September 13, 2023 – We Had Our First Frost!
It has been a very busy summer so I haven't been as diligent at updating the blog as I should be, so my apologies. Lindsay has taken over updating our socials (which has been very well received!) and has been doing a great job of posting a lot of pictures on there weekly, so I hope that suffices in my absence on here. We are by no means getting away from doing the blog for those who don't pay as much attention to social media, so we will still be here as well. I will be trying to get back to monthly updates on the blog at least. We have been receiving a lot of picture submissions since she has been getting the weekly posts up, and we really appreciate everyone who has sent them in! Without pictures we can't do a Walleye Wednesday and a Fish Friday, so thank you!
The weather has been sporadic lately to say the least. Early last week we had temperatures in the 90's, immediately followed by a big cold front pushing the temps down into the 40's, and with that came a pretty major storm. We were very lucky that we didn't get hit too bad out here at camp, but unfortunately Ignace was a different story. Ignace had a half hour of extremely high winds knocking down trees all over town damaging property. Some folks had damage to their rooves or their homes and sadly our friends at Ignace Airways had their twin otter damaged pretty badly. We are happy to have avoided the storm but are really feeling for all of those affected. Since the storm we have seen overnight temperatures down in the 35-45 range, but the days have been absolutely beautiful and sunny with highs reaching 65-70. Last night was our coldest night yet however, and we did see our first frost of the season. I think it is safe to say that fall is here, but this is my favorite weather and time of year. It's great having the woodstove going in the evenings, nice and cool to sleep at night but warm during the day, and best of all: NO MOSQUITOS!
The fishing has been a little more volatile with the sudden pressure changes associated with the weather we have been having. Lately groups have been having about 2 days a week where they are a little less aggressive but otherwise are absolutely hammering as usual. I think now that the weather has stabilized a little bit we will stop seeing those slower days in the mix, or will have fewer of them at the very least. The fish are pretty much where they should be for this time of year, we are still seeing lots of numbers and size being caught on humps and structure adjacent to deeper water. As the water temps are cooling we are starting to see the beginning of the fish transitioning back into some shallower water along rocky shore lines and weed edges. My recommendation is still to work the humps, and if you want to cruise some of the other habitat nearby it is certainly worth your time. Here are a few nice fish caught since my last post (my apologies if they overlap with what Linds has been posting):
Despite getting some periodic rain, the lake has continued to drop most of the summer and the water levels are very low. I would say with the exception of 2021, this is the lowest I have seen the lake. Both narrows and the Rock Gardens can still be navigated, but require attention, and some of the reefs (7-70 for example) are shallow enough that they can be hit. Hopefully we will get a bit of rain this fall and a lot of watershed from our snow pack to bring things back to normal for next spring.
As our fishing season is beginning to come to a close we are excited to welcome that cool air that feels like hunting season. So far duck season is open and we have been out once without any luck. Sadly the big storm we had pushed most of the local birds south before the season opened, but it won't be too long before we have some more birds joining the ranks from up north. on the 15th grouse season opens and we are pretty excited to get some "bush chickens" for the freezer, and on the 23rd archery season opens for moose and we will be welcoming our first groups of moose hunters. It's crazy that another season has almost come and gone, but we are eagerly waiting for our favorite time of year and all of the hunting we have planned - stay tuned!
July 28, 2023 – Hard To Believe We’re Almost Half Way Through The Season
I apologize for not getting a post up here sooner. A few weeks ago I had an aunt pass away and was gone most of the week to the Toronto area to visit family and attend the funeral. Once home, it took a little while to get caught back up and get everything back to normal, but we are all caught up again and I figured it was about damn time I get a post up on the blog - haha!
Well, despite the incredibly dry spring and early summer we had, for the last month or so we have been getting lots of rain. It was well needed as I'm sure everyone knows that Canada has been on fire. That is still the case out west, but locally we have seen our fire ban lifted, and the grass in the yard is actually green again. Not to mention the yard and the road on the drive in aren't so dusty, and smoke from the wildfires is basically nonexistent at this point. Water levels are low, but not outrageously so. However, had we not got that rain I think it would be a much different story. Getting into Hut is still possible although getting more and more difficult, especially with larger boats.
Fishing has remained pretty incredible all year. I am seriously not kidding when I say that since the border has been open I hear weekly that the fishing is the best groups have ever had, and the fish are consistently the biggest they have seen. We haven't seen a large influx of really big (say 27" +) walleye, but the average size now seems to be running 17-21". However, we did have a massive walleye caught by Laverne on his 88th birthday. This 32" giant made for a pretty special birthday present!
Lindsay has started upping our social media presence with weekly Walleye Wednesday posts, and has been reaching out for photos from everyone's trip. So far we have been getting quite a few so a big thank you to everyone sending in pictures, and if you haven't sent any and have some good ones, please forward them along! Below is a nice sample of some of the submissions and the walleye being caught this summer:
The walleye are definitely in the deeper water now and are being found on the shoulders of reefs and sharp drop offs in anywhere from 15-25' of water. 7 Pine Island, Gull Rock, Rosie's Rock, and The Flats are producing heavily as are just about any other structure found. Walleye are still being caught in good numbers in the current of the English River, whether it be upstream or down, but as the year goes on those fish tend to start running a little smaller than the ones being caught on the reefs.
The northern fishing has been phenomenal as well. We have seen several fish 40"+ so far this summer and a LOT between 35-40". The smallmouth bite had slowed down a bit a few weeks ago, but seems to be picking back up again for those targeting them. I have heard of a lot of nice bass being caught this week.
Lastly, we have received some pretty cool sunrise and shore lunch pictures, especially since the fire ban has been lifted.
Otherwise not too much is new around here. This summer has been the first to really feel "normal" since Covid and it sure is nice to be back into our regular rotation and seeing everyone up here and enjoying our fishing once again. The season is almost halfway done and like usual I can't believe how fast it goes.
Updated Vacancies – July 15, 2023
Current vacancies for the 2023 season:
September 16th on we have scattered openings until October 7th at which point we are full up for our moose hunt. As a reminder in September we drop our minimum occupancy requirements and the strict weekly rentals charging $50.00 per person, per night. Please call or email for specific availability.
June 8, 2023 – We Are Rolling!
I apologize for not getting any posts up here yet, as we are already into the third week of our season. Getting into camp a little late (only 10 days before our first guests!) made our first month or so pretty busy, but we are starting to get caught up and back into our normal weekly routines. Opening up camp this spring thankfully went without a hitch. We went from battling snow and colder conditions through about the middle of May, and then everything flipped and we were faced with one of the hottest springs I have ever seen. I say "spring" a little in jest because we lost the ice on the lake in 3 days, and within that week started seeing days over 80 degrees! We didn't really get too much of a spring this year.
We were blasted with 10-12 days of extremally hot and dry weather through the end of May and into Early June. Fortunately, it has started to cool off a bit with the highs closer to a more normal 70-75, however it has remained very dry and we are currently in a fire ban. We don't have any fires too close to us here, and I'm hopeful it will stay that way. Canada of course has a number of larger fires out west which is flooding you guys to the south with smoke. I have received a few emails inquiring about the smoke conditions up here and so far we are very clear. We aren't currently affected by the smoke from out west and there isn't anything local enough to be smoking us out.
And now, for the paragraph you've all been waiting for: FISHING! So far the walleye fishing has been really good all year. Through the first two weeks of our season they were still being found in the rivers in shallower warm water. We were surprised to see them in the rivers so late this year, especially considering the hot bright weather we had for weeks in a row. As this week has progressed the walleye have begun to move out of the smaller rivers into the lake, but are still being caught in the English River at both ends of the lake, with the Rock Gardens really starting to shine. on the main lake the walleye are beginning to be found in the shallow warmer water along weed beds and wind blown rocky shores, and I imagine within a few weeks we should start to see some being caught on shallower reefs. Presentation has been very typical, a jig tipped with a minnow or your choice of live bait seems to be the best, but of course plenty of fish are being caught on artificial bait as well as lures and crank baits. Average size has been 16-21" with the biggest of the year at 28.5".
The small mouth and northern fishing have also been phenomenal all year. The smallies were on nests through the first couple of weeks of the season and were aggressively hammering just about any bait that came to close to home. I think they are still on nests in some cases but are also starting to branch out and feed a bit, and as a result are still aggressively hitting baits to recover from their spawning season. We have had a few northern over 40" caught already as well. Some were targeted, but as usually is the case most of them were caught by anglers fishing for walleye and ended up hooking into a giant that is there to feed on those same walleye. The English River towards the Old Bridge has been producing a number of very large northern, as it tends to.
We haven't received too many photos from guests yet so if you have or take any from your trip please forward them along! We love getting pictures up on here and our social media pages for all to see. Here are the few we have this year so far:
We would also like to give a big thank you and shout out to Fred and Mary Winchowky for sending us a new flag. For those who made it up last year you probably noticed we didn't have our flags flying as we usually do. This certainly wasn't by design, but was because we were having a hard time sourcing good outdoor flags that will last an entire season, and because our old ropes had broken and the poles needed to come down in order to be re-strung. Anyway receiving two new flags and a wonderful card in the mail this winter was just the kick in the butt we needed to get the poles fixed and the flags back up. Thanks again Fred and Mary!
Otherwise all is going well at camp and we really happy to be back to normal and seeing everyone again. This is the first summer since Covid that has felt "normal" and we are sure glad for it. Mom is doing well and is making a great recovery from her broken arm, she is very happy to be out of a cast and just in a brace now. She is still up on the weekends helping us out with cleaning and getting a chance to see and visit with everyone. Keep an eye out on Friday nights through Saturday if you are looking to say hi!
BOOKED!! LAST MINUTE VACANCY – JUNE 3 – 10, 2023
We just received a cancelation for June 3rd - 10th of this year. This vacancy is NEXT SATURDAY!! I am also discounting this cabin again, waiving all minimums and offering it up at 30% off. This means if you are able to fill this last minute vacancy, it will only cost $250 per person for the week. There is a small catch though - this cabin is only available this year, as it is spoken for in future years. The cabin available is cabin #2, which is a 2 bedroom each room has a Queen bed, and twin bunks.
This discount is only being offered on this booking, this year only. The option to book this cabin next year will not be available.
Give us a call at 807-934-6911 asap to snag this spot!
BOOKED!!! LAST MINUTE VACANCY – May 27th to June 3, 2023
AS OF 9PM MAY 19TH THIS VACANCY IS BOOKED!
We just received a cancelation for May 27th - June 3rd of this year. Yep, that's right, I have room for you NEXT SATURDAY!! To sweeten this opportunity a little more, we are offering this vacancy at a 30% discount, and we are waiving all minimums! This means if you are able to make this availability, it will only cost $250 per person for the week. The cabin available is cabin 7, which is a 3 bedroom each with a double and twin bed.
This discount is being offered on this booking, this year only. Full pricing, and minimums on this cabin will resume 2024
Give us a call at 807-934-6911 asap to snag this spot!
May 5th, 2023 – Waiting For The Snow To Melt
Well, we are home from our last trip of the winter. This off season has been A LOT of fun, but it has been pretty busy and we are looking forward to being home now and getting back into a routine. And above all else, we are looking forward to getting back into camp and getting back to work. Between our trip to Cuba and Texas (end of March through early April) we got 3 heavy snow falls, all 8-12" each. I believe that ended up being 50% or more of the accumulated snowfall for the winter, all piled into the end when we are hoping to see it start to melt. Fortunately while we were in Texas through the end of April, a lot of the snow here at home melted. But, of course that was followed by one last winter storm garnishing our lawns with close to another foot of snow, and closing the highways and delaying our arrival home from Texas by a day.
Since getting home about a week ago, the weather has warmed up quite a bit and all of that last snow storm has finally melted off. Here in town there is still quite a bit of snow in the bush and of course there are still piles around town from plowing. The smallest ponds are all open now and the bigger ponds and smaller lakes are beginning to look pretty sad, and the ice is pulling away from the shore. We haven't been up north towards camp yet, but I have been in touch with Roger who has been in and out of Wintering Getaway, and he has informed us there is still quite a bit of snow on the road in places, and the lakes still have a fair amount of ice. He was hopeful we might be able to get all of the way into camp on Saturday, so tomorrow morning we are going to pack up some tools and see if we can get into camp. The forecast looks nice and warm over the next couple of weeks so I think we should see the ice and whatever snow is left melting off quickly. We are as excited and anxious as always to make that first drive into camp!
Texas was a busy trip but we did a lot of fun things! For a quick backstory, one of my best friends and fellow PLC guest Jake and his now wife Elizabeth, got married about an hour South of Austin in Canyon Lake. Since we would be going all the way to Texas for the wedding, we figured we should make a trip out of it and go down for a couple of weeks. We decided to drive down after checking the prices of flights, and needing a rental vehicle etc. and were very glad we did. It was a bout a 26 hour drive but we split it into two longer days and a very short and final third day taking us into Austin for the start of our trip.
We arrived in Austin and started our vacation with a highly anticipated dinner at Dai Due, a local restaurant owned by chef and butcher Jesse Griffiths. Jesse is involved with the Meateater crew, and creates a lot of wild game butchering, cooking, and food preservation content for his own social media presence as well as Meateater's. I have enjoyed learning from his online content for a while now and it was amazing getting to finally eat at his restaurant. Pictured below is a wonderful charcuterie board we shared, and although the pictures didn't turn out the best so I didn't post them; I had delicious dry aged Nilgai steak (Nilgai are the world's largest antelope species and are known for their incredible table fair, which I've definitely wanted to try), and Linds enjoyed some wild boar confit.
The next day we relocated to a very interesting urban campground Lindsay found online that is actually right in the city of Austin. The campground was a gypsy village, but in the best way possible. The property was lined with old trailers and renovated jet stream campers, and the owner has chickens, goats, and donkeys. We also had 8 whitetail run right beside our tent one morning. Anyway, we set up our tent at the campground, and spent the next three nights through Easter weekend there. We even cooked up a nice Easter steak dinner on our Coleman cook stove!
During our time in Austin we checked out a bunch of local bars and restaurants, and we had an amazing lunch of Texas BBQ from famous Terry Black's BBQ. We spent some time checking out a couple of the city parks, and we met up with Jake and Elizabeth for a day of shopping and being tourists. We stopped by the Yeti flagship store and enjoyed a drink at the attached bar.
We left Austin and met back up with Jake and Elizabeth at 4 Amigos Ranch near Eagle Pass, which is a border town along the Mexico border. The 4 of us were booked for a 3 day, 2 night wild hog hunt. Lindsay and I had invited Jake and Elizabeth along with us on the hunt as our wedding present to them, and since we were there, Jake and Elizabeth decided they wanted to pay for each couple to shoot a ram on the ranch as well. We had an absolute blast hunting together and 4 Amigos Ranch was an incredible place to stay and their staff took very good care of us. The hunt starts with your arrival at 2 PM, there is an orientation and everyone verifies their rifle on the range. Then you are dropped on stand around 5 for the first hunt, where you are picked up for dinner a little after dark, around 8:30. After dinner you can go back out for a night time spotlight hunt from about 10-12:30. The next morning starts early as the ride to the stand is at 6:30 and you hunt until about 10. Pigs don't move much during the heat of the day so the afternoons are slow and you can hang around the lodge. Since we were hunting rams as well, our guide Lee took us out during the day to spot and stalk them. Then it was back in for a late lunch, rinse and repeat the two evening hunts as the previous day, and one last morning hunt the last day before packing up and heading out.
While sitting on stand we got to see a ton of the exotic animals that ranches like 4 Amigos have on their property, and really enjoyed watching them all feed and interact. We saw nilgai, oryx, axis deer, buffalo, water buffalo, audad, blackbuck, red deer, white tail, a whole variety of various goats and rams, and of course, wild pigs. The pigs are mostly nocturnal but you will see some just before sunset and shortly after sunrise. Nobody shot any pigs on our initial evening hunt, but during our first night time sit, Jake and Lindsay both filled out their 2 pigs each. In addition to the 4 of us, there were 8 other hunters at the ranch as well, and there were quite a few hogs taken on that first night hunt. The next morning we didn't shoot anything but enjoyed watching the variety of animals coming and going. During that afternoon, Lee took us out to hunt for the rams. Elizabeth shot her rambouillet ram first, and we were able to creep into 50 or so yards of it sleeping in its bed. Next Lindsay was up and she shot her corsican ram about an hour later. We were able to locate it and 5 others in a group and she shot it as they were clearing an opening between some brush. That evening hunt I shot my 2 hogs and lucked into a massive one at 205 lbs. During our hunt there were 24 hogs taken by the 12 hunters in camp and the average size was about 70 lbs, with about 5-6 breaking 100 lbs. I lucked into the biggest of that particular trip, but the biggest hog they have taken on the ranch was over 300!
We were all done hunting except for Elizabeth being short one pig. We were confident we could get the last pig at day break the last morning, so we decided to take the second night hunt off and celebrated (maybe a little too hard) the great hunting we had that day. We had a great time sharing stories with the other hunters in camp and Lee, who was a lot of fun to hunt with and took excellent care of us while we were there. We got that last hog the next morning and loaded up some very heavy coolers of meat. This was the first guided hunt I've been on and 4 Amigos Ranch did a great job taking care of us, I definitely can't say enough good things. And to top it all off, the food was absolutely incredible!
After the hunt was done it was off to Canyon Lake to start getting ready for the wedding. It just so happened that while we would be there, Willie Nelson was playing a show on his 90th birthday tour, and opening for him were ZZ Top. So two nights before the wedding, a number of us from the wedding went to the concert. It was a blast! Willie definitely still sounds great despite his age, and his son who tours with him sounds almost indistinguishable. ZZ Top still put on a great show as well, and Billy Gibbons can still get after it on the guitar!
The last few days of the trip we spent with Jake and Elizabeth and their families at the ranch where their wedding would be. It was a wonderful time meeting lots of people and and engaging in the usual pre wedding activities. You know like, beer, cornhole tournaments, beer, campfires, and of course, beer - haha. The wedding was absolutely beautiful and we all had way too much fun at the reception afterwards!
Now we are back home and are chomping at the bit to get in to camp. I took mom to Dryden two days ago for a check up on her arm. The surgeon says everything looks great and is healing well! She is officially out of a cast and in a brace for 8 more weeks, when she will have her final check up and should be totally good to go. She is feeling great and isn't in too much pain, and of course is very happy to not be in a cast any more. Naturally, we are going to be busy for the next few weeks, so I don't know when the next post will be, but I will definitely get a fishing report up some time after opening weekend.
March 29, 2023 – Home for a Short While Between Trips!
Well we are back from Cuba, and we had an absolute blast! The weather was gorgeous, as were both the ocean and the beaches around Varadero. We didn't have a whole lot planned for this trip, except spending some time with my Mom's brother and his wife, and enjoying some down time on the beach and next to the pool. Well it's safe to say we accomplished just that! We arrived a couple of days before Brian and Marj, so we had some time to settle and to get familiar with the resort. Once they joined us we enjoyed our time visiting and having some nice dinners at the a la carte restaurants around the resort.
After Brian and Marj returned home we spent our last 5 or so days doing more of the same. We did go into Varadero one afternoon for a day trip to do some shopping and to eat at a local restaurant. We had a wonderful cab ride there in a convertible Bel Aire from the 1950's. Unfortunately we weren't really thinking and didn't get any pictures of the car. We did get to see the famous Beatles Bar, which is dedicated to the band. My mom was HUGE fan of The Beatles in her youth so she enjoyed seeing all of the memorabilia. We also had an amazing lobster lunch right across the street from the bar, at a wonderful little restaurant.
Unfortunately on our last day there Mom tripped on a small set of stairs and broke her arm right above her wrist when she fell. The resort had great medical staff but were limited in supplies and facilities so they got us a taxi to the International Clinic in Varadero 15 minutes away. There they were able to do X-rays and confirm her arm was broken, but they didn't have anyone in who could reset the bones. They gave mom some painkillers and sent us off by ambulance another 45 minutes away to Matanzas. The hospital in Matanzas was pretty large at 4 stories and was very well equipped compared to the smaller clinics we had been in. There we met with an orthopedic doctor who would be able to reset mom's arm, but wanted to wait at least another 2 hours before using any sedation, as we were within 6 hours of mom eating and drinking water and they were worried about nausea as the sedation was wearing off. Well, it was already 8 pm, and our transfer to the airport for our flight home was at 7 the next morning, so we were beginning to get worried about time. We decided to have them put mom's arm in a half cast to immobilize and brace it for travel, and we would head right to the hospital in Thunder Bay the next day when we landed around 3 pm. So, they did jus that and we were on our way back to the resort, arriving back around 11 pm. We got mom home safe and sound the next day and got her arm reset and casted.
I brought mom back to Thunder Bay last Wednesday for a follow up appointment Thursday morning, and it was determined that the bones must have moved again inside her cast, and surgery was recommended to make sure everything healed correctly. Fortunately they were able to get us in for a quick surgery Friday, and mom and I came home Saturday. She is at home and settled back in now and the recovery process can finally begin. Despite how crazy it was for a little bit, everything went really well, and mom is doing well all things considered. It has taken some time but she is even getting used to having her dominant arm in a cast - haha.
The weather is starting to feel like spring up here. It's still dipping fairly cold at night to about 10 degrees F, but the days are getting longer, are sunny , and are getting up above freezing. We are off to Texas for a couple of weeks for a friends wedding and a wild hog hunt on April 6, but I'm hopeful that when we return near the end of April that we will have very little snow. Once we get home from this last trip it will be about time to try to get into camp and start getting ready for this season. We are really looking forward to getting back out there and getting to work.
I'll be sure to post again when we get home from our Texas trip, hopefully with a few more pictures than we took in Cuba!
February 22, 2023 – Apologies for the Absence, It’s Been a Busy Winter!
I apologize for not having posted anything for a while, and for not getting the journal from our Montana hunt done yet. As things tend to always go, it has become a pretty busy winter. Shortly after getting through the holidays, my good friend Jake from Wisconsin came up to visit us for a weekend of ice fishing and visiting. We had a great time and a very successful weekend of fishing walleye and lake trout. We had a nice walleye dinner one night and were able to send Jake home with his limit as well. Linds also caught this beautiful laker that was around 10 lbs:
Two weeks later I was off to Thunder Bay for an annual 5 day fishing trip with friends, but not before Lindsay and I spent 2.5 days making over 100 pounds of sausage with deer and moose from this fall. We made burger patties, jalapeno and cheddar brats, andouille, chorizo, breakfast sausage, summer sausage, and kielbasa. It was a busy couple of days but we really enjoyed it and have been enjoying the spoils of the hard work, especially on the ice.
The day before leaving for my trip to Thunder Bay, I got a message from Jake informing me that he had told his brother in law Adam about the fishing we had while Jake was up here on his trip, and that Adam was now on his way North to do some DIY ice fishing of his own. Now it may sound a little sudden and crazy that Adam would pack up on such short notice and come all the way up here from Wisconsin, to try his hand ice fishing where he has never fished before, all while living out of his truck. However, Adam films and hosts his own Youtube show and social media platform called Free2Prowl, where he films and posts all of his experiences. He has a retrofitted F-150 that he travels and lives in while on the road chasing various wildlife, and hunting and fishing adventures.
Unfortunately I was off to Thunder Bay the next day for a trip that had been planned for months, so I wouldn't be able to fish with Adam and show him around. However, I was able to meet Adam in Thunder Bay on his way through. We chatted for about an hour and I gave him some tips and waypoints and he was off to Ignace to start fishing. We kept in touch basically daily while I was fishing on my trip, and he was exploring the area around home.
We had a great trip in Thunder Bay and explored a few new lakes. It is a relatively new area for us to be fishing, and there are a lot of lakes that we can access, so we have been exploring and learning more and more each year. This year we fished 4 different lakes and caught fish in all of them varying from walleye, lake trout, brook trout, and splake.
I got home with two days to spare before we were on our way down to Wisconsin to visit Jake and his fiancée Elizabeth, for Elizabeth's bridal shower. Adam would be on his way back to Wisconsin to continue his fishing trip the day after us, but in the meantime we were both in Ignace, so I was able to take him out to a lake he hadn't been to yet. We had a blast fishing together and had a good day, catching 10 lake trout varying from around 1-3 pounds. The next day Lindsay and I were on our way down to Wisconsin, and were there through this past weekend, returning home Monday night. If you want to see more of Adam's trip up here or to follow him along check out his socials on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and Tik Tok at Free2Prowl.
Now we have a week of downtime to get caught up around the house and then we are off to Cuba with Mom for two weeks. We will be joined by her brother Brian and his wife Marj for one of the weeks and are really looking forward to spending some time with them. Currently we don't have too much planned for the trip and are really looking forward to relaxing and enjoying the sunshine. So far this winter has been warmer than usual, but when temps have dropped it has been very cold, so we will enjoy a break from it.
We have ordered our calendars and news letters and they should be printed soon. I suspect we won't be able to get them out until mid March after we are home from Cuba, but you can expect to start seeing their arrival then. I'll be sure to get another post up once we get back from Cuba to give another update as we get closer to spring.
January 11, 2023 – An Unseasonable Warm Winter!
Well despite some colder temperatures and a fair amount of snow through the end of November and December, January has been incredibly warm. We haven't got any fresh snow in a while and temps are swinging between 10 and 32 degrees Fahrenheit. There seems to be enough good ice to travel by snowmachine and to ice fish, but it is definitely not nearly as thick as it should be. Some lakes still only have around 8" of ice and in a typical year we would see over 12" by now. We're lucky we got a bit of cold at the beginning of winter to build the ice or we wouldn't hardly be doing any fishing at all yet. And since we have enough ice to go fishing the warm temperatures aren't all that bad, it certainly beats -40!
So far Lindsay and I have only been ice fishing twice. Both times to a small stocked lake close to town where we can chase splake. They are just little guys but are great pan friers and are a blast to watch come in and hammer your spoon in crystal clear water. This weekend we are planning to get out a little more and will be spending two nights camping out on the ice in our portable shack fishing for lake trout and walleye. We are both really looking forward to our first couple nights out there in 2023!
Mom is doing really well and has been enjoying the warmer winter so far. She is busy as usual volunteering and helping out all over town and having weekly lunches with friends. We are currently in the midst of planning a 2 week trip to Cuba with her over the first two weeks of March and we are all very excited!
We had a very busy, but very fun and exciting fall. As I detailed in a previous post, we didn't have much down time between coming home from camp and going deer hunting, and then returning home for 3 days before heading out to Montana for what ended up being 3 weeks. We were headed to Montana with 2 elk tags and 2 deer tags, so we weren't overly worried about taking a deer during our first trip down to the cabin. We were joined by some friends from Thunder Bay who were looking to take a deer home for some meat, and Matt did just that shooting a nice doe opening weekend. They left on Monday morning and Lindsay and I stayed the rest of the week relaxing and hunting. Despite seeing a lot of deer we didn't see anything that we wanted to shoot, as we weren't planning on taking anything unless it was a really nice buck.
After a very busy 3 days at home, we were headed for Montana. We had an absolutely wonderful trip and spent 17 days hiking and hunting both the mountains and their surrounding prairies. We got hammered with early season cold and snow the first week there and were pushed out of the mountains by about a foot of snow after only 4 nights. At 3:30 in the morning we had a couple of inches, by 6:30 when we decided we should start packing we had about 8-10" and a couple hours later as we were leaving there was a foot or more. Well right before we started packing up camp as were enjoying a quick cup of coffee and getting dressed, it was quite clear to me that there is none I would rather be getting snowed into the mountains with then Lindsay, so I asked her to marry me! After she said yes, and we were done embracing and enjoying the moment, we immediately got to work tearing things down so we could get on the road out of there.
We relocated to a nearby motel for a while until the storm stopped and we could come up with a new plan of where to set up camp. We ended up spending 6 nights at the motel as another few smaller storms and crazy cold temperatures (down to -15 F in November) kept us there longer than planned. We hunted from the motel each morning and I was able to shoot my first mule deer during that leg of the trip filling the 1st of our 4 tags.
After the weather stabilized, we decided to head about 50 miles south to change units and to try to get to more accessible roads as we had seen about 30" of snowfall up in the mountains and probably 18-24" down on the flat prairie where the wind was blowing drifts 5' tall in some extreme cases. We set up our tent in the mountains again and decided to try to focus on elk for the last half of the trip, hoping to fill Lindsay's deer tag if we stumbled into a deer along the way. On our first morning of hunting we glassed up a herd of elk and spent all day watching them bedded in a small patch of timber, waiting for them to come out into the open and to feed down their side of the canyon into rifle range. We had lots of time so we decided if they didn't come into range on their own we weren't going to try to force anything for fear of being seen and bumping them out of there - we could always come back first thing in the morning and try again. Well, after watching them work in and out of the patch of timber all day, occasionally almost coming inside our 500 yard limit, they spooked. With 90 minutes of daylight left, and as they were feeding directly down into the area we wanted them too, either us or the pack of coyotes that started howling spooked our 20 or so elk and we watched them leave our lives at a full run, never firing a shot. We were able to relocate the elk that night right before dark, but unfortunately they must have moved over night and were no longer there the next day.
We decided to give that area some time to recover without any pressure so with 3 days left of the season we headed to a new area that we thought could have elk and should certainly have deer. After watching a lot of nice bucks move onto a privately owned ranch from the publicly accessible area we were hunting, we decided to go ask permission to hunt the private land thinking we could quickly fill Lindsay's deer tag and then spend the last 2 days trying to relocate the herd of elk. The folks who owned the ranch were incredibly nice and welcoming and after a brief introduction they told us we were more than welcome to chase the deer on their land. Well, like a lot of the trip things didn't exactly go to plan. Despite there being deer everywhere, due to some really unfortunate equipment failures it took us 5 stalks on 5 different white tails over the last 3 days of the season to fill Lindsay's deer tag. But after a lot of frustration, and a lot of crawling through frozen and very flat cow pastures, Lindsay shot a great 8 pointer to fill her tag and wrap up our trip.
For those who are interested I'll be writing a sort of day by day journal of our hunt and will share it on the blog in the next week or two with some more pictures and to elaborate on the hunt and all of the challenges we had.
After returning home, I went for one last trip to our deer cabin with a friend looking for a deer for his freezer, and one more for ours before the season closed on December 15th. Over that weekend Johann was able to take a nice young buck and I shot a yearling doe, before closing down our cabin and the 2022 hunting season just in time for the holidays. While we were gone to Montana, my moose hunting group was able to fill our cow tag at home, and Lindsay's group with her dad and grandpa filled theirs the opening week of the season in October. So all in all we had a great 2022 hunting season, made a lot of memories and had a lot of fun, and have full freezers for the year.
Take care and keep an eye out for the next post detailing our Montana hunt!