Thursday, February 14, 2019

Middle of February

The snow just keeps piling up as we have just moved into the 4th snowiest February on record with in excess of 20 inches for the month and it's only the middle of February.  As stated last week, the snow has really put the damper on fishing, not that I don't think about it yet the amount of snow on Lake Mille Lacs is restricting travel to plowed roads and no "off road" travel is suggested at all.  Last weekend I ran up to my friend, Bill Lundeen, former owner of Lundeen's Tackle Castle.  Our relationship is built on our love for fishing and not just another customer.  Admittedly that's how it started!  Bill still is doing some guide work and this time of year, there is usually a large corporate event that entails snowmobiling, ice fishing, whatever trips your fancy up north.  We talked about how interesting it is, some of these guys are from the southern United States, and really never get to experience snow.  Well the snow came just in time for these guys as the snowmobile trails around Mille Lacs are in excellent shape but the lake offers some challenges as there is about 12 inches covering the ice.  Nevertheless they rent like 3 ice houses from Mac's Twin Bay Resort and Bill is the guide in charge of helping the rookies out, showing them how to operate everything.  As well, I dropped off my portable Eskimo Pop Up  Insulated Ice Shelter, my FL28 depth finder, a Marcum underwater camera, and a couple of portable Propane heaters to keep everything warm.  I have become so dependent on my Vexilar FL28, I could probably fish without it however what would be the point as it makes everything much more enjoyable.  The guest's look at this and more than likely think it's crazy yet it is amazing to watch.  The tulibee's were biting and they are fun to watch on the Vexilar as these fish tend to chase the bait quite a distance vertically.  They had a few walleyes on but the tulibee's were the star of the show.  Bill likes to smoke them as they are a type of whitefish.  Admittedly I like to catch them as they are quite active on the depth finder and they put up a good fight.  As well, I like them pickled, they are like pickled herring and are pretty good, that is if I can get either Mark Applen to make it or at least give me his recipe!  This weekend might be a great time to go pick up my equipment and head out on one of the plowed roads for some ice fishing.  I guess we'll have to see how it goes.

Soft Sided Worm Binder
Although things might change, I am still getting ready for the Texas Bass Fishing adventure on
March 8th.  One of the things that needed to be done was to organize the collection of wacky worm components that has been accumulated.  Keeping it all in one place and to have everything at your fingertips, a quick trip to Cabela's and they had the perfect item, a soft sided, medium sized worm binder, perfect!  It has about 12 ziplock plastic "pages" to store your worms, a series of pockets on the inside of the covers to put your hooks in, it will fit nice in my suitcase and will allow myself to have everything at my fingertips.  Originally the plan was to simply take a few things with but not now!  It wasn't too expensive either, under $20.00.  The next thing that needs to be addressed is an adequate spinning combo for Bruce.  Something like a fairly stiff Medium action 6'6" 1 piece rod with a nice reel that will handle 10 pound monofilament line, maybe a 3000 or 3500 series reel.  Cabela's had some really nice deals on Black Friday weekend, some $70 Pflueger's for $34.99, it was a heck of a deal and I got 2 but now maybe I should have bought an extra, seems like there is always a need for another reel!  Today that same reel is sale priced at $49.99.   As I always say............Oh Well!  I have been telling Bruce how much fun wacky worming for bass is, simply cast the worm out, it is heavy enough to slowly sink on it's own and when you see the line take off, set the hook and hang on!  I guess one just has to experience it yourself!

Having things to do today, I am finishing up the post later.  Last year we were having trouble with my main starting/electronics battery in the Ranger boat.  It is a series 31 AGM and has performed well up until last summer where it would only last a few hours before one had to jump it with a trolling motor battery.  Last fall I traded the battery in for a new one, it only had 39 months on it yet the warranty was for 36 months...not much one could do.  Well the Interstate guy took my battery from the dealer, checked it out and said it was fine.  I suspect something is wrong with my onboard charger and will have to look at this more closely when the snow finally leaves us.  Today I picked up my old "good" battery and brought up my 25 hp Mercury that is one my Jon Boat which is used on the river.  Deciding it could use a good tuneup and carb cleaning.  Almost back to work and the mechanic called me, the bottom cylinder is scored and it's really not worth fixing.  Well, that changes things and I will be making a decision on my river boat soon as it definitely needs a new or different motor.  My age has me thinking of electric start this time.  It sure would be nice!

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow...

Snow plowing in Minnesota
Oh, the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
And since we've no place to go
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Boy this could not be more true than is has been this week! On Tuesday we had about 4 inches then after an evening of reprieve another 4 to 6 inches is expected today.  The cold air will rush in for the weekend before more snow is forecasted for next week.  All this has put a damper on the original plans to head up to Mille Lacs for an evening of fishing as it will take them at least a few days to deal with the snow in getting the roads back open and ready for the wheel houses.  Besides the snow we will be just on the edge of a blizzard warning  so there is no reason to push things.  Besides watching a rather boring Superbowl at our neighbors house, we did head to Eau Claire to have lunch with my niece's daughter who is going to school in Eau Claire.  Although I did not get a chance to stop at Scheels, it was fun to see her as we ended up at the Olive Garden.  This is the week that I usually am in Anaheim, California however this year did not work out very well.  Talking to a friend he said it was cold, in the low 60's there........heck, based on last weeks temperatures, 60 degrees would be 90 degrees warmer than last Wednesday morning's temperature of -30, personally it could not have been that bad!  This last weekend it warmed up and gave a chance to deal with some maintenance issues like changing the oil on the Honda generator.  I am pretty sure that the manual suggests changing oil every 100 hours yet because it runs on ECO mode most of the time, with little load attached, as well the oil used is a Mobil 1, 5W-30, fully synthetic, extended range oil so realistically there is close to 300 hours on the oil before it's changed.  Actually the oil isn't too dirty and it uses only 13.5 ounces of oil per change so it isn't too hard to do.  The other issue that been keeping me busy is cleaning and restocking the Salem as we get ready for the Perch Extravaganza at the end of the month. Things like getting the propane tanks filled, the inside dried out, the cupboards restocked, and the stuffed reorganized and put away.  One thing was to get a propane torch for the tool box.  It was -22 below when we packed the Salem up at Red a couple of weeks ago and when we tried to raise the house up to pin the axles, the cold weather had stiffened the grease in the axles enough to prevent them from moving, which they usually do by their shear weight.  Marked asked me for a propane torch to heat the grease however a simple pulling on the spring allowed it to get back in place.  Nevertheless I figured it would be good to have a torch in the house so we are ready for most any emergency.

It has been really cold!!!
After this weekend the phase of cold weather should be behind us.  Besides snow removal, I'd like to get up to my friend Bill Lundeen's, he has a guide trip next week and I always let him use some of my equipment.  There is a Sports Show in St. Cloud this weekend, I always enjoy going to them.  One interesting thing that happened while blowing snow with my John Deere lawn tractor is that something punctured the plastic window in the door of the cab.  Deciding to try this clear Flex Tape to repair it I brought it to work and went to the local Walmart and found a roll for about $13.00.  Admittedly that stuff is crazy.  The goofy guy on Television cuts a small boat in half then uses it to hold it together then takes it out on the water.  Well, I believe it now as the warning inside the roll says: Test in an inconspicuous place before using.  Tape is not intended to remove cleanly.  May damage surface during attempt to remove.  Well, they are not kidding!  It is truly amazing how strong that stuff is and my first attempt didn't sit right and I was able to get it off but just barely!  The window is good for the rest of the winter but just in case I called my John Deere dealer on getting a replacement door.  After a day he calls back, says that I might as well call their supplier direct and deal with them.  He gave me the part number, the 1-800 number, and the price, $30.00 for a replacement panel.  Heck that is a pretty reasonable price so I called an ordered one figuring the repaired one will be okay till the end of the season and it can be dealt with when it's warmer out!!!.  The other thing I am working on is my trip to Dallas on March 8th.  Locating all of my bass tackle isn't easy in the cold and I have my boat stored up north so that's out of the question.  I have found most of the stuff and
Wacky Worm Setup
only need to get a new O ring tool which isn't much.  When fishing Joe's tanks are bait of choice is the sinking plastic worm, rigged Wacky style.  Basically an O ring put in the middle of the worm then a hook goes under the O ring.  It is quite deadly and luckily on February 15th Cabela's/Bass Pro has their O ring tool on sale for $5.00, cheap enough!  I have enough time to secure everything I need as our friend Matt has already sent pictures of a recent bass outing that was met with some success.  In another month it will be even warmer and the bass should be biting better.  It was a fabulous time last spring when we fished Joe's Tank's and it will be nice to see those guys again and fish bass, Texas Style!  As mentioned before, our plans are to still stop at the Bass Pro Shop headquarters in Springfield, Missouri and see the Wildlife Museum, apparently the largest in the world.  The only problem Bruce is worried about is if his plane can safely fly back with all of the new stuff we buy!  I don't think that will be a problem but one never knows!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Frosty on Red, a Synopsis of the Season

Sunday Morning Outside Temperature!
This weekend marked the last trip to Red Lake and JR's for the year.  Mr. Applen decided to join myself as the end strategy was to pull my Salem home for the year.  Typically there is a group of us who pull up our wheel houses to Red Lake the minute one is allowed to travel on the ice with single axle wheel houses and half ton pickup trucks.  That has been as early as the Friday after Thanksgiving however generally occurs around the middle of December as was the case this year when we arrived on December 14th.  Both Mark and myself had issues that first weekend which forced us to pull our house back home and get repaired as normally we leave them right at JR's till the end.  Last weekend was JR's annual Redfest, an unusual fishing contest done inside his bar and it is quite slick.  $5.00 a ticket, it is put in a bucket then drawn later.  If your name is drawn that gives you the opportunity to draw out of another bucket which has all sorts o
f fishing scenario's and instant prizes.  Say you draw a ticket and it says 8#9 ounce walleye, you can decide to keep it and enter it into the contest or throw it back which allows your name to go back into the main bucket to possibly be drawn again.  Usually buying 4 tickets my name was drawn and it was for $20, essentially I got my money back.  It's always a good chance to meet people you haven't seen since the last Redfest and this year was no exception, especially seeing Brice and his dad John.  This year is was exceptionally cold as we arrived on Friday afternoon, it was -10F.  We asked JR to plow us a spot, he accommodated us and a few of his friends near the southern rock pile in 10 feet of water.  It is really nice to have a plowed spot and not have to cross country it through uncharted snowdrifts and ice chunks.  It is really easy to simply back in and set it up, as well tearing down is a lot easier as well.  No worries about getting stuck.  Although this might sound crazy both Mark and I determined ot have a JR's walleye lunch and brought some frozen walleye from home to assure a meal as the bite has been tough on Red this year.  By Saturday morning we had 3 nicer walleyes Mark decided to keep for a relative of his.  Saturday evening I got a nice one on a rattle reel but other than that it was a pretty slow bite.  Did I mention it was cold?  Sunday morning about 4:20 one of the rattle reels went off.  Mark was sound asleep so I got up to attend to that line.  I knew it was going to
Jack Nicholson at His Finest!
get cold however looking at the clock, it was -28.5F outside.  Uffda.  I did set the hook on a nice fish but just like that the hook broke off the line.  One of my goals was to change up the line on each of my Rattle Reels, hoping to go to a heavier line and of course newer as the old stuff was getting brittle.  I didn't make it that far on that specific rattle reel.  I did go outside to finish some business and dang, it was cold! It reminded me of the picture of Jack Nicholson in the movie, The Shining, where he ends up in the end.  Luckily the house is pretty warm and we had plenty of propane to sustain us through the weekend. It wouldn't take very long to look like the picture in this weather!  Because Mark and I have the exact same wheel house, a Salem 8X20RD Ice Cabin, we make a good team as each knows exactly what needs to be done to get it ready for the road.  2 hours later we were back at JR's where Mark cleaned our last fish and we filled up on Coffee and said good bye to JR and Adam.

Sunday Morning Sunrise at -26F
As stated Red Lake wasn't necessarily a bust this year however the fishing was difficult.  As stated in a previous post, the test nets set out to evaluate the walleye population was a twice as high as Lake of the Woods, an incredible amount of walleyes.  It is my opinion that these fish were very well fed and we are seeing the top of the cycle where there is abundant bait fish therefore the fish have plenty to eat.  This was obvious by the marks we saw on our flashers, through the last 4 trips we saw plenty of evidence on our depth finders that the fish were there, just not hungary,  Maybe next year this will change and so will the bite.  I still enjoy going up to JR's and truthfully we caught fish every time and had at least 1 meal each trip, as well brought fish home.  Never getting  up with the sun much, this weekend was an exception  as I did get an opportunity to get a nice sunrise picture looking to the Southeast from our camp on the ice.  The day progressed as we stopped at one of our favorite places to eat breakfast, The Woodsman Cafe in Remer, Minnesota.  They even have Gluten Free Bread for me!  They make an honest homemade corned beef hash that is to die for!

Getting the house parked at home, there is a lot to do to make the necessary repairs, to restock the cupboards, and give it a general cleaning.  As I write this, the cold weather has followed us down as it was -29 this morning in the truck as I drove to work.  The warmth is predicted to return on Saturday with a forecasted high of around 40, that will be nice to thaw everything out before it starts to cool off again.  There are lots of things going on in the next month, I'd like to make it up to Mille Lacs once before the Perch Extravaganza, Bruce asked me to fly back with him in his airplane from South Padre Island in Texas, so I might just meet him in Dallas, visit Joe and Matt before flying back.  I'd like to go find some nice crappies soon.  This winter is certainly moving fast!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Something different

Bill's First Introduction.
With the wheel house still parked at JR's and some family stuff to do last weekend it was pretty quiet around the fishing front lately.  That will change as Mark Applen and I are heading up to Red Lake for our last fishing trip of the year to Red, which will result in pulling it home then spending some time on Mille Lacs Lake in February.  One of the things that I have come to learn to enjoy is a nice whiskey.  Traditionally beer was the beverage of choice when I was young, Walter's Beer happened to be my favorite.  Brewed in Eau Claire Wisconsin it was a popular local beer, especially with some of the guys I worked for when I was young and helping Bud Tollefson and Ronnie Petersen to whitewash barns on the weekends.  Walters was a full bodied beer but met its demise when the light beer craze pretty much wiped out most of the traditional style German beers.  From there I followed my mentor in life, Vic Wenaas as he always drank brandy, and it became my choice of refreshments for many years.  Today I really don't drink very much beer, actually liking a good glass of dry red wine, and have started to enjoy the taste of various whiskeys these days.  My fiend Mark Applen started this business with his choice of beverage, Maker's Mark Bourbon.  It's not bad and Mark has gained his own notoriety as Maker's Mark himself!  I do not like a lot of that burn offered by the standard types that are better mixed with something to tame them down with.  Yet over the years and with the help of some good friends like Bill Dull, of California fame, or Matt Davis, from Texas I have learned that there are a lot of good stuff out there, deserving of a simple glass of Ice mixed with a dash of time.  Bill and I had spent some time in Savannah a few months ago and he introduced me to a California based whiskey, a smooth blend of Bourbon, Rye, and American Whiskey called St. George Breaking and Entering.  It is quite nice however difficult at best to find in Minnesota. After getting back from Savannah I found it on line and picked up a bottle for myself and my friend JR at JR's Corner Access.  He absolutely loved it and I suspect that he would be really hard pressed to find this around St. Cloud, MN.  Bill Dull and I have a common thread via our Taiwanese business Partner, Axis, whom we have been doing business with since 1998 and as well, Axis bought the company he was working for, Triad, is Perris, California.  Bill has always been a friend as we typically meet a couple times a year, once at the Medical Device
Angel's Envy is as it says!
and Manufacturing  (MD & M) in Anaheim.  It appears as though I will not be attending that event this year as seeing all my industry friends had been a staple for the last 10 years.  Bill and I usually catch dinner one of those nights and this is where he tends to surprise me with his new discoveries.  I would say that we both have the same tastes and it's always an adventure being with him.  A couple of weeks ago he sent me this belated Christmas present, a bottle of Angel's Envy, Caribbean Rum barrel finished Rye Whiskey.  I have to admit it is pretty incredible stuff, as I opened it an took a whiff, it smelled as though someone inserted a caramel apple in the bottle.  It is incredibly smooth and with that heavy base of caramel mixed with spices ( Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves) and a nutty base, it is very hard to describe.  All of these flavors are not added rather the result of the proper distillation and knowledgeable use of the proper wood barrels to age the liquor.  It's truly hard to believe but I guess one has to try it to realize how well made this stuff is.  Checking on line as it is a very limited release product, the dang stuff is $80.00 a bottle.  Well, this is typical of my friend Bill as a few years ago we had dinner and insisted on buying me a bottle of a nice red wine he liked, Quintessa Cabernet Sauvignon.  It was absolutely amazing but also about $150 a bottle in the stores.  I guess you get what you pay for and hanging with Bill is a lot of fun but it can also be very expensive!!! Never the less it's a great learning experience and hopefully I will get to see him again soon as I really don't mind being spoiled by him!

 As stated earlier, my good friend from Garland Texas has graced my palate with a nice smooth Whiskey from Fort Worth Texas called TX.  It is quite nice and a lot more reasonably priced than the stuff Bill gets me tied up with!  Nevertheless he definitely keeps my cabinet well stocked as it is only available  in Texas, Louisiana and it's starting to make it's way up north.  It been awarded the best American Whiskey with a double gold award, and well deserved.  One interesting aspect it the cork cap that they use on the bottle.  It's best described by their story on their website:   First, we select the leather. In the beginning, most of our leathers were re-purposed from boots donated by some of our friends in the community and by visitors to the distillery. Now we primarily use leather pieces from the best boot and saddle makers. We acquire exotic skins and different colors of leather from those extra pieces that the boot and saddle makers can no longer use. Next, we use unique tools to punch out a circle of leather. We then measure the thickness of the leather to determine which cork size to use. Then we hammer a custom-made wood ring over the leather to secure it to the cork. Finally, we add very small pins for reinforcement. Every resulting bottle cap is a unique example of fine Western craftsmanship – just like our whiskey. Stop by the distillery and swap stories with us – maybe even bring your own boots for topping off a bottle of F&R spirits; we’d love to make you a part of our history. It is actually quite interesting as each cap is unique in its own way and definitely represents the state where it derives from, Texas as this is where many of the great and classic cowboy boot manufacturers are located. 

Auchentoshan Three Woods.
Finally not forgetting an experience in Savannah with the new owners of my business, especially David Ashton, an industry consultant who is from Scotland.  During an event in Savannah we stopped at a Scottish Pub called Molly MacPherson's.  Being of Scottish descent, David decided to treat us to a single malt scotch of his liking.  It was Auchentoshan Three Woods Single Malt Lowland style scotch, one that did not exhibit that traditional smokiness associated with Scotch Whiskey's.  The Three Woods title comes from the fact that it is cured in 3 different wood barrels, first in used American oak bourbon barrels, then it is transferred to a used Spanish Sherry wine barrel before finished in a different sherry wine barrel.  Again incredibly smooth, flavorful and with no burn, it's a perfect after dinner treat.  Of course I had never heard of this and definitely found it in the Minneapolis area.  It is a little on the expensive side however their American Oak brand is almost as good, 100% cured in used American Oak barrels it is more reasonably priced and one can overlook that extra Sherry barrelled cure for $30 less!  Admittedly it's been and interesting year learning about different types of Whiskey's especially breaking the old assumptions of what was called whiskey, Jack Daniels, Windsor, Canadian Club, and Seagrams..........all needed Coca Cola or Seven Up to make them palatable!  Here's hoping the fish are biting on Red as many of the ice houses have left the lake which means less traffic and maybe a better bite.  A friend Chris Worms called me earlier this week stating he was going to JR's this weekend and it would be nice to see him again as the last time was at Lac Seul Outposts, on the 2018 Ontario Fishing Opener.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Fishing with Marcus

The Ice Cabin with Russ's shack in the back.
Last weekend was the third of four trips planned to go to Red Lake this year and it was the ideal opportunity to spend it with my 2 good friends from the Eau Claire area, Greg and his 18 year old son Marcus Kimblom.  Greg is one of those guys that you meet once years ago and have stayed friend ever since.  Looking back on the archives you will see that we fished Mille Lacs last July and did OK, this was their first adventure ice fishing where one stays on the ice in a heated shack, my Salem Ice Cabin.  Arriving at 8:00 AM on Friday, we headed north via our usual route, Hwy's 169 to 18 to 6 to Hwy 2 then up through Deer River where we secured bait, then onto Hwy 46 then finally the home stretch on Hwy 1 to 72 then to JR's.  My age is really starting to show as half way up I remembered that I forgot our fillet knives.  a quick stop at Kelliher and they had some cheap but adequate knives for $4.99 so we got one of those, at the worst case I can leave it in the house.  Better yet it is a lesson in not forgetting! Arriving at JR's Corner Access around 1:30 we hooked up the house to the truck and had one of the 30 pound propane tanks refilled.  I am always amazed at how little propane we go through yet maybe it's just that I don't fully understand how much is really needed, nevertheless we were ready for the weekend.  Russ Praught had been out in his house on Red since Thursday night and the plan was to hook up with him and fish in the same area.  We called Russ and got the lowdown, drive 6.5 miles west on JR's road where it comes to an end then turn right and go north about 2 miles, I'm on the right at the end of the road.  Because we drive slow on the ice, it takes about 30 minutes to get there, looking for Russ, I see his house off the road a bit, but his truck wasn't there.  Finally we see a truck, his white half ton Ford stuck in a drift.  Apparently he saw us and decided to help establish a track in the snow to make it easier to pull the shack closer to his.  Also, Russ had been tip up fishing to see if he could find us a good place to park, which he did.  It takes about an hour to get everything set up and by 3:00 we had the DirecTV hooked up, stuff put away, the house heated up nicely, and we were fishing.  Russ had his limit of walleyes and between the nice perch and the 3 of us, we managed to get enough fish to go back to JR's for a fish fry, which we did.  JR's does and excellent job as his cooks will use the special Zatarain's Gluten Free Fish Coating for my portion and of course fresh walleye, it doesn't get any better!!

Marcus With a Nice 21 Inch Walleye on a Rattle Reel
Getting back around 8:30, we still had time to get set up for the night and by 9:30 we were quite exhausted and decided to call it a night.  The fishing wasn't fast and furious but it was somewhat steady and between the four of us we had enough to go back in to JR's for a fish fry on Saturday night.  The satellite TV is nice as we got to watch the football games that were on, and as a bonus, the fishing shows in the morning.  Marcus was pretty happy, sitting in a nice comfortable RV with holes in the floor, fishing and catching a few walleyes, 7 hours from home with his dad, myself, and all the comforts one could want.   Greg and I put him on the knife sofa for sleeping arrangements figuring he is the youngest guy, he can chase those rattle reels at midnight when they go off.  Friday night was pretty quite but Saturday night presented a few opportunities.  In the end Marcus pulled in a couple of nice 20+ inch walleyes on the rattle reels, his first ever.  Apparently one of the lines broke just as he lifted it to the surface but was able to rescue both the fish and the hook.  I heard all of the commotion however decided that these guys could handle the job, which they did perfectly.  Missing another rattle reel things calmed down for the remainder of the night, however we did end up with 6 walleyes and a nice perch to clean in the morning.  We were surprised to see Russ took off quite early as he was gone when we finally got up.  As it is when we set up the house, it takes about an hour to get it back on the truck and ready to go.  It goes pretty good when you have a couple of guys you can boss around!  We finally got back to JR's around 10:30, parked the house on his lot, filleted the fish, and headed south.  My intent was to take them home via a different route, through Walker and Brainerd, stopping at Reeds so Marcus could take a look.  Getting home about 5:30 we loaded up his car and said good bye.  It was a great weekend and the highlight was having Marcus with.  This is a good experience, being with the boys, driving 9 miles out on the lake, having fresh walleye dinner every night while staying in a comfortable house right on the ice.  It's also good to meet other people like Russ and JR, two characters for sure.  It's great to give something back to the new generation, I can just hear it now, I'll be dead and gone and Marcus will be talking to his 80 year old dad saying, "Dad, do you remember the time we ice fished on Red Lake with your crazy friend Dave?"  I guess memories are a great thing to leave your friends!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Every Other Week

Ben and a nice 27 inch LOTW's walleye
The schedule is working out such that my fishing outings at Red Lake turn out to be every other weekend starting December 14, 28, January 11, and the 25th will probably be my last trip.  So last weekend with the nice weather, there was an attempt to get some things done.  The rainy weather we had after Christmas really messed things up and the 45 degree temperatures of last weekend helped to loosen things up a bit and get the sidewalks and driveways cleared of ice.  Whilst I was busy chipping away my friend Ben Aiona headed up to LOTW (Lake of the Woods) with his wheel house and to my surprise fished out of Morris Point Resort, on the south side of the lake.  Lake of the wood has been a lot like Mille Lacs, very slow to embrace the technology of portable wheel houses as their business model has been more directed towards semi guided trips where the resorts would charge you so much a day for lodging, a ride to and from what we would call a skid type ice house, fish until sunset then a ride back into the resort for lodging.  Most if not all of the transportation would be via a vehicle called a Bombardier which is basically a van with skis in the front and tracks in the back to push it along.  The advantage is that they could charge by the person, usually around $80 - $100 a day for the combination of everything and unless you had a snowmobile, it was usually difficult to travel via your own vehicle to get anywhere on the lake.  Today things have changed from 20 years ago, most serious ice fisherman have their own wheel houses (Like myself) and they are getting more family focused whereas they have dual use as an ice house in the winter and a camper/RV in the summer.  Wheel houses were the curse for the traditional resort operator as now their customers had their own accomodations.  Red Lake was probably the first lake to really popularize the welcoming of wheel houses, for no other fact than they did not have an established resort business that counted on the combination fishing model.  It is amazing to see Red lake, often times there are thousands of wheel houses parked across the lake.  Many of these guys were ardent Mille Lacs, Leech Lake, Lake Winnibigoshish, and Lake of the Woods fisherman.  Honestly a few resorts on these lakes worked with wheel houses however many of them viewed them as the enemy to their livelihood.  Unfortunately this form of ice fishing is here to stay as more and more resorts are seeing this as a sign to help develop a better business model using individual houses.  Traditional means of ice fishing requires a lot of work and maintenance yet with wheel houses one only needs to offer a decent road system and take advantage of the needs of these guys, stuff like propane, fish cleaning, a place to sit and eat.  I definitely can't say which is a better model however it is becoming more obvious that things are changing and those who adapt are the survivors.  Based on Ben's report I would like to get up there and fish, maybe in March as Morris Point was one of our places I used to fish with my friend Mark Mayerich, where we would use our portable ice houses and stay in their facilities.  Ben did very well, a lot better than we have been doing on Red.  Although he caught a lot of fish, many of them were small but mixed in was enough to take some home as well a couple of dandy's including this 27 incher.

Upper Red Lake (BLue) is Fishable Area
Friday I am heading back to JR's for the weekend with my bone collector friend Greg Kimblom and his son Marcus.  My friend Mark Applen went up last weekend and really did not do very well.  I question his going up alone, with the snow on the lake, it's sort of dangerous, as he told the story of getting really stuck in the snow and what we call "Shale" ice, flat thin sheets of ice chunks that blew together then froze, hard for the truck to get any traction and he claims that the rear end got hung up.  This is why I carry a set of easy to install chains with me, just for these situations.  Luckily I have never had to use them except once, and I guarantee that they are nice to have when one needs them.  He has some commitments this weekend however our friend Russ is heading up on Thursday and hopefully he will have a better report as his strategy is to fish south of where we have been since December 14th, near the rockpile in shallower water.  Our theory is the vehicle traffic to Center Bar just keeps pushing the fish west into the Reservation side of the lake, so maybe a little further south might just be the ticket.  It hard to say and it isn't too bad to move yet it does take an hour to set up and an hour to pack up so the older we get the lazier we are! I think if I had the energy it would be more successful heading to Lake of the Woods, yet that's another hour's drive north and a new experience to learn.  Maybe in March, like the good old times!  Here's hoping for a good report for next week.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Red Lake, Chapter 2

My Friend Kevin
After Christmas and before New Years Day we decided to head up to JR's to fish the weekend.  It wasn't ideal conditions as a band of 12 inch snow lay between Minneapolis and Red Lake.  Raining the day after Christmas, we received almost and inch of rain while further north it fell in it's frozen state.  What a mess!  Even the new snowblower had a heck of a time clearing out all the heavy slush that was everywhere.  .Of course the temperature was dropping as it was in the mid 20's when my brother Steve and good friend Kevin left for JR's, by the time we got there it was almost 0 out.  The roads were not too bad but caution was the word of the day and our drive time was about an hour longer than normal.  We still managed to arrive before dark and after paying Adam we headed out about 6 miles were we found Mark on the southside of the road, just before Center Bar.  This is in the same area we fished 2 weeks ago and did well and by dark we were all settled in.  The new electric jacks worked well as they never even hesitated in doing a great job.  Admittedly they are somewhat slow yet you could sure tell they were rated at 5000 pounds instead of the factory 3500 pounds as there was no sign of stress when lifting the house up.  After getting settled in it was obvious that no one had enough fish to go back in for walleye dinner so we made pizza's and bacon wrapped scallops for supper.  The bite was slow, as had been reported by a few people.  We did get a few but going from a snow storm to clear skies and -10 below, the weather change definitely had an effect.  Oh well, we got the DirecTV going and enjoyed a relaxing night of fishing in our own little environment, a few nice glasses of whiskey, and good company was all we needed.  Finally getting to bed we did set up the rattle wheels and managed to get a few more nice walleyes, enough to have a mid afternoon dinner at JR's.  By Saturday night the snow had started again and to be honest the bite wasn't that good.  We marked a lot of fish on our Vexilar's but they were not to eager to hit the lures.  Every once in a while one would come and slam it but there were definitely more lookers than hitters!

Last walleye of the trip.
Saturday night was pretty slow as we did get a couple but blaming the weather change sounded like a
great idea.  Sunday basically continued the change in weather and the slow bite, yet we managed to get 7 in the pail between the time we got back to the shacks on Saturday to Sunday night.  Although not very well, it was comforting to know that by most standards we did pretty well.  Mark had been there since Thursday so his plan was to pack up and leave Sunday morning, which he did.  On the other had we were not much in a hurry and stayed till Monday morning before we left.  On thing that was nice is we were able to watch all of the final week's football games with the Packers and Vikings losing.  No more BS at work I guess!  Fishing was slow as we didn't get anything through the night.  Getting up pretty early we decided to just pack up and get going.  Kevin is 7 hours from home and Steve is 8 hours so by 8:30 we had the house packed up and parked at JR's as the plan was to leave it there for the month of January.  We got our fish cleaned, said good bye to JR and headed south.  The plan is to go up on the 11th with my friend Greg Kimblom and his son Marcus, let's hope that the catching will be better!  Never the less it's fun and relaxing to be up there fishing.  I thought it was interesting, for the generator we use to power the house, there is a 6 gallon auxiliary gas tank that hooks to the Honda for extended running service.  On Sunday I added an additional 2 gallons to the tank and still by Monday morning, there was only about 1/2 a gallon of fuel left.  That seemed like a lot of gas to burn but it is what it is!  In addition the power cord for my Winegard Satellite DirecTV antenna was shorted.  I was able to get it to work by inserting a cocktail pick between the wires, which held for the weekend but Just in case, I ordered a new one.  The things I go through to ice fish!!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Time to Head back to JR's

Matt and Christina with some beautiful ocean Silver Salmon
Christmas has come and gone.  With both my wife and I's parents gone, Christmas has become an open ended affair as we have no children, plenty of invitations, but truthfully little incentive to actually drive 3 hours to go anywhere, I guess we are just getting old!  Of course it doesn't help that I will not get to drive until January 22nd so we just took it easy this year.  There were 2 main events, Sunday evening we drove to Mille Lacs and had supper with the Lundeens....Bill, Kathy, and Bill's 92 year old mother, Phyllis.  Christmas Day was spent with our good friends the Taylors, truth be told they are as much of family as anyone in our lives, Mark was the first friend I met after moving to Minneapolis and we have stayed good friends come thick and thin! Mark's oldest son Matt along with his wife Christina, hosted a fine afternoon with the Taylor family as well, Christina's uncle Henry, of Team Walleye fame!  Mark was one of the original 4 guys that started Team Walleye in 1973 on Leech Lake and Matt started coming in 1991 when he and the other boys were 10 years old.  It's been a lot of fun but what is more rewarding is the fact that we have stayed good friends all of these years.  Mark, Jack, their sister Linda, both their parent, all of their kids are truly family and I am definitely looking forward to the 2019 Minnesota Walleye fishing opener on Leech Lake again, this will be the 46th annual.  Not a bad run and it reminds me to get my money into Mark Mayerich next week!

New Stromberg Carlson 5000# Jacks
Last Friday we were able to pick up my repaired wheel house from Minneapolis Trailer Sales, in Rogers Minnesota.  I would like to give them a great recommendation as they knew exactly what was needed to fix everything and did it just in time for me to get it home and repacked for this weekend.  I had all of my electric jack replaced on the Salem Ice Cabin.  It ran about $450 each installed which I didn't think was too bad at all.  The original equipment has Lippert jacks and were rated for 3500 pounds of lift.  Although this was probably adequate, over the course of owning this wheel house, sometimes the jacks would struggle, especially when things got a little twisted.  Actually I blew a couple of 30A fuses when you could hear the motor groaning at you when lifting.  It was getting worse with time so when replacing I chose 5000 pound rated jacks, 43% more lifting power.  The only real problem is that the previous Lippert had a feature which included an internal (to the jack) switch which could be operated from the inside of the wheel house.  They had stopped working and we seldom used them so I went with their recommendation for trouble free jacks, the Stromberg Carlson brand.  I am ok with it, just don't want to go through the same problem as last time when we were on Red, one of the jacks didn't work and the front jack continued to struggle.  Kevin Aiona, my brother Steve and I are heading back to Red Lake on Friday.  We were to get a major storm between now and then however it has narrowed and moved north as it is only predicted to rain around here.  Red is saying 4 - 8 inches in the next couple of days but that should be plowed good by the time we get there and that should really turn on the walleyes.  Hopefully there should be some good pictures next week! I hope everyone had a great Holiday week and now we get back to some serious fishing!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Red Lake at Last!

JR and I posing for a picture!!  My Hero
With reports from JR's Corner Access allowing 1/2 ton trucks with single axle wheel housed out on the ice last weekend, it was time to get the proverbial show on the road!  Successfully recruiting my brother Steve to drive my rig, pulling the Salem, we picked up my good friend Keith Holtan north of Brainerd and headed north to Red Lake.  Our good friend Mark Applen was already on his way up and our other crew members, Randy and Russ Praught we somewhere in the mix.    A quick stop at Teal's in Cass Lake to fill up the truck and get some groceries (You never know if you are going to catch fish!) our next stop was in Blackduck for bait.  Timberline sports had a great selection of minnows so we got 6 dozen fatheads, a dozen rainbows and a dozen shiners, maybe too optimistic but in the grand scheme of things the price of minnows is not the biggest problem we have.  Arriving at JR's it was great to see him as we exchanged our annual welcome back messages!  I really like JR, he's quite a guy and claims he would do anything for me, which I was soon to find out.  After paying for the access, we headed out to the bridge that crosses the heave about 1.5 miles out form shore and after crossing the bridge we headed northwest to what is know as the Center Bar area.  Mark was already on the ice heading in the same direction however with hundreds of vehicles and wheel houses on the ice, it is difficult to see exactly where he was.  Unfortunately cell phone service can be sporadic as well.  After going west about 3 miles we ran into a road heading north and took a right which was in the direction of Center Bar.  We were looking for Mark's white GMC pickup and saw a few but the wheel house didn't look right.  About a mile up the road I noticed a wheel house with 3 vent covers that stick up out of the roof, a telltale sign of Mr. Applen's wheel house.  Here he drove his gray Chevrolet Avalanche, No wonder!!!  Nevertheless we caught up with him and after a quick discussion headed to the south end of the Center Bar.  Picking a spot I started drilling holes while Steve and Keith worked on disconnecting the wheel house and letting it down on the ice.  One big problem, the left electric axle jack wasn't working.  Apparently it had bound up during the summer and only turned a few revolution before binding up.  This wasn't good.  Having put a 3/4 inch socket and 1/2 inch ratchet
JR Flying off in the sunset!
just for these types of  situations, it was soon discovered that the deep well socket would be fine for the front jack however there was no room to get it in place for the axle jacks. Now what???  Locating some penetrating spray we removed any cover and dowsed the insides with the spray.  It seemed to have a little effect but no very much.  Just then a plane buzzed our location, it was JR in his Piper Cub outfitted with big tundra tires to land in these conditions.  Getting out of his plane he asked what the problem was.  Explaining the jack situation I mentioned that it might work if I can get a 3/4 inch short socket and ratchet to turn the shaft.  After looking in his plane he stated that he didn't have one but knew where there was one and he'd be right back.  Before I could argue he was in the air and 10 minutes later landed with the right socket.  A few turns in the right direction and the jack worked as it should, we were back in business.  JR said no problem as he flew off into the sunset.  Wow, that's what you call a real friend.  I am lucky to have a few like him, and they both own airplanes! Finally with everything set we got settled down for some serious fishing.  It was about 4:00 in the afternoon and the bite wasn't the greatest we decided to have dinner on the ice.  By 10:00 we had 3 fish and maybe let 4 more back, or walleye dinner at JR's would have to wait till tomorrow afternoon.

The unfortunate guy who went off to the right when they said not too!
Things got very interesting as time went on.  After settling in for the night we had at least 4 more walleyes on our rattle reels, it was sort of amazing that the outside temperature stayed above freezing. By noon on Saturday the outside temperature was 45 and the word on the ice was traveling fast, they were not letting any more vehicle cross the bridge as the warm weather was causing the ice to shift to quickly.  Some of our guys decided to get across the break and set up on the other side yet both Mark and I felt we should stick tight, after all the bite wasn't too bad and we figured they'd have to get us off sometime!  It was quite warm for sure as a steady stream of wheel houses were heading to shore. Between Mark and my house there were 4 guys and by 4:00 we had our 16 walleyes plus a number of real nice perch, it was time to head into JR's for our walleye dinner.  Rumor had it that a truck went through the ice and it was right, although they had the truck pulled out by the time we passed the area, the wheel house was still there sunk into the ice.  Luckily the truck didn't go totally through the ice, it simply dropped down onto the ice and a wrecker was able to pull it out.  I'm not sure what they are going to do with the wheel house but I am sure they have dealt with this before.  Of course this heightened the anxiety of the fisherman north of the break as word spread pretty quickly.  We went in anyway, cleaned the fish, and gave them to the bartender with my gluten free Zatarains Southern corn based fish coating.  It's actually very good, I think better than the shore lunch coating that they normally use when frying
Yes, we did get some walleyes!
and the cooks at JR's very nicely accommodates my wishes.  Usually the place is packed but the warm weather and the ice moving scared a lot of people.  After finishing our fish we headed back to the wheel house.  I have direcTV in the house but it can be a pain to set up as the cable connections are many.  just before we left I was successful in getting it to work so we were able to watch the Saturday night NFL game.  Not that exciting however we had been watching movies and you can only watch them so many times.  All day Saturday we watched Second Lions, The Big White, Planes Trains and Automobiles, all great movies.  It stayed what we would call quite warm through the night, got down enough to freeze any water on the ice, but we knew that we had better head out as early as possible because there were going to be a lot of guys crossing that bridge, and each time a vehicle crosses it degrades the situation a little bit at a time.  Finally getting packed up we headed for JR's.  After about 4 miles of cross country travel on the lake we arrived at the bridge that the resort guys were just finishing up moving it to a new spot along the break.  There must have been 50 truck/wheel houses lined up to get across the new bridge location.  There was a crack just before getting on the bridge, maybe 30 feet from the crack.  The gus had 2 large steel plates over it to provide a safe passage to drive over.  Once in place we started directing the guys to come through.  The first guy crossed the steel plates and on the ice, the ice sunk about an inch before rebounding.  I didn't like that at all but it held pretty well.  A 3/4 ton pickup with a tandem axle wheel house was next and that definitely put a strain on things, but he made it.  Actually he shouldn't of been out there and when he crossed the bridge his house got on the edge of the bridge and something punctured his tire, you could here it.  Luckily we told him to keep moving and after watching a number of truck cross I gave the keys to my brother and told him to quickly get in line as this wasn't going to last.  He and Mark crossed about the same time, maybe 15 and 16th, I figured another 25 trucks or so and that ice sheet that was moving would be done.  This was about 8:30 in the morning, my friend Andy came off about 9:30 and he had to wait 30 minutes while they repositioned the bridge again.  We just got across in time!

 Mark has the same wheel house that I have, a Salem Ice Cabin and on Saturday his furnace went out.  He had an electric heater with and with the outside temperatures being fairly warm, he was pretty comfortable, otherwise it would not have been so nice.  With my electric jacks not working and his furnace out we both decided to bring our house  back to the Cities to get them repaired.  He found someone in Ramsey, across the river that knew exactly what was wrong with his furnace and they are fixing it this week.  As for my jacks, I called the dealer where the house was originally purchased from and  not only did they not have a common sense solution for my fix, they informed me that I could not get in until after the first of January.  Thinking I might have to fix it myself and because the jacks are standard hitch jacks used on RV's Amazon had them but delivery was out past Christmas.  Doing more research and after calling the company to locate the nearest retail center, I ended up calling Minneapolis Trailer Sales in Rogers, MN, 10 minutes from the house.  This guy knew exactly what my problem was and had a viable solution to fix it, the ice house is at the shop with the plan to get it back before the weekend. All Should be good for the next planned trip to JR's on the 28th.  Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Getting Old

Dad loved Wildroot Hair Creme
As you can probably tell, no fishing last weekend.  However, I have a friend that is related to a good friend, Mark Mayerich.  Franklin lives on the Iron Range in northern Minnesota and admittedly we share a lot of the same values in life. To be honest,, I've only met Franklin a few times but he is one of those guys that because one shares similar values, we tend to stay email buddies. He sent this early this morning and it really hit home:

Yes, I am older than dirt!

Remember Slow Food? 
'Someone asked the other day, 'What was your favorite fast food when you were growing up?'  'We didn't have fast food when I was growing up, I informed him.
 'All the food was slow.' 'C'mon, seriously. Where did you eat?'
'It was a place called 'at Home,'' I explained.  'Mom cooked every day and when Dad got home from work, we sat down together at the dining room table,
and if I didn't like what she put on my plate I was allowed to sit there until I did like it.'
By this time, the kid was laughing so hard I was afraid he was going to suffer serious internal damage,so I didn't tell him the part about how I had to have permission to leave the table. But here are some other things I would have told him about my childhood if I figured his system could have handled it.
 Some parents NEVER owned their own house, never wore Levis, never set foot on a golf course, never traveled out of the country or had a credit card. In their later years they had something called a revolving charge card. The card was good only at  Sears Roebuck or maybe it was Sears & Roebuck.  Either way, there is no Roebuck anymore. Maybe he died.
My parents never drove me to soccer practice. This was mostly because we never had heard of soccer. I had a bicycle that weighed probably 50 pounds, and only had one speed, (slow) We didn't have a television in our house until I was 11. It was, of course, black and white, and the station went off the air at midnight, after playing the national anthem and a poem about God; it came back on the air at about 6 a.m. And there was usually a locally produced news and farm show on, featuring local people. 
I was 19 before I tasted my first pizza, it was called 'pizza pie.' When I bit into it, I burned the roof of my mouth and the cheese slid off, swung down, plastered itself against my chin and burned that, too. It's still the best pizza I ever had. 
I never had a telephone in my room. The only phone in the house was in the living room and it was on a party line. Before you could dial, you had to listen and make sure some people you didn't know weren't already using the line. 
Pizzas were not delivered to our home.  But milk was. 
All newspapers were delivered by boys and all boys delivered newspapers --Idelivered a newspaper, seven days a week. It cost 10 cents a paper, of which he got to keep 3 cents.  He had to get up at 6 AM every morning. On Saturday, I had to collect the 60 cents from his customers. My favorite customers were the ones who gave 
me 3 quarters and said to keep the change. My least favorite customers were the ones who seemed to never be home on collection day. 
If you grew up in a generation before there was fast food, you may want to share some of these memories with your children or grandchildren Just don't blame me if they bust a gut laughing. 
Growing up isn't what it used to be, is it? 
MEMORIES from a friend : 
My Dad is cleaning out my grandmother's house (she died in December) and he brought me an old Royal Crown Cola bottle. In the bottle top was a stopper with a bunch of holes in it. I knew immediately what it was, but my daughter had no idea. She thought they had tried to make it a salt shaker or something. I knew it as the bottle that sat on the end of the ironing board to 'sprinkle' clothes with because we didn't have steam irons. Man, I am old. 
How many do you remember? 
Head lights dimmer switches on the floor.  (Like my Mustang)
Ignition switches on the dashboard. 
Heaters mounted on the inside of the fire wall.
Pant leg clips for bicycles without chain guards. 
Using hand signals for cars without turn signals. 
Older Than Dirt Quiz : 
Count all the ones that you remember not the ones you were told about. Ratings at the bottom. 
1. Blackjack chewing gum 
2. Wax Coke-shaped bottles with colored sugar water  
3. Candy cigarettes
4. Soda pop machines that dispensed glass bottles
5. Coffee shops or diners with table side jukeboxes
6. Home milk delivery in glass bottles with cardboard stoppers 
7. Party lines on the telephone 
8 Newsreels before the movie 
9. P.F. Flyers 
10. Butch wax  (that was our hair product) 
11.. TV test patterns that came on at night after the last show and were there until TV shows started again in the morning. (there were only 2 channels... 
12. Peashooters
13. Howdy Doody
14. 45 RPM records
15.S&H green stamps
16. Hi-fi's
17. Metal ice trays with lever
18. Mimeograph paper
19. Blue flashbulb
20. Packards
21. Roller skate keys
 Cork popguns  
23. Drive-ins
24. Studebakers
25. Wash tub wringers
If you remembered 0-5 = You're still young
If you remembered 6-10 = You are getting older
If you remembered 11-15 = Don't tell your age,
If you remembered 16-25 = You' re older than dirt!
I might be older than dirt but those memories are some of the best parts of my life. 

Jared and a nice mess of panfish
This brought back a lot of memories of long ago.  The list includes Butch Wax, well my dad loved Wildroot as I put the picture up of their ad.  He would always slick my brothers and my hair with this before going to Sunday School. I remember when McDonald's in Eau Claire had 15 cent hamburgers and 20 cent cheeseburgers.  Michael's Dairy used to deliver milk in returnable glass bottles to our house.  Every December, maybe a week before Christmas, they would haul a team of horses, our delivery guy would dress up as Santa, and they would pull a sled around town and give each customer a half gallon of ice cream as a present for being a loyal customer. I still remember you could hear the jingle of bells on the harness's as they traveled down the streets of Eleva.  We all can look back at what was as things change very quickly.  I wanted to share this as it was important to me.   So this is Fishin' with Dave, not Remembering Old Times with Dave however not getting out last week was killing me!  Ben Aiona sent me a picture of this nice batch of sunfish and perch, he still hasn't told me where he got them but never the less it's a nice bunch of fish, I am sure his son Jared had a good hand in all of this!  JR's is letting wheel houses out this week at Red, so the weekend is planned.  My brother Steve is driving up Thursday night to stay with a friend on the south side of Minneapolis and will meet me at the pole shed on Friday morning.  We pick up my friend Keith in Brainerd on the way to Red and hopefully will be set up and fishing by 4:00 in the afternoon.  With a little luck we can catch supper and head into JR's.  Our plan is to spend 2 nights leaving Sunday morning while leaving the wheel house at JR's till the end of January.  It will be great to both get out fishing and to see everyone again!  I hope you enjoyed the post.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

You Win Some, You Lose Some

View from our Condo on Tybee Island, Georgia
Last Wednesday was the long anticipated trip to Savannah, Georgia for the fall TTA meeting.  Often these meetings are an opportunity to get together with some industry friends and go fishing, which we have done quite a few times now.  This trip to Savannah was a perfect time to go fishing as we have done when the conference was in Charlotte, NC and we fished Charleston for Sheepshead.  When we had our conference in Ponte Vedra Beach we fished the breakwaters of Mayport Florida so we were looking forward to fishing these Georgia marshes for redfish, sea trout, black drum, and sheepshead.  It was all set, my friend Phil rented two condos right on the Atlantic Ocean on Tybee Island, 20 miles east of Savannah.  Taking it easy on Friday night, 5:00 would come early as we had to be on the dock by 6:45.  The weather stated a 90% chance of rain however this was forecasted for the afternoon, our trip was 6 hours, and would end at 2:00 so we weren't too worried.  Getting ready to leave at 6:30 the cell phone rang, it was Miss Judy stating that there were small craft warnings as it appeared as though we had severe thunder storms both to the north and south of us, with the one to the south, substantial lightening.  Stating that we can't go out at 7:00 we should wait until 9:00 and see where we were at weather wise.  We talked again and reiterated that we just wanted to go out, any change would be good for us, we could do only 4 hours, anything to get out however at 8:30 she officially cancelled the trip.  Admittedly we were pretty disappointed yet we understand that it's up to the captain of the boat to decide the safety of it's guests and crew.   Personally I think we could have
Fresh Raw Oysters, Fabulous!
gone but there are 2 things about that thought, first it's not my decision and secondly hindsight is 20/20!  The end result is we had a great breakfast in a breakfast cafe on Tybee Island, I had one of the best omelet's ever, an Irish Omelet with swiss cheese, corned beef, and fried onions.  After the bad news regarding our charter we decided to head into Savannah and seek out Sorry Charlie"s Oyster house for some fresh Oysters and some locally brewed beer.  There was an Orvis Store near there where I decided to spend the money that was dedicated for the charter and by some nice fishing clothes.  Savannah is quite an interesting city, especially coming from here in Minnesota where the temperatures are in the 20's during the day and teens at night.  For us it was short sleeve weather, yet I was surprised that the morning temperatures were in the low 30's.  Even with the freezing temperatures in the morning there were palm tress and the beautiful Southern Live Oaks with significant clumps of Spainish Moss hanging from them.   Still, a heck of a lot better than having snow on the ground, even though ice fishing can't start soon enough!!!  On other experience that I thought was interesting, on the way to Tybee Island we stopped at a roadside produce stand and along with fresh vegetables they had a variety of Georgia made products.  I could not resist getting some Peach and Bourbon Barbecue Sauce for my neighbor Tim.  Spotting what looked good was a jar of Southern Pickled Brussel Sprouts.  The gal at the counter sensed I wasn't from around there, maybe the Green Bay Packer Hat was s dead giveaway, so she asked if I knew what these were and if I liked them.  Saying they looked interesting, she said ok, I'll do on better, took the jar that I go from the shelf, went in the back room and came out with a pint mason jar of pickled brussel sprouts, with some green beans and sliced red peppers and onions, no label and said here, you'll really like these.  Not asking anything I settled up while the rest of the guys bought some boiled peanuts, admittedly I would not go out of my way for those, I did eat a few!!

Little Gracie Watson
Savannah is a very historical city, in fact it has the largest area designated as a National Historic District of any city in the United States.  It was surprising to learn that it also serves as the third largest shipping port in the United States.  Savannah was an important port as it had deep water access via the Savannah River.  It was an important port for the British prior to the Revolutionary War as it served to be the main shipping point for cotton and tobacco, both products that were important to the British economy.  Georgia was in fact named after England's King George.  Savannah is known to be a haunted city with many famous areas that are associated with ghosts and spirits.  One such area is Bonaventure Cemetery on the east side of Savannah.  Located on an old plantation it was very interesting to go through this amazing 160 acres of land and see how different these are from what I am used to here up north!  Our personal tour guide Phil is very familiar with some of these interesting places in the area and he brought us to a number of unusual grave sites including that of Little Gracie Watson, an amazing story in itself.  This grave sites are fairly large, often a whole family is interned withing the boundaries of their plot.  In the case of Little Gracie, her site includes a marble carving of her story as well as this statue of her.  The story is that she was born in 1883, the only child of Mr. Watson, who was the manager of the famous Pulaski Hotel in Savannah.  Little Gracie basically had the run of the hotel and had become the admired and beloved child to many of the guests.  Two days before Easter in 1889, Gracie died of pneumonia at 6 years old.  She was buried at Bonaventure.  In 1890 a famous sculpture, John Walz moved to Savannah and Gracie's father had him carve a statue of Gracie from a photograph that he had.  The grave was so popular that the cemetery had to put a fence around it to protect it from visitors as they would rub her nose thinking it
Little Gracie's Story
would give them good luck (See the link).  Phil also explained that people often leave gifts such as toys, flowers, and other childhood items, especially at Christmas.  Phil was surprised to see that there was none at the time of our visit.  It was often said that the spirit of Gracie can be felt at her grave site, I cannot attest to that but honestly it was quite touching and a sad but beautiful story.   Other notables that reside in Bonaventure were Johnny Mercer, a very famous composer of music in the 1940's and 50's as well a number of Civil War heros.  I definitely regret not going fishing but honestly had a really fun time exploring Savannah and it's history.  I would highly recommend to put this city on your bucket list, as there is so much to see and do, plus the food is outstanding!!! Maybe one day there will be the chance to try fishing again.  Unfortunately we just got word that there will be no driving on Red this weekend, Oh well.