These weeks have simply gone too fast. The last official guest of the 2021 season left yesterday, and while we still have a couple stragglers to come up over the next few weeks, Tall Pines is now in shut down mode. However, we are far from leaving. It is just too beautiful up here and we are savoring each crisp morning, early evening sunsets, friendships we've made, and all the opportunities in between. With the lack of activity at the docks again, Eagleman (Eldon) is back each day to greet us.
Lots of happenings over the past two weeks. Earl and Patsy left last week to visit their daughter/grandbabies before their long five day journey back to Newfoundland. They both have been such blessings again this year and we all look forward to them returning next season. Earl's last day was "Staff Appreciation Day" with boat ride, dinner, and drinks. Earl won the award for Employee of the Year (never mind he was the only employee, he still deserved it :) Bridget came in second and Ryan came in a distant third place.
Fishing has fluctuated quite a bit these last 2 weeks as the weather has been anywhere from the 50's to mid 70's; windy to calm. Surface water temps sometimes started at 58 degrees and crept up to 63 degrees in the same afternoon. Success in 2nd, 3rd, and 5th lake, and when winds dictated staying closer to home, first lake produced.
Several areas of the lake have turned over, and so the walleye bite has been all over the place. Thus, walleye bit anywhere from 20-40' for the deep bite, and the weeds started dying off, so shallow bite came up anywhere from as little as 7-10'. There were quite a few northern days, where the pike were on fire and walleye were hard to commit. But then there were a fair share of numbers days for the walleyes. Lots of 18-22" walleyes caught created a challenge to find keepers, but no one seemed to complain. Luckily, Earl got a few guests to try bringing in northern that he filleted for them, and they loved the taste. (For those non-believers, don't knock it til you try it)
Greg and Teresa, landed this 34" super thick northern:
Neil and Marji enjoyed a two week stay and I dubbed Neil the Sheriff of Tall Pines during their time here. He could always be found at the docks in the morning with a mug of coffee, and at the fish house/pavilion/fire pit in the evenings with a beer to hear and tell great stories. They found the walleye day after day:
as well as the northern:
Kent and Bob, two brothers who came as kids back in the 50's when the Ballards still ran it, returned to Tall Pines after some 60 years. This was a trip down memory lane for them and it was perfect that they stayed in cabin 2 (one of the only originals still around) that to their recollection was the same one:
The memories of fishing here with their Dad and family came alive again, and I can't help but think this picture they shared shows how he was still there with them on the Wabaskang:
Jon and Mallah did quite a bit of grouse hunting while here- they've been coming to Canada for years and years-so they knew all kinds of trails up and down the 105 where they came across these:
But they also took a good chunk of their extended stay time on the water. Here Mallah with a smallmouth almost as big as her:
And here they are for "Customer Appreciation Day" where Ryan and I treated the final 3 guests that trooped it out the last week of the season to a true Shore Lunch experience:
The weather could not have been more perfect and this party of 5 had a good food coma afterwards:
One of our final guests of the season, Tony, enjoyed a solo week back here. He came back in each day quite satisfied, and also caught his personal best northern on the Wabaskang, a 40" fatty:
Props to Tony on not only catching, but netting and landing it and getting a quick selfie before returning it to the lake- an extra challenge when you don't have a boat mate
But that wasn't all he caught:
Tony also got into some healthy walleye:
and some dandy bass:
The current leaderboard:
Some water moments captured by guests:
Marji found Eldon:
and shared some landscape pics:
Long time guests John and Marie celebrate 50 years of marriage. Marie said she physically cried when the border shut down last year, so they were among the first to re-book when it opened- and love it so much they'll stay for 4 weeks next year! John brought his guitar, continuing a tradition, and provided the perfect bluegrass notes at the campfire one night:
With the fall temps changing some fishing strategy, Ryan and I had no choice but to get out to find out what adjustments were needed:
We've actually had weather in the mid 70's this week- you'll know where to find me when that happens:
And some glorious fall walks around camp each day uncover God's beauty:
There has been an awakening for many when they come to Tall Pines. For me, its my first autumn up here, and I feel alive and love witnessing this ultimate natural beauty. The time to think about life and bask in the peace this place provides. Feeling closer to God, and finally coming to understand that He did answer my (and many of yours) prayers in His time, not mine.
For guests these two weeks, it has pulled at my heart strings. The aging process (parents or ourselves) shows no mercy. And whether it be the mind slowing down, or physical limitations making getting around more difficult, the grace I have witnessed this season brings tears to my eyes. A son helping his dad slowly to the dock, a husband steadying his wife by holding hands, a friend helping his buddy- we all just want to experience things one more time, and the selflessness so many show to make that happen is yet another sign that God is here. We recently had more than one guest that lost a son/son-in-law suddenly this year. The pain can be too much to talk about, but just like therapy dogs work miracles by their presence, Tall Pines has that same calming effect on one's soul. The heart ache won't go away, but to have just a touch of peace can help someone get through to the next day. We're dedicating this blog to the memory of Tim and Doug.
As the fall leaves are just beginning back in the states- I think?- , I hope you are all able to enjoy this season wherever home is for you. And that everyone can root on the White Sox in the playoffs :)
I'll leave with a couple really bad jokes a 2022 guest named Bob shared with me:
Why did Noah not fish on the ark?
Because he only had two worms.
Q. Where do fish keep their money?
A. In the river bank.
Where do you buy bait in Minnesota?