Thursday, July 5, 2012

Taking Nothing for Granted

The Grant's, Mike, John, and Dave
I received an E-mail the other day from my nephew John, who is at Fort Rucker, Alabama training to be a helicopter pilot.  He had sent some photos of a snowmobile trip he had taken while lamenting that he missed the "upper Midwest weather".  A quick check of revealed a surprise, here in Minnesota at 9:00 AM it was 84 degrees, heat index of 95 while Fort Rucker was a cool 75 degrees!  Go figure.  The fishing trips from last weekend as well as the heat made me decide to forgo the weekend trips and concentrate on the planned 4th of July trip with my friend Mike Grant and his 2 boys John and David.  I have been friends with Mike for years and was really looking forward to getting his boys out for a relaxing day on Mille Lacs.  Knowing it was going to be hot, we decided to start at 9:00 and just take it easy for the day.  Loading up on plenty of water and red licorice, we hooked the Ranger up and headed north.  John is 16 and Dave is 10 so the first thing I reminded them is the 2 rules in my chewing tobacco and no cigars!  Once we established that this was understood the rest of the day would be easy.  The wind was out of the south at around 10 mph and blowing across the 78 degree lake kept us at a reasonable temperature.  The first picture is of the Grant's with Mike in the white, John standing on the bow of the boat, and Dave holding a nice 26 inch fish.  Needless to say Dave caught most of the fish thanks to his gracious older brother, a lazy dad, and myself, who could not resist seeing the greatest smile in the world!  This fish was caught on Sherman's and to be honest I was quite surprised at the lack of boats on the lake as we even got "Rock Star" parking at the landing.  With 4 in the boat we tried both nightcrawler rigging and bobber fishing.  This fish was caught on a leech/bobber right under the boat using my infamous ice fishing technique.  If a mark shows up on my depth finder while in a stationary position, I simply drop my leech over the edge and can watch the bait go down and in this case, the fish come up to meet it and inhale the bait.  A quick flick of the wrist and the battle is on.  The bite wasn't as aggressive as it had been and we were marking a lot of fish but they seemed to be rather neutral.  Needing a slight break from heat we headed to 7-Mile looking to do some deep water trolling around the flat.  John is in a fishing club at school so showing him a few new methods would be good and maybe we might get that elusive 28 inch + fish to boot.  Well, the trolling was a bust up to the time we reeled the lines in when John discovered we had been pulling an 18 inch walleye for who knows how long.  The fish got off right at the boat and immediately headed down, we decided that it would count as a caught fish.  Marking quite a few fish on 7-Mile we put the 3 way crawler rigs back on to search for any aggressive fish.  Although the boys didn't really like Country Western music, I convinced them that without it, I was afraid the fish would simply stop biting.  Asking if they knew Toby Keith's Red Solo Cup, I found the song, cranked up the volume and bang, the rods started bending like my corn in a windstorm.  The boys laughed as though they had learned some mystical secret to getting the walleyes to bite, and bite they did.  A quick flurry of at least 5 walleyes as Toby played in the background was proof enough.  We ended up with a total of 13 fish including this 25 inch walleye and I am not sure who has a bigger smile, Dave or the walleye.  These boys were absolutely the greatest, well behaved and truly loved to fish.  They understood the need to get these fish back in the water fast and that they did as the pictures were taken within 10 seconds of landing, great job boys.  I look forward to sharing some of my experiences with them in the future as I promised John that if he came over I was sure we could add a few things to his tackle box.  As soon as the river gets back to normal, we will head out one night and try our luck on catfish.  Honestly, I am not sure who had more fun, them or myself. 

Side dressing corn
So did I tell you it's been hot?  Sorry to sound like a broken record but there is some good news, the sweet corn is growing like crazy.  The old adage that corn should be knee high by the 4th of July is pretty much over with these days.  Sweet corn loves 3 things, hot long days, adequate water, and nitrogen as corn is really a grass.   The last week has really spurred it's growth and with the heat and amount of rain, all it needed was the nitrogen.  Most of the farmers today use liquid anhydrous ammonia to fertilize their corn and at 82% nitrogen, it is extremely effective.  It is hard for an ordinary gardener to apply anhydrous so I use the next best thing, a granular version called Urea, which is rated at 46-0-0, or 46% nitrogen.  The best way to apply is once the corn gets about a foot high or so, make a trench along the row and side dress the corn with it.  I plant 6 rows of corn, 3 as early as I dare and 3 rows a few weeks later.  This assures a longer harvest time as one is about ready to be done the other is just getting ripe.  Once the urea is spread in the trench it gets covered with dirt.  The stuff is pretty strong as if you have a cut or sore on your hand and get some of the urea touching it, it burns like crazy.  In a few days the corn will turn a beautiful dark green color and grow like crazy.  I did this to the first 3 rows a few weeks back and it's already almost 4 feet high.  The plan is to have the first 3 rows of corn ready before I head to Alaska, and the second 3 rows will be just getting ripe, in time to compliment fresh salmon on the grill.   The unfortunate thing about this weather is that the weeds tend to grow as well!

In my garden
Although my blueberries are really coming along, I will probably head to Eleva this week to pick a few pails at Blueberry Ridge.  It will be a great chance to see my mom and brothers, wish my friend Kevin a safe journey as he and his wife head to Colorado on their motorcycle, and get stocked up on blueberries.  I have quite a few but would never get the pail fulls I need to enjoy them all year.  Here is a picture of my most prolific blueberry plant, working its magic for me.  With Alaska 5 weeks away, my brother Steve and I have put the final touches on our trip which includes a flyover trip across the Cook Inlet to a place called Bachatna Creek.  We are definitely looking forward to the cooler weather!    

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