Monday, September 28, 2015

Back From The Big Lake, part 1.

Monday Night Sunset
We finally made it back from a very successful trip to Lac Seul, my fifth one in 2 years now.  Our fall trip usually consists of our fearless leader Bruce, his friend Wayne, my neighbor Pete, Dan the Landscape guy, myself, and a sixth guy who this year happened to be my brother Steve Anderson.  After what proved to be an interesting Sunday night Steve and I got up at 3:15 AM on Monday morning, hooked up the boat and was at Pete's by 3:45.  Picking Dan up at 4:00 we finally saw sunlight about Cloquet, MN.  Meeting the rest of our crew in Orr, MN we crossed the border about 10:00 and sailed right through.  A stop in Dryden to buy groceries and a final stop in Sioux Lookout to get our parking pass for the boat landing (which they ran out again), we were in the water by 2:00 and at camp around 3:15.  The ride into camp is about 35 miles by water and depending on how much gas you want to burn, takes about an hour to 75 minutes.  It's always interesting coming into camp as Bruce pretty much knows the way by heart yet this year I helped him decide to upgrade his 15 year old technology with a Lowrance HDS7 Gen 2 touch and a map chip that shows Lac Seul.  These things look interesting while working in the garage but they really shine when you are using them for real.  Lac Seul can be very tricky to navigate and the GPS with the base maps are pretty nice. Once we arrived it took about an hour to unpack and clean the place, we were able to get out for a few hours of fishing on the point that is just north of camp.  It has a great view to the west which makes for a great place to be as the sun goes down. Getting back into camp we were just in time for burgers on the grill as there was not enough time to do anything with walleyes, besides there was plenty of time in the next 3 days for fish dinners.  The weather was quite warm however a cold front was due thru the area and just after dark the lightening and thunder moved in, not a very long storm but enough to change the weather significantly. After a couple of cocktails to celebrate a safe trip in, everyone was pretty exhausted and by 10:00 we were out!

Pete's 25 inch Walleye
Tuesday was our day in Tuktegweik Bay, an area that we did well last year.  Unfortunately the prior day's 78 degrees was now in the 50's with the wind blowing like crazy. We have some nice fishing spots marked on the GPS however the cold front that came through really put a damper on what I would call a normal day of fishing yet it was still pretty good.  I'm the guy that believes you need to see the fish on your depth finder to make sure that you're not wasting any time fishing an area where there is no fish.  There were plenty of marks on the screen yet most were tight to the bottom, a sign of inactive fish for sure.  We did manage to catch quite a few fish however, including this nice 25 inch walleye that Pete caught. Last year we caught quite a few walleyes that had a blue hue to them, quite pretty and unusual.  We did get a couple that had this coloration but nothing like before.  It was interesting as I really rely on my electronics to help locate and catch fish however both Pete and Bruce, who have many more years of experience, rely on past successes as it relates to where we would fish.  With the cold front quite established, the walleyes had lockjaw and took a lot of patience to get them to bite, but they were there.  Back on our favorite point we exercised my new trolling motor with pin point accuracy to move around in 15 - 10 foot increments which proved to be quite successful.  The walleye size limit is anything 18 - 21 inches must be released and of 4 fish, they all can be under 18 but only 1 can be over 21 inches.  As a rule we like to try and keep only fish in the 16 - 17.75 inch range and releasing everything else.  Although we did catch a lot of fish in that 15 inch range, keeping these would have to wait when we get more desperate!   I suppose we got a total of 60 - 70 walleyes with a few northerns scattered in between, not a bad day, especially after a significant cold front moved through.  Because fried walleye was on the menu that evening we kept 8 walleyes while Bruce's boat turned in 6.  My brother Steve is pretty good at filleting fish so we had those 14 walleyes cleaned in no time and were deep frying them within the hour.  There is nothing like fresh fried walleye to end the day.

36" Northern Pike
I always seem to get a nice northern pike in the 34 - 36 inch range and this year was no exception. I did bring some gear to specifically fish for pike but in the end, one never does as the walleyes take center stage, which is OK.  They are pretty voracious and will slam your jic/minnow combination with vengeance however one only get's lucky about 50% of the time where they hook themselves in the corner of the mouth and your line is fairly safe from being cut off by their sharp teeth and knife like gill plates.  They are fun to fight on light tackle for sure.  The only real problem with northern pike is that they are very slimy and it gets all over the boat, enough that we try to keep it in the net while unhooking then you can wash the net before putting it back on the floor.  Sometimes you simply have no choice and there is white slime all over the place.  Oh well, it does wash off nice!  Actually I replaced the main carpet in the passenger seat side of the boat with a heavy duty outdoor floor mat type material custom cut to fit right in.  This was the best thing I have done to the boat as it certainly takes the abuse of sand, slime, stepped on minnows and garbage that gets dropped while fishing and quite honestly it still looks like new. With two days gone and 3 days to go time was really flying.  I will report on the last 3 days later this week.  Thanks and sorry for being late!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Posting from Cleveland

14" perch, WOW!
I guess maybe I need to stop complaining how crazy it's been, maybe I could get some fishing in sometime.  Actually I am hoping to get a months worth of fishing in next week with 3 1/2 days at Lac Seul, the clock is ticking down.  Writing from the Airspace Lounge in Cleveland-Hopkins Airport with 3.5 hours to kill, it's giving me time to write this weeks post.  As stated, not much fishing has gone on as I was thinking about going last Sunday but it was pretty windy and everyone was busy. On Saturday my wife and I attending a family reunion in Independence Wisconsin and after 5 hours we headed to Eleva to stop at my friend Kevin's place to discuss the upcoming wedding of his son Ben, which we are attending. Of course it doesn't take very long for the conversation to evolve into fishing and Kevin showed me a beautiful perch that he had caught in the Mississippi River earlier in the week.  This thing is huge!  I definitely needed some material for this week and he reluctantly agreed if I promised never to give up his secret, something I wouldn't do anyway.  He has promised to take me there someday and maybe when I get back from Canada, we can make that happen.  In the meantime I am looking forward to a pretty good evening of fish talk with the boys on Saturday.  Our good friend John Felix will be there as well as most of the good old boys from Eleva, it will be a fun time for sure.  The wedding is at a the Barn Again Lodge just Southeast of Mondovi, Wisconsin and it's a pretty cool place.  The reception is in the machine shed, the barn is remodeled and features sleeping quarters, it's nice and self contained for an event like this.  

All Hooked up!
I do not lack in people who claim that I should have my head examined!  Well on Monday I did just that and had an EEG, electroencephalogram at the University of Minnesota Hospital.  I have had some issues with short spells of dizziness and they are trying to pinpoint a possible problem.  The EEG takes about an hour however at least 40 minutes of it is dedicated to attaching 38 different electrodes to your head by first measuring everything then marking the locations with a crayon.  Next they scrub those areas with something that to be honest, my head still hurts where it feels like they used sandpaper.  Next they apply some adhesive before attaching the electrodes.  It was interesting and the good news is they did find some brain activity. One of the tests involve shining a strobe light into my eyes to see how I react, both with your eyes closed then open. Apparently that did nothing for me.  Before they unhooked everything I asked if I could take a selfie as I was sure it looked pretty stupid. I was right.  I won't know the results for a few weeks but the good news is they let me leave. Next on the testing plan is to hook me up to a heart monitor and leave it attached for 2 weeks to see if I have any issues with my heart stopping which could affect the blood flow to my head.  I decided to wait until mid October to do that as I didn't want to be tethered to anything while I was fishing.  Something tells me that won't show anything either but one never knows as I am not getting any younger.  I suspect losing about 20 pounds would hurt either. It's about 3 days before we leave for Lac Seul and the weather is looking very good with no snow predicted like there was this spring. Normally we bring our blue Clam ice fishing suits but I don't think it's going to be necessary this time as it looks like the mid to high 60's are predicted.  The boat is pretty well packed as I have removed all of the unnecessary tackle boxes, packed my boat fenders, updated my electronics including downloading all of my friend Bruce's information on the lake, changed out which fishing rods I would like to bring with, and made room for everyone else's stuff.  The oil reservoir is filled, my spare prop put away, and all of the safety equipment double checked and ready to go.  I certainly don't need any run in's with the the conservation officers.  

Because I will be in  Canada all week, returning Friday, next weeks post may not happen, we'll see. There is extremely slow internet at the cabin and I am sure it will not like pictures but we'll see.  If not, I'll post as soon as I can with hopefully another great report. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Labor Day Labor

My 1 pound Pear
September is looking more like one big blur these days.  With the sun setting earlier each day there seems little time to get anything done, maybe getting older doesn't help either.  The other issue is the amount of rain we've had this summer.  Usually parts of my property gets pretty dry this time of year and requires little mowing but not this summer as we have had frequent and adequate soakings to keep all of the grass nice and green and growing.  The wet weather has taken a toll on a number of trees that are succumbing to fungus and blight and the outcome doesn't look to good.  My favorite apple is the Firesides I have and last year the wet spring killed one of the two I had and now the remaining one is full of fungus.  My Honeycrisp apple trees don't look any better and I have a rather large Sugar Maple that is dying as well so it looks like I have some work to do this winter with the chainsaw.  On the positive side it's been a wonderful year for my pears.  The trees weren't too loaded with fruit so it helps to create fabulous sizes on the pears that were on the tree.  I have included a picture of one of the largest off my Patton Pear tree, it weighs in at about 1 pound and is big as a softball.  Admittedly it's the largest pear I have ever seen come off my tree.  They are actually very good to eat as the fruit is crisp and sweet.  With the help of our neighbors and friends Lory and Lynn Brasel, we got the entire tree picked before they start rotting on the tree, which some have already started.  Later this week her and my wife plan on canning a bunch, something I have never done.  They canned the fruit from my SummerCrisp Pear tree by simply using apple juice instead of a syrup and it's pretty amazing how well they turned out.  Because those pears were smaller they used pint sized jars but these will definitely require quarts.

Flooding as the pond overflows in Eleva
Last week it was very hot, humid, with a strong south wind.  Sunday was no different as we drove down to Fountain City, Wisconsin to visit my wife's cousin and to attend Farm Fest, a small event on the top of the ridge just north of town.  It was pretty interesting to see all the old tractors and engines however I think that the hot weather kept a lot of people away.  Never the less it was nice to spend time with the guys, John, Greg, Bob, and John Charles solving all the worlds problems.  Sunday night had torrential rains forecasted so we headed back only to run into those rains around Alma and drove through some pretty heavy downpours for the next hour.  In my home town of Eleva it was a completely different story as they had severe flooding both from the north coming into the Eleva Pond and from the east when the dam in Strum breached and sent a wall of water down the Buffalo River heading right for Eleva.  Although the water is high in this picture, the damage happened after it had carved a channel through the dike surrounding the old Chicken Plant (now Family Farms) and completely flooded the lower part of the building.  Bud Tollefson use to live in the house below the bridge and definitely in the flood plain however it's been since 1978 when Eleva had the last incident.  Apparently that house had a foot of water on the first floor which meant the basement was completely full.  I called my friend Kevin and his son Ben and got the story, particularly the rush to sandbag critical areas before the wall of water arrived from Strum.  With over 100 volunteers helping, they averted most of the issues but it's still going to be a few weeks before things get back to normal.  They did tell me that it was necessary to pull the planks on the Eleva Dam and at this point the pond is empty.  I am going through on Saturday and see how everyone is doing.

Salsa cooking down
So it obvious that I didn't get out fishing this weekend.  Labor Day means one thing and for me it's not a rest from Labor but a day off from work to labor around the house more. There is still a lot of issues in getting ready for Lac Seul and to be honest, I'll get a month's worth of fishing in a week and with the harvest in peak mode, there's little time to get anything done (Sound like a broken record, uh!).  I did start working on getting the Salem Ice Cabin ready for the winter.  It's amazing that something you pull down a salty road in the winter uses standard steel screw to hold everything in place.  I have been changing them out with Stainless Steel and with some it's simply too late as the heads simply break off or in some cases are already corroded off. Everything is greased up and I like to repaint the frame areas that tend to rust easily, it simply makes it look nicer, that's all.  With the last of the tomatoes ripening I made the last batch of salsa on Monday night.  I've probably said this before but I do think my salsa is pretty good for homemade.  Not as good as fresh but certainly as good as any store bought I've had.  It does take a lot of work and time, about 4 hours to make 7 quarts. This year ended up around 33 quarts, enough for the football season at Tim's, my ice fishing trips at Red Lake, and maybe enough to take for opening fishing next spring.  It's really thick and tomatoey but I am always surprised that once cooked the heat of the peppers seems to wane.  Oh well, it's really easy to spice up and this year I'm going to try a trick that my friend Ricky Shermer does, adds freash cut onions to his salsa that he opens up and serves.  Seems like a great idea. Hopefully I can get out this weekend and make sure everything is working in the boat.  I have had some issues with glueing a panel to the underside of my console that I have bolted my ethernet hub to.  Originally I used Silicon adhesive but that didn't work very well and it fell off.  I've tried GOOP and liquid nails with little luck and believe my initial instinct of using 3M 5200 Marine adhesive will work.  It's hard to find but I need to do something before the following weekend.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Hanging with Charlie

Charlie's first Smallie
Last Thursday afternoon was the day to pick up my boat from Frankie's as they had the GPS module in the Motorguide replaced and a few of my minor warranty issues taken care of.  On the phone was a text message from Chuck Teasley, "Got time for lunch tomorrow?"  The fact that Chuck lives in Glen Carbon, Illinois which is just east of St. Louis, Missouri I just assumed he probably texted me by mistake so instead of wasting a long drawn out text event it would simply be easier to call him. Answering his phone I learned that he was in Iowa heading to the Twin Cities, his sister passed away and he needed to come and help with everything.  Well lunch was just fine however he had to join another friend, Hondro and I as it was already scheduled but that wouldn't be a problem, they would get along just fine.  Asking a few more questions like where was he staying gave me an opportunity to help by getting a hotel reservation at our corporate rate near the office, which would work out well for him.  Of course lunch didn't work out but with his daughter Cameron flying in to attend and see some friends, it gave us Saturday afternoon to go fishing on the river, and fish we did! Arriving at noon we headed to the Ace Hardware store to get some 4 - 6 inch sucker minnows. The big smallies love them and although it might be too early yet, it never hurts to have them with.  Hitching the jon boat to the Polaris Razor, we headed through my neighbors field and in 15 minutes we were on the river.  My plan was to work ourselves up to the 101 bridge just south of Elk River, Minnesota and work the bridge piers first then leisurely drift down while stopping at the deeper holes, casting the rock strewn shores, and enjoying the scenery.  At the bridge Chuck caught a small northern while I drifted one of the sucker minnows close to the rocky shore on the south side of the river.  I use a trick that Pete showed me, hang the big minnow about 2 feet under a bobber and hang on!  After 2 short drifts the third one finally saw the bobber disappear with vengeance, a 3 count and set the hook as the line snapped.  Must have been a nice northern as I was using 12 pound test line. As we started to drift down Chuck caught the first smallmouth on a bomber crankbait, the day was starting out pretty good. I suggested that he use a casting rod and reel as one can be more accurate pitching those crankbaits into the shore edges and
An  ill Placed Lure
with the rocky bottom the heavier line would hold up a lot better. When I first asked Chuck if he could cast this type of rig it was "No Problem!" however upon handing him the rig he sort of admitted he might not be as proficient as he sounded earlier. Never the less he wanted to try it and his first cast was not very well placed as the lure ended up in the front of my shorts....Oh My fishing for trouser trout, hey Charlie! Lucky for me the hook just caught my zipper or there might could have been a few more of the chosen words I had already just used.  It took about a minute to get resituated and was followed by taking the casting rod away and giving him a spinning rod with the same lure, it just seemed much safer. Oh well, Chuck asked me to post this so here it is. Just below the RV park that is below the bridge and on the west side is the first rapids to negotiate.  Usually I head up the east side of the river but really wanted to fish the rockier west side which looked tempting.  Normally I simply point the stern of the boat downstream then use the electric trolling motor to position the boat so both of us have access to casting towards the shore.  Well I got a little shallow and before I could make any moves a rock tore off my transducer from the back of the boat.  Although it is frustrating, often times you do expect some casualties if you're going to push the limits of your current river knowledge. What frustrated me the most was when I got home to replace the transducer with a spare I have, the depthfinder didn't work.  I am thinking that water got into the crystal element of the transducer and the output drivers of that part of the locator circuit didn't like that very well. Things happen in three's and with 2 down I was sure the next issue wouldn't be far behind and it wasn't as another rock tried to push my trolling motor under the boat which caused the T bar that holds the motor to the various bracket positions snapped off.  This usually happens a few times a year and luckily they are only about $1.60 each and take about 15 minutes to replace, as I have done this many times.  With all of that out of the way it was time to get serious about fishing.

18.5 Inch Bass
Above the Crow River is a couple of nice holes where I've seen a few guys fishing.  We stopped to fish some nigh crawlers on the bottom as I am sure this is a great place for walleyes.  The only thing that bite was about a 4 pound carp, they do fight pretty good but not necessarily what we were looking for.  I also got a small channel catfish, maybe 13 inches at best, it was time to move. As we drifted the shorelines for the most part we stay on the north side of the river as it is has more rocks associated with it and because of the influence of the Crow River, it tends to be more clear on that side.  There are also 3 nice side channels on the north side which I always catch fish along the edges.  I would say that we had caught almost 15 smallmouth by the time we hit the second side channel but they were pretty small, often less than 13 inches.  Never the less they were really hitting those baits as sometimes you would see them actually come right to the boat before slamming it.  We even had a few that hit it so hard they came off right away.  Coming down the channel there was a nice small eddy that had formed at the edge so I perfectly placed my Bomber Crank and 2 seconds later had a very nice 18.5 inch smallie, best of the season so far.  As you see the river was almost perfect for fishing that day, nice and calm and the level is almost perfect.  The water temperature is down degrees from the last time we were out and as the water cools it will drive those smallies into the deeper holes.  I still haven't caught a walleye in the river yet this year, maybe it's just not my year for them, yet there is plenty of time.  We ended the day catching about 20 smallmouth bass and had a number of fish that followed the bait to the boat so all in all it wasn't a bad day.  I had been telling Chuck all day about the menu at Clives, a nice place to eat in Champlin, MN where they had deep fried northern pike you could order for fish and chips.  Northern pike is actually pretty good to eat and I think it has more flavor and texture than walleye so we decided to have dinner there.  Well, to my disappointment it was no longer on the menu so we settled for catfish instead. After a few hugs and well wishes we headed our own ways as Chuck had a busy schedule on Sunday.  It was great to get out with him again, he is one of my most sincere friends as I have known him since about 1978, when I first moved to the cities.  I can assure you he is a bit tamer than he was but his spirit hasn't changed a bit!

My goal of getting the Lowrance HDS 7 touch for Bruce for our trip to Lac Seul was now in jeopardy as something happened and for the life of me I could not figure it out.  No transducer pinging probably meant that the output section of the circuit got fried.  Calling Lowrance we did a hard reset with no results so was resigned to send it to their service center in San Diego with a 7 - 10 day average turn around.  This would really cut it close so it went overnight.  Well, late last night I got a shipment confirmation in the e-mail, I should have it back by Friday.  Now I wonder what the heck, maybe I missed something, I guess we will  see next week.  Anyway we are back on schedule for sure!  My friend Lory helped me with the calibration of my trolling motor board, that went pretty simple.  He's a great guy to have around as he and his wife helped me make 9 quarts of my famous salsa on Tuesday night, no simple task and it was pretty humid.  It's a busy weekend and is also my 1 year anniversary of totalling out my motorcycle.  I still haven't decided how much I miss it yet with everything moving so fast these days, not much.  Hopefully I can get out fishing if there's anyone around!