Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Getting Things Fixed

Initial Installation
A while back I purchased a new Lowrance HDS 9 Gen 3 to sit on the dash of my Ranger, above the flush mount HDS12 Gen 3.  The idea was to use it as my main chart source with the appropriate maps and it would be easier to control my bow mount Motorguide from a single machine.  Luckily the units talk to each other so there are a lot of advantages to having a setup like this.  After selling my old HDS 7 to Bruce this left me without a unit for my Jon Boat so I decided to network another unit to my system, one that I could remove and mount on the other boat.  My original idea was to use a Johnny Ray mount however the first time I used it the HDS9 popped right out of the mount on the first big wave we hit.  Somewhat unnerving I decided to just remove it for the rest of the day until I could figure out something.  I did come up with a scheme using electrical ring terminals secured to the Johnny Ray then using long tie wraps, secure the top of the mount to the terminals.  This actually worked OK but seemed somewhat awkward, especially when I wanted to move it.  As stated last week, I had holes already drilled into the top of the dash so I wasn't too interested in making more so I started thinking about a better idea.  At first I bought a Stabil Mount, a customized aluminum electronics mount made for this type of equipment.  Unfortunately after receiving it, it dawned on me that their might be a much easier and cleaner way to do this.  Although the Stabil Mount was nice, it had some limitations. After staring at the situation for a few hours, I finally come to my senses and decided to
New installation
simply mount another gimbal mount, one which comes with the unit anyway, solidly to the dash via a custom cut plastic plate which I made, that would serve as an adaptor using the same holes as the Johnny Ray yet mount it solidly on the dash.  The good news it it worked very well as the HDS9 is now ready for any rough water situation.  It looks pretty good as well, something that was important to me.  It is still very easy to move the unit from one boat to the other by simply loosening the side gimbal bolts and removing the unit and I did not have to drill any additional holes in the dash.  I suspect that one could have simply got by with the single HDS 12 in the dash and use the split screen however admittedly the 2 units is awfully nice once you get used to them.  The other advantage is now I can buy lockable gimbal fasteners that protect the unit from easy theft, definitely an advantage, however my luck is that I would lose the key!  As long as I was drilling and screwing things together I decided to add 2 RAM rod holder bases to the back end of the boat.  I have 2 up in the bow and 2 at about the front row of seats in the console area, these are about 18" form the back of he boat and will work well for the guys sitting in those seats.  They will also work really well when I am trolling more than 3 lines as it will help to keep the rods better spaced out.  The boat has 2 built in rod holders on the back by the gunnel however they are the type where you simply insert the rod butt into the holes and it sticks straight up.  They are pretty good but don't work well if you are in the back and want better access to you rod tip action as you are always looking up.  Mounting these takes some patience because you need to drill screw holes into the inside gunnel of your boat.  These holes need to be countersunk otherwise the gel coat will crack when you start turning the mounting screws.  I use #14 stainless steel sheet metal screws which hold really well.

A Flock of Wild Turkeys by the Pole Shed
This weekend was a thought of going up to Mille Lacs and doing some deep water trolling in what we call "no man's land".  Sunday was the chosen day however my brother Steve called, mom had fallen down the steps, he had bought a used chair lift and it would be a good idea to get it in.  I headed to Eleva to help yet fortunately for me Steve had already installed both of them, had the top one working and had to deal with the something on the bottom one.  Although late for the heavy mechanical stuff, this is where my electronic background really did the heavy lifting!  Seems like the chair on the second one was stuck so we took apart the housing and got to the control circuit board.  The onboard fuse was blow, and indication that the main drive motor was jammed, which it was.  Using a socket we turned the drive motor enough to free the chair, it was obvious where it was jammed.  Put a new fuse in and voila, it worked just like new! Not a bad deal for $200 total.  Hopefully mom isn't too stubborn to use it but that's another story.  This weekend is Labor Day and the river is still high but is down about 1.5 feet. Unfortunately it has been raining like crazy up north and all that water has to go somewhere as I expect it to go up again.  I would like to try and do some of that deepwater trolling before walleye fishing season officially closes on Mille Lacs on Tuesday, September 6th. Besides that I am getting ready for our Lac Seul trip in a couple of weeks.  I'd like to make some salsa from my tomatoes, just to much to do, so little time!  I leave you with a picture of at least 2 broods of wild turkeys hanging around the property.  There must have been at least 20 of them in front of the pole barn on Sunday morning, they have been eating out of our ground based bird feeders so I don't feel too sorry for them!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Dog Days of Summer

Flames shoot out the exhaust on an amazing run.
Fishing has been somewhat frustrating considering all the rain we have had in the last 30 days.  I suspect it's been over 12 inches but who is counting!  Friday I was fortunate enough to be invited back to Brainerd International Raceway (BIR) by my good friend Kevin Sonsalla.  Kevin is a business colleague I met a long time ago and he happened to be from the area where I grew up.  There were plenty of Sonsalla's near Eleva so we have a lot in common.  Last week event was the NHRA's (National Hot Rod Association) scheduled event and all the big national teams were there.  Kevin has a relationship with Tony Schaumacher, the championship drag racer who is sponsored by the US Army.  Therefore he has race day passes, passses for the hospitality tent which get's us refreshments and a awfully good meal after the first race.   It is interesting as these top fuel cars run on Nitromethane which has the ability to provide most of the oxygen needed to make power.  These engines are 500 cubic inch and have no cooling other than air, so after each run they are torn apart and rebuilt for the next race.  In this case the top fuel guys raced at around 5:00 in the afternoon and have to have their cars ready for the next run, 2 hours later.  It is quite fun to watch a crew of 4 guys rebuild the engine, pretty amazing.  These cars start from a dead stop and race just 1000 feet to the finish.  It used to be a quarter mile length however the speeds were getting too high so they shortened it.  The teams now have caught back up to the speeds and times of the old distance and the fastest run was covering the distance in 3.77 seconds with a top speed of 322 mph.  That's moving!  Sitting in the stands you literally feel the force of these engines as they scream by.  It is pretty loud as well.  We stayed for the second run later in the evening and the flames shooting out of the exhaust is pretty cool.  The last race of the day was a couple of jet engine powered cars and that was interesting.  Not as fast or as quick never the less the afterburners on the engines put on a pretty good show.
Current water Levels behind the house.

I did make it on the river on Sunday night however because of the rain the water was up another 18 inches.  The high water makes for traveling anywhere you want to go pretty easy however it does scatter the fish.  My neighbor Tom Olson went with me but it was pretty slow.  He caught a medium sized smallmouth while I haven't been doing very well at all in that department.  At 7:00 we decided to anchor and again all we could catch were 6 inch catfish in the high water.   Oh well, hopefully the rain will settle down somewhat. Personally I like it when the gage height is between 4.0 and 5.0.  Unfortunately both seats in my Jon Boat broke so I ordered new ones to replace them. They were pretty bad.  I have one other project going on with my boat, on the Ranger I have an HDS 9 mounted on the dash above my panel mount HDS12.  My original idea was to use a Johnny Ray so I could move it between my Ranger and the Jon boat however it proved to be too heavy for the Johnny Ray that I bought.  After a few ideas am going to try to mount just an HDS9 gimble to my dash using a nice 1/2" thick plastic piece then fashion it into an adaptor plate so I use the existing holes that I have already made.  Luckily the Johnny Ray still works good in the jon boat so I should be ok, it just takes a little thought process to make sure it looks good.

After a season of strictly catch and release fishing on Mille Lacs this year, the calculations for hooking mortality have now exceeded the allowable totals on the State fisherman's side.  Our illustrious Governor announce that we would not stop fishing but the Indian tribes called foul so starting September 6th it will be illegal to fish for walleyes again until a new quota is announced for December 1st...........what an unbelievable mess for sure.  I promised myself I won't get political but this whole situation on Mille Lacs is ridiculous for sure.  Anyway I am hoping to get out this weekend for one last trip for what it's worth, maybe try some deep water trolling with lead line or deep diving reef runners.  It's always fun and the MTT event on Mille Lacs, that strategy proved to be very successful.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Serious Time on the River

Lory's 24" channel cat caught on a crankbait!
My neighbor Lory and I decided to get out on the river late Sunday afternoon to experience both the crankbait bite and to sit down and anchor, enjoying bottom fishing for catfish, carp, and redhorse suckers.  Due to the recent rains, the water had come up about a foot so the current would be faster and anticipated that it would push the smallies up close to shore.  We traveled all the way above the city of Dayton and fished the north shore for a couple miles or so with crankbaits.  There was a lot of junk flowing in the water but never the less it was quite a bit clearer than I expected and we could easily stay close enough to hit the rivers edge in striking distance of at least some smallies.  Unfortunately the water coming up had shut them down and we only got 3 smallmouth, not very well considering we usually catch around 10 of them including some nicer ones.  The high water give them a lot of extra places to hide under the brush.  lory did get a real nice 24 inch channel cat that hit his crankbait with vengeance. Normally one doesn't think about catching catfish on crankbaits but I have caught them before and a 24 incher can really put up a fight for sure.  Well it was a great start to the evening however the plan was to drift and cast till about 7:30 them anchor behind and island closer to the landing and fish the bottom while enjoying a bottle of excellent Merlot that I had brought back from Carlos Creek Winery a couple of weeks ago.  We got anchored just before the sun went down as we baited our hooks and put the rods in the rod holders, a nice way to do this. Opening the wine I poured each of us a glass just as a pontoon came out of the side channel, a husband and wife opening their bottle of wine.  We held up our glasses and gave them a toast for the beautiful evening, they were quite surprised, two river rats anchored in the hole, fishing catfish and drinking fine wine, they laughed!  It was a pretty good experience as we got down to catching some serious fish.

WOW!!!  30 Inch Channel catfish
Ever since fishing halibut in Alaska, I really like using circle hooks.  It takes a little discipline to reel straight instead of setting the hook however often times the fish will simply try to swim away and set the hook by itself.  The nice thing about circle hooks is you can let the fish take the bait as long as you want and the intent is that when the hook hits the corner of their mouth it rotates and always hooks in the lip area and not deep in their throats.  This makes for good release survival and easy hook removal.  My first fish was a nice 22 inch Golden Redhorse, they are so pretty and I have caught them many times before.  The second fish I caught was a bruiser, a huge 30 inch channel catfish, I am assuming at least 15 pounds, and boy do these things fight. They can really bulldog their way around the boat, and as I said before, by moving away the fish virtually sets it's own hook.  I picked up the rod out of the rod holder and she was solidly hooked, the battle was on!  Even though I didn't have much line out this fish was not about to show itself right away.  At first I thought it was a big carp as most of the catfish I catch are relatively small in size, usually under 20 inches.  I got her up to the surface just in time for Lory to scoop it up in the net and we brought her on board.  It was the largest catfish I can ever remember catching, even bigger than the ones that we used to catch with m buddy Kevin Aiona on the river.  I had Lory snap a few memories and back in the water she went.  Never the less it was a very nice fish and one that I'll never forget. The circle hooked worked great and she swam away no worse for the wear.   I have some employees at work that would have really loved to have this fish for supper and if I can find some time maybe I'll take him out for an evening of fishing.  I think both of us would enjoy for certain. We have a lot of people from Southeast Asia working for us, many from Laos and they love to eat fish.  I showed them a picture as I have told them many times that I catch catfish in the river above Anoka, they just drooled!

Beautiful Golden Redhorse
Friday is our annual invite to BIR (Brainerd International Raceway)  by Kevin Sonsalla, a special friend and business associate.  He does a lot of work for Tony Schumacher, the NHRA drag racing star.  He usually invites us up on the Friday before the big weekend and we enjoy the hospitality passes, get fed, watch them put together the car and all sorts of interesting things. This year Lory is going with us again, it makes for a real nice day as he will meet us at Cabela's and we'll go from there.  I am sure we will run into our neighbor Tim Kuntz who just got done remodeling an old school bus into the coolest RV you've seen in a while.  Because he is a die hard Viking fan he's going to rename the School Bus the Skoal Bus.  Usually we like to sit with him on the top of the bleachers as the view is pretty good from up there.  It's quite amazing to watch those cars go from standing still to 320 MPH in less than 5 seconds, the whole earth shakes.  On the way up I'll have Kevin stop at Bill's and we have to pick up more wild rice.  I have been giving it to some of my good customers in California and are getting rave reviews.  It's about the time he will start harvesting rice again, not and easy job for sure but the fruits of his labor are quite good.  I will leave you with a picture of the Golden Redhorse that I caught Sunday night.  I think they are such a pretty fish, put up a good fight and provide a lot of good entertainment.  I can assure you we never caught them this big in the Buffalo River when I was a kid.  I can tell you that it's a pretty relaxing way to fish, that's for sure.  Also my friend Bruce heads to Lac Seul this weekend and I am anxious to hear how well his new "anchor" works.  Sometimes fishing the river behind my house feels like I am all the way in Canada, it is pretty special and you can almost have the whole river to yourself!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Finally........Back on the River

Evening on the River
This is the time of the year I usually get my jon boat ready to go and head to fish the Mississippi River behind my house.  the neighbor has an adequate boat launch and is kind enough to let me use, which is very convenient.   This year I had some things to accomplish before heading out.  I had a HDS7 that I used on the boat however I had sold it to my friend Bruce Wiley last September.  during that last trip on the river I floated into a rock that busted my transducer off the bracket and rendered it useless.  Besides replacing the transducer I noticed last Sunday that the battery on my Polaris Razor was dead so I hooked up a charger to it in hopes that it would fix the issue.  Figuring I'd try to get out on Monday and I need the Razor to pull the boat to the landing, it still wouldn't start.  A quick feel of the battery and I was hot, the battery is cooked.  I noticed that the date engraved on the top was 8-1-15, a year and 7 days ago.  The warranty has a 12 month free replacement, crap.  Pulling it out of the vehicle and putting the battery in a pail of cold water, I headed to Fleet Farm to beg for mercy.  So much for my plan to get out Monday night.  Arriving at Fleet Farm I was directed to the back of the store in the automotive section.  There I was greeted by a young man who was just wrapping up another deal, the guy asked what he could help me with.  I looked at him and said "You want to hear my sob story?" to which he replied, "do I need to take notes?"  We both laughed as I explained the events of the last week.  I acknowledged that I understand I don't have a leg to stand on however in the end he gave me a full adjustment!  One does win some every once in a while!  Saving me over $100 I headed home and ut the battery in, it worked as the Razor fired right up.  Being too late I decided that fishing would have to wait till tomorrow night.  On Tuesday I cleaned up everything and pulled the boat out, hooked it up to the Razor and withing 15 minutes I was on the water.  Unfortunately when launching I let the winch handle fly and smack me right across my left hand, I was getting to believe it had broke a few bones in my hand.  Heading up river I had about 90 minutes to fish so I decided to head up to the Stevens Farm area and drift down.  The river is still higher than normal however it did make for nice fishing as the water was right up to the bank and flowing well.  On my second cast I had a smallie but it got off right away.  After getting a pretty good birds nest in the reel I was using I switch rods and it was much stiffer and easier to control the lure placement.  I did get hung up a few times and one of those times the lure was just sitting on the surface, a big bass took a swipe at it and missed.  I kept having trouble with my snap at the end of the line opening up, it had a double locking feature as well but at least 4 times my lure fell off and I had to retrieve it, luckily the lure floats.  Eventually I ended up biting off the snap and tieing the lure directly to the line.  Without lights on the boat and it was getting dark I decided to head back with my mission accomplished, get the boat out and make sure everything worked.  The only thing I caught was this nice picture of the sunset looking up river.  It was very peaceful as the river is interesting and fun to be on.  I drifted past a tree that had wild turkey's just roosting on the high branches.   Fish seemed everywhere as they were surfacing, maybe they were just carp but it still is a lot of fun.  In the next 4 weeks I suspect that there will be more trips, now that I have everything running!

Sunset on Round Lake, MN
Last Saturday my wife and I headed north to Round Lake by Garrison Minnesota to help my friend Bruce celebrate his 60th birthday.  It really felt like a reunion of all the guys I have been to Canada with including Pete, Dan, Wayne, Tom and Bruce's father -in-law and brother-in-law as well as his 2 boys.  It was a gorgeous night, not too hot and the lake is quite beautiful.  Bruce decided to get the pontoon started and we all took a very leisurely cruise around the lake where like where I do a lot, snapped this picture of the sunset.  This picture is a great example of the proper way to take a picture of stuff like this, divide your scene into thirds.  Here you see I put the horizon on the bottom "third" line of the picture and then the remnants of the sun on the right third, where it intersects the bottom.  I think that following thee guidelines give much better depth to the scene as well as balance.  OK, it's fishing with Dave, not picture taking with Dave but as you see since June's trip to Lac Seul, it's been pretty light on the catching side.  That will change hopefully as I plan on hitting the river pretty hard in the next 3 weeks and it's a fairly easy task as it takes me about 5 minutes to get the boat in the River and the bite should be pretty good.

The countdown to Lac Seul is happening as one of the things I gave Bruce for his birthday was some Berkley Powerbait Walleye twister tail grubs and the appropriate jig heads.  He claims to want to learn how to fish plastics but in reality it's pretty easy up there as the fish are plentiful and hungry.  Next Friday Lory Brasel and I are once again invited up to BIR (Brainerd International Raceway) for an afternoon of relaxation and enjoying the NHRA sanctioned event.  Our friend Kevin Sonsalla does some work for Tony Schumacher and we get to ride along on his tails!  It is pretty awesome to watch them rebuild the cars before each race then see them go 1000 feet in 5 seconds, getting to over 300 mph.   Along with this we will definitely get to see my neighbor Tim who is frantically getting his school bus converted to an RV for the week, I have to admit, it looks pretty nice.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Sweating it out on Mille Lacs

Welly, Kam and Ken
Well, we finally got out on Sunday with a couple of electrical engineers from work, Welly Chou and Kam Chen as well, Kam's brother Ken Chen, who is from South Dakota.  All three of these guys are super smart and we born and raised in Hong Kong.  About a month ago I took Welly and Kam out with my neighbor Lory so Kam's brother Ken was coming to Minneapolis from South Dakota and he asked if I would take them out again. Apparently he had a pretty good time during the last trip.  Never wanting to turn down an opportunity and as I stated last week, it's been kind of a fish drought, we headed up on Sunday morning and got to the lake about noon.  It was windy and hot and with a surface temperature of 76, I sensed the fishing was going to be tough and my predictions were pretty correct.  This can be a tough time of the year as the baitfish are really providing plenty for the walleyes to eat as we found out.  With the wind blowing from the south, south east I decided to try and drift a couple of the flats, a reasonable strategy this time of year.  Our first stop was 7 mile and 2 drifts from south to the north side proved slow.  I was marking a lot of fish on the graph but they were not interested in biting.  The next move was to 9 mile flat, a good choice for the end of July, again we came up with nothing.  There were a lot of fish on 9 mile, especially on the northwest corner but their jaws were sealed.  Looking back I should have simply anchored and fished the area with bobbers and leeches, it may have worked better.  Deciding that maybe the deeper inshore reefs would be good as the smallie bite was suppose to be good in these deeper areas I anchored off of the rock hump by Sherman's Point but struck out there as well.  Somewhere in this picture I was panicking as I forgot to put both my net and my tackle boxes back in the boat after I had removed them when I brought my boat back up to Frankies.  Luckily I have under the console storage and voila, both my live bait rig box and my bobber box were there and saved the day.

Because my boat move along pretty good I decided it was time to cool off so I went behind
Trophy Smallie!!!
Sherman's Point into the calmer water and punched down the throttle.  It didn't take long and we were cruising at 57 mph, these guys thought it was the greatest.  It was a nice break from fishing as well seeing's how we weren't doing to well.  My next stop was to head to the deep rock pile where we caught some the last trip, in front of Eddy's.  Getting all the rods set Welly hooked a small walleye but it got off the hook just as he got it to the boat.  That was probably good because it means it didn't swallow the hook, but it would have been nice to boat our first fish.  Oh well.  Another hour produced not even a bite so it was off to the last spot, and area always good for a nice smallmouth or rouge walleye, Indian Point.   I am still learning how to troll with my boat but am getting better at it.  Rigging up 3 lines with #5 shad raps we started by the rock pile and headed out.  Indian point is an excellent trolling location as the shallow reef is long and narrow, extending out into the lake about 1/2 a mile.  It's easy to go up one side banging the 6 foot depth then come back on the other side doing the same thing.  Right away I nailed a nice fish and trying to get one of the guys to take the pole the fish shook itself off.   10 minutes later another on hit my lure but it let loose right away, it even could have been the bottom but I doubt it.  On our 3rd pass I did finally get on in the boat, this huge smallmouth bass, must have gone 12 ounces!  Oh well, it was the only fish we got into the boat so no use complaining!  I look at this picture and I immediately think...........Does this fish make me look fat?  Of course!!   Interesting but even though it was hot I always wear my Onyx inflatable life vest as I know if I ever go overboard I doubt I could tread water for very long.  Anyway it was very hot this day and it definitely I got beat  up.  I was surprised at all the fish I marked but you can't fry up marks!

dinged up prop
The day ended on a sour note as I hit the bottom of the lake on the way in at the landing,  I am fully aware of the danger however the lake is up about 6 inches in the last few weeks because of the rain and I usually am very careful on the way in but it didn't make any difference, and my prop mades some tracks in the gravel.  There must have been some larger rocks because it really dinged up the edge of my prop.  I suppose it probably would be fine to run it this way but the motor is too expensive to chance on running something out of balance.  We stopped at Bill's on the way back and he has a guy that stops there on Tuesday, picks up damaged props then returns them on Friday. Unfortunately the Super Dooper Nylon prop wrench didn't work so good and I had to wait till I got home to take it off.  So much for that so I decided to get a standard deep well socket and breaker bar to do the job as my big fear in Canada is ruining my prop, so I carry a spare.  A lot of good that would have done with a wrench that didn't work. Well, I am going to be more prepared next time but at I found out before it was too late!  My wife, brother Steve and I picked 40# of blueberries on Saturday when we went back to Eleva to see my mom.  She is doing OK but still needs a lot of help.  This weekend is my friend Bruce's 60 birthday party and my plan is to get my jon boat going as the water levels on the Mississippi River have come down almost 4 feet so the fishing should be pretty good.  I like fishing the River, it's right in the back of my house and it's pretty easy to go out for a few hours at a time and enjoy myself.