Monday, October 21, 2019

Annual Trout Fishing trip

Dad's Gift, Panther Martin's Deadly Dozen
Well, we were able to get in our annual October trout fishing trip to an old mine pit that we have been going to for a number of years.  With Bill Lundeen as my guide we met at his house last Thursday and he was ready to go.  My father died in 2011 however he knew how much I loved fishing and a few years before he passed away he gave me a box of Panther Martin trout spinners called the Deadly Dozen.  Knowing my dad he probably ordered them from a Field and Stream or Outdoor Life magazine but wherever, he presented me with this kit of 12 spinners for trout fishing.  He had that look on his face when he gave them to me that I would never forget, that look of....Geez, I finally got something you don't have!  He was correct and I put them away for safe keeping.  Well last year I told Bill I am going to catch a trout with the spinners my Dad gave me but after 8 or so years, I simply didn't remember where they were.  I had a Mepps Spinner and decided to use that but it wasn't the same and I only caught one fish.  Sort of a stubborn streak in me but I was bound and determined.  Well 6 months went buy and one day I found the box of the Deadly Dozen, probably right where I left them earlier.  Not to be shut out again putting them in an obvious place where they would not be forgotten, when Bill set the date last week, it was the first thing I packed!  Our strategy was simple, launch the canoe, attach the trolling motor, fire up the electronics and troll down anywhere from 10 - 30 feet with a small spinner rig, or in my case a Panther Martin.  Although I was determined last year, this time I was serious!! We headed up the shore in 30 to 40 feet of water as the fish marks were numerous on the depthfinder.  With a small trailer of a nightcrawler,  I was getting bumped but Bill caught the first trout.  Trust me, sitting in the front of a canoe has it's limitations, luckily this year I had settled down somewhat and got my sea legs quite quickly.  Having the bucket
Beatiful Day, Beautiful Lake
up front, Bill threw the trout under my seat, not the greatest idea with my limited ability to bend over these days! Finally getting the nice trout in the bucket, Bill was  getting hit quite a bit and had a number of them get away, I was getting nice hit but not hooking any.  Finally deciding to switch to a spinner with a larger hook, it paid off as my first trout came to the surface.  In the meantime Bill and I worked out a better system for moving the caught fish from back to front, use the nets each of us had.  With that problem solved there was another one on the line. Admittedly Bill caught more fish however my goal had been accomplished and Dad's Deadly Dozen proved to be a winner.   I wish he was here to be able to brag about the fish we had caught, he would have liked that, never the less I guess in the grand scheme of things, he wanted me to enjoy these baits and we finally got a chance to prove they worked pretty well.  Next time the strategy will to go to the next larger size as one upping Bill is now the goal!

A Pan Full of Trout.
We cleaned the trout like we used to back home in Eleva, cut the heads off, slit the belly and pull out the entrails then finally removing the blood line under the backbone.  These fish are all about 10 - 12 inches after being cleaned.   They are excellent on the grill, smoked, or delicious pickled by my good friend Mark Applen.  I have plenty to try all these methods for sure.  We know these trout are planted into the lake, similar to what the trout back in the Eleva pond were.  Planted trout usually have a pale white color to their flesh but as they feed on more natural food their flesh becomes more pinkish orange in color, which these all exhibited. They taste a lot better as well this way.  This is one of my favorite trips of the year and of course as you see in the above picture, it is also one of the most beautiful times of the year.  Trout fishing ends on October 31st and although it would be nice to get out again, the weather appears to be heading for a cold and wet period so we'll have to see.

I have been working on my Ranger boat, dressing it up a bit seeings how it wasn't used much this year.  One of the first things was to put some disc brake caliper covers on to dress up the wheels.  In the process of doing this by taking the tires off, the front axle, inner tire was wore down to the point of having no tread left.  Last year the front tire exhibited some wear while the back tire was almost perfect, I discounted it to the fact that dual axle trailers create some drag and wear on the tires and rotated front to back.  Well the limited amount of mile since the rotation put almost double the wear in about a year verses the previous 4 seasons.  Well, maybe Ontario Hwy 502 finally got it's revenge as the axle may need replacing and using the recommendation that trailer tires should be replaced every 5 years as well as the wear, it will be getting a new set of tires as well.  My appointment with the alignment shop is on October 31st, here;s hoping we skip the Halloween Blizzard this year.  There are also a few minor issues to clean up so the plan is to get these taken care of before the boat is put away for the winter.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Long Lake In Wisconsin and Lac Seul, part 2 (that should be enough!)

George with a nice walleye
So while the boat was still wet from Lac Seul, I had the chance to fish with a couple of my favorite people, Andrew Rombalski, my wife's uncle, Jason Rombalski, her cousin, and George Wimmer, their in law and a friend of mine.  Jason's wife's parents have a cabin on the channel between Birch Lake and Lake Chetac, in Birchwood, Wisconsin, just Northeast of Rice Lake, Wisconsin.  We usually try and get a fall trip in each year looking for some nice crappies or a walleye or two.  Just west of them is Long Lake, a larger lake in the area known for it's walleyes.  Because of previous commitments the plan was to join them at the landing on Long Lake around 3 in the afternoon on Saturday, fish for the day, then stop and have supper at a Supper Club on the lake.  Wisconsin is famous for their rural or lakeside restaurants that are referred to as Supper Clubs.  Dinner in Wisconsin was always at noon!  We had fished that lake a few time however the forecast of the rain stopping by noon did not materialize and at 3 it was still drizzling.  We launched anyway and headed south to a few areas that we had been before.  While looking at the lake map on my preloaded maps on the Lowrance HDS, there was a spot marked:  Fall walleyes can be found along the drop off fishing with live bait rigs or jigs and minnows.  It wasn't that far away and with such an understanding audience in the boat we approached the region where I began marking fish immediately.  With the Motorguide in deployed and in anchor mode we started jogging around the area looking for fish.  Once on a pod of fish Jason pulled out a #7 Jigging Rap, a popular ice fishing bait however it is becoming popular using the lure as an open water jig and within 2 minutes he had a nice 16 inch walleye, however with the minimum length of 18 back in the water it went without even getting a picture!  All of a sudden we were on the fish as George catches a nice 17 incher.  I did get him to pose for this nice example of how our late afternoon was going.  In less than 2 hours we landed 10 walleyes and a nice 16 inch smallie that took my Jigging Rap. It was a significant improvement
Andy's nice 19 inch Smallie
over the last couple of times we fished Long Lake so it was decided that on Sunday we would hope to repeat the same as Saturday.  It really didn't stop raining till we left as we stopped by the Reel Em Inn Supper Club on the west side of the lake, just down from the boat landing.  There we enjoyed a few cocktails and ordered the Saturday night special, a 16 ounce prime rib with all the fixings.  It was very relaxing with the locals enjoying supper and us 4 patting ourselves on the back for having a quite successful couple of hours of fishing.  George went back to his cabin in Chetek, Wisconsin to attend to his dogs while the rest of us heading back to Jason's in laws house on the lake.  After a couple of glasses of fine whiskey, including a nice 21 year old scotch, we got up in the morning to have breakfast and head back out again.  No knowing if George would rejoin us that question was answered the minute we pulled in the landing, yes he was there!  Of course we headed back to the scene of yesterdays success however the sky's turn a beautiful blue as the front went by a few hours earlier.  Not that we minded but you know what happens right after a cold front moves through.  Well it still wasn't that bad of fishing as we did get a couple of walleyes and Andy landed this very nice 19 inch smallmouth fishing a small sucker minnow.  We were marking a school of suspended crappies on the screen but wasn't very successful to see exactly what was stacked up in 25 feet of water (It was crappies, I know it!).  Never the less we did get a few more hit then decided to look for other identical looking area on the lake to expand our outlook on fish location.  We we should have just stayed were we were!  Never the less it was nice to fish with these guys and I hope that we may be able to get out ice fishing on that lake this year.

Jerry and his giant 16 inch walleye!
So finishing up the Lac Seul trip was pretty exciting.  Our favorite spot on the lake was Craig's Corner, named after a friend, Craig Biegert who fished with us a few years back. Sort of a nice place close to camp that always seems to have fish on it, it is now our go to spot if we need to fill out for the day, or for the trip if needed.  With 4 guys in the boat including Barry, Jerry, Ricky and myself, it was a good place to stay organized and catch fish.  Jerry had a 500 series spinning reel on a nice St. Croix Avid, sort of like walking around in a tuxedo with old dirty tennis shoes on!  At least it was something to give him some harmless ribbing.  Jerry did get some nice fish and I did get some pictures but not before correcting him on the proper way to display a fish for the camera.  Of course his response was...Do you think I am stupid?...Well here.  So this is a nice 16 inch walleye that is presented in the correct way for a photograph and he does deserve some credit.  The hand hidden to take away any reference for size, hide you arm holing the fish with the fish, and stick it out as far as you can.  Of course this fish looks a lot bigger than it is, in fact Jerry looks puny compared to this gigantic fish!  Never the less it is a great example of the fun we had in my boat with these 3 guys. Looking back we didn't kill them but our daily catch was acceptable with 60 - 70 walleyes a day in the boat.  My biggest mistake was to try and teach them how to tie a improved clinch knot ti tie the jigs onto the line.  Making it look super easy it resulted in me tying most of their jigs onto their lines, I guess it's nice to be thought of as useful.  All in all it was a great trip, having fun with my friends from Eleva including my brother Steve, and friends Kevin and Paul.  It was also nice to be able to show Jerry and Ricky a good time as this was their first time to Lac Seul.  We are already discussing next year!

With snow in the forecast it's probably time to put the boat away for the winter as my wheel house is scheduled to get the roof and door leak fixed as well as some electrical issues.  Hopefully next week will find myself with Bill Lundeen fishing our secret trout lake!  He sent me a picture of a dandy he got a couple of days ago. 

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Uffda, Time flies, Fishing with Jake and Lac Seul Part 1.

Little Jack and a Golden Redhorse
People are starting to wonder if I am still alive!  While working I always found some time at the end of the day to write my blog however now that I am retired it doesn't seem to come that scheduled.  Oh well, I am still here with a lot on the plate.  Since our last visit the boat got done, I made salsa, went fishing with Little Jake on the river, and just returned from a wonderful trip to Lac Seul Outposts with a gaggle of my friends.  So with that in mind, lets start with the boat.  After initially hitting a rock on Lac Seul at 32 MPH, the final damages have been taken care of.  The first look replaced the obvious, the lower unit and the motor bracket was cracked.  Immediately after the impact, the motor would not start.  Blaming it on a sensor in the lower unit to prevent operation if the lower unit is low, it was explained that the hit caused the motor mount to crack and pull off the crank sensor, and was a testament of how strong Ranger's transoms were.  At this point the damage was estimated at $14,000.  Well at the end of July while polishing the boat had noticed some cracking of the gel coat in the splashwell area.  After returning it to Frankie's the first story was they were stress cracks and covered under Ranger's warranty.  Further investigation however showed significant damage that was cause by the hit in May, to the tune of and additional $7800.  Luckily the insurance covered it and were very helpful. Having been without the boat for over 9 weeks this summer, it arrived just in time for our annual September trip to Lac Seul, more on that later.  Trying to catch up on things while out in the front yard Little Jake (Limo Joe's son as opposed to Big Jake who live a few houses down, easier that way) stopped at the mail box on his bike.  Sensing he had something on his mind...well football practice was done and it might be a nice time to fish the river.  Little Jake has turned into a fishing machine and just loves fishing the river with me.  Deciding there was time, he called his dad to get the ok and away we went after hooking the jon boat up to the Polaris Razor and headed to Blair's to launch the boat.  The first thing we noticed was the river had to be at least 18 inched higher due to the recent rains in the watershed.  The river was definitely high and fast.  Never the less we headed north and started to cast the shorelines but after an hour it became obvious that we didn't have the time to figure the bite out as casting crankbaits up against the shore only produced one hit in the two miles we floated down.  Time for a change in strategy as we decided to anchor just south of Cloquet Island where Jake caught a nice 20 inch walleye on a previous trip.  To my surprise the water flow was enough to prevent the anchor from holding us.  Knowing the water would be somewhat slower down stream we anchored in front of our neighbor's place where we had caught fish before.  This time the anchor held but again the high water wasn't ideal for fishing.  Never the less Jake was able to set the hook on a nice Golden Redhorse, another interesting and beautiful fish from the Mississippi River.  This was all we caught  however it was good enough for Jake as we headed back to the landing to load the boat.  Before loading, and with the water high enough, we did go around King's Island on the north side of the river.  It was interesting

Sunday Night Sunset at Lac Seul Outpost
Last Saturday we headed to our annual fall adventure at Lac Seul Outposts.  This year's agenda  included renting a second cabin and increasing our guest list by 7 guys, Paul Wenaas, Kevin Aiona, my brother Steve, Bruce Wiley and his neighbor Wayne, Dan Sadler, Barry and Jerry, Pete Sipe, Michael Wiley and his friend Brian, Our great friend Ricky Shermer and myself, a total of 11 guys.  Normally we top out at six guys but things went pretty smooth.  Our first night was to stay in Dryden at the Holiday Inn Express and leave for Sioux Lookout to meet Bruce at the airport as his plan was to fly in on Sunday Morning with Barry and Wayne.  It worked out quite well as we did not have to leave so early on Saturday and after a few delays they landed around 11"00 AM on Sunday, we were at camp by 1:30.   We all went out fishing as we had 4 boats.  Paul and Steve bought their 1775 Lund's and each took 2 extra guys.  Bruce had his boat with 3 guys in it and myself, with the biggest boat of the group I got stuck with Barry and Jerry, with Ricky Shermer as my copilot!  We did catch quite a few walleyes in the 3 hours we fished.  Having planned for burgers that night for supper, a contingency plan for timing of possible delays, Ricky insisted that we keep enough walleyes as he wanted to make Walleye Won-ton's.  I kept telling him we had plenty of time to keep fish but he insisted, OK Ricky, we kept a few nicer walleyes.  Well the other guys sort of went overboard on the walleyes as well and it appeared we were going to have fish for supper.  After cleaning the fish, Ricky made his Won-tons, a pretty simple recipe.  He brought won-ton premade dough squares, then added some cream cheese, a hunk of walleye, then sealed them and deep fried them.  I could not eat them as they contained flour but everyone raved about them.  It is good to learn new ideas as my friend Kevin cooks fish constantly and I could see the gears turning in his head!  With 3 days of fishing ahead, I'll save that for the next post!

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

On the River Finally!

Jake's First Smallie!
After many delays the 14 foot jon boat with a brand new 25 hp motor finally got a chance to get wet.  In the last 2 weeks I have had Little Jake and his dad Limo Joe out helping do the maiden run 2 times.  The first was on August 30th, we hooked up the boat and headed about 3 1/2 miles up rive next to Goodin Island, just south of where the Crow River empties into the Mississippi.  Our strategy was to drift the north side of the river where the water is better as the south side tends to be quite muddy from the Crow.  We would stay 30 feet from the shore and cast right to the edge, bringing our baits downstream and across the current breaks and eddy's. Jake had been practicing with his spinning rod however I was concerned it was a little light for this kind of fishing so he used a heavier rod with heavier test line, as well I rigged him up with a white buzz bait.  These baits come up to the surface and make quite a noise coming across the water, enough to drive the smallmouth bass crazy.  In addition to that Jake is 12 years old and has a lot to learn about casting, avoiding snags, the right finesse for retrieving a lure.  As well my friend Pete who guided on the river for smallies claim they are deadly, so much he stopped using them and gave me a few to try.  This was perfect for Jake, heavy enough to get it close to shore, a quick yank and it was on the surface and if and when the do strike it's quite a show as the fish hit with vengeance on the surface.  There was some skepticism on Jake's part but he started pretty good as on the sixth cast a nice 16 inch smallie slammed it and the fight was on.  It really put up a battle and decided to get the net out to make sure we landed the fish.   Jake was pretty happy with himself as he did end up having 2 more bass take a swipe at it as well he landed 2 small northerns.  In the meantime I was using a favorite Bomber Model A in a light crayfish pattern with good success.  The plan was to float down to where Cloquet Island, just upriver from us, forms a deep hole and is a great place to anchor and drown a few nightcrawlers.  Well, we got about a mile from where we started and a jet ski was drifting down the middle of the river where the current was
Jake's Beautiful 20" Walleye
faster, he yelled at us so we pulled up to see what the problem was.  His jet ski refused to start and asked if we would pull him back to his place, maybe 3 miles downstream.  Although Jake wasn't too happy, it was the right thing to do so we tied a rope and pulled him home at a whooping 9 miles an hour.  Jake was pouting all the way as he had just started getting into a rhythm and we stopped to help this guy.  As we approached his dock he insisted that we stay there and he was going to get us some money, $80.  Jake's eyes really lit up but we told Jake that someday he will need help and banking a few good deeds is always good, we left to bottom fish.   With the sun setting and little time we took off his buzz bait and I have circle hooks snells ready to clip onto the snaps on the line with a 1 once bell sinker clipped above the snap, a quick and easy way to get fishing fast.  threading 2 crawlers on the hook we pitched Jake's pole into the current break and put it in the rod holder.  While getting the other rigs set up he noticed the tip of his rod bouncing pretty good.  Slowly coaching him, Jake is very good at using circle hooks as he doesn't really have any bad habits of setting a standard type hook, telling him when he feels a steady pull just start reeling.  Although he claimed there was a fish on his line it didn't look like much until he got it to the side of the boat where it really took off.  Kind of in disbelief, he finally had a good battle going and when he got it back to the boat it was a beautiful walleye, 20 inches.  Having caught a few walleye on the river, I know they are in there however this was the largest one that had graced my boat.  We had a few more bites however the mark had been set quite high and with it getting dark fast we decided to leave.  After loading the boat up on the side by side, we just had to drive around the neighbor hood to show off this nice fish, first to our neighbor big Jake, then we had to show his mom, stopped a few more places before putting the boat away and cleaning the fish.  I filleted the fish, vacuum packed it and it was ready to give to Grandpa when he came over for a visit the next day.  Joe proclaimed.....Dave, you've created this fishing monster!  We did go out on Labor Day for a few hours but the buzz bait wasn't working as well as the crankbaits.  We ended up with 8 nice 16 - 18 inch bass, it was funny as Jake reeled in the first couple then after hooking another one I think he felt sorry for me and stated that I should have the honor.  Changing his buss bait to a fire tiger shallow running crank bait got him a few northerns yet I had the hot bait.  I finally switched with him but it seems at about 30 minutes before sunset the fish turn off somewhat.  Either way we had a great time and it's more fun for Joe and myself see the excitement in Jake when he reels in a fish than anything else.  All you have to do is check out that smile in the pictures!

Nice Smallie
On Wednesday night I had the privilege of fishing with Jarred, the son of a friend of my friend, Paul Wenaas.  We had been trying to get together of an evening trip so Wednesday it was.  Because it is starting to get dark around 7:30, we decided to just fish the shorelines and dispense with any anchoring.  Admittedly the fishing was slow although the weather was nice.  I told Jarred that it's like another wold on the river and he's never know we where 20 miles from Downtown Minneapolis.  Because casting cranks let's one cover a lot of water fast, he was the first to get a nice 16 incher.  Satisfied a few minutes later I hooked a nice bass as well. These were the only 2 we got for the night, nothing spectacular but I am sure he'll be back.  It was interesting as these were the first outings with the new 25 hp outboard engine on the back.  Originally the boat came with a 1976 15 hp Evinrude but that was a real dog on the river.  I think it was very tired so a couple of years ago there was a 25 hp short shaft Mercury on Craigslist so I put that on the boat and it really woke it up.  The 15 hp would get about 12 mph upstream and maybe 16 going down, while the newer 25 hp did about 20 upstream and 24 down.  Well to be honest I forgot the motor was new and never broke it in, just took off at full throttle!  Honestly the performance wasn't that good, maybe 17 going up and 21 going down.  Deciding to move the motor pin up once, with Jarred I hit 21 going up and 26 going down, pretty impressive.  Although worried about the break in period, the old saying break it in like you're gonna run it, looks like it held true.  I suspect it would be a good thing to change the oil this fall even though it will probably have less than 5 hours on it.  The other thing that got done this week

Wagon Load of Sweet Corn 
was getting around to freezing the sweetcorn from the garden.  Planting 6-48 foot rows, 3 in May and 3 more rows about 3 weeks later gives a little time to get it all done.  For some reason this years first crop was sparse as I usually plant 3 - 4 seeds next to each other 10 inches apart, but in the case of the first crop only one or two stalks came up.  The second crop was better, but not as prolific as last year.  Thinking about it there may have been some Preen pre-emergent carryover from last years onion crop.  Either way not counting what the raccoons ate, I vacuum packed 42 bags of corn, each bag holding the equivalent of between 5 - 6 ears of corn, it amounted to about 250 ears of my favorite variety, Honey and Pearl bi-color.  It's really quite simple, get a big pot of water boiling, shuck about 30 ears and put them in the boiling water.  As dad taught me, boil them for about 3 minutes or so, I take them out and put them in big aluminum foil pans so they cool off.  With an electric knife just cut off the kernels and fill the vacuum bags.  I have a chamber vacuum packer that works excellent for this as it goes in a 8" x 12" bag, the corn gets flattened and sealed.  It ends up pretty slick and the vacuum packing give the corn an incredible storage life as we have had 12 month old corn form last year and it tastes as fresh as what we just did,  Finally got the Ranger back today and it looks pretty good.  It needs a good cleaning before September 21st when we head back up to Lac Seul.  I'm anxious to how they say, bite the dog that bit you the last time!  I know the buoy is moved and the water is at least 2 feet higher so it should not be a problem..........hopefully as it's been in the shop for over 9 weeks already this year...Uffda!



Friday, August 30, 2019

Back to Alexandria

Wacky Worm Rig
With an invitation to spend the weekend on Lake Ida with my good friend Lory Brasel at his cabin, it would give us a chance to fish his lake for bass using wacky worm rigs, just like a month ago when I spent some time with my friend Charlie on Lake Miltona, Lake Carlos, and Lake Darling.  Lake Ida is basically in the same area as these other lakes as well is very similar in structure, and having threaten Lory a lesson in late summer bass fishing along the reeds, it was a pretty easy decision.  Wacky worming is a pretty simple technique for catching largemouth bass.  As stated in a previous post, it all began in Texas a few years ago.  In Texas bass is king however we do have a fantastic bass fishery here in Minnesota, both largemouth and smallmouth bass and what works in Texas works here as well.  This rig has evolved in many forms however my personal choice is the simple method of inserting a small O ring onto the middle of what is referred to a stick type plastic worm that is 4 - 6 inches, then using a wacky worm style wide gap hook (the picture shows a weedless style), hook the O ring and you are set.  These worms are usually impregnated with salt and scent and will sink on there own at a rate of 8 - 12 inches per second.  As stated earlier, there are many forms of this rig, some add weight to get down deeper into the weeds, we simply were casting the reed edges that were in the 4 - 6 feet depth so our strategy was to go with the simple presentation.  Lake Ida in Alexandria is the second largest lake in the area, it runs north to south with a couple of nice bays,  the water is extremely clear and on
Lory's First Wacky Worm Bass on His First Cast!
Saturday it was quite windy.  Wacky Worming is the most fun when you can actually watch your line as the worm sinks as often the bass will grab it and run, with the only indication is that your line is moving.  The wind plays havoc on the sight aspect of this yet one can still feel the hit as well as changes in the bow in your line.  As stated the worms are usually salt/scent impregnated and the bass will hang on to the worm for quite along time as it tastes good!  A quick set of the hook and the battle is on!  It is a very fun way to fish bass however this time of year the larger bass tend to be deeper so one usually catches bass in that 12 - 16 inch range.  One can target the deeper weed edges using the same Wacky Worm style using a drop shot presentation, something I haven't tried but is definitely on the list.  Our strategy was to find a reed/wild rice structure on a less windy part of the lake.  This was Lory's first attempt to use the Wacky Worm technique on his lake, and of course I tend to oversell things as well.  Giving him the basic instructions, cast right to the reed edges, points are good as well as pockets within the weed growth.  Let the worm settle to the bottom, give it a few lifts to impart some action and wait a few seconds.  If there is a bass, it will hit it within the first couple of seconds from the time the worm hit the water, and will actually pick it up from the bottom if in the vicinity of your worm.  With the clear water a bass can actually come a long ways to hit the bait as they are generally sight feeders.  Lory's first cast was on a reed point and although not exactly focused on the right methodology all of a sudden.....I got one!  We landed a nice 15 inch bass, actually the largest of the day, on his first cast.  I caught the next 3 - 4 bass while explaining the specific technique, after looking back at his first cast and understanding what went right with that situation, Lory began to catch more bass.  For the day we ended up with about 15 bass as conditions were difficult with the 15 mph south wind, it made boat control a challenge for sure. We fished for about 6 hours as it was fun to teach someone a new presentation that actually seemed to work.  I also tried a new type of rig called a Tokyo Rig, it looks deadly and should really work on the river for smallies, something that has eluded me this year.  Definitely plan on dealing with that in the next couple of weeks!

I did get some fish last weekend!
The saga of the Lac Seul May lower unit strike on the Ranger 620 continues.  After the trip fishing with my friend Charlie, I brought the boat back to Frankie's to fix the steering and a few stress cracks.  A more detailed inspection showed a number of stress cracks related to hitting the rock and after notifying the insurance company, $7200 arrived to cover the damage.  Giving an OK to start the work, they pulled off my motor and under the top cover of the transom found more damage that was not visible earlier.  Again another trip back to the insurance company however this time I expressed my frustration with them not getting this done all at once and 3 months later I am still dealing with damage.  Explaining that this was the final time to take care of everything and am expecting that this is the last of something that should have been dealt with in June.  the additional damage was $650 so I authorized them to get it finished, as the boat has been in the shop 8 weeks this summer.  As well I told them for now a $8,000 in repairs they can touch up a few spots of dock rash and a scratch where we hit the side with a metal shield while welding a gusset on the frame for a step.  That has been confirmed, so the Ranger should be just like new, just in time to take it back to Lac Seul in September.  Hopefully my luck has changed by then!  This week is Mississippi River week and the plan is to hit the smallies and try for some larger catfish in the hole behind the island.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Top Fuel Dragster on a Green Light!
Between the weather and the garden, it's been pretty difficult finding time to get the jon boat out, actually a even a little embarrassing.  Last Friday was interesting as my good friend that I met at work, Kevin Sonsalla had tickets again to attend the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.  It is always a fun event as Kevin has some connections with Don Schumacher Racing out of Illinois.  Schumacher is a famous name in both the welding and battery charger manufacturing in the US and Kevin used to represent certain products he would sell to them.  Eventually he would help out at their race events and today they still treat him pretty nice.  His tickets get us into the event, access to reserved seating, as well the hospitality tent where we can watch them rebuild the engine after each run, have a nice meal served, as well as free soft drinks.  It is a lot of fun as this was probably my 6th time going and it is quite amazing to see those cars go from a dead stop to 1000 feet in less than 3.8 seconds and over 330 mph.  That is moving! One of the things I found interesting was a display by a local General Motors dealer selling the latest in V8 motor configurations.  They had 6.2L (378 cu in) V8's that would turn out over 600 hp, and I often talk about the good old days of cars, those days are here!  Thanks Kevin for a great day again!

Fermentation Crock
So a couple of things, my fermented pickles are absolutely delicious.  They have cured into a great tasting deli style pickle and of course I think they are pretty good.  My neighbor Lynn Brasel took some of my cucumbers from the garden and made crock pickles as well, her's were pretty good, maybe more polished.  She used vinegar and I just used a salt brine so maybe in a contest she would have taken a blue ribbon, never the less, I reminded her that they were my cucumbers!  Both are still quite tasty although she did give me her recipe.  We are at the end of a nice month long harvesting season for the cucumbers and maybe I will have enough to make another batch soon as I expect to empty this fermentation crock within the next couple of days.  One has to daily skim off the white mold that forms on the top of the liquid, not the worst job and it gives one the opportunity to taste the brine, which is packed full of the new craze in dietary supplements called Probiotics,  a great boost to ones digestive health.  It's actually pretty good.  I bought some 1 gallon plastic square containers which work pretty well for the refrigerator however I have already ate a gallon.  With about 5 gallons of pickles fermenting in crocks now I should have enough to take me through ice fishing season, not even counting on trying Lynn's method.  Lynn's husband Lory stopped by last week and we picked 10 gallons of summer crisp pears which he will make into pear wine.  Our plan is to use our still and make pear brandy soon.  He
A Raccoon's Banquet!
has some chokecherry brandy that we tried and admittedly it's pretty good as well.  Cured in miniature charred oak barrels and blended with the right amount of flavorings and cut to a reasonable proof (80) I was very impressed and am looking forward to see how this will turn out.  It is also time to harvest the sweet corn however the raccoons have decided the same.  I wouldn't be so angry as not to share some of my corn with them however they tend to be real pigs about it and knock down the stalks, take a few bites out of a cob then move to the next one.  They took out an equivalent of a half a row of corn with most of the cobs having just a few bites out of then.  Frustrating for sure.  There is a live trap waiting for them with a nice can of tuna cat food, hardly something a nice raccoon cane pass up but no luck.  Maybe the corn wasn't quite ready and they have decided to come back in a week when it will be!  Either way I'll be waiting.  I did get a chance to fish on our neighbor John's dock on Sunday night with Limo Joe, his son Jake, his neighbor friend Aaron, Big Jake and his son Elijah.  Nobody was really set up very well so my job was to reconfigure each pole with the right hook and sinker, added some nightcrawlers to the hooks and in addition we tried a line with Doc's Catfish bait but it wasn't a good night for fishing.  The excuse might be that this was the first time fishing on John's dock so it might take a while to get to know the best place to cast.  Anyway it was fun hanging with the kids and teaching them not to stick one's finger in the Doc's Catfish goop, it is pretty gross!

Saturday, August 10, 2019

My New Fishing Partner

Jake the Red Horse King!!
It's been a odd summer with continued issues with my boat, which I will get into later.  In the meantime one of my tasks have been working on the jon boat to start fishing the Mississippi River behind the house.  A prerequisite was always to fish the neighbors dock and get a feel for the water flow, clarity, and what's biting.  A week ago or so the result was a nice golden red horse, a medium sized carp as well as a medium catfish.  In the neighbor hood is a guy by what we call him Limo Joe as his past life years ago was driving a limo.  After a number of years he finally settled down and now he has 2 wonderful kids, a boy named Jake and a girl, Kaylee.  The boy is 12 years old and is crazy about fishing so offering to take both of them to the dock we managed to catch a really nice standard red horse sucker and a small catfish.  It wasn't as good as the other day but for Jake it was a fabulous.  Well he had soccer on the next night but on Tuesday he was back at the pole shed ready for more.  We could not use the dock so at first we spent some time practicing casting, but the urge to fish was too great so we called mom and said we were heading down the road to fish the Champlin Mississippi River Point Park.  Our strategy was the same, fish the bottom with a glob of nightcrawlers to see what would bite.  Within 10 minutes Jake had this nice red horse sucker on, the second one he caught that week.  you can obviously tell that he's pretty happy with his catch.  Admittedly it's as much fun for me as it was for him.  In my younger days we often fished with my dad's friends Art Kelly, Danny Van Pelt, and Vic Wenaas, down at the Buffalo River fishing catfish in August. Getting to show him how to set the hook, hold the rod, use it for leverage, is fun and Jake actually listens!  Having no children of my own, Jake is like a grandson I will never have so it's quite the honor to be able to pass on some of my fishing knowledge to a younger person.  It's also makes me smile when I see his enthusiasm, like I had when I was that age.....let see, 52 years ago......uffda.  Jake can't wait to get out again but this time we will launch at the other neighbors landing and fish out of the boat, telling Jake we will get bigger fish from the boat! I am not sure who's more excited, Jake or me!

Nice carp!!
So the Ranger, well it looks like it will be in the shop for at least another 2 weeks as investigating the cracks, Frankie's guy found additional damage from my lower unit hit back in May on Lac Seul.  It has been assured it's repairable however I had to call the insurance company, they will need to remove both the main motor and kicker, not an easy task.  Hopefully it will be done by Labor day but who knows???  Not complaining and thankfully August is the time to fish on the River for smallies and rough fish, they are fun to catch.  With access to the river so close it just takes hooking the jon boat up to the ATV, opening (and making sure they are closed again!) the gates and launching, 10 minutes and we are on the water.  The smallmouth bass action using crankbaits is good so not having the Ranger isn't the end of the world however hopefully this is the end of the 2019 hitting a rock nightmare!  My goal is to teach Jake how to use a bait-caster before the season ends.  Admittedly this retirement is an interesting transition.  The biggest accomplishment so far has been the garden and making pickles.  One of my batches is fermentation pickles, similar to Clausen type pickles.  They are stacked in a fermentation crock, layers of dill, garlic, spices, cucumbers (the larger ones) then repeat with an added couple of grape leaves to add natural tanins to help keep them crisp.  In a 3.5 gallon fermentation crock it is filled about 3/4 of the way then a brine mixture of 1/3 cup of pickling salt to a gallon of water, fill the crock then put the weights in to keep the cucumbers under the brine, and let them naturally ferment.  it has a lid with a water lip to keep out any bad yeasts and stuff.  They are looking pretty good and hopefully will be done by the middle of next week.  Just in time for another batch.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Fishing With Charlie

$59.95, 16 ounce musky bait
This thing called retirement, one truly has to wonder where you found the time to do everything while still working!  On the other hand there is no more excuses why you can't do anything.  On Sunday, July 21st we where invited to a memorial service for our good friend Chuck Teasley's wife Karla who passed away a few weeks ago from cancer.  Charlie has been a long time friend and met him in the early 80's while we lived in Osseo, MN.  He was a banker for Northwestern National Bank, which became Norwest, and is now Wells Fargo.  We had a lot of the same interests including fishing.  Eventually he moved out of the apartment building but we stayed in touch.  Deciding to move back to Duluth he sold his 1984 Lund Pro Angler to me and bought a 1986 Lund Nisswa Guide, a fiberglass tiller.  Chuck got married to Karla, who did work for Minnesota Power, a utility company in Duluth, MN.  Eventually she got transferred to on of their companies in Orlando, so Charlie decided that the Nisswa Guide boat was not going to work in Florida so I ended up buying that.  We kept in touch the entire time as Charlie and his now family would spend a week every July at Mount Carmel Ministries in Alexandria, MN and we usually found time to spend a nice day of fishing on Mille Lacs.  The memorial service was at Mount Carmel and after a day of remembrance, it was decided that I'd bring my boat back up on Monday and stay with Charlie the night and fish Muskies on Tuesday.  Charlie lives in Glen Carbon, Illinois just east of St. Louis, Missouri where Karla was last relocated.  There all his good stuff including an impressive collection of Musky fishing equipment was stolen.  On his way to Alexandria he called and asked where the best place to buy musky equipment in the cities, as he had an insurance check.  Thorne Brothers of course!  Meeting him on Saturday he had his daughter Morgan with him and I am sure he made the store's day with walking out with about $2000 worth of new baits, rod/reel, tackle box, you name it.  Arriving on Monday we decided to fish Lake Miltona, a known musky lake 5 miles from us.  All these lakes in the Alexandria area have zebra mussels and are incredibly clear.  Arriving at the landing which wasn't very good, we finally got out and surveyed the area.  A sunken island topping out at around 8 - 10 feet surrounded by deeper water looked to be a great place to start and with the wind blowing gently across it, a perfect place to start
Not huge but the action was great
casting.  These new musky baits are quite interesting and some can be very heavy, which is why I don't fish them much, getting too old and it's hard on one's self.  Never the less we drifted across the area, me throwing a large Mepp's and Charlie throwing literally the kitchen sink.  He had a nice follow but failed to get a hook up.  On one cast he lifted his line up only to see his $60 Beaver tail bait slide to the bottom, the clasp had either come unhooked or something.  It kind of takes the wind out of your sails, oh well with the wind it was lost forever!  To be honest it wasn't the perfect day for muskies anyway, a bright sky, cold front had just passed through, crystal clear water, we decided to head to the calmer side of the lake and fish for bass along the reeds.  Admittedly since my time in Texas with my friends Matt and Joe, wacky worming for bass has found a place in my strategies.  The reed beds were well developed on the west end of the lake and the wind was perfect for following the edges.  We'd land our plastic worms right at the edge and if there was a bass it would slam the lure and take off with it.  Within 5 casts we had our first bass.  Not big but a lot better then watching our big baits come back to the boat empty!  Wacky worming is a lot of fun.  The worm is hooked in the middle and with no weight it slowly falls in the weeds.  Even with slack in the line you can still feel the hit, often you see the line heading off across the water.  Ending the day with over 15 bass it turned out to be an interesting day on the water.  Deciding that I didn't like the landing, Charlie drove my truck to the east side landing which was much deeper and easier to load onto the trailer.  A quick bite to eat at a bar in Miltona then on to Carlos Creek Winery and see if it is possible to pick up a wine club order, no it's too early however we did end up getting some wine anyway.  Back to camp, it was decided that because we have a lot of lost time to make up for, I would stay the night and fish a half a day on Wednesday.  Mount Carmel is on Lake Carlos so we stayed there as there are 4 lakes accessible from Lake Carlos.  In the morning we attended another service at the chapel before heading out.  These lakes are crazy, full of structure and clear.  Even in 5 feet of water it seemed as though one would hit bottom.  Crossing into Lake Darling it was interesting to see how much current was flowing between the lakes.  The Long Prairie Rive runs through this chain and with all the rain, it was really moving.  Again our strategy was the same, hit the edge of the reeds and fish for bass.   Admittedly the action was great and in 5 hours we had at least 15 fish.  It was time to leave so I left Charlie with a bunch of baits, said our goodbyes and will look for the next opportunity to fish with one of my dearest friends!

New cracks in the splashwell area.
This year has not been very good to my Ranger boat.  Hitting the rock while heading into camp on Lac Seul put a huge crimp in pretty much everything.  While getting the boat ready to take to Alexandria, I noticed a bunch of cracks in the back by the splash well. Thinking it be damage from the hit on Lac Seul in May, on Thursday it went back up to Frankie's.  As well a couple of weeks ago when we were on a maiden run after the lower unit was repaired, an attempt to open the motor up with the trim full up met with an unsettling result, the engine lost all steering feel almost losing control.  The same scenario was attempted last week with the same results.  Anything over 4800 RPM's and 50% till caused the handling of the boat to be very scary.  Dropping it off last Thursday and discussing the issues, Joe grabbed the motor and twisted it, seems there is air in the steering lines.  The fiberglass cranks would need to be looked at by their guy. Asking that they water test the boat to be sure, my next big trip is back to Lac Seul and there is no desire to have any issues.  A call this morning confirmed a couple of things. First the steering issue was air, they bled out the system then tried it with success.  Also the cracks did not look like they were related to the hit, so they called Ranger who offered to fix them however the boat had to be sent back to Arkansas, otherwise I could use Frankie's and they would pick up half of the cost.  This seemed reasonable so another 2 weeks in the shop!  Oh well, it will give me plenty of time to hit the river as this is the prime time to be fishing smallies and catfish.  Not that I need an excuse but it certainly  better than waiting!  In the meantime the garden is exploding with cucumbers, zucchini, potatoes, beans, you name it.  The onions and peppers look great as we have been making about 2 gallons of "Bernie Konter's Fall Feast Pickles" every other day, and they are delicious.  Plan on getting out on the river in the next day or so...too much to write, so little time!

Saturday, July 20, 2019

New Safety Addition to the Ranger

Fell Marine MOB Wireless Safety Switch
The incident on Lac Seul last may got me thinking about a number of safety issues.  One of the issues is the safety shutoff tether that every boat has, it is supposed to connect to your self, maybe to your life vest so if one got thrown out of the boat, it would shut the outboard motor off preventing the so called circle of death.  This occurs when no one has control of the motor and the natural torque of the motor forces the boat to make circles in one direction, eventually running the operator over with little one can do.  Hooking up the tether has it's own problem as it really only allows movement withing a couple of feet of the drivers position and does not allow any movement in the boat without pulling the tether out and shutting the motor off.  After researching this I discovered a wireless MOB (Man Over Board) device that will allow one to walk around the boat without stopping the engine, however once the red fob hits the water of get's 50 feet from the device the engine will shut off.  The problem is that often I forget to attach the tether to the life vest, however I can simple put the fob around my neck or attach it to the life vest and VIOLA, I am connected wireless to the emergency shut off.  The boat motor will not start unless one pushes the center button on the fob to connect to the base unit shown here in black.  Once connected the green light comes on and you can start your motor, a nice fail safe feature. If you end up overboard and have someone in the boat, or something goes wrong with the red fob, one can press the center button on the main unit and override the system to start the boat.  Also one can stop the motor by simply pressing the button on the red fob or the main unit.  It also serves as a theft preventative device as not many people are familiar with this system.  Except for finding a good place to mount it the installation went pretty smooth and it looks good in the boat.  Last weeks post dealt with our trip to Mille Lacs and this device was operational during that time and work very well.  Truth is I hope I never have to rely on it however it seemed like a great idea as I am not getting any younger and the emergency cutoff tether is there for a reason!  One might as well take advantage of the current technology.

Ben and his family with a nice catch of fish
So last week my Godchild, Ben Aiona went out on Lake Michigan trolling for Salmon and trout.  He called asking me some questions and I stayed in touch with him as it reminded me of the time in 1986 when his dad Kevin and I went with another friend, Gary Barneson, who lived in Appleton, WI and would troll with his 14 foot Lund with a 25 hp motor.  We weren't much better as I ran a 16 foot Lund Pro Angler with a 50 hp motor.  In Wisconsin you can use 3 lines trolling so we rigged up 2 downriggers, ran 2 Dipsy Divers, and I had made 2 planer boards to fish off the side of the boat 50 - 75 feet.  We caught all sorts of fish however Gary eventually moved back to Eleva and the fishing changed on Lake Michigan so we stopped going there.  Well Ben decided to try it and did OK, getting a load of salmon and a few Lake trout at 150 feet. I still have all the equipment and lures so it would be fun to try it again.  Actually the last time I was on Lake Michigan fishing was maybe in 1987 with my brother Steve and my dad, we did pretty well then but I can't find any pictures. Informing Ben that I still have some stuff and it's been sitting in my garage for 30 years he might as well put it to good use, so we decided that we need to get together soon and get him set up.   Now that I am retired and I have a young buck to wait on me maybe I will have to join him some day as my boat would be perfect for this kind of fishing.  I know we are going to try and get to Lake Erie next spring.

This week my goal was to get out on the river but is was awfully hot.  I did help my neighbor Brian with his friends  Lowrance HDS 9, Gen 3, as they were going to Lac Seul.  We were successful in getting his map to the level he wanted it as well, I was able to show him some tricks that would make his experience on Lac Seul much more enjoyable.  Being quite knowledgeable with these electronics it was fun to help out and I am anxious to talk with him when they get back to see if it helped.  It's supposed to finally cool down this weekend, it will be a nice change of pace to the hot and humid weather we have had.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Great Bite on Mille Lacs Lake

Jack with a beautiful Walleye
Well, after over a month in the shop, the Ranger was finally ready for it's maiden voyage, the first of the year, to Mille Lacs Lake.  Because of the current political situation, the ability to keep any walleyes ended on June 1, therefore it is strictly catch and release on the lake.  These last few years of let's just call them, restrictions, have resulted in a huge population of large fish over 22 inches in the lake and they are hungry!   Monday I was joined by 2 retired electrician friends, Jack Taylor and Pete Mlinar with the goal of confirming if the great bite was still on. After meeting near Elk River we headed north.  In the past it would be pretty easy, we would stop at my friend Bill Lundeen's Tackle Castle and load up on all that was needed, however since he retired from the business and the shop remains closed, we had to do something I haven't done in over 30 years, buy bait somewhere's else, this time it was Prince's Bait just north of Milaca,  getting only 2 dozen Jumbo Leeches and 3 dozen crawlers, we felt that we were stocked up pretty good....little did we know!  Arriving at the old Cash's Landing things continued to plague each outing with the boat as when it came off the trailer something happened and it ripped the side cover from the front trolling motor.  Only cosmetic yet another thing to fix.   With a howling south wind, previous suggestions stated to simply head out to 7 Mile Flat right away.  Anyone knowing me is aware that I really like Sherman's flat and one has to drive over it to get to 7 mile.  OK boy's, let just check this out!  We were marking fish like crazy so naturally we had to stop!  With 3 in the boat and the fact is that I still haven't gotten that proficient in the proper boat control for following a break in 2 foot waves, I decided to simply input a route on my chart screen then tell the
It was bigger than it looks!
trolling motor to follow it.  It works pretty slick as we followed the break to the end of the route then reversed it.  It was easy to do because there wasn't anyone in our way.  Pulling crawler harnesses we were able to land 6 walleyes, all over 22 inches.  With the wind ever so growing stronger it was time to head to 7 mile where we could directly drift and edge by simply letting the wind power us and then use the trolling motor for the finer points of steering.  As we came by this fully wrapped Ranger with a single guy, we watched him land 2 fish as we slowly passed.  To us it looked like a tournament guy pre-fishing for an upcoming event and was just trying to establish a pattern as he didn't stay long.  Well, it didn't take us long to see what the deal was about that spot.  Immediately we were marking fish and a lot of them.  Enough to drop the trolling motor, engage the anchor mode and get out our slip bobber rods.  Sitting in the same spot for 3 hours, we went through the 2 dozen leeches, catching at least one walleye a leech and sometimes 2.  Exhausting all of our leeches, we decided to go exploring a little and headed for a similar spot on 9 Mile Flat.  With no leeches we simply hung a full crawler on our hook and caught another 4 walleyes.  By 4:00 the wind had begun to take it's toll so suggesting we long line troll the top of the flat with deep diving baits and lead core line.  The experience of using the kicker motor as the main source of power while using the main motor as a steering keel worked pretty well as I used my iTroll system to dial in the speed (2 mph) and my big motor to keep us straight.  The problem is that doing this in 2 foot waves takes a lot of effort and after 2 passes and nothing to show for it it was time to head back.  if the water would have been calmer it would be easier to assess where your baits were running.  This is something that we'll have to try later this month as it can be a lot of fun for sure.

Walleyes on the bottom
One forgets how much of a beating one takes when it's windy like that.  Getting older doesn't help it either!  The one thing that this trip showed is the importance of understanding your electronics as we had fish on the screen constantly.  I would shout to the guys, the walleyes are right under us and like clockwork, they would drop their bobbers next to the boat and withing seconds it would be down and a quick set of the hook and we were reeling up walleyes, for a total of 30. The picture on the left says it all as you can clearly see the fish hanging just off the bottom in 25 feet of water. The system in the boat allows me to scroll back in time to a group of marks like this, put the cursor on those fish then tell the trolling motor to go to that spot, it starts the autopilot and takes you right back to there and goes into anchor mode the minute it arrives.  In some of those spots one can see 5 or 6 fish stacked up.  As stated, while on Sherman's it was decided to try and pull spinner rigs up the "Cut".  Rather than struggle with boat control I simply engaged the route function then plotted a route on the screen before saving it and engaging.  Pretty slick as the trolling motor followed the route marked on the screen and once finished you could reverse it.  What was interesting is like on fishing opener, the Lowrance kept warning that it was running out of memory and I needed to delete something.  Not unlike at Leech I spent a lot of time searching duplicate way points, non critical routes and deleting them then purging the memory. Everything I did seemed to only free up small amounts of memory as way points take little space, there was still only about 2 mb of memory left.  This trip I had noticed on the warning to try and delete any alarms.  Searching for the alarm log, it was there, full of stuff like "Not in Neutral".  Nothing too important so figuring it out the Alarm log and deleting it, all of a sudden there was 128 mb of memory, more than enough!  With that said, it is still a struggle to figure everything out on these electronics as I have only scratched the surface.  That and the fact is any update can force one to relearn everything, most of it is intuitive once you start thinking about it, but admittedly it can be hard to keep up.

So it was a very successful day, we ended up with 30 walleyes, I would say that 24 of them were over 22 inches with the largest being 26, 27 and a 28 incher.  Leeches were the ticket and with the wind, slip bobber fishing turned out to be the most successful as well as tolerable!  I still have to get the jon boat out on the river although the river is up again.  My friend Bill's mom Phyllis is not doing so well so say a prayer for her, she is such a sweetheart! I could go on and on but there is work to be done.  next week I need to talk about my Fell MOB system, a very nice addition to the boat.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Back at Full Strength

Evinrude RX4 Stainless Steel Propeller
Well, after a month of waiting the power aspect of both the Ranger and the 14 foot River boat have been resolved.  Last Thursday both Jack Taylor and his son Ben accompanied myself back to Frankie's to pick up the final pieces to my summer adventures, the prop to the Evinrude 250HO that just had the lower unit redone as well the new 25 hp outboard for the river boat.  First was the RX4 propeller, truly a work of art. this is a highly polished, 4 bladed stainless steel propeller and is an amazing piece of hardware.  The Ranger came from the factory with an RX4, 22 pitch prop but there was some concerns with the top full throttle RPM at 5400.  Although this is within the proper specifications of the engine it was on the low end as the horsepower range is stated at 5400 - 6000 RPM's and I felt it needed a lower pitch to get the RPM's up towards the maximum.  The dealer let me try a 3 bladed Rebel 21 pitch stainless prop and to be honest it did raise my RPM's a bit, it was also like putting racing slick tires on your truck in the winter, it was pretty interesting.  The 3 bladed prop would blow out in the corners, blow out at half the trim of the 4 bladed, off it came and ended up putting back on the RX$ in a 20 pitch.  It raised the RPM's around 400 or 5800 which was predictable as each 1" in propeller pitch change results in a 200 RPM change in engine speed.  The top speed was not affected however the boat had a much better hole shot with a load and seemed more responsive.  At cruising speed of around 3400 RPM's or about 32 mph, the 22 pitch does get better gas mileage, an important thing when going into Lac Seul, when we are back to a normal load but it struggles a bit when we first come in with a full load.  When replacing the lower unit the prop was damaged, the plan it to take the damaged prop and see if it can be fixed and reworked to a 21 pitch prop, maybe a nice compromise between power and speed as these props only come in even pitch sizes from the factory.  They are also quite expensive so at $700 each, it can get a little pricey trying to figure out what is best.  I agree with my friend Bill Lundeen, I am probably chasing a problem that doesn't need fixing however having a 20 pitch on the engine, a 22 pitch as my spare, as long as I have to repair the bent up prop they took off my boat anyway, maybe just seeing what a 21 will do sparks some curiosity.  Oh well!

25 hp 4 stroke Mercury
 the second thing we picked up was a new Mercury 25 hp short shaft Tiller outboard with electric start.  Originally I was looking for tilt and trim however it was impossible to find a short shaft motor with this feature.  Apparently few motors are short (15 inch) shaft and most boats these days are built for long shaft (20 inch) outboards.  After the last trip to Lac Seul and using a camp boat which had a 30 hp motor, it was probably a good choice anyway as a motor with tilt and trim does not "Kick" up like a standard motor so it is better that the motor does kick up when traversing the shallower areas of the Mississippi River which are full of rocks.  It is a heavy motor, a 3 cylinder, 4 stroke and it took all both of us to mount it on the jon boat.  We got it in place and tightened down the mounting bolts which are now hex head instead of the swivel lever, as well they recommend adding 2 more bolts to secure it, which seems like a good idea.  I don't think I will do that until I take it for an initial run to see if the motor needs to be higher on the transom.  Taking off my rock guard on the wore out 25 hp that was on the boat, I got that mounted as well.  it works pretty well as if you hit a rock it tends to protect the lower unit and propeller from damage which I seem to be prone at!  Looking at the specs of this motor verses the old one, they both have the same RPM range, lower unit gear ration yet the new motor has a 9.5 diameter x 11 pitch prop but the older motor had a 10.38 diam by 13 pitch, oh well here we go again!  The other big difference is the older and wore out motor was a 2 cylinder and came in at 112 pounds where as this new one is over 150 pounds, a big difference.

The plan is sometime this week to get both boats out for a trial run.  The walleyes are still hitting like mad at Mille Lacs and the River is almost back to normal so the smallies should be going.  We've had a lot of rain the last few days and the garden is coming along pretty well.  Even though I am retired it seems like there just isn't enough time in the day.  Oh well, along with that comes other stuff, like I just received from Amazon a 3000 yard spool of P-Line CX fishing line, 15 pound test, moss green.  I really like P-Line CX as it is quite supple, strong, with little memory and it is about one size thinner than most lines.  The 8 pound I use on my spinning reels is a strong as 10#, the same diameter as 6#, and is perfect for walleye fishing.  I bought the 15# for my baitcaster's as I like something more beefy.  One of the rods that I had in Canada needed the line replaced and after receiving the spool and pulling off the line from the reel, I set the spool in a box which provided the perfect tension for re-spooling the reel.  A couple hours later, and cleaning up the work area I grabbed the boxes to burn them.  Noticing the "different" smell coming from the burn area, thinking nothing of it until a few hours later looking for that new spool of fishing line and not finding it..................forgot to remove it from the box............that explains the different smell!  Luckily I could order another one but that wasn't very smart, CRS I guess!

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Back From lac Seul

Lac Seul Outpost "Red Tops"
Interesting, usually I find time to write this either at lunch hour or stayed late after work to finish this however now that I don't go in and I was all set up on my computer I have had to relearn how this even works!  As you can see, I did figure it out but finding the time is also an issue believe it or not.  So a couple of weeks ago Bruce called and two guys on their June trip cancelled at the last minute and asked if Pete and I would like to go back up.  The dates would be that we would have to be at the docks at Deception Bay at 8:00 AM on Friday, June 14th, returning out of camp on Tuesday morning June 18,  This put into motion a number of things that needed to be resolved.  First was the Ranger sitting at Frankie's, the insurance issues needed to be resolved before the boat could get started on.  Getting a hold of the insurance guy and straightening a few things out by Friday night the 7th it was a go.  The next Monday found me at Frankie's to see what the possibility of getting the boat by Thursday evening.  It would all depend on when the parts came in.  I did not put the burden on them and I know they did their best but on Wednesday the critical part, the main motor mount, was not in and could not promise.  That's OK, Plan B, talking to my brother Steve, who just got back from Lac Seul a week ago.  "Ya wanna go back up, we are leaving Thursday night, we need your boat, I'll drive" but he had too much going on at work. He did say we could use his boat, that was nice but too much screwing around. Plan C, rent a boat from camp, so Pete called Ken and explained our situation, he confirmed an asked if we could drive a couple of his Red Top boats back into camp, which definitely put us in that Drive All Night strategy. with nothing more than gas and the border in front of us, we left at 7:00 PM on June 13th with the plan on being at Deception around 4:30 AM, sleeping in the car for a bit then head to camp at 8:00.  The ride up was rather uneventful until we left Ft. Francis, Ontario at 12:30AM.  About 20 minutes north on hwy 502 we came across something black laying on the road.  Originally it looked like a piece of tire off a truck so at the last minute I decided to straddle it.  In a split second we decided it was a bear most likely dead already as we ran over it, the big thump and the truck rising up a couple of inches pretty much gave it away.  Everything seemed fine so we kept
Gary Blinn, a sight for sore eyes!
going only to catch a glimpse of a moose entering the ditch to our right, just crossed the road.  That is something one doesn't want to tangle with.  I was surprised at the amount of deer around Dryden but finally at 4:20 we pulled into the landing, parked and attempted to get some sleep.  We were 500 miles north of home and at that time the sun was already starting to rise.  Having slept about 90 minutes the boats started showing up and Mike Wiley, Bruce's son, who stayed in Sioux Lookout would soon be here.  Helping Mike load up the boat, the first of 3 camp boats showed up, it was Ken.  Tying him up and 10 minutes later the barge (the one who towed me back a couple weeks earlier) and 2 more Red Tops show up.  Helping one of the boats, the guy driving was none other than Gary Blinn, a gentleman I know from my friend Keith Holtan.  Gary was in camp last June when we were there and he brought a group again this year, I missed him by a week!  He has a business in Chattanooga, Tennessee and boy did they have the stuff!  Actually the barge was loaded with their groups possessions, enough that they rent an enclosed trailer in Minneapolis, their plan was to drive back then fly south.  I got him to pose for a picture to send to Keith.  He is a very nice man and it was a nice surprise to see him unexpectedly.  It would have been nice to be in camp with him as one of his guest, Lord I don't remember his name, but he is a fabulous picker and it is a pleasure just to hear him.  He remembered me as he got off the boat, we said hi.  Usually Gary will go to Alaska and stay with Keith in the even years as that's when the pinks and silvers are in the Kenai River and apparently both Gary and I believe, is the best time to go.  Maybe I will see him next June.  It was time to leave so after helping Gary load, I got in the Red Top with Mike's friends Dave and Alex and I followed Ken back to camp.  It went pretty good as we passed the scene of the crime from 3 weeks ago and made it in without any trouble.  After unloading and settling in it was time for a little nap which really helped!  We scheduled the rental for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday so the rest of the day was relaxing, not hard to do up there!


Alex and his 35 inch norther off the dock. 
Alex, Dave's son, is 11 years old and reminds me of myself when I was that age.  He could not wait to get up in the morning and fish the dock before breakfast.  The dock at camp is a great place to fish as it's easy to catch walleyes, saugers, and northern pike.  While getting our nap in, Alex was down catching walleyes, one after another.  After finally getting set, it was time to see how Alex was doing.  Within a couple of minutes from arriving he tangled into something that definitely wasn't a walleye.  Finally landing it, it was a 35 inch northern, a beautiful fish.  we got it unhooked, snapped a few pictures and let it go.  That was a great way to start a trip.  He actually casts a bait casting reel pretty good for an 11 year old, I will have to give him credit.  His tackle selection wasn't very good for northerns so I dug into my box and set him up with a leader and some spoons for casting.  With Friday behind us Saturday was the start of a new day as our rental boat was ready and in front of the cabin.  It was a brand new Lund 16 foot with a 30 hp Mercury tiller on back, no electronics, just and anchor and a cooler.  I told Pete he could drive, as it was my turn to relax and complain!  Our first day was in Tuk Bay, one of my favorites.  We did catch a lot of walleyes but admittedly one get's used to the electronics and the trolling motor's anchor function, but heck we were in Canada.  In previous satellite maps I saw where the Tuk River flowed into the bay which looked much like where the Wapesi empties into the lake and we headed up to investigate.  We found the rapids however it wasn't as deep therefore the fishing wasn't very good however we got out and walked up a ways seeing moose tracks, eagle feathers, and the leftovers from something's whitefish dinner.  As we were coming out of the area, I was casting the stumps and a few lily pads for northerns using a red and white Daredevil when something hit it.  it wasn't that big and when it arrived at the boat it was a walleye!  I should have took a picture as the last walleye I caught on a Daredevil was 47 years ago with Hub Rose, we were trolling a small channel going into a lake off of Lake Nipigon, when a walleye hit it.  Hub threw it back because at that time we were fishing northerns and not interested in these trash fish!

Typical Chamberlain Narrows Sunset.
The next 2 days were Sunday in Wapesi and Monday we fished the Bear Narrows region.  It wasn't bad but again really missed the electronics.  Sunday we headed to the Wapesi River and caught a few but not spectacular.  It was good to see a full river as the rapids was beautiful as always.  While fishing a point by an island a camp boat kept going back and forth, we figured he was lost.  Coming up to us we gave him the way out however when we left, about 3 miles up the lake he was still running around.  He finally saw us and decided to follow us home, thanking us later.  Monday was fishing down by Bear Narrows, close to where I had hit the rock.  Coming up to the green buoy it was located in 12 feet of water, apparently someone had moved it to the right position.  We finally found an area along an island on the north side of Bear Narrows that with the wind, offered a perfect drift patterns.  Pete had a hot rod using a chartreuse curly tail so I followed suit and we would get 5 to 7 walleyes each pass.  The wind was perfect and within a couple of hours we had our 8 fish to take home as well a a great time.  Drifting at a pretty good clip made the plastics a great choice, and it was a lot of fun despite the fact that we knew little about the depth, figuring it to be somewhere in the 12 to 18 foot level.  It was one of the best times I have fished Lac Seul, maybe because of the simplicity. Admittedly the Ranger is a lot more comfortable! Heading back on Tuesday was uneventful however I did want to mention that I drove my 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 with a 6.2L V8.  Keeping track of my mileage I was amazed that we averaged over 24  mpg for the 1000 mile trip, and the best we got in a 25 mile segment was 30.1 mpg, pretty impressive.  I will leave you with the view we have each evening, absolutely beautiful!