Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Done at Red

Propane Detector that Really Works!
This month has been quite busy as you can tell by my late posts.  I have a lot of things going on in my world right now, hardly any time to do anything, even fish!  Hopefully it will be done soon and I can let you all in what's the big deal, but until then life continues, dang fast I might add!  So last weekend was the last trip to Red this year, as planned.  My friends Mark and Russ along with myself haul our wheel houses to JR's at the first sign of driveable ice which was December 15th.  Not the earliest and not the latest but a great start.  The plan was to bring it up on our first trip and leave the house at the resort till the last weekend in January.  With 2 trips in between, during Christmas vacation and the second week in January, it generally works out to 4 trips a year.  I just bought a new truck prior to our first trip and already trips to Red have accumulated 2000 miles, oh well I guess that's what trucks are for.  My original guest for last weekends trip ended up with the flu so my brother Steve filled in the spot, meeting me after my Friday morning meetings at around noon and we arrived at JR's around 5:00.  Russ had been there since Thursday night and Mark was about 2 hours ahead of me, and graciously giving me the reports of where the State Patrol were parked!  We kept in touch and definitely they had enough fish to treat us all to a walleye dupper at JR's and it wasn't long after we arrived, things got into full swing.  The last time I was at Red, I had some trouble with my 30 pound propane tank, it seemed froze up.  Whether this was the case or not, I brought it back with me and my neighbor Tim kept it in his heated garage for a couple of days and it seemed to work fine.  I use about 15 pounds of propane a day in my Salem Ice Cabin when the weather is cold, it wasn't too bad this trip however it is nice to make sure you don't run out.  Upon arriving I put the tank in the holders, started the furnace and hooked up the house to the truck.  The wind was blowing right into the side where the entrance door is, which is next to the furnace exhaust.  It really smelled like gas in the house but I assumed it was the exhaust fumes blowing back into open door so I opened the roof vents and pulled the house down on the ice.  This is a good strategy because it get's the house warmed up as well, I put my generator inside to warm that up so it starts good.  We went into JR's to eat, returning to our rig about an hour later.  Well, things should be nice and warm, we'll just follow Mark to where they are parked and go from there.  Walking by the house, a very loud alarm was going off so I opened the door and uffda, did it stink like gas.  Here the propane/LP gas detector was going off.  With the door and ceiling vents open, it cleared fairly quickly as I got the detector to stop beeping.  Checking around here one of the stove burner knobs were turned on and it was leaking propane into the cabin.   Damn lucky the whole thing didn't blow up! The nice thing about my furnace is the combustion chamber is sealed so it was just blowing the propaned saturated air through the heat exchanger and not near open flame, Uffda!!!  We did get the air cleared out yet everything in the house absorbed that smell so it too till Saturday night to start smelling normal.  I do have a Sensy candle in the house and that helps.  All I can say is if you have a propane powered anything in your wheel house or RV, make certain you have a working gas detector.  The house is a 2013 so I need to make sure of the Replace by date is not expired.

Bucket full of walleyes
Fishing Red this late in the season means getting close to Center Bar and finding an area where there isn't much traffic or houses around.  Red is a shallow lake and traffic on the ice can definitely affect the bite.  Never the less we did have a pretty active Friday night with the rattle reels going off with some regularity.  The last time I was there I let the others take care of that 2:00 AM sound but this time it was my turn.  By morning we had 3 nice walleyes in the bucket and missed a few.  Catching enough to take home, we decided to simply eat what we had which was fine with me.  Saturday was JR's Red Fest, an interesting event which is basically an indoor ice fishing contest.  You buy tickets then put your name on them, they get put in a bucket and if your name is drawn you get to draw from another bucket a piece of paper with a certain size fish on it, say a 12.5 walleye.  You can decide to enter it into the contest or release it and hopefully get entered again. It is fun and is the accumulation of the last 6 weeks of fishing on Red.  I have met some great guys including some of my customers, it's an innovative way to have a contest, by 4:00 its over and we head back to the house.  This time it wasn't as cold as a few weeks ago but Russ had picked and area that blew in with snow the day before.  It took a while to pack up and pull the house back onto the plowed roads but as they say, persistence pays off!  We cleaned the fish that went home with us, said goodbye to JR for another year, and headed south.  Admittedly it is sort of bittersweet leaving, the time is flying as it seems like we just pulled our houses up.  We had spent 9 days this year at Red, I would say that fishing was consistently good as we did eat fish most of those nights.  The size of the walleyes are perfect, in the 15 to 19 inch range, and in beautiful shape.  We did not fish for trout this last trip, as stated things just went too fast, maybe next year.

Clever is all I can say!
So the house is back home, Super Bowl is this week and it's time to start planning for our annual Leech Lake Opener that takes place in 15 weeks.  There is a lot to do before then as it is our 45th Annual and we like to try and do something special on the 5th year anniversaries.  One thing that drives me absolutely nuts is the fact that trailer license renewals are due in February when it is cold out.  It seems dumb to me because every year I renew the plates then wait till spring when it seems to be a better and warmer time to put on the tabs, and eventually forget were I put them and then the drama starts.  Eventually everything turns out good enough, I think this year I'm going to  tack them up where they will stay in front of my face all the time and see if it helps.  Each year it seems to get worse!  A final note, my brother Steve is from La Crosse and we are both Green Bay Packer fans.  We were talking about the NFC Championship game where Philadelphia defeated the Vikings.  Not to throw stones and I was somewhat sorry that the Vikings lost, he sent me a picture that I thought was quite clever!  Anyway there is always next year for both teams. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Catching up

Friday night's cold sunset.
It's been a whirlwind of activity in my world lately, some of it is simply getting caught up after the holiday's, some of it is business related, and some of it is just that I am running out of time.  Oh well we did get some fishing in.......barely, however it turned out.  2 weeks ago it was Sister Rosemary's Christmas party in Arcadia, Wisconsin, an event that is difficult to miss.  Not that I would not rather be fishing however those family events are important as well and I got to see some of the people I don't see very often.  As well, with both of my parents now gone, the incentive to drive back home isn't as strong as it once was, so it was nice.  Besides my wife's uncle Bernie gave us some venison trimmings for the bologna we are going to make one of these days! As I said work has been crazy but I still got a chance to get out on Friday and head to Red Lake and JR's.  The gang, Mark, Russ, and myself were destined to fish this last weekend however Russ had something going on and so did Mark up to the day we were to go and called me saying, he's open, let's go.  Needing to get away I agreed as we headed out on Friday morning to Red.  We got to the Resort, paid our dues and headed out towards the Center Bar.  About 4 miles out JR came driving by and stopped us to say hi.  I had my usual wild rice and a bottle of Whiskey for him, my appreciation for how nice he treats us.  He exclaimed he had a special place where the fish were biting and he would take us there.  I really never expect to horn on a guys business but he insisted then turned around to lead the way.  There was a significant amount of snow on the ice so it was very thoughtful of him to not only lead us to a special spot but he also
Headed for the deep fryer!
plowed out an area so we could back our house into a clean spot without fear of getting stuck of uneven.  It worked out fabulous as we got the holes drilled and the house set down and sealed.  Finally getting the generator started, we cleaned up the house and were fishing by 3:30.  It was getting cold for sure but it was very beautiful as we watched the sun set over the lake.  Almost immediately we started catching walleyes.  These fish are wonderful eaters, all in the 14 to 18 inch range, nice and fat and perfect.  Mark and I caught enough for a nice meal on Friday night, actually I got pretty full as we had a lot of fish!  Before we headed to the resort to clean and have our fish cooked, JR stopped by and spent about an hour with us, it's a nice break for sure.  He had some friends in the house next door and we invited them to join us but they were already full and not hungry.  JR's is nice because of my wheat allergy, I simply drop a bag of Zatarain's corn based Louisiana style breading in our pail of fish and they do the rest.  Actually many of the guys think it's better but it doesn't matter to me because this is all that I can eat.

Cold morning for sure.
After watching TV we hit the sack, Mark has this pretensity to get up at 6:30 in the morning, not that I object however I do need my beauty sleep!  The smell of freshly perked coffee is nice but I needed to take care of some business.  JR had portable outhouses pulled in the area so I decided this would be a great thing to take advantage of.  Driving to one of these modern conveniences, I opened the door to find a bench with a padded seat on the hole.  A bucket was underneath the hole with a large black garbage bag situated in the right position.  As you can see by this picture, -22 was nothing to sneeze at and trust me, things are damn cold at -22F, like padded toilet seats! It definitely saved me from cleaning up the event in my house so I really don't have much to complain about.  Saturday was an ok day of fishing, they bit in the morning then again just as the sun went down, we had more than enough for supper and some to take home.  After eating we headed back to watch the rest of the football game before hitting the sack.  Certainly we were more subdued on Saturday night as well we were stuffed!  We hit the sack, waking up again at 6:30 were I repeated my Saturday morning performance before catching a couple more walleyes.   At 9:30 we started breaking camp as my electrical system started acting up.  I felt I knew what it was, a bad ground fault so while Mark lifted the house, I pulled the outlet as I had another one.  The first thing I noticed was the white neutral wire was burnt black 2 inches back from the outlet.  Further investigation showed the outlet starting to melt in that area.  It wasn't the ground fault at all but a faulty connection, not good.  Luckily I had purchased a new one for that just in case moment.  I restripped the bad wires, made sure that all the connections were tight then put it back together again, just as Mark had finished up his portion.

It was snowing as we left and it took almost an hour to get back to JR's.  I parked the house then went in to clean the fish before we left.  All in all it was a nice trip, it was good to spend some time with JR as well to meet his friends on the ice.  Next rip is scheduled for January 26th as the intent is to pull the house back to civilization and get ready for the Hunter's Perch Extravaganza on Mille Lacs in 6 weeks.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Fishing in the Deep Freeze

Nice 22 inch walleye
My last post discussed the passing of my cousin Julie and the funeral was on December 28th.  My original plan was to head up to Red on the 27th and fish till Saturday however we changed our plans and headed up right after the funeral.  It wasn't a very good travel day however my brother Steve was at the funeral with us so he drove up to the house afterwards, I met him at the pole shed then we went and picked up my neighbor Lory and we headed up about 6:00.  It's a 4 1/2 hour drive from the house to JR' and we got there about 10:30, right on schedule.  The temperature was a constant -10 F all they way up with the forecast of -25 for red the next few days.  Russ and Mark were already on the lake so we paid Adam, hooked up the house and headed out on the lake, 3 miles straight out then left a half mile.  Unfortunately everyone hear left which was right, assuming at the 3 mile mark however they were on the right side (after turning left) so a quick phone call to mark and Russ and we found where they were parked.  It takes about an hour to set up and the temperature had fallen close to -20 but by 12:30 we were snug in the house with the heat making it comfortable.  I didn't want to hook up the DirecTV but we did get the generator going fine in the Generator box I had bought from JR last year.  Even though I have a cold weather kit on the generator, it still doesn't like running in the sub zero temperatures.  In the box it was nice and cozy and ran all weekend, in fact I never shut it down.  Along with the extended run auxiliary tank, it was perfect. We were pretty wound up at that time so we put in a movie in the builtin DVD player in the TV.  "What About Bob" a great choice and one of the movies that we decided in Alaska was one of each of our favorite movies, which also includes The Big White, with Robin Williams, Second Hand Lions, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.  Even though the movie lasted until 2:30 we sat back and enjoyed ourselves actually catching 2 fish before officially retiring to bed.  With the outside temperature at -22, we slept comfortable in the Salem.  Friday morning we got up and the boys made breakfast while I got the DirectTV hooked up.  There were some bowl games scheduled and they always make the day go better.  A good helping of bacon and eggs, some orange juice and we were set for the day.  We ended up with enough fish to have a nice walleye dinner at JR's that night but not without me catching a nice 22 inch fish, which I decided to let go.  These bigger fish are females and when you clean them they are just full of eggs.  The fish are fat and healthy and we had enough for that night, away she swam.

Steve's nice 14 inch crappie
On Friday we had 8 nice fish and we did eat them all returning to the house ready to keep the action
going.  Unfortunately the skies cleared and we were in for another cold night.  Steve had caught this nice 14 inch crappie, what Red Lake was known for and we usually get one or two a season.  Along with a northern, the fish bite really slowed down for us.  Mark had his son in law, Brandon and his son Beckett, Russ had a few of his guests and they had been there since Wednesday so both of them headed out on Saturday morning.  We decided to stick it out till Sunday and wow, the bottom dropped out of the temperature on Saturday night.  Under clear skies I am sure we hit -30 as it was -28 when we got up Sunday.  Saturday was a bust for fishing and we only caught 1 walleye for the last 24 hour period.  Luckily Lory brought some sausages and a jar of his homemade sauerkraut, it was still pretty good.  Sunday morning we got up and started to get ready to leave.  It was damn cold I can assure you that, thank the Lord my truck started just fine.  The morning before, Russ's truck needed to be plugged into the generator in order to start but then again he has a Ford........Ok just kidding!  We did have 1 walleye so we parked the house in the parking lot, cleaned the fish and took off.  Red Lake is in the low land area just north of Bemidji, what is left of the ancient Lake Agassiz, a very large lake that was formed by the melting of the glaciers during the last Ice Age.   You can actually see the edge of the lake as you drive north of Kelihor (the last town before Red Lake) on Highway 72 and drive down into the lake bottom, the entire plane life changes, it is even more dramatic when you go west of Bemidji through a town called Gully.  Being it's old lake bottom the cold air really settles into this low spot and it's awfully cold for sure!   The cold weather really shut down the walleye bite however it has definitely made for good ice on the lake.  Unfortunately when the warm temperatures return the ice will expand and start heaving up, therefore bridges will have to be dragged on the lake to get across these tough spots.

This weekend was family time with a gathering in Arcadia Wisconsin.  Next weekend I plan on getting back up to Red and fish one more time before I drag the house back at the end of the month.  It is suppose to warm up this week into the mid 30's.  As well the St. Paul Sports show is coming in a couple of weeks.  Word has it they are catching walleyes on Mille Lacs so that will be my focus for February, we'll see how that goes.  There is still some crappies to be had somewhere and after the Superbowl the neighbors and I are planning on making venison bologna.  February is the MD and M Show for work in Anaheim, CA...that will be a nice break.Lot's of stuff going on, that is for sure!