Polka Time at the Beach

Nothing says “fun at the beach” like a polka in northern Minnesota.   This is my dad playing the song that I remember most as a child growing up, the Tick Tock Polka.  I was always fascinated at how loud his accordion was back then, and like comfort food, that particular polka is very meaningful to me.

My Dad learned how to play while still a 12 year old kid and I remember the story of how when he was in the army in Korea, some of the brass found out that he could play and they miraculously dug up an accordion for him.

In this video of 2015 he’s now 83 years old.  So, for as long as Northwind Lodge (Jasper Lake Resort) has formally been a resort in Lake County, my dad has been playing his accordion.

That’s a lot of history at this Minnesota resort.


Come vacation with us!

Painting Dogs with Joe

July 5th and another laid back day at Northwind Lodge.  Looks like I’m heading backing to my former life of painting.  I kind of missed it, actually.  It’s nice to be back in familiar waters once again.

 

So, how come you aren’t up here in northern Minnesota enjoying a calm day and beautiful weather and good fishing?

Fish Are Biting!

Reports have been coming in from Northwind Lodge guests.  While the week started out slow, it began to pick up tis pace yesterday as many Northwind Lodge guests caught small mouth and large mouth bass, bluegills, northern pike and perch.  We have several guests at the lodge and everybody has been eating fish in the last two days.  One guest caught an 18″ small mouth bass with several more reported in the 3 to 4 lb. range.  Another party ended up boating about 15 small and large- mouths  combined yesterday (June 15).  As I predicted from looking at the weather, the increasing barometric pressure of yesterday afternoon resulted in great catching action for most of the day but particularily from 3 PM to 9 PM.  One guest had the drag ripped out of his reel by a very large fish which subsequently broke his line and took his lure.  He said “aside from almost losing his rod, he didn’t have a chance.”   Who doesn’t love a violent fish attack?

Fire last night at the beach

Fire last night at the beach

Several guests ended fishing by supper time since they had a good day and wanted to kick back on the beach and enjoy a campfire.  That was evidenced by the Adirondack chairs circled around the fire pit.

Today, a whole bunch are heading over to Wood Lake in search of excellent walleye fishing in the BWCA.  Unfortunately, the  barometric pressure is dropping today, but any movement, even  downward can improve biting activity.   It’s when it sits steady and unbudging (hi or low) that makes fishing somewhat sluggish.

Bug Activity for this week at Northwind Lodge:  I saw a mosquito and killed it.  They are coming out at dusk a bit, but they aren’t here in full force by any means.  That makes sales of bug repellent kind of lousy, but it’s been really nice!

Temperature for this week:   During the day it has reached 80° F for about an hour – once.   At night it is dropping to 45º F or so.  Our cabin guests have all been complaining that they are sleeping too hard and it is tough to get out of bed.

Comments of the week thus far:  From three unrelated parties in three different cabins – “I really love my cabin!” & “We’re having a really great time!”

Northwind Lodge footpaths in the morning sun

Northwind Lodge footpaths in the morning sun

Ely MN Fishing Resorts – Northwind Lodge on Jasper Lake

When you stay at Northwind Lodge, you re probably going to go fishing for our great bass, northerns and sunfish in Jasper Lake.  It’s not unusual to catch 4-5 lb. small mouth bass and 5-6 lb. large mouths.   What can really make the day exciting is catching sunnies and having the northerns tear them off before they get into the boat.   They usually become pretty active in early June and sometimes the northerns can be ferocious and huge.

Jasper Lake is noted for it’s big weed beds and our fish love to hang our in them.   Everybody in in there along with the occasional big walleye cruising under cover.  But, some of our biggest fish have been landed in the shalllows using top water lures.  When the northern pike are hitting top water and bass spinners, it’s all you can do to NOT be fighting a fish.  The big ones are particularly hard on your equipment.   Lures aren’t cheap so we stock for sale a Finesse Leader that is a 30 lb, super fine leader that won’t chase away the other fish in the lake but gives you a greatly improved chance of landing the northern pike of a lifetime as well.

Finesse Leader

Finesse Leader from Red Rock at Northwind Lodge

Connie Wegisin

Connie W. 2014 – Jasper Lake

 

Bob N. with Nice Smallie

Bob N. with Nice Smallie

Neil S. with smallmouth bass

Neil S. with smallmouth bass off the dock

Ely MN Resorts and Rental Cabins the old fashioned way

Staying in a nice cozy cabin in the northwoods of Minnesota on a lake, away from crowds, noise and pollution.   Breathe in that fresh, northern Minnesota air the morning after you’ve slept like a log all night long.  I just heard on Saturday one of our short-stay cabin guests regretted that their schedule would not permit them to stay for a longer duration.  They were in rental Cabin #5 and slept like a stone.  They were even a little late getting out the door because I think they were somewhat reluctant to leave.  The guy REALLY liked that cabin with the view and the knotty pine.

I grew up in the resort business right here at Jasper Lake Resort.  In 1982 we renamed it Northwind Lodge as it has been called for 33 years now.  From my earliest days to the present, the resort business has been a major, all consuming of my life.  As a kid, I grew up with a new batch of people living on our property every Saturday.  They were from Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio and from as far away as New York City and Los Angeles, California and all other places in between.  I traveled the world through the eyes and words of our guests.  I heard funny stories, terrible tragedies, and life lessons that stuck with me to this day.   In exchange, we traded tales back with stories of bears and hippies and crazy things we’d seen on the portages and lakes surrounding Northwind Lodge .  There were guests that I hoped would come back because they were just plain fun when they were on vacation here.  The Kaufman clan from Bensonville, Illinois, the Dundek family from Oak Lawn, the Kusynskis from Hickory Hills, the Edwards from Indianapolis, The Freyfogles from Urbana, the Webbs from Racine,  the Niskas from Mountain Iron, the Walkers from Iowa,  are only a few of the many who made “work” not seem like “work”.  Over the years, I’ve concluded that being a resorter is not really a job.  It’s more of a lifestyle and every week, we get to see the extended family come and go.   As a kid, we really got attached to many of our guests and waving goodbye on Saturday was usually a very sad moment.  But there was never much time to lick wounds and be bummed because a new batch friends and family would be arriving at 3 PM and new week would again begin.

We had then, and still have now, a vast majority our customers to Northwind Lodge who call their cabin “home” for a week or two each summer.  A large percentage of our cherished guests have been staying here at Northwind Lodge for three generations spanning 30-50+ years!    Many of our guests also stay in the same cabins for literally decades.  What is really enjoyable is when an entire full house of guests all know each other and can’t wait to get together for another year.  They all know each other and go fishing together, sometimes watch each others grand kids. (Many third gen’s here), go out to dinner or just sit down by a campfire at the beach.  It’s then like a small, quiet neighborhood.  The nice part is that everybody comes, goes, and participates at will with no obligations and they all seem to have a good time.

Still today, we do cabin rentals at Ely MN the old-fashioned way.  We rent the cabins and our guests entertain themselves by doing those resort things like hanging out at the beach, reading a real paper book, going fishing and swimming, going to town for an evening out, taking day canoe trips into the BWCA and returning back to their cabins.  The one ultra-modern thing we have at Northwind Lodge is WIFI in all the cabins.  We fought it for years, but unfortunately, the “new” people coming in have “issues” if they can’t be “connected” all the time. (Yes – I’m being a bit dismissive in my comments about being connected all the time.  Take a break – you’ll live, literally.  Maybe, don’t let your time here slip by, but, if that floats your boat….)  Well, they can now remain “connected” because we have WIFI all over the main resort.  One of our guests is an IT guy and he worked his magic.   I’m still hoping that the computer-addicted will  fight the urge to stay in the cabin all day doing mindless facebooking and surfing when they could be in kayaks and on stand-up-paddle boards instead.   I can understand if they need to get online for work or to contact family or make a telephone call through Gmail.  But in my humble opinion, no one should let the week slip by staring at that digital demon when there is a beautiful lake just out the door.   Everybody can already do that at home.   When in the woods, be in the woods.  It’s an experience that is very hard to find in any metro areas.

Since I grew up here, I already know that it is beautiful especially with the creek going through the yard and access to the lake in about 90 seconds or less from all the rental cabins here at the lodge, but I’m used to it.   What really brings me out of my somewhat jaded view is hearing it from our guests.   This year in particular, I’ve heard “how beautiful it is here” many, many times.  When I hear that, I always wonder what it must be like where they are from.  My guess is that their backyard is also beautiful but in another way, perhaps.  Obviously, what makes it so special here is the pristine nature of the place.  We’ve been here for 76 years now with 71 of those years as a licensed resort.  Everything that was here then is still here now along with the traditions, memories and experiences of our many wonderful guests and friends.

You ought to give us a try, as well.  Two nights is our minimum stay requirement and it is really not enough time to let it all sink in.  Instead of packing in an extra Vegas trip where you can relax with hundreds of others sitting by a pool while getting annoyed by someone who may have imbibed a bit too much or on a cruise where you can stand in line waiting for food that someone sneezed on,  maybe come to the north woods and prepare to be blown away by the lack of people.  We also have a lack of street lights, timberwolves that howl in the distance, bears that occasionally snort around the cabins and loons who call all night long just to make sure you know they are still there.   (It was only in recent years that I suddenly realized that some of our guests are freaked out by the lack of street lights. Sorry, we are never adding street lights, ever.  Get a flashlight and suck it up!)     I cannot emphasize enough what it is like to wake up on a sunny or rainy morning in a cabin tucked away in the northwoods of Minnesota.  In fact, it’s hard to accurately describe.  One needs to experience it in person to actually understand it.  It will make you regret the end of your stay so enjoy it while you can and get a calendar.  Most of our returning guest “X” off the days like a prison sentence until the day they are released and can get back to their rental cabin at Northwind Lodge.

ely resort rental cabins

Come dip your toe in the water!

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 

 

Bluegills and U-Boats

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.