Stalker Lake - 8/30
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I got up this morning at 7:00 am.  I meant to get up at 6:30 am but I failed to set my Blackberry phone alarm clock properly.  The reason for the early arise is that yesterday I called Fort Wengler Electric and informed them of the throttle problem.  They apologized and would seem me first thing this morning when their shop opened at 8:00 am.

It was very foggy this morning and a bit on the cold side as the temperature was around 54 degrees.  It really reminded me of a Sacramento Valley winter day.  Because of the fog, I kept my speed around 40 mph so the drive to Parker's Prairie was longer than expected.  I arrived at 8:30 am.

The guys got right on the boat.  I guess the throttle control comes with a spacer specifically to eliminate my problem.  Mark, the owner, scolded Gary for not checking that before I left.  But hey, mistakes happen and as long as their fixed right away so be it.  Plus after using the boat yesterday, I had a few more minor issues they fixed.  I was out of there by 9:30 am.

The fog had burned off and the day was warming.  I took a slightly different route back.  Last year when visiting Ashby, we'd heard about a resort on Pelican Lake just outside of town.  I decided to drive by and take a look.

It's a nice resort.  Many more trees than Ten Mile Lake.  The picnic tables are not warped and the ground is covered with grass.  Although there's grass at Ten Mile Lake, our spot is mostly gravel with a few weeds sprouting through.  With the morning and evening dew, that gravel sticks to our shoes and ends up in our trailer.  Each vacuuming must collect at least 2 lbs. of sand and gravel.  I should weigh the bags at the fish house...  But anyway, it's a nice resort and worthy of consideration if we ever return.

When I got back to camp, Denise wanted to go to the grocery store (didn't I just go 2 days ago?) and have lunch at the Chinese restaurant in Fergus Falls.  I could tell that I needed to agree to that so off we went.  After we returned and got things put away it was just after 2:00 pm.

The wind was blowing pretty good on the south lake so I thought about trying Stalker Lake which I had passed on my drives to Parker's Prairie.  I've noticed that it remains calm even when the wind is blowing at Ten Mile.  It is about 10 miles from camp so it's not too far away.

Denise didn't want to go but Lewie was ready.  We headed to what I thought was Stalker Lake.  Turns out that is Johnson Lake.  But we looked anyway.

The boat launch was very narrow and lined with tree stumps on either side.  Not very forgiving if one were to make a mistake and come in crooked.  With my inexperience, I was not confident that I could hit it straight especially if a bit of wind came up.  I had just finally gotten the boat fixed and the last thing I wanted to do was wreck it again.  We decided to find the real Stalker Lake.

Lewie has fished at Stalker Lake as a kid but that was about 75 years ago and the memory isn't what it used to be.  However with a bit of driving around, we finally found by taking Stalker Lake Rd. to the north, just east of Johnson Lake.  Stalker Lake Rd. is actually between two lakes.  Stalker Lake is the one to the west while Long Lake is the one to the east.  The boat ramp for Stalker Lake is about a mile and a half and on the left.

We launched the boat and began trolling.  Lewie warned me that Stalker Lake is known for the submerged rocks that lie just beneath the surface.  Oh, great.  Now he tells me...

And he was right.  It didn't take long to see the huge boulders lingering beneath the surface.  The depth finder was reading around 3 ft.  Although scary, the boat is safe in about 2 ft. of water.  Less than that gets real scary.  I raised the engine out of the water as far as I could safely.  Because boat engines get their cooling water from the lake, you have to keep the intake in the water.  Just keep your eye on the stream of water exiting near the top of the lower unit.  As long as water is flowing, it's OK.

Then the bottom dropped and all of the sudden we were in 25 - 30 ft. of water.  Whew!  And the fish finder was ringing off the hook.

We tried various baits and lures to get those fish to bite.  Nothing worked.  It seemed that if there were that many fish down there, we'd at least get a bite or something.  I remembered reading the owner's manual for the fish finder.  Fish show up as "arches" suspended between the surface and bottom on raw sonar returns.  My unit has a "Fish ID" function that interprets those arches and displays them as little fish on the screen.  I remembered the manual saying that for true readings, learn to interpret fish arches so I turned off the Fish ID feature.  They didn't look like arches to me.  Just a bunch of clutter.  Maybe weeds?  Anyway, we were chasing ghosts so we moved on.

The bottom in this lake is very uneven.  3 ft. of water one minute and 20 ft. the next.  I didn't dare go much faster than trolling speed with the motor up due to the uneven bottom and constant threat of rocks.  I found one area along Stalker Bay that was producing a few hits.  We went back and forth several times but it was nearing 6:30 pm so we left for the dock.  As Lewie says, if I'd caught 10 more fish, I would have had 11.  Yes, I got one nice Northern Pike probably in the 3 lb. range.

Because of our trip to the Chinese buffet earlier that afternoon, we skipped supper and just enjoyed the evening.  Another nice day.

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