The Ultimate Fishing CampAuthor: Ted Peck
September 1, 2012
When I was a kid hours were spent thumbing through old copies of Field & Stream and Outdoor Life. The back of these venerated magazines had pages of intriguing ads for exotic hunting and fishing locations.
One of these fantasy destinations was Andy Myers Lodge in Ontario where a guest could catch trophy musky, pike and walleye. These possibilities were surreal for a young angler who could only experience mediocre carp, bullhead and sucker fishing within bicycle range from home.
A half century later I've been fortunate enough to experience some of the most exciting angling venues in North America. But I had never been to Andy Myers Lodge. When long time pal Ron Barefield asked if I wanted to visit there I howled yes quicker than Usain Bolt could burn a Double Cowgirl across a cabbage bed with Muskisaurus in hot pursuit.
Steve Herbeck is the third owner of this fishing mecca which has attracted sportsmen since 1934. Herbeck heard the North wind call early in life, starting as a fishing guide on the Madison chain over 30 years ago. It didn't take him long to move to Boulder Junction. Then the fishing muse drew him to Eagle Lake where he purchased Andy Myers Lodge 18 years ago.
Because he is such a dedicated angler, Herbeck is the perfect host. The staff at Andy Myers anticipates and fulfills your every need before you even have time to consider what you are wishing for. Even more important is the fishing venue: Eagle Lake, over 88,000 acres of pristine northwoods water with the shadows of rugged, rocky islands holding profound potential for the biggest muskie of your life.
The minimum "keeper " size for muskies here is 54 inches. But Herbeck strongly suggests all fish be released unless the catch is a potential new world record-a very real possibility from the waters of Eagle Lake.
Herbeck brings in guest educators throughout the fishing season which runs from mid-May through mid-October. Barefield was the featured talent the first week in September. Unlike many fish camps the folks at Andy Myers Lodge work together to ensure you are fishing the best bait in the best place at the right time.
That stuff about the muskie being the "fish of 10,000 casts is misguided. Your fish of dreams is just ONE cast away. If you're bait is in the water there is always a chance that dreams will come true.
Barefield made this happen Monday night for southern Illinois angler Merle Schmierbach who had driven two full days to get to Andy Myers. Schmierbach said he caught muskie fever on Kinkaid lake last summer when a big toother slide up behind his bass bait then simply ghosted away.
We had just completed another fantastic meal when this muskie newbie expressed frustration about the fish of 10,000 casts. The day had been clear, with nary a cloud under bright blue Canadian skies filled with piney scents and the music of eagles and loons.
A few minutes later the three of us were in Barefield's boat, bound for a patch of submergent cabbage just around the point from camp.
No more than 20 casts later the water exploded and Merle Schmierbach realized his vision quest. The fat 40 incher wasn't eager about coming to the net. With Barefield's calm and experienced coaching this fish was soon at boatside. Schmierbach's entire persona was a thing to behold. His hands were shaking uncontrollably, his gaze catatonic. It was neat to witness a middle aged man having an out of body experience of the fishing kind.
A visit to Andy Myers begins with a comprehensive seminar by a highly animated and passionate Herbeck who morphs from being a rabid angler with a big fish in pursuit into the fish itself, determined to smash that bucktail.
Guests who have arrived in trucks and SUV's with license plates like FIGURE8 and ESOX1, wearing tiny video cameras on their hats-and other s like merle Schmierbach-listen intently as this veteran guide provides explicit details on catching muskies, walleyes and other species.
The following morning after an amazing breakfast a "team" of anglers heads out. The walleye chasers armed with big, lively minnows Herbeck has flown in every week. The muskie folks get their bucktails and jerkbaits ready as dock boys deliver hearty sack lunches, bags of ice and anything else which might make the quest for angling excellence a little easier.
It is Tuesday morning in fish camp. Time for breakfast. In a half hour or so I will be on the water again, looking for a fish larger than my personal best 49 incher. It feels like a big fish day.
- Ted Peck
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