Category Archives: Nature

Fishing at the Cabin and the First Annual Big Pine Lake Fishing Tournament

I will be honest, when got home and walked in the door, I thought, Oh my God I love this house.  Which is true – I do.  We live in a pretty great place.

But we had a perfect trip Up North, too.

It took me until the 4th of July to realize that I had been a crap picture-taker, but in the True Spirit Of Vacation, I was busy vacationing and not photo-ing.

It was an incredible weekend for fishing.  We were deeply successful catch-and-release-ers.  Of all the fish we caught, all the fish survived.  On our first fishing outing, I caught four fish (only three are pictured), Uncle Bob caught two fish and Billy caught one fish.

Fish 1 Fish 2 Fish 3

But the next day, I caught one fish and a potpourri of weeds, and lost my favorite lure, while Billy proceeded to catch eight fish during our morning outing and seven in the afternoon.

Fish 4

He said that it was the most fish he has ever caught in one day in his life.

But.  BUT.  The crowning glory of our trip was participating in the First Annual Big Pine Lake Fishing Tournament.  Representing for our cabin were Billy, David, Uncle Steve, Uncle Doug and…me.

While it is indisputable that my fishing knowledge is the worst (most of the time I don’t know if I have A Northern or A Weed until it is next to the boat), there are also many outings where I mysteriously catch the most fish.  I think a lot of this is dependent on the fact that my fishing style now most closely emulates the fishing style I used when I was five years old with a cane pole.  At this point it is important to note that when I was putting a new lure on my line the morning of the tournament, I first tied it to the spinner side of the lure instead of the actual hole on the lure designed for the line.  Oops.  I had to have a do-over.

But back to the tournament!  There were two competitions – total weight (of all fish caught in your lot) and largest fish by weight.

Captain

Billy laid out a strategy for our outing – 45 minutes of trolling, 45 minutes of casting, and 30 minutes of whatever was working best.

Well, for the first…hour?  We caught absolutely nothing.  After days of fish literally jumping into the boat, we had No Fish At All.

I fortified myself with snacks.

Finally, after cruising over to a neighbor’s dock at the mouth of the channel, David snared The World’s Angriest Bass and after much cajoling, Uncle Doug directed our party to the hole in the river where he caught the largest Northern of his life.  We didn’t catch any lifetime achievement award-style fishes, but Billy got one in the boat and so did I.

Fish 6Fish 5

As it turns out, the fish I caught was the 3rd place fish!

Fish 7

Who could have guessed?

Trophy

The trophy is now sitting proudly on the mantle at the cabin.  Even though I reeled that critter in, it really could have been any of us.  They actually called Billy’s name for the award (now that I look back on it, the weight guy never even asked me for mine…um) so it is safe to say that we all won.  The prize (besides honor for our cabin and a trophy) was a fishing pole.  It is my very first Brand New Pole and it is about a half-foot longer than the pole that I currently fish with.  Honestly, I’ll probably continue fishing with my old stalwart, but as I have observed with my other fishing family members (Billy, Uncle Doug, Uncle Steve, David), it is a cool thing to have two poles.

Poles

I am still not sure what this accomplishes, exactly, but I am confident that like so many other fishing things (tying a knot on my lure, putting new line on my pole, putting minnows on the hook), sooner or later I will figure it out.

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Meet Bun.

We have a family of bunnies that live in the bushes on the side of our house.  We see them every day.  So they have names now.

There is Bun.

Bun

As far as I can tell, Bun is the parent bunny.  Bun also has a tiny patch of reddish-brown fur on the back of his neck, right behind his ears.

And then there is Tiny Bun.

Tiny Bun

And (unpictured) Little Bun and Littlest Bun.

Today, I nearly scared Tiny Bun half to death, tossing bits of carrots off of the deck and onto the patch of grass that they call dinner (I didn’t know he was there!).  I don’t feed them all the time.  I only toss out carrots about once a week because I don’t want them to become dependent, but I figure if people who leave corn out for deer can do it, I can do it too.

Just another little update from suburbia.

Walleye Catchin’

Girl CousinsA few months back, we discussed the idea of a girl cousin fishing trip with Marcus’ grandfather.  I don’t know who brought up the idea or how it really came about, but since the men go every year, we finally got to go!  I know that I was really excited to go because 1) I really felt like it was time to catch my first walleye, and 2) I have incredibly fond memories of fishing with my grandfather and all of my cousins.

So the six of us piled into the car in our sweet matching outfits and headed toward Lake Mille Lacs.  Don’t worry, I packed my camo thermos, camo koozie and a stash of LaCroix.  I was not about to be caught unprepared!

Mille Lacs is really only about two hours north of the city, which makes it perfect for a day trip.  We built-in some time for lunch (Happy’s, obviously) and then we stopped by the giant walleye and enjoyed the shoreline.Big Walleye

Mille Lacs

I will be honest, even though it was a clear day (I think we would have died if it was raining), the wind+50 degree weather combination was just a touch bit chilly.

My first catch was this perch.

Fish 1

It (actually) became seagull food.  Circle of life, people.

When we pulled the boat up to the second hole, no sooner had I thrown my line into the water than I had gotten The Bite.

Fish 2

I was so so so pleased!  First Walleye ever!  State Fish Of Minnesota!  Mine!  It was only 17.5″ long, so we threw it back.  The guides seemed sort of sympathetic but again, since we’re all about the catch and release I was happy to do it.

And at the third hole, after a lot of casting about, I caught this little fish stick.

Fish 3Fish 4

Another Walleye!  So special!  I don’t think I will ever stop laughing about it.

Just as we were reaching the point of total hypothermia, the boat pulled back up to the dock and our adventure was no more.

The actual boating portion of the trip was four hours, which left us with just enough time to grab dinner (the base of our collective food pyramid was hot tea and soup) and to drive home.  By the time I pulled into the garage at 10:00 PM, I was ready to pour myself into bed.

The Last Weekend North

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Tuesday Morning 1

Labor Day weekend at the cabin was all of the happiness and relaxation that the 4th of July week was not.  Billy announced about a month ago that he would be flying home for the long weekend and by the way, he wouldn’t be heading back to Texas until Tuesday.

So we packed off to the cabin for a very long (Friday – Tuesday!) weekend.  What better way to observe our last weekend for the 2014 season Up North?

I bought this really superior coffee thermos at the Holiday station in Garrison.

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$5.99.  What a steal.  If you’re in the market, they also come in versions that have hot pink or blaze orange accents.  So hip.  Your first fill is free.  Refills are $0.99.  This may or may not actually be a deal, but considering I spend more money on coffee at the Holiday station in Cross Lake, MN than I ever do at home it most certainly is for me.  Related/unrelated: I really need to buy a bag of Hazelnut (or Vanilla!) flavored coffee to keep at home.

I ran on my favorite summer running trail.

We visited Pequot Lakes.

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We fished like crazy.  In the past, we’ve photo-ed every fish that made it into the boat.  This time, I would have ended up with something like 40 photos if that had been the case.  And sometimes, we were reeling two fish into the boat at a time.  So instead, just a few.

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Tuesday Morning 3

By Monday, Billy was asking me if I was 100% sure we had not caught some of these fish already.  Catch and release, people.  It is The Only Way.

We went to Zorbaz to cross the last thing off of my summer bucket list: a Minnesota Margarita.

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Spoiler alert: I had two.  The 1/2 priced margaritas on Monday may or may not have helped.  And bobbers should go in everything.

Since it’s Hatch Chile season in Texas, Billy brought up five pounds of chiles.

We roasted them all on the grill.

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That’s how you’re supposed to do that, right?  The Texas flag shorts were were a birthday gift from Billy and they are my favorite possession now.  I wore them the entire weekend.

Until next year, Big Pine.

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Dead Tree: Part II

Dead Tree

In case anyone was really dying for an update, the tree has made its mind up for good.  The situation in our front yard is officially more disastrous than the dead Christmas trees that surface with the first spring snow melt.

We have received the joyous (if not wholly ambiguous) news that our HOA spoke with the tree farm and the dead trees will be replaced.  With what or when, it is impossible to know.  At this point, aside from Paul Bunyan-ing it ourselves, we are hostages to our association landscaping covenants.

We’ll save the debacle of our shredded rock bed liner for another day.

Cabin Weekend

We went Up North this weekend and it was magical. I haven’t been since the 4th of July week (which was mostly depressive).  We thought we would have more opportunities to get in the car and go up there over the last month, but for this reason and that reason we could not.

It was just Mom, Dad and I this weekend.  When I asked them if they had any plans/expectations, they said they had none and that was really perfect because I wanted to just sit and watch the water.

The one moment I was given over to a fit of productivity is when I cleaned out Billy’s tackle box.  I had remembered it being a bit of a mess when we were last fishing and I just felt like there was probably a way that I could bring order to it.

Cabin Time 022

Considering I ended up filling that entire bag full of trash that had been packed in there (lure packaging, empty PowerBait bags, paper bags, broken lures and the like), it did not take much to restore the peace.

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See?  My hit bestseller is going to be called Tackle Box Shui: Hook, Line and Sinker.

I also spent hours on end watching our hummingbirds wage aerial war.  We have a few feeders off of the deck and this is competitive turf.

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After about an hour of watching, I decided that we needed to do some hummingbird education.  For instance: Hummingbirds breathe something on the order of 250 times per minute and their hearts beat 1000+ times.  A hummingbird flying in rain will gain 35% of their body weight from the water.  Hummingbirds must consume their entire weight in food each day in order to survive because of their high metabolisms.

See?  Science.  Thank you, Wikipedia.

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If you want more hummingbird snaps from adventures-past, click here.

We had some really lovely sunsets because of the wildfires in Canada.

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And then it was time to go home.  Driving down to the cities today was less tragic than usual because it was raining.  Understandably, the days where the water is still and the sun is out are just heart-wrenching because those days are for basking in the great out-of-doors and not the inside of a car.

Dead Tree

The Back Story On This One: Last year, our HOA cut down a number of coniferous trees in our neighborhood because they were diseased.  Ours was one of them, it was well over 20 feet tall and it has completely changed the light that we get on our deck/yard.  I accepted our tree’s fate because in the battle of degenerative tree diseases v. humans, because landscaping never wins.

So anyway, they cut the trees down and they replanted them with new, tinier trees.  Not a big deal.  Except apparently all of these trees are weak-willed trees with no desire to carry on in the spirit of their tree ancestors.  Which brings us to Summer 2014.

In May, I reached out to our HOA because our landscaping looks like crap (sparse rocks, plastic sheeting falling apart, etc.) and what we have was created by them.  While I am more than happy to spend some money improving the exterior of our yard, I feel like they have the obligation to right the disaster they hath wrought upon us.

I also took the time to point out said New Tree to the association.

The response we received:

Several of the newly planted spruce trees show no or only partial new growth. On June 23, 2014 a representative of Happy Land Tree Farm (the company who planted 33 new trees in 2013) was at (development name redacted) to inspect all the newly planted trees. We expect their inspection report sometime next week.

Your Spruce tree is sort of interesting. The bottom part us dead, the upper part shows healthy new grow and the top part has not made up  its mind what it wants to do.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.

What the tree actually looks like.

Tree

I think it has made up its mind.