Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Ice Fishing at last!

My First Walleye of the Season
This weekend was my official start to the ice fishing season.  Red Lake is located  5 hours north of my home and as stated the last couple of weeks, we were finally waiting for the ice thickness to develop enough to allow vehicles and wheel houses on the ice.  Last Thursday the resorts deemed it safe enough to drive 1/2 ton pickups with single axle wheel houses, the perfect description of my rig.  My friend Mark Applen had left on Tuesday afternoon with Russ being a day behind him, both pulled their rigs out on Thursday and had our location pretty well set before I got up there.  In my house were my 2 good friends, Kevin Aiona from Eleva and Keith Holtan, my Alaskan Guide friend who spends his winters in Brainerd.  It was great to see both of them and even better to have them in my house for a few days.  Kevin Drove up from Eleva Friday morning while I finished packing and hooking up the fish house.  With the new pickup and 10 months behind me in exactly what it was that is needed to make sure the house sits correctly on the hitch, my initial assumptions did not work out well as I assumed from the measurements that the new truck sat 2 inches higher at the hitch than my old on did.  Upon hooking up the house it was apparent that it wasn't the case and it took some scrambling to get the proper fit, luckily I had earlier ordered a different receiver hitch that is quite adjustable and once that was changed out, it was easy to get it right.  Kevin showed up and we were on our way to Lundeen's to get the "now needed" State of Minnesota ice shelter license.  A couple of dozen minnows packed in oxygen and we were off to pick up Keith in Brainerd.  Arriving at JR's around 2:30, Russ just happened to be in the bar and they had finished eating a walleye lunch. Checking the propane in the house, one of the 30 pounders looked like it needed to be filled so we got that taken care of and we followed Russ to our destination on the lake.  Mark had his fish already so he came by to help set up.  Setting up includes unhooking the house from the truck, drilling the holes through the ice, with the electric jacks by the wheels lift the weight off the tires and pull the pins that secure the main springs to the shackles, retract the shafts to set the house on the ice.  I have curtains that go over the wheel wells, snow has to be packed along the edge to keep out the wind.  Furnace is on, generator needs to have the extended run auxiliary tank connected, hooked up and started.
My Friend Kevin with a nice fish.
DirecTV antenna needs to be plugged in and hooked up as well the receiver needs to be installed inside.  The last thing to be done is setting up my flagpole so we can display the Stars and Stripes, the Green Bay Packer flag, as well there is a strobing light that only operates when it's dark, which helps us relocate the house after dark. All of this takes about an hour, even with 2 people extra, but when you are finally ready, it's wonderful to sit down in a warm house, mix a congratulatory cocktail and get down to the business of catching fish!  And catch we did, enough to provide a walleye dinner a few hours later at JR's.  The regulations this year on Red Lake ar 4 fish total with only 1 allowed over 17 inches.  The fish were absolutely beautiful with most of them being in the 15 to 17 inch range, as well we had a number of them in the 17 to 19 inch range.  Nothing huge but definitely a lot of nice fish and great eating size.  Friday night was an absolute zoo in the house as the rattle wheels we set just kept going off every 45 minutes or so.  I could hear Keith get up to tend to the job of catching these fish and catch he did.  Waking  up on Saturday morning there  was7 in the pail and as I stated, some real nice fish.  Seeings how these guys were my guests I felt obligated to make sure they caught the fish while I stayed comfortably in my sleeping bag, just proving what a good friend I really am, guys like me are hard to find!!!

JR's Airplane
The fishing slowed down a little on Saturday however we did manage to catch our allotted 12 fish for the day and took 6 of them in to clean and eat.  JR's does a great job as he has a nice cleaning area, you simply filet your walleyes and bring them into the bar where they take them and deep fry along with some French Fries, all for $5.00 each, a bargain.  The people at JR's including JR himself and his son Adam along with everyone else really do a spectacular job.  Heck, they even let me bring in my own corn based fish coating as I am allergic to wheat, and make sure that I get the right fish back.  As well, on Saturday morning my friend Andy Achmann called to see how we were doing.........apparently better than they were.  Asking if I minded if he moved by us....No problem, just stay 100 feet away from everybody.  Andy showed up and joined our little "camp" out on the ice.  The first thing Andy told me was he felt the ice was thicker where we were than his previous spot.  We absolutely had zero issues with the ice thickness, in fact the buoyancy of the ice sheet was excellent as sometimes the weight of the house and truck will cause the ice to bow, causing water to sit on the ice.  At the end of the weekend we each ate 2 meals of walleyes, took home our limit of 4, and probably caught and released 20 more fish.  Personally it wasn't my best trip as I did not catch a fish until Saturday night but it was still a blast being with my friends.  It is always good to see JR as he was flying around the lake to get a handle on the conditions.  Luckily he landed just as we got there and had a chance to talk to him.

Monday and Tuesday was spent in Chicago on business.  Always one to mix business with pleasure, we were able to get to the Bass Pro Shop in Gurnee, Illinois.  Although we have Cabela's there are some things I like about Bass Pro.  It's a pretty large store and has a lot of fishing stuff.  I simply love their Redhead crew socks and buy many pair the same type, it's easier to match them then.  They had a pretty good deal on a 1/4 zip pull over and when I held it up the XL seemed too large and the large seemed just right,  Not the case.  I called them and because Bass Pro bought Cabela's, I can take the pullover back to Cabela's for a refund....interesting.  I did get a couple of little single LED lights like Keith had for charging his glo baits, maybe that's why he caught more walleyes than me!  The next trip looks like it will be after Christmas, unfortunately the cold weather is supposed to arrive at the same time with -12 predicted for the high on Tuesday and -22 for the low.  Uffda is all I can say, other than it will be making ice for sure!!


Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service said...

Awesome weekend. I’m always thankful to be invited on the first trip of the year with you. One small correction to the story. The senior membership in the Salem fish house (you and Kevin) slept through the rattle reels on the first night. It’s a team effort so I had no problem stepping up to catch those fish. Sleep is overrated.....Good luck the rest of the winter!


Dave Anderson said...

Keith, Thanks for the clarification, duly noted and fixed!