Friday, January 15, 2010

Wheel House Get Away

Last Saturday my friend Mark Applen had called to see if I was heading up to Mille Lacs. Along with the call was an invitation (actually it's a standing one) to fish with him if I wanted to. He had been in his wheel house since Friday, parked near the Highway Bar, about 4 miles from shore. Not sure what I was going to do, it dawned on me that he had Direct TV and was watching the playoffs and fishing at the same time. A quick call back and it was confirmed, I'd be there by 9:00, too late for the dusk bite but maybe a few walleyes would stick around till I got there. Stopping at Lundeens to pick up some shiners, a bonus hunk of smoked ribs came as a nice surprise. Mark is based out of Fisherman's Wharf, located on the south shore of Big Point and has a nice set up for wheel houses. Paying my $10 road pass, I finally arrived ready to do some serious fishing. Wheel houses are hard sided fish houses that are built on a trailer frame. They have the feature of being able to disconnect the axle allowing the house to be lower to the ice. They have many of the same conveniences of a permanent house with the portability factor. You can spend anywhere from $6000 to over $30,000 on this type of shelter. Mark's is a 6 holer with 2 bunks, a table, chairs, satellite TV, furnace, and a extremely quiet 2000W Honda Generator for all the comforts of home. I think after a 24 hours of being there alone, he welcomed the company.

Within 10 minutes of getting myself set up a nice 15 inch walleye slammed my lure. Too excited to take a picture, I immediately dropped the lure back down the hole, 29 feet of water to see if it's twin was there. Within another 5 minutes Mark caught this nice eater walleye. We were in business. Well, business started strong but died faster than Tiger Woods career! That was it. We fished till 1:00 in the morning before setting the rattle reels for the night. We hit the sack with Mark graciously giving me the bottom bunk. There is something about sleeping in an ice house overnight that is magical. Mark claims we had a few rattles go off but you couldn't tell it by me, I was out like a light.

I woke up to this beautiful sunrise on Mille Lacs. If you look hard you can see the moon in the upper right hand corner, it was a nice addition to the scene. Notice the road that is plowed. The resorts plow a loop off a main road so one can pull their wheel house around and have a reasonable way to pull it out when you want to move it. Breakfast consisted of pancakes and eggs as we continued to jig for the now elusive walleye. Putting the camera down, we saw fish but they were extremely skittish, nosing the bait then darting away. This pattern continued until we left at around 5:00. Counting the 2 we caught and 1 Mark had nailed before, we were stopped by the DNR for a creel survey. The survey guy commented how well we did as it was not only the biggest catch of the day, it was the only one of all the cars coming in. Little solace, we accepted our success and headed home.

Mark Applen is an incredible man. Losing his 17 year old son to cancer 7 years ago, Mark and his wife Jan turned this tragedy into an unbelievable work of charity helping children and their families cope with this horrible disease. Through the Eric Nicolin Applen Fund, Mark and Jan raise money through an annual golf tournament held each June. Since it's inception, the ENA Fund has raised over $150,000 by ordinary people who believe that Eric lives through helping others. I invite you to check out their website and truly look at it to see all of the good that has been done. http://www.eric-nicolin-applen-fund.com/enafund.html I quote Eric's motto, "Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying I will try again tomorrow.", MaryAnne Radmacher. Myself and a number of people volunteer our time and I would say that it is the most rewarding thing I have done in my life.

3 comments:

NeenahPete said...

Dave - You have the most awesome friends!

pkellin said...

Very neat read. That family sounds like one anyone would be lucky to know. The webpage is a very neat and heartwarming one. Great story, and still more walleyes than i can get up there. How was the angiogram, hope all went well. I am heading to GR this weekend, and will let you know how it goes. Take care!

Jeff King said...

pretty cool.....