Thursday, April 28, 2011

Another Year!

Although I started Fishin' With Dave in May of 2008, I consider the last post in April as the end of my Blog Year.  For the Christmas Season in 2009 I was perplexed as to what I could give to my father.  At 79 there isn't much that he needs that is personal in nature, sure he loves the year subscription to the paper but I was looking for something special.  An e-mail came one day promoting a site that would actually print your blog in hardcover book form.  Called Blog2Print, I decided to check it's validity not knowing what to expect.  It was surprisingly simple, give them the URL of your blog address, pick the dates, add a few pictures and dedications and Voila, your blog has been just published.  Deciding this would be a good gift for my father, I downloaded Fishing With Dave, Volume 1, spanning my posts from May 1, 2008 to April 30, 2009.  Adding a dedication to my dad, it turned out to be one of the best gifts he has ever received, as he even made me autograph it.  In my posts are often people from Eleva mentioned.  Dad would go downtown everyday for coffee and bring the book with him for others to read.  Not having Internet, it was a fun way for him to see what I was writing about.  It went over so well that in 2010 I printed volume 2, May 1, 2009 to April 30, 2010.   Having learned a few things from doing the first one, I changed a number of things and printed 3 copies, 2 hardcovers and 1 soft cover.  Getting more winded with my posts made Volume 2 larger and more expensive (you pay by the page).  It made the perfect Father's Day gift that he continues to enjoy and it is my plan to start Volume 3 as soon as I am done today.  At 81 and struggling with throat cancer it's nice to be able to do something special for him.  My dad grew up in Eleva, a pretty strict Lutheran community.  I have said before it was not necessarily his job be my friend but to make sure I grew up to be a responsible, self sufficient adult.  Along the way we had issues and admittedly saying I love you to your dad wasn't something you did, I am sure he didn't to his father.  I think I need to take care of that before it's too late.

So the electronics install saga continues with my boat.  Having decided that repairing the holes cut into the panels would be too much work, I ordered new ones from my dealer Frankie's.  In the end it was a smart move on my part as now the installation is looking much better.  I did get the Ipod dock mounted and ran the ethernet cable from the front HDS5 to the back HDS10.  That works pretty well but there are a few bugs to work out.  On Tuesday, Lowrance came out with a software update and now the units are up to date with a lot of extra features.  Last night I finally got the Sonic Hub working and is it ever slick.  I can now control my audio system (radio, Ipod, speakers, volume) all from the HDS unit.  Thinking I could control the audio from the front via the ethernet was a mistake and now I have to install a NMEA2000 network cable from front to back.  Hopefully this will take care of it.  I still have to mount the transducer for the LSS-1 (Structure Scan) and network the system into the HDS unit, I am about a week away from that and will post pictures when I am done.  It is proving to be interesting and fun as long as I don't run out of time! 

My last picture is of the new pickup truck I took delivery of on Tuesday, a GMC Sierra 1500.  My Suburban was pushing 6 years old and had over 130,000 miles, it was getting to look well used.  I found myself hauling more stuff and with the gas prices rising, needed something to easily transport my ice fishing gear without always having to take my trailer.  Things really change in 6 years.  The engine is a 5.3 liter V8 (327 for all you guys my age) with an engine  management system that when cruising under light loads the engine drops to 4 cylinders. Coupled with a 6 speed transmission it claims to get 21 mpg on the road.  My brother Steve has the same truck and has confirmed up to 22.  Having all the latest electronics gadgets like built in bluetooth for your cell phone that actually comes through the radio to the USB port allowing you to plug in your Ipod and control it from the radio control, it's pretty slick.  Heck even my salesman Clyde, who is my age, was amazed at what you could do.   It's still snowing in Minnesota and Leech Lake is still ice covered, maybe going out next week.  I am hoping I can get out before opener and try all of my new stuff!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

April Doldrums

The time between the last safe ice and fishing opener is always a challenge.  It is a time to get the garden ready, trim the apple trees, and get everything ready for fishing opener.  This year the opener is the second latest date it can be (last year was the latest) which basically means we have an extra week to wait before we hit Leech Lake.  My current project of  reconfiguring the electronics in my boat has hit a snag as it is less expensive and more convenient to order new sheet metal panels for my boat rather than simply try to make an adapter to cover up the existing holes.  Hopefully they arrive soon so I can get back to the work of finalizing everything.  I did replace my wired remote cable with the Ethernet cable and was able to link the two units together to see if they would talk to each other.  Like it is suppose too, I could display each units output on each other's screen which was pretty exciting.  The weather still can't decide what it wants to do, winter-spring-winter?!?!?!  Two times this week I woke up to snow, Saturday morning and this morning.  Although it was a beautiful scene, it melted fast and by noon on both days it was gone.  I know we can have snow into May but I have to admit, it's getting old.  The weatherman suggested that this winter is the 4th snowiest on record.  I think he is being kind!

The highlight of my weekend was taking the MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation) course.  Lasting both Saturday and Sunday, a total of 16 hours of classroom and road course training proved interesting.  There were 6 guys in the class with me being the oldest.  Most people take this course to get their motorcycle endorsement however having passed my test last year, I was interested in learning the correct way to approach riding.  Having some experience was interesting as the course assumes you have never been on a bike.  The first 6 hours was classroom work and I aced the 50 question test at the end.  Being multiple choice questions I approach each one by looking at what are the wrong answers.   The next 10 hours consisted of riding a small course in the parking lot.  We were all given Honda Rebel 250 motorcycles (pictured) and it was obvious they had seen better days.  All had the mirrors and front turn lights tore off, half had the back turn signals missing, and a couple showed evidence of some horrible event the bike experienced at the hands of a seasoned rookie!   It was pretty thorough and although it seemed as though I knew the material, it was good to have someone critic your habits and work on good fundamentals.  The highlight of my course was when I wiped out on the bike while working on a curve exercise.  Rolling through the corner, we were to accelerate and apparently I exceeded all expectations by having to lean enough for the right peg to hit and grab the pavement.  Ending up under the bike the instructor came running.  Expecting a good lecture, I was pleasantly surprised at the rather mature discussion of my misfortune.  I went on to secure a perfect score on the road test, something that even surprised me.

My last picture is of me celebrating the gifts from my co-workers Welly and Tom.  Both had spend a good amount of time in Mexico lately and each brought me something that I am truly grateful.  Of course everyone at work is aware of my Green Bay Packer status so Welly found this beautiful Poncho in lovely Cancun.  One look and he knew it was me.  I simply can't wait to wear it during next year's Super Bowl!  In my right hand is the special gift I received from Tom.  In a traditional hand crafted bottle is some of the finest Tequila in Mexico.  Both are wonderful gifts and allows me to reflect how special these guy are to me.  Of course I did have to model the Poncho to all of our factory workers, most of whom are die hard Viking fans.  I was definitely a good way to remind them which team to support next year!  Easter is this weekend and I hope to get most of my boat electronics completed, assuming everything comes in by Friday.  Speaking of Good Friday, it's a great time to plant potatoes and that might be the goal for this weekend as well.  Three weeks to opener, I am getting anxious for sure.  The fishing sales are in full force as I am doing my annual accumulation of the latest and greatest.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Networkin' with Dave (or Dave the IT Guy)

I have to admit that technology is really starting to wear me down!  My first cell phone was in 1990, what they called a bag phone.  It sat on the front floor of the car, with a rather large device stuck in the trunk and an antenna coupled through the back window.  Wow, a phone I could use in the car, just like at home, a simple 10 key number pad and a send button.  Fast forward to 2011, I have owned a Blackberry now for 2 years and trust me, I still haven't figured out how to really use it to it's greatest potential.  That will probably never happen.  Well, it's time for me to upgrade my depthfinder/gps on the back of my Ranger 620T.  Working with Bill, we have done some horse trading and I am finally ridding myself of the reliable Genetron for something a little more technical, a Lowrance HDS-10.  It came with Structure Scan/Side Imaging which can literally scan the bottom up to 500 feet either side of the boat.  Included is a down scan feature that more clearly identifies objects under the water, such as those sunken Spanish galleons in the middle of Mille Lacs.  Adding to the mix, Lowrance has a Sonic Hub made by Fusion, which is the same manufacturer of my current stereo system.  Along with my front depth finder, a HDS-5, they can all be magically hooked together via cables, software, and sweat to talk to each other.

So it goes like this........... The HDS 10 is the basic display and also serves as the main "server" in my new boat network.  The Structure Scan/side imaging module consist of a oblong shaped transducer that is feed into what appears to be an Ethernet Hub.  My HDS 5, in the front of the boat is connected to the hub via a 25 foot Ethernet cable.  From the Hub is another Ethernet cable that plugs into the HDS 10.  Now the Sonic Hub is really a NEMA2000 network device.  NEMA 2000 is a communications protocol and consists of a network tree of parallel connected devices that can communicate with the server (HDS10).  Because I have a factory glassed in, thru the hull transducer, I see that the boat had been pre wired with a NEMA 2000 based water temperature sending unit.  This makes sense as most water temperature sensing is done at the externally mounted transducer, so with a thru the hull transducer a separate temp sensor was installed.  So, I have this branch looking network assembly that has a cord to power the network, a temp sensor port, a Sonic hub port, and a cable going out to the HDS 10.  All of these cables crisscrossing my boat will allow me to switch displays on my front and back HDS units to track each other, I will be able to observe the structure scanning on both units simultaneously, as well control my stereo system via the depth finder screen.  This will allow me to change songs, channels, volume from both units, which is much better than kneeling down to adjust everything.  The unit comes with an Ipod dock and can be plugged into a Sirius Radio, which in turn can display the latest radar weather reports on the HDS10.  Uffda!

The real problem will be simply trying to learn every menu, option, configuration, setup and I am sure few thousand combinations of all you can do with the system. Just interpreting the Side Imaging displayed what it all means will be a challenge in itself. I had a tremendous amount of confidence in the Genetron as I could anchor in 20 feet of water, put a 1/8 ounce jig with a leech on, drop it off the back of the boat all while watching it fall to the bottom, move up and down, and get hit just like winter fishing with a FL20. I am sure it will take a bit of getting used to the new system and I only hope it is as good as what I am replacing. Here is a picture of what the display of the side scan looks like. Of course this technology has been the rave for a few years now, started by Bottom Line (now Humminbird), I can see it will take a lot of trips this year to finally figure how to interpret what the transducer is looking at, not that I am complaining . Sort of feels like a new episode of Sea Hunt!  This weekend has snow in the forecast for the Saturday morning, hopefully the last.  I have committed to spending both Saturday and Sunday taking a Motorcycle Riders Safety Course, a 16 hour classroom and riding skills class at a local motorcycle dealership.  I guess we are never too old to learn the right way to do things.  Next week is Easter then maybe a chance to get on the water and try my new network out, if I get it installed by then!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

It's Finally Gone!

Flying to Chicago this week I had the option of simply getting on my return flight or riding shotgun with my friend Tom Emmons, who was working in Libertyville for the last 3 days. Sometimes O’hare airport can get really congested with long delays. Often it would be faster to just rent a car and drive back rather than wait for your plane to take off. Well late this morning the airline called me 4 times to notify me of the changes in my schedule , delayed an hour, moved up 15 minutes, moved back 30 minutes. The real message was that if went to the airport, I’d be lucky to get back by 10:00. My last sales call was only 15 minutes from where Tom was, I decided to take the known method of transportation and ride with Tom. A quick stop at the Bass Pro Shop in Gurney Mills and the relaxing ride is allowing me to get caught up on a few things. This weekend was the annual Northwest Sportshow at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Last year’s economic conditions really affected the show however the improved situation was evident this year. I had the chance to go down to the show both on Thursday night and Sunday afternoon. For me 4 hours is not nearly enough time to see all the new things and ask all of the questions. From getting my Lorwance Ethernet connection issues resolved to checking on a the latest new lures, it’s always a fun time. One of the things I really enjoy is visiting my friends Judy and Ken Marlow from Marlow’s on the Kenai. Featured in my Alaskan Links on the left side bar, it’s always great to see them again. As always they have a special treat for me, smoked canned sockeye salmon with a touch of jalapeno pepper added, it’s like manna from heaven. Here’s a great picture of the two with their booth. I like to sit with them and converse with the interested customers as we have a few pictures featured on their display.

Unfortunately I am going to miss ice fishing Lake of the Woods again this year. Normally the weekend before April 15t with last year’s trip being canceled as the ice conditions were such that the lake closed down by the end of March. This year was just difficult to get organized to go. My friend Ryan Sterle, who lives on the Iron Range tends to find time to do all sorts of things. Last year I posted a few pictures of the fish he caught on the Rainy River, and yesterday he sent another, a 55 inch sturgeon he got this weekend. Not the clearest picture as I am sure he used his cell phone and it looks like it was snowing. Last year’s fishing season on the Rainy was fabulous do to the early spring however I am sure this year is somewhat more normal and challenging. This is a really nice fish and it's something I'd like to try and do someday.

My next 4 weeks will be focused on getting all of my fishing equipment ready for opener. From getting the boat ready, tuning up my reels, reorganizing my tackle boxes, I’ll have plenty to do for the next month. I just got the Leech Lake Tournament trophy engraved and I think I really outdid myself this year! It will give me something interesting to post for next week.  The good news is that the snow is FINALLY GONE!!!