Monday, July 24, 2017

Here We Go


Unfortunately, my daughter had to return home to begin getting ready for her second year in college and that leaves me to begin doing the Blogs from here on out.  I cannot promise I am able to write as well as she does, but I will make sure you see and hear what happens at Wine Lake. 

The number one question I get is: “how high is the water?”.  I am here to tell you this year it is about 14 inches below last year this time.  We have not been able to run the falls and do not see that happening any time soon.  We just have not had the rain to raise the water level.  Since I have arrived on May 2nd, the water has only gone up 2-3 inches, that is it.  With no real substantial rain in the forecast I do not see that changing.

 The week of July 1st was a great group.  We had Pat Moss and his group who were very adventurous.  Pat and his son decided to go up to Little Trout.  Their journey took them through the bush, a swim across an unknown lake to look for our boat which was on another lake and ended with them being waist deep in the muskeg.  But even through all of that they managed to find the right lake and spend some time recovering on Little Trout before heading back. 

 We had several father son groups as Chris Foat brought his father and Jake brought his father.  They all seemed to enjoy the time together as they logged many hours on the water.

 We had not one but two birthdays in camp this week. Pat McLaughlin and Katie Elwood both celebrated their birthday in style wearing cute tiaras.

Katie Elwood jigged up a 35 ½ in Lake Trout in 70 feet of water as well as 2 really nice Burbots.  Katie and her Mom also came away with the tournament win on Wednesday.  Her brothers seemed to have a good time even with a tough bite that week due to Mayflies, no wind, and high sun. 

     John Hartman, a second-generation Wine Lake regular brought his wife, daughter and grandson to represent 2nd, 3rd and 4th generations to Our family.  It always amazes me how deep the lake runs in many families and how they care for this place and the fishery like they do.  It is what sets Wine Lake apart from many other places in this vast beautiful country. 

I have said it before and will say it again, it is all of you who make Wine Lake what it is.  We have by far the best people coming here that I have ever encountered.


The week of July 8th was an interesting one.  It started off when I woke up on Saturday morning to get everyone loaded up and went down to the dock.  The first thing I notice was that the plate boat, that was fine Friday afternoon, was about 2 inches from being completely filled with water. If a wave of any size been present, the boat would have been sitting on the bottom of the lake.  Luckily for me it was early and a calm day so we were able to put 6 bilges in the boat and have it ready to leave at 6 am to head back to the landing.  Later in the day I inspected the boat and found some water again had gotten in. I took out the plug and replaced it with a new one and we kept an eye on it all day.  It never got another drop of water in it.  How the plug started leaking one day on its own I will never know.  Life on a lake!

   In came the Barbera group.  I had talked to the leader of their group many times last year and they were interested in renting the entire camp out for a week.  I happened to have a week with no bookings yet so we went ahead and set it up.  Wow what a week.  24 guys and sons (mostly older boys) in camp with no females to keep them in check (except poor Jody who works with us).  They made great use of the basketball net, the Moose cabin (which is where they all would get together to play cards and to have their communal meals) and of course the recycling bins… never short on empties.

 Nick, the feisty one of the group, decided he needed to wrestle so he began with one of the boys.  Lewis (Nick’s Uncle) seeing his son struggling with Nick did what any good father would and stepped in to back his son up.  Though it appeared fairly even matched Nick had the stamina and they called it a draw.  Finally, Nick had to face Mitch for his third match. Both made a strong showing.  Nick proved he had what it took as he withstood all three and never got pushed around.

 One evening Max (a son) treated us to some guitar playing.  Not just any guitar playing but guitar with musical and vocal accompaniment via a machine he brought with him.  He would begin by laying down the vocal back-ups he needed in the song he was going to sing, as well as the musical back up he would play with or sing too as the song progressed.  He was then able to hit foot controls as he played and sang which made the entire song sound as if it was recorded with other people playing guitar with him and back-up vocals. All of that taking place around a fire pit at Wine Lake! I cannot imagine the time and effort that has to go into learning just one song as well as learning how and when to bring the back grounds in at exactly the right times.  It was impressive to say the least and we all enjoyed and evening listening to Max.  It was so good, that you forgot you were miles away from anything in the bush being eaten by mosquitos.

 Mitch one day saw our water skis and decided he wanted to try to ski behind the boat with the 25hp motor.  I told him it would never work and headed up to grab lunch.  About 30 minutes later I heard all of the guys cheer and looked out the window to see Mitch up and skiing behind the 25hp camp boat.  Then he took it even further and dropped one of his skis and did a loop on just one.  It was very impressive.

  The group decided to move the tournament and ice cream up to Tuesday as a couple of the guys had to leave earlier in the week for work or family engagements.  Unfortunately, it was the most rain we had received in one day all year, one-inch total!  It rained almost non-stop from dawn to dark that day.  Several teams made a good showing even in the wind and rain and made it through. Jim and Keith were the big winners that day and became the first tournament champions out of the Barbera group.

As this was the group’s first time at Wine Lake, I was hoping the fishing was going to be good and they would enjoy themselves and come to love Wine Lake Camp like so many of us have.  In the end, I was getting quotes from the guys saying “This is an awesome camp”, “Best camp ever in 25 years of coming to Canada”, “Epic trip!”.  Hearing those kinds of remarks really made myself and the crew feel great about the effort we put in here, and know we are working hard to make sure everyone has a great trip to Wine and want to come back in the future.

 Fishing the last week was really good for July.  Groups are catching really nice Walleyes in the weeds with some Northerns mixed in.  I am guessing they will begin moving out into a little deeper water over the next couple of weeks.  We are expected to have a bunch of sunny and 78-82 degree days.  This will continue to warm the water and push the fish deeper.  I am guessing they will begin hanging in the 12-15 foot of water range and be schooled a little more than they have been.  Perch fishing has still been pretty good.  Some people are continuing to pull up some really nice fish in 7 feet of water in the weeds.  Trout fishing has been ok if you can find them and get down to them.  On Friday, the Barbera group all had to be heading home so I took the camp workers out for their first time Trout fishing.  Colin caught a massive 38-inch trout and Brenden caught a 33-inch trout.  We also managed to land an 11-inch trout which makes the future look bright.


  As we head into the middle of the summer the camp hustle has slowed down.  People are not rushing down to the dock first thing in the morning and they are also staying out later in the evening.  Shorts are finally part of everyday wardrobe which is a nice change of pace.  The next few weeks look to be nice and pretty stable as far as our weather.  Look forward to seeing you all. 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Week of Adventure

Right from the start this week was different. It is Saturday morning, and dad had gone to the landing to get everything ready for the new week. Colin, Jody, and Brendan were chugging away cleaning cabins, and I was enjoying the time to relax and work on my blog. Everything was going smoothly, when I got a text from dad which read, “Are you there.” In typical Maddie fashion, I immediately call him and imagine the worst. Turns out it wasn’t good, but it wasn’t as bad as I imagined. On the way in, the skiff broke down in the middle of Wabaskang. No one knew he wasn’t still behind them, and I was needed to help at the portage. Now let’s be honest, when it comes to portaging boats I am probably not your best bet; arthritic, short, out of shape, little chunky, AND female, come on, I wouldn’t pick me for my team either. So, with a cabin and a half left, I grabbed my stuff, Brendan, and the little camp boat, and we set off leaving Colin and Jody to handle the camp. Imagine the surprise when my smiling face showed up to tell them they left dad behind in a broken boat and I was his replacement. Luckily for them, they were old pros are portaging, and all they needed was a little direction. Even more lucky they happened to have one of the loudest, bossiest people of all time to offer that direction, me! Everyone made it over without issue, and the first boats pulled up as Colin and Jody walked out of the last cabin. Don’t worry dad made it back eventually too.

 Man what a wonderful week. The weather may not have always been sunny and warm, but the people sure were. For the first time this year, we were delighted to have some guests that were 3 and under. The Wine Lake crew got to experience a week of wonder and awe as they were led by the children to explore outside. I especially enjoyed being able to watch the children fill with joy as they followed around turtles, and helped me chase bunnies. After two weeks, I was finally able to catch a baby bunny!

This was also a week for family. We were honored to have the 4th generation of the Hartman family staying in camp. Not only that, but many of the cousins had not seen each other for years! All of this served as the perfect opportunity to have a shore lunch, and invite the WLC crew! We were served fish, potatoes, beans, coleslaw, and cheesecake! As the little ones played, the adults had the chance to catch up. It was a beautiful day, and everyone had a wonderful time!

The Hartman’s were also overjoyed to reunite with some childhood friends! These came from back home, and from here in Canada. In a normal week, everyone enjoys getting to see the float plane bring in the minnows. This week our guests were given a special treat when relatives, and friends of the Hartman’s decided to ride in for an evening on a float plane. This thing was massive! It was an evening of laughs and memories that I know they will all cherish.

I was lucky enough to get a trip fishing with dad!

We also were privileged enough to celebrate Nichole's birthday with the family!

Even with the mayfly hatch the fishing went on. They even caught some burbot.

I just want to thank all the wonderful people we had in camp this week. You guys are a truly wonderful group, and you lightened up everyone of our hearts. To Alex Minnis, Gabriel Hartman, Owen Hartman, and Audrey Hartman, thank you so much for bringing smiles to our faces. I hope you grow to love this place as much as your parents do, and continue to visit us as you grow older. Justin, thank you for not breaking dad’s lure this year.

Thanks for reading. I would love to hear any comments, or ideas you have for the blog. I also encourage you to send me pictures as the blog is not the same without them. Send me ideas, questions, comments, and pictures to You can also like us on facebook @winelakecamp. Have a wonderful day!