Monday, August 13, 2018

Back From Fisherman's Cove, Lac Seul

26.5 inch walleye, good for 2nd largest!
Last week was our week long trip to Lac Seul with my brother, cousin Paul, friends Mike Werms, Mike and Kevin Joyce, and a couple of new guys, Randy and Dave.  Our trip started out Friday afternoon, August 3rd at noon, whereas my brother picked up Paul in Hudson, we made it to the pole shed where we hooked the boat up and headed north to spent the night in International Falls before crossing the border the next day and getting to camp in the afternoon.  After a good nights rest and breakfast at Sandy's place, a local cafe, it was off to the border.  Paul Steve, and I had a little over our limit of alcoholic beverages however I have learned if you are open, honest, and spell out everything in it's package, maybe they can't add as fast as I can talk,  maybe we have that trusting look, either way we tend to get through the Canadian's without much of an issue!  Our next stop was Dryden to shop for Groceries, then headed west to the town of Vermilion River before turning north.  This trip was on the northwest side of Lac Seul whereas most of the time on Lac Seul is on the northeast side of the lake, about 120 miles from the Fisherman's Cove.  Never the less the fishing was good and the accommodations were 2nd to none.  We were able to get out fishing on Sunday as the weather was perfect all week. Unfortunately Kevin Joyce's outboard motor decided to call a time out about 6 miles into our initial run.  We decided to take the boat back to camp so Mike started his kicker and we followed him back, fishing along the way.  Of course nothing caught was "official" however it did serve to get us warmed up!  After getting it back to camp and deciding that having an oil light that won't go off as potentially harmful, we put an extra guy in my Ranger (Ranger 1) as well Mike took Kevin and his brother Mike in his Ranger (Ranger 2).  It was fine as these boats have plenty of room and it worked out really well.  Once settled we headed out to the Double D's, two deeper underwater humps (one can only guess how the name was figured out!) This is a mid-lake area about 20 miles from camp.  The group has a friendly little contest each year which recognizes certain individual accomplishments withing the group.  First fish caught, Largest walleye, Second largest Walleye, and most fish per boat.  Within 30 seconds Mike Joyce had the first fish, something that he is pretty good at!  Of course the most total fish would have to wait until Thursday evening however on Sunday I nailed a 26.5 inch walleye that held for 2nd place.  Admittedly this wasn't what I thought to be a large fish yet it held throughout the week, which guaranteed my initial investment back!

Location of an Island fire on the NW side of Lac Seul
One thing about Ontario this year, it was pretty dry in the area.  We've had smoke warnings on the way up as the forest fires in Canada have been pretty  widespread this year.  Doing some research one learns that most of not all the current fires have been started by lightening strikes.  If you look at this map, our camp is located on the western edge of Scout Bay (upper Left) and each day we would start  on a route to this fishing spot,  one could see a smoke bellowing from an island south of our route.  It was interesting because in the late afternoon, on our way back to camp, one could see the distinct yellow glow from the fires on the island which is marked on the map on the right by a red icon.  This fire was burning through the entire week we were there.  I am sure because it was on an island, it is not worth the time or effort to put it out so they just let it burn.  By Wednesday not only this fire but a number of them in Northwestern Ontario put a well defined haze into the air and there were respiratory warnings out.  Not enough to stop us from fishing however the effect of all the fires in Ontario were quite interesting when one realizes how large of an area the smoke can cover.  It even affected areas 500 miles south of us back home.   It makes for pretty nice sunsets however!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

A Time to Remember

Dad's service picture
With a busy schedule there wasn't much fishing done last week however it there we did make it to Bogger Hollar (the second) for a family reunion of the Anderson/Fagerland relationship which was my dad's side of the family.  It was hosted by Chris and Jim Husby, Chris is the daughter of my dad's cousin Jean Amundson, who's brother Ronnie Olson had the original Bogger Hollar north of Strum, Wisconsin, where he started up the Family Reunion on my dad's side of the family.  It was nice to see many of my cousins again as well some of the Fagerland's, my grandmothers maiden name.  All of this including my trip to Oshkosh made me think of my dad, who passed away 7 years ago on August 2nd.  It's interesting, my father was not my best friend, that wasn't his job.  He did instill in me some values that reflect his own ideals and I am sure those of his fathers.  Looking back, his role was to make sure that I got a good education, both from a knowledge standpoint and an ethical standpoint.  He worked hard to make sure that I stayed focused on school and happily didn't end in jail by the time I was 18!  Although we never fished much together, he was the one who lit that fire as I have reminisced recently about fishing catfish on NSP point in Eau Claire, or our excursions to Marsh Miller Lake, west of Bloomer, or even fishing the float in Alma, they certainly started a life long, what some would say, obsession.  Never the less, as I get older, there are so many stories and questions that I would have loved to ask him about or talk to him about but like alot of things, often times by the time one thinks of it, it's too late.  Two Monday's ago I posted about having a chance to to Oshkosh and get a picture of the C47 he used to fly.  One of my favorite stories is the time they flew into Buenos Aires, Argentina sometime in the lat 1940's, maybe 1948.  Anyway they had just park their plane and he cleaned up enough to head off base as they were off duty till the next day.  As he was walking toward  the gate an abrupt voice called out...Sargent to which he promptly turned around and saluted to the base commander.  The voice returned, Where you going Sargent?.....I am on leave sir, going downtown for a few hours.....Not dressed like that, as the commander explained the place was crawling with Nazi German's that fled the war and they have no love for American's in uniform.  Come with me, I have a son about your size that you can change into civilian clothes,  they'll leave you alone!  Wow, a great story and I am sure there was more but they are now forever gone.  So those who's fathers are still alive, talk to them, there is much to learn.  For those who are fathers, share your stories as it is the greatest gift you can give!

Boost Converter
Dang garden looks like crap and  the deer have been just brutal on my tomatoes and cucumbers.  Also, there is a mole in the back yard who has decided to make most of it into his permanent buffet table.  They can be difficult to trap and here's hoping I can get it before I leave on Friday.   Believe it or not, it's pretty dry around home.  It sure cuts down on the need to mow everything yet it is not the best situation.  It does look like rain this weekend however I will not be around to enjoy it.  The picture on the left is a device that has proven to be a great solution for a problem that has been experienced in a number of the boats I have owned including my current Ranger.  With all the wiring and the fact that these modern electronics do pull some substantial current, especially those 12 inch screens, couple that with live wells and bait well pumps, structure scan 3D, an accessory GPS module, on-board entertainment unit, it doesn't take long for the voltage on the main battery to drop, and with the voltage drop in the wiring, there simply isn't enough voltage to keep my Lowrance depth finders working in top condition.  Often the solution is to wire these devices directly to the accessory battery yet that sometimes is not very convenient.  My solution came to me years ago when my first Ranger had an old Genetron CRT display which started acting up when the battery voltage was lower than 12.2 volts.  Tom Emmons was a good friend and an excellent power supply engineer so I had him build me a boost converter, an electronic device that would take a voltage and boost it to a higher voltage, one that I set up at 14.5 volts.  This took care of the problem as the screen cleared up.  Lately my depth finders on my boat have been acting up after a long day on the water.  Amazon sells these boost converters for about $5.00 each and they work beautiful.  No longer do my Lowrance units shut off when I start my main outboard.  The display's no longer blink when the voltage get's low.  It's a very nice and convenient way to take care of the low voltage issues.  If only most problems would be that easy!  I posted the same message a year ago before leaving for Canada but failed to connect the output to all of my added electronics, which I fixed last week.  In June my HDS 9 was acting up and that solved all of my problems!

Heading for Lac Seul on Friday and will return a week later so Next week's post may reflect my schedule.  It looks like a good week however the water is still about 2 feet lower than it normally is, reflecting how dry it really is. 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Busy Weekend!

Andy with the first bass
The first item on the agenda for last week was to take my wife's Uncle Andy and Cousin Jason fishing on Saturday morning.  It would have been nice to run up to Mille Lacs and try the deep basin bite however there was not enough time as Andy needed to get back to Eau Claire later in the afternoon so we decided to fish Lake Minnetonka, about a 15 minute ride from Jason's house.  Lake Minnetonka in the 10th largest lake in Minnesota and is well known for it largemouth bass, pike, and panfish.  We decided to try for bass this trip and after landing in Maxwell Bay, we headed to the upper end of North Arm.  It's been over 10 years since I have fished Minnetonka and with a recent cold front passing through the wind was blowing pretty good out of the northwest, the conditions were difficult.  Our strategy was to fish the docks where the water depth at the end of them was fairly deep, in the 5 - 7 foot range.  While Andy used his confidence bait, a scum frog, Jason tried a spoon with a plastic thing threaded on the hook, I was bound and determined to catch a bass using the wacky worm style that was so effective in Texas back in April.  We started fishing the docks when Andy landed his bait on one of the docks.  Because his was weedless, a slight tug and it dropped right off the dock and into the water.  Immediately a bass hit the lure and the fight was on.  Andy was using a spinning rig so on light tackle, he had a good battle.  Netting the fish we unhooked it and took this picture, the first fish of the day.  It happened pretty quick and it hopefully was an omen of things to come.  My rig was a blueish with glitter sinking type plastic worm that has an O ring slid in the center of it and a weedless hook hooked between the worm and the o ring.  I am not sure why this has a lot of appeal but it sure worked good on Bass at Joe Stanfield's pond (OK Tanks).  Casting as close to the edge of the docks as possible, the worm naturally sinks and this time
3 guys out for a cruise
something big hit it.  I reared back and set the hook, only to feel a nice tug on the line then it went limp.  After reeling it in, it was soon discovered that at the end of my line was simply the bare hook with the O ring attached.  Apparently what ever hit it was large enough to pull that worm clear through the O ring leaving me with nothing left but hardware.  It was surprising as I figured anything hitting that hard would automatically be hooked, I guess I may need to reevaluate the time between the strike and when I should set the hook.  That was about it for the day, Jason caught a little bass, not even big enough to bother taking a picture.  We tried many different areas with the same results, not very good.  Lake Minnetonka consists of many lakes tied together by channels, the places to fish and boat are endless.  All the channels are no wake areas, which makes sense as they are only about 25 feet wide.  We were entering the channel in front of a popular hangout, Lord Fletchers, idling through when we came upon this boat anchored at the mouth and taking pictures of the boats that came by, including ours.  The sign said, Tonka Paparazzi, go to to see your pictures.  Well, I did just that to see what it was all about and there it was under July 21, a nice picture of us 3 heading back.  I figured it had to cost something but all they asked is you visit their sponsors.  Anyway I downloaded the picture and now we are in internet immortality!

Monday was my EAA Oshkosh Air Show adventure and adventure it was!  The plan was to leave Crystal Airport at 7:00 AM with Bruce Wiley's plane, a Cessna 182 RG, his friend Jim Shull, a very competent pilot himself, and me sitting in the back seat taking it all in!  Both of these guys are IFR rated (Instrument Flight Rules) and had filed a flight path to Oshkosh, about and hour and twenty minutes away.  Taking off we headed north a bit before we turned to the east with a little southerly angle, we passed just south of Eau Claire, west of Niellsville, South of Wisconsin Rapids and over my cousin Don's place before we cancelled our IFR routing and went into the required VFR ( Visual Flight Rules), dropping down to 1800 feet altitude, and slowing to 90 mph. Some where around Ripon Wisconsin the only way I can describe it was when the pandemonium began.  Planes coming in from all directions, above you, from the left, from the right, coming up behind you.  All of the air traffic is controlled by ground crews 6 - 10 miles from the Oshkosh airport.  One is not allowed to talk back to the air controllers, they just simply acknowledge your position, ask to rock your wings so they know you understand their instructions then head into the airport.  The key is getting in line, and with 30 or so planes in your immediate area it's not that simple.  We ended up doing circle patterns around Green Lake and Rush Lake before we could find a slot to slip into the line heading to the airport.  There were guys that cut in front of you, came in from behind and at the last minute pulled up.  Some of those twin engine planes have a hard time keeping their speed around 90 mph and you were told to keep one mile of separation between planes.  Jim had a flight tracker that would display all the plane in the air around you and and I can say is Uffda!  Finally finding a slot we got our instructions...182 rock your wings!, thank you proceed in.  We landed then spent another 45 minutes looking for a parking spot.  After about 30 minutes of taxiing, a guy told us all General Aviation Parking is filled.
Standing next to a C47
  Asking about Parking in the camping area, yes, that is $120/night.  After spending the last 3 hours in the plane we had little option but to go that route.  I think the guy parking us felt our pain and didn't push the fee.  Nobody ever collected and by 6:30 we were headed for the runway, ready to fly home.  Although the only thing I pilot is my boat, it was a lot of fun walking around, looking at the planes and talking to the vendors, sort of like going to the State Fair.  There were 2 goals I wanted to acomplish, first is to have answered my question, why do turbo props have their propellers facing forward at stop.  The second was to actually see a C47, the plane my dad flew in Panama.  Not dissappointed, those 2 goals were met, the prop question had to do with the fact that if a turboprop engine fails, one wants the props to present no load to the engine, especially important in a dual engine plane.  Also when starting the turbo engine, having the propeller fully "Feathered" reduces the load on the starter as it takes more juice to start than a standard piston engine.  The second is represented by the picture above, I got to see a C47 up close and envision what my dad probably went through as he flew around in South America.  Obvious we did get home safely, a little tired, and my feet are still somewhat sore!  I am not sure what is on tap for this weekend but it would be a good time to get my jon boat out and try fishing the river for some catfish and smallmouth bass before heading back to Lac Seul next Friday.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Back To Mille Lacs

Well it was back up to Mille lacs Lake again last weekend, however the purpose was not to fish but to help my friend Bill move some stuff out of his basement and into his offsite garage.  Not that fishing wasn't thought of however the time seems to get to compressed these days and besides, the Mille Lacs area had around 7 inches of rain in the last week so the water levels really jumped as you can see by the graph.  Big changes like that seem to change the bite somewhat and besides, the wind was blowing out of the northwest pretty hard and I really didn't feel like getting tossed around all day anyway, so I chose lifting heavy objects!  Actually the deep water basin bite has started, one of the fishing methods that better suits my boat setup (Wheel Boat with a kicker motor) straight line trolling with either planar boards or lead core.  During the 2018 fishing opener, we utilized my kicker, the I Troll set up and the remote control steering on the kicker motor and got pretty proficient at controlling the boat.  As they say, practice makes perfect, and I am looking forward to using this setup maybe later next week.  One of the more effective ways of trolling is to use a line counter reel on a fairly long trolling rod setup, attach either a deep running Reef Runner or a Deep Diving Rapala Tail Dancer, both will dive to 30 feet on standard monofilament with 150 feet of line let out.  Connect an inline planar board and it will take that line out 50 feet to the side of the boat.  Because there is a flag hooked to the line, if a walleye hits the lure the flag will be down and there is nothing left to do but reel in the fish.  With lead core line, I use Suffix 832 which sinks at about 8 feet per color (30 feet per color) at 2 mph.  Usually a standard shallow water crankbait like a #5 Shad Rap, a Smithwick Rattlin' Rouge, or other baits that their dive curve is in the 3 - 7 feet range.  Simple let out 3.5 colors, which will take the end of the lead-core to about 28 feet.  I like a 20 - 30 foot leader on the lead-core so the baits run 2 - 4 feet down from there, perfect in that 32 - 35 feet of water depth, as walleyes will always come up to hit something that looks good to eat.  My friend Chuck Teasley is supposed to be up next week and maybe we'll have to try a day of trolling.  Here is a great YouTube episode of James Holst trolling walleyes on Mille Lacs Lake in the summer.  I've never fished the area they were at so it will be worth a try.

Saturday I have agreed to take my wife's Uncle Andy and cousin Jason fishing. I was really thinking
Air Force C47
hard about heading to Mille Lacs however they only wanted to go out for a few hours so I decided to go to Lake Minnetonka and try some panfish and bass fishing.  I haven't bee on that lake in years so it will be interesting for sure.  If nothing else and we don't catch any fish at least Andy will enjoy looking at all the mansions on the lake, it's pretty impressive.  My strategy will be to try the wacky worm rigs that we used in Texas earlier this year.  It is definitely one of the more popular methods of fishing bass and it would be nice if we were successful.  If nothing else I am sure we can find some panfish somewhere.  Monday I fly to Oshkosh for the EAA airshow, one of the largest in the world.  Bruce Wiley asked me if I'd be interested in flying out in the morning and coming back the same day in his Cessna 182RG.  He claims it's only and hour and 15 minute flight and is quite an experience.  One of the things I am looking forward to is this years display of C47, the Military version of the old DC3 used as a passenger plane in the 50's and 60's.  Dad was stationed at Howard Airforce Base in Panama and flew C47's all around South America in the late 40's.  He told me a few stories as he was a navigator.  One thing he did teach me when I was young was the Morse Code.  Sort of geeky these days but I still remember most of it.  Now that he is passed away I wish I could have had more conversations with him about his time in the Air Force, so I am looking forward to actually seeing the plane he flew in. 

Other interesting things, our last trip to Lac Seul found myself somehow flipping the built in fish measuring ruler that stores neatly in my boat into the Wapesi River.  Although only in 4 feet of water and we could see it sitting on the bottom, there was too much current to deal with it, even my friend Pete went overboard in an attempt to retrieve it, it was pretty much impossible to get.   It was tough leaving it on the bottom as one could see it very plainly but left it we did.  I ordered a new one for my boat as it was pretty handy, $53.  I guess I need to be more careful where I put it the next time I take it out.  We are still set to head up to the Fisherman's Cove on the Northwest side of Lac Seul.  We have basically figured out our September trip leaving the 17th.  Admittedly this summer is flying by, I guess the older one get's the faster they go!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Time For Mille Lacs

Marcus with a 26.5 inch walleye
With the success of my friend Ben Aiona on Mille Lacs last week, it was time to head on up and try our luck.  My friend Greg "Bone collector" Kimblom and his 17 year old son Marcus were guests on the boat last Sunday.  Meeting at Cabela's was easy, it's on the way for me and very convenient for them as they drove up from Elk Mound, Wisconsin.  Marcus fishes in his high school fishing club and had never been to Mille Lacs, so the pressure was on!  The largest walleye he had ever caught was 17 inches, a number that I assured him we could beat.  A quick drive through for coffee at McDonalds before we headed north.  On the way we stopped for gas then onto Lundeen's for bait, licenses, and time for me to fix Bill's line counter, which took alot more thinking than one should have to do on a Sunday morning.........oh well, it's fixed.  Also I picked up my 4 bladed stainless steel prop that Ben dropped off last week.  Bill has a guy that makes the rounds picking up props, repairing them, and dropping them back off at his shop.  He does an excellent job and it looks like new again.  Even though it wasn't that bad, I am not interested in saving $200 and later watching my lower unit go bad.  Picking up crawlers and leeches, we headed to the landing, loaded up everything and motored to a spot on Sherman's Flat called the cut.  We had about a 15 MPH wind right out of the southwest and to be honest, I am not a big fan of my new wheel boat on Mille Lacs as having tiller boats for the last 35 years, admittedly I had a process.  That process has really changed and part of the problem is that I haven't fish Mille Lacs very much since being spoiled by Lac Seul, which the fishing suits my boat better.  I am getting better and  I suppose it wouldn't hurt to practice more often!  Oh well.  With the southwest wind it set up the perfect drift up the edge of the flat.  Using the trolling motor, we would edge the boat just off the flat then the wind would blow us back on the top of the flat at a gradual angle.  It wasn't back trolling but close!  We managed to get 2 walleyes off the cut before heading out to 7 Mile Flat which was suppose to be the hot spot.  We did manage another fish their however it wasn't on fire like all the reports.  Next stop was 9 mile flat where the same strategy as on the cut was implemented,  let the wind push you up the east edge as one used the trolling motor to adjust the depth and drift.  Interesting, we approached the south end of  9 mile, there was a larger Skeeter boat putting up his Bimini Top, I suppose we got within 25 feet of him.  His first words were..he didn't know this was the hot spot!  I simply asked him what direction was he heading, up the east side or West side.  With a confirmation that it was the west side, I assured him our paths will never cross!  Never the less that was slow as well.

Hey Greg, Some say I look goofy!
Next stop was 5 mile gravel, maybe they are on the gravel........ ended up at 3 Mile Reef first so we casted for smallies with zero luck before we headed more south.   5 mile gravel had fish on it but nothing was very cooperative.  With 2 more places in mind so we headed directly to the Southwest corner of the lake where the water was significantly calmer then gave the boat controls to Marcus.  Without hesitation he took the wheel and we headed up the shoreline to what I call Eddy's Reef. Admittedly it was fun to let a 17 year old drive the Ranger with a 250 hp motor, something he has never experienced.  He did a fabulous job of handling the boat and getting us to our next destination both in a timely fashion as well, we survived the trip!  Setting the Motorguide I5 as an anchor, we rigged up 3 slip bobber rigs and before long Marcus was holding his largest walleye ever, a 26.5 incher as shown in the first picture.  the fish bite soon after we got settled in yet this was our only fish, uffda.  Next taking a clue from Ben Aiona's report of last week, we finished the day bobber fishing off Indian Point.  I know we were a little early so I went a little deeper yet by 6:30 we were done as these boys had to go back to Elk Mound later in the evening.  It wasn't the best trip for catching however we did have a good time and Marcus got to see how we did it on the big lake.  The fish we got were pretty nice and after stopping to see Bill, we had dinner at Chico's just south of Onamia, a nice place to unwind after a day for hard fishing.  It was hot and windy, how is that for an excuse???  It was still nice on the lake but amazingly hot on shore.  We did run across 2 large dead floating walleyes, and a real nice tullibee, the water temperature was pretty warm. 

I use only Turn Turn baitholder hooks on my crawler rigs as the walleyes tend to hook themselves rather than having to let them take the bait and often swallow it.  Greg (pictured above in the goofy hat) is an interesting guy.  He works for a company that harvests bone, veins, and various other tissues from those who have Donor designations.  Often time people don't realize how important his work is and how one in death can make a huge difference to someone who needs these "parts".  I am always amazed at his courage and dedication to his job and what he does for all of us.  I am working on getting the Jon boat out to start fishing the river soon.  My future events include a day at the EAA in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, my good friend Bruce and another pilot friend have invited me to ride along for a day as we fly there in the morning and back in the evening.  I've already got my ticket and am looking forward to it as they have a squadron of C47 aircraft there, the same airplaine my dad flew in 1948 while he was stationed in Panama as he joined the newly formed United States Air Force.  August 3rd I head back up to the Northwest side of Lac Seul and fish with my cousin Paul, Brother Steve, Mike Worms, and the Joyce clan.  This is my longest trip of the year and I am looking forward to it again!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

4th of July Rememberance

My Good Friend, The Late Tom Emmons
My apologies however this 4th of July has got me missing my good friend Tom Emmons as this was our traditional fishing day, we usually went out every 4th of July to Mille Lacs for the day and sometimes we'd stay till dark to watch the Garrison Fireworks from the boat.  I know that this is a repeat post but sometime keeping memories alive is more important!  Tom was the perfect friend, a big mass of a person that would give you his shirt off his back if he could.  He loved going to Mille Lacs with our friend Tom McAtee and myself, the 4th of July was always good for fishing the flats with crawlers and spinner rigs.  We always good some nice fish and as stated, it became a tradition anyway so the date was automatically put in our calendars.  Tom was a Viet Nam era veteran and although did not serve in Viet  Nam, he was a dog handler/guard in the Army and was in charge of guarding the USA's nerve gas stores in Okinawa.  Military life was not too bad for Tom however it did change him for the rest of his life, unfortunately.  In the end Tom was dependent and despondent, and eventually ended his time on Earth way to early.  So I sat down on Tuesday wishing something that can never be again, Tom was going to show up tomorrow and we'd head out for our annual July 4th trip to Mille Lacs.  Instead the boat sat in the pole shed, waiting to hooked up and pulled somewhere.  I guess when you get something in your head what simply cannot be, it takes some of the wind out of your sails.  One can simply be lucky to have memories as none of us can change the past.  Anyway, to you Mr. Emmons, I miss you tremendously. 

So someone did some fishing this weekend as I still am getting caught up with my chores around the
Ben and His Son Jared.
house from being gone in Canada last month.  My good friend Kevin Aiona's son, Ben called me about Mille Lacs Lake.  The fish have really been biting and he wanted to go on up to try his luck.  Last year Ben bought a Ranger 618T with a 90 hp Merc tiller and after being in aluminum all his life, I know he's enjoying the advantages that fiberglass has on bigger water.  The fish Devils Lake alot however that is quite a ways for them, so Ben, his wife Heather, and their son Jared ended up at Eddy's resort.  They stopped by my work on the way up as I gave him my detailed map chip for his Lowrance, as well my prop was a little bit dinged up from the trip to Wapesi last month, so I had him drop it off at Lundeen's to get fixed, he has a guy that picks them up and does a nice job for quite a bit less than the prop shops in the cities charge.  I gave all of my hot spots to Ben however his complaint was they were only getting smaller fish, the 15 - 20 inch walleyes (The enormous 2013 year class).  Despite my advice, they were not getting any larger fish.  Finally on Monday and after it rained, Ben Figured it out.  He is a dang good fisherman and can generally figure out where the fish are.  Not being a regular, I applaud him for finally finding some better fish up to 28 inches. 

My plans are to head to the lake on Sunday and fish with Greg and his son Marcus.  It will be my first trip to Mille Lacs this year, hardly believable yet with 3 days of fishing on Leech then another 6 at Lac Seul this year, I have gotten my normal time of fishing in however they tend to be concentrated more.  Admittedly my boat control techniques with the wheel boat still need some refining but as they say, practice makes perfect!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Back From Lac Seul, Part 2.

Nice 24 inch Canadian Walleye
Because our trips to Lac Seul usually run 3 days then upon return it's usually a weekend to get caught up, and there is usually a lot of things to post about, I tend to take advantage and stretch it into 2 weeks.  It is interesting, before going to Lac Seul I would have at least 4 trips to Mille Lacs by now yet I am still waiting for the opportunity to get there as the reports are the bite has been short of phenomenal, maybe next weekend as there is a family get together this weekend that will put a damper on my ambitions to get to Mille Lacs.  So I did catch some fish the previous weekend.  As stated last week, the numbers were not there yet I was still impressed by the numbers of larger fish over 22 inches, clearly over 50% of our walleye's caught, including the one pictured here!  Usually we stop at the Ojibwa Baits in Sioux lookout and I buy 3 or 4 dozen large minnows specifically for these big fish.  Not that the minnows in camp are sub-par, but it's nice to have a few larger minnows to attract the larger fish.  The group ended up fishing Wapesi again on the second day as Bruce decided to do a shore lunch for our 10 year old guest, Alex.  Shore lunch is always a group event, I clean the fish, a fire needs to be built, potatoes and beans are cooked first before the old cast iron frying pan is filled with oil and put directly on the fire. We found a nice sandy area where I could park my boat without worry of scratching the bottom on the rocks.  While cleaning the walleyes I noticed a leech had attached to a sore on my foot and was having its own "shore lunch"  Leeches, especially the blood sucking kind, are opportunists and with a sore, blood vessels are just a bit away as they somehow have an analgesic effect where one doesn't feel them bite then secondly they inject and anticoagulant so as to keep the blood flowing as they feed.  I didn't take a picture unfortunately, but it did remind me of my late brother Jon, who had a tissue transplant on his face due to the horrible disease he suffered with.  In the hospital the doctors
Bruce Cooking Shore Lunch
would put on special blood sucking leeches that were bred specifically for this function.  The nurse came in and using sugar water set a leech on his cheek to entice them to bite.  Once attached to his skin, they would inject the anticoagulant into his tissue and start sucking blood.  The would literally gorge themselves and become 6 or 8 times their original size.  What this did was promote the proper blood flow into his transplanted tissue as they did this a number of times during the day.  It worked and Jon was able to have some sense of a new cheek.  When I removed the leech from my foot the sore bled for a good 10 minutes before it stopped.  I guess we all have to eat!  Well, Bruce's shore lunch was delicious as always and both Alex and his dad had a great experience.  It took about an hour before we cleaned up our mess, put everything in the "Shore lunch" box, then made triple sure the fire was put out before heading back to fish.  It was kind of nice as everyone was quite full wen getting back to the cabin so no one had to make supper that night!

Two Handsome Guys!
One of my favorite things is to meet people, especially those who have something in common with myself or a situation.  My good friend Keith Holtan, Alaskan Guide, has cabins on the Kenai River near Soldotna, and every time we tried to rent from him in August, he was already booked with a man from Chattanooga, Tennessee, Gary Blinn.  This happened for a couple of trips then one year Gary took Keith to Lac Seul Outposts with him and his crew, as Keith had worked out the time to fish with him.  Well, Keith informed me that Gary would be in Camp the same days that I would be so it turned into a goal, to go and introduce myself to Gary.  Talking to Ken, the owner of Lac Seul Outpost, and asking him which cabin Gary was in, he said Cabin 6.  And oh by the way, Gary is a great guy, you'll like him.  Well those words echoed Keith's same thoughts so I knocked on the door and introduced myself.  It was a great first meeting as I started by giving him crap for renting Keith's place when we were there! Actually not a big deal as we shared some home made core hush puppies he had made, absolutely fabulous.  Not wanting to over play my self invite, we talked about things we had in common and I promised I'd return on Tuesday night with a bottle of good Red wine and a steak that I cook every trip.  Of course I kept that promise, he enjoyed the steak and wine, and it fulfilled a desire to meet this famous man that graces a number of people I know.  We had a great time and his guest were also pretty interesting, all in the medical fields in or near Chattanooga.  One actually was very good at playing the guitar and sung pretty well.  I challenged Gary to bring himself and some of his friends to experience ice fishing this winter at JR's on Red Lake.  We'll get some houses and stay on the ice, these southern boys will be in for an experience of a lifetime, at least for them!  It is an even year on the Kenai and Gary will be at Keith's again so I told him to add to the pressure, they can fly into MSP, I'll pick them up and away we go north, first to Brainerd to pick up Keith then on to JR's, I know they would have a blast!

As stated, I have to get to Mille Lacs soon before the bite slows down.  Next week is the 4th of July and for years I fished with my good friend Tom Emmons and Tom McAtee on this day.  It's a great time to remember him.  The 4th is on a Wednesday and the plan is to go to Eau Claire and have a catfish fry, sounds good to me!

Friday, June 22, 2018

Back From Lac Seul, Part 1

Bruce with a nice walleye
Our second trip to Lac Seul this year came about a week early. Water levels were about a foot higher than in May, so we cruised through the rags without an issue however fishing was considerably different than a month ago.  My good friend Paul Wenaas was on his way back from Lac Seul the morning we left and was fortunate to have him call us when he arrived at International Falls, MN and we were in Cloquet, MN.  The report..........slow, little wind and cloud cover made for difficult fishing and their best day was their last day when it clouded over and the wind picked up.  The other thing Paul talked about was the difficulty in trying to figure out the best dept for the fish.  He felt their best success was in the 8 - 15 foot of water, pretty shallow for this time of year.  I guess the late spring has messed things up somewhat.  On this trip we had our host Bruce along with his son Michael and their guests Dave and his 10 year old son Alex.  Dave does some work for Michael and Bruce so was invited up.  Then of course their was Pete and myself.  Our plan was to get up at a reasonable hour on Saturday morning, drive to Sioux Lookout and meet Bruce, who was planning on flying his Cessna 182 to the Sioux Lookout Airport and we would pick him up and he could ride into camp with us.  Well the weather proved interesting and although it would only take about 2 hours and 40 minutes to fly from Crystal Airport to Sioux Lookout, there were thunderstorms from the Twin Cities all the way to Lac Seul.  Luckily there was a window of opportunity between fronts and he successfully slipped between them.  In the meantime Pete and I were trying to judge the right timing as we spent at least 40 minutes in line to cross into Canada at International Falls.  Tasked with buying groceries we spent a half hour at the Safeway in Dryden before deciding to have something for lunch.  Although the skies looked fine above us, the horizons all around us looked dark and intimidating.  Arriving at Sioux Lookout we stopped at the bait store that our Camp is headquartered to get a few things, the owner Vicki asked if we were going to camp and if we could bring some minnows to camp, which we have done many times.  She needed about 45 minutes so we decided to head to the airport, about 5 miles away and wait for Bruce.  Parking the boat next to the fence where Bruce parked his plane the last time, Pete went in to check and see if anyone had an ETA for Bruce's arrival.  Sure enough the guy stated, "Just talked to him, he'll be here in less than 10 minutes!"  Absolutely amazing timing, drive 11 hours, stop for gas, food, delayed at the border, and come within 10 minutes of meeting him, Pretty good if you ask me!  Bruce landed and he tied down his plane while we transferred his stuff to the truck and in 20 minutes we were back at the Ojibwa Baits to pick up the minnows for camp as well as some for ourselves, as I tend to like to have some larger minnows for the big walleyes!

A Beaver Stopped by to See Our Fish Catching Techniques
At the landing Bruce finally got to spend some time in my boat.  Actually he fished with Pete and I the entire time while Michael had Dave and Alex in Bruce's boat.  I'm sure it was interesting for him, as it is when I fish with someone in their boat.  One get's used to being in control and when you are sitting on the passenger side, you can only offer an opinion and hopefully it's a good one!  Never the less on our first day of fishing, Sunday, the weather was overcast and enough wind to keep it interesting.  One of Bruce's favorite spots was Wapesi Bay, northwest of camp.  We did alright but as Paul stated, it was somewhat difficult to nail down exactly what depth the fish were at, especially when the water temperature was already in the lower 70's.We did get a number of nice fish including the one Bruce is holding in the top picture.  I would not say the fish were exceptionally fat but like a month ago, a good proportion of the walleyes we caught were over the 22 inch length.  After fishing our typical hot spots in Wapesi we headed for the area in which the Wapesi River flows into the lake.  The river cascades down a sizable rapids before entering the lake and it creates about a 100 yard stretch of current that was full of walleyes and a few northerns.  Because of the current it was quite easy to catch them on plastic as more of the fish are grabbing anything that looks like it could be eaten as it passes by in the current.  It is one of my favorite ways to catch fish, keep the bait moving and off the bottom and smash, one never knows what's at the end of your line.  I am still waiting for additional pictures to be sent to me!  Fishing the Wapesi River got our boat count up to 77 walleyes for the day, a far cry from the 158 we caught in one day a month ago, it was still fun and provided enough action to keep things interesting for sure.  The above picture was a very large beaver that swam across the river behind us.  As it sat near the shore, and between the 2 dead tree stumps in the water, I quickly took this picture, pretty interesting. 

We again saw a few bears on this trip, one by the road on the way up and one on the shore just a quarter mile north of camp, which isn't usually a good thing for the bear.  Unfortunately I'll finish that story next week.  The lawn needed cutting real bad and the garden needs to be worked on this week, the boat is a mess, never any rest for the wicked!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Not Much to Report.

Jared with 2 of their walleyes
With the late spring and fishing 2 weekends in May, (trust me, not complaining) the things that need to get done around the house are never ending.  One of the biggest thing has been the garden, and I am not quite sure how important is it other than it's something to fill up that big brown area behind the house.  Dad was a good gardener yet even he cut back somewhat as he got older, something that should probably be taken to heart!  Never the less I got the onions in a couple of weeks ago however just got everything in by Sunday.  What really exciting happened is my good friend Kevin Aiona's son Ben and his grandson Jarred entered the Spirit Lake Walleye Classic tournament this weekend at the Spirit Lake Casino on Devil's Lake, North Dakota.  Ben and Jared are pretty good fishermen and with Ben's new Ranger boat with a fancy new to him Lowrance HDS 12, it is good to see them put all that equipment to good use!  Kevin, Ben, and their families usually go out to Devil's Lake this time of year and fish.  Knowing that the tournament is during the same time they decided to enter.  Tournament fishing is not as easy as it sounds.  You are fishing for money, recognition, and your own self pride.  It is fun but there is a lot of pressure on a number of areas, did you use the right bait, techniques, did we go to the wrong area, where is everyone else catching fish? Mark Applen and I definitely understand as we have fished the MTT walleye tournament on Mille Lacs a couple of times with our first rookie year capturing 3rd place for $1200.  Well Ben and Jared didn't do too bad at all coming in at 5th place with a $2000 prize.  That's pretty exciting, and to hear that they were just 0.04 pounds behind 4th place, Ben exclaimed that in the livewell one of the fish coughed out a 8 inch perch, that perch was probably worth a $1000 and 4th place.  Also he said that they had a nice 27 inch sized fish come off at the boat, uffda!! Oh well, I am sure it was a blast for Jared, something he'll remember for the rest of his life.  For what it's worth, Mark Applen had his Golf Tournament this weekend and his neighbor at the lake once again donated a spot on the Minnesota Tournament Trail for Mille Lacs next year.  Of course we bought it and will be back on the walleye circuit soon!
Jared and a nice Devil's Lake Walleye

Jared is quite the fisherman for his age.  Just like his dad Ben, who is was just a few months old when he was in the boat with his dad, sitting on the floor in a Infant carrier....wait, that was my boat below the dam in Alma!!! Ben sent me this picture from Monday of a nice walleye he just caught.  It's really nice to see a young man like Jared acquiring the skills needed to help guide me when I will be too old and feeble!! On a died note we are getting ready to leave for Lac Seul this Saturday.  Upon the return of my last trip, there was a steel leader and mono-filament line wrapped around the prop shaft, under the prop.  Removing the prop and getting it untangled went smoothly however it would probably a good idea to check the lower unit grease level, even though there appeared to be no leaks.  One checks the level in the engine compartment as the lower unit is vented to a small tank mounted in the compartment and serves as an expansion reservoir for the lower unit.  Basically when running the grease gets hot then expands.  by having a hose come to the compartment, any expansion fills the plastic cylinder and when it cools it get's put back in, similar to today's radiators.  Well, checking it there was absolutely no grease apparent so I am immediately thinking, OH OH, did it all leak out via the seal?  The Evinrude Etec G2 lower unit does not have any traditional lower unit drain/fill screws, rather you simply remove a screen for the water intake and the fill hole is under it.   Interesting as it is not on the bottom of the gear case like most are, rather in the front, therefore you need to tilt it up to drain out the remaining grease.  Luckily there was at least 1.5 quarts of grease that came out, so that was a relief!  I have used Amsoil lower gear lube in the past with excellent results however this time it was replace with Evinrude's own HPF PRO Gear Lube, as the motor is still under warranty, it was worth the few extra dollars to keep it to factory specs.  I have an old pump up sprayer device made specifically for dispensing lower unit grease, just pour into the sprayer, twist the top pump assembly on and pump it up to pressurize the tank.  The hose end has a rubber adapter that fits and seals into the fill hole and you just squeeze the valve as you hold it tight.  I watched it finally hit the reservoir and fill up to the proper level.  It was easy and convenient and we will be looking for any changes when we get back from Lac Seul next week to see if the prop shaft seal was damaged.  there are no leaks now and usually if they will leak, they leak!!  This trip will be an experiment by putting the original 22 pitch prop on the motor to see if it improves my gas mileage.  

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Lac Seul Opener, part 2.

30 inch Walleye
Admittedly it was hard having to wait a full week before the highlight of our trip to Lac Seul for the 2018 walleye fishing opener was written about but here goes!  On most walleye fisherman's bucket list is to accomplish the holy grail of fishing walleyes, a 30 incher!  Now admittedly if one lived in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Port Clinton, Ohio, or on the Columbia River in Washington State, this may not be such a revered goal, however for us guys stuck in the bowels of Minnesota, a 30 incher is a fish of a lifetime.  Walleye fishing for over 40 years now in Minnesota, the closest fish that I have ever come was a 28.5 inch walleye caught a in the late 1980's on Mille Lacs.  Two years ago in June, Bruce's father-in-law landed a 30 incher in my boat fishing Tuk Bay, that was a nice fish, but it wasn't on my line.  This year with Pete, RJ, and myself in the boat we were fishing on Monday, May 21st, our last day of fishing for this trip.  The fish were really on the bite and on that last day our total fish count for the day, not including northern pike, was 158 walleyes caught.  The total time fished was 7 hours and if you do the quick math it comes to a walleye caught every 2.65 minutes, all day including running time in the boat!  We were on the point just north of camp and the walleyes were stacked in the 10 - 11 foot range.  We typically use what I call the Canadian method of impaling our minnow on the jig, simply run the hood through the mouth and out the gills then rotate the hook around and stick the point through the top of the minnow, just behind the head.  The fish are so aggressive that if you simply hook the minnow through the lips, you will end up losing many fish and wasting minnows.  With the Canadian method, one can often catch 2 or 3 fish on one minnow before it needs to be replaces.  Well, I had caught a number  of fish on a minnow when it finally was about to separate into two parts, the head still on the hook, then the body.  Simply discarding the head, the remaining body was threaded on my jig, basically just a piece of meat on the hook.  Dropping it beside the boat, it hit the bottom, reeling in the slack and bam, a nice fish hit the jig.  Setting the hook revealed that there was something substantial at the end of the line.  A few head
Right on the 30 Inch Line!
shakes later Pete was summoned, get the net, this one is a dandy!  One often doesn't get a real idea until the fish is visible next to the boat, UFFDA, this was the largest walleye ever to grace the end of my line.  Carefully instructing Pete....Head first, Head first, he slipped the net under the fish and hauled her in.  She was hooked solid, so we removed the hook, took a few pictures and measured her.  Exactly on the 30 inch line with the tail squished together, that was good enough for me and we let her go.  She swam right away and I believe that she was in pretty good shape.  Her estimated weight was around 10 - 11 pounds and of course she was recently spawned out to a month from now she might have been a pound or two heavier, never the less a beautiful fish.  I don't know if I'll get a graphite reproduction of the fish or not but at over $15/inch it will take some thought.

Sunday's beautiful Sunset
So the 2108 Canadian Fishing Opener at Lac Seul Outposts is in the history books and according to Bruce it probably was the best he's ever witnessed in the 30 years they have been coming up to camp.  The fish totals for the Ranger and it's 3 occupants were 145 on Saturday, 101 on Sunday, and 158 on Monday, a total of 404 walleyes caught.  What was impressive was the total number of walleyes over 20 inches, I would say that over half of them we caught were over 20 and half of them were over 22 inches.  That is an impressive total of nice walleyes.  We did extremely well on plastics as the fish were quite aggressive.  The ride in on Friday was absolutely terrible as we got soaked however the next 4 days were beautiful, with an accompanying gorgeous sunset to finish each of the days.  One of the things I like to do is stop in at the bait shop and buy some large minnows.  It really paid off this year as the big fish loved the big minnows.  Unfortunately the bait well in the boat drained out and many of our big minnows had died on Saturday night.  It really didn't seem to matter much as the walleyes hit those as easily as if they were alive, so we cleaned them out nicely.

One of the issues was having to park my boat on the sand beach next to Bruce's boat.  One of the things that was installed on my boat from the factory was a keel guard, meant for just this.  Everything turned out OK as we were able to plug it in each night and as well, RJ was a master of tying knots and did an awesome job of securing everything in place.  It was a pain to get in the boat with getting sand in it and backing off the sand bar was challenging as there were scour holes from previous outboards trying to push their boats higher, and or trying to back off the sand.  The Ranger is pretty heavy and really doesn't move that much so it did take some addition persuasion from RJ and Pete.  So what do we do for an encore?  The fish are biting on Mille Lacs and the Smallies are just coming off their spawn so that will more than likely be the next adventure.  We are so far behind at home, the garden still needs to be planted, trees need to be moved, mowing needs to be done.  We were at my niece's daughter's graduation last weekend so not much got done this last weekend either.  Honestly it was too hot anyway as Memorial Day hit 100 degrees, almost too hot to fish!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

2018 Ontario Opener at Lac Seul, Absolutely Incredible! Part 1

Pete With a Nice Walleye
the 2018 Minnesota and Ontario Canada fishing openers are now in the history books and what a difference a week and 350 miles can make!  As the last few years, the week after Minnesota Fishing Opener is the Ontario Fishing Opener and once again I was fortunate enough to be the guest of my friend Bruce Wiley at Lac Seul Outpost located in the Chamberlain Narrows area of beautiful Lac Seul, northeast of Sioux Lookout, Ontario.  Our other guests included Pete, Wayne, Tom, Chip, and Bruce's son RJ.  The drive is 460 miles form home and by the time you stop for gas, breakfast, crossing the border and buying groceries in Dryden, getting the boat launch it's about 12 hours plus at least another hour or so to get into camp. The forecast for Sioux Lookout said rain between 6 and midnight and upon arriving at the bait shop to get our parking passes it had already started to sprinkle.  I figured we could get into camp by 6 but that didn't seem to work very well.  By the time we go to the Deception Bay boat landing it had started to rain pretty good.  Luckily last year I had a Bimini Top made for the boat and although it helped to keep us somewhat dry, with the wind and rain coming down pretty hard, it was difficult to keep anything dry during the 34 mile boat ride into camp.  Figuring it would be uncomfortable but a lot drier than what it really was, it would have been smart to put on my rain suit, lesson learned on that deal.  Taking over an hour and 45 minutes, we finally arrived at camp just as the rain lightened up somewhat.  Being  all quite soaked, and after hanging our clothes to dry, it was time for a well deserved cocktail while Chip made pork tenderloins.  A warm meal in our belly's, a relaxing couple hours reminiscing about the wet ride into camp it was time to snuggle into the warm sleeping bags, getting ready for the walleye fishing opener the next morning!

Saturday's Fish Total
The next morning proved to that in camp, if you don't like the weather just wait a day, the clouds were intertwined with blue skies with the promise of a better weekend in store.  After a great breakfast of scrambled eggs, blueberry sausage, and toast the first stop was directly across camp where Bruce, Tom, Wayne, and Chip were anchored.  With Pete and RJ in the Ranger we headed over only to see that Bruce was anchored.  Apparently there was a problem with his battery system for the trolling motor and his anchoring system and we could not fix fix it for this trip.  I'm sure he missed it yet Wayne did a fabulous job of being his anchor boy for the trip.  After catching a number of smaller walleyes in the channel we moved up to the corner and fished the 10 foot break area and the walleyes were on fire.  At the bait shop in town, we picked up 3 dozen Large Rainbow minnows and did the big walleyes love them.  Catching 3 and sometimes 4 walleyes on a single minnow, there were times when we all had a fish on at the same time.  What was really a bonus was the amount of walleyes over 22 inches, over 50% of our catch.  As you see in the first picture, each one of us caught a number of nice walleyes like this. Still had plenty of fish for dinner that night yet it was astounding the amount of nice walleyes that were landed.  Putting a counter on the dash of the boat, a simple click kept track of our total catch and as you can see by the picture above, Saturday's total landed in the boat was 145 walleyes!  That was a new record for the boat and quite an impressive one at that!  Our fishing time usually ends around 5:00 and although the day turned out pretty nice, it still was a little chilly.   With Day one under our hats, it would be exciting to see what the next few days would bring.

This year my boat was forced to be basically beached up on the sandy shore for the night.  Although not my preferred spot, never the less it would have to do.  RJ did a great job making sure it was tied up securely while Pete got the electrical extension cords ran so we would be fully charged up the next day.  Hating sand in the boat, admittedly it was a challenge to jump in off the beach, wash one's shoes off then struggle to free the boat from it's overnight resting place.   Luckily there was enough dock space by the time we departed in the morning for everyone to properly wash the sand off their shoes before entering.   My guest realize that I am pretty anal about my boat however it's pretty nice to fish out of when on the water.  As tempting as it is to make this post longer, you will have to wait until next week to hear about my biggest walleye I have ever caught, finally a 30 incher!!!                                                                             

Thursday, May 17, 2018

2018 Leech Lake Opener, In the Books

Biggest Fish Award!
Along with a lot of things going on in my life, the late spring has set back my schedule something fierce!  The ice finally went off of Leech Lake on Wednesday, May 9th, just in time for our 45th Annual Leech Lake Fishing Tournament.  This year was again a full house with 22 of us fishing the Minnesota Fishing Opener.  Without a doubt we struggled this year with almost bluebird conditions all 3 days and no wind, our group caught only 90 walleyes for the entire 3 days.  Last year we caught the same however we did manage to keep 42 fish that met the slot we impose, 12 inches to 20 inches.  This years keeper count was about half that, with only 22 fish kept.  Enough for a fish fry and only a few guys brought home fish.  Because of late ice out in most of the large lakes where shiner minnows are trapped for bait, essentially they were either not available and if they were, they became very expensive whereas one bait shop between Mille Lac Lake and Milaca, MN was selling them for $14.99/dozen.....uffda.  We loaded up on Fatheads this year yet most of our guys prefer shiners and bought them where they could. Saturday morning was our first session and it was pretty slow.  Only a few fish we caught between all of us, quite disappointing.  One group came into the resort with 3 limits of keepers, supposedly caught in Steamboat Bay, a shallow weedy bay, pitching jigs in 4 feet of water.  We knew that the fish would be shallow but pitching jigs in the weeds, it would have been better if one knew exactly where.  My boat actually tried Steamboat but with little luck.  There are channels where walleyes congregate, but apparently not this year. With evening quickly approaching, we went in and had supper before going out again.  The evening wasn't much better yet the thought of trolling number 5 shad raps in less than 6 feet of water seemed intriguing.  Some of our guys were catching a few walleyes on Ottertail Point,  yet this is a great area for evening trolling.  Setting up my crew we started trolling the east shoreline, long lining our Shad Raps till the bumped the bottom.  Just as it got dark something nice hit my lure and after reeling it in, the walleye measured 26.25 inches, a pretty nice fish.  We got another nice fish over 20 but they were the only 2 for the day.  Adam Mayerich was at Ottertail when the lunker was caught, while we headed back to the cabin he stopped at Pine Point on the way back and also caught a 26.25 inch walleye.  Because mine was caught first, my name was entered as in first place while he took second with the same sized fish.  Surprisingly that fish held till we were done on Monday night and I once again took the big fish honors for the trip! 

Beautiful Sunset on Ottertail Point.
 The weather was extremely nice for all three days of the Team Walleye event.  One has to love the Leech Lake sunsets and Saturday night was no exception.  With the sky on fire, you can see in the picture the tip of Ottertail Point on the right, the sunset is on fire with its reflection on the calm water.  There even appears to be a face looking down on us, maybe it's the Good Lord making sure all of us were safe!  Either way they are beautiful and definitely worth seeing.  Sunday was a bust as well as we tried everything, even Sucker Bay!  By Monday night and the only thing going for me was the largest fish prize, Jay and Henry, a couple of guys older than me asked to go with me.  It was great to have them in my boat as my strategy was changing.  For the last night we would fish Stoney Point and end the evening trolling Shad raps along the shoreline across from Brindley's Harbor, our host for the weekend.  We did get a few bites drifting Stoney Point but failed to capitalize on any of them.  When a boat with 4 guys chose to anchor right where we were drifting through, it was time to go to plan B, troll the shoreline.  Neither Jay or Henry had adequate trolling rods or Shad Raps, yet I was ready and rigged them up each with a good baitcaster with heavy pound line (15 lb test) so as not to lose my baits if we got snagged, that worked pretty good as no baits were lost!  We trolled at least a half mile before we hit Little Stoney Point, went around the corner and bang, a walleye hit!  After netting the walleye, it was under 20 inches and eligible for keeping.  5 minutes later we hit another walleye...25.5 inches, another  nice one.  We finally found our sweet spot trolling the west side of Little Stoney, ended up with 4 walleyes, 2 keepers, and had 3 additional fish on before they got off, which was quite good. at 10:30 we stopped to go back and enjoy our final night at camp.  It started slow but ended with quite a bang!

Ben's nice Smallie
Fishing was definitely tough.  With the water so clear and the walleyes "up shallow" we probably don't have the technique needed to look beyond what makes sense.  One good thing that came out of this was finally getting to use my 9.9 hp kicker motor effectively.  It really had been a pain during the past 3 years, didn't run right and steering was connected to the main motor which had to be running to take advantage of the power steering.  I finally had Frankie's install an I Troll Speed Controller for the Kicker as well as a Panther wireless steering unit.  They cleaned the carburetor  and did something to the jets, and this year it started right up and it took about 5 minutes to become proficient in operating the kicker motor such that it was very effective.  We had our moments but for the first time since I have had the boat that it felt as though the trolling function was in full control and worked beautifully.  Admittedly I am anxious to try this on Mille Lacs.  Sunday afternoon Ben Taylor was with me as it was decided to go out to Submarine Island to check it out.  While I threw a crankbait, Ben threw a plastic swim bait and did quite well on it.  Here he's holding an 18 inch smallie, a very nice fish, especially on Leech, which to be honest, I do not recall ever catching a smallmouth bass there.  Friday morning is our time to leave for Lac Seul and fishing opener there.  Apparently all the ice is out however the Rags, a shallow area that cuts off about 3 miles is still too shallow to get through so we'll have to go around.  It's quite easy to fish shallow on Lac Seul as the water is quite stained and about 18 inches is the max one can see down.  Here's hoping the Canadian Opener will be much more successful in the catching department, I remain optimistic!

Friday, May 4, 2018

Getting Ready for Fishing Opener

My New Weld Job on my Trailer Step
With the late spring and my previous trips to Texas, fishing opener is rushing upon us at lightening speed.  Add on top of this that the ice has not officially off of Leech Lake, things are moving fast and thankfully the weather is cooperating very well, I think things although will not be normal, will be just fine.  In fact looking back some of our best fishing it occurred when the ice went out later, in fact on of the best years in the history of Team Walleye was when there was ice on the lake until the Monday after the Saturday opener.  Never the less there is a lot of things to do before next Friday.  The boat needs to be cleaned up, all my electronics needs to be reinstalled, rods, tackle and needed equipment needs to be put away, and as you see to the picture on the left, my trailer step on the winch tower on my boat trailer actually broke the weld off after installing my Eazy Steps.  These steps are the real deal as getting older they become a real advantage and anything that makes it easier to function, I am all for it.  Unfortunately the setup was less than ideal so I asked my friend Bruce Wiley to help me fix the problem.  The other day we took my baby out of his storage and over to his shop where he fixed the broken weld on the step, and in addition welded in a triangular bracket to really shore up the mechanical strength of that step.  After mounting the step to the  post and in order to secure it, the plate needed a hole drilled through to accommodate the bolt which secures the step.  Thinking it would be easy,  the hole had to be drilled right through the weld material.........uffda! Confirming to Bruce my success in the challenge of drilling through his weld and his comment, well it was 7018 Rod, 70,000# tensile strength, You're not playing with kids here!!!  One thing about Bruce, you will never be given a half quality job, it's the best or nothing!  The drill did get through the weld but may need re-sharping, and I could gain another 70 pounds and still be good, at least for that step.   One is very lucky to have friends like Bruce to count on but as usual, there is a lot more work to now be done, the bare metal needs to be coated and cleaned up for sure.  At least that should never be a problem again!

Sky on Fire Last Night
The other disadvantage of the late spring is all the yard and garden work needs to get done.  The apple trees are trimmed but the raspberries still needs work.  Stopping at another friends house, Ricky,  we hooked up his tiller onto his Kubota tractor and is ready to till the garden this week. It really takes the grunt work out of getting the garden ready as my onions and seed potatoes are in and ready for planting.  A normal year would have seen this stuff already done yet it was only last week that the water got turned on down to the pole shed.  Even that was an issue as the water lines were still froze deep down, surprisingly how deep the frost really was.  Hopefully this weekend will get a serious hurt on all the things that need to be done.  On top of this we got a new "used" John Deere Lawn Tractor, Model 734, 27 hp All Wheel Steer last weekend and has added additional issues needing to get done before the serious fishing starts.  I guess the list goes on and on and on!  Still it's important to stop and appreciate the beauty of Mother Nature as seen here, the sky is on fire. 

May is turning to a busy month and hopefully everything will get done as needed.  As you may have read in previous posts, the bass fishing trips taken in the last few months have really set the stage for fishing bass in Minnesota this year.  Admittedly I am anxious to try wacky worming smallmouth bass on the Mississippi Rive behind the house with my new fishing buddy, David Grant or Jack's son Ben,  we'll see if he can keep up!  The last few weeks were dedicated to restocking my plastic worm selections as the Bass Pro Stik-O Worms have worked very well and the crayfish/orange colors should work well on those smallies. 

Friday, April 27, 2018

Wacky Wormin' Bass in Texas

Matt's nice bass on an orange wacky worm
Well, the time sure flies and this week was no different.  Monday morning I boarded a plane for Dallas, the main purpose was to attend the TTA meetings in Fort Worth, however one can never resist the opportunity to spend a few hours fishing, and that's exactly what we did Monday evening and Tuesday morning.  Time was tight as there were scheduled meetings on Tuesday afternoon yet we were successful in catching our share of fish in the short time that was available.  My good friend Matt agreed to pick me up at the airport and was gracious enough to make a quick stop at the Bass Pro Shop, just outside of the airport in Dallas.  Last time we were there I picked up some nice clothing and was interested in getting a few more items along with some baits to try for our fishing adventure.  Fishing with plastic worms, wacky style seemed like something we should have in our bag of tricks so in the plastic worm aisle, there was what looked like a local guy with a few packages in his hand.  Walking up to him I commented "You look like you know what the fish are hitting on...I just got into town from Minnesota and I would appreciate any advice!"  His response was what I figured after seeing what was in his hand.  Senko's is the bait right now, use them Wacky Style, my reply.........yes but that's not what's in your hand!  OK, we both knew what Gary Yamamoto Senko's cost, about $1.00 each.  Nope was his reply, the Bass Pro Stik-O Worm is just as good and quite a bit cheaper as we walked over to where they were on the rack.  Acknowledging that there are others knockoff's to Senko's how good were these.  Being assured they would work just fine the next question.....which colors are hot?  Reaching on the rack, he pulled off what he said was the best, Junebug, a dark blue with silver flecks mixed in.  That would not have been my first choice but when in Texas do what the Texan's do!  The next was a medium Green with gold flecks called Green Pumpkin Magic, then it was suggested that we get a bright Orange color.  Picking up a pack of Eagle Claw Trokar weedless Wacky Worm hooks in the 2/0 size, as well an O ring tool, we were pretty well set.  One thing I wanted to do was try for some catfish so we picked up some dip bait, dip worms, and sinkers as well.  The one thing we completely forgot was a good long nosed pliers. More to come on that topic!

Typical size bass we caught
Our fishing pond was about a 5 - 7 acre conservation Pond on our friend Joe Stanfield's farm.  He had a small plastic boat called a Pond Prowler from Bass Pro Shops.  Paired with a 12Volt 45# thrust Minnkota trolling motor, it actually worked pretty good.  Lacking any electronics, we simply followed the shorelines where the weed beds ended.  Last time we fished Joe's pond in March, the water was quite cloudy however this time it was surprising how clear it was.  Because of the weeds we started throwing spinner baits towards shore and had a few hits and a couple of fish.  As we moved down the shoreline the water was getting deeper and the deeper weed line became obvious so I decided to switch tactics.  Having another rod rigged up for wacky wormin', the green pumpkin color seemed like a great place to start based on the water clarity.  The sink rate is somewhat slow, sort of like a gentle drift downwards and being hooked in the middle created an enticing pulse when tugged on.  One could watch the baits slowly sink to about 4 feet, eventually disappearing in the depths.  A few casts later and all of a sudden one feels a tap on the line and it's moving away from you.  A sharp hook set and the battles were on!  These Trokar Hooks are amazing, strong and very sharp with an unusual point/edge that is really sticky.  One did not have to set the hook with a massive hook set and the first few bass that were caught were hooked quite deep.  Letting them take it too long resulted in the fish dang near swallowing the worm, something that surprised us.  It was these times that we wished there was a good needle nose in the boat as it took some doing to unhook the fish.  I wouldn't say we were killing the fish but catching them on somewhat of a consistent basis.  Deciding to try the Junebug color was nothing short of amazing.  It was like the fish turned on as though someone had flipped a switch.  Maybe it was the time of day, maybe there were more fish in that corner of the pond, regardless I was hooking a bass a cast.  In the end we probably caught 60 bass this weekend.  Matt had great luck on Tuesday morning with the orange color worm as well, maybe a different day.  Joe has 4 ponds on the lake with all of them in a row to conserve water and prevent erosion.  We caught fish in all 4 however the large pond at the end of his property was the best.  I can't wait to try this method for smallmouth on the river this summer.

As my plane was making it's way to the gate after landing in Dallas, it was a good time to check the e-mails and see what was missed whilst in the air and the phone shut off.  One of the first e-mails was this one: Hi Dave,  This is Bruce Buratto’s son Matt. I was just standing waiting to get on my plane to Dallas and I thought I saw you but wasn’t sure since I’ve never met you in person haha. I checked your blog and saw you’re headed to Dallas too so was like that’s definitely you. I’d love to say hi when we get to Dallas so I figured I’d send you this quick message in hopes you’ll see it so I can catch you when we get off.  Interesting as Matt is one of the followers of the blog and like he said, I know who he is but I have never met him.....I didn't even have any idea what he looked like!  Either way I stood in the concourse at the gate and sure enough, he recognized me.  I suppose my Ranger hat and Ranger/Evinrude shirt was a dead give away yet it was a very nice experience meeting Matt, especially under the circumstances.  Matt is in his early 30's and I give him a lot of credit for being on the ball like that.  One just feels like he is going to be super successful, if no other reason, he is very aware of what's going on around him.  I know he reads this as he is one of my follower's so here's a big thank you for taking your time to say hi, it really meant a lot to me, it made my day!!