Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wonders of the WigWam

Well, enough complaining already!  I am sure that you will all check out my first picture and rightfully so, what a story.  As I wrote in last weeks post, a last minute scramble solidified Mark and my decision to fish at the Wigwam Resort.  Our plan was to pull his wheelhouse to Lake of the Woods and us it as our sleeping quarters staying at the Wigwam. On my way to his location, The Fisherman's Wharf,  Mark called and suggested we see if there had been any cancellations at the resort or in Baudette.  Agreeing that pulling the wheelhouse would be an extra burden, Mark found a room at the Walleye Inn, a motel in town.  Although 15 miles from the resort, it would free us from the hassle of reduced mileage, setup and tear down.   Picking Mark up at 11:30 AM we were enjoying a beer with Wigwam's owner Tom by 3:30.  Although staying in town also had it's issues, it made our arrangements less complicated.  Our schedule was to pick up a ride to a large, heated ice house we rented from the resort at 7:30 Thursday morning.  Showing up at 6:00 we had a nice breakfast then got in line.  The ice was 14 inches thick and the resorts were only allowing light vehicles like ATV's or the proverbial 4 wheel drive, fully chained Geo Trackers pulling a dual axle people hauler.   The ice would support heavier trucks but the volume of traffic would have severely cracked the ice causing bigger issues.  So 6 of us loaded into the dark trailer and headed out 3 miles as though we were on a secret mission, hidden from any knowledge of our route.  Dropped off at house Number 35, the holes were drilled, our bait was transferred and we were set.    The fish limit consists of 8 in possession which only 4 could be walleyes or all 8 being saugers.  A nice sauger is 15 inches and we started catching them right away.  At the rate they were biting we were concerned about keeping too many fish too fast so we let a lot of nice fish go all about the time the bite slowed down.  At 2:00 the walleye bite turned hot and I caught 4 nice 17 - 18 inch fish, perfect keepers.  The nicer saugers were more difficult to get and after talking to a friend the suggestion of having the resort fry up your fish sounded pretty dang good.   We managed to get 5 more saugers, enough for dinner at the lodge.  Between my 4 walleyes and our ride back Mark caught this beautiful 24.5" walleye.  Like the walleye from last week's post, this thing was a pig as I estimated it was over 6 pounds.  Most walleyes this size will weigh in at around 4.5 pounds.   Day one was pretty exciting, the bite was great, we ended up with 9 fish in the bucket, a nice trophy walleye and enough fish for supper.  I will admit the the resort did a great job deep frying the fish and with a side of beans and a salad it doesn't get any better.

Friday morning brought us on the first flight of fisherman on the lake.  This time we got house Number 36, about 50 yards north of yesterday's house.  The same game, we started fishing by 7:30 and immediately started catching saugers.  Our strategy was a little different this day, keep the nicer fish right away as we needed 12 to fill our limit.  About 9:30 Mark decided to put a whole minnow on his lure, dropped it to 26 feet when a huge red mark on the depth finder came up to meet his lure.  One gulp and the fish was hooked.  Not understanding what exactly Mark had at the end of the line, it was obviously a large fish.  The first thing Mark asked if I would remove his 2nd line and the depth finder from the hole he was fishing in.   This was a good move, something I soon discovered would have been a good idea if I would have done the same.  Almost immediately the fish came up to the top.  Because the water is stained, it's visibility is about 3 feet.  At about the 5 minute mark I caught a quick glimpse of the bottom part of the tail and announce to Mark that the 10# walleye on his bucket list was at the end of his line.   The fish went back to the bottom and essentially had it's way with everything including my 2 lines that were still down.   As I watched Mark trying to reel in the fish with his 3 foot St. Croix Ice rod and reel loaded with 6# Crystal Fireline the drag keep going.  At one point I began to doubt whether Mark knew what he was doing as he reeled against a drag that was clicking as though the pressure nut was loose.  Little did I understand as this was starting to get ridiculous, I wanted to get back fishing!  10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, almost 40 minutes had pasted before the tangled mess of my line appeared above the hole.  Carefully cutting the lines, I freed Mark's line of the tangles, just in time to see this monster fish swim past the hole.  Sturgeon!!!  Another 5 minutes Mark had it's head in the hole as I grabbed it and pulled and pulled and pulled it through.  51 inches and an estimated 50+ pounds, Mark had successfully landed the biggest fish of his life.  It was pretty amazing as I got to witness the capture of this beautiful prehistoric beast.  Although not on his bucket list it quickly was added and immediately crossed off!  As for me, here is a picture of my super sized tullibee, proof I actually can catch fish as well.  And Mark,  it took all of my posturing to get him to head up with me and it turned out to be one of those lifetime memories for both of us.  By 7:00 we were heading south, a take out container of our fillets deep fried for the way home, and somewhat exhausted.  We are already talking about next year.

As a parting note I was really impressed with our time at the Wigwam Resort.  We were treated like as though we had been coming up for years.  It probably helped to drop my friend Keith Holtan's name as he grew up with the owner, but something tells me that was just a bonus.  Both Mark and I will definitely be back.   You can check out their weekly fishing video at IDO Lake of the Woods Fishing Forum as it's pretty good.  Make sure to have them fry your fish at night, it's great and only costs $5.00.  Fishing was reasonable at $100 per person you got a ride out to a huge heated house, bait for the day (rods, reels, and lures if you need), a ride back at night, and your fish cleaned, packed and frozen.  Quite a deal if you ask me.  Mille Lacs is still exhibiting issues but the south side seems stable.  The weather is still warmer than normal and there was no snow between Minneapolis and the Canadian Border, very unusual.  It's only a matter of time before the big freeze moves in.  Jeff King made it to Mexico and next week is our time to spend with Keith at the St. Paul Sportsman show sharing a Guinness at the Liffy.  Fishing should definitely get back to normal this weekend, whatever that is.


Duane said...

OK, so maybe Mark caught all the big fish but you could still smile.....

Wigwam Fisherman said...


Thank you so much for packing up the truck and heading up to Lake of the Woods with your buddy this past weekend. It was truly our pleasure meeting you both, and we look forward to seeing your bright faces and exuberant attitudes back at the Wigwam Resort again in the very near future.

Happy Fishing as always and God Bless.

Wigwam Fisherman

Anonymous said...

My neighbor used my stairs yesterday to put his tip ups out on Wissota. He had a 45 minute battle with a sturgeon. Had it up 4 times but never landed it. If Mark was excited as my neighbor it would have been great to see.


Anonymous said...

That sounds like a great trip. I love ice fishing. My son and I have been taking trips up to our ice shack every other weekend since Christmas since he bought me one of these 1500 Watt Heater. It heats up the place so nice we don't even need heavy coats inside and makes the trip even more relaxing. It's been great to spend so much time fishing and spending time with my son. It reminds me of the trips we would take when he was just a kid and its been the best gift I could imagine.