1967 to the present…and beyond!

 Why 1967? Vermilion Bay Lodge was called Little Norway Camp back then and was owned by Norm Berry. He was the second owner….the first being the original Arnie Bratland. For those of you old enough, this is not to be confused with his son Johnny Bratland who lived on the point and would drive through camp with his old Cadillac bearing the bumper sticker “My wife is in the trunk”. We think that this was a joke, as we never did hear any screaming…

1967 centennial
Ah yes, 1967. Canada was a hundred years old and we had flexible bunnies on our coins!
It was the “Summer of Love”….soon to be followed by the “Winter of…wow, my arse is cold!”

Cars were designed to look cool, burn gas, and hold an A & W tray on the driver’s window.

Fast forward to 2014, and the reason for this post…

Larry Desmarais

 The question becomes “Who is this man, why is he smiling, and why is he in my basement”? Also what does 1967 have to do with any of this? Well, I knew you would ask…and it will be answered…in good time. In the meanwhile let’s look at some deer pictures from last week!
Paul's whitetail deer

Paul and Jon with a couple of nice whitetail bucks. Good hunting boys!

Now back to the story at hand…1967,,,

cabin 3 renovation

1967 and cabin 3 was already in mid-life.  Interesting fact:  This was one of the original cabins at Little Norway Camp, but it started it’s life on an island down by Buzzard Falls on Eagle Lake.  It was hauled down the lake across the ice pulled by a Jeep and drug up the hill to it’s present location with a crawler.  You may be wondering what this has to do with 1967?  Not much.  You may be wondering what is happening in this photo.  That is fodder for yet another post…stay tuned.

Let’s get back to the man in my basement…

Larry DesmaraisLarry Desmarais has been a plumber in the area for many years and has worked at most of the tourist camps in our area.   Back in 1967 Larry installed this funky green sewer pump (yes, that’s right) for the then owner Norm Berry.  Since that day, and for 47 years it has provided continuous service for one of those important details that only seems important when things go wrong.  Even Larry is amazed that “the sucker” still works.  It’s a bit faded these days, and makes a little more noise than when new, but SEWER PUMP I salute you, and may you “poo-form” well for many more years!

old photo of larry

Will someone in the future uncover a dusty box containing this photo and wonder about the mystery of the man in my basement?  All I know is that 1967 must have been a good year.  Let’s hope for similarly good times for 2015…

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What goes on in the late Fall?



October 26 and Susanne and I have once again made an expedition to a nearby lake stocked with splake.  For those of you not familiar, splake are a cross between a brook (speckled) trout and a lake trout.  They don’t get too big in this lake, and this one today was probably the biggest of what we’ve caught over three trips this fall……a mighty 18 incher!  Here’s a few pictures of our recent splake fishing…….


The limit on splake is 5 and there is no season, since they don’t reproduce and are stocked.  They are great to eat and the above shows a couple of variations for cooking……marinated and then grilled, and the traditional floured and fried…….both are excellent.  One interesting note….a 1956 Johnson 3 horse motor has a built in gas tank which has sufficient gas to get to the far end of the lake.  A paddle is required for the return trip.  On subsequent adventures I now bring along additional gas.

What else happens at VBL in the late fall?


Our last group of guests left not long ago.  These were four workers from Signature Contractors out of Windsor, Ontario and were busy here for almost 3 weeks working on the Government Dock here in Vermilion Bay.  Rui, Tom, Lou and Fabio were all great guys and we enjoyed having them here……….they worked from sun-up to sun-down, 6 days a week….  The result is impressive!  Not that we need to launch there, but it’s nice to see a great launch ramp and dock facility.


Of course there are always some projects….



Cabin 2 was in need of a new bottom “log”…which was not only decorative, but actually was holding up the floor.  Well, the new “log” looks a bit rectangular, but structurally much sounder than the previous log.  It was one of those jobs you really don’t want to do, but afterwards it wasn’t that bad.


Cabin 3 is also receiving some attention.  Step one is a nice red metal roof.  Step two is some serious interior work which I will report on later….let’s just say it will make a big difference on many levels…

So is this it till next spring?

Not really.  Although some final signs of “end of season” such as the pulling in of the swimming raft, and the folding up of the Adirondack chairs on the swimming point have occurred today…..I still have a boat in the water and the speckled trout lake has yet to receive a Fall visit. Bottom line is:  Stay Tuned!

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The New Beaver

Love the NEW look of the Beaver Gord

Seems to be little faster and easier to navigate.

Looking forward to a deer hunting story or 2 this fall

Missing the Vermilion Bay sunsets

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The Perkis family fishing vacation…

Ed, Dan and Katie Perkis have been coming since….well, since I used to chase down Danny for throwing rocks for the dogs, or other naughty deeds.  Lately he’s turned his energy towards musky fishing.  This year they did their latest trip yet…..October 4-11, which turned out to be a cool, windy one…….with one exception, the fishing!



It’s interesting to note that on day one and two, three muskies were boated, followed by a dry spell till the last day when another two met the net.  Two others were lost over the week, one when it was half way in the net!  All caught trolling.  Think this sounds like something you might try?  We are game if you are!



The fish ranged from 41 to 49 inches.  The conditions were not for the faint of heart, so a big congratulations for sticking to it.  We expect to see them back again late in the fall next year.  Hopefully Ed will guide them to more fish, and maybe even get one himself!




Will October 2015 be a big musky time for the next brave group of musky anglers?  Think you would like to give it a try?

Keep us in mind for next season!

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Putting the portage lakes to bed…



Seems that fall signals the end of trout season, and the beginning of the “put things away season”…  This year the motors from Clearwater and McGregor, along with one boat came back down the creek and home for the winter.  Of course getting the Yamaha’s tuned up a bit for 2015 is an important part of the process……


On the second to last day of trout season, Susanne and I decide to take the portage trail and check out the fishing.  First stop some of the smallmouth in Clearwater…..yes, they are where we expected them to be!


Next stop….the trout.  Nothing better than having the lake to yourselves when the action is hot and non stop.  We could only spend a short time with the trout as the call of McGregor was upon us…


Some dandy smallmouth and a nice pike for Susanne.  Way too nice out for the walleye to co-operate, but we didn’t really try too hard.  The thought occurs that maybe we should take motors back today.   Good thing, the weather has taken a turn for the worse since then.  Nice feeling knowing I don’t have to trudge back over to flip boats….


Unfortunately, earlier the previous week, the professors and I had to walk the long trek back into Caribou Lake only to find out the bear still has a taste for plastic gas cans.


While some may consider walking that far only to discover you cannot fish was discouraging, we were able to shake off the despair, flip the boat, and continue on back to fish the hell out of McGregor and Clearwater.  Later Joe was intrigued by my inventive sock dryer…



One issue has been identified as a priority…a bear proof method for storing gas on the portage lakes.  The best brains in the industry are now working on that problem for your future fishing pleasure.  2015…we look forward to the promise of gas at the end of the trail……..

“More gas in the boats….less gas in the cabins”


Posted in Eagle Lake | 13 Comments

Outdoor Canada Magazine

Here’s an excerpt from the latest Outdoor Canada magazine.  Thanks to Gord Pyzer for including me in his article!   I’ll see what I can do to put one “in the boat” this fall…….

Page 01Page 02

Page 03Page 04

Page 05Page 06

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Professors Gone Wild 2014

While all of Canada has a bad case of Beaver Fever as a result of the visit by Jeremy Wade and his crew, the professor and I had too much work to do to be distracted. I had never visited VBL later than August and the weather was a bit unpredictable as was the fishing. We had days with frost and cool rains when parts of Canada were getting snow. This was followed by blue skies and near 80 degree F temperatures.

We enjoyed visiting with camp visitors Mark, Jeff, Joe, Jordan, Lindsey and others. Gord and Susanne were charming as always. Let’s start off with some of the bad news. We had one trip back to a place that the perchmaster dreams about nightly. We ran into some vicious bull perch which tore up Joe’s Beckman net. Clearly, these were perch that had never been ridden. Sadly, Beckman nets (made in Wisconsin) do not sell a replacement hoop. That lifetime yoke warranty is a bit of a joke eh?


We also had a trech back to Caribou lake with Gord that ended sadly. It turns out that black bear are avid gas sniffers and tore up the only gas tank and two gas cans. No gas. A few casts to small mouth bass from the shore and back to High Rock and Clearwater. Maybe Gord can put together a post with more details and a photo of the shredded plastic cans? We suggested metal cans/tank for next year.


Walleye fishing was a lot more challenging then we had experienced during the late summer bite. To be honest it was a bit of a mystery. Gord swears that the lake was turning over. The professor blamed it on the fish Gods and something known as the Rizzo curse. We will never know. There were some walleye to be had however.


Fishing for Pike on several lakes was outstanding. I believe I had my personal best with a 40”+ fish weighing 20+#. No scale. No tape measure. It swims to see another day.


There were also plenty of slot and “eater” pike and we were pleased to have Gord willing and waiting to clean our fish. Joe was the snake charmer.




Gord notes that the checkered black and red Kenora Dinner jacket is sure to become world famous after the airing of a special t.v. show next year. Details of the show remain sketchy. The suspense is keeping the entire town of Vermilion Bay awake at night. Will the town be safe from the monsters in the bay?

The trout  and white fish cooperated very nicely and were fun to catch via jigging. Some of the new guests joined us for a trip one day.





Be sure to ask Gord about the ‘walking billboard” discount next year. It beats the discount double check.



Until next year….the monsters will have to wait.


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