Gary Thompson's Churchill River Lodge - The End of the Road
Or so it was in the mid sixties, anyway. Nell and I discovered the camp in July
of 1964. We had followed the road on our map to Lac Laronge, which was supposed to be as
far as we could drive northward. But when we got there we learned that the road had
been extended another 50 miles to the Churchill River System, which we soon found to be
teeming with large Northern and walleyed pike. The Walleyes would take just about anything
you jigged off the bottom and the Northerns would take anything.
We still remember running up river in a square end canoe with an 18 horse Johnson, moving along about 15-20 mph, when a splash at the port gunnel scared the galloping gee-willikers out of us. I looked back at Sam, our Cree Indian guide, who just shook his head and said something like, "You lucky - coulda lost rod." The rod had been leaning against the gunnel with the 12 lb. test line and about a five inch long spoon hanging down over the water. A big northern had come out of the water and hit the spoon in the air. If he hadn't missed the hook I would have lost all my gear. That's the way they were in the Churchill River System, back in the sixties. Here's a few pictures I made from old dirty slides. The quality's not the greatest, but you'll get an idea of what it was like.
Just click on the thumbnail to get the big picture and story behind it. Or, if you prefer, start anywhere and click from pic to pic.
|When we got to the river I stepped out onto a rock and tossed a spoon in three times and...|
| ...pulled out these three Northerns. We knew we'd found our
The camper on the wagon seemed like a good idea when we started out northward from Englewood Colorado in July of 1964. By the time we got back home we had a whole lot of good reasons to get rid of it.
1. Insert stick through mouth.
|2. Cook over open fire till black.|
|3. Eat meat off bones.|
|The hardest thing to do was to reel in fast enough to keep these little guys from grabbing it. It seems like just about every cast we were having to take one off the hook and toss it back in before we could cast again.|
|These square-end canoes were 18 feet long and powered by Johnson outboards. They were great for moving up and down the river from one hot spot to the next.|
|In July of 1965 we were back up at the camp, this time better equipped with a 22 foot Silver Streak..|
up-river to Devil's Lake in '65.
Val was about nine years old
Vicki was seven
|Nell was pickled tink with this, her first eight pounder. We soon learned this to be the average size, but it was still a lot of fun.|
|This was about our minimum size keeper|
|This day's keepers only amounted to nine fish. But they weighed in at 110 pounds. Gary's camp provided a filleting and freezing service and we wound up taking home a couple hundred pounds of fillets packed in dry ice.|
|Patty was a friend of Val's who came along with us and wound up out-fishing everybody the first day with this nine-pounder that was almost as long as she was tall.|
|Here's a couple of nice ones I don't remember
much about at this point. I'm sure they were fun,
By the time we left the Churchill we'd become somewhat jaded and we really had a tough time rekindling our interest in Colorado trout fishing after this experience.
|Gary invited me along on a trip to one of his fly-in camps and I was immediately hooked. I knew what I'd be doing for my vacation in '66.|