September 2022

Jim and John Cunningham joined Fred Bouwman and I on a fall fishing and grouse hunting trip during the last week of September 2022. It was outstanding! 55 grouse and all the Walleyes we could ask for.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

I picked up Fred at Eagle River Hospital (Thanks Kris) at 8:15 and arrived in Two Harbors MN at 12:10. Put gas in the truck and we had lunch at Culvers. Jim and John had to stop at Mark Wanous’s house to pick up cousin Mark Cunningham’s Mariner motor and tank, so they were running late. Cloudy and rain off on during our trip the North Shore of Lake Superior. Traffic was heavy driving south at the end of a weekend, but little traffic going North with us.

Stopped to gas up at Ryden’s Border Store and tried the Duty Free Store to buy beer to take into Canada. The beer was cheap without any state or federal taxes. We could not take our beer, they had to deliver it to the last point before we crossed the border. A very pleasant and talkative customs agent told us the rules. We knew we need to register our shotguns, so we took the duty slip into the customs office. With little traffic, it we pretty and quick to process our paperwork at the border.

Hit a patch of heavy rain between the border and Thunder Bay. Jim & John bought eggs as Fred and I checked into the Valhalla Inn. Newly remodeled rooms were very nice. Nice dinner in the bar before heading to our rooms.

Monday, September 26, 2022

We overslept 😦 but met Jim and John for breakfast buffet at the hotel. 43, overcast and light rain as we drove North. Stopped at eh Silver Minnow Bait shop, they were closed, but still sold bait via the honor system. We bought 6 dozen leaches and put our money in the coffee can.

Highway 527 was quiet, but we met a couple of logging trucks on highway 811. Noticed two big wall tents just off highway 811. Must be Moose hunters getting ready for the season.

Chatted with the Trapper Paul’s brother along the road, who was grouse hunting with a bow & arrow and he had a shotgun as a backup. Jim and John took the lead. Jim shot a two grouse on the road. (what is John doing?)

John got his chance and got a big Ruffed grouse with beautiful tail feathers.

The road was in pretty good shape, we did not have to stop to remove trees. The washout had a pretty solid base. The brush was thick in places.

Jim and John shot 5 grouse on the drive in. Jim shot one more we were setting up camp. All 6 were Ruffed Grouse.

We got to our campsite and everyone jumped into action. Got the boats in the water and cut down several trees for firewood. The camp looked good!

Jim grilled some beautiful ribeye steaks with garlic toast and a vegetable tray. Campfire felt great on a cold night. Light snow started falling, before a small downpour pushed us under the canopy for a while. Rain stopped, skies cleared and we enjoyed bright stars and the milky way.

Tuesday September 27, 2022

We expected cold weather.

Snowing in the morning when I got up. Ice on the canopy. The temperature in the truck was 27 degrees. Water in the open boat cooler was frozen solid.

Hot coffee tasted great before we went out for our first hunt.

Jim explored the road to the Far Back Jack lakes. John and I walked back to the old moose hunter camp that we visited in October 2015. John found a huge moose antler!

Trapper Paul had told us that the moose hunter camp collapsed under heavy snow and they gave him all of the remaining materials. It was clear that nobody has been to this camp in several years. The outhouse was standing, but in poor condition.

John headed west and I headed south. John shot two Spruce Grouse and I shot another Ruffed Grouse. After 45 minutes, we met back and I shot a Ruffed and a Spruce Grouse on our walk back to the 6-wheeler. I got one more as we drove to meet Jim. Jim left a marker in the road to make sure we knew which way he was traveling.

Jim shot 3 more grouse, so 9 total – a good day!

Back to camp for a hearty breakfast of biscuits, sausage and gravy with eggs. Got ready for fishing and with Jim’s help, we were off at 1:00. Mark’s Mariner motor worked great in April and it started fine, but John could not get it to keep running, so we towed them back to camp.

I went back to get my spare 1993 Mercury motor, which worked fine.

No luck fishing the first lake with the 2 islands. Found the rock pile but caught only a few small Northerns. Fred caught the first fish, the Majestic Northern Pike.

Decided to try Slip Bobber, which was the hot spot! Fred caught the first Walleye too.

Jim and John continued to find success with Silver and red Syclops. John caught a big 20″ Walleye. We filled our limits and stopped at the island to clean fish. Nice stringers!

A beautiful clear evening at the landing.

Back to camp for a fish fry with Mark’s secret recipe. Batter fried onion rings and fried fish was excellent! Nice campfire.

Wednesday September 28, 2022

Jim was up early and shot a grouse just outside of camp. An unexpected wakeup call! Very Cold morning! Temperature in the truck was 23.

I stayed reasonable warm in my two sleeping bags.

Clear blue skies made the frost sparkle on the leaves. Hot coffee tasted great before we set off for another hunt with Jim and John in the back of the 6-wheeler.

We drove back to the sandy camp that we used last year. Jim and John shot several grouse on the road. I got two more birds walking back to the Italian camp.

There is something special about walking quietly alone through the woods on a beautiful fall day with a shotgun in your hand!

John got 3 more on his walk and Jim and John got several more on the drive back, including 3 doubles!

We ended with a total of 19 birds – outstanding hunting for a single morning!

John had a big job to clean the grouse.

Jim and Fred cooked breakfast – French Toast with bacon.

Saw several fresh moose tracks in the sand on the path down to the lake – very close to camp!

Time to go fishing! We went back to Slip Bobber, where Fred and I caught 9 Walleyes on 7 passes over the point! Nice size, 16-18″.

Evening comes fast in late September in Northwest Ontario. A beautiful evening!

Jim and John had good fishing. Just after John called for one more pass, Fred caught a big 37″ Northern. Fred had light line and no leader, but he worked the big fish into the net so I could grab him.

Back to the island the clean fish.

With my old Weber grille breaking down, Jim put pieces of two old barbeque grilles to get one stable grille. I made blackened Walleye tacos with Red Beans and Rice. Very tasty!

Campfire felt great as the temperature dropped on a clear cold night. With no moon, the stars were so brilliant!

Very few birds – Heard the unusual call of snow geese heading south. No seagulls, no ducks and only one loon. Saw a huge bald eagle outside of our boat landing.

Thursday September 29, 2022

Wind kicked up overnight. Clouds rolled in. Much warmer.

After coffee, we went off on our last hunt. I shot a grouse in the road near camp. Jim and John dropped me off at an old logging road that was headed towards Lost Lake. It was a tough walk with lots of down trees.

A grouse burst from a tree ahead of me. I watched him land in a nearby tree. I dropped the grouse from the tree and as I walk to retrieve the bird, I saw another grouse on ground. I shot the second grouse with in 10 feet of the first.

I enjoyed the walk, but I needed to stop to remove my base layer as the day warmed up. I did not get to Lost Lake before I needed to turn back to meet John and Jim. Just as I noticed my spent 20 gauge shell, I spotted a grouse. I tracked him into the woods before getting a clear shot. After a few more steps, I shot one more. 4 grouse in one small area!

Jim walked a different trail toward Far Back Jack Lake and got 6 grouse. John shot 4 grouse in one spot! 7 total on the road. 18 birds in one morning – outstanding!

Fred prepared egg McMuffins with cheese and sausage while Jim and John cleaned the birds. Before we went fishing, we stopped to take a picture of our matching team LNOYDB jackets.

When someone asks what is the name of the lake we fish, we call it LNOYDB = Lake None Of Your Damn Business!

John got the old Mercury started, but it would bog down when he tried to speed up. We trolled the first lake without success. We trolled through the channel and checked the stream back to the creek to Clear Jack Lake, but it was chocked with weeds. We towed John and Jim to Slip Bobber.

With the wind blowing hard from the south, we again had great fishing!

I had tremendous success with a longer jig body, a 4″ chartreuses twister tail tipped with the leach. As soon as Fred started using a long twister tail, he was catching a lot of fish too. We caught a nice Walleye 9 straight times we trolled into the wind across the point.

The old Mercury started working and we cruised back to the landing to pull the boats out and start packing up. We were done hunting and a grouse walked into camp, he seemed to know that we were not dangerous anymore.

Jim and John sautéed the grouse breasts and slow cooked them in cream of mushroom soup, mushroom pieces and special quail spices. Fred prepared vegetables. A fabulous meal! Nice campfire after John dumped the old oil on the flames.

Friday September 30, 2022

Up early to pack up. Dry, calm winds and warmer. Jim and Jon made a tasty breakfast of eggs and leftover food. Finished packing and took a team picture. Great group!

On the road at 10:30, but the safety pin was pulled out of the hitch pin by the brush and the hitch came off and the tongue of the trailer started plowing the middle of the road. John took command and we jacked up the trailer to reconnect the truck to the trailer.

The rest of the trip was uneventful – just the way we like it! 811 was dusty, but smooth. No problems at the US border and we said goodbye to Jim and John at Ryden’s. Fred and I realize that we could not have done this trip without the tremendous assistance of Jim and John – they were amazing!

Jim and John discovered the North Shore tradition of Betty’s Pies on the drive back to Iowa and they stopped in Owatonna to give some grouse breasts to Mark.

Fred and I spent the night at the Grand Portage Lodge. A beautiful evening on Lake Superior!

What an outstanding trip! Great hunting! 55 grouse and all the Walleyes we could ask for. Hard to beat.

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