Dixie and I are just outside Walker, Minnesota in a cabin on Leech Lake, the third largest “all in the state” lake in Minnesota. It covers over 100,000 acres and has over 230 miles of shoreline. Plenty of opportunity for this two week “tackle testing” trip. This is the first installment of our “LEECH LAKE DAIRIES”. Part One of Two. We figured it would be different keeping you posted day-by-day on our activities, so we’ve put the first week in that format. The next newsletter we’ll have the second installment.
Day – 2: Two days before we leave. Take boat to the house. 100 degrees, so wait until evening to wash down the boat. Great idea. Temperature down to 95 – 70% humidity. A sauna on steroids! Walker, Minnesota weather highs in the 70’s and lows close to 60. Low here tonight 82!
Day – 1: Home early from store. Packing boat and truck plus putting “far more complex than it really needs to be” cover on the boat. 100 degrees again. Rod cases, tackle boxes, assorted reels + lures from the store, battery chargers, rain gear, coolers, and anything else must be loaded.
Soon sweat saturates every stitch of clothing. Shoes are squishy wet. I begin wrestling with boat cover. It’s a pain in the best circumstances, but I did save $100 when I bought it. Not such a good deal now. In this heat exasperating! Hour later boat is covered. Ready to go. I’m hot. Jump in the 95 degree pool. Immediately 5 golden retrievers join me. Little do they know we’re about to abandon them for two weeks……..
Day 1: Up at 5 AM. The dogs are still asleep. Our youngest daughter, son-in-law, and grandtwins (who will be watching the dogs) asleep as well. Twins are so cute tempted to wake them for a goodbye kiss, but resist the urge and tip toe out. In the truck at 6 AM. 86 degrees. Humidity is stifling. Can’t wait for Minnesota!
Drive is uneventful. Realize 13 miles per gallon is “it” when pulling the boat. Try driving slower than the speed limit (which absolutely frustrates Dixie). Stop for some cheese at Humbird Cheese in Tomah, Wisconsin. Dad started this tradition 60+ years ago. The Kennedy family still owns the store. They have for 3 or 4 generations.
Arrive at hotel in Menomonee, Wisconsin. 94 degrees. Go to recommended supper club for dinner. Restaurant tired. Service suspect. Food edible. We are invisible to bartender. Return to room. Collapse. AC won’t cool below 80 degrees. Great.
Day 2: Up early. Costco in Maple Grove our first destination. We discover vast majority U.S. Government Stimulus Funds being spent on I-94 around Twin Cities. Traffic a mess. Costco finally in sight. Coffee, cookies, chips, beer, all major food groups right here! Soon back on the road. Traffic bumper-to-bumper. Very slow. Almost rear-end two cars who suddenly (and I DO mean suddenly) in front of us. Thankful for anti lock brakes. Avoid disaster – barely.
Arrive cabin 5 PM. Unload truck and boat. Launch boat at the ramp. Dixie via truck, me via boat return to cabin. 80 degrees outside. Ahhhhhhh! Dixie decides no cooking tonight. Drive to highway, Boat Bar just ahead. Few beers plus fried cheese curds plus coconut shrimp. Back to cabin. Bedtime for old folks.
Day 3: Wake up early. Coffee maker doesn’t work. Boil water in pan, pour over coffee. Whoa. Note to self: use about half as much coffee next time. Fried cheese curds and draught beer have unfortunate effect on constitution. Departure delayed (repeatedly). Need to buy bait. Need local suggestions where, how, when, etc. Many friends have supplied advice, but local info invaluable. Best to use leeches, night crawlers, no minnows we’re told. OK. Load up and head out. Prepare about 10 outfits. Loomis NRX, GLX, CBR. Shimano Cumulus. Daiwa STEEZ. Curado 50, STEEZ 103, CORE 50 & 100, CI4 1000, 2500. Testing what we sell.
Lots of boats out. Bite is slow. Wind is 20-30 mph. Start trolling deep running crankbaits for suspended fish. Hard to hold boat in wind. Go to small bay for northern pike. Hit several. Keep one for dinner. Dixie suggests trying panfish off dock due to wind. OK. Catch about 6 HUGE bluegill. Several nice crappie. I know this is dock fishing, but with the wind this is A-OK. Clean fish. Drink beer. Dinner wonderful. Listen to loons call. Fall asleep on couch. Bedtime.
Day 4: Dixie cooks big breakfast. Coffee drinkable. Less is more. Wind worse than yesterday. Decide to drive to Bemidji for lunch. Nice drive, little traffic. Bemidji far bigger than we realized. Has TWO McDonalds. We try first one. Gee, they’re all the same. Surprise! Decide to drive back to cabin via federal dam site for Leech Lake. Just love the north country in summer.
Return to cabin. Load boat. Fish in bay using jigs around weed lines. No walleye, lots of pesky little northern pike. These weeds are toughest ever experienced. Break off several times stuck in weed assortment. Wow! Weeds are deep as well as tough. Pick up some smallmouth’s. No size. Wind very gusty now. Dixie asks if we’re having fun. No. Return to cabin at 6 PM Cocktail hour and steaks for dinner. Perfect evening!
Day 5: Today’s our 44th wedding anniversary. Kids all call to say “happy anniversary”. Nice. Dixie says doesn’t seem like 44 years, I say it seems longer. Dixie punches me (hard) in arm. My casting arm. Decide to have a relaxing day. Go into Walker for more leeches and worms. Pick up a few new lures and jigs (as if I really needed anything relating to fishing!). Dixie doesn’t say anything. Anniversary, remember?
Wind still blowing at 20-25 mph with gusts to over 35 mph. Fishing the big part of Leech not a good idea to someone not familiar with lake. We opt to fish Shingobee bay. Wind not as bad. Try weed lines, weeds, humps, you name it. Small fish, no size. Come in at 6 PM and clean up. Go to Chase hotel for anniversary dinner. Nice place. Good food and service. Toast each other for putting up with the other person’s BS for 44 years. Nice evening. Still in love. Amazing.
Day 6: Up at 6 AM. Wind is not blowing. Forecast says not too bad today. Great! Quick cookie and coffee breakfast. Load cooler with soft drinks and ice and leeches and night crawlers. Check gas. Check rods and reels. All seems in order. Load Dixie in boat and we’re off for a full day fishing. Go through channel and under Highway 200 bridge. Now in Walker Bay. Find great hump and discover I left tackle box with walleye gear on dock. Dixie says nothing (44 years experience teaches a few things). I recommend we fish with what we have. Dixie concurs with a smirk.
NRX rod is amazing. Never felt anything like it. Swear I can feel sand grains. Great rod with CI4-2500 and 6 lb fluoro line. No matter, no bites, no thumps, nada. We move from rocks to weed lines to sand. Zip. Wind comes up around 2 PM. Fight it for a while, but lake is getting VERY rough. No fun. Dixie suggests back to Shingobee Bay. I agree. We find nice little bowl bay off main bay. Casting crankbaits for northern pike. OUCH! I hook Dixie in face with Megabass X-70 lure! She’s calm. No screaming. Pissed off, but no screaming. I of all people do not have a fish hook removal kit with me. Use luggage tag string from tackle box. Success! Can’t even see where hook was. Dixie (sternly) tells me that’s “one”. She now has a “mulligan” if she ever hooks me. I am told I will not get mad or curse. Agreed.
Face hook ends fishing. Beer drinking begins. Hamburgers, homemade cucumbers and onions, French fries. Long day. Lucky day. Great wife.
Day 7: Wake up to lightning and thunder and heavy rain. Temperature about 55. Decide to answer some emails, pay bills on line, call kids, basically goof off until weather clears. Dixie fixes nice breakfast. Her face is fine, looks beautiful as normal. Chipmunk playing on porch. Like dry roasted (unsalted) peanuts (so do bears, but that’s another story). Come to think of it our dog Al (Alvin) is named after a chipmunk. How coincidental….
Dixie heads to town for ice and minnows. Say she doesn’t care what locals say, minnows catch fish best. Can’t really disagree. Fish in the afternoon, but weather has really messed the bite up. Minnows no help. Tomorrow is supposed to be beautiful, so we are optimistic. I sit on cabin boat dock and catch small erch. Deep hooked, so he’s a gonner. Swims away but floating. Now this is when an amazing sight takes place. Female and malke bald eagle spy fish. Only about 50 yards away from me. They both screach
Day 8: 51 degrees at 6 AM Beautiful north woods morning. Finally have coffee figured out and it’s awesome. Dixie sleeps in, so we’re not on the lake until 9 AM. Head for Cedar Point where “everybody catches walleye there”. Light wind, no clouds. Perfect. Try minnows, leeches, worms with several rigs. Nothing. Wind comes up. We back troll. Nothing. Move and move and move. Decide to try a spot with less wind.
Catch a gorgeous 4 lb smallmouth throwing jig & leech at shoreline. Hook a second, but does a wild jump and tosses hook. We tray for another hour for more. Nothing. Fish shallows and deep structure rest of day. Very slow, no fish. Trolling for suspended walleye I snag largest leech I have ever seen. Rolled up it is the size of a golf ball. Consider using for bait, but decide it would scare any fish. It’s that big! Now 6 PM, no fish for dinner. Dixie fixes hot dogs and apple pie. She falls asleep on couch. Time for bed at 9 PM It was one of the toughest fishing days we’ve had in a long time.
We’re here for another week, so next issue we’ll conclude our dairy…..
Nikki and Adam and Brian are putting this issue of the newsletter together since Dixie and I are away. I know they’ll have some interesting stuff included as well as a deal or two that you will not want to miss. Thanks to all of you once again for allowing us to assist you in all of your fishing needs.
Amazing NRX Rod Field Test…….
OK, I admit it. I got a G. Loomis NRX rod before the actual release date. Don’t ask me how, but I did. Just a few days before leaving for Leech Lake a brand new NRX 852S JWR shows up in our receiving department labeled to my attention. It helps to have friends, etc……
Now before I go any further you need to understand just what path my “rod evolution” has taken. I went from a cane pole to a 1 piece Shakespeare or the likes (when Shakespeare was actually all USA made rods and reels). In my early teens Dad introduced me to the Heddon Pal rods. The Heddon Pal Mark IV was considered top-of-the-line back then. Eventually they introduced the Mark V which I had a couple of. I then moved to St. Croix rods, eventually ending up owning several Legend Elite series rods which to me were real game changers with their light weight and improved components, not to mention better sensitivity. Then, about 10 years ago, I was introduced to the G. Loomis GLX rods. These rods were so much more sensitive than the Legend Elites and just fished better all around. And until this week that has been my standard for measuring every other rod. Until this week. Until the NRX.
So here we are on Leech Lake. The NRX 852S JWR is rigged with a Shimano Stradic CI4-2500 spinning reel filled with 6 lb test Sunline Super FC Sniper fluorocarbon line. To catch walleye this time of year we’re using a slip sinker above a swivel and a floating jig on the end of a 2 ft leader. Leeches are the bait of choice this time of year, so we bait up with some big, nasty black leeches ready for some action. The wind is blowing out of the southwest and it’s tough holding the boat. We’re dropping along shelves 20′-40′. My first hit on the NRX feels like it’s electrically charged it’s so distinct! I swear I can feel the fish’s teeth! I have NEVER had a rod this sensitive in my hands. I have NEVER felt what I am feeling today! I can actually distinguish when the walleye sucks the bait in his mouth.
Even small, pesky perch are no match for the NRX. Steal you bait? No way! They too feel almost electric through this amazing rod. Usually you can feel some “bumps” with even the best GLX, but with this new NRX those bumps feel like precise, well defined bites. It’s really hard to explain, but think of the difference between biting down on a soft cookie vs. a crisp potato chip. That’s sort of how the NRX feels in your hands. Very, very distinct. Very crisp!
Casting-wise, this rod is once again amazing. First of all it’s so light you can cast all day long and never feel beat up. Even more amazing is the distance and accuracy. There were times that I would look at the spool of the CI4-2500 to see if I had possibly “cast the spool”. Never happened, but got close once or twice.
Finally, this rod has some power. I had a 4 lb smallmouth which I realize isn’t the largest fish in the lake, but turning one of these powerful fish requires a rod with some power. The NRX did that with ease.
Overall, I am just amazed. My new goal is now to have one of each NRX rod offered. Yea, that’s my goal but probably something I will be working on for a while. But hey, we all need goals, right?
American Legacy Fishing Open House a success…
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the folks that stopped by, called and emailed for our open house. We had a great time meeting many of you folks that we have had the privilege to assist. We had a steady flow of customers visiting our store, taking advantage of some of our instore specials (which are included in this email), and getting their hands on the new NRX rods. We had a pitching contest, not very organized, but it was fun. Adam Daywalt was the only one that was able to hit the cup in less that 50 tries.
Need a NRX rod? Our “Enhanced” Trade-In Values (+10% – 15%) are back for 30 days ONLY……..
Yes, we know the NRX rods are expensive. And yes, they’re definitely worth every penny. But, we also know that if you’re like everyone here at American Legacy you probably already have 15-20 premium rods in your arsenal already and “momma” is no doubt looking over your shoulder with a skeptical eye, unable to figure out why you need so many rods. See my dissertation regarding women and shoes from an earlier newsletter, but don’t try using that at home!
So, we’re going to help you out. We believe that any serious fisherman Deserves to own at least one NRX rod. Frankly, we’re convinced that if you buy one you’ll figure out one just isn’t enough. So, to make this a wee bit easier we’ve “Enhanced” our trade in values on all G. Loomis and St. Croix rods for the next 30 days. You’ll receive 10% to 15% MORE TRADE IN VALUE when you trade in any used G. Loomis or St. Croix rod from now until September 15, 2010.
These enhanced values will Expire September 15, 2010 if you haven’t done your trade and at that time we will drop back to our usual (but liberal) trade in values we normally quote. So, as we say in southern Indiana, “time a’ wasting”. We’re doing all we can to get as many of you into these fantastic NRX rods, so drop us a note at [email protected] with what you want to trade in and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours with a trade in value quote that will be good against anything we sell, not just NRX rods. But, with these higher values there will never be a better time than now to score that NRX you’ve been considering ( and must have in our opinion!).
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