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!