Thursday, October 20, 2016

Back on The Water!!!

10 Beautiful Rainbow Trout
Well, it's been dang near a month since I have been out fishing, for a lot of reasons, or so I say.  The rivers too high, it's raining, Mille Lacs is closed, all great excuses however they don't do much for my reputation!  I do have to admit that I really miss the September/October night pulling cranks on Mille Lacs for those shallow hogs that come onto the reefs at night, maybe next year. Anyway the trhird week in October usually signals it's time for my annual fishing outing with my good friend, Bill Lundeen.  He has a couple of very special lakes that we have gone to each year for the last couple and they have yet to disappoint.  One of the reasons I get invited back is my vow of silence on the specific lakes that we fish.  Not that they are that far from his place but it probably would not take too much to fish them out and it is nice to be the only one's on the lake, especially when it's so beautiful out.  Wednesday, October 19th was our set time so I took the day off and drove up to his shop on Mille Lacs.  From there we had to load up the canoe, trolling motor batteries, trolling motor, depth finders, and equipment like nets, rods, ice, and bait.  While I used plain old worms, Bill likes to experiment with Gulp, which does work quite well.  After getting the canoe launched and set up we headed out on the lake with a pretty simple setup.  3 foot, 2 hook small spinner snell for the worms and a 1 1/4 ounce bell sinker to act like a small downrigger ball to get our bait down 25 to 30 feet below the surface.  It was crazy as I got a hit right away.  These trout are quite aggresive and put up a good fight, often breaking the surface, they can actually be hard to get in.
Beautiful spot to fish
 Also with the big sinker sometimes they leverage themselves against it and actually free themselves. The other issue is when in the net they flop around such that it can break off the hooks that are snagged in the net and break.  That is not fun as rerigging in the canoe is somewhat difficult and takes time away from the true fishing.  Never the less in 3 hours we had our 10 trout, 5 each.  We would have ended 20 minutes earlier however yours truly was in charge of netting and making sure the trout got put in the cooler however our 10th one flopped out of the canoe so we were relegated to another 15 minutes of trolling before we got the last fish.  In addition to the trout we also got some real nice 9.5 inch sunfish, definitely a bonus.  I am looking forward to trout on the grill as well my friend Mark Applen makes an awesome pickled fish and last year I gave him a few fish to pickle and they were amazing!  The lake sits down into a ravine so even if it's windy, it's quite fishable.

12 inch Crappie.
With all of our trout caught by noon the plan was to load up Bill's 16 foot Lund and go out for some of those late fall crappies.   This is a lot of fun and represents the classic fall pattern where you cruise the 25 - 35 foot holes looking for suspended school of fish on your depth finder.  It actually works pretty well as we located a number of schools out in the middle of nowhere, no structure around, quite textbook for sure.  Bill had bought a Motorguide i5 front controlled trolling motor like I have on my boat, the one with the fabulous anchor function.  You can anchor within 5 feet of your anchor point so when we found fish we simple hit the button and stayed right on top of them.  Our bait of choice was Gulp again, the small 1 inch minnows. I was surprised how aggressive they hit them but who's complaining, I caught a number of 12+ inch crappies on them, WOW!  Also you could catch 5 or 10 fish on the same bait before you had to replace.  I know that Bill is hot on his Gulp and we never opened the real minnows that we took along just in case.  The strategy was quite simple, just drop your 1/32 oz jig off the side of the boat to the bottom then reel it up 5 feet or so and basically vertical jig.  Often the problem with a light jig like that and how deep you are fishing is that the fish can hit the jig on the way up, you feel the hit but it is hard to hook them.  Never the less it's fun and we ended up with about 15crappies for the afternoon, as as stated some real nice ones at that.  Admittedly it got pretty cold when we were out there.  Fished till about 5:45 and I would say it was at least 43 degrees with a north wind taking the heat away.  I have to admit that I was getting pretty cold but it was hard to leave.  It was getting dark anyway so when Bill declared the day over, I was definitely ready.  We put the boat away then got back to the shop where Kathy had steaks prepared for us along with grilled cabbage, wild rice, Spaghetti squash, and mushrooms.  It was delicious and a perfect way to end the day.  After supper we cleaned the fish and I headed home, a very successful day of fishing and a nice day off in the middle of the week.

Saturday night was a tough for me as I ate a chicken sandwich on a croissant and ended up staying overnight in Mercy Hospital for anaphylactic shock do to a severe allergy reaction.  This time it appeared to be caused by wheat, just another thing to deal with.  I am ok now but it's not a lot of fun wheezing and breaking out in full body hives, 3 different times that night.  Maybe it's just the problem of getting old, who knows.  Saturday I will be heading to Wisconsin to fish with my wife's cousin Jason Rombalski and  his dad Andrew.  Both are great guys and maybe we can find some crappies similar to yesterday's trip with Bill, I am sure the opportunity should exist.  We are going to fish Long Lake, north of Rice Lake, Wi and the weather looks to be beautiful.  This also gives me a chance to take my boat out for the last time and winterize it as my motor has a feature that does this for you automatically.  This will probably be the last trip of the season with the boat and before ice fishing as deer hunting is coming up.  Hopefully we will make ice quickly as I am getting the Ice Cabin ready to head to Red Lake as soon as we can.  here hoping for a similar report next week.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Fall is Finally here

This weekend was the first hard frost of the year.  This usually means no more mosquitos, all the weeds in the garden are dead, and it's time to mow the field behind the house.  My plan was to try and get out on the river this weekend however the water is still ridiculously high for this time of year.  I generally like to follow my friend Pete's strategy and get some small 4 to 5 inch sucker minnows and hang them under a bobber and fish the shore edges on the river.  With the high water, it makes it almost impossible.  Also another good method is simply using a 3 way rig and work the bottom of the holes as the cold water should be helping to concentrate the fish.  I would say the water needs to be down at least another 2 feet before the "ideal" fall conditions exist.  Oh well, plenty to do around the house!  Last Thursday at a social event for the show in Chicago my friend Glen Collins insisted that I meet a friend of his, Gary Smith, he was 78 years old and had been in the business for many years.  What was special about Gary was he really loved walleye fishing, especially in Quebec, Canada.  He had a business and in the 70's bought a fishing lodge in Quebec, and took his good customers their.  At the same time my friend Matt Davis had brought some TX whiskey from Texas and gave a bottle each to myself and Glen.  Well Glen had his with him so we poured a glass for Gary and rightfully so, he proclaimed it as the best Whiskey he had ever had.  I know I talked to him for at least 2 hours, what a delight!  Actually got to see him on Thursday as we made plans for the next time we meet each other, maybe fishing or something related. On Monday Glen sent me and e-mail and a link to the Chicago Sun Times, Gary was killed as he was driving home after the show, he had lost control and entered the opposite lane before rolling over in the ditch.  That was a big shock, just met this wonderful man who had so much in common with myself and the next day...........gone.  It really puts things in perspective, one really never knows.  Hopefully I'll met Gary again but not too soon.  God Bless you Mr. Smith.

Gift from Milan
The other thing about last weeks show is seeing all of my good friends and industry associates, including Milan Grove from Thomson Laminations in New Jersey, right across from Philadelphia.  Milan has also been a mentor of mine especially when it comes to fine red wine.  I was telling him about the Merlot I like from Carlos Creek Winery in Alexandria, MN, enough to send him a bottle as he really knows his stuff.  In return he promised to send me a favorite wine of his and a nice Washington State Merlot, which I received this morning via UPS.  Anything Milan recommends must be pretty good as we both have the same tastes.  I am looking forward to trying a bottle and reporting back to him what I think of it. It's a fun hobby and it's also very interesting to experiment and try new things.  Milan's company makes some products for us so we have always have some interesting things to discuss, this just adds to the conversation.  My neighbor Lory, who works for us just left for 3 weeks in our facility in China so I will probably save it and share it with him, which is the fun aspect of wine, to share with your friends.  In the beginning of the week I flew to Denver for a meeting with some potential business partners.  It was a quick meeting as we were in and out.  It has been a while since I was in Denver and I didn't even get a chance to stop at the Bass Pro Shop, maybe next time! Either way you can be almost guaranteed that the flight out of Denver will be very rough and this time did not disappoint as we got tossed around pretty good in the first 20 minutes of our flight home.  Rather than go fish I decided that it's been a while since I have seen my mother in Eleva so we drove down on Sunday afternoon then spent the first half of the Sunday Night football game at Kevin's house before we left.  Driving down Highway 93 we stopped at the Bemis Bluff winery, just a few miles north of Eleva.  There we bought some of his Cranberry wine called Cranbernet, not too bad, a little on the sweet side but drinkable.

I am hoping to get out this weekend as it's supposed to be really nice.  I still have my trout trip with Bill scheduled for the 19th of this month and the 22 should be at Long Lake in Wisconsin.  Maybe I'll take the boat out and get it ready for that trip as it is likely to be the last on before deer hunting.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Long Week

My friend Keith is still catching Silvers!
With the high water, no walleye fishing on Mille Lacs, and the constant rain last weekend was spend getting ready for the winter than any relaxing fishing I should have done.  I also needed to get ready for my trip to Chicago to attend the North American Coil Winding show, which I did on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of last week.  Hence forth the late posting.........oh well. At least some of my friends are still fishing as proof of this nice Silver that Keith Holtan, my friend from Alaska caught on the Kenai River.  Along with my Brother and cousins, I have been fishing the early run of Silvers on the Kenai many times but it's usually in August when the weather is still somewhat nice, however Keith says the the late run of Silvers in September have larger fish.  This seems true with the late run of King Salmon as well, the late run produces those monster fish in the 60 - 90 pound range.  This picture of Keith is proof that those late runs silvers are pretty big, maybe someday I'll have to fly up and have him take me out.  He claims that the temperature was 22 the other morning, uffda!  Of course we had our first frost Friday night and the grass was pretty frosty this morning, a goo killing frost for sure. hopefully this is a signal for early freeze up this year!

Pan Fried Yellow Lake Perch, $17.75
Spending time in Chicago was interesting as I got to see all of our suppliers and some customers as
well as potential customers.  My company has been a survivor in the world of Chinese competitors and changing electronics industry.  We are definitely a player in the industry these days and it's fun to finally get some respect!  The show was at the Rosemount Center, just a mile or so from Chicago Ohare airport so it's and easy in and out.  The Double Tree Hotel has a nice restaurant called Gibson's Steakhouse and they are a really high end place but everything is very good.  On Thursday I was out of the show early so I decided to have lunch there before I headed to the airport and my flight.  On the menu they had Pan Fried Yellow Lake Perch in Lemon Butter and although the broiled halibut looked good, the waiter suggested that the perch was a guest favorite so I ordered it.  Totally unbelievable is the only way I can describe how well it was!   The perch fillets were not the big however whatever they coated it with then drizzled the lemon butter on them, I have had lot's of fish and definitely this has to top on of the best, including all of the fresh caught saltwater fish I have had the good fortune of eating.  It would be interesting to see if I could get the recipe for both the lemon butter and the coating but............if you are ever in Chicago and have a chance to eat lunch at Gibson's, I highly recommend it and it was definitely worth every penny!

I am off to Denver on Monday, hopefully get a chance to stop at the Bass Pro Shop as I like the variety.  It was confirmed this week that Bass Pro bought Cabela's.  They bought Ranger Boats last year and are definitely now the largest outdoor sports retailer in the United States.  I am not sure if that's good or bad, I guess time will tell.  My experiences is that it will not be good as the lack of choices is not that available anymore as companies chose to continue to buy each other out and look for ways to make more money.  It is sad because some of my favorite brands no longer exist, Falls Tackle, Beckman Nets are just 2 of them, I guess maybe consolidation is the only way but it doesn't mean it's good.  I have been working on my Salem Ice Cabin and getting it ready for the winter.  JR (From JR's on Red Lake) called me when I was in Chicago, just to see how I was doing and to give me some crap!  He has remodeled the place somewhat so I am excited to get up there!  He is super nice to both myself and Mark Applen and hopefully we can get up there early this year again.  I did check my tires as they were supposed to be filled with nitrogen so they don't lose air but I think that's a crock.  One was almost flat and the other was low so I took them off and brought them to Pete's to have the beads broke, cleaned, and resealed.  We one of the tires was quite wore out on one side and after some discussion about cracks in the other tire I decided to simply put new ones on.  The are 15 inch, 8 ply, load range D, and take 65 pounds of air.   I think that the low air pressure didn't help the old tires as I figures there was probably less than 4000 miles on them however, the last thing I want to be doing is changing a tire, 10 miles from JR's in 20 below weather........not!!!  I have a few things to fix and I should be set for the winter.  I have been invited to fish Long lake in Wisconsin in a  coupel of weeks with my wife's uncle and cousin Andrew and Jason.  It will be a good excuse to get the boat out one last time and winterize it.  Also I have a trout fishing date with my good friend Bill Lundeen, we have been doing this each year, maybe sometime next week.  Deer Hunting is coming up, lot's of stuff to do before then.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

September Lac Seul, Part 2.

Pete's 40 inch Northern Pike
Although the 2016 open water fishing season is winding down with about another 30 days of comfortable fishing, my current situation with the restrictions on Lake Mille Lacs as well my newly found opportunity to fish Lac Seul in Canada on a somewhat frequent basis has me looking at this season as a success.  Normally my routine has been opening on Leech Lake, maybe 12 - 15 trips to Mille Lacs with some time on the river thrown in there.  Occasionally the summer may be interrupted with a trip to South Dakota or some other exotic place however this year it was not in the cards. Looking back I suspect I have fished just as many days as what I would call normal however they were concentrated, like in my Lac Seul fishing, in 3 to 4 days of focused walleye chasing rather than a day here and there.  I was just commenting a few days ago, and those who know me and my love for Lake Mille Lacs would find this statistic interesting but my new Evinrude has pumped more Lac Seul water through it than anywhere else, at least 530 miles and over 30 hours of running hours this year alone.  My normal trips to Mille Lacs is about 50 miles run and maybe 4 hours running time.  I feel bad for the lack of time spent on Mille Lacs however the issues on the lake makes it difficult to commit any serious time and even more critical is it is difficult to find anyone who wants to fish the day with me. Most of my trips to Mille Lacs has been with people that are outside my normal circle of fishing friends.  The other thing of consequence is that my new boat is taking a lot longer to get used to fishing Mille Lacs, wheel vs tiller control.  You know they can be difficult to teach and old dog new tricks however Lac Seul fishing has my boat written all over it.  I was looking forward to the fall trolling bite on Mille Lacs however they closed the walleye catch and release season on September 6th, so much for that.  Being able to go to Lac Seul on September 13th pretty much makes up for my missed September fall bite on Mille Lacs as we got to fish 3 days in a row and for a couple of those days the bite was slow but between 3 of us we did land over 150 walleyes in the boat plus had enough to eat for the first 2 days.

Dan's Walleye off of Dan's Hole
We always are blessed with a good group of guys that fish Lac Seul however as I state before I am
pretty fussy with my boat.  Usually in the fall I have Pete and Dan in my boat, both are good fisherman and both have been trained really well to wash the sand off their shoes before getting into the boat.  This saves me a lot of work as sand and boat carpeting don't really go together very well.  It is almost impossible to vacuum it all out and it get's everywhere, especially in the lid hinges for my compartments. Fishing out of the Ranger is pretty nice as the seats are very comfortable, there is a lot of room, we have Sirius/XM radio, an onboard baitwell for our minnows, of course my opinion is the small jester of respect shown by these guys pay huge rewards!   The picture on the right is one of Dan and a nice 24 inch walleye out of one of my favorite places to fish in Tuk Bay we found 2 years ago, Dan's Hole.  Now Dan uses what Pete and I refer to as a Snoopy Pole.  It literally drives me crazy but Dan is pretty proficient with it catching his share of walleyes.  The problem I see is that he is constantly reeling against the drag and as a result is twisting the line like crazy. Being a closed face spin casting reel, he seems to do just fine however I am really tempted to buy him a significantly better reel, something we can tighten the drag down but yet still be closed faced. Maybe the other thing that drives me crazy is that he has his closed faced reel mounted on a spinning rod that is turned upside down.  Uffda is about all I can say yet he is a great guy to have in the boat, never complains about anything and is simply happy to catch fish, even doesn't mind when I make him clean his shoes off!  Beyond this I have spent the last week drying out and vacuuming the sand out of my boat, getting it ready for winter.  That doesn't mean that I am done fishing for the fall but time is definitely running out before deer hunting and ice fishing starts!

This week was the anniversary of the shooting that took my friend Ron Edberg's life.  Ron was a great guy and all of his friends miss him dearly, it's still a good time to reflect on life.  The weather is really starting to cool down a lot, I guess it's almost October already.  Next week I head to the Coil Winding Show in Chicago where I plan on seeing a couple of great friends in the business and start planning our early December fishing trip off of Marco Island, Florida.  That should be a perfect time depending on the when we can get out on the ice.  I have to take my tires off of my Ice Cabin and get them resealed as they are leaking air, too much to do, not enough time!!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wow, Time Gets Compressed

40 inch Northern!
My trip to Lac Seul occurred during the time I usually post last week and I was thinking about doing it from the camp as there is Internet, slow, but it's there.  Unfortunately one gets busy eating fish and savoring the time with your friends, and we are a bunch of old farts and are in bed by 10:00, uffda!! Nevertheless, it's pretty hard to complain about the time one spends with your friends in such a wonderful place to fish, Lac Seul. I have to admit that I have been very fortunate to be included in the group that I go with, my neighbor Pete Sipe and his consideration of my love of fishing.  Bruce, who is our fearless leader has taken some direction from me and improved his electronics and anchoring technologies significantly..........all without one complaint of me spending too much of his money! Lac Seul fishing is always great however some days are better than others.  September lake levels tend to be the highest of the year which allows one to get around much safer than in May.  The fall fishing can be relatively challenging as compared to the May opener or even in June as the fish ten to be deeper and more finicky.  Of course the baitfish are more than plentiful and mature making for easy meals for the fish and it requires some more finesse to catch them.  This time of year we usually have 3 main areas to fish, Tuk bay, Wapesi Bay, or the main lake reef areas south of Chamberlain Narrows area.  Bruce has a fondness for Wapesi so we went there on Wednesday.  This was the first day of blue skies in a while as it rained the day before.  Typically the weather following a rainy period is a rising barometer and it make it tough for the bite however it wasn't too bad.  One of the advantages of the high water period is getting into places that can be tough and this day was no exception as we made our way back to where the Wapesi River flows into the lake.  It was absolutely beautiful back there with the rushing water, current that extended back into the bay and some pretty good fishing.  I really wanted to catch a fish on a shad rap and casting in the current break areas I caught my first walleye on a crankbait in Lac Seul.  We did really well with walleyes of all sizes from 6" to 24".  When the jig and minnow combinations stop short, I like to try plastic and using a Cabela's bubblegum/chartreuse 3 inch curly tailed grub, a nice 40 inch northern pike hit it.  Luckily it was hooked in the side of it's mouth and there was little worry of the pike's teeth cutting the line.  Dan netted the fish and a few pictures later we released it.  I have caught many nice pike on Lac Seul but this one was quite fat and probably weighed in at 18#'s as it was pretty heavy to hold.  

24 inch Walleye in Tuk
The bite tended to be good for the first half hour of anywhere we went then it quickly shut down.  We spend a few hours at the river mouth because it was very pretty, the sound of the rushing water was nice, and it was simply very scenic back there.  However eventually we moved back into the main bay and fished a number of points and caught more fish, at least enough for supper before returning to camp!  The next day was for me as we returned to Tuk Bay, one of my favorite spots.  Although we did catch quite a few fish in Wapesi, my confidence level for Tuk is much higher, some call it a personal problem!  I bought a push button counter to keep track of the fish caught and Wednesday was around 50 however I felt we could blow that away in TuK.   We accomplished this by catching over 70 walleyes that day.  I personally thought the walleyes were larger as well however in the past they were more turquoise in color.  There is a channel that goes up straight north of the main bay and has a number of small points that are walleye magnetic.  It's fun to go point hopping until you run into them.  The point we fished last June that was so good did provide a repeat performance but the next one down from it certainly proved successful.  Again one of the ways to catch fish once they stop hitting minnows is to try artificial and get the fish to react to a trigger bite, one where they simply cannot resist to strike something audacious swimming by!  I bought some jig heads with willow leaf spinner blades connected on the bottom of the lure and they worked very good but for some reason I lost them right away, oh well!  The first 2 days were certainly fun and we still had 1 full day of fishing left.

Light Brown Raccoon
I did get home in time to head to the Green Bay Packer/Minnesota Viking's first home game in their new stadium.  It was pretty awesome Except that Green Bay lost, what can you do.  Certainly the Viking's looked a lot better than they have in the past years so it should make this year's season very interesting!  My wife has been complaining that the raccoons are making a smorgasbord out of our bird feeders on our back patio, so it was time to put out a live trap. Well this morning I had a brown/tan colored critter in the trap, I've never seen this color phase before and I have caught a lot of raccoons over the years.  They almost look friendly enough to pick up but I can assure you this is not the case.  I tend to drive them over to Elm Creek Park reserve and let them go, hopefully far enough away from the house that they won't find their way back, maybe 7 miles. Anyway it was  interesting to see this creature this morning.  I tell you, they sure do stink!

Friday, September 9, 2016


First fish of the Day
Seems like the older I get the more challenging it is to get everything done!  Last weekends long Labor Day holiday found me trying to get caught up on a number of things.  It has been raining alot in August, the garden looks terribly neglected, the grass needs mowing every 4th day and to add insult to injury, the days are getting shorter to boot!  This was the last weekend to legally fiah walleyes on Mille Lacs but the strong south winds that persisted during these days all but took the incentive to fight that battle away.  Because of the sorry state of the garden, Saturday found me driving to Cambridge to meet a person selling cucumbers and dill for making refrigerator pickles.  I still us Bernie Konters old Fall Fest Pickle recipe from years ago, have doctored it up a bit but they are still very good.  Sunday the wife and I headed south to the Farm Fest in Fountain City, Wisconsin and it is always very interesting.  They do old time threshing using a threshing machine and a steam powered tractor, pretty interesting.  That pretty well took all day so this left fishing to Labor Day on Monday.  Amongst other things the grass needed to be mowed so it was decided that my neighbor Tom Olson and I would head down on the Mississippi River behind the house and see if we couldn't find some walleyes in the current breaks.  Besides I had just put in new boat seats into the jon boat so it would be a good chance to test them out.  We headed out about 4:30 that afternoon and hit the first eddy pool just up river and on the other side.  I started with a jig and some rubber with a half a crawler while Tom chose to throw a brightly colored #7 Shad Rap.  On our first drift while bouncing the bottom I nailed a nice 16 inch smallie on the jig.  Hoping it was a walleye, I guess i'll take whatever hits.  I figured bouncing a jig would be the best way to entice one but in the river one never knows what will hit your bait, especially when it's tipped with a crawler.  The river is still very high for this time of year as we are at least 7 inches over normal rainfall for the year.  I feel that the fish tend to be scattered more when the water is high yet there are still a number of spots that tend to produce.

Tom's 18 inch Smallie
There is an area just on the downstream side of Cloquet Island that tends to be pretty good.  It has a  deep hole and a defined current break that makes it easy to fish.  I tend to like to bottom fish that area but searching for walleyes had me dragging the jig on the bottom.  It was a little more loaded with snags and because I was using a braided line was able to retrieve my jig along with a number of tree branches that were scattered on the bottom.  In the meantime Tom kept throwing his Shad Rap and one cast into the area where the side channel met the main channel he nailed a beautiful 18 inch smallmouth that really put on a show.  I really couldn't believe that it hit from the area that he was casting but what the heck!  About the only thing I got was a small channel catfish and a bunch of timber.  We finished the day back at the first spot we fished where I decided to soak some nightcrawlers while he stayed casting,  All I ended up with were 5 very small channel cats, about 5 - 8 inches in length.  Tom did get a few more smallmouth and I think for the day we ended up with a total of 6 smallies and 6 very small catfish.  I was surprised I didn't get anything more interesting than the small catfish but that's the way it went as I was expecting at least a larger carp or redhorse.  Oh well, after a small light rain shower we headed back to Blair's landing before it got too dark.  I am not sure if this would be my last trip on the river this year as fall is coming fast and the rain is predicted to keep the river high.  Maybe a trip upstream from Monticello would be in the cards.  I also have my annual trout fishing trip with Bill Lundeen coming up. So much to do, so little time! Still the river fishing is a fun time and doesn't require such a long commitment as going to Mille Lacs or some other lake.  As well, it reminds me of the fishing I used to do with my friend Kevin, fishing the back channels of the Mississippi or simply fishing the Buffalo River that flowed through Eleva.  Doing the jon boat really keeps things simpler than the production needed of bringing my Ranger out, driving somewhere, removing the cover and launching, loading up, replacing the cover, and driving home....does it sound like I am getting lazy? Nope but do enjoy the chance to throttle things down a little bit!

Well I have been canning my salsa these days as it's pretty good.  One of the thing is that I don't take short cuts and spend a lot of time processing the final product.  I would have to say it pays off as I have done 15 quarts so far.  With a lot of tomatoes, onions, and peppers it's a shame to see them go to waste so somewhere I find the time to make a few batches.  It is a special treat in the middle of ice fishing season to have my salsa in the ice cabin on Red Lake in January. I tride pints at one time but it seemed as though I would always empty it fast and then need another jar but now it is hard to finish a quart but I can tell you, it's a lot faster canning quarts!  Tuesday will finally come as I head up to Lac Seul with my friends Bruce, Pete, Dan, and Wayne.  This is a trip that I really look forward to and I am so lucky that this will be my 3rd trip this year.  It's nice that Bruce lets me keep some of my stuff up there so I don't have to haul a sleeping bag, pillow and other essentials. Dan is towing my boat up there which is nice.  Interesting as my 2015 Boat definitely has more miles on Lac Seul than it does Mille Lacs, a sign of how things have changed in the last few years.  I am getting pretty good at navigating Lac Seul and have all the trails on my Lowrance down to the point where I am pretty self sufficient.  Still, I carry a spare prop with me and I pray to the Lord I'll never have to use it.  This time of year the water is at it's highest level so it doesn't mean there isn't any hazards, but those area's that are marginal in May are now covered by an additional 4 feet of water.   The weather forecast shows highs in the lower 60's and lows in the 40's, it will be nice after the hot and humid August we've had in Minneapolis. Because I leave Tuesday and back on Saturday I may not have a post next week.  They do have internet and maybe I will post something from there.  I return on Saturday the 17th and have been invited to the Vikings home opener in their new stadium where they are playing the Packers.  Bruce rearranged our trip so I could make this and I am really excited to be with my friends who are treating me to this experiment.  At least one of them is a Packer fan like me!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Getting Things Fixed

Initial Installation
A while back I purchased a new Lowrance HDS 9 Gen 3 to sit on the dash of my Ranger, above the flush mount HDS12 Gen 3.  The idea was to use it as my main chart source with the appropriate maps and it would be easier to control my bow mount Motorguide from a single machine.  Luckily the units talk to each other so there are a lot of advantages to having a setup like this.  After selling my old HDS 7 to Bruce this left me without a unit for my Jon Boat so I decided to network another unit to my system, one that I could remove and mount on the other boat.  My original idea was to use a Johnny Ray mount however the first time I used it the HDS9 popped right out of the mount on the first big wave we hit.  Somewhat unnerving I decided to just remove it for the rest of the day until I could figure out something.  I did come up with a scheme using electrical ring terminals secured to the Johnny Ray then using long tie wraps, secure the top of the mount to the terminals.  This actually worked OK but seemed somewhat awkward, especially when I wanted to move it.  As stated last week, I had holes already drilled into the top of the dash so I wasn't too interested in making more so I started thinking about a better idea.  At first I bought a Stabil Mount, a customized aluminum electronics mount made for this type of equipment.  Unfortunately after receiving it, it dawned on me that their might be a much easier and cleaner way to do this.  Although the Stabil Mount was nice, it had some limitations. After staring at the situation for a few hours, I finally come to my senses and decided to
New installation
simply mount another gimbal mount, one which comes with the unit anyway, solidly to the dash via a custom cut plastic plate which I made, that would serve as an adaptor using the same holes as the Johnny Ray yet mount it solidly on the dash.  The good news it it worked very well as the HDS9 is now ready for any rough water situation.  It looks pretty good as well, something that was important to me.  It is still very easy to move the unit from one boat to the other by simply loosening the side gimbal bolts and removing the unit and I did not have to drill any additional holes in the dash.  I suspect that one could have simply got by with the single HDS 12 in the dash and use the split screen however admittedly the 2 units is awfully nice once you get used to them.  The other advantage is now I can buy lockable gimbal fasteners that protect the unit from easy theft, definitely an advantage, however my luck is that I would lose the key!  As long as I was drilling and screwing things together I decided to add 2 RAM rod holder bases to the back end of the boat.  I have 2 up in the bow and 2 at about the front row of seats in the console area, these are about 18" form the back of he boat and will work well for the guys sitting in those seats.  They will also work really well when I am trolling more than 3 lines as it will help to keep the rods better spaced out.  The boat has 2 built in rod holders on the back by the gunnel however they are the type where you simply insert the rod butt into the holes and it sticks straight up.  They are pretty good but don't work well if you are in the back and want better access to you rod tip action as you are always looking up.  Mounting these takes some patience because you need to drill screw holes into the inside gunnel of your boat.  These holes need to be countersunk otherwise the gel coat will crack when you start turning the mounting screws.  I use #14 stainless steel sheet metal screws which hold really well.

A Flock of Wild Turkeys by the Pole Shed
This weekend was a thought of going up to Mille Lacs and doing some deep water trolling in what we call "no man's land".  Sunday was the chosen day however my brother Steve called, mom had fallen down the steps, he had bought a used chair lift and it would be a good idea to get it in.  I headed to Eleva to help yet fortunately for me Steve had already installed both of them, had the top one working and had to deal with the something on the bottom one.  Although late for the heavy mechanical stuff, this is where my electronic background really did the heavy lifting!  Seems like the chair on the second one was stuck so we took apart the housing and got to the control circuit board.  The onboard fuse was blow, and indication that the main drive motor was jammed, which it was.  Using a socket we turned the drive motor enough to free the chair, it was obvious where it was jammed.  Put a new fuse in and voila, it worked just like new! Not a bad deal for $200 total.  Hopefully mom isn't too stubborn to use it but that's another story.  This weekend is Labor Day and the river is still high but is down about 1.5 feet. Unfortunately it has been raining like crazy up north and all that water has to go somewhere as I expect it to go up again.  I would like to try and do some of that deepwater trolling before walleye fishing season officially closes on Mille Lacs on Tuesday, September 6th. Besides that I am getting ready for our Lac Seul trip in a couple of weeks.  I'd like to make some salsa from my tomatoes, just to much to do, so little time!  I leave you with a picture of at least 2 broods of wild turkeys hanging around the property.  There must have been at least 20 of them in front of the pole barn on Sunday morning, they have been eating out of our ground based bird feeders so I don't feel too sorry for them!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Dog Days of Summer

Flames shoot out the exhaust on an amazing run.
Fishing has been somewhat frustrating considering all the rain we have had in the last 30 days.  I suspect it's been over 12 inches but who is counting!  Friday I was fortunate enough to be invited back to Brainerd International Raceway (BIR) by my good friend Kevin Sonsalla.  Kevin is a business colleague I met a long time ago and he happened to be from the area where I grew up.  There were plenty of Sonsalla's near Eleva so we have a lot in common.  Last week event was the NHRA's (National Hot Rod Association) scheduled event and all the big national teams were there.  Kevin has a relationship with Tony Schaumacher, the championship drag racer who is sponsored by the US Army.  Therefore he has race day passes, passses for the hospitality tent which get's us refreshments and a awfully good meal after the first race.   It is interesting as these top fuel cars run on Nitromethane which has the ability to provide most of the oxygen needed to make power.  These engines are 500 cubic inch and have no cooling other than air, so after each run they are torn apart and rebuilt for the next race.  In this case the top fuel guys raced at around 5:00 in the afternoon and have to have their cars ready for the next run, 2 hours later.  It is quite fun to watch a crew of 4 guys rebuild the engine, pretty amazing.  These cars start from a dead stop and race just 1000 feet to the finish.  It used to be a quarter mile length however the speeds were getting too high so they shortened it.  The teams now have caught back up to the speeds and times of the old distance and the fastest run was covering the distance in 3.77 seconds with a top speed of 322 mph.  That's moving!  Sitting in the stands you literally feel the force of these engines as they scream by.  It is pretty loud as well.  We stayed for the second run later in the evening and the flames shooting out of the exhaust is pretty cool.  The last race of the day was a couple of jet engine powered cars and that was interesting.  Not as fast or as quick never the less the afterburners on the engines put on a pretty good show.
Current water Levels behind the house.

I did make it on the river on Sunday night however because of the rain the water was up another 18 inches.  The high water makes for traveling anywhere you want to go pretty easy however it does scatter the fish.  My neighbor Tom Olson went with me but it was pretty slow.  He caught a medium sized smallmouth while I haven't been doing very well at all in that department.  At 7:00 we decided to anchor and again all we could catch were 6 inch catfish in the high water.   Oh well, hopefully the rain will settle down somewhat. Personally I like it when the gage height is between 4.0 and 5.0.  Unfortunately both seats in my Jon Boat broke so I ordered new ones to replace them. They were pretty bad.  I have one other project going on with my boat, on the Ranger I have an HDS 9 mounted on the dash above my panel mount HDS12.  My original idea was to use a Johnny Ray so I could move it between my Ranger and the Jon boat however it proved to be too heavy for the Johnny Ray that I bought.  After a few ideas am going to try to mount just an HDS9 gimble to my dash using a nice 1/2" thick plastic piece then fashion it into an adaptor plate so I use the existing holes that I have already made.  Luckily the Johnny Ray still works good in the jon boat so I should be ok, it just takes a little thought process to make sure it looks good.

After a season of strictly catch and release fishing on Mille Lacs this year, the calculations for hooking mortality have now exceeded the allowable totals on the State fisherman's side.  Our illustrious Governor announce that we would not stop fishing but the Indian tribes called foul so starting September 6th it will be illegal to fish for walleyes again until a new quota is announced for December 1st...........what an unbelievable mess for sure.  I promised myself I won't get political but this whole situation on Mille Lacs is ridiculous for sure.  Anyway I am hoping to get out this weekend for one last trip for what it's worth, maybe try some deep water trolling with lead line or deep diving reef runners.  It's always fun and the MTT event on Mille Lacs, that strategy proved to be very successful.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Serious Time on the River

Lory's 24" channel cat caught on a crankbait!
My neighbor Lory and I decided to get out on the river late Sunday afternoon to experience both the crankbait bite and to sit down and anchor, enjoying bottom fishing for catfish, carp, and redhorse suckers.  Due to the recent rains, the water had come up about a foot so the current would be faster and anticipated that it would push the smallies up close to shore.  We traveled all the way above the city of Dayton and fished the north shore for a couple miles or so with crankbaits.  There was a lot of junk flowing in the water but never the less it was quite a bit clearer than I expected and we could easily stay close enough to hit the rivers edge in striking distance of at least some smallies.  Unfortunately the water coming up had shut them down and we only got 3 smallmouth, not very well considering we usually catch around 10 of them including some nicer ones.  The high water give them a lot of extra places to hide under the brush.  lory did get a real nice 24 inch channel cat that hit his crankbait with vengeance. Normally one doesn't think about catching catfish on crankbaits but I have caught them before and a 24 incher can really put up a fight for sure.  Well it was a great start to the evening however the plan was to drift and cast till about 7:30 them anchor behind and island closer to the landing and fish the bottom while enjoying a bottle of excellent Merlot that I had brought back from Carlos Creek Winery a couple of weeks ago.  We got anchored just before the sun went down as we baited our hooks and put the rods in the rod holders, a nice way to do this. Opening the wine I poured each of us a glass just as a pontoon came out of the side channel, a husband and wife opening their bottle of wine.  We held up our glasses and gave them a toast for the beautiful evening, they were quite surprised, two river rats anchored in the hole, fishing catfish and drinking fine wine, they laughed!  It was a pretty good experience as we got down to catching some serious fish.

WOW!!!  30 Inch Channel catfish
Ever since fishing halibut in Alaska, I really like using circle hooks.  It takes a little discipline to reel straight instead of setting the hook however often times the fish will simply try to swim away and set the hook by itself.  The nice thing about circle hooks is you can let the fish take the bait as long as you want and the intent is that when the hook hits the corner of their mouth it rotates and always hooks in the lip area and not deep in their throats.  This makes for good release survival and easy hook removal.  My first fish was a nice 22 inch Golden Redhorse, they are so pretty and I have caught them many times before.  The second fish I caught was a bruiser, a huge 30 inch channel catfish, I am assuming at least 15 pounds, and boy do these things fight. They can really bulldog their way around the boat, and as I said before, by moving away the fish virtually sets it's own hook.  I picked up the rod out of the rod holder and she was solidly hooked, the battle was on!  Even though I didn't have much line out this fish was not about to show itself right away.  At first I thought it was a big carp as most of the catfish I catch are relatively small in size, usually under 20 inches.  I got her up to the surface just in time for Lory to scoop it up in the net and we brought her on board.  It was the largest catfish I can ever remember catching, even bigger than the ones that we used to catch with m buddy Kevin Aiona on the river.  I had Lory snap a few memories and back in the water she went.  Never the less it was a very nice fish and one that I'll never forget. The circle hooked worked great and she swam away no worse for the wear.   I have some employees at work that would have really loved to have this fish for supper and if I can find some time maybe I'll take him out for an evening of fishing.  I think both of us would enjoy for certain. We have a lot of people from Southeast Asia working for us, many from Laos and they love to eat fish.  I showed them a picture as I have told them many times that I catch catfish in the river above Anoka, they just drooled!

Beautiful Golden Redhorse
Friday is our annual invite to BIR (Brainerd International Raceway)  by Kevin Sonsalla, a special friend and business associate.  He does a lot of work for Tony Schumacher, the NHRA drag racing star.  He usually invites us up on the Friday before the big weekend and we enjoy the hospitality passes, get fed, watch them put together the car and all sorts of interesting things. This year Lory is going with us again, it makes for a real nice day as he will meet us at Cabela's and we'll go from there.  I am sure we will run into our neighbor Tim Kuntz who just got done remodeling an old school bus into the coolest RV you've seen in a while.  Because he is a die hard Viking fan he's going to rename the School Bus the Skoal Bus.  Usually we like to sit with him on the top of the bleachers as the view is pretty good from up there.  It's quite amazing to watch those cars go from standing still to 320 MPH in less than 5 seconds, the whole earth shakes.  On the way up I'll have Kevin stop at Bill's and we have to pick up more wild rice.  I have been giving it to some of my good customers in California and are getting rave reviews.  It's about the time he will start harvesting rice again, not and easy job for sure but the fruits of his labor are quite good.  I will leave you with a picture of the Golden Redhorse that I caught Sunday night.  I think they are such a pretty fish, put up a good fight and provide a lot of good entertainment.  I can assure you we never caught them this big in the Buffalo River when I was a kid.  I can tell you that it's a pretty relaxing way to fish, that's for sure.  Also my friend Bruce heads to Lac Seul this weekend and I am anxious to hear how well his new "anchor" works.  Sometimes fishing the river behind my house feels like I am all the way in Canada, it is pretty special and you can almost have the whole river to yourself!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Finally........Back on the River

Evening on the River
This is the time of the year I usually get my jon boat ready to go and head to fish the Mississippi River behind my house.  the neighbor has an adequate boat launch and is kind enough to let me use, which is very convenient.   This year I had some things to accomplish before heading out.  I had a HDS7 that I used on the boat however I had sold it to my friend Bruce Wiley last September.  during that last trip on the river I floated into a rock that busted my transducer off the bracket and rendered it useless.  Besides replacing the transducer I noticed last Sunday that the battery on my Polaris Razor was dead so I hooked up a charger to it in hopes that it would fix the issue.  Figuring I'd try to get out on Monday and I need the Razor to pull the boat to the landing, it still wouldn't start.  A quick feel of the battery and I was hot, the battery is cooked.  I noticed that the date engraved on the top was 8-1-15, a year and 7 days ago.  The warranty has a 12 month free replacement, crap.  Pulling it out of the vehicle and putting the battery in a pail of cold water, I headed to Fleet Farm to beg for mercy.  So much for my plan to get out Monday night.  Arriving at Fleet Farm I was directed to the back of the store in the automotive section.  There I was greeted by a young man who was just wrapping up another deal, the guy asked what he could help me with.  I looked at him and said "You want to hear my sob story?" to which he replied, "do I need to take notes?"  We both laughed as I explained the events of the last week.  I acknowledged that I understand I don't have a leg to stand on however in the end he gave me a full adjustment!  One does win some every once in a while!  Saving me over $100 I headed home and ut the battery in, it worked as the Razor fired right up.  Being too late I decided that fishing would have to wait till tomorrow night.  On Tuesday I cleaned up everything and pulled the boat out, hooked it up to the Razor and withing 15 minutes I was on the water.  Unfortunately when launching I let the winch handle fly and smack me right across my left hand, I was getting to believe it had broke a few bones in my hand.  Heading up river I had about 90 minutes to fish so I decided to head up to the Stevens Farm area and drift down.  The river is still higher than normal however it did make for nice fishing as the water was right up to the bank and flowing well.  On my second cast I had a smallie but it got off right away.  After getting a pretty good birds nest in the reel I was using I switch rods and it was much stiffer and easier to control the lure placement.  I did get hung up a few times and one of those times the lure was just sitting on the surface, a big bass took a swipe at it and missed.  I kept having trouble with my snap at the end of the line opening up, it had a double locking feature as well but at least 4 times my lure fell off and I had to retrieve it, luckily the lure floats.  Eventually I ended up biting off the snap and tieing the lure directly to the line.  Without lights on the boat and it was getting dark I decided to head back with my mission accomplished, get the boat out and make sure everything worked.  The only thing I caught was this nice picture of the sunset looking up river.  It was very peaceful as the river is interesting and fun to be on.  I drifted past a tree that had wild turkey's just roosting on the high branches.   Fish seemed everywhere as they were surfacing, maybe they were just carp but it still is a lot of fun.  In the next 4 weeks I suspect that there will be more trips, now that I have everything running!

Sunset on Round Lake, MN
Last Saturday my wife and I headed north to Round Lake by Garrison Minnesota to help my friend Bruce celebrate his 60th birthday.  It really felt like a reunion of all the guys I have been to Canada with including Pete, Dan, Wayne, Tom and Bruce's father -in-law and brother-in-law as well as his 2 boys.  It was a gorgeous night, not too hot and the lake is quite beautiful.  Bruce decided to get the pontoon started and we all took a very leisurely cruise around the lake where like where I do a lot, snapped this picture of the sunset.  This picture is a great example of the proper way to take a picture of stuff like this, divide your scene into thirds.  Here you see I put the horizon on the bottom "third" line of the picture and then the remnants of the sun on the right third, where it intersects the bottom.  I think that following thee guidelines give much better depth to the scene as well as balance.  OK, it's fishing with Dave, not picture taking with Dave but as you see since June's trip to Lac Seul, it's been pretty light on the catching side.  That will change hopefully as I plan on hitting the river pretty hard in the next 3 weeks and it's a fairly easy task as it takes me about 5 minutes to get the boat in the River and the bite should be pretty good.

The countdown to Lac Seul is happening as one of the things I gave Bruce for his birthday was some Berkley Powerbait Walleye twister tail grubs and the appropriate jig heads.  He claims to want to learn how to fish plastics but in reality it's pretty easy up there as the fish are plentiful and hungry.  Next Friday Lory Brasel and I are once again invited up to BIR (Brainerd International Raceway) for an afternoon of relaxation and enjoying the NHRA sanctioned event.  Our friend Kevin Sonsalla does some work for Tony Schumacher and we get to ride along on his tails!  It is pretty awesome to watch them rebuild the cars before each race then see them go 1000 feet in 5 seconds, getting to over 300 mph.   Along with this we will definitely get to see my neighbor Tim who is frantically getting his school bus converted to an RV for the week, I have to admit, it looks pretty nice.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Sweating it out on Mille Lacs

Welly, Kam and Ken
Well, we finally got out on Sunday with a couple of electrical engineers from work, Welly Chou and Kam Chen as well, Kam's brother Ken Chen, who is from South Dakota.  All three of these guys are super smart and we born and raised in Hong Kong.  About a month ago I took Welly and Kam out with my neighbor Lory so Kam's brother Ken was coming to Minneapolis from South Dakota and he asked if I would take them out again. Apparently he had a pretty good time during the last trip.  Never wanting to turn down an opportunity and as I stated last week, it's been kind of a fish drought, we headed up on Sunday morning and got to the lake about noon.  It was windy and hot and with a surface temperature of 76, I sensed the fishing was going to be tough and my predictions were pretty correct.  This can be a tough time of the year as the baitfish are really providing plenty for the walleyes to eat as we found out.  With the wind blowing from the south, south east I decided to try and drift a couple of the flats, a reasonable strategy this time of year.  Our first stop was 7 mile and 2 drifts from south to the north side proved slow.  I was marking a lot of fish on the graph but they were not interested in biting.  The next move was to 9 mile flat, a good choice for the end of July, again we came up with nothing.  There were a lot of fish on 9 mile, especially on the northwest corner but their jaws were sealed.  Looking back I should have simply anchored and fished the area with bobbers and leeches, it may have worked better.  Deciding that maybe the deeper inshore reefs would be good as the smallie bite was suppose to be good in these deeper areas I anchored off of the rock hump by Sherman's Point but struck out there as well.  Somewhere in this picture I was panicking as I forgot to put both my net and my tackle boxes back in the boat after I had removed them when I brought my boat back up to Frankies.  Luckily I have under the console storage and voila, both my live bait rig box and my bobber box were there and saved the day.

Because my boat move along pretty good I decided it was time to cool off so I went behind
Trophy Smallie!!!
Sherman's Point into the calmer water and punched down the throttle.  It didn't take long and we were cruising at 57 mph, these guys thought it was the greatest.  It was a nice break from fishing as well seeing's how we weren't doing to well.  My next stop was to head to the deep rock pile where we caught some the last trip, in front of Eddy's.  Getting all the rods set Welly hooked a small walleye but it got off the hook just as he got it to the boat.  That was probably good because it means it didn't swallow the hook, but it would have been nice to boat our first fish.  Oh well.  Another hour produced not even a bite so it was off to the last spot, and area always good for a nice smallmouth or rouge walleye, Indian Point.   I am still learning how to troll with my boat but am getting better at it.  Rigging up 3 lines with #5 shad raps we started by the rock pile and headed out.  Indian point is an excellent trolling location as the shallow reef is long and narrow, extending out into the lake about 1/2 a mile.  It's easy to go up one side banging the 6 foot depth then come back on the other side doing the same thing.  Right away I nailed a nice fish and trying to get one of the guys to take the pole the fish shook itself off.   10 minutes later another on hit my lure but it let loose right away, it even could have been the bottom but I doubt it.  On our 3rd pass I did finally get on in the boat, this huge smallmouth bass, must have gone 12 ounces!  Oh well, it was the only fish we got into the boat so no use complaining!  I look at this picture and I immediately think...........Does this fish make me look fat?  Of course!!   Interesting but even though it was hot I always wear my Onyx inflatable life vest as I know if I ever go overboard I doubt I could tread water for very long.  Anyway it was very hot this day and it definitely I got beat  up.  I was surprised at all the fish I marked but you can't fry up marks!

dinged up prop
The day ended on a sour note as I hit the bottom of the lake on the way in at the landing,  I am fully aware of the danger however the lake is up about 6 inches in the last few weeks because of the rain and I usually am very careful on the way in but it didn't make any difference, and my prop mades some tracks in the gravel.  There must have been some larger rocks because it really dinged up the edge of my prop.  I suppose it probably would be fine to run it this way but the motor is too expensive to chance on running something out of balance.  We stopped at Bill's on the way back and he has a guy that stops there on Tuesday, picks up damaged props then returns them on Friday. Unfortunately the Super Dooper Nylon prop wrench didn't work so good and I had to wait till I got home to take it off.  So much for that so I decided to get a standard deep well socket and breaker bar to do the job as my big fear in Canada is ruining my prop, so I carry a spare.  A lot of good that would have done with a wrench that didn't work. Well, I am going to be more prepared next time but at I found out before it was too late!  My wife, brother Steve and I picked 40# of blueberries on Saturday when we went back to Eleva to see my mom.  She is doing OK but still needs a lot of help.  This weekend is my friend Bruce's 60 birthday party and my plan is to get my jon boat going as the water levels on the Mississippi River have come down almost 4 feet so the fishing should be pretty good.  I like fishing the River, it's right in the back of my house and it's pretty easy to go out for a few hours at a time and enjoy myself.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Drought Continues

Charlie dancing with his lovely daughter
Wee, it's hard to believe that I haven't been out in the boat for a month now, time has been taken up with my mother, having the boat at the dealers, and this week a wedding of my good Friend Charlie Teasley's daughter Morgan.  Normally this week would have been where I take off a day and Chuck and I go fishing on Mille Lacs.  We have done this for maybe 15 years now however we both decided that attending the wedding was as important as fishing so on Monday my wife and I headed up to Alexandria to the bible camp they always stay at to a celebrate.  Morgan is a wonderful girl and has found the perfect mate in Jim, her new husband.  He is a bonifide river rat and we had a great discussion about catfishing for blues and flatheads on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers down by St. Louis, Missouri, we even discussed the possibility of going down and fishing with him sometime, maybe Jug fishing for catfish, which sounds like a blast!  He also fishes for snapping turtles and claims he can clean one in about 15 minutes, which is pretty incredible.  I had a great time talking about the opportunities to fish in a different area of the country as I used to love to catfish back home.  This week's picture isn't of fish but of Charlie dancing with his daughter, a very proud moment for Charlie and his daughter Morgan.  Chuck said that it was worth giving up for sure and I definitely would have to agree with him.  I do miss fishing with him but maybe next year for sure. Morgan is a very pretty young lady and has no problem speaking her mind as the pastor officiating the service acknowledge, and so did she!!  I also got to spend some time with Dan Hoene, another friend of Chucks who often fishes with us.  Dan is a great guy and if fun to hang around with.  Both Dan and Chuck have had issues with their hips and legs and both exhibit extraordinary courage for sure.

Connection of motor to Lowrance HDS
Last Friday I helped my friend Bruce Wiley connect his new Xi5 Motorguide trolling motor to his Lowrance HDS 7 touch.  His boat was in Garrison, MN so we headed up around noon and started working on it about 2:00. His neighbor and friend Wayne mounted the motor and wired in the NMEA network so I connected it all and fired it up.  There were a few things I needed to fix first but when I did fire it up the depth finder did recognize that there was something there but I kept getting a Not connected error message.  One of the problems with the Lowrance HDS networks is they can be quite complicated and it can take a while to figure out how everything works, or should work when setting up.  Running out of patience on trying to get the Lowrance to connect to the Motorguide gateway I finally called the Motorguide help line and they walked me through the steps in the Lowrance menu to look for the Gateway, connect and to start using it.  Because I know something about what I am doing it took less than 3 minutes and a few buttons pushed and we were all set.  Launching the boat in his lake te motor preformed flawlessly!  Now when we are at Lac Seul, Bruce will enjoy the same convenience of electronically being anchored rather than having to manually drop and anchor, lift it up, reset, and dealing with the anchor slipping.  The Motorguide will hold your position within 5 feet of where you set it and there are a bunch of really nice finite controls like moving in any direction in 5 foot increments.  I am anxious to see it at work the next time we head to Lac Seul which looks like it will be on September 13.

I am finally getting out on Sunday as one or our engineers at work, Kam, asked me if I would take him and his brother fishing this weekend.  Of course!!! I have been waiting for someone to step up to the plate and ask me to go fishing.  I do plan on getting my jon boat ready to go and I do have to back and visit my mom soon as well, pick some blueberries as my brother steve said they were beautiful last week.  So much to do, so little time, oh well.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Got My Boat Back

Structure scan images.
Back a few months I picked up a new item for my boat electronics, Structure Scan 3D.  I had the standard Structure Scan however my electronics were capable of displaying the bottom in this mode so I thought I would make the upgrade.  Here is the description from the Lowrance Website:  Lowrance StructureScan® 3D allows anglers to see fish, structure and bottom contour in a stunning three-dimensional view. StructureScan® 3D imaging scans underwater terrain and fish-holding structure to create a high-resolution, 180-degree, three-dimensional view beneath your boat.  With this unique imaging view, anglers gain a better understanding of where fish and structure are located in relation to their boat. The picture-like, three-dimensional views are displayed on the Lowrance HDS Gen3 series of fishfinder/chartplotters, when used in combination with the StructureScan 3D Skimmer® transducer and module.  Because I am now taking my boat to Canada more often I felt this might be a great addition to my electronics for exploring new areas, especially with the capability of side scanning a fairly large area.  The problem is that the transducer module is different than my existing one where as it has 2 output connectors and an over molded area in the cable that would require me to drill the hole where it passes through my boat much larger than the existing one. I figured it would be easier to just have someone who has done it before to install.  I picked up my boat on Friday after delaying a few weeks (My latest invitation to Lac Seul forced me to reschedule) and I have to admit Frankie's did a fabulous job as always.  It would have been a real pain to snake the transducer cable through the gunnel although I have done it before as I get older maybe I am just getting lazier!  My biggest fear was enlarging the through hole and having the appropriate cover to make it look good. They did that just perfect for me an I am ready to go.  One problem for me is I pretty much empty out my stuff in the boat before dropping it off, you never know who's lurking around.  It also gives me a chance to get reorganized somewhat.  Besides not ready to fish, there were storms around on Saturday and I had to go see my Mom on Sunday, she's having a hard time at 82 with her health............a good reminder for those who smoke, it will catch up to you!  Anyway it also gave us a good opportunity to stop at Blueberry Ridge just north of Eleva and pick about 4 gallons (20 pounds) of blueberries, they are delicious.  Last year the crop was essentally froze out but Mark and Andrea Nyseth have a bumper crop this year.  It doesn't take too long to pick an ice cream bucket of nice plump blueberries and at $1.95/pound, not a bad deal either.  Mark and I keep talking about taking him and his son up to Mille Lacs, after the season gets done!  Talk is always cheap.

Dave Grant and a nice Largemouth
So Bruce always says that Lac Seul spoils a guy and there is no reason to fish anywhere else. Well I understand what he's saying but there's plenty of fish to be caught around home however going up to Lac Seul is a 5 day adventure and it's tough getting everything done these days. This is the time of year I normally am starting to fish the river however because of the recent heavy rains across Minnesota, the Mississippi River behind my house is pretty high for this time of year.  It looks like it could be a while before the water clears up and slows down a little bit.  The Mille Lacs bite is still going but my list is pretty long of the things I need to do and obigations that I have to make.  For instance, Normally I will fish with Chuck Teasley, my friend from Illinois however this year his daughter is getting married at the Bible Camp that they come to each year (Charlie sneaks out and we usually fish Mille Lacs for a day) however this time we will head up to Alexandria and attend the wedding.  I did get invited back to Lac Seul for a mid September trip and I am looking forward to heading back for sure.  This leave me with only one story, that of my good friend Mike Grant's boy David Grant.  Not only does he have a great first name but he loves to fish as I have been prodding his dad to get with the program and get them to go out with me.  This is a big issue for me, finding people that want to fish is getting harder and harder.   Well Dave and I exchange important e-mails every so often and he sent this picture to me, a nice largemouth bass caught in a Maple Grove, MN lake.  I asked him but he hasn't responded however it did remind me of fishing Weaver Lake in Maple Grove and I just hammered the bass on that lake.  In fact that lake is where I learned to fish plastic worms for bass,  Unfortunately I dumped on of my rods over the side of the boat so I marked the spot and went back the next day with a big hook and setup to try and snag it.  Unfortunately a guy had previously murdered his wife, cut her up, stuffed her in plastic garbage bags and dumped her in Weaver Lake.  This was going on while I was trying to snag my rod using large treble hooks and weights.  My friends speculated what I might catch but fortunately the only thing I got besides weeds was my rod plastic garbage bags with human parts stuff inside, thank God!  Anyway I am hoping to get out with Dave sometime soon and maybe he can show me some of his secret spots!!

My goals this week are to get the boat completely put back together however I will have to go back home to Eleva this weekend to take care of a few things for mom.  By the time you read this I should have already helped my friend Bruce fire up his new trolling motor/anchor system just in time as he heads back to Lac Seul soon.  My garden is awfully weedy, the sprinkler system just broke, I need to get my jon boat ready for the river, it never ends! Hopefully I can find some time to get out soon.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Quiet Weekend

Andrew Pedersen's friend Matt Payne and a nice catfish
Spending 5 days in Canada last week generally means things are delinquent around home so last week was spent getting caught up as well we had some pretty heavy rains on Sunday, especially north of us.  I talked to my friend David Pedersen and told me that the Adam's Creek Bridge just north of Eleva washed out but that the Dam in Eleva has withstood the deluge, unlike a few years ago when heavy rains washed out the dam. while talking to Dave asked about the other rivers around the area and he claimed his son Andrew and a friend went down the Chippewa River in a small boat fishing catfish.  I told Dave that it was interesting, I had received a notification of a post on Andrew's Facebook of them getting a nice catfish on the river so I decided to post it this week since I haven't been out.  It reminded me of the days when my dad, Danny Van Pelt, Art Kelley, and Vic Wenaas use to take us with when they went catfishing on the Chippewa River where the Eau Claire River dumped into it in Downtown Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  Those days were a lot of fun as we would put a hunk of chicken liver on a hook with a big sinker to hold it on the bottom and away we go.  The Chippewa River has no dams below Eau Claire so the catfish would make their way up from the Mississippi River to spawn.  It was a great place to catfish, big water and nice catfish like this one.  I personally don't know Matt Payne however any friend of Bi Dave's boys is a friend of mine.  Thanks Andrew for bringing back a lot of memories of years past!  I would have to admit that Art Kelley or Victor would be awfully proud of that fish!

Motorguide Pinpoint anchor function
Monday I brought my boat into Frankie's to have my Structure Scan 3D transducer installed.  I had some other minor work that need to be done like a possible recall on the motor, I ordered some new bearing hub covers, and a new cover for my spare trailer tire.  Lowrance came out with a new 3D structure scan and it looks very interesting.  Not that I necessarily need it, this device could come in very handy in Canada when searching for new areas to target walleyes.  It's like anything else however, it will take some time to get to learn it but maybe............just maybe it will make me a better fisherman in locating those elusive walleyes!  Also this week I finished helping my friend Bruce Wiley in his decision to modernize his anchoring function on his boat.  I have the Motorguide i5 trolling motor with an anchor position function.  Simply arrive at your desired spot and push the anchor button on the remote control and the electric motor will hold you in a position plus or minus 5 feet, that's pretty accurate!  Also if you want to change your position slightly you can simply push any of the forward, back, right, or left buttons and the boat will move in that direction 5 feet and hold. Punch the forward button 4 times and it will go 20 feet then hold.  It's great in Canada where we fish rock points and humps and you want to move around alot.  My first year wasn't so good as usually the second day the motor would go haywire and wrap itself up.  Motorguide sent me out a software dongle to plug into the motor to update the software.  That has seemed to really take care of the problem.  Anyway fishing next to Bruce is painful as unless he has Wayne in his boat I see him running the motor and resetting the anchor.  With his new motor he can simply deploy it and us the remote from his seat or from the display on his Lowrance and control his anchor position.  I think he's tired of me giving him crap but admittedly my method is significantly more practical and easy, but certainly isn't as cheap!  I am sure that I will be giving some lessons on Lowrance HDS and Motorguide Technology soon!

Blueberry Picking time has arrived in Eleva so we may go down this weekend to get a few pails or so. As you see I have been talking to Big Dave and he states that the Adam's creek bridge on highway 93 was washed out just north of Becker's place so getting into Eleva requires a trip through the backroads, something I still remember.  Probably will pick up the boat on Friday and see if I can get out, if not Mille Lacs, maybe the River yet I am concerned about the level as we have got alot of rain lately.  Also it would be good to stop by and congratulate Frankie and Deb on being named Ranger Dealer of the year at this week's dealer meetings.  They always treat me special and that explains why I have dealt with them exclusively since 1989.