Wednesday, August 24, 2011

It's Always Better to be Lucky Than Good!

So last week's post described the fate of one of my beloved fishing rod and reel combo's.  Sitting in 10 feet of water at the bottom of the Mississippi River is not exactly my idea of a proper storage site.   The St. Croix Legend rod is a beautiful piece of fishing gear as it's distinctive blue color stands out from the more traditional black colored rods. The attached Shimano Chronarch reel was a left handed wind, special order low profile baitcaster with the latest spool and braking technology.  Although I never did get comfortable with the tight reeling motion needed by my left hand to crank the reel handle, I did like the convenience of a single fluid motion when hooking a walleye while trolling shad raps.   I am always very careful with my equipment but when I turned around in the boat and didn't see that sky blue rod anywhere that big knot one gets in your stomach settled pretty hard.  My ranger has nice sides keeping rods that are set down fairly secure.  The jon boat on the other hand has very low sides and which(as I found out) requires much more diligence with your equipment.  The other issue is putting limits on the amount of fishing rods one needs to take with everytime you go out, a habit hard to break.  Finding the rod gone requires one to quickly get a handle on your emotions.  As stated last week, crying over spilled milk does little to solve your problem, hence forth this weeks plan of attempting to get rid of my knot!  Having purchased the large snagging hooks in Denver the next stop was Fleet Farm to pick up the rest of my scheme.  The idea was to get a 3 foot piece of 5/8" threaded rod, finding some eye bolts, some large nuts, chain to connect the hooks, and chain to pull the entire contraption on the bottom of the river.  I had thought about solving this problem and felt I had a viable contraption at hand.  On Saturday afternoon, with the help of Lory, we headed to the scene of my agony.  It was closer to launch at the Dayton/Crow River landing and drive down a mile to that portion of the river.  Arriving at the dock, my starting point, had its owner cleaning out brush.  Approaching the dock he was nice but had that sceptical look like...what are you guys really up too?  The water had dropped another 8 inches from last week and the current had slowed enough to allow the 15 hp Evinrude to hold the boat in one place while backtrolling.   Lory's first snag caught a rather large waterlogged piece of wood.  Big enough to bend the hooks and rip off one of the chains, I towed it to the middle of the river and headed back.  Each effort brought up more junk, to the point where I was getting frustrated.  10 minutes into the effort Lory brought up the contraption and this 7 foot blue rod was hooked onto one of the chains.  My secondary worry was if we did actually hook the rod it would disconnect the minute it reached the surface.  Lory had it hooked through a rod guide and it wasn't going nowhere.  The rod had started to get some insects attached to it and the shifting sand basically filled the reel. I cannot even express how relieved I was to actually get my prized possession back.  The rod looks good as new and I decided to send the reel back to Shimano to have the factory tear it apart and clean it. As for Lory, he has a few battle wounds dealing with unhooking logs while the boat moved around.  As the post title states, it's sometimes better to be lucky than good. 

So with that out of the way we pointed the boat up river and headed for the 101 bridge, 3 miles upstream.  The first thing we noticed was a guy walking the shoreline, sorting rocks.  A quick "whatchadoin?" resulted in finding a new location to look for agates.   Working our way back to the landing I spent most of the time casting bombers while Lory put on one of my favorite Rattlin' Rouges, the brown perch.  I am always amazed at the ferocity of a 10 inch smallmouth hitting a 4 inch lure.   Although the day was already a success for me, Lory picked up this beautiful 17 inch bass that inhaled his Rouge.  Now that the river current is reasonable it would be fun to start exploring the walleye and catfish hangouts. Ending up with about 9 smallmouth it was another good day.  We have only fished crankbaits as the current speed forced a quick presentation however the ability to slip the river using the main motor should offer an expanded choice of lures like tube jigs, beetle spins, and live bait on 3 way rigs.   The famous river guide from Big Lake, Dan Gapen, used jigs like the Ugly Bug to catch 30 - 50 bass an outing and it would be a blast to get that proficient.  In addition to recovering my rod I successfully installed my Lowrance LWX-1 weather/Sirius radio module for my HDS 10.  I removed my Garmin 162 chartplotter, replaced my Johnny Ray mount with the heavy duty RAM mount and generally cleaned up my electronics mounting.  Pulling the boat out of the shed (the metal roof blocks the signal) I was able to lock onto the satellite, see the weather overlay on the chart plotter function, then call on the radio service, and voila!  What was even better was Sirius set me up to shut off service in the fall without having to pay the reactivation fees in the spring.  It works very well as I was getting a little tired of listening to my Ipod all the time.  It's been 6 weeks since I have been up to Mille Lacs and although the reports have been spotty, it's always worth a try.  Maybe this week.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Another Week

Well, another week flying by as fast as the plane I am stuck in for the next 2 hours!  I am returning from Denver where I made my once a trip pilgrimage to Bass Pro Shop, just west of the airport.  I really like their fishing lure selection although it is somewhat geared to Colorado, it’s still pretty extensive.  Their boating accessories department is second to none and although I am not a huge fan of their branded line Redhead, they carry a good selection of Columbia, Under Armor, and a favorite of mine, their Bob Timberlake styles.  One of the reasons for stopping at BPS is they carry snagging treble hooks, big ones!  There are areas in this part of the country that snag for various types of fishes including the unusual prehistoric looking paddlefish.  Paddlefish can get very large however they are strictly plankton eaters and will not hit a standard bait setup.  In some states it is legal to snag fish for them, similar to what we did in the early 80’s when you could snag salmon from Lake Michigan.   That itself deserves a post all its own someday.  The hooks I bought were sold as treble hooks for snagging and I bought the biggest ones they had, 12/0 size.  These are probably the largest treble hooks you can get without special ordering them.  The picture is about actual size.  I was forced to buy a box of 24 and even so, they were less than $20.00, a bargain for sure.  As for what I am going to do with these gigantic hooks, I’ll explain in a few minutes and was pretty happy to find them. I spent the next day with a nice potential customer who visited our new Loveland Colorado plant.  There is always something going on these days and now that my schedule is less tentative, I have a full month of travel booked from Cleveland next week to San Diego in 3 weeks.  I’d really like to spend a day fishing tuna out of the California coast and it’s on my bucket list for sure.

So, how about fishing this week? Success and frustration pretty much sums it up.  Wanting to drive down to make sure my mother was doing well and with a few hours to sneak away the Mississippi River has been my short term go to spot.  It might be for the best as my friend Bill Lundeen claims the perch hatch on Mille Lacs was huge this year and the lake is filled with young of year perch.  Usually 2 – 3 inches long and found in dense schools, it’s a regular smorgasbord for the walleyes.  This means that with all the food in the lake its difficult at best to get something to chase a lure down.  As the water cools and the ranks of the young perch get thinned the fishing usually picks up.  With little time to run up to Mille Lacs I can be on the river in less than 5 minutes.  My friend Pete Mlinar had taught me the virtues of fishing large live minnows for smallies so I picked up a dozen medium sucker minnows at the hardware store in Champlin.  I tried Action’s Bait Shop in Anoka as they usually have a nice selection of minnows for the river consisting of creek chubs and more hardy varieties.  Pete likes to use the Red Tail Chubs but they are really hard to find these days.   Suckers work okay even though they do not last very long on the hook.  My neighbor Lory went with and after a half hour cruise we started fishing.  I decided to fish the north side exclusively as we began to cast the Bombers.  A couple of fish later we went by a spot that Pete would have caught his eye.  I had taken an extra fishing rod along, pre-rigged with a bobber set up and hook.  Attaching a 5 inch sucker I casted it in along the shore only to see my bobber slip past the slip knot meant to control the depth.  Well, that wasn’t any good so I reeled in, set my rod down, and started to re-tie the rig.  Of course there is current so we drifted about 50 feet when I reached to get something and when I turned around my rod was gone.  Having learned not to panic in these situations admittedly I remained as calm as one could expect.  The rod was a St. Croix Legend 7 foot baitcast with a Shimano Chronarch attached to it.  That’s all I’m going to say.  I am pretty sure I know “about” where it is as there was a dock right where it happened.  The issue is the 2 mph current and 10 feet of water, to dangerous to simply dive in and look for it especially at my age my family just got done with one funeral.  Hence forth the snagging hooks.  About 28 years ago I lost a favorite rod in Weaver Lake, west of the cities.  With no GPS I memorized the location, built a homemade contraption with large treble hooks, and the following week recovered my prized possession.  It was an interesting experience as the week prior someone had murdered a person, cut up the body, put it in black plastic garbage bags and threw them in Weaver Lake.  Wouldn't that be a surprise!  My brother gave me the idea of using my ice fishing camera and with a little luck, my large treble hooks, I might be able to recover it.   As stated earlier there is no use in crying over spilled milk and after the shock wore off we went back to fishing.  We did get about 12 smallmouth again and am really starting to read the river better, learning the best spots to hold fish.  Here are a couple of pictures of our success.  The largest we have caught is about 18 inches however I do know there are some larger fish and it will be a matter of time.  I am in the middle of installing my LWX-1 on the boat and with some luck will be on Mille Lacs on Sunday.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Back to Normal

Things are back to normal, whatever normal is.  On Saturday we had a wonderful memorial service for my dad.  POD (Poor Old Dinnie) had most of his wishes planned, a simple cremation followed by a nice church service then a nice tribute at the cemetery by the local American Legion.  Apparently he asked Tommy Benning, another fixture in Eleva, to sing at his funeral.  Tom did a fabulous job.  There were quite a few people at the church as they almost filled every pew.  Pastor Kermit Solem (talk about a Norwegian name!) always does a wonderful job and this time was no exception.  To my joy a number of my neighbors and friends drove down from Minneapolis, which was nice.  Volunteering to say a few words about dad at the service, I surprised myself by making it through the entire time in front of everyone without a tear.  Dad was once a toastmaster 30 years ago and he gave me his speaking manual, which I still use today.  My brother Steve got up and said a few words of reflection and did a great job.  Dad was the Commander of Legion Post #459 in Eleva so he was afforded full military rights.  My niece Heidi Lee is in the Army and along with her sister Katie, they performed the flag folding ceremony.  Heidi was in full dress uniform as she presented my mom the flag given to all veterans, presented flawlessly as she saluted.  There wasn't a dry eye to be seen.  As the Legion gave the traditional rifle salute, my nephew Alex played taps in the background sending a chill down everyone's spine.  I am sure that grandpa was awfully proud of their roles.  Like all good Norwegian Lutheran's we gathered in the church basement for the traditional fellowship including hotdish, cake, pickles, and coffee.  Dad was on the "Funeral Kitchen Crew" and in 2007 was promoted from Pots and Pans to the dishwasher!  I would like to thank all of you who called, left comments, sent card and condolences, and offered food or gifts to my mother. Dad might have been known as POD, but by the support I saw last week he was the richest man I knew.

So, what better way to forget all your troubles than to go fishing!  With little time to plan a trip to Mille Lacs and the river being so close, I invited my neighbor Tom to join me for an evening excursion last Sunday night.  Hooking up the boat on the ATV we launched at the neighbors house and headed up river.  The water had fallen about 8 inches from my previous trip resulting in a reduced current that was evident as I hit 13 mph upriver, a full mph faster than before.  Running up to the third set of islands from the landing, we drifted the south shore without much success.  The high water tends to push the fish close to shore and the rocks hold the smallies, yet this side proved less productive.  About a half mile of fishless water we headed to the north side of the river where I have had pretty good luck in the past.  I decided to put on my go to crankbait, a Bomber A, shallow running (2 - 4 feet) lure in a Fire Tiger color.  On the first cast I nailed a nice small mouth bass.  Within the next 200 yards I had caught my third bass and a nice keeper walleye.  The next bass wasn't so friendly.  Although only about 13 inches, just as I was about to grab it to remove the bait it gave a flip and embedded the front hook into the top of my wrist far beyond the barb.  So there I am, the top hook securely fastened to me and the bottom hook attached to a determined small mouth anxious to get released, not a very good combination.  The first order of business was to get the thrashing fish off the lure, which Tom quickly accomplished.  My thought was to grab the pliers and see if I could yank it out.  That doesn't work, trust me.  I really didn't want to give up the hot bite so we cut the hook off the lure, cut the remaining 2 points off the hook, and under now Dr. Tom's advice, attached some 12# mono to the embedded hook.  While he pushed the shank of the hook downward, I gave the mono a good yank.  Well, that didn't feel to good as the hook was still in my arm, yet it showed promise.  Determined I got a good grip on the line another yank and the hook popped out, just like it was suppose to.  Letting out a yell for good measure we were back in the business of catching fish.  The bait was definitely hot so I removed another hook from a different bait and reattached.  Tom and I continued to catch fish as we ended up with over 12 smallies, 1 respectable walleye, and a catfish that I saw hit the lure as it approached the boat.  Not bad for a simple evening outing.  I have my new Sirius Satellite receiver for the Ranger as well as a different mount for my HDS 10 to install,  it will give me something to do this weekend as I prepare for the lead lining bite on Mille Lacs.  It's been about a month since I've been to the pond and that itch is getting pretty intense. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

My Dad

Well, I dreaded this post for about a year now but now it's my time to write it.  After visiting him this weekend with a business trip scheduled for Wednesday thru Friday, my wife and I decided to spend Tuesday afternoon with him.  Arriving around 4:00, he was sleeping but it didn't take long for his eyes to open with a smile on his face.    He seemed to be alittle better than Sunday but was one never to let on his real situation.  We had a great 2 hours of conversation, intermixed with a few coughs and downing a glass of his new found beverage of choice, Sobe.  The conversations ranged from tomato's, apples, John Deere Lawn tractors vs Simplicity, Mobil 1 motor oil, his grandson Alex's Air Force Ambitions, and other important problems deemed to be solved.   Of course, solved we did!!  My pitiful tomato plants were probably mismarked from the nursery, Mobil 1 probably saved my lawn tractor engine when it over heated.  At my age he suggested I get that snow blower attachment, reminding me that I was on my second lawn tractor and he was still running his.   We agreed that Alex was doing the right thing, going into the same branch of the Armed Services he entered in 1947.  What we could not solve was the wasting away of his life.  It is difficult at best to know each new minute will never be as good as the last minute, something we talked about.  Leaving at 7:00 I had to pick my truck up at work, walked in to my office only to receive a call from Mom, Dad had collapsed and she feared he had passed.  She was correct and 2 hours after I said goodbye he died peacefully at home.  He had accepted his situation and I did get a chance to give him a big hug and told him I loved him, something I have been saying lately and something that I waited way to long.  Dad was probably somewhat uncomfortable with that, not that he didn't like it but it just wasn't something your 56 year old son told his dad.  He talked to me about this saying that when he grew up, his dad never hugged him or said he loved him because he just knew.  I think that there is a big difference in what was expected and the self confidence instilled in his generation.  Children were raised to be more self reliant as there was little money for the things we have today.  One relied more on your imagination and friends rather than the latest tennis shoes or cell phone.  I don't know if we will ever get back to his generation of individual responsibility, something my dad had a ton of.  Honesty, integrity, and accepting are all qualities that seem hard to come by today.

I am posting my favorite picture of us when we celebrated our 80th and 55th birthday together at the Full House in beautiful downtown Eleva.   Like father like son! Busy with arrangements this week I will definitely dig out a few more pictures and post them in the future.  In the meantime I have included his obituary.  He loved my blog and is one of the reasons I faithfully continue to write it.  I also want to thank everyone who has supported me through this chapter of my life, one that either has or will play out for everyone.  In the end, as my dad has proved time and time again, it's friends and family that really matter as when you are down to your last days, it is the only thing you have.

Donald G. "Dinnie" Anderson
(February 2, 1930 - August 2, 2011)
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Donald G.

Donald G. "Dinnie" Anderson, 81, of Eleva, passed away Tuesday, August 2, 2011 peacefully at his home.
He was born on February 2, 1930 in Eleva, WI to Roy and Myrtle (Fagerland) Anderson. After graduating from Eleva High School in 1947 he joined the Air Force and served from 1947 to 1950, mainly in Panama. On September 11, 1954 he married Betty Thielke in Eleva. Dinnie was a supervisor at Uniroyal Tire Co retiring in 1985.
Dinnie was a member of Eleva Lutheran Church and the Eleva American Legion Post #459 . He is survived by his wife, Betty of Eleva; five children, David (Lyn) Anderson of Dayton, MN, Steven (Jean) Anderson of Onalaska, WI, Beth (Jerry) Lee of Eau Claire, WI, Jon (April) Anderson of Mondovi, WI and Blake (Jo) Anderson of Eleva, WI; 12 grandchildren; 9 great grandchildren; two siblings, LaVonne (Loren) Nelson of Eau Claire,WI, and Gerald (Marilyn) Anderson of Meridian, ID; nieces, nephews and other relatives.
Dinnie was preceded in death by a grandson; his parents; and two brothers, Keith and Gordon Anderson.
Memorial services will be held Saturday, August 6, 2011 at 11:00 AM at Eleva Lutheran Church in Eleva, WI with Rev. Kermit Solem officiating. Burial will follow at the Eleva Cemetery with military rites conducted by Eleva American Legion Post #459.
Visitation will be held from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM on Saturday, August 6, 2011 at the Eleva Lutheran Church in Eleva.
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