Saturday, June 17, 2017

Canadian Homecoming!



Few places rival the fishing opportunities like the Nipigon area of Ontario. We have been coming up to Pasha Lake Cabins every year since 2006. When we were working we would spend virtually all our vacation time up here. Since hitting the road we have spent every summer and part of the falls there…… That is until last year when we went to Alaska. Even when we were having a trip of a life time traveling the backroads of British Columbia, the Yukon and Alaska we were still talking about how much we missed our friends Chad and Michelle and the fishing in this area. Oh, how we wish could somehow clone ourselves and be in two places at once!

So it was with high anticipation that we left the Barnesville area and started heading northeast. But first we stopped for a couple days at friends and former co-workers of mine Joe and Ruth at their cabin just outside of Dent, Minnesota.

Joe set us up in his neighbor’s driveway as they were spending the summer in….. you guessed it Alaska. It was a perfect spot to moochdock for a few days as we visited Joe and Ruth. They treated us like royalty feeding us at every meal and catering to anything we wanted to do. So what did we do you ask? Well, keeping in theme with our previous post we carried on with seeing a couple of the tourist attractions this area had to offer.

Did you know that Frazee Minnesota has the world’s biggest turkey? Well they do! Not only do they have one, they have several scattered throughout the town. Unlike Dino’s claim about the Rothsay Prairie Chicken in his most recent post, I don’t think these are actually life sized replicas of an ancient subspecies of today’s smaller turkey.
We also stopped by Pelican Rapids to get a picture of their giant pelican!
As a primer to our upcoming Ontario adventure they took us out fishing a couple times. We caught tons of fish including largemouth bass, northern, crappies, sunfish, rock bass and walleyes. Probably the most species we have caught in one outing.
The gang headed out fishing

Barb with a nice crappie

Real Pelicans!

They were in the process of staining their cabin so I offered to help them stain one afternoon in an effort repay them for their generosity. We only did about a 20’ section on one side and it was a great reminder of some of the things we are missing not owning a house and also a reminder to go as maintenance free as possible on our next house!
After 3 nights with them it was time to move on and head to Ontario. The first day we drove 8 hours and spent the night in Grand Portage, MN in the parking lot of the casino. The next morning it was just a short 6 mile drive to the border.
I don’t care how many times you cross the border, there is a certain amount of anxiety that comes with each border crossing. We make sure we have all our paperwork ready (passports, ATV registration and dogs papers) and within reach when we hit the border and we also go through our mental checklist of the questions we think we will be asked so we have the answers ready. We also have a routine that we found successful and when something works we stick with it. Before approaching the check station we remove any hats and sunglasses, we roll down the driver’s side front and back windows and turn off the vehicle when we approach the check station (hanging onto Daisy!) and hand them our passports.
Barb at the check station

They went through the usual questions:
·       Where are you from?
·       Where are you going?
·       How long are you staying?
·       Are you bringing anything you will leave in Canada?
·       Do you have any firearms, weapons or pepper spray?
·       Do you have any alcohol or tobacco products?
·       When was the last time you were in Canada?

Sometimes they ask more questions but you are almost guaranteed to be asked those. If all goes well you can be on your way in a minute or two at the most. Barb went first and it took an unusually long time so I thought for sure she was going to be pulled over and searched. But after a few minutes I heard the truck start up and she pulled the rig onto the main road and was on her way. Then it was my turn. He said “So you’re the other half?” He asked me the alcohol and firearms question and sent me on my way. Later I asked Barb what took her so long and she said he was just chatty. Talking about the bugs, the weather, the dogs, her work and where she has been. I don’t want to curse our luck but after dozens of border crossings with the rig we have yet to be stopped and searched. Not that we would try to do anything illegal, it is just not worth jeopardizing us coming up here for something stupid like that.
From there it was on to Thunder Bay and through Nipigon. 3 ½ hours later we were pulling into the resort. Our welcoming committee consisted of nobody, nobody at all. It seems all the fishermen were out on the lakes, Michelle was at church and Chad was out on the lakes himself.

They finally arrived home a few hours later and we spent some time getting caught up. The next few days were spent setting up our home for the next few months. The most important aspect of this is trying to get the rig as bug proof as possible. This consists of putting up our screen house and using blue painters tape on the rubber around the slides. In years past we have found these two things keep the majority of the mosquitoes out.

Even with these precautions they still get in by the dozens each day. Our inside arsenal consists of one thing. The tennis racket bug zapper. It is never out of reach when we are sitting inside the rig as sooner or later one will try to attack you.

When we go to bed we close the bedroom door to minimize the areas they can launch their attacks. We then go around the room with the tennis racket zapping any mosquitoes that make themselves visible. The other day after a rainy day we were in the bedroom reading before we turned out the lights and wave after wave of mosquitoes continued to assault us. We have no idea how they were getting in or where they were hiding. It was like they were forming squadrons and coordinating their attacks! I was zapping them with forehand volleys with the racket, backhands and a few moves that don’t even have names. The air smelled like burnt mosquito wings and the bed was littered with carcasses of the fallen soldiers. But their comrades continued their assault. During one particular assault there were three buzzing around my head.  As I was concentrating on one, another one decided to make a kamikaze move and dove right up my nose! Which will explain the tennis racket impression on the tip of my nose tip of my nose. We eventually won the battle and slept somewhat peacefully. Even with all this I would only rate the mosquito level at about a 6 or 7 out of 10 we have definitely seen it worse.
So why would we subject ourselves to such torture? Well besides spending the summer with our friends we come for the fishing and hunting. The fishing up here is the best we have ever encountered and over the summer I hope to write about many fishing adventures. So far we have only gotten out once to one of our favorite lakes. I can’t explain how good it was to launch the boat and motor across the lake, it was like visiting an old friend. And that friend was good to us! We had great fishing catching perch, walleyes and northern pike. There is nothing like the feeling of having your rod bend and finessing a big walleye to the surface. 
Barb was all smiles headed out on the lake!

A nice 22 incher
Barb was sooooo excited!
I know not everyone is real big on hunting but it really helps support many families in the area. The main industries up here are logging, hunting and fishing. Without them it would be difficult if not impossible for the locals to make a living up here. Speaking of hunting, although the bear season does not open until mid-August I have already started to get some of the stands set. We have a VIP bear hunter coming up this year and I want to make sure he has an experience of a lifetime so I have been clearing out a logging road that has not been accessed in years. It is seriously grown over and has lots of downfalls but the hunting should be good back there!
I still have some work to do to clear this road!
Yup, it is good to be back here….. we will be posting more fishing tales in the following weeks along with our other adventures from the Ontario bush!

30 comments:

  1. That bug situation sounds awful! No fun at all! Do you eat all those fish? Bill and my son went on a Scout trip in Canada once and he said those walleye are good eats!

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    1. We will have fish 2, maybe three times a week. Walleye is our favorite eating fish unless there were lobster and king crab up here, then we would be trying to catch them!

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  2. Those mosquito infested lakes are to me what New York City is to you - torture! :) I wouldn't last a day up there! Good tips on crossing the border. It's hard to answer "where are you from". We consider WA state home, but our plates are from Florida, and we live on the road. If we don't get our story straight, it's easy to come across as sketchy. Have a great summer!

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    1. That is very true, we would much rather be in the bush country than the big city.

      We had the same dilemma when we first hit the road but we tell them to town and state of our drivers license as that is probably what they have on record in their computers.

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  3. Pretty sweet spot your friends had for you. Love the Giant Turkey and Pelican! Okay, I don't care how much fun an areas is, those mosquitoes would kill my fun. That is crazy! No way, not me!! I assume you head to bed an hour early to begin the killing process...haha! But I am glad you and Barb enjoy it. The excitement comes through in your narrative. I do enjoy fresh fish. I would love to be there for a few fish fries. Nothing better than lake perch and walleye!! I'll read for those tales. But the hunting...you know me!! Have a terrific time! Looking forward to more FISHING stories:)

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    1. Now that we have been here a week the bugs are just as bad but we are better prepared and tend to ignore them more so it is not quite the shock it was last week. With the warmer weather in July and August they tend to diminish a little.....we hope!

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  4. In my wildest dreams I never thought that I would see Barb taking a Crappie. Somethings I just don't want to see. Sounds like you are going to have a fun summer. Hopefully the bugs don't drain you. Enjoy.

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    1. No Dino, a Crappie is a fish, you have it confused with something totally different!

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  5. Welcome back to Canada eh! I like you're screen add a room, definitely a requirement for mozzies. With the wet Spring, high snow pack and flooding in BC we are experiencing more mozzies than normal.I can feel your excitement being back at Pasha in your writing. Nice fish...enjoy!

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    1. We have also been burning a mosquito coil on our stairs outside the rig to keep them off the screen. Otherwise I bet 50 or more are sitting on there at any given time trying to get in. I don't know how the bears can live in these woods..... they must get bit like crazy.

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  6. Lucky you! Would love the fishing but hate dealing with the mosquitos. The black flies did a number on me. There bad here in NH. I now carry bug spray everywhere. Going to find me a bug zapper too. Have fun and fill up your freezer!

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    1. The bug zapper is well worth the investment but they do not work as well on the tiny black flies. We don't go anywhere without bug spray as you will get eaten alive!

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  7. Welcome to Ontario and hope you have your fill of catching fish while you are here. Seeing that you have the Mosquitoes under control how are you doing with the Black Flies?
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

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    1. Funny you should mention that. There are lots of black flies but they do not bother me at all. Barb on the other hand is getting killed by them. We can be standing side by side and she will be totally covered by them while I have none around me.

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  8. Looks like an awesome place. Are the mosquitoes just as bad when you are out on the lake?

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    1. No the mosquitoes and black flies are not nearly as bad on the lake. Once you get off the shore they wind tends to pick up and blows them away. Once it gets calm at night you will notice them getting further out of the water however.

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  9. Walleye is a favorite of our also. I'd like to know more about your screen room. How often do you use it, how long to set up or take down in the event of a storm?

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    1. We bought that screen room before we went on the road to use up here. This is the only place we have used it but have seen people with similar screen houses at Quartzsite.

      They are nice, it adds an extra room to your living area and we keep all our outdoor gear in there. It is about an 45 minutes to set up and take down/fold up. We don't use it anywhere else as we are never in one place long enough.

      It seems to handle wind/rain pretty well but it does add weight to the awning so it will sag a bit in the wind or when it is wet. I cut a couple pieces of cedar to hold it up so hopefully that will not happen too much.

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  10. I sure don't miss those mosquitos. We used to vacation and fish every year in western Ontario and eventually just stayed in northern MN. Al went fishing on Lynx Lake (Prescott) the other day with a buddy (bit of a goat rope with the boat, thus no fish). He and son will be elk hunting early Dec just south of the Grand Canyon. He got lucky pulling a tag for this area. Enjoy your summer!

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    1. The mosquitoes are pretty much the only downside to life up here but live through it so we can do the adventures! Very cool that Al pulled an elk tag, would love to hear about his hunt. Where will you guys be spending the winter?

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    2. Oct, Nov, Dec in Phoenix and Jan, Feb, Mar in Texas. Jan is duck hunting. Feb is fishing and March we'll be meandering in search of wildflowers (can you see Al's eyes roll?) Then back to AZ.

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    3. Maybe we will finally meet up in Texas sometime this winter then!

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  11. Ahhhh....nothing like a northern lake. Just beautiful, Jim!

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    1. There certainly is something special about them....

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  12. Love the fishing! Hate the skeeters! Any chance Randy and June from LA will be bear hunting? Have a great time!!

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    1. We traded a few emails, it sounds like they will be spending most of their fall in Texas and won't make it up this year.

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  13. Dang!!! That's a healthy stringer of fish ya got there.

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    1. We are definitely getting our fill of fish, we are having it 2-3 times a week!

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  14. I hope I get to cross Canada off my bucket list! Thanks for the motivation, Jim and Barb!

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    1. It is absolutely beautiful up here, you would not regret it!

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