Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Back for More

Here's the hope that everyone had a very Merry Christmas.  I had the opportunity to spend some quality time with my father.  A month from 81 years old he had just finished a regiment of radiation and chemo in his fight against esophagus cancer.  Always the optimist, he is doing surprisingly well with his doctors giving him kudo's for his ability to take everything they have thrown at him.  He is also a realist.  His first CT scan will be on Monday, January 3rd and we will see how he has progressed.  Whatever the results, even at his age he is an inspiration.  We also got a chance to visit with my good friend Kevin and his family.  Although our time was short, we always seem to squeeze in a months worth of updates in a few hours.  One of the things I look forward to (but never expect) is the possibility of getting a package of Kevin's homemade lefse.  Well, I was rewarded with a couple of packages before we left.  If you have never had homemade lefse, I guess I feel sorry for you!  Nothing is better than a piece of lefse, spread with butter, rolled up and warmed in the microwave.  For all you non-Norwegians, I feel sorry for you!

Sunday was back at Mille Lacs Lake with my good friend and hunting partner, Jack Taylor.  Jack has been catching northerns at his lake place on Platte Lake, west of Mille Lacs and was hoping to run into a few walleyes.  I told Jack I would pick him up in the morning, he would have to do nothing other than bring refreshments and I would take care of the rest.  The morning started out plowing the snow in my back area to get to the trailer.  Next was the need to shovel 2 feet of snow that accumulated on the trailer.  Pulling the trailer down to the shed, the next task was to load up the ATV and my portable shack.  I guess someone had other plans as I backed the trailer up, both front tires were flat with the beads broken.   Plan B!  Getting the jack out, I grabbed a ratchet strap and wrapped it around the tire.  Immediately the bead took and 1 tire inflated, one to go.  The second one wasn't as easy.  Doing the same exercise, I noticed the valve stem was shot.  Having a new valve stem I attempted to replace it but that proved a waste of time.  Replacing the tire with a spare an hour later I had the equipment loaded.  Picking Jack up we headed north, stopped at Bill's and went back to Dewey's.  To my surprise they were driving right to my spot.  With 18 inches of ice I was willing to take the chance.  As last week the 3:00 - 5:00 slot was the magic time.  I ended up catching 6 walleye and missing a beauty. 

Jack's dad was my good friend Earl Taylor, who passed away about 14 months ago.  Earl and I spent many hours fishing as we had many great experiences on the ice.  When I picked up Jack he had a surprise for me.  Back in the early 90's I had helped Earl get set up with a depth finder for ice fishing.  Being in electronics, I always had the pulse on the latest and greatest.  Back in the late 80's the hot portable depth sounder was Tom Mann's Super Sixty Hummingbird.  In it's trademark yellow case, it was powered by 2 - 6 volt lantern batteries.  Capra's Sporting Goods Store had a special bracket for mounting transducers and worked great for these types of units.  I gladly accepted the gift from Earl, a reminder of both him as well as how far we have come with winter ice fishing electronics these days.  Here is a picture of my prize, just as I set it up for Earl. 
Notice the bracket is a clamp connected to a ball type connector.  One would clamp the bracket to the edge of the case and stick the transducer into the hole drilled in the ice.  To help with the alignment I would glue a small bubble level to the top of the transducer.  This assured that you could position the transducer for the optimum sensitivity.  I am looking forward to getting her running again and may just take it out to experience the way we ice fished 20 years ago.  Either way it a cherished gift from Earl.  Wednesday I head to up to Lake Winnie with my friend Mark Applen.  We plan on staying in his wheel house, fishing Wednesday afternoon, Thursday, and coming home on Friday.  It should be an exciting couple of days and hopefully a great report. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

First Ice, Double the Pleasure

The much awaited first ice fishing trip of this winter season finally happened.  As I had predicted Mille Lacs lake was ready for us as my neighbor Lory accompanied me to the lake Saturday morning.  I was originally going to just bring up my gear and use the 2 up Polaris Touring snowmobile that Bill and I own yet seeing how much gear we actually had, I reconsidered and decided to haul up the ATV.   The other advantage of this would be our starting point could be 5 miles closer to our destination, a definite plus.   As always a stop at Lundeen's confirmed our first strategy as we loaded up with some fatheads, rainbows, a couple of the newest secret baits, and some refreshments.  Our destination was the deeper areas just off of Indian Point.  The best place to start from was Dewey's, just south of the point where we knew there would be ample parking.  Surprisingly he had a road plowed out at least a mile and a half out onto the lake.  Not enough to get us at our spot, we paid him the $5.00 to park on the ice (a pretty good deal) and after loading up the portables, augers, electronics, and bait we were off.  Arriving in 28 feet of water I had marked from a previous visit we separated, drilled our holes and got down to business.  I was excited to try my new camera and was not disappointed.  I usually drill 3 holes in my shack; one on the upper right for jigging, one in the lower left as a dead stick, and a third for the video camera.   The camera itself is tethered to a cable that connects to a wireless remote control positioning tripod.  This allows me to us a small hand held control to rotate the camera in any direction.  Whats real interesting is the camera has a built in sensing device which has a direction indicator on the screen.  Once you locate your lure, it's easy to pan the lure in the other hole then return to your main lure.  Well the walleyes started coming in almost immediately.  The camera is a great way to study how they approach your bait, what kind of mood they are in, and their relative size.  It also helps to confirm your depth finder readouts as they relate to what's below.   The walleyes were not very large and almost in a negative mood.  I tried a number of lures with little luck starting from a Rattlin Flyer to a Hawger Spoon.  When the fish are negative often it takes a lure like a Swedish Pimple with a minnow head to trigger a strike, but that didn't even work.  Frustrated by their lack of interest I panned over to my dead stick pole with a plain minnow hanging from a bobber.  As the camera panned over onto the screen was a walleye just sitting there with my minnow in it's mouth.  A quick jerk and the walleye was off the screen and heading to the hole in the ice.  Only about 12 inches, it never the less was my first walleye of the season.  In the meantime Lory had already caught a couple of walleyes, but was not setting the world on fire.  I decided to move down the spot about 100 yards and after only 15 minutes Lory called stating the walleyes had turned on.  Moving back to my original spot I reset putting on a jigging rap, figuring a more aggressive bite was happening.  Lory on the other hand was catching them on a plain jig head and a whole minnow, and had 4 on the ice.  I finally got the hint and switched, catching a nice perch and 5 more small walleyes, while he ended up with 12 walleyes caught and a bunch missed.  All told we caught 18 walleyes total, kept 6 respectable fish and had a blast.  As usual the prime time was between 3:30 and 5:00.  Here is a picture of Lory with a nice eater.

Sunday was a cleanup day around the house and with things settling down, I decided to try the dusk crappie bite at one of my favorite early season lakes near Buffalo, MN.  My other neighbor Tom wanted to go with us on Saturday however his truck's timing chain had other plans for him.  Sunday was a better day for him so we loaded up the gear and headed out, arriving at the lake around 3:00.  We knew this would be a quick trip and if the crappies are in, it won't take long.   The fishing area is close to shore allowing us to simply walk to the spot.  Some guys were driving on the ice which was about 10 - 12 inches and I surmised they must have much better insurance than I do!  The sunnies were in like crazy so I took this picture of the camera view below the shelter.  There are at least 8 sunfish swimming by and you can see the one near the center about ready to inhale the bait (the small white object in front of it).  While watching the sunfish sort of disappeared as the next thing you saw was a large northern pike coming into view.  I guess those fish aren't that stupid.  

Sundown came however the crappies had not shown up.  Too dark for the camera I put it away relying on my trusty old Vexilar FL20.  Tom was determined to try some crappie minnows while my go to bait is a waxie.  In this fairly shallow water (about 12 feet) I like to work the water column as crappies can be about any depth this time of year.  Noticing a jiggle at the the bottom of the display I lowered my bait and was rewarded with that tell tale inhale of a crappie bite.  Setting the hook, it was a solid fish, just what we were looking for about 12 inches.  The real question would be if this was a loner or part of a school.  10 minutes later confirmed it was a loner.  I did manage a second smaller crappie and added it to the pile of 3 reasonable sunfish and the crappie.  Although we didn't slay them, it was still nice to get out 2 days in a row.   This weekend is Christmas and I will be busy visiting my dad, who turns 81 this year.  With a little luck I will be back at Mille Lacs on Sunday and maybe a couple more days before New Years.  BTW, I am keeping the Dean Martin Christmas song for another week as we did get another 6 inches on Monday, so enjoy!  Have a fabulous Christmas and hope each one of you has a good tug at the end of your line.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

So the predicted snowfall for Saturday was 12 - 16 inches and they were not too far off!  17 inches later, Saturday's snowfall was listed as the fifth largest since they began keeping records.  Considering that 18,000 years ago Minnesota was covered with a sheet of ice 2000 feet thick, I seriously doubt this is the case.  Never the less it makes for an interesting weekend of frantic weather coverage.   The weathermen are stuck in the studios, going on 18 hours without sleep.  You know these events have to be the highlight of their careers!  Truth be told, they probably could not leave anyway as all the roads were closed down.  Lucky it was the neighborhood Christmas party on Saturday night, with the roads blown shut, there was no better place to go than to Bot's house.  Here is a picture looking down the road by my house.  I have to admit this is pretty darn early for this much snow as we probably have 2 feet on the ground already.   Apparently this is the snowiest start to December on record as well.

One benefit of this huge snow event was the collapsing of the Metrodome, home of the Minnesota Vikings.  Being a Packer fan I would have to say the side show has been nothing but comical.  When the dome was built in 1982 the first couple winters saw the roof give out.  See the Metrodome uses air pressure to keep the dome inflated, like a big balloon.  It's interesting to go to a game there, as you enter the pressure pops your ears.  When the game is done, they open the revolving doors and as you approach the opening you are literally pushed out with a gust of wind.  Give them credit, it has held for quite awhile, including the great Halloween Blizzard of 1991, which dumped 28 inches of snow on October 31st.   Anyway it should play well for a new stadium.  Monday night's game is going to be played at the new University of Minnesota's football stadium.  They will be hard pressed to accommodate all of the ticket holders but it will be fun to see how the Vikes do in their new surroundings! 

Luckily the snowfall totals on Mille Lacs has been significantly less.  Snow cover tends to insulate the ice, keeping it from freezing (makin' ice) as fast and adds weight to the top causing water to sit on the top just under the snow.  The high winds of Sunday keep much of the lake bare and with -15 overnight temperatures it can make an inch of ice a night.  Reports from Bill claim that there are already plows on the lake pulling out houses.  You wouldn't catch me driving on the lake with my suburban this early!  By Saturday there should be a good 12 inches in most places, more than enough to take a snowmobile or ATV to a few of my secret early ice spots a few miles out on the lake.   Hopefully I will have a great report for you as I don't think I could stand another weekend of dealing with the snow.  As far as local lakes, the snow will make this first ice challenging at best.  I am anxious to try out the new camera, the new St. Croix ice rod I bought at the show, and a few of those special lures that seem to catch me every year.  I will leave you with a picture of the parking lot at work.  We are suppose to get another 3 - 4 inches tonight and quite honestly, I am not sure I know where they are going to put it all.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Ice Fishing Show

Last weekend was the annual St. Paul Ice Fishing Show at the Excel Center in downtown St. Paul.  This is a 3 day show featuring the latest and greatest products for the upcoming ice fishing season.   My good friend Mark Applen called and suggested we head down on Saturday afternoon, an idea I was up for.  The show has grown significantly in the last few years and arriving the 2010 attendance was incredible.  One thing that became clear very quickly was the amount of new and exciting products for the guy who loves the hard water fishing.  From the latest in depth finder technology to what I call mansions on wheels, there is something for everyone.  There were gadgets for jigging your pole, new ways to clean the slush from your freshly drilled holes, and an amazing collection of sophisticated electronics claiming 1/4 inch separation 30 feet below you.   One of the newer devices out is a LCD display underwater camera.  I have owned a couple of the earlier model CRT type cameras however they are somewhat bulky and have limited battery life.  The new Marcum VS625SD pictured here has a bright sunlight readable screen, a High Definition Sony camera, and respectable battery life.  Cabela's had a nice $100 off coupon this week and coupled with a number of unused gift certificates, I pulled the trigger on one.  I am looking forward to using it this winter and of course they are becoming popular options for summer fishing.

One thing that is fun at these shows is buying "The Show Special".  Mark and I are suckers for this tactic and readily open our wallets to the deals.  I was the first to fall victim, buying a clip on LED light for the inside of my portable ice house.  Having seen them at stores for $25.00 the $12.00 I paid seemed like a bargain.  Next were the new St. Croix ice rods, nice and light with just the right action.  $20 regular price, the show special was another 10% off.  Well, contrary to what anyone says, it's always nice to have another fishing pole, in the bag they went.   After enjoying a shot of Christian Brothers Brandy at their booth we headed for the back room and ran across a very unique product, the Frying Saucer.  A second look verified a clever fish fryer using what looked like and inverted sombrero mounted on legs with a propane burner.  Completely portable it looks like just the ticket for frying fish outside.   A perfect compliment to Mark's ice house, he just had to have one and they were more than able to oblige!

20 years ago the ideal setup for ice fishing was to pull a permanent fish house, built on runners, onto the ice and leave it there for the season.  Today it is being replaced with what are called Wheel Houses, a fish house built on a special trailer, made for the ultimate in portability and comfort.  The base trailer frames have special axles that lower the house to the ice via rotating the wheels.  More like a modified travel trailer they have holes in the floor, bunks, a table, storage, and depending on what you want to pay, kitchens and bathrooms.  Starting at $6000 for a basic model you can spend up to $25,000 for a luxury house.  The convenience is the ability to move around from lake to lake or simply leave it in one spot.  Mark has a nice smaller house and he has talked about getting something larger.  For me, I still like being able to move around the ice with minimum effort.  Maybe someday!

Finally we have had enough cold weather to create fishable ice conditions.  Unfortunately we are also having record snows, with at least 10 inches on the ground with another 12 - 16 predicted for tonight and tomorrow.  Last Friday I returned from a 4 day trip to Austin Texas to a winter wonderland.  Arriving late Friday night, it was obvious I was going to spend the next morning shoveling snow.  By the time I cleaned up all of my driveways plus my neighbors, hit the Ice Fishing Show, and repairing my plows and snow blowers, the weekend was done.  It appears that I will be repeating the same thing this weekend with significantly more snow to deal with.  Blizzard conditions are predicted with the high temperature on Sunday to be around 0.  It's way too early for this.  Hopefully I can get out but it's looking more like it won't be till next week.  Oh well, I do have my portable set up in the shed and I can still pretend!  I will leave you with a shot of the Ice Fishing Bikini Team, always a warm reminder of winter's more interesting traditions here in Minnesota.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Electronics and Fishing

Electronics and fishing have had a long history together. Things have progressed a long way and at a crazy pace. Modern electronic components such transistors, Mosfets, and integrated circuits have worked their way into the necessities of today’s fishing scene. The average boat today has more electronic capabilities than computers of just 15 years ago. One simply has to look at my boat, a 2008 Ranger 620T and you quickly see what I am talking about. Bolted on the back is a 115 Suzuki 4 stroke, fuel injected, computer controlled, including oxygen sensors, timing circuits and other sophisticated engine management systems. Next to it is a Minnkota Vantage trolling motor, complete with a deployment system for lowering the motor into the water which state of the art pulse width modulation circuit maximizing the power for optimum battery life. Under the stern area houses 3 large glass mat series 31 deep cycle batteries all connected to a built in microprocessor controlled battery charger assuring maximum charging for each outing (if you remember to plug it in each time you put the boat away!). Moving up to my control console, there sits a Genetron depth sounder with incredible circuitry for marking fish and a Garmin GPS that has a built in base map accurate to less than 20 feet. A control module directs which functions such as lights, live well, and accessories can be turned on or off with a simple poke of a button. With built in live well timers it even has electronic circuit breakers, replacing the need to have replaceable fuses. The engine gauges now provide integrated information such as total hours and service alerts on top of the standard RPM readings. In the control panel is mounted a sound system, complete with an AM/FM/Sirius satellite radio and a built in Ipod dock. In between the back and the front, each compartment including the live wells have it’s own LED lighting assuring that if left on the power consumption will not drain the batteries for weeks. The front of the boat has a remote control module for the sound system, a Maxum Bow mount Trolling motor with the same maximizing circuitry as well a built in transducer and temp sensor. This feeds into a Lowrance HDS 5 color depth sounder/gps unit with the latest base map information. Eventually I will replace the Genetron with an Lowrance HDS10 with side scan sonar, integrated GPS, Sirius Weather Radar capabilities, and can be connected to the sound system to control all functions from one central location. This is quite a step from the first depth finder I owned, a Heathkit which I built myself. In my tackle box are a couple of lighted bobbers which are triggered by the presence of water between 2 contacts. Reel them in and they shut off………….magic! (actually it FET technology at it’s simplest)

Being in the electronics business I have had my associations with a number of these products, some that are main stream while others were simply some ones next million dollar idea. As mention in a past post, I designed the power output transformer for the Clearwater Classic which is still being used today by Marcum. My Genetron’s were provided by Dick Knutson for whom I made many wound parts for. Although they are still one of the finest fish locators out there, technology past them years ago and combined with the Red River floods of a few years back and the passing of Dick, they are destined to be museum pieces soon. Some of the less famous products I have been involved with include an electronic controlled trolling hard bait, like a Shad Rap. Inside were a battery, solenoid, and a timer circuit. The solenoid controlled a movable lip which would dive for a certain time then pull the lip causing the bait to change direction or depth on it’s own. Interesting idea but at $35 each, those snags could be awfully hard on the wallet! My good friends Tom Emmons and Tom McAtee made a maximize for our trolling motors long before Minnkota introduced them. Probably the most interesting device is the one pictured here, the Magnabait. It is a water tight, floating device that has built in speaker with an LED in middle of it. Powered by a number of internal batteries, it’s purpose is as an electronic lobster baiting device. See, lobster fishermen have to use rather expensive bait to entice lobsters to into their traps. The electronic device has a built in circuit which produces a short sound mimicking the mating call of a lobster. The LED flashes at the same time as the sound is generated, about every 20 to 30 seconds. Apparently this is an acceptable alternative to actual lobster bait, and I guess it works pretty good, unless of course they lose them. I have some friends in the electronics consulting business that did some work for the company and offered me to try them while ice fishing. The theory is that crawfish make the same basic sounds and will call fish into the area you are have your holes drilled. Although I used them many times, the jury is still out as to their effectiveness. As for lobsters, well I haven’t caught one yet! Here is the website if you are interested in more information: http://magnabait.net/

Once again I am writing this on a flight to Austin Texas, where the weather promises to be in the 70’s all week. Much better than the 4 inches of snow I just left. This weekend is the Ice Fishing Show in St. Paul and I look forward to checking out all the new gadgets for this year. I might even get a chance to hit the ice on Sunday, as it is forming as I write.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Goodbye to My Fishing Friend

As I have written before, getting older means that eventually you will lose some of your good fishing friends.  Of course as we age, so do our friends and it's just part of life.  Last Friday morning I received one of those calls that one never expects, my friend Russ died last night of a massive heart attack.  The problem is that Russ had just turned 40.   The suddenness of it all is somewhat overwhelming however.  Russ was married to our good friend Jessica, a new opportunity, yet our relationship did not start out exactly seeing eye to eye.  I suppose the 15 years of age difference and our backgrounds was enough to create some differences however one could see a good man underneath all of those defenses.  It took a few years and as time passed  found that we had more in common than not.  Often I would bring a new bait for him, a left over pedestal for his boat, a software program to share.  One thing that Russ became hooked on was fishing.  Having done little ice fishing and limited open water fishing, I was probably a bad influence on his fishing budget.  An ice auger off Craigslist, a end of the season ice house, a used 16 foot Lund with a 25 hp motor.  All those things that a guy definitely needs!  As time went on I took Russ to Mille Lacs, both ice fishing and open water fishing.  He has never experienced big water angling and it was interesting to see his reactions the first time we drove 5 miles off shore to fish a special area in the middle of the lake.  Russ had a blast.  Here is Russ with his son Cage. 

I had posted this picture last year when we had a chance to hit Mille Lacs.  It was the largest walleye he had ever caught and although it wasn't the most successful day, we had fun.  One of our favorite lakes to hit in the winter was Pelican Lake, just down the road from his house in St. Michael, MN.  A shallow lake, 12 feet at it's maximum, it is full of nice sized crappies and sunfish.  We could hit the lake in the mid afternoon, catching a nice mess of fish and be back by 7:00 in the evening.  I would like to think I was a good mentor to Russ.  Teaching him how to fish using a Vexilar FL-8 to the proper way he should interview for a job to helping him stay focused on having the confidence to forge ahead.   It probably explains why these things hurt so bad.  You invest time in a friendship, looking for a lifetime of sharing those rewards and sometimes it simply doesn't turn out that way.  God bless Russ and his family, I will miss you my friend.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Another Great Hunt

One of the interesting things about blogs like Fishin’ With Dave is that fact that you meet people that have never crossed your path, yet they become an interesting part of your circle of friends. Neenahpete certainly fits into that category as well the son of an engineering contact, Bruce Buratto, whom I met only over the phone and through e-mails. Bruce resides in western Massachusetts and we have worked on a couple of transformer projects however over the years we have traded fishing tips, ATV stories, and the differences between how things are done “out east” verses in Minnesota. Bruce has a son, Matt, who is one of my followers and an avid outdoorsman as well. Seeing my less than stellar spiked buck on last weeks post, he had to send me a picture of his successful archery hunt this year. This picture is Matt posing with a nice respectable 9 pointer. Rather than tell you the whole story, here is what Matt e-mailed to me: Today I decided to move to a different tree on a wood road that my father and grandfather made years back. I saw a small four point buck and a doe yesterday and a couple others the previous week. They all seemed to be going up the same ridge. Yesterday I noticed a bunch of scrapes on some trees just below the ridge. This is what ultimately prompted my stand location change to right behind the scrapes. For once it finally paid off. The deer came walking up the wood road under my stand. He was less that 10 yards away and never new I was there until I grunted at him to stop him. I couldn't have asked for a better birthday. Before we know it we'll be on the ice. I can't wait!  Well, Happy Birthday Matt and great job.  Some guys wait years to nail a nice buck like that, heck I only have to look in the mirror!  What is even more exciting is to see Matt carry on traditions and experiences that both his father and grandfather participated in.  In this day of computers and video games, it is a refreshing to see his pictures and listen to his stories.   The amazing thing to me is as such a good looking young man like Matt, I imagine it's difficult to find time for the outdoors when you have all the girls chasing you.  Thank God I never had that problem!

Matt's last sentence was "Before you know it we'll be on the ice"  Well Saturday produced a good old snowstorm dropping 10 inches of heavy wet snow in the area.  Last year we did get our first snowfall rather early however it didn't last.  This one could stick around for a while.  This is a good omen for early ice.  As stated in a previous post, my earliest foray on the ice was November 17th with Earl Taylor.  Fishing North Center Lake in Lindstrom, MN there was a good 4 inches of ice covering the lake this early.  Although the small ponds and swamps have a thin coating of ice on them now, we will need some more cold weather to get walkable ice.  Next week shows highs in the mid 20's with lows in the single digits so we can't be too far off.  With the weekend approaching it will be good to get my gear out and tune it up.  I am predicting a great year for walleye on Mille Lacs.  The earliest I have been on the pond was the weekend after Thanksgiving.   Early ice is always one of my favorite times and I am looking forward to a little hard water.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Opening Day Success

Wow, the time seems like it is in hypermode these days.  Besides being behind with almost everything, deer hunting was upon us last weekend, November 6 and 7th.  As everything lately, it seems as though last year was just yesterday.   Once again I had the pleasure of hunting with the same group as in the last 6 years.  Hunting my remembered friend Rich Allen's land, it was Jack, Brett and Trenton, Kevin and Austin, Eugene, and our host Ken.  Arriving Friday, it was exactly as predicted, WET!!!  Receiving record rainfall in September and 3 - 5 inches 2 weeks ago, the lakes, creeks, rivers, and swamps were filled to the brim.  I hunt the back part of Rich's land and the real only way to get back there is trudging through the swamp.  In year's past Jack and I would take our ATV's and crawl through the peat and alders.  The problem this year is the fear of getting stuck, as well, we are not as adventurous as we once were.  This means donning on the hip waders and making your way through the tangle of clumps, brush, and holes that challenge the boot height.   Arriving on Friday the first order of business was to check out how bad it really was and make a decision if we would even expend the energy.  Walking back to the stand, it was about as I expected.  I had left half of my stand in the woods last year, meaning to come and get it once the swamp had frozen.  Great idea but like a lot of great ideas, sometimes you just don't get to them.  There it was, just were I had left it a year ago!  Luckily I had removed the pads and armrests as the 25 foot nylon ropes attached to the stand were missing all but about 6 inches.  I guess the mice must have found it great bedding material.  Faded but functional, I decided to endure the walk and hunt in the tree I have gotten to know over the years.  My ladder stand is nice but a pain to set up, even with 2 guys.  With the ropes gone, Jack and I used our collective heads and got it in position.  Standing almost 18 feet high, it's a balancing act to put that top strap around the tree to secure.   I had brought the straps but had grabbed the wrong ones, dang it.  It's too high up to take any chances so I headed back to my truck to retrieve the right ones.  That second trip out there had me thinking if the right decision had been made!   Everything set, we headed back to Rich's for my famous marinated steaks.  This has always been a tradition we started and it may well be the last time we will do this at Rich's as Mary has the place for sale.

With Daylight Savings Time still in effect for Saturday morning, I took my time wading to my stand.  Wearing hip boots, I have to carry my warm boots in a plastic bag stuff my bibs, gloves, a change of socks, and extra pair of pants in case I trip on the way out, as well as a book, a MRE (thanks Tony), hand warmers, knife, camera, and water into a backpack.  It took about 20 minutes to walk 1/4 mile, I got to dry ground, changed, and climbed the stand.   In the stand for about 45 minutes something caught my eye, a nice spike buck was walking right in front of me.  I am not on trophy ground and was looking to refill the freezer with some fresh venison, down he went on the first shot!  I guess the trouble I had sighting in my new scope was all forgotten.  Of course now the work begins!  Not wanting to drag the deer out through the swamp, I waited till sunset when Brett volunteered to come by and help.  Although it wasn't the worst thing I had done, it took all we had to pull that deer through the swamp.  Luckily I have a medium size plastic sled that makes it much easier.  The top picture is my little spike buck, small but nice and tender!  As stated, this is probably our last year hunting Rich's forcing Jack and I to check out a couple of areas for next year to see if any hunters were around.  Skipping the morning hunt, we discovered a couple of nice spots where it appeared as though no one was hunting the area.  Deciding to see how the other guys were doing, we headed back to Rich's to discover Brett had a small doe down.  A number of us were available to help him so I dragged the sled back out and we pulled her through the swamp.  Here is Trenton, Brett's son posed with the deer.  Neither were trophy's but satisfying never the less. 

A couple of parting shots.  One of the things you commonly see in the rural areas of Minnesota and Wisconsin, and I am sure many states as well, all the road signs seem to have at least one bullet hole in it!  From shotguns to rifles to pistols bullets holes, one thing's for sure, there is no closed season on signs.  Here is a good example of this as we stopped to check it out.   I guess I remember participating in that sport 40 year ago as well.  I am writing this at 38,000 feet over Nevada.  Flying to San Jose, California for a Medical Trade Show the plane has WiFi on board.  $12.95 for the flight, about 3 hours worth, is pretty reasonable.  I can check my e-mails, finish a much past due post, and generally keep myself entertained.  Amazing world we live in today.  My stand is still in the woods, waiting for the freeze and hopefully I get this done soon.  The loss of 35 pounds really made a difference this year.  Carrying around that big bag of potatoes inside my body really dragged me down and I felt great all season.  I am sure at last years weight, I probably would have not gotten this deer.  This is sort of a transition time of year, hopefully ice fishing is not to far away.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


 Thursday was a good day to take off work and get a number of things accomplished before the weather turns its head towards winter. The two things on the agenda were getting the new scope on my deer rifle sighted then heading north and catching the front end of the full moon bite on Mille Lacs. As stated my neighbor Lory volunteered his time to accompany me this day. The rifle sight proved more challenging than I had first assumed. The Burris scope on my rifle was over 25 years old and had started acting up. My first concern was with the ammunition a friend of mine at work had loaded up for me. Although the shells were about 10 years old, I had successfully grouped my sight in each year. 2 years ago I was all over the place, making adjustment, eventually settling back to my original settings. The last deer I had shot was a wounded buck which came by which took me 6 shells to finally dispatch it. Sensing an issue I sent it back to Burris, confirming that the springs were weak and my lifetime guarantee was applicable. The model was obsolete so they gave me 75% off any scope in their catalog. This was a great deal! Using a few older shells to do the initial sight in, I was close and grouped nice. Switching to Federal Premium’s and 100 yards, things didn’t work so well. I finally got an acceptable group however I will have my friend, Brett Jelkin reload me some shells close to what Rodney did for my years ago. Hopefully that will straighten things out.

Having accomplished the first agenda item we headed north to check off our second item. Arriving at Lundeen’s, Bill was already on a different lake looking for crappies. He agreed to meet us later at the super secret perch hole. After loading up a few dozen fatheads and twister tails we headed out. I had gotten pretty good instructions of our meeting place and understanding the fall perch bite, we quickly zeroed in on their location. I have to admit it was a bonified Perchapolooza!!! From 2:00 to 6:00 we totally annihilated them using everything from our Powerbait Twister Tails to scavenging every chunk of minnow leftover from the massacre. Our boat limit was 40 perch and after the first 10, decided that a minimum size was in order. Estimating at least a perch every 2 minutes for each of us I would bet we caught over 400 fish total. If you go to my Thursday, October 14th post (http://davidjanderson.blogspot.com/2010/10/workin-for-man.html) you can compare the 2 livewell shots, then and now. Certainly a significant difference.   Bill showed up in time to partake in the success.  The top picture is my fishing partner Lory with a beautiful 12 inch perch.

Leaving the perch hole with our limit, we head to Indian Point for the evening shallow walleye troll.  The moon was well positioned to give us all the light we needed to set up a trolling pattern.  Within the first 15 minutes I nailed this nice 24 inch walleye that hit my #5 Hot Steel Shad Rap in 10 feet of water.  With the sunlight still peeking out from the horizon, it made for a memorable picture.  Unfortunately this was the only fish we were able to scrape up and left at 8:30.  There was a lot of traffic on the point and having exhausted our efforts on the perch, we decided to leave.  It took an hour to clean our fish and vacuum pack them and we were in bed by midnight.  It certainly was a day to remember.  Next week it's home to see my dad who is struggling with some medical issues and offer some help.  I can always fish later.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Trailer Load of Potatoes

As a child growing up my dad would always finish washing my ears with the comment "these ears are so dirty you could grow potatoes in them!".   Well whether there was any truth to that, I am always think of him as I dig my potatoes out of the garden before a hard freeze occurs.  This year was a bumper crop for one of my favorite things to grow.   Planted in early May, the wet summer was perfect for producing this trailer full of delicious tubers.  Potatoes, along with corn (maize) were the 2 most important food crops originating in the New World.  Native to Peru, South America, they have become a staple in the world's food supply.  Today's varieties are hardy, disease resistant, and yield exceptionally well.  This wasn't always the case as in 1845 when the Irish, for whom the poor people depended solely on the potato, experienced a blight (disease) which eventually killed over 1 million people.  There are some interesting side stories regarding the role of England, who controlled Ireland at the time, however that is a story for another time.  What is interesting about potatoes is that the plant contains toxic compounds, especially in the leaves, stems, and round fruit that grow from the flowers.  Although these compounds in severe cases can cause coma and eventually death, it is very rare.  Never the less potato breeders developing new cultivars are keenly aware of this property and look for toxicity levels in the tubers to minimize any problems associated with this.  When the tubers are not fully covered by soil and are exposed to the sun, the tops turn green.  The green areas have more concentration of these compounds and should be discarded before cooking.   A little research shows that in the last 50 years there has been no reported cases of death from poisoning, and those cases that have  been reported have been minor issues relating to eating the green portion of the tuber or because of drinking potato leaf tea (that doesn't even sound good!).  If any of you have read John Krakauer's book Into the Wild, the main character died a agonizing death eating a distant relative of the potato plant's wrong parts.

This year I grew 5 different varieties of potatoes.  They included Norland Reds, Kennebec, California White, Yukon Gold, and a blue potato cultivar pictured here.  The Norland and Kennebec tend to grow some nice large tubers as you can see the bigger ones in the trailer.  My guess is I dug over 125# of tubers from the 2 40 foot rows planted.  Fertilized with an 18-46-0 mixture, the high middle number assured good root development.  One of my favorite ways to prepare the fruits of my labor is to cut up a few potatoes along with an onion from the same garden and put them in some aluminum foil.  Add a little olive oil and Italian seasoning, throw them on the grill and in about an hour you have a delicious addition to any meal.  As with my pickles, the fruits of my labor pays off for all the hard work in the spring and summer.

As far as fishing goes, I am sorry to report there has been little time for that.  My plans are to take
Thursday, October 21st off to sight in my new rifle scope then head to Mille Lacs.  Now that the water has cooled, word has it the perch are biting better.  Going with my neighbor Lory, we hope to bring back a few of these great eating fish as well check out the evening trolling bite as we are right on top of the next full moon.  We'll see!!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Workin' for the Man

My friend Bill Lundeen of Lundeen's Tackle Castle on beautiful Mille Lacs Lake is mentioned frequently on Fishin' With Dave, and for good reason.  Bill and his lovely wife Kathy's bait shop is strategically located at the corner of Hwy's 169 and 27, on the southwest side of the lake.  A gateway point for fishermen coming to Mille Lacs, there are many options after loading up on fresh bait, snacks, tackle, ice, and some up to date advice on the latest status of the bite.  When I moved into my current residence 18 years ago, it was easier to head to Mille Lacs by taking  US Hwy 169 north to Onamia.  In about 1 hour and 15 minutes I was at the lake, a little faster than my previous route of going north on Hwy 47.  My new preferred route presented me with a few options for bait shops.  Prince's north of Milaca, The Holiday Station (now a BP), and Bill's all were given a chance.  Prince's seemed like it was never open, The Holiday Station was a little to big company for me, leaving Lundeen's Tackle Castle as my effort to support the local business's.  Through the years we have become good friends.  Sharing fishing reports, opinions, and just about anything else, I was excited when he asked if I could possible watch the store last Sunday.  Apparently the Bishop was coming for a special celebration at their church and it was an event they would really like to attend as a family.  After clearing my schedule, got up at 5:00 and drove my motorcycle to the store for a quick lesson in how to run the operation.  I did get some help from a former employee, Mike who was up fishing and visiting his mother.  Together we restocked the essentials, dusted the shelves, swept the floor, all while selling a few minnows and leeches in between.  Here's a picture of me behind the counter, ready to greet the next fisherman that walked in.  Although it wasn't terribly busy I did manage to sell a new landing net, 1 quart of Bill's famous home made maple syrup, some sucker minnows, a few rainbows, and some leeches.  We did have one issue with the DNR license machine but all in all it went pretty well.  Bill and his family came back from church, happy to have been able to attend and the shop was still in functioning condition, abet a little cleaner!  It was certainly a nice change from the transformer business and it really feels good to be trusted enough with another man's life work.  As I said before, if you are ever in the area stop in and tell them Dave sent you, I guarantee you a smile.

Of course I did get a chance to get out on Friday night with my neighbor Tom.  The weather has been nothing short of phenomenal and this night was no exception.  Bill had reported that the perch were starting to go in Wahkon Bay, usually an opportunity to put a few perch in the live well with plenty of action.  We would fish to just before sunset then head to 3-mile reef to try some shallow water walleye fishing.  Well the perch were definitely going crazy however the problem was they all measured between 4 and 6 inches.  I must have caught 100 or so casting a ivory colored Power Bait twister tail while Tom casted for larger prey.  In the end I had caught only 1 perch that measured enough to make it worth filleting.  Of course that first keeper must get into that live well to set the stage for introducing additional company to keep the first one happy.  Well, that didn't happen.  This was our one and only fish for the night and trust me, it looks a lot larger than it really is!  Our trip to 3-mile proved a fruitless effort.  We  could not even scrounge up a lowly rock bass.  I think the water temp was still too high, 59 degrees, not enough to drive the fish shallow.  The full moon is in a week or so and this might be my last stand before I put the boat away.   I am hoping to get back on the Mississippi River this weekend for an attempt at a trophy smallie.  With fall rapidly approaching, time is getting short to get everything done before the snow flies.  I guess it's the same every year.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Da Bears!

Last weekend was busy with social events which got in the way of fishing.   Wisconsin bear hunting is in full swing and 2 of my friends sent in pictures of their trophy bruins.  Because I have no fishing report for this week, sharing their stories and pictures might be something of interest.  The first picture is of my good friend John Felix and his bear hanging in the garage.  John really knows how to take a picture and this bear looks enormous.  Rather than repeat the story I copied his rendition from his e-mail as it is much more interesting.

This bear was suspect of clawing the boards on Harlan’s sugar bush on land 15 miles south of Ashland. It is the same property I shot the 350 lb. 10 years ago. Same bait as well. We hung a trail cam and looked for the largest animal, which is usually the one that marks his territory. After a month of pictures and effort it was decided that this must be the one. He was coming in mostly of and on all day, and night. The first day of season it was windy beyond. Harlan sat with me in a two man ladder stand to video. We got out early because of the wind. I waited until the following Monday to let the bait cool off and see if we had turned them nocturnal. I went to the stand and was settled in by 3:15 PM. The first time he approached he was around 35 yards + out. I had my 50 cal. TC with me but also had the bow as he looked around, turned and left the way he came. I processed all this and by the time I saw him coming back I didn’t have time to turn on the video.  When he got to the 25 yard mark, he presented a standing shot between a gap in the trees about 18 inches apart (this was like a hallway of trees and his frontal area including a heart shot was visible and I could see his head on the other side).  I knew the distance but double checked with a rangefinder. I squeezed off the shot, the broad head just grazed the triceps on the left side, caught lung and pierced the heart center mass on the top fat ring. It was a total pass through. He ran 33 yards and collapsed in 5 seconds graveyard dead.

Pretty exciting if you ask me! John claims the bear was an older male, probably in the twilight of it's life.  Although it was over 6 feet long and had a large head, the bear had practically no fat on it and weighed about 240 pounds.  A younger, healthy bear would have been much larger.  This brings me to the next picture, my friend Greg Kimblom.  Greg shot this bear with his Remington 30-06 on private property in northern Wisconsin.  The bear weighed 225 pound dressed out and was one of 5 that was visiting his baiting station.  Being further from his hunting area than John, he decided to take this one.  As you see, both bears weigh close to the same however as they say, I picture says a thousand words.  Hanging in front of John, his bear looks massive.  Posing for a quick field shot, Greg's bear doesn't look as large yet in both cases they represent the average weight of a black bear shot in the midwest.  Of course they can get much larger with reports of 600 - 700 pound boars being shot every year.  Either way these will make great rugs for the living room, assuming their wives are tolerant!

Indian Summer is in full swing and Friday night is the peak of the New Moon period, time to try our luck trolling rouges on the Mille Lacs reefs.  With temperatures in the 80's, it is too nice to pass up.  Shallow reef trolling has been slow this year however with the water temps in the 50's it's got to get better.  On Sunday morning I will be running the store at Lundeen's Tackle Castle, stop in and say hi.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lead Line Confidence Has Arrived

Last weekend my brother Steve had Friday off with the intent of having me take him fishing on Mille Lacs.  Never fishing a full moon walleye bite he wanted to see what it was all about.  In past years the September full moon has been very successful and although the last couple of years have been less than stellar, I have always had at least one good trip before October.   The 3 days before saw record rains in southern Minnesota and Wisconsin resulting in serious flooding for this time of year.   The weather showed Friday as a clearing day with Saturday having a chance of rain again.  Meeting me at work Steve and I headed to the lake with the wind howling from the northwest with gusts to 35 mph.   My strategy to fish the east side was definitely going to change.  Arriving at Lundeen's, Bill agreed that it would be a wet outing if we launched at Liberty Beach but the good news was the reports from the north side where it would be significantly calmer.   The latest fishing reports had the deep sand bite on the north end pretty good.  Running lead lines in 27 feet of water with #5 Shad Raps was the rumor for the hot bite.  With the 25mph steady wind out of the NW, this was a great option.  27 feet is fairly close to shore and after a short run, we snapped a Hot Steel Shad Rap on one rod and a Clown color on the other, let out 5 colors of line and headed east.  I am still amazed how well my 115 Suzuki trolls down, even with the wind it was under 2.0 mph.  Although the wind was blowing hard, the wave action was more than tolerable.  Within the hour we had our first rod double over, a nice 18 incher for the live well.  Starting at 3:00 in the afternoon, by 7:00 we had boated 7 walleyes, 5 for the live well and 2 were too big to keep such as this one pictured.  It was my best day fishing with lead line and it is definitely boosting my confidence with this presentation. 

At 7:00 it was time to find a shallow reef and check out the post sunset bite.  A 4 mile run to the shallows in front of Fisher's we trolled for about an hour and decided we should have stayed in the deeper water.  The waves were significantly higher and the fish were no where to be found.   Heading back we loaded the boat and made a beeline to my friend Mark's ice house for the night.  Our plan was to catch supper, get a good nights sleep and head home in the morning.   Located at Fisherman's Wharf, we stopped at the resort restaurant to eat before cleaning our walleyes.  The nights special was pot roast with all the trimmings for $10, a fabulous deal considering how much food we got.  A short ride to our quarters found a nice surprise, Mark had decided to drive up and stay the weekend.  After cleaning nice batch of walleyes, we proceeded to solve the world's problems, something that that took till 4 in the morning.  Admittedly we only scratched the surface!  Here is another nice walleye we nailed.  If you notice the pictures are once more lacking quality.  Being too excited at the landing, I again left my camera in the car.  I bought an extra camera to keep in the boat especially for my forgetful streaks however that camera was also in my car.  So much for that plan!  Steve took these with his fancy smart phone, not bad as I had little choice.

It is going to be hard to get out this weekend with a wedding on Saturday and a surprise anniversary party on Sunday.  The weather forecast is predicting a hard frost for Saturday night and things are drying out nicely.  With Indian Summer scheduled for next week, the fall rush to get those last minute chores done has started.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Back to Wapogasset

Sunday had me up at 5:00 to meet Jason and his dad Andy Rombalski for our annual fall fishing trip.  Because Andy lives in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and he has fond memories of all the fish they used to catch on Lake Wapogasset, this was our destination.  A medium sized lake north of Amery, the lake is popular for panfish, walleyes, and bass.  The last time we fished this lake it took about an hour to find the landing.  The lady at the gas station confirmed that there was a new landing and we couldn't miss it.  After stopping at the bait shop for some waxies, it was off to the landing using her directions.  Well, so much for not missing it!  This time it only took a half hour to find get the boat in the water, once we got back on the right road.   The water is coming off it's usually pea soup color with the algae almost gone.   The peak summer algae bloom prevents the weedline from going any deeper than 6 feet.  We quickly discovered the fish were located on the edge of this.   Jason ended up with most of the fish while I had an interesting collection of species including largemouth bass, northern pike, and white bass.  The rest of the collection included bluegills, rock bass, crappies, and surprisingly large shiners.  The white bass I caught was an interesting experience.  Andy was fishing sunnies and a fish was trying to eat the bobber.  Sensing an opportunity I pitched a twister tail and it slammed the lure.  Because this was a joint effort, both Andy and I are pictured here.

Being out on the water presents the opportunity to view Mother Nature at her finest.  I experience once of a lifetime experience as we moved down the shore, casting for fish.  On a dock was a mass of fur that was undulating back and forth in a nervous fashion.  As we cruised closer to investigate, to my surprise it was a family of otters, 5 in all.  It was like watching the Discovery Channel.  I have never seen otters in the wild and it was an exciting experience.  They allowed us to get fairly close before entering the safety of the lake, one by one.  Watching them swim as a group along the shoreline was amazing.  Sticking their heads up out of the water looking back at us they may have seen us as an oddity of nature from their point of view.  The trip ended at the boat landing when a huge bald eagle swooped down from a large tree to snag a fish right in front of us.  Often when fishing, the fish are simply a bonus.  Off to Mille Lacs later to try the remnants of the September full moon bite with my brother Steve.  It looks like a lot of wind which can be good and bad.  Maybe I'll finally get something to replace my picture with.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Fall Salmon Fishing Wisconsin Style

A picture sent to me by my friend Eric brought back many memories of fishing for salmon on Lake Michigan.  Here Eric is holding what would be described as a perfect Chrome King.  Still in the main lake, not unlike Alaska, the fish have that "just out of the ocean" look of bright silver.  A few e-mails back and forth acknowledged that they were fishing no different than I did back in 1986/87.   Back then my good friend Gary Barneson was living in Appleton.  Although he lives in Eleva now, he was an important influence on my early days of fishing.  He was the first to invite me to fish walleyes on Mille Lacs, advised me on my first boat, a 14 foot Lund Deluxe with a 25hp, and he invited us to fish salmon on Lake Michigan with our small boats.  It did sound exciting, fishing these exotic fish out of our 14 and 16 foot standard boats.  After a few discussions I began rigging my 16 foot Lund Pro Angler for the trip to Manitowoc, Wisconsin.  First order of business was to find some down-riggers and mount them.  A 2" x 8" x 7 foot board, clamped onto my gunnels proved effective.  Next was to get some flexible trolling rods and reels, along with a couple of Dipsy Divers and some lures like the Northport Nailers, J Plugs, and flashers with squids.  Some PVC pipe to act as rod holders and we were rigged!  Arriving at Gary's we spent the night, heading out early in the morning to fish.  My friend Kevin and his brother Brent always accompanied me on these trips.  We were fast learners.  Having the ability to fish 3 poles each, we put down 2 down-rigger rods, a dipsy diver out of each side (these were diving planer devices that would take your lure down and out away from the boat), and a couple of long lines running close to the surface.  It was a surprise to find out just how close in to shore we were catching salmon and brown trout.  The average depth was from the surface to no deeper than 45 feet. 

It was a blast!  Today's charter boats fishing salmon on Lake Michigan have so many lines out that they have to keep moving forcing you to reel a fish that is also being pulled along.  With our own boat we could stop, pull in all of the lines and stand on the bow for a magnificent battle.  Not unlike chunking for silvers in the ocean, it was just you and the fish.  Of course fishing back then was fabulous.  A full day's work would be rewarded with a limit of Kings, Coho's, with a few rainbow and football browns mixed in.  Looking back it was some of the most fun I have ever had fishing.  Gary moved back to Eleva, the fish eventually ate the lake out of house and home, and Mille Lacs became a bigger focus for me.  I'll admit however that Eric has got me thinking!

The rest of the week in review was kind of interesting.  I had the chance to go to my 4th Twins game at the new Target Field with my good friend Lory Brasel.  Watching the Twins complete a series sweep of Kansas City was a perfect way to spend a night.  To my surprise my sweetheart Ellie Taylor was also at the game celebrating her 84th birthday.  Ellie is like a mom to me and we always have a great time together.  Her son Jack called me as we were going to the game and discovered the whole family was going.  The stars were aligned that night as Ellie sat in the section just below where we were allowing me to spend some quality time on her birthday.  Happy Birthday Ellie!  On Sunday I snuck on the river to wet a line for a few hours.  The fishing was horrible as the grass floating down the river was preventing a good presentation.  Nailing a 10 inch smallie was about all I could muster up before the grass made my crankbait useless.  There will be more chances.  Launching at my neighbors, Blair and his wife help me load up the boat.  A quick discussion about me taking my motorcycle road test prompted Blair to volunteer his 125CC Yamaha Zuma for the test.  Assuring me that I would have difficulty with my bike, we went to Anoka and practiced on the test course painted in the parking lot of the Drivers License Bureau.  He was right.   Monday I rode his scooter to work, then to my appointment where I wa the first of 5 guys to take the test.  I did pass and was glad that Blair intervened.  I don't know but I am sure the 2 guys behind me had some issues.  On Tuesday I headed for Cleveland Ohio for 2 days of meetings.  As usual my return flights from Chicago O'Hare were jinxed and after a 3 hour delay I finally got home around 1:00AM.   Off to our annual fishing trip to Lake Wapogasset, near Amery Wisconsin with Andrew and Jason.  Hopefully I will have a great report.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A New Member of the Family

Last week saw the addition of a new occupant for about 100 square feet of my pole shed.  She was a little rough and had not seen any tender loving care for a few years but underneath the dirt, cobwebs, and bird droppings was something special.  My late brother-in-law enjoyed fishing the Mississippi River out of Trempealeau Wisconsin and what better rig than a simple Jon boat.  Never one to travel far a 15 hp motor was more than enough to get him across the river for some good old sheepshead fishing.  Living next to the Mississippi River 160 miles north of Trempealeau, the boat would be a perfect craft for chasing Smallmouth Bass in the shallow and rocky section north of Minneapolis. Discussing the purchase with his wife Susy, we agreed on a price and I pulled it out of the old cattle shed.   After re-inflating the tires, fixing the lights, and finding an 1 7/8 inch ball, I got home in one piece.  A 14 foot square front Alumacraft with a 1976 Evinrude short shaft outboard, she needed a good cleaning, a new propeller, the trailer was begging to be repainted and have it's rollers replaced.   Having repacked the bearings by Saturday afternoon it was off to the neighbors river landing for her maiden voyage and a try at some smallies.

Having never been on this stretch of the Mississippi River in a boat there was a concern about the overall water depth.  The river is fairly high for this time of year but without a depth finder, it was a visual guess.  I was looking for a transducer to mount on the back and use my ice fishing flasher, an FL20 for the open water.  Deciding to take it with and hang the transducer off the side for a quick reference, there was a chance that this would be good enough.  Well that didn't work very well so I brought the transducer back in the boat.  As the boat came on plane I put the face of the transducer squarely on the aluminum floor with some water between then and voila, the bottom showed up on the flasher.  This proved to be a perfect solution giving me a great read of the river depth.  Traveling up 8 miles thru 2 known rapids I began the drift back fishing with a shallow fire tiger Bomber Model A.  The first cast into the riffle area produced a 14 inch smallie, life is good.  With the river high the boat drifted a good 100 feet before the fish was secured and released.  Motoring back to the starting point the next drift produced another 14 incher.  The 3rd drift resulted in a small northern pike.  Realizing there was a lot of water to cover it was off to the next spot, a deeper outside bend in the river.  A couple of cast later and a nice 17 inch smallie was on the line.  Man do these river fish fight!  I had my camera with but with no one there to record the fish, it was up to me.  Here is my attempt of a self portrait, not great but you get the idea.  The trip ended with a better understanding of the Mississippi from Dayton proper to Anoka and the lure of getting back to try it again.  I continue to add a few things to the boat like a permanent transducer, a Rock Hopper (a lower unit device for protecting the propeller from the bottom), and a trolling motor.  I love being a river rat again.

Last Sunday was Mille Lacs time with my friend Tom Emmons.  Lead lining was the goal with a stop at my favorite reef at sunset to round out the trip.  Arriving about 3:00 we headed to the north gravel bars and put out a couple of lines with the new hot bait, a Salmo #4F Hornet.  A smaller bait, I was skeptical however we did get a couple of keeper walleyes and a perch.  Sunset prompted us to abandon the lead and head for the 4 foot reef top.  The wind was perfect for my drift/casting technique which resulted in another 3 walleyes for the live well.  Leaving around 9:00 we had 5 in the box plus 2 nice perch, good enough for  meal but nothing large enough to take a picture of.  The one picture I did take of Tom's trophy rock he caught was done without a memory card in the camera..........oh well, it was pretty funny.  Hopefully I get back on the river this Sunday and try all the new crankbaits I bought.

Friday, September 3, 2010

State Fair Time

The end of August means one thing in Minnesota, State Fair Time.  For 12 days the State Fairgrounds in St. Paul comes alive as technically the largest State Fair in the United States.  Texas claims to be larger in attendance however it runs 30 days.  Either way it's usually a zoo.  My wife and I attended last Thursday to watch one of the guys who works with me compete in the amateur talent contest.  Welly Chou is both an excellent electrical engineer and an accomplished singer.  Born in Hong Kong, he came to the United States as a teenager, participating in a student exchange program where he attended high school in South Dakota.  He has been here ever since.   It is quite amazing as he has shed his Chinese accent and you would swear he just stepped off the bus from Nashville.  Welly has won many singing contests including an opportunity to open for Keith Urban a few years back.   Using my Canon pocket camera, I did a movie clip of his performance and Welly put it on Youtube.  If you have time, check out his performance, it's pretty good. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4hh0Rap_8A

Of course one of my favorite attractions at the Fair is the Department of Natural Resources fish pond.  A concrete structure literally filled with fish of every kind, shape, and size.   A fairly large pond I would bet there is a 1000 fish from muskies, trout, paddlefish, carp, quillback suckers, crappies, sturgeon and everything in between.  I am not sure where they all come from, however I know many are caught by hook and line prior to the fair.  The other interesting thing at the fair is the animal barns.  Because Thursday was the first day of the fair, the main attraction were the sheep and rabbits.  Holy smokes, I did not realize how many different types of rabbits there were and the variety within those types.  Here is a picture of one that almost looks like a small dog.  There were rabbits you could hold in the palm of your hand to giants over 16 pounds.  I guess you can house train them to use a litter box so they must be smarter than they look!

Because of my niece's wedding, no fishing was accomplished this week.  I did manage to pick up a 14 foot jon boat with a 15 hp Evinrude which should be perfect for the river.  I will post pictures later, as soon as I get it cleaned up.  Today the temperature is about 64 and the wind is a howling out of the north, great for cooling down the water temps on Mille Lacs.  My plans are to maybe take the new addition to the family out on the river for a few hours and possibly make a Labor Day excursion to see if the cooler water has jump started the walleyes.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Lead Line Success

This last week saw 2 excursions to Mille Lacs, taking advantage of the coming full moon which occurred on Tuesday.  Reports of fish being caught on lead lines had got me excited about trying to perfect the technique enough to give me the confidence to put it in my arsenal of strategies.  The first opportunity came last Saturday evening when my friend Mark Taylor and his son Jared agreed to grace my boat.  Mark and I are the best of friends however as we have grown older things have gotten in the way of our time together.  In our early days we have spent many hours in the boat together and along with his dad Earl, have many great memories.  Although this trip wasn't going to be very long, the weather was beautiful as it was a wonderful day to get out for a little walleye magic.  Picking them up we headed for the new Liberty Beach landing on the east side.  With dead calm conditions, the comfort level was quite high.  Having learned of the hoards of fish on the north side of a popular gravel bar, we headed there to try our luck with trolling crankbaits.  Because there were 3 of us, the strategy was simple; 1 rod out on a planer board, 50 feet from the boat, while a lead line rig on each side would give us a respectable 75 foot spread of lures attacking the water.  The planer board rig consisted of a #11 deep diving Rapala Tail Dancer in a rainbow trout pattern (Hot bait for some reason) trolled 150 feet behind the board.  Diving to about 26 feet, this would be perfect for the 28 - 30 feet we were fishing.   The other 2 lines took advantage of the lead core line.  Literally a braided line with a lead center, it sinks 5 feet for every 10 yards (30 feet) of line let out when trolled at 2.0 MPH.  Because the line controls the depth, you simply put a 10 - 20 foot mono leader on and you can now troll shallow running crankbaits in the deeper hotspots on the lake.  Lead core line changes color each 10 yards making it easy to keep track of where you are.  This year I switched to Sufix line as the colors are both bright and have great contrast to give you a better handle on where the line is.  My previous line had black next to brown, almost impossible to read.  I guess a line counter reel would help however I sort of like the old fashion method.  On the 2 lead cores I attached a couple of #5 shad raps in Clown and Hot Steel color.   Within 3 minutes Mark reeled up this dandy 24 inch walleye, the first to be caught with the lead core method in my boat................success at last!

Mark and Jared were new to this method and thought it was pretty slick.  The speed of catching the first fish always puts the anticipation level for the second one on high alert.  Hoping to get one on the planer board to show them how that works, the flag on the board went down about 20 minutes later.  Planer board fishing requires some good boat coordination.   One has to remove the in-line planer board from the fishing line before you can reel the fish in.   If one is not careful, this is the place fish are lost.  The release was successful and the battle continued until Jared reeled in a nice 23 inch walleye.   The calm weather had us dialed into this strategy for sure.  With an hour left before we would leave for the reef to do some at dusk casting, I noticed my blind side rod was doubled over and without hesitating I grabbed the rod.....my turn!  My second fish hooked on the lead line, it was exciting to reel in.  Finally seeing the fish, it was about 24 inches before a LDR occurred.  Long Distance Release is really good for the fish but terrible on the ego.  Therefore there are no pictures of me to complete the trio.  Oh well, it was great to get Jared and Mark out.  I tend to give Jared a hard time but never the less he is always smiling.  When in High School, Jared had an assignment, write a biography of someone important in your life.  He asked if I would be that person and requested an interview.  Agreeing only if I could see his finished product, he finished his paper and sent it in.  Jared is a shy sort and after a couple of months I pressed him to see his finished product and grade.  Relenting, he sent me the manuscript by mail.  Often one never realizes his impact on the younger generation, however Jared articulated it beautifully.  Admittedly I am tough on the kid.  I expect him to talk to me, am always pushing him to express himself better, however I never expected him to say the things he did about his dad's friend, Dave.  I believe that kids today need positive outside influences like I did growing up in Eleva.  I had 20 dad's growing up from my uncle's Dewey, Keith, Jerry, and Loren, to my dad's friends Art Kelly and Daniel Van Pelt, to my teenage bosses Vic Wenaas, Wille Drangsveit and Ronny Semingson.  Each added a little to who I am today and I try to pass that on to those kids in my life.  As for Jared, he turned out to be a pretty good kid. 

My second excursion on the night of the full moon, Tuesday was with my neighbor Tom.  It was dang near gale force winds and after fighting for a couple of hours we headed into Indian Point and tried some casting.  Tom managed to have a nice muskie follow but that was it.  No fish, no pictures, just got my boat carpet washed was all.  Maybe the next full moon will be better.

This week was the one year anniversary of the passing of my friend Rich Allen and my brother-in-law, Mike Rombalski.  They say time heals however I still miss them both.  Weddings this weekend so we will have to see what the next post brings.