Thursday, July 31, 2014

Double Header

20 inch smallie on the Mississippi River
With things finally settling down it was the perfect week to take advantage of the alignment of the stars and the moon to get some serious fishing in.  It's been about 2 months since I've had a decent fishing outing and it was time to break the long dry spell.  This week it was fortunate to be able to fish both the Mississippi River and Mille Lacs within 2 days of each other and both proved successful.  Sunday afternoon was the maiden voyage on the Mississippi River with my 14 foot jon boat equipped with a "new" 1999 Mercury 25 hp motor.  The boat was originally my brother-in-law's who passed away a few years ago.  Equipped with a 1976 15 hp Evinrude, before putting it on the river, I installed a Rock Hopper to protect the propeller from the shallow waters that occur once the river falls to it's normal summer flow.  Quite an ingenious device, it bolts onto the lower unit and although not too intrusive, it does create enough drag to slow the speed by a couple miles per hour.  With a current of around 3 mph and with another guy in the boat we could hit a whooping 12 mph going upriver.  Being a 1976, the 15 hp was the last year they used points for ignition and it was a hard starting at best.   Looking to add some power I ran across the 25 hp on Craigslist and picked it up last Monday. Accompanying me on the river was my neighbor Tom Olson, a bonafide river rat himself.  Launching at the neighbor's once in the water a couple of pulls and the motor started right up.  Knowing we might have to make adjustments, the first thing we noticed was the power.  The boat is rated for a 25 hp max and it sure liked it.  A mile into our trip up river we hit 18 mph and the front end was plowing which meant we needed to move the pin up which increased the trim providing more lift.  Moving it one hole up made a world of difference as we gained 2 mph and the boat handled fantastic.  With the logistics out of the way we continued our trek upriver, about 6 miles before we decided to start fishing.  This time of the year the water is perfect, high enough to go anywhere but not enough to flood into the trees.  Our plan was simple, drift down one side of the river, casting crank baits or a sucker minnows under a bobber until we reached our starting point, Blair's Landing, it would take about 3 hours.  With a favorite bait the Bomber Model A fire tiger crankbait, the 3 cast produced a 28 inch northern pike, a great start.  We generally practice catch and
My "new" 1999 25 hp Merc
release on the river unless of course we get a walleye so it went back in the water.  15 minutes later another northern pike hit the lure. Fishing the eddies formed by the current, rip rap along the river, under trees next to shore, and retaining walls at the river's edge,  the fishing was pretty good.  The first nice smallmouth bass came as my crankbait sat on the surface of the water while I needed a quick second to engage the reel.  A subtle slurp and the bait disappeared. Slow to react the fish really set the hook itself and the battle was on. 2 minutes later a 17 inch smallie was in the net, a nice first fish.  My friend Pete uses large live minnows under bobbers to fish trophy smallies so I had rigged a rod to try it.  Coming upon a retaining wall, I pitched a hooked sucker minnow under a bobber right next to the wall and as soon as it hit a huge swirl engulfed it.  One quick tug and she was gone as the line broke right at the slip knot bobber stop. Whatever it was, it was nice but that's about all I can say.  As we floated down a couple more strikes and near misses by large fish swirling at the boat we finally arrived across the river from the house. Having lost my prized fire tiger Bomber it was replaced with a crayfish colored duplicate.  A nice eddy sets up there as we started at the top of the hole.  Immediately I had a dandy fish on as Tom was starting to set his pole down when a nice fish hit his line.  His fish was gone as fast as it came yet I continued to fight what ended up in the net, a gorgeous 20 inch smallie.  Going back we nailed 2 more smallies out of that spot before moving on.  A couple more small fish hit before we packed it in.  One last piece of business, I headed the boat downstream for a top speed, 26 mph.  Although we were only out for about 4 hours it was very successful as I caught 2 nice northerns, had 3 nice fish swirl at the bait near the boat, a 17 and 20 inch smallie, as well Tom and I landed another 4 bass and had lost as many.  I did flood the motor trying to start it so it may take a few times to understand it's temperament.   Not bad for a Sunday afternoon and I'm looking forward to getting out within the next week.

Chuck's 12 inch walleye on lead core
On Tuesday was the annual trip with a good friend Chuck Teasley who now lives in Illinois across from St. Louis, MO.  Originally the plan is always the last Thursday in July but scheduling conflicts forced us to go a couple of days early.  As usual, Charlie meets me at the pole barn then we head north picking up bait, checking into Hotel Applen, then head out for a nice dinner.  Deciding to eat at the Spirit Lake Steakhouse in Wahkon, the evening was one of the nicest we've had all summer as we invited Bill and Kathy Lundeen to join us.  With dinner out of the way we headed back to Mark's place to check out a few of my Lac Seul videos before hitting the sack.  Morning arrived and although the forecast called for minor winds from the northwest, at 7:00 it was already starting to show signs of stronger winds to come.  After stopping for bait we launched on the west side to take advantage of the calmer side of the lake as it would be a good place to start what hasn't been too successful of a strategy these days.  Albert Einstein said it best "The definition of an insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results"!  Well, I know that we are a few weeks behind as the walleye bite goes and one should be able to get fish on the flats with night crawler rigs this time of year.  Like the prior two times I fished Mille Lacs, the fish have to start responding to the pattern at some time.  So here we go again, Sherman's Flat, 7-Mile Flat, 9-Mile Flat, Sliver Flat, and not even a nibble.  You would have thought after 3 outings that something would hit but alas, I guess I'm insane.  We did each get a 12 inch walleye on lead core line just off of Sliver and although it's nice to see some smaller fish, we didn't even feel them on our lines.  Honestly, the 12 incher was my first walleye I have caught on Mille Lacs this year and for all practical purposes, it really didn't count.  With nothing happening off the deep flat areas, our next move was to try 5 Mile Gravel with lead core.  It's usually a better late summer spot and anything had to be better than our current strategy.

First official Mille Lacs Walleye, 27 incher
On the way south to 5 Mile one comes fairly close to 3 Mile Reef.  A favorite spot for fall trolling, it has a lot of small mouth bass and on a whim decided to try casting the top as the wind was perfect for a nice drift.  Chuck desperately wanted some fish to take home and with the new regulations on smallies, it should be easy to at least get a few for a fish fry.  After casting the full length of the reef we switch tactics and started trolling #5 crawfish colored Shad Raps.  I have a particular honey run that few if any utilize the series of humps that sometime contain fish.  Pulling the raps across the top of one of the 6 foot hump produced a nice hookup and the way it was running, it had to be a northern pike.  As I got closer to the boat it became obvious that this was no northern pike rather a huge walleye.  A walleye?!?!?, 6 feet of water at 1:30 in the afternoon on July 29th........really?  It was then we discovered that the landing net had been left in the back of the truck forcing Chuck to grab the fish with his hand.  Too big to grab behind the gills, he finally got both hands on it and brought her in.  Measured at 27 inches, she was fat and sassy, not like years past.  Snapping a few pictures we let her go, my first official walleye caught on Mille Lacs this year.  It's almost embarrassing to even admit it but what the heck, you can't hide the truth. Admittedly it was nice to see that I'm not completely jinxed and in fact after resetting the lines we trolled another 50 yards when another fish almost ripped the rod from my grip.  Chuck even noticed that the rod almost flew from my hands.  2 minutes later we hand landed another nice walleye, not a large as the first one but at 23 inches, nothing like keeping the streak going.  We did catch a few keeper small mouth bass and after a number of trolling runs and noticing the waves were now pushing 3 - 4 feet, it was time to leave.  It did remind me of the time my friend Tom Emmons and I arrived at 3-Mile in the middle of July on a calm afternoon and there were literally thousands of 18 - 22 inch walleyes cruising the top of the reef in 3 - 4 feet of water.  It was spectacular.  Like the previous weeks 26 inch walleye caught in the weeds by my neighbor Pete, maybe it's time to think outside the box.  Old habits sure can take a long time to die however. Pounding our way back to the west side of the lake we hit Indian Point and put a couple more smallies in the live well.  The last half hour was spent fishing the weed tops in Vineland Boy where Chuck did get a smaller northern pike before we decided to head back.  A quick stop at the Long Siding Bar and Grill for a burger, by 10:00 the fish were cleaned and Chuck was headed back up to Alexandria to finish the week with his family.  Chuck and I see each other about once a year and each time is like it was yesterday.  I'm glad we had a chance to get together again as we look forward to next year.

It's pickle time in the garden as we have started making the famous Bernie Konter's Fall Fest Pickles.  I have adapted his recipe for a 5 quart ice cream pail by filling it with long quarter sliced cucumbers, onion slices, and dill (all fresh from the garden).  Next comes the brine, 8 quarts of water, 1 cup of white vinegar, 1/2 cup of canning salt, a generous tablespoon of minced garlic (not dried), and about the same amount of pickling spice.  Mix it up and pour over the cucumbers.  Seal with the cover and in a week or so they'll be ready to munch on.  The blueberry crop at Blueberry Ridge in Eleva experienced a rough winter so the picking has not been very good. My raspberries are great and now that I planted a few different varieties, we are having berries from July 1st thru the end of September.  The plan is to try and get back on the river again on Sunday to take advantage of the existing river height as it's easier to fish right now.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fishin' With Pete

Pete's 26 inch weed walleye
Ever grateful for being friends with my neighbor Pete Sipe, I am always looking for ways to repay him for his introduction to the current group of guys that fish Lac Seul.  Having lived down the street from me for over 22 years now I finally got him in my boat as we planned a Saturday afternoon Mille Lacs Lake  trip to see if the walleyes were cooperating.  Pete asked what to bring and after seeing his arsenal of fishing equipment I assured him that he just needs to bring himself, I'll supply everything else.   On the way up I suggested we stop for an ice cream cone at the Cenex station just south of Onamia, they're pretty good as well as reasonable.  Getting the cones while Pete put in about 12 gallons of gas in the boat on his credit card, that was awful nice of him, seeings who invited who.  After a quick stop at Bill's we finally launched to boat and headed for Roland's Flat.  20 minutes and we didn't mark a fish on the Lowrance, the next stop was a deeper underwater reef off of Sherman's point.  20 minutes and we didn't mark a fish on the Lowrance, the next stop was The Cut.  With the wind blowing pretty good from the south/southwest it was a perfect drift but after an hour we headed to 7-Mile.  It was pretty amazing that there wasn't a boat on the flat, a testament to the current attitude regarding the lake.  7-Mile is in my opinion the most popular structure in the summer to fish and for it to be 4:00 in the afternoon on a Saturday and not a boat in site, uffda is all I can say.  Moving to Sliver Flat to see if we could duplicate my friend Mark's previous weeks catch, nothing. Deciding to lead line the open basin area from Sliver Flat to the southeast tip of 8-Mile Flat, finally Pete saw his rod bend over.  We landed a nice fat 24 incher before resetting the lines and headed west.  Although the walleye hit soon after we started, another hour went by without another hit.  Packing up the rods we headed the boat to Vineland Bay with the plan to troll the weed tops for big northerns.  Setting up Pete with a 6 inch green tiger Rattlin Rouge, I put on a larger rattle bait and troll we did.  It wasn't long before rod bent over but as soon as it happened it was gone. Twenty minutes later Pete had a nice fish on and it was pretty exciting to see what it was knowing the size of bait he was pulling.   As the fish came to the boat it certainly didn't act like a northern and to our surprise it was a nice walleye.  Trolling 5 feet down, just touching the weed tops and we get a walleye, crazy.  Maybe I need to rethink my strategies!  With that fish being the last of the day it was Pete 2, Dave 0.  We ended the day driving up to Round Lake to see Bruce then over to the lake just east to meet up with our good friend Ricky Shermer and his crew.  It was a lot of fun despite the fact that once again I didn't catch a fish on Mille Lakes and having to drive 5 miles of dusty gravel roads to get to where Ricky was staying.  The good thing is the boat washes off but there is little I can do about the lack of fish on the end of my line, oh well it was fun.  Hating to admit I have yet to catch a fish on Mille Lacs this year, maybe the fall will bring a change.

Bruce's Monster 32" Walleye
Most of my good friends are very familiar with the blog as well as my love of fishing so they often send me pictures of the fish they catch. Sometimes to simply let me know they are having fun but often it's to show that they can catch the nice fish as well.  Last week a picture came over the phone from my good friend Bruce Thackray, a fellow transformer manufacturing colleague.  Bruce takes a trip to the Boundary Waters area every year with his family in July as we have discussed how much he enjoys Northern Minnesota.  Being from the Chicago area means he deserves some crap about fishing as we only see each other about  3 times a year at our Transformer Association meetings and trade association shows like the Coil Winding Show in Chicago.  Promising not to mention the lake he caught this pig at,  it was near the Gunflint Trail in about 12 - 17 feet of water when she hit.  Caught on a night crawler rig it was almost too big to fit in the net.  Bruce took the measurements and they were quite impressive....32 inch length and 18 inch girth with an estimate of around 13 pounds it's a once in a lifetime fish.  Bruce let the fish go and is already planning on getting a replica.  Suggesting Artistic Angler's out of Duluth Minnesota, they do an excellent job on walleyes and have a best collection of mount styles on the market today.  What's nice is that you tell them where you caught the fish and they understand the coloring and will match it perfectly.  It's definitely going to look good in his den and he can dream about that fish still swimming around, waiting for the next crawler rig to come by.

With the Mississippi River finally retreating from what has seemed to be a continual flood stage, I have been looking to replace the outboard motor on my john boat.  It currently has a 1976 15 hp Evinrude and although it runs OK, she's pretty slow.  Often my neighbor Lory goes with and traveling upstream yields about 12 mph.  As well, it can be cold blooded so it takes a while to get warmed up.  With the boat being rated for 25 hp, I've been looking on Craigslist for a reasonable replacement.  Not interested in anything older than a 1978 or something more than the whole boat is worth, it's pretty hard to find something in the middle.  I finally saw a 1999 25 hp short shaft Mercury in St. Cloud however by the time I called it was gone.  Oh well, I'd just keep looking.  Upon returning on Friday I got a message "if you are still interested in the motor the other guy fell through and I still have it".  A quick call verified a time to drive up to check it out and on Monday I had it in the back of my truck.  Double checking with my neighbor Blair to make sure his landing was still available the plan is to take it out on the river either Friday or Sunday.  It started on the first pull so it should work pretty good.  Saturday is filled with blueberry picking in Eleva, a farewell party of my wife's aunt, a birthday party for our niece, and the Fagerland reunion.   It's going to be impossible to hit everyone so we'll see who wins out.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Back From Boston

View from our table in Portsmouth, NH
Last week’s plan to get out on the lake didn't work out very well.  My pending trip to Boston on Monday morning left a lot of holes to be filled I n a very short time.  Mark Applen was up at Mille Lacs on Saturday and I knew I should have taken the afternoon off but with a ton of things to do, it didn't work out.  Just my luck he texted me with his mid-afternoon report, 5 walleyes with 1 keeper, fat and sassy on night crawlers out on the flats.  Well, what can you do?  With important meetings coming up I needed some new clothes, something I do about once every 2 years.   Shopping is easy for me as long as I am doing it, tan or brown colored Dockers, a blue or white shirt and I’m done.  My 4 year old belt looked pretty rugged so I bought one as well forgetting you need to buy one 2 inches longer than your waist size.  That’s what I did on Sunday, return it for a 40".  I was thinking about heading out for a little fishing on Sunday but with no one around to go, I decided to just keep moving down my things to do list.  I do have to tell you the garden is coming along well and the raspberries are in full season.  I've got a pretty good handle on the weeds this year however I'm afraid the 12 inches of rain we got in June has taken out my 2 mature Fireside Apple trees.  One is completely gone and the other isn't looking so good.  At first I thought that my initial orchard spray burned the trees but I had a hard time believing it.   Saturday morning's garden show on WCCO confirmed the worst, the wet spring was really hard on the trees.

Oysters ready to be shucked
At 7:00 on Monday morning the plane left for Boston with me on it, a 3 hour flight to meet my Eastern Sales Manager, Scott and call on customers.  Our first appointment on Monday at 2:00 so we stopped at Portsmouth (pronounced Port Smith) to have lunch.  With seafood abound we headed to find a place on the harbor to eat and their fresh broiled haddock was to die for.  Once done with our meetings we headed to Burlington, Vermont,  a place I’ve never been.  It was a fabulous drive as we finished that meeting then went back to Boston.  After arriving back our destination was downtown Boston to the Union Oyster House for some raw oysters and clams as an appetizer.  The Union Oyster House is the oldest continuous operating restaurant in the United States as it started serving in 1826.  The original soapstone bar where they crack open the oysters is still there, no worse for the wear.  After sucking down a couple dozen delicious and fresh oysters along with a couple dozen raw clams we moved on to the Chart House, a great on the wharf eating establishment.  Wednesday evening was already planned, my good friend Pablo Nayardy would pick me up and head over to his favorite place, the  Blue Ginger, started by an award winning chef, Ming Tsai.  Along with a great meal I got to ride in Pablo’s new 2005 Bentley GT as well, learn about his new acquisition, a vineyard in Hungary. For dessert we had a glass of the wine he is planning on making there, Tokaji Aszu or as he calls it, nectar if the kings.  It was a pretty incredible evening.  Returning to the hotel about 8:00 I had asked Scott if he had found his way up to Gloucester to see the Crow’s Nest where they filmed some of the Perfect Storm.  Only 20 minutes away we decided to take
Long Liner out of Gloucester
that off his bucket list as I've been there before.  It’s much like a tavern back home in Eleva, full of interesting characters with a few tourist (like us) that straggle in every once in a while.  After helping a Viet Nam veteran up to his room above we returned to find a guy sitting there with rubber fishing boots on.  Striking up a conversation it turned out to be a fascinating rest of the evening.  Leaving their port in St. Augustine, Florida, they work their way up following the fish be it tuna, swordfish, dolphin (Mai Mai) or sharks.  As the Gulf Stream moves the warmer waters north the fish follow and they are right behind.   Their boat is known as a long liners as they set out as much as 40 miles of line containing as many as 1500 hooks baited with squid.   The stories of his working on the boat, a 65 footer, and the excitement could have kept me there all night.  Unfortunately we did have to work the next day so we headed out but not before he invited us to see the boat and grab some swordfish bills he had sawed off for souvenirs.  Stating he preserves them by letting the red ants clean up the skin then soaking in a bath of bleach and Dawn soap.  Unfortunately they stunk pretty bad so we stopped at a Seven Eleven and bought some salt before putting them in my bathtub and salting them down.  It did help a little and not one to give up I repackaged them and checked them in.  Note, I am writing this on the plane ride back so well see if the TSA let them through.  If nothing else they’ll make a great conversation piece if I can get the smell out of them. Note: They did not show up with my baggage however as I questioned the person at the help desk at baggage claim, out came the box!

Unfortunately this is the week that I was supposed to go out to Lake Oahe with my friend Russ and Mark.  I was impossible to reschedule my Boston trip so I am curious how they did.  On the other hand my friend Bruce officially extended my invitation to fish Lac Seul again with him and Pete during the week after Labor Day so I’m pretty excited.  I might even bring my boat this time.  The plan is to finally get to Mille Lacs on Saturday to try my luck, it will be nice to get out.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Bruce Wiley's Theory and Leech Lake

Beautiful Leech Lake Sunset
As I write this post it will more than likely trigger a call from my friend Bruce Wiley, not to congratulate me rather to restate his theory about Minnesota fishing.  More on that later.  With July 4th landing on a Friday and my wife having an all day event on Saturday, my brother Steve and I decided to try our luck on Leech Lake.  The weather was suppose to be nice, the walleye population on Leech is at an all time high, and vowing to try Leech sometime after our traditional opener there, it came together.  Steve lives in La Crosse, Wisconsin and is about 3 hours from the house, we decided to meet at 10:30 on Friday.  The plan would be to  fish the late afternoon bite and again in the morning before leaving around 2:00 on Saturday.  He's very punctual, and arrived right on time.  I had looked for hotel rooms in the Walker area for Friday night with little luck finding anything.  Getting on Brindley's site they had a 1 bedroom cabin duplex open for Friday and although they normally don't do single nights they would make an exception for us as we were good customers.  Couple the room with a harbor slip for the night and it would be perfect as we could simply get up and leave, no driving back and forth, relaunching the boat, and the extra expense and time of it all.  We arrived to a pretty strong south wind and the remnants of a huge mayfly hatch, the kind that can put fishing on hold for a while.  And on hold it was. Fishing Leech in the summer isn't too much different than on opener.  The same areas hold fish yet they tend to be on the deeper flats, along the transition areas, or located on offshore structures.  With a 20+ mph wind, it limited where I wanted
Mayfly hatch
to fish.  Mike from the resort had some idea's and using our knowledge formulated a strategy.  Unfortunately it wasn't a very good one.  Staying to the north behind the larger points, we mitigated the effects of the 4 foot rollers building on the main lake and fished Grand View Flats, The Snake Pit, Goose Island Flat's, the transition areas around Ottertail point.  Leeches, crawlers, minnows, we did get a few small perch and the most exciting thing was Steve's crawler had a pretty good hit and as he reeled it up it seemed to get off the line.  A moment later it was back on, maybe it simply ran towards the boat as it seemed like a nice fish.  With net in hand  the fish was in sight.....damn, a northern.  It wasn't too bad sized and as I readied the net to land the fish it simply disappeared leaving a 5 inch perch attached to the hook.  Apparently the perch was on the line before the northern hit it and while reeling the fish in, it had let go but quickly attacked the perch again, holding on to it good.  I suppose when it finally saw the boat and net it decided that he's had enough.  The northern was large enough to cause some serious damage to the perch so we let it go, maybe the northern would finish the job.   Beside that brief moment of excitement, we did not catch one walleye.  With the hope of bringing home some fish, the only thing we caught worth looking at was the beautiful sunset.

Mayfly Hatch on Radar Near La Crosse, WI
Mayfly hatches occur in many areas of the country and here in the Midwest they can really have an effect on fishing.  Literally billions of mayflies and fishflies can hatch at once causing havoc on both the fishing and man made things like bridges and roads.  Mayflies can be a good thing as they often are a sign that the lake or river is in great shape.  In La Crosse, where Steve lives, sometimes the hatch is so huge that it shows up on weather radar as a storm would!  Notice the red, purple, and white colors over the river indicating a huge amount of insects hatching from the Mississippi.  So much that the city has to deploy their snow plows to clear the roads and bridge decks of all the dead carcasses. Mayflies spend most of their lives underwater as nymphs and as they mature make their way to the surface where they molt then take off to breed, lay their eggs then die withing 24 to 48 hours.  These hatching occur on Mille Lacs as well and have the same effect on the walleye bite.  Of course the larval stage makes for an easy meal as the fish gorge themselves on mayflies.   I tend to fish with nightcrawlers when the hatch is on as it seems like it would most duplicate what the fish are feeding on.  The hatch at Leech last week was pretty big, enough to have the guys at Brindley's get out the bobcat to clear some of the areas around their lights they forgot to turn off.  Usually there is evidence of a strong hatch through the amount of mayfly carcasses on the water yet we saw little on Friday night.  The last place we fished, north of Ottertail Point told a different story.  I don't think I ever saw so many carcasses in the water as we did there.  I swear we could have stepped out of the boat on a huge raft of them floating, it was obvious why the bite was tough.  Oh well, it should be over with by the time I get to Mille Lacs this weekend.

So, back to Bruce's theory.  As  you know, I've had the pleasure to fish with his group at Lac Seul a couple of times.  As a favor, and because he has a place close to Mille Lacs, I have offered to take him fishing on Mille Lacs any time he would like.  His answer is simple, there is no fish in Minnesota, I don't buy a license.  OK........I guess when you have access to fishing Lac Seul once a month, it's pretty hard to argue.  The problem is both Pete and Bruce read this and the last report of no fish prompted a call to reinforce his theory and I am just another avenue of proof to that thought.  My last 3 trips within the state have not been very productive yet time is on my side.  Therefore I figured if I addressed his theory up front, I might avoid another "I told you so" phone call, but I doubt it.  The fish will be biting somewhere, sometime, I'll find them.  In the meantime he can either continue to harass my feeble attempts to catch a fish in Minnesota, or maybe he'll just feel sorry for me.  We'll see!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Close to Home

Not the largest bass I have caught!
With the rain finally starting to get back to normal levels, it was a good chance to get caught up around the house.   The garden has started to somewhat dry out and my corn is looking more like corn than cattails, there's a lot of work to be done.  Many of my plants are yellowing from the constant saturation of  water just below the surface.  My dahlia's have simply rotted away, the beets refuse to come up, and the deer are having their way with the potatoes.  Oh well I did get the entire thing weeded and rototilled, cucumber fence is up, and the onions continue to amaze me as they have started to break the soil around them as they add layers to themselves.  Last weekend was predicted to be a wash out with almost 2 inches of rain forecasted, it didn't even come close.  It was quite windy and with the pending weather it seemed useless to head up to Mille Lacs Lake.  Sunday turned out to be just the opposite of what Friday's forecast had for the weekend and although it was windy, I had just enough time to sneak to a lake I had been meaning to try for a few years, Indian Lake in northwest Wright County.  It's actually quite small which would help protect from the wind.  The DNR reports have the lake with a nice abundance of 10" plus crappies with a few nice bluegills, it was certainly worth the try.  With only a few hours to fish I arrived to see the boat ramp was almost completely under water.  It wasn't too bad as it took wading in foot deep water to get to the trailer winch to disconnect the front bow eye, lucky the landing turned fairly deep at the end and was easy to tie to the dock.  After parking the car and believing that all the lakes in Wright County were under no-wake restrictions, I idled to the other side where it was calm and dropped the trolling motor.  The lake has a nice drop from the shore, the water was nice and clear with the weeds appearing in about 15 feet of water.  I stayed on the weed edge casting into shore with my ultralights as crappie were the main target. Using small rubber jigs that usually do well, all I could get were largemouth bass in the 8 - 14 inch range, and a lot of them.  On ultralight tackle and 4 pound test line, they can really put up a fight.  I suppose if I had brought out some larger bait like worms rigged Texas Style the size would have been larger yet my target were crappies.  To my surprise I only managed one 9" black crappie.  Switching colors, styles, sizes, shapes did little.  Years ago I would often go to Lake John, just a few miles from Indian Lake and do really well on crappies.  Maybe the high water has something to do with it, I don't know but it was still nice to get out.

Too much for the sandbags
So the same theme regarding water levels has been discussed many times.  Indian Lake tends to have some fairly high banks so most of the cabins around have no issues, except this one.  I am sure the owner purposely built this cabin close to the water (back then you could) assuring a great view of the lake,  A convenient walkout allowed instant access to his boat with the deck seemingly extended above the water.  Well I'm sure they only intended to appear that way, yet you can see that it is now definitely extended over the water.  Hopefully the water will recede before the winter freezes it as it's a mess now, I couldn't imagine dealing with the freezing effects on the saturated concrete.  Another interesting thing was the presence of 2 aerators operating around the lake.  In effect from April to November, most Lake Associations run them in the winter to avoid low oxygen levels which kill the fish.  Called the Indian Lake Restoration Project, I suspect the aerators help keep the water clear and moving.  I did catch a few bass around them but can't say for sure what that means.  Anyway it was good to get out, even for a few hours, and discover a different lake.  With such of positive lake report I know I'll be back there again sometime for those crappies.

I finally found time to switch my DSL Internet speed from 1.5 MB to 12 MB.  Calling CenturyLink they assured me ti was nothing more than switching a filter and I shouldn't notice any disruption in service......famous last words.  After spending and hour with their tech support, they concluded that my modem wasn't up to the standards it needs to be.  Because it was late, the only place open was Walmart and luckily they had one.  Between Centurylink's India Tech Support and NetGear's India Tech Support, I was finally connected and downloading by 2:00 AM this morning.  Although I do think computers are nothing but a passing fad anyway, I'm not a total idiot but geez!  Looking back, a good simple set of instructions and an expectation of time needed to allow the components to make the right decisions would have saved me about 3 hours.  Oh well.  My brother Steve and I are heading for Leech Lake on Friday to spend the night at Brindley's and fish both the evening bite and most of Saturday.  Word is the walleye bite has slowed because of the mayfly hatch and Mille Lacs is finally turning on.  Just my luck however it will be nice to see the guys at the resort again.  Hopefully we can change that slow bit into a fish fry.