Monday, September 28, 2015

Back From The Big Lake, part 1.

Monday Night Sunset
We finally made it back from a very successful trip to Lac Seul, my fifth one in 2 years now.  Our fall trip usually consists of our fearless leader Bruce, his friend Wayne, my neighbor Pete, Dan the Landscape guy, myself, and a sixth guy who this year happened to be my brother Steve Anderson.  After what proved to be an interesting Sunday night Steve and I got up at 3:15 AM on Monday morning, hooked up the boat and was at Pete's by 3:45.  Picking Dan up at 4:00 we finally saw sunlight about Cloquet, MN.  Meeting the rest of our crew in Orr, MN we crossed the border about 10:00 and sailed right through.  A stop in Dryden to buy groceries and a final stop in Sioux Lookout to get our parking pass for the boat landing (which they ran out again), we were in the water by 2:00 and at camp around 3:15.  The ride into camp is about 35 miles by water and depending on how much gas you want to burn, takes about an hour to 75 minutes.  It's always interesting coming into camp as Bruce pretty much knows the way by heart yet this year I helped him decide to upgrade his 15 year old technology with a Lowrance HDS7 Gen 2 touch and a map chip that shows Lac Seul.  These things look interesting while working in the garage but they really shine when you are using them for real.  Lac Seul can be very tricky to navigate and the GPS with the base maps are pretty nice. Once we arrived it took about an hour to unpack and clean the place, we were able to get out for a few hours of fishing on the point that is just north of camp.  It has a great view to the west which makes for a great place to be as the sun goes down. Getting back into camp we were just in time for burgers on the grill as there was not enough time to do anything with walleyes, besides there was plenty of time in the next 3 days for fish dinners.  The weather was quite warm however a cold front was due thru the area and just after dark the lightening and thunder moved in, not a very long storm but enough to change the weather significantly. After a couple of cocktails to celebrate a safe trip in, everyone was pretty exhausted and by 10:00 we were out!

Pete's 25 inch Walleye
Tuesday was our day in Tuktegweik Bay, an area that we did well last year.  Unfortunately the prior day's 78 degrees was now in the 50's with the wind blowing like crazy. We have some nice fishing spots marked on the GPS however the cold front that came through really put a damper on what I would call a normal day of fishing yet it was still pretty good.  I'm the guy that believes you need to see the fish on your depth finder to make sure that you're not wasting any time fishing an area where there is no fish.  There were plenty of marks on the screen yet most were tight to the bottom, a sign of inactive fish for sure.  We did manage to catch quite a few fish however, including this nice 25 inch walleye that Pete caught. Last year we caught quite a few walleyes that had a blue hue to them, quite pretty and unusual.  We did get a couple that had this coloration but nothing like before.  It was interesting as I really rely on my electronics to help locate and catch fish however both Pete and Bruce, who have many more years of experience, rely on past successes as it relates to where we would fish.  With the cold front quite established, the walleyes had lockjaw and took a lot of patience to get them to bite, but they were there.  Back on our favorite point we exercised my new trolling motor with pin point accuracy to move around in 15 - 10 foot increments which proved to be quite successful.  The walleye size limit is anything 18 - 21 inches must be released and of 4 fish, they all can be under 18 but only 1 can be over 21 inches.  As a rule we like to try and keep only fish in the 16 - 17.75 inch range and releasing everything else.  Although we did catch a lot of fish in that 15 inch range, keeping these would have to wait when we get more desperate!   I suppose we got a total of 60 - 70 walleyes with a few northerns scattered in between, not a bad day, especially after a significant cold front moved through.  Because fried walleye was on the menu that evening we kept 8 walleyes while Bruce's boat turned in 6.  My brother Steve is pretty good at filleting fish so we had those 14 walleyes cleaned in no time and were deep frying them within the hour.  There is nothing like fresh fried walleye to end the day.

36" Northern Pike
I always seem to get a nice northern pike in the 34 - 36 inch range and this year was no exception. I did bring some gear to specifically fish for pike but in the end, one never does as the walleyes take center stage, which is OK.  They are pretty voracious and will slam your jic/minnow combination with vengeance however one only get's lucky about 50% of the time where they hook themselves in the corner of the mouth and your line is fairly safe from being cut off by their sharp teeth and knife like gill plates.  They are fun to fight on light tackle for sure.  The only real problem with northern pike is that they are very slimy and it gets all over the boat, enough that we try to keep it in the net while unhooking then you can wash the net before putting it back on the floor.  Sometimes you simply have no choice and there is white slime all over the place.  Oh well, it does wash off nice!  Actually I replaced the main carpet in the passenger seat side of the boat with a heavy duty outdoor floor mat type material custom cut to fit right in.  This was the best thing I have done to the boat as it certainly takes the abuse of sand, slime, stepped on minnows and garbage that gets dropped while fishing and quite honestly it still looks like new. With two days gone and 3 days to go time was really flying.  I will report on the last 3 days later this week.  Thanks and sorry for being late!

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