Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Return to Red Lake

Cooler full of walleyes

With the threat of sub zero weather ahead of us, my friend Mark Applen landed in Minneapolis from Maui, Hawaii at noon on Friday and by 3:30 we were heading back north to Red Lake.  A chance to get one more weekend of fishing on Red, our secondary goal was to pull his wheel house back home after being stored at JR's for the last 4 weeks.  Joining us were Mark's friends Russ and his brother Randy as well as Mike, Judy and their chocolate lab.  After solving the world's problems during our 5 hour ride up, a quick check with the crew confirmed they were at JR's Corner Access and our arrival would be perfectly timed to enjoy the walleye's they had brought in and had fried up.  I ordered a round, sat down and chowed down on the perfectly deep fried walleye chunks with Russ's special homemade tartar sauce.  Sorry but sitting in a simple converted pole shed on a picnic table, eating fresh walleye and washing it down with a beer, true nirvana!   It was time to fish and we had a plan.  Up until the time we arrived JR was not allowing anyone to venture out past the crack in the ice, based on the pending below zero weather and high winds.  Our friends were on the shore side of the crack however our intent was to return to our previous location, 6 miles out on the lake and over the crack. 
Mark with a nice eater
As we left JR confirmed that the bridge across the crack was open, we were free to explore.  Mark and I decided to take the 6 mile trip, crossing the break and returning to our spot where we did so well a few weeks earlier.  The wind was still reasonable and there were few in the area, a good sign.  Setting up exactly where we were last time, it was about 10:30 before we settled in for the night.  Things sure had changed in 3 weeks as we failed to get a single bite.  Waking up to below zero temperatures and an increasing wind our strategy changed to fish closer to Mark's friends closer to shore.  Besides, they were catching more fish!  This was my third trip with Mark and his house and I had finally figured out the routine and we were packed, moved, and reset in about an hour.  Spreading out in a line separating our shacks by about 50 yards, we set up off the reef hoping our decision would be the right one.  Our timing was perfect as the predicted high winds and falling temperatures were right on the doorstep.  Snug in the wheel house we went to work with Mark catching the first walleye, the second walleye, the forth and fifth walleye.  Yep, I managed only the third of five we caught.  As things slowed down we headed to Randy's mansion on wheels to play a little Farkle, have some 5 star, and plan the evenings trip to the resort for dinner.  Although accused of playing conservative, I did win the last hand allowing me to at least buy the first round of beers. 

Sunrise and the Sun dogs
With the wind howling, a substantial ground blizzard occurring, we loaded all six of us into Randy's truck and headed in to clean fish.  As before the indoor fish cleaning room was much appreciated as Russ and I took the knife to our total of 11 nice walleyes we had together.  Having JR's fry up 9 total, we feasted on our familiar meal, had a few brews, talked smart to a few guys and took advantage of indoor plumbing, it was time to head back to our mansion's on the ice.  Setting up the rattle reels, Mark was fast running out of steam and we hit the sack.  Unfortunately both nights we spent on Red were silent.  There is nothing like being woke up at 1:00 in the morning by the sound of the rattles clanging away as a walleye runs with the minnow.  The good news is we did get a good night's sleep, something I am sure Mark appreciated, yet I am sure he would rather have sacrificed!  Waking up to a subdued wind, it was -12 below zero as the wind had rearrange was was an even layer of snow the day before.  With the rattle reels silent, we decided to pack up early and head south.  Sunrise can be an enchanting time and Sunday morning was no exception.  As we began to pack up I snapped this picture of the sun as it begins it's daily journey across the sky.  The 2 spots on either side are called Sun Dogs, evidence of ice crystals in the air, a reminder of the day before.   By 10:00 we were on our way back home, another great ice fishing adventure.  Although the fishing wasn't the greatest, I always consider it a bonus when fishing with good friends.  Admittedly I missed Judy's pickled garlic, but you can't always have everything you want!  For Mark, dealing with a 100 degree swing from 85 in Maui to -15 at Red Lake provides an interesting contrast for sure.

This week has been cold with the last few days at -15 below zero, at least we continue to make ice.  With little snow, you can basically drive anywhere on the lakes as long as you pay attention to areas of possible current and ice heaves.  I am not sure where I will end up this weekend however my friend Keith is putting the bug in my ear to meet him somewhere.  Sunday looks like the nicest day, maybe a trip to Mille Lacs is in order.

1 comment:

Otto said...

Sounds like a fun time. The predicted 0.3 inches of snow turned out to be 3.0+ inches, but I got your driveway & sidewalk taken care of. See you next week at Tim's to celebrate your last day of 57ness.