Thursday, January 29, 2015

Taking the Weekend Off....Sort of

Lundeen's Tackle Castle
Pulling the Salem home from Red Lake is sort of anticlimactic as it means an end to those fishing adventures that proved to be so enjoyable.  Looking to do something more constructive I called my friend Bill Lundeen to see if he needed any help at the bait shop on Saturday morning. The Brainerd Ice Fishing Contest was Saturday and with only a few bait shops open anymore, he claimed it was going to be busy and could always use a warm body.  Having helped Bill in the past I know how crazy it can get so I got up at 5:00AM on Saturday and headed north.  Arriving by 7:00 they were already busy, I waited for the cue.  It's easy to bag minnows and rig fishing poles, it's a little more difficult to run the cash register and issue fishing licenses, but in due time I was getting pretty good at it.  One of Bill's customers came in with an auger he ended up hitting a bolt with somehow and needed blades replaced.  This is an easy job and working off the top of the freezer I managed to replace both blades with only one minor cut to my hand, not bad.  The guy was so grateful he paid for the blades and gave me a 4 dollar tip for helping him, that would come in handy later!  It took about an hour and soon I was back in the swing of things and ringing up sales like a pro.  One of the things I do like is talking to the clientele as most people that stop in are looking for 2 things, bait and where are they biting.  The bait is easy and the "where are they biting" is often relative to where they want to go and what skill level they have.  With Mille Lacs it's pretty easy, just say the flats and you'll never be wrong as there is plenty of them around the lake and with the lack of snow one can drive almost anywhere.  It's interesting as I see myself as a pretty honest guy and I hosed up with a customer.  He got a minnow bucket, a dozen fatheads and a dozen rainbows, some waxies and a bait. When I came to ring him up I always call out what I am charging for as I enter it into the till.  Starting out at a dozen rainbows, enter..a dozen fatheads, enter...2 boxes of waxies, enter...a rattle spoon, enter... comes to $14.59, out of $20, here's your change.  The minute he walked out the door I realized I didn't charge him for the $3.79 minnow bucket and I'm pretty sure he knew that.  Well, there went my $4.00 tip.  I would never do that as my values are worth more than that.  Bill immediately sensed my mistake and called me on it but by then I had already acknowledged the problem.  Beyond that I missed a $0.50 oxygen bag so it wasn't too bad.  It was still fun to help and I know Bill appreciated the assistance.

Wild Rice and Home Made Maple Syrup
Things slowed down around 1:00 so I figured it was a good time to head to Dewey's Mille Lacs Access and try a spot we call the Christmas Tree.  Dewey runs a road in Vineland Bay and it extends out past Indian Point and areas east of there.  The lake has quite a few heaves caused by the shifting ice as it warms an cools and this year it's pretty bad.  The best thing is to pay for a road access and usually they have a bridge across the bad spots that allow you to get out on the ice further.  Well I put my $10 in Dewey's pay box and headed east about 1 1/2 miles where there he was with another guy, in front of his bridge.  The warm weather had really pushed the ice up and he pulled his bridge until it was a bit safer to put it back in place.  It was about 2:30 when I stopped and he offered to refund my money but I simply decided to stay on the shore side of the crack and try my luck.  After BS'ing with those guys for a while I punched about 10 holes in 22 feet of water and started fishing but by then the wind was picking up and the bite was nonexistent.  Deciding to pack up I headed back to Bill's just in time for pizza and his homemade tortilla soup, a nice way to end the day.  It's fun to help out someone and I did get out on the lake for a couple hours anyway.  Bill and a friend of his harvests their own wild rice on the lakes around Onamia in the fall and as well in the spring he makes quite a bit of maple syrup so I picked up a couple of containers for my friends in Texas.  Feeling guilty for all the TX they sent, I'm sure they will enjoy the goodies from there up north friend.

Superbowl Sunday is at my neighbor Tim's again as it is every year and I'm looking forward to watching the game, even if the Packer's, who should be playing, are not.  The plan is to sneak out and maybe go look for some crappies on Saturday before the cold weather returns that evening, we'll see.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

An Up and Down Weekend.

Biggest Walleye So Far on Red Lake, 25 Inches
A lot went on this weekend, some things that were extremely enjoyable and some that were not so enjoyable.  I always like to try and start on a positive note so Friday morning my brother Steve, friend Kevin Aiona, and myself headed back up to Red Lake for one last adventure for the year. Reading the latest reports, the fishing has certainly slowed down as it always does this time of year. Red Lake has really gotten hammered as there is virtually no snow and the ice has been driveable since the Friday after Thanksgiving so the lake is pretty much accessible to wherever you want to legally go.  The area's on the lake get burnt out pretty fast and this year was no exception. By December 1st the limit was reduced from 4 walleyes under 20 inches to 3 walleyes under 17 inches.  Well, the harvest has been crazy as you see from my past posts so this Friday, January 23, the limit drops to 2 walleyes under 17 inches.  It's reasonable and understandable so to beat the limit change and because of my work schedules coming up it was time to head up and pull my wheel house home.  Arriving around 12:30 we slipped back into the VIP lot of JR's to hook up the house.  JR has been super nice to us as we have shared our love for high class bourbon with him and have been rewarded with a special location to park our houses.  After paying the access fees and storage we decided to try near the rock pile, about 3 miles from the resort.  It had snowed earlier in the month and the lake wasn't totally impassable as there was bare ice between areas of mixed drifts up to a foot deep.  Turning off the main road to snake our way back to the spot we wanted to be at, pulling the Salem is pretty heavy and even in 4 wheel drive we barely made it out of some of those drifts.  The kicker came when we drove over a 5 inch crack in the ice, simply the ice had parted and by the time I felt the front wheels travel over it I knew we were committed. The rig crossed without incident but I got somewhat spooked and decided that this was as far as we were going.  There was no one to the west of us and we had the area pretty much to ourselves so we set up and were fishing by 2:00.  Unfortunately we only caught walleyes either too small or over 17 inches so it was hamburgers at JR's for supper.  By morning we had a few keepers and by 6:00 Saturday we actually had our limit of 9 fish.  Enough for a fish fry we took 6 of the walleyes and headed back to JR's to have him fry them up for us.  Earlier that afternoon I decided to put on my tire chains and wow, did they ever make a difference in being able to get around the lake without the fear of getting suck in some snowdrift in the middle of nowhere.
Kevin Enjoying the Fishing
The wind was blowing hard and drifting around the house, the chains gave us the confidence to stay there.  Returning from JR's we settled down for the evening when something barely sucked in my bait.  A quick hook set and it was obvious this was a nice fish. Actually the way it was fighting I simply assumed it was a northern pike as Kevin kneeled down by the hole to help.  Blocking my view of the fish coming up Kevin verified, "Yep Dave, this is a nice northern" as he turned around with a 25 inch walleye in his grip, laughing right at me!  It was the largest walleye I have caught on Red Lake in the 3 years I've been going so it was pretty special. We snapped a few pictures and put her back down the hole.  It was a beautiful fish and the picture doesn't do it justice (for that matter, my picture as well).  Nice and fat, she had a huge tail and fins and was absolutely gorgeous in her color.  Certainly it was a highlight of my year so far.  We finally hit the sack with one more walleye in the bucket and all the rattle reels set.  We only had 1 go off at night and it was a small one and by the time we decided to leave the next morning we had only caught about 6 keeper perch.  At 11:00 the packing up began and  by 12:30 we were at JR's saying goodbye.  While Kevin cleaned the fish I dropped off 5 pounds of Bill's hand harvested Wild Rice, something JR really appreciated.  He was determined to pay me but my response was that we felt it was super nice to help my friend Mark Applen and I when we needed a place to park our houses and he came through.  Feeling bad JR came up with a quart jar of his homemade tomato soup he canned and knowing JR, it's pretty good.  We left Red Lake till next year, it's been a blast and as we turned on Hwy 72 to head south it was bittersweet for sure.  Well, at least we would have the Green Bay Packer game to listen on the way home.

A Texas Care Package!
The previous week my brother Steve and I had the opportunity to drive to Green Bay and watch the Packers victorious win over the Dallas Cowboys.  As stated last week, this meant that I was due 2 bottles of TX Whiskey from my 2 great friends from the Dallas area, Matt Davis and Joe Stanfield.  I even went so much as to remind them that my bet was with each of them, not together and fully expected the 2 bottles.  Joe said, don't worry as I am heading to Matt's to send you a special package. Well, Wednesday arrived and expecting an Amazon shipment, there was also a Harry and David box with my address.   I had made the remark to my receiving clerk, Geez, I hate that.  People send me Harry and David gifts and heck, they cost $80 and why a good bottle of bourbon is only $40, send me 2 of those instead as I walked away with the Amazon package.  An hour later they delivered it to my office so I suppose I'd better see what it was before it spoiled.  Upon opening it I immediately saw that it wasn't a fruit basket so I looked at the label and sure enough, it came from Matt.  Well, this box was too big for 2 bottles of TX and I soon found out why!  They must have cleaned out their garages, closets, whatever and wrapped up everything individually for me to unpack.  So the list is pretty interesting.  I have 4 VHS tapes, 2 Rocky and Bullwinkle tapes, Grumpy Old Men (it's still in the wrapper), and a tape on Inflatable Lifeboat Survival.   There were 3 old rod holders that I think I can really use as well as a stainless steel anchor bracket and lock that will hold an 80# anchor.  The white straps are adjustable boat fender mounts, I got a balloon powered toy boat and a Duck Dynasty cooler cup.  They threw in a 1999 Playboy calendar, an old dirty pair of men's underwear, a necklace, an old emergency starter rope, a bottle of Johnson's Baby Powder, a silver commemorative spoon of Alberta, Canada, a stuffed toy rat, some pricing slide calculator, and an old non-working fake Rolex watch.  Oh yeah, there were 3 750ml bottles of TX and 1 1.75L bottle, actually more than they owed me.  I'm not complaining at all!  I guess you really can measure how much your friends love you by the extent of their actions and I can tell you unequivocally that I love those guys to death!!  Thanks.

So the bad news is, remember that Packer Game we listened too?  Well at the 5 minute mark we stopped to get gas and eat at the Burger King in Garrison, MN.  They had a big screen TV so we decided to eat there and watch the rest of the game.  It went downhill from there.  With the Pack leading to the 2 minute warning, there conservative play strategy finally caught up with them and...well, I don't even want to discuss it.  Next year.  I did get the Salem home and decided to take it to the car wash to spray it down, never again.  It barely fit and I almost didn't get it out, lucky I guess. I am ready to do some fishing on Mille Lacs and might just haul it up for a few weekends before the season ends on February 22nd.  The winter is half over already, where does the time go?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Lambeau Magic

Residential Entrepreneurial Opportunities at it's best
As stated in last weeks post I was graced with 2 tickets to the Green Bay Packer's against "America's Team (that's debateable)" the Dallas Cowboys.  With a controversial call in the game, Dallas won it's first playoff game against the Detroit Lions to move to the second round at Green Bay's hallowed Lambeau Field.  The game was set up to be a great one with Green Bay having a perfect record or 8-0 at home and Dallas having a perfect record away, 8-0.  It seems as though I have been doing a lot of things with my brother Steve these days and when I asked him if he wanted to go to the game, there was no hesitation.  The plan was simple, I'd drive to Chippewa Falls on Sunday morning and meet him at the Walmart around 8:00 and he would drive the rest of the way to Green Bay.  Since they've redone Highway 29, it's clear sailing to Lambeau as our planned arrival time was 10:30.  With the game at noon this would give us time to get our warm clothes on, walk the half mile or so to the stadium, and have some of Lambeau's famous Wisconsin bratwurst before the game.  I like parking right off the west end of Lombardi Avenue, just after you turn off the freeway.  It's easy in and easy out, plenty of room and you basically walk along a residential street where it's a quite the scene seeing all the activity happening before the game.  I have talked about the tailgating that goes on at Lambeau and because it's location, everyone gets in the act. All the houses along the street that we walked down were full of entrepreneurs ready to serve the game time attendees.  Some, like the picture above took parking to the next level, offering additional services for the same basic parking fee everyone was charging.  I think a lot of these people have the
Green Bay Cadillac
same guests throughout the season and they all have a reunion every game, sort of like old home week!  It's definitely a party atmosphere and the below freezing temperature made no difference.  As we walked toward the stadium the craziness continued.  More people, more grills, more bars set up along the way on tables, the back of pickup tailgates, music blaring through loudspeakers, these people were having a great time.  The closer we got to Lambeau the more interesting it became as it looks like people must lease, rent, secure their spot to tailgate as it appeared as though they had been set up for a few hours.   Just before crossing the street to enter the stadium we came by a party setup around a custom painted Cadillac Sedan de Ville, complete with a bar set up in the trunk, a sound system on poles, a huge grill full of brats, and a much needed portable toilet set up behind me in the above picture.  One of these day I need to simply get there the night before and partake in the festivities yet one would probably need to make that a 2 day event!

Jordy Nelson's entrance
As you see in the picture I was dressed for the cold.  Along with my Sorel Boots were lined jeans, my Gortex snowmobile bibs, 3 layers of shirts, my cold weather camo hunting coat, a Green Bay poncho Welly at work picked me up in Mexico, a hand warmer muffler around my waist, a boat cushion for the aluminum bleacher seat, and plenty of disposable hand warmers.  All week the predictions were for the game time temperature to be 15 degrees, not a bad as the last time Dallas played Green Bay at Lambeau where that game was coined The Ice Bowl, where it was -13F, but enough to make sure one dresses warm. Well at game time the temperature had climbed to a balmy 28 degrees.  Now over dressed we shed some of our clothes and left them on the bleachers as we headed back to get something to eat and a beer.  It's quite stunning to watch the National Anthem being played as they unveil a football field sized flag for everyone to see.  A final flyover by 2 F18 Navy fighter jets, wing on wing set the stage.  I'd rank the game as one of the best I have seen there.  The Packer's scored first with Dallas scoring the next 2, with the momentum definitely on Dallas's side.  It looked like the Cowboy's were getting the upper hand in the game as Aaron Rodgers' calf injury was definitely affecting his play.  About the middle of the 3rd quarter a key play by Julius Peppers stopped a clear shot to the end zone by Dallas and forced a fumble that Green Bay recovered.  We didn't look back until the controversial (an correct) call at the 4 minute mark gave Green Bay the ball and all they needed to do was get a first down and hang on to the ball.  It was all over and the Packer's won 26 - 21 over the Cowboy's, the stadium just rocked.  A great game in a great city in a great venue with a great outcome.  I'm not sure what next week will bring and the odds maker's have the Pack down by 7 1/2 points but you know the story.....any given day!  I do know that I'm definitely going to enjoy the ample TX Whiskey I have coming from my Texas friends.  GO PACK

Friday I am heading back to Red Lake to pick up my wheel house and start fishing closer to home. It's been a lot of fun and this will be my 4th trip this year as the fishing tends to get progressively worse as the winter goes on.   As my previous posts describe, we have always gotten enough fish to eat and bring home, which has been the case for a lot of fishermen this year.  The fishing has been so good that the Minnesota DNR just announced a further reduction of the possession limit starting January 23rd.  Prior to December 1st it was 4 fish under 20" then changed to 3 fish under 17".  On the 23rd it will change to 2 fish under 17".  The lake has definitely been hit hard this year and harvest agreements are forcing changes to be made.  I'm not complaining as the season is already half way over and there's a lot of water I'd like to fish before the season closes on February 22nd.  Going with are my brother Steve and a friend from our home town, Eleva.  The strategy is to pull out the house on Friday afternoon while staying in contact with our friend Russ, who's going to be on Lake Winnibigoshish.  The reports have been good from there and if fishing is slow we will pack up the house and head south an hour to join his group.  Plan B is always good!  Although I probably won't get to see the Packer Game, after last week if I have to listen to it on the radio, I'll be happy, especially if they win!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Respite From Red

Pete's Medium Size Northern
After a full Christmas vacation spent at Red I decided to stick around home this weekend and try to find some crappies on Saturday.  My friend Pete usually has a handle on the local scene and there were some good reports coming out of Lake Sarah, just east of Rockford, MN.  Having a waypoint of interest, we met at the landing and headed to a small hump on the other side of the lake.  Drilling a bunch of holes on the top and along the edges, Pete immediately started marking fish that were more than willing to come up off the bottom.  It looked promising yet soon we were getting some 4 inch perch, not too encouraging.  After an hour Pete did get a nice northern pike considering the size one normally gets and I decided to take it home.  Although not the best at removing the Y bones, practice makes perfect and to be honest, northern pike taste pretty darn good as the meat is white, flaky, and firm.  After sitting another hour we decided to sit over a deeper hole hoping that the crappies would come through sometime.   It wasn't going to be our day.  We were fairly close to the landing and because of this we had some interesting conversations with fishermen walking back to their cars from what did you catch to a gentleman asking if we could help him determine if his recently acquired Marcum LX-3 flasher worked the way it should.  Using a lead depth finder you attach to the line, we were successful in acknowledging that he made a good decision, even though Pete and I were using Vexilar's.  The weather was due to change as the wind was already making the move to the north, we suspect that the change pretty well shut the fish down, or at least that was our excuse.  Bringing the remnants of a once full bottle of 4 Roses Single Barrel Bourbon and some ice, we toasted the new year and the promise that Pete would spend some time on the river with me and try to figure out the walleyes.  Pete runs River Run Guide Service out of Monticello, MN and does pretty well from Clearwater to Monticello.  Hopefully I can hold him to it as the walleyes are there, I just need to figure out the best way to catch them.

One of the things I have been delinquent on commenting about is the incredible fall in gas prices lately.  It wasn't too long ago we were paying $3.79/gallon but it's been on a free fall for the last 2 months.  This morning I drove by the local Mobil station on Hwy 169 in Champlin and took a picture in amazement of the $1.79/gallon price however coming home tonight it was $1.73/gallon.  It now costs less than $20 to drive back up to Red and even with pulling the house back it is relatively cheap at 10 miles per gallon.  The latest predictions say it will drop even further but we'll see as it's pretty cheap by current standards.   It sure would be nice to buy ahead and if one lived in St. Cloud you can actually buy prepaid gas at the First Fuel Bank and enjoy stable fuel prices based on what you prepaid for and how much you bought.  It's a pretty novel idea and I suspect it will get a lot of attention at these prices.  Either way oil prices will really have to rise to get back to where it was this spring, and eventually it will!  Certainly a lot of people will definitely have a lot more disposable income to spend in the months ahead.

Thursday is our day to head to the annual St. Paul Sportshow, the first of the year.  Keith Holtan has his booth there and am looking forward to seeing him as tradition will have us catching up on the latest and greatest.  The week will finish off with a trip to Lambeau Field were a good friend and contact for our business has graced me with 2 tickets to the Packer/Dallas Cowboy game in Green Bay on Sunday.  It's going to be cold but is destined to be memorable, especially when the Packers win! It won't be as cold as the original Ice Bowl where Dallas came to Green Bay for a playoff game in 1967 and the temperature was -15F at game time.  Often called the greatest NFL game ever played, I hope the outcome will be the same as I have some well placed bets with my two friends from Dallas, Joe Stanfield and Matt Davis.  Either way I should have something to report next week.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Three Times a Charm

Ben's first Walleye on Red Lake
It's been a really busy week, especially since we fished Red Lake again for the third time this season and it's like they say, three times a charm. After spending Christmas Eve with my family and Christmas day with friends my brother Steve and I had planned to take advantage of the long holiday time off and head back to Red Lake.  On Christmas Day we had the pleasure of spending the evening at Matt and Christina Taylor's home, which was right on the way back home.  It's always fun to get together with the Taylor's our long time friends.  Jack was there with his 10 year old son Ben and the subject of Red Lake came up.  Our plan was to head up on Saturday the 26th and fish till Tuesday morning the 29th.  Jack stated he love to go and I suggested that he and Ben drive up with us and fish till Sunday as he had to work on Monday, they would be at the cabin and it's not really that much of a drive.  Well it worked out perfectly as we connected on the road heading north.  Also joining us was fellow Team Walleye member, Andy Achman and his wife Cheryl from St. Francis, MN.  Andy arrived an hour or so earlier and was anxious to get out after waiting for us to arrive.  Greeting us at JR's were Mark and Jan Applen as well as Russ Praught and his friend, all were waiting to have their fish fried up and suggested we wait and join them. Apparently the kitchen was changing oil in the deep fryer and it was going to be a while so after paying JR we hooked up the house that we had stored at the resort and headed back to the rockpile where our friends were parked.  Andy had arrived an hour or so earlier and was anxious to get out so we decided to go set up then come back for fish.  Although we didn't make it back in time there were still enough walleye to satisfy ourselves till breakfast.  Everyone headed back to our spots and getting  the poles baited it wasn't long before the first rattle reel went off and Ben went to work.  He's quite the fisherman for 10 years old and he pulled in the first walleye, too big to keep as it was over 17 inches. We took a quick picture with the phone and threw it back, ready for the next one.  Admittedly the bite had slowed somewhat as the fish weren't attacking our baits, the rattle reels proved effective. Ben had a great time pulling up our fish and he did really well as they visited both Andy and Mark to take advantage of any opportunity to pull one in.  After getting a few in the box it was time to get some sleep for the next day although I'm not sure how much Ben slept as he was on those rattle reels constantly.

Mark's 15 inch Crappie
Sunday brought another nice day and the surprise breakfast that Mark Applen brought over to our house.  He's an excellent cook and makes the best fried potatoes, bacon, and eggs.  With Russ leaving and Andy heading to Center Bar, Mark and I decided to move closer to the Reservation line as quite a few people had left the lake in the morning. During the evening Mark had caught this nice crappie, something that Red Lake is famous for prior to the comeback of the walleye populations.  I caught one of these last year and they are quite a sight coming through the hole. Our plans for the day were set, with the DirecTV working, we were looking forward to a day of football as both the Vikings and more importantly the Green Bay Packers would take up most of the afternoon.  After watching most of the Vikings game Jack and Ben bid farewell, something that Ben wasn't too happy about as he was having a blast.   Because Steve and I wanted to watch the Packer game in it's entirety, it was compromised with Mark that we would go back into JR's for fish at 6:30, which suit me just fine.  It was definitely worth it as the Packer's won 30 - 20 over Detroit and more importantly I won a bet with my 2 friends Glen Collins and Gary Hicks, both die hard Lions fans.  At 6:30 sharp we headed back to JR's, ate then drove back to the houses to settle in for the night.  Fishing was pretty slow and Andy's reports from Center Bar were more positive, we decided that a move was scheduled for Monday morning. We were really only a couple of miles away yet I never trust traveling cross country on unknown ice.The temperature was dropping and by morning we woke up to -14F with my Honda generator shutting off sometime in the night.  I have had this happen before and I think the carburetor get's iced up so I threw some gas antifreeze, brought it in the house and it started right up and ran good for the rest of the trip.   Fishing was OK on the rattle reels overnight, enough to pull them and attempt to get some sleep but in the morning fishing was slow.   By 9:00 we were getting ready to move and also helped Mark pack up in the now very brisk wind, definitely the weather had changed quite dramatically from Saturday's arrival.  We got the house connected to the truck and made our way back to JR's main road to the Center Bar.

Monday night walleye
Andy had been catching fish in the morning as we approached the waypoint he had given us.  Now packing up to leave,  Steve and I set the house near a small patch of snow so we had enough to bank. I made the big mistake of setting the house on 4 x 4's rather than directly on the ice.  Because we had enough snow to bank and the temperature was not going to get above zero anytime soon I thought it would be best to simply do the 4 x 4's incase we would have been frozen in.  Our problem was the ice was at the air temperature and the extra room just allowed plenty of cold air to circulate under the floor much easier.  We had a constant battle to keep the holes from freezing and the wind certainly did not help the situation at all.  Up to this point we had been pretty spoiled by the nice weather while fishing and now we were stuck with conditions that made fishing, even in the house a challenge.  By 4:30 on Monday afternoon we had enough fish to go into JR's for our nightly walleye feed and luckily there were only a few people left.  I was nice as we got pretty good service and was able to spend a little quality time with JR, Adam, and the rest of the crew.  One of the bartenders brought out a jar of his concocted horseradish pickles using Milwaukee Baby Dills.  They were excellent and I'm anxious to try them as the recipe is pretty easy.   Through Monday night the furnace never stopped running and even though the fish were biting I finally had to close up all but 2 of the holes and put the insulated covers back on.  Surprisingly this helped quite a bit as before doing that the temperature had fallen to under 50 degrees in the house and by morning we were back to the low 60's.  Even though it was still well below zero and the wind was crazy, at 7:30 Tuesday morning the fishing was great and stayed that way for the next 2 hours.  I suspect we caught about 20 walleyes and perch in that time period, enough to each bring home our limits.  Packing up once again we were faced with limited parking and JR was good enough to help take care of us.  We were on the road by 11:30 and counting our stops pulled into my pole shed at 4:00, not bad.  My strategy is to head back up one more time, maybe either January 10 or the 17th, depending on the weather and will probably pull the Salem home.  My schedules pretty full for the rest of the winter and I'd like to try Mille Lacs a couple of times as it's not so far to drive and I hear the fishing is pretty good.

Sunset on Red
So here's wishing everyone a happy and safe New Year.  I'm going to try and find some crappies this weekend, hopefully I'll be successful.  The St. Paul Sports Show starts on January 8th and I'm looking forward to seeing Keith and Jane again and have our usual Guinness at the Liffey Bar in St. Paul.  We still have remarkably little snow for the winter as Red Lake basically had no snow and we have about 3 inches on the ground around home.  It's certainly a lot different than last years record snowfall and I'm not complaining.  I suspect buying that new cab for the John Deere has something to do with it as you see when I bought a brand new 47 inch snowblower attachment for my John Deere lawn tractor, we didn't have hardly any snow that winter and I really had to wait until the following year to use it.  I'm just saying!  I'll leave you with a gorgeous sunset on Red Lake, taken at -10 below zero.  I love it because the air is so clear and crisp, it's too bad they only last a minute or so.