Thursday, December 22, 2016

Too Cold to Fish

Mark Threw back this walleye
Okay, I said it!  We have been patiently waiting for the ice to freeze thick enough to pull our wheel houses out on Red Lake and it sure isn't like 2 years ago when we had enough ice to drive on the lake the Friday after Thanksgiving.  With the below zero weather last week, it definitely made ice, enough for me to consider pulling up my house last Friday however a pending snow storm put a dent in that plan.  Plan B was to Ride up with Mark on Saturday as he already has his house up at JR's Corner Access, stay the night then hitch a ride home with Russ on Sunday morning to be back in time for a business meeting I had scheduled for Sunday night.  Unfortunately the predicted low for last Saturday night on Red was supposed to be close to -26F and both Mark decided to stay home until Sunday and Russ decided to drive home on Saturday instead of dealing with everything in the brutal cold. Therefore my plans for a quick trip to Red were dashed but that's OK.  Mark did head up on Sunday as JR was letting 1/2 ton pickups drive out for the first time this year.  Although fishing wasn't spectacular by any means he did manage to catch some nice fish before he headed home on Wednesday.  According to his text messages he was able to get 9 on tuesday, enough to keep one interested as well, have enough fish to take into JR's and eat supper.  Mark said that there was a good 15 inches of ice, which is enough however after the below zero weather of last week and now we are hitting the lower 30's it's likely that the ice is expanding and starting to heave so JR is probably putting out bridges today.  The weather report for next Sunday doesn't look the greatest with 8 - 12 inches of snow predicted.  I will be going there with my brother Steve on Monday as he has to drive his son to the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport, I suggested he just keep driving north and we will head to JR's so as of now, that's the plan!

Automatic Satellite Antenna
I have been experiencing difficulty with my DirectTV for the ice house.  My system includes what they call a carryout antenna which is can automatically lock in on the satellite and receive the signal, a receiver from my house, and the appropriate cables.  One of the cables connecting the antenna to the through wall connector was bad so I got another one.  Stupid me bought the same one again. Well these coaxial cable connectors are simply terrible to try and thread on to the matching end in the cold and this week I reached my wits end as my TV kept saying that I had a bad connection.  I finally thought through the issue and bought a new cable with a moulded shroud over the connector that allowed one to easily turn the connector onto the matching connector on the antenna and house feed through.  I also picked up an adaptor that I can screw the cable onto one side and simply insert the other side without any effort.  I tried them last night and Voila, works like a charm!!  this should allow us to pick up the Dallas/Detroit game on Monday night, hopefully Dallas will set the Packers up for a great game the following Sunday.  As stated, this was the second time I had issues with my cables, hopefully it is the last.  Either way I am anxious to get ice fishing, not that Florida was bad, but fresh walleye sounds pretty good.  I have a surprise for my brother, I am bringing a couple of grouper fillets to saute' in the house, he will enjoy that hopefully enough to want to schedule a trip back down and fish.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Naples, A Warm and Distant Memory

Matt's Huge Kingfish
Well, the cold weather finally arrived with the temperature dropping to -10F this morning.  That's 96 degrees colder than when I left Florida a week and a half ago.  A definite change, at least we are making significant ice for ice fishing.  My friends have been to Red Lake already however they really haven't done very well on the walleyes, I suspect after Christmas things will improve.  My friend Mark Applen was there last week and although he walked out, he said the water was pretty dingy, a result from the winds stirring up the water just before the lake froze over.  So last weeks post was part 1 and this week gives me an opportunity to show off the nice Kingfish that my friend Matt Davis landed.  While we were on the boat out fishing the first mate, Bob saw this big Kingfish swim by in the water.  I don't know, nobody else saw it and I suspect because we were all concentrating on fishing.  He grabbed on of the spinning outfit, grabbed a large greenback out of the baitwell and casted it in the general direction of where he seen the fish.  On his 3rd try the fish hit his bait and the fight was on.  As you see in the picture this fish is designed to be a fast swimmer and on the first run it almost spooled the line on the reel.  He was able to make up some ground then gave the rod to Matt for some fun.  A Kingfish is short for a King Mackerel, and normally they are usually caught near shore and are a lot smaller than this one.  I knew exactly what Matt was going through as I had just landed the 200# goliath grouper 15 minutes earlier and the battle was on!  It was pretty amazing to watch this fish take off on some pretty massive runs and Matt could do little but hang on.  While my battle was more of a bull fight, Matt had his hands full.  After about 20 minutes the first mate got a gaff in its side and we pulled it aboard. This was a huge kingfish, the largest ever caught in the boat at almost 56 inches and pushing 40 pounds.  They are OK to eat so we kept him however it would not fit in the cooler without cutting it's tail off.  That was 2 giant fish in one trip, that was pretty special as wewe considered these bigger fish simply a bonus to a pretty good charter.  I wish that I would have thought to take a video of his catch but too late for that!

One of the interesting thing was when we entered the inland channel to back to the docks a pelican landed on the stern of the boat, looking for a cheap and easy meal.  Apparently the first mate might have known this guy because he immediately opened the cooler to get some frozen bait fish to feed him.  He stayed for some time before he had enough free food and flew away.  These pelicans are all over the place and are very opportunistic.  There must have been 20 or so by the cleaning table on the dock waiting to scoop up the fish guts and whatever else was left over from the fillet table.  We even had 2 of them land on the dock and walk right up to us and tap our legs with their long beak. Obviously they didn't seem to mind  hanging with us as long as there was a free lunch involved.  We
Glen Collins, myself, Bill Hardt, and Matt Davis with our larger fish.
finally got all of our fish cleaned which included Gag Grouper, Red Grouper, Mangrove Snapper, Lane Snapper, and a big Kingfish.  I suspect we had at least 25 pounds of fillets so we dropped off about 15 of it to the restaurant by the docks to be cooked for our dinner that night.  I can tell you that fresh grouper is pretty good blackened and broiled.  We had some of the kingfish broiled and the smaller fillets of the Lane and Mangrove snapper we had them deep fry it.  All of the fish was delicious however I liked the grouper the best.  Luckily I had about 6 pounds of fillets to bring home, which I did quite successfully and will be enjoying my catch for a while anyway.  My friend Bill Hardt has a place north of Naples that we visited prior to flying home and at the club where he lives we had a fish called a tripletail.  We ordered the tripletail sandwich without the bun and they gave us a whole fillet broiled, it was excellent.  I would like to try and get a few of them next time, it was interesting as when the boat came in the first mate saw a few of his friends in a small skiff, and they held up 4 nice tripletails, I guess that was the first time I had ever heard of them.  Maybe when we head to Tampa in March for our annual APEC conference I can talk these guys into going back for another trip on the Sea Legs as we have done this before on past APEC conferences, both in Ft. Worth, Texas and a few years back, Charlotte, NC.  We'll see!

The latest reports have the ice at about 9 - 11 inches on Red Lake and I know they are pulling houses out with ATV's however my house is probably too heave for that.  The plan might be to go up with my friend Mark on Saturday however the high for Red Lake is only supposed to be -6F and the low that night is -23F, dang cold if you ask me.  I might go just to ride with Mark and come home on Sunday with Russ.  I really wanted to pull my house up there on Friday however we are forecasted to get up to 10 inches of snow at home before going into a deep freeze, so I may have to wait until after Christmas to get up there.  You know what they say, all good things come to those who wait!  At least after Christmas one should be able to pull out the house with the truck.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Fishing in Naples, David and Goliath! Part 1

Beautiful Red Grouper
Well our long awaited trip to Naples, Florida has come and gone, however the memories are here to stay!  Naples was the site of our annual Fall TTA meeting and it was held at the Grand Naples Beach Resort.  It was very nice but quite honestly about a half mile or so from the beach.  There was a beautiful elevated walkway through the mangroves but the days were filled with conferences and there was little time to enjoy the amenities.  As previously stated, a number of my transformer colleagues also love to fish and on a number of past trips we have arranged to arrive a few days early or stay a few days later and take advantage of our location and get a day of fishing in and this trip was no exception.  My friend Glen Collin's cousin Tim has a place in Naples as it became our headquarters for the offshore grouper fishing trip we had booked for Saturday, December 3rd.  Now Glen has fished grouper before however there was a bunch of use, including me, that had never fished grouper.  We had 2 boats chartered however the wind was up and the offshore seas were forecasted to be 4 - 5 feet, which in freshwater terms would be 8 - 10 foot swells total height from top to bottom. The captain we booked was ready to go out even though it would be rough however the other boat said no way was he going out.  Well, I've been to Alaska and know how the conditions would be so I quickly took my place on the offshore boat along with 3 others, Glen Collins, Matt Davis, and Bill Hardt.  The boat was called Sea Legs and reminded me of some of the boats I had been in before. First thing we needed to do was to catch some bait, in Minnesota they looked like shiner minnows however they were called Greenbacks.  The captain had a special place about 3 miles off shore where these bait fish congregate so he slowed the boat down and got into position while our first mate threw a cast net into the water.  I'm not sure what was there to hold fish as it was in the middle of nowhere but bait fish we got.  Back in 2009 when Lyle and I fished Key West, the guide did the same thing in shallow water however this time it only took one cast to have all the bait we needed.  These greenbacks ranged from 3" to 5 inches and I helped him get the bait into the baitwells located in the back floor of the boat.  The next stop was a 45 minute ride to the first spot.  These guides have special reefs or sunken ships they fish and more often than not, made made structures that have been place there to attract fish, and especially grouper.  Grouper are fish that tend to stick close to home so it becomes easy to fish out these structures so there is a strategy of not hanging too long on one structure as it may take months for them to repopulate with catchable fish.  Our quarry for the day was Gag Grouper, Red Grouper, and a number of snapper species that inhabit the same structures such as Mangrove Snapper and Lane Snapper.  Gag Grouper had a minimum size limit of 24 inches while Red Grouper was 20 inches.  The snappers were open to pretty much any size and actually kept some as bait for bigger fish.  Our equipment was medium heavy spinning rods with braid and a fluorocarbon leader with about a #1 or #1/0 circle hook with an egg sinker.  the spinner rigs had a light siner, maybe 1/2 ounce but I thought for fishing 30 -  45 feet of water, that wasn't enough.  They gave me a medium level wind with about a 1 ounce sinker, perfect as I'd rather feel the bottom and know where I was.  If I could have rigged my own bait I'd put the sinker above a swivel with about a 2 foot leader so the bait could move, as the rigs we were using had the sinker up against the hook, oh well!  The fish I am holding is a very nice Red grouper, very pretty.  All the targeted fish are delicious to eat.

The seas were pretty rough but not as bad as I had experienced in Alaska.  It was pretty warm out as the daytime temperatures were in the mid 80's so it was pretty comfortable that way.   We started out a a couple of spots before ending up anchored next to a sunken ship in 40 feet of water.  It was interesting, the Captain stated that the water depth changed about 2 feet per mile so we were out almost 20 miles from the shore. We already had a number of  fish in the box including a couple of legal gag and red groupers along with a few mangrove snappers and we had caught some lane snappers.  They were small but very colorful.  Because I was using the heavier level wind with a bigger sinker, the first mate rigged me up with a large frozen greenback with the tail cut off for extra scent.  Well, something hit the bait and with circle hooks you simply lift gently as the hooks will catch the side of the lip as it is being pulled and generally will hook the fish in the corner of the mouth.  Well, something really took my bait so I waited 10 seconds or so and while still feeling the fish I swept the rod and the tip basically stayed where it originally was.  Damn, I think I hooked bottom!  Well the line started moving away so it was a mad scramble to get it off the bottom so I wouldn't get caught up in a snag as we had previously experienced.  This fish though hardly moved so maybe I was already snagged up.  Well it moved to the other side of the boat and the battle was on.  The Captain right away suspected it was a Goliath Grouper, a very large fish that live along with the regular groupers.  He told me that it would be almost impossible to get that fish with the lighter tackle we were using however I had pretty good control of what I was doing.   My friend Matt Davis was smart enough to film my fight so here is the video of the fight and of the fish. Goliath grouper are a protected species and although not illegal to catch one must release them.  This fish was estimated by the captain to be over 200 pounds, not the largest but a substantial fish nevertheless. When I finally got it to the surface the first mate gaffed it through the mouth as to not hurt the fish and we all got to look at it's enormous size, definitely the largest weight fish I have ever caught.  Admittedly it was a tough battle and although I took pictures, the fish was too large to bring on board and stand alone pictures don't do it justice!  Enjoy the video as it is a great recorded memory of the occasion.  I get tired just watching it!

Next week I will finish the story as this was not the only big fish we got.  I will put in a plug for our charter, Tom' Deep Sea Fishing as this guy was great and I would definitely go out with him again.  There is a lot more to tell but certainly this was a fish of a lifetime.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Snow is gone and so am I!!

Carter Hayes and some beautiful ducks they shot
Tomorrow I leave for Naples, Florida to attend our annual TTA (The Transformer Association) meeting, an association for members of companies who make electrical transformers and coils as well as companies who supply that industry.  I was previously on the board of directors and eventually served as its President for 8 years.  It is a great organization and I have met many good people at the meetings, guys that have experienced the same issues I have for the last 40 years (On January 26th I will be celebrating my 41st year with my company).  Over the years this as well as our spring APEC conference has been a good excuse for us guys to go fishing as we have been to Key West, San Diego, Charleston, Cameron Louisiana, and now Naples.  It's not hard to find a few guys interested in going and especially now that there is no ice here in Minnesota, it's a double pleasure.  I will miss the St. Paul Ice Fishing Show on Sunday however what would one rather be doing, walking a show, dreaming about fishing, or fishing.........not a difficult question at all!  Unfortunately my fishing drought continues as it always does this year however my friend Eric sent me a picture of his son holding what he says are some Bull Canvasback ducks along with a drake Mallard.  Those are some really big ducks and Eric is certainly bringing his son Carter up correctly.  I am not sure how many Carter actually shot but either way he has a handful for sure!!  I have to thank Eric for sharing this and giving me at least a picture to open this weeks post with.  Great job boys!!!

So the plan is to arrive in Naples on Wednesday afternoon then head to our conference hotel.  We will have a day and a half of business then on Saturday we have 8 guys and 2 boats rented to go out in the gulf and do some grouper fishing.  I have never caught a grouper however I have been told that they are fight like crazy and are excellent table fare.  We have a full 8 hour charter and with a little luck we will have enough to bring home so I am taking a soft sided cooler with me and be ready for anything.  I checked the weather for Naples and it is forecasted to be in the low 80's during the day and mid 60's at night, uffda, that will be hard to take!  It looks like next week it will start getting real cold up north and hopefully we will have enough ice to get out on Red Lake by December 17th.  Mille Lacs has opened up to a very limited harvest, 1 fish between 19" and 21", I guess it's something but I'm not holding my breath.  The lake is full of 14 - 15 inch walleyes, I remember when we used to call the lake the home of the quarter pounder, the more things change the more they stay the same!  Hopefully I will have a better report for next week.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow..............

New blanket of the White Stuff this morning
Oh the weather outside's delightful, or so it goes!  Winter arrived in full fashion this week with about 2 inches last week and now another 3 inches before Thanksgiving.  I barely got my potatoes dug before the cold came but I am pretty well set.  The only thing I have to do in the next week is get the mower deck off of my lawn tractor and mount the snowblower attachment and put the cab on, which is no easy task. Unfortunately last year at this time I suffered a stroke while working on these things, admittedly I'm not very motivated to get these things done however life goes on and it's not going to get any warmer, fortunately!  This weather means that the ice should be forming on the lakes and my friend Keith Holtan sent me a picture from the Brainerd MN, newspaper of a guy out on the ice............UFFDA!
I am anxious for ice fishing to start but not that anxious! With the cold weather scheduled for next week, maybe with a little luck we will be able to make it out on Red pretty soon.  I have checked the webcams around Mille Lacs Lake and there is no ice that has formed yet but I suppose this is not surprising as it was 60 out a week ago.   The Accuweather forecast shows that after December 1st the bottom falls out of the low temperatures and maybe December 17th is the more practical date Mark Applen and I can pull up our Salem Ice Cabins for a fishing weekend.  We are anxious to get up and see what JR did to the place as he called me in October to tell us he's remodeled the bar somewhat.  I have check some of the webcams from up north and the big body of waters are still wide open however some of the smaller lakes appear to have froze over.  Either way it will be what is is as going through the ice is not a desirable situation.  Last year we pulled our wheel houses up but had to fish our portables as one could only walk out on the ice.  I suppose it was good exercise!

Heather's nice 8 pointer
Deer hunting is in full swing back home in Eleva, Wisconsin.  My friend Kevin Aiona sent me a picture of his daughter-in-law, Heather, who bagged a beautiful 8 point buck on opening day.  It's nice to see someone get a nice deer, lord knows I never have and probably never will these days!  I still like to deer hunt and it would be nice to get a trophy before I leave this earth however, the chances are getting less as I am less inclined to chase them any more.  It is still fun to see others bag some nice deer. My cousin Greg Nelson's son-in-law is Joe Thomas, a famous Offensive Left Tackle for the Cleveland Browns. Greg is deer hunting his land down in Southeastern Wisconsin and on his land, Joe doe not allow anyone to shoot anything smaller than a 10 pointer, wow, that's a big deer.  Greg claims they really take some nice deer off that land but one could understand why!  Anyway, here's a shout to Heather, nice deer!  I getting ready for Thanksgiving and we are not sure where we will end up these days.  With everything sort of goofed up, mom's not doing too well, the weather is supposed to be ugly, it might just be that we stay close to home this year.  With all the things I have to do yet, it might be the best thing for getting caught up. At least the pins that one has to remove to drop my wheel house to the ice are loose and I am ready to pull it up.  The inside needs a good cleaning as well but for the most part she's ready to go.  One other thing that should be done is to hook up my satellite DirecTV antenna just to make sure it works.  A few weeks ago I did put in a new battery and the furnace has been run, so that's good.

Next week is our annual Fall TTA (The Transformer Association) meeting in Naples, Florida.  I was on the board of directors, including serving as it's President for 2 years.  In that time, instead of giving a feel god speech I started telling Ole and Lena jokes, something to highlight my Wisconsin up bringing.  Well it's been pretty successful and even though I am no longer on the board, the group expects a few Norwegian jokes to be told like this one:  Ole went into the Lumber yard to get some boards.  Sven was working so Ole looked at him and said " I need to buy some boards there, Sven"  "How long do you want'em Ole?"  "Vell Sven, a long time, see I'm building a house ya know!"
Happy Thanksgiving!!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Moving Right Along!

Mr. Schubert and I with a nice Sea Trout
Deer hunting is done for me, at least this year as I hunt Zone 2 which runs through 2 weekends.  I have to admit that this years hunt was quite unusual as I really never had the need to dress warm as the temperatures were well into the 50's all 4 days I hunted.  I never saw a deer, lots of deer tracks, however as my buddy Kevin Aiona would say (I think he got this from either his grandpa Ed or Milo Whipple) "you can't make track soup!"  I am Ok with this, as I did get some venison from Deer Camp as we help cut one up.  I did make a bunch of what has turned out to be a fabulous combination, Bacon infused Venison Burger.  Simply grind a pound of good bacon with 2 pounds of venison trimmings.  It's pretty damn good if you ask me!  Last weekend I headed up to Jack's cabin on Saturday afternoon and hunted Saturday evening out of a stand at Brett's and Sunday morning on Loren's land.  I removed my stand on Sunday then headed over to Bill Lundeens and did some minor electrical work in his garage, a simple task that allows me to help repay his friendship.  Besides, I am not bad at rewiring!  Before leaving our hunting spot we drove over to Loren Tomala's farm to thank him.  He just had prostrate surgery the week before and looked pretty good.  Loren has a wonderful family and it's fun to stop in.  He had all his direct family showing up for there traditional Sunday morning breakfast so we headed out.  Of course 90% of deer hunting is hanging around your friends and through Jack I have met a lot of them. This weeks opening picture is of Mike Schubert, a long time friend and colleague, and I posing with his nice Sea Trout he caught a few years back when we were in Louisiana.  Mike just sent me these last week and it is "Fishin' With Dave" so  what the heck, it's a nice reminder of the great time we had fishing down there.  It also is a great come in to our up and coming Grouper fishing trip in Naples Florida on December 3rd, something I am really looking forward to as it's been a fishing drought as the last time I was out was October 22nd.

To be honest the weather has been extremely nice for this time of year.  Although we have had a killing frost, it has been relatively warm with nothing in the low 20's yet.  It looks like that's about to change with blizzard warnings for Central Minnesota and predictions of up to a foot of snow.  Of course the lakes are still wide open but a little snow on the ground tends to reflect the heat and make it colder out.  The map to the right shows a pretty good band of snow through central Minnesota which should get the ice making machine going in the next couple of weeks!  My Salem Ice Cabin is pretty ready to go, however I do need to let it down to make sure nothing is rusted tight and plan on having this done by the weekend.  The floor needs to be cleaned and everything put away for it's maiden voyage to Red Lake, hopefully by time I get back from Florida, maybe the week of December10th. This year's regulations for Red Lake is the same as last year, 3 walleyes with only 1 over 17 inches.  This is enough so  at JR's Corner Access we can have a nice walleye dinner and take a couple home.  Reports on Red state that the lake is full of 14 - 21 inch fish!  It's interesting as I was talking to my friends about the changing Ice fishing methods.  For years I loved pulling an ATV and my portable, unloading, driving out (sometimes 5 or more miles) then driving in at dark.  Today I really like the camping aspect of ice fishing, pull out the wheel house, fire up the furnace, get the DirecTV hooked up, pour a cocktail and fish from basically my living room. Am I getting more bet!!!  In February I will be 62 so no use pushing it!  Next week is Thanksgiving and in the last few years it is not been consistent what we do, oh well.  This weekend it is planned to go down to my wife's cousin's house in Fountain City so maybe I'll get to visit some of the local wineries or maybe even get to see my brother Steve who probably will do a lot of ice fishing with me this winter.

I would be remiss without mentioning that today is my dear Friend, Tom Emmon's 68th birthday. Even though he is not with us, he lives on through his memories.  Check the labels below and you can find enough pictures of the great times we had together.  I really miss this guy!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Deer Hunting, Good or Bad?

2 smaller 4 point bucks
Well, last weekend was Minnesota's Deer Firearms opening weekend.  I usually hunt with my friend Jack Taylor and his son Ben, we stay at his cabin on Platte Lake, west of Onamia, MN.  There is a lot of deer around the area as it's a good mixture of farm fields, woods, and swamps.  This year we had plenty of rain so the swamps were overflowing with water.  Years back we used to hunt our friend Rich Allen's land but unfortunately his 160 acres is 85% swamp and this year was no exception.  We found ourselves on Jack's cabin neighbor's land, Loren and admittedly it a lot drier  hunting but honestly, doesn't have the deer of our old friend Rich's place has.  Rich died a few years back and his nephew Brett Saatzer has the land now and we still keep his place our focal point for the hunt, actually have used the stands closer in where it's not so wet.  Jack, Ben and I didn't see anything opening morning however Brett's crew ended up with 3 deer, to smaller bucks and a doe.  Brett was bemoaning about the lack of big deer so I suggested that he institute a selective harvest limit on his land, maybe 16" spread minimum or 8 point minimum except if you are under 18, it might help because these buck would have been nice 8 pointers next year.  Oh well, if it's venison you want.........  This years weather was crazy.  In years past I remember breaking ice, trudging through snow, not 2016 as it was 72 degrees on Saturday, short sleeve weather.  I only remember it being this warm back in the 80" when we hunted up in the Roseau area near the Canadian border, it was 65 up there.  Although it go to the mid 30's at night she quickly warmed up in the morning.  I am not complaining however the deer needed to be taken care of.  Jack and I headed to Loren's land on Sunday morning before heading back to Brett's where we helped butcher the deer. With no wind blowing on Saturday, I called my friend Bill Lundeen and suggested we go crappie fishing, it would have been a perfect day for it.

View from my stand
Sunday was a repeat of Saturday, temperatures in the low 70's a pleasure to hunt if you got cold easy yet the deer weren't moving much during the day.  Minnesota's deer hunting coincides with the rut and often the bucks are running all over the place.  I think that most of their running was at night because I did not see a deer either day.  Oh well, all that really was important was to get together with the guys and enjoy what success we had. My recent Outdoor News claims the deer harvest is down 7.5% from last year and the DNR has been trying to catch up on which way it want's to go with the deer harvest.  The last 5 years of liberal doe tags have taken it's toll on the deer population and of course the warm weather doesn't help at all, as the DNR says the population is up.  Oh well, with the relatively mild winters we have and the desire to increase the population, who knows what next year will bring?  I do know that our traditional Steak dinner at Brett's on Friday night will hopefully never change!

Well, the Mille Lacs harvest saga continues with the DNR releasing the winter regulations for walleye fishing on Mille Lacs.  It will be 1 fish and it has to fit within the 19 - 21" slot.  Personally I think it's simply a repeat of the same regulations that got us in trouble in the first place.  At Lac Seul the Canadian DNR has figured that these fish are the most prolific spawners and all fish from 18 - 21 inches have to be released.  Here we allow the Indian's and the anglers to take all of the good fish with the intent of leaving the correct amount of poundage in the lake regardless if they are big and eat the lake out of house and home, or small enough to be caught in the nets prior to spawning.  Uffda is all I can say.  Red Lake should be good this year however this warm weather does not bode well for early ice.  Never the less I am ready to go!  The countdown to my Florida Grouper fishing trip is happening and in 3 weeks I will be on a flight heading south.  Until then the warm weather is allowing me to get some of my procrastination taken care of!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Getting ready for Deer Hunting

Matt's 23" Seatrout
Admittedly it's getting harder and harder to get ready for the deer hunting season.  It's not that I don't like to get out and it is a good filler for the time between open water fishing and ice fishing however crawling up a tree and sitting there all day hoping a deer walks by, well at least it's supposed to be in the upper 50's this weekend.  Last weekend I did use the winterizing function on my big outboard however I forgot to start my kicker motor and run some of the treated gas through that.  My concern is that the last time I ran it was with ethanol blended gas, not good on carbureted engines.  The kicker is a bitch of a motor to start anyway but I was determined to run some treated gas through it, well not much has changed as although I did get it started it was only through pouring gas in the spark plug holes, not good for a new motor.  I may have to bring it back to Frankie's and have them look at it because something is not right.  So I didn't go out this week however my good friend Matt Davis from the Dallas, Texas area sent me a picture of his largest sea trout he's caught, a beautiful 23 incher.  Sea trout are excellent table fare and Matt is quite proficient at fishing them and redfish out of a kayak.  It seems like this would definitely be the way to fish rainbows instead of a canoe, like we did a couple of weeks ago, but I suspect it's just another thing to learn!  I met Matt through the Transformer Association and he is a good friend of my good friend Joe Stanfield.  Back a few years back we were having a conference in Fort Worth, Texas in March and Joe arranged a fishing trip in the brackish waters of Western Louisiana.  Matt was there and we had a heck of a good time.  Matt is joining us next month in Naples, Florida for our fishing trip for Grouper, it should be a blast.  Anyway this is a very nice fish and you have to admit, not a bad picture either!!

How true, How true!!

So, I can't wait till this political season is over!  I don't like to make my blog political at all, half of you guys would probably leave. On the other hand a little poke at my fellow fisherman would probably be tolerated so here goes. The picture to the right says it all for us diehard walleye guys.  Not that bass are easy to catch but certainly they don't seem as finicky as the almighty walleye. Like anything else it's down to a matter of opinion however as I tell my Facebook friends, anything you post is the same as saying it yourself so be careful!  After last weeks adventure to Wisconsin's Walleye Capital, ok, we got 4 walleyes total, they were tough to get. Even fishing walleyes through the ice on Red Lake can be challenging yet it is enduring for sure. Speaking of ice fishing, even though the weather for the rest of the week is supposed to be in the 60's, by Tuesday the bottom is about ready to drop out.  I looked at the monthly forecast for Red Lake and towards the end of November they are predicting below zero weather, enough to make ice fast.  Hopefully it will not be on Dec 3 when they open the access for wheel houses yet in 2014 we drove out of JR's Corner Access on Red Lake the Friday after Thanksgiving so one never knows.  Either way I am looking forward to this year's hard water season as I got my Salem pretty much ready to go.  New tires, new battery, I still need to make a dry run and fully let it down and that should happen next week.  Unfortunately I will be gone the weekend of the St. Paul Ice Fishing Show, it's a bittersweet situation.  I do enjoy going to the show however I would not give up my Florida Grouper fishing trip for many things to do, so little time.

Anyway, good luck to all you deer hunters out there, be safe and if you get a dandy, send me a picture as I need some interesting stuff this month to write about.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Fishing the Walleye Capital of Wisconsin

First Walleye, 13.5 incher
Last weekend was spent with my wife's uncle Andrew and his son Jason fishing the area near Birchwood, Wisconsin, just northeast of Rice Lake.  Our plan was to fish Long Lake first on Saturday then hit the lake the cabin was on Sunday.  Long Lake claims to be the Walleye Capital of Wisconsin, near Birchwood and a dubious honor so we were excited to try it out.  I decided to pull my boat over there, I figured it would be more comfortable for 3 of us as well, I have the electronics which would enable us to search the underwater haunts better, as well if there were crappies around, maybe we could reenact our success from last Wednesday, looking for suspended crappies over the deeper basins.  Admittedly I am used to lakes like Mille Lacs or Leech that have specific structures and known walleye haunts where it isn't too difficult to locate them however Long Lake is a large 3000 acre lake and the reports are that the walleyes can be found along the steep deep dropoffs.  Sure, the whole frickin lake is one steep dropoff! Well we looked for underwater points next to a steep dropoff, there were plenty of them.  We decided it would be easier to simply vertical jig them with rainbows as we could stay connected with the bottom better with less tangles.  After about 2 hours of nothing we headed towards and sunken island that had a 25 foot point/flat area that went into deep water.  We were marking fish on the depthfinder however it was a different story to get them to hit.  Using the trolling motor and the anchor function we would simply find and area then I would move the boat in 10 to 15 foot increments, working the point very slowly.  I had just put my line down when I felt a faint thump on the jig.  I feed it line and waited to feel for the telltale tap tap, then set the hook.  After a few hours of nothing, it felt pretty good and I just had the feeling it was a walleye.  Sure enough it was, 13.5 inches long.  Long Lake has a 15 inch minimum so back it went, it was nice to catch something however it took a long time to connect to a fish.  We worked that area pretty good as walleyes tend to be schooling fish, especially of this size yet nothing was hitting.  Time to move again.

Jason's 19 inch keeper Walleye
We headed up the east arm of the lake by the Boy Scout Camp.   Basically we simply fished along the drop off along the shoreline but all we did was waste more time.  Our next stop was a point off the southeast side, it was a nice flat area and we were marking quite a few fish so we slowly meandered around the area.  There was a guy fishing just south of us who was getting fish, it appeared to be crappies. We drove around him and it looked like he was anchored just on the weed edge where it started to drop to the 25 foot level. There wasn't much so we left him alone and continued to fish the area.  All of a sudden Jason was reeling in a nice fish.  I grabbed the net and voila, we landed our first keeper walleye, a 19 inch beauty.  It hit his jig pretty hard which is a good indication that maybe the bite was on.  Also the area was perfect for fall walleyes (In my mind), 25 foot deep, some scattered weeds, I figured we would maybe get a few. Unfortunately we only managed to drowned a few minnows as the bite certainly did not materialize as we had planned as the only other fish we caught was a 20 inch northern pike that I reeled in. After saturating the area for another hour we decided it was time to move again and went back up between an island were we had marked a lot of suspended fish, maybe this late in the day we could hit some crappies.  Unfortunately that didn't happen either as I caught another 13.5 inch walleye and Jason nailed a real nice 3.5 pound smallmouth bass, definitely and nice fish but not what we were looking for.  So much for the Walleye Capital of Wisconsin.   One of my goals was to use the winterizing function on my outboard as I wasn't sure I'd be getting the boat out again this season.  While on the trailer and still in the lake at the landing the control screen has a winterizing function, you just push the touch screen and it is programed to speed up the idle then inject extra oil in the cylinders to fog them, pretty slick and only takes about 2 minutes.  We ended the day with 1 keeper walleye which according to my friends who have fished this lake, was pretty good.  We headed back to Jason's in law's cabin before driving to Makini for supper.  I was surprised, they had a pretty good wine list at a reasonable price so we had a bottle of Rombauer Zinfandel along with Prime Rib.  To be honest the Prime Rib wasn't very good as I suspect it was Friday's Prime Rib reheated as it was quite dry and tough.  Oh well, we were hungry and decided it was good enough to eat so we finished up and headed back to the cabin to watch the Cubs win their game to go to the World Series.  It was a long day and we decided to hit the sack early, which seems like my MO these days.

Andy finally got a Walleye
While Saturday was about as picture perfect as one can get with temperatures in the low 70's and no wind, we woke up to a different story on Sunday with cool temps and the wind coming in from the northwest.  The plan was to winterize Jason's brother-in-law's boat, take the cover off the boat lift, take their boat out and do some fishing, then load it up on the trailer and put it away in the garage for the winter.  The first task was to head into Birchwood and have breakfast.  I love these small town restaurants as the breakfasts are usually very good and cheap.  This was no exception for I had coffee and a Mexican omelet for less than $8.00 and it was delicious.  After breakfast we headed to the hardware store to buy a outboard flushing muffs and picked up a battery tender.  The next task was challenging at best as the garage door was 9 feet and the boat must have been 8 feet 11 inches wide. We eventually got it out, added the gas conditioner, shook the boat somewhat to mix it in and did the usual stuff to winterize it.  Getting it back in the garage was the worst challenge but with a little ingenuity we managed.  Next we went out on Big Chetac Lake, supposed to be a great crappie lake with the occasional walleye to be had.  We tried our strategy from last week looking for suspended fish however the depth finder was not very good and the wind really put a damper on things as none of us were dressed for the conditions on the lake.  We decided it would be easier and warmer to tuck behind an island and fish the deep weedline, which we did with limited success.  Andy finally got a walleye, another 13.5 inches, to small to keep but at least he did catch something!  On Big Chetac the minimum size is 18 inches so we threw it back.  Another 45 minutes and we decided it was too cold to fish comfortably so we headed back to the cabin, just in time to watch the Minnesota Vikings lose to the Eagles, I guess our day was complete!!!  Loading the boat up and putting it away for the winter we cleaned up everything, locked it up, said goodbye to Andy and headed toward Cumberland.  About 10 miles from the cabin Jason figured out we forgot his walleye in the fridge.  It was worth driving back and according to the website, Louies Meats in Cumberland was open till 6:00 so we had plenty of time to stop as our goal was to pick up their world famous Packer Brats, bratwurst with cheese and sauerkraut mixed in, they are fabulous.  Unfortunately their website was wrong and were closed at 4:00, we would have never made it anyway.  Oh well, seems like a good excuse for another road trip. We got my boat in the pole shed about 7:00, 2 1/2 hours, not a bad drive.  It was fun being with Jason and his dad Andy and I promised them an ice fishing trip to Red this year, stating that the walleye fishing will be much better!

I have just finished the final arrangements for our annual TTA meeting which is going to be held in Naples Florida this fall.  It's always the first Thursday/Friday after Thanksgiving and this year a bunch of us guys are planning on staying over the weekend and going grouper fishing, something I have never done.  Last time it was in Florida they went out without me, caught a lot of fish, brought them to a restaurant which cooked them and had a great time.  I am really looking forward to this as I am staying with a friend who has a beach house in Naples, it should be fun.  Deer Hunting time is in a 1 1/2 weeks so this week I will go put my stand up with my friend Jack and his son Ben on Saturday then on Sunday we will drive home for my niece's daughters confirmation and check on Mom.  It's getting colder as last Saturday it was in the 70's which is probably the last we'll see of that temperature till April.  Oh well, hopefully making ice soon!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Back on The Water!!!

10 Beautiful Rainbow Trout
Well, it's been dang near a month since I have been out fishing, for a lot of reasons, or so I say.  The rivers too high, it's raining, Mille Lacs is closed, all great excuses however they don't do much for my reputation!  I do have to admit that I really miss the September/October night pulling cranks on Mille Lacs for those shallow hogs that come onto the reefs at night, maybe next year. Anyway the trhird week in October usually signals it's time for my annual fishing outing with my good friend, Bill Lundeen.  He has a couple of very special lakes that we have gone to each year for the last couple and they have yet to disappoint.  One of the reasons I get invited back is my vow of silence on the specific lakes that we fish.  Not that they are that far from his place but it probably would not take too much to fish them out and it is nice to be the only one's on the lake, especially when it's so beautiful out.  Wednesday, October 19th was our set time so I took the day off and drove up to his shop on Mille Lacs.  From there we had to load up the canoe, trolling motor batteries, trolling motor, depth finders, and equipment like nets, rods, ice, and bait.  While I used plain old worms, Bill likes to experiment with Gulp, which does work quite well.  After getting the canoe launched and set up we headed out on the lake with a pretty simple setup.  3 foot, 2 hook small spinner snell for the worms and a 1 1/4 ounce bell sinker to act like a small downrigger ball to get our bait down 25 to 30 feet below the surface.  It was crazy as I got a hit right away.  These trout are quite aggresive and put up a good fight, often breaking the surface, they can actually be hard to get in.
Beautiful spot to fish
 Also with the big sinker sometimes they leverage themselves against it and actually free themselves. The other issue is when in the net they flop around such that it can break off the hooks that are snagged in the net and break.  That is not fun as rerigging in the canoe is somewhat difficult and takes time away from the true fishing.  Never the less in 3 hours we had our 10 trout, 5 each.  We would have ended 20 minutes earlier however yours truly was in charge of netting and making sure the trout got put in the cooler however our 10th one flopped out of the canoe so we were relegated to another 15 minutes of trolling before we got the last fish.  In addition to the trout we also got some real nice 9.5 inch sunfish, definitely a bonus.  I am looking forward to trout on the grill as well my friend Mark Applen makes an awesome pickled fish and last year I gave him a few fish to pickle and they were amazing!  The lake sits down into a ravine so even if it's windy, it's quite fishable.

12 inch Crappie.
With all of our trout caught by noon the plan was to load up Bill's 16 foot Lund and go out for some of those late fall crappies.   This is a lot of fun and represents the classic fall pattern where you cruise the 25 - 35 foot holes looking for suspended school of fish on your depth finder.  It actually works pretty well as we located a number of schools out in the middle of nowhere, no structure around, quite textbook for sure.  Bill had bought a Motorguide i5 front controlled trolling motor like I have on my boat, the one with the fabulous anchor function.  You can anchor within 5 feet of your anchor point so when we found fish we simple hit the button and stayed right on top of them.  Our bait of choice was Gulp again, the small 1 inch minnows. I was surprised how aggressive they hit them but who's complaining, I caught a number of 12+ inch crappies on them, WOW!  Also you could catch 5 or 10 fish on the same bait before you had to replace.  I know that Bill is hot on his Gulp and we never opened the real minnows that we took along just in case.  The strategy was quite simple, just drop your 1/32 oz jig off the side of the boat to the bottom then reel it up 5 feet or so and basically vertical jig.  Often the problem with a light jig like that and how deep you are fishing is that the fish can hit the jig on the way up, you feel the hit but it is hard to hook them.  Never the less it's fun and we ended up with about 15crappies for the afternoon, as as stated some real nice ones at that.  Admittedly it got pretty cold when we were out there.  Fished till about 5:45 and I would say it was at least 43 degrees with a north wind taking the heat away.  I have to admit that I was getting pretty cold but it was hard to leave.  It was getting dark anyway so when Bill declared the day over, I was definitely ready.  We put the boat away then got back to the shop where Kathy had steaks prepared for us along with grilled cabbage, wild rice, Spaghetti squash, and mushrooms.  It was delicious and a perfect way to end the day.  After supper we cleaned the fish and I headed home, a very successful day of fishing and a nice day off in the middle of the week.

Saturday night was a tough for me as I ate a chicken sandwich on a croissant and ended up staying overnight in Mercy Hospital for anaphylactic shock do to a severe allergy reaction.  This time it appeared to be caused by wheat, just another thing to deal with.  I am ok now but it's not a lot of fun wheezing and breaking out in full body hives, 3 different times that night.  Maybe it's just the problem of getting old, who knows.  Saturday I will be heading to Wisconsin to fish with my wife's cousin Jason Rombalski and  his dad Andrew.  Both are great guys and maybe we can find some crappies similar to yesterday's trip with Bill, I am sure the opportunity should exist.  We are going to fish Long Lake, north of Rice Lake, Wi and the weather looks to be beautiful.  This also gives me a chance to take my boat out for the last time and winterize it as my motor has a feature that does this for you automatically.  This will probably be the last trip of the season with the boat and before ice fishing as deer hunting is coming up.  Hopefully we will make ice quickly as I am getting the Ice Cabin ready to head to Red Lake as soon as we can.  here hoping for a similar report next week.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Fall is Finally here

This weekend was the first hard frost of the year.  This usually means no more mosquitos, all the weeds in the garden are dead, and it's time to mow the field behind the house.  My plan was to try and get out on the river this weekend however the water is still ridiculously high for this time of year.  I generally like to follow my friend Pete's strategy and get some small 4 to 5 inch sucker minnows and hang them under a bobber and fish the shore edges on the river.  With the high water, it makes it almost impossible.  Also another good method is simply using a 3 way rig and work the bottom of the holes as the cold water should be helping to concentrate the fish.  I would say the water needs to be down at least another 2 feet before the "ideal" fall conditions exist.  Oh well, plenty to do around the house!  Last Thursday at a social event for the show in Chicago my friend Glen Collins insisted that I meet a friend of his, Gary Smith, he was 78 years old and had been in the business for many years.  What was special about Gary was he really loved walleye fishing, especially in Quebec, Canada.  He had a business and in the 70's bought a fishing lodge in Quebec, and took his good customers their.  At the same time my friend Matt Davis had brought some TX whiskey from Texas and gave a bottle each to myself and Glen.  Well Glen had his with him so we poured a glass for Gary and rightfully so, he proclaimed it as the best Whiskey he had ever had.  I know I talked to him for at least 2 hours, what a delight!  Actually got to see him on Thursday as we made plans for the next time we meet each other, maybe fishing or something related. On Monday Glen sent me and e-mail and a link to the Chicago Sun Times, Gary was killed as he was driving home after the show, he had lost control and entered the opposite lane before rolling over in the ditch.  That was a big shock, just met this wonderful man who had so much in common with myself and the next day...........gone.  It really puts things in perspective, one really never knows.  Hopefully I'll met Gary again but not too soon.  God Bless you Mr. Smith.

Gift from Milan
The other thing about last weeks show is seeing all of my good friends and industry associates, including Milan Grove from Thomson Laminations in New Jersey, right across from Philadelphia.  Milan has also been a mentor of mine especially when it comes to fine red wine.  I was telling him about the Merlot I like from Carlos Creek Winery in Alexandria, MN, enough to send him a bottle as he really knows his stuff.  In return he promised to send me a favorite wine of his and a nice Washington State Merlot, which I received this morning via UPS.  Anything Milan recommends must be pretty good as we both have the same tastes.  I am looking forward to trying a bottle and reporting back to him what I think of it. It's a fun hobby and it's also very interesting to experiment and try new things.  Milan's company makes some products for us so we have always have some interesting things to discuss, this just adds to the conversation.  My neighbor Lory, who works for us just left for 3 weeks in our facility in China so I will probably save it and share it with him, which is the fun aspect of wine, to share with your friends.  In the beginning of the week I flew to Denver for a meeting with some potential business partners.  It was a quick meeting as we were in and out.  It has been a while since I was in Denver and I didn't even get a chance to stop at the Bass Pro Shop, maybe next time! Either way you can be almost guaranteed that the flight out of Denver will be very rough and this time did not disappoint as we got tossed around pretty good in the first 20 minutes of our flight home.  Rather than go fish I decided that it's been a while since I have seen my mother in Eleva so we drove down on Sunday afternoon then spent the first half of the Sunday Night football game at Kevin's house before we left.  Driving down Highway 93 we stopped at the Bemis Bluff winery, just a few miles north of Eleva.  There we bought some of his Cranberry wine called Cranbernet, not too bad, a little on the sweet side but drinkable.

I am hoping to get out this weekend as it's supposed to be really nice.  I still have my trout trip with Bill scheduled for the 19th of this month and the 22 should be at Long Lake in Wisconsin.  Maybe I'll take the boat out and get it ready for that trip as it is likely to be the last on before deer hunting.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Long Week

My friend Keith is still catching Silvers!
With the high water, no walleye fishing on Mille Lacs, and the constant rain last weekend was spend getting ready for the winter than any relaxing fishing I should have done.  I also needed to get ready for my trip to Chicago to attend the North American Coil Winding show, which I did on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of last week.  Hence forth the late posting.........oh well. At least some of my friends are still fishing as proof of this nice Silver that Keith Holtan, my friend from Alaska caught on the Kenai River.  Along with my Brother and cousins, I have been fishing the early run of Silvers on the Kenai many times but it's usually in August when the weather is still somewhat nice, however Keith says the the late run of Silvers in September have larger fish.  This seems true with the late run of King Salmon as well, the late run produces those monster fish in the 60 - 90 pound range.  This picture of Keith is proof that those late runs silvers are pretty big, maybe someday I'll have to fly up and have him take me out.  He claims that the temperature was 22 the other morning, uffda!  Of course we had our first frost Friday night and the grass was pretty frosty this morning, a goo killing frost for sure. hopefully this is a signal for early freeze up this year!

Pan Fried Yellow Lake Perch, $17.75
Spending time in Chicago was interesting as I got to see all of our suppliers and some customers as
well as potential customers.  My company has been a survivor in the world of Chinese competitors and changing electronics industry.  We are definitely a player in the industry these days and it's fun to finally get some respect!  The show was at the Rosemount Center, just a mile or so from Chicago Ohare airport so it's and easy in and out.  The Double Tree Hotel has a nice restaurant called Gibson's Steakhouse and they are a really high end place but everything is very good.  On Thursday I was out of the show early so I decided to have lunch there before I headed to the airport and my flight.  On the menu they had Pan Fried Yellow Lake Perch in Lemon Butter and although the broiled halibut looked good, the waiter suggested that the perch was a guest favorite so I ordered it.  Totally unbelievable is the only way I can describe how well it was!   The perch fillets were not the big however whatever they coated it with then drizzled the lemon butter on them, I have had lot's of fish and definitely this has to top on of the best, including all of the fresh caught saltwater fish I have had the good fortune of eating.  It would be interesting to see if I could get the recipe for both the lemon butter and the coating but............if you are ever in Chicago and have a chance to eat lunch at Gibson's, I highly recommend it and it was definitely worth every penny!

I am off to Denver on Monday, hopefully get a chance to stop at the Bass Pro Shop as I like the variety.  It was confirmed this week that Bass Pro bought Cabela's.  They bought Ranger Boats last year and are definitely now the largest outdoor sports retailer in the United States.  I am not sure if that's good or bad, I guess time will tell.  My experiences is that it will not be good as the lack of choices is not that available anymore as companies chose to continue to buy each other out and look for ways to make more money.  It is sad because some of my favorite brands no longer exist, Falls Tackle, Beckman Nets are just 2 of them, I guess maybe consolidation is the only way but it doesn't mean it's good.  I have been working on my Salem Ice Cabin and getting it ready for the winter.  JR (From JR's on Red Lake) called me when I was in Chicago, just to see how I was doing and to give me some crap!  He has remodeled the place somewhat so I am excited to get up there!  He is super nice to both myself and Mark Applen and hopefully we can get up there early this year again.  I did check my tires as they were supposed to be filled with nitrogen so they don't lose air but I think that's a crock.  One was almost flat and the other was low so I took them off and brought them to Pete's to have the beads broke, cleaned, and resealed.  We one of the tires was quite wore out on one side and after some discussion about cracks in the other tire I decided to simply put new ones on.  The are 15 inch, 8 ply, load range D, and take 65 pounds of air.   I think that the low air pressure didn't help the old tires as I figures there was probably less than 4000 miles on them however, the last thing I want to be doing is changing a tire, 10 miles from JR's in 20 below weather........not!!!  I have a few things to fix and I should be set for the winter.  I have been invited to fish Long lake in Wisconsin in a  coupel of weeks with my wife's uncle and cousin Andrew and Jason.  It will be a good excuse to get the boat out one last time and winterize it.  Also I have a trout fishing date with my good friend Bill Lundeen, we have been doing this each year, maybe sometime next week.  Deer Hunting is coming up, lot's of stuff to do before then.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

September Lac Seul, Part 2.

Pete's 40 inch Northern Pike
Although the 2016 open water fishing season is winding down with about another 30 days of comfortable fishing, my current situation with the restrictions on Lake Mille Lacs as well my newly found opportunity to fish Lac Seul in Canada on a somewhat frequent basis has me looking at this season as a success.  Normally my routine has been opening on Leech Lake, maybe 12 - 15 trips to Mille Lacs with some time on the river thrown in there.  Occasionally the summer may be interrupted with a trip to South Dakota or some other exotic place however this year it was not in the cards. Looking back I suspect I have fished just as many days as what I would call normal however they were concentrated, like in my Lac Seul fishing, in 3 to 4 days of focused walleye chasing rather than a day here and there.  I was just commenting a few days ago, and those who know me and my love for Lake Mille Lacs would find this statistic interesting but my new Evinrude has pumped more Lac Seul water through it than anywhere else, at least 530 miles and over 30 hours of running hours this year alone.  My normal trips to Mille Lacs is about 50 miles run and maybe 4 hours running time.  I feel bad for the lack of time spent on Mille Lacs however the issues on the lake makes it difficult to commit any serious time and even more critical is it is difficult to find anyone who wants to fish the day with me. Most of my trips to Mille Lacs has been with people that are outside my normal circle of fishing friends.  The other thing of consequence is that my new boat is taking a lot longer to get used to fishing Mille Lacs, wheel vs tiller control.  You know they can be difficult to teach and old dog new tricks however Lac Seul fishing has my boat written all over it.  I was looking forward to the fall trolling bite on Mille Lacs however they closed the walleye catch and release season on September 6th, so much for that.  Being able to go to Lac Seul on September 13th pretty much makes up for my missed September fall bite on Mille Lacs as we got to fish 3 days in a row and for a couple of those days the bite was slow but between 3 of us we did land over 150 walleyes in the boat plus had enough to eat for the first 2 days.

Dan's Walleye off of Dan's Hole
We always are blessed with a good group of guys that fish Lac Seul however as I state before I am
pretty fussy with my boat.  Usually in the fall I have Pete and Dan in my boat, both are good fisherman and both have been trained really well to wash the sand off their shoes before getting into the boat.  This saves me a lot of work as sand and boat carpeting don't really go together very well.  It is almost impossible to vacuum it all out and it get's everywhere, especially in the lid hinges for my compartments. Fishing out of the Ranger is pretty nice as the seats are very comfortable, there is a lot of room, we have Sirius/XM radio, an onboard baitwell for our minnows, of course my opinion is the small jester of respect shown by these guys pay huge rewards!   The picture on the right is one of Dan and a nice 24 inch walleye out of one of my favorite places to fish in Tuk Bay we found 2 years ago, Dan's Hole.  Now Dan uses what Pete and I refer to as a Snoopy Pole.  It literally drives me crazy but Dan is pretty proficient with it catching his share of walleyes.  The problem I see is that he is constantly reeling against the drag and as a result is twisting the line like crazy. Being a closed face spin casting reel, he seems to do just fine however I am really tempted to buy him a significantly better reel, something we can tighten the drag down but yet still be closed faced. Maybe the other thing that drives me crazy is that he has his closed faced reel mounted on a spinning rod that is turned upside down.  Uffda is about all I can say yet he is a great guy to have in the boat, never complains about anything and is simply happy to catch fish, even doesn't mind when I make him clean his shoes off!  Beyond this I have spent the last week drying out and vacuuming the sand out of my boat, getting it ready for winter.  That doesn't mean that I am done fishing for the fall but time is definitely running out before deer hunting and ice fishing starts!

This week was the anniversary of the shooting that took my friend Ron Edberg's life.  Ron was a great guy and all of his friends miss him dearly, it's still a good time to reflect on life.  The weather is really starting to cool down a lot, I guess it's almost October already.  Next week I head to the Coil Winding Show in Chicago where I plan on seeing a couple of great friends in the business and start planning our early December fishing trip off of Marco Island, Florida.  That should be a perfect time depending on the when we can get out on the ice.  I have to take my tires off of my Ice Cabin and get them resealed as they are leaking air, too much to do, not enough time!!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wow, Time Gets Compressed

40 inch Northern!
My trip to Lac Seul occurred during the time I usually post last week and I was thinking about doing it from the camp as there is Internet, slow, but it's there.  Unfortunately one gets busy eating fish and savoring the time with your friends, and we are a bunch of old farts and are in bed by 10:00, uffda!! Nevertheless, it's pretty hard to complain about the time one spends with your friends in such a wonderful place to fish, Lac Seul. I have to admit that I have been very fortunate to be included in the group that I go with, my neighbor Pete Sipe and his consideration of my love of fishing.  Bruce, who is our fearless leader has taken some direction from me and improved his electronics and anchoring technologies significantly..........all without one complaint of me spending too much of his money! Lac Seul fishing is always great however some days are better than others.  September lake levels tend to be the highest of the year which allows one to get around much safer than in May.  The fall fishing can be relatively challenging as compared to the May opener or even in June as the fish ten to be deeper and more finicky.  Of course the baitfish are more than plentiful and mature making for easy meals for the fish and it requires some more finesse to catch them.  This time of year we usually have 3 main areas to fish, Tuk bay, Wapesi Bay, or the main lake reef areas south of Chamberlain Narrows area.  Bruce has a fondness for Wapesi so we went there on Wednesday.  This was the first day of blue skies in a while as it rained the day before.  Typically the weather following a rainy period is a rising barometer and it make it tough for the bite however it wasn't too bad.  One of the advantages of the high water period is getting into places that can be tough and this day was no exception as we made our way back to where the Wapesi River flows into the lake.  It was absolutely beautiful back there with the rushing water, current that extended back into the bay and some pretty good fishing.  I really wanted to catch a fish on a shad rap and casting in the current break areas I caught my first walleye on a crankbait in Lac Seul.  We did really well with walleyes of all sizes from 6" to 24".  When the jig and minnow combinations stop short, I like to try plastic and using a Cabela's bubblegum/chartreuse 3 inch curly tailed grub, a nice 40 inch northern pike hit it.  Luckily it was hooked in the side of it's mouth and there was little worry of the pike's teeth cutting the line.  Dan netted the fish and a few pictures later we released it.  I have caught many nice pike on Lac Seul but this one was quite fat and probably weighed in at 18#'s as it was pretty heavy to hold.  

24 inch Walleye in Tuk
The bite tended to be good for the first half hour of anywhere we went then it quickly shut down.  We spend a few hours at the river mouth because it was very pretty, the sound of the rushing water was nice, and it was simply very scenic back there.  However eventually we moved back into the main bay and fished a number of points and caught more fish, at least enough for supper before returning to camp!  The next day was for me as we returned to Tuk Bay, one of my favorite spots.  Although we did catch quite a few fish in Wapesi, my confidence level for Tuk is much higher, some call it a personal problem!  I bought a push button counter to keep track of the fish caught and Wednesday was around 50 however I felt we could blow that away in TuK.   We accomplished this by catching over 70 walleyes that day.  I personally thought the walleyes were larger as well however in the past they were more turquoise in color.  There is a channel that goes up straight north of the main bay and has a number of small points that are walleye magnetic.  It's fun to go point hopping until you run into them.  The point we fished last June that was so good did provide a repeat performance but the next one down from it certainly proved successful.  Again one of the ways to catch fish once they stop hitting minnows is to try artificial and get the fish to react to a trigger bite, one where they simply cannot resist to strike something audacious swimming by!  I bought some jig heads with willow leaf spinner blades connected on the bottom of the lure and they worked very good but for some reason I lost them right away, oh well!  The first 2 days were certainly fun and we still had 1 full day of fishing left.

Light Brown Raccoon
I did get home in time to head to the Green Bay Packer/Minnesota Viking's first home game in their new stadium.  It was pretty awesome Except that Green Bay lost, what can you do.  Certainly the Viking's looked a lot better than they have in the past years so it should make this year's season very interesting!  My wife has been complaining that the raccoons are making a smorgasbord out of our bird feeders on our back patio, so it was time to put out a live trap. Well this morning I had a brown/tan colored critter in the trap, I've never seen this color phase before and I have caught a lot of raccoons over the years.  They almost look friendly enough to pick up but I can assure you this is not the case.  I tend to drive them over to Elm Creek Park reserve and let them go, hopefully far enough away from the house that they won't find their way back, maybe 7 miles. Anyway it was  interesting to see this creature this morning.  I tell you, they sure do stink!

Friday, September 9, 2016


First fish of the Day
Seems like the older I get the more challenging it is to get everything done!  Last weekends long Labor Day holiday found me trying to get caught up on a number of things.  It has been raining alot in August, the garden looks terribly neglected, the grass needs mowing every 4th day and to add insult to injury, the days are getting shorter to boot!  This was the last weekend to legally fiah walleyes on Mille Lacs but the strong south winds that persisted during these days all but took the incentive to fight that battle away.  Because of the sorry state of the garden, Saturday found me driving to Cambridge to meet a person selling cucumbers and dill for making refrigerator pickles.  I still us Bernie Konters old Fall Fest Pickle recipe from years ago, have doctored it up a bit but they are still very good.  Sunday the wife and I headed south to the Farm Fest in Fountain City, Wisconsin and it is always very interesting.  They do old time threshing using a threshing machine and a steam powered tractor, pretty interesting.  That pretty well took all day so this left fishing to Labor Day on Monday.  Amongst other things the grass needed to be mowed so it was decided that my neighbor Tom Olson and I would head down on the Mississippi River behind the house and see if we couldn't find some walleyes in the current breaks.  Besides I had just put in new boat seats into the jon boat so it would be a good chance to test them out.  We headed out about 4:30 that afternoon and hit the first eddy pool just up river and on the other side.  I started with a jig and some rubber with a half a crawler while Tom chose to throw a brightly colored #7 Shad Rap.  On our first drift while bouncing the bottom I nailed a nice 16 inch smallie on the jig.  Hoping it was a walleye, I guess i'll take whatever hits.  I figured bouncing a jig would be the best way to entice one but in the river one never knows what will hit your bait, especially when it's tipped with a crawler.  The river is still very high for this time of year as we are at least 7 inches over normal rainfall for the year.  I feel that the fish tend to be scattered more when the water is high yet there are still a number of spots that tend to produce.

Tom's 18 inch Smallie
There is an area just on the downstream side of Cloquet Island that tends to be pretty good.  It has a  deep hole and a defined current break that makes it easy to fish.  I tend to like to bottom fish that area but searching for walleyes had me dragging the jig on the bottom.  It was a little more loaded with snags and because I was using a braided line was able to retrieve my jig along with a number of tree branches that were scattered on the bottom.  In the meantime Tom kept throwing his Shad Rap and one cast into the area where the side channel met the main channel he nailed a beautiful 18 inch smallmouth that really put on a show.  I really couldn't believe that it hit from the area that he was casting but what the heck!  About the only thing I got was a small channel catfish and a bunch of timber.  We finished the day back at the first spot we fished where I decided to soak some nightcrawlers while he stayed casting,  All I ended up with were 5 very small channel cats, about 5 - 8 inches in length.  Tom did get a few more smallmouth and I think for the day we ended up with a total of 6 smallies and 6 very small catfish.  I was surprised I didn't get anything more interesting than the small catfish but that's the way it went as I was expecting at least a larger carp or redhorse.  Oh well, after a small light rain shower we headed back to Blair's landing before it got too dark.  I am not sure if this would be my last trip on the river this year as fall is coming fast and the rain is predicted to keep the river high.  Maybe a trip upstream from Monticello would be in the cards.  I also have my annual trout fishing trip with Bill Lundeen coming up. So much to do, so little time! Still the river fishing is a fun time and doesn't require such a long commitment as going to Mille Lacs or some other lake.  As well, it reminds me of the fishing I used to do with my friend Kevin, fishing the back channels of the Mississippi or simply fishing the Buffalo River that flowed through Eleva.  Doing the jon boat really keeps things simpler than the production needed of bringing my Ranger out, driving somewhere, removing the cover and launching, loading up, replacing the cover, and driving home....does it sound like I am getting lazy? Nope but do enjoy the chance to throttle things down a little bit!

Well I have been canning my salsa these days as it's pretty good.  One of the thing is that I don't take short cuts and spend a lot of time processing the final product.  I would have to say it pays off as I have done 15 quarts so far.  With a lot of tomatoes, onions, and peppers it's a shame to see them go to waste so somewhere I find the time to make a few batches.  It is a special treat in the middle of ice fishing season to have my salsa in the ice cabin on Red Lake in January. I tride pints at one time but it seemed as though I would always empty it fast and then need another jar but now it is hard to finish a quart but I can tell you, it's a lot faster canning quarts!  Tuesday will finally come as I head up to Lac Seul with my friends Bruce, Pete, Dan, and Wayne.  This is a trip that I really look forward to and I am so lucky that this will be my 3rd trip this year.  It's nice that Bruce lets me keep some of my stuff up there so I don't have to haul a sleeping bag, pillow and other essentials. Dan is towing my boat up there which is nice.  Interesting as my 2015 Boat definitely has more miles on Lac Seul than it does Mille Lacs, a sign of how things have changed in the last few years.  I am getting pretty good at navigating Lac Seul and have all the trails on my Lowrance down to the point where I am pretty self sufficient.  Still, I carry a spare prop with me and I pray to the Lord I'll never have to use it.  This time of year the water is at it's highest level so it doesn't mean there isn't any hazards, but those area's that are marginal in May are now covered by an additional 4 feet of water.   The weather forecast shows highs in the lower 60's and lows in the 40's, it will be nice after the hot and humid August we've had in Minneapolis. Because I leave Tuesday and back on Saturday I may not have a post next week.  They do have internet and maybe I will post something from there.  I return on Saturday the 17th and have been invited to the Vikings home opener in their new stadium where they are playing the Packers.  Bruce rearranged our trip so I could make this and I am really excited to be with my friends who are treating me to this experiment.  At least one of them is a Packer fan like me!