Monday, August 13, 2018

When You Mind Says Yes But Your Body Says No…..

It all started late last week when Chad brought his guide boat off Lake Nipigon for servicing. The kids were begging him to go tubing. It is a nice boat, a Lund with a 225 outboard with plenty of power to make for a fun ride. After tubing, the kids wanted to go skiing so I jumped in the boat to take some pictures and enjoy the ride.

The 225 popped those kids right out of the water like submerged corks bouncing to the surface. Round and round they went with smiles on their faces.
Cavin showing off  his skills
C.J. was up next
Back in the day I used to ski quite a bit. I have fond memories of skiing at my dad’s place on Shell Lake in Wisconsin. It fact it was nothing to ski the 10+ mile shoreline around the lake. I was not a professional water-skier but I could hold my own.  I was telling Chad about my childhood, spending summers on the lake and how I used to ski when I was younger but had not done it for years. That is when he said it. It was a surreal moment, it was almost like he said it in slow motion….”Dooo yooou wannnt to giiiive it a trrrrry?” (that is my attempt at slow motion writing).

We’ve all had that moment, you are faced with a challenge. Do you face it head on or do you cower in the corner with your thumb in your mouth? It had been years since I had skied. In hindsight the next series of pictures should be of me cowering in the corner of the boat with my thumb in my mouth but at that moment a line from one of my favorite Toby Keith songs popped it my head “I am not good as I once was but I am good once as I always was” and I said  “Hold my beer, I got this”

Adjusting the life jacket to its limits I squeezed into it and jumped in the water. Chad tossed me a ski and was reaching for the other when I said “I don’t need that one, if I can’t get up on one I am not skiing” That was mistake #1 (well, actually #2. Mistake #1 was ever agreeing to do this in the first place) as it is much easier to pull someone out of the water on 2 skis than one.

The next thing I knew, I was holding the rope staring at the back of the boat and said “Hit it!” The boat roared out of the water and proceeded to drag me, mostly underwater for the next 20 yards before I lost grip and let go. I did not bounce out of the water like a cork, evidently those kids weigh a little less than me. 
Chad circled around I grabbed the rope as I thought to myself….one more try. “Hit it!” Again being dragged through the water, mouth closed, eyes closed….10 yards… 20 yards….30 yards but slowly I was pulled out of the water and I was up! This is where I should say that I was all smiles and waving like the pictures above me but it was far from that. Although it was fun, as you can see from the pictures below, it was a hell of a lot more tiring that I remember. There were a lot more pictures but they were just too painful to show in public. 
Do I look like I am in agony?

Wish this one was in focus!
 After a short spin around the lake I signaled for Chad to return back to home where I was never so happy to let go of the rope. Every muscle in my body was aching and crying for relief. Luckily I was handed back my beer and all was good.
Finally done!
Not to be outdone, Chad was up next. He started out with two skis (wuss)……He soon dropped one ski and was going slalom (Okay a little more impressive)…..

Chad getting ready to go barefoot
 Then he had me speed up the boat to top speed (42mph) and he dropped that ski and went barefoot! 
Barefoot skiing, what a show off!

To be fair, Chad used to be in the famous White Bear Lake Club Minnesota where they frequently put on shows.  
Now several days later my body is constantly reminding me that I am not as young as it used to be so next time I am presented with such a challenge I will definitely say "No", well maybe, depends on if there is someone there to hold my beer....

Friday, August 10, 2018

The Road Less Traveled

Traveling the remote roads and trails of the Ontario bush are often mysterious and filled with wonder. As I search for likely bear hunting sites I travel deeper and deeper into the bush until all other signs of human invasion disappear, only the tracks of the wolves, moose and bears dot the road as I explore each area. 
One of the many less traveled roads

That is a big wolf!
Then there are the moose
It is amazing that a big bear leaves the lightest of tracks....

Luckily there are other ways to tell there is a big bear in the area!

Typical bear area, open area full of blueberries and surrounded by thick woods

Captured a picture of this guy on one of the trail cameras
You invariably come to a fork or intersection and must decide which way to go. When Barb and I faced these decisions in life the answer is easy, the road less traveled. These roads will no doubt lead you to more remote and more adventures. One cannot help but ask themselves the question; what is the history of this road? When was the last time someone traveled it? Will it ever become the road it once was? Answers I will never likely get but thought provoking nonetheless. 
An even lesser traveled road I venture out on each week looking for bears
I think most fulltime RV’ers have this same philosophy as they too are drawn to the road less traveled. Forgoing the safety and security of careers and homeownership for adventure and the unknown. It is on these roads that I think about what it took to get Barb and I to where we are today. All the forks, turns and crossroads. All the ups, downs, steps forward, steps backwards that led us to where our lives are right at this very moment. Homeless and living in a trailer….. We could not be happier!
No one had been on this road since I was on it last year
All those forks, all those decisions led us to where we are today. Unfathomable if you try and think about it. But here we are living out our dreams exploring the country. Thoughts like this often lead to the question; “Would you do it all over again?” “Do you have any regrets?” The quick answer is “yes” to both. We would do it again in a heartbeat and who does not go through life without making mistakes or having regrets. But thinking deeper yet, without those regrets or mistakes would we be where we are today?
This grouse posed long enough for me to take a couple of pictures. 
So where are we today? Well, for at least the next 10 days we will still be in Ontario fishing, exploring and enjoying what this countryside has to offer. The week started with fishing contest between Barb and me heated and contentious. She was leading with this 25” beauty where my largest was a mere 23”. This week that all changed, but who has the lead? You will have to read on to find out!
Barb with her 25"er
I spent almost two full days editing and putting together our annual fishing video. We had such a good day it was hard to whittle the 30 minutes of video to a level where people would actually watch it. I still have a couple hours of work to do so hopefully I can debut it next week. 
This week, with the “road less traveled” theme in mind we fished one of our favorite remote lakes. This is the same lake we filmed this short video on last year when I caught my biggest walleye of the year. So what better place to try and take over the lead in the Great Walleye Race of 2018! 
With Barb leading this race for 3 weeks and only 10 days left, I was getting desperate. In the back of my mind I kept recalling the 27” monster I caught out of this remote lake last year. Could I duplicate this heroic feat and take the lead?  Would we catch anything at all? Or worst of all, would it backfire on me and Barb takes a bigger lead?
Talking to Chad, he assured me that no one had been to the lake since Barb and I were there last year and it would probably take some effort to get in there. He was right…. 4 hours of cutting brush and clearing the trail of downed trees later we pulled up to the lake shore on a 4 wheeler with boat and trailer in tow. After launching the boat I headed right to the spot I caught my big one last year with revenge in mind. What are the odds of catching a monster walleye in the same spot? Small, I would guess, but I was desperate and had to give it a try. Since I had marked the spot on my GPS I knew exactly where to go and dropped a minnow over the side. 
Nothing, nothing at all…..we motored back and forth over the area covering the water just in case and then it happened…BAM, fish on! I knew it was big just by the way it was fighting and staying deep. As Barb watched me fight the fish I asked her to get the net ready as I thought it was a big one. When I finally got it to the top it was a big one but the wrong big one, it was a nice 35” northern.

Disappointed it was not a walleye but happy to catch such a nice fish I landed it, took a few pictures and slid it back into the water.

Next it was Barb’s turn as she pulled in a 23” walleye. Well at least the walleye are still here so maybe, just maybe there is hope. 
We each landed a couple of 24”-27” pike then...….. I hooked into another one that just stayed on the bottom and refused to come up! Run here, run there….. walleye or northern? I thought my last one was a walleye so I did not want to get my hopes up. Gradually I got it up near the surface so we could finally see what it was, a huge ‘eye’!!!! “Get the net!” I yelled. Barb promptly netted the fish and hauled it into the boat. We took a few pictures, measured it, slid it back into the water and I did the happy dance right there in the boat! Head bowed, with a defeated look on her face, Barb just smiled and said “Nice fish” With that I took the lead for the year by 2”s with the 27” walleye I caught within feet of where I caught one last year. My plan worked to a T!  

After that I told Barb I was not feeling well and needed to go home (not really but why give her a chance to best my 27?). Once home I started packing all the fishing equipment in the belly of the rig when Barb asked "What are you doing?" I reply "I've had enough fishing for the year, better luck next year Honey!"

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Ontario Fishing Adventures!

T-shirts and shorts have been replaced with hooded sweatshirts and jeans as August has brought us much anticipated cooler weather. There is nothing like a cool crisp morning in Ontario!
This pair of loons a daily visitors outside our rig
The past two weeks has gone by way too fast, it is hard to believe we have less than three weeks remaining!
Last week our good friend Bob came up with a group of his work customers. This is the 5th year in a row that he and his coworker Greg have treated their customers to a Pasha Lake retreat. This year they brought up customers from Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Missouri and since they had an odd number of guests I was able to get out fishing with them on two occasions. Both to Onaman Lake. Barb and I had a heated debate on whether or not any fish I caught on these outings could be counted in our big fish contest. We never did agree on that but in the end it did not matter as I never caught anything that would surpass her 25” mark.
The Sobieck crew ready for the mosquitos!

Kevin with a nice one

Bob and Joe floating by
Oh no! The stringer is in the prop!

Joe with a 22" 'eye'

Bob with a fatty....
We did however catch over 100 walleyes, not collectively, each! Although we did not keep track I would have to say on one of the outings we had to each catch over 70 averaging a little over 20 inches! Since we try to only keep fish in the 17” to 18” range we had a hard time getting our keepers.

On another occasion I took two brothers out to another lake. They were both in their 70’s and had not had a fishing trip together in over 10 years. They had been out 4 times on their own and although they had caught plenty of pike they were struggling to catch some walleyes. Jim to the rescue! Collectively we probably caught 30 walleyes but again the biggest was under 25”’s so Barbs record is still intact.
Besides the cooler weather and fewer bugs, the other perk about coming up later in the year are the blueberries. They are peaking this week and ready for picking! Barb and Michelle went out one night for a couple hours and came back with two huge tubs of berries. Barb and I went out the next day and scored another tub. 

We freeze these and use them throughout the year in blueberry pancakes and pies. Speaking of pies, I was able to talk Barb into making one that night, it does not get any fresher than that!
With bear season less than two weeks away I have been busy clearing out and preparing the hunt sites for the hunters. This year they will have 18 hunters 8 of which will be here before we leave in a few weeks so we should get in on some bear recoveries once the season starts!
For those of you who have followed our blog over the years, you know we try to get in at least one fishing video together each year. We have filmed several over the past few years on Onaman Lake and posted them on YouTube. We do this mainly for our own entertainment but also to give others who are thinking of coming up an idea of what this lake and the area is like. It seems like at least once a year we run into someone who has seen our videos. This year we were in the office and some guy says “You are the people in the videos!” and last year when we were on the lake someone approached us and asked if we were Jim and Barb. We said yes, and they said they watch our videos all the time trying to figure out where we fished on the lake. Little did they know at the time we were nowhere near where we usually fish!
Well this week we filmed our 2018 edition on Onaman Lake again. We got a lot of good footage which I have been busy making into a movie. Hopefully I will have it done for the next post but in the meantime, here is a picture from one of the scenes!

Until next time, happy fishing!!!!!!!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

It's Always an Adventure"

That is the motto of Pasha Lake Cabins and this week it lived up to that. It had been over nine months since we have been lake fishing so the day after arriving we were anxious to hit the water!
The first lake on our agenda was a small remote lake that we never fished before, in fact it had only been fished once so far this year so we were sure the fish were going to jump in the boat. In addition we have this whole “Who is going to catch biggest fish” controversy to settle as well.

Since it was a remote lake requiring some bush whacking to get to it Chad let us take his Jeep rather than trying to get our dually down there. So after loading up all our gear we hit the road!
I’d love to say that it ended with us catching tons of fish and of course with me catching the biggest but it wasn’t to be, in fact we never made it to the lake. After an hour of travel we were just pulling off the gravel onto the two track when the Jeep died, nothing, no power…. nothing. So I popped the hood to try and convince Barb that I knew what I was doing and that there was hope, and we were not stranded out here for the day. Since it was a power issue I went directly to the battery to make sure the terminals were tight. Unfortunately they were so that was not the issue. But there was a little luck on our side when up pulls a truck and asked if we needed help. It just so happened he was driving within 5 miles of Pasha Lake, so rather than fiddle with it any longer we jumped in his truck and took advantage of the ride. After all, it could be hours until the next vehicle comes by.

I was back to the scene of the crime a couple of hours later with camp employee Ian and a tow strap. Needless to say, we did not get out fishing that day.

Nice day for a drive in the bush!
The day was not a total loss however as it was Tuesday which means fish fry night! Every Tuesday night the camp puts on a fish fry where the guests bring in their catch and a dish to pass for a night of getting to know each other and tell a few fishing tales. For Barb and I it is a chance to meet some new people and catch up with some of the returning guests we have not seen for a year. 
Barb breaded while Chad fried the fish

No fish tales being told here!
This week we caught up with the Scratch family who we met last year. As a matter of fact they quickly became our new best friends when they rescued me last year when I was stranded on an island when my boat floated away. That post can be found here. 

We made plans to fish with them the next day on the same lake they rescued me on; Onaman Lake. Probably our favorite lake as it has incredible numbers of huge walleyes. This is a hike in only lake requiring you to haul your gear over a mile into the lake. Luckily this year we have a cart that one of our South Dakota neighbors gave us and it worked great!

Mark and Barb headed down the trail
Once out on the water Barb quickly relaxed as we cruised out to our fishing spot. We fished with the Scratch's all morning and started catching fish right away.
When we first fished with them last year they made the mistake of asking us where the fish were right when I was setting the hook on a nice walleye. I replied "They are right here" which then became the running joke. Now whenever any of us would hook at fish we would say "They are right here!"
They are right here!
We fished together most of the day catching fish after fish. Although I caught the numbers, when we took a break for shore lunch Barb had the biggest walleye which came in at 25”’s.
25 inches of walleye goodness!

22"'s but not big enough!
We stopped for lunch at the same infamous island where I was stranded last year and started cleaning a few fish. The seagulls and pelicans knew this is a frequent lunch area for fisherman on the lake so they were there to pick up the scraps. 

Fighting over some scraps
Shore lunch consisted of walleye of course along with some fried potatoes.

Barb cooked the potatoes......

….while Mark cooked up the fish.....

…..and the rest of the crew anxiously waited....
Lunch complete, we split up as we headed back towards the landing. We don’t like to leave the dogs for more than 8 hours so it was time to head back. But not before we stopped at one more spot to see if I can snatch the title of “Biggest fish of the day” from Barb. We slid into one last spot and I quickly hooked into a 21”’er, nice but not nice enough. Then it happened…..I set the hook and knew I had something special. No head shake, no running, just something that felt like it was the king (or queen) of the lake and knew it. It was a little windy but I managed to get it off the bottom and inch by inch got it closer to the boat. About ½ in I was wondering what the heck I had as, although it was heavy it was not acting like it knew it was hooked, I was more or less pulling dead weight from the bottom.  I knew it was big but no idea what it was. Then it broke the surface…. It was well over 25”’s! As a matter of fact it was well over 30”’s but entirely the wrong species, it was a 36” pine tree branch! Dejected I unhooked it, let it sink back to the depths, set my rod down and conceded the day. Day 1 goes to Barb with a 25” beauty that she put back in the water for some other lucky fisherperson to catch another day….
The following day was a camp day where we just hung around the rig most of the day. Dakota, Daisy and I played in the water and went swimming. 

Later in the day it was time to see if we could get Dakota out on the water in a boat. Last year we had her in a boat on dry land a few times but had yet to get her in one out on the water. She has come a long way with her comfort and trust with us as she jumped right in and laid down. We went lake trout fishing for an hour or so but neither of us got a bite. 
The next time we went fishing I was ready for my revenge. Time for me to catch the biggest fish! We headed out to Northwind Lake, one that we fish frequently and consistently do well. Any this day was no exception...… and bonus, I was off to a good start!
I think I can beat that one!
It was a great day on the lake, the loons were serenading us, the winds were light and the fish were cooperating. 
Throughout the day we caught dozens of fish, nothing huge but just the right size for dinner that night. So who caught the most? Who caught the biggest? Well, this picture should really say it all as Barb was doing her walleye dance on the way back to the landing......
I think maybe I should just return her to the water with the rest of her walleye friends!