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!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Goodbye South Dakota, Hello Ontario!

This week found us driving in North Dakota reminiscing about the past 6 weeks in the Black Hills; about everything we got done, about all our visitors and talking about what is yet to come.  We have so many goals of things to do in South Dakota it is mindboggling; bike the entire Michelson Trail, hit every brewery in the hills, hike all 9 trails in Custer State Park….. Not to mention the personal work; get our build site ready for concrete, fencing projects...... So many things so little time…..
But that is part of what continues to drive us; reaching for and achieving goals. This past week we accomplished a couple of these goals and made steps towards others. Kevin and Cheryl arrived for a few days and we went to work on our build site by putting in concrete forms, putting in water lines, electrical conduit, frost foam and rebar. We are officially ready for concrete!

We also knocked off one more brewery by visiting the newly opened Firehouse Brewery in Hill City. This makes 5 out of 10.  Barb had a flight of 6 brews (her favorite being the Smoke Jumper), Cheryl did a wine tasting that included 5 wines (she bought a bottle of Mythical Beast) while Kevin and I had a pint of Bell Tower Lager, their lightest beer. Since Cheryl had never been to Prairie Berry Winery we hit that as well where she bought a bottle of Red Ass Rhubarb.
Cheryl and Barb at Firehouse Brewery
The night before we headed north Rudee and Phil invited us to another play at the Black Hills Playhouse. This time we saw “Oklahoma!” We are not really play people so for us to go to two plays in a month is quite a feat and both Barb and I agreed that this was the best one we have ever been to and the Spelling Bee we saw last month was the 2nd best play we have been to. Never mind the fact these are the only two we have ever seen.

One last check of thee trail cameras showed that the fawns are finally starting to show themselves!
Follow the leader.....

This one looks very young!

Do I have something in my teeth?

Jumping for joy!
For this road trip our first destination was “The Farm” in North Dakota where we planned a one night stay to see Bob and DeAnne for the night. We try to take different routes whenever we travel to the farm, this time we came across “The Enchanted Highway” so we took a little detour to see what it was all about. It is a 32 mile stretch of highway where they constructed scrap metal sculptures to entice travelers in the area. 

Besides seeing Bob and DeAnne, we were especially looking forward to this trip as it was the first time we have been here in the summer.
Barb was a little camera shy
All of our other trips were in the spring before the crops were up and in the fall when the crops are harvested. This is the first time we have been here when the crops were in their full growing cycle. One of the main things we were looking forward to was seeing the Canola in full bloom and we were not disappointed! 
The field with the blue on the right is flax

The cows kept staring at the drone
Soon after arriving and saying hello Bob and I hit the field to take a look at a gopher problem he has in one of  his fields. Since I am the self-proclaimed rodent expert of the Dakota’s, I wanted to see what he was dealing with. I have seen the damage prairie dogs could do but we have no financial impact. These gophers on the other hand can devastate a field and take money out of their pockets.

The bare spots in the photo below show some of the damage caused by the gophers....
Each of those bare spots a gopher damage
A close up of one of the area

Then there are the geese.... this is what they do to a pea field.
All that brown were peas until the geese moved in and ate them to the ground. So what do you do? You can't shoot them this time of year, you cannot be there constantly to shoo them away, instead he put up a coyote decoy which so far is working like a charm!

Farmer Bob and his coyote decoy
The next day we drove the area so I could get a look at all the fields we planted in May. It was really cool to see where they were just 6 weeks later.
Field Peas
Chick Peas
We left the next day and started our 16 hour journey northeast towards our ultimate goal; Pasha Lake Cabins. We chose a route that took us east just below the Canadian border. As we passed through Rugby we saw a monument saying that we were in the geological center of North America!

We eventually crossed into Minnesota and made our way to Baudette where we crossed the border into Ontario. This is where we met Willie Walleye, a 40' statue just before we crossed the border.

As soon as we crossed the border Barb kept chiding me that she was going to catch the biggest walleye and rub it in my face. She kept doing this annoying “walleye dance” saying “I am going to catch the biggest fish, I am going to catch the biggest fish” To be honest she looked more like a beached manatee than a walleye. She went on so much I don’t know if I should pull over and roll her into the water or roll her in some bread crumbs and into a frying pan!

After 10 hours of driving that day, we spent the night in a boat launch at a remote lake on highway 11 about 1 ½ hours east of Thunder Bay. 

Four hours later we were pulling into Pasha Lake Cabins and set up our home for the next 5 weeks! 

Not a bad view for the next few weeks!

So who will catch the biggest fish? Well, you will just have to stay tuned to find out!