Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Report From North Pole Alaska

This week I received a call from my friend Pete Mlinar, a fellow fisherman and electrician who is working in the oil fields of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.  Pete is a proficient fisherman and is solely responsible for my Mississippi River smallmouth knowledge.  Having been laid off in Minneapolis he decided to sign the book in Fairbanks Alaska with the hopes of landing a job at the top of the world.  This March he loaded his River-pro Jet Boat and drove to Fairbanks.   His quest was successful as he started a regiment of 6 weeks working, 2 weeks off.  The money is good and within a short time Pete hopes to make enough to retire.  Working through the summer, winter has began to set in at his camp with snow covering the ground.  Throughout the summer he has sent me pictures of caribou and musk ox seen around the camp.  On his 2 weeks off the company flies him back to Fairbanks where he has befriended a fellow sportsman which assures him a place to stay and store his boat.  Word was out that the silvers were in thick near Delta Junction, Alaska which was an hour from where he stays.  Pete's River-Pro boat is quite the rig sporting a 200 hp Merc Jet Drive.  Having been to Alaska many times I can assure you that this is the Cadillac of the boats running the rivers.  Pete reports that his tip stated the fish were 8 miles down from the landing but with the water gin clear, 60 seconds heading down river he found the mother load of silvers.  The first picture is an absolutely gorgeous silver salmon.  This fish has made it way up the Yukon River to the Tanana River, a trip that has to be over 1500 miles.  If you assume this fish entered the Yukon in late July it has taken it over 60 days to make the journey, almost 30 miles a day.  When we fish the Kenai River for Silvers the fish are fresh out of the ocean and are a bright silver color.  Although I have caught fish that are just starting to turn color, we have caught nothing as beautiful as this fish.  Pete is planning on getting a graphite reproduction of this fish as it will make a great addition to his trophy room.  His work will shut down for 3 weeks over Christmas and I hope we can touch base then.  Here is another picture of his ride home, following the now snow covered Alaska Range on his right.  Man does that give me the itch, thanks Pete!

Saturday we were fortunate to attend the wedding of my cousin Linda Barneson's youngest son, Brad.  It's been 2 months since my father passed away and it was great to get together with my friends and family from Eleva for a better occasion.  Linda's husband Dennis Barneson, along with his brother Gary were instrumental in getting me started fishing Mille Lacs.  Gary had been going there for a number of years for the Minnesota Fishing Opener with a some of guys from home and they finally invited me.  Over the years they had stopped going but it had a lasting impression, one that is still with me today.  Both have made the trip to my Uncle Jerry's in Idaho to hunt elk, something I should have really done but you can only do so much in life!  Jerry has a cabin in the mountains of Idaho, a perfect place to hunt these magnificent animals.  Hunting in the rut, the bulls are open to bugle calls and the hope is to call one close enough to decent shot.  Over the years they've accumulated a ton of stories and a few elk along the way.  This year was no exception.  Jerry sent me a picture of Brad's best man, Dave Frank with a huge bull taken with his bow.  It's a real team effort with guys scouting, bugling, and if they get one, skinning, quartering, and hauling the meat out.  Congrats guys on a successful hunt, one that will undoubtedly offer a lifetime of stories.  Someday.

I did make it to Mille Lacs on Sunday afternoon to see if the bite was still going.  The mild weather had warmed the water temp at least 3 degrees from last weekend.  Trying the same pattern as before my neighbor Tom Olson and I started at the 4 Mile Gravel with lead lines.  Earlier that day my friend Mark Applen had called with the hot tip......redtails in 30 feet, the walleyes couldn't leave them alone.  The wind had created a nice walleye chop in the morning but by the time we launched the lake had laid right down.   Although the fish appeared to be up off the bottom not a minnow, Shad Rap, Husky Jerk, Rouge could entice a walleye.  After 3 hours of trolling we headed back to the reef to cast for walleyes and muskies.  I got a couple of 10 inch walleyes before we started my new favorite trolling run.  On a #5 crawfish Shad Rap produced our first keeper, a 16 incher.  Within an hour I had 3 nice walleye slam my bait but they never made it to the boat.  I use Excalibur Rotating Hooks for an unbelievable hook up success but the fish must have been hitting light as I seldom lose fish like this.  Oh well, it was still fun.  This weekend I am taking my Mother to Antigo Wisconsin to see her sister while my brother Steve and I continue to Elvoy Township on the Wisconsin/Michigan border to hunt grouse with my cousin Don.  He has invited me every year and this year we figured it would be a good chance to get mom out of the house and verify if Cousin Don actually is telling the truth about his annual fall hunt.  Either way the leaves should be in their peak form and I should have a good report for next week.

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