Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Last Time Out?

Keith with a nice smallie
With the allure of trolling walleyes on Mille Lacs during the full moon, last weekend was probably the only opportunity to get out before the water turns hard.  Not that I'm a big full moon guy as frankly the success I had 2 weeks ago was just the opposite, a new moon and dark yet successful.  Never the less, with time running out I had the chance to fish with my friend Keith Holtan, who just returned from Alaska to spend his winter in Brainerd.  Keith was a former assistant to the Nisswa Guide's in Brainerd who then went to the Kenai River to become one of the established guides.  Meeting Keith in 2002, he was our guide as we booked a trip with Jeff King at Budget Salmon Charters.  Both being from Minnesota, we had a lot in common so when I suggested we meet at Mille Lacs on Friday night he jumped at the chance.  I reminded him the bite was tough, just like any good you customer, set up the scenario, and if the outcome is better than expected, your a hero!  Well, there wasn't much heroing going on that day.  I decided that the south end might be better as the north end of the lake has been getting pounded.  With some previous success we headed out of Cove Bay and started with some deep water lead line trolling on Sloppy Joes, something to bide our time before sunset.  With all of the navigational buoys pulled it gave me an opportunity to show Keith my boat electronics with the big screen HDS10, the networked receivers and entertainment peripherals, previous boat track history, the works.  On the Kenai there is little one needs other than depth yet I still say that Structure Scan would be interesting.  Arriving at Sloppy's I mark few fish and caught nothing.  We moved to a mid depth structure west of Spirit Island, and with the exception of a very small smallmouth bass, it was also void of fish looking for an easy meal.  Next stop was Indian Point to troll the edge of the drop off.  While running the 2.5 miles to get there the sleet started pelting us, enough to accumulate on the carpet.  We made 2 trolling runs up and down the long reef that extends into the lake and the only thing to show for our efforts was a nice smallmouth bass, typical of what we seem to catch on Indian Point these days.  As the sun continued it's downward journey we headed back to Anderson's to see if we could at least repeat the success of a few weeks ago.  Making a number of long, deep to shallow to deep, up and around trolling runs with nothing to show for it, we called it quites at about 8:00.  I had some friends that were just arriving on the lake and would fish till 2 or 3:00 in the morning, been there, done that.  Stopping at the Onamia VFW for some walleye fingers and a couple of Nordeast beers, we parted ways.  I am positive this won't be the last time we get to fish together in the next 5 months however I sure hope we can be more successful.  The good thing, Keith understands fishing and being a former Ranger owner, I am sure he enjoyed the boat ride as much as anything.

A standard Haralson, pint of salsa, and a 22 oz Wolf River
So did I say apples!  I am literally drowning in apples as yesterday, with the help of my neighbors Lory and Lynn Brasel, we finished the last of the picking.  This year was a bumper crop on the 10 mature trees I have. A quick survey of the boxes of apples sitting in my pole shed, I'll bet I have over 40 bushels of some of the best apples I have ever grown.  The last to be picked were the Fireside's and Honeygolds as a good frost really improves their sweetness.  On Sunday morning I started the process and picked the apples off my Wolf River tree.  I have discussed them in the past however I picked the biggest apple I have ever seen and just had to post it.  Of course the picture really doesn't do it justice unless you realize how big it really is.  Weighing in at 22 ounces (1 3/8 #) it is 5 inches in diameter and almost 16 inches around, this thing is huge.  Named after its discovery location along the Wolf River in eastern Wisconsin, these apples are noted for their enormous size, cold hardiness, resistance to disease, and it's ability to fill a pie shell with just one apple.  Unfortunately they aren't the best eating apple yet once cooked, are delicious.   This variety (as well as my Fireside apple) has fallen victim to some of the more popular apples today like the Honeycrisp, Zestar, Gala, and other recent cultivators to hit the markets.  With the popularity of some of the older types of heirloom plants, maybe it will become more popular, I just know that it's alot of fun to give them away as my neighbors are really impressed with my growing abilities.  It gives me an opportunity to remind them why they call me Superdave!  This weekend will be apple cider time as a bunch of us plan on getting together to make home made apple cider at it's best.  Our process includes washing the apples, cutting out the bad parts, grinding them into the cider press then tightening the press screw down.  With all the apples and some dedicated help we will probably make at least 20 gallons or so.  If your around, stop in check it out.

Pocket Gopher making a mound
October weather has been quite wet.  With the last 2 mornings at 22 degrees, what was growing has stopped.  It was snowing on Sunday, we really went from Summer to Winter, Fall wasn't even around for more than a week with the next 10 days looking more like the middle of November than the end of October, so much for global warming.  I still have things in the garden to dig out, change oil on the Suzuki outboard, get the snow blower out, blow out the sprinklers,  the list is a mile long.  This time of year really brings out the pocket gophers.  They get their name from the big pockets of flesh that form cheek pouches on either side of their mouth and are used to store food (roots and stems) as they gather it for the winter.  In October the newborns are large enough to be kicked out of their summer homes so they migrate to newer areas and start building their own series of tunnels and wintering areas complete with the new mounds to announce their presence.  When I was a kid there was a $0.50 bounty given by the County for a pair of gopher feet.  Along with that the farmer would often match it because the mounds of dirt made by the gophers were very destructive to their equipment, especially the machinery that cut alfalfa.  Today they are simply a pain in the butt and so far I have only trapped 2 of them.  It's easy to see if they're active as they make quite a few mounds preparing their tunnels and dens for the long winter.  I estimate there is about 4 more that need to go, we'll see if I can get them before the ground freezes.


Anonymous said...


Had a great time on the Big Pond with you and your Ranger boat and would love to get together again. I do, however, have to make one correction to your post. I was never a full fledge Nisswa Guide. I only ran overflow trips when the full time guides were completely booked.


p.s. Jane loved what I brought home from our fishing trip....apples and wild rice!

Mindy said...

Hey Super Dave!

Are you able to store your apples for a good portion of the winter? How? And have you found a "sure bet" way to get rid of gophers and moles? I am nearly 50, and still rely on my dad for this task ;)


Anonymous said...

Your apples are even better than any we got from orchards around here. Marissa and I are thoroughly enjoying them. I'd love to try the cider some time!


Dave Anderson said...


Corrections made!


Send Bobby up here, I need his help!


We are pressing cider tomorrow, I save you a gallon.