Hawk Lake Lodge, Day Two: The Mouse that Roared

Sandy is inordinately proud of his mouse-caught smallmouth on Cliff Lake.
Photo by Phil Monahan

Our second morning at Ontario’s Hawk Lake Lodge dawned bright and warm–it looked to be a carbon copy of the previous day–and we decided to fish Paddy Lake for smallmouths. One of the 19 lakes that the lodge has access to, Paddy is just a five-minute boat ride and a five-minute hike from the dock. Our guide for the day was Jeff Blum, a passionate fly fisherman with a degree in wildlife biology, who made for a fascinating boatmate.

We did run into another grouse on the trail between the lakes, but this one was a male that didn’t seem intent on murdering us. Interestingly, it was a brown-phase grouse, which is pretty rare in the covers were I hunt birds each fall.

My trust diver pattern attracted this acrobatic smallie on my first cast of the day.
Photo by Sandy Hays

One of the cool things we are discovering about the lakes fished by HLL is that each has its own, unique character. Whereas Wolf Lake featured a lot of shallow bays, reefs, and submerged points, Paddy Lake is rockier, with some very steep drop-offs close to shore.

We started off with topwater patterns, and I caught a bronzeback on my very first cast with a trusty diver pattern that I’ve had for years. The bug had barely landed on the water when a fish smashed it. Like the day before, though, the surface patterns worked early but then became less effective as the sun got higher. We switched to subsurface stuff–Sandy casting baitfish patterns, while I worked a crayfish-colored Wiggle Bug that dove with every strip.

This pair of loons gave their chick a ride as they slowly cruised away from the boat.
Photo by Sandy Hays

As we worked our way along the shoreline, we picked up bass in a variety of different kinds of water, from rock gardens to downed timber, though the fish were smaller on average than they’d been on Wolf Lake. For the second day in a row, we had an entire lake to ourselves and enjoyed the feeling of being alone in the wilderness.

After a shore lunch of fresh walleye and potatoes, Jeff took us to Cliff Lake, which is connected to Hawk Lake and actually has some homes along its shore. We switched back to topwater flies and finished the day with some killer action, although I developed a bit of a hooking problem. I am much more accustomed to fishing for largemouths, which attack with more aggression, and Jeff suggested that I delay my strip-strike a bit, which seemed to solve things.

A “spiked-up” smallmouth offers a compelling profile.
Photo by Sandy Hays

Those who have followed my travels with Sandy over the years know that there’s nothing he loves more than fishing mouse patterns. Jeff was a bit skeptical until the first bass smashed the deer-hair mouse as it came through some weeds. Sandy took several more on the mouse, fishing up with the fish of the day, just before we had to head back to the lodge.

It was another productive day, with 12 or 15 bass to the boat and a few dandies that we didn’t land. Our final day will be in pursuit of northern pike, which should be a blast.

Click here to read about Day One.

This bronzeback didn’t get so fat by eating tiny meals. It wanted that mouse quite badly.
Photo by Sandy Hays

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