Thursday, June 21, 2012

Close to Home

This week featured a full day on Friday working at the ENA Memorial Golf Tournament (more on that later), cleaning up around the house on Saturday, and taking the Ol' River Runner out for her 2012 maiden run on Sunday.  I'll start from Sunday and work backwards.  After the heavy rains from a few weeks ago the Mississippi River level has finally receded enough to make it feasible to fish for smallies and whatever else could be biting.  My hectic schedule put me in lazy mode and after discussing with my neighbor Tom, should we go to Mille Lacs or the River, the weather man decided for us.  With rain in the forecast we stayed close to home, hitched up the jon boat and launched at my neighbors landing.  On Saturday I finally got the boat cleaned out and bought it outside to see if she would run.  A little stubborn, the motor finally came to life after about 10 pulls on the recoil, then purred like a kitten.  Once on the river our strategy was to motor 5 miles up the river then drift down, casting the shorelines.  The water level was still 2 - 3 feet higher than normal and somewhat dirty.  With the current running around 2.5 mph, the top speed going up river was a gut wrenching 12.3mph.   25 minutes later we arrived at our starting point just as the clouds opened up, just my luck as I left my rain suit back in the pole shed.  Thankfully it was a nice warm summer rain and actually felt pretty good!  Because of the poor river clarity we decided to cast medium running Bomber A's in a hot fire tiger as well as a bright orange crawfish pattern.  Figuring the fish would hold tight to the bottom and needed some sound to help them locate the bait, the Bomber's have proved to be our number 1 crank bait on the river.  Within 10 minutes Tom hooked a young smallmouth bass, then nailed a nice one.  I had a nice catfish hit my orange Bomber hard enough to break a hook off the back treble.  I decided to change to the same green fire tiger pattern and within 10 minutes this nice 3 pound smallmouth plowed into my lure.  As we continued to drift the river a  few more smallies were caught, 2 very small northern pike (8-12 inches), and Tom had this nice 5 pound catfish hit his lure like a freight train.  I am always amazed at the tenacity these channel cats will hit a standard crank bait as the standard mode of catching them are more related to stink baits and bottom fishing.  Catfish are actually good to eat however the ones out of the river are pretty fat and tend to be mushy.  Maybe I am cooking them wrong!  My brother Steve is a great catfish connoisseur and maybe I need to get a recipe from him.  It was a successful couple of hours on the river and now that the area has been dumped on again, I see the river reports predicting the water levels may go back up another 3 - 4 feet.  It could be another couple of weeks before the levels get back to normal assuming we don't have a lot of rain in the forecast.  Fishing the river is a lot of fun as you never know what you'll catch, which keeps it interesting.

Friday was our 10th annual ENA Memorial Golf Tournament.   Each year we raise money through the golf tournament which is used to assist families who have children battling cancer.  We do not fund research, we have zero administrative costs as 100% of the money goes to helping these families cope.  It may be helping to fix a car, providing critical transportation that the family cannot afford, anything to help them deal with the day to day struggles of dealing with cancer.  Most of our funds are administered through the Fairview Foundation, an organization based with the Fairview Health Services, including the new Amplatz Children's Hospital located at the Fairview Riverside location in Minneapolis.  Our goal was to break the $250,000 amount raised with the 2012 event and by all indications we blew by that number.  It is a very rewarding experience, one that I hope to continue and see us break the $500,000 goal.  The above picture is our team of dedicated individuals with Mark and Jan Applen in the middle.  Great job!

Friday and Saturday I will be helping my friend Bill Lundeen entertain a corporate event by trying to catch some walleyes for his clients.  The bite is still on and hopefully it won't be too windy to make things uncomfortable.  I should have more pictures and stories next week. 

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