Thursday, August 17, 2017

Lac Seul, Fisherman's Cove, Part 2

First prize, a 27.5 inch winning walleye!
With a week under the belt, it's given a me a great time to reflect on last week's trip and everything that went on.  This is my first week long fishing trip since the last trip to Alaska and like all great trips, they always seem to go too fast!  I have a lot of pictures so I figured it was a good idea to start with the best picture of the week, a 27.5 inch walleye that took the top prize for the biggest fish of the week between us.  As stated in the last post, Kevin collected $20 from each of us and did a great job of tracking our fish results for the week. The first award was who caught the first walleye of the trip, whereas we all parked within talking distance of each other on a mid-lake structure, with minnows on the jigs, the signal was given and we all dropped down.  Brother Steve won that award with the first walleye landed in the boat, he got his $20 back plus another $20.  Last weeks post showed my first entry for the next prize, the biggest fish however on Wednesday I added another 2 inches to that number which solidly (according to the Joyce brothers) put myself into first place.  It held and $20 went back in the wallet.  The next prize was for the 2nd biggest fish and cousin Paul ended up in a tie with Kevin so they split the winnings.  The last prize went to the highest average fish caught which went to the Worms brothers. Keeping with my humble self, it is not hard to see that 3 out of 4 prizes were generated out of my boat and if one were to be honest with  themselves, the Worms really jumped ahead of the game by fishing Dave's Hump, and area by a point called Lunker Ledge in which when were going to, I marked a hump (it turned out to be a long underwater point).  Although the point was good fishing, Dave's hump turned out to be a bonanza for the Worms as they killed the walleyes there on Wednesday morning, catapulting them into first place, however we were not far behind.  This in spite of the fact that Mike and Chris forgot to get minnows on Tuesday and had a big hole to fill.
A double!
Deciding to fish Dave's Hump, the hotspot I found, proved to be so successful our boat went there on Thursday morning and repeated their performance but alas, the slow bite the rest of the day prevented Team Anderson from wrapping up a clean sweep!  Of course this is the viewpoint of the writer and not necessarily those of Team Joyce or Team Worms. So for sake of being politically correct we either won all the prizes or had a significant hand in all the prizes won. Now it wasn't all big fish as the pressure was on  for brother Steve and Cousin Paul to step up to the plate.  Unfortunately while I was concentrating on bigger fish those two were showing off their fishing expertise with a double, 2 walleyes that if one combined the length it still would have to be released.  Notice Paul's walleye on the left, with the minnow still hanging from the jig, it gives you an idea of how aggressive these walleyes can get, take a bait that is 1/3rd it's length.  Oh well, the good news is they counted as a walleye caught so at least they were doing their part!

Chris Worms with a nice walleye
A little bit about our resort, Fisherman's Cove, it is right off the highway 105 that goes north from Vermillion Falls to Red Lake, Ontario.  It's quite a change from Lac Seul Outposts where one has to drive 37 miles over water to get to your destination, here you simply pull off the main highway and you are there.  The camp was very clean and the setup was very nice.  Checking in the owner gave us a bag with 12 dog treats and asked us to please, when their yellow lab comes begging, give him a dog treat instead of your scraps.  Makes sense and interesting enough, that dog would slowly (he was very old) climb the steps, sit down until he got a treat and would then get up and wander off to the next cabin to us.   My boat had a designated spot on the dock, complete with electricity right there, no long extension cords to deal with and had a label with Anderson on it to assure the same space every night. The fishing experience wasn't much different as we had to travel a ways from the camp every day, in this case we had to snake around the islands and channels to get to the main lake areas.  The trip computer on the Ranger had our mileage for the week at 224 (about 45 miles a day) and 69 gallons of gas used, which is more than we travel out of Chamberlain Narrows were we average about 180 miles for the duration however 75 of that is the trip in and out so we are averaging about 35 miles a day there, not much different.  I have found that if the boat gas tank is full (51 gallons) one can make it in, out, and fish 3 days without having to refuel.  At the Cove, 25 gallons of gas comes with the boat as part of the cost however considering that we stayed 6 nights and fished 5 days, I felt the cost was more than reasonable.  After the first 2 days we had enough trails on the Lowrance to allow us to pretty much be independent of the group with the ability to find our way back to camp safely.  Everyday we made sandwiches for our shore lunch, which I think is a much better idea than dragging out all the cooking stuff to have a "traditional" shore lunch of walleyes.  Manitoba Point was our favorite area and it was pretty nice. We all drove up into the sand
Mike Joyce and his amazing fish gripper!
beach while the back end of the boat stayed deep enough to safely back out.  The only issue is getting sand in my carpet, something I despise, however even with the best of precautions, I spent a lot of time vacuuming when I got home.  Getting out of the boat and sitting down for Lunch has it's advantages for sure and its a nice break in the day.  We would probably do that more on the east side but it is more difficult to find the perfect sand beach to park the boats on as the last time I did this in Tuk Bay I really gouged the bottom of my boat, not good.  It was funny that after beaching our boats on the sand point, the seagulls would start gathering on the big rock at the point itself, certainly looking for the evidence of a traditional shore lunch and the walleye carcasses that would usually accompany it.  Unfortunately about the only thing these birds got was a few scraps of potato chips yet they continued to be persistent in there hopes for an easy meal.  One of the great outcomes of these trips is the fact one can learn something and this one was no exception.  First of all, Mike Joyce had picked up a Rapala Fish Gripper from Fleet Farm.  This was slick as it really help prevent cuts from the gill plates of the walleyes when taking the hook out of these fish, my hands still show the scars.  So impressed, I pick up 3 of them last night, 2 for my boat (the guy in the front needs one) and 1 for my friend Bruce to use on our next trip.  The second most important thing was Low Gap Bourbon, Justin Joyce works at a local liquor distribution company and brought a bottle, it is amazingly good.  The third thing was they way Kevin had his dock bumpers protecting his boat, they were sideways and what a great idea.  The bumpers have a tie on each end and it sure works slick, something I will use on my next trip in September.  I am still not convinced on the Worm's Bud Lite Blue jig color but I still had to buy some just in case.  So the influence continues and hopefully I won't have to spend anymore money staying up to speed with these guys!

Friday is our annual trip to BIR (Brainerd International Raceway) for the NHRA's stop on the national drag racing circuit.  It's a blast watching those cars accelerate to over 300 MPH in less than 5 seconds.  Saturday is my plans to get the jon boat out and hopefully get on the river for a few hours this weekend, we'll see.   A week in Canada with 5 straight days of fishing can equal a month's worth of outings as I have now fished in Canada 11 days, about 6 days more than in Minnesota.  I think that is about to change!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Lac Seul, Fisherman's Cove, Part 1

Vermillion Falls along Hwy 105
I finally returned from fishing a week on the west side of Lac Seul, staying at the Fisherman's Cove in Scout Bay, just south of Ear Falls, Ontario.  Invited by my cousin Paul and accompanied by my brother Steve, I met some great new friends, Kevin, Mike, and Justin Joyce, as well as Mike and Chris Worms.  The plan was to meet in International Falls on Friday night, August 4th, Stay over night at a local Tee Pee Hotel,  then cross the border the next morning, stopping at Dryden for groceries before heading Northeast to Fisherman's Cove  We arrived at the hotel at the same time the Worms brothers pulled in and immediately Chris looked at me and said...."I know you!".  Here he was at the Lac Seul Outpost for fishing opener at the same time I was and I recognized him as he was commenting on my the short fillet knife I was using.  It was a great start to what turned out to be a fabulous fishing trip. After a good breakfast at Sandy's Cafe, across from the hotel, we made it across the border just fine and headed north.  The word was out that Hwy 502 going to Dryden was bad in a few spots and they were not kidding as my brother Steve took a rock from the gravel kicked up by an oncoming vehicle and it put a nice chip in his windshield.  We finally got to Dryden then headed west to Vermillion Falls, ON before turning north.  A few miles up the road we crossed a beautiful area where the Vermillion River created a falls, it was quite spectacular.  Apparently they stop there every year on the way up.  Finally we stopped a few miles south of our camp at a place called Dutches, where the guys bought their fishing licenses as well they had gas and sold liquor, just in case!  We turned into the camp about 4:00 that afternoon and after unloading our gear and boats, we got settled in for the evening.  On the menu was Steaks a la Kienitz, named after a good friend who taught me how to make a nice steak absolutely to die for!  Bringing 8 20 oz Ribeyes from Costco, I marinated them in Tabasco Sauce, Frank's Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce, and Hot Pace Picante sauce, let them sit at room temperature for a couple of hours before simply throwing them on the grill.  I did get a few comments about what I was doing to those steaks but after dinner, everyone was quite impressed, which they always are!  Off to bed as Sunday was our first official fishing day.

First "Big Fish" entry, 25.5 inches
The plan was to fish Sunday thru Thursday and leave Friday Morning.  The set up was very nice, no sand to worry about getting in the boat at the resort, 2 dozen minnows/day/boat came with the price as well 25 gallons of gas.  Many people want a comparison to my fishing at Lac Seul Outpost vs Fisherman's Cove.  It was quite interesting as at the Outpost we generally fish mostly points along the shorelines whereas last weekend we fished main lake humps about 90% of the time.  Although we found the fish at basically the same depths, it was interesting that the average size of the walleyes were significantly larger.  I would say that the 300 walleyes that Paul, Steve, and I caught during the trip, 70% were over 20 inches.  I suspect that the main lake humps were the key to the bigger fish and will definitely be worth a try the next time I am on the ther side of the lake, especially in the fall. The picture to the right is my first entry for the big fish contest, a 25.5 incher.  Kevin Joyce was our camp leader and he set up a contest, $20 each times 8 guys =$160 in the pot.  $40 would go to the first fish caught, the biggest fish, the 2nd largest fish, and the most fish caught via the average of the per person verse the boat.  I leave the results for next week, however I did catch a nice fish on Tuesday, a 25.5 inch walleye that hit my Berkley Power Grub, slammed it hard!  It was also the largest fish to date so was the first serious entry.   I also have to say that the walleyes were huge!  Although we release all walleyes larger than 17.875 inches, never the less this picture weighed 10 pounds!! I could not believe how fat and healthy these fish looked, we definitely had to net the majority of the fish we caught.  Fishing mostly jigs and minnows, it was somewhat disappointing to see the size of the minnows we got.  I joked that I'd hate to see how small their crappie minnows were however regardless of the minnow size we caught fish.  I guess when you see the size of the minnows that the fish spit up once we had them in the boat,  one could stop worrying about the size of the bait as more often than not, we would dang near be down to nothing for bait by the end of the day.

As stated this is part one because I spent the weekend getting caught up with things around the house. My Summercrisp pears are ripening like made and falling from the trees. They are very good but quite small yet my neighbor Lory Brasel picked a couple of 5 gallon buckets full and steam juiced them, enough juice to make a batch of pear wine, which will be ready in about 4 months. Pickles are growing like crazy and I definitely need to start picking sweet corn before the racoons get it all!  So much to do, so little time.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Catch of the Week

Possum in my Live Trap
The week has been spent getting caught up with a few things before I head to Lac Seul this Friday. On Saturday we ended up meeting my niece and her lovely daughter back home in Eleva, then went up to my friend Big Dave's place on the other side of Mockingbird Hill to take some casual photographs for Kaylee's senior pictures.  Big Dave has a beautiful location overlooking the valley where Eleva is situated and as well he has the old farm that was part of the original property, barn and all for an interesting setting.  We spent about 3 hours shooting then I had another 8 hours of adjusting the photographs in Adobe Photoshop, a nice program to help make digital pictures actually look good.  You see digital photography with a nice camera records everything verses film is an average of the light. The digital pictures come out a little harsh and need to be adjusted, which photoshop does an excellent job. The pictures turned out fabulous. I have done senior pictures for other friends of mine and have done quite a few weddings however that was a few years ago and most of my friends kid's are married already so it has not been as much as before.  I don't mind taking pictures but it is a lot of work by the time you adjust them all, something that one has to do.  Sunday was haircut time so neither day offered any chance to go fishing which is ok as I will get plenty of fishing in next week.  That doesn't mean however that I have been catching nothing as the other day I ended up with a possum in my live trap.  These things can be quite mean as this fellow wasn't too happy to be stuck in this cage for the day.  Never the less they can cause havoc with the bird feeders and anything else they can manage to get into.  Possums and Kangaroo's belong to the same family of animals, they are marsupials, they carry their young in a pouch during their development.  Anyway this possum was fortunate as I brought hime 6 miles away from the house and let it go into the Elm Creek Park reserve.  Notice their hands and feet, almost human like the way they can grasp onto things. Interesting, as I drove to the reserve, I dang near hit another possum on the road a mile down from the house.  It was a big one and here's hoping it doesn't find it's way back to the house!  

Boost Converter
There is a lot to do in getting the boat ready to go for the trip.  One thing that has bothered me is if I don't charge the batteries every night, often my HDS 12 will shut down when I start the outboard engine.  I know why this happens, the load of the starter just kicking causes a lot of current to flow from the battery which in turn causes the voltage to drop for a second or two depending on how long it takes to start the engine.  The proper way to fix this is to make sure the power for the depthfinder is attached directly to the battery.  Because the wiring is somewhat integrated and I do like the main power off feature I decided to add what they call a boost converter.  I discussed this last week and had one ready to go but something failed on it so I had to order another one.  It is real frustrating that most of this stuff never comes with a good owners manual and it is often up to the individual to figure out the nuances of the circuit and this one was no exception.  It stated that for lower voltage operation one needed to put a jumper across 2 terminals, but gave no indication as to their location.  Luckily I have some good guys at work and eventually we figured out which terminals to solder together.  I did a bench test with varying input voltages and set the output voltage to 14.5 Volts, it worked beautifully. I guess this week will tell the entire story of whether it was a successful endeavor or will I just need to run the wires directly to the battery!

Because I am staying for the week and because I don't know if they have internet, this post next week might be somewhat late.  I can assure you that either way It will be fun.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Wiring the Lund

Blue Sea Power Center
Instead of fishing this weekend I spent a day helping my friend Bill Lundeen in hooking up his Lowrance HDS units and rewiring his older Lund boat to clean up the mess left by the last guy that owned it.  We did some preliminary work a few weeks ago however I felt that we needed something more substantial to distribute our power to the new installs which included a couple of Lowrance HDS units, Structure Scan 3D, a NMEA 2000 network, and a lot of odds and ends that needed to be addressed.  We ended up putting in a Blue Sea power distribution center, complete with the appropriate fuse holders for easy identification and servicing.  Admittedly it was tough working under the dash as my head sometimes feels like it's going to explode when it is lower than the rest of my body however I got through it pretty well and got it all installed.  Compared to what was there, it turned out really nice yet later in the week Bill tried his structure scan and eventually discovered that I had forgot to add that power cord to the fuse box.  Oh well, at least it was in and of course ready to easily be added to the panel for power. Admittedly (and you could not tell from my pole shed!) that I like things neat and right.  I was so impressed with this that I ended up buying another one of these for my boat as I have an add on panel for all my accessories and this is pretty slick.  The other thing that is going to get added is something called a Boost Converter.  Years ago i used to run Genetron's in the boat as my main depthfinder/sonar unit.  It was amazing as the unit could mark fish better than anything on the market at the time.  Unfortunately the display was an old CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) similar to the way televisions were 20 years ago!  These display's drew a lot of electrical current and were susceptible to shutting down if the voltage on the battery got to low, which would happen when I started my motor, causing the unit to shut off.   My old and late friend Tom Emmons was a super design engineer and he designed a boost converter that would take any battery voltage from 8 - 14 volts and convert it to 14.4 volts.  The Genetron loved to operate at the slightly higher voltage so Tom and I made one, stuck it in the boat and never had an issue again with low voltage causing problems. Well fast forward to today and with the new bigger outboard, I still have issues with low voltage so at the same time I will install a newer Boost Converter, hopefully I can get it done before next Friday when we head back to Canada.

Nice Green Bay walleye
So there are some people that have been fishing and one of those guys is my godchild, Ben Aiona. Ben has been fishing Lake Michigan quite a bit these last few months and in fact I gave him some of my equipment that I have from when his dad, Kevin and I used to fish with Gary Barneson, in my 1985 16 foot Lund boat.  He had een getting some nice salmon and this last trip he was up near Green Bay fishing for a combination of salmon and walleyes.  He claims all of the locals are complaining that the fish are not biting very well however from the pictures he has sent, you could have fooled me!  Ben is a very good fisherman and is quick to adapt to whatever the conditions are and is usually successful.  I am glad that he got some use out of my equipment and was successful.  This walleye looks fantastic, has great color and is nice and plump.  As for Ben, well you can see for yourself!!

Well, the Mille Lacs situation, or drama, continues to dominate the walleye fishing here in Minnesota.  Despite near record catches, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources continues to tow the line about the messed up walleye population on Mille Lacs.  After years of culling out the normal 16 - 20 inch walleyes, what we have left is a lake full of 20 plus inch fish and a ton of 14 - 16 inch fish from the 2013 year class.  This has resulted in a catch and release only season for walleyes on Mille Lacs with the original intention of closing the fishing for walleye between July 7 - 27, an it was supposed to open back up to catch and release walleye fishing last Thursday. Well, Mr. Lundeen and I speculated that it would not open back up at all, seeings how fishing was soo good in June. This week they delayed the reopening of walleye fishing till August 11th where it will again be legal to fish for walleyes, but not harvest any.  It will stay open until September 4th, or labor day then close again until December 1st, the start of the new harvest season.  I don't see an end in sight as it is sad, I have fished in Canada this year more than I have fished on Mille Lacs.  Although there are other reasons for this, I used to fish Mille Lacs almost every weekend in June and July.  Oh well, nothing ever stays the same.  I am not sure I will be getting out this weekend as I have a lot to do before heading back up to Lac Seul for a week of fishing.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Quiet Week

Holcombe's dock, looking up River
Well this last weekend was pretty quiet as Mille Lacs is shut down and the trip to Lac Seul is fresh in the bullseye for the next trip. That's OK as there is plenty to do around the house, grass to be mowed, garden to be weeded, stuff to be cleaned, it never ends!  I did take the opportunity to get down to the River and fish off my neighbors dock on Saturday night, a place where I have always enjoyed to relax and besides, I have gotten some nice fish off the dock in the past.  The strategy is simple and it's pretty easy to fish, just load up a hook with a couple of nightcrawlers and toss it out.  It is not very deep out from the dock, maybe 5 feet however the river basically forms a shelf where the fish come up into this shallow flat to feed.  Most of the current is on the other side of the river so it's a nice relaxing place to soak a crawler.  After getting set up this boat came towards me, I am really careful to say "an old man" because it is starting to hit home, yet this guy was probably in his 70's and had a jon boat just like mine with a 25hp Suzuki tiller on the back.  He asked if he could pull up to the dock and of course I obliged him.  Careful not to interfere with my line, he pulled up and asked if I owned the property. Nope, but the guy that does, Brian, is a really good guy and I am sure you can talk to him anytime. He commented how nice his light looked from across the river and only wanted permission to take a picture.  Well, we talked for almost 45 minutes, everything from the river to his boat, his Suzuki motor, my boats, and what I was fishing for!  It was a lot of fun as most of you know that I like to talk o people!  After he went back I checked the line and the entire glob of crawlers was stripped off the hook.  The river is full of small catfish and maybe that's what happened as I didn't see any of the classic Tap Tap.  Oh well I loaded the hook back up and casted it out but it soon was dark and whatever had stripped me did it again without even a tell tale sign of it's presence.  I did get a picture looking up river as it was a nice evening, few mosquito's and the fish were elusive at best.

Eric with a nice Largemouth
This week the Mille Lacs saga will continue to play out as we will see if our DNR will open fishing back up for walleyes on July 27th as the original plan had stated.  There are so many variables to this that I am afraid the Minnesota DNR is playing it too cautious, but as I have stated many times, I try not to come across too political.  If it does open on the 27th it will be for Catch and Release only, something I am fine with, however the use of live bait is still in limbo until next week so we'll see. This is usually the time of year my friend Chuck Teasley comes up from the St. Louis area and we fish Mille Lacs.  Looks like I won't know anything until next week sometime!  So there are others catching fish, including my friend Eric Hayes who was fishing with his son Carter.  As you can see the bluffs in the background, they are on the Mississippi River down by LaCrosse.  Eric is a damn good "River Rat" and someday I need to get down there and do two things....Fish with him and teach him how to smile!  I suspect Carter took this picture and is not very likely to ride his dad on the finer points of fish photography.  Either way it's a nice Largemouth Bass and certainly puts to shame anything I caught last weekend, which was only a picture of the river.   It does however get me thinking about maybe doing some bass fishing around the area as it is a fish that is present in most lakes around here.   Speaking of the Mississippi River it is  time for my friend Kevin to have their annual Catfish Tournament down by Trempealeau with his guys from the Sheriff's Department.  It reminds me of my late brother-in-laws sheephead (freshwater drum) tournament that they had every year.  Eric (the guy  pictured) and I fished that during on of the last years that my brother-in-law, Mike Rombalski was still with us.  Eric and I teamed up in his boat and we did pretty good, I thought as we had about 20 sheephead coming close to 30 pounds of fish. The other veterans of the contest had cut off blue barrels for their fish and we were pretty humbled by the 100# weights of the guys who had started this!  All the sheephead were eventually fed to the pigs and we finished the tourney at the local establishments around Trempealeau, Wisconsin.  I only wish that I would have had a chance to participate early, at least we could have gotten some quality practice time in!

Barb's nice Reindeer Lake grayling
Last but not least, I am including a picture that my good friend Bruce Wiley sent of his sister Barb holding a nice grayling she caught at Reindeer Lake in northern Canada. Bard is a retired commercial airline pilot who first worked flying guest to the northern areas of Canada in a DC-3. Later she piloted for Northwest Airlines and more recently Delta.  Her and Bruce have a float plane and she decided to visit the old lodges she had flown to over 30 years ago, flying there with her husband in their Cessna 172.  Seems like I need to convince Bruce that we need to do this one time!  Anyway it's nice to see people you know having a good time fishing and that is a very nice grayling.  One year in Alaska my brother Steve and Cousin Greg decided to walk  up to Crescent Lake on the Kenai Peninsula, a glacier feed lake 7 miles from the road.  It was interesting for sure as I wasn't sure I was going to make it but we got there after a 3 hour hike, uphill.  We were a funny bunch as we heard you should make noise in case a bear was around, so we were singing all the way up.  I am sure if there were any bear, they were long gone after hearing us!  The stream coming out of the lake is where the trail followed and at where it exited the lake was some current and a ton of small grayling.  This one Barb is holding was somewhere around 15 inches but the ones we were getting were more like 6 inches.  Never the less they were a very beautiful fish and at least I can say that I have caught one!  Getting ready for my next trip to Canada, to Fisherman's Cove with my cousin Paul and brother Steve.  I am anxious to fish the other end of Lac Seul to see if it is any different.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

First Trip on the River

Nice 16 inch River Walleye
My neighbor Tom Olson stopped by the pole shed on Saturday night and we struck up a conversation regarding the river, it's water levels and the potential to catch a fish or two.  Within 5 minutes we had decided that Sunday afternoon would be a great time to spend a few hours casting for smallmouth bass or what ever was hitting and he volunteered to take his boat.  That was fine with me as I had not been able to get my jon boat out and running yet and it would be nice to be able to sit back and have someone else control the boat.  There are 2 basic methods I like to fish the Mississippi River, drift with the current while casting crankbaits up to the shore and the other is anchoring in a deeper pool and soaking a nightcrawler.  My favorite crankbaits are the Bomber type with rattles which run 3-5 feet deep and are bright colored orange, red, chartreuse, or brown.   Because smallmouth feed on crawfish, these colors work quite well.  Launching across the river in the new park in Ramsey, we headed up river, the water levels were about a foot lower than we expected and it probably would have been better to have my jon boat rather than Toms 16 foot Lund with a 50 hp Merc but we did ok once we got into the main river channel.  Heading upstream we almost got to the City of Dayton before shutting the motor down and starting to drift with the current.  It always takes about 10 minutes to get back in the swing of using a casting rod again and after a few backlashes things were going well as we started catching fish right away.  I would not say the action was fast and furious however it was quite steady.  About 15 minutes into our drift a nice walleye surprised me at the end of my line.  The river has a lot of walleyes in it and someday I need to figure out how to specifically target them but we do get them occasionally casting the shorelines and structures on cranks.  It had been a few years since a walleye graced my drift so it was a welcome site for sure.  Now I have plenty of walleye fillets in my freezer from Canada so I let this one go.  We continued our trek downstream when withing the next half hour I had caught another walleye, two in a day, WOW.  Tom was fishing with a spinner bait and changed to a Shad Rap when he nailed a nice walleye, they looked like they all came out of the same mold!  That was a record for me, 3 walleyes on the River in one trip, it would be nice to be able to do that again sometime.

Biggest of the Day, 18.5 Inches
Did I say the smallies were hitting pretty well?.  Most of our fish were under 12 inches but those smallmouth bass really hit the lure hard.  Actually Tom caught an 11 incher that struck at the lure so hard the hook went through the top of it's head and threw it's brain, killing it instantly.  To be honest we didn't realize it until we released it and it floated belly up, didn't even make a ripple.  Tom scooped it out and along with the walleye he kept, it would go in the frying pan.  Not that it would have gone to waste as there are plenty of Bald Eagles on the river and an easy meal probably would have been appreciated.  Either way it was the right size for the frying pan, that's for sure.   The biggest bass of the trip was caught by Tom towards the end of our day on the river.  It was a nice 18.5 inch smallie, definitely a nice fish.  Although we don't keep an accurate count I would say that we ended the day with 3 nice walleyes and about 20 smallmouth landed and at least 8 others that either threw the hook or missed the lure on a retrieve.  So given that I would say that we had plenty of action all day.  The water was pretty nice and it wasn't too muddy either as usually the Crow Rive which enters the Mississippi in Dayton is quite brown and influences the rive below for a good 5 miles, with the south side of the river bearing the brunt of most of this water, so we almost alway fish the north shore side.  I did get Tom to agree to take a break as casting crankbaits all for 4 hours can take a toll on a guy.  He agreed and we anchored below Cloquet Island to soak a crawler.  I like fishing on the bottom with a crawler, one never knows what will show up at the end of the line, maybe a big catfish or Carp, a pretty redhorse sucker, a walleye, maybe even a sturgeon.  Within minutes of casting out the tip of my pole was bouncing.  I like to use circle hooks however they make it harder to catch fish and can prove frustrating if you don't exactly change your hook setting techniques.  If done right the fish are lip hooked or in the side of it's mouth whereas the fish would simple be gut hooked.  Within 5 minutes the rod tip was bouncing and a small catfish had become impaled on the hook.  After letting it go we headed back in for the evening,  Certainly a fun day on the water with a good friend.

Putting the final touches on the plan to go to the west end of Lac Seul in August so I'm going to meet with the guy who has organized it this week.  It should be fun.  Also it looks like another tip to Lac Seul Outpost is beginning to come together for September.  Mille Lacs shut down last Friday and my friend Bill Lundeen and I have resigned to believe that it will not open up again until Dec 1, when the new "season" starts, or the day the quota system resets,  It's not a lot of fun for guys like Bill yet he is doing OK.  Stop up and say high the next time you drive buy...........and of course buy some minnows!!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Mille Lacs On the 4th of July

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

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

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

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Fishing At Last!

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

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

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

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The End is in Site!

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Ranger 620 Saga Continues

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

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

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

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Boatless in Minnesota

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Ontario Walleye Opener, Lac Seul 2017

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Things Coming Together

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

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

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

Friday, May 5, 2017

One week and Counting

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

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

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