Monday, fun day.

Monday, fun day.

I get out pretty regularly in the woods summer and winter, but, usually with a friend or group of friends.  Monday was different.   I almost forgot how much I like to be alone sometimes and how much fun it is to just go where the wind blows ya.  

monday funday piragis paddle solo canoe waiting

I made it up to one of my favorite fishing lakes and one of the prettiest and most soothing day trip spots I’ve found in some 45 years of Boundary Waters out of Ely tripping.  Let’s just call it Big Sky Lake for now.  Some of you will recognize it from the photos.  As I was paddling around the lake on Monday I just thought what a big sky feel this place had that day.  The clouds were magnificent, summer clouds or the type that follows a cold front with scuds of rain sweeping in and sun blazing out right after.

monday funday piragis paddle solo clouds

It didn’t actually rain where I was but the wind gusted and died just like it does with a scud passing.   The light kept changing and for a photog like me it was exciting.  The issue would be to make the battery on my I phone last through the day and into evening when light would be even better.  As I was unpacking the truck to load up the solo canoe at the landing I make the last minute decision not to bring the Canon and big lenses.  The little Apple camera, whoops, phone takes some pretty nice pics and video too.   

monday funday piragis paddle solo

Fishing, oh yeah, that’s what I was supposed to be doing too.  I like my Wenonah Prism solo canoe for a lot of reasons but for fishing it’s really nice to just troll around with the rod under one knee and over the gunwales so I can paddle and take photos and fish all at the same time.  Not that there was a lot of fish actually biting so it was mostly trolling, avoiding the windy side of the lake and take pics that made up the day.

pike fishing monday funday piragis paddle solo

At the last second, just before reeling up for the afternoon and portaging out I made one cast of the chartreuse Rapala into the mouth of the out flowing current in about a foot of water and there waiting for prey was about the nicest northern pike I’ve seen in this lake in a couple decades.  So with dinner fillets in the cooler the best part of a day trip was about the begin.  

monday funday piragis paddle solo cane beaver dam

The creek leading in and out of Big Sky Lake is the best part of the trip.  Beavers have dammed it up in several places.  The water levels are always changes as dams get taller or get washed out.  One day it’s a lake with no meanders and the next it could be a shallow muddy paddle thru tall sedge meadows.  This spring one dam was taller than ever and the creek now a lake and on the other side of a portage the creek was low; obviously somewhere a beaver lost her dam in the spring runoff.

Here, in the north woods, every season has it’s surprises.  On the creek to big sky as dusk approached, a hatch was underway.  Mayflies, the most ephemeral of the aquatic insects were in the air bouncing up and down, mating and enjoying a day or two of terrestrial and aerial living before laying eggs in the creek and dying.  After a year or two as nymphs living along the bottom of the creek the offspring of these adults will once again emerge and metamorphose into the graceful fliers that graced my solo paddling evening.  

One day, light gear, pretty changes of light, a little excitement of the catch and one of nature’s most sublime phenomena it was time well spent in my favorite wilderness.  

Steve Piragis

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