Thursday, April 27, 2017

Getting Ready for the Season

catalpa/chartreuse Pulse R soft bait
It's been a busy last 2 weeks, since Easter.  On the same day (April 18th) that my mother passed away, our good friend Jim Carlson had passed away hours earlier.   His funeral was last Monday so we left my mom's funeral to head back up to the cities to attend his family memorials.  Jim was the brother-in-law to my really great friends Mark and Jack Taylor.  He was also a Lutheran pastor and I was instrumental in helping him get the pastor's job in my home town of Eleva, Wisconsin.  Jim's wife Linda is Mark and Jack's sister and my wife and I would always get invited to their family get together's as they were our family here in Minnesota.  Jim's funeral was Monday and we were honored when the family asked us to walk up with them as part of the family.  It was also nice to see both Dennis and Linda Barneson as well as Gary and his wife, Karen, I had just seen them on Saturday at my mothers funeral.  On Tuesday I flew down to Chicago with my production Manger, Rich Rebella, to attend the spring TTA meeting for 3 days.  I really enjoy getting together with my fellow members of our industry, we fished together last December at our fall meeting then again in late March when we all met at APEC.  Quite honestly I am anxious to just try and relax for  a few days but we all know that is going to be hard to accomplis as there is not much time between now and fishing opener.  One thing I have enjoyed is watching the In Depth Outdoors video of the host catching walleyes one the Rainy River a few weeks ago.  Here is the link to one of their lastest videos that uses thes Pulse R's Here  One of their baits, which I have found to be quite productive on Lac Seul is the BFishN AuthentX Pulse R soft plastics as it has a unique tail action that can be fished quite slow.  After watching the video I just had to order their new color, Catalpa/Chartreuse as it should be a real good color in the stained waters of Lac Seul.  I am bound and determined to catch a walleye on Leech Lake on one of these!

Long Day Onions planting guide
Monday evening I  picked up my onions from Andy Stevens, an engineer that used to work with us. Here is a video explaining Long day onions as many people don't understand how to get the results most people would like to see. Dixondale Farms from Texas does and excellent job of providing the right type of onion sets to assure a great crop this fall. Every year we order onions together, the right kind for our area.....Long Day onions,  Because of our long days (> 14 hours) in the growing season, you need the right ones.  As well I stopped by Beiswinggers Hardware to pick up some drive belts for my dad's old Honda Tiller. I go them on and tilled up a good chunk of the garden Tuesday night before I left.  I definitely need to get the onions and potatoes planted before fishing season starts.  If possible I'd like to get the boat out this weekend for a trial run before opener.  Although I am sure it will be just fine it's still good to try and get familiar with the new equipment before I get out on the lake.

I am writing this at the Chicago Every year we order onions together, the right kind for our area.....Long Day onions.  Because of our long days (> 14 hours) in the growing season, you need l Skyclub waiting for my plane ride home.  I hear it's been cold up north, hopefully my apple blossoms are going to be ok.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The End of An Era

My mom, Betty Anderson
Tuesday, April 18th was my Mother's 83rd Birthday.  At 4:00 on that day she passed away from COPD, I probably don't need to elaborate the causes.  It marks and end of an Era, for 52 years my parents home was home, things never stay the same. My dad met my mother Betty in Milwaukee back in the early 1950's when after he finished his stint in the Air Force he went to work at the Schlitz Brewing Company.  There he met my uncle Lee Ystad who was married to my mother's sister, Dorothy.  I am sure that Lee told my dad that my wife has a good looking sister you should meet, and the rest is history! Married in 1954, they  lived with my Grandparents (Dad's Parents) for a while and I can only imagine how that went.  Mom, being from Milwaukee was a city girl and was sort of a tough gal!  Meanwhile my grandmother was a church going, small town woman, just the opposite of mom.  Well, they prevailed and eventually mom adapted to living in Eleva, a town of 465 back then.  She was the disciplinarian in our family as it never was........"Wait till your Dad get's home" rather she, and I would have to say very effectively, could dish out whatever the punishment needed to be and it was usually with her favorite weapon of choice, the fly swatter!  She knew how to use it and it was interesting as we were pretty settled down by the time Dad got home.  She eventually got a job at the local Grocery Store as a general stocking help and cashier.  In a small town everyone knows you and where you came from so everyone knew mom for sure. I find it very interesting that Mom did not have a driver's license until she was in her 50's, and even so, she never really drove at all.  I know she let her license lapse and really never wanted to drive.  She was a pretty woman up to the end and actually looked young for her age.  I remember when I was in my late teens people would often ask if I was her younger brother.  Yet she did not like her picture taken and was quite adamant about that, enough that it got me in trouble many times.  This is a picture taken about 10 years ago, she would be upset that I even published it here however I am proud of her and like to brag about her (This is where I got my good looks from!).  She was an interesting person, quite independent in many ways and quite dependent in others. Admittedly we were not a hugging, kissing, family, maybe to some it would
Mom and Dad at their 25th Wedding Anniversary
appear we were quite cold.  That's the way it was. 2 weeks before my father died (August 2, 2011) I sat on the couch with him and finally got the courage to say.....Dad, I never really told you this but I wanted you to know that I love you. Well his comeback was straight and to the point......Dave, when we were kids, we never had to say that to our parents as we just knew!  That was it, end of story!  Wow, I had to think about it for a while but vowed to start telling it to mom every time I talked to her.  After 56 years of silence I believe it changed her as she always responded to that positively.  Sitting with my brothers Steve and Blake, and Sister Beth, they gave each one of us a hand written note she had wrote and requested they be given out to each of us upon her death.  Mine says:  "Dear David,  I's so proud of what you turned out to be.  I can't thank you enough for all that you have done for me.  You take good care of me.  You have always been so hardworking, I remember when you were 12 and started working a garage after school.  You would stay there working until late at night.  Growing up you always helped me and as and adult, I always knew if I needed anything you were only a phone call away.  I love you so much! Love, Mom  The was a star at the end and another statement:  Look up at the stars and know that I am with you.  For that shining star you see is me watching you from above."   Uffda, pretty hard to top that.  Of course we all read ours out loud and between the tears we exclaimed, where did this come from!!!  From an amazing lady, one who was plucked from her world, hauled up to a foreign place, raise 5 kids, and found her real home.  Those who are reading this please consider, it's not to late to tell those who are special to you that you love them.  It's amazing what the results can be!! Love you mom.  Here is her obituary.
My new iTroll Kicker Motor Controller

So it's full speed ahead with our Opening fishing event.  I brought my boat in a couple weeks ago to Frankie's and they called, come pick it up!  I got the iTroll and remote steering installed as well, they did a number of warranty issues that I did not expect.  The tongue jack on the trailer was almost impossible to crank and the outboard engine had a few recalls that needed to be updated, a cover and the engine software.  I also had them install a timer on my baitwell aerator pump as it drove me crazy that it ran all the time. The iTroll is and interesting device as it precisely controls the speed of my Evinrude 9.8 hp kicker motor that I have been trying to use for trolling presentations.  It is a special servo motor connected to the throttle that allows you to adjust the throttle in small increments to get just the right speed.  It was difficult to set this using the shift lever to get the right speed.  As stated it was a bear to steer and the new Panther Martin remote steering should make trolling crankbaits and breeze!  I can't wait to try it on Minnesota Opener in a few weeks as I have a feeling the shallow water #5 Shad Rap bite will be pretty hot!  I will definitely give you a full report.  Now I need to find the time to get the boat in the water and try everything out as well as reorganize things, put the rods and tackle back in the boat, the list never ends.  As well the yard needs work and I am in Chicago next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  It's going to be a crazy next 4 weeks!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Ice Out

Ice out days for Mille for the Past 39 Years
When the ice has melted off a lake here in Minnesota, we traditionally call the event Ice Out.  It's a real big deal as most of our lakes have been frozen over since December and it marks the beginning of a new year of open water fishing.  The most notable lakes are the large ones like Lake Mille Lacs and Leech Lake as it sets the stage for what the fishing conditions might be for this years Minnesota Fishing Opener on May 13th.  An early ice out usually means that the spawn will have been completed and the traditional 2 to 3 weeks of recovery will be over so the fish tend to bite better. This is not always the case but can provide a good indicator of how the fishing will be.  I feel that Mille Lacs Lake is the one who's ice out sets the tone for the state.  Ice out is often defined as when someone can drive a boat unimpeded from Garrison, MN on the Northwest corner of the lake to Isle, MN which is in the Southeast corner of the lake.  The average date for the ice to leave Mille Lacs is April 27.  The earliest on record was March 26, 2012 and the latest on record is May 14, 2013 so you see there is little correlation from year to year.  Early ice out means and early spawn and the bite is usually better by fishing opener but that's
2017 MN Ice out map
not always the case.  In 2008 we still had ice on Leech Lake at opener, it wasn't officially declared Ice Out however we could get our boats into the harbor at the resort and fish the part of the lake that was open and it was absolutely fabulous!  I remember scooping up ice from the lake for the coolers however even with the cold water, fishing was excellent.  So much for that theory!  Admittedly we caught a lot of 15 - 17 inch fish which tend to be males and that makes sense.  This year's early Ice Out on Leech Lake should bode well for our 44th Annual Team Walleye opener.  The walleyes should be done spawning by May 1 and by the 13th they should really have the feedbag on.  Unfortunately the early ice out on Mille Lacs means the pre spawn netting starts.  Interesting as there will only be a catch and release season on Mille Lacs this year however when the lake was iced over till May 14th, that year we had a record spawn and the lake is just full of 14 - 16 inch walleyes............perfect for the gill nets.  It's sad but there is little one can do.   With the Minnesota Walleye Opener about 4 weeks away now things are looking like it could be a fantastic opener this year.  Time will tell!

Limit of 23 - 27 inch walleyes from Lake Erie this week.
The boat finally got dropped off at Frankie's on Friday for some minor but critical work.  First the kicker motor has to get worked on as it hardly started toward the end of last year.  The kicker is a 9.8 hp Evinrude 4 stroke made by Tohatsu and it's a nice engine when it runs!  Apparently the EPA regulations for these types of motors requires them to run so lean that they are difficult to get started again, and mine was no exception!  There are some "secret" adjustments that can be made to get them to run better.  As well they will change the oil, add what is known as an I troll to help control the throttle better, along with a new remote control electric steering for the motor.  This might be overkill however I am anxious to have better control over my trolling methods.  Another thing which is getting done is and aerator timer on my bait well.  In Canada the baitwell in my boat is indispensable as it makes getting minnows a heck of a lot easier than grabbing the minnow bucket from over the side every time.  The problem is the aerator in the bait well runs constantly,  I would like a timer that runs for a minute then rests for 5 as one doesn't need it running all the time.  Other things that are happening, my friend Bill Lundeen is up in Duluth fishing Lake Superior.  He usually is in Arizona at this time driving his mom back to Onamia but she didn't go this year and both he and Kathy need a break!  Also my friend Kevin Aiona and his son Ben are at Lake Erie pre fishing the upcoming Cabela's National Walleye Tournament, on Lake Erie the 11th and 12th of this week.  Ben texted me a picture of their limit of 8 walleyes in the 23 to 27 inch class.  His biggest was 31 inches and I don't know why he wouldn't send me THAT picture but it's OK, I'm sure it will turn up somewhere.  

Easter Weekend is coming up and often it occurs around my mothers birthday.  Unfortunately these days she is not doing so good but I am pretty sure she will be around to see her 83rd birthday. I am sure I will be spending time with her this weekend and hopefully will have a good time as I don't think she has too many more in her.  I did spend last Sunday with my brother Steve at mom's visiting and helping him rig up an HDS 12 on his Lund boat.  We moved his existing HDS 8 up to the bow and set up the boat so he could network them together.  He is thinking about getting a Motorguide i5 like I have so we are expanding his NMEA 2000 network to handle that as well.  He is getting pretty set up with updated electronics, a SonicHub audio server, the Motorguide, maybe a Point One GPS receiver.  Looks like I have lots to continue doing for him as he, along with my sister Beth, have done and outstanding job taking care of mom.  God Bless them!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Watching the Ice Melt

View from the Deck
It's time to get caught up with everything that has been waiting for the warmer weather to show itself. Actually it's been pretty nice here in Minnesota, the frost is already out and because of the lack of snow we really don't have any high water to deal with.  Most of the lakes up to Mille Lacs have experienced ice out and the Mille Lacs Webcam shows that Mille Lacs isn't that far behind.  It's been a week since I've been back from Naples and I have been enjoying eating the grouper that I brought home.  I must have had 20 pounds of fish fillets in my cooler, it was good that I turned down the refrigerator in my hotel room as the bags of fish were partially frozen when I packed them, the survived the trip quite well and are delicious!  Although last weeks post dealt with the fishing aspect of my trip, one of the things that was interesting is the experiences with my friends down in Tampa/Naples.  First was our accommodations while staying in Naples, we had the pleasure of being with my friend Glen and Tim in his Naples beach house.  A beautiful property right to the beach, it was wonderful to get up in the morning and have coffee on the deck and look out on the Gulf of Mexico, while listening to the gentle waves lapping up on the beach.  Tim is one of the most generous person's you'll ever meet and both Matt Davis (My friend from Dallas) and I certainly appreciated the hospitality shown to us. Matt and  had the pleasure to sleep in what is deferred to as "The Honeymoon Suite".  Although it had a couple of twin beds, it was right on the ground floor and the air conditioner was loud enough to drowned out any snoring that either him nor I would hear.  From Tim's house one could walk right on the sand beach where it was covered with shells and as you see in the picture, guys would actually
Joe's 58 foot boat.
surf fish off the property.  I never saw them catch anything however they must get something or what would be the point?  The next surprise was when we arrived back in Tampa to attend our APEC convention I finally ran into my dear friend Joe Stanfield from Dallas.  We attempted to get him to come fishing with us however he had lots of things to do and when we got into town it was obvious!  The Tampa Convention Center is located right on the waterfront and they had some docks where you could rent a spot to park your boat.  Well Joe decided to drive his boat up directly to those docks and use it for his accommodations during the show.  APEC is an interesting conference as it attracts some of the best and brightest electrical engineers and our company exhibits at that show, we have for at least 20 years.  Actually I had the pleasure of meeting Joe at the Cincinnati Coil Winding Show at least 20 years ago and we have been friends ever since.  Joe arranged our Cameron, Louisiana fishing trip a few years back http://davidjanderson.blogspot.com/2014/03/fishing-cajun-style-part-2.html and we never plan anything without including him in on the event.  When I first saw Joe he had let his hair grow out, I had to make a snide comment but it was sure good to see him again.  After the show was finished on Monday night he invited myself and my engineers onto his boat for an evening cocktail which was awesome.  The boat is a 58 foot yacht and quite the rig and is named appropriately "Daddy's Money"  Because it was on my way to the convention center every morning from the hotel, I would stop in and have coffee.  On Wednesday we took a little cruise up the river in his 16 foot dingy he had as his smaller boat to get around if needed. It is always the highlight of my trip to see Joe and this year was no exception.

Mike's nice norther at Lake Abram, Sioux Lookout Ontario
Well, there was still fishing going on as another good friend of mine, Mike Grant, went up to Canada for a later season Ice Fishing trip with some of his friends.  I knew he was going a few weeks ago so I volunteered the use of my Vexilar, a few nice and sturdy ice rods, and my bait collection.  His destination was Lake Abram, just out of Sioux Lookout and not to far from where I go fishing on Lac Seul.  The lake is famous for it's lake trout and nice northern pike and Mike promised me some pictures if he was lucky enough to catch something. So here is Mike with a very nice northern, at  least in the 15 pound class.  He also caught a nice lake trout and a whitefish and claims that although it wasn't a good day, it really helped to have my Vexilar showing him where the fish were and when to expect that thump.  I am really glad he got out and someday maybe he will let me horn in on his trip!  I can tell you that it certainly has the juices flowing for the opener.  Speaking of fishing opener, Team Walleye has been working hard to get ready as we finished ordering our hats for this year.  We are only 6 weeks away and the weekend after that I will be heading to the Ontario fishing opener with my friends.  There are a lot of things that need to get done, the boat needs to be brought up to Frankies for some work on the kicker motor as it is the worst starting outboard motor I've ever had.  I am adding a remote control steering to it as it can be damn near impossible to steer otherwise.  I wanted to get a bimini top for the boat however it looks like the place is tied up till June of this year, uffda!   The yard needs work, the sprinkler system needs tuning up, the garden has to be tilled up, trees dug out and replanted..........the list goes on and on!  Oh well.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Back From Naples

Successful Day on the Gulf
Well, I finally returned from my weekend in Naples Florida last night.  Every year our industry has a conference called APEC (Applied Power Electronics Conference) somewhere interesting.  Because some of my best fishing friends attend the conference and if it is in a convenient location, we try to arrange a fishing trip prior to the show.  I have done a trips to Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina, and this year we went back to Naples, Florida, where we fished after another industry event in early December, just a few months ago. We enjoyed our Captain on the Sea Legs from the previous trip however He recommended using A and B Charters out of Naples, it ended up being a great reference as we had a very good time.  On this trip were my good friends Glen Collins (Illinois), Bill Hardt (Wisconsin), Matt Davis(Texas), and Phil Gordon(Colorado). Our target species was Red Grouper as well as a number of snapper fish such as Gray Snapper (often called Mangrove), Lane Snapper, Porgy fish.  Starting at 7:00AM and running straight west out of Naples for an hour and a half we hit 60 feet of water and anchored on a reef.  Using what I call 3 way rigs, about a 1 1/2 ounce sinker at the bottom of the line then a hook about a foot up, we baited with cut fish and squid as bait and dropped them down.  It was an immediate bite and within minutes Phil landed his first ever legal (20 inch minimum) red grouper. We were surprised at the strength of the tide, I have experienced this before in Alaska were the tides get to 16 feet but these are relatively small, 2.5 feet.  Never the less the tide current had an effect on our presentation as well, the Captain stated that the grouper stay tight in their
Left to Right, Matt, Myself, Phil, Glen, and Bill
holes and crevices during the peak tides, which explained why we were mostly catching snapper.  And catch snapper we did!  Literally  as soon as you hit the bottom something was chomping on your bait.  Because of this, we caught mostly the snappers however by 12:30 the tide had diminished enough to entice the groupers to come out and join the action, which they did.  It was easy to determine if you had a larger grouper hitting your bait, it was much more solid and not so peck/peck of the smaller fish.  Once you hooked one the battle was on to try and keep the fish out of the rocks. Although we did have nice equipment, a 22 inch grouper can really bulldog itself to the bottom unless you really try and show him who's boss.  We ended the day about 2:00 as we had an hours run back to the dock. Although I am never ready to leave, I was getting wore out with reeling in fish as my left hand was starting to form a blister where it clinched around the reel handle.  Arriving at the dock we put the fish on a picture board, we had 8 nice grouper, a couple of nicer snappers as well about 50 or so of the smaller 12 to 16 inch which we were told are the best eaters! One of the things I wanted to do was to help clean the fish however I got ridiculed for my Minnesota method........while I wanted to make sure I did a good job, they simply cut the fillet diagonally from the top to the front of the rear fin, which basically eliminates any rib meat and a little of the top portion of the fish.  Not being used to that method it took me a lot longer to clean on but eventually got the hang of it.  I took a lot of ribbing however if my knife was sharper, it would have been a lot better, oh well.  We got quite a few more fish on this trip which some of them we dropped off at the restaurant we use last time and had them cook a bunch up for Sunday night dinner.  The rest of the fish I brought home and am hoping I can get my friend Mark Applen to pickle up a bunch of them snappers and I am betting they'd be excellent.

Grouper Bilbao
Next weeks post will cover the opulence that I had the pleasure of hanging around this weekend however I am really getting to like that area of Florida.  The restaurants are excellent especially the one we went to in downtown Tampa on Tuesday night.  Called the Colombia, it is the oldest operating restaurant in Florida and is the largest Spanish restaurant in the world.  I love fresh fish as I stated, we took our fish to the Boathouse near the docks and they took our Grouper and Snapper then we had it Blackened, grilled, and fried.  It was excellent with my favorite being grilled grouper.  Monday night I had grouper again then on Tuesday night at the Columbian, I had their special Grouper Bilbao, as the menu describes: Traditional Basque preparation of fillet of Red Grouper, baked in a clay casserole, layered with sliced tomatoes, potatoes, onions, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and lemon.  It was absolutely delicious, the fish was snow white and flakey, the serving was fabulous and the ambiance of the place was incredible.  I would like to try making this at home as I do have a lot of grouper fillets.

So things will be settling down again for a while as I have a ton of work to get done around the house and my boat has to be brought into Frankie's to have a remote tiller steering attached to my rig.  So many things, so little time!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Inbetween

Lowrance HDS 9, Gen 3
We are in the "Inbetween" time that begs you to get some things done around the house before everything starts opening up in April.  The garden needs to be cleaned up, the apple trees need pruning, the accumulation of the winter junk around the yard needs to be picked up. it's a perfect time to start working on the boat as the temperatures are not that bad out.  As well, ice fishing season is done and it's time to put all of that stuff away in it's proper place and get my Salem wheel house cleaned up and ready for storage.  Mark Mayerich and I are tasked to get our Team Walleye hats on order so we have them in time for the May 13 Minnesota Fishing opener, I guess there is no end to the list.  One of the nice things is that we did not have much snow this year so the ground isn't so sloppy.  I hate to take the snowblower off the lawn tractor quite yet, I remember a few 12 inch April snowfalls but the long term forecast looks pretty good.  Having worked my deal with the electronics on my boat I successfully got my old Lowrance HDS9, Gen 3 installed in Bruce's boat, a nice upgrade from his older HDS7, Gen 2 that I fixed him up with a few years ago.  Bruce and I fish Lac Seul quite a bit and I enjoy helping him to upgrade his systems for a more enjoyable experience.  The map chips of Lac Seul and the integration of his trolling motor to the depth finder really makes for a safer trip as one has a better reference for the routes and hazards of the lake.  In addition, the Gen 3's latest upgrade allows one to make your own maps of the lake via the Navionics Chip and it's SonarChart Live feature. This will be really nice for making your own 1 foot contour maps of our favorite fishing areas on Lac Seul.

Panther Martin Electro-steer with Remote
Tonight I am heading to the Northwest Sportshow to get a number of things taken care of.  Frankie's Marine is my boat dealer and I need to see him about getting my rig in to fix the kicker motor starting issues and to schedule a Bimini top installation.   Also my 9.8 hp kicker motor is tied to my big motor for steering and it can be difficult to steer it without the big motor turned on.  The big motor has power steering to make it easier to turn the wheel, and if you simply turn the key on, it will engage the power steering however because the ECM (Electronic Control Module) is water cooled, if you don't have the motor running and pumping water, it can overheat the ECM and burn it out.  Instead I am going to do is have installed a Panther Martin Electro-Steering device on the boat with a remote control so I can steer my kicker a lot easier.  I really like to troll crankbaits and up to this time it's been difficult at best as my 250HP runs at 3mph and my kicker runs OK but it is awfully hard to steer.  Many guys on the forums state that one should steer with your front trolling motor but I've tried that with little success unless you have a big radius to turn, it's pretty slow to react.  As stated in previous posts I head to Naples to Grouper fish on Sunday, which should be fun.  Hopefully I bring some fish home and now that I've caught a 200 pounder in December, I don't really need to do that again!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Fishin' With Dave!!

Beautiful Saturday afternoon on the ice
Last Saturday I had the pleasure of fishing with the son of a dear friend of mine.  David is 151/2 years old, is really getting into fishing, and his dad Mike told him to e-mail me if he had any questions.  Well, to my pleasure he actually did and we have been solving all the latest fishing dilemmas of which reel to get, best line to use, bass fishing strategies and all sorts of things.  Dave is in high school and has just joined the school fishing team which sounds like fun.  We had planned to go ice fishing in March, as soon as his wrestling season was finished and March 11 was the designated day.  Well apparently Mike and his wife had also planned a trip to Florida that weekend so it would be just Dave and Dave, which suited me just fine.  Finalizing our plan the day would start out in the morning with a stop at Cabela's first the maybe Scheels in St. Cloud before heading to the northwest. Our destination was near Battle Lake, MN where I knew there would be safe ice for both of us.  I assured Dave's folks that I was much fatter than their son, if the ice was unsafe, I'd be the guy in peril as I will definitely take care of their son.  Picking Dave up at 8:30 on Saturday, we headed for Cabela's to check out the Spring Sale. After loading up on series 3700 tackle totes we stopped at McDonalds for breakfast then on to Scheels, one of my favorite stores.  Dave was looking for a fishing Rod and I gave some suggestions however it was time to head north as we had another hour and a half drive.  Buying some minnows and waxies, we headed to this "secret" lake where I had done well a few years before............yeah, I know....Fishing Memories!  The recent warm weather had me concerned about getting out on the lake.  I knew we were not going to drive however this lake had a road along the north side of the lake and it was an easy walk to where I wanted to go.  Generally the north shoreline is the first to soften and open up yet the near 0 temperatures of the last few days solidified the shore ice quite well and we were pretty safe.  The ice was not exactly as rough as I have experienced in the past however it showed the results from the previous warm spell, no snow and evidence of a lot of water that was on the ice.  I drilled a number of holes and by 1;30 we were fishing, by 4:30 we still were fishing.

Moon over Highway 210
Notice I said fishing.  Although I marked a few fish that had come through they were awfully finicky and did not seem to be interested in what we had to offer.  The last time I was at this lake it took watching my camera and actually seeing the crappies inhale the bait as it was almost impossible to tell otherwise.  Even though it was nice out, I set Dave up in my single place Clam and got the camera running.  Unfortunately neither one of us saw any more fish or experienced any bite.  By 5:00 I had decided to head out as it wasn't looking that good.  We packed up the equipment and walked back to the truck and headed back towards home.  Having never really traveled Minnesota Highway 210, we decided to take the scenic route home through Staples/Motley then on to St. Cloud then Hwy 10 to Elk River.  It was a beautiful drive as we watched the moon come up over the horizon into the deep blue sky.  Not to be totally skunked we stopped at Morey's Fish House in Motley and at least bought some fresh fish for supper!  My new found wheat allergy was attended to by Dave when he suggested we stop at Culver's and get a burger with a gluten free bun, as his parents do this.  A stop at Culver's in St. Cloud proved to be just the ticket as I ordered their butter burger with a Gluten Free bun, absolutely delicious as I have not had a real hamburger in about 3 months.  Finally getting to my place around 8:30 we unloaded all of our stuff before heading back to drop Dave off at home.  It was a wonderful experience for me.  It was like being with myself 47 years ago as my guest was a great conversationalist, very intelligent, and had a great sense of humor.  As we walked off the ice a big flock of geese flew by and a asked Dave if he knew why they fly in a V pattern.  Yes, he exclaimed, the flock can fly more efficiently that way.  Right on the money, this kid is smart.  Well then I asked him if he knew why one side of the V is usually longer than the other side, he exclaimed no he did not.  Well, I let him on to the real answer......that's because there are more geese on that side, We had a good laugh, now he has a story for life!  I'd post a picture but I'd hate to see all the girls begging me for his contact information.

Ice fishing is about finished and it's time to get the boat up and going.  I have all the replacement electronics taken care of and am waiting to get it to Frankies to have a Bimini Top added, to have a remote control steering added to the kicker motor, and hopefully get my kicker motor fixed so it's not so blessed hard to start, what a beast!  I have read about drilling out a jet to make it start easier, anything would be better than it is now.Hopefully I can get all of this done before opener.  Next week is the Sportsman Show and there is a number of people that want to go with on Thursday.  Our return Grouper fishing trip is set for March 26th again in Naples.  This weekend might just be a get caught up on things like putting the ice fishing stuff away!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Open Water is Just Around the Corner!

Collecting Maple sap
With some of the lakes around home already ice free, and the temperatures in the 60's last weekend, fishing was not in the cards.  I spent the weekend helping my friend John Matthews help rewire my sister -in-laws house as I figured he may have bit off more than he could chew! She lives in Hudson, WI so both Saturday and Sunday were spent pulling wires.  We must be at least 3 weeks ahead of what I would call a normal weather schedule as my neighbor Brandon Larsen is already been tapping the trees for maple syruping,  I have a couple of nice maples in my yard so I let him tap them and in return I get a nice bottle of homemade Maple Syrup which is exceptionally good!  The sap has been really flowing lately because of the warm days and nights below freezing, I have to believe that he has collected over 500 gallons to date from the neighbors and I.  Brandon also has an osmosis filter that essentially removes 1/2 the water when ran through the filter, making it so it does not take forever to boil off the water to get the syrup to the right stage.  Apparently he can run it through up to 4 times so 400 gallons of sap at 2% sugar content get reduced to  50 gallons at about 16%.  This saves boiling away 350 gallons of water in the original sap, a huge reduction in wood needed to fuel the boiler.  It still takes a fair amount of processing to get real Maple Syrup but the end product is definitely worth it!  Brandon has a large tray that is separated into a number of compartments.  By magic the finished syrup makes it's way to one end with a spigot and thermometer to monitor the whether it is ready.  For all practical purposes finished maple syrup boils at 219F give or take a few adjustments for altitude.  Once it hit that temperature it can be drawn off as syrup.  Brandon's neighbor Jake was over helping on Monday night as they were boiling and I stopped over.  We poured a little brandy into a cup then added some hot syrup from the spigot.....Uffda that was good, (not particularly good for my diabetes!)  One interesting thing the Brandon has been doing is finishing his syrup off in used bourbon barrels.  Het reheats the syrup then pours it in the barrel and let's it sit for 8 weeks.  the syrup picks up the bourbon flavor and it's pretty good.  The used barrels are expensive so he obviously gets more for it but it is definitely an interesting twist to his craft.

Wild Turkeys in the Garden
So this warm weather has me thinking about the garden this year.  I have quite a bit of work to do however I did order my onion sets from Dixondale Farms out of Texas again with my friend Andy.  They are great onions and much better than the ones one buys up north.  Onions are classified by Long Day, Moderate Day, and Short Day onions, a term that describes their bulbing properties.  Long day Onions need more than 15 hours of daylight to trigger them to start growing the onion.  It definitely makes a big difference as I get larger onions that last a lot longer.  One thing that has hung around my property this year has been wild Turkeys.  At some time there can be as many as 18 in a bunch and trust me, they can eat! If you look closely at the picture of them you will see a white bucket that I fill with corn. They can really clean it out and I am not sure who's worse.....the deer of the turkeys.  I compare them to a good vacuum cleaner as nothing in their path is safe.  If there is no more for them in the garden they will strut up to my deck and eat all the bird seed out of my ground feeder.  Never the less they are an impressive bird for sure and I am half tempted to enjoy a wild turkey dinner some day but that would not be the nicest thing to do and could end me up in trouble!

I have promised to take my friends the Grants out ice fishing this weekend, I am planning on heading up to the Battle Lake area and try for some crappies.  If there is any issue in walking out I have plan B, we will hit the outdoor stores of Scheels and Cabela's for David Grant, a new up and coming fisherman!  Hopefully I will have something to report next week.  I am definitely afraid this will probably be my last adventure on the ice for this year.  The next big trip is back to Naples for some great grouper fishing on March 26th.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Johnson's Perch Extravaganza

Button Drawing
Well, this year has certainly been a challenge when it comes to ice fishing.  Even northern Minnesota experienced a relatively late freeze as you can go back to my earlier Red Lake Posts, not much going on.  Usually the last "wheel house" event occurs during the last weekend in February, just before the Walleye season closes on Mille Lacs Lake, Johnson's Perch Extravaganza held at Nitti's Hunters Point Resort about halfway up the East side of Mille Lacs Lake.  A group of us including Mark, Russ, Randy, and Mike find an area out on the lake where we can park our houses on Friday night, we set up our Perch Camp. We have a lot of fun cooking, playing the the official game of us "Wheel Houser's"....Farkle, having a few cocktails and trying to catch a perch large enough to enter the contest.  This year the weather has been quite mild and although the ice on the lake is solid enough, the warm weather has caused a substantial heave near the shore as well, the shoreline ice has deteriorated significantly.  The week before saw rain fall on Mille Lacs and any hole through the ice acts as a drain with the water that's on top of the ice makes an effort to get below the ice.  These older holes from ice houses and or fisherman allows this to happen and there were reports of holes that had grown to 3 feet in diameter.  To further complicate things it got cold on Thursday night and it actually refroze the surface including lightly freezing over any of these drain holes creating a dangerous situation if a person happen to go over one.  Therefore for the most part all of the accesses on the East side were closed and not letting anyone on the ice.  Of course that didn't stop some people from showing off their stupid quotient as we stood there for the button drawing a guy in a Ford Pickup and pulling an ATV on a trailer tried to cross the crack and ended up dropping the front end down into the ice.  Luckily he only dropped to the frame and the ice held him up otherwise it would have been a lot more entertainment.  I have no idea what this guy was thinking but what ever it was he got a big surprise. The west side was letting people on but who the heck wanted to travel 12 miles over the ice with zero guarantee's one would get off in a couple of days.  Therefore we all decided to skip putting our whell houses on the ice and just attend the Button Drawing.  They sell buttons with numbers on them for $20 each,  then starting at 3:00PM the drawing begins, and of course if your number is drawn you win something.  They always have great prizes such as a couple of wheel houses, a 4 X 4 UTV side by side, as well as a bunch of new augers, tackle packages and quite a bit of pretty good stuff. Unfortunately even though I bought 2 buttons, those numbers failed to be announced.  Originally because of the ice conditions it was planned to have the drawing in the parking lot of Hunter's but boy, would that have been a mess.  Thursday and Friday saw temperatures drop into the mid teens and solidifying the shore ice so they moved the drawing onto the ice where it normally is held.   Mark found a spot up on the shore that was elevated above most people making it easy to hear the numbers called.  As well the shore tended to be warmer than standing on the ice which was a lot nicer.  After having a couple for the road I met Russ and Randy at Bayside for a burger then headed back to Dayton.  The forecast for this weekend is in the upper 50's so we are getting really close to the end of ice fishing.  Maybe 1 more time next week when I promised a friend I'd take him and his son out for crappies,  Hopefully the ice will be good!

Hand tied jigs
One of the employees at my work stopped by the office a few days ago to show me his latest hobby, tying jigs for walleye fishing.  I was impressed by his craftsmanship, attention to detail, and of course his interest in fishing.  It reminded me of 40 years ago I used to tie my own jigs using dyed fake fur as the main body.  Kevin Aiona and I used to really catch the walleyes down in Catfish Slough on the Mississippi River north of Alma (Pool 4) Wisconsin.  We would simply drift with the slow current in the channel of the slough and catch all the walleyes we wanted in a few hours.  Since then it's been told to me that the slough has filled in and is quite shallow as the walleyes are no longer in that area. It still brings back good memories as Catfish was one of our favorite places to fish.  One of these days  I will get Kevin to bring me back down on the river for a nice day of fishing, maybe we can catch some old memories!  With the early ice out maybe the river will be good this year.  At this time there isn't much of a snow pack here or  around the upper Mississippi to melt and the river level should stay reasonable for the next month or so.  I do remember taking my good friend Leon Lambert fishing below the Alma dam on April 5th of that year, it was warm and we did catch some fish.  He offered me my choice of jigs and I decided to take the middle one with the promise of a picture of me with the walleye I will catch on it in May when I head to Lac Seul.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

First Panfish Trip of the Season

Ice from the auger was chunky, not shaven
Temperatures have been crazy warm the last week or so which has really changed the landscape of ice fishing from essentially Leech Lake and south.  With various reports of trucks going through the ice and open water, I decided to head to a little lake west of town and try my luck for the afternoon crappie bite.  I have not been out at all this year for panfish and with the ice conditions I needed to go somewhere that it was easy to park and walk out, Little Pulaski Lake by Buffalo is a good spot for sure.  There is a nice parking area at the lakes edge and it's about a 100 yard walk to the "crappie" spot, at least that is where I have done ok in the past.  The problem is that it might be a little late for this specific spot as it's generally better around first ice.  With not too many options, and close enough to home, it was worth a try.  The Ace Hardware in St. Michael is a convenient place to stop for bait and get the low down on the local lakes.  Admittedly they confirmed that there was not much going on but considering the perceived and real ice conditions, it wasn't surprising.  Arriving at the parking area I was surprised by the few amount of people there were, I suppose at this time of year, if you can't drive out people get lazy.  The ice was darker than normal and the shoreline was somewhat deteriorated however it wasn't too hard to get onto the main ice.  A short walk and I was at where it was about 12 feet deep so I punched about 7 holes perpendicular to the shoreline as I like to hole hop. As I drilled the holes it became obvious that the ice was starting to "Candle" meaning that water had penetrated the ice and started to form small columns within it, definitely an advanced sign of deterioration.   See how the ice was chunked and not shaven, like an auger blade normally does. Although it was definitely strong enough to support myself and if you had an ATV, that would be OK however I another surprise was it's thickness.  Less than 14 inches, this ice was pretty thin and even
First Sunnie of the season!
with the warm weather was an indication that it never really got that thick this year as in a normal year it should be about 24 inches or so.  The temperature was 58 so fishing outside was very comfortable however not typical of the third week in February, that's for sure!  Although I was looking for crappies, my suspicions were that they probably would not show up until around sunset, which was at 5:47 PM.  I did catch my first sunfish of the season, nothing big but the way my fishing has been going this winter, a welcome change.  I unhooked the fish and let it back down the hole, then proceeded to catch about 10 more around the same size.  the fish quit biting for a while then a small northern pike slammed my waxie an sort of made a mess out of everything!  No wonder the fish disappeared.  Unhooking it and letting it back down the hole I continued to move to the consecutive holes that were drilled.  A few more fish hit the waxie before the sun finally went down without much fanfare.  No crappies showed up and to be honest, I wasn't too surprised.  I think I need to head further west and north to find any decent crappies this time of the year.

This weekend is normally the weekend for Johnson's Portside Perch Extravaganza out of Hunter's
Point on the east side of Mille Lacs.  This is a very large perch fishing contest where they also give away a ton of good door prizes including a couple of Ice Castle wheel houses.  In the past I usually go up with my friends that have wheel houses, we park in a general good spot to fish, forming our own little group of houses.  It's a good time, we set up a bar, an off the ice fire pit and cook up a meal for Saturday then hopefully catch something to enter yet we are not very good at that part.  At 3:00 they hold the main event and drawing which in order to be eligible you need to purchase a button with a number.  If they draw your number, voila, but you must be present to win.  3 hours later it's done, we may have a few beers in the resort but usually head back to the wheel houses for a couple games of Farkle, the official game of my group of guys before heading to bed.  3 years ago when I first bought my wheel house, there was so much snow that we could not get out on the ice on Friday and Saturday was not much better.  We simply backed into the snow off a main road and stayed there.  There was so much snow and with us parked in one area, the ice started to sag. Although we were in no danger of breaking through, the water came through our holes and started flooding our houses.  It provided for a nice fire drill at 6:00 in the morning on Sunday.  We did get off safely but certainly provided for some entertainment for a while.  This year because of the recent warm weather, we will not be able to get our houses out on the lake.  I may actually drive up Saturday afternoon for the drawing but it's really put a damper on our groups activities for this week.  Also, Sunday is the official day that walleye fishing season ends in Minnesota inland lakes so except for crappies or fishing walleyes in the Mississippi River south of Redwing, fishing season is done.

Mark's book.
Lowrance came out with an update to their HDS Gen 3 units last week which will allow a program called SonarCharts Live to operate on these units.   Essentially it creates a map of an area of the lake that you are slowly driving over.  This is pretty exciting as I am anxious to try this on Lac Seul, the ability to make my own maps of the bottom structure of the areas we fish.  As always there are some issues that go along with this such as having an updated Navionics chip in your unit.  I have loaded the upgrade, updated my current Navionics Chip, and am ready to learn about using this new technology.  To be honest, it seems like I can barely keep up with my cellphone but this seems like a great feature to learn to use.  Secondly I am a frequent visitor to Walleye Central and on their Canada Forum there was a gentlemen selling a book he wrote, Secrets of the Canadian Shield.  I e-mailed him as I am always interested in guys that do this, write about their experiences and ordered a book from him.  Received it last weekend and am pretty impressed as it is totally applicable for Lac Seul and the fishing we do.  If for nothing else it validates my own observations of fishing in these waters and found it quite useful.  I am definitely planning on bringing it up with me to Bruce's cabin this year, it will be a great addition to our knowledge base.  If anyone is interested in ordering a book he has a few left and they are $20, not bad for a nicely written book, drop me a line and I will send you the contact information.  Admittedly it also serves to get those juices flowing as open water is only about 6 weeks away!

Friday, February 17, 2017

A Week Off

Ardent Tournament APEX Reel
Last week's trip to Anaheim was long and really didn't do my weekend well for fishing.  I did get a few things done around the house however no fishing.  One of the things I have been dealing with is helping my friend Mike Grant's son David, on getting ready for the upcoming fishing season, one where he has joined the High School Fishing League and was looking for advice on rods and reels.  I have been talking to him a lot lately and been pushing his need to get a real man's casting rod and reel for pitching those worms and heavy plugs for bass.  Besides they also make a great walleye trolling rig that tends not to tire one out so fast.  He has already bought a spinning outfit yet I have been pushing him  hard to join the ranks of the professionals and be a real fisherman so I checked out my collection to see what I had extra.  Sure enough, I had one of these laying around that I picked up on a fabulous sale a few years back.  It's really a pretty good reel and matched up with a 6"6" medium heavy fast tipped graphite rod, this should last him a lifetime.  Now the only issue is me teaching him the nuances of setting the right tension for the lure, the right spool brake needed in combination with his ability to "thumb" the spool when casting.  This takes practice as lighter baits or lighter line can be problematic!  I know, as there have been many a reel that had to have the line cut off and replaced. Casting a reel like this can be easy with the right line, lure, rod, settings, and feel yet if one of those isn't exactly in the plan, here comes the bird's nest. These newer reels really help by adding sophisticated centrifugal brakes to help slow everything down in a logical matter yet about the minute you get cocky, away goes the spool and one starts over again.  Bottom line is once a guy get's the hang of it, it becomes second nature and under the right conditions, you can look like a pro! I use these for casting heavier rattling crankbaits on the river for Smallies and heavy plastics for largemouth.  As stated earlier, they work perfect for long line trolling walleyes with shad raps or fishing catfish on the bottom in the River.  I already have about 6 of these rigs so it will be good to see this reel get some real workout!

Sonar Chart Live Function for Lowrance HDS Units
There has been some interesting events that have happened this week.  One of the more exciting things was the much anticipated software release of the Lowrance operating system, version 4.5. These are applicable to my HDS Gen 3 units that are currently in my boat and really adds some great features.  The one I am looking forward to is the Navionic's SonarChart Live, which allows the ability to make real life depth maps of a specific areas under your boat.  Like the picture to the right, one can see the contour lines being drawn as the boat goes over a specific area. This function should be very useful when I go to Canada, especially some of the points that I like to fish, it will be interesting to look at the areas that we fish and try to look for other like areas.  It would also be nice for mapping the River for smallies.  There were some other interesting updates like a lot of them in the past, they enhance some of the features shown on the screen.  There is a lot of work to do before one get's proficient at running this new software however one has to start somewhere. Apparently Lowrance have improved their StructureScan 3D however I have not tried very hard to learn how to use it, time always seems too short to spend time on the water learning a systems verses time fishing.  It is probably a useful tool and this year I am going to try to understand it more.  Maybe this weekend I can get out and try to catch some panfish, something I haven't done yet this year.  Next Friday is the Perch extravaganza which should be the last wheel house event of the year.

Monday, February 13, 2017

A Little Late But............

13", 1.5 pound Mille Lacs Perch
Last week I was in Anaheim Claifornia attending the MD and M West medical Device show. Admittedly I could have written the post from there but for some stupid reason my pictures on my phone did not transfer very well.....ugh!!  Anyway better late than never.  So my birthday was on February 4th and I decided to head up to Mille Lacs and try to catch some tullibees for my friend Mark Applen, who makes the best pickled fish ever, and tullibees are excellent to pickle.  Mark had gone up to Mille Lacs the night before and I knew he had gone out of Hunter's Point Resort. My plan was to head out of a resort that had a good bridge across the cracks that form near shore then once over, one can travel almost anywhere as long as you know where to return safely.  Midget Flat was my destination, a small flat south of 9 mile that tops out at around 30 feet, deeper than most which top out around 24 feet, yet I have done well with Tullibees out there so it seemed like the place to go.  Once on the ice I called Mark to see where he was, about 3 miles out towards the end of the line of houses, 15 minutes later I spotted him off to my right.  One thing nice about both Mark and I's ice houses, they are Salem's and you don't see very many of them.  Once you spot it, you can be pretty sure of your destination, especially when Mark's white pickup is parked next to it. Heading over, Mark was outside with his grandson Beckett, so I stopped to discuss my strategy.  "Well, no need to go out there, I have been seeing tullibees on the camera right here.  He was parked off a break in 32 feet of water so I decided to give it a try.  Tullibees are notorious for following your lure off the bottom and will travel quite high.  In fact, in the past I have almost pulled them to the surface, actually to where I could see them hit my lure.  At Lundeens I stopped to get some bait and I bought what I feel is the ideal tullibee lure, a spoon with about a 4 inch drop line off the bottom with a panfish type jig on it. The spoon attracts them and the lure below is tipped with a waxie and they hit that.  Well I went into Mark's house and immediately started marking fish.  I jigged on up about 5 feet off the bottom, definitely a tullibee when it hit the lure.   Tullibees fight really good and this one was no exception, however when it got close to the hole it was orange colored, not your typical silver.  Finally getting it to the top of the hole it was this huge perch, actually the biggest I have ever caught.  You can imagine my surprise when I brought it in, too bad it wasn't the Perch Extravaganza as I am sure I would have placed.

2 nice tullibees
After I got the perch in, I was still bound and determined to catch a tullibee.  It wasn't long before I hooked one and got it up, man they fight good, almost like those trout we got a couple weeks ago.  Tullibees are related to the whitefish, cisco, and herring family, a bony and oily fish that people usually smoke.  They have a texture when pickled like commercial pickled herring and are delicious.  I sat in Mark's house and managed to catch 6 of them, not a bad take for a couple hours of fishing.  I am sure that had I gone out to the Midget Flat there might have been more fish yet here I was fishing in a warm place sitting on a comfortable couch, not hard to take at all.  Beckett (Mark's 5 year old grandson) was watching me so the last 3 fish I gave him the rod to reel in the fish, he really got a kick out of that.  Not one to let a good opportunity slip by I made sure Beckett asked Grandpa why we were getting all the fish!  It's good to involve the kids in some light humor, and of course they really don't understand what your asking them but Grandpa Mark does!  You might as well get the little ones trained right and to make sure they know who is the master of the bite!  It was a good time as Mark cooked up some pork loins, fried up some sliced potatoes, it doesn't get any better than this for sure.  Getting home the job of cleaning the fish was done and because it's been fairly warm, I did this down by my pole shed.  Enough fillets for Mark to do his magic, I might have to go and get some more soon.  I did end up catching a 15 inch walleye as well, a nice bonus to a day's fishing.  With only 2 weekends left for the walleye season and the last being the Hunter's Point Perch Extravaganza, winter is ticking away.  I have yet to catch a sunfish or crappie this year, maybe in March, if there is even any ice left as we have no snow left with this weekend being in the upper 40's and next claims a 50 might show it's presence.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Fishing With Daris Rosebear

Mark, Ben, myself, and Jack with our 15 trout.
With the bite on Red Lake winding down (actually it never wound up for me!) and having left my fish house at JR's for a month, it was time to head up to Red Lake and drag it home.  My guests this week were Jack and his son, Ben Taylor.  My friend Mark Applen's January travels were done so we had planned on heading up to JR's to fish, attend Redfest, and we decided to book a trip with Daris Rosebear and his on Red Lake Reservation guide trip.  Mark had been fishing with him in the past and highly recommended it as a good time.  We agreed so he contacted Daris and we had a time, meet him at the Seven Clan's Casino at 6:00AM on Saturday morning and we'd go from there.  Ben had no idea what we were doing but was pretty excited about going.   Picking both Jack and Ben up at the their house, we got going a little later but we still managed to make it in 4.5 hours and had the house hooked up by 8:00 and on the ice by 9:00.  Because the casino is an hour away, we had to get up at 4:30  to leave by 5:00, damn early for a Saturday morning! The plan was to meet Daris at the casino, drive to the city of Red Lake and stop at the Sheriff's office to get our daily Reservation fishing permit ($10) then head to one of the small lakes (Smith Lake) south of the main highway to fish trout. He had 14 clients this morning, a larger bunch than usual however it worked out pretty well.  The lake was pretty small but just full of Rainbow and Brook trout.  Daris had the equipment, all we brought was our depthfinders and warm clothes.  He and the other guides he had with drilled a bunch of holes and we spread out on the lake quite well, we were never crowded.  Mark, Jack, Ben, and I pretty much took one end of the lake while the other guys stayed in the middle and off to one island.   I started in 40 feet of water and marked fish halfway up and I finally nailed one 20 feet off the bottom.  I have to admit, these fish fight like crazy and when it finally came out of the hole I could not believe it was only about 15 inches in length. In the meantime Ben was fishing more towards shore and finally caught one in about 22 feet of water.  He was just besides himself for sure as this was his first trout through the ice.  We all began moving a little shallower, 24 feet or less and started catching fish fairly consistently.   Although Mark claimed his last trip was much more productive, no one was complaining about the time we were having.  By 11:00 the bite was improving however by 12:00 we had to go.  Never the less both Ben and I had caught our 5 fish and were pretty satisfied!

2 of our Nicest Trout
It was quite interesting to go with Daris Rosebear. He is a Red Lake Guide who definitely knows the in's and out of fishing on the Reservation.  It was fun to talk to his helpers as they came over to check up on us.  The Red Lake Indian Reservation is a tough place to live and it was good to see Daris taking advantage of his knowledge to be successful.  It is the only reservation that never ceded it's lands to the Federal Government and has been totally in it's resident's control and is very unique in it's position.  Because of this, they are allowed to restrict outsiders and even have the ability to issue their own license plates.  Hench forth we had to first purchase our single day Reservation Fishing Permit. The permit allows a non-resident to fish for 1 day as long as one is on a number of lakes on the Reservation that do not include Lower and Upper Red Lake.  Another condition is that the permit holder is only allowed to fish if there is an Indian Guide (Daris Rosebear) during the fishing hours. The Red Lake Band uses the large Lower and half of Upper Red Lake as a source for their Fisheries business where they sell fish caught out of their tribal waters to the open market.  Most restaurants in Minneapolis/St. Paul that serve walleye get them from Red Lake.  They get about $2.50/pound with a daily limit of 50 fish under 22 inches or about 3 pounds.  I would admit that this is probably pretty hard work day in and day out but one can make a fairly relative living by fishing.  I would hate to tell you what I paid per pound for the walleyes I caught on the state side of Upper Red Lake this year but it would be embarrassing for sure!  Although it seems as though it would make sense to charge us "Non Resident" money to fish the tribal portion of Red Lake, it's pretty complicated and the answers are not that easy.  Either way it was a great time fishing with Daris and both Mark and I are looking into an open water trip sometime this year with him.  I'd definitely do this again as it definitely is a distraction from the slow fishing on Red this year.  The other thing is I would have brought my own fishing rig and smaller baits as he was still set up for larger fish.

The strategy for fishing from this point on will be Mille Lacs and or the local lakes for Crappies and Sunnies.  I sure miss Pelican Lake by St. Michael, MN as it was close to home, had some nice fish in it, and fairly productive so what you caught was above average.  There are some good lakes west of Mille Lacs I'd love to try as we did in the fall.  We really only have about 60 days left of ice fishing, boy time flies!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

First Trip to Mille Lacs

First Walleye on Mille Lacs this year
Being in between trips to Red, I decided to try my luck at Mille Lacs on Saturday.  I know the warm weather has caused some serious ice heaves so it would be interesting.  You see water is at it's greatest volume at 32 degrees, or just when it freezes.  Even though it still makes ice as the temperatures drop, the ice will shrink which causes cracks to open up as it shrinks and leaves dangerous situations until the water freezes and seals these cracks up.  However the opposite happens when the temperatures warm towards 32, the ice expands to it's greatest volume again and the ice pushes against the shore and will start piling up against each other causing some serious heaves. Saturday was no exception as the weather had been warming all week and these heave raise havoc with the bridges the resorts use to span cracks in the ice so people can drive across to safe ice. Actually on the east side of Mille Lacs I saw pictures of these ice heaves over 10 feet high, and of course they take out any bridge that is spanning the heave.  On the west side it wasn't so bad so after stopping by Bill's to get minnows, I went out of KJ's ice road, just about a mile up from Lundeen's. His road was in pretty good shape and he had been working on the bridge so it was pretty easy to get across the crack and head towards Spirit Island.  Bill had stated that Mike Schneppenhelm was just in and got minnows and he was out of KJ's, so as I crossed the bridge I asked KJ where Mike was, just west of Spirit Island.  The road was pretty good however it had a lot of water on it.  I found Mike as he with with his wife Judy exactly where KJ said he was, so I got a handle on what was underneath us and started drilling holes.  It was 38 degrees out so no need for a shelter, I drilled about 10 holes up and down the edge and started fishing.  I like a Jigging Rap so I started with that as I was fishing about 26 feet of water and it would go down fast.  Immediately a fish came on my Vexilar FLX28 but only came up about 6 inches off the bottom then quickly disappeared, usually a sign that they were finicky.  After a couple of these events I decided to go with a less aggressive bait, a Hawger Spoon but with the same result, they'd slowly come up and look at the bait then disappear.  At this point I changed up a lot of baits going less and less aggressive, ending up with a Swedish Pimple and a whole minnow.  About 5:00 the fish got a lot more aggressive.  I had been hole hopping and marked fish in each hole however I headed back to where I started and as my lure dropped down a mark came towards the bait very quickly, a sign to get ready.  As expected the fish hit my lure decisively and I hooked my first walleye on Mille Lacs this ice fishing season.  Mille Lacs has a limit of 1 fish between 19 and 21 inches, a difficult size to find yet it was still fun catching as this first one was about 16 inches.  I quickly re baited and dropped it again only to see the same thing happen.  This time the fish headed back down however came right back up and slammed the bait.  Not as big as the first one, say maybe 14 inches, never the less it felt pretty good as my walleye catching hasn't been that great this year.  With 2 fish caught it was getting pretty dark and difficult to fish in the open so being satisfied with getting something, I packed it up and walked over to Mike house.

Judy's 26.5 inch walleye
There in Mike's house we were sitting and discussing the latest and greatest about Mille Lacs when a rattle reel went off. Judy carefully grabbed the line, felt the fish, and set the hook.  The battle was on as she exclaimed......This is a nice fish!  We got it up to the hole and she was right, a beautiful 26.5 inch walleye. It had swallowed the hook completely so we cut the line and released it back down the hole.   Pretty nice as it was fun to see a bigger walleye caught.  Although we reset the lines, it was pretty dead after that fish and I haven't talked to them since I've been back to see how they did through the night however I hear that Mille Lac's night bite has been pretty good.  My plan for this weekend is to go back up to JR's and fish the weekend with my friend Mark Applen.  We plan on doing a guided trip for Trout on the Red Lake Indian Reservation, Mark did this a few years back and totally had a fantastic time.  The plan is to fish the weekend then pull our fish houses home and try to fish Mille Lacs on night before the season closes. Red hasn't been very good this year and it's at least 5 hour drive to get there so with the fishing so good on Mille Lacs, it only makes sense.

Lots of stuff going on with the Salem Ice cabin.  I have panelling that is coming loose so I got a battery operated brad nailer to bring with me to repair.  My access door to the upper bunk compartment broke so I had my neighbor Tim professionally glue it back together for me, he states it will not break again at the joint.  Last time I was up my electric Strikemaster Big Volt connector broke.  It was hard to figure out the problem however I did order a couple of replacement connectors and it was easy to see what the problem was once I got a good look at them.  It's like new now but I cannot figure out how it got like it did, it makes no sense.  On our first trip to Red my 12 cup stainless steel percolator got knocked off the stove and it fell top first into the hole.  We were able to get it before it sank however not fast enough to save the basket cover off the inside.  Well I searched hard on the internet for replacement parts and finally gave up.  In a desperate move I e-mailed a company called CSI outdoors that look like they sell the same coffee pot (many seem to) as the one I have and asked them if they had parts.  Didn't hear from them until last Thursday, a guy called and said yes, we have parts and after explaining my dilemma he said he has them for $6.95 each.  I exclaimed how impressed I was that he called me back, I'll take 2!  He said that he'd give me a deal on 2 for $10 plus shipping so I hope they are the same as I have made some assumptions based on the pictures I saw. Another issue is my stove top range in the house, there are silicon rubber grommets that keep the top burner grate in place.  Somehow I am missing a couple of them.  On my way to Mille Lacs on Saturday I called Andy Achman to see where he was and his answer was at Milaca Unclaimed Freight picking up his new Ice Castle.  I was only about 5 minutes away and stopped.  He has got a nice house and as long as I was there I thought I would check to see if they had any of the grommets. Nope but I did find them on E-Bay and ordered 8 of them.  By the time I get my house back she'll be just like new.  Amazing how these little things add up!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Quick trip to Red

Sunset on Red Lake
At the last minute on Friday I decided to head back to JR's on Red to spend the weekend.  It was a hectic week for sure and I needed some time to clear my head.  Trust me, there is no better place to clear one's head than a weekend in the Salem!  Of course I did get some good inspiration from my friend Russ who was heading up in the morning and picking up our friend Mike at Mille Lacs.  Also our good friend Scott Anderson and a few others were joining us, my addition to the trip would assure Mike would have a comfortable place to sleep rather than in Russ's house which would have been pretty crowded.  Russ had gotten there about 1:00 and was set up southwest of Center Bar, which is about 6 miles across the ice towards the reservation line that divides Upper Red Lake.  I got out of the cities at about 1:00 so my ETA was going to be around 6:00.  This meant stopping to get minnows, bacon at Osseo Meats, eggs, and water for coffee. I arrived right on time.  I got my house hooked up and the furnace going and waited for Scott to arrive.  He was running late and I was very uncomfortable trying to find Russ out in the middle of nowhere.  Deciding to wait for Scott, he finally arrived at 7:30 which gave me time to fill up one of my empty propane tanks and unwind. Scott was in contact with Russ and knew where he was going which made it better for me, I just followed him out.  At some point we had to turn off the main path and cut through the snow, making our own path.  About 100 yards into it my truck got stuck.  Luckily Scott had a strap and he was able to pull me to my final destination about 50 yards from Russ.  Russ had already taken Scott's house out and had it set up.  It takes about an hour to get set up and the reports were that the night bite was hot.  Finally getting the house set on the ice, the snow banked up to seal the bottom, my DirecTV working, I was set for the night.  Mike came over and we settled for the evening.  I was so tired I never heard any of the rattle reels go off however Mike was good about it and had 2 walleyes and a perch in the bucket when we got up.

Texas Goodies
Saturday turned out to be a nice day as the wind had died and the sun was shining.  Through the night we had accumulated about 13 walleyes and decided to go into JR's to have fish for lunch.  They are really good at the resort in accommodating my growing sensitivity to flour and the hives I get from it. Last time I had given the cook some corn based fish coating and this time I brought a new fish coating device and some Louisiana Style Zatarain's corn based coating mix again. They did our fish in that and it was excellent, I think a lot better than what they use but again, I have little choice!  I bought a bunch of this coating for Canada as well as Leech Lake opener as we definitely have fish while on those trips.  I did go to the allergist last week and confirmed my status, you would think not eating wheat would help me loose some weight but that doesn't seem to help!  We left the bar pretty full and headed back out to fish the rest of the afternoon and evening.  Russ's brother Randy drove down from Lake of the Woods to join us, he has a new Ice Castle that is pretty nice even though he has had some issues with it.  Randy is a pretty good guy and very innovative.  He has a small snow blower he brings with to help bank his house with snow and then he clears a path between our houses so it's easier to walk.  After a game of Farkle (the official game that these guys play) I retired back to the Salem to watch the football game.  Fishing was still slow for me however the other guys seemed to do pretty good.  Apparently the trick was using a plain hook rather than an ice jig, I am not sure I get it however the results spoke for themselves.  A couple of things happened this trip.  First I broke cupboard door and forgot to bring any glue to fix it so I brought it back with me and my neighbor Tim Kuntz glued it back like new. Secondly my Strikemaster Big Volt, 12 Volt ice auger  had an issue with the main cable connector. I installed a standard Ranger type trolling motor plug into compartment where my battery is as it is hidden under the couch, and also put a trolling motor plug on the main cable so it's pretty clean.  Well the connector from the main cable to the power head had broken, I knew enough to get it working but needed a better fix so I got that done this week as well.  I got back on Sunday to go over to Tim's and watch my Green Bay Packers beat Dallas in a nail biter! Early last week I sent my two friends in Dallas some fresh cheese curds, some colby and aged cheddar from Cady Cheese near Spring Valley, WI.  Along with the cheese was a note telling them that this was something they could enjoy while watching the game on Sunday.  I receive this nice box of Texas Goodies the other day, their answer to my badgering!  My friends Joe Stanfield and Matt Davis are really great guys and any excuse to give them some crap is definitely done!

Finally when up at Red during the end of our December trip  the top cover for my stove fell down and pushed my stainless steel stove top coffee percolator off the stove and into one of our holes.  My brother Steve caught it but not before the lid on the brew basket fell off and sank.  I have been trying to get another lid but it is almost impossible.  The coffee pot is made by Tops Manufacturing and there is no website for them.  I know that this percolator is private labeled by a number of companies including GSI outdoors.  Well I e-mailed them and believe it or not they called me back and stated, yes we have them!!  I ordered a couple incase it happens again, I am impressed!  So my door is fixed, my auger connection is fixed, my coffee pot should be back in service next week, just in time for RedFest.  I am hoping to get on Mille Lacs this weekend, we'll see.