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 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.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Catching Up!

I often recall something my grandfather once told me when I was a young man.  Enjoy your time now, as you get older you will find the time goes fast and the days grow short.  This last week and a half has been nothing short of that example.  We are definitely in the "Dog Days of Summer" with high temperatures, high humidity's resulting in thunderstorms every other day.  The bite on Mille Lacs has been less than stellar and even with the hectic schedule, I have managed to get out a few times.  As stated my neighbor Tom and I did fish the Mississippi River south of Clearwater Mn a couple of Sundays ago.  I broke my #1 rule when going fishing.............make sure your camera is with and ready.  Having caught a number of nice smallies we were relegated to Tom's film camera, which I am waiting for him to develop.  Normally at this time of the year the river is quite low and caution is the word.  Tom has a 16 foot Lund which is more capable in these conditions however the river was running very high giving us a lot of freedom to fish where we wanted to.   Wanting to fish minnows, we picked up a dozen and a half red tailed chubs at Actions Bait in Anoka.  They were on the small side but adequate.  The fishing turned out to be great with around 20 smallmouth caught, the largest around 18 inches.  One of my goals was to continue the experiments with the circle hooks and they were 100% effective for corner of the mouth hook sets.   Last Sunday Tom, his daughter Brenna, and I spent a quite evening catfishing on the neighbors dock again.  Upon arrival at the dock I discovered that every nightcrawler in my crawler box had evaporated!  Luckily I had some new Berkley Power Catfish Bait.  I never believe this stuff is as good as crawlers but it's all we had.  The river levels were still high and the bite was off but I did manage to get this very nice channel cat.  We tempered the slow bite with a few of Tom's favorite beverages, Moosehead. 

One of the things this hot an humid weather does is make the garden grow like crazy.  From sweet corn, to potatoes, to cucumbers, everything is ready to go.   The last couple of weeks has been the attack of the pickle!  I tried something different in my garden this year.  Having visited my wife's uncle Bernie's garden, he had his cucumbers growing on a fence.  Thinking that was a great idea I headed to Fleet Farm (the store where if they don't have it you don't need it) and bought enough 4 foot fence and poles to create my own vertical pickle producer.   As plants go cucumber plants are pretty stupid.  I had to train most of them how to utilize the nice structure which was erected for them.  It took about 2 weeks but they finally figured it out and have been reacting like crazy ever sense.  One of the nice things I have discovered about growing cukes on the fence is that pickles themselves are off the ground and require very little scrubbing before use.  This picture shows the fence post at 5 feet and gives you an idea of how prolific the plants have been.

This hot weather generates enough to do about 12 jars every 3 days.  Needless to say I am busy.  One of the best things I have discovered is Mrs. Wages Pickle Brine Mix.  Once again Fleet Farm saves the day and carries a number of these convenient brine mixes in Polish Dill, Kosher Dill, and Bread and Butter flavors.  Besides tasting excellent, the pickles are ready in little as 24 hours after processing.  Although I have dill, the classic flavor is in the mix.  Adding some chopped garlic, mustard seeds, and peppercorns to each jar, it gives it my distinct signature.  Using the Refrigerator Bread and Butter mix, the batch made last week is excellent.  The unfortunate part of all this is in a normal year with the heat, moisture, and deer, the cucumber plants would be done by now.  Up on the fence the plants get plenty of air and look to yield for at least another 2 - 3 weeks.  I hope some of you like dill pickles! Having to replant my sweet corn this spring and it is also finally ready to process.  Using my chamber vacuum packer to seal them in bag for freezing, this works very well for preserving.  If the deer continue to leave my peppers and tomatoes alone, salsa is next on the project list.

Hopefully I will have and August full moon report next week.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Charlie's Day

As happens every year my good friend Chuck Teasley shows up for a day of fishing on Mille Lacs.  A break from a week long family event, our trip to the pond gives Charlie a chance to catch up with his friends back in Minnesota.  One of the things that I look forward to is seeing Dan Hoene, an old friend of Chuck's from Duluth.  Dan skated on the University of Michigan's varsity hockey team and has a lot of interesting stories in the boat.  Last year he was fishing Eagle Lake, Ontario and did not make our trip.  This year Dan was able to join us for our annual outing and we took full advantage of him (what are friends for anyway?).   Our trip starts out the night before, gathering at the pole shed and loading up.  We like to head up early, catch dinner at the lake, staying in a hotel, assuring an early start in the morning. Like last year we again stayed in my friend Mark's ice house.  More like a small cabin, Dan was skeptical.  Although I assured Dan that the ice house had air conditioning, he had his doubts as a room at Eddy's sounded a whole lot better.  Upon arrival we heard no complaints.  Chuck and I have many things in common including open heart surgery.  After last years fishing trip he returned home meeting his cardiologist the next week only to be told he was not leaving and scheduled a quintuple bypass surgery immediately.  Our scars are quite visible and we used them to our utmost advantage.  It took little to convince Dan that both of us had 10 pound lifting restrictions as a result of our surgery and we needed his help.  For the next 24 hours we never had to lift anything as our good friend did all the work from carrying coolers to tackle boxes to unloading everything.  We were going to eventually tell him but it was so nice not having to do anything and watching him be such a sweetheart was touching!  In the end he left before we could fess up so if you read this Dan there are 2 things, thanks for being such a good sport and don't even think about missing next year.   The first picture from left to right is Dan, Myself, and Charlie.

After having breakfast in Isle, MN we headed to the landing north of the casino.  The wind was out of the west north west and being on the west side of the lake would prove to be more comfortable.  Meeting us on the lake would be a friend of Chuck's he met in St. Louis,  Mark Setterstrom.  Charlie is a Infant Swimming Resource instructor teaching children as young as 6 months how to survive an  accidental fall into water, such as a pool.  He had taught his children as Mark is a player for the St. Louis Rams football team.  Fishing was painfully slow as we drifted Seguchie Flat.  A mistake on my part, I had forgot to put in additional gas in my boat.  With a strategy of trolling all day, I did not want to take a chance and had to go in to get some petro.  We decided to put Chuck in Mark's boat before we finished our drift, then go in.  I had a few extra trolling rods and suggested to Mark they try off the flat using a rainbow trout colored Reef Runner with 150 feet of line out.  Away they went as we finished the drift.  5 minutes later we drove by as we headed to shore only to see them acknowledge a released 26.5 walleye after 3 minutes of trolling.  I looked like a genius.  As happens, this omen was short lived and was the only nice fish caught between us.  We actually snagged an 18 incher later in the day but this was it!  Here is Mark's nice fish.  We still had fun fishing as there was a whole year to catch up on things.  I had the pleasure of meeting Mark and maybe one day can fish with him again.  We finished off with dinner at Chico's, double taco night, 6 for the price of 3.  Who can beat that!  A special thanks to Mark Applen for the use of his ice house. 

I did get out Sunday as my neighbor Tom and I hit the river for smallies.  He has some pictures I am waiting for as my camera was dead on arrival.  Hopefully I can post later this week as we did very well.

Friday, August 6, 2010

An Evening on Lake John

Lake John is a small L shaped body of water just west of Annandale MN.  I was introduced to the lake over 30 years ago by Tim Guzek, a good friend of mine.  At the time our quarry was northerns fished with a bobber and medium sucker minnows.  After a successful day of catching pike and crappies, the lake became on of my favorites.  Over the years there has been many successful trip  bagging mostly crappies and sunfish along with the occasional northern and largemouth bass.   It was such a good lake that one year we decided to put a permanent ice house on the ice.  Fishing was great  and we had a wonderful time.  That year was exceptional and the snow piled deep on the lake.  Our house was not very sturdy and built on a simple 2 x 4 frame.   It got to the point where the weight on the ice was heavy enough to cause the water to gush up through the holes drilled in the floor.  Towards the end there was about 3 inches of solid ice covering the entire inside of the house.  In Minnesota one needs to remove their ice houses by March 1st.  The house was definitely stuck to the ice.  Our first strategy was to pour rock salt on the ice covering the floor in hopes to melt it away.  That actually worked pretty good as we came back the next day and the ice was gone, melted and drained away.  Hoping that it did the same for the ice below the floor, no such luck, it was still frozen solid to the lake.  As we were chipping away a young man came by and asked if we wanted some help and claimed he could get it free.  You just need to buy me a box of 30-06 shells and he would take care of it!  Chipping in we bought the shells and returned to the lake where he proceeded to shoot rounds through the floor claiming the bullets would shatter the ice and voila.  Well 20 rounds later and severe ringing in our ears proved unsuccessful.  We ended up tearing the house down side by side and dismantled the floor.  Totally ruined but off the ice, that ended our experiment with permanent ice houses.

Today I still enjoy a yearly trip to Lake John, hoping for some nice crappies and sunfish.  Last Sunday night my neighbor Lory Brasel and I did just that.   Lory was interested in getting some northerns as I was looking for anything that bit.  Although we did not slay the fish, we did accomplish our goals.  Taking his lund it was nice to have someone else take the controls.  Lory got a couple of small northerns as this one he is holding while I nailed a few crappies, sunfish, a number of small bass and a larger one which I am holding.  Nothing too large it was nice to get out for a few hours.  It was a peaceful way to spend last Saturday night. I will have a report on my annual trip to Mille Lacs with Mr. Teasley in a few days.