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July 6, 2011

Well, some old talent and some new blood this year. First time Fox Harbor visitor Ronnie joins the fun. Trip is about a month away but the planning and preparation has already begun. New rods to buy. New handheld radio needed. Probably a GPS... Who knows.

Shopping for Fishing stuff is fun.


 

8/2/2011 Tuesday -  Ronnie and I both have our CanPass so we're ready to fish anywhere we like. Got the flights booked, the rental car is reserved and a hotel in Gran Forks. Now time to pack !


 

 8/4/2011 Thursday - We have departed Las Vegas on Allegiant air and landed in Grand Forks a little ahead of schedule. So we progress directly to the Blue Moose (of course) for some excellent cuisine and some very cold micro brews. This may be a small town bar, but it's got some high end grub.

The Blue Moose, Day 1

Immediately after some chow we head to the motel, drop off Grandpa Mick and head for Cabela's. Ronnie and I somehow kill almost two hours (and a few bucks) in Cabela's and then head to Wal-Mart to do the shopping for a week's worth of cabin food. Grandpa Mick is safely at the motel, napping and watching the news.

After about two more hours of organized shopping, we have the car loaded and are headed back to the motel. Once there, we reorganize things so that items which must be in the cooler are properly refrigerated (covered with ice). Some items spend the night in the motel fridge, the rest in the cooler. We stop to pick up Grandpa Mick and head to Happy Harry's Bottle Shop. Here Mick, every the wine connoisseur identifies just the box of Burgundy that he prefers (that's right, it's box wine) and we're off to dinner at the "Speedway". We were assured by Trinda, the front desk clerk at our motel that they have..... and I quote "The best ribs in the world."

Ok, not true, but they were passable. So a nice leisurely dinner of ribs, potato skins, Walleye and cold Leinnie, and back to the motel for a solid night's sleep.


 

8/5/2011, Friday - Up early after a great night's rest, and down stairs to repack the car. Knowing that we have to fit, not only our luggage, but also a week's shopping in a Ford Explorer, we unpack and repack everything so that it all fits with room for the three passengers. Just as we put the last few packages into the car, the dark sky decides to let loose. The rain comes just as we pull out of the motel. About 10 minutes north of Grand Forks and we drive out of the rain and into sunshine. The fine day followed us all the way to the cabin.

On the way to Roseau we stopped in Karstad to check on "Matt Tracks". Love these machines. I had my favorite, and Ronnie had his.

My next Hummer??           Ronnie's next "Party Bus"

We pulled into Roseau about 9:30 AM and met Bill and Betty Mouw for "brunch". After a nice visit, we head over to the liquor store for the final supplies, then to the Centex station for a fishing license and then straight north into Canada.

About two hours later we're at Young's Bay just in time to hit Jerry's for the inaugural Kokanee. 

Ronnie's first cold boy at Jerry's.           (Not my first)

We immediately experience  a happy discovery. Today is the "Blueberry Festival". That means that various resorts are having special food and special gatherings. Flag Island Resort is having "Fritters and Foam". Walleye lightly battered and quick fried accompanied by cold beer.

Jerry's is sponsoring the "Fish Fry". So we load up the boat, head out to the cabin and spend the next several hours cleaning up 12 months of dust and mouse tracks. Grandpa Mick hits the master bedroom for a quick nap, while Ronnie and I head over to Flag Island Resort for our first visit to "The Blue Eyed Chief." (Also the site of our wedding reception 9 years ago last month). Then back to the cabin to roust Mick and off to Jerry's for a quick Fish Fry.

  Seconds on Corn, thirds on Walleye.

Finally back at the cabin. Time to rig up some rods and reels, slap on some new 80 lb test, and get ready to fool some fish tomorrow. By the way, forgot to mention that I scored BIG TIME at Cabela's in Grand forks. They has some 8 ft, Extra heavy IM7 musky rods. And they were "improperly marked". $139 rods marked $49. And when you scan them they rang up at $29. I asked a salesman and he said "These don't belong in our store. They're not on our inventory list. So we mark them down and get rid of them." I said "Well I'm going to put four or five of them in my car before you figure out what you've done." He just laughed and honored the ridiculously low price. so I'm rigging them now. Time to finish that up and hit the sack.

Good night friends.

~Mayday Maguire


8/6/2011  - Saturday

Great day on Lake of the Woods. Opened the day about sunrise with this shot from my bed. No joke, rolled over, saw this out the window and snapped a quick shot.

and this was with an iPhone.... not even a real camera.

Good night's sleep and up about daylight to consider our first day at the cabin. And there is much to consider.....

Ronnie and I pack a few sandwiches, a cooler full of liquid refreshments and head off to Flag Island Resort to grab some bait, some gas, some ice and some Intel. Ran into Jeff a local guide. He planted a few ideas and off we go, across the lake.

day one, heading out.

Couple hours later, we have a couple of nice fish in the Box. Mayday caught the first fish, and the biggest fish,

but Ronnie caught all the keepers, more than enough to make a nice supper.

Captain Ronnie got a chance to motor around the lake for a while (He did great), and earned his Lake of the Woods wings.

For the record, we have 9 dinners planned, and at least two of them are proposed to be fish. So that requires that we actually CATCH fish.

Fortunately, this will not be an issue today. After a few hours around Boucha, south of Oak Island (in Canada) we have a box full of Walleye and ready to try the Minnesota side. Off to Four Blocks for a couple hours of wandering (and I do mean wandering) around in 20 feet looking for a little action. Ronnie has proven to be a serious fisherman...

All business.....

 

We hooked one more there and enjoyed some very nice weather. Calm winds, slight overcast, and warm. Actually.... more-or-less perfect. We did have to fend off a few competitors for our Walleye however.

Finally called it a day, reluctantly, and headed back to the cabin. We cleaned our catch

and cranked up the fire pit. We reconnected with Grandpa Mick (who had taken a "cabin day") and spent a couple hours discussing "Lonesome Dove" and other Western Classics.

 

Ronnie's new discovery, Grain Belt Nordeaster? A local brew....

Ronnie has commented that so far, he's holding a beer in every picture. I reminded him that pictures don't lie.

It was also a reminder of what I like to call "God's light" for taking pictures.

It's late on Saturday. The cabin is quiet and other than my tapping away on this keyboard, the day is over. A Saturday night sunset on Lake of the Woods.

So thanks for following our journey so far. Probably time to get a good night's rest as Grandpa Mick has threatened to fish with us tomorrow.... we shall see. Meanwhile, the embers in the fire pit are still glowing. I can just make them out from the deck. I have skimmed and digested the news from the world outside this place and ready to call it a day. Reports from home seem to indicate that all is well. Family is well and having fun. That matters.

There are four or five things that you hope to accomplish on a cabin trip. At this point, after only one day, I've enjoyed all but one. With the exception of a quick trip to Hap's  in Kenora, I've done it all. If the trip ends today, it's been a great trip.

Good night my friends. Storm warnings for tonight, but sunny and 78 degrees tomorrow ? Really?

~ Mayday


 

8/07/2011 - Sunday

Beautiful morning on Lake of the Woods. 54 degrees, calm with a little haze. Supposed to be sunny and 78 degrees today. I guess we'll see. Still getting some coffee into us, then we'll pack a little lunch and get Grandpa Mick out on the lake. He's decided to fish with us today. This should be fun.

9:30 AM, out on the lake. We headed south to some reefs off of Boucha Island, just on the Minnesota side of the border. Some people wear old clothes when the fish. Other's fish in style.

Ronnie, his usual diligent self was hard at work adopting all the finesse of a seasoned fisherman.   The weather, as you can see was amazing. Perfect in fact. Just exactly the right temperature, and just exactly the right amount of breeze to move the boat appropriately. Perfect.

After drifting around for a while, I snagged up on the bottom. Using the trolling motor I tried to move back towards the snag so I could try to pop it loose. As I got closer, I was puzzled.... the snag seemed to move. Not a jerky, unpredictable move, just sort of slid along the bottom, or so it seemed. As I got closer to the snag again, I began popping and pulling on my rod trying to break the lure free from whatever it had snared.

Right about then, I began to question my snag. This didn't seem like a fish. It wasn't moving or fighting or anything. But I couldn't seem to catch up to the place where it was snagged on the bottom. Just as I was finally beginning to question the whole situation, my reel lit up, and my line when zipping across the top of the water, directly away from me. No way this is a snag.

Sure enough, as I horsed it in little by little, the big fish breached. As it came up out of the water, about 30 feet from the boat, Dad and Ronnie let out audible gasps. Holy Cow, that's a big fish. When you're fishing for Walleye and 17 or 20 inches seems big, to see a fish that is measured in feet come clear out of the water is quite a sight. Fortunately I had tied all my knots correctly, configured the lure correctly and even though this was meant to catch a Walleye, I had a very chunky Northern  on the line.

It took a few minutes, but finally I had the fish to the boat. As you may know, fish often run once they see the boat. Ronnie, my net man, was at the ready. I think his heart was beating a little faster than mine. I was excited, but I knew this was a big northern. There's no way I'm getting this fish in the boat. I was just going along for the ride. I was clear to me there's no way this fish is getting landed on 6 lb walleye test. This is a 15 to 20 lb fish. And a fighter at that.

Slowly I gained ground. It ran twice pulling line and making my reel sing with the effort. But it didn't go far. Almost as if it knew that I was the best chance of getting this little spinner bait removed from his jaw. Almost in slow motion the fish allowed me to pull it closer to the boat. Ronnie was at the ready, net in hand. But this fish was actually longer than the width of our net. Our hope was that it would swim into the net nose first and between my line, and Ronnie's net, we could at least get it out far enough to take a picture.

We did one better. After a few aborted attempts Ronnie got this noble fish in the net.

We hauled it onboard and managed to get a pretty good picture.

As this was the first fish of the day, we figured we were in for a pretty good catch. The net man done good... Oh, and please don't tell Justyn that all the fish we've eaten so far were caught on his rod. That's just going to have to stay between me and you. OK?

We put the big Northern back in the lake. With a few gentle strokes it came to life and swam off, none the worse for wear.

Hours passed and we tried a few more reefs. The fish seem to be at 20 feet and deeper. Too warm in shallow water, so we hit every 20 foot reef we could find. About noon, we headed in to the Angle Inn for a quick beer and some strategy time.

The owner's wife offered to take a photo, but then dissatisfied with the result, she herded us outside for a 2nd shot.

Back to the cabin to drop off Grandpa Mick, then Ronnie and me headed out with Dan from Flag Island. He was off to a couple of hot spots that have been producing in the afternoon. We hit them, picked up a few fish, and dutifully marked them on the GPS. We may have to hit them again as the week progresses.

Quick stop at Jerry's to replenish the beer supply, and a great (helpful) conversation with Lane Magnusson about where we might focus our efforts tomorrow. Great guy, and beautiful boat.

Back to the cabin to debrief and to get some sage advice from Grandpa Mick.

  Turned into a fabulous evening. Perfect weather, calm and low 70's. No bugs, no mosquitoes, no flies. Started a fire, grilled some Steak, boiled some red potatoes, and steamed some veggies. That coupled with the cold Nordeast from the cooler, what more could you ask for?

   What does tomorrow hold?

Good night my friends.

~Mayday


8/8/2011 Monday

After a great night's sleep, up to consider the possibilities of today. Ronnie launches into a few sandwiches for lunch, and off we go.

A quick stop over at Flag Island Resort to get ice, bait, and fuel, and then we head East then North. Across Deep Water Bay, up the Tug Channel, directly to Gator Bay (which I now find out is widely known by some other name... Butler Point I think. No mind. It's Gator Bay to me.

It's Ronnie's first time on a Musky rod. So we cast a few times around that point. then we move north up to Skeet as I'm told (inside scoop from Lane) that there are a few reefs that do not appear on the map. The fish are are reportedly stacked up on them, right off the top of the reef. So we locate one, drop a bouy and then fight the wind to say somewhere near it. 1/2 of Fishing Walleye is boat control. And when you have a shifter that slips and a hand operated bow mounted trolling motor, this is not an easy task. But we begin to hit fish right away. Mostly smaller Sauger, a few keepers, and a lot of action. Couple hours go by and we have our limit for Canada. Now it's off to see the sights, have a little lunch, and cast for Musky.

The "secret storm spot" was occupied so we hit a backup spot down by "School House Point."  Here's a shot of Ronnie enjoying the area. 

And another of our Walleye Slayer. (The boat.... not the guy !)

We cast for Musky at 1/2 dozen places, and the skies began to turn a little. It was just a few clouds at first, but then the winds picked up. Knowing we were about 25 miles from the cabin, we thought it best to get a little closer to home, just in case the weather turned. And of course, the weather did turn.

We pulled into the dock about 5:00 PM. A little earlier than usual. But we got to work cleaning fish, stoking a fire, and discussing supper. Ronnie totally reinvented the fire pit and engineered a way to grill Hamburgers over the fire using a grill grate and a cinder block. Not to mention the fact that just out of the kindness of his heart, he elected to reinvigorate an old cast iron skillet we have. It was stuck in the "shore lunch" kit for the past 5 or 6 years, and Ronnie brought it back to life. Handy guy to have around. I'm told it's just a matter of heat, a little oil, and some salt. In any case, that pan looks new. Speaking of new, Mick finally wandered down, safely aware that most of the heavy lifting was already assigned. He felt it was safe to join the fire pit and discuss a number of important topics. First he offered guidance on how to properly season a cast iron skillet....    and then he offered insight surrounding the 600 point melt down of the Dow Jones Industrial Average today. 6th worst point drop in market history. Another topic he felt willing and qualified to discuss was the placement of the grill, the coals, the fire, and the lake. All requiring some minor adjustment (in his view). Notice how he is able to offer specific work direction by gesturing alternately with a 1/2 empty wine glass, and a broken Pringles potato chip. Excellent communication skills. He's gifted.

Ultimately, finally, the actually cooking commences. With great attention to detail and smothering oversight, the cooking can begin. but not before a high wind, heavy rain, and even hail/sleet blows through. Unlike some, I stayed at the fire pit to tend the fire. Others ran for the relative safety and security of the cabin. Adversity reveals the true character. After the all-clear, my trip mates returned to the fire pit to resume the evening preparations. Except for Grandpa Mick who elected to spend part of dinner time with a good book. I'm told he's reading the first of the "Lonesome Dove" novels. At least that is the primary topic of conversation at the fire pit. Something about Cole and Hal, or Bill or whatever. A bunch of crazy cowboys who apparently utter such brilliance that their every discussion is worthy of memorization. Amazing what grown men can retain if they care to. In this case, Ronnie and/or Mick is able to quote and/or perform lengthy conversations from the book.  I don't typically object as we do not have TV at the cabin.

Grilled hamburgers, some steamed veggies, a fabulous batch of "Betty's Beer Bread" and some very sweet onions. That's a complete meal. No question about it.

Now I'm setting a few more traps to eliminate our surprising population of field mice. I put out three traps last night, and went three for three. I thought that was most of them, but a very brave, almost foolish cohort showed up tonight as I'm typing this. He managed to steal the piece of chocolate chip cookie off the trap without going SNAP !! So I'm replacing it with cheese. Maybe a more traditional bait will work. We shall see.

Ok all, great day and great evening at the cabin. Good night. What does tomorrow hold?

~Mayday

PS. One of the traps just went SNAP !! I better go check it out.


08/09/2011 Ė Tuesday

About 2:00 AM I could hear  the wind come. When youíre surrounded by 50 foot aspens, the wind surrounds you like a stadium. The rush and the volume are always moving. But I heard it and I began to worry. When youíre on Lake of the Woods you donít worry about heat or cold. Even rain can be managed. The only thing that can more-or-less shut down the fishing is wind.

And in some cases, you donít even need high winds. Just a steady push of 8 to 12 knots can raise up 3 foot rollers if you have 10 miles of water and a steady blow on a fixed heading. But today, we had 20 knots gusting to 25 and it was directly out of 300 degrees all night, and all day.

Even if you can find a place out of the wind, you canít really get there without getting all beat up. So, the good news? We have a great little cabin. Cozy and comfortable with a spectacular view of the weather and the water. So we just waited a little and stretched our morning rituals waiting for something to break weather-wise.

The coffee took a little longer, the shower happened a little later, and before you know it, weíve elected to just kick back and read.

Nothing wrong with a day in the cabin.

About noon we got restless and hiked over to Flag Island Resort. Sunny and warm on the island interior, sheltered from the wind. But out on the water, it was still blowing. Even though the clouds had broken up and there was a lot of sun, the lake was dark and rough. It did get over 70 degrees today, and that make it downright pleasant. But after a few hours of wandering around the island on foot, we found our way back to the cabin for the noon news (KQ 92, Lake Country FM), and some Tombstone pizza from the Oven.

For the record, Tombstone is the best frozen pizza out there. Not quite like restaurant or homemade, but as far as $3 frozen pizza, this stuff is pretty good. And it always has been. Even in high school, this was the quick lunch of choice.

So after lunch a little light reading, lighter for some than others, and then a few chores to round-out the day. One thing about a cabin, there is always 14 or 15 things you should really be doing.

Summary; no fishing today, nothing productive except some good books and some good fellowship. Tomorrow? Who knows what tomorrow holds.

Good night friends.

~Mayday

PS. So far the score at the cabin is Mayday 5, Mice 0.


 8/10/2011 - Wednesday

Score update... Mayday 7, Mice 1

Seems like every time I'm at the cabin, something significant happens elsewhere in the world. One year I came in from fishing to learn that Princess Di had been killed in a car crash. Another year I came back from a Kenora trip to learn that New Orleans had been wiped out by Hurricane Katrina. This trip, it's the Dow Jones Industrial Average that seems to be on drugs. Every morning the talk around the cabin is: Number 1, what's the weather look like. And number 2, How did the Dow open?

Honestly, I don't much care. The lake is calm. Light breeze out of the west. Sun is shining bright and it's going to be 80 here today. Beat that !! I probably have 2 dozen shots like this. Seems like we get days like this on every trip. Not every day is like this, but many seem to be photogenic. Even Grandpa Mick looks good with that backdrop.

Mick is making a grocery run into Roseau, while Ronnie and I go fool some fish. Love it.

Ok, it's late in the day now.... Mick is back from Roseau, and all is calm at the cabin. What a full day. Hard to pick and choose what to share, and what to leave out. What seems relevant to us may seem superfluous  to readers at their office or at their desk....

We dropped Mick off at Rick's about 9:00 AM. His plan was to run back in the US and get a few supplies. We're low on beer, chips, and laxative. I won't specify who the laxative is for but it wasn't me or Ronnie. Meanwhile, we're off to fish Canada. So far the weather is perfect. Lake is calm, sun is out, and the high today should be about 80 degrees. What could be better?

While Grandpa Mick heads south, Ronnie and I head north; North East to be exact. We're off to the top of Tug Channel to hit a couple of reefs that were offered up to us by a reliable local source. These reefs paid off big time on Monday, so they might be productive today too....

After a few hours of dinking around, we managed to put four nice fish in the box. Ronnie connected with at least one that was "photo worthy". It was not only pretty, but it produced a couple of very nice fillets.

As we had some time to kill, and we already had our limit in Canadian waters, we stopped at the "Secret Strom Spot" for lunch. Which as you can imagine, is not all that secret.       

After a few hours, we headed back towards the US. On our way through the French Portage we encountered some difficulties that resulted in Ronnie acquiring a new prop. Details on that are not for publication. What happens at the cabin, stays at the cabin.

At exactly 3:00 PM PST,  we connected with Mick as agreed. Killed a few minutes and a couple of cold Kokanee's at Jerry's and then headed back to the Cabin. It was too early for supper preparation so we dropped Mick and headed south to check out the reefs below Massacre. Killed an hour there and then back to the cabin to celebrate the day.   For some reason, there is an unopened bottle of "Bacardi Limon" at the cabin. So I threw some in a diet Coke and what do you know? It was yummy !!

After a short update from both parties we decided to take a stab at a possible 'Group Shot 2011'. What do you think? Should we keep trying or will this work?  

Some long and productive conversation at the fire pit, then up to the cabin to whip up "Spaghetti Night". Ronnie threw the left over brat's and some grilled hamburger into the spaghetti sauce while I organized the noodles and some garlic bread. Spaghetti night was a hit.  

 

Some chocolate chip cookies and hot coffee for desert and that's how you wrap up a great day at Lake of the Woods. Could not have made a more perfect day if I had been given the chance to script it. Life is a banquet.

What does tomorrow hold?

Good night my friends.

~Mayday.


8/11/2011 - Thursday

An "in between day". Is the trip fully underway? Is it winding down? Is it ramping up for the best day ever? Who knows? No way to ever say with any certainty.....

Grandpa Mick is going to hold close to the cabin today. Ronnie and I are off to.... I don't know.... .fish? Go sight seeing? Walleye, Muskie, Perch... they're all here; somewhere. First things first, we make a quick stop over at Flag to get ice, bait, and some intel. Off to the Tug Channel to get north and see what's shakin'. We still have a few spots that we haven't tried yet. So we get up there across some choppy water. Sky is mostly sunny but warm sunshine does not guarantee smooth water. Fought a few waves to get across Deepwater Bay and even then, inside the channel we had some reasonable rollers....

Finally got north of French Portage, past the Secret Storm Spot, and East of Skeet. Tracked down a few reefs, gave them a go for a couple hours. But nothing.... With the sky mostly clear, and the lake mostly navigable, we have little choice but to head to "Hap's". Fortunately I have an expert, but inexperienced navigator along to help find the way. That coupled with the expert guidance of a full color moving map (Lowrance) we're well on our way to Kenora for lunch.

After a nice ride through the many islands between Skeet and Kenora, we glide past "Devil's Rock"   and pull in to the beautiful harbor.   .

We refuel (40.7 liters?) park at the city dock, and take a short stroll up the hill to the Whistling Monkey.... only to discover that it's now called "The Cornerstone". Used to be a bank and the entire building (across the street from Ronnie and to his left) is made of stone. Even the front door looks like the entry into a giant safe. We somehow manage to attract the attention of Jolene and Shawna (competent local microbrew experts) and they serve us a couple of very cold, popular Canadian brews. . One called "Alexander Keith's" which is a nice pale beer. And another called "Rickard's Red" We were required to have one of each to compare. There was some disagreement among the staff as to which was the preferred brew. In the name of international diplomacy, we called it a draw. (But Rickard's was better).

Then a short walk east down the street to Hap's for lunch where we took advantage of the PGA coverage to note that Tiger Woods had his worst opening round EVER in a PGA tournament. A +7 round I believe....The only problem was, the 60 inch flat panel was mounted on the lake side of the restaurant. Immediately out that window is where all the Float Planes park for Kenora Air. How can I watch golf when there's a beautiful 1949 Beechcraft twin on Floats. A Beech D-18 I believe?

Then the long boat ride south. Past Thompson Island, back to Skeet, down the Tug Channel (where we threw a few Musky lures... of course). Across Deep Water, past Oak Island, and back to Fox Harbor. We stopped to pick up Grandpa Mick for a night cap at the Blue Eyed Chief.  Not only do that have beer (and we have a tab), but they have Satellite and today being the opening day of Preseason NFL Football, we had to get a taste of both. Not to mention that fact that this was the fourth day in a row (never before achieved in the history of the markets) that the Dow moved over 400 points one way or another. At least today it was 400 to the good. The driving force behind today's market improvement appears to be that for the first time, our President didn't speak on the subject.

So we're sitting around the Blue Eyed Chief and Grandpa says he's getting hungry so we wandered out and started back to the cabin by boat. We pulled into our dock and as we were walking up the walkway to the cabin, there was a great flash of lightening and a frightening crack of thunder (it was frightening to some, not to me.... I'm drawn to violent weather).

The thunder was followed within seconds by some falling rain drops, and within two minutes of climbing the stairs to the cabin, the rain came in earnest. The wind whipped up, and the rain hammered the lake.

About 15 minutes later it had mostly passed. As soon as the rain stopped, Ronnie was down at the fire pit continuing our nightly tradition. Soon there was a crackling fire, and it was time for a cold "Nordeast" and a good cigar. In my case, the Nordeast was replace by a Berry Weiss. But a good cigar is always in fashion.

Seems unimaginable, but we're already talking about leaving this place. Our flight home is Sunday afternoon. We either have to pack up and head out Sunday morning early, or we can clean up, shut down the cabin and head to Grand Forks on Saturday night. We'll have to work that out tomorrow. And depending on the decision, tomorrow could be our last full day here. Is that possible?

The rain and the lightening have passed through a couple times as we have been enjoying our supper. The cabin is warm and safe. And the rain out side only makes it more so. Quite a place this lake. Not a lake at all really. More of a time, or an era. Calling it a lake doesn't do it justice. I've been on lakes where you could see the shore in any direction at any time. On this lake, you can't even see the next 5 minutes..... vastly expanded possibilities are floating all over this place. Really hard to describe. I guess you have to experience this place. I'll check with Ronnie in the morning and see if he agrees that describing this place is hard.

Ok, good night my friends. The current score is Mayday 9, Mice 1. I think we've put quite a dent in the mouse population. Don't know if that's a good thing, but it has certainly make my nights a lot more restful.

What does tomorrow hold..?

~Mayday


8/12/2011 - Friday

Woke up to a flat, glassy lake. Too perfect. Not sure we can even fish on this. We'll be too tempted to just sit and look around, soaking it in.

After a hot cup of morning coffee and a quick check of NFL Preseason results, I look up and see a big family of ducklings passing by on their morning commute.

We're whipping up a few sandwiches, packing the cooler and thinking about how to pass this perfect day. Be back soon.....

4 hours later.... Without a whole lot of detail, here's our progress by lunch time. We had 5 nice fish in the box. Grandpa Mick caught his best fish 4 minutes before we pulled for shore. That's just the nature of fishing. Had we quit a couple minutes sooner, we would have missed out on Mick's nice 18 incher. And Ronnie of course, caught the first fish, the most fish, and the biggest fish? Really? Geez, why did we even invite him?

Strike that, he's been a great contributor and a LOW (Lake of the Woods) class fisherman. He caught a nice 22 incher today. (See photo...) .

There are sever storm warnings all over this part of Minnesota/Canada. We're leaving Mick at the cabin as he has, for some reason, decided to have eggs and bacon for lunch? And we're going to head back out and see if we can trick a few more fish.... why not?

Back soon.....

~ Mayday


8/13/2011 - Saturday

Knowing that we have to be at the airport in Grand Forks about Noon on Sunday, we decided that trying to pack up, clean up and shut down the cabin Sunday morning, then loading everything in the boat, motoring to Young's Bay, clearing customs and driving all the way to Grand Forks (about three hours), is too much for one morning. It made the decision even easier when Ronnie pointed out that our fishing licenses expired on Friday. Technically, we can't even fish today.

So we took the leisurely way out. We spent the entire day organizing the cabin, taking an inventory (for once !!), packed our things and shut down the cabin. As it turns out, it was probably a very good thing we did. When we motored over to the Resort to settle up with Dan, the boat wouldn't start for the return trip. Dead battery....

Fortunately Dan loaned us a smaller boat so that we could finish up at the cabin and still get to Young's Bay, which we did. And the truth is, this is how it should be done. You can take your time, enjoy the day and the scenery even WHILE you're packing to leave.

Knowing that the cabin will probably not get used again until Winter for a possible ice fishing trip, I winterized the place and that took a little longer. No problem, done it a dozen times. So over the course of a few hours, we got the place buttoned up tight and for the record, we didn't see one mouse for the last three days. I think we put quite a dent in that particular tribe of invaders. I think the ring of dead mice that circled the cabin was sending the right message.

So we pack up, negotiate the tilted dock one final time. We motor over to Young's Bay and settle up with Rick. We loaded up the car and headed south to Grafton, ND. Now, don't ask me why, but I spent over an hour on the phone this morning trying to reserve a motel room in Grand Forks. 23 hotels/motels that I could locate, and not ONE vacancy. Amazing. I asked a few of them "What's going on in Grand Forks?" and the answer was basically "We're always busy in the summer." Well I guess.....

So with the help of an Expedia Operator, we organized a nice room in Grafton, North Dakota. It is basically 10 miles out of the way, no big deal, and it's on the way to Grand Forks. So we spent Saturday night there. The only bad news being, we would not be able to patronized the Blue Moose for dinner. That's a big loss. But we asked around and inquired with the usual experts and we were referred to "The Market Place on 8th".

 As the Vikings were playing a PreSeason game, we wanted to find a sports bar that might carry the live broadcast.

Well, we almost made it. We did find the local hot spot for dinner. This is a small town, population of about 3,900. And is often the case, there is usually one dominate "dinner spot'. We found it. Fortunately we got there a little early and got a table. But as we enjoyed a beer and watched Grandpa Mick shoo the waitress away for the third time, the tables began to fill up.

As a side note, Grandpa Mick cannot be hurried at dinner. That is to say, he cannot actually HAVE dinner in less than a couple hours. It's a habit that I believe he acquired living in Europe where the evening meal is often an experience and is to be savored without hurry.

The waitress Lorie finally got a little concerned and informed us that there was a large group preparing to dine in the banquet room and that she recommended that we put our dinner order in before they did. So we obliged. And it was well worth the wait. Ronnie had Chicken Popper, I had a BBQ Bacon Burger, and Grandpa Mick, at the recommendation of the maitre 'd had Knoephla soup. It was every bit as good as he was told.

We had a nice dinner, and on the way out, through the bar, sure enough, there are the Vikings and the Titans preparing to kick off. We quickly discovered that the game was on the local Fox affiliate, so we ran back to the AmericInn and pulled it up in the comfort of our room. Watched the whole game.

That's a pretty good day.

Tomorrow we head home.......

~ Mayday


8/14/2011 - Sunday, the final day.

With nothing specific to accomplish besides getting to the airport 40 minutes away in the 5 hours we had to kill, Sunday started off pretty well. Down to the lobby in the AmericInn for free coffee, waffles, muffins, cereal, oatmeal.... whatever you wanted, we caught up on the news (Saturday was the Straw Poll in Iowa), and the tragedy (Stage blew over in a storm at the Indiana State Fair, killing five), and then re-packed for about the third time.

We packed once to get things into the boat, repacked a again to make room in the car for 4 bags of trash, and now we're making plans to actually check our bags on an airplane, so weight is an issue. But more importantly, we have some precious cargo, fresh walleye from Lake of the Woods tucked safely in the bottom of my bag (which is actually a Coleman cooler). Also, Ronnie is bringing home a heavier souvenir. I won't go into detail as what happens at the cabin, never happened.

So we're packed and on the road to Grand Forks. A stop at Cabela's again (to return $80 of Muskie line that proved redundant as I already had 4 rolls at the cabin), another quick group shot. and to pick up a few gifts for loved ones back in Vegas, and then a nice walk over to the Blue Moose, of course, for a nice lunch. From here we have a 4 mile drive to the airport, so that exposes an opportunity to sample a few more local microbrews..... We start with a Nordeast of course, but then a "Blue Moose Ale" with lunch. Ronnie has hot Chicken Poppers (again?) Grandpa Mick has a bowl of soup, and I have a PBEB. For the uninitiated, a PBEB is a local delicacy. I've never seen it made anywhere outside the northern portion of the Midwest. It's a hamburger made with fresh local ground beef, topped with Peanut Butter, two fried eggs, bacon, and in my case, mayo. Some people are squeamish about the mayo. Even the chef was too afraid to put it on the burger. They gave it to me on the side.

A great lunch, and a great way to wrap up a trip north. Can't think of a better way to end the journey.

Off to the airport, returned the rental car (which by they way was a very cool, brand new 2011 Ford Explorer. I was impressed. All the gauges, Audio and climate controls were digital, full color and almost had the feel of 3D. I may have to go price one out?)

Did not have a totally full flight and since we were a little early to the airport, we were able to get seats together in row 2 and three. As you may know, Allegiant Air now handles seating the same way Southwest Airlines does. The only difference is, you can pay for an assigned seat, or you can opt for open seating. We waited about an hour to board and then flew home without incident. We got picked up at the airport by the whole gang, Two wives and two sons came to pick us up. What a great welcome home.


8/15/2011 - The Day After

Summary: Any time you can spend a week on Lake of the Woods you should consider yourself lucky. But when you also add some fishing success, some beautiful weather, some storms, and a number of world class nights by the fire pit, that's as good as it gets. Good food, good fellowship, and good memories. Returning home safely is a big factor too and we did it. I come home to a wonderful family, a great job, and a pretty good life. So today I transition from one vacation, to another which is my real life. This author is a rich man.

Only problem now is how to get the next trip on my calendar. As long as there's a trip planned, even if it's a year away, there is light at the end of the tunnel. That's a must.

Thanks for following along friends. Keep your stick on the ice. See you soon.

~ Mayday