It was Sucker Fest at Northwind Lodge on May 5th and for about two days. I was working in Cabin 3 when I went down to Jasper Creek to to see if the suckers had come up the creek in the morning. None were present. A bit later in the day, they decided this day to be their day.
The water was low in the creek to begin with so the suckers were pretty shallow. Suckers like hot weather if they can get it in the spring in northern Minnesota, and they will usually pile up in the creek. There were some bunches of males and females – males have a subtle to not-so-subtle stripe on their sides and tend to be a bit smaller. Sometimes, it is hard to tell just by looking at them.
I went down to the creek with my sidekick, Delilah leading the way and the video sums it all up.
The next day, the temps dropped into the 40’s and then freezing and the suckers completely disappeared from the creek. Then, somebody pulled the beaver dam out of Jasper Creek up at the culvert of the highway and the water became very high. a major temperature drop combined with fierce rapids pretty much shut down the sucker spawn for 2015. What you see in the video was the spawn for the season. This is a good thing as we’d like to see sucker numbers drop as a lake will only support so many pounds of fish and every sucker removed opens up a space for another game fish.
Delilah had fun while it lasted.
We at Northwind Lodge want you to get your feet wet. Just dunk one toe in the crystal clear water of Jasper Lake. I mean, how long will that take? Plus, in order to dip one toe in the water, you need to keep your balance. How do you keep your balance? You move slowly and deliberately. You must plan your move and take your time. That’s the proper way of getting your feet wet.
Now, imagine yourself taking your time, moving at your slower speed, enjoying the inviting gentle breeze that comes off the water. There’s a loon calling off in the distance and a river is running endlessly behind you, churning out that beautiful white noise as it tumbles into the lake where your toe is going to step. You don’t hear the cars, you don’t hear the ever-present sounds of humanity as it normally surrounds you in your more hectic daily life. You only hear the woods and the sounds here are so peaceful and different, your breathing slows down so you can hear some more. It’s like a dessert that you never want to end and it doesn’t. And so far, you only have your toe in the water. It even gets better when you actually go on the water. Then there is the night. In the woods, with the clean air, you can see the billions of stars and planets above with unmatched clarity while the wolves howl in the darkness.
If you’ve never been to Northwind Lodge, we’ve put together a few “get your feet wet” packages for you to come and test the waters of Northwind Lodge. You get a housekeeping cabin for two or three nights, a motor and boat, dinner at a nice restaurant for one evening in Ely all at special rates. Click Here to see our Short Stay Cabin packages.
So come up for a 2 night / 3 day or the 3 night / 4 day stay at Northwind Lodge. Go fishing, hang out at the beach, stay inside and read a good book, do whatever you want. Get away from it all and take us for a test run. If the shoe fits, we would be happy to have you come back and wear it some more!
Northwind Lodge is an awesome resort with many of our guests returning yearly for 30-50 consecutive years. We hope you’ll like it here like they do. Give us a call and let’s find a time and a cabin for you! 1-800-280-1078
Using what whatever snow is left in the yard to get the Skidoo to the water, I drove out on the ice on Jasper Lake on March 16 at 1:30 PM to set up a pup-up shelter for fishing. It was warm out at about 40 degrees but like every other March, it was windy. Blowing from the south, then the north, we ended up tying the 6 x 8 pop-up off from each end to my Skidoo and my dad’s 4-wheeler. We were 100 yards off the beach of Northwind Lodge.
We made use of pre-drilled holes from the day before when we went fishing with Dave Oliver and Paul Haraldson, so setting up was quick. We got inside the tent along with Delilah and began paying homage to the gods of bluegills by staring down the hole. Boy, talk about getting a sore upper back and neck after doing that for 4 hours straight.
We dropped down various jigs a sparkly little spinners and they began to come in. There were fewer today, but they were running bigger. Nice sized, fillet-able fish swimming 5 to 7 feet below. Today’s visibility was not as good as yesterday and we can never understand why. Conditions were about the same with a partly cloudy day, but nonetheless, the sunnies below were bigger and a bit more picky. All of a sudden, a 5 lb northern pick glided across in the shallow depths below. The sunnies blew the popstand at that point and then some really nice sized largemouth bass came in for a look. Even though the sunnies are good sized, those bass come in and they are huge. 2.5 to 4 pounders stopping in to see if they want that tiny #14 tungsten jig with a little bit of plastic on the hook. It gets your adrenalin flowing because these are really nice fish. But nope, they swam by. After all that fish activity going by, it takes the bluegills about 30 minutes to come back after the head bluegill declares the coast to be clear.
I have 5 rods on the ice floor of our living room on the lake. Each is rigged with a different jig & different plastics. Most of the stuff I use is tungsten. When the school is passing through, one must keep their interest for them to stick around. So, if they are slow moving to one lure, crank up fast and drop another. Must have been the air-pressure, but they were only moderately interested in what we were offering. There was my dad setting the hook and saying “aarrggh!” and and me doing the same while declaring “dang it!”. The fish below would suck in a jig completely. To hook them requires an immediate hookset. You’re like a coiled spring with a trip wire. Trouble is that inexplicably, you can set the hook and miss them time and again despite their having inhaled the entire jig. We call it “flipping them” when we set a hook and it pulls them up and they flip a sideways somersault and swim away dazed but unharmed. To avoid frequent flipping, we tried letting them take it for one second and they spit it out in slightly less than one second. Their little bluegill tongues must quickly identify plastic. We finally moved to tungsten bead head flies made by Cortland with no plastic and caught a few, flipped a few more.
Then, in a blast of sunfish panic, those slow-moving fish dispersed in all directions like spokes on a bicycle wheel. Big northern coming through like a German U-boat on the hunt. The bluegills beneath his level could hear the “ping” as the big green U-boat glided methodically overhead. To hide, they descended deeper & deeper, closer to the bottom, holding their breath, beads of sweat rolling off their gill covers. Minutes changed to hours as that big predator swam between them and the two faces staring down the holes in the ice above watching and waiting. And waiting. And waiting.
Dang northern scared everybody off. We sat for another 30 minutes with 5 bluegills on the ice and nobody was returning back to that spot. My dad and I finally gave up. We knocked down the tent, loaded the sled and cranked up our machines and headed home. Had we caught every fish we saw including some very large perch, we’d have had fish laying all over the ice. There certainly is no shortage of fish in Jasper. Keeping them on the hook is the tricky part.
STEP 1: Make first cut by grasping fish between the gills and poking knife into softer throat region ahead of the two front fins
STEP 2: Slide knife forward towards tail of fish between the two middle fins and stop by the bottom fin just in front of tail
(Still) STEP 2: Slide knife forward towards tail of fish between the two middle fins and stop by the bottom fin just in front of tail
STEP 3: Lay fish on side and make a vertical cut using a sawing motion down to the backbone taking care to NOT slice through the backbone.
STEP 4: Turn your knife flat and parallel to the backbone. Saw along the backbone (You’ll hear rib-bones and “Y” bones being cut through) to the tail, removing the complete slab of fish meat (?) which is one fillet. Do this to each side of fish.
STEP 4a: Cutting gets easier near the tail doe to no rib bones
STEP 5: Remove the belly fin by slicing with the tip of your knife.
STEP 5a: Removing fin is easy if you hold it up and slice it off
STEP 6: Locate the row of rib bones on the fillet by feeling them with your finger. Then, place your knife edge right behind them and slice underneath. Remember to turn your knife blade up against the underside of the ribs immediately as you are making long, steady slices down the row of rib bones. The idea here is to remove the ribs without wasting meat.
STEP 6a: After slicing about half to three quarters of the way under the ribs, hold the fillet down with your knife point, grasp the ribs and tear them out. This move greatly speeds up the process and helps if you have a lot of fish to fillet.
STEP 7: Grasp the tail of the fillet with pliers and cut into flesh with blade while turning blade almost flat and sawing. Simultaneously pull with the pliers and push with the knife with a sawing motion. It helps to waggle your plier hand from side to side as your knife hand saws down the skin of the fillet.
STEP 7a: Continue down the fillet. The feeling in the knife is one of slight tearing as it cuts. Too sharp of your blade angle and you slice through the hide. Too flat of a blade angle and you will leave meat on the hide. Your knife must be quite sharp and you’ll need to develop a feel.
STEP 7b: If you will be transporting your fillets, turn your blade down and slice sideways leaving a patch of skin on the fillet for identification purposes.
STEP 8: Completed Northern Pike fillets will look like this if done properly. If they look like they were driven over by a street sweeper, you’ll need a bit more practice.
Here’s a simple video of our beach area on Jasper Lake. One of those boats should be yours for a week!
Nice, clean housekeeping cabins nestled in the woods along the southern shore on a gem of a lake called Jasper – that is Northwind Lodge. We are an Ely, MN resort located in a wilderness setting, far enough from civilization to enjoy the tranquility only true, northern Minnesota wilderness can provide. With Jasper Creek winding it’s way through the resort, the enchanting white noise is unlike anything one can find in most place around the world. How many places can you find where you can walk to a waterfall in under three minutes from your cabin? Northwind Lodge is an amazing place with many interesting and long-time guests, several who’ve now stayed with us for the past 30-50 consecutive years! Maybe it is time you began your own northern Minnesota tradition of stay at the Ely, MN resort called Northwind Lodge!
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