Friday, April 20, 2018

Fishing for Polyps

Uffda!!
Well seeings how the fishing hasn't been in the front of my activities I though it would be a good time to discuss a very critical procedure that was endured on Wednesday of this week, my scheduled 5 year colonoscopy.  This is my 5th one since I noticed blood in my stools in 2000.  Admittedly this is an uncomfortable subject however I feel very strong about this as in 2000 they removed a polyp from my colon, which the doctors stated is a definite warning sign/risk factor for colon cancer.  No Thanks!  I know people who have survived colon cancer and those who have died, and to be honest, this is quite an easy way to screen yourself.  Yes they have less intrusive ways to screen for cancer however this is the only way to discover polyps and remove them before they become a problem.  The best prevention is to catch it early!  Actually the procedure isn't that bad, drink a gallon of what they call Golytely, trust me, it's certainly a play on words!  The best results start with a good prep and after drinking a gallon of this, I guarantee, there is nothing left to be had!!  It was a very interesting procedure this time as the doctor had some notoriety for preforming the procedure without the usual sedation.  Rather than look forward to another 6 hour recovery time I agreed to try it.  Admittedly it was different as the physician was from the Netherlands and we pretty much discussed fishing during the entire procedure.  He coined the phase of the title, fishing for polyps!  He talked  about fishing when he was young, how they would catch pike then eat them.  He didn't like the Y bones very much so we discussed  the way you can remove them in the filleting process!  His assistant was also a fisherman so it was a great way to pass the time while looking at the screen as the scope kept moving up the colon.  It is kind of funny when you really think about it, fishing in Canada as we work up 6 feet to the end.  It is also kind of fascinating, looking at the display and discussing the procedure and diagnosis of each section.  I had to laugh, the doc said that I had good storage...........I won't go into what that means, but you can guess.  In the end he gave me an excellent report and based on the current standards switched me from every 5 years to repeating this in 10 years, based on the great shape my colon was in and also past reports.  I definitely encourage all of my friends over 50 to get this done, it's relatively easy and quite painless and very important!  Some people find it uncomfortable however the doc complimented me on the ability to do this without drugs.  They had an IV in me just in case I started to get uncomfortable, an emergency dose would settle things down yet I made it just fine.  He told me that you just have to have the right attitude and that not all people can endure this procedure without some sedation.  I walked out of there and could even drive home by myself!

Bass Spawning schedule
Monday is my scheduled trip to the Dallas/ Fort Worth area to spend some time with my friends Matt Davis and Joe Stanfield as our plans are to fish his tank for Bass and hopefully try for some catfish.  Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are the spring TTA meetings in Fort Worth, then I fly home on Thursday afternoon.  The plan is to experiment with a number of typical bass baits, this time of the year should be well past the post spawn stage and into the pre summer period and feeding heavily.  I am betting on some action baits like spinner baits or rattle baits.  The Solunar tables for next Monday put the peak times at just when we arrive!  In addition my friends are anxious to try Steaks a la Kienitz, a recipe from my friend Troy Kienitz that is out of this world.  Admittedly it fun to prepare this in front of people who have never had the experience to have a great steak after it been marinated in Tabasco sauce, Frank's hot Buffalo Wing sauce, and Hot Picante sauce.  It's pretty amazing as I have discussed this before.  Along with a nice bottle of red wine, it doesn't get any better.  The other thing that we are going to try and do is catch some catfish that is supposedly in the tank.   Man that's hard to say...........it's a pond stupid!!!  Anyway with 3 weeks to opener there's a lot of ice to be melted but with 70 degree weather in the forecast, it might not take too long!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Repeat of 2013!?!?!?!

New Boat for 2018 Minnesota Fishing Opener
Well last week it was complaining about the weather however this week it's getting ridiculous!  With 12 inches of snow predicted for the weekend and next weeks forecast in the mid 40's, almost 15 degrees below normal, everyone is starting to discount fishing opener because it would appear there is little time and little warmth to effectively cause the ice to go out on Leech Lake by May 12, the date for Minnesota Opener.  Even more interesting is whether or not the ice will be off of Lac Seul in time for the Ontario Fishing Opener scheduled for May 19th, the very next weekend.  Well, a lot can happen in 4 weeks as one of the best Minnesota Walleye Fishing Opener was when the ice went off the Saturday of opener, there was quite a bit of floating ice, especially off of Pine Pine, down from Brindley's.  Actually one had to stay on the main part of the lake because of the ice.  Never the less, the walleye fishing was fabulous.  It really doesn't matter if there is some ice on the lake however in 2013 the harbor at Brindley's was froze completely shut, one could not even launch a boat.  Hopefully it will turn around but to be quite honest, it's looking more desperate with every day and weather forecast!

Jerry's 20 inch Sauger
So some people are getting out on open water!  I have had the pleasure of meeting a gentleman, Jerry via  Walleye Central  where there are a number of forums that walleye fishing topics are discussed.  Most are pretty good but like a lot of things, often you have to wade through the BS!  Never the less my discussions regarding Lac Seul lead to Jerry requesting my help with an issue regarding navigation on Lac Seul.  After a number of tries, I finally managed to successfully fill his needs.  At the same time he had sent me a beautiful collection of his own hand made jigs and admittedly they are very good.  Being a fan of the B Fish N series H2O Precision Jigs, they are great for plastics as they have a wire keeper that really does a fabulous job.  Admittedly it brought me back to a time when Kevin and I made our own jigs for fishing walleyes in the backwaters of the Mississippi between Wabasha, MN and Alma, WI.  The jigs received are perfect plus the colors are excellent, he told me that he does his own epoxy powder coat on them.  Pretty impressive as we simply painted our jig heads by hand.  After he confirmed that my strategy worked he sent a picture of this beautiful 20 inch sauger that was caught on the Illinois River a few days ago.  A sauger is almost identical to the walleye however it's coloring is somewhat different and freshly caught, I think they are a stunning fish.  They tend to inhabit rivers and will tend to be in the deeper water than walleyes.  One tends to find them a little more south than walleyes, yet we have caught them on Lac Seul in Canada.  A 20 inch sauger is a really nice fish as they tend to be smaller than walleyes.  Either way it's a very nice fish and it's great to see that someone is at least enjoying the soft water.

Ben's nice Mississippi Perch
My friend Ben Aiona was out on the Mississippi River with his new Ranger on Tuesday learning to use his Lowrance HDS 12, Gen 3.  Calling me on his cell phone, it was fortunate that I had a Lowrance HDS9, Gen 3 in my office and could easily power it on and look at the menu's with him.  There were two things that he needed help with, the temperature sensor was not displaying, and his structure scan was not working right.  Because of my experience with  Ranger boats and Lowrance, the first thing is to look at the NMEA 2000 network devices listed as the temperature sensor on Ranger's is connected through the network.  Walking through the screens we found the device so then I told him to configure the network and VOILA, the temperature display came up on the screen.  The next was the structure scan and my hunch was it was still set to Structure Scan 3D.  We reset the machine and VOILA, I look like a genius and Ben was now viewing a what he was looking for.  It's kind of nice to be able to help someone yet it can be difficult as one may only need to change the settings once or twice in the life of one dealing with these machines.  It becomes more about thinking like the Lowrance software engineers would think and getting use to how the menu's are configured and the logic of it all.  Before we hung up the phone "Send me some nice fish pictures" was the last thing said.  Well, here you go, a nice picture of Ben and what looks like a 1 1/2 pound perch.   In the last few weeks I've been reading about the resurgence of the perch in the Mississippi River south of Lake Pepin.  A number of theories abound such as the Zebra Mussels have increased the water quality, that may be true but it sure hasn't done much for the perch on Mille Lacs, that's a different story!  As stated, it's nice to see someone is catching fish!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Relentless Winter!

Snow depth at the pole barn!
Well the winter of 2017-2018 is really testing one's patience these days.  With a good 8 inches of snow on the ground and for the most part, it's still snowing.  We received about 9 inches the last few days and the temperatures have been almost 20 degrees colder than normal.  With the Minnesota Fishing opener about a 5 weeks away and with most lakes up north reporting up to 36 inches of ice, it's starting to look like a repeat of 2013 when we could not get out on Leech Lake as it was totally iced up.  Although we did stay at the resort, we did so to keep the tradition going as we all headed home on Sunday.  It would appear as though the Canadian Fishing Opener might be in jeopardy as well.  A lot can happen in 5 weeks however the cold looks like it will hang on till about Tax Day, April 15th before it starts to act more like normal.  It doesn't take long as the days are longer and the sun is more intense.  My experience with late ice on fishing opener has not been that bad, actually on of the best years we experienced on Leech was when the ice officially went out on the Saturday of opening fishing, I remember scooping up ice for the cooler from the edge of the ice and open water on the lake.  We did very well and caught a lot of those big female walleyes that were in the shallows and still in prespawn.  I guess we never know what Mother Nature will throw at us but I can assure you that it is getting quite old blowing heavy wet snow this time of the year!!  Oh well, there's little we can do and you can be assured that bitching about it hasn't really solved anything.  The good news is we got our Team Walleye hats and because it's our 45th Annual this year we did embroidered hooded hockey style sweatshirts, both look really good and if nothing else, we'd be styling this year!

1/4 oz Gapen Crawfish Ugly Bug
Last week was my experience meeting Dan Gapen at the Sportsman Show at the Minneapolis Convention Center.  It was a great experience which lead to the ordering of some of his signature baits like the pictured Ugly Bug, as well as a number of his old DVD, Classic series on fishing walleyes and smallmouth on rivers.  Well the order came in and it's pretty exciting.  After watching the DVD's it was quite interesting.  The main purpose of getting the DVD's is to better understand how to fish the Mississippi River that runs behind the house.  Although we do catch the occasional walleye, I am interested in learning more about reading the river and walleye locations within the system.  The walleye DVD was exclusively Canadian Shield area rivers, usually fast flowing, full of boulders, and fish.  Although interesting, it did not fulfill the original intent of purchasing them.  The second DVD was filmed on the Mississippi River about 20 miles north of me and was exactly what I was looking for!  Filmed with Dan in his small jon boat, similar to the one I own, the descriptions of areas to fish and the film demonstrated the exact areas that one encounters when on the river.  I am already excited to try my new found knowledge, if it ever warms up!!  Being interested in possibly more DVD's that feature the Mississippi, a quick phone call and a followup e-mail brought the appropriate response.   Ordering three more DVD's, they might simply be repeats of what I already have but they are pretty easy to watch and hopefully they will arrive soon.  The Ugly Bug jig has been around for a long time and it was never a standard in the boat however I did pick up a good number of them.  In the DVD's, Dan shows exactly the how and why's to this bait and it seems logical.  Hopefully it may help the catch rate at both the Minnesota Opener as well as the Canadian Opener. 

We spent Easter with my wife's relative's in Eau Claire, the same guys I fished with on Palm Sunday.  We got to remiss about what we should have done as fishing wasn't very good.  Oh well, hindsight is 20/20.  Hopefully the boat will start to take shape as the step on the winch tree needs to be re-welded. the depth finders need to be installed and the rest of my gear needs to be put away.  5 weeks will come in a hurry!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Sportshow Time

Dan Gapen and I
One of the things I cannot get enough of is the Minneapolis Northwest Sportsman's Show at the Convention Center in downtown Minneapolis.  It is the largest event of this type and pretty much features everything one experiences in the course of a summer of fishing and enjoying the great outdoors.  Most years I have the opportunity to attend twice and this year was no exception.  Last Thursday I had the pleasure of having Bruce Wiley accompany me.  Thursday is senior day and those 62 and older get a $3 discount, one might as well take advantage of this.  Most people know that I like to talk a lot and at these shows it's no exception.  With everything form my boat dealer, Frankie's to the electronics on my boat, to all of the things I use and like, they are usually represented at the show and increasing one's knowledge of these products and changes is always good.  New technologies are often presented at the show and it's a great place to get caught up with the industry.  Also it's a great place to meet all of the friends you've made over the years and see those that read this blog regularly.  Bruce commented that geez Anderson, I can't take you anywhere where you don't know someone!  Of special surprise was stopping by Showalters Flyin Service, I met Denny a few years back at JR's on Red Lake while waiting to get out on the lake,  he exclaimed that JR was at the show.  I quickly texted him and made sure that we would not leave without seeing each other, which towards the end, we met him in the very first row.  He was with his Airplane sales guy and Bruce and him hit it off very well.  It is always nice to see JR outside of the zoo he operates at Red Lake and Bruce and I promised we'd fly up sometime and have lunch.  JR even threatened to fly over to our camp on Lac Seul and fish with me for a day.  I am going to try and make that happen sometime.  Sunday found me heading back to the show to follow up on the things I did not get to do on Thursday, take advantage of the deals that are posted on the last day, as they'd rather sell it then pack it up.  One of the booths I ran across was Dan Gapen's booth, and he was it it!  Dan Gapen is probably the most famous river fisherman there ever was (OK, my friend Kevin is pretty good as well!) and has written books on River fishing as well has his own bait company and is the inventor of the Ugly Bug jig.  I stopped to shake his hand and to tell him I just bought his River Walleye Fishing book on Amazon and they were surprised.  We talked about his days fishing the Nipigon River, he knew exactly where my buddy Jim Tollefson and I fished when we were in our late teems, at the old loggers camp by what Dan called Victoria Falls, the outlet of Lake Nipigon.  I ended up buying a book from him and he personally endorsed it for me, signing a nice greeting and his name.  He was still pretty sharp and I am anxious to try some of the techniques we discussed when fishing the Mississippi River this summer.  On Thursday, a new RS landing net, the Green Bay model, found it's way into my hands.  I got the bright Lime Green model, it will be easier to see when I need it.  Sunday was a little more expensive, ending up with a new storage box fro under the back seat of my truck, Reeds had 25% off of their Simms clothing so a light hooded shirt found it's way into my bag.  Leaving fully satisfied with my visits and about $200 dollars poorer, I headed home.

Last fish through the ice, of the year?
Saturday was our almost annual fishing trip with my wife's uncles Bernie and Andy, and their sons Jason and Jake.  A couple of years ago we fished at Jason's in-laws place on Chetac Lake in Birchwood, Wisconsin.  This year we headed back to Wapogasset Lake, just east of St. Croix Falls.  Fishing on the north side we could not drive on by the resort access but a mile down the lake was another access not affected by the sun, it was good enough to get on.  We headed north to fish in about 12 feet of water yet the fishing wasn't very good.  Andrew and I got a nice 10 inch perch each, but that was about it.  It was a long time between fish so at at about 3:00 we headed north to Balsam Lake, one of Andy's hot spots.  Finally figuring out where to get on the lake we drove out only to drill holes in 5 feet of water.  My Navionics App with the lake map was not working because of poor cell service.  Heading to the center of the bay we eventually found 11 feet of water.  Later it was discovered that 11 feet was about it.  Being in the basin should have been a good place to fish however the only thing that bit was this small pound and a half largemouth bass.  It put up a great fight on the 3# test line but it certainly wasn't a crappie that we were looking for.  By the end of the day this was the only fish we got on Balsam Lake, the debate about leaving Wapogasset started but what's done is done!  Either way it was my first trip to Balsam Lake and although the fishing wasn't that great it was a beautiful lake, one worth coming back to sometime.  It was just like being 200 miles north of home, I was quite impressed.  We finished the day at a local bar and grill having a great hamburger before heading home. 

There is a lot of work to do before opener.  The boat is still in storage however the front step needs welding, the depth finders need to be reinstalled and updated.  All of my equipment is at home and have been working on changing line, cleaning the reels, getting the tackle boxes reorganized.  The trip last month to Texas has changed my attitude about bass fishing and I'm getting organized to do more of bass fishing this summer.  It's Easter Weekend and we have a while before the ice goes out as the ice was at least 32 inched thick last weekend.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Maple Syrup Time in the Neighborhood

Collecting Sap in my yard.
The weather has warmed up enough to start tapping the maple trees in the neighborhood and gather enough sap to make maple syrup.  The ideal time to tap trees is when the outside temperature drops to the mid 20's at night and in the 40's during the day.  This cycle gets the sap flowing from the roots to the upper branches and depending on the weather, moisture, and temperature cycles one can harvest gallons a day from a single large maple tree.  My neighbor Brandon does the sap collecting then has quite an operation to process the sap into syrup.  As you can see in the picture, he has 5 large plastic buckets to collect sap in as I have about 7 nice maple trees in the yard that are big enough to tap.  My guess is Brandon has over 120 trees tapped in the neighborhood as the last number he texted me was at about 1000 gallons collected so far.  With another 2 weeks or so of sap collecting weather, I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up with over 3000 gallons of sap.  He has a pretty slick way of collecting, a large 150 gallon plastic tank strapped to a trailer that he can pull around.  He can dump the sap in the tank quite easily then move on to the next house.  It's sort of like a milk run as he is getting around 140 gallons a day, not too bad.

Brandon's wood fired evaporator
There's a lot of work to making maple syrup however it is well worth the trouble.  Beside tapping the trees, one has to collect the sap daily.  Then it has to get unloaded into his storage containers, he has enough in his shed to collect 300 to 600 gallons of sap.  Maple sap has a normal sugar content of about 3% but it can vary from 1 - 5%.  The process is to boil the sap, which boils the water away and the sugar content becomes concentrated.  When the boiling liquid hita a temperature of 220 degree, it's pretty much syrup at that point.  Finished syrup is approximately 66 - 68% sugar.  Any less than 66% and it may spoil, as well about 68% the natural sugars tend to settle out on the bottom of the jar.  Brandon uses a reverse osmosis machine to help concentrate the sugar levels of the sap to make it faster to cook it down.  The osmosis machine basically removes pure water out of the sap which increases it's sugar content.  If he runs 300 gallons of sap through the machine it removes about 100 gallons of water and leaves the remaining sap at 5%.  He can run it through again, up to 4 times to get the concentration up to 8%, which is about half the volume that he started with and it is much easier than trying to boil off that much water. His evaporator is quite the system, he built the wood stove underneath the Stainless Steel evaporator pan.  As you see on the left side, a hose feeds the tray with his post processed sap and it is pretty amazing how fast it drips.  It keeps feeding the tray until the entire unit reaches the temperature, then he has a hydrometer to actually read the Specific Gravity which is a more accurate way of determining the syrup sugar content.  Once it is ready he empties the tray into 5 gallon buckets and starts all over again.  This year he is getting about 1 gallon of finished syrup for every 30 gallons of sap, which means the raw sap is pretty good this year.  In the past it's taken up to 40 gallons to make 1 gallon.  It's fun stopping by and helping him, usually you are rewarded with a special treat....a coffee cup with some brandy in it then filled with hot syrup from the evaporator.  Not good for the waistline but is is pretty good tasting.  Once the syrup is done he runs it through a special filter that clarifies it.  Most will get bottled however he takes some of it and fills a used oak bourbon barrel and lets it cure for about 8 weeks, simply amazing!  Also he will make a whipped maple spread that resembles soft butter but again, simply amazing!  In 3 weeks this will be all done with but it's sure fun being part of it.

The plan for the weekend is two fold, the Minneapolis Sports Show runs till Sunday and I look forward to attending this each year.  There is a lot to discuss and learn as things continue to change fast in the industry.  Second, this is the weekend I meet my wife's uncles and cousins to go ice fishing.  We have decided to go to Lake Wapogasset near Amery Wisconsin to try our hand and find some crappies.  I am sure we'll find a place to park ourselves at sunset to have a nice dinner together, it is always a good time.  This could be my last ice fishing adventure of the year as the weather is definitely getting warmer each day.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Bass Fishing, Texas Style, Part 2

Joe's Tank, on the farm!
Last week's post described our first day of bass fishing in Texas on beautiful Lake Fork, East of Dallas.  After our day of fishing we loaded into Matt's truck and headed to Joe Stanfield's farm (or ranch) closer into Dallas, in Farmersville, Texas.  There Joe with his wife Jeanette has about 100 acres of land that has a beautiful house on it, about 38 llama's roaming around, his own grass airstrip for his plane, and a couple of ponds, however I have been corrected, they are called tanks.  No matter, I call them ponds!  The largest on on their land is about 5 - 7 acres in surface acres and is stocked with largemouth bass, crappies, and channel catfish.  Because of the amount of rain they had, it was plump full of water and like the day before, the water was pretty cloudy.  Joe has a pretty nice setup including a quite innovative setup for a guest house up on the hill overlooking the pond.  He poured a slab of concrete then had two 8 x 45 foot steel shipping containers configured to make a nice relaxing place to get away.  The were overlapped at about 25 feet, welded together then had patio doors and window installed.  The inside was spray foamed complete with a bedroom on one end of one, the
One of the few pictures of me with a bass.
bathroom on the end of the other one, and the middle was 16 feet wide so it had a sitting room, kitchen, dining area, and all the things one needed to be comfortable.  We cooked steaks for the evening, and just enjoyed the birds singing and the sunset.  Both Matt and I slept in the "guest house" as I took the bedroom and he took the couch as he was going to leave early in the morning then come back for me as he offered a ride to the APEC conference that was in San Antonio, about 5 hours away.  I woke up about 8:30, Matt had already left so Joe was going to take me fishing.  His equipment was a lot to be desired and although he had some lures, I wasn't that impressed so I decided to use a spinner bait as the water was not clear and felt something that would make some noise in the water would be good.  That was a good decision as I did catch my first bass from Shore as Joe was getting the trolling motor and battery in his small 12 foot Jon boat he keep on the pond.  The rod and reel I had to use looked like it came from Goodwill but it casted good enough.  We worked the shoreline around the pond and I suspect I caught 5 bass on the spinner bait and crappy rod/reel setup. They were all in the one to three pound range, no much different that what we caught the previous day at Lake Fork.  In fact the picture of me on the right is one I got a Lake fork, apparently my friends either didn't take any good pictures of me, or if they did I haven't got them yet!  Never the less the picture is proof that I did get something!!  You can get a good idea of how cloudy the water was and it wasn't much different at Joe's place.  I know one thing, the guide on Saturday had much better equipment.  Matt had gone home to get some stuff done and finally got back about 12:30.  With Matt in front of the Jon boat and I running Joe's new Minnkota trolling motor and battery set up, it was my time to guide him around the tank!  Fortunately I was able to find some adequate fishing line in Joe's pile of stuff and filled his Abu Garcia casting reel with enough line to allow the spool to be thumbed properly and control the backlash.  this was a huge improvement from earlier in the day when my the spool was only about a quarter full.

Matt's nice bass from Joe's Tank
Retracing our route from earlier in the day and with basically the same spinner baits, we did catch a number of bass including this wonderful picture of Matt with probably the largest one of the day.  The bass from Joe's had much more color than the ones on Saturday, I suspect the fish in Lake Fork have spent more time in deeper water than at Joe's.   Joe doesn't fish this much so Lord knows how big they actually get in this Tank, but it was a lot of fun.  Sending this to my friend, the first thing he noticed was an automatic feeder in the background.  The speculation was that Joe was feeding deer however come to find out it's worse...he's feeding the Canadian Geese that live in his tank.  Now up north here we know how messy geese can be and in a small body of water they can be a big nuisance.  I suspect that Joe's wife Jeanette likes them so there ya go!   Me, I'd definitely take that feeder down but that's just me!  The fact that there is catfish and crappies in this tank is interesting and it would have been fun to try and catch some yet time was getting short and we had to leave.  Saying goodbye at around 3 in the afternoon, it would get us into San Antonio by 8:00 that evening.  It was hard to leave Joe's place but all good things eventually come to an end, besides it was a nice drive through Dallas, Waco, Austin and finally arriving at San Antonio.  As well, Joe and Jeannette were coming down for the show anyway as Joe reps for some of the companies that were on exhibit there, apparently those two weren't totally sick of either Matt or myself!

San Antonio is a very nice city and in the first of March the temperatures were perfect.  Downtown is the Riverwalk and it is a very nice place to visit and eat, and eat we did!  It was a good chance to meet all of my colleagues in the business and get reacquainted with all of them.  My flight took me through Atlanta then on to Minneapolis and although I got in late, it worked out pretty good considering all the delays from the East Coast storms.  On Sunday my good friend Mark Applen and I went out to do some ice fishing on some nearby lakes.  The ice is still thick enough to drive but finding the fish was more challenging.  After stopping a Little Jim's in Annandale  , MN we first tried Lake John, a small lake from my past.  We were the only ones on the lake, and after about an hour and a half we only caught 3 perch about 3 inches long each.  Deciding to try something different we went to Little Pulaski in Buffalo, MN and although there were more people, the bite was simply non-existent.  Our depthfinders did mark some fish but they were pretty closed mouth and we left just before dark with nothing to show.  What's next on the calendar, I have to run back to Eau Claire this weekend, and next weekend is both the Minneapolis Sportsman Show and probably the last ice fishing trip of the year with my wife's uncle Andrew and his crew fishing the Birchwood, Wisconsin area northeast of Rice Lake, WI.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Bass Fishing Texas Style, Part 1.

Our view at the Mustang Resort.
Arriving on Friday late morning, my friends Joe Stanfield and Matt Davis picked me up at Dallas/ Fort Worth Airport where we our destination was the Mustang Resort on beautiful Lake Fork Reservoir. Our first stop was at the Bass Pro Shop in Grapevine Texas to pick up a few supplies.  Actually I just like stopping and ended up getting some socks, pants, and some terminal tackle as we don't have one of these in Minnesota.  Unfortunately BPS did purchase Cabela's and I suspect that eventually that's what they'll all turn into as Cabela's only has Bass Pro branded boats, like Tracker and I suspect some Rangers as Johnny Morris owns them as well.  After getting checked out of BPS we began an hour's journey to the Lake Fork Area.  It was quite obvious that the area has had a lot of rain the last few weeks, Joe said around 11 inches.  There was water everywhere!  As we approached the Lake there was a Lake Fork Trophy Lures company on the corner, I got the guys to stop.  It was interesting as they made their own lures there at the factory as well, they had a nice showroom and store.  I always like to get the flavor of the area, this was the perfect place for sure!  Talking to the staff, we had learned that the water clarity wasn't very good although they had started catching fish.  Leaving LFTLures we headed down the road a few miles and checked into the Mustang Resort.  Apparently this time of year is the pre-spawn period and the fish were going to be shallows, and mostly males seeking to find their bedding areas.  Lake Fork was a great trophy bass lake for years however it get's pounded pretty hard these days.  In addition the drought of a few years ago put a big strain on the fish and had a negative effect on the bass population.  Apparently the lake is coming back, it didn't matter to me as I was going open water fishing. Everywhere we went it was pretty obvious that we were going fishing so I simply told them about last weeks trip ice fishing on Mille Lacs, we drive 5 miles out onto the lake, drill a hole through 40 inches of ice then sit there and jig for fish.   The response is almost always the same....You did What???  After we got checked in and settled, our next adventure was going to a local favorite, AJ's Fish House on Lake Fork for some fried catfish.  Luckily it was coated in corn meal and quite good.  It was a buffet, just perfect for my waist, but we left quite full and got back to the motel to see the view above.  Matt pulled out a bottle of Monkey Shoulder blended scotch and between the 3 of us, we put a good hurt on the bottle.  Perfect, sitting outside with your friends in a light jacket, looking at the lake and sipping some fine scotch, doesn't get an better than this!

Our guide, Joe in the middle and Matt up front.
6:30AM came pretty fast and with the wind blowing our guide decided to trailer over to a different
marina to launch, apparently we'd be closer to where we were going to fish.  Our guide for the day was Brian Spencer, he had a very nice Legend Black Diamond bass boat with a Mercury 250 HP ProXS, 2 power poles in the back, a Minn Kota 36 volt in the front and a Humminbird Helix 12 on both front and console.  It has been a long time since I was in a bonifide bass boat, the last time was about 27 years ago with Brian Erickson, a friend of my business partner.  I was worried that this boat was goint to be cramped with 4 of us in it but that wasn't the case and it handled us pretty well.  Apparently the guide commented on how dirty the water was from all the rain.  I agreed as the visibility was less than a foot.  Our lures of choice were black Senko's rigged Wacky style.  Basically this is a Gary Yamamoto brand 5 inch salt impregnated plastic worm and it is hooked in the middle of the worm.  In this case no significant weight is needed as the Senko's naturally sink at a acceptable rate.  I have fished Smallmouth bass on Mille Lacs using Senko's rigged wacky style and as goofy as it looks. it can be quite effective.  I never fish bass much so I don't keep up on the latest trends however I did learn something quite new for me, the trick now is to use a special tool to insert an O Ring in the middle of the Senko then use the O ring to simply secure a #1/0 VMC weedless octopus hook.  The final rig was a weight the guide inserted into one end of the Senko.  Apparently he cuts his own nails as I looked and you can buy these weights already done.  The black contrasted
Matt With an Average sized Large mouth bass
the off colored water very well.  We simply worked the shallow bays looking for active fish that were checking out the spawn areas.  This meant we were fishing in less than 4 feet and the fish were not very aggressive.  Our water temperature was close to 60 degrees however, which in my world is pretty warm but geez, everyone had a coat on but me! The fish were not very aggressive as one would simply cast the worm into the lake then sort of shake it with your wrist until you feel something pick it up.  Often the line would just start heading perpendicular to your position.  We had fairly good equipment which included a 7 foot MH, fast tip casting rod, equipped with a nice Shimano low profile casting reel loaded with 14 pound fluorocarbon line.  Admittedly did pretty well for not casting a level-wind for a few months, only 1 birds nest and that came out fairly easy.  My friend Matt caught the first fish and I suspect that between the 2 of us we got 10 bass for the day.  My buddy Joe didn't do so good, I think it was the Monkey Shoulder Scotch that had him relaxing while we fished.  Lake Fork is a reservoir that is primarily a water supply for the city of Dallas.  As stated earlier, this area of Texas has had a lot of rain and the lake was full.  The comparison was to the severe drought they had a few years ago that put a real hurt on the bass populations.  The guide stated that in the summer when the temperature hits 100 everyday, the lake loses about 2 inches a day via evaporation.  Of course if you add that to any draw downs to feed Dallas, it can get pretty low.  This ear should be a great spawning year as the prime areas have plenty of water over them.  As well the Texas Fish and Game stock Florida Strain Bass in the lake, which grow to enormous bass (as compare to her in Minnesota)  The US record for Large Mouth Bass is 22 pounds 4 ounces caught in Lake Murray, Georgia and is known as the Florida strain.  We were in a Marina and they had a 25 pound bass that was found floating dead in Lake Fork and had a replica made of it, Uffda is all I can say. We stopped fishing around 12:30 and headed to the Oakridge Marina for lunch, which was pretty good.   Because I cannot eat bread I had their broiled catfish, absolutely delicious!  It was not too far from where we were fishing so it didn't take that long.  Also it was filled with other fisherman so that was kind of fun.  We fished till about 4:00, paid the guide and headed out.  It was a great experience and it might just inspire me to spend a little more time bass fishing this year.

One thing that was interesting, Brian, our guide asked me about Mille Lacs Lake.  Apparently it's
Chatterbait
reputation for smallmouth bass had made it all the way to Texas.  Promising him if he came up, I'd take him out.  As stated earlier, I did buy some lures at the Lake Fork Trophy Tackle, in particular a bladed bass jig often referred to as a chatter bait, something seen before but never paid much attention.  The ones in the store were fairly heavy, had a rubber skirt and a Lake Fork Live Magic Shad rigged into the jig.  My thought is that this lure could be hot for smallies on the river behind the house in August.  It is heavy enough to sink quite fast in the river and apparently one retrieves it like a spinner bait.  Because crayfish and minnows make up the majority of what they eat in the river, I bought the orange tinted ones, similar to the color crank baits I always have good luck with. the problem is that it will be 5 months before we get to try them...oh well.  Before leaving for Texas, we got all of our Team Walleye hats and hooded sweatshirts on order, so that's done.  Minnesota Fishing opener is 9 weeks away and the Canadian opener is the following weekend, 10 weeks away.  There is a lot to do before then as we still have quite a bit of snow on the ground.  Temperatures are going to be in the 50's next week so that should take care of that.  Next week I will write about our second day of fishing on my friend Joe's farm.  Up north we call them ponds, down there he calls them tanks.  Either way stay tuned!


Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Lake Fork Here we Come!

Lake Fork Largemouth Bass
Time sure seems to fly these days!  This Friday is when I head to Dallas to be picked up by my friends Matt Davis and Joe Stanfield.  We are headed for the Mustang Resort (no, not the Mustang Ranch!) for a day of hopefully trophy largemouth bass fishing.  Here is an excerpt from their website: Lake Fork is the number one trophy bass lake in the United States. The spectacular fishery has produced bass up to and including the Texas State Record of 18lbs., 3oz.  I checked what Minnesota's State record largemouth bass weighed in at.....8 lbs 6 oz, wow that's almost a 10# difference.  My goal would be beating the Minnesota State Record, we'll see!  Lake Fork is a reservoir just northeast of Dallas.  It is stocked with the Florida Strain of Largemouth Bass which are famous for growing to large proportions, especially in Texas and California.  We are in the prespawn period, just before the fish spawn and the big females are especially heavy from the eggs developing inside them.  The research says that the water is still too cool for spawn but the fish are feeding nonetheless.  We have a guide for Saturday and I am looking forward to learning a few things about fishing down south.  Our original plans were to go further south and fish the Gulf area for saltwater fish but the hurricanes of this past summer has put a damper on fishing, fishing areas, and places to stay.  I suspect in a few years things will get back to normal in those areas however I am really looking to experience fishing Lake Fork Reservoir, it will be a new experience for sure, something that I love to do!


Winning perch, 2.05 pounds 
Last weekend was the Annual Johnson's Portside Perch Extravaganza held at Hunter's Point Resort on the east side of Mille Lacs.  This is one of the biggest events on the lake in the winter, it is not a fundraiser but rather a for profit event by one of the owners of Johnson's Portside in Isle, MN, Steve Johnson.  The event consists of  3 parts, the perch fishing contest, the hat competition, and the general drawing.  I suspect that over 8,000 tickets are sold each year and the prizes for the drawing are pretty substantial like 2 Ice Castle wheel houses and 2-4 wheel drive UTV's, powered ice augers, and many nice prize packages.  The drawing is of course the main event with the Biggest perch being next with the hat contest being 3rd.  Every year for the last few years one has to wonder about the perch contest.  This year's winner weighed 2.05 pounds, an awfully big perch for Mille Lacs.  Not being smart enough to say anything other than in the 35 years I have been ice fishing Mille Lacs, I have never caught a perch over 1.50 pounds, ever.  An observation, we used to head out to the Sliver Flat, drill a couple of holes just off the 25 foot edge and catch 15 nice 12" - 14" perch all the time. Today it's a lot different and you'd be lucky to find a couple.  We know the adult population of perch is down but just maybe the ones that are left are huge, like this one!  Oh well, one can make their own conclusions, and maybe I am missing it but what the heck, not much of the prizes are for the biggest fish anyway so in the grand scheme of things, it may not make anything difference either way.  Because of the pending storm that predicted for Saturday night, I chose to simply drive up, see my friend Bill, buy a couple of tickets and meet my friends out on the ice for the traditional BBQ Ribs.  It wasn't hard to find them and ribs we had.  Mark, Russ, and Randy had their houses together so I decided to fish Mark's house until we headed to the drawing at 2:00.  After all of this, there were no numbers called that had any meaning to me so I headed back to Bills around 5:00, and of course, just when the heavy snow started to fall.  After making it to Bills, dropping off some equipment, and picking up some Maple Syrup for this weekend, I was on the road at 8:30, what a mess.  It had snowed at least 6 inches in a broad band stretching my entire journey, got home in time to shovel and get the truck put away, the rest could wait until the morning

So the rest of the week is for packing and getting ready to go.  We have caught up with the snow totals for the year and by the end of the week much of it will be gone with temperatures climbing to the 50's next Sunday.  That's fine with me as I have much to do in the pole shed to get it cleaned up.  The electronics need to be reinstalled back in the boat as the boat is at Bruce's enjoying the warm winter storage.  He is heading south on his self piloted airplane vacation so it will be sometime in the next 3 weeks and she'll be ready to go!  Getting back from Texas late next Wednesday here's hoping to have a good report.  It's looking like my next trip will be an ice fishing one with my wife's uncle Andrew and his crew somewhere near Rice Lake, Wisconsin.  

Friday, February 23, 2018

Finally, Back Out!!

Quite a Catch on 2# Test
My neighbor and friend Lory has a cabin on Lake Ida, just northwest of Alexandria, MN, about 2 hours from the house.  He was going up last weekend to check to see how it's doing and invited me with.  Agreeing only if we get out and try for some of those big bluegill that are reportedly in the lake, he acknowledged and by 7:00 Friday we were on the freeway heading northwest.  The traffic wasn't too bad and we were able to make it by 9:00, enough time to stop and turn the heat up in the cabin before we headed to Leaf Valley Tavern for some supper.  5 miles up the road, we settled on pork ribs, they were the typical ribs that many restaurants, fall off the bone with a mild covering of sauce.  They ain't no Famous Dave's but did the job of filling us up as they do a good job completing the courses!  I had bought 2 bottles of wine so we turned the TV on and watched Perry Mason before hitting the sack.  I slept pretty well so after getting up we went to town and got some breakfast before going out fishing.  Our destination was a place called the Coffee Pot.  Absolutely excellent, I had the corned beef hash with a couple of fried eggs on top.   I love these places, they just cater to the breakfast and lunch crowd then shut down for the rest of the day.  Highly recommend if you are ever in Alexandria!  Upon returning we pulled out Lory''s wheel house and set it up in 28 feet of water just at the mouth of the bay his cabin is on.  Using maps, it seemed like a good spot, time will tell.  After about an hour of nothing but 4 inch perch I decided to head into the bay where all the "other" people were.  It only made sense they were catching something.  We were in a 20 foot hole in the bay and I set up on the edge where it went from 20 to 15 feet.  Almost immediately the sunfish started hitting.  Unfortunately they were small as well.  It was quite windy out and difficult to fish the 2# test that is on the rod, all of a sudden something a lot bigger than what was biting hit the lure.  Although the bass looks bigger in the picture..........Sure, it was 5 pounds!.........about 16 inches and maybe 1.5 pounds, it was a nice change from the peck, peck of those smaller sunfish.  I ended up catching 4 bass that day, all in the 12-16 inch range, not large by any means, however it was action!  After about my 50th 5 inch sunfish and getting quite chilled from the wind, the next destination was back in Lory's wheel house.  He had not caught anything worth bragging about however he had the camera down and saw a bigger school of larger fish but was never able to connect.  As the sun set we packed up everything and headed back to shore, no fish to clean but a good time never the less.  My goal is to get back up this spring in some of those maller lakes and try for some crappies, like we did a few years ago on Bass Lake, those were some dandies!  On the way back we stopped for supper at Doolittles Woodfired Grill.  I still had a nice bottle of wine so we asked if they had a corkage fee (you bring the wine, they charge you a fee for opening and serving).  The receptionist didn't know however our waitress did, $15.  That was reasonable seeings how my wine had a value of about $150, I went in the truck and brought it in.  Again, we were pretty impressed with the quality of the food, I had the leftover Valentines special, braised lamb shank, and Lory had a steak, both went perfect with the wine!.

This weekend is the Johnson Portside Perch Extravaganza which occurs on the last weekend in
February on Mille Lacs, out of Hunter's Point Resort up about 30 minutes north of Isle, Minnesota.  Normally I have taken my wheel house up there and stay Friday night through Sunday morning.  This year it's a little different because I have just not been that organized to get myself in line with our normal program.  Besides next weekend I am heading to Texas to fish with my friends for some big bass and this has sort of gotten in the way.  This tournament is really the last full week of ice fishing walleyes in the winter as the season will close on February 25 unless it is border waters such as Lake of the Woods.  I was also invited to go to JR's at Upper Red Lake this week for his Fly In but needed Bruce's airplane and him to fly us.  Unfortunately Bruce just got his plane fixed and the Perch Extravaganza is the same weekend, choices, choices!  It would be fun as JR and I have a good time together when I'm there and he has Denny Showalter, of Showalter Fly-in Service in Ontario.  He is a great guy to sit down with and talk.  Maybe one year.  Next week is my trp to Texas and it's been raining quite a bit down there, enough so my friend Matt e-mailed me and said this is going to affect the fishing.  My response was, not the fishing, maybe the catching!  He'd be surprised what a guy that hasn't seen soft water for 3 months can do!  We'll have a great time regardless.

This is the time of year that we need to get organized for our annual Leech Lake Fishing Opener.  It will be the groups 45th Annual and every 5 years we like to order something special, usually a coat that has our name and the Team Walleye logo in it.  This year we are going to do the ever so popular Hockey Hooded Sweatshirt.  It will be nice and everyone is getting one, so Mark and I have been working on that as it is only 11 weeks away.  I have already received the invite for Ontario Fishing Opener, on the following week, May 19th.  This is always a great time and for sure keeps me busy from about the 11th of May till about the 22nd.  Oh well, more fishing...........dang!


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

To Busy to Fish!?!?!?!

Cold outside!
Well, that and the cold weather has really put a damper on the February fishing, uffda!  Last week was spent in Anaheim California at the MD and M (Medical Device and Manufacturing) Show.  We exhibit at this show every year as it is the largest show in the country featuring Medical products, which we do make at work.  Sunday the 4th was the SuperBowl and every year my neighbor Tim has a spectacular party so we went to that.  I had to leave on Monday morning, the day after the big event, and was reminded to get to the airport 3 hours early.  Well it wasn't that bad but luckily I have a lifetime membership to the Sky Club so it's a nice place to relax, get something to eat and surf the internet.  The prices for flights out of Minneapolis was crazy so I decided instead of flying into LAX I went into Orange County otherwise known as John Wayne and/or Santa Ana airport.  Either way my flight took me through Seattle with a 2 hour layover  that turned into a 4 hour layover.  Ah the joys of flying.  Landing in Anaheim at 8:00 PM my friend Mike Schubert picked me up and we headed to my hotel.  From -5F when I left to 70 degrees in California, it was sweet to ride around with the car windows down.  When flying one of the things I like to do is get a handle on whats going during the flight.  Preferring window seats allows me to keep track of where we are and the changing landscape below us.  The  picture is one of the flight data while on our way to Seattle,  Notice we are flying at 36,000 feet and it is a cool -81 below zero.  At that temperature the plane was definitely leaving our mark on the sky in the form of contrails.  My tickets were in First Class and I had the pleasure of sitting next to a lawyer from New York, who had been at the Super Bowl then heading to California. He was a liability lawyer and it was interesting to hear about his business. 

Ivanpah Solar Power Facility
After the show was done on Thursday, Mike suggested I check out of the hotel early and stay at his house for the night.  It seemed like a good idea and was looking forward to stopping by his American Legion Post in Newport Beach.  It is the largest post in the United States boosting over 4500 members.  As I entered the Legion hall it suddenly dawned on my that my coat was left in my room.  Quickly calling the hotel they called back and said yes, we have it.  Well, in California it sometimes takes an hour to get anywhere so I just had them send it to me.  Worried because of the money that was in the pocket, well it was too late for that.  As a surprise it arrived at work on Monday with everything still intact.  After enjoying a nice prime rib at the Legion we headed to Mike's drank a bottle of wine and the next morning left for the airport.  My flight would take me to Salt Lake City then back to Minneapolis.  The desert intrigues me as we flew over what appeared to be a huge solar collector where mirrors are focused on a concentrated solar collector to convert heat to electric power.  It was kind of interesting as one could barely look at the 3 units in the desert just southwest of Las Vegas as they were extremely bright, like a welding arc.  Further investigation shows that it is called the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility and is the largest of its kind in the world.  Check the link out as it is quite interesting. Salt Lake is an interesting town as it is bordered on the east by mountains and on the west by Great Salt Lake.  Finally getting home was nice after a week away, although the weather in California was nice, it does seem to get boring after a while!  When boarding the plane out of Orange County Airport the flight attendant saw my American Legion hat and it's reference to Newport Beach, he exclaimed, Going the wrong way aren't you?  My response was that I missed the cold weather and needed to go ice fishing.  It is interesting to show my colleagues pictures from Red Lake, they think we are all crazy up here............maybe they're right!

My next trip is to the APEC conference in San Antonio, TX.  This year we've got a trip to fish the prespawn largemouth bass on Lake Fork Reservoir, east of Dallas.  It is famous for their big Largemouth Bass as they have stocked the Florida Strain of bass and the Texas state record of over 18 pounds came from Lake Fork.  Compared to Minnesota where the state record largemouth bass is only 8.5 pounds, it should be interesting.  We were thinking about going to the gulf to fish however my friends Joe and Matt claim they still have not recovered very well from last summer's hurricanes. Although its really fun to fish the saltwater, maybe I can get something larger than 8 pound and have a graphite reproduction made, that would be nice.  As well, it's simply a pleasure hanging with my friends from Texas and truth be told, if I never caught a fish I'd still be happy.........we'll catch fish though!! 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Done at Red

Propane Detector that Really Works!
This month has been quite busy as you can tell by my late posts.  I have a lot of things going on in my world right now, hardly any time to do anything, even fish!  Hopefully it will be done soon and I can let you all in what's the big deal, but until then life continues, dang fast I might add!  So last weekend was the last trip to Red this year, as planned.  My friends Mark and Russ along with myself haul our wheel houses to JR's at the first sign of driveable ice which was December 15th.  Not the earliest and not the latest but a great start.  The plan was to bring it up on our first trip and leave the house at the resort till the last weekend in January.  With 2 trips in between, during Christmas vacation and the second week in January, it generally works out to 4 trips a year.  I just bought a new truck prior to our first trip and already trips to Red have accumulated 2000 miles, oh well I guess that's what trucks are for.  My original guest for last weekends trip ended up with the flu so my brother Steve filled in the spot, meeting me after my Friday morning meetings at around noon and we arrived at JR's around 5:00.  Russ had been there since Thursday night and Mark was about 2 hours ahead of me, and graciously giving me the reports of where the State Patrol were parked!  We kept in touch and definitely they had enough fish to treat us all to a walleye dupper at JR's and it wasn't long after we arrived, things got into full swing.  The last time I was at Red, I had some trouble with my 30 pound propane tank, it seemed froze up.  Whether this was the case or not, I brought it back with me and my neighbor Tim kept it in his heated garage for a couple of days and it seemed to work fine.  I use about 15 pounds of propane a day in my Salem Ice Cabin when the weather is cold, it wasn't too bad this trip however it is nice to make sure you don't run out.  Upon arriving I put the tank in the holders, started the furnace and hooked up the house to the truck.  The wind was blowing right into the side where the entrance door is, which is next to the furnace exhaust.  It really smelled like gas in the house but I assumed it was the exhaust fumes blowing back into open door so I opened the roof vents and pulled the house down on the ice.  This is a good strategy because it get's the house warmed up as well, I put my generator inside to warm that up so it starts good.  We went into JR's to eat, returning to our rig about an hour later.  Well, things should be nice and warm, we'll just follow Mark to where they are parked and go from there.  Walking by the house, a very loud alarm was going off so I opened the door and uffda, did it stink like gas.  Here the propane/LP gas detector was going off.  With the door and ceiling vents open, it cleared fairly quickly as I got the detector to stop beeping.  Checking around here one of the stove burner knobs were turned on and it was leaking propane into the cabin.   Damn lucky the whole thing didn't blow up! The nice thing about my furnace is the combustion chamber is sealed so it was just blowing the propaned saturated air through the heat exchanger and not near open flame, Uffda!!!  We did get the air cleared out yet everything in the house absorbed that smell so it too till Saturday night to start smelling normal.  I do have a Sensy candle in the house and that helps.  All I can say is if you have a propane powered anything in your wheel house or RV, make certain you have a working gas detector.  The house is a 2013 so I need to make sure of the Replace by date is not expired.

Bucket full of walleyes
Fishing Red this late in the season means getting close to Center Bar and finding an area where there isn't much traffic or houses around.  Red is a shallow lake and traffic on the ice can definitely affect the bite.  Never the less we did have a pretty active Friday night with the rattle reels going off with some regularity.  The last time I was there I let the others take care of that 2:00 AM sound but this time it was my turn.  By morning we had 3 nice walleyes in the bucket and missed a few.  Catching enough to take home, we decided to simply eat what we had which was fine with me.  Saturday was JR's Red Fest, an interesting event which is basically an indoor ice fishing contest.  You buy tickets then put your name on them, they get put in a bucket and if your name is drawn you get to draw from another bucket a piece of paper with a certain size fish on it, say a 12.5 walleye.  You can decide to enter it into the contest or release it and hopefully get entered again. It is fun and is the accumulation of the last 6 weeks of fishing on Red.  I have met some great guys including some of my customers, it's an innovative way to have a contest, by 4:00 its over and we head back to the house.  This time it wasn't as cold as a few weeks ago but Russ had picked and area that blew in with snow the day before.  It took a while to pack up and pull the house back onto the plowed roads but as they say, persistence pays off!  We cleaned the fish that went home with us, said goodbye to JR for another year, and headed south.  Admittedly it is sort of bittersweet leaving, the time is flying as it seems like we just pulled our houses up.  We had spent 9 days this year at Red, I would say that fishing was consistently good as we did eat fish most of those nights.  The size of the walleyes are perfect, in the 15 to 19 inch range, and in beautiful shape.  We did not fish for trout this last trip, as stated things just went too fast, maybe next year.

Clever is all I can say!
So the house is back home, Super Bowl is this week and it's time to start planning for our annual Leech Lake Opener that takes place in 15 weeks.  There is a lot to do before then as it is our 45th Annual and we like to try and do something special on the 5th year anniversaries.  One thing that drives me absolutely nuts is the fact that trailer license renewals are due in February when it is cold out.  It seems dumb to me because every year I renew the plates then wait till spring when it seems to be a better and warmer time to put on the tabs, and eventually forget were I put them and then the drama starts.  Eventually everything turns out good enough, I think this year I'm going to  tack them up where they will stay in front of my face all the time and see if it helps.  Each year it seems to get worse!  A final note, my brother Steve is from La Crosse and we are both Green Bay Packer fans.  We were talking about the NFC Championship game where Philadelphia defeated the Vikings.  Not to throw stones and I was somewhat sorry that the Vikings lost, he sent me a picture that I thought was quite clever!  Anyway there is always next year for both teams. 


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Catching up

Friday night's cold sunset.
It's been a whirlwind of activity in my world lately, some of it is simply getting caught up after the holiday's, some of it is business related, and some of it is just that I am running out of time.  Oh well we did get some fishing in.......barely, however it turned out.  2 weeks ago it was Sister Rosemary's Christmas party in Arcadia, Wisconsin, an event that is difficult to miss.  Not that I would not rather be fishing however those family events are important as well and I got to see some of the people I don't see very often.  As well, with both of my parents now gone, the incentive to drive back home isn't as strong as it once was, so it was nice.  Besides my wife's uncle Bernie gave us some venison trimmings for the bologna we are going to make one of these days! As I said work has been crazy but I still got a chance to get out on Friday and head to Red Lake and JR's.  The gang, Mark, Russ, and myself were destined to fish this last weekend however Russ had something going on and so did Mark up to the day we were to go and called me saying, he's open, let's go.  Needing to get away I agreed as we headed out on Friday morning to Red.  We got to the Resort, paid our dues and headed out towards the Center Bar.  About 4 miles out JR came driving by and stopped us to say hi.  I had my usual wild rice and a bottle of Whiskey for him, my appreciation for how nice he treats us.  He exclaimed he had a special place where the fish were biting and he would take us there.  I really never expect to horn on a guys business but he insisted then turned around to lead the way.  There was a significant amount of snow on the ice so it was very thoughtful of him to not only lead us to a special spot but he also
Headed for the deep fryer!
plowed out an area so we could back our house into a clean spot without fear of getting stuck of uneven.  It worked out fabulous as we got the holes drilled and the house set down and sealed.  Finally getting the generator started, we cleaned up the house and were fishing by 3:30.  It was getting cold for sure but it was very beautiful as we watched the sun set over the lake.  Almost immediately we started catching walleyes.  These fish are wonderful eaters, all in the 14 to 18 inch range, nice and fat and perfect.  Mark and I caught enough for a nice meal on Friday night, actually I got pretty full as we had a lot of fish!  Before we headed to the resort to clean and have our fish cooked, JR stopped by and spent about an hour with us, it's a nice break for sure.  He had some friends in the house next door and we invited them to join us but they were already full and not hungry.  JR's is nice because of my wheat allergy, I simply drop a bag of Zatarain's corn based Louisiana style breading in our pail of fish and they do the rest.  Actually many of the guys think it's better but it doesn't matter to me because this is all that I can eat.

Cold morning for sure.
After watching TV we hit the sack, Mark has this pretensity to get up at 6:30 in the morning, not that I object however I do need my beauty sleep!  The smell of freshly perked coffee is nice but I needed to take care of some business.  JR had portable outhouses pulled in the area so I decided this would be a great thing to take advantage of.  Driving to one of these modern conveniences, I opened the door to find a bench with a padded seat on the hole.  A bucket was underneath the hole with a large black garbage bag situated in the right position.  As you can see by this picture, -22 was nothing to sneeze at and trust me, things are damn cold at -22F, like padded toilet seats! It definitely saved me from cleaning up the event in my house so I really don't have much to complain about.  Saturday was an ok day of fishing, they bit in the morning then again just as the sun went down, we had more than enough for supper and some to take home.  After eating we headed back to watch the rest of the football game before hitting the sack.  Certainly we were more subdued on Saturday night as well we were stuffed!  We hit the sack, waking up again at 6:30 were I repeated my Saturday morning performance before catching a couple more walleyes.   At 9:30 we started breaking camp as my electrical system started acting up.  I felt I knew what it was, a bad ground fault so while Mark lifted the house, I pulled the outlet as I had another one.  The first thing I noticed was the white neutral wire was burnt black 2 inches back from the outlet.  Further investigation showed the outlet starting to melt in that area.  It wasn't the ground fault at all but a faulty connection, not good.  Luckily I had purchased a new one for that just in case moment.  I restripped the bad wires, made sure that all the connections were tight then put it back together again, just as Mark had finished up his portion.

It was snowing as we left and it took almost an hour to get back to JR's.  I parked the house then went in to clean the fish before we left.  All in all it was a nice trip, it was good to spend some time with JR as well to meet his friends on the ice.  Next rip is scheduled for January 26th as the intent is to pull the house back to civilization and get ready for the Hunter's Perch Extravaganza on Mille Lacs in 6 weeks.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Fishing in the Deep Freeze

Nice 22 inch walleye
My last post discussed the passing of my cousin Julie and the funeral was on December 28th.  My original plan was to head up to Red on the 27th and fish till Saturday however we changed our plans and headed up right after the funeral.  It wasn't a very good travel day however my brother Steve was at the funeral with us so he drove up to the house afterwards, I met him at the pole shed then we went and picked up my neighbor Lory and we headed up about 6:00.  It's a 4 1/2 hour drive from the house to JR' and we got there about 10:30, right on schedule.  The temperature was a constant -10 F all they way up with the forecast of -25 for red the next few days.  Russ and Mark were already on the lake so we paid Adam, hooked up the house and headed out on the lake, 3 miles straight out then left a half mile.  Unfortunately everyone hear left which was right, assuming at the 3 mile mark however they were on the right side (after turning left) so a quick phone call to mark and Russ and we found where they were parked.  It takes about an hour to set up and the temperature had fallen close to -20 but by 12:30 we were snug in the house with the heat making it comfortable.  I didn't want to hook up the DirecTV but we did get the generator going fine in the Generator box I had bought from JR last year.  Even though I have a cold weather kit on the generator, it still doesn't like running in the sub zero temperatures.  In the box it was nice and cozy and ran all weekend, in fact I never shut it down.  Along with the extended run auxiliary tank, it was perfect. We were pretty wound up at that time so we put in a movie in the builtin DVD player in the TV.  "What About Bob" a great choice and one of the movies that we decided in Alaska was one of each of our favorite movies, which also includes The Big White, with Robin Williams, Second Hand Lions, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.  Even though the movie lasted until 2:30 we sat back and enjoyed ourselves actually catching 2 fish before officially retiring to bed.  With the outside temperature at -22, we slept comfortable in the Salem.  Friday morning we got up and the boys made breakfast while I got the DirectTV hooked up.  There were some bowl games scheduled and they always make the day go better.  A good helping of bacon and eggs, some orange juice and we were set for the day.  We ended up with enough fish to have a nice walleye dinner at JR's that night but not without me catching a nice 22 inch fish, which I decided to let go.  These bigger fish are females and when you clean them they are just full of eggs.  The fish are fat and healthy and we had enough for that night, away she swam.

Steve's nice 14 inch crappie
On Friday we had 8 nice fish and we did eat them all returning to the house ready to keep the action
going.  Unfortunately the skies cleared and we were in for another cold night.  Steve had caught this nice 14 inch crappie, what Red Lake was known for and we usually get one or two a season.  Along with a northern, the fish bite really slowed down for us.  Mark had his son in law, Brandon and his son Beckett, Russ had a few of his guests and they had been there since Wednesday so both of them headed out on Saturday morning.  We decided to stick it out till Sunday and wow, the bottom dropped out of the temperature on Saturday night.  Under clear skies I am sure we hit -30 as it was -28 when we got up Sunday.  Saturday was a bust for fishing and we only caught 1 walleye for the last 24 hour period.  Luckily Lory brought some sausages and a jar of his homemade sauerkraut, it was still pretty good.  Sunday morning we got up and started to get ready to leave.  It was damn cold I can assure you that, thank the Lord my truck started just fine.  The morning before, Russ's truck needed to be plugged into the generator in order to start but then again he has a Ford........Ok just kidding!  We did have 1 walleye so we parked the house in the parking lot, cleaned the fish and took off.  Red Lake is in the low land area just north of Bemidji, what is left of the ancient Lake Agassiz, a very large lake that was formed by the melting of the glaciers during the last Ice Age.   You can actually see the edge of the lake as you drive north of Kelihor (the last town before Red Lake) on Highway 72 and drive down into the lake bottom, the entire plane life changes, it is even more dramatic when you go west of Bemidji through a town called Gully.  Being it's old lake bottom the cold air really settles into this low spot and it's awfully cold for sure!   The cold weather really shut down the walleye bite however it has definitely made for good ice on the lake.  Unfortunately when the warm temperatures return the ice will expand and start heaving up, therefore bridges will have to be dragged on the lake to get across these tough spots.

This weekend was family time with a gathering in Arcadia Wisconsin.  Next weekend I plan on getting back up to Red and fish one more time before I drag the house back at the end of the month.  It is suppose to warm up this week into the mid 30's.  As well the St. Paul Sports show is coming in a couple of weeks.  Word has it they are catching walleyes on Mille Lacs so that will be my focus for February, we'll see how that goes.  There is still some crappies to be had somewhere and after the Superbowl the neighbors and I are planning on making venison bologna.  February is the MD and M Show for work in Anaheim, CA...that will be a nice break.Lot's of stuff going on, that is for sure!