Thursday, May 22, 2014

Finally Settling Down

de Havilland Beaver Float Plane
Well, they say time heals everything as it's been over a week since my star performance on Leech Lake last Monday.  I've settled down a bit, maybe being without my boat serves a good purpose.  The Ranger is at Frankies, my dealer waiting in line to get repaired.  The final damages amounted to over $6000 and I've been assured it will be as good as new.  Although my boat is 6 years old, I'm glad they didn't total it as I really like my layout.  The 2009 and newer Ranger 620T has some nuances that I don't care for and as well,  this 2008 boat is tricked out just the way I like it and it would be tough to start all over.   The boat should go into the shop for repair next week and should be ready to go by June 1st (hopefully!).  Normally the Memorial Day weekend means the first trip to Mille Lacs to pre-fish for the MTT (Minnesota Tournament Trail) that Mark Applen and I usually fish.  This year everything is tight including the slot limit at Mille Lacs and we may not even make it.  It's a far cry from our first time we fished the MTT on Mille Lacs as we took 3rd place, good for $1060 towards the Mark's charity however it's kind of been downhill from there.  Fortunately the end of May should turn out to be successful as I will be accompanying my neighbor Pete Sipe, his friend Bruce, and 3 other guys to Lac Seul Lake  in Ontario, Canada.  The plan is to meet at Surfside Seaplane Base in Lino Lakes and jump on board a de Havilland Beaver float plane. After stopping at a lake north of Mille Lacs to pick up a fourth passenger, it's back up in the air heading for the Seaplane base at Fort Francis, Ontario.  Once we have cleared Canadian Customs its off to Lac Seul Outpost located on the northeast portion of the lake on Chamberlain Narrows and about 2 air hours from Fort Francis.  The Chamberlain Narrows area is known for the early season walleye fishing as the fish travel through the channel during the spawning season.  I'm cautious in predicting anything other than a great time, Pete claims that every year someone usually get a 30+ inch walleye, that would be sweet. Although I have flown in float planes before, it's usually for only 40 minutes or so as we did this in Alaska a few years ago.  This trip is scheduled to take about 5 hours total with over 4 hours in the air.  I'm pretty excited as the guys want me to sit in the co-pilots seat in front, I'll never relax!   The plan is to fish next Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday and Thursday before heading back south on Friday morning.  With limited time to write and the need to take advantage of my fishing location, I suspect next weeks blog will be late. Oh well, here's hoping the pictures will be worth it.

Team Walleye
Last weekend was spent working on the garden and attending my nieces annual dance recital in Osseo, Wisconsin.  It's quite interesting as in includes young girls dancing with their fathers to high school seniors doing complex routines.  My niece Kaylee does an excellent job as I think she's bound for stardom some day.  After having treats at the local Dairy Queen, it was off to see my mom and brother in Eleva.  We always bring mom a load of groceries as she doesn't get out as much as she would like.  Heading back home also allowed me to return my Scheels One Titanium Spinning rod that had the tip break off last week. Scheels has a no nonsense guarantee on this rod, break it for any reason and return it for a new one.  Because it broke right at the base of the tip, I suppose one could have just glued a new tip one it and it would be as good as new.  On the other hand, a deal is a deal and they replaced it, no questions asked.  This rod is a one piece 7 footer and has become one of my favorites in the boat.  Paired with a Shimano CI4 2500 reel, it's incredibly light.  I love the way it loads up when a walleye barely grabs the bait, something that happens quite a bit on Leech.  With an extra fast tip you can feel the slightest pressure without ripping the bait out of it's mouth.  Of course being 7 feet long, one has to be careful when putting it back in the rod lockers.  This Memorial Day weekend is our family reunion side on Saturday, Sunday and Monday is garden planting time as well, get everything packed for Tuesday.  The other thing to do this weekend, replace the Stars and Stripes that I fly at the house.  Buying the good embroidered flags,  they still only seem to last about 6 months so Memorial Day and Veterans Day has become my reminders to get this done.  Monday is packing day, it's going to be a busy weekend.

Two things to leave you, a picture of Team Walleye.  We almost forgot to take it as 3 of our guys had already left.  Shows you what happens without our fearless leader Ron Edberg.  The other thing is this is the last post of my 6th year of writing the blog, next week will start my 7th.  I appreciate the support as Fishin' With Dave approaches 60,000 hits.  Time sure does fly.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Night to be Thankful

When the Ranger meets a Yamaha
Last week was our 41st Annual Team Walleye fishing opener at Leech Lake.  There is a lot to tell however I am compelled to write about my experience on Monday night as we were leaving to fish the evening session. After enjoying a wonderful steak dinner for the last meal of our stay at Leech Lake Jeremy, Jared, and myself were determined to make the night a successful outing and as always, was anxious to get going.  I'm not as nervous as I used to be and was one of the last to leave the dock which was OK as the bite hadn't been very good anyway.  Leaving the harbor at around 6:10, I headed out about 200 to 300 yards off shore as Monday night finds very few boats on the lake.  Although the rain made driving difficult, never the less it was OK as we headed out to Pine Point.  As we left I scanned the path ahead and as expected it was clear. With my passengers on the left side of the boat, I usually ask them to keep an eye out as they form my blind spot but with nobody on the lake, I felt we were safe.  We hadn't gone a mile when out of nowhere the boat hit something hard..............another boat.   Everything turned to slow motion as I caught the boat in the corner of my eye as we passed by.  Immediately I turned around to find we had clipped the back end of a Lund, hit the motor as we glanced off.  What went through my mind is every boat owners nightmare yet my first impression was to check my passengers then return to the other boat to make sure they were OK. Fortunately they were understandably shaken but fine, we spent the next few minutes calming down.  Mike, the owner of the boat was surprisingly gracious as his concerns were the same as mine, everyone was still in one piece, shaken but unscathed.  With the rain coming down I managed to give him my information while he already had his friend coming to pull him in.  Finding out he was staying in our old cabin at Brindley's I would meet him later that evening.  After insisting that he needed no further help we decided to stay our course and fish the rest of the evening.  Returning at 10:15, I had already called my insurance and secured a claim number and contact information to give to Mike.  After a brief talk he went out of his way to assure me that everything was fine, boats can be fixed.
My Ranger damage
 Being the guy that ruined his night and could have made his life much more difficult, Mike is an amazing person.  Back at the cabin the Cass County Sheriff's deputy showed up to take a statement. He was a very nice guy as I cooperated fully with his requests.  Stopping at the resort office in the morning, I talked to Tim and Greg about the previous evening while another man was sitting at the counter having coffee.  Being right there he looked at me and explained that Mike and him broadsided a boat 5 years ago, something that I remembered.  I guess you never know how it feels until it's happened to you.  Bottom line for me is the fact that I always have high expectations and this shattered it.  My friends have told me that it should be a humbling experience as I am always on the Guy's case to be better, I guess it's my nature. Thinking about it I'm not sure humbling is the way I feel.  Embarrassed, angry at myself as I look back at everything that lead up to the event, looking at what I did wrong, I take full responsibility.  I am in charge of the boat and assuming that I can count on anyone to assure a safe trip is simply wrong.  The safety of my passengers and those who share the waters is on me, something that I do understand, one can never let his guard down.  As far as being humbled, I don't need to run over a boat to be humbled. On the other hand, dealing with Mike and asking for his forgiveness, which he accepted, that's humbling.

My first Walleye of the Season
So, I did catch some fish! Honestly the fishing was quite a bit slower than we expected as 2008 had ice on the lake as we fished and the fishing was fabulous.  Usually we fish with large shiners however the late spring assured that the selection would be limited as we settled for what we could get, about the size of a standard fathead minnow.  Along with small shiners we did take about 2 dozen small pike sucker minnows, a decision that would prove to be successful.  Thinking the walleyes were shallow it was difficult to establish a pattern. Some caught them in 12 feet while others did well in 8 feet.  We divide our fishing into 6 sessions, one in the morning and one after dinner for 3 days.  With 21 guys and 7 boats, 3 guys to a boat, success varied from 5 walleyes over 12 inches per boat to no walleyes caught.  It wasn't till Monday night before the fish really started turning on.  There was a lot of 20 to 26 inch walleyes caught with few under 20 inches, the top of the slot.  The population of large walleyes prompted the DNR to move the protected slot from 18" - 26" protected to 20" - 26" protected.  Apparently the smaller males had not come into the shallows yet to spawn and the whole lake was in flux.  For the first 2 days most of the walleyes were caught in 10 - 12 feet of water and we sure worked for them.  Monday afternoon I drove to Reed's Sports in Walker and after picking up a few stinger hooks, some 12# monofilament line, and some shiner minnows, my nephew Kevin Anderson and I contemplated the advice.....go deep, the fish haven't hit the shallows yet.  Something told me that there still has to be something somewhere as we headed back to the cabin.  After having a nice steak then dealing with my issue, Jared, Jeremy and I headed to Duck Point, an area that had produced a number of fish over the last 2 days to try to nail some walleyes.  We did manage to get 2 keeper walleyes in about 90 minutes however my plan was to troll shad raps on the east side of Ottertail Point.  At 8:25 we headed over and started trolling Shad Raps in 5 - 7 feet of water, about 40 feet from the rocky shoreline.  I did this on Sunday night and only caught 3 yet I just had the feeling.  The feeling is something difficult to explain as it's almost an
My Nephew Kevin
instinct emotion.  Following my instinct has proved successful as a number of times my boat and the guys in it have taken advantage to win the biggest fish, most pints, and best team.  Well, trolling 1 1/2 hours we managed to catch 11 walleyes in the boat, good for the best single session points total and allowed me to wind the best points total for the tournament.  What was more important, Jeremy caught 4 walleyes using a method that only I tend to use...he was pretty happy.  Of the 11 walleyes caught 9 of them were under 20 inches that we could keep.  With keeper walleyes at a premium, it was a welcome addition to our total catch.  We do keep track of our catch rates with a scoring system on Sunday we hold a draft, the lowest point total can chose who he fishes with.  Because there is 2 guys per boat we have 2 rounds.   I was lucky to have my nephew Kevin Anderson as well as my great friend, Mark Taylor.  While fishing was challenging, Kevin caught a nice walleye, about 23 inches.  He is a great guy and I love hanging around with him as he's not afraid to work and loves to fish.  Unfortunately Kevin's score for 6 sessions of fishing was dismal at best and he ended up receiving the DCS (Didn't Catch S**t) Award for the least amount of points.  Mostly fishing with his dad who is my brother, they didn't do very well.  Someday he'll learn who he needs to align himself with, Uncle Dave or Dad!  In the end we had a great time.  Adam got a full workout with his new boat, we still had enough fish for our Sunday Night Fish Fry, and were still able to bring a couple of fish home.  It's been 2 years since we last fished Leech and quite honestly, it seemed like yesterday.  It's always fun to see Tim, Greg, and Paris at Brindley's and we are already planning for next year, something that will come too soon.  Thanks Mark Mayerich for arranging a great trip, we could not do it without you.

All I can say is be safe, pay attention, and have fun.  Stuff happens and when it happens to you, learn from your mistakes.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Ice Out and St. Louis

Gateway Arch in St. Louis
Last week brought me to St. Louis for the TTA's (The Transformer Association) Spring Meeting.  Having served as it's President for 2 years, I now simply sit on the board as an adviser as the new guys coming up the ranks can handle all of the difficult work.  I have never been to St. Louis before so it was exciting to travel to a new destination.  Traveling with my production manager, Rich Rebella, he picked me up at 4:45 AM as we had a 6:55 flight to make.  Forgetting to make a car reservation, I quickly booked something on Expedia before we left, not the cheapest route to go but at least Rich would have some transportation as I attended the board meeting.  Well while on the plane we decided that the car was stupid and as the plane landed it was clear that St. Louis had a light rail line.  After getting our bags and calling the hotel it was $4.00 a person to ride the train from the airport, a far cry from the $300 car rental.  As we rode downtown I started thinking about my friend Chuck Teasley, I seemed to remember he lived close to St.Louis. A quick text and it was confirmed, he would gladly pick us up Thursday afternoon , take us to Bass Pro Shop then drop us off at the airport, a pretty good deal.  With two days of meetings behind us Rich and I headed across the street to the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial which has the Gateway Arch as it's main symbol.  At  630 feet above the foundation, the Gateway arch is the largest free standing arch in the world and the tallest man made monument in the United States.  The method was pretty interesting it get to the observation area located at the top, one entered a small pod where up to 5 people fit into some tight quarters as the cable driven "train" pulled you up to the top.  The ride was about 4 minutes up to the top as the pods would constantly ratchet to stay vertical as it traveled the arch shape.  This is not a ride if you are claustrophobic as you are pretty cramped for the ride up and down however I think it was definitely worth it.  One of the things I was amazed at was the width of the Mississippi River.  Even with the Missouri River joining it above St. Louis, it was still a lot narrower than I assumed and it was flowing pretty fast.  We were done by 2, just in time for Chuck to pick us up and head to lunch then the Bass Pro Shop in St. Charles, near the airport.  When traveling I love to go into the sporting goods stores to see the different inventories they carry to support the type of fishing they do.  Although Missouri has walleyes, muskies, and northern's, most of the emphasis is on crappies and bass as they had a huge selection of lures and equipment focused on these two species.  In the end I just bought 4 pairs of my favorite socks that they sell, enough to last me the summer.

Opening day accommodations
So the ice is off at Leech Lake!!!  It's been 2 years since Team Walleye has fished on Minnesota's Fishing Opener and we are as ready as ever. An update on my Suzuki Engine Interface cable, it finally arrived on Tuesday after I was able to talk to Browns Point on Monday.  I got it connected, routed, and the motor put back together just in the nick of time. It works perfectly but like anything electronic, there's a lot of learning to set it up properly.  One thing it shows is the motor hours and I was surprised by the number, 245.  The boat was new in June of 2009 so in 4 years I put a total of about 70 hours a year,  that doesn't seem like much considering how much I troll but numbers don't lie.  Once the motor was put back together it allowed me to completely clean out the boat, wax it up, and get everything stowed away.  As most of my friends know, I like fishing out of a clean and uncluttered boat.  Team Walleye has 21 guys going up this year and we are back in the Taj Mahal of cabins at Brindley's Harbor Resort.  A log cabin duplex which sleeps 11 guys each side, we have a beautiful view of the lake and it's closer to the harbor.  Looking back 2014 looks like it will be the 3rd time in the last 6 years where either the ice has just gone out on Leech or like last year we were completely iced over.  So much for global warming as I have stated before.  The good news is that the fish should be shallow and hungry as the last time we had these conditions on opener, we had caught more larger walleyes than ever including shattering the big fish record by 2 1/2 pounds.  It looks like the daytime temperatures will be in the 50's and with water temps in the mid 40's, it's probably a good idea to bring the Ice Armor suit to stay warm.  Mark Mayerich has done a great job again, replacing our good friend Ron as the coordinator of our trip.  The minnow reports last weekend were not very encouraging as we prefer fishing with shiner minnows on Leech.  The quick ice out has changed things somewhat and we now have at least some shiners for the trip.  Maybe it's just a mental thing as we always used fatheads when I started in 1990 yet you can't argue with the success we have had with the shiners.  This year we have a few new things, Adam has a new boat, we have 3 new members of Team Walleye, and as always, I have some new and interesting things planned for the weekend, you'll have to come back next week for my report.  By the way if anyone is interested in seeing our Minnesota Bound episode again click HERE

Good luck to everyone, stay warm, dry, and safe and for crying out loud, wear your life vests as the water is still pretty cold this time of year.

Friday, May 2, 2014

April Showers Bring May Ice Out!

Tom's Tom
With rain predicted for Saturday through the following Thursday and I was scheduled for flying to St. Louis, Missouri on Tuesday, Saturday was my day to finally get some things done around the yard.  First order of business was to unload all of my apple tree branches from my pruning job a couple weeks ago.  Living in Dayton allows me to dump them free of charge at the Maple Grove Yard Waste facility.  Simply show them  your drivers license and unload all you want.  I used to just stack the tree branches behind the house but the pile started getting unmanageable.  Last fall our neighbor Gary rented the biggest wood chipper I'd ever seen and made a deal, I'd help him if he's let me use it.  Well it took almost 6 hours of work to chip up the pile, it was a lot of work and thank God Lory and Lyn came by or I'd have never finished it.  Deciding the 10 minute drive to the yard waste site prevents a lot of headaches in the future, it's worth the time.  On my way I stopped at Ricky Shermer's to check out his 3 point rototiller for the tractor.  He was in the back working in his garden as I met him at his garage.  Commenting how well his yard looked he insisted I take his Kubota ZD21 Zero Turn Diesel lawn mower with a dethatching attachment and large capacity leaf vacuum attached.   Having to get a different trailer, we loaded it up and I brought it home.  Now running a zero turn mower takes some practice an it took a while to get the hang of it but wow, what a great job.  I have over an acre of yard to dethatch and clean up but this was one serious machine.  As I was finishing up the south side of the lawn my neighbor and fishing buddy Tom showed up with a nice wild turkey he had bagged a couple of hours before.  Returning from his mom's in Illinois, he stopped in Southeastern Minnesota camping Friday night and going out on Saturday morning.  He weighed it at over 23 pounds, a nice bird for sure.  This is something I'd really like to do some day but with fishing season, conferences, it gets tough to find the time.  Tom left and got back on the zero turn to finish cleaning up the yard.  Next was to lay down some fertilizer then plant my onions that were special ordered from Texas.  With the rain coming there was a short window to till the soil and get them planted.  Luckily my tasks for the day were completed just in time as it started to rain about 8:00.  Just returning from St. Louis last night it was evident that we got some serious rain as I have buckets with over 5 inches of water standing in them.  Even though the temperatures have been on the chilly side, the rain does wonders for helping melt the ice on both Mille Lacs and Leech Lake.   Reports from Brindley's Resort, our destination next weekend states the harbor is ice free and Traders Bay is pretty much clear.  Team Walleye was greeted last year with a completely frozen harbor so this is great news as the walleye's have to be hungry!

$80 for 80
Last week it was Mom's 80th birthday and although I did mention it there was little time to post a picture.  She looks pretty young for her age and although my brother and I are always on her case to take better care of herself I suppose we can't complain.  One of her favorite things to do is catching the free bus that makes the rounds to all the small towns in the area and eventually ending up at a casino somewhere.  Mom really never drove a car and I don't even think she has a drivers license....maybe that was good! Her claim to fame is that she seldom loses and always has a nice jar of gambling reserves to fund her fun.  So far we are having a hard time disputing that as she's pretty tight with her money.  So what do you give your mom for her 80th birthday?  Steve and I decided to each give her $80 and we are pretty sure where that's going to get spent.  I'm just glad she still doing ok as she's a pretty tough gal.  She still lives at home which is probably getting too much to take care of however my brother has moved in to help her with things.  Before my dad died he had turned the house into an quite an energy efficient home and it's surprising how little it takes to heat and cool the place each month.  Besided being tough she can be stubborn which is probably good as we are already planning her 90th! 

As I earlier, having just got back from St. Louis and having brought the wrong computer with, I'm running late.  Last week saw my motor tore apart and unfortunately it still is.  Sending back the cable to get reprogrammed hasn't turned out very well as I still haven't heard from Browns Point Suzuki after a full week of left voice messages and e-mails.  They were excellent at helping me solve my problem yet when they stated I needed to reprogram, it went into a black hole.  Friday is pressure time as it seems patience isn't working too well for me.  Either way the rain has stopped and it's time to put the boat back together and get it started for the season.  The tackle needs reoganization, new line put on the reels, rod's need to be stowed.  With 7 days left, there's a lot to do.