ICE FISHING ADVENTURE-LAKE OF THE WOODS

ILLUST-FISH

Ice Fishing – “LOTW” Style!

Up until this winter, memories of my first and only ice fishing experience were of sitting countless, butt-numbing hours on a plastic bucket, hunched over a hole through the ice on a backwater Mississippi River slough. A few days of angling through the thirty-plus inches of the frozen surface of the Lake of the Woods (LOTW) north of Baudette, Minnesota has changed all that – replacing all those miserable recollections with a whole tackle box of enjoyably pleasant ones.

Despite the blistery cold winds that nearly doubled the teeth in the already frigid 27 degrees below zero bite in the air, this day would be one of almost luxuriant warmth as we ventured out ice-fishing for walleye, LOTW style. The short, brisk jaunts through the sub-

Classically Northwoods Rustic - the Villas at Sportsman's Lodge in Baudette.

Classically Northwoods Rustic – the Villas at Sportsman’s Lodge in Baudette.

Arctic morning air – from our very comfy Villa at Sportsman’s Lodge to the full-service main building, and on into their warm Bombardier shuttle vehicle at the end of the dock – all began to weave together into a tapestry of splendid service and adventure here in Minnesota’s far, far north.

We headed out over twenty miles onto the frozen vastness of this expansive lake (over 70 miles long and wide, with over 14,500 islands creating over 65,000 miles of shoreline!). It’s so large that it could be considered the sixth Great Lake. I peered through a quarter-sized peephole I scraped in the frost on the window to get a knothole view of snowy, wind-swept nothingness that extended to the

A fleet of Bombardiers provide warm, swift transit from lodge to equally warm ice houses 20+ miles out on the frozen lake.

A fleet of Bombardiers provide warm, swift transit from lodge to equally warm ice houses 20+ miles out on the frozen lake.

horizon. Every now and then a lone ice shanty, or an occasional cluster of houses, stood out against the bleakness.

After a half-hour, bone-rattling but impressively warm ride, our driver brought the half-track and skis on our Bomber’ “bus” to a stop right off the front door of our propane-heated “ice” house. Inside, wooden benches and folding chairs are lined up along a series of precisely-augered holes in the ice. A dark, tea-colored, icy-browed eye stared back up at me – the water here is stained with tannins leached out of the surrounding coniferous forests.!

Jim Zaleski used a Fin-Wing to bring up this 14" sauger.

Jim Zaleski used a Fin-Wing to bring up this 14″ sauger.

It’s mid morning already, perhaps way into prime fishing time elsewhere. But here in these dark-stained waters, sunlight isn’t an issue. Beneath three feet of ice, it’s the same time all day. The guides confirm what the seasoned ice anglers in our group have already figured out. “In these waters, gold works best for walleyes, maybe with some red or sparkles on it, but gold for sure”, they advise, and add, “There’s crappies down there, too!”!

Rummaging through our arsenals we each showwhat we’re packin’: Northland Macho Minnow, gold/red on one side, glow red on the other; a small glow pink Northland buckshot rattle spoon; a few Fin Wings and even a Kastmaster I’dused on salmon in Alaska – a smorgasbord under the ice.

Don't worry about having the right color or combo, either the lodge or shops lined out along the Rainy River will be able to supply you with an ample selection of lures as well as the color combination du jour.

Don’t worry about having the right color or combo, either the lodge or shops lined out along the Rainy River will be able to supply you with an ample selection of lures as well as the color combination du jour.

Our group is large enough that we can apply our preferred angling tactics across few holes each. No tip-ups today, but some decide to dead stick with a half minnow while others opt to dance a jig just off the muddy bottom. Tracked-in snow stomped from our boot soles had already thawed into puddles on the plywood floor when the first strike came. It was a hungry man’s keeper but today it escapes the frying pan.

Had a chance to try out Frabill's new straight line ice fishing reel and a winter glove by Kinco - both did a great job.

Had a chance to try out Frabill’s new straight line ice fishing reel and a winter glove by Kinco – both did a great job.

Several smallish walleye and saug’s were hauled up throughout the day; a few keepers, lots of throw-backs. That is until a dead stick began to come to life, one subtle twitch, then another. Our host defty lifted a behemoth walleye from up out of the depths. By the time its tail emerged, over 31 inches of fabulous LOTW walleye had cleared the ice! A Snyder’s Flying Ant, gold with a couple of glow red dots tipped with a live fathead minnow one foot off of the bottom had successfully seduced this lunker.

Friend and LOTW TOURISM's Joe Henry proved his fishing skills are as well honed as are his professional marketing efforts.

Friend and LOTW TOURISM’s Joe Henry proved his fishing skills are as well honed as are his professional marketing efforts.

 

After a day of cozy-warm angling, we Treated ourselves to “refreshments” at the Zippel Bay Igloo. Nestled onto the ice a mile or two off shore from the classy north woods lodge of the

The Igloo Bar at Zippel Bay Lodge.

The Igloo Bar at Zippel Bay Lodge.

same name, the foam- insulated Quonset-like dome of the Igloo reflected the setting sun off its powder blue ice- block facade. Zippel Bay Lodge owner, Nick Painovich has been pulling this LOTW landmark out onto the ice for the past six seasons. The novelty of a bar

Dan Stefanich enjoys the double luxuries of the Igloo - full service bar and ice fishing through holes in the floor!

Dan Stefanich enjoys the double luxuries of the Igloo – full service bar and ice fishing through holes in the floor!

out on this frozen lake is exponentially raised when you consider the hinged bench seats that fold back to reveal holes in the floor at each table, directly above a hole in the ice. Winter fishing,Minnesota style! !

As if all this wasn’t already overwhelmingly “Died-And-Gone-To-Ice-Fishing-Heaven” fantastic, I still had time to enjoy a scrumptious bowl of walleye chowder at the Border View Lodge (unfortunately the “home-made” ice cream is only served during the summer!). Make sure you check out the vintage B/W photos along the walls in the dining room.  It’s yet another premium, northern rustic LOTW offering of great food and service.

Clearly the Lake of the Woods experience offered by its entire visitor industry takes ice fishing to a whole other level – beyond just the sporting side of it – to a place of style, hospitality and class for the whole family to experience and enjoy.

Dan Stefanich, Josh Lantz & Joe Henry showing a limiting out catch of huge crappies up in the NW Angle section of LOTW.

Dan Stefanich, Josh Lantz & Joe Henry showing a limiting out catch of huge crappies up in the NW Angle section of LOTW.

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OUTDOOR WINTER TIP…

 DANGER! THIN ICE!…

ILLUST-ICE AWLS

Even shallow lakes, with ice thicknesses measuring in double digits, can have patches of dangerously thin ice. Add to that the constant threat of weak ice along rivers and streams where the under current can keep the water from freezing and forming adequate weight-bearing layers and you have the potential for falling through the ice.

Steps you can take to rescue yourself:

Exercise breathing control! You are better off letting the gasping sequence pass – usually 1-3 minutes. You need to get control of your breathing – and keep from swallowing water should you slip below the surface while you are struggling.
Escape from the side where you broke through – you know that back ice is strong – but not if the ice beyond is even thick enough.
Keep body horizontal – kick and pull. Try to keep arms out beyond edge of break; kick as you would when swimming; trying to pull with hands and fingers. (You may have to break edge of thinner ice back to find a stronger, supportive thickness).
Always keep arms extended out onto ice. If you succumb to the cold and pass out, your sleeves may freeze to the ice keeping you from slipping down below the surface. This also keeps a portion of your upper body out of the water (heat loss by water is 25X faster than by cold air).
Roll away from the hole. Once out onto the ice, don’t try to stand! First roll, then crawl to solid ice or ground.
As a rescuer – your safety comes first. Stop/Think/Send for help. Reassure victim; offer instructions (all those points above).
From a safe distance, push something toward the victim to grab onto (branch, ladder, etc.) Offer a rope or even an extension cord with a looped end that can slip around shoulder and hook under arm, and pull victim out to safety.
Consider carrying along “ice grabbers” (commercial or home-made) whenever traversing ice.

 

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SNOWSHOEING ON SLOPES…

SPORTSMANSGUIDE.COM/CAMPING 101

ILLUST-SNOWSHOE SIDE STEPPINGMost snowshoers, at least when first starting out, stay pretty much on the flat. And while a gentle slope is easy to walk up, steeper terrain can be more demanding, sometimes to the point of nary impossible.

Short of climbing up the face of a cliff, most slopes can be approached and “conquered” utilizing both a well-designed snowshoe and proper foot/showshoe placement and advancement.

Today’s high-tech snowshoes are equipped with both a pivoting foot/toe plate and ice-gripping claws (crampons). A properly-fitted snow show enables the wearer to bend his foot forward moving his toe downward below the bottom of the snowshoe. That makes for better ankle/leg posturing as well as driving the biting teeth of the crampon down into the crust for better traction when climbing greater inclines.

READ FULL ARTICLE AT: http://guide.sportsmansguide.com/tips/snowshoeing-slopes/

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NEW PRODUCT- MPOWERD Luci Inflatable Solar Lantern

GR-LUCI LANTERN-4Probably one of the coolest lights introduced in a LONG time. Check it out on the “OutdoorGear” page…http://wavetameradventures.com/outdoorgea

 

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PFD Design competition

PAD.NET-PFD-MTI-807I Moxie Coral_BerryBOATUS is conducting the third competition to create the ideal PFD…one that is so comfortable, and fashionable, that it will be worn without a second thought. The prize is $10,000, but learn why that is mere chicken scratch loose change in the incredibly long process of bringing an innovative PFD design to the market. Check out “Articles” elsewhere on this site; or see this and more at: http://www.paddling.net/guidelines/showArticle.html?842

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WELCOME ABOARD…

 

My first sea kayak - a big, slightly off-center Haxby original - on the shores of Resurrection Bay in Alaska (circa 1986),

My first sea kayak – a big, slightly off-center Haxby original – on the shores of Resurrection Bay in Alaska (circa 1986),

Welcome to Wavetamer Adventures. Just after moving to Alaska in 1985, a buddy and I started a kayak business selling Feathercraft folding kayaks. We called ourselves Wavetamer Kayaking. Over the years that interest in sea kayaks has expanded to include the history of the craft and the love of the destinations, skills, equipment, and adventures that go along with their use and enjoyment. Some of that fondness is expressed within these pages. Enjoy!

And remember…

Be safe; have fun out there!

 

NEW E-MAIL ADDRESS:  wavetamer@icloud.com

 

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