2014 Spring Fishing Trip Booth - Round Island - Raja


Thursday, May 8 – Day 1

We got away several days later than anticipated this year.  We had hoped to start our trip on April 30th and stay at the Tattler Cabin but ice conditions pushed our trip back a week and the cabin was booked for that time period.  So not having the cabin we chose to camp on Booth which was a more central location for the day trips that we wanted to do.

Having left Huntsville in decent time we arrived at the Shall Lake access point just before 11:30am.  After obtaining our permit we unloaded the truck and were packed up and on our way just a little after noon.  The wind favoured us on our paddle up Farm Lake as we had a good tail wind coming from the south east.

Nearing the top of the lake just before the river section I spotted a Star-nosed Mole swimming across the lake.  This was quite peculiar as they spend most of their time underground.  Despite that its large hands and feet were propelling it quite nicely through the water.  The only issue was would it make it safely to shore before a hungry pike noticed it.

Forty minutes brought us to the 90m portage into Kitty Lake.  The high water levels made the rapids out of Kitty Lake non-existent but the speed of the flow made it impossible to paddle up so we carried the gear over in two lifts as we brought more luxury items than we normally would on a canoe trip.

Back on our way again we were paddling across Kitty Lake and soon found ourselves at our last portage of the day, a 550m in to Booth Lake.  The portage is relatively good and slightly uphill as you are portaging upstream.  The only obstacle on the trail was the boardwalk that was in disrepair and it was easier to walk through the mud around it than across it.

After dropping the first load we headed to the dam to check out the flow.  Except for the dam if you had an ABS boat it would be a fun ride down to Kitty Lake in high water.
Below Booth Lake Dam.
Once the second load was over we had lunch before heading off across Booth in search for a site.  We took a sit on the north shore right where the lake narrows in the middle.  It was evident that the site would have a nice beach in lower water conditions
Having lunch at the end of the portage to Booth Lake.
We quickly set to setting up camp and once that was done we grabbed our fishing gear and headed off across Booth to the Tattle Cabin.  We had no luck as we made our way to the cabin.  The cabin was occupied and we conversed with the two guys that were staying there.  After taking a couple of pictures and a GPS reading we started heading back to camp searching for fire wood along the way.
Booth Lake Campsite.
With our load of wood we arrived back at camp just after 6:30pm.  The wood was cut up and stacked then we sat down by the lake and relaxed with a glass of wine.  As the evening was getting on we decided to get dinner going.  I a little while chicken fajitas were ready and we dined by the lake.  With dishes cleaned and food hung we headed out to fish for a little bit but with no luck.

Back at camp we soon had a roaring fire going and enjoyed it for a few hours before deciding to call it a night.

Down at the lake I was standing on a rock and leaned down to get a cup of water to brush my teeth.  The rock wasn’t wet or slippery but was steeper than it appeared in the light of my headlamp and I slipped into the knee deep water.  Trying to get back out I slipped again.  I finally got out and although I had only been up to my knees for a few seconds in the frigid water I couldn’t believe how quickly I began to shiver.  I couldn’t imagine being fully submerged for longer.

Friday, May 9 – Day 2

After a much needed good night’s sleep we awoke just after 9am.  I quickly went about preparing breakfast of eggs, back bacon and homefries while Dad prepared the lunch for the day.

With breakfast done, dishes cleaned and food hung we gathered up the gear for the day’s fishing trip.  Today we were headed into Round Island Lake where several years ago I had made a day trip into from Dickson Lake and had some really good luck fishing for Lake Trout.

A short paddle from camp brought us to the 1975m portage to Chipmunk Lake.  I had done this portage once before and it’s fairly good being a stead ascent from Booth and following an old bush road for part of the way.  Half way through the portage there are the remains of an old cabin, probably part of an old lumber camp.  After taking some photos we continued on and after about 30 minutes from when we started we reached Chipmunk Lake.  Chipmunk is a nice lake and we were across it in about then minutes but didn’t fish it as it’s a fish sanctuary for research purposes.
Building remains on Booth to Chipmunk Lake portage.
Paddling Chipmunk Lake.
 The 610m portage into Presto was pretty straight forward.  A short paddle across Presto brought us to the 730m portage into Marshy Lake.  The portage was probably my least favorite of the day.  A few minutes into the portage a large tree blocked the path which couldn’t be bush whacked around so I had to drop the canoe and we had to lift it under the tree.  After that obstacle we then had to walk over the top of an old beaver dam and through a small marshy area.  The last half of the portage was strewn with rocks from softball to beach ball size which made footing tricky and slowed your pace.
Marshy to Presto Lake portage landing.
Presto to Marshy Lake portage.
 
A short paddle across Marshy Lake and we were at the 620m portage to Mountain Lake.  Another short paddle and a 680m portage took us out of Mountain and into Round Island Lake.

We fished Round Island Lake for a few hours.  Dad caught one Lake Trout about 21 inches.  Around 2 o’clock we headed for the island campsite and had lunch.  Rumblings of thunder could be heard from the south west and a few drops of rain fell but didn’t amount to anything.
Lake Trout, Round Island Lake.
Round Island Lake.
 After lunch we made another circuit of the lake but with no success.  Knowing it would take just over two hours to get back to the site we headed out from Round Island around 4pm.

It began to rain lightly as we paddled across Mountain.  A couple of minutes into the Mountain to Marshy portage the sky opened up and just poured for a couple of minutes.  With the canoe on my shoulders I waited out the downpour and Dad was quick to join me.  After a few minutes the rain subsided and we were on our way again.
Thunder Heads, Chipmunk Lake.
We reached the portage back to Booth Lake without incident.  Just before the remains of the old cabin is a good sized pond which was on my right.  As I passed by it I heard a loud sloshing sound as a moose high-tailed it away from me in the direction I had just come.  Being that Dad was behind me the moose soon encountered him and beat a quick retreat back in my direction passing by me and cutting up the ridge to merge onto the portage trail in front of me.  It ran as fast as it could down the trail away from me.  The moose ran down the trail for about another 300m before cutting off into the bush.

By the time we reached Booth the wind had picked up substantially from the south west.  Another canoe passed by the portage heading eastward.  They seemed liked inexperienced paddlers and we quickly passed them but at least they knew enough to stay close to shore in these rough conditions.

We were back at the site around 6:45pm.  Not having scavenged the shore for firewood given the windy conditions, we struck out on land from camp and within a half hour we had a good haul of wood and quickly went about cutting it up.

After a long but good day we grabbed our chairs and a glass of wine and sat down by the lake for a while and relaxed.
Windy Evening on Booth Lake.
Around 8:30 we decided to get dinner going and cooked up a good meal of penne and chicken with garlic bread.  By the time dinner was finished and the dishes cleaned and the food hung it was time to get the fire going.  We enjoyed the fire for a couple of hours before turning in after a long day.

Saturday, May 10 – Day 3

The wind had subsided through the night but that didn’t last long and it was blowing good and strong out of the south west by 8am.  I was up just after 7 o’clock, wanting to get away in good time today as we were planning on heading down to Boot Lake.

After a hearty farmer’s breakfast we packed up and headed south across the lake into the strong headwind.  A strenuous 30 minute paddle brought us to the mouth of McCarthy Creek.  The wind was coming straight out of the marsh and there would be no relief from it until we landed at the portage to Raja Lake.
Windy Day on Booth Lake.
As we reached the narrows into Mole Lake we had to skirt around a log jam.  According to the Canoe Route Map there was to be a campsite to our left in the narrows followed by the portage.  As we entered Mole Lake there was no evidence of either on the left shore.  I double checked Jeff McMurtrie’s map and it showed the same thing.  Thinking we had missed both we backtracked to where the log jam was but still couldn’t see either.  So we then headed back to Mole and skirted the left shore.  As we came into the lake proper there was the campsite and the portage at the same spot.  The portage sign was off the tree and caught in a bush at the back of the campsite but a little bit of duct tape soon had it back on the tree.
Mole to Raja Lake Portage and Campsite.
Loaded up we were finally off on our way to Raja Lake over a 140m low maintenance portage.  The first part of the portage was flat and followed a nice fast flowing stream which lead up to a nice little waterfall where an old log dam was located.  From the dam the trail steadily rose to Raja Lake.  There was no portage sign at Raja Lake, just a piece of pink flagging tape.

Back in the canoe we continued off down the lake heading around the point where the sole campsite was supposed to be and just passed it on the same shore the 800m low maintenance portage to the little creek that would take us to Muskat Lake.

As we rounded the point there was no evidence of a campsite, then there was no evidence of portage.  We paddled up and down the shore a couple of times but could not locate the landing or any evidence of a sign.  There were a few places that looked like they could be landings so I got out and explored them all.  I walked back into the woods, walked the entire shoreline from the point to the log jam in the bay and zig-zagged back and forth through the bush but never came across any discernible trail or any evidence of old cuts from previous maintenance efforts.  We then paddled back around the point past a little bay and found the campsite which had no sign and the thunder box was almost non-existent.

It definitely had been a long time since there had been any maintenance to the site and it wasn’t where it was indicated on both maps I had.  After another search for the portage along that shoreline we finally gave up having spent more than an hour unsuccessfully trying to locate it.

Not being able to find the portage we decided to fish Raja which at times was a challenge with the strong wind that blew down the lake and swirled around the bays.

After a couple of passes around the lake we decided to stop for lunch at the point where the campsite was shown on the maps.  While I ate I wandered around the bush still trying to find the portage but still with no luck.

After lunch we decided to head back to the site as it was getting on in the afternoon and would be 4 o’clock when we got back.  Approaching the portage back to Mole Lake I spotted a Snapping Turtle basking on a log and took a moment to take some photos and a video.  After the photo shoot we headed back over the portage.  We stopped just below the dam to take some pictures.  After that brief interlude we were on our way again.
Snapping Turtle, Raja Lake.
Old log bridge and small falls on Raja to Mole portage.
Raja to Mole Portage.
 
The wind was still blowing down Mole Lake and out into the marsh along McCarthy Creek but this time we would have the wind at our back all the way back to the site.

As we got closer to the lake we stopped along the shoreline to scavenge for wood.  After about a half hour we had a full canoe load.  As we reached the mouth of the creek we passed two canoes who were fishing.  Given the habitat and depth of the water I doubted they were fishing for trout and more likely for pike which was still out of season for another week.
Loaded up with firewood heading out of McCarthy Creek.
We continued on and passed the red canoe we did yesterday as we passed one of the islands.  They weren’t making much progress as we passed them and I was surprised they were out in such strong winds given their paddling skills.

Just after 4 o’clock we arrived back at camp where we unloaded the wood and proceeded to cut it up.  Around 4:45 we poured a glass of wine and sat down and relaxed by the lake.  Around 5 o’clock the MNR float plane, with a square stern canoe strapped to a pontoon, flew northwards over the lake and I figured they were just flying in somewhere to pick up a crew at the end of the day.  A few minutes later it passed our site quite low.  I heard it circle around and then land close to our site.  As it came into view it taxied right towards our site.  This sent my heart racing as it is usually nothing good when the MNR plane comes looking for you.  Jo had broken her ribs a few weeks earlier and had a hemothorax and a pneumothorax so I was concerned she had experienced some complications.
 Turbo Beaver coming into campsite.

Talking to the Warden on Booth Lake.
As the plane taxied close a Park Warden stepped out onto the pontoon.  It was one of the guys from Highway 60 that I knew from working in the Park.  I quickly paddled out to meet him and he asked if I had placed a 911 call for help.  Apparently they received a broken up 911 call from somewhere on the lake.  I told him about all the other parties that we had seen that day but hadn’t seen anyone in distress or need of help.  

The plane then taxied down the lake to check out another set of canoeists then took off again and few around the lake a few more times before disappearing over the southern hills.

After that excitement we got dinner going and cooked up a good meal of steak, peas and rice.  As we were enjoying a coffee by the lake around 7 o’clock the plane returned, landed and talked to someone camped on one of the islands and then taxied over and talked to another canoe on the lake, then lifted off and wasn’t seen from again for the rest of the trip.
The Last Supper.
The wind was still blowing strongly and kept us from getting out for an evening paddle and doing some fishing.  Fortunately though the wind subsided enough just before 9pm that we could light a fire and enjoy our last night on Booth Lake.

Sunday, May 11 – Day 4

After a good night sleep we awoke just after 9am.  The wind had subsided in the night by 4am but by the time we awoke it was blowing full force from the south west again.

After a good breakfast of pancakes we began to break camp.  In just a little over an hour we were packed up and ready to be on our way.  We had a good tail wind on our journey in and it looked like we would have a good tail wind going out.

We headed out onto the lake and as we became exposed to the main part of the lake the wind and waves grew in intensity.  I love a good tailwind and surfing along big waves but in early spring water conditions that doesn’t become fun anymore and all I wanted to do was get to the portage.
Heading Down Booth Lake.
Trying to stay as close to shore as possible we eventually landed at the portage back into Kitty Lake.  This would be our only portage of the day as we planned to run the fast water out of Kitty Lake thus avoiding the 90m portage.

With our two carries done we loaded up and were off down Kitty with a nice tailwind.  The fast water was an easy run but too short.  At least it saved us a portage.
High water between Kitty and Farm lakes.
 
We continued on down the narrow section of Farm Lake and out into the lake proper with the wind still pushing us along.  Around 1 o’clock we landed at the access point, another fishing trip done for another year.  While we didn’t fish that hard, and caught only one fish and had to change our trip plans due to Mother Nature, it was still a great trip and always good to get away with Dad.

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