Being a former forestry guy and mushroom picker of past, Carl knew that Little Salmon Lake would be the destination for our weekend outing.
We packed up the boys, the camper and the boat and headed toward Carmacks. After stuffing the kids full of french fries at the Coal Mine Campground, we took the road east toward the lake. Pulling into the most westerly campground and staring across the lake, we knew we hit pay dirt.
This deep lake was glassy calm and the hills were scorched to perfection. Last year’s forest fires visibly burnt the landscape and enabled the mushrooms to grow. I was excited at the prospect of fishing for lake trout and picking these magnificent morels.
We could not contain ourselves and needed to get the camp set up and the boat in the water. We jumped in and crossed the lake in about two minutes flat.
Now on shore, we had to start our hunt for the little mushrooms. It was possible that we were too early or the former fiery conditions were for some reason not conducive to their growth.
It took us a while to dial in these treasures. Once our wandering eyes locked in on a few morels, it was only a matter of time until we got the swing of it. Carl and I were on our hands and knees like a bunch of kids at a birthday party looking for piñata candy under the couch.
With buckets in hand, the kids and their short little legs, darted around spotting and picking mushrooms. Keep in mind that the earth is scorched bare of trees and growth but full of ash and dust. Like a short convention of chimney sweeps, it was comical at how dirty and full of soot the kids were.
After a couple of hours of working up and down these hills, it was time to give this morel hunting a break. We dusted ourselves off and headed back to the boat for a little fishing.
Immediately in front of us was a nice dropoff to about 17 to 20 feet. Early in the year, this is prime feeding territory for manageable-sized lake trout.
We drifted across this shelf and let the kids cast and retrieve from three sides of the boat. Within about 20 minutes, one of the kids hooked into a three-pound beauty.
Just like searching for the morels, once we had a couple hooked, we knew what to look for and how to land them.
We spent two full days in this routine of picking morels and fishing for Lake Trout. It was hunting and gathering at its finest and the kids did remarkably well.
Both Carl and I were amazed at how hard we could push them and how resilient they were. Our boys are getting older and must be developing some bush skills in the process.
Back in Whitehorse, it was less bush and more five-star with a slightly poached fillet of Lake Trout in a white wine morel sauce.