Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Serious Time on the River

Lory's 24" channel cat caught on a crankbait!
My neighbor Lory and I decided to get out on the river late Sunday afternoon to experience both the crankbait bite and to sit down and anchor, enjoying bottom fishing for catfish, carp, and redhorse suckers.  Due to the recent rains, the water had come up about a foot so the current would be faster and anticipated that it would push the smallies up close to shore.  We traveled all the way above the city of Dayton and fished the north shore for a couple miles or so with crankbaits.  There was a lot of junk flowing in the water but never the less it was quite a bit clearer than I expected and we could easily stay close enough to hit the rivers edge in striking distance of at least some smallies.  Unfortunately the water coming up had shut them down and we only got 3 smallmouth, not very well considering we usually catch around 10 of them including some nicer ones.  The high water give them a lot of extra places to hide under the brush.  lory did get a real nice 24 inch channel cat that hit his crankbait with vengeance. Normally one doesn't think about catching catfish on crankbaits but I have caught them before and a 24 incher can really put up a fight for sure.  Well it was a great start to the evening however the plan was to drift and cast till about 7:30 them anchor behind and island closer to the landing and fish the bottom while enjoying a bottle of excellent Merlot that I had brought back from Carlos Creek Winery a couple of weeks ago.  We got anchored just before the sun went down as we baited our hooks and put the rods in the rod holders, a nice way to do this. Opening the wine I poured each of us a glass just as a pontoon came out of the side channel, a husband and wife opening their bottle of wine.  We held up our glasses and gave them a toast for the beautiful evening, they were quite surprised, two river rats anchored in the hole, fishing catfish and drinking fine wine, they laughed!  It was a pretty good experience as we got down to catching some serious fish.

WOW!!!  30 Inch Channel catfish
Ever since fishing halibut in Alaska, I really like using circle hooks.  It takes a little discipline to reel straight instead of setting the hook however often times the fish will simply try to swim away and set the hook by itself.  The nice thing about circle hooks is you can let the fish take the bait as long as you want and the intent is that when the hook hits the corner of their mouth it rotates and always hooks in the lip area and not deep in their throats.  This makes for good release survival and easy hook removal.  My first fish was a nice 22 inch Golden Redhorse, they are so pretty and I have caught them many times before.  The second fish I caught was a bruiser, a huge 30 inch channel catfish, I am assuming at least 15 pounds, and boy do these things fight. They can really bulldog their way around the boat, and as I said before, by moving away the fish virtually sets it's own hook.  I picked up the rod out of the rod holder and she was solidly hooked, the battle was on!  Even though I didn't have much line out this fish was not about to show itself right away.  At first I thought it was a big carp as most of the catfish I catch are relatively small in size, usually under 20 inches.  I got her up to the surface just in time for Lory to scoop it up in the net and we brought her on board.  It was the largest catfish I can ever remember catching, even bigger than the ones that we used to catch with m buddy Kevin Aiona on the river.  I had Lory snap a few memories and back in the water she went.  Never the less it was a very nice fish and one that I'll never forget. The circle hooked worked great and she swam away no worse for the wear.   I have some employees at work that would have really loved to have this fish for supper and if I can find some time maybe I'll take him out for an evening of fishing.  I think both of us would enjoy for certain. We have a lot of people from Southeast Asia working for us, many from Laos and they love to eat fish.  I showed them a picture as I have told them many times that I catch catfish in the river above Anoka, they just drooled!

Beautiful Golden Redhorse
Friday is our annual invite to BIR (Brainerd International Raceway)  by Kevin Sonsalla, a special friend and business associate.  He does a lot of work for Tony Schumacher, the NHRA drag racing star.  He usually invites us up on the Friday before the big weekend and we enjoy the hospitality passes, get fed, watch them put together the car and all sorts of interesting things. This year Lory is going with us again, it makes for a real nice day as he will meet us at Cabela's and we'll go from there.  I am sure we will run into our neighbor Tim Kuntz who just got done remodeling an old school bus into the coolest RV you've seen in a while.  Because he is a die hard Viking fan he's going to rename the School Bus the Skoal Bus.  Usually we like to sit with him on the top of the bleachers as the view is pretty good from up there.  It's quite amazing to watch those cars go from standing still to 320 MPH in less than 5 seconds, the whole earth shakes.  On the way up I'll have Kevin stop at Bill's and we have to pick up more wild rice.  I have been giving it to some of my good customers in California and are getting rave reviews.  It's about the time he will start harvesting rice again, not and easy job for sure but the fruits of his labor are quite good.  I will leave you with a picture of the Golden Redhorse that I caught Sunday night.  I think they are such a pretty fish, put up a good fight and provide a lot of good entertainment.  I can assure you we never caught them this big in the Buffalo River when I was a kid.  I can tell you that it's a pretty relaxing way to fish, that's for sure.  Also my friend Bruce heads to Lac Seul this weekend and I am anxious to hear how well his new "anchor" works.  Sometimes fishing the river behind my house feels like I am all the way in Canada, it is pretty special and you can almost have the whole river to yourself!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Finally........Back on the River

Evening on the River
This is the time of the year I usually get my jon boat ready to go and head to fish the Mississippi River behind my house.  the neighbor has an adequate boat launch and is kind enough to let me use, which is very convenient.   This year I had some things to accomplish before heading out.  I had a HDS7 that I used on the boat however I had sold it to my friend Bruce Wiley last September.  during that last trip on the river I floated into a rock that busted my transducer off the bracket and rendered it useless.  Besides replacing the transducer I noticed last Sunday that the battery on my Polaris Razor was dead so I hooked up a charger to it in hopes that it would fix the issue.  Figuring I'd try to get out on Monday and I need the Razor to pull the boat to the landing, it still wouldn't start.  A quick feel of the battery and I was hot, the battery is cooked.  I noticed that the date engraved on the top was 8-1-15, a year and 7 days ago.  The warranty has a 12 month free replacement, crap.  Pulling it out of the vehicle and putting the battery in a pail of cold water, I headed to Fleet Farm to beg for mercy.  So much for my plan to get out Monday night.  Arriving at Fleet Farm I was directed to the back of the store in the automotive section.  There I was greeted by a young man who was just wrapping up another deal, the guy asked what he could help me with.  I looked at him and said "You want to hear my sob story?" to which he replied, "do I need to take notes?"  We both laughed as I explained the events of the last week.  I acknowledged that I understand I don't have a leg to stand on however in the end he gave me a full adjustment!  One does win some every once in a while!  Saving me over $100 I headed home and ut the battery in, it worked as the Razor fired right up.  Being too late I decided that fishing would have to wait till tomorrow night.  On Tuesday I cleaned up everything and pulled the boat out, hooked it up to the Razor and withing 15 minutes I was on the water.  Unfortunately when launching I let the winch handle fly and smack me right across my left hand, I was getting to believe it had broke a few bones in my hand.  Heading up river I had about 90 minutes to fish so I decided to head up to the Stevens Farm area and drift down.  The river is still higher than normal however it did make for nice fishing as the water was right up to the bank and flowing well.  On my second cast I had a smallie but it got off right away.  After getting a pretty good birds nest in the reel I was using I switch rods and it was much stiffer and easier to control the lure placement.  I did get hung up a few times and one of those times the lure was just sitting on the surface, a big bass took a swipe at it and missed.  I kept having trouble with my snap at the end of the line opening up, it had a double locking feature as well but at least 4 times my lure fell off and I had to retrieve it, luckily the lure floats.  Eventually I ended up biting off the snap and tieing the lure directly to the line.  Without lights on the boat and it was getting dark I decided to head back with my mission accomplished, get the boat out and make sure everything worked.  The only thing I caught was this nice picture of the sunset looking up river.  It was very peaceful as the river is interesting and fun to be on.  I drifted past a tree that had wild turkey's just roosting on the high branches.   Fish seemed everywhere as they were surfacing, maybe they were just carp but it still is a lot of fun.  In the next 4 weeks I suspect that there will be more trips, now that I have everything running!

Sunset on Round Lake, MN
Last Saturday my wife and I headed north to Round Lake by Garrison Minnesota to help my friend Bruce celebrate his 60th birthday.  It really felt like a reunion of all the guys I have been to Canada with including Pete, Dan, Wayne, Tom and Bruce's father -in-law and brother-in-law as well as his 2 boys.  It was a gorgeous night, not too hot and the lake is quite beautiful.  Bruce decided to get the pontoon started and we all took a very leisurely cruise around the lake where like where I do a lot, snapped this picture of the sunset.  This picture is a great example of the proper way to take a picture of stuff like this, divide your scene into thirds.  Here you see I put the horizon on the bottom "third" line of the picture and then the remnants of the sun on the right third, where it intersects the bottom.  I think that following thee guidelines give much better depth to the scene as well as balance.  OK, it's fishing with Dave, not picture taking with Dave but as you see since June's trip to Lac Seul, it's been pretty light on the catching side.  That will change hopefully as I plan on hitting the river pretty hard in the next 3 weeks and it's a fairly easy task as it takes me about 5 minutes to get the boat in the River and the bite should be pretty good.

The countdown to Lac Seul is happening as one of the things I gave Bruce for his birthday was some Berkley Powerbait Walleye twister tail grubs and the appropriate jig heads.  He claims to want to learn how to fish plastics but in reality it's pretty easy up there as the fish are plentiful and hungry.  Next Friday Lory Brasel and I are once again invited up to BIR (Brainerd International Raceway) for an afternoon of relaxation and enjoying the NHRA sanctioned event.  Our friend Kevin Sonsalla does some work for Tony Schumacher and we get to ride along on his tails!  It is pretty awesome to watch them rebuild the cars before each race then see them go 1000 feet in 5 seconds, getting to over 300 mph.   Along with this we will definitely get to see my neighbor Tim who is frantically getting his school bus converted to an RV for the week, I have to admit, it looks pretty nice.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Sweating it out on Mille Lacs

Welly, Kam and Ken
Well, we finally got out on Sunday with a couple of electrical engineers from work, Welly Chou and Kam Chen as well, Kam's brother Ken Chen, who is from South Dakota.  All three of these guys are super smart and we born and raised in Hong Kong.  About a month ago I took Welly and Kam out with my neighbor Lory so Kam's brother Ken was coming to Minneapolis from South Dakota and he asked if I would take them out again. Apparently he had a pretty good time during the last trip.  Never wanting to turn down an opportunity and as I stated last week, it's been kind of a fish drought, we headed up on Sunday morning and got to the lake about noon.  It was windy and hot and with a surface temperature of 76, I sensed the fishing was going to be tough and my predictions were pretty correct.  This can be a tough time of the year as the baitfish are really providing plenty for the walleyes to eat as we found out.  With the wind blowing from the south, south east I decided to try and drift a couple of the flats, a reasonable strategy this time of year.  Our first stop was 7 mile and 2 drifts from south to the north side proved slow.  I was marking a lot of fish on the graph but they were not interested in biting.  The next move was to 9 mile flat, a good choice for the end of July, again we came up with nothing.  There were a lot of fish on 9 mile, especially on the northwest corner but their jaws were sealed.  Looking back I should have simply anchored and fished the area with bobbers and leeches, it may have worked better.  Deciding that maybe the deeper inshore reefs would be good as the smallie bite was suppose to be good in these deeper areas I anchored off of the rock hump by Sherman's Point but struck out there as well.  Somewhere in this picture I was panicking as I forgot to put both my net and my tackle boxes back in the boat after I had removed them when I brought my boat back up to Frankies.  Luckily I have under the console storage and voila, both my live bait rig box and my bobber box were there and saved the day.

Because my boat move along pretty good I decided it was time to cool off so I went behind
Trophy Smallie!!!
Sherman's Point into the calmer water and punched down the throttle.  It didn't take long and we were cruising at 57 mph, these guys thought it was the greatest.  It was a nice break from fishing as well seeing's how we weren't doing to well.  My next stop was to head to the deep rock pile where we caught some the last trip, in front of Eddy's.  Getting all the rods set Welly hooked a small walleye but it got off the hook just as he got it to the boat.  That was probably good because it means it didn't swallow the hook, but it would have been nice to boat our first fish.  Oh well.  Another hour produced not even a bite so it was off to the last spot, and area always good for a nice smallmouth or rouge walleye, Indian Point.   I am still learning how to troll with my boat but am getting better at it.  Rigging up 3 lines with #5 shad raps we started by the rock pile and headed out.  Indian point is an excellent trolling location as the shallow reef is long and narrow, extending out into the lake about 1/2 a mile.  It's easy to go up one side banging the 6 foot depth then come back on the other side doing the same thing.  Right away I nailed a nice fish and trying to get one of the guys to take the pole the fish shook itself off.   10 minutes later another on hit my lure but it let loose right away, it even could have been the bottom but I doubt it.  On our 3rd pass I did finally get on in the boat, this huge smallmouth bass, must have gone 12 ounces!  Oh well, it was the only fish we got into the boat so no use complaining!  I look at this picture and I immediately think...........Does this fish make me look fat?  Of course!!   Interesting but even though it was hot I always wear my Onyx inflatable life vest as I know if I ever go overboard I doubt I could tread water for very long.  Anyway it was very hot this day and it definitely I got beat  up.  I was surprised at all the fish I marked but you can't fry up marks!

dinged up prop
The day ended on a sour note as I hit the bottom of the lake on the way in at the landing,  I am fully aware of the danger however the lake is up about 6 inches in the last few weeks because of the rain and I usually am very careful on the way in but it didn't make any difference, and my prop mades some tracks in the gravel.  There must have been some larger rocks because it really dinged up the edge of my prop.  I suppose it probably would be fine to run it this way but the motor is too expensive to chance on running something out of balance.  We stopped at Bill's on the way back and he has a guy that stops there on Tuesday, picks up damaged props then returns them on Friday. Unfortunately the Super Dooper Nylon prop wrench didn't work so good and I had to wait till I got home to take it off.  So much for that so I decided to get a standard deep well socket and breaker bar to do the job as my big fear in Canada is ruining my prop, so I carry a spare.  A lot of good that would have done with a wrench that didn't work. Well, I am going to be more prepared next time but at I found out before it was too late!  My wife, brother Steve and I picked 40# of blueberries on Saturday when we went back to Eleva to see my mom.  She is doing OK but still needs a lot of help.  This weekend is my friend Bruce's 60 birthday party and my plan is to get my jon boat going as the water levels on the Mississippi River have come down almost 4 feet so the fishing should be pretty good.  I like fishing the River, it's right in the back of my house and it's pretty easy to go out for a few hours at a time and enjoy myself.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Drought Continues

Charlie dancing with his lovely daughter
Wee, it's hard to believe that I haven't been out in the boat for a month now, time has been taken up with my mother, having the boat at the dealers, and this week a wedding of my good Friend Charlie Teasley's daughter Morgan.  Normally this week would have been where I take off a day and Chuck and I go fishing on Mille Lacs.  We have done this for maybe 15 years now however we both decided that attending the wedding was as important as fishing so on Monday my wife and I headed up to Alexandria to the bible camp they always stay at to a celebrate.  Morgan is a wonderful girl and has found the perfect mate in Jim, her new husband.  He is a bonifide river rat and we had a great discussion about catfishing for blues and flatheads on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers down by St. Louis, Missouri, we even discussed the possibility of going down and fishing with him sometime, maybe Jug fishing for catfish, which sounds like a blast!  He also fishes for snapping turtles and claims he can clean one in about 15 minutes, which is pretty incredible.  I had a great time talking about the opportunities to fish in a different area of the country as I used to love to catfish back home.  This week's picture isn't of fish but of Charlie dancing with his daughter, a very proud moment for Charlie and his daughter Morgan.  Chuck said that it was worth giving up for sure and I definitely would have to agree with him.  I do miss fishing with him but maybe next year for sure. Morgan is a very pretty young lady and has no problem speaking her mind as the pastor officiating the service acknowledge, and so did she!!  I also got to spend some time with Dan Hoene, another friend of Chucks who often fishes with us.  Dan is a great guy and if fun to hang around with.  Both Dan and Chuck have had issues with their hips and legs and both exhibit extraordinary courage for sure.

Connection of motor to Lowrance HDS
Last Friday I helped my friend Bruce Wiley connect his new Xi5 Motorguide trolling motor to his Lowrance HDS 7 touch.  His boat was in Garrison, MN so we headed up around noon and started working on it about 2:00. His neighbor and friend Wayne mounted the motor and wired in the NMEA network so I connected it all and fired it up.  There were a few things I needed to fix first but when I did fire it up the depth finder did recognize that there was something there but I kept getting a Not connected error message.  One of the problems with the Lowrance HDS networks is they can be quite complicated and it can take a while to figure out how everything works, or should work when setting up.  Running out of patience on trying to get the Lowrance to connect to the Motorguide gateway I finally called the Motorguide help line and they walked me through the steps in the Lowrance menu to look for the Gateway, connect and to start using it.  Because I know something about what I am doing it took less than 3 minutes and a few buttons pushed and we were all set.  Launching the boat in his lake te motor preformed flawlessly!  Now when we are at Lac Seul, Bruce will enjoy the same convenience of electronically being anchored rather than having to manually drop and anchor, lift it up, reset, and dealing with the anchor slipping.  The Motorguide will hold your position within 5 feet of where you set it and there are a bunch of really nice finite controls like moving in any direction in 5 foot increments.  I am anxious to see it at work the next time we head to Lac Seul which looks like it will be on September 13.

I am finally getting out on Sunday as one or our engineers at work, Kam, asked me if I would take him and his brother fishing this weekend.  Of course!!! I have been waiting for someone to step up to the plate and ask me to go fishing.  I do plan on getting my jon boat ready to go and I do have to back and visit my mom soon as well, pick some blueberries as my brother steve said they were beautiful last week.  So much to do, so little time, oh well.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Got My Boat Back


Structure scan images.
Back a few months I picked up a new item for my boat electronics, Structure Scan 3D.  I had the standard Structure Scan however my electronics were capable of displaying the bottom in this mode so I thought I would make the upgrade.  Here is the description from the Lowrance Website:  Lowrance StructureScan® 3D allows anglers to see fish, structure and bottom contour in a stunning three-dimensional view. StructureScan® 3D imaging scans underwater terrain and fish-holding structure to create a high-resolution, 180-degree, three-dimensional view beneath your boat.  With this unique imaging view, anglers gain a better understanding of where fish and structure are located in relation to their boat. The picture-like, three-dimensional views are displayed on the Lowrance HDS Gen3 series of fishfinder/chartplotters, when used in combination with the StructureScan 3D Skimmer® transducer and module.  Because I am now taking my boat to Canada more often I felt this might be a great addition to my electronics for exploring new areas, especially with the capability of side scanning a fairly large area.  The problem is that the transducer module is different than my existing one where as it has 2 output connectors and an over molded area in the cable that would require me to drill the hole where it passes through my boat much larger than the existing one. I figured it would be easier to just have someone who has done it before to install.  I picked up my boat on Friday after delaying a few weeks (My latest invitation to Lac Seul forced me to reschedule) and I have to admit Frankie's did a fabulous job as always.  It would have been a real pain to snake the transducer cable through the gunnel although I have done it before as I get older maybe I am just getting lazier!  My biggest fear was enlarging the through hole and having the appropriate cover to make it look good. They did that just perfect for me an I am ready to go.  One problem for me is I pretty much empty out my stuff in the boat before dropping it off, you never know who's lurking around.  It also gives me a chance to get reorganized somewhat.  Besides not ready to fish, there were storms around on Saturday and I had to go see my Mom on Sunday, she's having a hard time at 82 with her health............a good reminder for those who smoke, it will catch up to you!  Anyway it also gave us a good opportunity to stop at Blueberry Ridge just north of Eleva and pick about 4 gallons (20 pounds) of blueberries, they are delicious.  Last year the crop was essentally froze out but Mark and Andrea Nyseth have a bumper crop this year.  It doesn't take too long to pick an ice cream bucket of nice plump blueberries and at $1.95/pound, not a bad deal either.  Mark and I keep talking about taking him and his son up to Mille Lacs, after the season gets done!  Talk is always cheap.

Dave Grant and a nice Largemouth
So Bruce always says that Lac Seul spoils a guy and there is no reason to fish anywhere else. Well I understand what he's saying but there's plenty of fish to be caught around home however going up to Lac Seul is a 5 day adventure and it's tough getting everything done these days. This is the time of year I normally am starting to fish the river however because of the recent heavy rains across Minnesota, the Mississippi River behind my house is pretty high for this time of year.  It looks like it could be a while before the water clears up and slows down a little bit.  The Mille Lacs bite is still going but my list is pretty long of the things I need to do and obigations that I have to make.  For instance, Normally I will fish with Chuck Teasley, my friend from Illinois however this year his daughter is getting married at the Bible Camp that they come to each year (Charlie sneaks out and we usually fish Mille Lacs for a day) however this time we will head up to Alexandria and attend the wedding.  I did get invited back to Lac Seul for a mid September trip and I am looking forward to heading back for sure.  This leave me with only one story, that of my good friend Mike Grant's boy David Grant.  Not only does he have a great first name but he loves to fish as I have been prodding his dad to get with the program and get them to go out with me.  This is a big issue for me, finding people that want to fish is getting harder and harder.   Well Dave and I exchange important e-mails every so often and he sent this picture to me, a nice largemouth bass caught in a Maple Grove, MN lake.  I asked him but he hasn't responded however it did remind me of fishing Weaver Lake in Maple Grove and I just hammered the bass on that lake.  In fact that lake is where I learned to fish plastic worms for bass,  Unfortunately I dumped on of my rods over the side of the boat so I marked the spot and went back the next day with a big hook and setup to try and snag it.  Unfortunately a guy had previously murdered his wife, cut her up, stuffed her in plastic garbage bags and dumped her in Weaver Lake.  This was going on while I was trying to snag my rod using large treble hooks and weights.  My friends speculated what I might catch but fortunately the only thing I got besides weeds was my rod back.....no plastic garbage bags with human parts stuff inside, thank God!  Anyway I am hoping to get out with Dave sometime soon and maybe he can show me some of his secret spots!!

My goals this week are to get the boat completely put back together however I will have to go back home to Eleva this weekend to take care of a few things for mom.  By the time you read this I should have already helped my friend Bruce fire up his new trolling motor/anchor system just in time as he heads back to Lac Seul soon.  My garden is awfully weedy, the sprinkler system just broke, I need to get my jon boat ready for the river, it never ends! Hopefully I can find some time to get out soon.



Thursday, July 14, 2016

Quiet Weekend

Andrew Pedersen's friend Matt Payne and a nice catfish
Spending 5 days in Canada last week generally means things are delinquent around home so last week was spent getting caught up as well we had some pretty heavy rains on Sunday, especially north of us.  I talked to my friend David Pedersen and told me that the Adam's Creek Bridge just north of Eleva washed out but that the Dam in Eleva has withstood the deluge, unlike a few years ago when heavy rains washed out the dam. while talking to Dave asked about the other rivers around the area and he claimed his son Andrew and a friend went down the Chippewa River in a small boat fishing catfish.  I told Dave that it was interesting, I had received a notification of a post on Andrew's Facebook of them getting a nice catfish on the river so I decided to post it this week since I haven't been out.  It reminded me of the days when my dad, Danny Van Pelt, Art Kelley, and Vic Wenaas use to take us with when they went catfishing on the Chippewa River where the Eau Claire River dumped into it in Downtown Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  Those days were a lot of fun as we would put a hunk of chicken liver on a hook with a big sinker to hold it on the bottom and away we go.  The Chippewa River has no dams below Eau Claire so the catfish would make their way up from the Mississippi River to spawn.  It was a great place to catfish, big water and nice catfish like this one.  I personally don't know Matt Payne however any friend of Bi Dave's boys is a friend of mine.  Thanks Andrew for bringing back a lot of memories of years past!  I would have to admit that Art Kelley or Victor would be awfully proud of that fish!

Motorguide Pinpoint anchor function
Monday I brought my boat into Frankie's to have my Structure Scan 3D transducer installed.  I had some other minor work that need to be done like a possible recall on the motor, I ordered some new bearing hub covers, and a new cover for my spare trailer tire.  Lowrance came out with a new 3D structure scan and it looks very interesting.  Not that I necessarily need it, this device could come in very handy in Canada when searching for new areas to target walleyes.  It's like anything else however, it will take some time to get to learn it but maybe............just maybe it will make me a better fisherman in locating those elusive walleyes!  Also this week I finished helping my friend Bruce Wiley in his decision to modernize his anchoring function on his boat.  I have the Motorguide i5 trolling motor with an anchor position function.  Simply arrive at your desired spot and push the anchor button on the remote control and the electric motor will hold you in a position plus or minus 5 feet, that's pretty accurate!  Also if you want to change your position slightly you can simply push any of the forward, back, right, or left buttons and the boat will move in that direction 5 feet and hold. Punch the forward button 4 times and it will go 20 feet then hold.  It's great in Canada where we fish rock points and humps and you want to move around alot.  My first year wasn't so good as usually the second day the motor would go haywire and wrap itself up.  Motorguide sent me out a software dongle to plug into the motor to update the software.  That has seemed to really take care of the problem.  Anyway fishing next to Bruce is painful as unless he has Wayne in his boat I see him running the motor and resetting the anchor.  With his new motor he can simply deploy it and us the remote from his seat or from the display on his Lowrance and control his anchor position.  I think he's tired of me giving him crap but admittedly my method is significantly more practical and easy, but certainly isn't as cheap!  I am sure that I will be giving some lessons on Lowrance HDS and Motorguide Technology soon!

Blueberry Picking time has arrived in Eleva so we may go down this weekend to get a few pails or so. As you see I have been talking to Big Dave and he states that the Adam's creek bridge on highway 93 was washed out just north of Becker's place so getting into Eleva requires a trip through the backroads, something I still remember.  Probably will pick up the boat on Friday and see if I can get out, if not Mille Lacs, maybe the River yet I am concerned about the level as we have got alot of rain lately.  Also it would be good to stop by and congratulate Frankie and Deb on being named Ranger Dealer of the year at this week's dealer meetings.  They always treat me special and that explains why I have dealt with them exclusively since 1989.


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Big Fish on Lac Seul

John Schley and his 30" walleye
As stated last week my brother Steve and I got a last minute invite from Bruce to head to Lac Seul to fish the last 3 days of his time at the cabin.  We decided to drive up to Sioux Lookout on Tuesday, stay overnight at the Best Western, then meet Bruce at the Deception Bay Landing at 6:30, Wednesday morning and follow him out to the outpost cabin.  Steve drove up from Onalaska, Wisconsin and picked me up at 9:30, we hooked my boat to his truck and were off. Deciding to buy a couple bottles of Crown Royal at the Duty Free Shop in International Falls, MN, we got to the border and answered all of the questions directly and politely.  When asked how much liquor we had, I stated 1 case of beer, 1 bottle of wine, and 2 bottles of Crown,  the officer handed back our passports, smiled and said, have a nice day!  Definitely things were looking up at that point. We arrived at Sioux Lookout at 6:30, checked into the hotel, then walked across the street for a burger and Budweiser, $12 Canadian.  After 9 hours it was nice to get out and walk around. Wednesday morning arrived right on time and we headed back to the bait shop for a parking sticker, some large minnows, and a hat for my friend Glen.  Arriving just in time, Bruce was there waiting for us as we loaded everything in and headed north by water.   Bruce was there to drop some guys off and pick up his father-in-law and brother-in-law, John and Greg Schley from the Garrison, MN area. There were 2 things that needed fixing before we left, first none of my electronics would turn on and secondly Bruce is trails on his had disappeared.  Pulling a panel off I must have had a bad connection as a few wiggles and everything fired up and stayed that way throughout the trip.  Luckily I had downloaded Bruce's previous data to a SD card and had it with me.  I put it into his HDS and uploaded the information, he was back in business.  Having the old and correct routes is important to safely get back to camp and we were both happy everything was working good.  It takes about an hour to get to camp and as usual, Bruce had arranged a safe dockage for my boat. Once unloaded we headed out to Tuk Bay and started really hitting the walleyes. Unfortunately the storms rolled in as it is nice to have the Sirius/XM/Weather module so we could track the lightening that we saw to the west.  Barely making it back to camp, it is a 10 mile boat ride and it started to rain as we docked.  After and hour it cleared up so we headed back to Tuk, fished a while before the same scenario repeated itself and we headed back in at around 3:00.  Deciding to fish a little closer to camp we headed north and fished the point on the north end of Chamberlain Narrows, it happened again
Selfie of my 24 incher
and we were forced in.  Enough is enough so we decided to stick around as it was about time for cocktail hour and supper.  Thursday morning arrived and we decided to take John with us in my boat as we headed to Wapesi Bay.  We got plenty of fish there but admittedly it was pretty cold, maybe in the mid 40's, Bruce claimed it's never been that cold this time of the year.  Of course we were not dressed for this weather so it was nice to put on the rain gear, at least it kept the wind off.  We did pretty well in Wapesi, not a record day but it was fun to have John in the boat, someone different and being 83, Steve and I really catered to him.  We had fried walleye on Wednesday night and again on Thursday, and had steak on Friday night.  This allowed us to properly manage our possession limits of fish to stay legal and be able to bring some home.  Friday we decided that Tuk was a better option for fish and as we headed out John asked if he could go with us again....of course.  He was a pleasure to have in the boat and at his age did really well.  We made sure that he always had a sharp jig, a minnow on the hook, and was comfortable.  He was rewarded with a beautiful walleye, 30 inches, the biggest walleye ever to grace my boat!!  I don't know if that was his biggest walleye ever but it is a once in a lifetime fish and it definitely gave us some bragging rights, after all who was guiding him!!  I had bought some clickers to tally how many fish we really catch and at 1:00 we had over 60 fish for the 4 hours we had been out but as usual, the bite tends to slow down around noon.  Our goal was to get 100 fish in the boat so we headed north from where we were as I scanned the points for active fish on my depthfinder.  We noticed some about a mile up from where we started and activated the anchor. Immediately we began catching fish and by 4:00 we had caught an additional 43 walleyes to give our grand total of 103 caught in the 7 hours we were out.  Not bad as people say they get 100 fish a day but that is not necessarily and audited number.  We worked hard for that total and looking back it was a pretty special day, John got his 30 incher plus contributed his share of the 103 walleyes caught, the weather was nice, and we had enough fish so everyone could bring home their limit, perfect if you ask me.  It was a pleasure to help John and I can only hope that I will be fishing at that age.

Friday night was Steak night and it's usually my responsibility to prepare and cook them.   Bruce complained that the ribeyes are too big so this time I brought a whole tenderloin and cut them accordingly.  With my usual Tabasco Sauce/Buffalo wing sauce marinade they turned out perfect as everyone really likes them.  We even had a chuck of meat left over that we gave Sam, the camp guy that gets us minnows and helps with everything.  He thought that was pretty good.  I also met some interesting guys, as I arrive in camp I saw some boats with a WS license, from Wisconsin.  Asking where they were from they said Eau Claire and I fired back Eleva.  Here it was Denny Zacko and his sons and grandsons, they go every year.  I went over to talk with the and we had a good discussion about boats, Eau Claire, and my Evinrude G2 motor.  Also next door to us in a cabin was a gentlemen with his 4 boys, they were from Northern Illinois.  Bob, his twin boys Cary and Ben, younger son Adam and their older brother, it was nice to see the younger generation and a family enjoying them selves.  Saturday morning was our day to head out and we left camp by 7:00.  It was glass smooth and John decided why change now and hopped in the boat with Steve and I for the 1 hour, 15 minute ride back.  We loaded the boat up and headed south for the 8.5 hour ride back to civilization.  My brother Steve agreed to pull my boat with his truck and he did pretty well averaging 12 miles to the gallon.  My truck gets about 10.5 in the same scenario.  I am sure Mille Lacs is still hot so maybe this weekend.  It's also time to think about fishing the river as I need to get the Jon Boat out and running soon.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Fishing with Glen!

Glen's first fish, 26 inches
Thursday afternoon I invited my friend Glen Collins, a work associate from Chicago, to go fishing on Mille Lacs Lake for walleye.  Glen is a good long time friend as I have known him for more than 25 years.  He is a fixture in the transformer industry and I have fished with him during one of our meeting in Jacksonville, FL.  Glen had some appointments in the area and I figured it was a good idea to take him up to Mille Lacs as the big fish were biting.  He took care of his appointments in the morning and by 1:00 he showed up at work.  We drove to my pole shed, hooked the boat up and headed north with our first stop at Lundeen's to get bait and a license.  I had bait left over from Sunday's trip and the weather was looking beautiful so we got what we needed from Bill's and headed for the landing.  The water was dead calm with an occasional ripple area but for the most part no wind.  Wanting to try the flats again I headed right to Sherman's and my dilemma with my new boat becomes obvious.  With my previous tiller boats it was easy to follow the break line at the top of the flats, where the big walleyes hang out.  Now it's really hard to do that, I simply create a route on the map then have my front trolling motor follow it up and down the contours on the map portion of the chart on the depthfinder however it is difficult to make adjustments.  I am sure at some point I will figure it out but for now it is what it is! I rigged up a couple of poles with spinner/crawler rigs and set them in the rod holders, not a bad way to fish.  I tie my own spinner rigs and use TruTurn hooks.  If a walleye hits the rig the hooks simply turn and they hook themselves quite easily.  When the rods are in the holders, if a walleye hits the rod buckles over and is generally hooked quite well.  It wasn't about 15 minutes after we started that one of the rods was bent over, I grabbed it and gave it to Glen...after all he was my guest.  This fish was a real fighter and after a courageous battle, Glen finally got it to the boat where I netted this beautiful 26 inch walleye.  A few pictures and we let her back into the water as she bolted away.   What I like about the Tru Turns also is the fish are generally hooked in the front of the jaw making for a safe successful release possible.  As you can see in the picture, it was pretty calm, as compared to last weeks outing, a nice change of pace for sure!

Glen's 2nd fish, a 27 incher
Replacing the crawler and resetting it wasn't long before Glen's rod was bent over and he had a nice fish on.  It fun fishing the calm and deep water as you can generally see the fish as it is getting near the boat.  It was another really nice fish and actually looked bigger than the first one he caught.  After netting the walleye and measuring it, this one topped 27 inches, another dandy walleye.  I was trying to get him to hold the fish right however I don't like to keep them out of the water too long so this pose will have to do.  It still is an impressive fish for sure.  We spent another hour on Sherman's and got another nice walleye however I decided to try something else that we do on Mille Lacs, Bobber fish.  My rods were all set up for 23 feet of water to we went back to where we were last Sunday and tried some bobbering there. We did get a couple of smaller walleyes and it was good to show Glen this different type of fishing.  We did miss a number of fish as maybe we were using too big a leech for the size of fish that we were hitting.  After an hour it was time to go as Glen asked about the Rock Hump to the east.  With the calm water and warm temperatures it was nice to just cruise for a while so we headed to Spirit Island.  As we rounded the island Glen was taken back by the half dozen or so white pelicans hanging around the rocks.  Being used to Florida, it is uncommon to see pelicans this far north, or so he thought.  He took a few pictures to send and we turned south to Anderson Reef to cast for smallies.  That wasn't too productive for sure.  After about 30 minutes of that we headed back to Indian Point to troll the long reef that extends out into the lake.  It was getting late anyway and it would be smart to be back close to the landing so I rigged 2 rods with shad raps and we trolled.  It was a good chance to try and see how the kicker worked in conjunction with using the front trolling motor to steer the boat.  This seems to be the acceptable way to do this but for me everything's a learning experience with this boat.  Some of my friends say that I will figure it out but as stated in the past, going from a tiller to a wheel has it's challenges.  Anyway I was able to stay in the "magic" 6 foot depth and man did something slam my shad rap.  It hit hard and was obviously a nice fish so I handed the rod to Glen while I got organized.  A couple minutes later I netted a nice plump 22 inch walleye, which was really nice to see.  I had assumed that this fish was a big Smallmouth bass but it didn't jump at all.  We let it go and continued on where I nailed 2 smaller smallies, in the 14 inch range.  It was 8:30 so we decided to head out, another very successful day on Mille Lacs.  Glen was very satisfied and I was happy that he had a good time as it get's hard to schedule things that work out great.  We are talking about chartering a grouper fishing trip during our TTA meetings at the first of December in Florida.  Glen's cousin Tim has a nice place on Marco Island we can stay so I am definitely going to figure that one out!

Last Monday I met with my friend Bruce Wiley for a discussion about a few things as he was heading up to Lac Seul on Friday.  Because a few guys were leaving early and he was staying till Saturday, July 2nd, he invited me to come up and fish Wed thru Friday (June 28 - July 1) and leave with him on Saturday.  He said I could bring someone so I called my brother Steve knowing full well he would not let this opportunity go unfilled.  Our plans are to head up on Tuesday and stay overnight, meeting Bruce at the landing at 7:30 on Wednesday morning, We should be in camp by 10:00 and fishing by 10:30 so hopefully I will have some great pictures next week.  My friend Paul Wenaas just got back and sent me some areas he thought would be good for bigger fish.  I have been getting ready all weekend and am excited to take advantage of Bruce's hospitality for sure.  Steve is going to pull my boat up and I plan on taking the time to get reacquainted with my GoPro Camera system.  Funny but this will be the 3rd trip to Lac Seul with my boat and interesting enough, most of the hours on the boat will be from there, not that I am complaining!!!  I have a list of stuff to bring including Large Curd Cottage Cheese, which Ken and Brenda, the camp owners love.






Friday, June 24, 2016

Mille Lacs Lake on Fire

Kam's 26" walleye
Sunday proved to be the first trip to Mille Lacs this year.  With me was Lory Brasel, Kam Chen (a Chinese engineer from work), and Chad Gao (Our new manufacturing engineer from our Chinese plant, over to the US for training).  We decided to show Chad some of the things we do in Minnesota and Kam was nice enough to go with, so we headed out by 9:00 and was fully on the water by 11:30. Boy was it rough as we had 20 mph winds out of the south and whitecaps were in full force. Usually I have a strategy but Sunday's wind was going to make it difficult but what the heck, it was worth a try. Besides that a Skeeter just arrived at the landing while we were taking off and a few quick questions verified my suspicion, Sherman's flat was hot however the wind was building, not dying down and I suspect he left because of that. Never the less I decided that we could drift the edge and it would give me a good opportunity to hone my less than stellar boat control skills with a wheel boat.  It didn't take long to figure out that it was going to be a challenge out there, I've had these experiences before but quite honestly I am getting a little older, maybe wiser, and don't have that burning desire to pound the heck out of my body these days.  Never the less our first stop was the rock humps just south of Sherman's Point.   Getting the crawler rigs set up we did 2 drifts without any luck so it was off to Sherman's flat. Uffda!!!  Using the same crawler rig setups I was able to work the edge running my kicker motor perpendicular to the wind and it moved us perfectly along the edge.  I was pretty proud of accomplishing that however it did not produce any fish so that wasn't to productive except for the boat control lesson.  In the meantime our guest from China was starting to look a little green around the ears.  It wasn't long before he was chumming off the side of the boat.  I am not a complete unsympathetic guy so we ended the drift at the tip, no fish to be had anyway, so we headed to calmer waters, the small 3 lobed flat just out from the landing and somewhat protected from the South gale force winds by Indian Point.  There we saw a number of fish caught and we tried bobbering before starting to drift.  Managing to only catch 2 I decided to head to Anderson's reef on the south end. Hopefully the wind would be more tolerable and we could get into the great smallmouth bite.

Chad's walleye
Unfortunately it wasn't much better so admittedly I was at a loss for strategy.  We headed back towards Indian Point along the calmer shoreline and I could tell the nicer ride at 55 mph made both of the guys smile.   Going that fast in a boat is something they never experienced before.  As I passed Eddy's Resort I had remembered an area just out from there, a small hump in 25 feet of water that comes up to about 20 feet.  Years ago we did well there so it was worth a try.  The waves weren't that bad and it was a good opportunity to try bobber fishing with leeches.  After getting squared away and the trolling motor down in the anchor mode we set our bobber depth and hooked on a leech. With 3 rods out for 4 guys it didn't take long before one of the corks went down.  I set the hook then handed the Rod to Chad, who reeled in his first walleye.  It wasn't so rough there and he was doing pretty well.  Next Kam's bobber went down and he set the hook on a beautiful 26 in walleye shown above.  Both guys were pretty excited as we really started to get into the fish. Deciding to leave at about 7:00, we had caught and released about 20 walleyes, not bad for a couple of hours.  It was good that our guests had an opportunity to reel in a number of fish and of course I was more successful helping Kam to pose for his fish than I was with Chad.   The wind really takes it out of you and Sunday was no exception as we relaxed at the Long Siding Bar and Grill for a hamburger and beer, another great American tradition!!  My next rip is Thursday with Glen Collins, a friend from Chicago as we are planning on going back up.  As well I have an invite to go back up to Lac Seul next week which is looking like it will happen.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Nothing's working!

Ben with 2 nice crappies
Fairly unbelievable however this is the best time of the year to be out fishing and I have been relegated to sitting looking at my boat, watching it rain.  Sunday was my day to head to Mille Lacs and fish with my friend Bill Lundeen.  Fishing on Mille Lacs has been phenomenal, or so they say as you definitely couldn't prove it by me.  Even though you legally cannot keep a walleye on Mille Lacs, the bite is reported to be very good as there are few boats on the lake.  This should be Bill's peak time at the bait shop however with few people coming to the lake to fish and the fact that you can't even keep one fish has really put a damper on needing to be at the store 100% of the time as his wife, Kathy can handle it for a few hours.   Our plans were made mid last week and I worked hard to put my boat back together, unfortunately on Friday my mother went back into the hospital so Sunday's plan was abandoned as my wife and I decided to drive to Eau Claire and see how well she was doing. So, no fishing last weekend but my buddy Kevin and his son Ben did call me as they went to Devil's Lake, North Dakota and I am anxiously waiting a report. Thank God somebody is thinking as I always like to have some pictures for the posts and pictures I got, first of my neighbor Brandon and the 14 inch Crappie he caught at his lake while trolling a rapala for walleyes then this one of Ben Taylor holding to nice crappies that him and his dad got at their lake, west of Mille Lacs.  Unfortunately the good crappie bite is close to being done but we might be able to find a few before the 4th of July, we will have to see.  We have one of our employees, Chad from China here in Minneapolis and the plan is to take him to Mille Lacs with my neighbor Lory and see if we can't get some nice walleyes.  I have taken our visitors to the big pond before and they always tend to be somewhat intimidated by the big water but we have caught some nice fish and here's hoping we give Chad an experience that he could never have in China.  I am sure he will be amaze at the water clarity, freedom to go anywhere on the lake, and just the simple overwhelming size of the lake as there are not many large lakes in China.

Brandon's 14 inch crappie!
So I mentioned earlier the fact that I got the boat together.  Well I didn't do too much stuff to it yet
there were some things that drove me nuts so I fixed them. First was to complete the installation of  a remote plug in for my Sonic Hub USB connections.  Because my Sonic Hub is tucked way under my dash it is all but impossible to plug in a auxiliary source into the USB ports.  Therefore I bought a dual USB socket that mounts into a panel, then plugs into the USB ports on the Sonic Hub.  I am pretty impressed as both ports work and the installation makes everything very clean for sure. The second thing I did was to put a similar panel mount socket that has 2 USB plugins but is a fast charge port for a cell phone.  I don't like those standard cigarette lighter socket plug ins as the plug in chargers tend to fall out.  With the new plug in situation I now have a secure place to plug in my phone to charge it and it is certified as a "fast charge" technology and can really recover a discharged phone quickly.  Also it is almost impossible for the plug in cable to become dislodged, which is very nice.  I also got a few types of charging cables in case my guests need a cell phone charged and because my Sonic Hub has bluetooth, I can run my phone as an audio source and be able to safely power it so the battery doesn't drain.  The third thing I got done was to finish installing my RAM trolling motor stabilizer.  After returning from Canada last month I noticed that my bow mounted trolling motor head was hitting against the gunnel of my boat.  the only way to secure this was to physically secure it without letting it travel to the boat.  I ordered on and mounted it, SWEET is all I can say.  I have a few more things to do to the boat this season, most are small cosmetic or ...Geez, it would be nice to have..........stuff.
I put my 22" pitch prop back on for this spring based on the performance of my motor last fall, after what I figured was a breakin period.  Although it does give better mileage I am probably going back to my 20" prop to get the RPM's back up to where they should be.  I wish they made a 21" prop!!!  I am still working on getting my Structure Scan 3D hooked up to see how that works.


Mom is doing OK but at her age it's going to be time to start making some life changing decisions on where she should live, how much assistance she needs, all that fun stuff.  The sad part is that I'm not that far behind her!  We did have our 14th annual ENA Golf Tourney last Friday and it looks like we will have another successful fund raiser.  In the mean time we are starting to discuss the location of our annual Jul fishing trip which the last few years has been at Lake Oahe in South Dakota.  I have been lobbying for either Upper Red Lake (Where we ice fish) or Devil's Lake, North Dakota.  Lake of the Woods has been kicked around but that might put some pressure on the boat situation because that is such big water.  I am sure we'll end up figuring something out!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Getting Caught Up

Kou's huge 45" northern pike

After a hectic fishing schedule for both the Minnesota Fishing Opener and then immediately off to Lac Seul, it's been time to get caught up on a lot of things around the house.  Besides, the weather has not been very good with wind and rain so I don't feel too bad.  Of course that doesn't stop anyone else from fishing and one of the things I really enjoy is when one of our employees comes up and shares one of their fishing experiences, I am fortunate that they feel comfortable doing that. Last week one of the gentlemen, Kou (pronounced Koo) that works on our manufacturing floor stopped by to show me a picture of a huge 45 inch northern he caught on Devil's Lake, North Dakota.  What a beautiful fish!  Definitely worth posting on my blog seeings I didn't catch anything last week! A lot of the guys that work on our floor are great fisherman and one of these days we need to have an informal contest, maybe fishing rough fish on the river.  Kou caught this while fishing from shore by a submerged road.  Using sucker minnows and a bobber, it proves that you don't need a boat to get the big ones!  It also is a good reminder that I need to get out and fish Devil's Lake this year, maybe in July when we normally go out to Oahe, it would be a great change in pace. I checked the water levels at Devil's lake and it looks like it is down almost 4 feet from it's peak.  I do remember going out ice fishing one year, maybe 10 years ago or so and the lake had come up enough to flood into Stump Lake.  Stump Lake was previously so salty that only brine shrimp would live in it's waters however the influx of fresh water from the rising levels of Devil's lake made it habitable for perch, and we really hammered them.  I remember fishing next to trees sticking out of the ice with heron's nest within reach.  That was pretty incredible.

High Water in Austin Texas and Unwelcomed Guests
So getting caught up means a lot of things, getting the boat cleaned from the last trip, planting the garden, and helping my brother Steve, which is what I did on Saturday.  To date everything is planted and coming up.  The potatoes are growing like crazy but so are the potato bugs.  We are going to have a bumper crop of raspberries this year as the plants are loaded with them and the bees have been doing their job.  I sent my old Lowrance Sonic Hub to Steve and he was having a hard time getting it working so I had the opportunity to be in the area on Saturday and decided to drive down to Onalaska and get it working.  Upon arriving at his house, he had the boat in the garage, ready to be worked on.  I was concerned about the NMEA 2000 network and how it was being powered however we ended up assuming a certain way would work, which it did.  After 2 hours of looking at it I noticed there was a fuse missing.  A quick trip to the automotive store for 15A mini fuses and once installed, VOILA, music!!!  I connected my extra Ipod and we were in business.  We had everything simply laid out on the floor and Steve would put it all together another day.  In addition to the sound system I fixed his 24 volt battery setup for his trolling motor, which was really hosed up.  I guess this is what brothers are for!  I did get a picture from a friend of mine in Austin, Texas where they've had a crazy amount of rain this spring.  2 years ago the reservoir, Lake Travis, was down 70 feet below normal. Now the lake is flooding many of the houses around it.  He sent me this picture of a boat docked at the lake with the back end full of Water Moccasins, a poisonous water snake that luckily doesn't survive our winters!  That certainly doesn't look like an appropriate welcoming committee!  With a little luck I would like to get to Mille Lacs this weekend as the fishing reports have been outstanding and no one is on the lake because of the stupid regulations.  Hopefully the weather will decide to cooperate as this is prime time for sure!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Back from Lac Seul

Typical walleye, 18 - 22 inches
Last Monday, May 23rd, I left with my neighbor Pete Sipe and a new guy, John Loeffler to meet Bruce at Lac Seul Outposts on Lac Seul.  The last 2 years I had the luxury of flying up however this year we decided to take my boat and dispense with the flying.  The drive really isn't too bad, about 470 miles to the Deception Bay boat landing where we launch the boats and head out to the outpost camp, 36 miles by water.  Because of the strong US Dollar we decided it was easier to shop in Canada for both out food and refreshments.  Unfortunately because Monday the 23rd was a National Holiday, Victoria Day, a celebration of England's Queen Victoria, prior to Canada's independence from Britain, Lots of stores were closed.  It is somewhat like our Memorial Day here in the US as it signals the start of Summer.  Although the grocery stores were open till 6:00 pm, the Government run liquor stores, LCBO were closed and we were relegated to whatever was left over at camp.  Luckily there always seems to be plenty and I had included a few bottles from home that helped!  We did stop at the Ojibway Outfitters Bait shop in Sioux Lookout to get our parking permit and a couple dozen really large (3-5 inch) rainbow minnows which hopefully would attract larger walleyes.  After leaving home at around 5:00 AM we finally reached the landing at 3:30.  It was interesting as we were stopped by the police just outside of Sioux Lookout, it was a holiday and they were looking for drivers drinking and driving. We told the officer that we were heading for Lac Seul and he mentioned that he was fishing there yesterday.  I asked him if he went through the Rags, a short cut to the outpost but with the low water levels it was questionable if one could get a boat through.  He said......."No problem, went through there yesterday with our pontoon!"  I thanked him and appreciated his time and work as well as the tip on the Rags.  You see, bypassing the Rags means going around another 8 miles which means more gas.  We idled through the Rags as my depth finder showed 1 1/2 feet at it's shallowest.  One good thing is that it is a muck bottom and not rock so even if you hit the bottom with the propeller, little damage will be done.  It was interesting as I didn't kick up an mud or sand going through.  Lac Seul can be very challenging to drive and this would be my first time solo from the landing to camp.  The map I have has the houseboat routes and I have the trails from Bruce's old GPS as well, Pete isn't shy to add his 2 cents on which way to go. Nevertheless it's somewhat nerve racking to be cruising in 40 feet of water then all of a sudden the bottom comes up to 5 feet and back down to 40 in an instant. Even though our routes are tested and true, it gives one a bit of pause to think about what you just went over.   Oh well, we made it to the outpost successfully without an incident!

Another gorgeous Lac Seul Sunset
One of the nice things about going with Bruce is meeting new friends. This was my 6th trip to the video! Either way camp and each trip in itself is quite an adventure.  This year I met a new guy, John Loeffler, friends of the rest of the crew however new to me.  He was quite an interesting guy, was retired at a relatively young age and he had pretty much the same personality as I have, which made for some amazing moments!  John and Pete fished in my boat which always presents a problem because I can be quite anal in my care of the boat, for instance, everyone has to wash the sand off their shoes before entering, no feet on the gunnels, stuff like that.  Well luckily both my crew members understood, or should I say know that they are going to fish in comfort so no use rocking the boat! Now fish slime is another issue and is welcome because in the end it washes off with water. Speaking of fish slime, I did catch John in one of his more graceful moments in the boat, spreading fish slime all over the place.  Check out this Youtube Link of that exciting moment!  Like last spring because of the low water, just north of the camp is a sand bar sticking out into the channel.  I had done quite well last year catching a walleye every cast however this time I only caught 2 and they were quite small. It's a great advantage point to watch the sun go down and this time was no exception.

We fished 3 main areas, across the channel, Tom's Point, and we tried going south to Tuk bay.  The best was around camp as the water was 60 degrees and the spawn had been over with for a number of weeks.  Fishing wasn't as good as it was in previous years yet my estimates were I had caught over 200 walleyes for the 3 days we were fishing, not bad.  We really didn't land any big walleyes with the largest about 24.5 inches, never the less we caught plenty of those 21 - 24 inch fish and they were all plump and healthy.  I had gotten some good tips from my friend Paul Wenaas, who fishes that area quite a bit yet the low water really spooked us from going into some of those back bays that he had clearly marked.  Maybe next year.  The original plan was to stay until Saturday yet somewhere the wires got crossed and we headed home on Friday morning.  Beggars can't be choosers and I simply just appreciate the opportunity to fish with the boys.  We ate fish Monday night, Tuesday, and Thursday with my famous Steak a la Kienitz on Wednesday.  Anticipating that we were going to stay another day it was a scramble on Thursday, catch enough fish to take home but make sure everything in camp got cooked.  Because I enjoy filleting the fish, I cleaned 28 walleyes on Thursday afternoon, enough for each of us to take 4 fish home.  One has to leave the skin on and package them 1 fish to a bag.  I definitely look forward to getting back up there again as Lac Seul is fishing paradise less than 10 hours away!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Leech Lake Opener, Part 2.

Fish data for 2016 Leech Lake Opener
Well, because I am in Canada hopefully catching more walleyes than I can count, I thought I would try to see if I can publish this weeks post via the schedule settings, we'll see.  Leech Lake opener was about an average opener for us.  Besides the cold and wind of Saturday, Sunday and Monday turned out pretty nice.  We keep track of all the walleyes caught over 12 inches and we also use this spreadsheet to keep track of all the fish we kept in the freezer.  As you can see Saturday was a tough day for me and my team however by Monday I had found the groove and started catching some nice walleyes.  Adam Mayerich did really well with his Saturday morning catch of 16 walleyes making it awful hard to catch him.  Now that he has his own boat, it's a little easier to dictate the pace of fishing, the locations, and when was it time to move.  In the end we caught 174 walleyes for basically the 21 guys  that fished for 3 days, almost a 3 walleye per day/fisherman average, not bad.  Jig and shiner minnows was the main presentation however I managed 12 walleyes in the boat trolling the shallow water off of Ottertail Point with #5 shad Raps which is something I really enjoy.  I am not sure but this year seemed different as in the past I have fished quite a variety of different spots but we only fished a few main spots, the Governors Flat, Ottertail Point, and Submarine Island this year. Maybe there was enough fish however Leech Lake is known for it's walleye's to relate to the wind pounded shores and many of my old spots did not have the waves going into them.  There were other guys that fished Goose Island and Stoney Point but they really didn't do any better than I did.

Mike's 6 pound dogfish
We did get a lot of northern pike this year, as there seemed to be an abundance of them.  Also we got very few if any perch.  These 2 fish are a bell weather of what's going on with the lake for sure.   Besides the big Rock Bass in last weeks post, we brought another unusual fish on board, here is a very nice dogfish that Mike Kimpel caught while trolling Ottertail for walleyes. These fish are nothing but solid muscle and this one weighed over 6 pounds. He thought he had a nice walleye on but it didn't take very long to figure out this wasn't the fish he thought he had!  It was the first I had seen in 26 years of opening on Leech and it was a dandy.  We did get a few nice northerns but most were the typical 20 - 24 inch variety.  This year we brought along 4 gallons of Shiner minnows and it was more than enough for our needs....this year.  I wanted to try night crawlers and use what they call a slo death rig however it just didn't work out, maybe I am getting lazy in my old age!  

About this time I should be preparing my friend, Troy Keinitz's famous Steak a la Keinitz, Rib eye's marinated in Tabasco sauce, Franks Buffalo Wing Sauce, and Pace Picante hot salsa.  They are pretty good on the grill, enough to where this will be the 2nd time I've been asked to bring them up.  It's off to Costco to get the steaks as the marinade does a great job of tenderizing them.  Hopefully I will have a great report for you in a week.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

2016 Minnesota Fishing Opener

Monday night's 26.5 incher
Well, last week marked our 43rd annual Minnesota Fishing Opener on Leech Lake, hosted by Brindley's Harbor Resort in beautiful Trader's Bay.  May 14th is the latest date that the Minnesota Opener can be which usually means nice temperatures and warmer water.  Leech Lake like a lot of lakes in Minnesota had a relatively early ice out due to the mild winter and less than average ice thickness on the lakes. Everything pointed to this being one of the best "potential" opener's in years.  Well, this was my 27th year at Leech Lake with Team Walleye and I've pretty much seen everything from dead calm 90 weather to total iced in as we did in 2013.  This year was like most, definitely challenged the status quo!  When we arrived on Friday afternoon it was snowing out for crying out loud!  This would be my first year with my new Ranger 620FS and as luck would have it, and because of the width, Mark arranged for me to have my own private covered slip, which was really nice.  After a great Friday night meal we had our Official Team Walleye rules meeting, collected the prize money and got everything settled in.  We had a couple of new guys this year as well as a returning member from a few years back, we had a full house as there was 22 of us in the big double cabin.  Admittedly this is total luxury, the likes which is pretty nice for a bunch of guys like us.  with 10 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, nobody every feels like there is not enough room.  With a door in between the cabins we reserve one side as the bar and the other as the kitchen and it's pretty nice for sure.  Mark does a great job in assigning who does what when and it's pretty slick, one only has to cook and cleanup one meal and the rest of the time he can sit back, talk smart and watch everyone else work.  We eat pretty good, Friday was roasted pork shoulders, Saturday night was Adam's 18 ounce ribeyes, Sunday was the Anderson fish fry, and Monday was a simple meal of bratwurst, beans, and slaw.   There is definitely no losing weight on this trip!

Nice Rock Bass
Saturday morning started out miserable with 20 mph winds out of the Northwest and temperatures in the low 30's. Thank the Lord I brought my ice fishing stuff, and even then it was cold!!! We tried Pine Point first and it was pretty slow.  The word is that the early ice out was set back by the cold April and the water was about 50 degrees so where the fish were was a crap shoot, in the shallows or deeper, it was just a matter of time before someone found where they were and Adam Mayerich was that guy, he found them on Governor's Flat just to the east of us. Unfortunately he must have caught them all because we did converge with our 7 boats and although we did get fish it was nothing like what they did on Saturday, 16 walleyes for the morning session.  it was true that if you stayed in one area long enough you would get some fish however I can't sit that long so I moved around.  Also, my boat really handles the big water nice so I was not restricted to where I could go yet I fished mostly Ottertail point as we did get some nice fish there.  It has a nice rock reef and I nailed this nice almost 2 pound Rock Bass, the biggest I have ever caught.  It really slammed the jig and it fought like a nice walleye, I never say I was disappointed in catching a fish but it would have been nicer if it was a walleye! Although I did try out by Submarine Island a few times, the wind made it hard to fish those areas however we did get a few nice walleye's there.  Oh well.  As always, Monday was the nicest day and resulted in my best session of the 6 we have for our contest.  We jigged Ottertail till about 8:30 then tied on the Shad Raps and trolled the point.  This is when I caught the fish pictured above, a 26.5 incher, enough for 2nd place. It was quite interesting as I ended up going a little shallow on one of the rock piles that go out into the lake and bang, that fish hit in 4 feet of water.  I first thought I had snagged the bottom and hooked a log as it dd not fight very much.  I did see it quite a ways from the boat as Henry picked up the net. Henry was in first place with a 27 inch walleye and all I could think about was him hitting the line and it getting away so I assured Henry that his first place position was safe.  I knew it was a nice fish but didn't realize another 5/8th inch would have knocked him to 2nd place.  I was glad that it only measured what it did and his fish was safe (at least in my boat!).  Henry is a great guy and has been coming for 8 years now.  He is 69 years old and has never won the trophy so it was nice to see that his name will be forever etched on the biggest fish plaque.

I head to Lac Seul on Monday for a week so next weeks post will either be something I wrote and scheduled or a week late!  I am scrambling to get ready for that trip, I am bringing my boat so it needs to be cleaned, the right tackle be loaded up, longer extension cords, and more mats to help keep the sand out off the boat! I am pretty anxious for sure as it's a great trip as we should be talking about 100+ walleyes a boat verses 15 at Leech, a big difference.  I stopped by Bill's on the way home and picked up some Powerbait Ripple Shads for casting.  He had a great new color called New Penny. Everyone is huge on Gold colors for Lac Seul so these should work really great, I guess we will see and I will have the report when I return.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Sconnie Fishing Opener

Loon on a Nest
I decided to use the Wisconsin Fishing Opener as a great excuse to get together with my cousin's Paul Anderson and Greg Nelson.  Paul lives just east of Hudson Wisconsin and Greg has a lake home on Clear Lake which is part of a connected group of lakes just north of Bloomer, Wisconsin.  I haven't seen Greg in a while and I was looking forward to getting together again with both of them.  Truth be told it was also a good excuse to get my boat out and run it prior to this weeks Minnesota Fishing Opener.  I packed up everything the night before and picked Paul up around 8:30 and we were at Greg's by 10:00.  Greg's place is beautiful and we had some chocolate chip cookies he had made that had the baking soda missing.  Apparently the baking soda helps cause the cookie dough tho flatten out when heated and his cookies were more like scones than cookies but that's ok.  We loaded up my boat and we headed for Chain Lake, the southern most lake in the group.  It was fairly windy and admittedly I still have a difficult time with boat control with the wheel boat but luckily the company of my cousins was more important than catching fish, which proved to be a good thing.  We tried a number of spots without much luck, I guess it probably would have helped if I tried harder, maybe tying on a bobber/minnow rig for crappies but it just never happened.  When we launched the boat, right next to it was a weed bed and a loon nest with a loon sitting on her eggs.  It seemed an odd place for a loon considering all of the boat traffic from the landing however she never even paid any attention.  That was pretty cool as we were pretty close to her.  Sometime on Mille Lacs the loons come very close to the boat often times swimming right under it.  They are a beautiful bird and this weekend we will blessed with a constant chorus of their haunting call.  Although this has music, the first part is pretty good Loon voices.  One of the things Greg asked me is if we were going to stay for supper and have hamburgers?  Well of course, anything to watch Greg work.  About 5:00 he asked to drive the boat down to the end of the lake to Hawk's Resort and bar.  There he ordered a beer for us and said this is who is going to cook your hamburgers!  Admittedly they were pretty good and even better as Greg bought.  I love these old Wisconsin resort/bars on the lake.  I con't care which one you go into, they make you feel as though you've lived there all you life.  By 7:00 we had the boat loaded and headed back to Hudson then home.  We left promising this would not be the last as we didn't get any fish yet Greg insists it's a good lake.  I was very happy at the outcome and as stated before, I am still having an interesting time learning to fish out of my boat.

Our Magnetic Signs for our Trucks
Friday is the day we take off for our 43rd Annual Leech Lake Opener.  It's pretty exciting as both Mark Mayerich and I have got everything pretty well set.  We have the hats, shirts, food, assignments, we'll pick up the bait on the way up.  Pretty much everything is done.  This year we have a full cabin again, 22 guys and it looks like it should be a great opener. As stated in the past we were selected as the winner of the  2011 Minnesota Bound fishing traditions contest. It is a lasting memory to our friend Ron Edberg who was tragically killed in September of 2012 at a workplace shooting.  This year we had to find a new company to embroider our hats as Ink Monsters went out of business. Accent Sign, Ron's company that he worked at, continues to do our signage like Ron used to do for us, which is really nice.  We met the manager on Tuesday night and it was obvious that he enjoyed doing our stuff and it's fun to have all of the things Ron would do, which was alot! We still have the travelling trophy and Accent does the engraving for the winner as well.  This year was early ice out however April was cooler than normal so it has pretty much evened this out making it look like a fairly normal walleye opener.  This is the first time at Leech with my boat as I did spend some time last week practicing trolling with my kicker motor.  I like to troll the shorelines at night with shad raps, it's been a pretty successful strategy for sure.  The weather is looking to be somewhat cooler than normal as the opener is as Late in May as it can be.  Oh well, better than working!  I come back on Tuesday the 17th then on the following Monday I head to Lac Seul for a 5 days of nonstop fishing walleyes.  That's always a great trip and this year should be no exception.  Good Luck everyone!