Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Slow weekend

New steps to get in and out of the boat
I am kind of in between fishing weekends as the house is still at Red and it's a long way up there.  I did get my Ezee Steps for my trailer that I ordered in December.  As stated earlier my new boat is significantly larger than my old on and sits on the trailer much higher.  Therefore it's more difficult to get in and out of as easy as my last 2 boats.  One of the first times I was loading onto the trailer I jumped out of the boat onto the provided trailer step and fell backwards off the trailer as though I was about to make a snow angel somewhere.  Luckily I ended in the water instead of on the hard landing and other than wet, I was no worse for the wear.  Still it bothered me.  After reading a number of post on the walleye forums I decided that Ezee Step was the way to go and I ordered a set.  Mark, owner of Ezee Step was very helpful and the warm weather allowed me to bolt them on the trailer this weekend, they work great!  He actually called me on Monday to make sure everything went well! The middle step is the one that came on the trailer and is the one I slipped off from. Mark wants to make me a step to replace it that even out the distance between the steps, which makes sense.  Although I didn't slip after the first time, I am not getting any younger and making sure I am safe is a good thing these days.  It was money well spent, better than a broken hip or a busted head! They were not to difficult to install and Mark is going to make a modification for the middle step, (the one that came with the trailer)  to make it even easier to enter and exit the boat in complete safety.  I am always impress by a good product and good customer service, definitely these fit that description. Working on the boat just get's me excited for the ice to go out and Minnesota Opener to get started.  Leech lake has had a lot of interesting new lately and because opener is as late in May as it can be this year (May 14th) it should be a good one! Unfortunately I will have to wait another 3 1/2 months but the way time is flying, that isn't that long!

Mark's Peacock Bass in Panama
My good friend Mark Applen is down in Panama for work and I have been pushing him to do some fishing down there.  Apparently he found someone to take him Peacock Bass fishing and he sent me a picture. Granted, it's not one that will top 6 - 7 pounds but what the heck, it's a fish he's never caught before!!! They are really a pretty fish and often time they look like a yellow perch caught on Mille Lacs but this was the spotted variety. You can see the classic black spot on the tail which helps it to avoid predators.  I am not sure where Mark is fishing other than Panama, but he is coming home later this week and we are going to Red Lake this weekend so I will expect a full and detailed report!!I only wish I was down there with him as I know he reported a temperature of 92 one day, much better than the -25 I experienced a couple of weeks ago!  Either way it's a new fishing adventure, those are the best kind!!  So this weekend my brother Steve will be picking up my cousin Paul Anderson in Hudson and we are going to Red on Friday.  This will probably be my last trip to Red Lake this year as I plan on towing my house back home on Sunday. My travel schedule for February makes it difficult to get back up there and of course the fishing seems to start slowing down after January.  Fishing reports on Mille Lacs have been good so maybe I will try that for a weekend.  Also Johnson's Portside Perch Extravaganza is at the end of February and Mark, Russ and the crew always go to that.  As well, I really would like to try some good old crappie fishing yet this year.   It can be difficult when you feel that you have to go to Red because your house is there.   Oh well, no complaining!  Our friend Russ will be going on Thursday night and hopefully he'll have everything scouted out while Mark is leaving at noon so we'll be right in front of him.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Fishing in the Deep Freeze

Sunday morning Temperature -25.3F  Brrrrr.
Well, I went to Red lake last weekend for my third trip of the year and definitely the coldest trip I had been on and certainly it wasn't without it's problems.  My guests were my brother Steve and good friend Keith Holtan.  Steve drove up from LaCrosse, WI and we had to pick Keith up at his winter home in Brainerd.  Leaving about 9:30 we headed up and stopped at Bills to pick up some wild rice for JR and some minnows, plus I always like to stop and say hi.  The plan was to call Keith from Garrison however my cell phone decided to quit working about then and I got 1 last call in as we approached Brainerd. Luckily Keith was ready and it didn't take but 5 minutes and we were off to JR's.  Heading up highway 371 we went through Walker and stopped at Reeds where Keith's friend worked.  I found a nice shirt, we headed out towards Cass lake and the shortcut to Blackduck.  From there we headed up Hwy 72 and arrived at JR's about 2:00.  Hooking up the Salem we pulled it up to the access and had them fill our empty 30# propane tank.   With below zero weather scheduled we didn't want to run out of heat.   The other problem is that as stated earlier, my phone wasn't working and Russ was already set up and I had planned on fishing by him.  Luckily my brother Steve's phone worked and although I didn't have Russ's number, I had forwarded him a text from Russ and we were able to call him. He was out about 4 miles so we headed out.  We got about 3 miles out when we heard a big clunk as I looked back and saw the wheels on the Salem locked up.  Here the receiver hitch had completely pulled out of the hitch, apparently when I had Keith insert the hitch pin the hitch was not inserted all the way and the pin sat behind instead of through the hitch.   I was surprised that it lasted this far and thought that it would have pulled out right away.  The fact that it has quite a bit of tongue weight probably answers that but eventually we got everything hooked up and back on the ice road towards Russ's.  Also my friend Andy Achmann and his brother Pete were coming up so I remember my friend Jack's phone number and we left a message from Steve's phone to text us Andy's number, which he did.

My first Walleye of the Trip!
That worked perfect as Any and Pete came up on Saturday however had to replace a leaf spring on Andy's Ice Castle and that took about 5 hours in -6F weather.   When we got to where we wanted to set up out little incident a mile ago was evident as there was stuff scattered all over the inside as the inside doors opened up and spilled the contents. As I drilled the holes, Steve and Keith started jacking up the house to pull the pins on the axles.  With 3 guys, setup works pretty good and fast as I barked orders!  Once set up we touched base with Russ and Mike who was set up in the morning, the bite was going pretty good for them.  The plan was to see if we could get enough fish for us and go in and have a fish dinner.  The fish cooperated as we got 4 pretty fast including the nice on pictured here.  This fish basically inhaled my spoon tipped with a minnow head.  It was about 17 inches, perfect for eating.  We definitely got enough fish to eat as we only needed about 2 walleyes per guy and headed in at around 6:30, cleaned the fish and turned them in.  Along with Russ's infamous horseradish flavored tarter sauce, it's all we needed and ate fresh walleye on Friday night.  Getting a good nights sleep we got up to a good bite and by 1;30 in the afternoon we were ready to go in so we could eat and get back for the sundown bite and watch the Packer game.   Andy and Pete got their spring fixed and ended up setting up about 75 yards from me, which was good.  They came over to watch the game and have a few and talk about their struggles with the spring.  I know that year ice castles had spring issues and I'm glad they got it fixed.  The problem is that Saturday night thru Sunday morning was supposed to be cold, REAL cold, in fact at 7:30 game time the temperature outside the ice house was -15F.  As you see in the first picture, it got down to -24.3 F and my Honda Generator didn't like it.  It kept stopping after about 30 minutes of running in the cold, I'm sure the carb was icing up.  I wasn't sure what to do other than go out and restart it.  almost everything runs off my 12 volt battery and we were safe inside but it made me nervous not having backup power.  It stayed warm in the house but I still didn't sleep very well and got up at 4:00 AM and went outside and started my truck.   Steve got up about 6:00 and shut it off and by 8:00 it would turn over but not start, I had to get Andy to jump me.  I am sure that the battery voltage was too low and it was probably a little flooded.  We finally got it started, put the Salem back at JR's and headed south to drop Keith off and of course Steve had another 4 hours of driving.

Upon arriving at home I started researching how to keep the generator running in cold weather and found a couple of things, a cold weather kit that heats up the breather tube to prevent icing, also it was suggested that I cover it with a blanket to do the same thing.  I do plan on heading up the last weekend in January to fish and will probably pull the Salem home.  I would like to fish more on Red however it is 250 miles from Dayton and one almost has to take a day off to fully experience everything.

Monday, January 18, 2016


Well, I quickly rewrote the introduction to this post, I was suppose to post it last week however I just got too busy!

Frankie's new showroom!!
Last weekend was a reprieve from ice fishing as my boat dealer Frankies Marine had their open house on Saturday.  Frankie is a long time dealer in Chisago City with a lot of outdoor storage but little in the line of indoor show rooms so he built a new building that houses his new indoor heated show room as well as sales offices.  It is very nice!  Since most boats are ordered in January through March time frame and the main shows are in January it only makes sense.  Planning on spending at least and hour milling around Lyn and I stopped there around noon on Saturday, with the plans to heas to our friend Jessica's to have her give me a haircut.  We spend about an hour at Frankies and met the usual people that I enjoy talking to, Frankie's wife Deb and his son Joe.  They had a Ranger 620FS in the show room with a front stand up pedestal and seat which looked very nice so I asked them to order me one.  It nice because all they have to do is look up my Ranger serial number and can order a matching seat right from the historical build information.  I really like Frankie's because I can just ask them to do this for me and because they know me, they can order it on my word, which is good enough and I will pay them when it gets in.  I really enjoy that kind of relationship with businesses as I like it when you can be trusted.  I spent over an hour there and the highlight was spending some time with Debbie and Joe and talking to Larry Dahlberg, star of Hunt for Big Fish.  Also there was Dennis Anderson, outdoor writer for the Star Tribune.  A couple of observations, Dennis was taller than I though and Larry was shorter than I thought, oh well, it was a pleasure meeting them both!!

The cold weather has really put a damper on things as it's tough to get outside after work and get things done.  My plans for the rest of the week is to head down to the St. Paul Sportsman Show on Thursday then up to Red this weekend with m brother Steve and maybe Keith Holtan.  The weather isn't looking too warm but at least it's making ice!  I will probably leave my house at JR's till the end of January and pull it back then as I hear the fishing on Mille Lacs is picking up, which would be nice.  I have to travel to California on February 8th and will also go back there in the middle of March, hoping the guys can get a fishing trip scheduled for then!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Back to Red!

Our 6 walleyes for Lunch on Saturday
My friend Mark Applen decided to go with me up to Red last Friday so we headed up at 9:00 in the morning on friday and got to JR's Corner Access by 1:30.  Ice conditions have been changing on Red and although we were not allowed to pull our own houses out, JR promised he would take care of that so upon arriving we just got in line.  30 minutes later JR came in and stated that he was backed up to my house and to go hook it up!  The house has electric jacks to lift everything, which is really nice.  I put a master battery switch inside the house to shut all the power off so nobody can mess with them when I'm gone so I had to unlock my house and turn on the power in order to set the house onto his trailer hitch.  Although JR was in charge of pulling out the house, he allowed us to follow in my truck figuring we could pull it back off on Sunday.   It was nice to have that option as I have lot's of stuff for the house including my generator, food, clothes and it is sure better to not have to pull everything out with the ATV and sled that we brought up, just in case!   Mark wanted to go where he was just before Christmas and our friend Russ was parked there along with his brother.  So JR though we were in an unusual spot but come to find out it wasn't that bad.  We dropped the house on the ice in 14 feet of water, just off a rock reef and drilled through about 12 inches of ice.  it was about 3:00 by the time we got fully set up and I suppose I got my first walleye of the season by 5:00.  It was about 16.5 inches, on of the middle 2 in the picture and we were in bed by 10:00.  I have DirecTV in the ice house so we watched a number of stuff as the rattle reels kept going off, all the way till around 2:00AM before they stopped.  Mark did most of the catching and I would say we got 3 of our 6 fish limit and missed probably at least 4 walleyes before we were able to get some sleep.  By morning the wind had switched out of the northwest and the bite really shut down.

19.5 inch walleye.
We were able to bring our fish is along with Russ and have a fish dinner at JR's.  He had a couple so 8 walleyes between 6 guys, we were stuffed by the time we left.  It takes about 3 - 4 hours to complete the meal process, about an hour to ge
t in line to clean the fish and another at least 2 hours before your fish are done (at 3:00 in the afternoon).  Mark got a couple of nice walleyes as the limit on Red this year is 3 which only 1 can be over 17 inches.  We got 2 over 19 including this beautiful 19.5 inch fish.  I have to admit that we had a lot of fish to eat for sure and left JR's pretty full of walleyes, french fries, and .2 beer!  By the time we got back to the shack  it was around 4:30 and settled it felt like bed time and it was only 7:00 but that fishing takes a toll on a guy! Out by 8:00 both Mark and I had enough fun for the day.  The change in the weather really turned the fish off and we didn't get another fish the rest of the trip.  I marked them on my Vexilar but they just were't interested.  JR said it was OK if we pulled our own house off and by 8:30 Sunday morning we were ready to go.  Back at JR's we park the Salem and headed south for the 250 mile drive back home.  Admittedly it doesn't go too bad, a few gas stops and some breakfast and we were home by 1:30.    In time to put everything away and get ready for the Packer Viking game.  Uffda!!

Home Sweet Home on Red!
Anyway with below zero temperatures forecasted for Red Lake this weekend, it should finally start making some decent ice.  There is really only about 2 good weekends to go back up, the weekend of the 16th and the 30th, then my travel shedule kicks in as I have a show in February and March in California. We are trying to arrange a fishing trip for the March trip, the weekend before our conference but there's a lot of undecided locations as March fishing in California isn't that hot. Personally I don't care as I am more interested in trying something different as opposed to catching a ton of fish. The usual crowd is getting together, Joe Stanfield, Mike Schubert, Matt Davis, Jim Cox and maybe a few others. I thought I would include a picture of my house set up on Red.  I like to fly my flags and the pole has a Green blinking LED light, the flags make it easy to spot my house among the many houses and the light assists at night.  Either way when my friends come by it is easy for them to identify which house is mine!  Home Sweet Home, we have all the amenities a guy needs, food, Whiskey, a place to sleep and a TV.  By January 16th we should be able to drive wherever we want! A lot of my friends have been asking how well I am doing and to be honest not too bad.  I get tired easily but as far as my doctors go, they report that there seems to be nothing wrong with me (I'm sure some of you would argue!), which seems like good news but in reality they don't know what to treat.  Oh well, I have a number of upcoming appointments that should help answer a number of questions.  Either way I am trying to get more exercise by walking a mile every night.  Hopefully that will help my situation.