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Bewailing gale


Random guy

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The natives of Red Lakes once called it “Obaashing” ( the narrow spot where the wind blows through). The narrows between the two lakes has been holding true to its name, the wind will not stop. A steady westerly has changed the game and put the lake into true summer patterns whether we like it or not.

The normal changing of the season with its pushing of the mercury, the standard outward migration of walleye and of course a steady pattern of wind once again puts the participants of the lake in familiar dismal conversations. Fishing suffers its peaks and valleys, frustrated anglers upset at the winds for not following preset travel plans and of course the self inflicted frustration of those fishing the memories of different conditions create gloom and doom prophecies. With yet another morning of winds and storms pushing through “Obaashing” I figure we can take some time to look at the options.

Upper Red Lake can be a great destination weather permitting. For the sake of vacation plans we should be looking at the Upper Red Lake Area and not just the lake itself. A few minor changes in the planning and approach of the Upper Red Lake Area should help with the long faces I have seen the last week.

As a rule Red Lake is a wind lake, not your normal wind lake such as Mille Lacs or Leech but an inversed wind lake. Instead of the standard wind driven bite we have what I call “the draw” bite. With Red Lake’s shallow, slow slope towards the shoreline muddy water is inevitable. Many places along the eastern shore extremely shallow sandbars extend a quarter of mile out into the lake. Many of these sand bars mimic the moving dunes of African deserts. Made of loose sand, silt and natural debris they easily fall victim to the intense wave action of Upper Red Lake. If you look at the structure of a wave it often has turbulence as far down as the wave reaches up. A four foot wave is rolling water four feet below the surface. This happens over ten miles of shoreline thousand upon a thousand times every time the wind sock swings around. That is one big mud blender.

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Now the books all say go fish the wind side, windblown bait, wind stacked fish; wind wind wind wind is good. If you want to catch fish on Upper Red Lake the first thing you need to do is throw the how to books in the trash can at the ramp. Let’s make our own rules.

With Red Lake resembling a giant frying pan it follows suit by cooking the water just the same. Sun heated waters of Upper Red Lake are just as detrimental as the muddy wave infested water. Shiners, walleyes and other species of the Reds are native to northern lakes, not southern tropics; they do not prefer ultra hot muddy water. During a series of winds forget the wind side of the lake, go fish “The Draw”

The Draw is a very simple action reaction window of opportunity. With the surface water being pushed 10-20 miles across a massive body of water it stacks up on the windblown side of the lake. This is so severe it often not only raises the level of the Tamarac River several feet in a matter of hours but it will actually reverse the flow of the river.

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Now all this water stacking on the wind side creates a very unique cross lake current. As the warm surface water is pushed up against the wind blown shore the off shore side is drawn down. Naturally water wants to lay level so it begins a process of pulling deeper cooler water across the lake bottom into the void and this is accelerated by the stacked warm water pushing from the other end. A rotation or instant turnover happens. This entire process happens in matter of hours and the fish utilize it to the fullest. Clean cool water is now rushing the through the strike zone, carrying massive amounts of forage directly to the mouths of walleyes now comfortable in their cool clean water. A more suitable temperature, highly oxygenated clear water offers easy living and easy hunting for the species of prey that inhabit Upper Red Lake . Forget the wind side and look for the cool clean draw water not only during a wind but several days after a heavy wind. The eastern shore is great but distant regions of the south and north shores often offer incredible fishing while the standard spots have been muddied. Water traveling parallel to the sand bars can be rewarding when you can find it, and finding it is easy. A simple pair of polarized sunglasses is all you need. Drive into the wind until you see that classic red/maroon color that Red lake is not only famous for but named for and you have found your draw water and active fish.

Now many days the water of Red Lake will stand up and forbid any vessel from entering the waters. These are the days we need to consider the Red Lake Area and not just Red Lake. Plans have been set, the camper is parked and leveled, cabin is rented or you find yourself at the ramps looking at 6 foot rollers coming across four feet of water. Red Lake can be dangerous if not downright deadly in these conditions. No fish is worth it. I read reports of guys slamming their 20 foot boats into the bottom, taking waves over the bow and other adventures in search of a walleye…senseless acts in vain. Boats come with trailers for a reason.

You do not need to completely change plans or abandon your weekend, just modify it a little. Within 30-40 minutes of Upper Red Lake we have multiple fishing opportunities. The Blackduck area is peppered with top notch panfish lakes and Blackduck itself is connected Upper Red Lake and offers good walleye and perch fishing. The region between Deer River and Waskish is full of lakes offering bass, walleye and some of the biggest panfish I have ever seen. We also have the Rainy River just to the north, an underutilized summer fishery if you ask me. Some incredible smallmouth and pike fishing all along the Rainy River without the big water waves. If the wind is up make a small change that day, many days the winds across Red will lay down in the afternoon. Make your move then, no reason to panic or pout, just adapt. Some of my best days guiding the last few years have been days we could not get on Upper Red.

Such as panfish lakes

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Bass lakes

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…even a few walleye lakes.

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Now the last thing I want to address is the ghost hunters. These are the often disappointed and irritable anglers that set out to find the ghost of Red Lake past; the crappie. Yes we had one heck of a ride on the backs of 15” crappies but those days are done and gone. I would love to go look for bigfoot in the bog, find the caribou that disappeared from the Hillman Lake region or even look for the lost part of Lost River. These things are what they are and that needs to be accepted. Bigfoot is great at hiding; Lost River will just disappear and reappear as it always has and the caribou just as the crappie where a fluke that the natural order cleaned up. I personally refuse to install false hopes and anticipation of crappies when truly the odds are not in favor of success. If you want to catch crappie go to a crappie lake. I know of five within 35 miles of Red.

Upper Red Lake is a destination that offers high rewards but poses risks. That’s the chance we all take when planning vacations or fishing trips the depend on the mood of mother nature. Take a few of the things I have mentioned into consideration when planning your trip, hopefully utilizing a few options will turn what could have been a windy weekend staring at waves into one that becomes the picture you put in your office to remind you of one of the best trips you ever had.

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Jonny your such a good writer. I hope your writing a book about the area as you must have gotten your talent from your uncle Bud. Again nice job very good reading

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sounds like the fish will be hungry this winter. I am going to try and make it first ice this year. I know for some the lake is probably seen as a disappointment right now, but for me I see opportunity. All of those tatsy walleyes wont see a lure until I am dropping my rattling flyer in front of their faces. I cant wait. Dont ever have time to make it for open water.

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Jonny,

I had to laugh when I opened this one and you menitioned “Obaashing” ( the narrow spot where the wind blows through) Because I was just reading "On the Trail" (again) and just finished reading chapter 23 Named Obaashing!

Your statements right very true though. Good info.

Froggy

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I would like to sign up for Red Lake Physics 101 the next time the course is offered.

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I would like to sign up for Red Lake Physics 101 the next time the course is offered.

Its simple, get a BIG frying pan, some food coloring and a box fan and start running labs on the table top. laugh

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Jonny your such a good writer. I hope your writing a book about the area as you must have gotten your talent from your uncle Bud. Again nice job very good reading

Ya talk of a book has been mentioned. Call it "Off the trail" or "Where in the heck is the trail?" grin

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Jonny good book title. In fact I remember that from your visit to our fish house last winter. You definitley have talent as a writer, I really think you should get serious about that book, its a masterpiece waiting to happen.... laugh

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I was thinking more along the lines of an evening course. It could be held at the Westwinds Institute of Higher Learning or Hillman’s Academy of Free Thinking. I know I have been part of a few ultra-intelligent discussions there. Classes would be between the hours of 5-7 (or whenever they have 2 for 1 special). We could have guest speakers, field trips and other activities.

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Fantastic post Jonny P! I love posts like this that actually teach you something. I honestly never thought about how a shallow dish pan like Red might react differently than a deeper big water lake as far as currents and how it affects bait fish, feeding patterns, etc. Very informative. Thank you!

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Its simple, get a BIG frying pan, some food coloring and a box fan and start running labs on the table top. laugh
I think there is a nice 20" box fan for sale on this forum I heard? confused
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This is an amazingly informative piece of work. Great job, Jonny!

Of course it still doesn't answer;

1) Where can I go to catch a limit of fish, and/or

2) Will I need an extension for the auger?

wink Seriously though, very good post!

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This is an amazingly informative piece of work. Great job, Jonny!

Of course it still doesn't answer;

1) Where can I go to catch a limit of fish, and/or

2) Will I need an extension for the auger?

What did the food coloring in the pan tell you? laugh

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I look at it this way,

“When the Winds be a blowing the beer will be flowing”

Or I work on the cabin which never ends,,,,

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Ha ha ha! grin It told me that food coloring is a poor ingredient for soup!

Honestly though, I've said it many times before, and I'll say it again, Jon you are a very good writer!

I wish every guide and resort owner would be so willing to share such informative, detailed information, and pull it together in such a clear and concise way!

I'd love to see that mud line (draw current) you're talking about. Do you find fish just inside the dirty water, or just outside the dirty water?

It would be really interesting to see that "break" from an underwater perspective, as well as read the temperature differences between the warmer dirty water, and clearer colder water.

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Put one color food coloring on the wind side and another on the fan side. You will be amazed how it stays separated until the fan speed turns up high enough to make ripples. A monster sized clear shallow bowl works even better.

As for where to fish, I stay the heck away from dirty water on Red. Once I see the change in clarity for sure I take my sweet time shutting down the motor to make sure I am far enough away from the slurry.

I have some underwater footage of separate conditions and looked for the change but as for a line you cannot see it as it is very gradual unlike a mud line in a river or current system.

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • travis_td
      Hi there, I am making sure that this is the location that folks will be posting updates for Ice Fishing on Lake Vermilion this winter (2022).  I think so but want to make sure as I plan on trying to get out next weekend, December 8-11.
    • smurfy
      thanks wanderer.......even reports from lakes like leech gives me a pretty good idea of what the lakes i want to fish will be like. lot of past experience helps, and no doubt wheelers will be used soon.    we had a retiree.holiday union party last night. buddy said that his kid was on little Winnie with about 5 inches of ice and there moving all around the lake!!
    • Wanderer
      Leech lake has been 100% capped for about a week, I think.  Before you say that’s not a small, underfished lake, it’s just an example that you could prolly drive wheelers on your kind of lakes by now. 😉   I’ve been seeing a lot of 5-7 inch reports going into the weekend.  Sadly I haven’t cut a hole yet.  Still working on repairs and updates on our houses.
    • leech~~
      Here's some throw back for yea. Lets your candy azzz E-cutter battery do this!  🤣    
    • Tom Sawyer
      Oh I didn't say I don't own several versions of Teslas, just that until this hell frozen over state changes I'll always find a use for the ice diggin' anchor. Will be a great post hole digger in it's next life use too
    • leech~~
      Yep no puzzy Tesla auger for me until they pry it from my dead hands!  😆
    • Tom Sawyer
      Still waiting for global warming to ditch my Lazer Mag, always in the truck for thick, virgin ice.    Don't know if it's possible, or advisable, but thought I would throw a 8" K drill bit on it to lighten it up. Should be an adapter for such a conversion. Careful what you wish for, probably rip my arm off with a shredding combo like that 😂    
    • rundrave
      Leech I still have my old jiffy gas auger mainly for sentimental reasons. I haven’t used it for 3 years now. The only time I start it up is in the garage just to hear that pop pop pop sound lol   I will never go back and have no regrets going electric. Huge weight saver and with an extension will go through any thickness of ice. Starts first pull every time lol    we were fishing 2 weeks ago Swiss cheesing a slough here in SD on 4” of ice when someone else tried to fire up their gas auger and my buddies and I looked at each other almost in disbelief that someone was still using a gas auger.   pros and cons for sure but I think electric has more pros than cons with advancements lately     
    • smurfy
      any ice thickness reports..........especially on smaller not heavily fished lakes???????   chances are i wont be up till after christmas anyway, but............
    • leech~~
      Let me know when you go again.  I'll being my crossbow and take out the Deer when you kick them up!  😁
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