Wednesday, February 14, 2018

To Busy to Fish!?!?!?!

Cold outside!
Well, that and the cold weather has really put a damper on the February fishing, uffda!  Last week was spent in Anaheim California at the MD and M (Medical Device and Manufacturing) Show.  We exhibit at this show every year as it is the largest show in the country featuring Medical products, which we do make at work.  Sunday the 4th was the SuperBowl and every year my neighbor Tim has a spectacular party so we went to that.  I had to leave on Monday morning, the day after the big event, and was reminded to get to the airport 3 hours early.  Well it wasn't that bad but luckily I have a lifetime membership to the Sky Club so it's a nice place to relax, get something to eat and surf the internet.  The prices for flights out of Minneapolis was crazy so I decided instead of flying into LAX I went into Orange County otherwise known as John Wayne and/or Santa Ana airport.  Either way my flight took me through Seattle with a 2 hour layover  that turned into a 4 hour layover.  Ah the joys of flying.  Landing in Anaheim at 8:00 PM my friend Mike Schubert picked me up and we headed to my hotel.  From -5F when I left to 70 degrees in California, it was sweet to ride around with the car windows down.  When flying one of the things I like to do is get a handle on whats going during the flight.  Preferring window seats allows me to keep track of where we are and the changing landscape below us.  The  picture is one of the flight data while on our way to Seattle,  Notice we are flying at 36,000 feet and it is a cool -81 below zero.  At that temperature the plane was definitely leaving our mark on the sky in the form of contrails.  My tickets were in First Class and I had the pleasure of sitting next to a lawyer from New York, who had been at the Super Bowl then heading to California. He was a liability lawyer and it was interesting to hear about his business. 

Ivanpah Solar Power Facility
After the show was done on Thursday, Mike suggested I check out of the hotel early and stay at his house for the night.  It seemed like a good idea and was looking forward to stopping by his American Legion Post in Newport Beach.  It is the largest post in the United States boosting over 4500 members.  As I entered the Legion hall it suddenly dawned on my that my coat was left in my room.  Quickly calling the hotel they called back and said yes, we have it.  Well, in California it sometimes takes an hour to get anywhere so I just had them send it to me.  Worried because of the money that was in the pocket, well it was too late for that.  As a surprise it arrived at work on Monday with everything still intact.  After enjoying a nice prime rib at the Legion we headed to Mike's drank a bottle of wine and the next morning left for the airport.  My flight would take me to Salt Lake City then back to Minneapolis.  The desert intrigues me as we flew over what appeared to be a huge solar collector where mirrors are focused on a concentrated solar collector to convert heat to electric power.  It was kind of interesting as one could barely look at the 3 units in the desert just southwest of Las Vegas as they were extremely bright, like a welding arc.  Further investigation shows that it is called the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility and is the largest of its kind in the world.  Check the link out as it is quite interesting. Salt Lake is an interesting town as it is bordered on the east by mountains and on the west by Great Salt Lake.  Finally getting home was nice after a week away, although the weather in California was nice, it does seem to get boring after a while!  When boarding the plane out of Orange County Airport the flight attendant saw my American Legion hat and it's reference to Newport Beach, he exclaimed, Going the wrong way aren't you?  My response was that I missed the cold weather and needed to go ice fishing.  It is interesting to show my colleagues pictures from Red Lake, they think we are all crazy up here............maybe they're right!

My next trip is to the APEC conference in San Antonio, TX.  This year we've got a trip to fish the prespawn largemouth bass on Lake Fork Reservoir, east of Dallas.  It is famous for their big Largemouth Bass as they have stocked the Florida Strain of bass and the Texas state record of over 18 pounds came from Lake Fork.  Compared to Minnesota where the state record largemouth bass is only 8.5 pounds, it should be interesting.  We were thinking about going to the gulf to fish however my friends Joe and Matt claim they still have not recovered very well from last summer's hurricanes. Although its really fun to fish the saltwater, maybe I can get something larger than 8 pound and have a graphite reproduction made, that would be nice.  As well, it's simply a pleasure hanging with my friends from Texas and truth be told, if I never caught a fish I'd still be happy.........we'll catch fish though!! 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Done at Red

Propane Detector that Really Works!
This month has been quite busy as you can tell by my late posts.  I have a lot of things going on in my world right now, hardly any time to do anything, even fish!  Hopefully it will be done soon and I can let you all in what's the big deal, but until then life continues, dang fast I might add!  So last weekend was the last trip to Red this year, as planned.  My friends Mark and Russ along with myself haul our wheel houses to JR's at the first sign of driveable ice which was December 15th.  Not the earliest and not the latest but a great start.  The plan was to bring it up on our first trip and leave the house at the resort till the last weekend in January.  With 2 trips in between, during Christmas vacation and the second week in January, it generally works out to 4 trips a year.  I just bought a new truck prior to our first trip and already trips to Red have accumulated 2000 miles, oh well I guess that's what trucks are for.  My original guest for last weekends trip ended up with the flu so my brother Steve filled in the spot, meeting me after my Friday morning meetings at around noon and we arrived at JR's around 5:00.  Russ had been there since Thursday night and Mark was about 2 hours ahead of me, and graciously giving me the reports of where the State Patrol were parked!  We kept in touch and definitely they had enough fish to treat us all to a walleye dupper at JR's and it wasn't long after we arrived, things got into full swing.  The last time I was at Red, I had some trouble with my 30 pound propane tank, it seemed froze up.  Whether this was the case or not, I brought it back with me and my neighbor Tim kept it in his heated garage for a couple of days and it seemed to work fine.  I use about 15 pounds of propane a day in my Salem Ice Cabin when the weather is cold, it wasn't too bad this trip however it is nice to make sure you don't run out.  Upon arriving I put the tank in the holders, started the furnace and hooked up the house to the truck.  The wind was blowing right into the side where the entrance door is, which is next to the furnace exhaust.  It really smelled like gas in the house but I assumed it was the exhaust fumes blowing back into open door so I opened the roof vents and pulled the house down on the ice.  This is a good strategy because it get's the house warmed up as well, I put my generator inside to warm that up so it starts good.  We went into JR's to eat, returning to our rig about an hour later.  Well, things should be nice and warm, we'll just follow Mark to where they are parked and go from there.  Walking by the house, a very loud alarm was going off so I opened the door and uffda, did it stink like gas.  Here the propane/LP gas detector was going off.  With the door and ceiling vents open, it cleared fairly quickly as I got the detector to stop beeping.  Checking around here one of the stove burner knobs were turned on and it was leaking propane into the cabin.   Damn lucky the whole thing didn't blow up! The nice thing about my furnace is the combustion chamber is sealed so it was just blowing the propaned saturated air through the heat exchanger and not near open flame, Uffda!!!  We did get the air cleared out yet everything in the house absorbed that smell so it too till Saturday night to start smelling normal.  I do have a Sensy candle in the house and that helps.  All I can say is if you have a propane powered anything in your wheel house or RV, make certain you have a working gas detector.  The house is a 2013 so I need to make sure of the Replace by date is not expired.

Bucket full of walleyes
Fishing Red this late in the season means getting close to Center Bar and finding an area where there isn't much traffic or houses around.  Red is a shallow lake and traffic on the ice can definitely affect the bite.  Never the less we did have a pretty active Friday night with the rattle reels going off with some regularity.  The last time I was there I let the others take care of that 2:00 AM sound but this time it was my turn.  By morning we had 3 nice walleyes in the bucket and missed a few.  Catching enough to take home, we decided to simply eat what we had which was fine with me.  Saturday was JR's Red Fest, an interesting event which is basically an indoor ice fishing contest.  You buy tickets then put your name on them, they get put in a bucket and if your name is drawn you get to draw from another bucket a piece of paper with a certain size fish on it, say a 12.5 walleye.  You can decide to enter it into the contest or release it and hopefully get entered again. It is fun and is the accumulation of the last 6 weeks of fishing on Red.  I have met some great guys including some of my customers, it's an innovative way to have a contest, by 4:00 its over and we head back to the house.  This time it wasn't as cold as a few weeks ago but Russ had picked and area that blew in with snow the day before.  It took a while to pack up and pull the house back onto the plowed roads but as they say, persistence pays off!  We cleaned the fish that went home with us, said goodbye to JR for another year, and headed south.  Admittedly it is sort of bittersweet leaving, the time is flying as it seems like we just pulled our houses up.  We had spent 9 days this year at Red, I would say that fishing was consistently good as we did eat fish most of those nights.  The size of the walleyes are perfect, in the 15 to 19 inch range, and in beautiful shape.  We did not fish for trout this last trip, as stated things just went too fast, maybe next year.

Clever is all I can say!
So the house is back home, Super Bowl is this week and it's time to start planning for our annual Leech Lake Opener that takes place in 15 weeks.  There is a lot to do before then as it is our 45th Annual and we like to try and do something special on the 5th year anniversaries.  One thing that drives me absolutely nuts is the fact that trailer license renewals are due in February when it is cold out.  It seems dumb to me because every year I renew the plates then wait till spring when it seems to be a better and warmer time to put on the tabs, and eventually forget were I put them and then the drama starts.  Eventually everything turns out good enough, I think this year I'm going to  tack them up where they will stay in front of my face all the time and see if it helps.  Each year it seems to get worse!  A final note, my brother Steve is from La Crosse and we are both Green Bay Packer fans.  We were talking about the NFC Championship game where Philadelphia defeated the Vikings.  Not to throw stones and I was somewhat sorry that the Vikings lost, he sent me a picture that I thought was quite clever!  Anyway there is always next year for both teams. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Catching up

Friday night's cold sunset.
It's been a whirlwind of activity in my world lately, some of it is simply getting caught up after the holiday's, some of it is business related, and some of it is just that I am running out of time.  Oh well we did get some fishing in.......barely, however it turned out.  2 weeks ago it was Sister Rosemary's Christmas party in Arcadia, Wisconsin, an event that is difficult to miss.  Not that I would not rather be fishing however those family events are important as well and I got to see some of the people I don't see very often.  As well, with both of my parents now gone, the incentive to drive back home isn't as strong as it once was, so it was nice.  Besides my wife's uncle Bernie gave us some venison trimmings for the bologna we are going to make one of these days! As I said work has been crazy but I still got a chance to get out on Friday and head to Red Lake and JR's.  The gang, Mark, Russ, and myself were destined to fish this last weekend however Russ had something going on and so did Mark up to the day we were to go and called me saying, he's open, let's go.  Needing to get away I agreed as we headed out on Friday morning to Red.  We got to the Resort, paid our dues and headed out towards the Center Bar.  About 4 miles out JR came driving by and stopped us to say hi.  I had my usual wild rice and a bottle of Whiskey for him, my appreciation for how nice he treats us.  He exclaimed he had a special place where the fish were biting and he would take us there.  I really never expect to horn on a guys business but he insisted then turned around to lead the way.  There was a significant amount of snow on the ice so it was very thoughtful of him to not only lead us to a special spot but he also
Headed for the deep fryer!
plowed out an area so we could back our house into a clean spot without fear of getting stuck of uneven.  It worked out fabulous as we got the holes drilled and the house set down and sealed.  Finally getting the generator started, we cleaned up the house and were fishing by 3:30.  It was getting cold for sure but it was very beautiful as we watched the sun set over the lake.  Almost immediately we started catching walleyes.  These fish are wonderful eaters, all in the 14 to 18 inch range, nice and fat and perfect.  Mark and I caught enough for a nice meal on Friday night, actually I got pretty full as we had a lot of fish!  Before we headed to the resort to clean and have our fish cooked, JR stopped by and spent about an hour with us, it's a nice break for sure.  He had some friends in the house next door and we invited them to join us but they were already full and not hungry.  JR's is nice because of my wheat allergy, I simply drop a bag of Zatarain's corn based Louisiana style breading in our pail of fish and they do the rest.  Actually many of the guys think it's better but it doesn't matter to me because this is all that I can eat.

Cold morning for sure.
After watching TV we hit the sack, Mark has this pretensity to get up at 6:30 in the morning, not that I object however I do need my beauty sleep!  The smell of freshly perked coffee is nice but I needed to take care of some business.  JR had portable outhouses pulled in the area so I decided this would be a great thing to take advantage of.  Driving to one of these modern conveniences, I opened the door to find a bench with a padded seat on the hole.  A bucket was underneath the hole with a large black garbage bag situated in the right position.  As you can see by this picture, -22 was nothing to sneeze at and trust me, things are damn cold at -22F, like padded toilet seats! It definitely saved me from cleaning up the event in my house so I really don't have much to complain about.  Saturday was an ok day of fishing, they bit in the morning then again just as the sun went down, we had more than enough for supper and some to take home.  After eating we headed back to watch the rest of the football game before hitting the sack.  Certainly we were more subdued on Saturday night as well we were stuffed!  We hit the sack, waking up again at 6:30 were I repeated my Saturday morning performance before catching a couple more walleyes.   At 9:30 we started breaking camp as my electrical system started acting up.  I felt I knew what it was, a bad ground fault so while Mark lifted the house, I pulled the outlet as I had another one.  The first thing I noticed was the white neutral wire was burnt black 2 inches back from the outlet.  Further investigation showed the outlet starting to melt in that area.  It wasn't the ground fault at all but a faulty connection, not good.  Luckily I had purchased a new one for that just in case moment.  I restripped the bad wires, made sure that all the connections were tight then put it back together again, just as Mark had finished up his portion.

It was snowing as we left and it took almost an hour to get back to JR's.  I parked the house then went in to clean the fish before we left.  All in all it was a nice trip, it was good to spend some time with JR as well to meet his friends on the ice.  Next rip is scheduled for January 26th as the intent is to pull the house back to civilization and get ready for the Hunter's Perch Extravaganza on Mille Lacs in 6 weeks.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Fishing in the Deep Freeze

Nice 22 inch walleye
My last post discussed the passing of my cousin Julie and the funeral was on December 28th.  My original plan was to head up to Red on the 27th and fish till Saturday however we changed our plans and headed up right after the funeral.  It wasn't a very good travel day however my brother Steve was at the funeral with us so he drove up to the house afterwards, I met him at the pole shed then we went and picked up my neighbor Lory and we headed up about 6:00.  It's a 4 1/2 hour drive from the house to JR' and we got there about 10:30, right on schedule.  The temperature was a constant -10 F all they way up with the forecast of -25 for red the next few days.  Russ and Mark were already on the lake so we paid Adam, hooked up the house and headed out on the lake, 3 miles straight out then left a half mile.  Unfortunately everyone hear left which was right, assuming at the 3 mile mark however they were on the right side (after turning left) so a quick phone call to mark and Russ and we found where they were parked.  It takes about an hour to set up and the temperature had fallen close to -20 but by 12:30 we were snug in the house with the heat making it comfortable.  I didn't want to hook up the DirecTV but we did get the generator going fine in the Generator box I had bought from JR last year.  Even though I have a cold weather kit on the generator, it still doesn't like running in the sub zero temperatures.  In the box it was nice and cozy and ran all weekend, in fact I never shut it down.  Along with the extended run auxiliary tank, it was perfect. We were pretty wound up at that time so we put in a movie in the builtin DVD player in the TV.  "What About Bob" a great choice and one of the movies that we decided in Alaska was one of each of our favorite movies, which also includes The Big White, with Robin Williams, Second Hand Lions, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.  Even though the movie lasted until 2:30 we sat back and enjoyed ourselves actually catching 2 fish before officially retiring to bed.  With the outside temperature at -22, we slept comfortable in the Salem.  Friday morning we got up and the boys made breakfast while I got the DirectTV hooked up.  There were some bowl games scheduled and they always make the day go better.  A good helping of bacon and eggs, some orange juice and we were set for the day.  We ended up with enough fish to have a nice walleye dinner at JR's that night but not without me catching a nice 22 inch fish, which I decided to let go.  These bigger fish are females and when you clean them they are just full of eggs.  The fish are fat and healthy and we had enough for that night, away she swam.

Steve's nice 14 inch crappie
On Friday we had 8 nice fish and we did eat them all returning to the house ready to keep the action
going.  Unfortunately the skies cleared and we were in for another cold night.  Steve had caught this nice 14 inch crappie, what Red Lake was known for and we usually get one or two a season.  Along with a northern, the fish bite really slowed down for us.  Mark had his son in law, Brandon and his son Beckett, Russ had a few of his guests and they had been there since Wednesday so both of them headed out on Saturday morning.  We decided to stick it out till Sunday and wow, the bottom dropped out of the temperature on Saturday night.  Under clear skies I am sure we hit -30 as it was -28 when we got up Sunday.  Saturday was a bust for fishing and we only caught 1 walleye for the last 24 hour period.  Luckily Lory brought some sausages and a jar of his homemade sauerkraut, it was still pretty good.  Sunday morning we got up and started to get ready to leave.  It was damn cold I can assure you that, thank the Lord my truck started just fine.  The morning before, Russ's truck needed to be plugged into the generator in order to start but then again he has a Ford........Ok just kidding!  We did have 1 walleye so we parked the house in the parking lot, cleaned the fish and took off.  Red Lake is in the low land area just north of Bemidji, what is left of the ancient Lake Agassiz, a very large lake that was formed by the melting of the glaciers during the last Ice Age.   You can actually see the edge of the lake as you drive north of Kelihor (the last town before Red Lake) on Highway 72 and drive down into the lake bottom, the entire plane life changes, it is even more dramatic when you go west of Bemidji through a town called Gully.  Being it's old lake bottom the cold air really settles into this low spot and it's awfully cold for sure!   The cold weather really shut down the walleye bite however it has definitely made for good ice on the lake.  Unfortunately when the warm temperatures return the ice will expand and start heaving up, therefore bridges will have to be dragged on the lake to get across these tough spots.

This weekend was family time with a gathering in Arcadia Wisconsin.  Next weekend I plan on getting back up to Red and fish one more time before I drag the house back at the end of the month.  It is suppose to warm up this week into the mid 30's.  As well the St. Paul Sports show is coming in a couple of weeks.  Word has it they are catching walleyes on Mille Lacs so that will be my focus for February, we'll see how that goes.  There is still some crappies to be had somewhere and after the Superbowl the neighbors and I are planning on making venison bologna.  February is the MD and M Show for work in Anaheim, CA...that will be a nice break.Lot's of stuff going on, that is for sure!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

In the Deep Freeze

Ben Aiona's LOTW haul!
The predicted chunk of cold air that "broke" off from Siberia finally arrived in full force this weekend with temperatures of -16 this morning with highs of just below zero for daytime temperatures, the good news is it's making ice like crazy.  5 hours north of here at Red Lake and Lake of the Woods (LOTW) the nighttime temperatures are reaching the -25 to -30 range.  My friend Ben Aiona decided to go to LOTW on Monday with his family with only his Polaris Ranger and some thermal portables.  Dang lucky he's young because I would have second thoughts about being in a portable at -25F, although it's not to say that I haven't been, just age has made me a lot smarter! Anyway, on Tuesday Ben texted me a picture of their catch, a nice mess of saugers, they kept 24 (their leagal limit) and caught over 55 for the day.  This is not a bad haul, especially considering the temperature.  LOTW has a nice population of nice sized saugers and walleyes, I will call him later to see how him and his family are doing.  Ben is a good fisherman so if the fish are there, he'll get them for sure.  Personally I really enjoy renting a heated house up there, I will never forget the time my good friend Mark and I rented a house out of Wigwam on LOTW, that was 5 years ago and the highlight was the sturgeon that Mark had caught.  You can see that post Here if you want.  Frankly it doesn't seem like 6 years ago but it was.  One day I would like to bring the wheel house up and stay for a few days of fishing, LOTW is a fabulous fishery and you can get some really nice walleyes there as well and the limits are 8 fish in which only 4 can be walleyes, which is more than enough fish.

Cousin Julie
On Christmas Eve my cousin Julie passed away.  Julie had just turned 61 but had some health issues that she simply couldn't shake.  Both her and her brother Paul were our best friends when we were young and without saying Paul and I are still quite close.  Julie's dad was my dad's brother "Uncle Keith" and growing up, their family was an important part of our family as we tended to do a lot of things together.  Julie eventually married Clint Eide and resided on a farm between Eleva and Strum.  Our paths didn't cross much these last few years however we often had some interesting discussions on Facebook that kept us ever close in our minds.  Her obituary is Here and she will be missed.  It is a difficult time of the year as my brother Jon died on New Years Eve last winter so I understand what my cousin's are going through.  Never the less I will be heading back down to Eleva on Thursday to say good bye but to also see my surviving cousins and her mother, Aunt Dorothy.  It seems like it's the old adage, you only see your relatives at weddings and funerals, rings true however I did send in my deposit for fishing with Paul next August, it is important to make sure those friendships stay alive.  Paul was the only boy in the family of 4 children so often times my brother Steve and I look at Paul as our brother as well.  You can't have too many of those.  God Bless you Julie and our prayers are with you.

So back to reality, after (like right after) the funeral Steve, my neighbor Lory Brasel, and myself will be driving up to Red lake to fish the weekend.  As stated, it's cold up there but it will be snug and warm in the house.  The usual suspects will be there, Mark Applen and his son-in-law and grandson, Russ Praught and his crew.  Russ has given me an ETA at JR's of around 9:00 PM on Thursday and with some pushing we should be there about the same time and be able to follow him out to where Mark is parked.  I do enjoy fishing together as it's easier to coordinate when we go in to eat, as well, often a good break from your existing company!  Hopefully the fish are still biting, at least enough to eat something each night.  I am sure we will go through plenty of propane this trip.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Ice Fishing at last!

My First Walleye of the Season
This weekend was my official start to the ice fishing season.  Red Lake is located  5 hours north of my home and as stated the last couple of weeks, we were finally waiting for the ice thickness to develop enough to allow vehicles and wheel houses on the ice.  Last Thursday the resorts deemed it safe enough to drive 1/2 ton pickups with single axle wheel houses, the perfect description of my rig.  My friend Mark Applen had left on Tuesday afternoon with Russ being a day behind him, both pulled their rigs out on Thursday and had our location pretty well set before I got up there.  In my house were my 2 good friends, Kevin Aiona from Eleva and Keith Holtan, my Alaskan Guide friend who spends his winters in Brainerd.  It was great to see both of them and even better to have them in my house for a few days.  Kevin Drove up from Eleva Friday morning while I finished packing and hooking up the fish house.  With the new pickup and 10 months behind me in exactly what it was that is needed to make sure the house sits correctly on the hitch, my initial assumptions did not work out well as I assumed from the measurements that the new truck sat 2 inches higher at the hitch than my old on did.  Upon hooking up the house it was apparent that it wasn't the case and it took some scrambling to get the proper fit, luckily I had earlier ordered a different receiver hitch that is quite adjustable and once that was changed out, it was easy to get it right.  Kevin showed up and we were on our way to Lundeen's to get the "now needed" State of Minnesota ice shelter license.  A couple of dozen minnows packed in oxygen and we were off to pick up Keith in Brainerd.  Arriving at JR's around 2:30, Russ just happened to be in the bar and they had finished eating a walleye lunch. Checking the propane in the house, one of the 30 pounders looked like it needed to be filled so we got that taken care of and we followed Russ to our destination on the lake.  Mark had his fish already so he came by to help set up.  Setting up includes unhooking the house from the truck, drilling the holes through the ice, with the electric jacks by the wheels lift the weight off the tires and pull the pins that secure the main springs to the shackles, retract the shafts to set the house on the ice.  I have curtains that go over the wheel wells, snow has to be packed along the edge to keep out the wind.  Furnace is on, generator needs to have the extended run auxiliary tank connected, hooked up and started.
My Friend Kevin with a nice fish.
DirecTV antenna needs to be plugged in and hooked up as well the receiver needs to be installed inside.  The last thing to be done is setting up my flagpole so we can display the Stars and Stripes, the Green Bay Packer flag, as well there is a strobing light that only operates when it's dark, which helps us relocate the house after dark. All of this takes about an hour, even with 2 people extra, but when you are finally ready, it's wonderful to sit down in a warm house, mix a congratulatory cocktail and get down to the business of catching fish!  And catch we did, enough to provide a walleye dinner a few hours later at JR's.  The regulations this year on Red Lake ar 4 fish total with only 1 allowed over 17 inches.  The fish were absolutely beautiful with most of them being in the 15 to 17 inch range, as well we had a number of them in the 17 to 19 inch range.  Nothing huge but definitely a lot of nice fish and great eating size.  Friday night was an absolute zoo in the house as the rattle wheels we set just kept going off every 45 minutes or so.  I could hear Keith get up to tend to the job of catching these fish and catch he did.  Waking  up on Saturday morning there  was7 in the pail and as I stated, some real nice fish.  Seeings how these guys were my guests I felt obligated to make sure they caught the fish while I stayed comfortably in my sleeping bag, just proving what a good friend I really am, guys like me are hard to find!!!

JR's Airplane
The fishing slowed down a little on Saturday however we did manage to catch our allotted 12 fish for the day and took 6 of them in to clean and eat.  JR's does a great job as he has a nice cleaning area, you simply filet your walleyes and bring them into the bar where they take them and deep fry along with some French Fries, all for $5.00 each, a bargain.  The people at JR's including JR himself and his son Adam along with everyone else really do a spectacular job.  Heck, they even let me bring in my own corn based fish coating as I am allergic to wheat, and make sure that I get the right fish back.  As well, on Saturday morning my friend Andy Achmann called to see how we were doing.........apparently better than they were.  Asking if I minded if he moved by us....No problem, just stay 100 feet away from everybody.  Andy showed up and joined our little "camp" out on the ice.  The first thing Andy told me was he felt the ice was thicker where we were than his previous spot.  We absolutely had zero issues with the ice thickness, in fact the buoyancy of the ice sheet was excellent as sometimes the weight of the house and truck will cause the ice to bow, causing water to sit on the ice.  At the end of the weekend we each ate 2 meals of walleyes, took home our limit of 4, and probably caught and released 20 more fish.  Personally it wasn't my best trip as I did not catch a fish until Saturday night but it was still a blast being with my friends.  It is always good to see JR as he was flying around the lake to get a handle on the conditions.  Luckily he landed just as we got there and had a chance to talk to him.

Monday and Tuesday was spent in Chicago on business.  Always one to mix business with pleasure, we were able to get to the Bass Pro Shop in Gurnee, Illinois.  Although we have Cabela's there are some things I like about Bass Pro.  It's a pretty large store and has a lot of fishing stuff.  I simply love their Redhead crew socks and buy many pair the same type, it's easier to match them then.  They had a pretty good deal on a 1/4 zip pull over and when I held it up the XL seemed too large and the large seemed just right,  Not the case.  I called them and because Bass Pro bought Cabela's, I can take the pullover back to Cabela's for a refund....interesting.  I did get a couple of little single LED lights like Keith had for charging his glo baits, maybe that's why he caught more walleyes than me!  The next trip looks like it will be after Christmas, unfortunately the cold weather is supposed to arrive at the same time with -12 predicted for the high on Tuesday and -22 for the low.  Uffda is all I can say, other than it will be making ice for sure!!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Red Lake, Here we come

JR's on Red Lake
After much anticipation and juggling of guest, Friday my friends Kevin Aiona and Keith Holtan will be joining me for the first excursion of the year to JR's and Red Lake.  Mark Applen drove his house up on Tuesday night and called with a report last night, the bite was fabulous, he had fished in one of JR's Rentals and did pretty well.  As well here is JR's fishing report from this Wednesday : 12-13-17. Well that time of year is here that we have all been waiting for.... 1/2 ton trucks and single axle houses are good to go
starting tomorrow Thursday. We have some of our sleeper houses still available for this weekend, Friday and Saturday. Please call to book one now as the bite is very strong. As for the ice conditions we are at 12 to 15 inches of ice In the areas we are allowing the traffic, but we are still asking you to use caution and be careful. The trucks will be limited to west to the rockpile and North to 14 feet of water, this depth seems to be very key right now to get on the hot bite.    Mark is going to put his wheel house out on the ice today, as well our mutual friend Russ Praught was heading up this morning and will join Mark out on the ice.                 
2018 GMC 1/2 ton truck.

Last week I indicated that I had been negotiating on a new pickup truck.  Well on Friday I took delivery of a 2018 GMC 1/2 ton Sierra XLT with a heavy duty towing package.  I still need to get a few things put on like the tonneau cover but after only a few days I can see how much nicer this is as it has a 6.2 engine which is bigger than the 5.3 I have had in my other trucks.  The side mirrors are great, they pull out to extend, which will be nice for towing my wheel house.  The mirrors also have a great LED lighting system for backing up as well as they are 2 section and the bottom mirror really gives you visibility along side the truck. The rear has heavy duty springs which are nice but required me to reset all of my reciever hitches as the heights are all hosed up for each of my trailers, especially the Salem Ice Cabin.  It required a 4 inch rise on the hitch but now the receiver is 2 inches higher so it needed to be lowered by 2 inches.  I am sure I will need to redo the one I use for the boat but admittedly this isn't much of a problem.  Another thing I like is the fact that when I have the cell phone bluetoothed to the audio system, when a text message comes in
there is an option to listen to it, which is nice.  The dealer is scrambling to get the tonneau cover on today and stated it might take till tomorrow so we need to give you a rental car.  I told her as long as the rental is a 1/2 or 3/4 ton truck so I can pull my wheel house to Red on Friday morning, trust me, if I go through the ice I'd rather it be your vehicle then mine!  They did not find it very funny and said they would have mine done today!

TX Bourdon
For Christmas my good friend Matt Davis from Texas sent me a bottle of TX Bourbon.  This stuff is super popular and must be really good as the first batch that the distillery released sold out in less than 6 hours.  It is made in Fort Worth, TX and is only available in Texas, as is their other product, TX Blended Whiskey.  Matt tested me as to whether I liked it or not however he was informed that the official opening would only be after I caught my first walleye on Red Lake, it just seemed fitting!  Because my friend Mark Applen is a bourbon fan, I will definitely use the occasion to get his input as to the validity of this product.  Something tells me it's going to be pretty smooth! Besides this, I have some Gluten Free Waffle mix and corn based fish breading, which the cooks at JR's accommodates me very well!  The plan is to have Kevin meet me around 8 AM tomorrow, we will stop at Lundeens to pick up my now needed ice shelter license as well as some minnows.  Head to Brainerd and pick up Kieth before beelining it for Red Lake.  My last fishing trip was in September so I am really looking forward to wetting a line!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Waiting for Ice

Special Ice Lures from JR's
The warm weather has finally left us and we have returned to much better conditions, at normal or below!  With near zero or below temperatures at Red Lake, we should be making at least and inch a day of ice an if it continues we should have enough ice to pull out the wheel houses next week, which would be nice! Last week the topic was the Ice Fishing show in St. Paul and of course one could not leave without buying a few lures to add to the collection.  My friend Keith Holtan was looking for some bubblegum colored jigs with a gold back, the best I could find were these glow Pink/red with gold glitter on the back.  Not exactly what he was looking for however they are dang close!  I have offered him these but he stated he will hold off.  That's OK, when I am slaying them on Red Lake next week with them he will definitely be rethinking his decision!  These lure are made by JR's in Brooklyn Park, MN and are featured across the Midwest.  I drive by their shop every night going home from work and have spent a lot of time talking with it's owner, Duane, regarding the current stat of the wholesale fishing business.  He is quite interesting to talk to as both of us have been to China and share our stories!

Air boat for fishing the shallow saltwater sloughs
We have our annual APEC conference in San Antonio, TX this year in March and I have got my friends fired up to maybe spend the weekend before the conference fishing down along the Texas coast near Corpus Christi.  We have done this a couple of times like last year when the conference was in Tampa, FL or a few years back when it was in Charlotte, NC and we drove to Charleston to fish for sheepshead.  I have fished in Texas a few times with my friend Joe and Matt with the first time fishing out of a high powered air boat like the one pictured here.  This matches the one we fished out of a few years ago, it has a big block GM engine with 2 counter-rotating 8 bladed propellers.  Sitting on the top seat, high up off the water is quite the thrill for sure as being from Minnesota this is an absolute blast and I'll be the first to sign up.  Looks like we can round up three or four guys, at minimum my friends Matt and Joe, staying at a nice resort along the inter-coastal and fish for red fish, black drum, sea trout and flounder.  My assumption is that the resort will cook our fish and there is nothing better than fresh red fish or sea trout with a nice glass of TX Whiskey to wash it down.  I should have more information by next week, it will depend on how many guys we can get lined up.  I might even get the opportunity to bring home some fish.

Brandon's Walleye's
My neighbor Brandon Larson stopped by the house on Thursday night with his newer 2017 GMC 1 ton diesel pickup truck. I am looking at something somewhat similar so we took a ride as he explained he was heading to Red Lake in the morning with a friend.  I asked him to text me a report, which I received a few hours ago.  They have about 12 inches of ice for about a mile out and they pulled their wheelhouse out with an ATV.  Brandon claims that this afternoon they nailed 7 keeper walleyes, most on the rattle reels.  It matches a lot of reports that I have seen today and I am looking forward to talking to him on Monday when he returns.  He is out of Greater Minnesota Rentals which is a few miles East of JR's, our preferred outpost, on the south shore.  I am sure that the ice is better there than by JR's.  As I stated, I have been negotiating on a different pickup truck and should have most of it done by next week.   

Monday, December 4, 2017

Better Late Than Never

Phoenix from the plane
It has been a whirl wind of events in the last 5 days.  Last Wednesday thru Friday was spent in warm Phoenix Arizona for our annual fall TTA meeting at the Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch.  It was very nice there although there was little time to do anything interesting and little water to plan a fishing trip with my friends like previous years.  It was interesting as the weather was somewhat cooler than normal in Scottsdale and back home the weather was warmer than normal however we had a number of interesting speakers and learning sessions.  The most interesting topic came on Friday morning when the gentleman from ITR gave his annual economic forecast and it certainly didn't look good for 2030.  Hopefully I will be retired by then!  Phoenix is quite dry and unless you are on a golf course or irrigated farm land it pretty brown.  Some people claim the bass fishing is quite good in some of the reservoirs however when I travel my intent is to fish for something I cannot catch in my backyard, like last year's Goliath Grouper.  In March we have our annual APEC conference in San Antonio, TX and we were talking about seeing if we can get back to the fish camp in Cameron, Louisiana.  Now that was a fabulous trip and amongst our friends, we all would love to get back there to catch some nice redfish, I guess we will have to see if we can get our friend Joe to set it up again.

Pistol gripped Ice Rod
As stated last week, myself and neighbor Lory headed to the Ice Fishing show on Sunday.  It was packed but is well worth the time and effort to spend it with the various vendors and resorts.  One area that caught my eye was ice fishing in Door County, Wisconsin in March for both large walleyes staging to spawn and also fish whitefish in the deeper waters.  I really enjoy catching tullibee in Mille Lacs, which are technically cisco's, a member of the whitefish family.  Lake whitefish are larger yet share the same traits of following your bait and fighting hard. I'll start thinking about this after the first of the year.  In the meantime I did buy some things for this years upcoming ice fishing season.  First it was an unusual ice rod with a molded handle.  It is an interesting pistol grip which affords you to hold the rod in a more natural position for your hand and arm, thus minimizing the fatigue. It feels really good and I am anxious to catch some Red Lake walleyes with this!  The other thing I bought was a pop up Eskimo insulated portable fish house, I call them hub styles.  My ground blind I use for deer hunting is made the same way, the frame is attached to a center connection point then one simply pops it out to set up.  Years ago I had bought one from Cabela's which included a sled, hand auger, the fish house, a couple of collapsable chairs and a cover for the whole thing for about $150 on clearance. I liked it however it was not built very good and after a couple of years it broke.  I told this to the guy at the show about it and he wanted to take care of me however I suggested that it was a cheap house to begin with.  I like these houses as they are fairly light, can fit inside the back of my truck very easily, big enough for 2 or 3 guys, don't take much to heat, and the quality of the frame systems looks much improved.  They had a lot of dealers selling them at the show however at this late time, no one had the one I wanted in stock.  The Eskimo guy new just what to do for me.  Normally the model I was looking at was $329.  Reeds had it in at the show for $289.  The Eskimo guy brought me to the Cabela's booth where they were simply price matching plus a discount so they signed me up for the same thing for $232, however I needed to pick it up by 7:00 at the store near my house.  Lory and I left the show and headed for the store where they gave me an extra $30 off so I ended up buying it for $202, not a bad deal at all!  I had enough Cabela points so I paid it from there, no cash out of my pocket!  While looking at some stuff my friend Ben Aiona spotted us and said hi.  His dad Kevin, my great friend from Eleva, was on his way up so we hoped we would meet him, eventually we did.  Both Lory and I had a great time, I bought a few things, got to talk to a few guys, including the owner of Vexilar, that was quite interesting.  Tom Zenanko was in the booth and I was telling him that our company was instrumental in getting his Clear Water Classic to market via designing the output transformer that drives the transducer, we ended up making 15,000 before it went to China.  It was a good conversation.

South Shore of Red Lake via JR's, lots of open water!
Well Red Lake has went backwards the last 2 weeks with the warm weather raising chaos with the ice conditions up there.  3 weeks ago it looked like we were in for an early season and I would be dragging my wheel house to JR's this coming weekend.  The opposite happened and the ice conditions deteriorated as the warm weather took it's toll.  Last weekend a young couple drove their ATV into the water and they along with their ATV were eventually found at the bottom of the lake. Sorry but I know things happen however this early in the season, there is no excuse for recklessness.  If you are going to venture on questionable ice at least wear a life jacket and have some ice picks with you.  There is no fish worth dying for.  I will simply leave it at that.  The good news is, after today the temperatures will plunge into the single to below zero range at night with highs in the mid teens during the day..........cold enough to start making an inch a day of good ice.  It is supposed to snow there and that will not help anything yet I predict that by December 16th things will be in full swing as I will haul my wheel house up for that weekend and get ready for the week after Christmas.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

Nice walleye from Kieth
Thanksgiving is finally here and it will be the first that I will be without either parents.  The old house in Eleva is sold so where we have celebrated for the last 50 years is no longer in the picture.  As the old saying goes, nothing ever stays the same and definitely is a true statement.  Although most of the small lakes are ice covered the weather has turned somewhat mild in the last few days and the hard freeze of an inch a day will not return until Monday.  This is OK as after going to Eau Claire to have Thanksgiving with my wife's uncle Andrew and his family, Friday and saturday look to be relatively nice out, enough to get the boat cleaned up for it's voyage to Frankie's and get some last minute warranty work done before the spring rush.  My good friend Bruce has offered me a space in one of his heated rental units where he keeps his boat and I am definitely going to take advantage of his generous offer.  I need to work on my electronics before next year's opener and this will give me an excellent opportunity to take care of that.  The mild weather on Friday will also give me a chance to pull off my mower deck and mount the snowblower and cab.  Not a job I am looking forward to, never the less it needs to be done.  My friend Kieth is back from Alaska for his winter getaway in Brainerd!  His home is on North Long Lake and the early ice has him out fishing.  This afternoon he sent me a picture of his first walleye through the ice, not bad!!!  Makes me want to head north yet the next two weeks has me quite busy.  I know that my other friends Russ and Mark may be heading to Red to walk out for the first years fishing, probably leaving their wheel houses up at JR's.  Speaking of wheel houses our illustrious Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has decided that a Portable Ice House on wheels are no longer classified as portable therefore you need an Ice House License even if you just pull it out for the day and remove it from the ice at night.  Interesting because you did not haven't had to do this for the last 5 years and the fact is that this announcement was on Monday, 10 days before the "winter" season begins.  See the announcement HERE.  I guess I really don't expect any better for our Minnesota DNR....It's all about the money.  I have informed all of my friends that own wheel houses of this new requirement and I even called my friend Bill Lundeen to see if he can sell me one.  Yes, he has them, they are just the standard shelter license.

December 1 - 3
Monday will start a frantic week with as stated, dropping my boat off at Frankie's.  Although it seems that this boat has had more issues, which is true, it has more stuff.  I seldom had to bring my 2 previous Rangers back to the shop but I really don't mind as I enjoy seeing Frankie, Deb, Lisa, and Joe, they really take care of me well! On Wednesday of next week I fly to Scottsdale, Arizona for a 3 day convention of The Transformer Association.  It is a group of transformer manufacturers and suppliers and we discuss industry trends, the future, and learn about a number of new things.  Last year the meeting was in Naples so a bunch of us usually try to go fishing afterwards.  There is not much water in Arizona so hopefully I will get back in time to attend the St. Paul Ice Fishing Show which usually falls on the same weekend as our conference (This year it's December 1 - 3).  It's a pretty good show with a lot of good products and information but to be quite honest, I'd rather be pulling grouper out of the Gulf of Mexico like we did last year in Naples Florida. I do enjoy the conference however, even if it is with my competitors, they are truly my friends.   With my hectic schedule it looks as though I may be able to pull up the wheel house to JR's at Red Lake around December 8th,  there should be enough ice to drive on the lake by then, at least according to Intellicast!  I already have purchased some wild rice for my friend JR who really likes the stuff and keeps him smiling that he will have this year's harvest.  The fishing reports published about  Red Lake from the guys walking out to the first break are pretty good as the water clarity is stated to be around 28 inches which is excellent for this time of year.  Red Lake is quite windblown and the water get's pretty stirred up just before ice over.  Of course the clearer the water, the better the walleye bite on Red.   Have a great Thanksgiving and hopefully I will get a chance to post from Scottsdale, or at least while I am waiting for a plane somewhere!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Fast Week

Sitting on the Stand
My computer went goofy on me this week and I finally got it fixed.  It is simply amazing how much it has become an integral part of our lives, unfortunately.  So last weekend was the end of our deer hunting in the zone which we hunt, Zone 2, so I decided to head back up with Jack and Ben to try and bag some venison.  The good new was that the cold weather during the previous week had been cold enough to freeze the swamp and one could easily walk out to the areas that we hunted when Rich was still alive.  It was pretty good as on opener one would have needed hip boots and a lot of ambition to trudge through the swamp, which was as full of water as I've ever seen in the 10 or so years I have hunted this property.  There are a lot of deer around as Brett had planted a wildlife plot and 8 or so deer, mostly does and fawns, would come in every afternoon/evening to partake in the feast, even though there was a lot of standing corn in the area, apparently deer love the sugar beets he planted!  Deciding to show up for the Saturday afternoon hunt I walked out to the island where I used to put my stand and sat on the one facing the Northeast, we call Bobby's stand (Rich's brother from Seattle who hunted with us those last years Rich was alive).  It was very nice, the temperature was in the low 30's and we had a dusting of snow which made it easy to see anything coming.  Unfortunately nothing came other than a few small flocks of Tundra Swans flying by.  Sitting there till dark, 12 foot up in the tree, is quite a bit better than sitting in a ground blind as I did the previous week.  Admittedly it was warmer but at least I could see quite a ways.  The fresh snow also gave us some indication of any deer movement however there were few if any tracks around my stand.  Often times the second weekend of hunting is not as good because there are less people pushing the deer around.  At sunset I met Jack and Ben, who were sitting just south of me and we walked out of the swamp.  Brett had shot a nice doe Friday evening and we told him that we would tag one if he had the opportunity however there were no shots that day.  We got up about 5:30 on Sunday and headed back to the stands.  Sunday morning was quite quiet yet I did se fresh deer tracks in my footprints in the snow as I walked out.  It appeared to be exactly what Brett was seeing, a doe and 2 fawns.  Leaving at noon, we went back to Jack's cabin as he was heading back in the afternoon, I decided to stay and hunt the evening.  Jack has a nice stand in a good location so I decided to use his for the duration of the hunting time.  I arrived at the stand around 2:30 and hunted till 5:15 before walking out.  I knew Brett was still out there so I waited for him, he returned to say he had shot a nice doe around 2:00 but nothing else came through.  He tagged it, I loaded up and headed south.  As stated, it was nice to get back in the swamp but I guess this year I was one of the 70% of hunters that don't bag a deer each year.  No big deal, the important thing is to get out with Jack's son Ben and get the next generation interested in hunting.

Pete's Pail of Fish
The next thing on the agenda is ice fishing!  My friend Pete has been out with his friend Dave Genz fishing somewhere north of Highway 2 in Minnesota.  Apparently they nailed some nice 12 inch crappies and a few good sunnies on there trip.  Pete told me that Dave will be on this week's show, John Gillespies Waters and Woods fishing with Dave on the Mississippi not to far upstream from where I live.  I guess it might have been more productive fishing than hunting but you can't be in two places at once!  Oh well, I have a pretty full schedule the next 3 weeks, the snow blower needs to get mounted to the lawn tractor, the shed needs cleaning, Thanksgiving is next week, I need to bring my boat back to Frankie's on November 27th to get the scratch on the bottom fixed as well as the rod locker lid replaced.  On the 29th I head to Scottsdale Arizona for a 3 day convention for the TTA, the Ice Fishing show is on the weekend I get back, December 2nd and 3rd.  Reports have Red Lake ice at about 7 to 8 inches so by December 8th I'll be ready to haul up the house for a couple of months of great fishing!  They upped the limit of walleyes on Red to 4, of which only 1 can be over 17 inches, which is fabulous. I know Mark and I would like to fish on the Reservation for trout like we did last year, that was fun.  The wheel house is pretty well set to go, I need to check the air in the tires and straighten things out a bit but that won't take too long.  Winter is here and even though it is somewhat mild, at Red Lake they are averaging highs in the low 20's and low's in the single digits, just what the doctor ordered, making ice!!!  I might even get Pete to take me with for some early season crappie fishing.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Deer Hunting Success

Flock of Migrating Sandhill Cranes Passing Overhead
My measurement for deer hunting success these days consists of whether I even get a chance to get out in the woods any more and has little to do with if I actually shoot a deer or not`. Oh well, I usually have enough friends that have been successful and quite honestly get enough venison to satisfy my cravings. Last week's post talked about making my late brother-in-laws absolutely fabulous venison bologna recipe and it looks like neighbor's Pete and Todd have enough to supply the deer meat with me supplying the recipe, know how, sausage stuffer, smoker, and vacuum packer, it looks like we are set for a fun day of bologna making.  As stated, Rich's land is really wet, the wettest we've ever seen. Like the last 3 years we hunted Jack's neighbor's land, Loren's.  Loren is Jack's neighbor at his cabin on Platt and is a fabulous guy.  There is quite a few deer around however I think that if we want to get serious about hunting his land, we need to make some decent tree stands as the ground blinds are nice yet the view is limited.  Admittedly the ground stands are nice, especially this year when it snowed about 4 inches on Friday night then rained all day on Saturday.  Actually the snow had collapsed the roof of my stand when I arrived on Saturday however it didn't take long to pop it back out and get the heater started.  It's pretty comfortable inside and I had a nice view of the clearing in front of me.  There was a lot of standing corn in the area and was little shooting in the morning.  We saw fresh tracks in the snow as we drove in along the corn however heading to our stands, we were the only ones making tracks.  Of course with the fresh snow on the ground, anything walking did not make any noise so it was difficult to hear anything.  Except around 10:00 Saturday morning, a God awful racket was to the north of me coming closer.   They were much louder than geese so I stepped outside to see a flock of 51 sandhill cranes come flying over.  They are beautiful birds and it was interesting to watch them, they would fly a few hundred yards then pick up an updraft where they took advantage of it as the entire flock circled to gain altitude.  They did this a number of times before I was unable to see them anymore.  The cold weather has frozen the swamp so it looks like we will be able to hunt the high ground by Rich's (Now Brett's) this weekend.  Maybe I'll actually have some venison to contribute to the bologna making party!  If anyone wants the recipe let me know.

Pretty Much Says it All!
This week has been very stressful as I lost my phone while in Costco picking up steaks for last week. Losing a phone is almost as bad as losing your wallet these days.  With the help of my friend Welly we were able to lock up the phone via the internet and locate it.  I have learned that this "location" is not very accurate and is based on how well it is receiving a GPS signal.  Well my wife happened to call Costco on Sunday and even though we went there on Friday to see if they had it, apparently the left hand doesn't talk to the right hand very well, I think they did have it but what the heck, I got it back.  It is a pain to unlock it as you basically have to start all over again, uffda.   Then on Saturday I called my wife via my OnStar in my truck............more good news, the well stopped pumping water.  This happened in 1999 and e had the pump replaced, that one lasted 7 years, this one was going on 19 years, I guess that's double the original.  I called the guy and he came out on Tuesday morning, did a few things, pulled the cover off the well and VOILA there was a dead mouse laying on the wires it chewed on. I guess that was a fitting ending to it's life but the good news was the fix was relatively easy.  A new splice, some adjustments to the cover so this would not happen again, and $200, we had water again.  That sure beats filling the toilet tanks by hand or paying $2000 for a new pump to be installed. So everything is almost back to normal again.  It looks like I will be back up with Jack and try my luck deer hunting this weekend.  the latest satellite pictures show Upper Red Lake pretty much froze over and the temperature tonight will be around 5 above zero so it won't be long now!  I guess the picture above says it all.

A beautiful lady for sure!
As a parting note there was some sad news from my home town of Eleva this week, our good friend Joanne Strong passed away this weekend from Pancreatic cancer.  Joanne was what Eleva is, a beloved resident who was a dear friend when I grew up in town.  As a teenager I worked at Wenaas Mobil and Joanne always had something wrong with her car like a flat tire or the muffler was loose.  I would fix it and tell her to simply get out of here as she never had much money!  She worked at the service bar at Wagner's 66 1/2 Lanes in Eau Claire (Click on her name to see her obituary) and it was a time when bowling was actually something to do on a Saturday night.  Yes, like the obit says, she made the best Bloody Mary's as I'll never forget the time my brother Steve and I went up to bowl.  Danny Van Pelt, another good influence in my life, loved Vodka Gimlets with olives and he had graced me with acquiring the taste of them while we were in Canada with the Tollefson's.  I remember making them for him by chipping ice off the big block we bought in town before we went on the lake (Actually it was cut lake ice).  This was my choice cocktail that night.  Joanne made the best and the more I had the better I bowled as I racked up 4 strikes in a row, a spare and 4 more strikes in a row finishing with a score of around 240, the absolute best I had ever done.  I blame my good score on the gimlets that Joanne was giving me!!  Thank the Lord Steve drove home that night.  One day she needed a different car so her step dad, Stanley, Joanne, and myself (they respected my opinion) drove to Mondovi to look at what I remember was a 1965 Dodge Dart.  It was like new on the inside, some rust on the body and it was powered by the famous slant 6 engine.  I noticed some hesitation in the transmission, he wanted $125 for it, I told Joanne that the tranny sounded rough but we could put one in from the junk yard later if needed, offer him $75.  The guy took it and Joanne drove that car for at least 6 more years without a problem.  Even the last time I saw her she still remembers that day we went to get the car.  I am planning to go see Joanne one last time, unfortunately it is a cruel reminder that we are all getting older. Maybe I'll have a gimlet tonight in memory of my dear friend Joanne, I am sure that the people of Eleva will definitely miss her.  Here's to a grand Lady, Love you Joanne!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Deer Hunting Time

Antique Enterprise Sausage Stuffer
This weekend is the start of the Minnesota Deer Hunting season.  It seems like just yesterday I was going deer hunting with my uncle Dewey on Gordon Sather's land, just south of Eleva.  Deer hunting in Minnesota starts 2 weeks earlier than in Wisconsin, I suspect because half the state is farther north.  In my earlier years living in Minnesota I would hunt "Up North" near Roseau Mn with my friends the Taylors, Tim Guzek, Mark Mayerich, the late Ron Edberg, and the Ullom boys.  Today it just remains Jack and his son Ben Taylor and myself hunting near his cabin on Platte Lake, 12 miles west of Mille Lacs Lake.  We used to hunt a Rich's land, basically 120 acres of swamp with a few choice islands where the deer are thick.  This year was extremely wet with over 7 inches of rain in October.  Admittedly I am getting older and the thought of trekking through the swamp before the sun shows itself has little appeal to me.  I used to wear hip boots, walk the seemingly 5 miles (actually about 1/4 mile) carrying my clothes with on my back, changing in the woods then repeat on the way out.  That was fun but today it seems like a lot of work simply to shoot a deer.  And the shooting is the easy part, it would need to be dragged out of the swamp, gutted, and hung up.  Today we hunt on of Jack's lake neighbors land, he has 80 acres of mixed woods, field and swamp that is pretty nice.  We can drive right to it, there are plenty of sign around and it is a lot easier on the body! Friday night will always be our steak feed at Brett's (Rich's place) and we will hunt hard for the weekend, with a little luck, we'll end up with something. I have rallied the neighborhood guys into pooling our resources after deer hunting to make my late Brother-in-law's homemade venison ring bologna.  He made the greatest bologna I have ever had and it was great to have on a cold winter day. 
Ring Bologn
I used to help him out where we would make a couple hundred rings at a time with the guys back home.  So inspired, I began to acquire the equipment needed to do this in Minnesota, the first thing was to get a sausage stuffer.  I remember about 35 years ago he brought me to a house in Winona, MN where we opened a door in the floor and went down into the cellar.  There he had an Enterprise 4 quart stuffer in pretty good shape and only $35, quite a bargain as these now sell for over $300.  Since I've had a friend sand blast it and electrostatically coat with a black, food grade teflon coating.  I looks like it's brand new and does a fabulous job of stuffing meat into casings.  With a pool of neighbors, we should get some venison and because the recipe calls for 50% Pork, we would only need about 25 pounds of trimmings to make 50 or so rings.  Tim and Lory have the heated sheds, Tim and I have a smoker, I have the recipe, hopefully we will be able to make something.  It would be a great for treat for ice fishing this year, nothing is better than what those guys in Independence would make.  I am looking forward to bagging a deer but especially getting the guys together and making sausage.  When we lived in Brooklyn Park back in the 80's we made about 100 rings of bologna with my neighbors.  For a smokehouse I simply bought some cheap paneling, made a big box, then put a crude wood stove inside.  The house backed up to a main highway, 85th Ave.  The meat needs about 4 hours of smoke so we sat around drinking beer till it was done.  A drive along 85th seen the smoke coming out of our homemade smoker, drove around the block to get to the house and came to the door.  I went to answer the door and upon opening it he told me that my shed was on fire!  We showed him the bologna in the box, he went away somewhat embarrassed however it was still nice that he took the time.  I still laugh!

Gouge on the bottom of the Ranger
There are a few issues that I would like to get done with my boat before winter sets in hard.  I had an appointment for last week however the dealer doesn't have the parts yet and I feel my boat is better in my garage than in their fenced in area.  There are 3 main things that need attention, first the back Ranger Logo that I damaged during opener needs to get put on.  Secondly, the Rod locker lid had delaminated and it has not come in yet.  The third issue is getting the bottom of my boat fixed.  While in Canada, someone in the boat (he knows who he is) had some important business to do on shore.  We looked for a sandy beach area near by and found one with a few boulders to be careful around.  This was at the same time that the steering went out on the big motor so unfortunately we backed right over one of those boulders and there was not much we could do about it because we had no steering.  Although the gouge is under the boat and impossible to see, it still bothers me so it's going to get fixed.  Hopefully I can get in after deer hunting and get this stuff taken care of before it get's too cold!  Speaking of cold, there is already a nice snow cover in the northern part of the state.  Forecasts for Waskish, on Red Lake show that after this weekend lows will be in the lower teens with single digit lows towards Thanksgiving.  I won't be long now before Red Lake freezes over and maybe by the first of December we'll be fishing on the ice!  Lot's to do before then but the Ice Cabin is pretty much ready to go.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Apple Cider Time

Cider Press with Grinder
A couple of weeks ago the apple harvest began in earnest and when it was all said and done I suspect we had over 20 bushels of apples to deal with.  So what does a guy do with 20 bushels of apples .... well, the quickest thing is to make it into a drinkable form.  Here is a picture of my cider press with an apple grinder attached to the top of it.  I don't know why I did take any good pictures last night, I guess I was working too hard! Depending on the type of apples we get from 2 - 3 gallons of pressed cider per bushel of apples.  It is always good to blend varieties of apples, as I believe it makes for a better balanced juice, not too tart with a full rich flavor.  As stated before, the majority of the apples this year consisted of Haralson, Fireside, Honey Golds, McIntosh, and Wolf River varieties.  I personally like a good base of Haralson apples (Tart) blended with the Honey Golds(super sweet) , a fantastic combination.  This year we had a bumper crop of Haralsons which made up the basis for most of our cider.  Last night we doubled down with quite a crew to finish the 8 bushels of apples we had left before the weather turns cold on Thursday night.  My crew consisted of my neighbors, Lory and Lyn Brasel, Todd and his daughters Allie and Brenna, along with my friend Jack and Janet Taylor with their son Ben, and of course myself and Lyn.  It was a lot of fun as we ground up the rest of the apples and pressed 17 gallons of fabulous apple cider.  I would say that we processed around 50 gallons of cider this fall.  Lory took 12 gallons and has started making wine, Todd has got about 11 gallons and he is making hard cider out of it, and the Lyn's will be making apple sauce, all is good at the Anderson Orchard!  What was really fun is to have both or Todd's girls and Ben help with the process.  It is fabulous to work with the outstanding young people as some of my fondest memories growing up was hanging out with my dad's friends, Vic Wenaas, Daniel Van Pelt, Art Kelley, my uncles Keith, Dewey, and Jerry, Gyle and Bud Tollefson, all treated me as their friend and always had a lot of expectations of me, which was good.  I love paying that forward to our young people today.  Even at 62 I cannot help but remember Art Kelley who loved pheasant hunting and would have me clean his pheasants for $0.50 each.  For me the money was the bonus, just to be thought of as one of the guys was all I needed to be happy.  Or cat fishing with Vic or bailing hay with Gyle, these guys still influence my decisions every day and hopefully I can be that for some young person going forward!

Last weeks post was a summary of my day of fishing with my good friend Bill Lundeen at a special trout lake north of his shop.  As stated previously, I acquired an in line camera called the Water Wolf that attached to my main fishing line causing the camera to face backwards towards the lure.  I attached an 18 inch crawler rig with a spinner and used a half a crawler and embedded it to the 2 hook rig.  The results is sort of random as being in a canoe, I wasn't about to bring a computer with me to validate the camera's integrity, so it would be what it was!  In total I filmed over 2 hours of action with the camera facing the bait.  I have a guy at work who with my help we edited down to about 15 minutes and admittedly it's pretty cool as the trout are quite easily recognized and even though it was a 2 hook rig and I made sure the hook were sticky sharp, it was amazing how many hits that did not hook up.   The sounds that are present are the sinkers banging against the body of the camera as the fish hit and fight.  Some of the highlights points are at the 3:00 mark I am reeling up to check my bait after a sunfish hit it a few seconds earlier.  You can tell the lure is getting close to the surface as the background color goes from green to blue.  Just near the top a rainbow trout hit the nightcrawler and I catch it.  At around 7:28 you can see a sunfish go after the lure however a trout decided it was going to succeed and soon became dinner!  At around the 8:10 mark you will see 3 trout come after the lure, and of course one does eventually get it!  One of the things that was interesting is how long some of these fish will follow the lure before getting striking it.  Anyway it's interesting as the camera is tied right to the line.  You can be assured I used a heavy duty rig with 40# Fireline.  Now that I have some experience, I am going to see how it would work icefishing as it would be a lot better with the camera inline with the bait instead of simply sitting next the main line down the hole.  Less tangles for sure.

Well they are predicting snow on Friday night, maybe this is a good omen for ice fishing this year.  Still there is a lot to do yet, dig potatoes, finish putting the Salem Ice Cabin back together, getting the boat up to Frankies to finish those less important issues that need to be taken care of.  This weekend means I need to put up my deer stand and get my license.  Uffda time moves!