EPISODE 24

Ballard's Resort. Lake of the Woods.
Ballard's Resort. Lake of the Woods.

Part TWENTYFOUR – continued from last week’s episode –

His arms strained from the tug-o-war. The magnificent Blue Marlin took drag at will and Rusty combated against both fish and fatigue. This was one of the last trips he and his father enjoyed together along the shores of Costa Rica during the prime years of offshore fishing.

“Reel, reel, reel. Don’t give him slack son!” encouraged his father. “You can beat this fish!”

“Stay with it… Keep fighting… I need you…” whispered Sally as she sat on the floor of the shack holding Rusty’s head in her lap and caressing the fallen shape of a man lying motionless on the floor of the fish cleaning house. His right arm had taken more than a significant graze from Buzz’s bullet, and then the butt of the revolver had sent Rusty to an unfathomable darkness.

As the mighty Blue Marlin took line from the saltwater reel Rusty’s right arm ached from the pressure of holding the rod. Doobie continued offering encouragement, but his son was truly on his own to do battle with this great fish. “Women and fishing son… Never two greater challenges in this world… Remember that!” was his donation of advice.

The hope for Sally and Rusty to be reunited had come to fruition. But the situation at hand had them held caged inside a dark rank shelter amid buckets of rancid fish guts. Sally blinked a single tear, her first in imprisonment, and it broke into a mist as it fell to Rusty’s left eyelid.

Feet digging into the fighting chair Rusty gained traction on the Blue Marlin.  Every fourth rotation of the spool he would lose one spool length, but there was promise. As the fish took another jump, Dooby predicted this would be a six bottle Miller High Life pony battle, and he had just finished his fifth.

Head down… Cranking… Right arm numb… The gi-hu-gic fish finally surfaced and gave up the ghost.

In hysterics the charter boat crew opened the gate at the stern of the vessel and towed the magnificent fish aboard. Rusty bailed from the fighting chair and lie parallel with his trophy, hugging the glorious beast.

Looking up at his father he queried, “How about a beer for me pops?”

Dobbie’s eyes gleamed proudly… “Sorry Rusty, I just finished the sixth in the pack. But that’s a hell of a fish son!”

The eyelid twitched. Rusty slowly came to consciousness. The excruciating pain at the back of his head reminded him of what a barracuda must feel after being struck smartly with a club. He instantly vowed to never accept the role of head-fish-knocker aboard any fishing vessel.

His right arm was wrapped tightly with one of Sally’s Helly-Tech warm weather sleeves she had torn from her layering. There was numbness in the arm, but it was usable.

Together in whispers, Rusty and Sally put the existing equation in order. Antoine Fishbeard aka Buzz was the twice removed nephew of fisheries biologist Professor Cosmoid Scale. This was the man directly involved with the introduction and experimentation of the double-top-secret Canadian Mangrove Killfish project. The same fish Rusty had done battle with just mere hours before.

Had Buzz somehow gained access to the experimental training information collected by the (RCN) Royal Canadian Navy? This possibility was yet to be confirmed by Sally and Rusty. Bottom line they needed a hail Mary cast to bring this fish tale to an end.

Visible by moonlight, with Rusty on her shoulders, Sally inched her way toward the rectangular window of the cleaning house. The latch on the wood framed base was removed with the use of a knife sharpening tool discovered on the cleaning bench. Rusty was now attempting to pry the hinges loose from the frame.

“Hurry up Rusty, I can’t hold you here forever” as the entire window mount popped loose from the wall and his HANDS. Sally shucked him from her shoulders, like a bronzeback bass spitting out a Fat Brat lure, leaving Rusty to flail backward to the floor. The silence remained deafening… Thankfully he had landed flat on his back.

And thanks to Sally who dove with arms stretched and caught the window (mid-air) in its entirety with steadfast hands high above her head (high hands / Great-Great Grandmother Molva Squatsnfishes would have been proud!) The pane of glass remained intact…

The two lay on the floor in a mess of fish entrails. Exhaling, Sally rolled on top of Rusty with what appeared to be a three-day old perch carcass entangled in her flowing locks. Then the two embraced in one of the fiercest kisses Rusty had ever received from Sally. “Women and fishing son, never two greater challenges in this world,” fatherly advice from Doobie Flathers.

–            To be continued –

JULY 14TH BALLARD’S RESORT FISHING REPORT

JULY 14TH BALLARD’S RESORT FISHING REPORT. LAKE OF THE WOODS.
JULY 14TH BALLARD’S RESORT FISHING REPORT. LAKE OF THE WOODS.

July 14-

Hey Sportsfans –
 
Did you know? Ballard’s Resort is a family owned and operated resort, and has been since 1961.
 
Each summer, we get the opportunity to host many families who visit us and love to SET THE HOOK. This July (and soon August) is no different. 
 
We had a picture perfect week, weather wise, for a dip in the pool… but the warm weather, bug hatch, and low winds made it tough for fishing. 
 
The guides tried everything this week to get fish in the boat. The most success was found: 
 
– When using the classic jig and frozen shiner, in 26-32′ of water.
 
– Pulling spinners in shallower, 12-18′ of water.
 
Where are the fish? 
 
– Long Point has a good number of fish flashing on the graph… but there was a low success rate of getting them in the boat. 
 
– Areas around Garden Island were the best with rubbly structure. 
 
– Little Traverse has been hit or miss. When the bite is on, it is ON… but when it is off, good luck getting enough for dinner. 
 
It is not too late to bring your family up this summer. Spend the last few days before the kids go back to school making memories on Lake of the Woods. 
 
That’s all for this week. #SETTHEHOOK
 

JULY 7TH BALLARD’S RESORT FISHING REPORT

July 7th Ballard's Resort Fishing Report
July 7th Ballard's Resort Fishing Report

JULY 7TH -

Hey Sportsfans!
 
The past week has been busy… in the best way possible. Ballard’s celebrated the week of the Fourth of July by:
 
– Hosting 2 fantastic Walleye Connection groups. (One from Ramsey, MN and the other from Bismarck, ND.) If you want to make a trip up to Ballard’s, but don’t want the hassle of driving up yourself, check out our Walleye Connection motorcoach trips.
 
– Enjoying the nice weather by splashing at the pool and relaxing on the patio. 
 
– Supporting our local communities and the wonderful activities they put on for the Fourth of July. 
 
– Catching trophy size walleyes… this is Lake of the Woods after all. 
 
As temperatures got warmer and the wind calmed down, the fish were on the move. Despite not having the much needed “walleye chop”, the guides were still able to find fish. At the start of the week, Little Traverse Bay was the ticket to having a fresh walleye dinner at the end of the day. By yesterday, the fish (at least those willing to bite) had moved into the deep mud. 
 
This could be the start of the infamous, mid summer, dynamite mud bite… but we will have to see!
 
That’s all for this week. #SETTHEHOOK
 
 
 

EPISODE 23

July 7th Ballard's Resort Lake of the Woods
July 7th Ballard's Resort Lake of the Woods

Part TWENTYTHREE – continued from last week’s episode –

“What the hell dude!” exclaimed Rusty as the snowmobile slid sideways to a screeching halt.

Buzz dismounted in a leap and simultaneously flipped up his shield while drawing a revolver from the inside chest of his leather jacket. In a monotone voice he replied, “You need to shut the hell up, or you’re going to be a dead walleye on ice, DUDE.”

Waving the pistol and directing Rusty to dismount, he flicked the outside light of the fish cleaning house and unlocked the steel padlock. Inside, Sally had the knob turned, in anticipation of the lock being removed and the door swinging open.

Next, with the gun still fixed on target, Buzz deliberately approached his captive and ordered him to remove his helmet. Slowly, unhitching the chin strap, Rusty briefly obeyed.

“Buzz… Is Sally inside that building?” Rusty queried. “Because whatever this is you’re doing, let’s sort this out between you and me.

Gritting his teeth with a low growl Buzz responded, “It’s too late for that Flathers, and if another word comes from your pie-hole, I’m gonna put a bullet in you like I would a sucker fish running up a shallow ditch”.

Buzz turned to remove the lock from the latch, and in that millisecond, Rusty launched his helmet full-send in effort to dismantle the back of his former friend’s noggin. The helmet spun with the forward rotation of an overhand curveball, but quickly tailed to the right and missed the intended target.

With two outs in the top of the 9th inning Rusty sat comfortably alone at the end of the bench. It was “senior day” at Farkwaller Field, and his home team was winning the baseball game 11-0.

Unexpectedly, Rusty’s head coach exited the dugout to signal for a stoppage in play… He then turned back toward the bench and hollered “Hey Flathers… You’re going in!”

You could have heard a pin-drop amongst the players. Rusty could feel his teammates eyes on him but continued to gaze toward the field.

“Flathers… I said you’re going in!” mouthed the coach as he approached the fence near the bench.

Again, Rusty sat motionless and the turning of heads inside the dugout became frantically uncomfortable.

At this point the coach now stood directly in front of Rusty with hands grasping the fence. His eyeballs were piercing as he shouted “Flathers, are you deaf?”

Rusty’s attention had now been officially caught. And, with that, he truthfully responded, “p-p-p-partially.” Immediately a roar of laughter exploded from the dugout! Included was a sideways head shake and an ear-to-ear grin from his coach.

With a comfortable 11 run lead and two outs in the book… Rusty left the bench with what felt like at least two splinters (possibly three) in his right ass cheek and took his place on the pitcher’s mound. He stared down the barrel to Buzz’s catcher’s mitt and awaited the signal. Buzz called for a fastball.

Squeezing the life out of the baseball, no one on base, and only needing one out, he reared back and fired. Ker-plunk! He hit the first batter he faced right in the back and high between the shoulder blades.  Ouch! Runner on first.

The opposing team jeered from their dugout when the next pitch went wild past his catcher and easily allowed their runner to forward a base. Rusty’s fastball had sailed high right, behind the hitter in the box, and was still gaining upward trajectory when it ricocheted off the backstop.

Back on the mound he felt the vile liquid of venom creeping up into his throat. His stomach was in knots.  Then he glanced to his home team dugout where Ellie Waylayer and her entourage were behind the screen jumping up and down shouting encouragement.  Wow… Ellie was a looker, but her jiggling halter-top offered little to subdue his nerves.

He raised back and fired on the 1- 0 count. Again, the pitch sailed wildly to the backstop, and now the opposing runner advanced to third base on another wild pitch.

To make matters worse (as if they could get worse) Skip and Scoop were hanging from the fence (they were always climbing like caged monkeys) behind the plate and the errant throw struck Scoop’s one and only remaining index finger at full velocity. Rusty would take a beating in the barnyard for that one.

One plunked batter… And now a 2-0 count with a runner on third base.

Into the windup, Buzz had called for a curveball, and with Rusty’s release it short hopped in the dirt striking him square on the hard plastic “athletic cup”. The shell shock was immediate. A vast majority of men in the over-crowded stands wept aloud. Women gasped for their breaths and covered their children’s eyes.

Buzz was in the dirt coughing up dust and an odd colored phlegm. Rusty was on the mound, bent at the knees, vomiting a pregame hot dog from the concession stand. He should have taken smaller bites, like Aunt Dolly had always preached.

“Flathers… I don’t think you could hit the broadside of a shed right now,” uttered his pitching coach who had quickly visited the mound and removed him from the game. “Take a seat son.”

The snowmobile helmet crashed against the outside wall of the fish cleaning house… Buzz spun on his heels facing Rusty and squeezed the hair-trigger. There was a fire in Rusty’s right arm as his world went dark.

With Buzz hovering over him… He could faintly hear, “At least you hit the side of the shed this time.”

–            To be continued –