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!!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Mille Lacs On the 4th of July

Kam first Walleye, a 26 inch beauty
With everything seemingly taken care of with the boat, the 4th of July has been a traditional day for spending on Mille Lacs Lake.  Actually it was the day I always had a standing reservation to fish with my good friend Tom Emmons, we would fish Mille Lacs for the day then stay long enough to watch some of the fireworks that are held in Garrison, MN.  Admittedly I sure do miss my friend.  Well life goes on and with July 4th being on a Tuesday, the passenger in the boat this day was an engineer from work, Kam Chen.  Kam's brother is traveling so it was a good opportunity to get him out fishing on such a beautiful day.  And fish we did!   Kam is from Hong Kong, is a brilliant engineer and is getting into fishing.  The other goal was to try and learn all of the new additions to the boat including I troll, the remote Panther Steering system on the kicker motor, as well to check out the newly repaired main motor steering and does the kicker motor even run!  Leaving at 9:00, a quick stop at McDonalds for breakfast before stopping in to see Bill at Lundeens Tackle Castle.  There I went over my strategy with Bill before stocking up on some leeches and crawlers.  Having let him know I was planning on some lead line trolling to test some of the additions, he gave me a suggestion on where to fish as he had been doing well out there and he believes that the gravel held some big fish!  A few weeks ago Bill gave me some Jointed Salmo's and asked if I would try them.  Unfortunately I left them on my bench back in the pole shed....pretty stupid!  Once we launched the boat and idled into the bay I opened the throttle and voila, the steering worked perfect!  We headed to the humps just at the edge of the bay but did not do very well.  Next stop was the rocks on Sherman's Point but there again nothing.  I headed to Sherman's Flat and began trolling up and down the edge, something that was a lot easier with my old tiller controlled boat however I wasn't getting too bad at following the contour with my front trolling motor.  This was really a trip to test out my accessories and to help Kam catch some fish.

Kam's 28 inch Walleye
Trolling crawlers on spinner rigs Kam looked at me and exclaimed he had a snag.  Of course I knew that was almost impossible as we were on a mud flat.  Anyway I took the rod, felt a big head shake then handed it back and told him, no this is a fish!  Kam reeled in a very nice 26 inch walleye, nice and fat, probably over 6 pounds.  A few pictures and back in the water she went.  We continued up the cut and back  finally catching 4 walleyes, not exactly on fire but the mayfly carcasses tell the story as walleyes will gorge themselves during a mayfly hatch.   The next strategy was to head to a gravel area and lead line troll some #5 Shad Raps.  This also gave me the opportunity to get more familiar with my kicker motor trolling set up.  I worked pretty nice.  My lead core setup includes Suffix 832 line, it sinks 30% more than standard lead core, instead of 5 feet/color it sinks at 7 feet/color.  We put 3 colors out to take everything down to 21 feet and the #5 shad rap would do the rest and rest it did! It wasn't long before the rods which were sitting in the rod holders went off and we had our first walleye trolling.  Minutes later Kam's trolling rod bent over and he reeled in a nice 28 inch walleye. It was pretty big and he was a little scared of it so I posed for the picture!  We ended up catching 5 nice walleyes on the shad raps before moving to our next stop, a deep rock reef for bobber/leech fishing.  No one was there at the deep water reef so we set up using the i5 trolling motor as our anchor, I have to tell you this is one of the nicest things I have on the boat.  Holds great and it is simple to move around to help locate fish.  Well before you know it Kam's bobber went down.  Telling him to reel up till he feels pressure then set the hook, which he did!  His first walleye caught bobber fishing where he hooked it himself.  It's a  lot of fun to help someone catch there own fish and this time Kam had a triple going, pulling crawlers, Lead Lining Shad Raps, and now Bobber fishing leeches.

We ended up with 4 fish there before we decided to head back.  With 13 fish caught it wasn't the hottest day of catching however I was very happy with the results.  With the crawler rigs I use #6 Tru-Turn hooks and every walleye that grabs the crawler is immediately hooked in the mouth area. Trolling Raps produces minimally hooked fish, and a quick set on the bobber fish meant lip hooked fish.  I know hooking mortality numbers are going to play an important role as the walleye fishing shuts down on July 7th and supposedly scheduled to open back up by July 27th however I don't have much faith in our Department of Natural Resources to do this.  Every fish we brought into the boat was lipped hooked and successfully released with minimal stress.  The amazing bite on Mille Lacs this year will likely result in a total closure for the rest of the open water bite which ends December 1st, 2017.  As stated before, politics is no place in this blog yet affects so many things!  This may have been my only trip to Mille Lacs this year, time will tell.  In the meantime it's time to get the Jon Boat out and start hitting the Mississippi River behind the house.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Fishing At Last!

Nice walleye
Well, despite all the issues that have been dealt with in the last few weeks, we finally made it back to Lac Seul for 3 days of non stop walleye fishing.  My friend and neighbor Pete Sipe was gracious enough to drive making it a pretty relaxing trip for me, as well he took some great pictures.  Getting up at 4:30 last Saturday Morning we were hooked up and on the road around 5:30.  I barely had a chance to make sure everything on the boat was fine but we took off anyway with our first stop in Orr Minnesota to fill up the truck and boat, as well to have breakfast at the T Pattenn Cafe, usually our breakfast spot in the past.  A quick topping off the gas in International Falls then across the border.  This time, as usual we did not have any issues and after a few questions about my Chinese Visa that was in my passport, the gentleman let us on our way.  We made it to Dryden where a quick stop at the Safeway to pick up onions and potatoes before heading up to Sioux Lookout's Ojibway Baits to pick up some larger minnows then off to the Deception Bay landing.  It started to rain pretty good so Pete and I put up the new Bimini top on the boat, WOW, is that nice.  It was raining quite hard and we were nice and comfortable in our new protection against the weather.  It was impressive that we could drive 30 mph and except for some rain coming through where the windshield meets the top, it was quite comfortable, I should have had this years ago!  Our first day's fishing was in one of Bruce's favorite locations, Wapesi Bay.  Pictured is a nice 22 inch walleye that definitely went back into the water.  For the day Pete and I ended up with 46 walleyes caught and released except enough for supper as we never like to load up on walleyes too early in the trip.  On Monday Bruce asked me where I would like to go and of course my favorite place to fish in Lac Seul is Tuk Bay.  I have some fabulous spots to fish and have named them, Pete's Point, Dan's Hole, Dave's Luck Would Have It Point, and Baboon Ass Point. They are a sure bet as I have had my absolute best days of fishing in Tuk, and his trip was no exception as Pete and I ended up with 95 walleyes for the day.  We could have stayed for another 5 but we were always careful how the other boats would feel about our success of passing 100 fish for the day.  We try to be considerate, ya know.

Sunset looking north at Chamberlain Narrows
Tuesday was our last day of fishing and the group decided to explore some new areas that were marked with trails into the bays by my friend Paul Wenaas.  They were straight south of camp and we did get some nice fish, it certainly wasn't on fire. Bruce's family was coming in that evening so he left about 2:00 in the afternoon after dropping off his son Michael in our boat.  Because we were basically straight east of Tuk, I decided that would be a great place to finish the day and our trip. Coming out of the channel into the main bigger water I had to cross a wake that was in front of us so I turned the steering into the wave to cut it a a 45 degree angle.  Unfortunately there was no response to my turning and we hit the wave almost parallel and at 30 MPH it almost threw me out of the boat.  Now this is a good time to remind everyone why it's important to wear your life vest and to make sure your cutoff tether  is properly connected every time you are under power.  I have stated this before that for the last 6 years or so I wear my automatic inflatable life vest 100% of the time and hook up the tether.  I am getting to old to expect myself to tread water for any length of time and even though I have had this boat for 2 years now, I am still learning the nuances of running a wheel boat after running tillers for the last 35 years. I have no desire to be thrown out of the boat then watch the dreaded "Circle of Death" take me out. We barely made it to a point in Tuk where we fished the day before and ended up with 78 walleyes for the day.  It is absolutely beautiful at camp so I decided to post a sunset picture.

So, just my luck, the power steering went out on my Evinrude outboard and because it is the latest technology, there is no quick fix to provide emergency steering.  We limped back to camp as I could steer it a little, turn the wheel fast and after about 5 revolutions it would make it's way in the direction you wanted to go.  Once in camp we were able to call my dealer Frankie to see if there were any options, nope it appears as though the power steering fluid leaked out somehow.  With 37 miles to go in the morning we took off very carefully controlling our speed and slowing down when we met another boat and it's wake.  It felt as though the longer we used it the worse it got and by the time we got to the landing, it was almost impossible to get the boat aligned with the trailer and loaded however, we managed!  On the way home I called Frankie's and although it was too late by the time we drove by the exit to get there, I got up early and dropped it off on Thursday.  Friday morning they called me and said that Joe had got it fixed, geez I was expecting at least a week!  I think they are about a tired of seeing my boat as much as I am not seeing it!  Talking to Joe, Frankie's son who by the way, is absolutely amazing and treats me like I am his best customer, we discussed what went wrong.  Apparently Evinrude had a recall on the caps that hold the power steering fluid and the last time I was in they changed them out to the new ones.  He stated that he was really surprised that my new cap had cracked and leaked fluid, the first one of the "new" replacements out there.  Either way I am going to send a note to Evinrude.  The good news is I have my boat and pending any bad weather I am going to try to get up to Mille Lacs before July 7th when it closes to walleye fishing for 3 weeks.....that's a whole new post for later!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The End is in Site!

Jon Bathke's 30+ inch walleye on Mille Lacs
Well, the end appears to be in reach on my boat situation.  As of today it's been 29 days since she's last been in my garage however it looks like it is ready to pick up for my up coming trip to Lac Seul. I found out that the perpetrators of my disappearing electronics also destroyed the Sirius/XM Weather module on the boat and a new one had to be installed.  This will also require me to re initialize everything in order to get it to work.  I really like this feature as it overlays the weather on your GPS maps and will give out a warning if there is lightning near, a very nice feature, especially in Canada. The last thing needed is to replace the plastic panels that were heavily scratched in the removal process but honestly, things will operate just fine until the return from Lac Seul.  In the meantime I continue to miss the hot bite on Mille Lacs however my fishing buddies are taking full advantage of the bite, including my friend Jon Bathke.  I met Jon many years ago when he and his boss, Dave Johnson wanted to go fishing down by Alma, on the Mississippi River, and both myself and Kevin Aiona knew the area pretty well, so I took them.  That was probably in the early 1980's and we have been friends ever since.  Unfortunately Dave died in a tragic automobile accident just when the new highway 252 was opened, he was a great guy and loved to fish.  Jon has 2 daughters and he has been taking them to Mille Lacs since they were young girls.  We talked about the hot bit on Mille Lacs and he told me that him and one of his girls went up the other day and just slaughtered the fish.  I think it was over 40 fish with most of them in the 24 inch plus range.  His report mirrors a lot of reports that I and Bill Lundeen have been discussing and they don't necessarily bode well for the future of the 2017 walleye catching season on Mille Lacs.  You see it is strictly catch and release and on July 7 the lake will close down completely to walleye fishing with a planned reopening on July 27th as statistically the worse hooking mortality happens in July.  Personally I would like to see all live bait users relegated to circle hooks and limit the live bait rigs to 1 single hook only.  I have fished Alaska, South Carolina, and Florida for fish and circle hooks were required for proper fish release.  They do work great however take some getting used to as you can't just set the hook or you will pull it right out of their mouth, rather it takes a steady pull and the circle hooks simply rotate and catch the fish in the corner of their mouth every time.  I think I have mentioned this before, in Alaska halibut fishing one time, the captain would not even let us take the rods out of the rod holders until it was certain that the fish were hooked.  Simply reeling the line in worked to set the hook and it is very efficient.  I think, especially on the launches which bobber fish with leeches, this method would work wonders in preventing deep hooked walleyes, but of course, it's only my humble opinion and that doesn't seem to make much difference these days.

The other great news is the boat was ready to be picked up yesterday and the pole shed was getting
The Yellow connector was cut off
pretty lonely so off to Frankies.  After getting her home, the first thing was to check out and make sure everything worked.  One additional thing that got replaced was my Sirius/XM Weather module.  Not cheap at about $700 the perpetrators simple cut off the connector end making it virtually useless.  This meant that it needed to be programmed for the new unit so it was the first thing to do.  You see the walleyes on Lac Seul love Willies Roadhouse!  Well the satellite attached to the unit but no sound.  After a few minutes of deep thought, especially after the bluetooth worked, I decided to check the connections however they were ok.  It ended up that I needed to change the input designation in the units and Voila.....Sound.  The next thing was to make sure the trolling motor was attached to the network so I deployed it, nothing, no power, dead as a doornail.   Started tearing stuff apart before realizing to check the battery area, where there was a circuit breaker turned off, probably a safety precaution when working on the motor.  One quick flip and everything was fine.  Next was to connect the units to the Lowrance units, you know, it really is easy but you do it so little it's hard to remember what worked the last time.  Anyway, it got figured out and now I know how to fix Bruce's connection on his new HDS-9, that is if I can actually remember what I did! The other good news is my structure scan 3D does work now and I look forward to using it on Lac Seul.

With the two main electronic issues resolved the last thing left is to deploy the new bimini top, which looks great and I must say that Lake Area Canvas sis a great job.  I looked at the snaps that secure the side panels that were added to the side of the boat and my first thought was, I don't like this!  From a practical aspect it is necessary and after an hour of thinking about it, I guess it's ok as it's really the only way to do this.  Never the less, it's painful seeing things screwed into the boat!!!  So now it's a made scramble to get everything ready to head north to Lac Seul.  My friend Paul Wenaas just got back from there and I asked how the fishing was.  He stated it was great, they got a lot of fish in the 2 to 5 foot water depth.  WHAT?!?!?! Oh well, it is good to have some different information regarding this.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Ranger 620 Saga Continues

Empty Hole where my HDS12 used to be
On Friday Lisa at Frankies sends me an e-mail....Dave, we have a problem.......we are missing a few parts that we thought were part of what we ordered to fix your trolling motor and kicker motor however that is not the case and we had to reorder some parts.  Well, OK, it is supposed to be real windy on Saturday and on Sunday we had a family reunion in Eau Claire so even if I had the boat, it would be a stretch to be able to actually use it. Besides I also had an appointment with Lakes Area Canvas to have a bimini top custom made for the boat. on Monday June 12th. My goal was to have everything mechanical done by this Saturday and the top ready to go by June 23rd, in time for my next trip to Lac Seul with Bruce and Pete. Therefore I simply made the arrangement, I would pick up the boat on Monday, take it to the canvas place, when they are done, Frankie's can pick it up and bring it back to the shop, I will pick up the boat on Saturday morning, June 17th.  Seemed like a good plan. Well I get a call from John at the canvas shop on Tuesday morning, someone had broken into his "secured" area, got into my boat and ripped out both the console HDS 12 and the bow mounted HDS 9 however the 3rd HDS 9 that I had on the dash above where the 12 was mounted was pretty much unscathed as it had a gimble lock on it that takes time to figure out.  I ran up last night to assess the damage and took some pictures.I would definitely give a shout out to DuraSafe Locks.  Even when they tried to remove it, the lock held fast and the only damage to it was the gimbal mount itself, an easy thing to replace.  Of course instead of carefully twisting off the cable connectors, they apparently just cut them on the 12. The console is scratched up and I worry about how they are going to fix my glassed in transducer now that the connector end is cut.  I was concerned about some of the other things in the boat like my tackle boxes however those were left alone.  Although some people say you'd have got all new stuff, I have over 30 years of favorites accumulated and it would be difficult to think about restocking, especially those classics that just work.  I have plastics in there that just aren't made anymore but sure are the ticket for Lac Seul.  And of course does anyone know exactly how much stuff you have?!?!?

Previous location of my bow mounted Lowrance
The criminals only grabbed what they could easily pawn for money, leaving a lot of what I consider
nice stuff behind, thank the Lord! Because Frankie's has to put the trolling motor together as well as the kicker motor, it will be interesting to see if any parts are missing because these things simply were left apart in the boat. The thieves were somewhat more considerate with my front bow mounted HDS9 as they took the time to actually undo the cables. This means that only the yellow ethernet cable will need to be replaced. Of course the panel was broken and a new one needs to be ordered from Ranger but beyond the missing HDS9, it wasn't too bad in the bow section.  I was thinking about using tamperproof screws when mounting the new ones however someone made the point that they could do more damage that way, I guess it makes sense.  Luckily I removed all of my fishing rods and reels from the center compartment.  The rod storage holds at least 12 rods and at an average of $500 each, that would have made a bad situation even worse.  I guess there are worse things in this world but it seems like my luck is about reached a peak when it comes to the boat!

So, what else is exciting in the world of Fishin' With Dave?  Grandpa's tractor, the Ferguson TO-35 has not been running too good so I took off the carburetor and cleaned it however that made it even worse! Last week I took it off and sent it to Ohio to get rebuilt.  It arrived yesterday and I got it on, she started right up!  Ran perfect, the only thing I had to do was lower the idle screw to get it to idle at a slower speed.  With that I was able to grade my pole shed driveway enough to make it decent again.  That was a total relief as I couldn't even finish mowing the back acreage last fall.  You can be assured that only Non Oxygenated gas will be run through that thing going forward.  Now that we have received a lot of rain in the last few days, the grass is looking pretty good.  The garden is up, complete with potato beetles on the newly sprouted potato shoots.  Will I have the boat back this weekend, I really only care about June 23rd when I have confirmed a trip back to Lac Seul.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Boatless in Minnesota

From my Nephew, Kevin
Last Friday my dealer called to tell me that my kicker motor had water in the oil and a new seal kit needed to be installed, however it would not be done in time for the weekend fishing.  This seemed OK as I needed some quality time to get some stuff done around the house, as well I had a pretty good offer on Sunday.   Bill called me from Mille Lacs and asked if I could help him on Sunday. Seems like it would work out for all of us, my dealer could keep the boat over the weekend, I'd get the garden and other things finished, and Sunday I could head up and spend some time with Bill.  So Saturday I finished planting the garden, sprayed my apple trees with Sevin to chemically thin them out as they have a ton of apples on them, mowed, and attempted to clean the pole shed  (Good Luck with that!)  One of the nicest things that happened this week was my nephew Kevin texted me on Monday exclaiming that I should have something special in my receiving department so I left my meeting to check it out.  I pretty much figured what it was but upon opening the box only confirmed those suspicions, some Willamette Valley wines, a Pinot Noir and a Chardonnay, both very fine wines from one of the best Pinot Noir regions in the world.  He certainly knows how to tug at his Uncle's heart strings and I look forward to enjoying these soon as I added them to my wine cellar, never the less I'm always excited to have something from him.  I will definitely post how well these vintages are as I do like Oregon wines for sure!

So a quick update on the boat, uffda.  So Joe at Frankies has reportedly fixed the network system that
Wave Pro Air Adjustable boat pedestals
is been an issue from opener.  How in the heck did a seal on a new kicker motor go, well, I guess it's possible, let's hope this is under warranty!  The trolling motor bracket is the second one I've gone through so far.  When we returned from Canada a few week back my friend Bruce experienced some terrible back issues and landed in the hospital for a few days.  We got talking about different seat mounts to help balance the ride somewhat and he ended up with Smoothmoves, something that I was looking at since the Sportsshow, but a little research and I decided to go with the WavePro style.  They seem less bulky and Frankies carries them so it seemed a bit easier just to call and order a couple, which I did!  It should make those long rides into camp a whole lot easier.  It has an optional air pump that one can use to adjust the ride softness so I am sure it will take a little getting used to. The other reason to order from Frankie's is they have said that they sell a lot of these and knowing my Ranger, I am confident that they will do it right on the selection and install.  Maybe I am just getting more lazy these days, but it will be nice and if I do get my boat for this weekend, it's going to be windy on Mille Lacs so that would be a great way to test them out.  On Monday I get to bring my boat back in to get a Bimini top made for it.  I have never been one for a top however as I get older, protection from the sun and rain seem to make more sense, especially when we fish Lac Seul where it is mostly vertical jigging off the side of the boat.  This wheel boat stuff is hard to get used to after spending 36 years in a tiller type boat!

Sunday was spent at Lundeens helping him to get his rigs ready for some up and coming guide trips. We cleaned his big ProLine first, mounted some electronics, and started it before we moved to his 16 foot Lund that we used to crappie fish last fall.  He was installing Structurescan 3D so I helped him run the NMEA 2000 network as well as fishing the transducer cable up through the side of the boat. We had originally planned to take the big boat out on the lake but there was something wrong with the motor, so it was good that we got the smaller Lund taken care of first as he ended up using that for his trip.  The walleyes have really been biting on Mille Lacs with a report in Wednesday's paper that a Launch with 20 guys went out for 3.5 hours last week, caught and released 374 walleyes.  That's a lot of fish for sure.  There are rumors that I may be back on Lac Seul on June 24th, time will tell for sure!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Ontario Walleye Opener, Lac Seul 2017

Beautiful Lake Whitefish on Lac Seul
I was graciously invited to join my friends to experience Ontario's 2017 walleye opener at Lac Seul Outpost on Chamberlain Narrows, Lac Seul Lake, out of Sioux Lookout again.  Admittedly there wasn't much time between getting home from Leech Lake (Minnesota Fishing Opener), meeting with our Taiwanese business partners on the 2 days between trips, getting the boat cleaned and ready to go but miraculously I managed!  Getting up at 5:00 on Friday morning my neighbor Pete Sipe helped hook up the boat and north we headed, to meet  Wayne, Gary, and Tom at the restaurant in Orr, MN for breakfast before pushing across the border.  There was quite a line of boats crossing at International Falls to Fort Francis but our wait was surprisingly short.  Both Pete and I have got this border crossing down pretty well, take off your hat and sunglasses, always address the border agent with quick and firm answers, look him in the eye, and always tell the truth, not trying to hide anything.  We carefully pack our things and the only issue we had was that our liquor volumes were over what is allowed for 2 guys.  It seems as though we tell them exactly what we have and they hand the passports back and tell us to enjoy and be careful.  Only once did we have to pay extra duty but the last 6 times we were able to enter with a tad more than allowed.  I think the honesty and not trying to weasel our way out of duties, which BTW I am perfectly happy to pay, works in our favor.  The next big question is whether we can get our boats through the "rags" a short cut that cuts a few miles on the trip in.  We had been in contact with our fearless leader, Bruce however he had mentioned nothing about getting through the rags. This time of year the water is pretty low and it may only be a foot or so of water through the cut.  We launched the boat then headed around the island deciding not to test the shallow water as it was pretty low.  There were a couple of Ranger boats that had just put in and I learned they were boating into Lac Seul Outpost as well.  After accepting my offer to follow us, 4 boats headed out.  It wasn't that bad as my map was very good at keeping us on course and 75 minutes later we pulled into camp without any issues. As always it was great to see Ken and Brenda, the owners as well he had some new staff people that were very good. After settling into the cabin, the weather was forecasted to be great on Saturday then rain both Sunday and Monday.  Opener was as projected, the walleyes would be fairly shallow, 8 - 12 feet and plastics worked great.  I was determined to catch a walleye on one of my ice fishing blade baits as vertical jigging was the norm.  Something really hit it and pulling it up it was a very nice large Lake Whitefish, I would estimate around 5 - 6 pounds.  The lure came loose in the net so really, I am not sure it actually hit the lure or I simply snagged it.  Officially it hit the lure so it's at Osseo Meats, in Osseo, MN as those guys really do a nice job smoking it.

River entering Scaler Lake
On Sunday we were able to fish a new area (to me) and an area that my friend, Paul Wenaas is very familiar with, Scaler Lake where the river runs into it.  Paul gave me some of his trails into the lake a couple of years back and both myself and Bruce commented how well Paul had it marked on the GPS as with the low water levels it was important to make sure you stayed in the old (Now flooded) river channel.  Anywhere there is water flowing in the lake tends to be a fish magnet and this spot was no exception as we hammered the walleyes and had a few large northern pike.   Bruce commented that this area usually has a lot of boats in the area however we were the only 2 there.  If you click on the picture you will see 2 eagles perched on the dead tree tops as there were plenty of eagles around this area.  I suspect that the fishing is pretty good for them as well.  After a couple hours of reeling in walleyes, and the rain getting heavier, we decided to head on back a little closer to camp.  Scaler Lake was the farthest we traveled to fish as it is very good fishing just across the channel from Camp.  We did run up to Birch Narrows which is north of the camp and there were 4 houseboats parked along the route including one parked right off a point that can be quite good this time of year.  While we were fishing another boat came in and got a little too close to the houseboat and some words where exchanged.  We just looked on shaking our heads as it was hard to tell who was in the wrong.  Oh well, it's a big lake but some people get pretty defensive.  I rained both Sunday and Monday so we ended back at camp maybe earlier than usual, which was fine with me!

Monday evening's dinner was Steak night again as we diligently make sure that we have enough fish to take home, 4 walleyes each.  After dinner we did a final count and I was 3 fish short of my limit.  I grabbed my spinning rod and walked down to the dock where it is pretty easy to catch a walleye and within 10 minutes I had my 3 walleyes, nice ones in the 16.5 inch range.  Of course Tuesday morning was pretty nice considering the rain which fell on Sunday and Monday, typical for the day you leave. Either way it was a great time and I look forward to my next return to Lac Seul.  My boat went in the shop on Thursday as I have some ongoing issues that need to be addressed.  I am anxious to get it on Mille Lacs as the reports coming in is that the walleyes are practically jumping in the boat.  As well, I definitely need to start looking at my river boat as I anticipate a great season of fishing on the River.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Uffda.......Busy Schedule...............But....Fishing Opener!

My gift from Jeffrey
Wow,  Last week was a whirlwind of activity, too much to even take the time to report in on the Fishing opener.  Adding to the craziness was the fact that upon returning from Leech I ended up taking my nephew to the airport then getting everything ready for my guests that were arriving from Taiwan the next day.  I spent the next Wednesday and Thursday with my "Golden" Brother CK, then a mad scrabble to get a few things done around the house, pack as we headed for Lac Seul, Canada on Friday.  It was great to see my friends from Taiwan, CK, Jeffrey, Serena, and May.  Although I usually get to see Jeffrey at least once a year, I haven't seen CK or Serena in a number of years. Jeffrey has been extremely generous and the last couple of times he brought me some Single Malt Whiskey from Taiwan's famous distillery, Kavalan.  It is ranked as one of the best whiskey distillers in the world and he went all out this time bringing me a bottle of Solist Whiskey, aged in Sherry Wine barrels, and is cast strength (meaning it's alcohol content is as it is right out of the barrel, about 57%).  It is very good and I am sure it  deserves it's world ranking as whiskey's go.  It's definitely a treat and I appreciate their generosity for sure.  It was great to see CK again, he calls me his Golden Brother because I understand the business that we are in similar to him, we see eye to eye on a lot of things.  They have been our business partners of ours for overseas manufacturing and we have done business with them for almost 20 years now.  Interesting as I told them I only have a few days between Minnesota Opener and my trip to Lac Seul and they graciously fit it into that time frame.

Ben's eelpout
So why talk about Whiskey than the Minnesota Walleye Opener, frankly because it was probably the worst opener for catching fish on Leech Lake that I have experienced since starting to go there in 1990.  Not that there are few if any fish in the lake, quite contrary, however I believe that unusual spring and a huge baitfish situation lead me to catch only 4 walleyes for 3 days of fishing, maybe I am just getting old but all the other guys didn't do so well either!!  I did get to fish with my friend Ben Taylor and we headed out to Annex Reef where he nailed this beautiful eelpout, definitely a great fish and they are absolutely delicious to eat.  Besides that I think that my boat caught a total of 10 walleyes, not many for each session and as well we only brought in 2 keeper fish (between 14 and 20 inches), pretty slow.  I even tried trolling shad raps along Ottertail point and although we did get a few fish they were all in that 10 - 12 inch range. The word was that the walleyes were very shallow, in the 4 - 6 foot range however we had water temps in the high 50's so this didn't make a lot of sense.  Usually I like the deeper structures when the water temps are up there like this however that wasn't the case as my go to spots were not very good and I didn't mark many fish on those 12 foot humps that are located off a few midlake reefs.  In the end we got enough walleyes for everyone to take a couple home plus we had our fish fry on Sunday night.  Luckily the group caught a lot of northern pike and the resort does an excellent job of cleaning out the Y bones so they deep fried just perfectly and to be honest, Northerns are a great tasting fish, firmer than walleye and they seem to have a little more flavor.  Catching isn't the most important thing about Walleye Opener however it certainly helps.  This year was Team Walleye's 44th year opening on Leech Lake and my 27th year with the group.  Time certainly flies and it seems like just yesterday when I started going with these guys in 1990.  Although it wasn't our best year of catching fish, it certainly was a good year to get the group together again, I guess as we get older this is quite a bit more important!

Stay tuned my report from last weekends Canadian Fishing Opener at Lac Seul should prove to be more positive on that elusive catching side!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Things Coming Together

Nicely tilled Garden
It's been a mad rush to get all of the "critical" things done around the house before I head out for 2 weekends in a row fishing.  Because my weekends are going to be away from home, the critical issues include getting the garden tilled, the yard cleaned up and fertilized, the fruit trees taken care of, and getting the lawn mower ready to go.  Last weekend most of the big things did get taken care of, starting with tilling the garden.  Being smart about this I took up my friend Ricky Shermer's offer to use his 6 foot tiller mounted on the back of his Kubota tractor, taking a huge amount of work and compressing it into a few hours. The tiller I have been using was my dad's yet that only does about an 18 inch swath and it requires you to go over it twice.  With Ricky's setup a single run is worth 4 times with the hand tiller and all I really need to do is sit on my butt and steer the tractor.  It does have one disadvantage, it has a tendency to pile the dirt behind the tiller but luckily I manged to work that out.  At a PTO (Power Take Off) speed of 540 RPM's the actual tiller shaft is spinning quite fast and really pulverizes the dirt nicely.  One does need to do a few passes but as stated, it's easy when the only thing is driving the tractor.  I really like how it chops up the old corn stalks and other debris from last year's garden planting.  With the tilling behind me the onions got planted and by the time I leave on Friday the potatoes will be in.  Thanks Ricky!!!

The yard needed a good mowing and picking up the stuff left over from the winter.  That got done
Apple tree in full bloom.
and with rain specified for next Monday and Tuesday the fertilizer will go down soon.  The raspberry patch is all cleaned up, it's kind of a pain removing all of the old dead canes and trimming them up but admittedly I do get a great berry crop.  Maybe my neighbor Lory will turn some of them into a nice wine this fall.  The apples and pear trees look good this year.  Last year we got a late freeze while the blossoms were in full grandeur resulting in a failure of the fruit crop however this year it looks like the weather will hold and we should have a bumper crop of apples and pears.  A good friend Eric Hayes gave me some important information on the proper apple tree spray and my goal is to locate all the ingredients to make this happen.  Our friends still have bees on the property and the trees are simply full of them, perfect addition to having all the right things come together.  What is frustrating is the boat hasn't even been in the water to test out everything.  Hopefully one nigh here I can put some muffs on the water intakes and at least start the motors to make sure at least they run. The boat is otherwise pretty much ready to go and come Friday morning it will be heading north!

All indications point to a great walleye opener as the water temps at Leech Lake are in the 50's already.  Hopefully the big hawgs are on the bite and we get a few.  I have my strategies all mapped out including a run into Walker and visiting the new brewpub in town on Sunday between fishing sessions.  There is still a lot to do and the schedule doesn't get any easier with my returning next Tuesday, our Chinese visitors here next Wednesday and Thursday, then off to Lac Seul on Friday morning to participate in the Ontario Fishing Opener.  Uffda!

Friday, May 5, 2017

One week and Counting

Panther Martin Remote Tiller Steering
The end of April has been a whirlwind of activity but admittedly it does make the time fly.  With about a week to go before we head up north for opener there is still a lot to do around the house, heck the boat hasn't even been in the water yet, maybe this weekend.  While getting things ready I noticed that the sticker on the license plate attached to the boat trailer still had 16 on it, not good.  the assumption was that somewhere I renewed it on or near the expiration date and simply misplaced the new sticker, a very plausible scenario.  Attempting to renew it online only met with a reject which was strange because the plate number and VIN number was correct.  Calling the Minnesota Department of Motor Vehicles provideded me with the answer.........Sir, your trailer was not registered for the year 2016 and has been removed from the data base.  In order to get your renewal, you need to go to a nearby Deputy Registrar's office and sign an affidavit certifying that the said trailer in question has not been used since December 31, 2015.  Apparently I did not renew it last year and the 16 designation means that the plates expired January 1, 2016 and not December 31, 2016.  Therefore I have been pulling my boat trailer all of last year on expired plates.  So I go in and sign a document that the last time I used the boat trailer was in October of 2015, that satisfied the agent and I was able to secure new tabs for this season.  It sure would be convenient to issue boat trailer license renewals similar to the boat itself, a 3 year sticker and do it at the same time. Oh well, one more thing out of the way!! This weeks picture is of the Panther Martin Remote Tiller Steering module they added to the boat.  It is quite compact and works really good, at least in the garage.  Note the heat gun on the floor for removing my old plate sticker.  As stated in the past, I really enjoy trolling Shad Raps along the shorelines on Leech Lake and this should make it quite a bit easier to control the boat while trolling. The boat is pretty well put back together with the right strategic rod/reel combos that are best suited for walleyes on Leech as most of our strategy is slow drifting with a jig and minnow combination, as well the trolling rods are ready to go!

Plano deep 3700 Series Storage Boxes
This year I intend on using plastics more.  One of the things to make storage easier was purchasing a few of the Deep Plano 3700 plastic boxes to store all of my plastics in, as they generally are kept in their original packaging bags.  Using 3 boxes I can sort them by scented ones such as Gulp and PowerBait, BFishN type baits like the Pulse X featured last week, and plain 3 - 4 inch curly tail grubs in a number of pretty wild colors. I like to be organized in the boat and these boxes really do an excellent job of storing these lures and the Ranger's compartments were specifically made to hold this size so it really makes it nice. Last year I keep them in a soft sided tackle box but it proved to be extremely difficult to access everything and this really make it easy.  One of my goal is to commit to teaching my friend Bruce the art of fishing plastics on Lac Seul this year and will probably even set up one of my jigging rods for him so he doesn't have to switch his own lures.  I have been very successful in getting him in my train of thoughts on equipment such as depth finders and trolling motors, now it's time to introduce a new method he can use when the walleye bite slows down, or to really take advantage of it when the bite is hot.  Either way both the Minnesota Opener and the Canadian Opener should be in prime!

I did pick up our Team Walleye hats and the honorary shirts for those who bring their boats.  They are pretty sharp and I will guarantee that we will be noticed on the lake!  pretty much everything is a go as my friend has confirmed our annual bait situation, so we are set there.  Lot's of stuff to get caught up on, the garden needs tilling, the lawn needs mowing and fertilizing, boat need to be checked out. The list never ends.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Getting Ready for the Season

catalpa/chartreuse Pulse R soft bait
It's been a busy last 2 weeks, since Easter.  On the same day (April 18th) that my mother passed away, our good friend Jim Carlson had passed away hours earlier.   His funeral was last Monday so we left my mom's funeral to head back up to the cities to attend his family memorials.  Jim was the brother-in-law to my really great friends Mark and Jack Taylor.  He was also a Lutheran pastor and I was instrumental in helping him get the pastor's job in my home town of Eleva, Wisconsin.  Jim's wife Linda is Mark and Jack's sister and my wife and I would always get invited to their family get together's as they were our family here in Minnesota.  Jim's funeral was Monday and we were honored when the family asked us to walk up with them as part of the family.  It was also nice to see both Dennis and Linda Barneson as well as Gary and his wife, Karen, I had just seen them on Saturday at my mothers funeral.  On Tuesday I flew down to Chicago with my production Manager, Rich Rebella, to attend the spring TTA meeting for 3 days.  I really enjoy getting together with my fellow members of our industry, we fished together last December at our fall meeting then again in late March when we all met at APEC.  Quite honestly I am anxious to just try and relax for  a few days but we all know that is going to be hard to accomplish as there is not much time between now and fishing opener.  One thing I have enjoyed is watching the In Depth Outdoors video of the host catching walleyes one the Rainy River a few weeks ago.  Here is the link to one of their latest videos that uses these Pulse R's Here  One of their baits, which I have found to be quite productive on Lac Seul is the BFishN AuthentX Pulse R soft plastics as it has a unique tail action that can be fished quite slow.  After watching the video I just had to order their new color, Catalpa/Chartreuse as it should be a real good color in the stained waters of Lac Seul.  I am bound and determined to catch a walleye on Leech Lake on one of these!

Long Day Onions planting guide
Monday evening I  picked up my onions from Andy Stevens, an engineer that used to work with us. Here is a video explaining Long day onions as many people don't understand how to get the results most people would like to see. Dixondale Farms from Texas does and excellent job of providing the right type of onion sets to assure a great crop this fall. Every year we order onions together, the right kind for our area.....Long Day onions,  Because of our long days (> 14 hours) in the growing season, you need the right ones.  As well I stopped by Beiswinggers Hardware to pick up some drive belts for my dad's old Honda Tiller. I go them on and tilled up a good chunk of the garden Tuesday night before I left.  I definitely need to get the onions and potatoes planted before fishing season starts.  If possible I'd like to get the boat out this weekend for a trial run before opener.  Although I am sure it will be just fine it's still good to try and get familiar with the new equipment before I get out on the lake.

I am writing this at the Chicago Skyclub waiting for my plane ride home.  I hear it's been cold up north, hopefully my apple blossoms are going to be ok.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The End of An Era

My mom, Betty Anderson
Tuesday, April 18th was my Mother's 83rd Birthday.  At 4:00 on that day she passed away from COPD, I probably don't need to elaborate the causes.  It marks and end of an Era, for 52 years my parents home was home, things never stay the same. My dad met my mother Betty in Milwaukee back in the early 1950's when after he finished his stint in the Air Force he went to work at the Schlitz Brewing Company.  There he met my uncle Lee Ystad who was married to my mother's sister, Dorothy.  I am sure that Lee told my dad that my wife has a good looking sister you should meet, and the rest is history! Married in 1954, they  lived with my Grandparents (Dad's Parents) for a while and I can only imagine how that went.  Mom, being from Milwaukee was a city girl and was sort of a tough gal!  Meanwhile my grandmother was a church going, small town woman, just the opposite of mom.  Well, they prevailed and eventually mom adapted to living in Eleva, a town of 465 back then.  She was the disciplinarian in our family as it never was........"Wait till your Dad get's home" rather she, and I would have to say very effectively, could dish out whatever the punishment needed to be and it was usually with her favorite weapon of choice, the fly swatter!  She knew how to use it and it was interesting as we were pretty settled down by the time Dad got home.  She eventually got a job at the local Grocery Store as a general stocking help and cashier.  In a small town everyone knows you and where you came from so everyone knew mom for sure. I find it very interesting that Mom did not have a driver's license until she was in her 50's, and even so, she never really drove at all.  I know she let her license lapse and really never wanted to drive.  She was a pretty woman up to the end and actually looked young for her age.  I remember when I was in my late teens people would often ask if I was her younger brother.  Yet she did not like her picture taken and was quite adamant about that, enough that it got me in trouble many times.  This is a picture taken about 10 years ago, she would be upset that I even published it here however I am proud of her and like to brag about her (This is where I got my good looks from!).  She was an interesting person, quite independent in many ways and quite dependent in others. Admittedly we were not a hugging, kissing, family, maybe to some it would
Mom and Dad at their 25th Wedding Anniversary
appear we were quite cold.  That's the way it was. 2 weeks before my father died (August 2, 2011) I sat on the couch with him and finally got the courage to say.....Dad, I never really told you this but I wanted you to know that I love you. Well his comeback was straight and to the point......Dave, when we were kids, we never had to say that to our parents as we just knew!  That was it, end of story!  Wow, I had to think about it for a while but vowed to start telling it to mom every time I talked to her.  After 56 years of silence I believe it changed her as she always responded to that positively.  Sitting with my brothers Steve and Blake, and Sister Beth, they gave each one of us a hand written note she had wrote and requested they be given out to each of us upon her death.  Mine says:  "Dear David,  I's so proud of what you turned out to be.  I can't thank you enough for all that you have done for me.  You take good care of me.  You have always been so hardworking, I remember when you were 12 and started working a garage after school.  You would stay there working until late at night.  Growing up you always helped me and as and adult, I always knew if I needed anything you were only a phone call away.  I love you so much! Love, Mom  The was a star at the end and another statement:  Look up at the stars and know that I am with you.  For that shining star you see is me watching you from above."   Uffda, pretty hard to top that.  Of course we all read ours out loud and between the tears we exclaimed, where did this come from!!!  From an amazing lady, one who was plucked from her world, hauled up to a foreign place, raise 5 kids, and found her real home.  Those who are reading this please consider, it's not to late to tell those who are special to you that you love them.  It's amazing what the results can be!! Love you mom.  Here is her obituary.
My new iTroll Kicker Motor Controller

So it's full speed ahead with our Opening fishing event.  I brought my boat in a couple weeks ago to Frankie's and they called, come pick it up!  I got the iTroll and remote steering installed as well, they did a number of warranty issues that I did not expect.  The tongue jack on the trailer was almost impossible to crank and the outboard engine had a few recalls that needed to be updated, a cover and the engine software.  I also had them install a timer on my baitwell aerator pump as it drove me crazy that it ran all the time. The iTroll is and interesting device as it precisely controls the speed of my Evinrude 9.8 hp kicker motor that I have been trying to use for trolling presentations.  It is a special servo motor connected to the throttle that allows you to adjust the throttle in small increments to get just the right speed.  It was difficult to set this using the shift lever to get the right speed.  As stated it was a bear to steer and the new Panther Martin remote steering should make trolling crankbaits and breeze!  I can't wait to try it on Minnesota Opener in a few weeks as I have a feeling the shallow water #5 Shad Rap bite will be pretty hot!  I will definitely give you a full report.  Now I need to find the time to get the boat in the water and try everything out as well as reorganize things, put the rods and tackle back in the boat, the list never ends.  As well the yard needs work and I am in Chicago next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  It's going to be a crazy next 4 weeks!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Ice Out

Ice out days for Mille for the Past 39 Years
When the ice has melted off a lake here in Minnesota, we traditionally call the event Ice Out.  It's a real big deal as most of our lakes have been frozen over since December and it marks the beginning of a new year of open water fishing.  The most notable lakes are the large ones like Lake Mille Lacs and Leech Lake as it sets the stage for what the fishing conditions might be for this years Minnesota Fishing Opener on May 13th.  An early ice out usually means that the spawn will have been completed and the traditional 2 to 3 weeks of recovery will be over so the fish tend to bite better. This is not always the case but can provide a good indicator of how the fishing will be.  I feel that Mille Lacs Lake is the one who's ice out sets the tone for the state.  Ice out is often defined as when someone can drive a boat unimpeded from Garrison, MN on the Northwest corner of the lake to Isle, MN which is in the Southeast corner of the lake.  The average date for the ice to leave Mille Lacs is April 27.  The earliest on record was March 26, 2012 and the latest on record is May 14, 2013 so you see there is little correlation from year to year.  Early ice out means and early spawn and the bite is usually better by fishing opener but that's
2017 MN Ice out map
not always the case.  In 2008 we still had ice on Leech Lake at opener, it wasn't officially declared Ice Out however we could get our boats into the harbor at the resort and fish the part of the lake that was open and it was absolutely fabulous!  I remember scooping up ice from the lake for the coolers however even with the cold water, fishing was excellent.  So much for that theory!  Admittedly we caught a lot of 15 - 17 inch fish which tend to be males and that makes sense.  This year's early Ice Out on Leech Lake should bode well for our 44th Annual Team Walleye opener.  The walleyes should be done spawning by May 1 and by the 13th they should really have the feedbag on.  Unfortunately the early ice out on Mille Lacs means the pre spawn netting starts.  Interesting as there will only be a catch and release season on Mille Lacs this year however when the lake was iced over till May 14th, that year we had a record spawn and the lake is just full of 14 - 16 inch walleyes............perfect for the gill nets.  It's sad but there is little one can do.   With the Minnesota Walleye Opener about 4 weeks away now things are looking like it could be a fantastic opener this year.  Time will tell!

Limit of 23 - 27 inch walleyes from Lake Erie this week.
The boat finally got dropped off at Frankie's on Friday for some minor but critical work.  First the kicker motor has to get worked on as it hardly started toward the end of last year.  The kicker is a 9.8 hp Evinrude 4 stroke made by Tohatsu and it's a nice engine when it runs!  Apparently the EPA regulations for these types of motors requires them to run so lean that they are difficult to get started again, and mine was no exception!  There are some "secret" adjustments that can be made to get them to run better.  As well they will change the oil, add what is known as an I troll to help control the throttle better, along with a new remote control electric steering for the motor.  This might be overkill however I am anxious to have better control over my trolling methods.  Another thing which is getting done is and aerator timer on my bait well.  In Canada the baitwell in my boat is indispensable as it makes getting minnows a heck of a lot easier than grabbing the minnow bucket from over the side every time.  The problem is the aerator in the bait well runs constantly,  I would like a timer that runs for a minute then rests for 5 as one doesn't need it running all the time.  Other things that are happening, my friend Bill Lundeen is up in Duluth fishing Lake Superior.  He usually is in Arizona at this time driving his mom back to Onamia but she didn't go this year and both he and Kathy need a break!  Also my friend Kevin Aiona and his son Ben are at Lake Erie pre fishing the upcoming Cabela's National Walleye Tournament, on Lake Erie the 11th and 12th of this week.  Ben texted me a picture of their limit of 8 walleyes in the 23 to 27 inch class.  His biggest was 31 inches and I don't know why he wouldn't send me THAT picture but it's OK, I'm sure it will turn up somewhere.  

Easter Weekend is coming up and often it occurs around my mothers birthday.  Unfortunately these days she is not doing so good but I am pretty sure she will be around to see her 83rd birthday. I am sure I will be spending time with her this weekend and hopefully will have a good time as I don't think she has too many more in her.  I did spend last Sunday with my brother Steve at mom's visiting and helping him rig up an HDS 12 on his Lund boat.  We moved his existing HDS 8 up to the bow and set up the boat so he could network them together.  He is thinking about getting a Motorguide i5 like I have so we are expanding his NMEA 2000 network to handle that as well.  He is getting pretty set up with updated electronics, a SonicHub audio server, the Motorguide, maybe a Point One GPS receiver.  Looks like I have lots to continue doing for him as he, along with my sister Beth, have done and outstanding job taking care of mom.  God Bless them!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Watching the Ice Melt

View from the Deck
It's time to get caught up with everything that has been waiting for the warmer weather to show itself. Actually it's been pretty nice here in Minnesota, the frost is already out and because of the lack of snow we really don't have any high water to deal with.  Most of the lakes up to Mille Lacs have experienced ice out and the Mille Lacs Webcam shows that Mille Lacs isn't that far behind.  It's been a week since I've been back from Naples and I have been enjoying eating the grouper that I brought home.  I must have had 20 pounds of fish fillets in my cooler, it was good that I turned down the refrigerator in my hotel room as the bags of fish were partially frozen when I packed them, the survived the trip quite well and are delicious!  Although last weeks post dealt with the fishing aspect of my trip, one of the things that was interesting is the experiences with my friends down in Tampa/Naples.  First was our accommodations while staying in Naples, we had the pleasure of being with my friend Glen and Tim in his Naples beach house.  A beautiful property right to the beach, it was wonderful to get up in the morning and have coffee on the deck and look out on the Gulf of Mexico, while listening to the gentle waves lapping up on the beach.  Tim is one of the most generous person's you'll ever meet and both Matt Davis (My friend from Dallas) and I certainly appreciated the hospitality shown to us. Matt and  had the pleasure to sleep in what is deferred to as "The Honeymoon Suite".  Although it had a couple of twin beds, it was right on the ground floor and the air conditioner was loud enough to drowned out any snoring that either him nor I would hear.  From Tim's house one could walk right on the sand beach where it was covered with shells and as you see in the picture, guys would actually
Joe's 58 foot boat.
surf fish off the property.  I never saw them catch anything however they must get something or what would be the point?  The next surprise was when we arrived back in Tampa to attend our APEC convention I finally ran into my dear friend Joe Stanfield from Dallas.  We attempted to get him to come fishing with us however he had lots of things to do and when we got into town it was obvious!  The Tampa Convention Center is located right on the waterfront and they had some docks where you could rent a spot to park your boat.  Well Joe decided to drive his boat up directly to those docks and use it for his accommodations during the show.  APEC is an interesting conference as it attracts some of the best and brightest electrical engineers and our company exhibits at that show, we have for at least 20 years.  Actually I had the pleasure of meeting Joe at the Cincinnati Coil Winding Show at least 20 years ago and we have been friends ever since.  Joe arranged our Cameron, Louisiana fishing trip a few years back and we never plan anything without including him in on the event.  When I first saw Joe he had let his hair grow out, I had to make a snide comment but it was sure good to see him again.  After the show was finished on Monday night he invited myself and my engineers onto his boat for an evening cocktail which was awesome.  The boat is a 58 foot yacht and quite the rig and is named appropriately "Daddy's Money"  Because it was on my way to the convention center every morning from the hotel, I would stop in and have coffee.  On Wednesday we took a little cruise up the river in his 16 foot dingy he had as his smaller boat to get around if needed. It is always the highlight of my trip to see Joe and this year was no exception.

Mike's nice norther at Lake Abram, Sioux Lookout Ontario
Well, there was still fishing going on as another good friend of mine, Mike Grant, went up to Canada for a later season Ice Fishing trip with some of his friends.  I knew he was going a few weeks ago so I volunteered the use of my Vexilar, a few nice and sturdy ice rods, and my bait collection.  His destination was Lake Abram, just out of Sioux Lookout and not to far from where I go fishing on Lac Seul.  The lake is famous for it's lake trout and nice northern pike and Mike promised me some pictures if he was lucky enough to catch something. So here is Mike with a very nice northern, at  least in the 15 pound class.  He also caught a nice lake trout and a whitefish and claims that although it wasn't a good day, it really helped to have my Vexilar showing him where the fish were and when to expect that thump.  I am really glad he got out and someday maybe he will let me horn in on his trip!  I can tell you that it certainly has the juices flowing for the opener.  Speaking of fishing opener, Team Walleye has been working hard to get ready as we finished ordering our hats for this year.  We are only 6 weeks away and the weekend after that I will be heading to the Ontario fishing opener with my friends.  There are a lot of things that need to get done, the boat needs to be brought up to Frankies for some work on the kicker motor as it is the worst starting outboard motor I've ever had.  I am adding a remote control steering to it as it can be damn near impossible to steer otherwise.  I wanted to get a bimini top for the boat however it looks like the place is tied up till June of this year, uffda!   The yard needs work, the sprinkler system needs tuning up, the garden has to be tilled up, trees dug out and replanted..........the list goes on and on!  Oh well.