The Lunge Lodge

The Lunge Lodge on the Upper French River

Saturday, May 28, 2016

I arrived at Riverview around 1pm, got loaded up and over to the Lodge before two where I was met at the dock by Mike.  We exchanged hellos then got all my gear into the cabin I was assigned on my first several trips to Lunge Lodge, Jack Pine.  The new bathroom looks great with the knotty pine and fiberglass shower.  After getting some things settled, I went into the main lodge to see Mary.  She welcomed me back after missing all of last year.

After dinner, I headed up to Bob’s where after a few casts with a buzzbait, I hooked into, then subsequently lost a nice small mouth when my line failed.  As it turned out, that would be a theme the first full day, as well.

I tooled around Bob’s for a couple of hours, catching bass here and there, but no pike, although the weeds by the rock in the middle were well formed.  By 7:30, I was exhausted after being up since 2, so, I decided to head in.  By 8pm, I hit the sack and slept straight through until 5:36 Sunday morning!

Totals: 6 fish. 5 smallmouth, 1 largemouth

Sunday, May 29, 2016

I hit the water about 7:30 and headed straight to Satchel’s Bay.  With surface temps hitting 72° up the creek, I wondered if this spot would be worthwhile.  It took a bit, but I finally hooked into a smallie on a spinnerbait.  After a good battle, it shook off.  Quickly after that, I hooked into another smallmouth.  It looked to be about 2.5lbs.  I caught only one other fish after two hours, so I started to move.  In the pads, I had several feeble pike hits on a frog, but never got a hook in one.

After re-locating, I caught several bass and a couple of pike.  About 1pm I decided to head to Marsh Bay, where I caught a few more bass and two more pike.  At 4, I headed back, arriving in less than 30 mins through some strong winds and heavy wave action in the main channel.

Water temps in the main river go about 64°, while some of the spots in Satchel’s and Marsh hit 76°!

After dinner, I spent a few hours in Clearwater, where I caught one smallmouth and one largemouth, lost a buzzbait, but found a Berkeley fish gripper!  Back at the dock, I told Mike my stories, and he recalled a guest lost their Boga-Grip in Clearwater last year, he just can’t remember who.  I hope whoever you are is reading this!

Totals: 16 fish.  4 pike, 5 largemouth, 7 smallmouth

Monday, May 30, 2016 (Memorial Day)

Waking at 4am, I tried in vain to fall back asleep.  I got out of bed about 15 minutes later, showered, dressed and went to the lodge to make coffee. No one else was up, so I watched TV for a bit, before Mary came in around 5.  After breakfast, I geared up and headed for Bob’s, as the forecast called for strong winds.  I spent the whole day there, and caught a mixed bag of largemouth, smallmouth and pike.  I did have a high 30’s musky lazily follow my buzzbait and then later, had a high 20’s musky explode on a spook, two different times, without getting hooked. 

The fun of the day was messing with a water snake that seemed to be coming to the boat.  I put my Chatterbait down in front of him and he slashed at it, getting his teeth caught in the rubber skirt.  I was eventually able to shake him off.

The best fish of the day were a couple of 2+ lb largemouth that hit a black and white money minnow – my only one.  While fighting them, I really expected them to be 4 pounders – boy was my ability to judge actual weights way off.

After dinner, I tried a bay close to Riverview and then Sandy Bay, but neither place was conducive to fishing due to the winds, so I headed to Reynolds Bay, from the Clearwater side.  Heading in, along a sheer wall, I hooked into a walleye on the Chatterbait.  As usual, Walleyes hooked casting put up a great fight.  Unfortunately, it unbuttoned.

Inside Reynolds, I fished an area I never did and caught a couple of smallies and couple of pike.  Just before quitting, I tied on a Rapala prop bait (of which I have two) and zipped it three times before a smallmouth smashed it, but once again, the line snapped.  While trying to tie on my other one, I watched as the smallie jumped two different times, eventually throwing the lure, so I got it back!  I decided then that I would re-spool the reel in the morning with heavier line.

Total: 17 fish.  4 pike, 7 smallmouth, 6 largemouth

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Today was an incredibly slow day.  Surface temps dropped 15-20° overnight.  After breakfast, I ran to Riverview, but they weren’t open yet, so with less than a quarter tank, I decided to hit Satchel’s.  The north wind was strong and made for a chilly ride.  Just think, I was in shorts the first two days (even with the bugs).

Inside Satchel’s, I threw the prop bait and watched a smallie inspect it, but not take it, same for the swim bait.  On the 4th or 5th cast, on the retrieve, I caught a little hammer-handled pike.  Moving from there, I went into the creek, where I caught a largemouth by the beaver house.  A bit farther down, I hooked into a smallmouth on the Chatterbait, but it jumped off.  A few casts later, I got a good hit, set the hook, and got bit off.  I went up the creek as far as I could, but got stuck and had to pole myself out.  On the way out, I caught a decent pike on a spinnerbait.  Back by the rock wall, I got nothing, same for the cove by the Red Roof house.  At about noon, I ate my lunch, checked some emails, then ran back to Riverview.  After gassing up, I went to Clearwater, where I saw a musky turn on a fluke, but it never took it.  By the rock shoal I hooked a smallmouth.  The water was clear and it was sunny, so I could see it well.  Yet again, my line broke (different rod/reel and line).  The fish jumped a number of times trying to clear it.  Even later when I went back, it was still jumping occasionally.

Close by, I beached the boat and walked to where I lost my buzzbait two days before.  Sure enough, I could see the line floating and the buzzbait was still attached.

After missing a couple of strikes, getting bit off, and watching a musky follow low and slow on my prop bait, I finally caught a largemouth that might not have gone 12 inches.  Just before 4, I headed in for dinner.

After dinner, I went into Reynolds and managed to catch 2 little pike.

Totals: 6 fish.  5 pike, one largemouth

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

With east winds and forecasted comfortable temperatures, I decided to head back to Satchel’s.  It worked out well.  I caught 10 smallies. The biggest ones were just over 2.

I got some video of the catches from both my GoPro and Contour, as well as the Aqua Vu.  It should be fun putting them all together.  I also managed to catch a glimpse of a snapper underwater.

Eventually, I ventured back to Marsh, where the prop bait was the star.  At every rocky shoal, I hooked into smallmouth bass.  The biggest one went 3.3, but it sure looked bigger.  I had a chance to catch a 2nd largemouth, when one took my toad right in front of me.  It looked to be a 2+ pounder, but I never got a hook set.

After dinner, I returned to Bob’s, where it took a while, but I caught a 2.86lb smallmouth on the rock shoal in front of the camp.  I caught one other smallmouth, then 2 largemouth.  That was it for the night, and I headed in a little after 8.

Totals: 28 fish.  2 pike, 3 largemouth, 23 smallmouth bass.

Thursday, June 1, 2016

The day started with a lot of promise, the forecasted high winds were not evident, temperatures were comfortable, and skies were slightly overcast.  I ran to Satchel’s to give it yet another try, beginning at the same spot I started on Tuesday, but no one came out to play.  Working between the islands, I came up empty too.  Over by the cabin I finally caught a little smallmouth.  The rock shoal bite was kind of on.  The only negative was that they were all small.  Finally, I tied into a good one, but it shook off on the way in.  Every now and then I hit a fish, but nowhere near what I would call ‘active’.  By noon, I had 8 fish, all smallmouth and one pike.

The west end didn’t pan out either, but in front of the red roofed cabin, I caught several more smallies that fought well, but were actually quite small.

Heading in through the stiff winds was bouncy, but once back by the Lodge, I pulled into the beaver pond, where I proceeded to catch a largemouth and another small pike.

After dinner, I napped for an hour, then fished right around the Lodge.  I caught a decent pike and a smallmouth.

Totals: 15 fish.  3 pike, 11 smallmouth, 1 largemouth

Friday, June 2, 2016

The morning was beautiful, a little cool, but no measurable wind.  I started the day in Twilight Bay, where I caught a smallmouth on a husky jerk after about 40 minutes of fishing.  About an hour later, I caught a pike on the same husky jerk.  The back area was dead and I expected to catch several pike, but the last several trips, I just haven’t been able to recreate the early days when my son and I would catch good numbers back there.  On the way out, I caught two more smallmouth and missed several others that blew up on the bait or managed to get unhooked.  One actually broke the line, but hanging around, I watched it jump several times and it eventually threw the lure.  So, same lure, lost twice, recovered twice!

From Twilight, I stopped at the jugs on my way to Marsh.  Just like earlier, several blow ups without a hookup and several lost fish. 

From the Jugs, I entered Marsh, stopping in the channel by the pads.  More blowups without a hookup.  I tied on a buzzbait and caught a largemouth.  Later, I’d catch another on a frog.  I saw one in the shallows following my fluke.  It followed lazily, but finally sucked it in, however, I pulled it away on the hook set.  These fish are really neutral.

After dinner, I went to the end of 5-Mile.  Back there, I missed a largemouth that I could see, and caught 2 pike on a swimbait.  Leaving there, I worked my way back, with the wind, on the north shore.  Nothing much happened until I got to an island area where I caught another pike and then a 2.79lb, 19.25 in smallmouth!  I fished for about 20 minutes more, missed two pike and watched 2 others just flash at the lure.

Totals: 16 fish.  3 pike, 8 smallmouth, 4 largemouth

Saturday, June 4, 2016

The forecast called for sun and light winds, so I opted to head to Sandy Island to try to repeat the success I had with Sean 2 years earlier.  When I got there, though, the wind was ripping out of the south and made it hard to hold by the island.  I was also worried about my gas supply, because my ability to gauge how much I’d use on the ride there was off. 

I found Sandy Haven lodge, and they had a store, but it doesn’t open until 2 on Saturday.  That was ok, because the days go by fast anyway.  So, I headed to Wig Wam, thinking it would be protected.  I was wrong.  There were only a few out of the way areas and most were not holding fish.  However, in the back, I caught a largemouth (close to 9:40 am), then another.  But, that was it for a while.  I started throwing the prop bait out and had a fish miss it twice.  One cast later it nailed it and that sparked me to seek out more shoals for the morning.  All said, I caught 5 good-sized smallmouth and lost or had misses from several others.  After I ate my lunch, on my first cast, I hooked a nice largemouth that looked to be close to 3 lbs.  I mistakenly tried to swing it in and it got off.  I left Wig Wam and fished a protected cove, where I hooked then lost two other big smallies, watched as several totally missed the lure, but finally caught one.

Following that, I went to Sandy Haven to get gas.  The camp looked strangely familiar to me, probably because of the bat boxes.  I want to think it was one of the places I stayed with Dad and his friend many years ago.  While paying for the gas, I mentioned to the guy there that I was having problems finding pike.  He pointed out an island and told me there’s a visible shoal with reeds starting to grow.  I headed there, stopping first on a rock shoal and watched as a bass missed the prop bait twice, never to try again.  Inside the reeds, it took me a while, but I hooked a pike, then another that got off, and a third that chased the bait in, then turned when I started the fig 8.  I spent about an hour and a half and ended up catching 11 pike, all in the 20-30 inch range, and lost several others when they buried themselves in the reeds.  It was a great day!

After dinner, I headed up to Bob’s, but stopped first at the shoals by the Crossroads.  I had one double blow up, but that was it. I guess all shoals aren’t the same after all.  Inside Bob’s, I had another blow up at the rock by the camp, but it too, missed.  All the way in the back end, I decided to switch to the buzzbait.  That was the ticket, I caught 6 bass, 3 largemouth and 3 smallmouth.  One of the largemouth went 2lbs 14oz.

Totals: 26 fish.  11 pike, 10 smallmouth, 5 largemouth

Sunday, June 5, 2016

I woke up after 5:30 and took my time getting ready since it was raining.  I used the time to clean up some files on the computer and edit some videos while the power was still on.  I’m glad I did, because the rain came down in sheets for a time.  Once the power went out (it was a scheduled outage), I decided to head out into the misting rain. 

Clearwater was the destination, and I’m glad I chose it.  On my first cast, because the reel was wet, I experienced a bad backlash.  It took a while, but I managed to clear it and headed back to the shoreline I wanted to cast originally.  Using a Husky Jerk, I cast over a rock and felt it stop.  At first I thought I snagged the rock, but then I saw the line move to the left, and I knew I had a good fish.  It came up and I could tell it was a musky.  Right then, it made a vicious leap 10 feet in front of me, but, I was able to play it out and net it.  It turned out to be a 35 ½” musky.

I worked Clearwater for another two hours.  I got bit off once and then caught a small largemouth.  At about 2, I ran back in to find the guys had arrived.

After dinner, Joe and I went up to Bob’s where I watched a musky investigate my caffeine shad, but it didn’t take it.  Instead, it swam by the line, which caused the bait to stick in its side for a moment.  It was the same fish that followed my buzzbait in the Sunday before.

All in all, Joe and I caught 9 fish, a mix of smallmouth, largemouth, and pike.

Totals:  11 fish.  1 musky, 5 pike, 3 smallmouth, 2 largemouth.

Monday, June 6, 2016

The morning started out windy and the forecast called for it to get worse (which it did).  The four of us (Bob & Gary, me & Joe) went to Satchel’s where Joe and I started out catching pike.  Behind White Cross Island, in the cove that runs east west, I had a musky follow the prop bait, but quickly turned off.  We worked our way into Satchel’s creek, and on the way out, I was throwing the wake bait, when a musky jumped on the lure, doing a 360° in midair, but totally missed the bait.  Later, we caught some more smallies and a couple pike.

We caught several more smallies with a few pike mixed in and called it a day at 4 with 25 fish on the clicker.

After dinner, Joe and I went to T bay, where Joe caught a smallie right off the bat and I continued to have blow ups on the prop bait without success.  In T bay, the winds were howling, but I caught a largemouth and a smallmouth while Joe caught a couple pike, including a nice 32 incher.

Totals:  34 fish.  12 pike, 1 Largemouth, 21 smallmouth.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

I took Joe up to the mouth of the river today, and when we arrived, Bob and Gary were already there.  We didn’t catch anything for a time, then Joe caught a nice smallie on a buzzbait.  That was it, except for a good sized musky that showed some interest in my caffeine shad.  After about an hour and a half we headed out.  Before leaving, though, I watched a small spotted musky grab my frog, but it never got a hook in it. Instead, it bit off the feet!

We started to run to Wig Wam, but stopped first at the pike spot by Sandy Haven.  It paid off with 4 nice pike and several other lost ones.  On the way to Wig Wam, it started to rain and running at 36 mph, it was stinging!

Inside Wig Wam, it took a while, but Joe and I both caught some nice largemouth.  I also had a musky that followed up my buzz bait twice.

Before we headed in, we tried some bays before Canoe Pass, but only had one blow up to show for the effort.  We came in with 21 fish on the counter.

After dinner, we held a pike contest.  I took Joe into Reynolds and eventually found the weedbed I found the week before.  We caught 9 pike in total, and the 26 ¼” fish I caught was looking pretty good.  That was, until we got back and learned Bob caught a 37” beauty in Hardy Bay.

Totals:  30 fish.  2 smallmouth, 9 largemouth, 19 pike.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

After gassing up at Riverview, Joe and I ran to Marsh Bay.  On the way there, the winds were favorable for a stop at Sid’s Bay.  Joe liked the area, but caught nothing.  I started out catching a small pike, then I had a smallmouth that hit my lure three times, but never hooked up.  Eventually, as we worked our way out, I caught a smallmouth just before we packed up for the quick run into Marsh.  Inside Marsh, it took a bit, but I eventually caught a largemouth, then several more on a caffeine shad while Joe started to catch a few on a June bug.

In one area, Joe was casting toward open water while I worked the shoreline.  Once Joe felt he hit on a pattern, I started casting in the same direction and caught a bass before having a follow from a big musky.  Joe got a real good look at it as it swam parallel to the back of the boat and he remarked several times about how huge the fish was. I never got that good a look at it, but I wished I could have.

We spent most of the day in a very small section of Marsh and ended the day with 18 fish.  Most were largemouth, but there were a couple of smallmouths and three pike in the mix.

Totals:  18 fish.  3 pike, 2 smallmouth, 15 largemouth

Thursday, June 9, 2016

It was a chilly morning, but once again we ventured out to Wig Wam.  On this day, unlike the prior visit, several other boats were already inside the bay.  Fishing was slow, but we managed to catch a few bass, mostly smallmouth that could be seen in the shallows.  Just before noon, we headed back to Marsh where the fishing continued to be on the slow side, despite the comfortable conditions.

After dinner, we ventured to a spot down the Little French where Joe immediately caught a pike.  I had several hookups, but lost them all.  One of the fish, a smallmouth, cleared the water shortly after it spit the hook.  I could only conclude he was mocking me.

This was the night my trolling motor died.  I had some overheating issues with it earlier in the week and this time, I thought it gave up the ghost.  At the dock, I rechecked all the wiring, even trying to bypass the fuse block without success.  Out of aggravation, I restored all of the original connections and like magic, it started working again.  Hope it holds out tomorrow.

Totals: 15 fish.  1 pike, 12 largemouth, 3 smallmouth.  I also spotted a Blanding’s turtle.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Last day.  We started at Two Trees where we caught a couple smallmouth and 1 pike, then we hit The Jugs where I caught 1 smallie, before arriving at the Pike Place by Sandy Island where Joe caught one pike.  From there, we visited several of the bays by Wig Wam, catching 2 smallies, then back into Marsh where we caught 11 bass, both largemouth and smallmouth, plus 1 pike where we made our last casts.  It was a productive day and we explored some new waters.

After dinner, we stayed in and I secured everything in the boat for the ride home.

Totals: 20 fish.  3 pike, 9 smallies, 8 largemouth

Overall totals: 241 fish. 71 pike, 104 smallmouth bass, 67 largemouth bass, 1 musky, 1 walleye

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Comment by Brian Bernhardt on June 17, 2016 at 11:55pm
Tony, as usual excellent post. Great to see you back where you belong!
Comment by Tony Petras on June 16, 2016 at 7:11pm
Thanks Mike. Glad to know that!
Comment by Mike Powers on June 16, 2016 at 2:33pm

Tony, always enjoy reading your journal - I learn new areas and baits to try, plus it gets us fired up for our July trip.  Thank you for taking the time to do this, very much appreciated!

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