Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The 29th Annual Kramer Open

Wild Marsh Sporting Clays Course.
Saturday was the 29th Annual Kramer Open hosted by a good friend, Dave Kramer.  Dave originally started the Kramer Open as a means to raise money for the family of a good friend who passed away, Doug Leu.  Dave has done this now for 29 years and over that time Doug's wife had passed away leaving their children.  My involvement began a number of years ago when my great and late friend, Tom Emmons invited me to shoot the Kramer.  Although a lot of the players have changed over the years, it is still fun to get out on the first Saturday after Labor Day and shoot 100 birds at Wild Marsh Sporting Clays, I used to shoot a league there a number of years ago and it was a lot of fun.  It was a 500 bird league with the requirement to shoot 100 birds a month for April, May, June, July, and August.  You could basically shoot it anytime within the designated time for the month so there was zero pressure to show up every week and shoot, which was nice.  Of course time always flies by quickly and it would seem as though we would barely get in our 100 birds before the next month started.  The Kramer is alot of fun as I do not shoot a sporting clays league there anymore however I really enjoy the shooting and the challenges of hitting the clay targets in the configurations that they set up.  Usually the courses are set up like a golf course.  At the Wild Marsh they have the Green Course, Blue Course and Red Course.  In previous shoots there would be 9 stations per course, 50 targets sort of like a golf course.  This year's setup was 16 stations on the Green Course, 14 with 6 targets and 2 with 8 to make a total of 100.  It certainly made for a fast course completion as the stations were fairly close together, I think it only took about 3.5 hours, about an hour faster than usual.  So out of 41 guys I finished in 7th place with 82 out of 100 targets hit, right behind my friend and co-worker, Mike Scheunke, who was on my team along with Lory Brasel and 2 new guys, Tim and Dan.  Mike shoots quite often in a league and hit 3 more than myself with a score of 85.  These are not bad scores at all considering how rusty one gets after a year of not shooting.  Anyway it was fun and afterwards we all gathered at Dave's house for some refreshments, a Taco dinner, and the infamous Junk auction where Dave raises money for the Leu family.  All in good fun, I bought some obscure garden tools for $1.00 and did donate some extra funds to get a set of seven In-Fisherman how to DVD's a pretty nice set and will come in handy for ice fishing entertainment.  Dave had a nice new in the box Browning A-Bolt .308 rifle on the auction but they did not call my number on that one, which was OK.  All in All it was a fun time, something that I look forward to every year as it is always on the weekend after Labor Day.  Not that I need any excuse but it also serves as a great memory of my times with my late friend Tom Emmons.

New Power Center Distribution Terminals
Last week I had updated my progress on rewiring the boat to fix a number of electrical issues I have been seeing when I fish Canada.  One of the things that is probably causing my issues could be low voltage at the docks where I plug in at night, preventing the batteries from fully charging overnight.  This has an accumulative effect as the batteries are not at their peak of charge and performance.  There are 2 things that I have done.  First is to significantly beef up the electrical circuits that feed the console power.  Although I am not sure what the original configurations were, I bypassed it and as stated last week, ran #6 ga from the batteries in the floor to the console.  This is more than enough to assure good power to my electronics.  I finally received the terminal blocks and mounted them where my electronics hookup area is and started from there.  In the past I had discussed using a boost circuit to help however when I reconfigured it, the circuit kept blowing the automatic circuit breakers that are standard with my Ranger.  For sure I could run the converter straight off the battery via the distribution terminal without issues so I put a 20 Amp fuse in line for protection and reconfigured all of my power connections so all of my add on electronics such as the Lowrance HDS Carbons, SonicHub 2, Structure Scan 3D and other electronics would now have a boost voltage of 14.6VDC assuring trouble free operation.  In addition I replaced my USB power socket with a new one that has a red LED voltage readout on it (much easier to see in the sunlight than my previous blue LED) then tied it directly to the distribution terminals.  Now I can monitor the battery voltage from the console, it is pretty slick.  One of the other things is building a boost transformer for the low dock voltage in Canada.  At the Fisherman's Cove where I was last month the voltage at the end of my extension cord was 92VAC.  I suspect that it may be similar at the Lac Seul Outposts, where I am going on Monday.  If so maybe I can fix the problem from both ends, increase the dock voltage that powers my on board battery chargers to assure a full charge over night, and fix the internal power inside the boat so if there is an issue, it is minor.  Time will tell!  Either way I am fishing next Monday through Friday so my next post could be a week late. Hopefully it will be worth it. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

It's Never Too Late...Sometimes It Is

Leon and His Granddaughter, That's my Leon!
There are often times when you wait to do something and after doing it people say, Well it's better late than never......or It's never too late.  Unfortunately that is not always the case.  On Friday night I was tying up some snells for catfishing on the river.  Using turned eye circle hooks, snelling them was a great way to assure the proper hook set for these types of hooks.  There are many ways to tie a snelled hook and the method I use was taught to me by my friend Leon Lambert.  Leon was a purchasing agent for one of my customers in Pueblo, Colorado and we often talked on the phone.  One thing lead to another and it was soon discovered that we enjoyed fishing alot.  So much that one time in the early 90's he had to travel to the corporate offices in La Crosse, Wisconsin for meetings so I arranged to meet him and we both went fishing in my boat below the dam in Alma, Wisconsin for walleyes.  It was the first part of April and luckily turned out to be great day to fish, few boats on the river, the water wasn't too high or fast, we had a great time.  We did catch a few fish, it was a little early in the season but it really turned out to be a blind date as Leon or I had never met, we just met and went fishing.  Well that date cemented what turned out to be a life long friendship.  That friendship included a few trips fishing in Colorado, once on the Arkansas River, west of Pueblo.  Action wasn't fast or furious but never the less it was an adventure.  One winter's day we had a conference at our facility in Fort Collins.  I brought our UL guy, Rick Barthel with me and we arrived on a Saturday, destined to fish the weekend before heading to the plant on Monday.  Our destination was DeWeese Reservoir, about 50 miles West of Pueblo, near Westcliffe, Colorado.  The plan was to ice fish for trout in the morning then head to Eleven Mile Reservoir and maybe catch some larger fish.  DeWeese is at 7700 feet of elevation and the ice was pretty thick.  Leon didn't have much for ice fishing except a hand auger and some older equipment.  In the meantime, being from Minnesota, Rick and I were well equipped as we brought our made for ice fishing poles, tackle, and we even brought a depth finder, my Vexilar FL8.  There were a few people on the ice however by the time we got set up, we were the stars of the show.  Everyone was fishing with short casting rods and spin cast reels while we were finesse fishing with our equipment, and quite successful I might add.  After catching a number of trout we packed up and headed to another of Leon's spots, Eleven Mile.  Unlike DeWesse, and even though it was at a higher elevation, there was no snow on the ice, it was bare, wind sweeped, and treacherous.  Of course our fishing destination was across from our landing and about halfway there Leon slipped and fell on his wrist.  In quite a bit of pain we turned around and brought him home.  That evening we had learned Leon had broke his wrist and had it in a cast.  The good news is that he learned quite a bit about finesse ice fishing and eventually bought the electronics to improve his game.  Leon retired about 11 years ago in 2007, we stayed in touch but as it goes, time flies fast enough.  Well tying those snells made me think of Leon so I decided that it's been too long, and dialed his number.  Being around 9:40 it might have been a little late as he did not answer the phone.  Well at least his voice mail worked so I left a pointed message and figured I'd call in the morning.  My phone rang at 7:30 and by the time I got to it, too late.   Well I'll call later, which I did and his wife Carol answered.  The first thing to come out of my mouth was...Where's that husband of yours?  I sensed from her tone that it wasn't going to be something I wanted to hear and I was right as she told me that Leon had passed away 10 days ago on August 20th of a heart attack.  At that point one is speechless.  I suppose it had been 2 years or so since I had spoken to Leon, it was now too late.  Leon was one of those guys who fit the saying....Friends are like stars, you might not always see them but you know they are always there.  Well Leon, you are always in my heart, God Bless you and hopefully I will head in the same direction that I know you are.  See you my friend.  If one is ambitious simply go to the left hand side and you can click on Leon's name and see the other posts about him!

21 inch Smallmouth Bass, a Trophy
So what would Leon expect me to do, sit around and moan or go fishing and enjoy life.  So with a heavy heart and a head spinning, we did what I am sure would have made Leon happy and went out on the River for a few hours on Saturday night with my neighbor Todd, the catfish king!  The plan was simple, 4 miles up river and cast for smallies till about 7:30 then head to below the island and fish for whatever is eating night crawlers.  Although Todd professed to understand how to cast a levelwind, admittedly it was painful to watch.  Our strategy was to cast crankbaits into the shore and reel them so they either came straight back to the boat or slightly downstream (Last weeks post dealt with that!).  About a half mile down from our stopping point where there was some rip rap along the shore with about 10 feet of calmer water before the current break was, a huge fish hit my lure and right away one knew it was nice.  It was in the same area that a large smallie took a swipe at my bait last week, this one was solidly hooked.  With some coaxing Todd finally got the net in place, head first, and he successfully netting this beautiful 21 inch smallmouth, my personal best.  We let her go after taking a few pictures, she was a beast for sure.  We did manage a few more fish even as Todd spent at least half his time undoing bird's nests in the reel.  He finally got the hang of it somewhat just as we approached 7:30 so we put everything away and headed downstream.  Anchoring just below Cloquet Island we did manage a few smaller catfish, another rock bass yet I don't really think that is correct and am doing some more research.  Todd caught another Redhorse before it got too late and we had to go.  The motor on the jon boat is still acting up somewhat as it seems to flood very easily.  The float is probably bad in the carburetor,  another project on the list.  Using the trolling motor to go back to the landing, that was working for a while but one last try on the Mercury and it started.

Beautiful ending to a evening on the River.
It was a long day for sure but an evening on the river is magical.  While anchored and looking upriver I took this picture of the sunset.  It was like Leon was smiling down on us and congratulating us on the good evening of fishing, like I know he would.  In the meantime there has been a lot of work done on the Ranger.  Having electrical problems from the last trip to Lac Seul, my goal is to have all of it fixed by the time we leave back to Chamberlain Narrows on September 17th.  It hasn't been that easy as Ranger's have these internal electronic circuit breakers that really work well but have their limitations.  The best thing was to run a separate power circuit from the battery to the front console then use that as a strong source for your electronics power needs, separate from the standard boat accessories.  Although not done, I have the 6 gauge cable ran, the ring terminals crimped, and awaiting my Amazon ordered power distribution terminal strips to make sure that the job is done professionally.  Hopefully it will all be done by the weekend as I need to also update my electronics before I go.  Lowrance's new upgrade allows one to now make your own maps as a previous update did using Sonar Charts Live.  The difference is one no longer needs to have the latest Navionic's Chip that has the current $99/year subscription attached to it.  The mapping option, down to .5 feet resolution is now a free option on Lowrance HDS Carbon's and Gen 3's.   The only thing one needs to do is download the software on a MicroSD card, insert it into the card slots on the device and turn it on.  The software will need a blank 32 gigabyte or less card to record the maps it creates. That's easy as you can now buy quality 32 gigabyte MicroSD for about $10 these days.  Amazing as when I started digital photography memory cards were $1 per megabyte, now it's less than $0.00032 per megabyte.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The River is Hot!

Dave's first Smallie!
Last week was spend getting the Jon Boat ready to fish the Mississippi River behind the house.  It hadn't been run in almost 2 years as it never made it on the River last summer.  New plugs and gas did the trick and by last Friday it was ready to go.  At the same time my friend David Grant texted me Friday morning...............you wanna go out on the river tonight?  Well, not finding any excuse I said sure, meet me at the pole shed about 5:30.  We hooked up the boat to my Razor and off to the landing on my neighbors property.  I asked Dave, bass fishing or Lazy man's fishing.  He wasn't too sure so we decided to go both.  Heading up river about 4 miles, we got in front of an island just south of the City of Dayton then drifted down the north side of the river casting crankbaits for smallies.  Dave is pretty good with a casting rig however it took about a half an hour to drill it into his head that when river fishing the fish face upstream so you need to cast above where you want the lure to go then drag it either into them or across their face.  We drifted stern first so I could maintain control with the trolling motor and I think he was in normal lake shoreline fishing mode where you sort of leap frog in front of each other.  While drifting it's really about the spots and one casts tight to the shoreline then drag your lure to the waiting fish.  I assured him that there was no way I could cover every spot and that I would definitely leave you with at least half the good areas..............STOP casting in front of me!!! Well it took about a half mile but being a smart kid he finally figured it out as I pointed out the choicest places to cast.  Bang, a nice smallie grabbed his firetiger Bomber A.  This was not only Dave's first river fish but his first smallie and the fight was on.  These river fish dang near jerk you rod out of your hands and they don't have to be that big.  He was pretty happy about it and even more so after he got the hang of where to cast, we must have gotten 15 smallies in an hour and a half, including a huge one that I estimated in the 20 inch category that took a swipe at my crankbait.  Dave did pretty good for a rookie and we had a lot of fun.  Well it was about 8:00 and I suggested we
Dave's 15 pound channel cat
try Lazy Man's fishing, where we anchored in the pool just below Cloquet Island on the river and fished the bottom with nightcrawlers.  It is one of my favorite ways to fish, I suppose because it really isn't much work.  The pool is around 12 feet deep and has a current edge to it, we fish right on the edge in the calmer part of the current.  One of the things I like to fish with are circle hooks.  If you have the right ones, the fish can swallow the bait however because of the hook shape, it will not become lodged in their throats but catch on the side of their mouth and literally rotate around and hook the fish in the corner of their mouths.  It is very easy to remove the hook and release the fish with little effort without hurting them.  The first bite we got was a big fish, it had taken the hook, swallowed the bait and was heading down river when the hook simply hooked itself in the fishes mouth, no hookset was needed.  I handed the rod over to Dave and the fight was on!  Although last week he got a 22 pound salmon, fighting this fish from an anchored position was a battle unique.  Getting it up to the surface it was a huge channel catfish, maybe 15 to 20 pounds. These fish really fight but those circle hooks work great and it was easy to unhook and have Dave pose for a great picture!  I was another first for him, earlier in the trip his first smallmouth bass and now a significant channel cat.  You probably can tell by his smile that he was having a good time.  We went on to catch another smaller catfish and a first for me in the river, a bullhead, but time was getting late and we had to head back and try to find the boat landing.  That was another adventure as the landing was very slippery and we barely made it back. Back we did though and I would classify it as a great trip for Dave to experience river fishing. He commented that it was hard to believe we were 25 miles from Downtown Minneapolis, but the river is simply a diamond in the rough, and of course it is in my back yard.  Admittedly it also good for my ego, to help pass on some fishing knowledge to a kid that is two generations away from me.  I am thrilled that he likes fishing with this old man, it truly makes one feel young again, thanks Dave!

Todd's first Catfish
As state before I do like fishing the river with night crawlers, it reminds me of my childhood growing up in Eleva when Kevin and I would fish the river all the time, often in August we would go to the chicken plant and get some chicken livers then go below the Buffalo Bridge (the Highway 93 bridge going south across the Buffalo River).  One other option that I have near home is to fish the river from my neighbors dock, it's pretty relaxing, no need to haul the boat down, just drive to the dock, bait up and cast out then set your pole into the dock poles (which make excellent rod holders) and wait for the bite.  This time I asked my neighbor Todd to join me.  He had never been river fishing before, especially like this.  I was showing him the string of bubbles breaking at the water's surface, that's a carp working the bottom.  I don't think he believed me however about 10 minutes later one of the poles doubled over and was pulsating pretty hard.  I grabbed it and gave it to Todd, here you land the first fish.  As stated earlier, the circle hooks will set themselves as the fish pulls against the current and away from the line.  He had a huge carp.  The problem is that we did not have a net and the deck of the dock was about 3 feet above the water.  We could see the fish next to the dock and the only opportunity to handle the fish was to get on the shore and wade through the mud however buy the time we figured it out the hook broke and the fish swam away.  I had made the hook snells with 10 pound mono so lifting a large fish like that was out of the water and 3 feet up would surely snap the line, although it did anyway!  After re-rigging the the pole we casted out again and it wasn't long before the pole bent
over again, This time I wasn't about to lose it.  I let Todd reel it in while I waded in the muck to grab
Golden Redhorse
the fish.   Dang, this fish was another nice cat, I estimate around 18 pounds.  I got it cleaned off and had tod hold it up for a picture before releasing it.  We were on a roll!  Shortly after that we hooked another fish, this time it was what I call a river redhorse as the fins were very dark reddish in color, just like we used to catch in the river back home.  Next was another huge catfish, about the same size as the first one.  Next on the list was a Golden Redhorse, a beautiful bottom feeder, they put up a great fight and their coloration is a stunning golden color.  For some reason I really like catching these fish, and of course beauty is in the eyes of the beholder but they are truly a gorgeous fish. Fishing until dark our final total was 3 channel cats, all at least 15 pounds, 4 redhorse suckers of which 3 of them were the golden type, 2 rock bass which quite honestly I have never caught in the river, and the 1 nice carp, a total of 15 fish for the 2 hours we sat on the dock.  Not bad as those big catfish took about 10 minutes to land, unhook, take pictures, and release.  This time we didn't think of it however I have a new telescoping landing net in the boat that would have worked out just great for this, oh well the muck did wash off pretty easy.  On the way out we stopped at the neighbors house and showed him the pictures, I think he was impressed.  Either way I will probably head back out to the river this weekend as these last two trips have reminded me how much I truly enjoy the simpler aspect of fishing the river.  And besides, one never knows what one will catch, the most exciting part!  I know that this time I am stepping up the size of my snells to 15 pound test!

Friday, August 24, 2018

Uffda!

All I can say is time sure does fly.  It seems as though I had just finished my last post and here it is, another week..............uffda.  For those who don't really understand what Uffda mean, click here and you can learn more about it!  So after 5 days of fishing in Canada, there has been plenty of things to do around the house, with the main objective of getting the jon boat out and running to fish the Mississippi River this summer.  Last Summer my Canadian fishing got in the way but have vowed to not let that happen again.  Last Friday was our annual trek to Brainerd International Raceway (BIR) to watch the NHRA drag races.  These are the big boys like John Force, Tony Schumacker, driving funny cars and top fuel dragsters that hit 320 mph and cross the finish line 1000 feet down the track in less than 4 seconds from a dead stop.  It's pretty incredible to watch as the round just shakes as the cars fly by.  As always we are guests of my good friend Kevin Sonsalla.  My neighbor Lory Brasel went with as it is always a good time with Kevin.  Friday is a qualifying day so the big boys start their first round at about 3:00, make a run then go back to their tents and tear down the motor completely and rebuild it, ready for the second round of the day at 6:00.  Kevin gets us into the Tony Schumacker tent where we can watch them rebuild the engine, have a nice dinner, refreshments before heading back to the track.  On one of the Funny Car runs I decided to record a video on the phone and in this case one of the cars blew an intake manifold, which in turns blew off the entire body.  I caught it on the video which is above, stop it at the 8 second make and you will see the resulting explosion and as the video ends you can see the body parts floating to the ground.  It was pretty amazing as I have been told that this is a potential failure so it is made to blow up safely, sure...... These engines run of Nitromethane which has 2.3 times more power than gasoline.  I have been told these engines at full throttle us 1 gallon a second.  Either way it was fun and quite amazing to see a car go that fast in that short of time.  Enjoy the video!

David Grant and a 22 pound King Salmon
So my second goal was to get my jon boat out and ready for fishing the river this weekend.  The
motor hasn't been run in 2 years and even though it has Non-oxygenated gas in it, it still isn't good to sit that long.  The other issue is one forgets about the nuances of the motor, like this 25 hp Mercury tends to flood easy and doesn't need to be choked very hard.  Once the water cuffs were put on, a few pulls with the choke fully on and the engine sputtered to life.  Unfortunately that's all it did and it would not run consistent.  Remembering it had a tendency to easily flood, a quick run to the auto parts store and new plugs seemed to help somewhat but no entirely.  The next step was to drain the gas and put in some newer stuff.  The gas smelled OK but one never knows so after finishing that task, a few pulls on the rope and voila, it started then stayed running!!  This Merc 25 hp has a goofy system whereas the throttle and gear shift is all in one.  You can only increase the throttle slightly before it shifts into gear as you pass a point on the twist grip.  Well up to this point it would simply kill once you passed that point however this time it kept running, and boy did it smoke.  Another sign of being flooded, it seems impossible that it could happen that fast.  Anyway she cleared out and after filling the tank with new gas, she's ready to go for the weekend.   It was great to get everything going and am looking forward to getting back on the river for some great smallmouth and catfish fishing!  Needing a nice fish picture for this week, my good friend David Grant sent me this one of the 22 pound King Salmon he caught on Lake Michigan this week.  I remember fishing this time of year on Lake Michigan in my 16 foot Lund Pro Angler with a 50 hp Merc.  My friend Kevin Aiona and I would go out and get kings, Coho's, and Lake Trout as we had the boat decked out with down riggers.  One can fish 3 lines per guy so we always had 2 lines down on the down riggers, maybe 40 - 60 feet down.  To the side we had Dipsey Divers that took your bait down and away form the boat, I suspect those were about 40 feet down.  The last two line were straight back of the boat, we used brightly colored crankbaits or J plugs.  We would get plenty of fish and the great thing about it was we'd take turns fighting the fish while the other guy reeled in all of our gear.  This meant we could fight the fish directly instead of keeping the motor running so we would not get tangled up and having to reel the fish against the 2 mph boat speed.  Anyway Dave, that's a nice fish and I'll bet it tasted great!

So the plan is to hit the river this weekend.  Hopefully there will be some nice pictures of the results.  As stated before, our next trip to Lac Seul is planned for September 17th, admittedly I'm so spoiled!!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Back From Fisherman's Cove, Lac Seul

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

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

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

A Time to Remember

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

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

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

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Busy Weekend!

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

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

Friday, July 20, 2018

Back To Mille Lacs

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Time For Mille Lacs

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

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

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

Thursday, July 5, 2018

4th of July Rememberance

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Back From Lac Seul, Part 2.

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

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

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

Friday, June 22, 2018

Back From Lac Seul, Part 1

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Not Much to Report.

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

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