Where, oh where do I start... I guess I'll just take it from the top. Sturgeon Fest is the name - Rainy River is the destination - and crazy is the word that I choose to best describe it! Jump aboard on this wild ride...
Thursday our crew of 11 men with freshly shaven mustaches gathered for the big trek north. Why the stache's you ask? Simple. Pauly and Tim have had their mustaches since they were like 3 years old. Since we have been giving them grief for as long as we have known them, we decided to grow stache's in honor of them. If you are reading this and you have a stache, I mean no harm in it, but we had a great time with it. Not only that, but it made for constant laughter, and we made the two older gentlemen feel right at home. heehee!
Back to the fishing. We landed at Wheeler's Point Resort late in the evening and got settled in. After a long drive, we were pretty spent and ready for the next day. Our crew consisted of four returning fisherman from last year, and 7 newbies. Needless to say, they were sick of hearing our stories and wanted to get the war started. Friday morning greeted us with less than favorable weather, but we didn't care, we were jazzed. The Little and Big Fork Rivers had opened up, and the reports were that we should have been here last week. Again, we didn't care, we were jazzed.
It took a little while to figure out the whole pattern and what we were up against. Our 3 ounce weights from last year did nothing for us. After a little negotiating in the current and moving a few times, we found areas that were better, and 11 ounces finally kept us on the bottom. A crazy amount of weight I know, but you gotta do what you gotta do. I was honored to have my father with on this trip, and he was the first to play tug-of-war. A solid 53 incher got the game rolling, and he was blown away by the sheer power of the fish. All I could do was laugh at the butt whooping he was receiving. Sean and Dusty were also in my boat, and soon found out that all the chatter from last year was not a hoax. The power of that fish is beyond words. The rest of the day we spent moving around picking one up here and there, and searching for the best bite. We landed some whoppers, and joked around with the boys in the other two boats.
Pauly, Timmy and newbie Montie found slightly less action, and heard grief from us all. That's part of a fishing trip, and we weren't about to let them slide by without a tongue lashing of words. Mike was fishing in Scottie's boat with Wags and Dougy Fresh (Mike's Dad), and got their boat positioned on a perfect current edge. We watched and laughed as Dougy fought giant after giant in the raging waters. The entire time he heard chatter from the peanut gallery as it took him about 2.5 years to land each one. Well it wasn't actually that long, but sure seemed like it, and we cheered him the entire way. It was almost as much fun to watch the battle as it was to be doing the battling. This scenario never got old, and occured many, many, many times before we were all through. Day one was a learning experience, but we managed some real monsters with Wags taking bragging rights with a solid 60 incher. With tired arms we trugded back to the cabins for a BBQ and stories.
Our second day gave us even worse conditions. While it was warm back home, we were blessed with snow and bitter cold winds on the flowing waters of the Rainy. We moved several times again, and caught fish with each move. Some of us found better luck than others, but we all managed some nice fish. Pauly's boat didn't get the memo on our final move of the day (sorry guys), but we made up for their lack of success. We waved Scottie's boat into an area that was hot, and they joined us for an afternoon of battle. Our good spot turned out to be mediocre once they put their glob of crawlers in the drink. For the next 3 hours we watched one of the greatest displays of fishing that I have ever seen. Scottie finally got his first hook-up after a day and a half, and it was a good one. A mid 50 incher that was soon to be beaten. Dougy Fresh once again hooked into king kong, and put the entire crowd to shame with a monster that probably weighed over 65 pounds. Instantly Wags followed him up with one just a hair smaller. They were getting cheers from all the boats around, and soon our fishing party of 8 guys turned into a fun-filled chatter box of 10 plus boats. It was nothing short of spectacular!
On the way back to shore, our day took a turn as we narrowly escaped tragedy. Upon pulling up to the dock in the raging waters, my dad slipped and landed short of the dock and went under. Instant shock overtook us. It was one of those freak accidents that nobody ever plans on. In the gushing waters he came back to the surface and Dusty somehow grabbed his hand. Dusty held on as I was able to drive the boat back up to a point that Sean and I could help lift him back up on the dock. Let me tell you that this was extremely scary. The weight of the water required 3 of us to help pull him to safety. We got him out and no harm was done, but it just goes to show how freak accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. We were extremely lucky in this case, but that River is nothing to joke around with. After a warm dinner and a few jokes we were able to laugh about it all, but is something that can never be forgotten. Not only that, but we will never let my dad live down the fact that he thought he could fly that night, and lets just say that he now has a new nickname, and will wait for the boat to get closer to the dock next time.
Our final morning gave us the best action of all. Our two previous days of research put us on a spot with several fish. Just two of the boats made the short stint out that morning, but we put the smack down on 'em. We landed close to 40 fish in the final 4 hours of fishing. Most of the fish were smaller ones (or Joey's as we referred to them as), but we battled some giants as well. A good way to finish off Sturgeon/Mustache Fest 2009! When it was all said and done, we landed close to 90 sturgeon, a handful of Burbout, 20 suckers and 1 walleye. A great trip that has 11 guys looking ahead to next year. The only question that remains is when do we start growing out the mustache's again? Look for more pics and video to follow soon, as well as recent walleye and panfish outings. What a great time of the year! Until next time, Keep on Livin' the Dream!