Man oh man that was a lot of work. I did not sleep good Thursday night thinking about what I was going to do. It all worked out in the long run though. Nothing broken and no stitches just a lot of hard work. I got out on the lake at the crack of dawn as planned. I was surprised to see 3 wheel houses just behind the houses. Not that I care but one could of plugged right in to my generator he was so close. Imagine there surprise when they came out of there shack and north Dakota and Montana were gone. Both houses were taken up the road to the new area I would be ruining. I mean fishing. I then cut a new trail hooked up north Dakota and off I went. Don and his crew would be bringing there own generator so that meant I could cover a little more ice and spread out a bit more then usual. Once north Dakota was completely prepped holes augured ,house banked,etc I was off to do the same with montana. again same procedure . By then I had worked up a good sweat at it always amazes me that working in the cold you can sweat so much. Old Minnesota was next on the list. I had a completely different area picked for Minnesota. Glen and Sue had a group of friends from Minnesota outdoorsman with wheel houses that would be fishing by them. The area I picked Marlo had done well last week and Lonnie had one of two good nights Monday and Tuesday. Glen and Sue had to wait a bit as they arrived while I was still towing old Minnesota. In between these moves I had checked in Don and his crew in north Dakota and Doug and his crew in montana. After getting every one settled in it was off to get the things I left behind ,blocks that needed to be chiseled out of the ice, boxes for generator, gas can etc. By then blue thunder was running on fumes and pushing 4 pm I headed to shore . Florida and north Carolina would have to wait un tell Saturday which worked out fine as they were not arriving un tell Saturday. Saturday morning upper red lake showed a little of her ugly side as the wind was howling out of the south, I got a call from Glen around 5am the new generator had stopped running EEERRR. I quick trip out there in my tennis shoe was not the best idea as I took the bravado. Luckily I was able to power though the drifts and deal with the generator issue. Not quite sure what happen but oil was good and she fired right back up. With snow drifting across the berm I would be plowing while I attempted moving florida and north Carolina to new fishing grounds. Plus old minnesota’s spot was a strike out and I promised Glen I would also move them to better fishing once the other two houses were set up. My good friend Randy who was out fishing with his family was nice enough to come help me move old Minnesota and prep florida . and north caroilina. Thanks buddy. All that worked payed off and all the houses started catching a few fish Friday evening. Making the rounds Friday night I was able to swing in to Randy’s shack and play a game of cribbage with him and Chuck. They had got the 6 in the area I had sent them and had moved to a new location looking for better fishing. My new friends Tim ,lance and kimmy also had good fishing when I stopped in to see them. We are all going to go to church this morning as I ask david if he would play his saw fro them. It sure was nice seeing all the houses catching a few fish again as last weekend was brutal to say the least. I have a nice break coming this week with only one house rented starting Monday to Dave and Sarah . Bob and his crew are here another day in florida and from the looks of it I will not have to offer them a new location. This has been a crazy 72 hours and I hope to watch a little of the Denver game today. Well its time to hit the lake .I want to top off the generators and catch the sunrise on such a grand lake.
Yesterday was spent getting all the houses augured out for Bruce and his crew of 12 that were stopping by to fish from 1 to 5;30 pm. they would be fishing 4 of the 5 houses and this would give me a idea of how cooperative the fish would be? I hate to say it but it was not pretty. I always try and have the houses on fresh ice for the customers arriving on Fridays as they have made plans well in advance. If I’m in a fishy area it may only be a 50 yard move but its still clean and unfished. Its hard to say no when some one wants to fish Thursday and I thought what the heck it would tell me a lot. Bruce and his crew have done this before and it was not a issue. Every year is different .I was so upset about the out come of there fishing yesterday that I wanted to move the houses last night. I think its un safe and unwise to move houses and work out there at night especially with out a helper. Unless its a emergency . I have moved a house at night so it can be done but again I would rather be working in the day light. Montana and North Dakota will be moving this morning at the crack of dawn. Followed by old Minnesota and north Carolina with florida bringing up the rear. I not sure if I can get them all moved and 3 of the five augured and prepped but I’am about to give it the old collage try as both the areas I have the houses are not even worth ruining. There’s a good chance a customer or two may have to wait if they show up before 2 . I guess that’s why we have a 2pm check in to give me time to make moves. The other problem is this is going to be a bigger move so you loose a lot of time traveling and prepping the new areas. The good thing is I have a plan. I have done this before when I have had a turn over on a sunday so it can be done. The one good thing is all the houses were wiped down and prepped last night so that will save a little bit of time. I also like to tow the houses nice and slow . I have seen other outfitters flying down the road with houses in tow. I just can not do it. I would guess our houses are pressing 6000 lbs. If for some reason I have to come to a stop the house would smash into the truck as they do not stop on a dime. I have learned this the hard way and its not pretty. I smashed montana the second year we had it and had to use a handy man jack and 2x4s on the floor to push the wall and counter back into place. I also had the greek tow montana the first year when we were bringing the houses to shore. The greek hit the gas when he came up the landing, then hit the breaks and the house just kept on coming and smashed into the truck. The tire on the rear helped but not much.
I did have a couple wheel houses set up yesterday in new uncharted waters and they did well so that makes me feel better then going to a area with a lot of lookers and sniffers. It will be interesting to see how Randy and his buddy did last night. I hope they call me because I will be way to busy to stop in and talk to them. Same with Ken and his crew as they were also checking out a area for me to ruin. Looking at the weather forecast it looks like I will be working in all most ideal conditions. I will take a moment when the sunrises to soak it all in on such a grand lake that owes me nothing as that old timer Dave told me years ago. Should be a fun day wish me luck
Two days of grinding and last night I was beat. Having a cold has not helped. I hit the sack at 8pm as Brian and Stacy in old Minnesota said he would gas up the generator. At this time both have been running well with there blankets.
Jake arrived Tuesday and got his cold weather gear on and hit the lake looking for the mother load. Brian and Stacy tagged along. Jake found a spot that they were marking fish and saw a walleye and spot tail shiners on a camera. That was good enough for me and I started digging North Dakota and Montana out of there holes . While Jake headed off looking for another area to ruin, I plowed into the spot and hustled to get north Dakota set up for Leroy and his crew. After getting them set up I was off to retrieve montana as they would be together for the up and coming weekend. I then headed over to north Carolina and got her out of its perch. My arms were like rubber by then chopping out all the frozen blocks and shoveling all the snow. Around 4 pm I was headed out to see Lonnie in his wheel house when I realized I had pool? I turned around made a quick stop to check on Leroy and his crew and headed home. Jake would check on them later in the eve and top off the generator for the night. The last I heard Leroy and his crew had 4 in the bucket. Tuesday was one of those days where you just soaked in the beauty of red lake .With the sun shining brightly all day you could see for miles on a crisp minus 2 day with no wind.
Yesterday morning heading out to meet Jake and it had done a complete flip flop, Cloudy ,snow flurries and a little wind it was a struggle to see with every thing so white. After checking in with Lonnie and his poor fishing report I was off to meet Jake and do some scouting with him to find a new area for old Minnesota, florida and north carolina . Oh Lonnie’s buddy 30 yards away did real well. Figure that one out. The first area we tried had fish and I measured 15 inches of ice. I did not expect that and thought for sure I would see 18? We again marked fish that refused to bite. The second area we tried was a little closer to the main road and again marked fish with no bites? Very frustrating to say the least. Jake headed off to North Dakota to finish off the trim work and add a few more touches to the house while I headed off to old Minnesota to talk to Brian and Stacy and come up with my plan for the rest of the day. Stacy caught a 24 inch pike while I was having a cup of coffee with them so in my eyes the area is still a fishy area. Jake would be heading home with his 3 fish while Brian would become my helper as we moved old Minnesota to give them a fresh spot to fish last night. I also got florida set up on fresh ice. Then it was off to check out buddies road as Jake said it looked like buddy was expending further out. The road now goes out 6.3 miles with cones set up some where around 4 or 5 miles as the road heals from a couple cracks. I then talked to Buddy as a wheel house coming from the south busted through the berm to the south. He hit some slush and barely made it through. Again I can not stress this enough. If you want to fish north of Hillmens road pay the 10 dollars to use his road. Once it cracks under that snow which it is doing. It happens every year and this year is no different The berm will sink and it will become a 3 foot slush hole and you will be getting tugged out from the way you came from.
Well today there will be a little venting and a little whining?
I ‘m basically doing the same things I have been doing for 13 years, I can be a little super stiches and maybe the 13 years is effecting the good fishing? We have been a little handcuffed with the goofy ice conditions this year. Yesterday I did measure 18 1/2 inches where old Minnesota is sitting so that was nice to see. Saturday when I was scouting for a new location Buddy Hillmen ask me not to plow any roads as he is still worried about cracks coming across his road from the weight of the snow berms. He said with the minimal snow I would be able to pull the houses right through it? I gave it a try and it worked fine. Years ago while towing our Alaska house I attempted the same thing only I drove into a little more snow, When I tried to power through it I broke a right front axel in blue thunder one, Since then I have always plowed a road before I pull me houses into areas. I will never forget that snapping sound as it was very distinct. After 13 years I learned something new from Buddy but I still would rather plow a road before I bring my houses into there spots. I guess that’s why I have been called a rouge plower at times. Oh well.
I ‘am also frustrated with the stitches I got last Friday in baudett. He should of flipped over my hand and gave it at least another stich as it is split open on the inside and I have had my two fingers taped together to let it heal. I told him I work with my hands so that’s why I had it stitched instead of taping them together. Oh well! I can’t stand needles and I do not have the time to go get another stich or two.
I have had Scott and Trent in montana for two nights. Scott is either Cory or Abbys dad. They have caught a couple fish but I sure am disappointed with the fishing there. Steve Chris and Brett have been in north Dakota for two nights and have also not done that well. They also fished a little bit in north Carolina and old Minnesota yesterday and snagged one out of north carolina. Last night they did have a 4 pounder in there bucket and a couple others plus Steve ate a couple fish. Josh and his cousin have been in florida for two nights. Again not fast and furious but they have scratched out a couple. Brian and Stacy checked into old Minnesota last night and while I was visiting. Stacy lost what we assume was her first ever walleye as they are from Kentuky.
Yesterday time was spent working on augurs as number 1 and number 2 gave me trouble the last two days. The blanket worked good on my old eu2000 but my brand new one stopped running again a few times in the last 24 hours errrr. Trying to keep everything running in this super cold weather is a grind. I got the Chrysler car running again. The bravado is eating antifreeze and may have a head gasket going out. The prospector needs another can of stop leak for the heater core and should cure the problem. The red baron needs the batteries charged if it sits for more then a couple days so I would guess it needs two new batteries? plus I have new injectors for it. But it has been to cold to even mess with them and I still do not need it on the lake for a few more days. It runs fine but has a high rpm miss that just bugs me after spending 500 dollars getting it tuned up last year. I have never changed injectors but it sounds like its pretty simple. Its sure is a challenge keeping everything running with this cold snap Fun Fun Fun as it does keep me hopping. I also put a new box fan in old Minnesota 17 dollars and it quits working 3 weeks into the season. What the f. Sorry about the venting. The great news is Jake is 2 hours from arriving and will be scouting for a couple new location for better fishing . Marty went home with a cold last friday and I hope he is ok as I have not heard from him. He has a few health issues that he has to deal with but Loves being here working on the lake. Just like me. That must be why we get along so well.
Wow does time fly when your having fun. I was a little disappointed when I checked in on all the guys in North Dakota and Montana Friday morning. Jim, Jimbo and Mike only had 4 or 5 fish in the bucket with no late night bite. Josh, Geno, Ken, Mike and Bob has some poor fishing and only landed one fish. Ouch. I told them we would be moving both houses Saturday to a new area if they did not do better through out the day.
Ryan, Richey, Chris and Pat arrived for Minnesota later in the day Friday. Pat , Richey and Ryan have been coming for years. They have stayed in florida, montana and old Minnesota over the years and always request old Minnesota when possible. Pat has recorded every fish they have ever caught on red lake including time and date. Pat told me last night that this was by far the slowest fishing they have ever had with me. Bummer. The lowest was 28 fish in a 3 night stay. As of last night they were only up to 12 ,They did manage to get 4 more in the bucket after I moved them yesterday. Richey also spanked me in a game of cribbage as he was on fire through out the weekend. They still have enjoyed there stay and Pat has made his reservation for just after Christmas next year.
Berry and Earley also checked in Friday for there stay in florida. They had Kellie and I out for dinner Saturday night and caught two while we were there giving them a total of 12 or so. Berry made a chicken and rice dish that was so good I had seconds. I told them next year maybe I could make them my smothered burritos as this was the second year they have had us for dinner. It sounds like they would like to rent north Dakota next year . Man will that be roomy with only two guys in there.
Jason and Bj checked into north Carolina Saturday .They caught a few fish the first day and yesterday they were up to 10 for the day when I talked to them. With a few of the guys help we moved montana and north Dakota saturday to give them another fresh spot for there last night. Jim told me they were happy with the fishing in montana where it was but I had no choice as both houses run on the same generator. I guess I may have to think about purchasing another generator to be able to separate the houses when need be. Again the 3 in montana out fished the guys in montana and got there 9 keepers with Jim winning the overall pot for biggest fish. Sunday was also a turn over for 3 of the 5 houses so I had to hustle to get 3 houses detailed out for the next groups. Being north Dakota and montana had only been fished one night they were staying put for now. Florida had good enough fishing to leave it where it was for Josh and his cousin that came with him at the last minute.
Over all the fishing was pretty poor. I guess if we caught them all there would not be any left. The cold weather -24 sunday morning did bite me in the butt a bit with my older generator. as it stopped running again. I quick trip home with two oil changes got it running again and yesterday I wrapped it in a Viking blanket to try and keep it a little warmer last night. No phone call yet so it must of helped. Two of my three augurs also became stubborn and acted up. I get so frustrated when they will not run when its cold .There ice augurs what good do they do if they only run when its 70 degrees. Today both need to be addressed to figure out what went wrong with them. A icon may be on the wish list but not sure what the cold does to the batteries? As I like my augur with me on the trucks in the elements and not sitting at home in the warm shop. I will be heading out shortly to gas up the generators and say good by to Pat and the guys. It sounded like Jake may be headed up today as he is dyeing to wet a line on one of his favorite lakes if not his favorite. He will do some scouting for me but if its any thing like the past he will end up finding good fishing miles away from where we are now. He also has a little more trim work on north Dakota to finish it up.
Buddy Hillmens road is again in great shape and now open 4 miles out. I spent a giant part of Saturday pushing snow to the southern berm and I imagine it will start to crack and flood this week as I did see some water seeping out from its banks. To all you off roaders blowing through that bank. It can be bad news and if you need to fish to the north of hillmens pay the 10 bucks and stop blasting through his berm. Not only does it make a mess but once it floods you have less the a 50% chance of making it on to his road. I did talk to a few different wheel houses this weekend and over all it was poor fishing for every one I talked to with just one or two fish per house. Goofy fish! don’t they know I’m trying to scratch out a living here and need better fishing
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I hate it when a plan falls apart. She can be a fickle lake. Jim, Jimbo and Mike arrived for montana around 2. I was working on the lake and told Jim to come on out about a mile and I would meet them on the main road? It must be the excitement of arriving as 5 minutes later they called to say they were at the orange cones. 3 miles out? I try and meet my customers at hillmens or the landing as for some reason is all they hear when you give them directions is come out on the lake. To funny. I remembered Jim as soon as I saw him just like Josh said I would. The rest of there crew Bob, Geno, Mike, Ken and Josh arrived a bit later and they gave them directions out to the houses. Sitting on 14 1/2 inches of ice the houses were flooding just like we expected after we drilled the holes. It wasn’t long and Mike landed a 32 inch pike on Jims rod. Of course it tangled up half there lines but it was good excitement to start and it seemed we are in a fishy area. With a small walleye and a couple of perch also caught while Marty and I were buttoning up florida and old Minnesota things looked promising. I came off the lake just before dark and in preparing dinner I cut my self washing a couple dishes. Right in between my pinky finger and finger on the webbing. After cleaning it up a trip to baudett was in order as it did need a couple stiches. Marty and I rolled back on to the lake around 11pm to check on the guys and top off the generators. The guys in montana had 5 in the bucket and 200 feet away in North Dakota they had not caught a fish. They were all having fun none the less. I do not mind moving houses when needed but it is very tough to move a house when it has not been fished for at least 24 hours. Saturday with the predicted cold it may not be a option. I do not move houses when its 10 below or colder unless its a emergency. I made a call to Marlo and his other buddy in there wheel houses as I had pointed then to a area to fish. Each house only had one fish so that was not very good news. Lets hope we have some of that action from 1am to 4 am like we had 2 weeks ago. We will get the holes augured in old Minnesota and Florida this morning for Pat and his crew and Barry and his buddy respectively. The generators have been running for the last 24 hours and seem to be fine. Lets hope with the cold temps again we have no problems. I do have a couple of back ups in case but would rather not deal with the problem again but only time will tell.
Gotta love when a plan comes together. Yesterday Marty and I worked our buts off as all 5 houses are now to the north of hillmens highway. $ of the 5 are blocked and banked to the hilt for the up and coming cold snap. If every thing goes as plan it should be a easier day today as we knock out all the hard labor yesterday. 16 holes will be augured making the count around 125 for the season. We have a little cleaning and vacuuming to do this morning and I still get a kick when I’m vacuuming a fish house it never get old. We had a few things come loose on the move a mini blind came down , a light bulb fell from a ceiling fan, a couple pics from the walls and a couple trinkets fell.
The red baron was used to cut a new trail and performed like it did when I first got it . Best 1000.00 we could of spent and was way over due. If you need some type of repair up here Barney does some outstanding work and has a shop in kellier and also has a mobile unit for emergency repairs. You can find his card at North Country Food and Fuel here in waskish.
The area we set up has 14 1/2 inches of ice. The houses will again flood a bit but should not cause us any issues. Still not sure what Budddy Hillmen will be allowing for traffic at this time but should know by tomorrow morning. Jim and his crew will be arriving later today for north Dakota and montana turns out they use to come up here in the crappie days. Josh said I would remember Jim when I see him. Looks like another awesome day working on such a grand lake.
Yesterday was a bit nippy as Marty and I dug all 5 houses out of there spots and got them on the road. We have a very nice system and things went real well considering all the flooding under the house’s. I be leave old Minnesota is still our heaviest house as it had the worst flooding and had only been augured last Thursday. We will scouting out our new area today and again need at least 14 inches of ice. There is something that I can not figure out and has been on my mind. How can reports of 17 inches of ice in one place and under 10 in others? I personally have only measured 15 and that is where my house’s were last week. Weird to say the least? Every year is different and again this year is different then last year and way different then the year before . I spent 2 hours yesterday after we got the houses moved helping clear buddy Hillmens road. Again what a pleasure helping out on such a outstanding road. It’s probably been said before but you could land a 747 on it. 5 miles long and straight as a arrow. Very impressive. Marty and I will be auguring a few test holes today and I will report what we find tomorrow. Call the resort your going out of or check out there facebook pages or web sites for the latest ice conditions and what there allowing out
Where to begin today? I’m feeling excited about getting the houses all pre staged for the big move in the next day or two. With these cold nights were making some ice. A little late but there’s still plenty of the season to go. So far just like every other year I have a hard time sleeping in as I plan for the up and coming day. With the temp at minus 17. Marty and I will be holding off a bit this morning before we hit the lake . All 5 houses will be lined up for the big move today. When I tow the houses I like to go nice and slow and take my time. I’m sure I could go faster but its just so much harder on the houses and vehicle’s.
Yesterday I was off to Bemidji to deal with my generator issues. What a fiasco that was. They do not want to give me a new unit and are blaming the wind and cold as the culprits of my problems last weekend. I tried to explain it has never been a issue before, with them sitting in the boxes, and have seen far worse conditions out there then last weekend. I also explained that I had changed the oil on the older unit Friday and had to add oil by sunday. They said there is no oil leaking but changed the oil because it was milky which is a sign of moisture? There was no snow to speak of in the boxes ? The new unit is under warrantee but only to repair and not replace and there is nothing wrong with it other then it set in the elements last weekend and may be shutting down due to cold air creating moisture in the air filter? Aaron the salemens told me once there oiled and gassed up there policy is no refunds. He did say he will replace it if needed but is a last option. I left both units there so they could run them through out the day and see if they quit.. My plan is to pick them up later today and run them straight for the next 72 hours to see if any problems occur.
I also picked up two new injectors for the red baron and was told this should clear up the red baron from bogging out so I’m very wishful that is the problem as it will not be long before the red baron starts getting her work out for the year. No luck finding a heater core for the prospector so have a little more research to do for that.
I’ll be leaving the area we started the season as it looks like I have ruined another area. Starting Thursday we have a nice little run of rentals into Tuesday
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Well the weekend did not go as well as I would of liked. All the houses did catch some fish, but it was slow for sure.
Andy, Andy, Sam and Elvin were in North Dakota our newest house. They were impressed with the house so that was good. Andy has been coming for quite a few years and has had some outstanding fishing over the years and a couple not so good fishing trip. Andy ask if they could be off by them self if they brought there own generator so I headed west as far as the ice would allow. They only landed 4 fish the first night so after Andy did some scouting a little further west I moved them about a 1/4 mile Saturday. Sam augured the holes so that was 8 less I have to do this year. I’m closing in on a 100 for the season so far. The fishing did not get better and they only landed 2 more keepers.
Florida had Aaron, Dave and Jim. They seemed to enjoy the house and had some action . I think they landed 12 to 14 so not that good.
Montana had Ken, Carl, Sarha and Terry. They were from Iowa and have used a couple different outfits up here over the years. They liked how the house was equipped and plan on coming back next year. They also had some action but again not that great . I think they went home two short of there limit of 12. They did catch 4 pike through out the weekend. Nothing to big but one did manage to tangle up a few lines for some good laughs.
North Carolina was a no show with out even a phone call?
Derik, Dan the man and Scott checked into old Minnesota Saturday. Derik rented old Minnesota last year and was the first house to pound the crappies and landed 12. They also had some action and landed enough for a big fish fry yesterday. When I stopped in last night Scott landed a nice keeper and I hope they had good fishing last night.
I also set up Ken with his brother and buddy in his new wheel house. They landed there 9 the first night so they had the best fishing of my group.
Jake, Tom and Derik were in the cabin 3 nights .Due to the cold weather they found a house to rent Saturday from Scott Wakefield. They spent the night in a sleeper and managed to catch 25. So the fish were biting and again it boils down to location, location, location.
Now for some of the low lights of the weekend. For some reason I’m having issues with the generators this year. The brand new Honda 2000 quit a couple of times over the weekend for no apparent reason. I may of got a lemon and plan on making the 60 mile trip to Bemidji to demand a new one . My older 2000 also acted up and may be worn out and using to much oil. I have changed the oil on my units on a regular basis over the years and run them in a 3 sided box to keep them out of the elements the 2500 hundreds lasted 10 years. The old 2000 is 7 years old. The cold snap also played a little havoc on the fleet. The red baron needed to be jumped, the dodge prospector also needed to be jumped and blew the heater core while warming up.. Blue thunder fired right up but had a horrible bearing noise from the power steering pump so I will have to keep a eye on that. All the houses have some flooding issues and have 3 inches of water under them. I do not expect any problems digging them out but time will tell. The next couple of days will be spent scouting a new area to the north of Buddy Hillmens road. I crack did cross the road yesterday morning about 3 miles out and was over a foot wide. I would expect hillmens highway will be fully open for vehicles by next weekend