Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Swans in the Mississippi River
 A quick post to report on last Saturday's first ice fishing outing on Mille Lacs.  Because Bill had a number of items I ordered for Christmas, a quick trip to Mille Lacs to pick up the stuff and fish the evening bite was in order.  Reports of 8 inch ice were common so I loaded the ATV, gear, and headed north.  One interesting thing that I noticed on the way up was the significant amount of Trumpeter Swans in the Mississippi River between the house and the 101 bridge.   They were scattered along the river for 7 miles in groups up to 30 birds.  These birds make their winter home below the warm water discharge of the power plants near Monticello.  I believe the estimate is over 2500 swans winter there, I know there were at least a couple of hundred along the shallow areas of the open water.  With the cold weekend, I am sure that the river has froze shut forcing the swans back upriver to the warmer water.  I arrived at Lundeens and spent some quality time unwinding first.  Not in a hurry to get on the ice I complimented Bill on his great influence on me.  Lately I have been waiting till the last minute to do things.  Knowing that I was heading north, Friday night was the time to take the ice auger out and get it started.  Last spring saw a new gas tank installed by myself, didn't really think nothing of it.  Well, after pouring gas into the carb for the 5th time, it was obvious there was something wrong.  After an hour I called Bill and asked if he had any new Strikemaster's.  He finally talked me into not giving up and within the hour had figured out how hosed up I had made it.  Freezing cold, I reassembled the gasket, heat shield, gasket, spacer, gasket, carburetor, governor assemble, gas tank, and air filter perfectly and it started right up.  It probably would have been much easier in 70 degree weather under less duress!

26 incher with a little body

Arriving on an inshore hump I set up in 20 feet, working the edge.  With some of the ice still heaving and cracking, it was smart to stay closer to shore.  After drilling a number of holes and setting up my dead stick line, it was outside to hole hop.   At the last Eric Applen Golf Tourney I had purchased a new Showdown for hole hopping,  a nice unit but takes a little bit of time to dial it in right.  Coming back into the shack and setting it in the dead stick hole, I noticed the minnow line was pretty large.  Thinking the gain was too high I began to look at the settings when I noticed the bobber was completely out of sight..........Duh!!!  Setting the hook on this nice 26 inch walleye, not bad for the first fish of the season.  Not unlike a lot of fish caught this year, this one was pretty skinny.  Resetting the line, outside again to hole hop, returning to warm up I put on a Slender Spoon as the sonar's were not marking much fish.  Dropping it down, these take a while to get to the bottom however as is descended a line came up to meet it, wham a 24 inch walleye!  Finally around sundown a third mark appeared and aggressively hit my lure.  Man, another nice fish until it came through the hole..............dang eelpout.  This was the first one I had caught on Mille Lacs in over 5 years so it was good to see.  They have a beautiful brown coloring and although great to eat, I put this one back.  Leaving at 5:30, 3 fish in 3 hours was good enough.  Arriving back at the landing another surprise was waiting, the front tire on the truck was flat, we won't even go into that.

A beautiful eelpout

Today I am heading to Red Lake with my friend Mark Applen.  He has his wheel house parked at a resort and with a little luck we can hit the night bite.  If the fishing is good we will stay there and if not the plan is to head north to Lake of the Woods.  Either way I am looking forward to spending a few days with Mark and hammering some walleyes that are hopefully fatter than the ones I have been catching.  I have a few new lures to try out and it will be a great way to end 2012.  Next week the lakes around home should be ready for some panfish action.  Have a great New Year and here's hoping next weeks report is successful. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Making Ice

Slender Spoon from Custom Jigs and Spin

The cold has finally arrived.  Last year at this time we were struggling for ice as the wind and weather had created a huge ice island on Mille Lacs separated by a few hundred yards of open water completely around the lake making travel to the hot areas impossible.  This year is completely different.  The lake froze a couple of weeks ago and with this weeks temperatures hovering around 0, the lake is definitely making ice.  Hunter's Point resort on the east side of Mille Lacs reports they have a road staked to both Sliver and Boot flats, 6 miles out from the resort.  With a good 7 - 9" of ice, I have my Polaris Razor all set to go, my new Thermal X is ready, the electronics are all charged up, it's just a matter of picking the right day this weekend.  The Razor is my side by side ATV with a roof, windshield, and a special mounting for my Lowrance HDS7 from the boat.  With an accurate Lakemaster chip, I use it as a large screen GPS where as it very accurately displays the bottom contours in 1 foot increments.  It makes searching for that spot on the spot much easier.  Everything is marketing these days and ice fishing has hit a crescendo to say the least.  In this world it's very popular to promote products through association as the ice fishing world has Team Ice.  A group of companies and guys promoting ice fishing, a great example is the Slender Spoon.  Early ice fishing video's have featured this lure as the killer bait for this year's hard water season.  Being promoted via a number of web forums, the Minneapolis area is all but sold out of these lures, a testament to the effectiveness of the media.  They are light spoon that exhibits a slow "tantalizing" drop that makes them irresistible to walleyes and perch.  I haven't bit on the hype yet as my winter tackle box is void of these, probably will have to pick up a couple, just in case! 

Christmas in China
I am finally settling back into a normal routine after my trip to China.  For some reason it's taken a long time to readjust to being back home, maybe it's simply that fact that we are in the shortest daylight time of the year.  Early Sunday morning was spent in the Mercy Hospital emergency room as I must have gotten into something that resulted in a severe allergic reaction, something I haven't experienced in over 30 years. I still think my trip made me more vulnerable.  Christmas is upon us and it seems as though it was just yesterday.  We will head back to Eleva and see my mom as well,  spend time with the relatives.  My friend Mark Applen is fishing Red Lake right now and is going to leave his wheel house at the resort.  Red Lake is about 5 hours north of Minneapolis, on the way to Lake of the Woods (LOTW).  Our plan is the Thursday after Christmas head back up and either fish Red or continue on to Baudette.  We made a few phone calls and everyplace is booked for next week so we decided to stay in his wheel house, something I have done in the past.  I like staying out on the ice however because the lakes are stained, they pretty well shut down after sundown.  Mark has Direct TV in the ice house, a nice Honda generator, we will have all the comforts of home!  The time between Christmas and New Years was the time my friend Tom Emmons, Tom McAtee, and I would rent a house on Mille Lacs.  With Tom gone, it's probably good to start a new tradition as Mark and I had a blast fishing LOTW last year and the 50 inch sturgeon he caught.  Because Christmas is on Tuesday and I leave on Thursday, next weeks post could be late, delayed because of fishing, pretty good excuse if you ask me!

I will leave you with a picture from the Hotel we stayed at in China.  Although not a terribly religious nation, China fully embraces the spirit of the holiday's, at least from the commercial point of it.  Snowmen and presents, stocking and tinsel, it's all pretty interesting from a Christian perspective.  I think that it proof that we are more the same than different, any excuse to have a celebration is just fine with me!  Merry Christmas and be safe.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Jet Lag

The restaurant owner and I wishing everyone a wonderful holiday!

After a grueling 24 hour flight starting in Hong Kong, with a stop at Tokyo and Seattle, I finally got home after being up over 30 hours.  Although I claim not to be able to sleep on the plane, I am sure there were a few doze off periods that got me through the whole ordeal.  Coming back takes 4 hours less than going as the airlines take full advantage of the trade winds that blow from west to east.  I noticed once we left Tokyo  to Seattle our ground speed increased to around 680 mph, which is about 150 mph faster than from Seattle to Tokyo.  Never the less it seems like forever.  You do get 2 square meals on that particular leg of the trip as well as free beer if you want.  The problem with beer is that sitting in the window seat, the guy next to you falls asleep, its a long hold if he doesn't wake up...........if you know what I mean.  Saturday I was fortunate enough to get a Taiwanese portal for last weeks post and after we left work it was off to our favorite restaurant in Qingxi (shing she) to pig out on Tsing Tao and delicious Taiwanese food.  The restaurant is actually off the main streets, about 2 blocks back in a darkened portion of town.  I have been there many times and is probably my favorite "local" place to dine in China as the food is simply outstanding.   The owner of the restaurant recognized me and brought over a few bottles of beer to celebrate.  He did not speak English however was pleased when I toasted him with the word Gambay!  In Chinese this means bottom up, a challenge he did not take lightly.  I am pretty sure he was half in the bag when he joined us and significantly in the bag when he left.  Like I've always said in China, don't screw with a Cheesehead when it comes to beer!  The food was everything I expected and I left with a belly full of food, beer, and great memories.

Hong Kong Island and Kowloon from Victoria Peak

Sunday afternoon found us in Hong Kong exploring the sites.  Our guide was LT Koo, a gentlemen we know from a business relationship we have entered with.  Now LT lives in Hong Kong and knows all of the touristy spots.  We stayed on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong's business district with the exact location known as Tsim Sha Tsui (pronounced Shim Shy She), at the edge of the harbor.  Hong Kong Island was on the other side and the best way to get there is by the Star Ferry Company LTD.  The ferries run every 15 minutes and take about 15 minutes, so there is one heading each way, all day long.  Interesting as it's a great way to travel, is the most direct route to the other side, and the cost is under $1.00USD.  From the ferry we hopped on a single car/double decker train that followed the main streets then onto an open topped tourist bus which took us within walking distance of the tram which ran to the top of Victoria Peak.  Our initial thoughts were to go to the peak during the day but LT stated it would be much nicer at night.  He was right!  I took this picture overlooking Hong Kong proper from the beautiful vantage point 1400 feet above the city.  The area in the forefront is the main area of Hong Kong Island.  The area across the water is Kowloon with the tip being Tsim Sha Tsui.  It always seems hazy in this part of the world and that night was no exception yet the view was stunning as pictures dimply do not do it justice.  Like everything in Hong Kong, there was a shopping center at the top of the peak, complete with high end stores and restaurants.  I was surprised how many people there were yet in reality everyplace is crowded in Hong Kong.  It certainly is a world city.

View from the Star Ferry Harbor in Tsim Sha Tsui
 So returning home meant back to reality.  While I was gone a number of things arrived, specifically my new pulley for the alternator on my Ferguson tractor.  The tachometer is driven from a cable that came from the generator.  I did convert it to 12 volts and found an alternator with a cable drive adaptor.  After hooking it up and using my neighbor Tim's dwell meter I determined the tach was running 25% higher than the true engine RPM.  The alternator has a 3.2 inch diameter pulley and I needed to increase it 25%, to a 4 inch pulley.  I found one on the Internet and when I returned it was ready to go.  It is spot on right now as I am a stickler for certain details and that on would have bothered me till I was dead!  We had 14 inches of snow while I was gone setting me up for the last few days of giving my new in 2011, 47 inch snow blower for the John Deere its first real workout in over a year.   In addition, I put the tire chains on the Fergie and using the 7 foot blade plowed my back area where the trailers are parked.  It brought me back 40 years ago when I used to use the same tractor to clear the snow from my grandparents house.  Funny thing is that it simply doesn't feel like it was that long ago.   I will leave you with a picture that is opposite the previous one, looking over to Hong Kong Island.  If you look closely you can see the correlation of the two views and get some idea of the scope of Hong Kong.  I am still amazed at the amount of lights and holiday decor going on, maybe a simple reminder of how small the world really is. 

The fishing itch is pretty strong and this snow isn't helping things.  My friend Keith claims he is starting to catch fish north of Brainerd, MN.  Maybe I can sneak out on Sunday!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Ni Hao from China

Pink Mary Kay Chevrolet in Foshan
Ni Hao (pronounced Knee How) is the standard greeting stated when you meet someone in China.  The literal translation is "you good" and if you say Ni Hao Ma (Knee How Ma) it means "How are you?" a response of He Hao or Very good is appropriate.  I am writing this from one of my Taiwanese suppliers office through his Taiwan portal as "Fishin With Dave" is banned in China.  That's right, my corrupt and subversive articles may cause the next cultural revolution in this country of over 1.4 billion people.  Therefore I am limited in time and will post just a few thoughts and pictures.  My first area to visit is on the west side of the Pearl River Delta, just on the other side of Hong Kong.  In the town of Foshan (Fo = Budda, shan = mountain) we stopped to have a flat tire fixed at a combination repair/car wash.  Waiting for tire, they pulled out a pink Chevy Impala with a Mary Kay license plate holder.  I found it amusing as the request from our 2 employees in China on what they wanted from the United States and both gave me a list of cosmetics for their wives.  Clinique and Fresh brands, apparently in China the duties are close to 50%.  I brought over $500 worth in the form of about 10 small bottles of eye cleanser, foundation, and other stuff that is priced higher than gold.  At least Samuel and Dragon agree that in China they have the same saying as in the US, a happy wife is a happy husband!  Here's a hint boy's.....Mary Kay is much cheaper and it certainly looks like you can buy it somewhere in China.

My adorable friend in Qingxi
 It has been 2 years since my last visit and a favorite place to go is the tea shop in Qingxi (shing she) City, near our hotel.  The owner has been a subject of my blog a couple of years ago and when we walked in, he immediately shook my hand and said DaWay, my name in Chinese.  Obviously he has few Americans come in and the welcome mat came out.  We spent at least an hour drinking various types of tea, mixing in stories, pictures, and allowing his daughters to practice their English.  It is an interesting situation as this gentlemen has 2 daughters and a son, the last born.  Boy's are coveted and are desired to carry on the family name so having 2 daughters meant one more try.  Having the inside scoop on why, I am told that he has paid penalties and knows the government officials well enough to do work around the official 1 child policy.  She's simply adorable and was anxious to pose for a picture.  Her older sister had the honor during my last visit but she's getting too big.  Things have changed a lot in China during the last few years as the people become more affluent.  As you travel you see the run down areas and right next to them are modern, well kept neighborhoods that seem a world away from a block away.  My first trip to China was in May of 2001, 12 1/2 years ago.  Back then one thing I noticed were all of the construction cranes and buildings going up.  Today I see the same thing, just as many cranes and buildings being built today.  The people of China are not much different than we are, just a half a world away.  They are certain more like us than different.

So, with my Taiwanese portal closing soon I need to finish!  Yesterday I did buy some special bobbers at the tackle shop for display in my office and a couple of holding nets for my friend Bill's bait shop.  The food is simply fabulous and I am just starting to get used to the time, providing my friends stop calling me at 3:30 in the morning.   The weather back home looks to turn cold after Saturday, maybe we'll have fishable ice by next weekend.  I sure could use a break!