One Man's Trophy Best Ontario Fishing

One Man’s Trophy

By Scott Turner

Over the last few months, there has been a lot of controversy regarding “trophy hunting.” Please don’t get me wrong, this is not meant to be a political, moral or ethical lecture. My thoughts are more of observation and self-reflection.

I do admit every time I reel up a fish I get excited like a little kid. When I pull up on game I feel the adrenaline rushing.

But what defines a trophy? Is it a fish hitting the mark on a tape measure? Points on a rack? Weight showing on a scale? Maybe it is–or maybe that is just the way things in life are measured.

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Jackie’s walleye

My last trip to Pasha Lake Cabins got me thinking a little bit. Bear season at Pasha was in full swing as we arrived during the second week of hunting. I had asked Chad how the previous week’s hunters had faired.  18 for 19 was his response–that is simply incredible! By the end of our stay, 3 of the current hunters had passed on bears but were satisfied with their hunt. They had more than one opportunity to harvest a bear, but decided to wait for “their bear.”

I also saw a couple of bears brought into camp that were not what some would consider “trophy bears.”

This is where, as outdoorsmen/women, I think we might be missing the big picture. The hunters that came in with these under 300 lb bears (just throwing that number out there) where ecstatic about their harvest.  Other hunters and anglers shared in their happiness and accomplishment. This is the way it should be, as those hunters harvested “their bear.”

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Bonding time in the boat.

Be excited with every fish you catch. Feel good about any animal you harvest this fall. It’s not about the size of the quarry, but the respect you have towards the animal. It’s about the memories you make. It’s about the relationships you strengthen with the ones you care for. It’s about sharing the experience.

In my mind they are all trophies.

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Chloe’s 4-inch walleye

About Scott Turner: I have been married for 18 years to my wife, Tracey, and we have two talented and beautiful daughters, Jessica (15) and Jacqueline (12), as well as Sadie, our German Shorthair Pointer. I am currently the president of the Greater Windsor Track & Field Club which includes 200 youth athletes.

A conservative estimate of the days I spend afield would be in the neighborhood of 200, spread between fishing, hunting and trapping. I would have to say my favorite fish to pursue would be the one that is biting the best! I consider myself a generalist, I fish whatever species I can when I can. I am very excited to be a member of Pasha Lake’s Pro-Staff team. My goal is to fish as many lakes in the region as possible and report back to you. I hope some of my experiences at Pasha Lake Cabins help enhance your next trip or maybe encourages you to come up and try Pasha Lake Cabins for the first time. It’s a trip you will not regret. 

Follow me on Twitter: @turnerscott2009

Buck Sparring at the Maple House Best Ontario Fishing

Buck Sparring at the Maple House

It was Monday, early November 2015. The prolonged warm weather allowed me more time than usually to get everything battened down for the upcoming winter. If fact, I just helped the septic guy pump our tanks when I settled in for what was to be just another day in the office. It was shortly after 10am when all heck broke loose.

Not more than 10 minutes into my work, I was startled by what literally sounded like a bulldozer moving earth in the heavy woods near our house. I’m not exaggerating! It was as loud and intimating as anything I’ve ever heard in the outdoors. It had my FULL attention.

I grabbed the camera, and as a backup the 7mm mag, and cautiously walked to the wood line to see what the heck was going on. I remember briefly thinking a wolf or bear must’ve taken down a beef cow.

As I walked 10 feet or so into the woods, out of the river bottom came a forkhorn buck. He looked like death warmed over. He was to the point of hyperventilating and could barely hold up his head. And while he was curious about me, he certainly kept a watchful eye on whatever was lingering deeper into the woods. Shortly after, he sauntered off in that direction. 

Realizing I was safe, I returned to the house where I swapped the rifle for the crossbow. In the excitement, I set down the camera and didn’t realize I’d forgotten it until I was about 100 yards into the thick woods. I wasn’t going back to get it.

What happened next was right out of the cool category. I unintentionally walked into a sparring match between a fork horn buck and a massive 10-pointer. Although the smaller racked deer had an impressive body, he paled in comparison to his jousting partner. Still, both animals had necks so swollen they looked like they could be lineman for the Green Bay Packers. Whether or not they knew I was there remains a mystery, although they soon separated as I got to within ear shot of their contest. The forker went to my left, and the 10-point crossed the river bottom and silhouetted himself on the far side.   

In the past, I had seen young bucks in playful exchanges, but nothing that looked or sounded as serious as this. My heart was racing, but I knew I had experience, the wind, and a whole lot of time on my side. I hunkered in tight next to a fallen tree and watched and listened. 

The woods were eerily quiet. No birds singing, no red squirrels chirping, and no bugs annoying me. As I gained control of my breathing, I remember closing my eyes and purposefully soaking in everything that just happened. But as I did that, I heard the unmistakable grunt of a buck needing some attention. I approximated his location and stood up to get closer, and at the same time, the 10-point bolted from a hide. Apparently he’d heard the forker too and was on his way to get another piece of the action.

Thinking the gig might be up, I opted to grab another stump and cob a squat. It seemed like eternity until I heard some leaves rustle. Soon I heard the distinctive crunch crunch of hooves crushing leaves that lay on the forest floor. It was easy to tell a deer was closing in on my location. Not long after, the forkhorn passed within 15 feet of me, his full attention on the far side of the river bank. As fast as he’d come by me, he crossed the river and he too was on the far side.

As I strained to keep eyes on the forkhorn, off to my left I caught a glimpse of a deer jumping over a dead fall. It was the 10-pointer, and he was hot on the trail of the forker who obviously wasn’t welcome in the area. All I could do was sit there and watch as the massive buck used the dense cover to weave in and out of possible shooting lanes. It was like he knew where and where not to step. He was cunning, yet very bold. And just like that, the two bucks disappeared. 

As I returned to the house, I was filled with excitement and rejuvenation to the point I was unable to work. I could not believe what just happened–my mind in a perpetual loop, strategizing on how I want to kill that big buck. Historically, I’m not an archery hunter, but this incident has left me questioning that train of thought. 

Now I have a choice. Dust off my bow and get back in the game, knowing full well that buck will likely be back. Or do I risk losing the opportunity to harvest my biggest buck ever, pinning my hopes to the upcoming Wisconsin gun opener, still a solid 2 weeks away?

Writing is on the wall folks. I’ve frantically searched the internet looking for information on buck sparring–specifically, if they’ll fight in the same locations time and time again. I also have found myself with renewed interest in hunting deer in Wisconsin, an opportunity I’ve overlooked for far too long.

Until next time!

2015 Season Recap Best Ontario Fishing

2015 Season Recap

Hey everybody, long time no write. I apologize to all the BOF followers out there for my noticeable sabbatical from writing. The season at Pasha Lake was like nothing we’ve ever experienced, requiring all hands on deck to keep up the pace. Between a new cabin renovation, finishing a walk-in cooler, guiding, and bear and moose hunters, it afforded me little time to write. That will change going forward. 

That brings me to this blog post. What follows is a season recap where I hope to capture the different happenings, thought processes, and preparation that will help you prepare for 2016. But at the same time, I want to indulge a little on all the wonder of 2015. It was quite the season, and I’m proud to say we helped many guests experience the best northwest Ontario has to offer!

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May

Uncharacteristically warm weather blanketed NW Ontario and the Pasha Lake Region from the end of April through May. For me, it was a doubled-edged sword. On one hand, it allowed us to break ground early on the newly renovated Cabin #6. But on the other hand, I was forced to cancel my annual turkey hunt. I needed every second I could muster devoted to the construction project. Good for the turkeys, bad for me. 

For you as the angler, though, it was the opportunity we haven’t seen since 2012, where Rob Sinning and I fished the last 3 days of 2012 walleye season (in April mind you) from boats.  (We captured that experience in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4b4qNb5pXXY). This year, around May 7th, the ice began receding to the point we could float a boat. Anglers who braved the frigid water temps–especially on Pasha Lake–were treated to aggressively feeding lake trout. And, although the walleye season was would be closed for another 2 weeks, the pike were coming off their spawn and easily targeted as well. 

It was so warm in early May that I remember one night sitting on the deck of what was to become the new Cabin #6 dining room, and being bitten by mosquitoes the size of sparrows. It was very pleasant, except for the bugs of course.  It was also a welcome change from the previous 2 years and helped set the tone for the fantastic season ahead.

As the month wore on, walleye season soon opened, but with that the skies turned an ominous gray. Typical to May, the changing temps brought the first rains of the year along with unstable pressure.  That forced us to reach for warm clothes and rain gear more often then we would’ve liked. As the lingering rains hung around, what started out as a promising walleye outlook soon turned to frustration and questions. Unless you had experience in your corner, finding marble eye action was tough, even for us veterans of the area. 

Looking back, it was the fluctuating water temps that kept us guessing. Early May freed us from the ice with rapidly warming water. But mid-May brought a screeching halt to that, thereby bringing mass discombobulation to a pattern-able walleye bite. I remember being frustrated a lot. 

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The brook trout fishing, on the other hand, wasn’t nearly as impacted by weather as the walleye bite.  Famous Lake Nipigon lived up to its legendary status, producing more and bigger trout than we’d seen in sometime. What’s even better is the red hot bite lasted all summer. That’s something we haven’t seen before. Definitely a welcome surprise. 

Just ask Dave and Jeff (Michigan). Dave managed to achieve a lifelong goal when he boated his biggest brook trout ever. Jeff chose to focus on lake trout and discovered something new on a select few shallow reefs. Lakers were in less than 5 feet of water and hammering lures like midsummer large mouth. That’s the first time I remember anyone finding that type of Nipigon laker bite (other than fall) in water less than 10ft. 

But as the saying goes in NW Ontario – if you don’t like the weather, just wait a minute or two and it’ll change. Change it did, and as we closed out May, we knew stable weather lay ahead and inevitably the walleyes would go from lazy to hostile on the flip of a switch.  It was just a matter of time.

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More to come, so until next time…

Chad