TaProhm2             BBaileywick.Com               

Search BBaileywick

Memoirs of the East of the Cabin

When a time was available for fishing, the question was always: Eight Mile or Dryweed?  Other locations went in and out of favor, but to me those were the options usually.  [Incidentally, that choice might have changed with Chris in the last few years, but that would be another story.]  

To introduce Dryweed, I want to mention a book from the 70s.   I believe I went to a fishing clinic back then and, because the speaker made sense, I bought his book.   He was an advocate of “speed trolling” for musky and also “structure fishing.” [I no longer have the book.  I did a lot of googling to try to find its name and the author.  No luck.  With modern electronic devices, the location and trolling of structures is trivial information.] 

I have never tried out the speed theory.   We were fishing in a place where walleye was king.   Northerns and musky would be referred to as “snakes.”  The routine after battling a northern into the boat was to remove the hook and hold up the fish.  “Does anyone want to keep this snake?” would be the question.  It was said with a sort of sneery voice.  About 50 percent of the time, we’d put it on the stringer.  50 percent of the time, we’d throw it back. 

Structure fishing was different.  It seems almost too simple a concept now.   The theory is that fish congregate and feed where there is structure – rock piles, drop-offs, deep water next to shallow.   The structure allows them to feed on the smaller fish that tend to stay atop a structure and allows them an escape into the deep when a predator approaches.  

So, fish the structure. 

Now, Rainy is full of rock piles that support fishing as well as eat boat propellers.  The person who fishes on Rainy needs to know where the rock piles are for safe navigation from point A to point B.   So, I was equipped myself with several large maps mentioned in the Eight Mile section of this memoir.   They were my study guide to get depth information.   That same information that allowed me to travel safely was also information about where the rock piles were and hence the fish.

I recall that the structure fishing book was meant for the large number of fisherpersons who fished in reservoirs.  They were mainly looking for smallmouth bass.  Down to the South, there are lots of rivers that have been dammed and, as a result, wide areas of water are backed up to form reservoirs behind the dams.   The flooded area that constitutes a reservoir is full of structure.   State departments stock and manage the fish population in the reservoirs for recreational purposes. 

So, to continue the tale of Rainy Lake, one of my early successes related to structure fishing was finding a reef which we referred to as Dryweed.   Actually, on the map, Dryweed is a large narrow island that stretches over 3 miles west to east.    Its eastern shore looks out on – or seems to point to -- the open water which was #3 back among the Eight Mile maps.        

 The fishing spot which we called “Dryweed” was on the far east end of the island.  It was about 7 miles from the cabin – and this time the crow’s 7-mile trek would almost be reproducible by boat.  The boat channel up lake opens up and travels straight east between Canada and Dryweed.  With a small correction to the north off a crow’s route, one would intersect the straight path of a boat going up lake from the cabin.  (Go figure.  I hope that isn’t too much crow talk.)    Islands

Note the east end of Dryweed has the line vertical line through it.   Our cabin is the yellow stick-pin in the far west.  So here is the place such that at twilight, I could motor around Powder Island and, heading west, see our pump house light as a beacon calling us home.  The night would end with a nice boat ride, but then the payback-time would be spent down by the pump house cleaning fish and fighting off the early evening mosquitos.  Yuk!

Sometime then in the early 70s studying the map, I caught sight of the reef to the east of Dryweed.  On the map, it started just south of Dryweed, maybe 500 feet out in the water from the island’s tip.  It extended 1000 feet to the east-north-east.   On the west end, it was about 10 feet deep.  On the east end, it was about 5 feet deep.  To the south, the reef fell into the water to 80 feet! 

Hark! I don’t have my old map, but Google Earth just named that tip of what I called Dryweed as Drywood Island.  One cannot readily notice that Drywood is separate from Dryweed Island.  Yet if Google Earth maps it that way, it must be correct!?  So, in my words in the preceding paragraph,  Dryweed should be replaced with Drywood.   We’ll still refer to the reef as Dryweed.  

Anyway, my structure fishing ideas worked on their first test.  I had found a spot of shallows that was next to very deep water.   It produced walleyes and northerns.   Likely if it had not worked on that first evening, we might never have gone back.  But Barb and I brought back walleye on our first outing.  

Dryweed reef drew the family fisherpersons like flies.  We fished all over that reef and generally we were not “skunked”—meaning no catch.   I was the new family member.  My father-in-law still had the notion that July and August were dog-days.  He thought that the fish did not bite in the warm weather.  The fish were down deep.   Those ideas came from too much fishing of the shallow waters of Black Bay.   There fishing was great during spawning season at the mouth of the Rat Root River.  But indeed, walleye leave to deeper water in the summer.  With this notion of structure fishing, I just proposed to go to the deep water where the theory has it that fish come up the structure to feed.   Just be there when that move happens.  

Needless to say, “Grandpa” (Ray) came around real fast.   He fished with us whenever he could.    Finding Eight Mile followed this first success.  We had look on the reef off the northwest of that island.   In that case, we eventually moved away from the Eight Mile reef and found good spots on the west, east and south sides, in that order.   

Over the years, we learned a lot about fishing rock piles.   First of all, one has to know how the standard trolling rig looks. This figure ought to help. FishingRig  Believe me, looking for this sketch, I saw a huge number of modern alternatives.   But this is what I use (used).  The plan is to have the sinker drag on bottom generally quite far behind the boat.  The bait is then several inches off the bottom.  At times, we even put a small float on the "leader dropper line" to keep the bait up.   The reason to show this is the fact that fishing on rock piles results in snagging up the sinker.  When someone announces a snag, everyone pulls up their bait to keep from snagging and the person running the boat turns the boat around to go back over and beyond where the sinker seems to be.  The idea is that the sinker went in one way between two rocks.  Reverse the direction and help it go out as it went in.  During the reversal, the stuck pole is jiggled and generally gets the rig to release from the obstructing stones.  

When the snag is freed, lines are dropped again to begin fishing.  Don’t expect that the number of snags reduces after one is freed.  The sinker does not learn.  You might go through this snag “fire drill” a lot. 

Dragging a sinker used to be the best way to decide when you had reached the reef.  Needless to say, electronic fish finders have improved that exercise.  Back in the 70s and early 80s, one might waste a lot of time dragging bottom to locate a reef. 

Once the reef was found, the plan was to move to determine roughly one end of the reef.  That located, drop a marker.  Now I am unable to find a picture of one of our old markers.  So, I will try to describe one.  Consider a small floating dumbbell about 12 inches long.  The ends are yellow floating plastic balls.  The center that connects the balls is a plastic tube about 1 and ½ inches in diameter.   Around this center tube is wound thin nylon cord with a heavy sinker at its end.   

Just drop the marker overboard and it unrolls in the water.  When the sinker hits the bottom, it stops unwinding.

Then start down the reef toward where you believe is the other end of the reef.   Probably, you fish up that way feeling the bottom with your rig's sinker.   When you determine where the other end is (or just get tired of searching and snagging), you throw out a second marker to the rock pile below.  Now you have a sort of visual path.  Even though you might not be able to see the first marker, you know the general direction and you have your fishing sinker as a sensor.  When you see the original marker, you adjust if necessary.  You go near the first marker and then start back.   There are lots of variations.  With the help of depth finder equipment, you can travel deeper along the reef or seek a higher route.   I suppose nowadays one can mark the reef using GPS so that locating it is no problem.   Marking the two endpoints can be a one-time activity and not on every trip as was our experience.

We spent lots of times trolling on the reef at Dryweed.   Maybe two memories stick out.  Once, when I had Chris along, I decided to drop the anchor so that he could “still fish.”  Mistake!!  A stiff north wind was up and the anchor rope which I had tied inside the boat was being pulled in such a way that the windshield was possibly going to be damaged.   Plus the anchor was just like a sinker and had become snagged into the reef.    I worked up a sweat again pulling in the rope and then revving the engine to move beyond the point of the snag.  Ultimately, I managed to free the anchor with the help of a very young Chris.   I can’t remember his part, but I know he followed my directions and helped.   

Another time, I went out to Dryweed on a windy evening.   I was probably shielded from the wind by taking the alternate channel that ran south of Dryweed.  But once, I began moving out the reef I became more open to the wind coming from the west or northwest.  It was pretty bumpy.  I had my life jacket on and I sat in the bottom of the boat back by the trolling motor.  As usual, I had my hand on the tiller and I had my line out.  In the tumult of the wind and waves, I hit into a nice northern.   I landed it and went back to the cabin the way I came.   

Calmer days and evenings were generally productive at Dryweed.  They were the norm.

Well look at the map again.  Google Earth does not mark reefs or shoals. DryErickShort   So below is a map from Navitronic.  Dryweed is at the top directly east of the "WOOD" of the yellow Drywood.  Almost directly south of my Dryweed reef is Shorty’s Reef.  It is at the bottom of the map.  We fished over at Shorty's successfully several times.   It was worth one or two walleye.  Shorty’s is like Dryweed.  It is not marked because its rocks are deep enough for navigation.  Yet you can’t locate it like Dryweed from gauging the distance from a nearby island.  Like another prospective fishing spot in this sector of the lake, it is difficult to judge your location because the nearest islands are so far distant.   So usually, one had to work to find Shorty’s and then throw out a marker.  Troll around the marker.   Lots of snags, but sometimes you snag a walleye.

Let’s jump quickly to that other place, I just mentioned above.  In perspective, it was the last reef I had tried to explore.  I probably fished there in 1989 or 1990.  On the map, it was called Stub’s Shoal.  I reached there about twice, but it had yet to produce any fish.  A lot of my time was spent finding it.   The map I have with me in my room shows Stub’s as a shallow spot rising up to 9 feet below the surface from the normal over 60 feet depth.  The main channel heading up lake passes just north of the shoal.    With that depth just like Shorty's, there would be no need for a red navigation buoy to warn of rocks except if the lake level was low.  It would be interesting to have looked at that spot back in 1977 when the lake was very low. 

Anyway, I found Stub’s first by judging my direction and distance from Cranberry Island and Steamboat Island.  Both islands were almost a mile away.   That should give you a sense of emptiness of this expanse of Rainy.  Somewhat north of Stub’s was the Canadian border – about a quarter mile.  

Encouraged by the fact that I had found the spot, I went out the next time with Grandpa Ray – my father-in-law.   Our first fishing spot to try was Stub’s.   So I found Stub’s again.   Grandpa was semi-uneasy about our location.   “Hum,” he said, “are there any fish out here?”   He must have known that I had not caught anything the first time.  Also, I doubt he had ever fished any spot so remote – so far out away from everything.  

But, what is that coming?  A boat must be passing going up lake.   No, it is stopping to our northeast.   I am vindicated!  Someone else fishes here!   In fact, as we watched, that person started tending his fishing net!  He was either a Canuck or one of few remaining commercial fishermen fishing the U.S. side.  Most likely he was a Canadian fishing Stub’s Shoal.  There are fish there!  [Even today!]  Unfortunately, we never found them.  I maintain that just as my experience was with Eight Mile Island, we would find a spot and we’d have to learn where to fish that spot.  [On Eight Mile, we began by fishing the reef off the northwest end, but, as the years passed, we seldom went out to those rocks when fishing Eight Mile. Lots of other spots around that island produced with many less snags.  Incidentally, that reef at Eight Mile contained smallmouth.  Plus, when fishing the reef, I remember seeing a beaver on the island's shore chew off a small tree and drag it back into the wooded area.  Just a moment in time.] 

While we are out in this area, let’s note other places we explored.   I found in one of my notebooks that I had kept day by day records of our fishing excursions in 1976 and 1977.   Even though, we always fished each year, I am certain 1977 was one of the greatest years for many reasons.  [I may add a table at the end of this document to immortalize the catches of 1977.] I am amazed at all the discoveries and ventures that were packed into that year of ‘77.   [In fact, in 1979, I began working for Sperry and I did not have three months of vacation to spend exploring.  I remember “Randy” saying of my life-changing job switch, “Well, you’ve had a few good years.” ☹ ?]  

The next portion of Rainy Adventure – Dryweed will probably require a new map. We no longer need the cabin marker.   We’ll start from Dryweed (aka Drywood) and call this portion East of Dryweed.  But not all the way east to Seine Bay.  Seine Bay experiences  will be part of  another big portion of Rainy Adventure.  EastofDryweed

Looking at my records that began in late July of 1976, I first recorded successes on Eight Mile and then Dryweed.  On August 15 off Dryweed, Bill caught two northerns and 7 walleye.  Barb caught 3 walleye and 1 seven pound northern.  A note has it that Ernie, Barb’s uncle, lost a northern.  Ernie was probably in his own boat.  We fished in tandem quite often. 

Then our lis of ventures note moderate luck at Shorty’s Reef, mentioned above.   In later days, we went to a little island close to Cranberry Island.  So, we ended our year fishing in late August around Cranberry, Capstan Rock (north of Dryweed); and a note says I found Stub’s for the first time.  This just opened our ventures to boat trips east of Dryweed.

Only by chance did I record in this log the fishing of 1976 and 1977.  By chance, the log provides the exact date of an eventful day which was a primary reason for this long saga about Rainy.   August 27, 1976.

I rose early to fish.  Barb was sleeping in with Chris as well.  She would have known that I was taking an explorative venture.  I was going to make my first trip to Steamboat some distance beyond Cranberry where we’d fished days earlier.   

The weather was cloudy, but at that early hour, there might have been some patchy sun.  I remember listening to the news broadcast from International Falls.   They provided the weather.  There was no word of any coming wind or rain.   So I loaded the boat for fishing and included my portable radio as well.   The distance would be at least 9 miles to get to Steamboat Island.   

I am certain I turned my head around as I traveled east, but if I had been travelling the main channel north of Dryweed, I might have been blissfully ignorant of the growing wind until after I got past Dryweed and experienced the open water conditions.   I got to Steamboat and took stock of the situation.   The wind was not at all friendly.   The sky to the west was dark. No sign of the sun remained to the east.  

I flipped on the radio and, by chance, got the weather report.   It warned of high winds on the lake and stormy conditions for the day.   What a switch!!  International Falls has a national weather bureau and it must have just published an update.  I was in the soup. 

Luckily, I did not decide to ride out the storm.  I would have been there all day until evening.  That scenario would be to go behind Steamboat to the east and tie up to shore. 

The long trek back was begun.  This was my first boat.  I had a good motor and trolling motor.  However, I was not anxious to do what I might have done with my second boat and that was to gun it to bring the boat up to plane atop the swells.   If that was a possibility, I never tested it.  I remember taking a long time to get back to the east end of Dryweed.  Still I was 7 miles from home.   The wind had moved more to the northwest.  I had declared myself in travelling the main channel. I had experienced a lot of wind coming from the alternate channel direction as I took the leg of the journey from Steamboat to Dryweed.   I did not believe the south side of Dryweed would save me.    

I knew the maps and I knew there was an island which is too small to show on my current large map of the entire Rainy Lake system.   I believe the island was named Voyageur Island on the map I had aboard the boat.  Somehow, I knew that there was a cabin there.   Maybe people!  VoyaguerIsland                  

The picture shows a close-up of Voyageur from Google Earth.  I eased my boat over toward the shore.  I remember being cautious not to turn crosswise to the white caps that were breaking across the bow. Once I got sheltered by the east side of the island I only had to cope with the rain.   In the picture, I see a dock jutting out to the south, but I believe there was another dock in ’76.   I tied up and disembarked. 

Even zooming in more on Google Earth’s aerial shot, I cannot see the main cabin.   Several small buildings can be seen in the center of the island in the clearing.   As I walked around, the main cabin was dark and quiet.  There were at least two other small sheds.   Although no one was there, this cabin had obviously been used recently.  There were no obvious signs of disrepair.  Things were neat and tidy.   This was a cool morning – remember August 27. My notes on August 28 is that that day was still windy and only 47 degrees at 11:30 AM.  The residents of Voyageur Island may have closed up for the season.   Oh, yes, the most interesting thing I remember was the Canadian flag that was flying on the island. (It is a paradox to me that Canadians would choose to have their villa down here whereas our U.S. people would venture to retreats in Canada.   I joke that Canadians and U.S. citizens going fishing would pass one another at the border.  Canucks coming south to fish and U.S citizens heading north.  The grass is always greener on the other side of the border.  ?) 

Well, my concern was still to get back to the cabin.  I was concerned that Barb and Chris would think I was out in these terrible conditions.    Actually, the swells were not a problem near Tilson where the cabin was.    On Voyageur Island, I was still being rained on and battered by swells that had 4 miles of open water to get going.    I positioned myself on the west shore of my little island, watched the waves, and waiting for I know not what.   Most likely I was looking for courage or a sensible plan.  

A plan came eventually.   Since the storm showed zero signs of letting up, after an hour or two, I decided to move out.  From my map, I could see that about a mile farther west was an inlet and small islands that cloaked the west end of Dryweed.  I would head for that inlet.  So, I prepared the trolling motor and left the big motor up out of the water.  There would be shallow water ahead.  I untied the boat from the dock.  Like a time before in this area, I sat on the floor of the boat and ran the 7 ½ horsepower motor with my left hand.   With the wind direction, I had no problem staying away from Voyageur as I made the wide swing out and around this island refuge.  The only issue was keeping the bow of the boat pointed into the waves. 

The power of the small motor was sufficient for moving west.  Again it was like skidding forward since each wave had some effect on our forward motion.   Eventually, I moved onto the inlet where the water was rather shallow especially in the several narrow slits between islands.   But my trolling motor prop never touched any rocks. 

The general direction through the sheltering islands was southwest.  I know I came close to Big America Island – a small island on Dryweed’s west end.  I do not recall, but I believe I went around the east side of that island.  Once through that last sheltering passage, I was behind – on the east side – of a large body called Grindstone Island.    I believe I pulled up the trolling motor and returned to the big 40-horse Evinrude.   I slide around the south side of Grindstone and through the channel on its southwest point.   Although I experienced some wind, the rest of the journey was quite manageable.  I believe the entire episode took four hours.   Time for lunch.     

This was the main tale which I meant to relate as I began my writing about Rainy.  

My 1977 records start on June 14.  It covers June, July and August.   Most years we never went north until after June since June was a very rainy month.  We had to spend so much time in the cabin. 

Chris was 6 on June 23 of that year.  Looking at my records,  I don’t note that he ever entered into the records as catching a walleye or northern. Wrong!! I just found that Chris did catch a northern on August 8, 1977. 

Sometime earlier, he caught a good sized northern off the dock and landed it with great effort.  However, Chris also caught fish with the help of his Grandpa and me. 

In the boat at age 4 or 5, Chris would be kept distracted in the boat by his Grandpa while I put a previously-caught live perch on his line.  That is referred to as “salting the line.”   Chris was so excited to make a catch.   This happened more than once.   But then Grandpa – who disliked perch because he believe they feasted on walleye eggs – would get Chris to agree to throw back his catch and “let the perch relax.”    He would break the perch’s neck and throw him out in the water to float (dead) on his back.  He was “resting.”   That scenario went fine until a scavenger sea gull would swoop down and carry off the perch.   Then Grandpa had some explaining to do. 

Well, in 1977, we fished the usual haunts – Dryweed, Fransen, and Eight Mile. 

One event was something I mentioned earlier in these pages.  I find it noted in June 27, 1977.  I approached a point on Sandpoint Island in Canada in what was supposed to be 7 feet of water.   I hit a rock and my propeller got chewed up.  But now I remember the rest.  This was near the beginning of the season.  And the records show that I continued to fish.  I believe it was the next year in 1978 that it was discovered that some damage had been done to the engine.  Cracks had developed that could not be repaired.   I believe I had not replaced the prop and that might have caused cracking from the abnormal vibration.   Yet the cracking might have been there from my purchase of the second-hand boat.   Who knows? 

Anyway, I had no knowledge of any malfunction and did a lot of fishing in ’77 in July and August.  The new 40-horse motor came in 1978.   New motor on the same boat.  

These records remind me of a lot.  I see records that the Twaddle family was with us from July 19 to July 23 at least.  I don’t believe this was the week when Rick redid the cabin – adding its new roof and porch.  The Twaddles caught fish every day.   On just July 20th at Dryweed, I see that Jason, Brett, Shirley and I each caught a northern.  Rick caught 2 northerns and Barb caught 3.  Dean was the only one to catch something like a walleye.  He caught a sauger.  (He followed it with a 6lb. northern on July 22.)   The 20th was one of those days where I recorded that we had fished east of Cranberry Island – another short reef.  

Then on July 29 a new name pops up.  I was on the hunt for new spots without much fish to show for it.   The new names were Olson’s Reef – a location where the rock comes up to 3 feet below the surface, and also Fox Island.  I only got bits. 

Then on August 2, I hit one of the best walleye producers I have seen in my time on Rainy.  We called it Olson’s Bay which conforms to the name in Google Earth.   That was the name of the body of water I crossed to get to the walleye hot spot.    

Let’s take you to Olson’s Bay.  The route to get there is one of my beautiful memories.  Start at the cabin.   Hopefully everything is in the boat.  We start from the cabin and head east.  We pass Ernie’s cabin (now the estate of his son Mike – a Warroad dentist).  On our right, we then go by the fancy houses of Island View known as Gold Shores.  I always looked for one house with its tall glass windows and wondered if it had to be heated in the winter.  That house sported a float plane. 

In a short distance, I'd watch for the red marker on the right.   More prop-eating rocks are lurking to its right. Take a hard right turn just pass that red marker and note the green marker coming up.   Stay to the left of the green as you head up lake.  On your left, you are going around Grindstone Island which is really a bedroom community for International Falls.  I don’t know how they work it, but people live there year round and get to the mainland some way over the frigid winter ice.  

In this new section of water, you turn east for at least 6 miles.  At the turning, you pass first the outlet of Thunderbird Lodge and Rainy Lake Houseboats, then the docks of Island View quickly hidden by Little America Island, and finally, if you drop a tiny bit south, you will pass Sha Sha at the entrance to Black Bay.   Next you travel south of Big America and Dryweed. 

There are islands that I have fished around along this alternate channel.  No catches to report.

But now we go passed Bushyhead Island on our left.  Now get this.  There was once a town out here named something like Rainy Lake City.  This region had a gold rush!  At first there was a sort of false alarm around 1865.   A finding of “fool’s gold.”   Things fizzled in 1866.   But in 1893, a real vein was found by George W. Davis on Little America Island.  The mine thBushyheadat was built operated from 1893 to 1898.  When it closed, the impact was felt by Rainy Lake City and by 1906 that city was a ghost town. 

I know that the city lies somewhere in Voyageur National Park but I see no remnant of it.   I have not motored around Little America, but the only remnant of the mining days is a neat little mine shaft going into the side of Bushyhead, an island about two miles east on the channel from Little America.   The rush in 1893 also spawned three other mining operations – one on Big America and two on Dryweed all closed by 1898. 

So we continue on up lake.   About three miles from Bushyhead there is an island on the right which had in the 70s and 80s (and maybe now) a large rock on its eastern tip which had been painted red.   This marks for me the beginning of Olson Bay (not to be confused with Olson Reef mentioned earlier).  

On August 2, 1977 having studied my maps again, I crossed this bay toward a small island called Arden Island.   Another island was just north of Arden so that the two islands formed a channel that was a maximum of two football fields wide (600 feet).  This channel would be just south of the official alternate channel, but a few boats passed through this passage on a super-secluded route to the east and to Lost Bay.  Even the houseboat renters made use of this channel.  Not often, but occasionally, a houseboat would tie up on the narrow sandy shore across from Arden.  

Well on August 2, I trolled the spot.  I was alone and I caught 4 northerns and kept 3.  I caught 5 walleye and kept 3.   That was a pretty good trip.  With that production in an afternoon, Olson Bay as we called the area became the fishing spot for the rest of the year which I recorded till August 24. 


Above is the zoomed picture of the Olson Bay channel.  Around the corner of Arden Island, the water opens into Cranberry Bay which we never found very productive.  Cranberry was a good-sized bay where there is wild rice harvesting, I believe.  Plus, if you look on the east shore of Cranberry Bay, you will see a huge boulder which I believe is an “erratic” – a rock left by a receding glacier.  

To the east of the north island is a neat area.  If you pull up your motor and paddle up to the northeast on a sunny day, the water is quite shallow and the flat rocks are very near the surface and bright in the sun.  (Maybe I am the only one who likes that view. Flat yellow rocks.)

Anyway, back to the fishing spot.  The west to east line is about the length of 2000 feet.  Usually that was the distance of one trolling pass.   The other north-south line just measures 600 feet between the two islands.  

What drew me here was the structure of the channel.  At the west end of the trolling pass, the water was more shallow where the vertical line crosses the trolling line.  So the bottom went down to about 25(?) feet at the intersection and then came back up at the east end of my line.   Regularly, fish would strike when your bait reached them in that deepest spot – where the lines cross.  The channel’s bottom formed a natural bowl where feed must have congregated and drew the walleye and northerns.  

In that one month of 1977, we visited Olson’s fishing spot at least 13 times.  Several days we went twice.  I recorded 253 fish in that span.  On my second day there, I took Grandpa and Ernie.  Grandpa got 3 northern and 3 walleye.   I caught 12 walleye and a sauger.  Ernie caught 9 walleye and a sauger.  Six walleye were returned to the water. 

The next day we caught the same amount.

Oddly during that period, we had the channel to ourselves.   When a houseboat tied up to the north island, those people got in their boats and motored off – maybe to the shallows where northerns and bass reside.   They never seemed to fish right out their back door.   Was it “Minnesota nice?”  Did they not want to disturb us?

I suppose if I were fishing up there I would always return to Olson to test it.  I did in the 80s I am sure.   The fishing was never as good as ’77.   Maybe a couple walleye or a northern, but no limits like that great year of 1977.  

Sometime in the 80s, I remember a trip to Olson’s which was just for checking it out.   Ron, his brother-in-law, Darryl, and I had been fishing without luck all day.   We went in, caught nothing and left.  I was running the boat as usual and I decided we should try to get into the lagoon on the north side of the north island.   I had never tried it.   To get there, I had to troll around the west end of that island going way north to avoid rocks which you can just barely see in the picture.  When I figured I had gone far enough north, I turned the boat east.  After a few minutes, we felt the rocks.  I had not gone far enough north.  Wham, we went aground.  Backing up did not work.  The three of us contributed too much weight to the craft.   The rocks were right there about 6 – 9 inches under the water.  We worked a while and then we settled on a solution.  Ron got out of the boat – in the middle of the lake!!!   We were probably 800 feet from the shore of the island.  Standing on the rocks, Ron pushed and I reversed.  The boat freed itself.   Ron got back in and we all went home.  Enough excitement for one day.