Friday, October 13, 2017

Fall is Finally Here

Haralson Apples
Well, it's the week of October 9th and we finally received our first killing frost of the autumn season early this week.  It wasn't too long ago that we would have a frost in September and this time of year would be known as Indian Summer, the warming period after the first frost.  The first frost also is the signal that most of my apples are ready to harvest.  As some of you know I have a small orchard on my land that consist of about 7 mature apple trees and 3 mature pear trees.  The pears were done a month ago and our neighbor has taken some and canned them as well, has a batch of pear wine brewing in his basement. My main varieties of apples include McIntosh, Haralson, Fireside, Honeygold, Haralred, Zestar, and I have a rouge Wolf River apple that provides a great conversational piece as they often weigh up to a pound each.  The McIntosh apples are generally the earlier ripening apples and although good, they turn mushy pretty fast.  I actually have 2 of these trees, personally I would not have planted another one however like my wolf River apple, the trees were mismarked at the nursery and by the time they are producing apples it's too late to complain.  One other issue that I have is the trees were planted in the early 1990's and 27 years later they are starting to die off one by one.  I talked to a guy who seems to know what he's talking about and his claim is the trees only last about 25 to 30 years then fade away.  I am sure that a a disease known as fire blight doesn't help, some of my trees are more resistant to it however my Honeygold's and Fireside's seem to be more susceptible to this as I have lost a couple of my trees in the last few years and this summer I had 4 heavily laden branches simply break off, and these were substantial limbs.  Oh well, I am not a big fan of the Honeygold apples anyway as they seem to turn brown quite easily.  The gentleman at Anoka Feed Store sold me some fire blight spray which I will try next spring.  In the meantime this year is a bumper crop so the harvest goes on.  The frost is great for the Fireside apples, my favorite of them all and the plan is to get out the cider press and maybe make 10 - 20 gallons of fresh cider.  Both my neighbors have sight on getting some cider, on will make apple wine and the other wants to try and get good at making hard cider.  I am all for it as the truth of the matter is.......what the heck am I going to do with all of these apples!  They are very good to eat for sure!

Check Out the Size of that Minnow!
Being preoccupied with my fall routines gives little time to go fishing.  To be fair, my travels have put me behind in a number of things and as well, the older I get the lazier I get!!  Never the less my friends continue to report on their fishing successes and one such guy is Pete Mlinar of Monticello, MN. Pete is an amazing river rat and it's been a while since I have fished with him however he is the guy who got me going on fishing the Mississippi River.  His technique is quite simple, fish the largest Redtail or Creek Chubs you can and hang on. He has been teasing me with his pictures of  the walleye's they are getting on the river and I have to admit, it working.  Pete is retired so it's easier for him to just leave and fish whenever he wants.  He sent me this picture earlier this week of a nice walleye he had gotten however the first thing I noticed was the size of the minnow in the walleyes mouth.  I call him and asked if this was staged but he assured me that this came right out of the water, if you look closely you can see the line under his wrist.  That is pretty amazing.  Now he did sent some pictures of the 27 inch walleyes that they caught but to me this one was the most impressive.  I know that they simply bounce rigs off the bottom in 10 - 12 foot holes in the river, something I would like to try behind the house as I know where these holes are.  Just where to find the time is always the problem.  One of the things I have learned to do is shoot photography.  I have a nice camera and photoshop to process them.  Over the years I have done a lot of my friends and relatives, and their children's wedding photo's but admittedly that takes time.  This Saturday I am committed to help a friend out and do his wedding pictures. I hate to turn my friends down when they ask however for the most part I'm going to be there anyway I might as well be doing something.  These events always come with a caveat, I am not a professional and I will shoot it in a more casual theme.  Well, that along with picking apples will pretty much eat up all my time this weekend.

Wednesday is my annual Trout fishing date with Mr. Lundeen.  We go to his secret lake and fishing out of a canoe we generally do quite well, each coming back with our limit of 14 - 17 inch rainbow trout.  The lake is quite clear so this year I have a Water Wolf, in line underwater camera with hopes to capture some footage of the trout hitting the spinners we pull behind.  We will see and maybe next week I'll have some interesting results.   Like everything it will probably take me a few days to learn this.  Still need to get my step welded on the Ranger Trailer, The boat goes in next week to Frankies and have some of my lingering issues taken care of before the winter. I really need to grease the wheel bearings on my Ice Cabin before it get's too cold.  The list goes on and on and on and on!  Heck somewhere I have to fit sighting in my gun for deer hunting which is 3 weeks away.  Next Wednesday my good friend Mark Applen is heading to Colorado to hunt elk and I am pretty excited to see the results.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Back From Chicago

My Friend Gary Hicks and a Nice Lake Michigan King Salmon
This week was spent in Chicago at the International Coil Winding show, sounds exciting doesn't it! It gives me a chance to touch base with all of my important vendors who service our business as well cmake contact with my fellow colleagues, who own their own transformer winding companies to see how they are doing. Of course most of my friends at the show know about how much I like to fish and as well have fished with me in the past at conferences around the United States.  One of those guys is Gary Hicks, he is the owner of Dongan Electric Manufacturing in Frazier, Michigan.  He is also an avid fisherman and when I saw him on Tuesday the first order of business was talking about his salmon fishing trip on Traverse Bay of Lake Michigan.  That really brought back some memories of the mid 1980's when my friend Kevin Aiona and I would meet Gary Barneson in Appleton then go over to Algoma or Two Rivers Wisconsin and troll for salmon and trout in my 16 foot Lund Pro Angler boat with a 50 hp, 4 cylinder, tiller Mercury motor.  That was some of the best fishing times I have experienced.  Gary Barneson lived in Appleton at the time and he became quite proficient at fishing Lake Michigan in small boats...........heck he had (still has) an Early 1980's S14 Deluxe with a 25 hp Johnson tiller motor, he was my influence as in 1982 I bought the very same rig.  The 16 foot boat wasn't much larger however the 50 hp Merc purred like a kitten yet it would burn a gallon of gas an hour at trolling speed.  We really never encountered bad weather as the wind was more often from the west which would blow the warmer surface water to the east and the colder water from the deep would replace it.  Surface temperatures would often be in the high 40's so the fish would not be very deep at all, often in the 20 to 40 foot range.  We had 2 downriggers, 2 large planar boards, a couple of Dipsy Divers, the two of us could legally rig up 3 lines apiece.  Our tackle consisted of very light weight spoons we called Northport Nailers, brightly colored 6 inch minnow baits like Rebels, and flashers and rubber squids, we'd alternate baits and different colors to try and figure out what the fish would hit more consistently then switch the lines to those baits or colors.Downriggers were dropped to 40 feet, Dipsy Divers took the bait down and out, meanwhile the
Captain Aiona Running the Tiller!
trolling boards would get your bait away from the boat in case it was spooking the fish. It was fun as you never knew what would hit what.  One of the nice things that you could do in a smaller boat is stop the motor and fight your fish.  If you notice the prop wash in the picture of Gary, the charters never stop their boats.  Because of the amount of lines out and the mad scramble, they would simply let the water push the fish to the top and if everything worked out right you would reel that fish up the prop wash.  Kevin and I did it differently.  If we hooked a fish we'd hollar.......FISH ON and the scramble began.  The other guy in the boat would crank up the down riggers, trip the dipsy lines and reel them in, and depending on what the fish was caught on and where it was, we would usually leave the trolling boards out as well.  Then the fight was on!  We were fighting the fish on our terms and fight they would often pulling the boat until it or we were exhausted  At that time the fish were pretty good size as we would go in Mid July when Gary could get off.  It was certainly a team effort as we'd normally take turns steering the boat as the downrigger board was secured to the middle of the boat and we needed that leverage and space to reel them up each time.  The usual bag of fish included  King Salmon, Coho Salmon, Rainbow trout, Brown trout and the occasional lake trout that showed we would try for every once and a while. The last time I fished Lake Michigan was probably in 1986 with my dad and brother as we were on a trip to visit my Uncle in Sheboygan.  Today I understand because of the water clarity most have to fish away from the boat and using super long lines and or lead or copper lines to get the bait down.  We did get some nice fish however, King Salmon in the 35 pound range, Coho's (Silver) in the 15 -20 pound range and big football shaped browns in the 16 pound range.  We occasionally went out into the 120 feet of water and hauled some beautiful lake trout up from the bottom.  It was interesting as the boat had a paper graph for a depthfinder.  I wish I would have saved some of those rolls of paper as they told an interesting tale indeed.

Inside of my Rod Storage Lid delaminating
This weekend is my cousin Paul's daughter's wedding, as well I have plenty of apples to pick and process.  With little time available, I have been cleaning the sand out of the boat from the Lac Seul trip a few weeks ago.  Opening the rod locker, something didn't seem right so I forced it open and apparently the fiberglass is delaminating.  I sent this picture to Frankies and told them to order a new cover, thy said it should be covered under warranty.  Pulling the carpet back in the cockpit area to dry out, I decided to look at the batteries. sure enough the latch pulled right out.  These latches are very heavy duty and I have never had one do this on my last 3 boats.  I found the back flange the keeps it in place, stopped at my neighbor Todd's and he gave me new stainless steel replacement bolts.  A little blue Loctite thread locker on the threads and it's good as new.  Today was the day to get the trailer step welded but the weather doesn't look so good that will have to wait till next week sometime.  We haven't had a frost yet so everything is pretty green, that will probably change next week.  Bill and I usually go trout fishing in October so I have committed to go in a couple of weeks however both of us are quite busy so we will see what happens.  Deer hunting is in 4 weeks and the long term forecast is for a cold winter, maybe enough to allow us to pull the wheel house out on Red Lake over Thanksgiving like we did in 2015.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Lac Seul Part 2

Nice walleye
Finally getting caught up on the time and the big plus is having something to write about, this weeks post finishes the report on last weeks trip to Lac Seul with Bruce.  Believe it or not I did get some nice walleyes yet my attempt to try and fish similar structures that we fished during the last trip to Fisherman's Cove did not work out very well.  With only 3 days to fish and the anxiety of trying to fish where you know there are fish.........doesn't make for a very good formula for going out simply to explore!  In other words, it's almost impossible to leave biting walleyes no matter what the size.  Coming into camp I marked a few mid lake humps, not too far from camp yet we never made it to them. Fishing the west side last month the mid lake humps were loaded with nice walleyes, and I would say that the average was quite a bit larger than we find at camp.  In August about 75% of the fish we caught were over 22 inches but I would say that our average around Chamberlain Narrows is around 75% of the fish under 16 inches.  Generally the numbers make up for the size and numbers we get.  It rained quite a bit on Wednesday, our first day fishing yet we got on a point that was super productive and our total for the day was about 68 walleyes.  Thursday we went to Tuk Bay, my all time favorite spot and the bit was quite a bit slower.  Of course the rain had moved on and high pressure, bluebird skies greeted us as we anchored on Dan's point and started catching fish.  As the day wore on the bite diminished to the point where we could catch a walleye to save our butts.  Moving up the channel our first stop was a point I had discovered a year ago and we did very well on it last June.  I have it marked with a waypoint called Dave's Luck Would Have It Point!  The first thing I look for when fishing an area is whether or not the fish finders are marking any fish.  If the walleye's are there, the will show up on the sonar clear as a bell.  We were marking fish like crazy and admittedly it was as many fish as I have seen yet they were not in the mood to attack our minnow presentations.  We tried all sorts of things, different colors, different jig sizes and weights, big minnows, small minnows, plastic........you name it we threw it at the walleyes but it was a fruitless time in the old Ranger as nothing worked.  Oh well at least we were still in Canada.

Huge sauger that I caught!
Friday turned out to be on of the best days experienced on Lac Seul.  Ken had commented that we should try large minnows in the 40 feet of water in front of the cabin as the big females are moving into the deeper areas to feed on cisco's.  Luckily I had bought 3 dozen large minnows at the bait shop, consisting of large rainbow shiners and some big sucker minnows.  Dropping in 40 feet, it took a while for the 1/4 oz jig to reach the bottom but it got there.  The Lowrance has a glassed in transducer which essentially gives you readings that are about 1/3 the diameter of the depth of the water.  In 40 feet we could see about a 14 foot circle of whatever is on the bottom and it was easy to spot my jig and minnow on the screen. Unfortunately we didn't mark any fish and finally both Craig and I caught something each, two 15.5" walleyes.  Uffda, although Craigs went back down just fine, mine wasn't so fortunate as it's swim bladder was extended and it would probably end up as eagle food later.  After retrieving it we put it into the fish bag, the first of 12 walleyes we needed to take home our limits. We headed north to the unnamed point just as you turn west from Chamberlain Narrows, about a mile from camp.  There we set the anchor on the trolling motor and the action began almost immediately.  It was about 10:00 in the morning and by 11:00 we had around 30 walleyes.  We were pulling in doubles and the occasional triple but the walleyes kept coming.  Craig was pulling them in left and right and although the action slowed, changing the XM radio channel from Fox to Willy's Roadhouse made a significant difference as the bite took off again.  We had about 70 walleyes on the counter/clicker when Bruce showed up and their report was not that good.  Although the bite did slow up somewhat towards the end, it picked up about 3:00 and by Cocktail Hour (4:00PM) we had 103 walleyes on the counter, quite a day considering we hadn't left and area no more than 50 feet by 100 feet, all day.  I did catch a pretty small sauger as pictured, about 6 inches.  It is amazing the size of minnows a small fish like this will attack.  Never the less it counts as a fish caught!

Pete Caught a Number of Nice Walleyes like this
Four O'clock marked the end of our last day in camp, it's always a sad time to go but it's about the right amount of time.  The last day of fishing means Steak night as we use this day to equalize our 4 fish limit we each bring home to enjoy later.  This year we had boneless tenderloins marinated in Tabasco sauce, Frank's Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce, and Hot Picante Salsa.  2 hours of soaking in that mixture does wonders for the flavor!  While the steaks marinated I cleaned the 19 fish that filled out the limits we needed to stay legal.  Volunteering to be the fish cleaning guy, I happily do this every night.  We put the steaks on the grill and 2 bottles of wine later it was done, off to bed to get up early and clear camp.  It was a blast having Craig Biegert with this trip.  I understand that he had Chemo this Thursday however according to my friends he could not stop talking about the great time he had and all the fish he caught, especially on the last day.  I would have him in my boat any day.  One interesting observation, both Pete and I helped Craig bait his jig and also helped him remove and release any fish.  One time I was putting his minnow back on his jig when I noticed something very unusual.  We generally put the hook through the minnow's mouth, out through the gill plate, then rotate the jig and insert the hook tip through the back.  This keeps the minnow securely hooked to the jig and prevents losing a lot of minnows if the fish just grabs it.  Grabbing his jig to resecure the minnow I noticed that he had it what I would call.....assbackwards!  Generally I hold the minnow with my left hand using my right to thread it through the right side of the minnow.  He had it through the left side of the minnow.  What the heck, this seemed strange until it dawned on me, Pete is left handed and probably hooks his minnows the opposite I do, holds the minnow in his left hand.  It gave me another reason to make a stink about something admittedly I had to laugh at myself! As you see in the picture the backwards minnow method is effective as Pete did get a number of fish in the 25 inch class.

The fish house is basically put back together again as I have to admit that the Salem Ice Cabin looks pretty nice.  There are still some new plastic plugs to be inserted in the frame, a good job for this weekend. The Rangertrail Trailer has to get brought to Nick and get the step welded and braced up as I missed my steps when getting in and out of the boat.  I might get to go back up to Lac Seul to help Bruce close the cabin however it's a matter of timing as next week I am in Chicago.  Hopefully the annual trout fishing expedition with Bill can still take place this month.  Deer hunting is only 4 weeks away as time continues to fly at a record pace!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Finally, Back Fishing! Lac Seul Part 1.

Craig with a nice walleye.
Admittedly this is an interesting year for me and my fishing.  Normally I try to make it out once a week, starting with 3 days on Leech Lake, taking advantage of the hot bite on Mille Lacs in June, first part of July, fishing the Mississippi River in August, then switching to the evening shad rap bite on the reefs at Mille Lacs.  Well all that has changed this year.  Normally there is 21 - 22 weeks of open water fishing before deer hunting starts and the ice forms on the lake.  If I get 20 days of open water fishing in, it's been a good year.  So far I have gotten 20 days of open water fishing however it has been concentrated on mostly Lac Seul (14 days), Leech (3 days) and only 1 lowly trip to Mille Lacs Lake, the Mississippi River, and the Gulf of Mexico off of Florida.  With Mille Lacs now closed to walleye fishing, I suppose I could go and cast Shad Raps on the rocks for smallmouth but who am I kidding?  Bill and I usually get out trout fishing once so the number of trips is pretty much average however the makeup of those trips are significantly different than in the past.  Not that I am complaining yet you notice that no longer are the posts about last weeks fishing adventure.  This week I have had the opportunity to go up to Lac Seul again for 3 days of some of the greatest fishing I have experienced.  Our host, Bruce Wiley states that after fishing Lac Seul, it doesn't pay to fish anywhere else...........it's a hard philosophy to argue with yet there is a lot of water out there to be fished.  So Last weekend's fishing was in paradise at Lac Seul Outposts again, my 3rd trip there and 4th to Lac Seul this year. This year we were blessed to have Craig Biegert as our boat guest.  Craig is a friend of both my neighbor Pete and our host, Bruce.  He has a cabin on Big Pine Lake, the same as my friend Mark Mayerich, which is just a stones throw east of Bruce's place on Round Lake, just north of Mille Lacs. Craig has been battling Multiple Myeloma and to be honest, you'd never guess.  I was fortunate to have him in my boat and he was a perfect gentleman..........he even washed the sand off his shoes before going in the Ranger!  Craig has a few bone fractures associated with his condition so I made sure that if there was anything making him uncomfortable, he needed to let me know. Fortunately my boat is like riding on a cloud as we made the 34.5 mile trip into camp without an issue.

Wapesi River Emptying into the Lake
Wapesi Lake is usually our first stop, so on Wednesday of the the three days we were to be in camp it is where we fished. Wapesi is just northwest of the outpost, about a 10 mile boat ride, we go up to Pecker Point then turn west into the lake. Wednesday was kind of goofy weatherwise, clear and cool in the morning, it gave way to some pounding rain around noon. We had found a point off an island which was producing quite well when you could see the rain heading for the boat. One of the things I really appreciate these days is the bimini top I had put on this June.  We quickly assembled the top and secured everything just as the wind and rain came upon us.  Snug and dry inside the boat was nice, almost to the point of wondering why I carry a rainsuit anymore!  The Motorguide does an incredible job of keeping the boat in an "anchored" position as we rode out the storm squall.  Once it was evident that the weather was clearing we headed to an area which we felt Craig would enjoy, where the Wapesi River dumps into the lake.  It is gorgeous back there as the river tumbles over the rock as it essentially falls into the bay.  It is also a great place to fish however at this time of year the walleyes tend not to be stacked very well.  It's still a great place to fish as the current is always carrying a meal to the fish.  One of my favorite methods is using a Gulp twister tail as it is fairly shallow and where there is current, there is always some active fish, the total on Gulp was 8 walleyes and a northern pike.  It is one of my favorite spots to visit and fish while in Wapesi Lake, that's for sure.

As stated before, we launch in Deception bay on the southeast side of the lake and make our way through the rock strewn channels, around islands for a total of 34.5 miles to camp.  About 5 miles into our trip the outboard display went blank then the motor shut down to an idle.  The error code 114 showed up on the display, I put the motor back in neutral, reset the display, and the motor ran perfect until  the next 5 miles.  It shut down a total of 8 times then like magic, it ran great for the rest of the trip.  We have limited Wifi at camp so I e-mailed my mechanic at Frankies, he got back to me on the code meaning yet because it ran great, I haven't been able to look at the NMEA 2000 network cable connections in the back of the boat but will get to it sometime.  As always, Lac Seul is a great place to catch walleyes as well it is alot of fun hanging with the guys that I have been so graciously invited to attend!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Same Old Story, Different week

The Kramer Open was pretty good this year.  Unfortunately we didn't have the number of shooters as we have had in the past but that's OK.  I didn't shoot my best score ever but it wasn't too bad, 83 out of 100 nailed.  It's been a year since I have shot so there's is little to complain about.  Sporting Clays is quite fun and can be challenging.  We used to shoot in a league at Wild Marsh, 500 birds per the league season, 100 per month and could be shot anytime within that month.  It was pretty handy because one wasn't on a set schedule, you could shoot at your convenience and if you did not like your score you could reshoot the course however you had to use your latest scores.  The course is set up almost like golf.  You have 8 stations within each course and 7 of the 8 would be 6 targets thrown execpt 1 would be 8 targets for a total of 50. Usually we shoot 2 courses then add up the scores.  I started shooting trap with my old neighbor Roger Weber and used a Browning A5 12 gauge shotgun. Although it was a nice gun I honestly could not hit anything with it, scoring and average of 16 out of 25. Getting into the sport I moved up to a Over/Under Browning Citori realizing I had bought an upland game shotgun, I could us it for dual purpose, sport shooting and hunting grouse and pheasants.  Quite honestly I never really got into the hunting part of that statement and did most of my shooting at the range.  A number of years back I joined some of my friends in the sporting clays and used my Upland game gun.  It was Ok with my average around 68/100.  I was really getting into it and felt that the only way of improving was to get a gun with a longer barrel.  A guy at work dealt in guns and he
Citori 525
ended up getting me an Over/Under made specifically for Sporting Clays, a Browning Citori 525. It is a very nice gun, has a fully engraved reciever, hand oiled stock finish, and a nice case.  With 32 inch barrels it was amazing how much better I shot as my average went up by 8 birds, 76/100.  I think that the course we shoot for the Kramer Open is set up for higher scores because my average is another 7 - 8 birds higher than my league average was, and I only shoot once a year now.  It is a lot of fun and I wouldn't mind getting on a team to do the 500 bird league again, we'll see.  There are a lot of good shooters that attend the Kramer and if you want to be in the top tier one better shoot higher than 90, I did that once.

Sirius weather overlay on the GPS.  Here is a line of thunderstorms
I did get the boat back and have begun to put it back together for my trip next week.  It got move up a day and we are now leaving next Tuesday, coming back on Saturday.  I have noticed a few more scratches in the boat, and have the estimate to fix the area on the bottom where a rock scraped it as I dropped Pete off on shore to do his business.  We are going to have to figure something elese out that is safer and easier on the boat.  Frankie's put in the new dash pieces that were destroyed last June when they ripped off my electronics.  They also replaced a power pedestal under warranty, one of my back side decals got messed up on Minnesota Opener, they took that of but the new one that came in was too small.  Everything looks pretty good, at least good enough to make the trip.  I don't know if this is a good idea or not but I have removed the screws that are used to flush mount my HDS12 and 9 into the main console and front dash and replaced them with tamper resistant torx head stainless steel screws.  I guess if someone wants them that bad they will figure out a way however the lock that held my gimbal mounted HDS 9 did it's job and I ended up only having to replace the bent gimbal rather than the entire unit.  Joe Dusenka is Frankie's son and he always treats me right.  When they replaced the electronics, one of the things they replaced was my Sirius/XM module as the thieves cut off the connector end.  These modules are not cheap but are super nice to have in the boat as it will give you a weather overlay on your GPS screen.  Also, something really nice, there is a lightning alarm that will sound when it detects lightning within a 6 mile distant from the boat.  I asked joe to see if he could fine me a bad Ethernet cable and maybe I can repair the broken module.  Well, he didn't forget and in the boat was a cut off cable end.  I am going to try and repair it because I think my brother Steve could use a nice upgrade in his boat, we'll see if I can get it to work.

There is a lot of work to do before Tuesday, the garden is about done, my tomatoes look like crap.  I need to spend some quality time reassembling my Ice Cabin.  Boat needs to get packed and ready, where the time goes these days, I have no idea!

Friday, September 8, 2017

No Time to Fish

Dealing With the Rust on My Salem Ice Cabin
Boy, isn't that a sad headline, No Time To Fish.  Unfortunately this is true but I do have some good excuses!  First of all my Ranger remains at Frankies to get the rest of the insurance work done from the time when some low life's broke into my boat and literally ripped out my flush mount electronics. Although I got my rig back functional, there still needed work to be done on the dash pieces that the electronics were mounted into.  The bow dash was broke so we riveted it together, and the console was scratched up pretty bad, nothing that would affect my fishing but it seemed like a good time to get the boat in and get this stuff finished up. Although the bow trim is relatively easy the console replacement isn't that quick, and because I want it done right....if it takes a couple of weeks so be it, I just want to make sure it's ready to go by September 16th so I have time to get everything repack in the boat for our trip to Lac Seul.  My other excuses are that Mille Lacs Lake has been reclosed to walleye fishing last week as well, the river has been running high and fast due to the recent rains.  Of course there is plenty to do around the house, getting ready for the upcoming Ice Fishing Season, namely fixing the huge amount of rust on my Wheel House frame.  I had LimoJoe stop by and with his dustless sand blaster, he removed most of the visible rust from the frame.  It's sort of a mess but it works really good by cleaning the metal completely free of rust.  After he was done with the actual sandblasting he rinsed off the sand with a mixture designed to remove the sand and deposit it a temporary coating to prevent the bear metal from starting to rust.  Using a new product I was unaware of, PDR15, it really worked good in coating the trailer frame, however it sticks to your hands and does not come off!  I got the first coat done and am planning on giving it a finish coat next week.  It is some pretty amazing stuff and it looks like new again!

A pre 1930's corn processing machine
Sunday used to be the day when my younger brother Steve and I would go motorcycling around the La Crosse, WI area.  Well, since the motorcycle was totalled in 2014 I have directed my attention to the Fountain City Farm Fest.  It is quite interesting as they have a number of old turn of the century farm implements such as very large Steam tractors which ran a number of interesting machinery. They had a huge steam tractor which ran an old time sawmill and were actually cutting rough cut lumber, quite interesting.  Most of the real old machinery was belt driven as you can see in the picture of this core schuker.  When the harvest cam around farmers would actually cut the corn plants at ground level then tie them up in a vertical stack called Corn Sheaf.  After drying in the field, they would get a wagon and stack these sheafs on it then take it to a machine like this.  One could throw an entire sheaf into the hopper and out the left end would come totally husked corn cobs and on the right it spit out nice chopped corn stalks to be uses as cattle feed and bedding. Now days they simply take a $650,000 combine, put a corn picking head on it and the combine cuts the stalks, removes the ears of corn, then they remove
the kernels of corn, from the cobs.  Shelled corn is easy to dry, easy to store and one man can do the work of 30 men Years ago.  Farming is big business these days as I stood among over $1,000,000.00 in equipment, all GPS/computer controlled, nothing like 40 years ago when I used to help bale hay back in Eleva during the summers.

Hopefully next week I'll have the boat back which should give me time to get it read for Lac Seul. Saturday is the Annual Kramer Open, a 100 bird sporting clays shoot that I use to go with my dearly departed friend Tom Emmons, it's good to go as it serves as a good tribute to Tom and the times we had together.  The wheel house needs another coat of PDF15 and put back together,  the pears are close to be picked and the Pole Shed need a good cleaning.  Dang, there will be snow pretty soon! It's a good time to think about my friend Tim Smith and his house on the beach in Naples Florida.  You can be assured that this Hurricane Irma is going to raise some hell with it as the storm track has it right in the bullsye.  I guess we should be thankful that we only deal with very narrow Tornados and not a 20 mile wide cyclone!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Labor Day Here Already

Horacene and Dick Daugird
This has been an interesting week for weather for my friends in Texas.  Back in March of 2011 I fished in Rockport, Texas with my good  friend Joe Stanfield, where he introduced me to Dick and Horacene Daugird,  a retired couple from the Houston area who decided after retirement to form a charity, The Lighthouse Team, for the sole purpose of helping those who have been affected by natural disasters, such as Hurricane Harvey that has been pounding the Rockport, Houston area this last week.  Joe and I drove the coast, all the way from Rockport to Galveston reviewing the still evident damage from the 2005 Hurricane Katrina.  It was quite amazing as there were still empty stilts were houses once stood, areas in Galveston that were yet to be rebuilt, and may never will  We stopped at the Lighthouse Charity's building and Joe introduced me to both Dick and Horacene Daugird, founders of the charity.  Dick turned his love to cook BBQ into a simple cause, to cook food for those helping in the relief efforts as well as the victims of a disaster, they are in full swing Hurricane Harvey and I am sure they will be extremely busy for the next 3 months or so.  A great couple and even though I haven't seen them in a few years I do keep up with their where abouts through my friend Joe.  The events of the last few days have made me keep them close to my thoughts as I know the fabulous work that they do in this terrible situation.  This picture is from a few years ago but still applicable.  Their work reminds me of my good friend Mark Applen and his charity work he does for cancer families.  These are all good charities to support as you can be assured that your money is not being wasted on administrative cost but go directly to help!

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Well, unfortunately because of the current situation at Mille Lacs, Walleye fishing will close at 12:00 AM on Tuesday September 5 and not reopen again until December 1, 2017.  This is a direct result of the mess our DNR has agreed to and is tied to what I feel is a fictitious hooking mortality number that is defined by a quota system which is hard to believe is correct.  No doubt that hooking mortality exists as fishing walleyes on Mille Lacs was closed most of July, into August to cut down on the hooking mortality numbers.  It is too exhausting to go into the arguments however fall was my favorite time to fish walleyes on the reefs, especially after dark.  I guess legally one can fish smallmouth bass with artificial baits like shad raps, I have caught plenty of smallmouths while targeting walleyes in the past, I am not sure how that would work in reverse............I caught plenty of  walleyes while targeting smallmouth.  I suppose I had better check on that premise as catching a walleye on the reef in 5 feet of water, with a crankbait, they tend to release very well.  It just came out this week that the DNR has negotiated with the band for the next 3 years of fishing and it doesn't look good.  I definitely am disappointed with our DNR but like a lot of things, there seems little one can do but complain.  It does bring up a point, that I spend more and more time fishing walleyes in Canada.  So far this year I fished Lac Seul 11 days verses fishing in Minnesota 5 days.  Over all the average number of days is once a week however it is concentrated in fewer trips, as one can tell by my posts.  Unfortunately I have had little time to get out on the Mississippi River this year, maybe I will get caught up this fall!

Ipod Touch
A few years back I upgraded my Sonichub audio server in my boat to the latest and greatest, with bluetooth.  This is a nice function however the new equipment would not play my existing 160 gb Ipod.  The answer was to buy a new Ipod however the largest "new" one available only had a 64gb solid state drive vs the old 160gb, miniature hard drive.  The solid state drive is better but I had to decide which files I wanted to eliminate.  When I was in Canada last month, Mike Worms wanted my music so I sold him my old Ipod as now the newer Ipod's have 128gb of memory.  It's been interesting to try and get the new one set up as years ago I had movies burned to my Ipod so I could watch them on my business trips, especially to China. I am having some luck getting it set up the way I want and my ultimate goal is that my HDS 12 in my boat has a video input, maybe I can play movies on my main depthfinder when fishing get's slow.  We'll see!  Unfortunately I have read that Apple will discontinue the Ipod because there are so many choices with cell phones these days, man is it difficult to keep up with the latest and greatest entertainment technology.  Admittedly I do enjoy my music collection, especially while fishing!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Quiet Week

Jane Holtan and her HUGE Silver Salmon!
Actually it's really been busy, too busy to even write this week's post  on time but yet it's been awfully quiet around.  The weather has cooled down and it looks like it will be raining this weekend so time to get some of the things done around the house as well, get my boat ready for the next excursion to Lac Seul in 4 weeks.  The Ranger still has some work to be taken car of since a number of afflictions came upon it, namely the theft of my electronics where they destroyed the plastic panels as well my hydraulic steering still needs some adjustment.  The boat will go back to Frankie's on Monday where they can work on all of these issues and hopefully get her back like new before September 20th when we head up to Chamberlain Narrows.  I finally had lunch with Mike Worms and got him my old Ipod for his boat.  I am still struggling with getting my new 128 GB Ipod up and running but there are people at work who are smarter than me (and younger) who can help in this regard.  Because I don't have any latest and greatest pictures of me, I will defer to my friend Keith Holtan and the picture of his wife Jane holding an enormous silver salmon that she caught in the Kenai River last week.  I can tell that Keith has instructed Jane on the finer points of fish photography however even though you can do those things to make a fish look big, this is a big salmon.  Tricks of the trade are to hide your hands so as not to have a clear reference to the size, she does this very well, however the other is to hold it out a ways from your body and I suspect this fish is easily over 16 pounds (I let Keith comment!) so unless Jane has been lifting weights on her days off, I am pretty impressed! Of course my friends and Cousin Mark that are in Alaska keep sending these teases, maybe I'll just have to make one more trip next year, 2018 is an even year and the humpy's will be in.  Definitely food for thought!

So one thing we did last week was Lory Brasel and I went to Brainerd with our friend Kevin Sonsalla for our annual trip to BIR (Brainerd International Raceway) and the NHRA's stop on the National Drag Racing Circuit.  It is always a fun time unfortunately rain put a damper on most of the racing however we did get in a few ear shattering runs. Brainerd's track and location can make for record setting runs as the cooler weather is perfect for top fuel (Nitrous) funny cars and traditional rail type cars.  On friday the 18th the track set a new National Funny Car record by breaking the 3.80 seconds in the 1000 foot length (it use to be a 1/4 mile for these cars) by Robert Hight with a time of 3.793 seconds and crossing the line at 338 mph.  Think about that for a second!!!, in 3.793 seconds you go from standing still to 338 mph..........uffda is the only word I can think of.  It is fun and exciting to see these care go.  Lory took a video of 2 cars coming down the track and the one the right looses control and pulls in front of the car in the left lane.  That was certainly worth watching for sure. It's quite amazing watching these top fuel guys go down the track in no time flat.

As stated earlier, the boat got back at Frankie's this morning, getting the final touches on the insurance work that I had done from the time they ripped my cover off and removed my electronics. They damaged the plastic dash pieces and because the damage was cosmetic, I decided to not wait for this work to get done prior to my trip to Canada on June 24th.  Well if you don't stay on this stuff eventually no one ever has time to fix it! We already have plans for Lac Seul leaving on September 20th.  Some "not so above board" stuff has been happening with Mille Lacs Lake as the season for fishing walleyes will close coming weekend, it might be just the impetus to head up again, assuming my boat is done in time.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Lac Seul, Fisherman's Cove, Part 2

First prize, a 27.5 inch winning walleye!
With a week under the belt, it's given a me a great time to reflect on last week's trip and everything that went on.  This is my first week long fishing trip since the last trip to Alaska and like all great trips, they always seem to go too fast!  I have a lot of pictures so I figured it was a good idea to start with the best picture of the week, a 27.5 inch walleye that took the top prize for the biggest fish of the week between us.  As stated in the last post, Kevin collected $20 from each of us and did a great job of tracking our fish results for the week. The first award was who caught the first walleye of the trip, whereas we all parked within talking distance of each other on a mid-lake structure, with minnows on the jigs, the signal was given and we all dropped down.  Brother Steve won that award with the first walleye landed in the boat, he got his $20 back plus another $20.  Last weeks post showed my first entry for the next prize, the biggest fish however on Wednesday I added another 2 inches to that number which solidly (according to the Joyce brothers) put myself into first place.  It held and $20 went back in the wallet.  The next prize was for the 2nd biggest fish and cousin Paul ended up in a tie with Kevin so they split the winnings.  The last prize went to the highest average fish caught which went to the Worms brothers. Keeping with my humble self, it is not hard to see that 3 out of 4 prizes were generated out of my boat and if one were to be honest with  themselves, the Worms really jumped ahead of the game by fishing Dave's Hump, and area by a point called Lunker Ledge in which when were going to, I marked a hump (it turned out to be a long underwater point).  Although the point was good fishing, Dave's hump turned out to be a bonanza for the Worms as they killed the walleyes there on Wednesday morning, catapulting them into first place, however we were not far behind.  This in spite of the fact that Mike and Chris forgot to get minnows on Tuesday and had a big hole to fill.
A double!
Deciding to fish Dave's Hump, the hotspot I found, proved to be so successful our boat went there on Thursday morning and repeated their performance but alas, the slow bite the rest of the day prevented Team Anderson from wrapping up a clean sweep!  Of course this is the viewpoint of the writer and not necessarily those of Team Joyce or Team Worms. So for sake of being politically correct we either won all the prizes or had a significant hand in all the prizes won. Now it wasn't all big fish as the pressure was on  for brother Steve and Cousin Paul to step up to the plate.  Unfortunately while I was concentrating on bigger fish those two were showing off their fishing expertise with a double, 2 walleyes that if one combined the length it still would have to be released.  Notice Paul's walleye on the left, with the minnow still hanging from the jig, it gives you an idea of how aggressive these walleyes can get, take a bait that is 1/3rd it's length.  Oh well, the good news is they counted as a walleye caught so at least they were doing their part!

Chris Worms with a nice walleye
A little bit about our resort, Fisherman's Cove, it is right off the highway 105 that goes north from Vermillion Falls to Red Lake, Ontario.  It's quite a change from Lac Seul Outposts where one has to drive 37 miles over water to get to your destination, here you simply pull off the main highway and you are there.  The camp was very clean and the setup was very nice.  Checking in the owner gave us a bag with 12 dog treats and asked us to please, when their yellow lab comes begging, give him a dog treat instead of your scraps.  Makes sense and interesting enough, that dog would slowly (he was very old) climb the steps, sit down until he got a treat and would then get up and wander off to the next cabin to us.   My boat had a designated spot on the dock, complete with electricity right there, no long extension cords to deal with and had a label with Anderson on it to assure the same space every night. The fishing experience wasn't much different as we had to travel a ways from the camp every day, in this case we had to snake around the islands and channels to get to the main lake areas.  The trip computer on the Ranger had our mileage for the week at 224 (about 45 miles a day) and 69 gallons of gas used, which is more than we travel out of Chamberlain Narrows were we average about 180 miles for the duration however 75 of that is the trip in and out so we are averaging about 35 miles a day there, not much different.  I have found that if the boat gas tank is full (51 gallons) one can make it in, out, and fish 3 days without having to refuel.  At the Cove, 25 gallons of gas comes with the boat as part of the cost however considering that we stayed 6 nights and fished 5 days, I felt the cost was more than reasonable.  After the first 2 days we had enough trails on the Lowrance to allow us to pretty much be independent of the group with the ability to find our way back to camp safely.  Everyday we made sandwiches for our shore lunch, which I think is a much better idea than dragging out all the cooking stuff to have a "traditional" shore lunch of walleyes.  Manitoba Point was our favorite area and it was pretty nice. We all drove up into the sand
Mike Joyce and his amazing fish gripper!
beach while the back end of the boat stayed deep enough to safely back out.  The only issue is getting sand in my carpet, something I despise, however even with the best of precautions, I spent a lot of time vacuuming when I got home.  Getting out of the boat and sitting down for Lunch has it's advantages for sure and its a nice break in the day.  We would probably do that more on the east side but it is more difficult to find the perfect sand beach to park the boats on as the last time I did this in Tuk Bay I really gouged the bottom of my boat, not good.  It was funny that after beaching our boats on the sand point, the seagulls would start gathering on the big rock at the point itself, certainly looking for the evidence of a traditional shore lunch and the walleye carcasses that would usually accompany it.  Unfortunately about the only thing these birds got was a few scraps of potato chips yet they continued to be persistent in there hopes for an easy meal.  One of the great outcomes of these trips is the fact one can learn something and this one was no exception.  First of all, Mike Joyce had picked up a Rapala Fish Gripper from Fleet Farm.  This was slick as it really help prevent cuts from the gill plates of the walleyes when taking the hook out of these fish, my hands still show the scars.  So impressed, I pick up 3 of them last night, 2 for my boat (the guy in the front needs one) and 1 for my friend Bruce to use on our next trip.  The second most important thing was Low Gap Bourbon, Justin Joyce works at a local liquor distribution company and brought a bottle, it is amazingly good.  The third thing was they way Kevin had his dock bumpers protecting his boat, they were sideways and what a great idea.  The bumpers have a tie on each end and it sure works slick, something I will use on my next trip in September.  I am still not convinced on the Worm's Bud Lite Blue jig color but I still had to buy some just in case.  So the influence continues and hopefully I won't have to spend anymore money staying up to speed with these guys!

Friday is our annual trip to BIR (Brainerd International Raceway) for the NHRA's stop on the national drag racing circuit.  It's a blast watching those cars accelerate to over 300 MPH in less than 5 seconds.  Saturday is my plans to get the jon boat out and hopefully get on the river for a few hours this weekend, we'll see.   A week in Canada with 5 straight days of fishing can equal a month's worth of outings as I have now fished in Canada 11 days, about 6 days more than in Minnesota.  I think that is about to change!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Lac Seul, Fisherman's Cove, Part 1

Vermillion Falls along Hwy 105
I finally returned from fishing a week on the west side of Lac Seul, staying at the Fisherman's Cove in Scout Bay, just south of Ear Falls, Ontario.  Invited by my cousin Paul and accompanied by my brother Steve, I met some great new friends, Kevin, Mike, and Justin Joyce, as well as Mike and Chris Worms.  The plan was to meet in International Falls on Friday night, August 4th, Stay over night at a local Tee Pee Hotel,  then cross the border the next morning, stopping at Dryden for groceries before heading Northeast to Fisherman's Cove  We arrived at the hotel at the same time the Worms brothers pulled in and immediately Chris looked at me and said...."I know you!".  Here he was at the Lac Seul Outpost for fishing opener at the same time I was and I recognized him as he was commenting on my the short fillet knife I was using.  It was a great start to what turned out to be a fabulous fishing trip. After a good breakfast at Sandy's Cafe, across from the hotel, we made it across the border just fine and headed north.  The word was out that Hwy 502 going to Dryden was bad in a few spots and they were not kidding as my brother Steve took a rock from the gravel kicked up by an oncoming vehicle and it put a nice chip in his windshield.  We finally got to Dryden then headed west to Vermillion Falls, ON before turning north.  A few miles up the road we crossed a beautiful area where the Vermillion River created a falls, it was quite spectacular.  Apparently they stop there every year on the way up.  Finally we stopped a few miles south of our camp at a place called Dutches, where the guys bought their fishing licenses as well they had gas and sold liquor, just in case!  We turned into the camp about 4:00 that afternoon and after unloading our gear and boats, we got settled in for the evening.  On the menu was Steaks a la Kienitz, named after a good friend who taught me how to make a nice steak absolutely to die for!  Bringing 8 20 oz Ribeyes from Costco, I marinated them in Tabasco Sauce, Frank's Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce, and Hot Pace Picante sauce, let them sit at room temperature for a couple of hours before simply throwing them on the grill.  I did get a few comments about what I was doing to those steaks but after dinner, everyone was quite impressed, which they always are!  Off to bed as Sunday was our first official fishing day.

First "Big Fish" entry, 25.5 inches
The plan was to fish Sunday thru Thursday and leave Friday Morning.  The set up was very nice, no sand to worry about getting in the boat at the resort, 2 dozen minnows/day/boat came with the price as well 25 gallons of gas.  Many people want a comparison to my fishing at Lac Seul Outpost vs Fisherman's Cove.  It was quite interesting as at the Outpost we generally fish mostly points along the shorelines whereas last weekend we fished main lake humps about 90% of the time.  Although we found the fish at basically the same depths, it was interesting that the average size of the walleyes were significantly larger.  I would say that the 300 walleyes that Paul, Steve, and I caught during the trip, 70% were over 20 inches.  I suspect that the main lake humps were the key to the bigger fish and will definitely be worth a try the next time I am on the ther side of the lake, especially in the fall. The picture to the right is my first entry for the big fish contest, a 25.5 incher.  Kevin Joyce was our camp leader and he set up a contest, $20 each times 8 guys =$160 in the pot.  $40 would go to the first fish caught, the biggest fish, the 2nd largest fish, and the most fish caught via the average of the per person verse the boat.  I leave the results for next week, however I did catch a nice fish on Tuesday, a 25.5 inch walleye that hit my Berkley Power Grub, slammed it hard!  It was also the largest fish to date so was the first serious entry.   I also have to say that the walleyes were huge!  Although we release all walleyes larger than 17.875 inches, never the less this picture weighed 10 pounds!! I could not believe how fat and healthy these fish looked, we definitely had to net the majority of the fish we caught.  Fishing mostly jigs and minnows, it was somewhat disappointing to see the size of the minnows we got.  I joked that I'd hate to see how small their crappie minnows were however regardless of the minnow size we caught fish.  I guess when you see the size of the minnows that the fish spit up once we had them in the boat,  one could stop worrying about the size of the bait as more often than not, we would dang near be down to nothing for bait by the end of the day.

As stated this is part one because I spent the weekend getting caught up with things around the house. My Summercrisp pears are ripening like made and falling from the trees. They are very good but quite small yet my neighbor Lory Brasel picked a couple of 5 gallon buckets full and steam juiced them, enough juice to make a batch of pear wine, which will be ready in about 4 months. Pickles are growing like crazy and I definitely need to start picking sweet corn before the racoons get it all!  So much to do, so little time.


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Catch of the Week

Possum in my Live Trap
The week has been spent getting caught up with a few things before I head to Lac Seul this Friday. On Saturday we ended up meeting my niece and her lovely daughter back home in Eleva, then went up to my friend Big Dave's place on the other side of Mockingbird Hill to take some casual photographs for Kaylee's senior pictures.  Big Dave has a beautiful location overlooking the valley where Eleva is situated and as well he has the old farm that was part of the original property, barn and all for an interesting setting.  We spent about 3 hours shooting then I had another 8 hours of adjusting the photographs in Adobe Photoshop, a nice program to help make digital pictures actually look good.  You see digital photography with a nice camera records everything verses film is an average of the light. The digital pictures come out a little harsh and need to be adjusted, which photoshop does an excellent job. The pictures turned out fabulous. I have done senior pictures for other friends of mine and have done quite a few weddings however that was a few years ago and most of my friends kid's are married already so it has not been as much as before.  I don't mind taking pictures but it is a lot of work by the time you adjust them all, something that one has to do.  Sunday was haircut time so neither day offered any chance to go fishing which is ok as I will get plenty of fishing in next week.  That doesn't mean however that I have been catching nothing as the other day I ended up with a possum in my live trap.  These things can be quite mean as this fellow wasn't too happy to be stuck in this cage for the day.  Never the less they can cause havoc with the bird feeders and anything else they can manage to get into.  Possums and Kangaroo's belong to the same family of animals, they are marsupials, they carry their young in a pouch during their development.  Anyway this possum was fortunate as I brought hime 6 miles away from the house and let it go into the Elm Creek Park reserve.  Notice their hands and feet, almost human like the way they can grasp onto things. Interesting, as I drove to the reserve, I dang near hit another possum on the road a mile down from the house.  It was a big one and here's hoping it doesn't find it's way back to the house!  

Boost Converter
There is a lot to do in getting the boat ready to go for the trip.  One thing that has bothered me is if I don't charge the batteries every night, often my HDS 12 will shut down when I start the outboard engine.  I know why this happens, the load of the starter just kicking causes a lot of current to flow from the battery which in turn causes the voltage to drop for a second or two depending on how long it takes to start the engine.  The proper way to fix this is to make sure the power for the depthfinder is attached directly to the battery.  Because the wiring is somewhat integrated and I do like the main power off feature I decided to add what they call a boost converter.  I discussed this last week and had one ready to go but something failed on it so I had to order another one.  It is real frustrating that most of this stuff never comes with a good owners manual and it is often up to the individual to figure out the nuances of the circuit and this one was no exception.  It stated that for lower voltage operation one needed to put a jumper across 2 terminals, but gave no indication as to their location.  Luckily I have some good guys at work and eventually we figured out which terminals to solder together.  I did a bench test with varying input voltages and set the output voltage to 14.5 Volts, it worked beautifully. I guess this week will tell the entire story of whether it was a successful endeavor or will I just need to run the wires directly to the battery!

Because I am staying for the week and because I don't know if they have internet, this post next week might be somewhat late.  I can assure you that either way It will be fun.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Wiring the Lund

Blue Sea Power Center
Instead of fishing this weekend I spent a day helping my friend Bill Lundeen in hooking up his Lowrance HDS units and rewiring his older Lund boat to clean up the mess left by the last guy that owned it.  We did some preliminary work a few weeks ago however I felt that we needed something more substantial to distribute our power to the new installs which included a couple of Lowrance HDS units, Structure Scan 3D, a NMEA 2000 network, and a lot of odds and ends that needed to be addressed.  We ended up putting in a Blue Sea power distribution center, complete with the appropriate fuse holders for easy identification and servicing.  Admittedly it was tough working under the dash as my head sometimes feels like it's going to explode when it is lower than the rest of my body however I got through it pretty well and got it all installed.  Compared to what was there, it turned out really nice yet later in the week Bill tried his structure scan and eventually discovered that I had forgot to add that power cord to the fuse box.  Oh well, at least it was in and of course ready to easily be added to the panel for power. Admittedly (and you could not tell from my pole shed!) that I like things neat and right.  I was so impressed with this that I ended up buying another one of these for my boat as I have an add on panel for all my accessories and this is pretty slick.  The other thing that is going to get added is something called a Boost Converter.  Years ago i used to run Genetron's in the boat as my main depthfinder/sonar unit.  It was amazing as the unit could mark fish better than anything on the market at the time.  Unfortunately the display was an old CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) similar to the way televisions were 20 years ago!  These display's drew a lot of electrical current and were susceptible to shutting down if the voltage on the battery got to low, which would happen when I started my motor, causing the unit to shut off.   My old and late friend Tom Emmons was a super design engineer and he designed a boost converter that would take any battery voltage from 8 - 14 volts and convert it to 14.4 volts.  The Genetron loved to operate at the slightly higher voltage so Tom and I made one, stuck it in the boat and never had an issue again with low voltage causing problems. Well fast forward to today and with the new bigger outboard, I still have issues with low voltage so at the same time I will install a newer Boost Converter, hopefully I can get it done before next Friday when we head back to Canada.

Nice Green Bay walleye
So there are some people that have been fishing and one of those guys is my godchild, Ben Aiona. Ben has been fishing Lake Michigan quite a bit these last few months and in fact I gave him some of my equipment that I have from when his dad, Kevin and I used to fish with Gary Barneson, in my 1985 16 foot Lund boat.  He had een getting some nice salmon and this last trip he was up near Green Bay fishing for a combination of salmon and walleyes.  He claims all of the locals are complaining that the fish are not biting very well however from the pictures he has sent, you could have fooled me!  Ben is a very good fisherman and is quick to adapt to whatever the conditions are and is usually successful.  I am glad that he got some use out of my equipment and was successful.  This walleye looks fantastic, has great color and is nice and plump.  As for Ben, well you can see for yourself!!

Well, the Mille Lacs situation, or drama, continues to dominate the walleye fishing here in Minnesota.  Despite near record catches, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources continues to tow the line about the messed up walleye population on Mille Lacs.  After years of culling out the normal 16 - 20 inch walleyes, what we have left is a lake full of 20 plus inch fish and a ton of 14 - 16 inch fish from the 2013 year class.  This has resulted in a catch and release only season for walleyes on Mille Lacs with the original intention of closing the fishing for walleye between July 7 - 27, an it was supposed to open back up to catch and release walleye fishing last Thursday. Well, Mr. Lundeen and I speculated that it would not open back up at all, seeings how fishing was soo good in June. This week they delayed the reopening of walleye fishing till August 11th where it will again be legal to fish for walleyes, but not harvest any.  It will stay open until September 4th, or labor day then close again until December 1st, the start of the new harvest season.  I don't see an end in sight as it is sad, I have fished in Canada this year more than I have fished on Mille Lacs.  Although there are other reasons for this, I used to fish Mille Lacs almost every weekend in June and July.  Oh well, nothing ever stays the same.  I am not sure I will be getting out this weekend as I have a lot to do before heading back up to Lac Seul for a week of fishing.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Quiet Week

Holcombe's dock, looking up River
Well this last weekend was pretty quiet as Mille Lacs is shut down and the trip to Lac Seul is fresh in the bullseye for the next trip. That's OK as there is plenty to do around the house, grass to be mowed, garden to be weeded, stuff to be cleaned, it never ends!  I did take the opportunity to get down to the River and fish off my neighbors dock on Saturday night, a place where I have always enjoyed to relax and besides, I have gotten some nice fish off the dock in the past.  The strategy is simple and it's pretty easy to fish, just load up a hook with a couple of nightcrawlers and toss it out.  It is not very deep out from the dock, maybe 5 feet however the river basically forms a shelf where the fish come up into this shallow flat to feed.  Most of the current is on the other side of the river so it's a nice relaxing place to soak a crawler.  After getting set up this boat came towards me, I am really careful to say "an old man" because it is starting to hit home, yet this guy was probably in his 70's and had a jon boat just like mine with a 25hp Suzuki tiller on the back.  He asked if he could pull up to the dock and of course I obliged him.  Careful not to interfere with my line, he pulled up and asked if I owned the property. Nope, but the guy that does, Brian, is a really good guy and I am sure you can talk to him anytime. He commented how nice his light looked from across the river and only wanted permission to take a picture.  Well, we talked for almost 45 minutes, everything from the river to his boat, his Suzuki motor, my boats, and what I was fishing for!  It was a lot of fun as most of you know that I like to talk o people!  After he went back I checked the line and the entire glob of crawlers was stripped off the hook.  The river is full of small catfish and maybe that's what happened as I didn't see any of the classic Tap Tap.  Oh well I loaded the hook back up and casted it out but it soon was dark and whatever had stripped me did it again without even a tell tale sign of it's presence.  I did get a picture looking up river as it was a nice evening, few mosquito's and the fish were elusive at best.

Eric with a nice Largemouth
This week the Mille Lacs saga will continue to play out as we will see if our DNR will open fishing back up for walleyes on July 27th as the original plan had stated.  There are so many variables to this that I am afraid the Minnesota DNR is playing it too cautious, but as I have stated many times, I try not to come across too political.  If it does open on the 27th it will be for Catch and Release only, something I am fine with, however the use of live bait is still in limbo until next week so we'll see. This is usually the time of year my friend Chuck Teasley comes up from the St. Louis area and we fish Mille Lacs.  Looks like I won't know anything until next week sometime!  So there are others catching fish, including my friend Eric Hayes who was fishing with his son Carter.  As you can see the bluffs in the background, they are on the Mississippi River down by LaCrosse.  Eric is a damn good "River Rat" and someday I need to get down there and do two things....Fish with him and teach him how to smile!  I suspect Carter took this picture and is not very likely to ride his dad on the finer points of fish photography.  Either way it's a nice Largemouth Bass and certainly puts to shame anything I caught last weekend, which was only a picture of the river.   It does however get me thinking about maybe doing some bass fishing around the area as it is a fish that is present in most lakes around here.   Speaking of the Mississippi River it is  time for my friend Kevin to have their annual Catfish Tournament down by Trempealeau with his guys from the Sheriff's Department.  It reminds me of my late brother-in-laws sheephead (freshwater drum) tournament that they had every year.  Eric (the guy  pictured) and I fished that during on of the last years that my brother-in-law, Mike Rombalski was still with us.  Eric and I teamed up in his boat and we did pretty good, I thought as we had about 20 sheephead coming close to 30 pounds of fish. The other veterans of the contest had cut off blue barrels for their fish and we were pretty humbled by the 100# weights of the guys who had started this!  All the sheephead were eventually fed to the pigs and we finished the tourney at the local establishments around Trempealeau, Wisconsin.  I only wish that I would have had a chance to participate early, at least we could have gotten some quality practice time in!

Barb's nice Reindeer Lake grayling
Last but not least, I am including a picture that my good friend Bruce Wiley sent of his sister Barb holding a nice grayling she caught at Reindeer Lake in northern Canada. Bard is a retired commercial airline pilot who first worked flying guest to the northern areas of Canada in a DC-3. Later she piloted for Northwest Airlines and more recently Delta.  Her and Bruce have a float plane and she decided to visit the old lodges she had flown to over 30 years ago, flying there with her husband in their Cessna 172.  Seems like I need to convince Bruce that we need to do this one time!  Anyway it's nice to see people you know having a good time fishing and that is a very nice grayling.  One year in Alaska my brother Steve and Cousin Greg decided to walk  up to Crescent Lake on the Kenai Peninsula, a glacier feed lake 7 miles from the road.  It was interesting for sure as I wasn't sure I was going to make it but we got there after a 3 hour hike, uphill.  We were a funny bunch as we heard you should make noise in case a bear was around, so we were singing all the way up.  I am sure if there were any bear, they were long gone after hearing us!  The stream coming out of the lake is where the trail followed and at where it exited the lake was some current and a ton of small grayling.  This one Barb is holding was somewhere around 15 inches but the ones we were getting were more like 6 inches.  Never the less they were a very beautiful fish and at least I can say that I have caught one!  Getting ready for my next trip to Canada, to Fisherman's Cove with my cousin Paul and brother Steve.  I am anxious to fish the other end of Lac Seul to see if it is any different.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

First Trip on the River

Nice 16 inch River Walleye
My neighbor Tom Olson stopped by the pole shed on Saturday night and we struck up a conversation regarding the river, it's water levels and the potential to catch a fish or two.  Within 5 minutes we had decided that Sunday afternoon would be a great time to spend a few hours casting for smallmouth bass or what ever was hitting and he volunteered to take his boat.  That was fine with me as I had not been able to get my jon boat out and running yet and it would be nice to be able to sit back and have someone else control the boat.  There are 2 basic methods I like to fish the Mississippi River, drift with the current while casting crankbaits up to the shore and the other is anchoring in a deeper pool and soaking a nightcrawler.  My favorite crankbaits are the Bomber type with rattles which run 3-5 feet deep and are bright colored orange, red, chartreuse, or brown.   Because smallmouth feed on crawfish, these colors work quite well.  Launching across the river in the new park in Ramsey, we headed up river, the water levels were about a foot lower than we expected and it probably would have been better to have my jon boat rather than Toms 16 foot Lund with a 50 hp Merc but we did ok once we got into the main river channel.  Heading upstream we almost got to the City of Dayton before shutting the motor down and starting to drift with the current.  It always takes about 10 minutes to get back in the swing of using a casting rod again and after a few backlashes things were going well as we started catching fish right away.  I would not say the action was fast and furious however it was quite steady.  About 15 minutes into our drift a nice walleye surprised me at the end of my line.  The river has a lot of walleyes in it and someday I need to figure out how to specifically target them but we do get them occasionally casting the shorelines and structures on cranks.  It had been a few years since a walleye graced my drift so it was a welcome site for sure.  Now I have plenty of walleye fillets in my freezer from Canada so I let this one go.  We continued our trek downstream when withing the next half hour I had caught another walleye, two in a day, WOW.  Tom was fishing with a spinner bait and changed to a Shad Rap when he nailed a nice walleye, they looked like they all came out of the same mold!  That was a record for me, 3 walleyes on the River in one trip, it would be nice to be able to do that again sometime.

Biggest of the Day, 18.5 Inches
Did I say the smallies were hitting pretty well?.  Most of our fish were under 12 inches but those smallmouth bass really hit the lure hard.  Actually Tom caught an 11 incher that struck at the lure so hard the hook went through the top of it's head and threw it's brain, killing it instantly.  To be honest we didn't realize it until we released it and it floated belly up, didn't even make a ripple.  Tom scooped it out and along with the walleye he kept, it would go in the frying pan.  Not that it would have gone to waste as there are plenty of Bald Eagles on the river and an easy meal probably would have been appreciated.  Either way it was the right size for the frying pan, that's for sure.   The biggest bass of the trip was caught by Tom towards the end of our day on the river.  It was a nice 18.5 inch smallie, definitely a nice fish.  Although we don't keep an accurate count I would say that we ended the day with 3 nice walleyes and about 20 smallmouth landed and at least 8 others that either threw the hook or missed the lure on a retrieve.  So given that I would say that we had plenty of action all day.  The water was pretty nice and it wasn't too muddy either as usually the Crow Rive which enters the Mississippi in Dayton is quite brown and influences the rive below for a good 5 miles, with the south side of the river bearing the brunt of most of this water, so we almost alway fish the north shore side.  I did get Tom to agree to take a break as casting crankbaits all for 4 hours can take a toll on a guy.  He agreed and we anchored below Cloquet Island to soak a crawler.  I like fishing on the bottom with a crawler, one never knows what will show up at the end of the line, maybe a big catfish or Carp, a pretty redhorse sucker, a walleye, maybe even a sturgeon.  Within minutes of casting out the tip of my pole was bouncing.  I like to use circle hooks however they make it harder to catch fish and can prove frustrating if you don't exactly change your hook setting techniques.  If done right the fish are lip hooked or in the side of it's mouth whereas the fish would simple be gut hooked.  Within 5 minutes the rod tip was bouncing and a small catfish had become impaled on the hook.  After letting it go we headed back in for the evening,  Certainly a fun day on the water with a good friend.

Putting the final touches on the plan to go to the west end of Lac Seul in August so I'm going to meet with the guy who has organized it this week.  It should be fun.  Also it looks like another tip to Lac Seul Outpost is beginning to come together for September.  Mille Lacs shut down last Friday and my friend Bill Lundeen and I have resigned to believe that it will not open up again until Dec 1, when the new "season" starts, or the day the quota system resets,  It's not a lot of fun for guys like Bill yet he is doing OK.  Stop up and say high the next time you drive buy...........and of course buy some minnows!!