Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Back On Old Man River

20.75 inch smallmouth bass
 The continuing sauna we call Minnesota is becoming a broken record.  By the time one does anything meaningful, you are covered with sweat, dehydrated, and lack any real ambition to do much.  My neighbor Tim and I had volunteered to provide the entertainment for a neighborhood graduation party on Saturday and with Sunday booked I checked the river levels behind the house.  They were back to a reasonable flow rate allowing me to fish without having to fight the heavy current.  With nobody around that was interested in going, I loaded up the boat and headed out myself.  My jon boat does an acceptable job in the river, especially with only one in the boat, upstream I can hit 15 mph in the calmer current.  It takes about 30 minutes to motor up a mile or so past Dayton, where the Crow River dumps her muddy waters into the Mississippi.  Normally one has to negotiate a couple of shallow rapids but with the river still up a couple of feet, I had plenty of water under the boat.  Just as I arrived at my starting point the motor abruptly killed. A quick check verified that the vent on the fuel tank was not open as evident by the long sucking sound of air filling the void of gas used up as I loosen it.  Once the pressure stabilized I squeezed the fuel ball, choke the engine, and pull my arm off, which in 95 degree weather is no picnic.  Nothing fired and the boat had already drifted past the first good smallmouth area.   This is the main reason I like going upstream as if anything happens I will still get home.   The current is still pretty fast as the GPS verified the boat was moving around 3.5 mph.  Worst case, I'd be back at Blair's landing in 2 hours.  When the water is high the fish, especially smallmouth bass like to hold tight to the shorelines where the current is less and there is more cover.  Staying about 30 feet from the edge of the shore, the strategy is to cast into the shorelines with my favorite Bomber A, working as much good cover as the boat drifts by.  At 3.5 mph you only get one chance as the trolling motor does not have enough power to bring the boat back through again.  The best areas are those that drop off a couple of feet close to shore then gradually hit deeper water,
22 inch channel cat on a Bomber
say 4 - 6 feet deep under the boat.  My second cast produced a nice 18 inch smallie, a great start.  Being alone presents a number of problems including the boat is now out of control while you fight the fish, netting these can be difficult in the current, and there is no one around to help you record the events of the day.  My second fish about pulled the rod out of my hands as it bulldogged to the bottom.  It must have been quite comical to watch as my boat is drifting down the river doing slow circles as I failed to shut the trolling motor completely off, stumbling over the seat to get the net while dodging the overhanging trees in the path of the boat.  After a grueling 5 minute battle the fish finally slipped into the net, a 20.75 inch smallmouth, the largest I have caught ever.  It was interesting to take this picture and it didn't turn out too bad.  BTW, my friend Pete taught me how to take great fish pictures, get them out in front and hide your hands as it makes the fish look great by taking away any reference point.  Well, because I only had me to take the picture, this fish is held pretty close to my body as I needed the distance to capture the entire fish, and it's still pretty impressive!  Continuing to drift down, I caught 6 more bass from 12 to 18 inches as well as a 22 inch catfish and man do they fight.  And the motor, well about a mile down from where she stopped I tied up to a tree creating a more stable situation where after a few pulls she came to life.  I think it was probably flooded and just needed time.

Blueberry thieves!

So last week I complained about the 2 families of wild turkey's cleaning out my blueberries.   Coming around the pole barn to get the jon boat out, something caught my eye, heading straight for the garden.  Sneaking around the other side, got my camera, and watched as the turkey's knowingly started moving back away from me and out into the edge of my tall grass.  My field is just full of grasshoppers and it's obvious they were having a feast.  Momma turkey went into the tall grass which triggered a huge exodus of grasshoppers to jump out of the way and into the shorter grass as the little ones scrambled to eat them as quickly as they could.  With the blueberries gone they have now resorted to my cherry tomatoes and bird food that I put down for anyone who wants it.   It's not that I don't appreciate these huge birds around, and if they simply ate grasshoppers and bird food, it wouldn't be a problem yet the line is drawn on the tomatoes!  I did buy 4 Nite-Guard  electronic pest controls for the deer problem and I have to say that for the most part I haven't seen 1 deer track in the garden since they have been installed.  Unfortunately they only work after dusk and are simply a solar powered battery operated red LED device that blinks dusk till dawn.  Apparently deer and other night creatures think that they are the eyes of a predator.  The turkey's arrive after they shut off and really don't care about what I think.   Oh well, I'll take this over living in the city any day.
Grandma Myrt, me at graduation, and Grandpa Roy
This weekend will be spent picking up an old tractor that my Grandpa Roy owned.  Grandpa Roy had a severe stroke in 1960 which basically left his entire right side of his body paralyzed.  You can imagine back then there was little in immediate care, and the nearest good hospital was an hour away by the time they drove down to pick you up.  By 1965 he had recovered (if that's what you want to call it) enough to get himself into a Chevrolet El Camino truck and using only the left side of his body, give him back some of the freedoms he had lost.  The stroke also left him a little on the grumpy side but as kids, we really never knew him as anything else.  It was still a fun time in my life as he would let us ride in the back of the pickup as we delivered groceries to the farm, sit on top of a gravity wagon full of just harvested soybeans as we picked off the legs of the hundreds of grasshoppers on the 15 mile trip back from the fields, stuff you could never do today.  Grandpa had an old Ferguson TO35 tractor that he managed climb up on and off, using it to plow snow, haul around trailers full of grain, and whatever chores he felt were needed.  When I was 16 he taught me how to drive the tractor so I could use it to help plow his snow, move dirt for him and occasionally clear off snow on the local mill pond so we had a place to ice skate.  After Grandpa Roy passed away, my Uncle Keith sold the tractor to my brother Steve's father-in-law, Wes.  Many years ago I asked Steve to request that if he ever sold it, I want first chance.  Well, after at least 15 years I am finally going to pick it up.  Wes fixed it up, put new tires on, painted it and although this was a few years ago, it has been stored inside all this time.  The tractor has a 3 point hitch which I have a blade and brush hog to mount, and my cousin Greg is going to sell me Grandpas old 3 point disc.  With a little luck the Ferguson should be in the pole barn on Saturday night and I'll be fishing on Sunday.  By the way, if you double click on the last picture you will notice that the tassel on my graduation cap is gold.  This is because I graduated with honors, being in the top ten of our class.  Just don't tell anyone that there were only 9 of us!

1 comment:

Duane said...

I think those turkey chicks taste like Cornish game hens.....