Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Merry Christmas....

From Matt, my friend and fishing buddy!
With Christmas falling on a Friday and the ice conditions still iffy in northern Minnesota, I decided to go to my Mom's Christmas Eve and our niece wanted to get together on Saturday to see her as it's been a while and she has 2 beautiful kids, Kaylee and Zack, it gave us a chance to run back down to Eleva and see Kevin who like clockwork had Lefse for Lyn and I, his Christmas gift to us (The best ever).  We did watch the Packer/Arizona game at his house, not a very good game but it's tough to lose any sleep over it.  In the meantime my friend Mark went back up to Red Lake on Saturday and is expected to come home on Wednesday night, in time for New Years.  I have been coughing terribly and  maybe will wait to Friday to go back up to Red, we will have to see who wants to go with me. I did call Mark on Tuesday morning and he claims that they are making ice fast with at least 11 inches and the fishing has been good.   Certainly am getting anxious to go!  I did decide to come into work today (Tuesday Dec 29th) and to my surprise my friend and fishing buddy Matt Davis sent me a Christmas Present, a commemorative bottle of my favorite whiskey in the world TX number 2713,  along with some glasses for my ice house, a hat, T Shirt that says basically Texas Made.  WOW do I have good friends or what!!! first Lefsa and now TX.  I am not sure a guy could ask for anything more for Christmas, that's for sure!!!  Just having friends like Matt Davis, or Joe Stanfield is more than anyone could wish for or want! I am going to get them both up ice fishing some day, as I know they'll never experience this kind of fishing in Texas.  Although I enjoyed Red fishing in March much better in Louisiana than sitting on the cold ice, you have to play the cards your dealt and having the Salem Ice Cabin stocked with TX is almost as good!

Ezee Steps on a Ranger
This week I ordered my Ezee steps for my Ranger Boat.  This new boat I have is quite a bit larger than my old 620T and takes more finesse to get it properly loaded onto the trailer.   It is too heavy to simply pull up that last 4 inches and you have to make sure you drive it on until it hits the front bow support.  Then it takes some acrobatics to get off the bow and onto the trailer to hook the winch rope and snugg it up while there is still some floating going on.  Well Last July I loaded the boat then went over the bow onto the step that is on the winch post but somehow slipped and fell back first onto the ramp.  Luckily I fell towards the water side and hit a foot of water to break my fall instead of breaking my back.  It spooked me and made me much more careful however I ran across these Ezee steps and after looking at the videos and testimonials I decided that I'm not gettting any younger and ordered a set.  It was quite the ordeal for sure as the owner of Ezee Steps, Mark actually called me to make sure I got all the right dimensions needed for a proper fit.  He was really thorough and impressed me. Because of the fact that the water will be hard for at least 3 more months I told him I wasn't in any particular hurry but he insisted that I would have them by February.  Getting old isn't so bad if you have the right stuff!  These should really help getting in and out of the boat safely.

My friend Mark is at Red Lake and claims he has been doing really good.  Today he decided to go trout fishing on the Red Lake Reservation on a guided trip.  I am anxious to see how that goes as he wants the trout for pickling.  Mark makes by far the best home made pickled fish I have ever had and I gave him some trout that Bill and I had gotten this fall to pickle and boy, did they turn out fabulous!!  Anyway he said that he might be willing to go with me to Red Lake on Friday, which sounded great.  He will be home on Wednesday and we should have everything resolved by then as I am getting anxious to get out.  Apparently you still can't drive on Red Lake but JR claims to be ready to take care of us!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

First trip to Red

View from my Chair in my portable 1 man
Working with my friend Mark who along with Russ brought their houses up to Red Lake last weekend and stored them at JR's while walking out to their fishing spots, we decided to head up on Friday, I'd drag my Salem up there, called my friend from Chippewa Falls, WI, Paul Wenaas and brother Steve from the La Crosse, Paul brought his ATV, we arrived at JR's about noon.  Russ was a champ and he and his dog Shadow rode up with me as I have had some medical issues a few weeks ago and my wife wanted someone to be with me, while Mark drove up himself.  Arriving at JR's I got my Salem house parked and got ready to head out pulling our portable fish shacks.  It was interesting as a large crack of about 50 feet opened up about 1/2 mile from shore and we were forced to fish in 8.5 feet of water whereas it would have been preferred to be in around 11 - 12 feet yet fishing till dark it was too dangerous to be wondering around in the dark. Mark and Russ was fishing close to me however I didn't have much luck, not even a perch!  Because JR'a or any resort for that matter was not allowing ATV traffic until the hazards were marked and the bridges over the cracks were in place, we walked out.  In the meantime Mark and Russ had caught some fish, while I was skunked. Between them and Steve and Paul we had enough fish to fry them up at JR's and a pizza filled us up pretty well.

 It was interesting as you can see in the picture, the ice was about 7 inches thick on Saturday and it might be ready to pull the houses out in another week.  In the meantime it was pretty cozy however I did go through 3 1#bottles of propane it wasn't too bad.  Also my Skinny Dipper I bought at the Blaine Ice Show got burnt so I had to order another one as they are pretty nice to have.  Saturday was nicer than Friday as the wind had switched from out of the west on Friday to out of the south on Saturday.  Saturday we were allowed to drive our ATV out and 7 inches of ice was plenty for that provided we drove slow still it was a slow weekend for me regarding fishing.  I think I had one bite, that was it! and it was on the rattle reel to the left (you can only see the line going down into the hole).  I marked plenty of fish but they didn't seem to like what I presented them with, who knows.  It still was fun!!!

JR's Corner Access (That's russ in the lower right corner!)
JR's Corrner Access is a great place to ice fish.  This year he redid the back cleaning area to accomodate more bench space for cleaning fish, took out the pool table and added a couple of new tables to seat more people.  It's simply a heated pole shed, I feel just like home there!  He just sells beer and Set ups so you can BYOB (Bring your own bottle) of whatever and buy a glass of ice or they cook our fish up for $5.00 a guy, served with a heaping pile of french fries what more can on ask! JR is from St. Joseph, MN just west of St. Cloud and is a great guy.  He treats both Mark and I like special guest everytime we arrive.  He loves my friend Bill Lundeen's wild rice so we brought him up 10 pounds of it this weekend, along with a quart of my fresh homemade salsa and I gave him a salmon fillet from my friend Kieth Holtan.  I was a nic wild run sockeye salmon fillet and Keith has met JR before and I am sure he wouldn't mind.  As well my friend Paul is going up to Alaska next year and I suggested he get in touch with Kieth for a great time.  JR really watches what he eats and is always appreciative of home grown food and naturally harvested stuff.  There are a lot of great people in JR's, met the guy I bought a custom crappie rod at the Blaine Ice Show, so that was nice.   Actually one of the bartenders up there is the grandson of one of our Team ENA members so we had a great time with him.  Mark and Russ are huge in playing FARKLE so on Saturday night after a hard day of fishing we had JR cook our fish and sat down for a couple of games of Farkle before hitting the sack which was good after a long walk and a good day of fishing.  A longwalk because we didn't leave the ice till after dark and Paul was driving the ATV and was naturally nervous about where he was going! Either way I can't wait to get back up to Red with my brother Steve and my friends from Sconnie and am looking forward to maybe heading up next Monday.  I am anxious to catch my first walleye of the season.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

This waiting for ice is Killing me!

Mark's Red Lake catch
Well my friend Mark made it to Red Lake last friday and it turned out to be quite an adventure.  I would have gone with him however I had some tests scheduled, I get to that later.  Mark left Thursday night an ended up staying in Deer River in his wheel house because of the weather and arrived at JR's Friday morning.  The first thing he did was bury his wheel house in the mud, enough to have to be pulled out by a cat.  Uffda, that didn't sound like fun.  He did do pretty well although they were relegated to walking out on the ice as it wasn't safe enough to drive.  They walked out about a mile and really got into them, here is Mark, Russ, and Randy's supper for Saturday night.  Apparently the ice was 6 inches thick and where they drilled they caught fish. Back at JR's they had them for supper and came home on Sunday.  Both Mark, I, my brother Steve and a friend from Chippewa Falls are heading up on Friday, I talked to JR and they should be allowing ATV's to run on the ice, much nicer traveling although we still need to stay on shore.  I am looking forward to getting out on the ice, normally by December 1 Red Lake is frozen enough to drive on but not this year.  Oh well haven't shovelled any snow yet either so it isn't all bad.  Mark was using his Electric Auger with a quick coupler I had got him unfortunately the coupler came uncoupled and the entire auger drill when right down the hole to the bottom.  I rigged a powerful magnet to see if we can find and retrieve it, that would be real sweet if it happens.  I am looking forward to a fresh walleye dinner at JR's soon as he really does fish nice.  Go catch them and bring them into his bar/restaurant to clean them, give them to him and for $5 a person he will deep fry them for you.  With a boxful of french fries, you can't go wrong! Hopefully I'll have better stories about me fishing next week than having to rely on my other experiences or someone else's fishing adventures!

An 8 inch needle into my spinal cord
As stated Friday was test day for me and I had a TEE (trans esophageal echo) which is an echo cardiogram taken from down your throat and then at 2:00 I had a Lumbar puncture which they use to refer it as a spinal tap.  Either way neither was too much fun although they put you under before the shove this huge probe down your throat, and the spinal tap...........well just say that I'm no looking forward to any more of those!  Uffda!  The worse thing was the novacaine that they injected into my spine before the put the 8 inch needle in. As my title indicates, waiting for fishable ice is still more painful but this came close!  I got the test results and they don't look too bad. Admittedly my doctors have been pretty good although one made a referral for me and they called me notifying me of an appointment they set up for me, Oct 18th.  I asked what year? They didn't think that was too funny however I didn't think the earliest one could get in was in 10 months, too funny either!  I would like to thank everyone who has sent their well wishes and of course all of the prayer's that my friends have said for me, it's truly appreciated.  I am doing really well and I have great care between my wife, doctors, and friends plus I have a  lot of fishing to do yet, two months of ice fishing,  I just got the invitation to Leech Lake for Minnesota opener and we are already talking about Canadian opener at Lac Suel as well a trip next December fishing grouper in Naples Florida. Geez, I am just learning how to fish out of my new boat!  Oh well, I am lucky to have such a great support system.  Here's hoping we get some fish.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Patience is a Virtue!!

Himilayan salt lamp
Well our latest El Nino is doing exactly what it was predicted to do, give the upper midwest a mild winter.  They weren't kidding, with daily high temperatures for Red Lake predicted in the 30's and lows in the upper teens, that's hardly enough to make ice very fast.  It's suppose to cool down next week so it may be possible to bring my house up next Friday and walk from shore, we'll see.  My friend Mark Applen is bringing his house up to JR's this friday and it will be good to get a report from him.  So as time ticks away I have a couple of things that I have been doing, one is improving the little things in the Salem Ice Cabin, like taking off the pads off the axle jacks and having them redone, sand blasted and re-powder coated as they were pretty rustyfrom the road salt.  I added mudflaps to my fenders this year to help reduce the salt that flies up off the road.  Will this help the fish bite better? no, but stuff like that drives me crazy.  Another thing I bought for the Ice Cabin is a himalayan salt lamp  if you click on the link it will tell you all the benefits that these lamps are suppose to do.  hopefully it will help our fishing somewhat and if nothing else it's a good s conversation piece.   it's interesting I got it from Amazon and I thought I would buy one for my friend Mark Applen who has the same Salem Ice Cabin that I have. Can you imagine if and when we have our houses close together, you'll never stop us from hauling in the walleyes!!! next thing you know I'll be giving yoga lessons on the ice........NOT!!!

HDS 9 and 12 on my dash
So my other project is to add a third depth finder to my new boat.  My previous boat had a Lowrance HDS 7 Gen 2 touch on the front deck mounted with a RAM mount so I could easily move it from my Ranger to my Jon Boat for fishing the river.  This year I sold the HDS 7 to Bruce and my front depthfinder on my new Ranger is built in and not easily removeable.  Therefore after selling it to Bruce I didn't have anything for the river.  Last month I upgraded with my friend Bill and got a newer HDS 12 Gen 3 which is for the back, and a HDS 9 Gen 3 which I already thought about running a second one on the console, one that can be removed and moved over to the jon boat.  I got a Johnny Ray mount which works great, is low profile and it is easily transferred with a simple push of a button.  After talking to the Lowrance guy at Cabela's on Black Friday he help me with the possible configurations and iit was as I planned, the HDS 9 will used primarily for GPS and charting including the interface with my Mototguide trolling motor and the HDS 12 will be used to run both standard sonar plus downscan/sidescan.  We talked a lot about searching for fish and I am going to spend alot of time this year learning this skill!  The big plus is I'll have my unit back for my Jon Boat.  My single biggest fear is that Bruce who is now really used to using my old HDS 7 will now what to upgrade to the 9!!  Oh well, the nice thing is that all of these units are networked together and work in unison to really give almost too much options for me to learn, yet when I do, watch out the BS will be simply a flowing!  I am very lucky to understand all of the connection requirements, how to hook up the NEMA 200 networks and how to connect the ethernet cables between the units.  It can been fairly complicated for sure.

This picture says it all
Maybe this week I can head up to the Alexandria area and find a lake I can walk out to get crappies.
Something to scratch this itch that has been bugging me since Thanksgiving.  First ice is always good for big crappies and sunfish and maybe I can fnd some!  my friend Keith sent me a picture of the state of ice fishing in Minnesota about now.  Those who ice fish will understand!  If you don't that's OK.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

In Orlando

Sunrise on a 737
I am in Orlando at out fall TTA meeting at  the Hard Rock Hotel at Univesal Studios.  I flew in on Wednesday morning, had to get up at 4:00AM and  catch a 7:00 flight and fortunately I got my first class  upgrade and picked a seat on the left side of the airplane knowing I have to fly down the Mississippi River near my home town of Eleva, therefore I love being able to visualize this area from the air.  Unfortunately it was cloudy right away, once we hit 10,00 feet and all I got to see was the cloud cover and did get an opening around fountain City, otherwise the only interesting thing wa to watch the sunrise over a cloud covered Wisconsin.  I arrive in Orlando at about 11;30 Easten Stanmdard time and headed to the Hard Rock hotel at Universal Studio's.  Coming into Orlando Airport there is a considerable amount of small lakes and canals we have already made interconnecting those lakes and I noticed a lot of boats traveling between these lakes , I am sure most are fishing bass.  Normally when I am in an area like this I try to arrange a fishing trip and my friends who have vacation homes in the area are going however I need to be back for the weekend, to attend the ice fishing show in St. Paul and I have a Taylor family event on Sunday that I need to attend. One friend, Tim Smith has a house and a boat in Naples Florida and I am invited to join them for Grouper fishing this weekend, we have decided to come back to this area for our meeting next year and have already made significant commitments for fishing next year.  Besides I am getting anxious to go ice fishing and trying to take it easy after my situation of 3 weeks ago.  The forecast for ice hasn't been very good but it's bound to get colder!  the highlight of my trip was to see everyone in my industry as well we did catch a preformance of the Blue Man Group which was very good.

Heather and Jared with her nice 10 pointer
My wife and I did get back to Wisconsin to see her Uncle Bernie and my At Bernie and Nellie's we had a nice meal including Bearmeat from the bear Bernie shot with his bow a few weeks ago near his farm South of Eleva.  It was excellent as I don't recall having bear perpared like this. What we had was ground bear mixd with mustard seed, it was amazingly good.  Thank goodness They shared some and we brought home a few pounds of ground bear meat.  We also stopped at Ben Aiona's house to visit with him and hopefully see my friend Kevin.  I suspect they were out deer hunting but Ben and his wife, Heather was there, they were canning venison.  Ben had sent me a picture of his wife's 10 point Buck she shot on Saturday, Wisconsin deer opener.  It was very nice. Ben shared some venison with us, I cetainly had enough for the coming year with the nice doe we tagged 4 weeks ago, the bear meat we got from Bernie and the extra meat from Ben.  A stop up to Lyn's uncle Andrew resulted in a few more packages of venison and we should be set.

My friend Rick
One of the things we got to do while at mom's was to visit with a old friend and classmate of mine Rick Semingson. Rick went to college and onto working for the National Forest Service in North Carolina and settled in a town called Mycaysville, Georgia.  Rick's dad Dunk and my dad were best of friends so it was natural that we hung together in school.  Rick and I graduated in the top ten of our class and we both agree that he was probably number 6 or 7 and I was number 7 or 8.  We definitely have different hobbies however when we were in high school definitely drinking Walter's Beer was something we both enjoyed.  Beyond that we stay good friends even though we don't get to see each other very often.  One time, maybe 15 years ago I had a conference in Charlotte North Carolina and Rick picked me up at the Atlanta airport and we spent the weekend together, it was nice traveling through the area, up around his house, up over the blue ridge mountains and down into Charlotte.  It was a trip I'll never forget and one I'd love to return and visit again. I went to the St. Paul Ice fishing show on Saturday with Mark Applen and Lory Brasel and met a few other friends down there, I did buy a few things and had an opportunity to talk to the resorts on both Mille Lacs and Lake of the Woods, and Red Lake an it probably will no be until after  Christmas before we get out with the wheel house and maybe next week we can find a smaller lake to try for some crappies.