Fishing For the Girls

The story of how Lac Seul turned a trail of broken hearts into a circle of friends

Fishing can be a solitary sport or pastime, but conventionally it’s shared among friends and family. Though I believe that there are many women who fish, I am aware that it appears as though there are fewer of them who fish than men.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for every single male I’ve shared mine and other boats with over the years. There’s always just been a part of me that craved such camaraderie with other women. I’m guessing it’s the same feeling that’s fueled “the guys’ fishing trip” as we’ve known it for several generations.

In 2018 I decided I’d make a call out to women who I hoped would be wishing for the same thing. Granted, a fly fishing trip for muskie was likely a bit too niche, but thankfully, I was met with a surprising response.

fly-fishing

After just a few conversations with Jackie at Anderson’s Lodge, I knew it was the place I’d choose to host our ladies’ muskie week. Jackie struck me as a fierce advocate for women in the outdoors, even though she’s too humble to admit it, and a smart businesswoman I might add.

The accommodations were beautiful and convenient, the atmosphere was relaxing, and our hosts were outstanding. We were ready to take on Lac Seul.

ARRIVAL

The group arrived at my place the day before we were to head to the lodge. All six of us women came from across the province and the United States to meet, most of us for the very first time.

fly-fishing

We spent the day wading into the water on a beach near my place to brush up on our casting, try one another's equipment, and get to know one another in a stress-free environment. By the first night, we were all so bonded there wasn’t a silent moment in my cabin until sleep took over.

Pulling into Anderson’s Lodge the next day, you could feel the energy lift in the vehicle; voices got higher and hands were fidgeting with the doors as if to jump out. The adventure had officially begun.

GETTING STARTED

We were under no false pretences that landing a muskie on the fly in a week, between the six of us, would be easy. We were even more humble knowing we were fishing a lake with one of the most infamous reputations for difficult muskies, Lac Seul. But it also has a famous reputation for giant muskie.

The first day we woke to frost on the ground, quickly realizing we landed right at the beginning of a cold front moving in for the week. Our guides were discouraged, but there wasn’t much keeping our spirits down.

fishing

Opting for the true Canadian experience of shore lunch, we decided to fish walleye close together that morning before we parted ways for muskie.

CAMARADERIE ACHIEVED

Sitting around the fire at noon, we discussed our morning on the water, how everyone was settling in with their gear and guides and enjoyed the quintessential shore lunch experience. We swapped stories of defeat and small successes with ambitious pike. But Anneliese had the best story to share.

She was the only one to see a muskie on the first day, a muskie that grabbed her fly when she raised it up to cast again, learning a valuable lesson that we always finish our casts, and do the mandatory figure eights. I can’t say for sure, but I’m fairly positive she never again cut one of her casts short the rest of the trip.

experiencing the lodge

As we parted ways to continue fishing, you could feel the group’s reluctance to go separate ways, but there were muskies out there waiting to break our hearts some more.

SHOULD’VE BEEN HERE LAST WEEK

We knew the cold front we were enduring wasn’t helping our case, and that we were making it much worse for ourselves by sticking to our fly rods instead of picking up conventional gear. Anglers always have an excuse when you aren’t seeing muskie, and they are picky enough eaters that it convinces others too. However, we knew in our case the odds were stacked high, highly against us and our guides did too.

northern-pike

It was the last day of our four days of fishing and several of the ladies hooked into, we’ll say, possible muskies with no connections making boat side, save for a few really nice pike. In the morning the skies cleared and gave way to a beautiful display of sun rays, suddenly it was warm enough for t-shirts again, as if Lac Seul was taunting us to stay longer.

BUT THIS IS STILL LAC SEUL

Sticking to Lac Seul’s allure and mysterious ways, the sunshine was quickly followed by a storm front moving in from the north. Not a direction you want to mess with, but every muskie angler knows what storms do––move fish.

As if on cue, with my scheming mind staring intently at my white fly pulse through the tea-stained waters of Lac Seul, I get to witness my first monstrosity this lake is famous for. Easily a four-footer, the behemoth tailed my fly back to the boat, my guide’s noticeable nerves heightening my excitement as I brought the fly into the eight. She followed my fly on two turns for certain, before dropping down enough that I couldn’t see her ghostly back.

We rested the spot, then tried it in an hour’s time. It was pouring rain by this point. Typical to big, smart fish, we never saw that her again. The same fly that hooked into another muskie two years prior on Lac Seul had raised another behemoth, bringing me the same heartache once again.

lodge experience

When we got back to the docks, I was still shaking recounting the story to everyone collecting their gear. We all sauntered slowly and unwillingly off the docks at Anderson’s Lac Seul landing.

A few other muskies were moved and courted with that day, but none made the net.

Chantal, Olivia, Nicole, Chloe, Anneliese, and I water-hauled our week away with monstrous flies and stiff shoulders. On our final evening in the cabin, we agreed wholeheartedly that no muskie was better than never meeting one another at all.

About Alyssa Lloyd

Alyssa Lloyd is a photojournalist based out of Kenora working with Ontario's Sunset Country. The outdoors has been the center of her work and personal life for as long as she can remember. As an angler, Alyssa spends most of her time time chasing multiple species on both conventional and fly gear. 

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