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Day 5

Tuesday, September 5, 2000

Worst day yet. Funny how those words bring negative images….normally. But here, your worst day can be spectacular. Here’s the worst day I’ve ever had at the cabin. This all happened today. Worst day yet and I defy you to find something that wasn’t fun.

Woke up late, 8:00 AM. Decided to head up to “Gator Bay” and take a shot at some Musky. But the weather wasn’t cooperating. The winds were 180 at 15 gusting 25. (that’s straight out of the south for you non pilot types….)

Gator Bay is about 8 miles away. Half that distance is east/west and that part of the trip should be fine. But the last half is north/south up the Tug Channel into Canada. With steady winds coming up off the big water to the south, we figured there would be some rough water. And we were correct.

We stopped at Cyclone to check into Canada (still can’t figure out why we have to do that. Why do they care? We don’t even SEE a Canadian person… what secret Canadian law are we going to break by boating into a bay and casting Musky Plugs?….)  Then straight east past Deep Water Bay and up the Tug Channel.

But as we clear Oak Island, we lose the land mass that was protecting us from those nasty southern winds and we suddenly find ourselves boating up the side of one hill, and down the other…. It was rough. If you’ve ever boated with a 45 degree head wind, you know that all the water thrown off the bow gets blown right back over the rail and into your face. I’m getting absolutely drenched. Of course the top half of my rain suit is safely tucked into the bow. At least I’m wearing the pants. But all I have between me and the pounding water is my trusty Sanborn Fishing Team jacket. I just decided it was time to see how water resistant it really was. And short of swimming in it, this was a pretty good test. It passed nicely thank you.

Oh, I forgot to mention that half way to the turn, we ran dry on one tank and switched to the other. (note to self:  never leave for Canada with less than full fuel….) So we head up the Channel and get pretty well scrambled all the way. At the very least, this was a pretty good example of the difference between a 17’ and a 19’ boat. The bow of the Baiter dug into the wave ahead a couple of times, but nothing came over the bow. Some blew in around the rail, but nothing over the bow. I can’t help but think that anything shorter would have started taking on water pretty quick and we would not have continued.

So 15 minutes later, we both shake our heads in an attempt to get our kidneys out of our throats, and we pull up to “Gator Bay”. But more bad news…. The winds could not be in a more disadvantageous direction. The famous point where the Muskys hit is being pounded. There’s no way we can fish there.  In fact with the winds where they are, there aren’t a lot of places we can fish.

Lots of deep water around but the wind puts you perpendicular to the shore, not parallel. There’s no place to drift, no place to cast…. Not really much chance to do anything. So we just motor around a little and find this pretty little hidden bay that is more-or-less protected from the wind. So finding ourselves on the first smooth water of the day, we shed our wet outer clothing, enjoy a little sunshine… yes the sun is shining, and start jigging for Walleye.

More bad news…. We can’t really decide if the depth finder is working or not. Sometimes it seems to display just fine, then other times, it jumps from 25 feet to 4 feet, to 9 feet to 30 feet in four seconds…. And since no lake bottom is that out of whack, we have to conclude that the depth finder is unreliable at best.

So here we are in nice calm water, but we’re not sure where the rocks are. The winds are swirling from around both sides of this little land mass that protects us from the waves so we don’t really drift in either direction. More like we’re spinning in a circle as if somebody put a big thumb tack through the bottom of my boat. But hey, the fish finder is showing fish so we fish…. Why not?

We dope around there for a couple of hours determined to find fish. Then we motor over to some other place, and then some other place and pretty soon, it’s 4:00 PM.

Remembering that we’re pretty light on fuel, we decide to make a run for the nearest resort and fuel up. We dress up, zip up, batten down the hatches and head for Bonnie Brae 5.5 miles away. Things get interesting again, you know with the rough water and wind and all. But now we have a new worry. We’re really, REALLY low on fuel and with the big water winds, you don’t want to drift up against the rocks on the far shore because the Baiter would be ground into a fine powder.

So we don’t talk much and just keep motoring on…..

Finally we get to a patch of smooth water behind Birch and decide to take a peek at the gas tank…. Very light. We’re about 2.5 miles from Bonnie Brae and we have about 2.49 miles of fuel…. But hey, could be worse. Could be at work…. (sorry Hose).

As we turn the corner just west of Birch we can see Bonnie Brae coming into view. Boy, it still seems a long way off. My boat has a very unique way of running out of gas. It doesn’t sputter or cough or nothing like that. It kills just as if you hit the off switch. Click and you’re coasting…..  But not in this case, at least not yet.

We’re approaching the resort and I find myself thinking about several possible scenarios….

1)       We run out of gas a mile out and have to call in for help. There is nothing downwind from there. The far shore to the north is a rock cliff.

2)       We run out of gas about ½ mile out and we can probably get in on the trolling motor. (but we would probably be spotted and the word would get out.)

3)       We run out of gas about ¼ mile out and nobody is none-the-wiser. They’ll just think we’re safety minded and cut our engine at a safe, excessively safe distance.

4)       We make it all the way to the dock and we knew we would the whole time. Of course, no problem…..

Well, we made it to the dock. When I asked for gas I told they guy I would pay him a dollar for every drop I had left in my tank and everyone within ear-shot started laughing. Funny how they knew exactly what I meant.

So we’re in the Bonnie Brae. Not a bad place on a windy, fishless day….

Bonnie Brae.JPG (79236 bytes)

There’s a lot of nice warm wood and even a suspicious Lumber Lumberjack

woody.JPG (43002 bytes)

 But a couple of cold-boys later and the wise purchase of some unpainted lead-head jigs (Hose says he’s had good luck with them) and we’re back out on the lake. Seems like the wind has died down a bit but really it’s only shifted. So that bay in front of Bonnie Brae is calm. We decide to head around the south end of Squaw and try some 25 to 35 foot water off a nice inviting point.

Depth finder is still giving me fits. I’m sneaking in between some tiny little rock piles and can’t tell if I’m in 3 feet or 33 feet. (Guess what I get to buy the minute I get home? Note to Betty: Do not toss the Cabela’s  Catalog) But we motor over to this point, and actually, this whole area looks very interesting. We didn’t catch any fish there but we’ll be back. That seems like a target-rich environment.

Float around there for about an hour and then decide it would be a good night to have Steak. And maybe even a nice fire. In fact, why not cook steak over the fire?

steak dinner.JPG (89992 bytes)

Some very nice Chuck Tenderloin with boiled red potatoes and baked beans. A couple of cold beers while waiting for the fire to approach the proper cooking temperature and of course, we’re enjoying a very nice sunset as a storm rolls in from behind the cabin.

sunset.JPG (71486 bytes)

During dinner, the barge pulled up to Keith’s place next door. He’s currently our closest neighbor to the east. There’s six acres vacant next to us, then Lane’s place (which is still vacant) and then Keith’s place. He’s a semi-retired Musky Hunter from Atlanta. He bought a fully constructed cabin, had it floated out here to Flag Island and then dragged up a hill to be perched on a rock overlooking the lake. I went over to meet him yesterday and the cabin is beautiful. Only took three days to move it into place and now he’s building a deck and laying out the yard and so on. (I’ll try and get a shot of that cabin if I can)

barge.JPG (30127 bytes)

The barge pulled in tonight at sunset to pick up the bobcat he was using to clear away some of the land around his cabin.

After dinner the traditional post-prandial stogie and a good cup of lake water coffee. Snoot is tying up some killer snells for tomorrow and I’m banging out the journal. We’re going to catch a ton of fish tomorrow. Or maybe not.

So there you have it. The worst possible day you can have up here. We got to wake to a beautiful sunrise. We drove around this beautiful lake country. Had a beer in a beautiful local lodge. Met and talked with some nice people. Had a steak dinner and now we’re safely in the cabin as the storm looms ever closer.

I don’t know about you, but if that’s pretty much a worst case scenario, I can easily justify more time at the cabin.

Good night Friends.

-Mayday

Next day....