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Lee Wahlgren

To Black Bear Lodge and back

Our friends from Illinois met at Sullivan’s parking lot ready to put their fishing gear on the Green River bus around 4 p.m. Don Icenogle, our driver, pulled in the lot and the loading began. Several members of the PHS Sportsman’s Club put their gear in the first bay while six members of the Illinois Conservation Police took the second bay.  Five friends from Missouri that my brother had recruited took the third bay.

Two grandpas and five grandsons packed their pickup and pulled their boat up. Somewhere around 5 p.m. they took off for Black Bear Lodge in Red Lake, Ontario, for our 2014 trip.

They had plenty to talk about during the trip since Yog Kirgan had just published a book, “Adventure in Paradise,” dealing with the events at BBL for the first 20 years. The trip, though long, went very smooth. John Smith and Don shared the driving duties and since John has driven this trip for over a decade, the passengers were in good hands.

Crossing the border can sometimes be a hassle, but John had all the passengers names and DOBs typed up so it was a reasonably short stop while they checked the passports.

The next stop was at Ear Falls so the adults could get their licenses and bait. After this was finished, they boarded up for the final leg of the trip.

The owner of the camp, Jim Slavik, met the bus at the top of  the hill with a huge trailer and we began to unload our gear. They piled their gear on the trailer and Jim dropped them off at their cabins. After they put their gear in their cabins, they reported to the dining hall to receive instructions on camp procedures from Jillian, Jim’s wife. When she finished her portion of the instructions, Jim took over with boat safety and rules for safety on the water.

Supper was served and immediately afterwards, many headed for the water. Others choose just to get prepared for next morning.

Sunday morning they were all excited. The first full day of fishing. This year had a first. Four girls signed up  for the trip. McKensie Cain, Brook Stowe, Brook Ford and Hailey Hilmes. Now you might think we would have to pamper them and put the worm on the hook, but this was not the case. They did everything a fisherman should do and did it well. They were at times assisted by Turner and Austin, the Jameson brothers.

As you can imagine, I wanted all our kids to do well. This year, I was kinda rooting for Hailey because she only did so-so last year, but she came through like a champ. The six of them were fishing in the same vicinity when suddenly Hailey got a strike. After fighting the fish for about 10 minutes, she got the fish close to the boat where it was scooped up in the net by Brook Stowe and pulled safely into the boat which was driven by Brook Ford. Wow! Team effort.

I am so sorry I wasn’t there to see this exciting event, but the girls said Hailey was yelling, screaming, crying and shaking because she had caught her first big fish. I am so sorry I missed it.

Not to be outdone by the kids, Grandpa Bill Griffin hauled in an 18-pound pike, but while he was taking the hook out the pike it thrashed and caught Bill’s finger with its teeth. The pike opened a big cut on Bill’s finger, but we finally got it patched. Grandpa Vern Sondergeroth hooked a nice walleye which proved to be the leader at the end of the week. It weighed 6 1/2 pounds.  

Richard Kirgan won the trout award with a whopping 28 pounds, 3 ounces.

That’s all for now but many interesting events happened, and I will pass them along in the next article.

Lee Wahlgren is the BCR Outdoor Columnist. Contact him at pdub52@gmail.com