Snowmobiling & Ice Fishing in Northern Quebec & Labrador.

Snowmobiling & Ice Fishing in Northern Quebec & Labrador 2004

It was a sunny and beautiful day up in Schefferville. I was up early that April morning and with a nice day like this I could not just stay around the house. I asked my wife Madeleine. Do you want to go fishing with me today? She asked, what is the temperature outside. At exactly 7:45 AM that morning on the outside thermometer it was +9* Her answer was as fast as I gave her the temperature, she said YES. We had a good breakfast, packed a lunch, thermos with tea and one with coffee.

Out to the garage I went, hooked up the sled to my 580 Artic Cat. The ice cutter, tools, lines bait were always ready. Gave a couple of cranks on the Tundra, Madeleine’s snowmobile, hopped on my snowmobile and away we when. It was beautiful; the white snow was changing to grey as the days were getting a lot warmer. At certain places there were spots of tundra also a little water on top of the ice. But there was no danger as the ice was still a good four feet thick.

We had travelled for about an hour when I thought about a place that my good buddy Serge had told me about. I stop and talked to my wife about his place. She said have you ever been there before? I said no, but the way Serge explained it to me I’m pretty sure that I’ll find the place. Anyway with a nice day like this we can fish anywhere on that lake and I bet your bottom dollar that we would catch at least one fish. This lake is huge and called Ashtray Lake. She said how far
from here? A good hour and a half. Okay let’s go.

A half hour later I was on Ashtray Lake and I remembered my buddy saying that from here it was exactly one hour, also he told me always stay on the left side until you hit a small creek, the portage is on the left side of the creek. Cross the portage and once on the other lake, head straight for the other side. Make your holes about 150 feet from shore. You will notice that there is not much water under the ice, about three to four feet max. That is where they are, in three too four feet of water, at this time of the year. It was 8th. Of April 2004.

As we travelled about another half hour, I stopped and looked and about a mile away on the middle of the lake was a herd of caribou. A few standing but most of them laying on the ice. As we continued and getting a little closer to the caribou, they all got up and started running, one behind each other and in a straight line. We counted 42 of them and the speed they were running meant that they were in good shape. They headed straight into the portage that I was taking. Yes the small creek on the right side.

The portage was not open, no one had been here this year, no old snowmobile tracks. We had no problems going through as the snow was soft and Madeleine made the trail up with the Tundra. Once on the other side I could see the place exact that my buddy told me to go and try. Also this was a pretty big lake and a lake with no name. It was Serge’s secret lake. He said that there was monsters (big fish) here.

It was around 11 o’clock and we had managed to get six lines into the water. Yes the ice was still 4 feet + in thickness and when I looked into the 10 inch in diameter hole, blocking the sun with my two hands, I could see that there was about 4 feet of water under the ice.

It took 15 minutes and we had our first laker (lake trout or grey trout) and a nice size about 10 pounds. I caught the first one so Madeliene was really watching the lines now. Yes, she got one and the same size as the one I caught about 10 pounds also.

The bait that the natives use and only that, as bait, to catch big speckle or lake trout is the grey sucker. They cut them into stripes about 5 inches long and one inch in width. They use a huge hook and attach the bait in a way that the fish cannot pull it off. They sometimes tie it on. They use 100 lbs test green line. When the line (still line fishing) is in the water and attached to a big enough tree branch, laid across the hole, there is a loop in the line. Reason is when the fish takes the bait, it has time to swallow the bait and hook before the line is tented. Which means that the hook is stuck in the throat of the fish. No way they will lose their fish.

It was noon and four nice fish caught. I gathered a few pieces of dry wood, lit a fire and toasted our ham sandwiches. Madeline had the tea and me the coffee. Madeleine threw her sandwich aside and ran for one of the lines that was moving. I sat and watched. Heck, I lost it she said. It was a big one. I said yes, they all say that, they always lose the big one. She said no, it was big. She laid on the ice looking into the hole, she yelled, I see it, it’s huge and it’s biting the bait, I got it, I can’t pull it out through the hole, it’s to heavy, help me, pull it out. I stood beside her and watched, I said no it’s your fish you pull it out. I can’t it to heavy. So I had to give in and pulled her fish out. It was heavy and lucky we had a 10 inch in diameter hole. Yes she caught the big one that day. It was 25 lbs. exactly. It’s the one on the picture on the front page of my blog that I’m holding.

We fished for another hour and caught two more, one was 15 lbs and the other 18 and half lbs. Then we said all good things have to have and end and packed up and headed back to Schefferville.

My buddy Serge passed away two years ago and I thank him still today for the great place he told me about. His Secret Lake.

I tell you snowmobilers, fisherwomen, fishermen and hunters this is a place that all of you should try, even in the winter time, like I said from the middle of March up to the first week of May it’s something.