Monday, July 24, 2017

The Story of the Big Yellow Bobber......

No pictures this week, just a story to tell........
One of the things we love about coming up here is the people. Each week a new group of fisherpeople come in from various parts of Canada and the United States. Over 1/2 of them are returning customers while the remaining are new. Seeing the returning customers is like a reunion of sorts. We get to visit and catch up with what each of us have been up to throughout the year. This past week we met people from northern Minnesota, Ohio, Windsor Ontario and Iowa.

The subject of this blog is a lone fisherman named Ed. Ed is a personal injury lawyer from Iowa who drove 14 hours for two days of fishing. Since he had never been up here before I offered to take him out both days. He was looking for the full adventure package and he got a lot more than he ever expected!

Taking someone fishing like this may sound like all fun and games but it is actually quite stressful. He drove a long way to get here and his expectations were high. For our first adventure I planned a full day of walleye fishing on Onaman Lake complete with shore lunch on a remote island on the lake.

Well….. the best laid plans got off to a rocky start. Our hour drive to the parking area was uneventful until we got within 100 yards of our destination when I heard an all too familiar noise coming from one of the jeep tires. I stopped and look to see a ½ flat tire on the rear of the jeep. I quickly jumped in the jeep and made it to the parking area. Rather than spend valuable fishing time changing a tire I told Ed to grab his rod and we would worry about it later.

After the mile and a ¼ walk to the lake we jumped in the boat and headed to my favorite hot spot. The same place we made the video a few weeks ago. It was dead calm on the lake…. no good. After an hour of fishing we had one fish and I am internally panicking. I need to get this guy on the fish!!!! Spot #2 near pelican island, same thing….. no fish. By now we are two hours into our fishing trip and have 2-3 fish to show for our efforts. I keep telling Ed that it is just a matter of finding them, once we do we will be catching them like crazy. So we move to a point that I have done well at in the past. By now the wind and clouds have rolled in so our once calm and flat lake has turned into white caps and rollers. Challenging for boating but good for fishing.

We pulled up at spot #3 and started catching fish almost immediately. Over the next hour we caught about 24 walleye averaging 20-22”’s. Finally I can start to relax, we are on the fish! We kept 3 for shore lunch and after a time headed to an island to cook them up. We arrive at the island, tie up the boat, cut up the potatoes and put them on my portable stove while I cleaned the fish. There is nothing better than a shore lunch right on the lake, it was fantastic!

Lunch done, I start cleaning up and bring everything over to the boat to load up and…… no boat. I look downwind and see the boat drifting down the lake bobbing in the waves about 300 yards off the island! I run back up to my duffle bag I had unloaded our shore lunch gear from and grab my life jacket and start running for the lake. Ed says “What are you doing?” Putting on my life vest I replied that I was going to get the boat.

Picture if you will…..Life vest on, take pants off and pull the rip cord on my life vest which activates the automatic inflator. Within seconds a huge yellow life vest inflates around me. So there I am standing on shore in my underwear with this silly yellow life vest on headed for a boat 300 yards out on a windy lake. What choice to I have? Doing my best Michael Phelps imitation I leap in the water and swim as fast as I can….. for about 50 yards…..then I turn on my side and do a side stroke for the next 50 yards pretty soon I am on my back doing the back stroke totally exhausted. After the next 50 yards I figure I must be gaining on it so I roll over to see the boat still 200 yards away! The wind is carrying it much fast than I am swimming. Undaunted I carry on until I just can’t swim any more, I look at the boat, still no closer, I look at the island… it is now 200 yards up wind and here I am too tired to move… floating like a huge yellow bobber in the middle of this lake.

Decision time… do I continue after the boat? Do I head back to the island? The only way to catch the boat is to wait for it to hit shore about 3 miles across the lake.... and I am not sure if I have the strength to swim back to the island. Luckily common sense kicked in and I turn around and head back to the island. At this point I can only lay on my back and scissor kick and stroke with my arms. Waves are crashing over my face but I can tell I am making headway. It is then I realize I am still wearing my hat. Why am I wearing my hat? Oh well….. I carry on… I am thinking we are here for the night and someone will come look for us tomorrow. We have food, water and fire, it is not going to be fun but we will survive. But how will they find us on this 28,000 acre lake?

I finally make it to where I can touch bottom but don’t have the strength to stand up so I continue swimming and just off shore I beach myself on a boulder like a sea lion on the Oregon coast. A sea lion wearing a yellow inflatable life vest that is. Ed is standing close by asking if I am alright but I just hug the rock trying to catch my breath. I look up and what do I see headed in our general direction? Another boat! Ed takes off his shirt and starts waving it and I stand up to make the yellow vest more visible. I am not sure what they thought when they saw a shirtless man waving at them and a pantsless man standing in the water….. anyone with common sense would have probably turned around and headed the other way but they came over and we directed them to the boat which they promptly retrieved for us. Ends up they were a husband, wife and two kids group from Windsor Ontario who were staying at Pasha Lake as well. They are now our new best friends!

Soon we were all packed up and back in the boat laughing and catching fish. For something that could have turned out horribly bad in many several different scenarios it could not have turned out much better. We must have caught more than 30 fish each averaging over 20”’s and a story to tell on top of it!

At the end of the day we arrived back to the jeep, changed the tire and headed home.

The next day we headed to Northwind Lake. It was a great and much less exciting day where again caught about 30 fish each and Ed caught his first blue walleye. And guess who we ran into on that lake???? The Windsor family who rescued us the day before! We invited them to have shore lunch with us, afterall, it is not like they did anything for us…. Mark and Deb are a great couple and we hope to catch up with them on our journey east next summer.

At the end of day 2 Ed said he had some of the best fishing ever and an adventure of a lifetime! Another successful mission….

Friday, July 7, 2017

What we did During our Summer Vacation!

We learned several valuable lessons during our weeklong " summer vacation" in South Dakota last week. We left Pasha Lake Cabins early on a Wednesday morning and made our way south for our 20 hour journey to our property in the Black Hills. Our border crossing was just how we liked it…uneventful and 8 hours later we were at our friend Kevin’s house in Milltown Wisconsin.

We spent the next two days at his house. One day working around his house mowing and tidying up the place as it is for sale and he had a showing the following day. We managed to get out to dinner with my sister Judy and her husband Mike for the all you can eat rib special at The Thirsty Otter. It is just sad when “all you can eat” consists of one serving….. I remember the day when I was able to get my monies worth and even Barb’s! Regardless, the ribs and the company were awesome!
Day two consisted of getting ready for our trip west; groceries, loading up fence posts, the skid loader, auger, bucket and all the tools we needed. That night we showered, put on our best duds and headed to Balsam Lake where they had closed down Main Street for the big event........ a tractor pull! And this was not your run of the mill tractor pull, this was one specifically for lawn tractors!

What we were expecting and what we saw were two totally different things……we were expecting lawn tractors right off the yard, maybe a little modified and there were some of those. What we did not expect was the souped up lawn tractors with engines as big as 8 cylinder with almost 500hp! These things would smoke the tires all the way down Main Street much of the way on two wheels.

It was a great event and it looked like the entire town came out.
The following morning we jumped in the truck and headed west and we were off to the Black Hills! 12 hours later we pulled into Country Charm Cabins and Corrals where we spent the next 6 days working on our property and Kevin’s property.

But back to the lessons learned….. The first thing we learned is that this area is seriously crowded 4th of July weekend. Custer and Hill City were crazy busy. We drove by Bear Country, Reptile Gardens and Crazy Horse. There were cars everywhere filled with little screamers, we passed them all and headed to the quiet and peacefulness of Pringle. You know what we did not see this trip? A mosquito, not a single solitary mosquito, Barb was in heaven!

The second thing we learned was that the ground in South Dakota is much harder than the ground in Wisconsin. When we tried augering our first hole for a fence post we knew we were in trouble! We made it less than a foot when we hit solid rock and stopped dead. We tried a few different spots with the same result. Time to go to Plan B. So the next day we ran into Rapid City (~ an hour drive) to an implement dealer where we bought a new auger with a rock bit. This worked much better, we were able to get in all the corner posts except 2 which even the rock auger would not burrow into.
Ready to auger our first hole

We dug, we chiseled, we chipped and only got 2 feet!

After getting the new auger things went much better.....
The culvert work went much better. The ground was a lot less rocky along the edge of the roads and we were able to get the culverts in and graded with gravel we had delivered in about 2 hours each.
Working on our road frontage

Looks like I am supervisor material!

Getting started on Kevin's approach 
We also spent an afternoon clearing our building area. The power had been run to the building site the week before so we also leveled an area for our RV friends! Only regular outlets for right now, I will put a 50 amp plug in on the next trip.
Kevin cut while I dragged them away with the skidsteer

Barb even got in on the action!

RV site ready and open for business!
Work done, we were ready for a little fun, a few beers and a nice steak. Kevin called some friends of his that live in the area and they came over for steaks over a campfire. There is nothing like the taste of a wood-fired steak cooked outdoors!
View from our building site
Kevin shooting at the prairie dogs....
The valley was filled with wild flowers

Kevin, Barb, me, Rich and Cheryl

Kevin tending to the steaks
We put trail cameras out at both ours and Kevin’s property. Among several other deer I got a picture of this nice buck on our property.

But Kevin hit the mother lode on his camera! After two days he had pictures of deer, elk and even a mountain lion! It is hard to tell it is a mountain lion but it definitely was. 26, 42 48, 96, 108

Our summer vacation over we are on our 12 hour journey back east to Wisconsin where we will rest a day before we head back to the grind in Ontario where the walleyes and countless mosquitoes await our return!