Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Pasha Lake Wrap Up

The first order of business this week it to help me settle a bet. Several of us had a heated discussion this week that almost ended in fisticuffs. You see, there are white fish in some of the lakes around here. The question is....when you go fishing for them do you call it White Fish fishing or just White fishing? 

The argument is that when you go walleye fishing you don’t call it walleye fish fishing so why would you call it white fish fishing? One the other hand, they are called White Fish, not just "White" so you would call it white fish fishing….. See the deep conversations we have over a beer(s) at night?!?! So please help us settle this bet once and for all by commenting below and let us know what you think it should be called!

This past week was our last week here at Pasha. 4 weeks just flew by. We have checked off everything we were looking forward to doing up here. Over the past 18 months we have dreamed of getting back up here and fishing our favorite lakes, catching countless fish and just enjoying nature. We have seen the leaves turn from green to red and yellow. We have seen the Northern Lights dancing in the midnight skies. We have seen the sunsets go from 9:00 at night to 8:15. Winter is definitely on the horizon.

As much as we enjoyed the hunting and fishing, it was the people who really made the trip memorable.. We had supper and beers with Chad almost every night. Probably the highlight of the last 4 weeks…..Laughing and telling stories, it is a season I will never forget just for that aspect alone. Spending time with Bob, Rob, Doug and Connie and this past week, Brian.

 The fishing was the best we have ever had up here, but it was the people that really made it a trip special. We really hate for it to end.

Besides the people, Barb said the highlight of her time up here was bear hunting and just watching the bears do bear things in the woods. My highlight was watching Barb watch the bears do bear things in the woods. I got chills just watching Barb experience that for the first time. I think Chad’s highlight was anticipating what Barb was making for supper each night and having a never ending supply of cold beverages waiting for him at the end of the day!

Dakota’s highlight was the walks down the driveway everyday where she would chase the grouse through the woods. Zoey’s highlight chasing Dakota and latching onto her neck while Dakota was chasing the aforementioned grouse through the woods.

Or perhaps it was learning how to play fetch in the cabin. I think she could do it all day long!

This week was more of an adventure week for us. We had fished all the lakes on our bucket list, now it was time to add some remote bonus lake fishing. First up was a lake that I bet does not get fish more than a dozen times a year and had not been fished at all in the past 18 months. We were sure that the fish would just jump in the boat once we were on the water.

But first we had to get to the lake which was not going to be an easy task. This particular lake is 5 miles off the main road down an old overgrown logging road which now is just a canopy covered trail. It is a two day process to get to this lake. Day 1 found Ian (the camp guide and hired hand) and I clearing the 5 mile trail of any large logs and downed trees. We also had to navigate a couple of low areas and beaver dams. 

It was not nearly as bad as we thought it was going to be and we made it to the lake shore in just over an hour. The landing is located at an old mining camp where they had core shacks filled with all their old cores samples...

Collapsed Core Shack
Each shelf is labeled in some fashion

Once we got there, we checked out the landing and the boat that had been stashed there for the past several years. 
The following day Ian, Chad, Brian (a high school friend of Chad’s) and I loaded up our 4 wheelers and headed to the lake. Since there is only one boat on the lake Ian brought another one on top of his buggy. Even having cleared the trail the day before, it was adventure just getting into the lake….

Once we got to the lake Ian and I jumped in one boat while Chad and Brian took the other and we went off in different directions to our own favorite hot spots. Once Ian and I got to ours, I dropped my jig in the water and had a fish on in less than 30 seconds. Then Ian had one on as I was still reeling in mine, double on our first cast!

Both were keeper (17-18”) fish so I got out the stringer and got it ready as the fish were flopping on the floor of the boat. I got one fish on the stringer, was reaching for the other when Ian caught another, and another, and another and another. I had fish flopping around like crazy! We had 6 fish on the stringer in less than 5 minutes, all fat and the same size!

Chad and Brian motored up to us 20 minutes later and they had had similar success. We left the lake 2 hours later with our 16 fish and 2 bonus grouse Chad got on the trail in!

Surf and Turf!

Barb and I fished the same lake the next day with the exact same results although we did not keep as many fish as we had not eaten everything from the previous day yet.

We also fished our favorite northern pike lake again and although we caught fish, we did not catch anything over 40”. When we were done, we pulled the boat up into the woods and flipped it over. It  is now ready for the long winter ahead. Over the next few days between Chad, Ian and I, we fished a couple different lakes pulling motors and flipping over boats putting everything to bed for the winter.

Chad even talked Barb into going out bear hunting again saying he really wanted a picture of Barb with a bear to be featured on his website for the following year. So off we went back to the bear woods! This time she hunted from an elevated tree stand. Unfortunately, the bears did not cooperate but we did enjoy a couple more evenings in the woods just watching nature!

Barb perched in a tree

So now we are all packed up and ready to roll again. Destination unknown…. Well, that is not totally accurate, we are heading south and east to a state that we have not been to in our 8 years of travel adventures!

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

I Did it Again!

Do you believe in miracles? Do you believe that lightening can strike twice in the same place? Well, it did this week when I again caught the biggest fish this week!

For all you non-believers, haters, Scrooge’s and if there’s not a picture then it didn’t happen people who did not believe I caught the biggest fish last week, here is your proof! 

That’s right, that is me holding a 40” northern pike. And yes, I caught it all by myself, and no, it is not a fish that Barb caught and just let me hold. Geez, sometimes I think some of you think I just make things up to make myself look better and I would never, never do that! (Insert dramatic pause to see if God strikes me down for writing that sentence).

After Bob and his crew left last week Barb and I had to go pick up the motors and gas tanks off the boats they used on one of the lakes they were at last week so as long as we are out there……we may as well fish it! It was not an easy trip as the winds beat us up a little but we did manage to catch several very nice fish in addition to the 40"er!

The next day our good friends Doug and Connie arrived from Wisconsin. Doug and I met back in the late 80’s and have been good friends ever since. They stayed in our cabin with us which we both appreciated as Doug is a wizard in the kitchen!

They had scheduled 3 days of fishing with us so we planned to make the most of it. Day 1 we went to Northwind where all 4 or us loaded into one boat and hit the water.

Although it was a little tight having all of us in one boat it was nice to spend time together rather than trying to talk between two boats. We took them directly to our “honey hole” where we started catching fish immediately. I’m not lying when I say we had several times where all 4 of us had fish on at the same time. (See, once again I was not struck down). After a couple of hours we had our 16 take home fish and we threw back 4-5x’s more than that.

Connie with one on!

We hit a few other spots on the way back and soon day 1 of their trip was in the books. That night Chad stopped by for a visit and a beer(s). 3 hours later, we were still talking and telling tales. Doug had not been up here for 7-8 years so there was a lot for them to catch up on!

Day 2 was our scheduled Onaman day. As you will recall, this is the walk-in only lake that requires a 1 ¼ mile hike into in order to access the lake. For medical reasons Connie cannot walk that far so Chad contacted the MNR and requested an exemption so we could bring her in on a 4 wheeler. In order to get the exemption you have to get a doctor’s note and submit it to the MNR for approval. You also need to provide the date you are going in as well as a detailed description of the 4 wheeler going in.

All loaded up and ready to roll!

Permit in hand, we were off to the lake! It is about a 1 ½ hour drive from camp. We stopped a few times to make sure the 4 wheeler was not going to jiggle loose and fall out on these rough gravel roads. Once we got there we unloaded the wheeler and Connie and I were headed to the lake!
Trail in

Doug and Barb had to walk.  That is the other rule about taking the 4 wheeler, you can only bring the passenger, no one else AND no fishing equipment. So Barb and Doug had to carry the poles and other gear. We did not know how many trees were going to be down on the trail, which is why I drove the 4 wheeler instead of Barb. Ends up there were just a few that we were able to drive right over.

Once at the lake we saw it was dead calm. How can a lake that big be dead calm, like glass? We have experienced this a few times and the fishing was slow each of those times. 

No waves at all

We went directly to one of our favorite spots, fished it for 30 minutes and did not catch a fish….oh oh. Then we went to the next spot and started catching a few. Doug hauled in a nice 25” walleye.
Doug with his 25" 'eye

Connie with a nice one

The last spot we hit was where we got most of our action on a rocky point in about 12’ of water. At one Barb and I got a double of 23"ers and took this selfie.....
She said "Hey, no fair your fish is closer to the camera and makes it look bigger". Then she shoved her fish in front of mine, then I shoved mine in front of hers, and so on....until we could not get any closer to the camera.....
See, mine is bigger!

My biggest was a 24

All in all, we probably caught 20 each, all between 20”–24”. Not a bad day of fishing at all!

Our last day of fishing with Doug and Connie brought us to the lake Barb and I started our week trying to catch some more northern pike. I was a little afraid to go there as it would give Barb the opportunity to beat the 40”er I caught on a few days earlier. Do I put a nick in her line just in case she hooks into one? Do I give her a lure with defective hooks? So many scenarios went through my mind to make sure I ended the week with the top fish. Not being able to think of a sabotage I could get away with I just decided to go with fate.

The forecast was for rain all day…. 90% and it was not wrong but we loaded up anyways and hit the trail. This lake requires a 4 ½ mile 4 wheeler ride to a spot where Chad has a couple of boats stashed in the woods. Doug and I brought the motors, gas and fishing equipment out on the first trip, then we came back and picked up the girls.

It is a narrow rutted trail but off we went with Connie in front with me and Doug and Barb in back.


Connie and I up front

Once on the lake we started catching some nice pike. Somehow my phone got screwed up so I was not able to open it to take pictures. I think it had something to do with the fact that this phone requires a “swipe” to open and that is virtually impossible in the rain with pruney, water-soaked fingers.

Barb hit the board first with a nice 32”er followed by Connie with a 35”er. Doug and I were each catching fish as well most of which were in that 27”-34” range. 

We were fishing an area that was known to hold some really big fish, in fact Bob’s group caught a 42”er in this spot last week so I knew my record for the week was in serious jeopardy. Barb and I were casting our spoons when…Wham! Fish on! Big fish…When we got our first glimpse of it we knew right away it was going to set a new record for the week. This thing was huge! Not only long but thick and fat. I know at this point you are wondering which one of us have it on. I also know that 98% of you are hoping it is Barb. Why, why all the hate?!?!

The fish made run after run. Every time it would see the boat it would take off again, and again, and again….. We finally got it back to the boat and heaved it in. We stretched it out on the seat, put the tape to it and measured it out at 43”. So who caught this toad?

43 inches!

Yours truly of course. Was there ever any doubt?!?

After catching that, I released it and said “Okay everyone time to go home” thus solidifying my victory for the week! Why test fate any further by fishing another hour?  

On the bear hunting front, although Barb had a couple opportunities, she has put her bow away and we are going to concentrate on fishing and relaxing the rest of our time up here. She said she had fun, got over a lot of her “bear fear” and would definitely do it again.

We also got some very sad news when one of our nieces messaged us saying her brother, our nephew, was found deceased in his house this week. David was 47, had his ups and downs in life but was a very good kid living life to its fullest. We last saw David in 2017 when he stopped and saw us as he was trucking through the Tucson area on his was to California. Rest in Peace David….

Thursday, September 9, 2021

I Caught the Biggest Fish!

Guess who caught the biggest fish so far this week?!?!? Well, it happens so infrequently that I have to brag about it. I did! It was not a walleye, or even a northern pike, it was a lake trout! I have not caught one in years and for that matter do not fish for them as the ones around here are few, far between and hard to target.

Pasha Lake itself only has two game fish in it, northern pike and lake trout. And since this week was filled with rain almost every day we stayed close to camp and only went out when it looked like there was a little break in the rain. On one such break Barb and I went out on Pasha in the hopes of catching a lake trout. To catch just one is considered a successful day. So off we went with a few shiner minnows and our poles rigged with jigs. Since these fish are so few and far between in this lake we try to target them. Meaning you go slowly along the lake shore watching your sonar graph, when you see a fish you stop and try and catch it.

So round and round we go, looking for a fish. This is what they look like on the graph. Well, not exactly like this as this is an image of several walleyes in one of our honey holes. A single lake trout would be a single “arch-type” image whereas this picture has 6 or more fish on it.

We would find a fish, usually in 30-40’ of water, and try and drop a minnow near it and see what happens. We were out for over an hour when it finally happened, fish on! I cannot tell you the last time I caught a lake trout…. Oh wait, I can, it was in 2016 while in the Yukon, but anyway, I had one on now!

We finally get it to the boat as Barb is manning the net, she takes a swipe it and misses! If I did not know any better I would have thought she was trying to knock it off! But she got it on the 2nd try and heaved it into the boat. Then it started pouring again so we hustled back to shore and to our cabin. I had Barb take a picture of me with it, cleaned it and put it in the freezer. Later I looked at the picture, I was soaked, pale, had ½ of my shirt tucked in and ½ out, a dead pan expression on my face white pale face that looked like I should be on a table in a morgue instead of standing up holding a fish. So….. no picture for the blog. I will not torture you with that image but it really happened, trust me!

We had two days we barely left the cabin it rained so much and two days we snuck out between storms to fish and two days bear hunting. We caught another limit of walleye and had another fresh walleye dinner. So far we have had them pan fried, deep fried and grilled.

Nice stringer of 'eyes

Speaking of hunting there has been a blog post floating around in my mind for a couple months now that I did not know if I would ever write or not. For those of you who have read our blog for a while you know we tend to stay away from controversial topics like politics, religion, and more recently vaccines. I want our blog to be fun, informative and a record of our adventures, not controversial.

But the blog post started floating around in my head after I watched a Netflix documentary a few months ago called Stars in the Sky: A Hunting Story by Steve Rinella. (That link is a link to his trailer, this link will take you to the actual documentary on Netflix) I have been a fan of Steve’s shows for years as his philosophy on hunting closely resembles mine where it is almost more of a spiritual experience more than anything. For those of you how don’t hunt, I would strongly encourage you to watch it if for nothing else but to give you a perspective on the hunting culture. For those of you who do hunt, I think you would enjoy it as well. There is not a lot of blood and gore in it so I think it would be safe for hunters and non-hunters alike. Make sure you have some time, like maybe on a rainy day as it is a little over an hour long. I am not trying to change any opinions here, but for me it was very moving.

As long as I am writing about things I don’t usually write about……We don’t usually talk about our health and ailments on the blog either, (unlike other people we know who have to describe in excruciating detail every little thing that goes on with him, usually with pictures that no matter how hard you try you just cannot unsee!) but.... Barb also had a little health scare this week when she had a she started seeing “floaties” and flashes of light in her right eye. We had a friend recently who had a torn retina and we were afraid the same might be happening to Barb. What to do?! We are in Canada hours away from anyplace that takes our insurance. Barb called a couple of retina specialists in Duluth, MN (6 hours away) and they said it could be a retina in the early stages of tearing and she should get it looked at. Do we pack up everything and go down there to get it checked out? She thought about going by herself, getting it checked out, and then getting another covid test so she could come back. But the earliest appointment was not until late Sept. Then she thought; Why not go to Thunder Bay here in Ontario to an ophthalmologist and get it checked out there? We have a high deductible insurance policy so it would be out of pocket no matter where we went. So she called down there and got an appointment for a couple days later. So on the appointed day she was off to Thunder Bay. She did not want me to go because she did not want to leave the dogs alone that long.

When she got there she said they took 6-8 scans of both her eyes with this machine she had to stare into. After a bit a doctor came in and went over the scans with her. She does not have a torn retina. She has a tear of some word she cannot remember or pronounce but it nothing to be worried about. He said the floaties and flashing lights would go away in a few days.

Then it came time for the bill. Ugh! How much is this going to be?!?! My guess was $1,200. Chad’s guess was $1,500. Barb walked up to pay the bill….$75! In the states that would have easily been over a $1,000. Regardless of the cost, Barb is okay and we can continue our Canadian adventures!

So it is back to the bear blind we went! Barb and I have now spent so much time in the bear blind we are starting to go loopy. I don’t know how many books she has read, maybe like a dozen, I have read maybe 2-3. She reads them on her iPad while I read them from an actual book. She is like a speed reader and I cannot help but see her flick the pages out of my peripheral vision. I will be reading a page and she flicks like 8 pages to my one, it is actually very distracting and somewhat annoying. Who reads that fast!?!?

Then there are the times a start taking pictures and whisper “Give me a serious hunter pose”

Then “Give me a I wonder where the bears are pose”

Then, “Give me an “I am looking for a bear pose”

Then she starts cracking up and gets the giggles and I am whispering to be quiet, the more I whisper to be quiet the more she giggles! No wonder we are not seeing any bears!

This week at Pasha my good friend Bob, (Not Farmer Bob but Farmer Bob’s son-in-law’s dad and my high school buddy, Bob) came up with a groups of his customers, a total 6 guys. This is his 7th year coming up with his customers, some of them the same, some of them different and they are here to have a good time! One thing I noticed each night they were here is that the number of times I had to get up and go to the bathroom each night directly correlated to the number of beers I had the night before. 3 beers, 3 times getting up, 4 beers, 4 times. I wonder if I had 12 or even 17 beers in one night if I would have to get up that many times....... I will have to ask Dino! 

They fished everyday regardless of the rain, mostly all day and caught tons of fish. They have two favorite lakes; Onaman, which is the 1 ½ mile walk-in walleye lake and a northern pike lake that will remain nameless which is a 4 mile ATV ride into it. 

A trophy northern pike is anything 40” or better, if you hit that mark you know you really have something special. Not only did they hit that mark once but they hit it 4 times!

Now that I think about it, I did not catch the biggest fish after all! 

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Where's Your Happy Place?

I think everyone has what Barb and I refer to as our Happy Places. Places that bring a glow to our hearts when we are there. For Barb and I we share a few together and have a few to ourselves. For me, it is the forests of northern Wisconsin on my friend Mike’s property and a duck blind on a pothole in North Dakota. For Barb, it would be the Oregon Coast where she spent so much time with her mom, dad and brother growing up. Our shared happy places are our place in South Dakota, anywhere where we are with our kids and here at Pasha Lake Cabins. These are places all of life’s worries shed off your shoulders and you can just relax. Places you would want your ashes spread when you die and just become part of that special place.

But it is more than just the places, it is the people there that also make it special. At Pasha Lake, that is Chad and Michelle. We have been coming up here since they purchased the resort in 2006. Well, we did miss two years, 2016 when we went to Alaska and of course last year. So this year when Barb and I turned onto Highway 17 in Nipigon, we were just giddy with excitement, it had been way too long!

But when we arrived, neither Chad nor Michelle were there. Chad arrived 2 days later. He had not been here in almost a year! Imagine owning a business that you rely on for a living and not even being able to visit it? Michelle will not be coming up at all as she is working and has kids in school. She will be dearly missed.

One of the bonuses (for us) of coming up this year is that Chad did not have a full camp and offered us a cabin during our stay up here. We jumped at it! More room for the dogs. More room for cooking, dishing and just relaxing

View out our window

The other bonus is that he has extra bear tags and asked if Barb wanted one to hunt bear for the very first time!

So, have several goals over the next few weeks, relax, fish and see about getting Barbie a bear. We went out bear hunting the first night, which is deal for Barb. You see, she is terrified of bears and I am talking one of those irrational “bears are going to kill me fears”. Ever since she was a small child she has had reoccurring dreams about bears attacking her, basically ripping her face off. So what better way to face this fear then to go into the woods in a 4x4 soft sided ground blind, known in the bear world as a Barbie Burrito!

So far we have been out 4 times, 5 hours each, sitting in a 4x4 space, not talking…. just reading, playing games on our iPads and just watching the world go by. The first night we were sitting there and the woods were dead quite, not a sound at all. All of a sudden the woods exploded and Barb’s eyes about popped out of her head. She thought for sure a bear was charging through the woods directly at us with a jar of salsa. Then a little red squirrel bounded by as though he was late for a meeting. I told her “Relax honey, bears don’t make any noise in the woods, it is the noise you don’t hear that you have to worry about”. I am sure she felt better after that!

We had no bear sightings that night but it was good to get out in the woods.

The next day it was time to go fishing! We went to one of our favorite fishing lakes. After launching the boat we were off to what we call “secret spot”. I really don’t know how secret it is but we don’t tell anyone about it. 

We were not there 5 minutes when Barb shouts “Fish on!”. And so it begins, with Barb not only catching the first fish but as always, she caught the biggest of the day as well.

We were there probably 2 hours and caught 20+ fish each with 8 nice walleyes for the stringer. Fish dinner tonight!

Since then we/I have been out fishing several more times. A former co-worker of both Chad and mine came up for the week with his fiancĂ©e Diane and son Dylan. Chad and I joined them on the lake for a day of fishing. As we were going out I took a picture of Chad but he stopped me and insisted that I take a picture of “his good side” while he pose stoically motoring down the lake….

Does he even have a good side?

I am not sure but maybe I was supposed to take a picture of the other side?

Once we arrived to our destination Chad and I dropped our lines in the water and it was game on!

After about 30 minutes we had enough fish for shore lunch so we motored over to Rob and Diane who were having just as good of luck as we were. Rob was a busy man taking, not only catching his own fish but taking the ones off the hooks that Diane and Dylan caught as well.

All 5 of us then headed over to a nearby island for shore lunch. Nothing like fresh walleye straight from the lake!

Bear hunting the following night was just a quite sit in the woods with nothing too exciting to see but some squirrels and chipmunks and Barb was becoming a lot more comfortable sitting in the woods. On our most recent hunt we went out a little earlier so we got to spend even more time silently staring at each other! About 45 minutes into that hunt I look to my right and see a bear! He is silently approaching our area so Barb gets her bow ready to shoot.  It is amazing that animal that size can walk soundlessly through the woods. As it slowly approached, we were both judging him to see if he was a bear that Barb wanted or not. Barb was surprisingly calm as he nosed around just a mere 45 feet away.

He nosed around the area for about 15 minutes before walking off to parts unknown. Afterwards Barb said her heart was pounding so hard she thought for sure the bear was going to hear it!

Meanwhile, back in Pringle South Dakota, Kevin, Cheryl, Dan and Bonnie are continuing to have fun without us. I know, it has to be hard for them but they are managing. When Kevin’s mom was here a few weeks ago, Barb and I had just returned to the area as well. We were at the bar on Wednesday night when someone said it was good to have “the six pack” back together. Well, Kevin’s mom ran with that whole “six pack” theme and took it a step further and ordered us t-shirts caricatures of each of us on it and the title of “The Pringle 6 Pack” under them. Well, they wanted a picture of all of us wearing them but we were not there….what to do? Ever resilient, they broke out Jim and Barb on a Stick, dressed us up and took us out for a night at the bar!

They said we had a great time and were getting lots of strange stares from the other bar patrons.

But wait, there’s more! Cheryl was not done with me as when Kevin went to bed later that night, he found that I was already in his spot in bed! 

Sometimes I swear they have more fun when we are gone than when we are there!  

We still have a couple weeks left up here to fish and find a cooperative bear, who knows what adventures await us!