Thursday, January 22, 2015

An Up and Down Weekend.

Biggest Walleye So Far on Red Lake, 25 Inches
A lot went on this weekend, some things that were extremely enjoyable and some that were not so enjoyable.  I always like to try and start on a positive note so Friday morning my brother Steve, friend Kevin Aiona, and myself headed back up to Red Lake for one last adventure for the year. Reading the latest reports, the fishing has certainly slowed down as it always does this time of year. Red Lake has really gotten hammered as there is virtually no snow and the ice has been driveable since the Friday after Thanksgiving so the lake is pretty much accessible to wherever you want to legally go.  The area's on the lake get burnt out pretty fast and this year was no exception. By December 1st the limit was reduced from 4 walleyes under 20 inches to 3 walleyes under 17 inches.  Well, the harvest has been crazy as you see from my past posts so this Friday, January 23, the limit drops to 2 walleyes under 17 inches.  It's reasonable and understandable so to beat the limit change and because of my work schedules coming up it was time to head up and pull my wheel house home.  Arriving around 12:30 we slipped back into the VIP lot of JR's to hook up the house.  JR has been super nice to us as we have shared our love for high class bourbon with him and have been rewarded with a special location to park our houses.  After paying the access fees and storage we decided to try near the rock pile, about 3 miles from the resort.  It had snowed earlier in the month and the lake wasn't totally impassable as there was bare ice between areas of mixed drifts up to a foot deep.  Turning off the main road to snake our way back to the spot we wanted to be at, pulling the Salem is pretty heavy and even in 4 wheel drive we barely made it out of some of those drifts.  The kicker came when we drove over a 5 inch crack in the ice, simply the ice had parted and by the time I felt the front wheels travel over it I knew we were committed. The rig crossed without incident but I got somewhat spooked and decided that this was as far as we were going.  There was no one to the west of us and we had the area pretty much to ourselves so we set up and were fishing by 2:00.  Unfortunately we only caught walleyes either too small or over 17 inches so it was hamburgers at JR's for supper.  By morning we had a few keepers and by 6:00 Saturday we actually had our limit of 9 fish.  Enough for a fish fry we took 6 of the walleyes and headed back to JR's to have him fry them up for us.  Earlier that afternoon I decided to put on my tire chains and wow, did they ever make a difference in being able to get around the lake without the fear of getting suck in some snowdrift in the middle of nowhere.
Kevin Enjoying the Fishing
The wind was blowing hard and drifting around the house, the chains gave us the confidence to stay there.  Returning from JR's we settled down for the evening when something barely sucked in my bait.  A quick hook set and it was obvious this was a nice fish. Actually the way it was fighting I simply assumed it was a northern pike as Kevin kneeled down by the hole to help.  Blocking my view of the fish coming up Kevin verified, "Yep Dave, this is a nice northern" as he turned around with a 25 inch walleye in his grip, laughing right at me!  It was the largest walleye I have caught on Red Lake in the 3 years I've been going so it was pretty special. We snapped a few pictures and put her back down the hole.  It was a beautiful fish and the picture doesn't do it justice (for that matter, my picture as well).  Nice and fat, she had a huge tail and fins and was absolutely gorgeous in her color.  Certainly it was a highlight of my year so far.  We finally hit the sack with one more walleye in the bucket and all the rattle reels set.  We only had 1 go off at night and it was a small one and by the time we decided to leave the next morning we had only caught about 6 keeper perch.  At 11:00 the packing up began and  by 12:30 we were at JR's saying goodbye.  While Kevin cleaned the fish I dropped off 5 pounds of Bill's hand harvested Wild Rice, something JR really appreciated.  He was determined to pay me but my response was that we felt it was super nice to help my friend Mark Applen and I when we needed a place to park our houses and he came through.  Feeling bad JR came up with a quart jar of his homemade tomato soup he canned and knowing JR, it's pretty good.  We left Red Lake till next year, it's been a blast and as we turned on Hwy 72 to head south it was bittersweet for sure.  Well, at least we would have the Green Bay Packer game to listen on the way home.

A Texas Care Package!
The previous week my brother Steve and I had the opportunity to drive to Green Bay and watch the Packers victorious win over the Dallas Cowboys.  As stated last week, this meant that I was due 2 bottles of TX Whiskey from my 2 great friends from the Dallas area, Matt Davis and Joe Stanfield.  I even went so much as to remind them that my bet was with each of them, not together and fully expected the 2 bottles.  Joe said, don't worry as I am heading to Matt's to send you a special package. Well, Wednesday arrived and expecting an Amazon shipment, there was also a Harry and David box with my address.   I had made the remark to my receiving clerk, Geez, I hate that.  People send me Harry and David gifts and heck, they cost $80 and why a good bottle of bourbon is only $40, send me 2 of those instead as I walked away with the Amazon package.  An hour later they delivered it to my office so I suppose I'd better see what it was before it spoiled.  Upon opening it I immediately saw that it wasn't a fruit basket so I looked at the label and sure enough, it came from Matt.  Well, this box was too big for 2 bottles of TX and I soon found out why!  They must have cleaned out their garages, closets, whatever and wrapped up everything individually for me to unpack.  So the list is pretty interesting.  I have 4 VHS tapes, 2 Rocky and Bullwinkle tapes, Grumpy Old Men (it's still in the wrapper), and a tape on Inflatable Lifeboat Survival.   There were 3 old rod holders that I think I can really use as well as a stainless steel anchor bracket and lock that will hold an 80# anchor.  The white straps are adjustable boat fender mounts, I got a balloon powered toy boat and a Duck Dynasty cooler cup.  They threw in a 1999 Playboy calendar, an old dirty pair of men's underwear, a necklace, an old emergency starter rope, a bottle of Johnson's Baby Powder, a silver commemorative spoon of Alberta, Canada, a stuffed toy rat, some pricing slide calculator, and an old non-working fake Rolex watch.  Oh yeah, there were 3 750ml bottles of TX and 1 1.75L bottle, actually more than they owed me.  I'm not complaining at all!  I guess you really can measure how much your friends love you by the extent of their actions and I can tell you unequivocally that I love those guys to death!!  Thanks.

So the bad news is, remember that Packer Game we listened too?  Well at the 5 minute mark we stopped to get gas and eat at the Burger King in Garrison, MN.  They had a big screen TV so we decided to eat there and watch the rest of the game.  It went downhill from there.  With the Pack leading to the 2 minute warning, there conservative play strategy finally caught up with them and...well, I don't even want to discuss it.  Next year.  I did get the Salem home and decided to take it to the car wash to spray it down, never again.  It barely fit and I almost didn't get it out, lucky I guess. I am ready to do some fishing on Mille Lacs and might just haul it up for a few weekends before the season ends on February 22nd.  The winter is half over already, where does the time go?

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