Thursday, December 26, 2013

Red Lake Reunion

Mark with a keeper walleye
After a hectic last week, Friday morning arrived with the news, they are still not allowing wheel houses on Red Lake........Plan B I guess.  I always have plan B, it just works out better that way.  After a short call to Mark on Friday morning we decided to pull up the wheel house and park it at JR's resort for future trips.  The plan was to bring our portables as they were still allowing small 1/2 ton trucks out on the ice.  The weather wasn't predicted to be too bad and this would work for a day of fishing, we could drive up Friday afternoon and stay in the house.  Leaving at about 1:30 we stopped at Cabela's to pick up a few items, said hello to Bill Lundeen as we purchased our bait before finally arriving at JR's at 7:30.  JR's Corner Resort is located on the south shore of Red Lake, the last one at the end of the road.  Settling down for the evening we fired up the furnace in the wheel house and decided to have something for supper before retiring to bed.  About 9:30 JR arrived with great news, their allowing wheel houses back out in the morning, get ready to go.  Back to Plan A!  After getting to know a few of guys that already had been out, we were excited to again be the first wheel houses out for the year, similar to last December's trip.  Waking up at 8:00 and getting everything set, all we had to do was drink coffee in the resort, waiting for the go ahead to hit the ice.  Apparently he had a plow making a special area for our houses, an area no one had fished yet.  What seemed like forever finally arrived as Mark and I were the first ones to lead a caravan of houses to the newly plowed area.  Red Lake has quite a bit of snow on covering the ice which slows the progress of making ice, even with the number of below zero nights, it can be a challenge.  Along with the slush under the snow and on top of the ice, it can make travel impossible.  I am sure that without the snow, they would have been driving on the lake 2 weeks ago.  Mille Lacs, on the other hand is still at a standstill because of the slush and snow.  We traveled 5 miles out and settled on a plowed "camping lane" where we parked the house and began setting up.  The ice wasn't as thick as we expected and the first hole drilled saw the water shoot up out of the hole.  The weight of both our truck and the house pushed down on the ice causing the water to seek it's real level.  Quickly hustling to drill and clean out the holes (which was very easy as the water pushed the slush out), we blocked up the frame, dropped the house on the ice and moved the truck away from the house.  A half hour later it was warm and cozy as we set up the rattle reels and 
Lots of fish!
were fishing by 11:00.  Next I got out my jig rod for the 2nd hole when the rattle reel went off, wow a 23 inch walleye within 5 minutes, it's going to be good.  Thinking I should take a picture but with this fast of a bite, there will be plenty of opportunities, think again as it was the largest fish of the trip!  Never the less we started catching fish and by 6:00 we thought we had our 8 in the bucket, and had let at least 10 walleyes back into the lake as it's easy to get fussy when your catching fish.  The next move was to drive into JR's, clean our fish then have him fry them up, a great deal for $5.00 a person, eat before heading back out for the evening.  Well, closer examination showed only 7 walleyes, so much for my math skills.  We were back on the ice by 7:30, through a movie in, as the bite had slowed down significantly.  Mark hit the sack while I stayed up till past midnight and just as I was about to shut everything down the rattle reels went off.  In the next 90 minutes I had 3 keepers and threw back at least 3 smaller one.  Finally giving in I settled down while Mark had gotten up, tending to the fish that seemed to hit all night.  Sometimes you can sleep through the noise and sometimes it will keep you up, we managed to get some sleep and by sunrise had 5 in the bucket.  A new day, we determined to fill out however we only managed 2 more before it was time to leave.  Well, I'm not complaining, 2 days of fishing, a great meal of fresh fried walleyes, and enough to bring home, what more could you ask for.

Avenue of the Pines, Hwy 46 north of Deer River, MN
The drive home was beautiful as the trees were covered in a blanket of freshly fallen snow.  Red Lake is 4.5 hours from home and the route goes through some of the prettiest scenery in Minnesota.  Getting home on Sunday, work on Monday, back home to Eleva to see everyone on Christmas Eve, Mark and I are heading back up Thursday afternoon to meet another friend, Russ, back to Red Lake and JR's.  We hope the bite is still as strong as I estimated we caught about 30 walleyes in a 24 hour period last week.  As they say back home, you have to make hay when the sum shines and right now the bite on Red seems pretty hot.  We will probably stay till Sunday morning before heading back home, our last gasp of fishing for 2013.  Over all it's been a good year of fishing for me.  Early in January we did well at Red Lake.  Mille Lacs ice fishing wasn't all that hot and coupled with May's fishing opener completely froze out, well one could say it started slow.  My return to Canada with brother Steve in June was great, our trip to Lake Oahe in July was very successful, and getting to go with my neighbor Pete to Lac Seul in September was fabulous.  Along with this trip to Red, overall these adventures have made up for all that has transpired this year.  Hopefully 2014 will bring an new set of adventures as I am already looking forward to a trip in March, fishing the bayous of Louisiana, fishing opener in May, maybe back to Canada again, Oahe, Devils Lake, who knows where the future will see me wetting a line.  Either way as I get older, it just seems more important to live life to it's fullest as the clock just keeps ticking away.  Happy New Year and hopefully my next report is as good as this weeks!

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