Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Summer in Full Swing

The first walleye in the new Ranger
This time of year is the peak time for fishing Mille Lacs.  By now the walleyes have moved out to their summer haunts like the deeper gravel bars, rock piles, and the flats.  Last weeks outing with Bill was more or less a test run and this week I was determined to push my experience further down the path of feeling more comfortable not sitting in the stern all the time.  Saturday my friend and neighbor Lory Brasel volunteered to put up with me and the new boat for a few hours on the pond, so with everything supposedly fixed we took off at 11:30 and planned on being on the water by 1:30.  A quick stop at Lundeen's for coffee, leeches, and advice we met our goal and took off from the landing at 1:30 on the mark.  Because I've been having issues with the propeller it's very important that it there isn't one ding, one scratch, any evidence of even hitting mud on it.  At $700 I was very careful coming out of the landing as I have bottomed out before with my other boats and this one is even heavier.  Making it safely out of the landing our first stop was what Bill calls Roland's Flat.  It has some other names but I like Bill's the best.  Immediately I started marking fish at the 20 foot level so we decided to deploy the trolling motor and pull crawlers.  Normally in this situation I would simply start the rear trolling motor and slowly back troll the edges.  It''s quite a bit different to front troll with the motor for a number of reasons, mainly because I wasn't used to it!  While I'm figuring out how to get a handle on my boat control Lory let's me know he's got something on the end of the line, the first official walleye caught in the new boat.  It also gave me an opportunity to use my new folding net, which stores nicely in one of the side compartments.  Measuring 23", too long to keep we snapped a couple of pictures and let it go.  We were really pumped as we were marking a lot of fish, landed a nice 23 incher withing the first 10 minutes, it was going to be a great day, right.  Trolling around a couple of deep points produced nothing so we decided to park on top of an area where there were a ton of marks on the depthfinder and bobber fish with leeches, nothing.  It did give me an opportunity to fix my Sirius Radio receiver as it was not working at all, another yellow wire problem.  From there we took off to a deep rocky area just south of Sherman's Point where it can be great, I caught a medium sized smallie.  Heading to Sherman's flat we trolled my goto side with just a nice perch to show for it.  Next stop was Sliver Flat but there was someone on it already so I decided to let him have the whole thing as we headed for the 9 Mile Flat.  Again we marked fish but no takers.  I did fool around with the Autopilot feature by creating a route around 9 mile that basically went up and down the side walls of the flat, from 25 feet to 35 feet then back up again.  Setting it on newly created route on Navigation the trolling motor followed the trail, enough to impress the heck out of both Lory and I, it was pretty cool to see it follow the outer diameter of 9 Mile.  One big thing I noticed was the system GPS is mounted to the back of the boat, 20 feet away from the Motorguide GPS which is used to steer the motor.  I was about 20 feet from my points, not that it made any difference however I think I might move the main GPS puck to the front to be more in step with the Lowrance units, we'll have to see as that might cause problems as well.

Catching nothing and having to control nothing I took the time to text my friend Mark Applen, who was staying at his small cabin at the Fisherman's Wharf.  Inviting us to come over for a burger and a cocktail, we stopped at 3 mile to cast for bass before heading over to his dock.  The water had calmed down significantly from early that day so it was time to get some more practice with the wheel control.  Putting the throttle all the way down the next thing was to start trimming it up.  Before the engine would only turn about 5000 RPM however I was getting better acquainted with the set up and this time the motor got it up to 5400 RPM and 57 MPH, a significant improvement over last weeks experience.  The good news should be that the 20 Pitch prop the dealer ordered should be just perfect as for every inch of pitch change, the RPM should change 200 - 250 so going down from a 22P to a 20P should gain me the RPM's I am looking for running in the 5800 - 5900 range.   After making it to Mark's for a refreshing vodka tonic and a burger that hit the spot we decided it was getting late and with 12 miles back to the landing, we made a beeline to the other side of the lake.  This was a great opportunity to repeat the max RPM test which was very successful, 3 times we could trim up the motor to 5400 RPM's and 57 MPH.  Lory took a quick video of us flying across the lake.  The last time we loaded the boat on the trailer it was very difficult to use the winch to pull the bow tight to the roller.  I was thinking about it and remembered 14 years ago when I had the same problem with my 2001 Ranger.  Earlier in the week a planned detour to Fleet Farm to buy some dry Teflon Lubricant, I got out of the boat and sprayed the carpeted bunks that the boat sits on with the spray.  All I can say is Hallelujah, it worked pretty slick as the boat snugged up to the bow without even a slight disagreement!  You just have to make certain the winch strap stays connected when you back down as it could slide off the trailer on it's own.

Paul's 31 Inch Walleye
My friend Bruce Wiley e-mailed me on Saturday from Lac Seul with the message "Help, need a lower unit for a 2002 Honda 130 Hp Outboard!"  Oh oh, that didn't sound good.  He is up fishing at Lac Seul Outpost for Father's Day weekend with his boys and apparently he found a new rock.  Oh well, that's my biggest nightmare with Lac Seul but if your careful and have a good GPS system it really helps to stay ahead of the game.  And of course you really do need to explore new fishing spots and that presents some risks but as they say, no pain no gain.  Unfortunately he did not bother to give me any useful fishing reports as I would like to think that not everyone is doing as poorly as I have been.  Well this morning I got an e-mail from my good friend Paul Wenaas with a photo of a 31 inch walleye he nailed during his trip to Lac Seul last week.  In fact he got a number of fish in the 27" - 31" range and I was fortunate enough to learn where he was!  Actually I had fished near his spot last fall where we got the "blue" walleyes and I had always wondered how it would be further up the bay. Paul makes at least 2 trips to Lac Seul, one in the middle of June and another in July.  He was talking about going back up in September and maybe he'll be there the same time I am, that would be a blast for sure.  I am not sure what is the program for this weekend but hopefully the new propeller will be in and ready to test. There are still a couple minor issues that need to be resolved like my touch panel, boat numbers, and license plate for the the trailer, and dealing with the Lowrance "yellow" wake up wires.  This could put me in Chisago City on Saturday morning to try out a few thing and maybe getting some crappie fishing in.  Next week I'm in Boston and the rumor is we are going out on a 4 hour charter for ocean run stripers, another thing on the bucket list. If it happens don't be surprised by a late post next week.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Back to School

First fish in the boat!
Yep, back to school is what I describe as the process to unlearn what is no longer valid, relearn a new system of fishing, and try to figure out what all this connectivity means between the satellites, my depth finders, GPS, trolling motor, and my entertainment center.  A smart man looks around and figures out who is best to at least help you to move forward and that guy is Bill Lundeen. I've talked about Bill many times as he's pretty sharp with the Lowrance stuff and had expressed an interest to see how the new Motorguide i5 works when networked into the HDS units.  We agreed that Sunday afternoon would be a great time for me to drive up, we'd head out of Cove to try our hand at some fishing and more importantly play around with the new electronics.  We were on the water by 2:00 and heading for a gravel hump a couple miles out.  The first thing we tried pretty simple, mark a fish then tap that mark on the screen which then pulls up a cursor on the GPS side. Pushing the command "go to the cursor" and voila, it circled back to that point.  The next thing we did was to simply set a heading, slowed the speed down to 0.7 MPH and let the motor control everything while we dragged some spinners and nightcrawlers.  We traveled in a ridiculously straight path, impressive. Once we were at the end of where we wanted to go our next experiment was to create a new route that we wanted the trolling motor to follow.  Bill created a waypoint 200 yards to the north of our current location then another one 25 yards to the east of where we were.  Naming the route Test1, we then told the motor via the HDS unit to go to the start of the route, follow the route, then stop at the end of the route. Immediately the motor headed directly north at 0.7 MPH until it reached the first waypoint we entered then did a precise hair pin turn to the right and headed back to the second waypoint which was the end of the route.  The boat traveled as though it was on rails then promptly stopped at the end.  It was amazing and the possibilities are endless.  I suspect it's simply going to take more practice to be good at it.  We did fish a couple of spots both for walleye and smallmouth bass with little to show.  Seeing the bass on the reefs was nice but they appeared not interested in what we had to offer.  I finally felt a hit yet I knew it wasn't too big and as predicted, a small rock bass.  Oh well, regardless it's still my first fish in the boat so what the heck!  Beyond that we really didn't do anything else and coupled with the fact that it was looking like rain, we headed back to the landing just in time to get the boat on the trailer before it poured.

Loon near the boat.
So, there are a few things that I need to address regarding the boat. First, my Sonic Hub disconnects from the system and my radio goes dead.  The only way to make it work was to restart the depthfinder, which is a pain if you need to do it after each time you start the engine. The second issue is the propeller that came with the boat.  Although the hole shot is amazing and the boat gets up on plane very fast, I can only get about 5000 RPM's out of the motor.  The rated full throttle range for the ideal horsepower is 5600 - 6000 RPM's.  At 5000 RPMs it indicates that the propeller has too much pitch and is overloading the engine.  I have talked to my dealer as the prop that came with the boat is a RX4 15 x 22P (4 bladed, 15" diameter x 22 inch pitch) and it looks like the same prop in a 20 inch pitch would be much better.  I am working on both issues and believe I have the first one solved by reconnecting the power cords while the second issue with the prop needs a little more patience but the dealer is working on it.  The third issue is that the boat is almost impossible to winch tight to the front roller when loading.  It is frustrating because on Sunday we had to back it into the launch to tighten it up.  It finally dawned on me that I had the same problems 14 years ago when I bought my first Ranger and was told to spray the trailer bunks with silicon to make it glide easier.  I'll be getting some spray and the next time I go fishing, before I load the bunks will get a good dose of it as I remember that it solved the problem.  I remember being warned that it is important to keep the winch on the boat until it's in the water to make sure it doesn't slide off the trailer at the wrong time. Beyond this it's just more time on the water, dang it!  Bill always complains that he attracts loons to the boat which I was curious if he meant me as well in that statement.  While experimenting with the trolling motor we had a really nice loon following us, maybe looking for an easy meal.  I took a picture with new Samsung S6 Edge, I'm pretty impressed how clear and detailed the picture is.  It's really cool seeing these birds "fly" under the water as it hung around the boat for a long time.

I am still have a lot too learn and with good reports coming out of Mille Lacs it is a great possibility we will be fishing on Saturday.  We have a upcoming trip to Lake Oahe in South Dakota in July and it would be nice to have most of these issues resolved before then.  My friend Hondro wants to meet the weekend of July 4th and there is already planning for our late September Lac Seul trip.  I told those guys that if they wanted me to bring the boat to Lac Seul they would have to wear surgical booties over their shoes before they get in my boat.  Last year I made them wipe their shoes on a rug at the dock and no feet on the gunnels as it is really sandy there.  Although I probably won't require booties it's really good to get the guys thinking early about my passion to keep the boat looking new!
I got my Sirius Radio working, I am not too impressed with how slow the weather portion of it is, and the bluetooth connection is working which allows content from my cell phone to be ran through the radio.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Ranger 620FS, Uffda!
Saturday was the big day, time to pick up the new boat from the dealership.  It has been 3 months from the day I ordered it and as you can imagine it was pretty exciting.  Arriving at Frankie's by 11:00 the first order of business was to take a look at everything and all I can say is they did an excellent job of rigging and getting everything prepared.  The initial inspection looked good so it was time to settle up the bill and when Deb presented the balance it was significantly less than what I expected.  Acknowledging a computer issue we went over everything and got it straightened out, never want to short anyone.  Next on the agenda was to go over all of the new features which included keyless ignition, all the nuances of the motor, and generally how everything works.  Upon firing up the Lowrance electronics the first thing stated was the Motorguide needed updating.  Joe Dusenka, Frank's son was helping me and did a fabulous job of walking me through everything. As stated before this boat is a significant departure from what I have been running for the last 40 years and it's pretty exciting.  After making sure I knew what I was doing, we hooked it up to the truck as I planned on dumping her into the water close to the dealership in case there were any obvious issues. The first thing that stood out is the boat sits up about 4 inches higher on the trailer than the previous 620T so it will need to be launched at the deeper landings.  They only put enough gas in the tank to start the motor so it was off to the Marathon across the street to fill up the 51 gallon tank.  Figuring about $140 to fill it up the pump stopped at $75 so the heck with it, that was plenty.  About 1/2 mile from Frankie's is a nice landing on Chisago Lake so I dumped it there.  It definitely isn't as nimble as my previous boat.  Once in the boat I started the motor and was very surprised how quiet it was.  The landing is in a no-wake zone and it took about 5 minutes to idle out to the main lake where I punched it.  OMG!!! It was on plane in about 2 seconds, amazingly quick.  Deciding to check a few things out, the boat back trolls at around 1.8 mph, forward trolls at about 2.6 mph, not bad.  The power steering is effortless, almost too much as when I pushed the throttle the boat climbed to over 50 mph immediately and really felt squirrelly so I backed it down, I guess it will take some getting used to.  It is all basically "fly by wire" as the steering is electric, the gear shift is electric, very smooth indeed. It loaded up very easy as I headed back to Frankie's to park the boat for a couple hours as I went to a friends house in Wisconsin.  Home by 6:00 the neighbors all stopped by to see and the very first comment was, you had better get some lugnut locks on those wheels! I suppose they have a point.

Beautiful evening Rainbow
I have spent the week trying to get everything loaded and working together.  For instance, I mistakenly loaded Version 3.0 of the Lowrance software into my main unit then when it was time to review the link between it and the Motorguide motor, it wasn't available as an option on the screen.  I know it works because Joe showed me it yet now I had to figure it out. Reading the instructions there was a big point in stating that the Lowrance software must be version 3.5 or newer. Not realizing that I had put in an older version of the software, 30 minutes later it dawned on me so I re-downloaded the right software via my phone and updated it.  Bingo, it worked great however I punched the wrong button on the control screen and turned the Motorguide on then listened to the propeller grind against the winch with little idea on how to stop it.  10 seconds later it stopped but not before completely ruining the prop and part of the plastic on the winch.  So much for the newness.  It's been a slow progress yet it's a labor of love as one decides where everything should go, how to organize, and the need to fill in the gaps with the technology like getting my Ipod connected to the sound system which by the way worked out really good.  The storage options are significant and one thing I have to decide is whether to put my Plano 3700 boxes in the designed storage in the boat or to simply keep my traditional tackle box in tact.  I guess there is no reason not to use the storage, it definitely is drier and if I need they can always go back into the soft sided tackle box.  The front compartments have a built in fan that helps dry out things that are stored there.  This would be a great place for drift socks, rain suits, anything that can get wet.  One other thing of note is there is a drain in every compartment and anywhere there is a channel to take water away.  This should be a lot nicer if a wave ever comes over the bow, which I know there will at some point. There are a lot of little things like the LED lights that didn't stick to where they were put, some foam missing on the windshield, and overspray on the windshield, for the most part everything was pretty easy to fix. I also have a panel that appears to be cracked and they have a new one coming for me.  Between getting the garden planted, working on the boat, mowing the lawn, there's hope that I can get to Mille Lacs on Sunday for it's maiden voyage.  Scrambling to get everything done, Tuesday night was interesting as we got a brief shower that for the most part put a damper on my mowing. The sun did come out but not enough to dry the grass and allow me to finish yet it did result in a beautiful rainbow to the southeast so I snapped a picture before it went away.

This Friday is our 13th Annual ENA Golf Tournament at Daytona Gold Club in Dayton.  ENA is the initials for Eric Nicole Apple, son of my good friend Mark Applen (Red Lake fisherman extraordinaire) who had his life cut short by a rare form of cancer.  Both my wife and I have been volunteering our time along with a number of wonderful people that give their time and energy to our cause.  I encourage you to read about Eric at his website located HERE.  All the proceeds are dedicated to helping less fortunate families deal with the hardships of childhood cancer as we try to bring a smile to those that need it the most.  To date we have raised over $300,000 and every dime available goes to the cause.  I am proud of the work we do as there is nothing more satisfying than to provide a little joy in the life of someone who's life is feeling hopeless.  We do have a nice silent auction and raffle, admittedly I have bought some really nice stuff like my Showdown Ice Fishing Depth finder, heck a good way to help and get something nice as well.  

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Getting Close!!

Mike with an interesting pose
A few weeks ago I received a call from Frankie's, my boat dealer informing me that the title for my old boat was missing.  "What title? I don't ever remember a title for the boat!?!?"  Well yes there is a title but Lord knows where that was so on May 13th I called the State of Minnesota and got the process down and sent in $11.00 along with the application, it should be printed next Tuesday. Well it arrived on the 29th and because the boat should be here later in the week  I decided to drive up to Frankie's on Saturday to personally deliver it and my electronics.  With a fresh cup of coffee and things loaded up, it was off to Chisago City.  Arriving at the store, the lot was completely filled as I waited for a parking place to become available.  Apparently there was a bowfishing contest the night before and the weigh in was taking place.  Deciding to go back and take care of everything first, the service manager, Deb Dusenka (Frankie's wife) saw me and had a big smile, "Guess what, your boat is in!".  It really took me by surprise as I didn't expect it till later in the week and admittedly it was a little emotional....I know!  Anyway their son Joe was in with his kids to head out fishing but when when he looked at me it was almost immediate, Hey Dave your boat is here!  After a few minutes of talking he suggested to head over to the back lot and unwrap it as it just got off the trailer.  I felt like a kid at Christmas as we untied the factory wrap.  The first thing we looked at was the Evinrude 250 motor, we were expecting a 3 bladed stainless steel however it came with a 4 blade RX4 with adjustable vents.  Joe immediately confirmed that this was the first he's seen that came from the factory with this specific prop as the big dealers have been recommending a change to this for much better performance.  I did notice a problem however, the kicker was a 9.8 Evinrude tiller rather than the remote control kicker that was on the work order. Apparently they ordered the wrong thing, oh well.  The good news is that the existing motors are blue in color which looks somewhat odd and the new ones being built will be graphite, perfect to match my boat.  The bad news is that they are not expected to be delivered until mid to the end of July.  I could keep the tiller but am not crazy about having to control everything while standing up so it will be worth the wait.  I pick it up Saturday.  Too excited to take any pictures there is none for this week so I decided to post one last picture of Mike Wiley and a walleye he caught 3 weeks ago on our snowy Monday at Lac Seul.  I loved the pose!

Ben's perch from last weekend
Not having the boat meant I could concentrate on the garden.  The onions are starting to do really well, potatoes are up and the asparagus is about done with. Tomatoes and peppers are in however the recent cold weather (frost warnings last Saturday night) has stopped any progress for them.  I plant 3 rows of sweet corn early then 3 more about 3 weeks later and they are all up. Beans, cucumbers, dill, cabbage, brussel sprouts, zucchini and winter squash, zinnia's, dahlia's round up the list.  Raspberries are coming along well and the apples look better than expected.  The Amundson's finally got the bees in and have 2 really healthy looking hives in the back.  I was worried about the pollination of my apple trees but there seems to be plenty of apples and they are doing fine, enough for me to spray them for the first time on Saturday.  That should have been done earlier but the rain has delayed it somewhat so we'll have to just have to wait. I do need to spray again with Sevin, which acts to thin the apples for a better crop.  Hopefully there will be enough apples for cider this fall as last year was a total bust.  Anyway this is "Fishin with Dave" and not Gardening with Dave so instead of the pictures of the progress of my plantings the next picture is of Ben and a nice perch he and his dad got out of Platte Lake where their cabin resides. Ben's quite a fisherman and if you look closely at his hat you'll find a Green Bay Packer pin just above the walleye's head, that a boy!

My wife Lyn and I went to Eleva on Sunday to visit Mom.  It so happened to be the Eleva Broiler Fest, the annual town festival complete with tractor pulls, demolition derby's, live music, and charcoal chicken.  Back when I was a kid we had a Doughboy Fryer's chicken processing plant and it was the largest employer in town.  It is just not right if you don't have some of that charcoaled chicken however like a lot of things, something has changed over the years.  I suspect most of it is age yet I still think Walt Gehring's chicken was a lot better than what they make today.  Maybe it's the chickens, who knows.  It was great to see a few of my friends, Jeff Koxlien, Roger Olson, Big Dave Pedersen, my cousin Paul, and Kevin Aiona.  I've been gone now for almost 40 years however it seems like I just left yesterday.