About a week ago we packed the truck with ice tackle, clothes and radio gear for a remote Fan Outdoors broadcast (listen at On Demand). I’m not a stranger to being on location and have had some awesome experiences along the way that we shared with you too but this would be a very special trip. Special in the sense that my fishing buddies would be my two sons, Chad & Erik. Both in their 20’s now, college grads and into their adult worlds but it had been a long time since we’d been able to do something like this together. That coupled with the fact that neither Chad nor I had ever even seen Lake of the Woods much less experienced what she had to offer through the ice. But after picking Chad up in Duluth we were on our way headed to Border View Lodge in Baudette, MN. Erik has been up there a number of times fishing walleyes and sturgeon but the other two musketeers really didn’t know what to expect or really have any expectations high or low.
About 7 hours after leaving home we arrived ready to stretch legs and eager to begin this new adventure. Temps were well below zero and had been for what seemed like an eternity especially since this was still mid-December. We were greeted in the lodge by Mike Kinsella, Border View owner wearing a big friendly smile and a handshake “Glad you’re here. We’ve been expecting you guys. How was the trip?” Seated at tables and at the bar were both locals and guests with the common theme being fish, walleyes. “How’d it go today?” could be heard around the lodge. The tales of fish and lots of them raised both my expectations and excitement levels. After settling into our warm, very comfortable cabin overlooking the ice-covered Rainy River we made our way back to begin setting up for the evening broadcast.
During the Fan Outdoors show Mike joined us to share a bit more about Border View. More than 40 houses were on the ice now with guests driven out using smaller vehicles towing heated guest-filled trailers. Later these vehicles would be exchanged for Bombers but first more ice was needed he explained. John, who would be our guide and chauffeur also sat down putting a headset on. “Be ready about 7:30 tomorrow, bring your gear, beverages ‘n snacks. I’ll have lunch, coffee ‘n bait.” Didn’t take long to hear that the bite was exceptional but then we all know it’s still fishin’ and each day is different. My Clam portable was in the truck but really it just came along for the ride. A few minutes later we stopped, the trailer door opened ‘n John said “we’re here!” The house was warm, holes open, lights on, lunch on the floor in a cooler and bait in a bucket on the table. John smiled ‘n said “good luck, have fun and I’ll check back with you in a couple hours. Call if you need me!” In moments Erik had a minnow head on a small red Northland rattle spoon, Humminbird flasher set and he slipped deep into ice fishin’ mode. Chad and I sat on opposite ends of the house riggin’! In less than a minute Erik set the hook-“fish on” he said. It was 3 fish later with 2 in the bucket that Chad and I wet a line but the fun was about to begin. Fish after fish showed up as red lines on the flashers chasing the spoons up. Throughout the day we had numerous doubles laughing and teasing each other at the ones escaping. Some too big with some too small and still others simply released. John suggested bobber rigs be near the bottom which resulted in more of a Chinese fire drill than anything. I’d like to think we were helping each other but it was simply taking care of lines and FUN! Background music from I-Phones, empty cans on the floor and fish, lots of fish both walleye and sauger. On a torn piece of cardboard Erik kept a tally of fish caught. The final count for day 1 at Border View was 97 and 23 total in the bucket. Back at the Lodge John asked if we wanted to eat any fish that night. We agreed on 10 for supper so he suggested we relax a bit and he’d take care of the fish and get them to the chef. Wow that was a first—I’m used to doing the cleaning but then professionally prepared too? Doesn’t get any fresher than that.
Day 2 started much the same as before but....the wind was blowing a light snow into almost a white out on the lake, the temp dropped even further and everything changed in the fish world. Not a bite on the spoons but the static line bobber seemed to produce better. Eight or ten fish later we were each rigging the second line with a bobber, hook ‘n minnow. It’s fun watching them come in on the flashers as a red line then up to the bobber wait, wait then slowly down it goes. We learned they had to have it longer than before too but the bite was on. No cardboard tally today but at days’ end our best guess was that we caught between 60 and 70 fish again and better quality too. Eleven in the bucket filled out our legal limit so the rest of the day it was simply Catch and Release fishing along with pics of both big and little ones.
This being my first time to Lake of the Woods I’m not sure if our experience was typical but a wild guess would seem to say Yes! Really in the grand scheme of things it didn’t matter. I had another opportunity to fish with my sons who have grown to love the outdoors every bit as much as I do! I take tremendous pride in them knowing that they have grown to be fine men, good friends to others with integrity and honesty!
My hat’s off also to Mike Kinsella and everyone at Border View Lodge www.borderviewlodge.com . It truly becomes your home away from home the moment you walk through the door! Would I recommend it? Absolutely in less than a heartbeat! This was a wonderful experience and one that I’ll always treasure and have again! Try it for yourself and let me know.
Chad ‘n Erik-- Thanks from Dad! This one’s for you! Love you both!!!!!
P.S. Wishing all a very Merry Christmas!