning. It is nothing more than Bob fishing for the day.
Bob set into a good fish with all the cameras rolling.
I was lucky enough with my own camera to get this one.
That evening it was Tim’s turn in the spotlight with Bob. Tim has recently had his first book published Ice Fishing :The Ultimate Guide which I’ll be featuring very soon in an blog entry. Bob wanted to give him some air time to talk about it. Tim was more than thrilled. They had one hot stretch of fishing that should make for a great segment with 4 walleye landed in about 2 minutes.
That day ended with a big walleye fish fry. I cleaned up a pile of walleye for the group while Bob and Tim did the batter mix and Jeremy did the cooking. It was a legendary meal! It was late night with tales from the road and fishing from Bob that I could sit and listen to for hours.
The next morning Tim, Big Jim and I joined Darren and Bob for the morning fish. Bob and Darren had to leave mid morning so we played around a bit that morning before they had to hit the road. They really wanted to get a Crankbait segment but as much as you can plan everything sometimes the larger fish just refuse to show up for the camera.
Still loads of laughs on board and a photo that is headed for my wall.
Mike arrived in his Nitro so Big Jim and I hopped in with him. The next 20 minutes is something I will never forget. To preface this I do have to say that Jim had been telling me for months that a #9 Shad Rap was going to be his bait of choice up there for the week. He was determined and very confident it would produce a big fish.
Mike ran us to an area we had never been before. Jim took 5 casts. Second cast he caught a 3 pound plus walleye. While he was working that fish in I grabbed my camera.
Fourth cast he said he had a flash at his bait that he thought may have been a bigger fish.
Fifth cast it happened. Jim reared back on his Crankin rod and announced “This is a better fish”. It took him down under the boat and we were yet to see it.
We all thought big Pike until we saw that white tip on the tail. We were completely calm but certainly excited. Captain Mike grabbed his Boga grip and after one failed attempt he announced “Got her!”. The look on the Big Man’s face I will never forget for as long as I live. It was like an 8 year old kid who just caught their first fish. Jim and Mike hugged and giggled like school girls, their years of friendship pinnacled at that moment. It was awesome to be a part of that moment. And what a fish! Big Jim and Tim snapped various photos with this awesome fish. Watch for it in “Just Fishing” soon!
That is 100% why Big Jim is the Man. He called it for months and did it.
We slid her into the livewell and ran back to see Bob and Darren before they left. Seeing Bob’s reaction was priceless! I’m sure he was still shaking his head as he drove home. Big Jim did it again. He later waved and hit the throttle on the Verado and was gone.
That afternoon Dave Mercer and his crew arrived. Dave is as you see him on TV. Full of energy and his natural humour livens up a room. His crew prepared for the afternoon bite to start shooting with Big Jim on board with Dave. We left them to do their thing as we didn’t want to be in their shots as they shot the show.
Tim and I joined Jeremy for the evening that night and lit em up good! Throwing cranks to near dark had us doubled up often with some nice ones, though the KnuckleBall/Nightcrawler did yield me a good one as well.
This was a cool double header in near dark conditions!
Dave and Jim were back at it in the morning, it was a bit of a hairy ride on the way over.
We slid by for some photos. They had a decent morning with some laughs of course. Should be a great show.
The boys with a double header.
They wrapped the show mid morning and we all headed back to the house. The Mercer crew hit the road and I slowly packed up my gear and headed home. It was an amazing trip for me personally. Made some new friends and enjoyed the company of old friends. But the moment that will always stick in my mind of this trip, is the “Big” man’s expression after landing that hawg walleye.
Feel free to contact me for info on Captain Mike’s Guide Service on the Eastern Shores of Georgian Bay. You won’t be disappointed!