We arrived at Craig Lake State Park on the afternoon of July 6, 2000. After portaging our gear from the parking lot to the waterfront we loaded up our 18' Souris River Jensen Huron and departed across Craig Lake. Never having been here before, we searched the shoreline for a quiet campsite. We settled on a beautiful site atop a hill and near to the portage into Crooked Lake. We quickly set up camp and launched the canoe back into the water, leaving our newfound home and setting out to explore the area.
Paddling along the winding shoreline, we slowly made our way across Craig Lake taking note of places that might hold fish and campsites that could be utilized on future journeys. We waved at the few people we did see and they smiled and waved back, understanding a mutual respect and love for this wilderness area. A small stand of trees was growing from a rock that jutted through the calm surface of the water. This stand of trees was an ideal perch for an eagle; on later nights we determined that this must have been a favorite fishing perch for this eagle and his mate.
It wasn't long and I joined the eagle in his attempt to catch a fish or two. I decided that as long as I was paddling around the lake I might as well troll a Rapala and see if anything was interested. Soon I was into my first fish, a smallish walleye, of which there seemed to be plenty in this lake. I returned him to the water and continued on my way. Although there was rumored to be some large pike and even muskie in the lake I could find neither. I did manage to catch both smallmouth and largemouth bass in addition to the walleye. We decided that the next day we would portage into Clair Lake and fish for smallmouth.
We awoke early that morning and after a breakfast of pancakes we set off toward Clair Lake. Paddling across to the far shore of the lake we noticed a small whitetail deer, glowing orange in the early morning sun. We took this to be a good omen for the day and landed our canoe at the portage and set out to Clair Lake.