Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Leech Lake Opener, Part 2.

Fish data for 2016 Leech Lake Opener
Well, because I am in Canada hopefully catching more walleyes than I can count, I thought I would try to see if I can publish this weeks post via the schedule settings, we'll see.  Leech Lake opener was about an average opener for us.  Besides the cold and wind of Saturday, Sunday and Monday turned out pretty nice.  We keep track of all the walleyes caught over 12 inches and we also use this spreadsheet to keep track of all the fish we kept in the freezer.  As you can see Saturday was a tough day for me and my team however by Monday I had found the groove and started catching some nice walleyes.  Adam Mayerich did really well with his Saturday morning catch of 16 walleyes making it awful hard to catch him.  Now that he has his own boat, it's a little easier to dictate the pace of fishing, the locations, and when was it time to move.  In the end we caught 174 walleyes for basically the 21 guys  that fished for 3 days, almost a 3 walleye per day/fisherman average, not bad.  Jig and shiner minnows was the main presentation however I managed 12 walleyes in the boat trolling the shallow water off of Ottertail Point with #5 shad Raps which is something I really enjoy.  I am not sure but this year seemed different as in the past I have fished quite a variety of different spots but we only fished a few main spots, the Governors Flat, Ottertail Point, and Submarine Island this year. Maybe there was enough fish however Leech Lake is known for it's walleye's to relate to the wind pounded shores and many of my old spots did not have the waves going into them.  There were other guys that fished Goose Island and Stoney Point but they really didn't do any better than I did.

Mike's 6 pound dogfish
We did get a lot of northern pike this year, as there seemed to be an abundance of them.  Also we got very few if any perch.  These 2 fish are a bell weather of what's going on with the lake for sure.   Besides the big Rock Bass in last weeks post, we brought another unusual fish on board, here is a very nice dogfish that Mike Kimpel caught while trolling Ottertail for walleyes. These fish are nothing but solid muscle and this one weighed over 6 pounds. He thought he had a nice walleye on but it didn't take very long to figure out this wasn't the fish he thought he had!  It was the first I had seen in 26 years of opening on Leech and it was a dandy.  We did get a few nice northerns but most were the typical 20 - 24 inch variety.  This year we brought along 4 gallons of Shiner minnows and it was more than enough for our needs....this year.  I wanted to try night crawlers and use what they call a slo death rig however it just didn't work out, maybe I am getting lazy in my old age!  

About this time I should be preparing my friend, Troy Keinitz's famous Steak a la Keinitz, Rib eye's marinated in Tabasco sauce, Franks Buffalo Wing Sauce, and Pace Picante hot salsa.  They are pretty good on the grill, enough to where this will be the 2nd time I've been asked to bring them up.  It's off to Costco to get the steaks as the marinade does a great job of tenderizing them.  Hopefully I will have a great report for you in a week.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

2016 Minnesota Fishing Opener

Monday night's 26.5 incher
Well, last week marked our 43rd annual Minnesota Fishing Opener on Leech Lake, hosted by Brindley's Harbor Resort in beautiful Trader's Bay.  May 14th is the latest date that the Minnesota Opener can be which usually means nice temperatures and warmer water.  Leech Lake like a lot of lakes in Minnesota had a relatively early ice out due to the mild winter and less than average ice thickness on the lakes. Everything pointed to this being one of the best "potential" opener's in years.  Well, this was my 27th year at Leech Lake with Team Walleye and I've pretty much seen everything from dead calm 90 weather to total iced in as we did in 2013.  This year was like most, definitely challenged the status quo!  When we arrived on Friday afternoon it was snowing out for crying out loud!  This would be my first year with my new Ranger 620FS and as luck would have it, and because of the width, Mark arranged for me to have my own private covered slip, which was really nice.  After a great Friday night meal we had our Official Team Walleye rules meeting, collected the prize money and got everything settled in.  We had a couple of new guys this year as well as a returning member from a few years back, we had a full house as there was 22 of us in the big double cabin.  Admittedly this is total luxury, the likes which is pretty nice for a bunch of guys like us.  with 10 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, nobody every feels like there is not enough room.  With a door in between the cabins we reserve one side as the bar and the other as the kitchen and it's pretty nice for sure.  Mark does a great job in assigning who does what when and it's pretty slick, one only has to cook and cleanup one meal and the rest of the time he can sit back, talk smart and watch everyone else work.  We eat pretty good, Friday was roasted pork shoulders, Saturday night was Adam's 18 ounce ribeyes, Sunday was the Anderson fish fry, and Monday was a simple meal of bratwurst, beans, and slaw.   There is definitely no losing weight on this trip!

Nice Rock Bass
Saturday morning started out miserable with 20 mph winds out of the Northwest and temperatures in the low 30's. Thank the Lord I brought my ice fishing stuff, and even then it was cold!!! We tried Pine Point first and it was pretty slow.  The word is that the early ice out was set back by the cold April and the water was about 50 degrees so where the fish were was a crap shoot, in the shallows or deeper, it was just a matter of time before someone found where they were and Adam Mayerich was that guy, he found them on Governor's Flat just to the east of us. Unfortunately he must have caught them all because we did converge with our 7 boats and although we did get fish it was nothing like what they did on Saturday, 16 walleyes for the morning session.  it was true that if you stayed in one area long enough you would get some fish however I can't sit that long so I moved around.  Also, my boat really handles the big water nice so I was not restricted to where I could go yet I fished mostly Ottertail point as we did get some nice fish there.  It has a nice rock reef and I nailed this nice almost 2 pound Rock Bass, the biggest I have ever caught.  It really slammed the jig and it fought like a nice walleye, I never say I was disappointed in catching a fish but it would have been nicer if it was a walleye! Although I did try out by Submarine Island a few times, the wind made it hard to fish those areas however we did get a few nice walleye's there.  Oh well.  As always, Monday was the nicest day and resulted in my best session of the 6 we have for our contest.  We jigged Ottertail till about 8:30 then tied on the Shad Raps and trolled the point.  This is when I caught the fish pictured above, a 26.5 incher, enough for 2nd place. It was quite interesting as I ended up going a little shallow on one of the rock piles that go out into the lake and bang, that fish hit in 4 feet of water.  I first thought I had snagged the bottom and hooked a log as it dd not fight very much.  I did see it quite a ways from the boat as Henry picked up the net. Henry was in first place with a 27 inch walleye and all I could think about was him hitting the line and it getting away so I assured Henry that his first place position was safe.  I knew it was a nice fish but didn't realize another 5/8th inch would have knocked him to 2nd place.  I was glad that it only measured what it did and his fish was safe (at least in my boat!).  Henry is a great guy and has been coming for 8 years now.  He is 69 years old and has never won the trophy so it was nice to see that his name will be forever etched on the biggest fish plaque.

I head to Lac Seul on Monday for a week so next weeks post will either be something I wrote and scheduled or a week late!  I am scrambling to get ready for that trip, I am bringing my boat so it needs to be cleaned, the right tackle be loaded up, longer extension cords, and more mats to help keep the sand out off the boat! I am pretty anxious for sure as it's a great trip as we should be talking about 100+ walleyes a boat verses 15 at Leech, a big difference.  I stopped by Bill's on the way home and picked up some Powerbait Ripple Shads for casting.  He had a great new color called New Penny. Everyone is huge on Gold colors for Lac Seul so these should work really great, I guess we will see and I will have the report when I return.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Sconnie Fishing Opener

Loon on a Nest
I decided to use the Wisconsin Fishing Opener as a great excuse to get together with my cousin's Paul Anderson and Greg Nelson.  Paul lives just east of Hudson Wisconsin and Greg has a lake home on Clear Lake which is part of a connected group of lakes just north of Bloomer, Wisconsin.  I haven't seen Greg in a while and I was looking forward to getting together again with both of them.  Truth be told it was also a good excuse to get my boat out and run it prior to this weeks Minnesota Fishing Opener.  I packed up everything the night before and picked Paul up around 8:30 and we were at Greg's by 10:00.  Greg's place is beautiful and we had some chocolate chip cookies he had made that had the baking soda missing.  Apparently the baking soda helps cause the cookie dough tho flatten out when heated and his cookies were more like scones than cookies but that's ok.  We loaded up my boat and we headed for Chain Lake, the southern most lake in the group.  It was fairly windy and admittedly I still have a difficult time with boat control with the wheel boat but luckily the company of my cousins was more important than catching fish, which proved to be a good thing.  We tried a number of spots without much luck, I guess it probably would have helped if I tried harder, maybe tying on a bobber/minnow rig for crappies but it just never happened.  When we launched the boat, right next to it was a weed bed and a loon nest with a loon sitting on her eggs.  It seemed an odd place for a loon considering all of the boat traffic from the landing however she never even paid any attention.  That was pretty cool as we were pretty close to her.  Sometime on Mille Lacs the loons come very close to the boat often times swimming right under it.  They are a beautiful bird and this weekend we will blessed with a constant chorus of their haunting call.  Although this has music, the first part is pretty good Loon voices.  One of the things Greg asked me is if we were going to stay for supper and have hamburgers?  Well of course, anything to watch Greg work.  About 5:00 he asked to drive the boat down to the end of the lake to Hawk's Resort and bar.  There he ordered a beer for us and said this is who is going to cook your hamburgers!  Admittedly they were pretty good and even better as Greg bought.  I love these old Wisconsin resort/bars on the lake.  I con't care which one you go into, they make you feel as though you've lived there all you life.  By 7:00 we had the boat loaded and headed back to Hudson then home.  We left promising this would not be the last as we didn't get any fish yet Greg insists it's a good lake.  I was very happy at the outcome and as stated before, I am still having an interesting time learning to fish out of my boat.

Our Magnetic Signs for our Trucks
Friday is the day we take off for our 43rd Annual Leech Lake Opener.  It's pretty exciting as both Mark Mayerich and I have got everything pretty well set.  We have the hats, shirts, food, assignments, we'll pick up the bait on the way up.  Pretty much everything is done.  This year we have a full cabin again, 22 guys and it looks like it should be a great opener. As stated in the past we were selected as the winner of the  2011 Minnesota Bound fishing traditions contest. It is a lasting memory to our friend Ron Edberg who was tragically killed in September of 2012 at a workplace shooting.  This year we had to find a new company to embroider our hats as Ink Monsters went out of business. Accent Sign, Ron's company that he worked at, continues to do our signage like Ron used to do for us, which is really nice.  We met the manager on Tuesday night and it was obvious that he enjoyed doing our stuff and it's fun to have all of the things Ron would do, which was alot! We still have the travelling trophy and Accent does the engraving for the winner as well.  This year was early ice out however April was cooler than normal so it has pretty much evened this out making it look like a fairly normal walleye opener.  This is the first time at Leech with my boat as I did spend some time last week practicing trolling with my kicker motor.  I like to troll the shorelines at night with shad raps, it's been a pretty successful strategy for sure.  The weather is looking to be somewhat cooler than normal as the opener is as Late in May as it can be.  Oh well, better than working!  I come back on Tuesday the 17th then on the following Monday I head to Lac Seul for a 5 days of nonstop fishing walleyes.  That's always a great trip and this year should be no exception.  Good Luck everyone!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Aspargus is Up!

Asparagus at it's Finest
Well it seems as though spring has finally broke through as my asparagus is comin up like gangbusters!  Nothing is better than fresh asparagus brushed with olive oil and put on the grill. I have well over 100 plants and soon I'll be harvesting over 2 pounds a day.  Over the years I have started replacing my old and worn out aspargus plants with New Jersey Giants which are all male versions.  The spears are significantly larger and they don't go to seed like the older Mary Washington variety.  Either way I have a lot of friends who like me now as I am awash in fresh spears. I will start saving some for Leech Lake opener in 1 1/2 weeks.  I am working on installing a 3rd Lowrance unit on my boat, back on the console.  I hate drilling holes in my console however I want it to look good so I'm stuck drilling away.  Another frustrating item, a friend of mine agreed to share some of his boat trails that he has on the same lake that I fish in Canada.  He exported them then e-mailed the file, I downloaded it, put it on a microSD card, imported it into my unit and wow, perfect, just what I was looking for, a safe route into a remote bay.  I spent some time renaming everything so I could control my display better, saved my work then the next day I turned on my Lowrance and all of the stuff Paul gave me had vanished!  I am still working on fixing it, maybe a soft restart to reset everything as this should not be a problem.  At least I have the original data!

Joanne Wenaas
Tuesday was a sad day however was a good reminder that time does march on.  My fiend Paul, who gave me the files mother had died over the weekend and her funeral was in Eleva on Tuesday.  Her name was Joanne Wenaas as I worked for her husband Victor from 1970 to 1976, before I moved to the Cities.  Vic owned the Mobil gas station next to my grandparents house as they owned it prior to Vic.  Joanne was the bookkeeper and every night as I closed, I would drop the daily money off at their house.  I probably learned everything I needed to know about business from Vic.  Every Memorial Day Joanne would buy petunia's to plant in the area between Highway 10 and the driveway where you would pull in to buy gas.  Joanne and I would bet who's flowers would look the best at the end of the summer however she soon decided that she could not compete with all the things my dad taught me as well, Vic always made sure I had plenty of Rapid Gro to keep them fertilized.  I think he liked that we always had a beautiful bed of petunia's and I don't know if he ever gave Joanne a hard time or not but it is one of the wonderful memories of Joanne.  As well her and Vic had some great children that still remain my good friends 45 years later.  She will be missed for sure.  The service was fabulous as the church was standing room only, a fitting tribute to a great lady.  Good Bye Joanne however you will live through you offspring!

Saturday I will pick up my cousin Paul and we will head to our Cousin Greg's place north of Bloomer, Wisconsin for the Wisconsin Fishing Opener.  It will be a great opportunity to see Greg and it will give me a chance to get the boat out before going to Leech Lake.  I put a 22" prop back on and am anxious to see how it performs.  I am anxious to see if Greg can really put us on fish!