Marathon Pack

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 God does not charge time spent fishing against a man's allotted life span.  Old Indian Provberb Last spring Pam and I went up to Platte Creek Lodge and fished for walleye on Lake Francis Case.  The lake is part of the Missouri River series of dams that stretches from Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota all the way into Montana.with the final lake at Canyon Ferry Dam.  We fish with a guide that is a native of South Dakota and has fished the river all his life.  His boat is outstanding and all the gear, bait, and know how, is included in the price.  Plus, he is a joy to be with and is so accommodating to his customers and guests.  That makes for a really exciting and great trip.    These are the keepers we caught.  South Dakota has a 15" minimum and we threw back a lot of shorts.  From the time we hit the water this nice series of eaters took three hours.  A hunting partner saw this picture and immediately started laying plans for a fall trip up to Platte, SD for a fishing trip.  Right after I got back from the elk trip to Idaho, he was at my door with a cooler for his ration.  He said, let us pick a time, check the long term forecasts, and make it happen for some fall fishing on Lake Francis Case, with your guide.  I was all in. Besides hunting and fishing his goal in life is to get his fishing therapy covered by his health insurance and medicare.  While that is a great idea, there are two chances, slim and none and slim left town.  One can always hope.  We planned mid October and our leader said the fishing was good on the lake that time of the year, but we should be prepared for some inclement weather.  He also said, "We fish regardless of what the weather might be.  Just come prepared." We drove to Chamberlain, SD checked into a really nice motel with restaurant and met our guide in the morning.  A pleasant day and we were off and running on the lake.  Francis Case is really big and if the wind comes up, a person should be well prepared for a boat ride like no other.  Fortunately it remained calm. We got on the lake just at first light.  What was amazing was the water temp was above the outside air. We worked shorelines along the east side of the lake with flicker Shad and other trolling lures. The reels had line counters on them and we let out of lot of line to get the lures down to the depth where the walleye were hiding out. This is where electronics comes in, as our guide was able to identify the levels fish were hanging out.  Boom, Boom! My friend bagged a couple of nice keepers.  I seemed to consistently pick up shorts.  Those fish under 15 inches in length are called shorts.        Looking out the back of the boat.  Good looking water for walleye and our day started out really great.   My partner kept catching fish, and I just caught shorts for the first hour and a half.  He had his four for the day, and then I hit all the keeper fish.  All I did was drop my line down a little deeper at the recommendation of the guide and I limited out in 30 minutes.  He had me change lures earlier, but then running deeper did it. This is where a really experienced fisherman comes in with knowledge of the equipment, the electronics, and what to do in the conditions we were fishing. Day one was done. the fish were cleaned up, packaged and we just hung out the rest of the day read and relaxed.     Eight legal size walleyes and the one on the left end is a white bass.  Once you skim off the red meat, they eat really well.       There it is, four apiece and we are done for the day.         There is dinner swimming around  That night we had dinner with our guide and his wife at a Mexican restaurant, Mi Pueblo Mexican Restaurant that was the best I have ever dined in.  Who would have known, Chamberlain,SD had an eatery of this quality and in a rural town of 2,350 population. Forecast was for another nice day, but it did not happen as forecasted.  This is South Dakota and the beginning of the winter season so it turned cold and windy.  We met our guide at another Chamberlain eatery for breakfast.  This was the Main Street Cafe and Market.  Wow, this was outstanding and the meal was enormous.  You get really fed well in
   As I sat in the lodge and looked up, it felt like he was staring at me.  The lodge has a real nice wall hanger. For some this is what an elk hunt is all about.  For us it is all about the meat.  Last January I made plans to make, what seems to be, an annual pilgrimage to Idaho and hunt elk on a sheep ranch.  Having been there before this is gentleman hunting at its finest and at my age it is the best I can do. We have enjoyed wild game for many years as have many of our friends.  One couple not only enjoys game, but they enjoy a homemade adult beverage made from grapes to accompany a meal of well prepared game.   They are also excellent cooks and a week before the trip, there was a familiar voice on the phone saying, "I have a case of exquisite liquid made from grapes.  It is yours for my yearly ration of elk meat."  We can hardly wait and the time table was laid and, of course, it is contingent upon a successful hunt.  We have made this drive before.  It starts from Council Bluffs to Rock Springs, Wyoming and is 755 miles.  With stops it is a full 12 to 13 hours.  It is very weather dependent as east of Laramie is the Sherman Hill Summit that reaches an elevation of over 8,640 feet.  We want to cross this spot in the daytime and hopefully when the sun is out.  Driving in the clouds east of Laramie is not fun and it take some time to break out, but not until you get to Laramie at an altitude of 7,220 feet.  After that it is smooth driving to Rock Springs.   After Rock Springs it is only a mere 320 miles to the ranch in Idaho.  Now that does not seem so bad, but is almost a full days drive as you travel from Rock Springs to Jackson, Wyoming and then over Teton Mountain Pass.  Now as a flat lander, this is a challenge.  Going up is not a problem, but on the other side the road is narrow and winding going down hill.  We go so slow and pull over frequently to let the locals pass.  They all wave with one hand and a finger in the air.  It must be a form of greeting.   The Aspens were in their glory and as I cleared the pass this view was captured.   The Aspens interspersed with the pines made a great pic At the ranch, we were greeted by the same people that have worked there over the years from the cooks to the guides, the manager,  and the lodge dog.  After settling in and shooting the rifle on the range, it was dinner and plans were made for the next morning.  The lodge is just as good looking inside as outside. This is what Gentleman hunting is all about.   We all have met a person several times that we really hit it off with and this is the case with our guide.  When the reservation was made he was requested, and it was a pleasure to hunt with him again. .  His son also guides at the ranch.   We have a lot in common.  I hurt too when I get up in the morning or when I sit too long.  I was amazed this year at how the ranch looked.  The sage brush had really grown and this made it very hard to spot an elk.  When they are feeding on the grasses their bodies are hard to spot and you have to look for the antlers sticking up above the sagebrush.  In some cases the sagebrush was almost to my shoulder and I am 6'2" tall.  We were hunting the first week in October and it was unseasonably warm.  The ranch is located about 75 miles southwest of Yellowstone at an elevation of about 5,000 feet.  We did not expect this kind of weather.   Looking out across the ranch.   That is Pam standing in the sagebrush.  In spots it is over her head. We drove along the ridges, then stopped and began glassing the areas below to the hill across the valleys.  Our requirement is a young boy that does not have a low slung belly or any type of sway in his back.  Also, I do not shoot big racks.  I already have a bull that scored 380, and this is big enough for me. Our guide took us over to a spot on the ranch where he had spotted some young bulls.   You work the low country first, then move up to higher elevations.  The elk are really hard to spot in all the sagebrush.  With the  warm
  A sentry on duty  We have the good or bad fortune of living on a golf course fairway. Canada geese also make the golf course their home, and they are a really exciting bird to watch beginning in the early spring and throughout the year.  I hunt waterfowl, but not the Canada goose as it would be like hunting my neighbors.  The golf course has everything the Canada Goose needs.  There is plenty of food as the fairway is composed of grass that attracts their palate.  The fairway has a large body of water along one side, and there is a sand pit.  Food to eat, water to drink and to float around on, and sand for their gizzards are all they need.   The grasses on the golf course are very digestible and the layout of the course is very open and allows the birds protection from predators.  They can see a problem coming at a great distance. They are also somewhat protective of their territory.  There is one exception and that is the golfers.  They move off to a safe distance generally about 20 feet and continue their constant grazing as the golfers play through. Morning on the golf course. The property lines between the golf course and our back yards are very discernible.  We plant blue grass which is considerably darker and longer than the grass on the golf course.  Golf course grass is generally bent grass, and is shorter and a lighter color and more dense.  The geese will graze right up to the grass line separating the two properties and rarely cross over into back yards.  The other item might be that when they get close to the houses they do not have that much protective space.  This spring we counted five families on the course each one having from 4 to 10 babies.  One family stood out as the mother sat on a nest right opposite our home along the lake.  She sat and sat with nothing happening.  Neighbors we talked with were all worried whether she had any eggs alive in the nest.   Here she sits on her nest.  Everyone was worried about her and we were worried the golfers might disturb her.  They ignored her and played on through.    That is dad out floating around.  He stayed right close to her and if a golfer got close he went toward him/her.  Then it happened.  We got up early one morning to see how mom was doing and there they were.  Ten little puff balls running around but staying close to the parents.  Mom and dad were very attentive and kept them all together.   The little devils were running all around and it was hard to get a picture of them all together.   Mom and Dad with the chicks in the low spot.   Mom dad and the family out for breakfast. They grow really fast and soon we could not determine whose family we were looking at.  As they got bigger it was hard to count as they scooted around the golf course.   That is two families out for stroll.  They walked between houses, across the street, to the pond in the next neighborhood.  Amazing! This is a family of eight.  Not the one we initially watched.   Another morning on the golf course We had five families on the golf course and as I indicated earlier family size ranged from 4 to 10 goslings.  As they grew it became harder to distinguish families when they were all on the golf course. There is our 10.   They grew at an outstanding rate.  This is one of the first families.    A couple of visitors showed up one morning.  We did not see them go for the geese as they come periodically to fish. Eagles fly in from the river and perch on the roof tops waiting for a fishing opportunity.   That is a family and it is amazing how fast they grow then start flying.   Families.   We caught them again one morning walking between the houses down to the next pond.  A snow goose has hung out with them all spring and summer.  We are close to the end of October and we generally have Canada geese flocked up and occupying the fairway we live on from the T box to the hole.  But not this year, but the year is not over.   Look for my next two posts.  I just got back from an Elk hunt in Idaho and a fishing trip on Lake Francis Case in South Dakota.  Now to start duck hunting.  It is a dirty job, but someone has to do it. Click on the book and buy from Amazon.   Goodnight!!!
  Platte Creek Lodge and Guide Service.    Wow, Wow, and more Wow!  It just can't get much better than this.  My guide and I hit the lake really early. With this fantastic weather, the lake would be packed, and it was a Saturday. Pam backed out and said , " I am sleeping in in this morning, but be back by lunch."  It is like people have been locked up so long and needed to get out and with this weather and lake conditions, it was time to go, and catch some walleye. The wind had moved southeasterly with a front about 100 miles out.  The beautiful weather was going to change and we needed to get on it before the front arrived and the conditions changed. The wind was forecast-ed to switch to the east with low clouds, mist, and rain.  Been there, done that, and it turns off. We got to the boat ramp before anyone else got there,  and that helped a lot getting on the lake.  On the water the guide hit the pedal and off we went flying across the water to another fishing spot he knew about.   Looking out the back of the boat, and this is what 50 mph looks like as we sped across the water.    Looking out over the bow of the boat.  This machine really flies and it does not take long to cover a lot of water.  The white box with the red handle is a box holding crawlers or as we say in Iowa, worms. Around the edge of the box is a liner for ice and that way the bait is kept cool.   We pulled up to the first spot and began fishing.  Immediately the action started, but we were throwing them all back as we just could not catch a 15 inch fish. I had not hammered fish like this in years. The rods used were light action and were long, but it still felt like we had a really decent size fish.  I think I mentioned in the previous blog that this lake should be a really hot spot for legal fish next year. Spot one we fished for about 30 minutes along the face of the drop off starting from the point and working along the bank.  What was really interesting was that we were so close to the edge of the bank and still fished in 10 to 12 feet of water.    It was time to keep moving.  It was not for not catching fish, it was for not catching legal size to keep.  Again, the big motor was fired up and off we flew across the lake to another spot.  Decades ago, my son and I fished Canada waters with a friend from northern Minnesota.  He always said when you pick up small walleye, move, because that is all you are going to catch.      Notice the house along the bank.  The question I asked was how can a person build a house or cabin along ground that belongs to the government by way of the Corp of Engineers.  Apparently it was built about the same time the reservoir was completed and just got grandfathered in.  The guide wants that house and if I win the lottery, I have promised I will buy it for him.  Neither one of us will lose any sleep over it.  I have fished and hunted with a lot of guides, and I have never had one that was not good.  I have really enjoyed his company, plus harvesting a lot of  game and enjoying the outdoors. We fished really hard at this location as we  had success there before, but today it was fleeting.  We did not catch a thing.  It happens, and it is called fishing, not catching. Onward, upward, and ever forward.  There is always another spot along this wide and meandering lake.   This was really interesting and it was the only place where we saw this geology.  Notice the color of the water.  It is similar to the color of the rocks.  As you moved out away from the bank the water darkened up to the color of the rest of the lake.  Depth at this level was around 15 feet.  It was at this level we caught keeper fish.  I am forwarding this picture to a geologist and have him tell me about the rocks and the layers.  Interesting.    We were not limited out yet, but had two more fish to go.  All of a sudden it shut off.  I have seen this happen before, but have no explanation for it.  The only thing I can think of is walleye are finicky fish and something turns them on and then turns them off.  The wind