Friday, April 29, 2016

Back from Toronto

Westin Harbour in Toronto
This week was our annual Spring TTA meeting and for 2016 we decided to host it in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  We have a few members from that area and thought it would be good to support our northern members.  Toronto is a big city, actually the 4th largest in North America with only Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Mexico City being larger.  It's a very clean city and I was amazed at all the high rise building and condominiums that were around.  We got to stay right on the water front on the 21st floor of the Westin Hotel.  Although the rate was @199/night in Canadian, is US Dollars that's only about $150 an a pretty good deal for a room right in the heart of the town. It had fabulous views from the room and on the top floor (38th) was a nice bar and restaurant where we stopped and had one on the last night.  Absolutely beautiful.  I took a picture but it didn't turn out so good. Of course Toronto can be expensive, however as my friends from Canada state, you get used to it.  Apparently housing is quite high and they have a 13% Provincial sales tax on everything!  When you come back through the airport, you do go through US Customs right there so once through, the concourse is considered United States soil therefore you can simply get off your plane and head out as though you were flying from Chicago to Minneapolis.  They did have a duty free shop on the US side of the security and their Crown Royal was pretty cheap, $37 US Dollars for two one liter bottles (about half price) so I did get a couple for my friends.  In addition I got some ice wine and a bottle of perfume for my wife.  I would have bought more but I had enough to carry already!

Onions Arrived
Arriving home it was raining and I was thinking about picking some night crawlers but it was pretty cold out and I was tired.  This weekend is time to plant my onions as the ones we ordered from Texas came in.  Along with the right fertilizer it's a perfect time to plant potatoes and the onions.  I use to get the big Texas sized onions but they don't last very long after you dig them up, maybe only a few weeks.  Like last year I buy the long storage onions, they still don't seem to last very long but better than the other ones.  I use them for pickling fish, making my salsa, and just plain eating.  The Texas onions are fabulous as I have 4 varieties this year, 2 white types, a yellow, and a red type.  Along with the right fertilizer I should be set for planting as you saw last week, Ricky Shermer came over and tilled up my garden so it's ready to go.  Besides planting a few things my asparagus is starting to really sprout.  I love it as it is so good and sweet and is great on the grill.  The raspberries still need some work which hopefully I can get finished this weekend.  With 2 weeks before opener I need to mount my 3rd depthfinder in the boat.  I have a new Structure Scan 3D module however I am somewhat nervous about mounting the transducer and am still waiting for the flush mount to be shipped.  Maybe that will just have to wait.  Next week I am planning on going to my cousin Greg's place as well, reports are that Mom is going to be released from the rehab center to go back home.  She hasn't stayed there since March 6th so I am sure she's looking forward to it.  So much to do, so little time!  Looks like I might even have to mow the grass this weekend.  I did go to a fishing garage sale and found a couple of items worth buying, a Abu Garcia Zmax 2 casting reel and a couple of packages of Northland Tackle 1/8th ounce Fireball Jigs for opener.  At $1.00 for a pack of 12, it was a good deal.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

In memory of Bruce Amundson

New hives for 2016
Quite a few years ago my friend Terry Kienitz out a couple hives of honeybees on my property. He was living in Champlin and was interested in having his own honey.  Well, Terry eventually moved and lost interest in having bee's at my place however another guy from Champlin, Bruce Amundson contacted me and asked if I was interested in having bees on my property as I had done this before.  Because of my apple orchard and garden I enthusiastically answered yes as bees are just the ticket for a prosperous garden.   I had a bunch of stuff left over from working with Terry and after seeing Bruce was serious about this I simply gave him everything I had as it was in my best interest to have Bruce be successful and successful he was!  Eventually he got his two daughters involved and Bruce's wife Joni helped.  Along the way they lost their young son to an unfortunate accident when he was at camp and I know that the bee's helped Bruce to keep his mind occupied during those long summers.  The bee's are great.  I always had a great raspberry crop, my pickles were plentiful and my apples and pears got the pollination needed to be extremely fruitful.  I do remember one time my neighbor's wife expressed some concern asking me once......."do you still have bees down below?"  I replied Yes, why?  "Well", she sighed, "it seems I have bees all over my flowers and it is somewhat nerve racking.   I asked if they were the big yellow ones with the black marks on them.  "Why of course, they really make me nervous" she exclaimed.  I smiled telling her that those are not my bees, honeybees are smaller, they look almost like flies and she had bumble bees, probably they lived right in the ground by her flowers.  She wasn't happy but that's ok, never argue with a small town guy who was trained by the likes of my dad, grandpa, Gyle Tollefson and almost every farmer in town.  You see even at Wenaas's Garage where I worked, Vic would give me petunia's every Memorial day to plant and each year I would bet Joanne that mine would be nicer than hers at home.  She stopped betting with me!  It is a sad year but Bruce passed away this March, Bruce's obituary however to my delight his two daughters are keeping the tradition alive and put 2 new hives behind my place.  Not only do I get some honey at the end of the year but my garden and orchard get the benefit and everytime I look in the back and see those white towers, It reminds me of Bruce.  God Bless him for sure as Bruce was a good man.

Ricky Shermer at his finest.
So the beautiful weather has given me the opportunity to get my garden tilled extra early this spring. It has been somewhat dry so last weekend my good friend Ricky Shermer came over with his Kubota and 3 point tiller and really gave the garden a good scrub.  Ricky really reminds me of back home and Jerry O'Kroley as he showed up in the afternoon with the tractor and wearing only his bibs!  Like Jerry, the side buttons were undone as he worked the garden.  I had seen him earlier in the day and we agreed that it would be a couple of days then just like that, he showed up and did mine, what a great deal.  All I had to do was make sure we had enough beer to keep him satisfied.  It's really nice to have this done and does it ever do a great job of grinding everything up.  I don't want plant stuff too early as we have had late frosts in the past however I am waiting for my onions to arrive from Texas and now I am ready to plant those as it's the earlier the better for them.  I am getting to realize that my garden may be too big.  One person's theory of that is simply plant pumpkins and let them utilize the space, maybe that's a good idea as I could give them to the neighborhood kids this fall.  Either way I'll be looking for ways to reduce my overall work load, maybe go fishing more!

This spring is really progressing.  The leaves are starting to come out, the ice is off Leech Lake and the nightcrawlers are out.  I am working on putting Structure Scan 3D in my boat however the transducer doesn't look to fun to install but somehow I will get it figured out.  I have got most of the updates to my fishing electronics done however there is still a nagging problem with my new Ipod and it's going to drive me crazy.  Oh well, luckily I have enough smart people at work that can get me out of this jam!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Fishin' With Dave, Dave Kramer!

Dave's 10# 10 oz Texas Largemouth
Fishin' with Dave means Dave Kramer this week.  Dave Kramer is a friend of mine who runs the Kramer Open on the week after Labor Day, a Sporting Clay's shoot that raises money for a family that belongs to a friend of his who died early and give monetary help.  I used to shoot every year with my friend Tom Emmons however since his passing, I haven't had the opportunity as there has always been something going on that week.  I am looking forward to making it this year both as a tribute to my friend Tom and Dave always has a pretty good spread of food, beer, and friendship.  One of the things that my friends are always doing and to my delight, is send me pictures of their fishing adventures.  Dave was on vacation at the end of March and Hired a guide on Lake Fork, Texas to go largemouth bass fishing.  I am a huge advocate of hiring a guide when fishing a new area like in Texas.  Lake Fork is about 60 miles East of Dallas as is a reservoir on the Fork Creek and is really a trophy bass fishery.  According to the website 34 out of the 50 largest Largemouth Bass in Texas were caught on Lake Fork.  According to Dave they were sight fishing however the water was quite stained as the quide just knew the spot was a good one.  He had a NetBait Paca Craw, a crawfish shaped rubber bait rigged like a plastic worm texas style.  The fish hit the second cast. Wow, that's a nice fish considering that the Minnesota official State Record Largemouth is only 8# 15 oz, almost 2 pounds heavier.  I think Dave should get a graphite repoduction of this beautiful fish as it truly is once in a lifetime fish.  Thanks for sharing this wonderful experience.

Differences in Gold Colored Jigs
We have our Spring Canadian Fishing Opener trip dates set, I am going up with my friends Bruce Wiley and Pete Sipe along with 3 other guys on Monday, May 23rd.  We normally fish for 3 days and will plan on returning on Friday the 27th.  I have been fortunate to fly up the last couple of times however this trip looks like I get to bring my boat again, which is fun as well.  Flying takes about 5 hours by the time you mess around with everything and driving is about 9 hours, not too bad. One of the latest discussions is my partners love for gold colored jigs.  Lac Seul's water is stained a nice brown color even though the water is pretty clean, it's coffee colored.  The past notion presented to me is that Gold is the ticket and that color outfishes everything.  Well, I don't necessarily believe that notion but what the heck, if it works for them, I'm in.  One of the issues with gold jigs is that the color is plated on verses painted on.  Often times to facilitate the process the entire jig is plated, hook and all which tend to result in plating over the hook point and making it quite dull.  I bought some bulk jigs from Cabela's a couple of years ago to use however they are basically worthless unless you resharpen the hooks.  Bruce and I went to the sportshow and looked at Northland Tackle for Gold colored jigs.  I ended up ordering some for the guys both in 1/4 and 3/8 oz size.  I got them the other day and it was interesting, the picture above shows the 3/8 on top and the 1/4 oz on the bottom.  If you notice, the top on is only plated back to the wire keeper and the hook remains in it's original state.  The bottom one however is the 1/4 oz and for whatever reason, maybe it's just cheaper, but the whole thing is gold plated, hook and all.  If you do the thumbnail test you will find that the top, unplated hook really grabs however the plated one simply slides off the thumb.  I would never dispute their claims of fish catching abilities of Gold however my experience is that chartreuse or white works as well but then again.....whom am I to question the experts!  Oh well, the guys can sharpen these as we drive up!

Spring is finally arriving as I took the boat out of the pole shed to start the main motor, my 250hp Etec HO.  To my amazement it started within a second of hitting the start button, just like the 115 Suzuki's I had.  I am sure that because my E-Tec is fuel injected, that helped because my carbureted 9.8 hp kicker was a bear. Basically the gas drains from the carburetors and instead of being afraid to choke it too much (and flood the engine) it's the opposite, I really needed to choke the crap out of this motor.  After about 5 minutes of trying it finally fired up.  The choke is electric so I had to keep fiddling with it to keep it running until it warmed up enough, what a pain.  Anyway both motors got started and that is a great start to the season.  I did get my two depth finders to talk to each other as this was really bothering me.  I did everything possible and damn near wore out the buttons looking for the right menu.  In the end I ended up doing a soft reset of my unit up front and VOILA, the Sonichub 2 menu bar appeared.  As I told Pete, now he can change the music from the front of the boat if he don't like it!   My next project before May 1st is working on installing a third unit in the boat, this should be fun..............

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Troubles with the Boat Electronics!

Lowrance HDS12
Man, one almost has to be a computer engineer to deal with the issues that I have been having with my depth finders and associated electronics on my boat, it's got me running in circles.  Let me explain my set up.  Back by my console is a flush mount Lowrance HDS 12 Gen 3 unit, a 12 inch color screen that is pretty sweet.  On the bow is a HDS 9 Gen 3 which is ethernet connected to the 12 so they will talk to each other, share maps, waypoints, and also if you are knowing what you're doing, will allow you to view the sonar screen from either unit.  Everything is also networked together with what is known as a NMEA 2000 network, a technology that allows communication between a number of separate modules and allows them to either be viewed on the HDS units, and or controlled by them.  These things include stuff like my Point 1 compass that came with the boat, it provides a GPS signal that my outboard motor uses for speed, fuel usage, distance traveled, which can be linked into my HDS or displayed on the display that came with the boat (RPM, Tilt, other stuff) which is communicated through the NMEA network.  Also my front trolling motor is linked to the main HDS unit and you can control it from the console as well, my sonic hub (audio server) is controlled via the network.  Here's is where I am having an issue.  Because my bow and console unit are networked, I should be able to control from both locations, but that doesn't work.  Also the ability to switch sonar views (Console transducer is in the back of the boat, bow unit is connected to the transducer in the trolling motor) has been an issue.  Well after watching a few YouTube videos I finally figured out the settings to allow me to switch it.  It now makes sense but it was painful getting to that point, I must have accessed every menu in the unit.  The next thing is to figure out how to get the SonicHub menu bar on the bow unit.  I have a suspicion that the network connections up front are not correct and I have picked up a few parts to hopefully make it right.  We'll see and if so the network may have been set up incorrectly from the start.  I would be glad if this was the problem.  I am a stickler on features that don't work as I like everything to work as it's supposed to.  I probably could get by without being able to control the sonichub from the back only but hey, that's just not right!  Also I expected the units to share trails but have learned that this is not the case so I have to download them from one to the other.  They do each have a wifi feature and maybe I can learn how to transfer via that.  I did figure out how to put a picture of me holding a walleye as background wallpaper which is pretty slick.

Well, by the time you read this the ice should be off of Mille Lacs Lake, quite early in modern
Almost off!
historical terms.  Open ice is defined by the ability to drive from Isle, in the southeast corner to Garrison, in the northwest corner without encountering any ice. Unfortunately the latest developments with the walleye regulations leaves much to be desired.   The fishing season has been deemed catch and release only with no live bait to be used. You can imagine that this is a real blow to my baitshop friend, Bill Lundeen as he sells a lot of live bait, leeches, crawlers, and minnows.  The has been a lot of talk regarding this as being totally ridiculous and true to my vow not to make the blog political all I am going to say is that I agree with the ridiculousness of the whole thing.  Managing the lake as though it's a farm is impossible and I am afraid we will never see Mille Lacs back to it's previous glory of being the premier walleye lake in Minnesota.  Oh well, I am pretty good at trolling shad raps and lead lining so fishing should be good, maybe because there will be no one around!  That is really sad considering how many fish are in the lake now. I am anxious to get the boat out soon and see how she runs after it's first winter.  Mom is back at the rehab center and we went to see her on Sunday, she looks a lot better.  Hopefully by the weekend I will have everything figured out!