Friday, May 30, 2014

Go’in to Jackson….

This week has been fantastic weather and fishing, temps in the 70’s and 80’s, lots of excellent fishing and best of all…….no bugs yet! This week’s groups include fisherman from Texas, Pennsylvania, New York, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Texas. All the groups are having great fishing with numerous limits of walleyes, brook trout and pike. There have been 4-5 pike over 40” caught and released this week.

Chad’s wife, Michelle arrived a few days ago along with 2 of their 4 kids. The other two stayed back in Wisconsin with Chad’s dad until school is out. Barb and Michelle have been going for walks and have even set up a schedule where they get up at 6:30 each morning and jog a couple of miles! Me, I am content staying back at camp and keeping Daisy entertained.

As for ourselves, Barb and I have gotten out fishing a couple of times. This week we went to Jackson Lake. Sunday I went there with a group from New York. This is the same lake I went to last week that is about 1 ½ hours from the resort and a ½ mile walk through the swampy woods area. The road to the lake it pretty rough and slow going with several areas where the road is flooded due to beaver activity. Arriving at the lake, we pounded the water at an area on the far end of the lake where a stream enters the lake. After 3 hours we only had 4 fish to show for our efforts. Needing a change of scenery we moved to an area in the middle of the lake where a smaller stream enters. The water was only 4-7 feet in front of this stream so I was skeptical but what the heck, we have nothing to lose right? I dropped the jig in the water and wham! I had a nice walleye in the boat. Within 3 minutes, I had 3 walleyes in the boat and the others were scrambling to get their jigs in the water! We fished that area for another 3 hours and caught over a hundred walleyes from 15-25” and about a dozen northern pike up to 32”. By the time we got home it was almost 8:00. We were exhausted and the group said that although they loved this fishing, they would never do that walk again. Wilderness fishing is not for everyone……

A couple of areas where the beavers have been active

Pat and Austin navigating through a shallow narrow area
Duke with a nice 22" Walleye
Austin and this dad Pat with a 25" Walleye
After telling our tales back at the resort, Barb and a group from Wisconsin said they wanted to some of that action! So the next morning, Barb and I along with John and his two sons, John and James, packed up our gear and headed to Jackson. The trail in is ½ wooded with hard ground and the other ½ is bog and muck where you will sink up almost to your knee. John and his sons are active outdoorsman and stopped several times along the trail in saying how absolutely beautiful the area was. We launched the boats and headed for our hotspot to see if the fish were still in front of the stream mouth. We had our answer with about 30 seconds of dropping first jig. We stayed in that spot all day, again catching hundreds of fish. The only difference today was some larger walleyes had moved in and we caught numerous fish in the 22-24” range.

Barb with stream in background
This is the area in front of the stream all the fish were

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John, James and John ready for action!
Wednesday Barb drove a boat to Grand Rapids, MN (8 hour drive) to take a boat in for some boat repair while Chad and I brought 5 motors and fuel tanks to Onaman Lake. This lake is probably the best walleye fishing lake in the area but is walk in access only. Fortunately the 1 mile walk in is on a well-established hard trail. You cannot fish this lake until June 1st so Chad needed to get these motors in before the opener. The other fortunate thing is that you can use a 4 wheeler on the trail in until May 31st so we loaded up the motors and hauled them to the lake, mounted them to the boats and took each one for a test drive……everything went well and we were back on the road in a couple hours.
We have seen lots of wildlife so far on our way to and from the lakes; moose, bear, wolf, grouse and waterfowl. Although we usually have cameras at the ready, the moose, bear and wolves are pretty camera shy and head for the bush when they see us pull out our camera.
Pair od Ring Necked ducks in a roadside pond

I tried to outdo Barb in the injury department this week. Last week she tried to chop off her finger so I thought I would one-up her and try to chop off my leg.  They say that logging is one of the most dangerous professions for a reason. Especially for an amateur logger like me. The tree I was cutting for firewood kicked back while falling causing the chainsaw to bounce back into my thigh. I did not realize what happened until I looked down and saw a huge tear in my jeans and under that…… well, you get the picture. Actually you don’t get the picture as it was kinda gruesome. I went back to the trailer where Barb bandaged it up and we debated whether it needed stitches. In the end we decided to just put some hydrogen peroxide, antibiotic ointment and a wrap it up and call it good.  30 minutes later I was back at it exacting my revenge on that tree!

In the category of “you can’t make this up”…….Chad had a young couple in their early 30’s come in the other day and they wanted to go fishing. Chad set them up with a motor, fuel and bait and sent the couple and their two dogs to a lake that had a boat cached on it. The last thing he handed him was a boat plug telling him he did not know if the boat on that lake had a plug in it. When they came back several hours later they were all completely soaked! The young man said everything went well, they found the lake, the boat, put the motor on and launched the boat and started fishing. Almost immediately the boat started filling with water……he said there was a hole in the back of the boat that water was just pouring through! But he noticed that when the boat was moving the water went back out the same hole. So they fished and when the water got too deep in the boat they would start the motor and drive it around while the water went back out the hole in the back of the boat. They repeated this routine for a couple hours and caught a few fish then it was time to head home. By this time they were all wet up to their ankles from that water that was coming in their boat. As they slowly approached the landing the water in the boat was now about mid-calf deep and when the young man approached the shore and stepped out of the boat, the entire boat tipped over sending everyone into the water! They arrived back at camp wet, cold, but in surprisingly good spirits and told Chad about their experience and the hole in the boat. Chad’s first words were “Did you put the plug in the boat?” Chad said you could almost see the light bulb flick on in his head! The young man said he thought the plug was an extra plug for the motor! He went on to say that he thought it was weird that the boat had a perfectly round hole in it…… it was almost like someone had drilled the hole there!...........As I said, some things you just can’t make up!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Sunshine and Blue Walleyes

It is hard to believe less than a week ago the lakes were frozen solid and it was snowing. Yesterday and today were in the 70’s, all the ice and snow is gone and the mosquitoes have made their first appearance. It is a good thing we don’t have a Clapper installed in the trailer as it would be turning things on and off with all the mosquito killing clapping going on!

Our site is pretty much finished, we put the final grade on it the other day and Barb raked the ground level (she has the blisters to prove it). We put a fire pit in and have everything pretty much set. I was even able to commandeer an old outhouse for a storage shed to put our fishing stuff in. Don’t worry, it had not been used in quite a while and has been moved from its original location.

 The week went really quick, I was able to get out fishing 3 times, while Barb only got out once. She picked up a project back in the states so she was on the computer for 2 ½ days doing some programming. When we did get out we went to Northwind Lake, this is the same lake that we had to abandon the boats on the shoreline due to ice blocking our launch area a few days before and where Barb caught a 31” walleye last year. It is a very beautiful lake where the launch is on a river that flows into the lake making for a scenic trip into the open water. We managed to catch 6 nice walleyes between 17”-22” along with one white fish. We only kept 3 of the walleyes as we can only keep one fish over 18” each. Northwind Lake is one of the few lakes known to contain “blue walleyes”. These walleyes are literally blue in color as opposed to the normal golden brown. In Northwind you will usually catch 1 blue to every 4-5 golden walleyes. It is really unknown why these fish are blue. The experts don’t know if it is a phase the fish go through, something to do with the mineral content in the lake or if the fish are born blue and stay that way all their lives. Either way, it is a unique fish and provides something a little different to the anglers on this lake. Of the fish we caught that day, two were blue and the other 4 were gold.

True Canadian Geese
Launching on the river

Traveling down the river........


Hitt'in the open water
View of the shoreline
22" Blue Walleye

Saturday afternoon Barb and I went to check out a couple of other lakes in the area to see if the roads in were accessible for future fishing adventures. We went to Attogogamma and Fairview, both were accessible and ready for some action! There are 60+ lakes within an hour of us that you can drive to so you never get bored with the same lake day after day. Some lakes are known for their walleyes, some for pike, some for trout, and some for all of the above. Below is a map to give a little perspective. We had our first wolf and bear sightings but both were too quick and we were not able to get the camera on them. Saturday is also change over day where most of the groups leave and the new groups come in. Fishing was pretty good across the board for the week, one group managed to catch a 30” walleye and three 40” pike were boated this week. The brook trout fisherman had a great week as well as they came in with a limit of fish each time they went out.

Sunday Barb and I said goodbye to the West Virginia group. We meet so many nice people each week but we really connected with this group. Although I was only able to get out with them fishing twice, we talked to them every day to hear their fishing stories. I am going to miss the tales of Bob and Jerry, the oldest two in the group. Bob told a tale of how he caught two walleyes on one crank bait on Thursday. He has the picture to prove it, one walleye on the front treble set and one on the back! Jerry has a tale of catching the biggest sucker on the lake which just happened to be Bob. Luckily no one was hurt in that incident but Bob had his hat ripped right off his head! Little Steven, who turned 12 this week, caught the largest walleye and numerous pick while Matt and Brie caught the largest pike at 34” and 36”. Not to be outdone, Merle and big Steve caught their fair share of pike and walleyes as well.  

With the weather warming we are able to get out a little more and enjoy the outdoors. The fish should become more active which means we should be eating well next week!


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Life in the Frozen Tundra

Brrrrrr……Life is cold on the frozen tundra! I would not be surprised if we ran across the film crew from the discovery channel filming Alaska Wild. The days have been in the 40’s-50’s and the nights in the upper 20’s to upper 30’s but being parked next to a huge ice cube with the wind blowing all that cold air on you it is hard to keep the chill off. The ice is starting to get real dark which means it is about to turn, I am guessing another 3-5 days and we will be ice free. We can hear the loons calling but they cannot settle on these lakes yet, they must be staging up on some smaller ponds or rivers that are already open.
Pasha Lake on Monday
Thursday, it is getting there!
We have been working on our site prep. Chad, the owner of Pasha Lake, cleared out some trees at the end of a peninsula to create an awesome spot for us. He had 50 amp service brought down and is in the process of getting water here. For any other RV’ers who are traveling up this way, he also installed power and water for 4 other sites right along the water. Barb and I have been busy clearing brush along the shoreline to open up our view a little bit while some of the other guys have been leveling our site with a backhoe. Barb had an incident with a branch clipper today, somehow the pinky finger on her right hand got a little too close to the branch she was clipping off and she nearly took off her finger! Talk about blood, she left a trail of blood from the site to the trailer. She waited outside the trailer while I went in and got the medical supplies needed. Some hydrogen peroxide, antibiotic ointment, three bandaids and some vet wrap and she was as good as new. Barb drove the rig into our site late Tuesday afternoon and now we have our home for the next few months. We still have work to do to get it where we want it but we have plenty of time.
Preparing our site
We went for a drive this Wednesday afternoon to Tyrel Lake which is about 20 kilometers from camp up highway 801. Although it is classified as a highway, 801 is strictly a gravel road where you can go about 45 mph. This time of year there are a lot of potholes and several spots where rivers and streams have flooded the road. Tyrel Lake is about 5 miles down an old logging/mining road off the 801. It takes about ½ an hour to drive that 5 miles as the road is pretty rough. Last year the beavers had built a dam across the road making the lake inaccessible for most of the year. While we were driving in this year we saw that dam is gone but they built another one just up the road from it. Fortunately they built the dam on the side of the road that still allowed us to get by. The dam itself is holding the water level about 3-4 feet higher than the road so when you drive by you are almost at eye level with the water. You just have to hope the dam does not give way right when you are driving by! Along the lake there is an old mining camp with several racks of cores from test drillings. The miners analyze and categorize each sample so they know exactly where it came from. Life must have been a little lonely for these miners back in the day. Barb and I have fished this lake several times in the past few years and it hold a nice walleye and northern population. Last spring we were able to sight fish northerns in a shallow bay which was a lot of fun, we are hoping to repeat that as soon as the ice gets off.
Beaver Dam Next to the Road
Ruffed Grouse
Moose Tracks
Core Drilling racks with old camp tent on left

Close up of cores
Saturday, Sunday and Monday were filled with fishing adventures. Saturday I went to Jackson Lake with a father and son from the Twin Cities (Minnesota). This lake is about 60 kilometers (~36 miles) from Pasha. This is one of the more remote lakes as you have to walk about ¾ of a mile through a marshy woods to get to the lake. Since we were the first ones on the lake for the year we had to take two motors out there for the boats which were stored in the woods for the winter. Most of the ice was off the lake, we only had to break through about 100 yard stretch to get to our fishing spot. It snowed most of the day and fishing was very slow. We only caught two fish, one walleye and one northern.
Sunday I went out to Northwind Lake with a group of 7 from West Virginia. Again, being the first ones on this lake we had to bring three boats, motors and all the equipment to the lake. Northwind is located on a river system so you launch the boat in the river and wind your way about ¼ mile to the lake. All went well on the river but when we got to the lake all we saw about ½ mile of ice with open water beyond. The ice was about 2-4 inches and I was able to break our way through to the open water to do some fishing. This group had never “ice fished” before and I could see the apprehension on their faces. We dodged floating sheets of ice throughout the day and endured a rather windy day. Again fishing was slow but we had a great time we ended up with 2 fish for the day.  Throughout the day I noticed the wind was picking up and blowing towards the end of the lake that we needed to get to in order to get our boats to the launch. Sure enough when we got back to that end of the lake much of the ice had been blown down there as well covering the entrance to the river. The other two boats held back while I tried to ram my way through the ice to the mouth of the river but the closer I got the more the ice was stacked up. Eventually we gave up and ended up beaching the boats in a bay that was protected from the wind/ice and walked about ½ mile to our vehicles. The boats are still there, we will need to go back in the next couple days to retrieve them.
Crushin Ice
I see open water!

Finally, open water!

32" Pike
Monday I went with two of the people from West Virginia to Bearskin Lake in search of monster northern pike. This is a 4 wheeler only access lake about 5 miles from Pasha, so with boat in tow we set off with high hopes! 2 miles of gravel road and 3 miles of an old logging road we arrived at the lake to see……! The bay where we launch the boat was totally covered in ice. I can see open water in the distance and the ice looks soft and thin, so we launch the boat and head straight into the ice filled bay. We crushed ice for about 100 yard and it just kept getting thicker and thicker to the point where the boat would just not break through any more. Using our same trail in I backed the boat out and went the long way around the bay to see if we could get to the open water. Luckily the ice along the edges was much thinner and although the trip was noisy (like being inside a huge margarita maker) we eventually made it to the open water. Once in open water we had to dodge a few sheets of ice but we were fishing! We went to the shallow bays where the water should be warmer and the pike should be hanging out. The water was very clear and we could see fish in the shallows, they would follow the lures but did not cooperate with a strike! We would cast on them, over them and around them but they were not biting! Eventually we gave up on those fish and I trolled the boat along the edges, Matt was the first one to get action with a nice 32”’er which put up a nice fight. Brie was the next one to get a hit topping Matt’s by 2” with a 34”’er. Not to be outdone, Matt answered with a really nice 36”’er. For the day we ended up with 7 fish for the day all of them nice sized pike. Matt and Brie had a great time and have caught the two largest fish of their group so far! Luckily it was a very nice day so by the time we got back to the bay where the launch was, most of the ice was gone and we had no trouble getting out. When we arrived back to Pasha Lake we saw that all the ice was not gone and we can get out there and see about some of those lake trout.
Chad had taken out the rest of the West Virginia group, they had an awesome day with over 30 fish landed. The biggest walleye was a 22"'er caught by Steven the day before his 12th birthday!
The next two days call for rain so it might be a good few days to organize the trailer and go see about those boats we left on Northwind!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Back in MN/WI!!!!

Being back in our “home” area has been a little surreal. In some respects, it does not seem like we have been gone two months, in others it seems like we have been gone much longer. It has been great to catch up with family and friends. Saturday we went to the house we rented in Menomonie to get our Jeep and pick up a few totes and things we had stored there the past few months. OMG, we have more stuff to get rid of! There must have been 6 totes there and more “stuff” I (most of it was mine) could not live without. We loaded up as much as we could and I went to pick up my 4 wheeler at a friend’s house.
Sunday we got together with my family, brothers, sisters, brother in law and a nephew. Although we may have seen each other individually throughout the year, we have not been together has a group in a year or more. Of my brothers and sisters, all of us retired within the past several years with the exception of the youngest. My sister Carol had retired but went back to help them out on a temporary basis and they talked her into staying a little longer and my brother Bob took on a part time job as he was not ready to totally pull the plug yet. 

We had not seen our nephew Marshall in several years. At 27, he has been traveling throughout the world the past couple of years. I know I am going to get this wrong but I think he has spent time in Brazil, Japan and China as well as a few others. While in Japan he met Claire who was from Paris. They married a few weeks ago and this was our first opportunity to meet her. She is a very nice and interesting person and it was fun to hear her thoughts and experiences from her first trip to the U.S.
During the week I spent time with my brother Bob doing yard work. Would you believe I actually miss having projects and doing stuff like that?!?!? We put some lawn edging and rock along the house and buried a couple of drain pipes. Meanwhile Barb went to work. Hey, someone needs to make some money around here! She helped out for the week before we head to Canada. She said it was great to see her friends, she does not miss some of the stress that comes with any job but she does miss the daily interaction with her friends/co-workers. One of her most frequently asked questions is “Don’t you get tired of being with each other 24/7?”  I am not sure how she answers that when I am not around but we both agree that is far from the case with us.  

Saturday we moved the trailer over to our good friends in the Spring Valley Wisconsin area. Greg and Gloria Anderson own a farm in that area and also own the lake home we rented for the winter. Sunday morning I went over to the lake house and loaded up our canoe while Barb went to the grocery store to stock up for Canada. One thing we will definitely miss is accessibility to a good grocery store. When we get there the closet grocery store is about an hour away. The prices are very high and the perishables leave something to be desired.  That afternoon we had crashed the Mother’s Day celebration with Gloria’s 5 children. All of them live within 30 minutes of their parents and I am always impressed at how well they all get along. The three girls are always doing things together and talk CONSTANTLY about horses while their boyfriends/spouses do things together each week as well. They are really a great group of people.

Sunday afternoon it was time to hit the road and head to Canada so we load up our gypsy caravan and headed north and head to Pasha Lake Cabins for some fishing! It is mid-May, the ice should be off the lakes by now right? Wrong! We get to the Duluth/Superior area and see ice! Well, maybe this is just an anomaly and we won’t see any more. Wrong! We spent the night in Grand Marais. We generally just park in the city marina and sleep for the night and get up early and hit the road. When we arrived in the marina there were 8-10 cars there with a bunch of teenagers on the dock. Barb, Daisy and I went over to investigate. As we approached, three of the boys jumped in the water and screamed like little school girls! They were doing the cold water plunge challenge which is a trend on Facebook right now. They ran for their trucks to warm up and the group quickly dispersed. Later that night while in bed Barb and I heard this horrible scrapping noise getting closer and closer. We look out the window to something I don’t thing I will ever forget. Going by our bedroom window we see a car drive by dragging a guy on a pump exercise bike with sparks flying everywhere. There we were, 11:00 at night looking out our bedroom window seeing this kid pumping up and down on this bike. We were laughing our @sses off! They left for a few minutes then here they come again, this time we look out and there are two kids riding tandem on the bike, sparks just a fly’in. Barb and I commented that that was something we would have done as kids too and settled back in bed. The scraping went on for about 30 minutes then all was quite. When we woke up in the morning, there next to our jeep…..yup, it was an exercise bike!
Ship coming in through the ice
Lake Superior outside of Duluth
Our overnight spot in Grand Marais
View north from the Grand Marais Marina

We hit the road and crossed the border into Canada without a problem arriving at Pasha Lake only to see…….ice! Every lake in the area still has 1-3 feet of ice on it. Fishing opens in a few days and there is no way the ice is going to be off the lake. Some groups are already canceling while some others are going to tough it out and fish some of the open rivers.

Pasha Lake still ready for ice fishing!

The next few days will be spent getting our RV site ready so we can settle in for the summer!




Saturday, May 3, 2014

Turkey-less in South Dakota

Click pictures to enlarge

We arrived in Wood, South Dakota on Saturday, April 26th. Wood is located on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in the central part of the state about 30 minutes south of Murdo. The area itself is flat and dry primarily used for raising cattle and hay. At first glance you would not think there would be any wildlife in such a desolate area but on closer inspection you can see that the landscape is lined with drainages and dry creek beds. Here is where you will find pretty much the only trees in the area and most of the wildlife. Both whitetail and mule deer inhabit these drainages as well as coyotes, bobcats, antelope and of course turkeys. Both Merriam and Eastern turkeys are in the area and what the locals call “dirty birds” which are a cross between the two.

We were able to get out hunting for a few hours Saturday afternoon. Barb, Daisy and I loaded up the 4 wheeler and headed out to one of my tried and true areas I have had success in the past. We set up the blind, some decoys and sat and waited. Daisy got to come turkey hunting as it is too soon for her to be left alone after her surgery. While turkeys have amazing eyesight and hearing, they cannot smell at all. So as long as we stay in our blind and keep Daisy quiet we have a pretty good chance to seeing some birds and try to call them within bow range.  Unfortunately the turkeys had other plans and did not show up to the party that afternoon. We got up at 5am the next morning and tried the same spot, although we heard a few gobble in the distance, they did not respond to our calls. 
Certainly not the weather we were hoping for!

The weather turned to rain early Sunday afternoon so Barb and Daisy stayed in the trailer and although I saw a few birds, none came in close.  Two from our group did manage to bag a couple of birds so at least we know they are out there! If you have never experienced South Dakota mud in the rain and the snow in this area you are in for a treat. The “gravel” roads get so slick with the mud that they will often delay or cancel school! It is much like driving on ice where you have absolutely no control of your vehicle. Monday continued to rain and turned to snow so everyone stayed in camp and watched movies for the day. Tuesday the snow continued most of the day and the wind continued with 25-35mph sustained winds with gusts higher than that. Although some of us did get out it was very difficult hunting. Barb and Daisy decided that turkey hunting in the cold and wind was for the birds and stayed at the trailer. Spring is mating season for turkeys, hens laying as many as 15 eggs in their nests. When the weather is warm the hens will cluck and call to potential suitors while toms will goggle and run around looking for hens and other toms to fight with. However, when it is cold, hens get crabby and lose their desire to get frisky. They will not mate or nest when it is below 45 , as a result the toms are very hard to hunt. They seem to know any hen that is out there calling and looking for company is nuts, as a result when they see our decoys or hear our come-hither calls they tend to go the other way. Who wants to deal with a crazy hen?!?! By the end of the week the shotgun hunters within the group had taken 8 birds. In addition to me there were 2 other archery hunters, we got skunked.

 If you ever find yourself crossing South Dakota on Hwy 44, stop by for fuel and a meal at the D&E Service Station in Wood. Dave and Eileen are very nice people and Eileen is an awesome cook!

Thursday afternoon we packed up and headed to Minnesota to visit friends and family. We arrived late Thursday night and are currently “mooch docking” at my brother Bob’s house in Taylors Falls. For those of you unfamiliar with that term, mooch docking is kinda like boon docking but we are “mooching” space in their yard, hooked up to their water and power. We will be here for about a week where Barb is going to work for a few days while I get things ready for our 4 months at Pasha Lake Cabins in Ontario. I talked to Chad, the owner of Lake, who said the ice is not off the lakes yet but it should be off in time for fishing opener next week!

Mooch docking at my brothers house
We did not take a lot of pictures this week so I am including some pictures from earlier that did not make previous posts.
Barb fishing Ditch Creek in SD
A couple of brook trout hiding under a log
White-faced Ibis in Utah

Western Grebe in Utah
Black Necked Stilt in Utah

Avocet in Utah