Armstrong/Bloss Annual Family Vacation

22 years ago I was fortunate to meet Gus Armstrong on the Chairman II.  Gus first came with Ron Davis, Jeff White and Al and Ron Lindner. Gus’s company owned a company called Computrol. They made Bottom Line Electronics and Cannon Down Riggers.

After the trip with the Lindner brothers Gus brought his whole family to Rainy Lake Houseboats for what turned out to be annual family vacations that included sons, son in laws, daughter, daughter in-laws, and of course grandchildren. We have been fortunate enough to see the grandchildren grow into fine young adults.

This year Gus, Sharon, Tammi, Doug, Matt ad Melissa, Ryan and fiancée Jamie, Troy, Brandon, Brian, and Cole attended the Chairman II fishing trip.  Patrick and Nicole missed as Nicole broke her elbow right before the trip.

We left Rainy Lake Houseboats Monday morning and traveled east on Rainy Lake. We found a nice mooring site on Duck Foot Island and quickly secured the Chairman II and Lady of the Lake 1.  Lunch was served and the guide boats were loaded. The guides this year were Bill Dougherty, Jon Balaski, Kevin Erickson, Matt Shermoen, Ryan Schmidt and Bruce Jean.

We all headed to different areas from one to four miles from the Chairman.  There was not much boat movement; all the spots were holding large numbers of walleyes. The Armstrong’s always form teams, this year there would be four teams with three people on each team. Teams started coming back a little before 6:00 PM.  The banter was awesome, the walleyes bit really good. The four teams had a 155 walleyes between them. It would be game on Tuesday through Friday.

The teams never fish together as a whole team. Each team member keeps track of the fish they catch and report their tallies after each session. While they have a fun fishing contest the trip is about family interaction, bonding and a vacation!
I won’t go into detail about each days fishing as it has been similar to recent trips, very good fishing with many of the same techniques. There was a change during the trip. We ran into walleyes that did not want to bite. We switched to a 1 1/2 oz. bottom bouncer and used the slow death technique. We used purchased slow death hooks, a 36-48” mono leader in 8 lbs. test. We push a night crawler up the hook and through the bends, pushing the crawler just past the hook eye and above the knot. We pinch off all but a 1 ½” of crawler letting it trail behind the hook. The hooks spins crazily when trolled from .4 -.7 mph. Walleyes cannot resist this presentation. When you troll the bouncers they should be as closed to vertical as possible alongside the boat ( a narrow angle versus a wide angle.) The sharp angle allows you to fee the bottom and the strike!

The last night of the trip is the annual Fishbie awards. Sharon was a double winner, first place for most and most fish by a team. Tammy Bloss won largest northern pike, and Cole Armstrong won the largest smallmouth bass. The Rainy Lakers one the most fish portion 223 fish!

The trip is much more than a fishing trip. It is a time where family is truly nurtured. I have been fortunate to watch the young people grow from childhood into young adults. They are remarkable people, fun, kind and loving.  We are blessed at Rainy Lake Houseboats to have so many wonderful customers.
Patrick and Nicole we missed you. Hopefully we will see you next summer with Nicole’s elbow all healed up.