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First Ice Opportunities


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Heading up to Red to start getting ready for the season in a couple of weeks probably going to throw the canoe on the truck by the sounds of it to get to the lake and hope for gentler seas.

This year we are taking a different approach to the first ice opportunities. From December 8th to December 26th we are going to put our sleeper houses just off shore and take to the shores with Otter Outdoors. We will setup the portables (drilled and heated up) for our guys to take the fight to the fishes, if we can’t walk out and fish we will refund your booked house but if we can we will be set to take full advantage of this well talked about opportunity “first ice on Upper Red Lake”. The nice thing is out of Rogers it’s a short walk to deeper water and every year it’s a blast.

I was going to build some portables but in my opinion after looking at the product line from Otter Outdoors at a recent event the question is why, everything that I could want to put into a unit is already done from the tube frame construction, first class sled to the quilted thermal fabric these units are put together. To us this is more than a shelter it’s a weapon just ask the Walleyes come December.

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We are setting up whatever our clients need; we are not building more units just trying to provide some additional customer service to meet the requests of those clients. We believe this is a unique service that integrates our current service with the use of new tools. Guided trips and cabin rentals are different accommodations and services than the opportunity we are trying to provide.

We also have committed advertising to this new opportunity which in turn draws more folks to the lake as a whole. To us Upper Red Lake is a field of dreams, our customers’ dream of it and we try to build it. I would welcome you to join us in making this opportunity available to the guys that fish Upper Red Lake.

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Guided trips and cabin rentals are different accommodations and services than the opportunity we are trying to provide.

Yes they are, normally I spend all day with my clients on guided trips where we move all day staying on top of the bite, going out in various conditions, changing gears when limits are met and of course you are getting full attention and complete access to everything the guide knows about the lake and the current bite. You are paying for the guide’s knowledge and experience while using what is most likely the latest in ice gear.

Cabin/room rentals are normally full service operations that offer hot showers, cable tv, complete bathrooms and other nice amenities. These operations such as Cookies, Westwinds, Bear Paw, Beacon Harbor, Shooks Motel, Drake Motel, Americain Inn, Northome Motel and Battle River Lodge All of these places have been around for many many years. They are all year round local operations that offer something special along with the knowledge and connections of being year round residents of the lake and area; something can be priceless when booking for a fishing trip. I know when I take my yearly vacation to the Ottertail area I would be lost without the information Ma and Pa give me about little lakes or current bites past the end of their dock. I actually have caught some of the biggest fish and best catches of my life from that old time local info.

Now what this “First Ice Opportunity” looks like to me is a very unique marketing strategy that really is not a room as it does not have the amenities; it really is not a guide service as you do not have guides. It is not a true sleeper rental as the sleeper is not over fishable water, but parked on shore. It is something in the middle that really cannot fit into any bracket. As you have stated you are an outfitter, not a guide, you need safe ice to outfit with your sleepers. This is a nice mix where you can offer a just little of everything without really offering anything complete.

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The thing about first ice is it can be over in mere days. From the 3-6 inches when some venture out to the 12-15 inches when a few are taking out their bigger rigs. you also have the in between 8-12 inches when smaller vehicles such as a ranger or jeep can easily navigate. Mother Nature does decide how fast this process occurs, but some years its so fast that the hard houses are right behind and pulled into fishable water. This doesn't apply to Hillmens, Buddy is out with his rigs before anyone else and I'll bet he isn't close to the ice thickness as described above. I hope early ice is as good as last season, as many people visited the Waskish area, I remember many portables set up on the eastern shoreline. In approximately 65 days and we'll know. Good Luck!

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You forgot to mention that everything a guy needs is within a couple hundred yards, good fishing, showers, bar, our units have electric and all the comforts of a camper. We are also out of a resort that's been there for years.

We are just setting things up for our guys not running for president. We are going to stick to fishing and doing what we are known for, looks like you are busy campaigning.

The HSO event down on Mille Lacs was a blast it was a real good time visiting with all you Red Lakers that attended, I am still getting over it. I think we pulled the pin at 4:00 AM.

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I have been reading the Upper Red lake forum for quite a while and I finally have to put in my 2 cents‘.

Johnny you are right on all points but from what I see is the Upper Red Lake area can use a little more promotion.

I use to work with Jerry the current owner of Rogers and I know just how hard of worker he is, I do not think he would mean to put anyone else out of business or even try, in fact he would be promoting just like Chris.

Chris, keep promoting the area, like you said a rising tide will raise all ships.


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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • monstermoose78
      As long as the birds don’t fly I am good. I can catch fish through the ice fairly well. 
    • MarkB
      My cousin and I just returned from beautiful Lake Vermilion after 4.5 days of the most spectacular walleye fishing you could ever hope for. Usually our mutual friend joins us but his father passed away and he had to opt out. We arrived late Saturday afternoon and packed things up after our morning outing Wednesday. We stopped at Cabelas on the way up and found them to be sold out of pike suckers. While they had them, they were charging 99 cents each! We then stopped at Harris bait shop and found a help yourself situation that was also out of pike suckers. They sold them while available for 6 for $6! We eventually found them locally for the same price as last year. During our stay, we used pike suckers, rainbow mix, and crawlers. The walleyes hit them all but, I believe, the rainbow mix caught the most, the crawlers were almost as productive, and the pike suckers produced the biggest fish.  We caught them in depths ranging from 13' to 27'. They were in the rocks and in the mud depending on the time of day. We caught walleyes all day every day with 5 o'clock PM to ~7 o'clock PM being optimum for quantity. The weather was absolutely HORRIBLE with high winds and non-stop rain early in the trip. Boat control was very difficult and I struggled to keep our speed around that .4mph to .6mph. Hits were fast and furious but the hit to catch ratio was at best 5 or more hits to one catch . We stuck with the 1oz bottom bouncers, 3 red beads, and a size 2 hook for the big suckers. I found a shorter 3' leader to be most effective. We caught 153 walleyes on our trip and I would bet we had at least 5 times that many hits!. Now, with all that said, we don't feed line to walleyes to help avoid gut hooks and that certainly gives rise to a poor hook-up ratio. We ate fish twice and brought home our limits. Everything else went back. The walleyes ranged in size from ~13" to 26". We caught lots of slot fish and fair numbers of 15"-19" fish. In addition, we caught 10 smallmouth and only one jumbo. Our really big fish were never landed. My cousin had a true giant walleye laying on top of the water right beside the boat and grabbed her by the base of the tail in an attempt to scoop her into the boat. She was having none of that and with a major flop, snapped the leader. We didn't use a net because I forgot it at the dock. Getting old is a bitch. I had two different walleyes(I'm sure) hooked on Tuesday that came off directly below the boat. Both fish I thought were snags when they hit. Anyone who thinks walleyes don't fight have never caught a truly big one. Both fish ran off several yards of line while fighting to get free. Eventually they both succeeded. I would hesitate to say how big I think my cousins fish was that he had beside the boat, but, my wife and I have caught some really big walleyes in Lake Vermilion and I know what a big walleye looks like. That walleye was absolutely enormous.  We've decided to bring my cousin's two sons back up for a short trip a little later on. Hopefully, the walleyes will still be in a feeding frenzy. Lastly, I usually like to include pictures with my posts. I have a big problem this time, I got a new phone and I know nothing about transferring the pictures. That will be remedied when we come back up. In the meantime....... Good Fishing, MarkB🙂
    • leech~~
      I don't think Moose needs my help, he seems to do pretty well with the ice fishing and grouse hunting by the pictures! 👌
    • smurfy
      looks to me like your gonna need to be on the ice ALOT to get them all checked out!!!!!!!👍🙄 mayhaps Leech could help ya out!!!!   at least he wouldnt be "accidently" locking any more threads!!!!!!🤗🤣🥴
    • monstermoose78
      I got some cool jigs this year this a picture from Slab Bait Shop. The 2nd to last photo is one of my jig boxes with them in it. The last photo has some Macula jigs and if your eyes are getting old these are awesome to tie!! I won the auction for the last photo so I got all of the plastics and jigs.
    • leech~~
      I was shocked to see I was the one that locked it out.  I think I was just made a mod around then, so yeah just clicking buttons!   
    • Rivergroup
    • slipperybob
      Blame it on the big fat left finger for clicking on lock. 😄 Or maybe just wanting a new 23-24 season thread?  
    • Wakemupwalleye
      Haven’t fished crappie this time of year. I’m on the west end this weekend and would love some tips. Thanks!
    • smurfy
      quit hanging out at a certain public access by Remer!!!!!!!🤗🤣   i'll be headed up in about 12 days!!!!!!!!
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