episode 1.1 – chef justen's fishin' spots

Down in the restaurant, the #1 most-asked question is “What beers do you have on tap?”

But the second most-asked question is “Where’s the good fishing at?”  Oh boy.

There’s a lot of lakes up here and I’m not exactly the “bait my own hook” type.  But there is one guy who knows North Shore fishing spots inside and out.  And luckily for me (and my tables) he happens to be a chef too.  I mean, right there in the kitchen is my go-to guide to Fishing 101.

Being that we’re just past Fishing Opener, I thought I’d ask the big guy if he knew any good lakes I could post about.  In classic Justen fashion, he gets a huge grin on his face and whips out his trusty Area Lake Guide.

Of course he marks every good bite he gets with an X.  Obviously he keeps track of the species.

And if that’s not enough, he throws down his favorite ways to prepare each fish.  Talk about above and beyond the call of duty!

So, what was going to just be a casual blog with directions to a lake has become the Official Chef Justen Comprehensive All-Inclusive Fishing Guide-O-Rama!

Here we go:

#1 – Northern Light Lake

Apparently this lake lives up to its namesake, yielding Northerns as well as Perch, if ye be packin’ a large purple spoon, says Justen.  The lake is also known for its sunfish, bass, and the occasional walleye–but Justen’s had the most luck with Northerns and Perch.  Watch the narrows for lilypad and wild rice patches and rocky bottoms.  And if you’re looking for a moose (my third most-asked question), Justen just saw one a few days ago on the east river bend.  (He marked that too, shh!)

And what does the ‘chef half’ do with Perch?  Keep it simple:  beer batter.  Accented with a Lemon-Dill Aioli on Toasted Ciabatta makes a heck of a sandwich.

#2 – Pine Mountain Lake

Speaking of rocky bottoms–which I try not to–this arrowhead-shaped lake is pretty much known for having one.  Justen’s usual catch here is splake, a hybrid combo of brook trout and lake trout.  He uses a yellow spinner with eyes to snag these bad boys and when he does he smokes’em, whole.  And if you catch one of those Brown Trout, Justen suggests going for a honey-glazed kabob.

#3 – Elbow Lake

Another sweet spot for perch.  And my motto is “If it’s shaped like a fish, it must be good fishing!”  Not really–but if I had a motto, that’d be it.

If taking a canoe up the Gunflint isn’t exactly your cup of tea, Tofte Charters also offers a relaxing fishing excursion out on Lake Superior.  And if you catch it, Chef Justen (or one of the equally awesome Moguls chefs) will even cook it up for you.  Slam dunk, right?

Happy fishing, kids!

–Mikel

episode 1.1 – chef justen’s fishin’ spots

Down in the restaurant, the #1 most-asked question is “What beers do you have on tap?”

But the second most-asked question is “Where’s the good fishing at?”  Oh boy.

There’s a lot of lakes up here and I’m not exactly the “bait my own hook” type.  But there is one guy who knows North Shore fishing spots inside and out.  And luckily for me (and my tables) he happens to be a chef too.  I mean, right there in the kitchen is my go-to guide to Fishing 101.

Being that we’re just past Fishing Opener, I thought I’d ask the big guy if he knew any good lakes I could post about.  In classic Justen fashion, he gets a huge grin on his face and whips out his trusty Area Lake Guide.

Of course he marks every good bite he gets with an X.  Obviously he keeps track of the species.

And if that’s not enough, he throws down his favorite ways to prepare each fish.  Talk about above and beyond the call of duty!

So, what was going to just be a casual blog with directions to a lake has become the Official Chef Justen Comprehensive All-Inclusive Fishing Guide-O-Rama!

Here we go:

#1 – Northern Light Lake

Apparently this lake lives up to its namesake, yielding Northerns as well as Perch, if ye be packin’ a large purple spoon, says Justen.  The lake is also known for its sunfish, bass, and the occasional walleye–but Justen’s had the most luck with Northerns and Perch.  Watch the narrows for lilypad and wild rice patches and rocky bottoms.  And if you’re looking for a moose (my third most-asked question), Justen just saw one a few days ago on the east river bend.  (He marked that too, shh!)

And what does the ‘chef half’ do with Perch?  Keep it simple:  beer batter.  Accented with a Lemon-Dill Aioli on Toasted Ciabatta makes a heck of a sandwich.

#2 – Pine Mountain Lake

Speaking of rocky bottoms–which I try not to–this arrowhead-shaped lake is pretty much known for having one.  Justen’s usual catch here is splake, a hybrid combo of brook trout and lake trout.  He uses a yellow spinner with eyes to snag these bad boys and when he does he smokes’em, whole.  And if you catch one of those Brown Trout, Justen suggests going for a honey-glazed kabob.

#3 – Elbow Lake

Another sweet spot for perch.  And my motto is “If it’s shaped like a fish, it must be good fishing!”  Not really–but if I had a motto, that’d be it.

If taking a canoe up the Gunflint isn’t exactly your cup of tea, Tofte Charters also offers a relaxing fishing excursion out on Lake Superior.  And if you catch it, Chef Justen (or one of the equally awesome Moguls chefs) will even cook it up for you.  Slam dunk, right?

Happy fishing, kids!

–Mikel

episode 1.0 – meet the voice

Happy Saturday, Everybody!  Man, it’s gorgeous out there!  And it’s like Monarch Butterfly City everywhere you look!

Well, let’s get the introductions out of the way:

Hi, I’m Mikel and I’m addicted to the North Shore.

Just look at that face!

Why?  Well, let me answer that question with another question:  Have you been here before?  I mean besides the endless list of stuff to do, it’s eye-candy in literally every direction.  Waterfalls, mountains, wildlife…and that lake!

You might be thinking I’m a little biased, being a local and all.  But I wasn’t always a local.

Two years ago, I was just a chunky dude living in low-rent housing in St. Cloud, Minnesota.  My time was split between working at a book store, a video store, and eating too many fast-food tacos.  I was a struggling writer–and by ‘struggling’ I mean ‘uninspired to the max.’

Then both my jobs went belly-up.  Apparently the book-selling and video-renting industries are in decline?  Could’ve used a heads-up there.  But it turned out to be the best thing detour I’ve ever hit, because it led me to an awesome gig serving at a happenin’ li’l joint on the mountain called Moguls.

Turns out that most famous celebrities started out serving, so I decided to stick with it.  And even though I loved Lutsen and loved Grand Marais right off the bat, it felt a little like a prison sentence.  I mean, I had to up and leave everything I was used to:  movie theaters, shopping malls, McDonald’s.

Up until I moved back.  After a year and a half, I thought I’d go back to my old stomping grounds–and found out I was just too North Shore for it all.  I missed Lake Superior being right out my door a million times more than I missed traffic lights.

So now I’m back, working at the restaurant I love, at the resort I love, in the area I love.  My book is due out next summer (set here in Lutsen–what a coincidence!) and I get to hike all the trails, run all the rivers, tackle all the waterfalls, and drink all the local beers I want.

But why the life story, Mikel?  Couldn’t have you spared us your autobiography and got to the good stuff?

Okay, okay, maybe I’m a little wordy.  But when you read this blog, I want you to know who’s writing it.  I want you to know what kept me here and what brought me back.  This isn’t a travel brochure or a pitch from the Board of Tourism–it’s a story.  A story that isn’t over.  I’m not done experiencing the North Shore yet, and you might as well come along for the ride.

Because two years ago, I was asking the same question you are now:  What the heck is there to do around a ski hill in the summer?  And what I found out really blew my mind.

And because this place picked me up and saved me.  I owe it one.

So gear up with me for a summer you’ll never forget.  I’ll be here every Monday with all the local scoops, descriptions, and details.  And who knows, maybe I’ll even catch you at the pub!  Cheers!

 

– Mikel

 

1 2 3 4 Scroll to top