Friday, January 2, 2015

Three Times a Charm

Ben's first Walleye on Red Lake
It's been a really busy week, especially since we fished Red Lake again for the third time this season and it's like they say, three times a charm. After spending Christmas Eve with my family and Christmas day with friends my brother Steve and I had planned to take advantage of the long holiday time off and head back to Red Lake.  On Christmas Day we had the pleasure of spending the evening at Matt and Christina Taylor's home, which was right on the way back home.  It's always fun to get together with the Taylor's our long time friends.  Jack was there with his 10 year old son Ben and the subject of Red Lake came up.  Our plan was to head up on Saturday the 26th and fish till Tuesday morning the 29th.  Jack stated he love to go and I suggested that he and Ben drive up with us and fish till Sunday as he had to work on Monday, they would be at the cabin and it's not really that much of a drive.  Well it worked out perfectly as we connected on the road heading north.  Also joining us was fellow Team Walleye member, Andy Achman and his wife Cheryl from St. Francis, MN.  Andy arrived an hour or so earlier and was anxious to get out after waiting for us to arrive.  Greeting us at JR's were Mark and Jan Applen as well as Russ Praught and his friend, all were waiting to have their fish fried up and suggested we wait and join them. Apparently the kitchen was changing oil in the deep fryer and it was going to be a while so after paying JR we hooked up the house that we had stored at the resort and headed back to the rockpile where our friends were parked.  Andy had arrived an hour or so earlier and was anxious to get out so we decided to go set up then come back for fish.  Although we didn't make it back in time there were still enough walleye to satisfy ourselves till breakfast.  Everyone headed back to our spots and getting  the poles baited it wasn't long before the first rattle reel went off and Ben went to work.  He's quite the fisherman for 10 years old and he pulled in the first walleye, too big to keep as it was over 17 inches. We took a quick picture with the phone and threw it back, ready for the next one.  Admittedly the bite had slowed somewhat as the fish weren't attacking our baits, the rattle reels proved effective. Ben had a great time pulling up our fish and he did really well as they visited both Andy and Mark to take advantage of any opportunity to pull one in.  After getting a few in the box it was time to get some sleep for the next day although I'm not sure how much Ben slept as he was on those rattle reels constantly.

Mark's 15 inch Crappie
Sunday brought another nice day and the surprise breakfast that Mark Applen brought over to our house.  He's an excellent cook and makes the best fried potatoes, bacon, and eggs.  With Russ leaving and Andy heading to Center Bar, Mark and I decided to move closer to the Reservation line as quite a few people had left the lake in the morning. During the evening Mark had caught this nice crappie, something that Red Lake is famous for prior to the comeback of the walleye populations.  I caught one of these last year and they are quite a sight coming through the hole. Our plans for the day were set, with the DirecTV working, we were looking forward to a day of football as both the Vikings and more importantly the Green Bay Packers would take up most of the afternoon.  After watching most of the Vikings game Jack and Ben bid farewell, something that Ben wasn't too happy about as he was having a blast.   Because Steve and I wanted to watch the Packer game in it's entirety, it was compromised with Mark that we would go back into JR's for fish at 6:30, which suit me just fine.  It was definitely worth it as the Packer's won 30 - 20 over Detroit and more importantly I won a bet with my 2 friends Glen Collins and Gary Hicks, both die hard Lions fans.  At 6:30 sharp we headed back to JR's, ate then drove back to the houses to settle in for the night.  Fishing was pretty slow and Andy's reports from Center Bar were more positive, we decided that a move was scheduled for Monday morning. We were really only a couple of miles away yet I never trust traveling cross country on unknown ice.The temperature was dropping and by morning we woke up to -14F with my Honda generator shutting off sometime in the night.  I have had this happen before and I think the carburetor get's iced up so I threw some gas antifreeze, brought it in the house and it started right up and ran good for the rest of the trip.   Fishing was OK on the rattle reels overnight, enough to pull them and attempt to get some sleep but in the morning fishing was slow.   By 9:00 we were getting ready to move and also helped Mark pack up in the now very brisk wind, definitely the weather had changed quite dramatically from Saturday's arrival.  We got the house connected to the truck and made our way back to JR's main road to the Center Bar.

Monday night walleye
Andy had been catching fish in the morning as we approached the waypoint he had given us.  Now packing up to leave,  Steve and I set the house near a small patch of snow so we had enough to bank. I made the big mistake of setting the house on 4 x 4's rather than directly on the ice.  Because we had enough snow to bank and the temperature was not going to get above zero anytime soon I thought it would be best to simply do the 4 x 4's incase we would have been frozen in.  Our problem was the ice was at the air temperature and the extra room just allowed plenty of cold air to circulate under the floor much easier.  We had a constant battle to keep the holes from freezing and the wind certainly did not help the situation at all.  Up to this point we had been pretty spoiled by the nice weather while fishing and now we were stuck with conditions that made fishing, even in the house a challenge.  By 4:30 on Monday afternoon we had enough fish to go into JR's for our nightly walleye feed and luckily there were only a few people left.  I was nice as we got pretty good service and was able to spend a little quality time with JR, Adam, and the rest of the crew.  One of the bartenders brought out a jar of his concocted horseradish pickles using Milwaukee Baby Dills.  They were excellent and I'm anxious to try them as the recipe is pretty easy.   Through Monday night the furnace never stopped running and even though the fish were biting I finally had to close up all but 2 of the holes and put the insulated covers back on.  Surprisingly this helped quite a bit as before doing that the temperature had fallen to under 50 degrees in the house and by morning we were back to the low 60's.  Even though it was still well below zero and the wind was crazy, at 7:30 Tuesday morning the fishing was great and stayed that way for the next 2 hours.  I suspect we caught about 20 walleyes and perch in that time period, enough to each bring home our limits.  Packing up once again we were faced with limited parking and JR was good enough to help take care of us.  We were on the road by 11:30 and counting our stops pulled into my pole shed at 4:00, not bad.  My strategy is to head back up one more time, maybe either January 10 or the 17th, depending on the weather and will probably pull the Salem home.  My schedules pretty full for the rest of the winter and I'd like to try Mille Lacs a couple of times as it's not so far to drive and I hear the fishing is pretty good.

Sunset on Red
So here's wishing everyone a happy and safe New Year.  I'm going to try and find some crappies this weekend, hopefully I'll be successful.  The St. Paul Sports Show starts on January 8th and I'm looking forward to seeing Keith and Jane again and have our usual Guinness at the Liffey Bar in St. Paul.  We still have remarkably little snow for the winter as Red Lake basically had no snow and we have about 3 inches on the ground around home.  It's certainly a lot different than last years record snowfall and I'm not complaining.  I suspect buying that new cab for the John Deere has something to do with it as you see when I bought a brand new 47 inch snowblower attachment for my John Deere lawn tractor, we didn't have hardly any snow that winter and I really had to wait until the following year to use it.  I'm just saying!  I'll leave you with a gorgeous sunset on Red Lake, taken at -10 below zero.  I love it because the air is so clear and crisp, it's too bad they only last a minute or so.


Jeff King said...

very cool....and being sunset expert I have to say....that sunset pic is almost, and I say ALMOST enough to make me go ice fishing. Thanks Dave...I hope you have great 2015

Dave Anderson said...


Yeah, I wouldn't make that trade right now, Mexico for Red Lake which was -25 this morning......uffda

Dave Anderson said...
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