Thursday, October 22, 2015

Time For Trout

Absolutely Gorgeous 23" Rainbow
During the last couple of years mid October has been the time where I take a day of vacation, drive up to my friend Bill Lundeen's and head up to our secret lake to go trout fishing.  There are actually a lot of lakes within 2 hours that the DNR stocks with rainbow and brown trout, especially the old iron ore pits north of Aitkin, MN.  These lakes are usually spring fed, clear, and deep and are perfect for sustaining trout.  This Monday was my third trout fishing trip with Bill and I have to admit that it is a unique experience to say the least.  Bill had everything loaded up in his truck so all I needed to do was pack my fishing rod, a few lures that I thought might be useful, and a camera.  The lake that we fish does not have a boat landing and is only accessible to the public via a canoe.  It's quite a trek downhill to the small canoe landing and I can attest that going down is a lot easier than going up. The morning started out literally on the wrong foot as I opened the back door of the truck to get the trolling motor battery out, it had shifted and upon opening the door it fell out directly on my right foot. The same foot that got crunched when I tipped my motorcycle, the same foot that has some arthritis in it, there were a few choice words with an accompanying dance to express my pleasure. We used to have a saying "It'll feel better when it stops hurting" so we loaded the canoe up onto a nice wheeled bracket and in 10 minutes we were ready to fish.  I used a simple spinning rod rigged up with a small spinner rig with a single hook, a 3/8 ounce bell sinker, and a half a worm.  Bill had the same rig however he was using a bubble gum colored Gulp trout worm.  It was a gorgeous day as the lake was like a mirror, much different than the 20 mph winds predicted.  Within 2 minutes I had the first fish, a nice 12 inch rainbow trout and by the first hour we had 6 of our total limit of 10.  The next fish was a monster as Bill hooked what he thought was a nice largemouth bass however it definitely felt different.  As it came to the surface he had hooked the largest trout he had ever had so now the pressure was on me to make sure I would land it successfully with the net.  Fishing in a canoe is quite interesting as I was sitting in the front and can't turn around other than twist my body.  My feet are stuck facing forward with the fish bucket between them and the net in my left hand.  This fish wasn't too interested in getting into the net and I wanted to make sure and scoop it head first.  After a few tries I finally was able to get the fish in the net after about a 5 minute battle.  This was too good a fish to simply put it in the bucket and I was concerned that it could flop out of my grip so it stayed in the net.  Luckily we were close to the landing and decided to head back and get a few pictures to savor the moment and recover from all the excitement.   After settling down we headed back out in the lake to see if we could get 3 more trout to fill out our limit. Up to this point Bill had the hot fishing pole however I tend to be the late bloomer and actually caught the last 3 fish including a nice one of my own. We headed back to the bait shop with a nice mess of trout and the plan was to clean them, get something to eat before heading out back again to catch some crappies.

9.25 - 10.25 inch Crappies
Back at the shop we measured the 2 biggest trout,  Bill's went 23 inches and weighed 3 pounds 13 ounces, not bad.  I put my largest on the scale and announce 21 inches!  Bill looked at me and said "Dave, you have to start at the 0 inches end, not the 36 inch end!"..............damn, only 15 inches.  Still a nice fish. After a hot bowl of soup we loaded up his 16 foot Lund and headed to a small lake west of Mille Lacs Lake to try for suspended crappies.  In the fall when the water cools down the crappies tend to suspend over the deep water.  On lakes were the deepest part is 30 - 35 feet, its fairly easy to motor around until you mark them on the depth finder and mark them we did.  Hovering 10 to 15 feet about above the bottom it seemed as though wherever you went in the basin, crappies were there.  It did take a while to find the larger ones as we did catch a number of small fish in that 5 - 7 inch range.  Using the trolling motor to hover on a position we were able to drop our jigs as we watched them fall to the correct depth on the depth finder then work the magic till we get a hit.  Bill had us pull those fish up very slowly as if you bring them to the surface too fast and you release them, their air bladder will keep the fish floating and most tend to die.  Although the eagles like this, we were careful making sure our fish survived the release.  The other thing that I learned is Gulp minnows work very well for this, unfortunately it was somewhat too late as Bill out fished me 3:1.  By the time I figured it out it was time to leave with our 11 fish in ranging from 9.25 to 10.25 inches.  Not monsters by any means but they are nice fish.

Mirror image!
Saturday was spent picking apples and in the afternoon I decided to take the boat out and see if the trolling motor still works.  Because I hit the rocks the week before it would also be a good time to check for any vibrations cause by a possible bend prop shaft.  I decided to try Lake John, just southwest of Annandale, maybe a little far but it has a nice landing and I know the lake pretty well. I will admit that the new boat is taking a while to get used to as it's quite a bit bigger than my old 620T and can be a hand full by myself.  Arriving at the lake it was as I expected, empty landing with the dock still in, perfect for a one man show.  Coming off the trailer nice, I secured the boat, parked the truck, and was ready to go.  Earlier I had set the shallow water alarm on the Evinrude display to 3 feet thinking that would be a great idea yet it's sort of a pain in the butt as I motored out of the landing area into the main lake.  Although it was plenty deep enough the weed tops kept sounding the alarm, I finally shut it off.  With the lake calm and about a mile long I decided to open it up and see what it would do.  With the colder and dense air the motors tend to run faster and I hit a new high in RPM's, 6050 with the fastest MPH at about 60.5.  In the warmer weather and with 2 guys it falls back to about 5850 RPM's and 58 mph.  I suspect that the reports of 62 MPH with one guy and a half tank of fuel (200 pounds lighter) is more than possible.  Like we did on Monday I searched the deeper basin's for crappies but did not have much luck. On the other hand the trolling motor worked perfectly AGAIN!  This time the water was calm and with no wind to set the direction of travel needed to stay in one spot, nevertheless it's performance was fabulous.  No twisting of the cords as the motor only traveled about 300 degrees before reversing itself to change directions.  Previous issues would have the motor just keep rotating until the cords were completely wrapped around the main shaft.  Working different areas, different heading lock modes, and trying the jog functions, everything seemed to be perfect let's hope all of the problems have been solved.

Time is running out as I need to start putting things away for the winter.  The boat heads back to Frankie's on Monday to fix a few things left that need to be addressed.  I've started pressing apple cider and am thinking about trying to make hard cider this year, we'll see.  The mid term weather forecast shows above normal temperatures thru the middle of November, I might just keep the boat available for one more crappie fishing trip yet deer hunting is right around the corner and I need to get ready for that.  For the most part I have finished the work on my Salem Ice Cabin, replaced all the screws with Stainless Steel and finally installed my wheel skirts which should keep things warmer when on the ice.  So much to do, so little time!