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……..ice! 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!


  1. Joan would love the fishing, but not all the ice. Stay warm!

    1. The fishing has been fantastic! It sounds like you guys have gotten into some cold weather yourself. It finally warmed up here but now the bugs are coming out.

  2. Reading this makes me want to take a fishing vacation! Breaking through the ice sounds fun too.