Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Bonjour from Montreal

I am writing this post from Montreal (no Eric not Montreal WI!) Quebec. Fishing has been slow so I spent the weekend finishing up my brother in law's landscape job that his wife Suzy asked me to help with. He has been struggling with cancer and I have offered to get some stuff fixed up around the house for them. It was hot but after 3 weeks I was able to completely redo their landscape edging around the house. I looks real nice and it's one more thing that they don't have to worry about.

I always drive down Wisconsin Highway 35 on the east side of the Mississippi River. This winds it's way along Lake Pepin though Diamond Bluff, Stockholm, Maiden Rock, Pepin before meeting the river just south of Nelson Wisconsin. I will put a plug in for the Nelson Cheese Factory. At one time it actually manufactured cheese however I think their current store which sells cheese, wine, gourmet items, and ice cream is much more successful. I have never been in there where it is less than 4 deep waiting for an ice cream cone, still $1.00 for a single and $2.00 for a double. It's a nice break. As you head south on 35 past Nelson, to the right is Big Lake. Being an old river rat we pass familiar haunts like Indian Slough, Wilbers, Thachers, Catfish Slough, The Cutoff, Railroad Slough and the Oil Tanks. As I passed these areas a lot of memories also passed by. Kevin and I would fish these areas every weekend through the summer. We were not much walleye fisherman then but we sure hit the bass hard. Here is Kevin holding a nice bass we got in the slop up Catfish Slough. I believe this was taken in June of 1981 as I have bought a new Lund in 1982. It's surprising to see that Kevin had a good start on his beer gut even back then! He is sitting in my first boat, an narrow aluminum Starcraft that we bought from Paul Wichmann. With a 15 hp Evinrude it was a great first boat for the river. I replaced the cross seats and made a new transom, added a trolling motor and real swivel seats. That boat could really catch the fish. Our arsenal consisted of daredevils, moss bosses, spinner baits, Johnson Silver Minnows and here Kevin caught this fish on his favorite, a Miller Wobbler with a chunk of Uncle Josh's Pork Rind on the back. Our technique for bass was pretty elementary, cast into the carpet of duck weed and slowly work it back on the surface. The bait coming over these thin layer of weeds would leave a distinct trail, recording its path back to the boat. When a bass did hit, it blew a 2 foot hole in these weeds, often missing the bait and leaving an interesting history of what just happened. The pork rind really added that extra attractant however the fish often grabbed the end of it rather than up higher into the hook. A quick recast would often be enough to have them hammer it again and the fight was on. Back then we would definitely eat a fish like this! As stated, walleyes really didn't even exist as a viable game fish. Of course today it is completely opposite, the bass go back and the walleye's get deep fried! I really miss fishing with Kevin and have made a promise to rekindle the "Good Old Days". Sitting on the tarmac in Chicago I got a nice e-mail and decided to call him. It's settled and we will get together like days of old. I am looking forward to our date.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Back in Business

Finally! Working till noon on Saturday I headed to Chisago City and picked up my boat at Frankies. Although the hood was not in yet, she would run just as fine with the damaged old cover. Arriving home the first thing I needed to do was getting her looking respectable again. Vacuuming out 2 1/2 weeks of tree seed accumulation, washing off the rain dirt, and getting the road film off with Armor All she looked like new. My Ranger is a 2001 model. I take much pride in taking care of my boat as it usually pays off dividends when it's time to upgrade. I had arranged to head to Mille Lacs on Sunday with my friend and neighbor Lory Brasel. We also were asked to provide a test drive for a gentlemen who met us at the landing to take a short ride.

Before we went out on Sunday I agreed to help Lory take his boat out for a test run. In order to minimize our time we went to Diamond Lake. Lory's boat is a mid 1990 Lund 1800 Pro V with a 110 HP Johnson 90 degree V engine. Diamond Lake is located on the western edge of Dayton and is a small shallow prairie type lake. Being surrounded by farm country, the water is clear yet clumps of bright green algae has taken over the majority of the water volume. On the northwest end of the lake we were surprised to see a rather large flock of white pelicans taking residence on a small island. I estimate there were over 50 of them. I have seen them migrating through in the spring with a stop over yet this is the first time they have hung around. They are magnificent birds and a fascinating to watch.

We finally turned our attention to the north and headed in that direction. The day was absolutely beautiful with the lake being as smooth as glass. I had a typical strategy for this time of year; hit the 16 foot hump by Sherman's Point, head to the flats with a stop at the Cut and 7 mile. I marked a ton of fish on the rocks but no takers. The Cut prove just as productive and a complete circle around 7 mile produce just a few marks on the graph, but that was it. I decided to head back to the rocks and we nailed a smallie (pretty odd for this deep, this time of year). Heading south we went to Rolland's Flat, stopped at Rainbow Island an casted for smallies, ran to a deep gravel spot for another fruitless half hour of crawler drowning before finishing up with a few trolling runs up and down Indian Point. Not for lack of effort, we ended the day with 4 smallies and 2 walleyes pushing 11 inches each. Although fishing was not the greatest, it was a relief to finally get out.

This time of year reminds me of 2002 when the walleyes were going crazy. My nephew Kevin, stopped by work yesterday on his way to a job interview. In 2002 we teamed up on Mille Lacs to put on a walleye catching demonstration. The walleyes were hitting anything from crawlers, plastic worms, leeches and I suspect bare hooks if we tried long enough. Between Kevin and I we caught 55 walleyes that day, my personal best on Mille Lacs. I am hoping that Kevin gets the job as it will give me another great fishing partner. He has been to Alaska a couple of times with his dad (my brother Steve) and myself provide us with the pleasure of seeing a young man experience something we had to wait 45 years for.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sittin' With Dave?!?!?

I am thinking about changing the name of my blog from Fishin' With Dave to Sittin' with Dave. This is getting insane as it's been almost 3 weeks since my boat misbehaved and it's still in the shop. My timeline is starting to look pretty interesting. Immediately on Tuesday (the day after Memorial Day) I dropped the boat off to have the dealer get started. My next task was to contact the insurance company to see how much damage they would sign up for. I was informed of my $1000 deductible and they promised to start the process. Having received the forms and sending the estimates, it turned to a waiting game. On Friday May 30th I decided to call the shop to see if my insurance company had made arrangements with them. Having acknowledged that no one had contacted them, I asked if they ordered the parts, and was told no. At that point I reminded them that I had a $20,000 boat sitting there and it needed fixing regardless.......get the parts on order! Being preoccupied with my uncles funeral I waited till Thursday to followup with the insurance. I had received an e-mail with the information and it proceeded to call my agent because it did not have any phone numbers. After looking at it the claim form was made out to a different David Anderson ( I am only the 7th most popular name in Minnesota). After a quick re-evaluation of the data, I was promised this would be expedited. More delays. In the meantime I was fighting with HP on my laptop repair which had seen the screen go dead. After about 5 hours of discussions with India, they must have decided I was too smart for them and reassigned me to a real live American customer service agent. It is incredible what took 5 hours with Rakesh could be resolved in 15 minutes with Bob. My laptop arrived as Bob promised last Thursday, one problem down.

On Friday afternoon I received a call from State Farm. Amazingly they had already talked to the dealer and had processed my claim. Discussing my dilemma with an insurance agent friend, he express some possible issues with my claim. Oh great! The estimate came back at $3200 damage. He claimed that they might not cover it because of the malfunction so take a strategy that the problem made the outboard crash into the boat. Well the claims adjuster started by saying there would be a problem covering the malfunction. What I heard him say was "you are SOL". What he really said was we cannot cover the electrical damage but everything else. I quickly looked at the estimate and this part was only $120. We went over the bill less the $120 and my $250 deductible.........wait, the original told me $1000 deductible. I guess that's what the other David Anderson had! My expectation of how much beer money was going to leave my pocket just changed by $630 in my favor. Victory #2! I called the shop to make sure they were on track and today I confirmed to them that if I did not get out fishing this weekend someone was not going to be very happy. Well, apparently my new motor cover had not arrived yet. I reminded them that the motor, if fitted with a new tiller handle, will operate just fine with the old hood despite the hole in the front. We will see if this tactic works tomorrow and I will be back on Mille Lacs on Sunday. I have included a picture of my baby.

The time absent from fishing has given me a chance to get some worth while activities done. The last 3 weekends have been spent helping my brother-in-law get a number of things done around his house. He is having some serious medical problems and although I would always rather be fishing, it feels good to help in this case. On Monday I got to golf with my Minnesota Sales Rep, Dwight Bialowas, in the NHL Alumni Tournament. Dwight is an ex-Minnesota North Star and with the likes of Donny Beaupre, Brian Bellows, Gordy Roberts, Jack Carlson, Timmy Young, we play at the Legends, a beautiful course in Prior Lake. Our team included Dwight, Doc, Vic, a police officer, Mike and myself. Both Mike and I golf once a year and it shows! Dwight and Doc are basically scratch golfers leaving the rest of us provide entertainment for them. I have done this 3 years now and have never had a lie we could in good conscious use. Well after a bloody mary on the course my drives improved to the point where we actually used 2 of mine! Friday I volunteer for the Eric Applen Memorial Tournament. Mark Applen hosts this golf event in honor of his son who succumb to cancer at the young age of 17. Our charter is to raise money for the families of children with cancer. Mark amazingly raises between $20,000 and $25,000 each year, which is incredible as it is all raised by extraordinary everyday people. My contribution is a full day's guide trip on Mille Lakes, which usually goes for top dollar! It is my best trip of the year as it really helps a needy family.

Hopefully I will finally have a real fishing report early next week as I know the fish are biting and it's truly driving my crazy!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tribute to Uncle Keith

Friday saw the passing of my uncle Keith Anderson, my dad's oldest brother. I am especially fond of my uncles and aunt on Dad's side, growing up with them while I was young, each played an important role in who I am. Keith was probably one of the smartest men I knew, always outspoken, never wincing words. This is an admirable quality as you always knew were you stood with him and he always stood for something. Keith and his wife Dorothy gave me 4 wonderful cousins, Cindy, Linda, Paul, and Julie who are the epitome of standard Norwegian stereotypes...........blond hair, blue eyed, and just as smart as get out! They have all remained my friends which was highlighted by Paul joining us in Alaska last year. Keith was always my favorite subject with the camera as he never failed to deny me that handsome pose and great smile. My grandpa Roy and Keith ran the Mobil Service Station in town. Back then Eleva was a like many small towns. With a population of around 400 we had a grocery store, drugstore, Gamble store, feedmill, lumber yard, train depot, and 6 - 7 operating gas stations, 4 bars and a large log cabin for various civic gatherings. He eventually sold the service station to Vic Wenaas which I had the pleasure of working for. I think Keith felt alittle like I was carrying on a family tradition. When I was a young boy he would often include me in activities like camping and fishing. Keith loved to camp. Neither of us would ever forget the time he invited me to camp and fish with Paul and himself at Coon Fork Dam near Augusta. The Coon Fork River was only about 30 miles from Eleva, but to me it seemed like a thousand miles away. I was probably 12 years old, it was my first time camping with them, and it was fishing opener. This usually meant trout fishing back home however the Coon Fork River emptied into the Eau Claire River which had a sizable population of Muskies. The river below the dam was as wild a river as I saw. The tea colored water flowed from pools, over car sized rock, through rapids wandering its way downstream. I had experience with northern pike, however Keith had suggested we walk downstream and cast the pools. With my trusty old Zebco and solid glass rod, I pitched my old spoon into the current only to see a monstrous fish leap out of the water with my lure in its mouth, heading for the Mississippi River. Having little experience with this kind of behavior it took about 3 seconds and crack, the line reported a failure! My reaction was swift and vocal. Knowing a few swear words may bring a similar reaction that my dad may have given I held my honor by stomping my feet and hitting the pole against the rocks with the vengeance of a fisherman scorned. Of course Keith understood my love for fishing, even at that age found humor in my experience. This was over 40 years ago and up to last summer he still found joy in reminding me of the fish that got away. I did redeem myself later that day by catching a smaller muskie near our campsite yet he for some unknown reason (like illegal size) he let it go. Foiled again!

Later in life I had the pleasure to pay back Keith something for everything he had given to me. His other brother and my fabulous Uncle Jerry (featured in a couple previous posts) lives in Idaho. Jerry and Keith were best of friends and when grandma was alive, Jerry would try to get back to Eleva once a year. Well, I caught wind of this and asked both of them to join me for a day on Mille Lacs. I cannot explain how excited it was when they accepted. My house was a 2 1/2 hour trip from Eleva and another 1 1/2 hour to the landing, a full day for sure. It was exactly the same time of year, first of June and we started out on the west side. Catching nothing we made a beeline for the south shore when out of the corner of my eye I noticed a few boats on 7 Mile Flat. At that minute the strategy switched and decided to see what might be out there. Arriving it was like glass, perfect for slowly working the edge with a crawler, using the electric motor. Rigging each with a spinner rig and nightcrawler, we started to backtroll. Almost immediately I nailed a nice walleye, maybe 20 inches. One in the box. 10 minutes later Keith set the hook on a dandy. A nice walleye off the flats puts up a tremendous fight and this one did not disappoint. When I finally landed it, the fish measured over 27.5 inches. I was just about to release the fish when Jerry yelled................David, what are you doing? I exclaimed that I was releasing this fish which prompted and immediate response "The hell you are!" I quickly got the hint that these were the biggest walleyes they had ever caught and it was not going to be for nothing. Jerry had nailed another nice 26 incher 5 minutes later. As we were back trolling Keith asked me "Dave, What do you think Al Linder would be doing right now?" I replied "Keith, he would be doing the same thing we were" with an air of confidence mixed with BS. I had my doubts Keith even knew who Al Linder was, let alone ask about him. It could not have been more than 5 minutes from the question when Keith looked at me, pointed his hand at a boat and asked "Dave, is that Al Linder over there?" (30 feet from us). One good look and Holy Moses, it was Al Linder! We both had established the tone for the remainder of the day. Keith actually knew who Al Linder was and as predicted, he was doing exactly the same thing that we were doing. Another mystery of life. The above picture was our 4 biggest fish for the day and it set up a date for the next year where we smoked cousin Paul, his father-in-law, and my other cousin Greg. It was very satisfying to be able to spend some time with Keith in my environment and show him a good time.

I will miss Keith, his wisdom, advice (although I did not agree with all of it!), his kindness and life lessons he taught me. Although we cannot stay young forever, we can pass these things on to the next generation as Uncle Keith did as he had much to give. God Bless you Keith.