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Ice Out!

Today Waconia is officially open.  The wind over night busted up the ice and opened the lake to boat traffic.  We can finally enjoy soft water again.  Fish On!


Get this party started!

rainy river 06 02 015.jpgIt's that time of year again when we have to blow the dust off our boats and summer gear.  I have been anxiously waiting for the sound of snowmobiles to give way to the roar of outboard motors.  

Like most of us here in Minnesota, I use ice fishing as an outlet to pass the time between open water seasons.  I am fortunate enough to be able to ice fish a lot, but nothing compares to the feeling of standing on the deck of that Z 20 Ranger Boat.  Being that my boat is in Arkansas at the Ranger factory I was at the will of my friends.  Many thanks to Josh Braun, Josh Raw, and Jeff Z for being so willing to put up with me for a few days on the water. 

Josh Braun and Josh Raw arrived in Baudette Friday morning and I met them at the Birchdale boat ramp.  The anticipation of setting the hook on my first walleye or sturgeon of the season was overwhelming.  I couldn't hardly handle it.  I was gitty, like a little kid on his first day of school.  The conditions were fair to good for this time of year.  The wind was blowing about 10 mph, the sun was hiding, temps didn't break 35, and it snowed for about 6 hrs on us. 

raw_rainey_iceout_06.jpgJosh, Raw, and myself made the most of the chance at whacking down a 10 plus pound walleye.  Ok we didn't catch any 10 pounders but we did catch about 35 walleyes and really enjoyed our day on the Rainy River.  Raw was able to boat the first walleye, the most, and the biggest (28").  By the way Raw, I still owe you for all of the above.  I will catch up with you on that next year.

Friday night we made visits to the Muny, Wigwam, Sportsmans, and River Bend to take in a little of the local atmosphere.  Knowing we would have a big day on the water on Saturday we needed to get to bed and get some rest. 

rainy river 06 02 005.jpgSaturday I met Jeff Z , Jen, and Robot at Luckys' and once again we were off to the Birchdale access for some walleye and sturgeon action.  The weather had broke and the sun was out.  The walleye fishing was still a bit slow so come early afternoon we made the decision to sturgeon fish.  We boated five or six nice sturgeon and then headed back to town to get freshened up for the big Mardi Gras party at Sportsmans. 

After all the fishing and partying I was wiped out and knew I had a long drive home in the morning so we headed back to Baudette and crashed.  Was up early on Sunday and on my way home.  After beating the pavement for the better part of 5 hours I was glad to be home.               


Houston we have a problem...Isn't the water supposed to be under the ice

winter 05 06 049.jpgCan you say that Upper Red Lake was wet this weekend.  Theo and I arrived at U.R.L. on Wednesday to do a little scouting before the rest of the crew was to arrive.  After a short stop (ok, not so short) at West Winds for the local report and a few cold ones, we were ready to battle the conditions. 

Theo and I proceeded with caution being that the lake had 6-10" of water underneath the snow.  Once we arrived at our turn for Theo's house we realized we would have to make a path to get our rigs over to where his house was parked.  After three hours of being stuck, beating down the snow, and making a path, we were to his house and in the clear to get some rest (and it was 5 a.m.). 

Waking on Thursday we fished for a few hours with no success and made the decision to pack up and move.  The move was to about 8.5 miles out and it turned out to be a good decision.  Seth arrived late in the day and proceeded to get in on the hot evening action.  Joe Ringus, Kelly, Mark, Joe, Phil, and Andy all came in on Thursday night.  Travis also arrived late Thursday. With Theo on the mission to pick him up at West Winds, I knew they would probably not rush back. Well needless to say they didn't make it back out fishing until they quit serving drinks. 

winter 05 06 052.jpgFriday morning Todd, DJ, and Block all arrived with intentions of hearing "FISH ON!"  The day brought adverse conditions with getting around in the wet, slushy ice.  DJ was able to put some slabs in the pail on Friday evening while the rest of us enjoyed Can Can's and Robot's humor.  Wanting to catch a few myself I went over to see how DJ was doing and sat down and put seven in the pail myself. 

Wanting to rest up for our big day on Saturday I stayed back while the clowns went to West Winds.  After a fun filled night at the Winds they all made it home safe.  Including getting my truck back to me...Joe. 

Saturday brought wind, rain, and some light snow.  DJ and I were content with just trying to fill the pail on Saturday.  We fished hard the better part of the day with little to no success, aside from the occasional walleye.  Knowing the fish would move in after dark we were in position by 5:30 with our best rigs in the water.  The crappies' body clocks was a little off on this night.  By 8:00 we only had two fish in the pail and the outlook wasn't looking good the later it got.  

winter 05 06 053.jpgSaturday night the crew was ready for one last visit to the Winds for some prime rib and a few cocktails.  Theo, Joe, Mark, Joe R., Todd, Phil, Andy, Can Can, Robot, Guy, Deano, and I closed down West Winds and decided to head over to Guy's cabin.  Once again we were all hungry and wanted to have a few more beers  (or so we thought). The one small problem with going to the cabin is getting there.  

Most of the crew headed back to the shanties to call it a night while the rest of us jumped in my truck and the MAT-TRACK suburban.  Coming into the first corner before the cabin I sent my truck down on its side into the snow filled ditch.  Thank goodness for the snow in the ditch or I don't think my truck would have come out in one piece.  Deano and Guy came to the rescue with the mat-track machine and were able to pull me back up out of the ditch.  By the sound of it, the back tires could have cleared Theo while standing there.  Back on all fours and off to the cabin for some more fun.  After a small spat with some pulled pork and a rough ride back to the lake, I wasn't feeling too good.  Needless to say I was ready for bed and needed to get to my shanty.  Thanks to the kind heart of Theo he drove my truck and (my not-feeling-so-good a**) got us back to the shanties in one piece.  

8:00a.m. came in a hurry and everyone was up and packing to head home.  Getting all the houses and trucks back to the road was not an easy task as the water on top of the ice had crusted hard over night.  With the help of all five trucks, a lot of tow strap, and some fierce team work we were all able to make it off the lake by noon.  We tried to keep the damage to a minimum.  Ok, maybe there was a little more damage than any of us wanted, but what do you do.  The conditions were tough, and even tougher on equipment this weekend.  We tried to make the most of what was in front of us.  Like I more than once famously stated, "It's only tin, and it can be replaced."  Three days of fish house moving, fish catching, having fun, and whatever else can really take a toll on a guy.  Once off the lake we were on the road and heading home with a final crappie catch of around 40-45 fish.

winter 05 06 051.jpgTheo, Todd, DJ, Phil, Seth, Travis, Mark, Joe, Kelly, Joe R, Guy, Block, Can Can, and last but not least Robot (if I forgot anyone I am sorry): Thank you all for the fun filled weekend and memories that will last forever.  I couldn't ask for a better group of friends.  I appreciate all that each and everyone of you did for me this weekend.  Couldn't have done it without you guys.  This passion I have would just be a passion and not a reality if it wasn't for you.  I look forward to working for you and with you guys for years to come.  Thanks again and until next time.  Tight lines and good luck.             


Theo, Todd, DJ, Dan, Phil, Mark, Joe, and Company

Boys, are you ready?  This weekend is going to be great!  I look forward to our trip to red and hopefully we will hear lots of FISH ON!!  Wednesday can't come fast enough.  Check back early next week for pictures and stories from this up coming trip.  Thanks for all the memories this winter and the memories to come.  Travis are you coming up this weekend?