Flying kayaks into a northern Ontario lake makes for a wild fishing adventure


Wes Nelson shows off a Bulldozer Lake walleye

On a warm day early last June, my buddy Wes Nelson and I were sitting in lawn chairs, looking out over Bulldozer Lake. We were basking in the late-afternoon sun, and holding cold beverages. But mostly, we were drinking in the experience of being at the only cabin on the entire northern Ontario lake.

Then we saw the red kayak belonging to the third member of our fishing trio, Don Willoughby, appear around a point. After beaching his boat, Don picked up his rods and tacklebag, and started up the path toward us. Don is a tall, athletic man who usually walks with mighty strides, but on this afternoon, he was moving slowly, almost trudging up the gentle slope. Once he got closer, I could see a serious, wide-eyed look on his face. Well, I thought, either something pretty bad has happened, or something pretty good.


“I’m not sure you guys will believe me,” Don said, “but this is the God’s honest truth: I’ll be 77 years old next week, and I just had the greatest hour of fishing of my entire life.”

As Don sank down into a chair to tell us the story of what came to be called his “Magical Hour,” I briefly reflected on the hours of research, planning and preparation it had taken to get this place. Worth every minute, I thought. I also recalled the doubters who said this fishing trip was absurd, even impossible. I couldn’t really blame them, because sometimes an idea that seems simple and brilliant to you sounds like madness to normal people.