The lake is alive again

Rainy Lake came alive this Victoria Day weekend.
Since our first weekend at the cabin almost five weeks ago, hardly a light has been seen at night on the lake. But this past weekend, several lights lit the windows of cabins that we can see.
Over the previous two weekends, we have cut and split wood, building a supply for next year’s hot tub season. Heating the hot tub water with a down draft wood-burning stove is not the most efficient method, but it does work.
It takes an hour to raise 500 gallons of water six or seven degrees Fahrenheit. And to bring the tub to a nice balmy 100 degrees F normally takes about seven hours.
Once the temperature is reached, the warmth in the tub can be easily maintained.
We hadn’t heard any other chainsaws in the area. In the past four weeks, in fact, we haven’t heard the sounds of people. An occasional boat was sighted, but the lake remained deserted.
That all changed this weekend. Whining chainsaws could be heard in almost every direction.
Marnie and I went fishing Saturday morning. Last year there was a standing joke that if she was in the boat, we wouldn’t catch any fish.
It was a great day for fishing and I had decided we would fish in Grassy Portage Bay, a long bay almost five miles in length.
I have fished there, but with limited success. In the back of my mind, I sort of remembered fishing behind an island on the south side of the bay about halfway down.
It was probably as far as I had travelled east in that bay. Our adventure began there.
No sooner had we set the bow-mounted trolling motor down than Marnie proceeded to tell me she had a fish on. The day couldn’t have started better, and it was a tournament keeper bass.
We fished along the bank of the island, then took over a spot when someone else departed. The wind was blowing from the southeast and was catching the boat like a sail. We drifted across the bay three times before I finally got a hook in the water.
By then, Marnie already had brought three northerns into the boat.
We were fishing for fun and the fun was catching fish. We were not looking to catch a specific species or a trophy.
There were probably four boats within hollering distance of us, and another five or six in a two-mile stretch of the lake. Everyone seemed to be out fishing the opener.
Our next fish was a 21-inch walleye, which was returned to the water.
This past Christmas, I received a “smoker” as a gift and had brought to the cabin two recipes to smoke northern pike. We began picking some larger pike and putting them into the live well to bring back to the cabin.
We moved to the north shore of Grassy Portage Bay and our luck became phenomenal. A larger walleye charged my lure and was returned.
Finally, a walleye in the slot size was caught. Then a second one. Four nice-sized northerns also were in the live well.
When we clean fish, we place their remains on a rock across the bay from the cabin, which normally attracts a pair of eagles. On Saturday, vultures, bald eagles, seagulls, and crows soon swooped in.
At one point we had four eagles gliding overhead.
The bare-headed vultures were first to arrive and seemed alone for 10 minutes. The crows made out like bandits and took back to their nests most of the food.
Within 30 minutes, the remains had all disappeared and the show ended.
Our friend, Larry Greif, who arrived earlier in the week from Belize, joined us for supper Saturday night and we treated him to Turtle Island surf and turf. The walleye caught earlier in the afternoon was a wonderful addition to steak.
ON Sunday, Phil and Carole Greif, who spend winters in Tucson, came for supper. Across the way, we watched as boats pulled into the Bennetts. And at another cabin, a party went into the early evening Sunday.
Boats were moving, and the sounds of people enjoying Rainy Lake again were heard across the water.

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