Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bragging From the Other Side of the World

Not to be outdone my good friend William Wu just had to send me these latest pictures of his recent fishing adventure in China. William Wu is not his real name, his Chinese name is Wu Haidong (Woo Hi-dong). In China your family name (same as our last name) is first followed by your given name. The correct way to display my name in China would be Anderson Dave. Most of the Chinese that speak English take on traditional English names to better relate to their English speaking customers. They also put their family name last as we do. It is really interesting to travel and see the variety of names that are used in China that seem very out of place. Names like Samuel, Lily, Tina, Jeffrey, Jasmine, Serena, Derek, Jane, Amy, Jack, and of course David.

William is holding a common Asian Black Carp which the Chinese call Qing Yu (Ching You). This fish comes from the same family of carp that have been introduced into our waters over the last 100 years or so. The common carp (shown in a previous post) is the oldest and most widespread of this species in the US. For some reason we did not learn our lesson and imported grass carp, silver carp, and the black carp to help the catfish farming areas of Mississippi and Arkansas keep the commercial catfish farming ponds clean. Unfortunately floods have released these fish into the wild and we continue to fight their trek northward. The silver carp are the ones that have been making the news lately in the Illinois River as they have a tendency to jump out of the water as a boat approaches. There are many documented cases of people getting injured by these flying carp, hitting them as they motor along the river. Black carp are not as common and apparently haven't established themselves yet, but it will be only a matter of time. These fish are considered a trash fish in the US however in China they are a delicacy and are sought after. William went with his friends on Sunday and reports that they caught quite a few fish and had a great time. Here William is holding a basket of small catfish.

As you see William is battling the fish with a pretty long fishing pole. The equipment is pretty much the same as we would use. As discussed earlier, carp in China are referred to as river fish as opposed to sea fish. William is actually fishing a private pond, instead of a river, where people go to recreational fish and to catch supper. The fishing is done with prepared bait, fished near the bottom. He reports that the charge for fishing is based on the weight of the fish that you catch and you pay approximately $0.005/gram. There is 454 grams to the pound therefore the charge is about $2.27/pound. I thought that this was pretty high until I remembered trout fishing at the Star Prairie Trout Farm in Star Prairie, Wisconsin. We caught a bunch of trout for dinner and had to pay the live weight. I looked up their current prices and it is $5.50/pound live weight for trout. Admittedly I would probably prefer trout to carp. He claims it took about 5 minutes to land the fish and it weighed close to 15 pounds, a real trophy anywhere. That carp cost William almost $35.00 USD which is really a lot of money for China and definitely a lot of money for a stinky old carp! On the other hand this fish fed William and his friends for almost 5 days. I am also including a picture of William and his daughter Wu Yiwen (We call her Rose) who like any child we know, is awfully proud of her dad and his trophy catch. You got to love that smile!

I was surprised to learn that this type of fishing in China is quite popular and after going there for over 8 years, I am definitely going to have them take me fishing during my next trip. It also shows that no matter where your are in the world, we are more alike than different. All I can say is, Nice Fish William!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Front Edge of Winter

Saturday was a great day to go fishing however looking at the forecast for Sunday and the rest of the week, I decided to finish up a number of chores that I had been putting off. Lyle had brought over his pontoon and Wellcraft for their annual hibernation so I was relegated to cleaning the pole barn on Saturday. With lows predicted in the low 20's it was probably time to blow out the sprinkler system before it freezes. Using my own air compressor to do the job it takes about 3 hours, a great excuse to be outside. Outside was not necessarily the nicest place today as you can see from the picture of my garden. Those white streaks are snow. Ice fishing must be just around the corner. The time working on the sprinklers gave thought to what I would have been doing back home 35 years ago.

Growing up in Eleva, local fishing consisted of either fishing the Buffalo River for suckers, carp, catfish and the occasional northern pike or fishing the local mill pond and the surrounding streams for trout. Carp and suckers provided plenty of entertainment from the time the snow melted until the first weekend of May which for Eleva was trout fishing opener. Along with the Wisconsin DNR the local Rod and Gun Club would stock the ponds and streams with trout. By the closing in September, most of the trout had been harvested and the thoughts were focused on hunting. My best friend Kevin and I would trade our fishing poles for our shotguns or 22's and head back to the river. Squirrel, ducks, and partridge (they call them grouse in Minnesota) were the most popular game. The river had a bridge crossing it every 2 miles, so we would head to the railroad tracks which paralleled the river, walk up to the first woods then head to the river. We would walk up to the bridge, cross and head down the other side. Squirrels were very abundant and partridge were a bonus. If you look on Google Earth, you can see the river actually meanders quite a bit. Over the years the river would created a number of oxbow sloughs which provided great habitat for teal and wood ducks. The problem with shooting ducks was often they would land on the other side of the river. This meant one of us would have to strip down and go get it. Today's weather reminded me how cold that was!

Back then Canadian Geese were very rare and when a migrating flock was spotted you could guarantee someone was following it to see where they might land. Today they are known in Minnesota as sky carp. I have a group of 5 to 10 geese come in every day to feast upon the spoils of my orchard. I have 11 apple trees and 3 pear trees and it is hard to keep up with all the fruit. The deer amazingly leave the apples alone until they drop however they have competition. These geese have enormous appetites and literally keep the area very clean while leaving a nice layer of fertilizer for next years crop. They are quite amazing to watch how efficiently they rip an apple to shreds. Geese also have a distinct social order, especially if another flock decides to share in the abundance of food. It can take up to and hour before a flock will let another into their mists to enjoy the bounty.
It's suppose to warm up later this week and I am going to try and get out one last time for some perch and walleye. I also have to set up my deer stand for the following week as I look forward to hunting with my friends Jack and Rich. Hopefully the ice will be on the lakes by Thanksgiving.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Pitchin' for Perch

On Saturday I decided to head up to Mille Lacs to try my hand at perch. A week ago Tom and I had caught a total of 10 before we headed out to the reef for some walleye trolling. This is the time of year perch come into the shallow water areas to hang out. Isle, Walkon, Cove, and Vineland bays are prime areas. In years past we would head to our favorite spot in Walkon with a small crappie jig 2 1/2 feet below a slip bobber, tipped with a minnow. One would not have to wait long before a 7 to 12 inch perch would pull the bobber under water with authority. Not unlike my fortunes with walleyes, this year the perch have been somewhat elusive as well. As the water cools, the perch bite seems to get better and a week had cooled the water another 5 degrees. I headed right to the "honeyhole" which has produced well in previous years, fishing over an hour with nothing to show. I had noticed a guy at the end of some bulrushes pulling in a fish every so often. Walkon has many scattered bulrushes and I decided to try that pattern. Picking an obscure patch of rushes in the middle of nowhere I pitched my bobber rig up next to the rushes. Within seconds the bobber was down and I had a 9 1/2" fish in the livewell. I rebaited and repeated the scene at least 40 times in the next 20 minutes. By the time 40 minutes had passed there were 20 nice perch in the well including a nice 11 1/2 incher, respectable by any measure. Paying attention to the other boats and adapting to what appeared was a pattern was the key. Having success on the perch I decided to head to Anderson's reef and see if the walleyes were in any better mood. After an hour of dragging raps, I resigned to heading home as I had a bunch of fish to clean.

Althought this picture really doesn't do much for the size of the perch, it was very nice one. I am also getting reports of nice fish catches trolling well after midnight. 10 years ago I would do this, fish to 2:00AM then drive home. Although I might be missing some fish, the old body can't handle that schedule anymore. Oh well!

Monday, October 13, 2008


According to the dictionary, stubborn is defined as:

adj. stub·born·er, stub·born·est
a. Unreasonably, often perversely unyielding; bullheaded.
b. Firmly resolved or determined; resolute. See Synonyms at obstinate.
2. Characterized by perseverance; persistent.
3. Difficult to treat or deal with; resistant to treatment or effort: stubborn soil; stubborn stains.

I guess in this case the second definition is appropriate, characterized by perseverance; persistent, which certainly sounds better than bullheaded. Fall is one of my favorite times to fish Mille Lacs. The second weekend in October is prime time starting off with the drive to the lake. The forests are alive with colors from the fiery reds of the maples to the mahogany colored oaks, along with the beautiful shoreline, it's 50% of the trip. Traditionally fall is the time for the shallow water reef bite. Typically the fall sees baitfish numbers gradually diminishing as the walleyes hang on structure to take advantage of the remaining easy prey. This occurs in the spring as well as evidence by my previous post about Memorial Day. Shad Raps, Rouges, and Husky Jerks are on the menu and they seldom let one down. Add in the proverbial "Full Moon" and you have the winning combination for a successful evening of fishing. I did fish the September full moon with disappointing results. The water temperature was too high, the water level down, too many baitfish, lots of great legitimate excuses for a rather poor performance. The October full moon is different; the water is cooler, another month of baitfish reductions, and it's just suppose to be better. Well remember the old saying, the best laid plans........................

There is nothing I love better than casting Rattlin Rouges. I have a favorite color that is almost impossible to get anymore, a floating 4 1/2" shallow diving( 0-2 feet), tiger perch pattern. It is perfect for that top of the reef casting pattern as some of these reefs are only 3 feet deep so the lure does not get hung up on the bottom and walleyes will come up quite a distance to hit it. I have caught a ton of fish on that particular Rouge as well as a simple #5 crawfish Shad Rap. A few years back I won a rod kit at a charity. With the help of Thorne Brothers in Minneapolis, I built what I believe is the ultimate crankbait casting rod. Matched with a Shimano Stella reel it is unbelievably light which makes casting these baits effortless. When a big walleye slams the bait, there is nothing that compares. It certainly makes the effort well worth it.

So, what does this have to do with stubborn? Well, for two years now the fall walleye crankbait bite on Mille Lacs has been less than stellar, yet I insist that the effort should eventually pay off. As I trolled by a boat that was bobber fishing the same reef, and had just reeled in their 4th walleye, I simply trolled by with my stubbornness to relive the glory times. I guess one will never experience it unless you continue to try. Although I have struck out this year (so far anyway), there are still a couple of weekends left to give it the old college try. I suppose catching fish is certainly the goal however being on the lake when the shoreline is alive with colors, the smell of a campfire permeating the air, being with friends, sometimes can make that goal seem alittle less important.

For your reference I have included the following pictures of 2 nice walleyes I have gotten in the past on my Rouge. It really does work sometimes! Notice the full moon on the right.

Monday, October 6, 2008

What's a Mahi Mahi?

Last Sunday was a complete washout on Mille Lacs as they received a much needed dose of rain. I decided to stay home and plant a number of nice trees we bought on sale including 2 apple, 2 Autumn Blaze Maple, and a Northern Red Oak. On Saturday we drove to Eau Claire to meet with my wife's aunt's and uncle's to celebrate Sister Rosemary's birthday at the Red Lobster. Being severely allergic to lobster, crab, and shrimp I was relegated to the fresh fish menu. Having plenty of fresh salmon and halibut in the freezer, the cod did not sound appealing, and the fresh whitefish can be somewhat fishy if the waiter cannot answer that question, so I settled on the mahi mahi. What's a mahi mahi? I have eaten out a number of times when it was on the menu and those with me never heard of it and weren't going to risk a bad meal. Those that have taken the time to be more daring were rewarded with one of the best tasting fish served today.

Mahi Mahi is the Hawaiian name for a colorful fish that inhabits the warm waters of both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. In Florida the fish is called a Dolphin Fish and in Mexico it's noted as a Dorado. A fish by any other name..............you can not catch a fish that is more colorful, puts up an insane fight, and taste absolutely delicious.

In 1997 I was making a small part for a local company. They wanted a very special size and only one company was willing to work with us. At it's peak we were buying over $100,000 per year of this special part. The president of the supplier, Walt Benecki was an avid fisherman and I had taken him as well as his local rep and my dear friend Pat Holmes to Mille Lacs fishing one day. He told me of a fishing contest that he hosted in Cabo San Lucas and would like me to come one year. Walt was a big roller and although he was a great guy, I sort of blew it off as a pipe dream. Well in March of the next year he called and asked if I would join him at the Palmas de Cortez for a friendly fishing tournament towards the end of April. My only requirement was to get to Los Angeles and he would take care of the rest. A great friend Paul Wenaas had a frequent flyer ticket that was ready to expire so he sold it to me for $100 and I was on my way. I was due meet Walt and 2 other guys Shuk his sales manager, and Fred, a customer from San Diego at LAX no later than 6:00 in the morning. Flying in the night before my flight was due in at 11:00PM. Luck would have it we arrived 45 minutes early figuring I would get a nice night of sleep only to sit on the tarmac almost 2 hours waiting for the gate to clear. By the time I got my luggage and to the hotel it was 1:00. Once at the hotel I had learned my office manager had made my reasonable reservation for a different day and they had no room. They finally coughed one up for double my previous cost. It was the most expensive 3 hours of sleep I ever paid for.

Meeting at LAX we headed for Cobo. Walt had rented a van for the hour drive to Palmas De Cortez stopping for a cold cerveza for good measure. I had never been to Mexico and arriving at our destination was that pipe dream come true. It was fabulous from the turquoise water to the tropical atmosphere at the resort. There were 4 of us and we fished 2 days, switching boats each day. Fishing dorado was very interesting. Prior to heading out we would stop at a boat about a quarter mile out to buy bait, 6 - 8 inch sardines. The locals netted them and charged us $20 for a net full. We would drive up to any flotsam and throw a couple of sardines in. If there was a dorado hanging around he would make short work of those sardines prompting us to toss in a baited line. The other way was to troll chugger type lures directly in the prop wash within 30 feet of the boat. These lure chug, dive just below the surface, grabbing air and bubbling and gurgling before returning to the surface repeating the action. This drives marlin as well as dorado crazy. They put up an incredible fight, however the show really begins as the near the boat. Like many saltwater fish, they literally light up with brilliant neon colors when agitated. The picture above does little justice as they turn yellow, green, teal, blue that looks surreal. Once in the boat the almost immediately turn a dull gray. The males are called bulls and have a very pronounced square head. This is a picture of a days work with the largest being a respectable 45 pounds. They are excellent table fare and fresh dorado was served in the dining room each night. Along with dorado we enjoyed the company of many fellow fisherman enjoying one of the most beautiful places in the world to fish. I did catch a big marlin and will save that story for later. You can get more information about fishing the East Cape by visiting http://www.palmasdecortez.com/. As for Walt, he has gone on to write a fabulous book about his own personal fishing adventures, True Fish Stories. If you are interested in a very nice written book that any fisherman can relate to check out his site, http://www.truefishstories.com/ Walt has included a incident that I reported on our first day of the trip that was pretty funny (to me anyway!). His book has been one of my main inspirations to start putting down in words my own fishing adventures in the form of this blog. He is truely a world fisherman and one I will always admire. Thanks Walt and I plan on not making our trip the once in a lifetime event.

So if you see Mahi Mahi on the menu, be daring and try one of the most tastiest fish served today.