Bill was in a boat with Izzy and me, and Izzy had placed us in about 10 feet of water next to a small island not far from the lodge.
Impaling minnows on jigs, Bill and I danced the rigs on the bottom slowly, hoping for a good start to our trip.
This was a nice walleye that took hold of my jig, pushing some 20 inches; a plump, green-gold specimen whose good health was obvious.
“Too big,” Izzy said. “We want them smaller than that for shore lunch.”
Releasing the fish, I rebaited my jig and again dropped it to the lake bottom.
Soon, Bill also was on the board, fooling a feisty walleye that pulled his rod into a deep bend.
Before long, he’d say, “This is the most walleyes I’ve caught in my life.”
• • •
Mike, Bill, Brian and I, along with Izzy and another guide, Zoel Lavelle, would split up each day in two boats, before meeting at noon for shore lunch, the preparation of which is an art.
Izzy tips the odds in his favor by heating his cooking oil over an LP-gas-fueled flame, on which fresh walleyes are fried, as are potatoes and onions. Baked beans and dessert, usually cookies, round out the menu.
Over lunch, Izzy told us one day that residents of his tiny hometown in Quebec historically supported themselves by cod fishing. As a boy, he said, he traveled with his family to coastal fishing grounds not far from his home, and stayed there with his parents and siblings for the summer, fishing cod, then drying or salting their catch for sale.
“Then the big ships started coming in from other countries, and from Newfoundland [Canada],” Izzy said. “Now, the fish are gone.”
Today, about half the townspeople travel to Canada’s interior in summer to cook at resorts or, like Izzy, to guide.
“Kids don’t stay around anymore,” Izzy said. “There’s no work.”
After lunch on our second day, we cast for northern pike in quiet bays where the otherwise deep lake was bracketed by weedy shallows, the types of haunts northerns prefer.
Later, I suggested we troll for these fish, in part because we might hook a trophy.
“OK,” Izzy said.