Thursday, June 22, 2017

The End is in Site!

Jon Bathke's 30+ inch walleye on Mille Lacs
Well, the end appears to be in reach on my boat situation.  As of today it's been 29 days since she's last been in my garage however it looks like it is ready to pick up for my up coming trip to Lac Seul. I found out that the perpetrators of my disappearing electronics also destroyed the Sirius/XM Weather module on the boat and a new one had to be installed.  This will also require me to re initialize everything in order to get it to work.  I really like this feature as it overlays the weather on your GPS maps and will give out a warning if there is lightning near, a very nice feature, especially in Canada. The last thing needed is to replace the plastic panels that were heavily scratched in the removal process but honestly, things will operate just fine until the return from Lac Seul.  In the meantime I continue to miss the hot bite on Mille Lacs however my fishing buddies are taking full advantage of the bite, including my friend Jon Bathke.  I met Jon many years ago when he and his boss, Dave Johnson wanted to go fishing down by Alma, on the Mississippi River, and both myself and Kevin Aiona knew the area pretty well, so I took them.  That was probably in the early 1980's and we have been friends ever since.  Unfortunately Dave died in a tragic automobile accident just when the new highway 252 was opened, he was a great guy and loved to fish.  Jon has 2 daughters and he has been taking them to Mille Lacs since they were young girls.  We talked about the hot bit on Mille Lacs and he told me that him and one of his girls went up the other day and just slaughtered the fish.  I think it was over 40 fish with most of them in the 24 inch plus range.  His report mirrors a lot of reports that I and Bill Lundeen have been discussing and they don't necessarily bode well for the future of the 2017 walleye catching season on Mille Lacs.  You see it is strictly catch and release and on July 7 the lake will close down completely to walleye fishing with a planned reopening on July 27th as statistically the worse hooking mortality happens in July.  Personally I would like to see all live bait users relegated to circle hooks and limit the live bait rigs to 1 single hook only.  I have fished Alaska, South Carolina, and Florida for fish and circle hooks were required for proper fish release.  They do work great however take some getting used to as you can't just set the hook or you will pull it right out of their mouth, rather it takes a steady pull and the circle hooks simply rotate and catch the fish in the corner of their mouth every time.  I think I have mentioned this before, in Alaska halibut fishing one time, the captain would not even let us take the rods out of the rod holders until it was certain that the fish were hooked.  Simply reeling the line in worked to set the hook and it is very efficient.  I think, especially on the launches which bobber fish with leeches, this method would work wonders in preventing deep hooked walleyes, but of course, it's only my humble opinion and that doesn't seem to make much difference these days.

The other great news is the boat was ready to be picked up yesterday and the pole shed was getting
The Yellow connector was cut off
pretty lonely so off to Frankies.  After getting her home, the first thing was to check out and make sure everything worked.  One additional thing that got replaced was my Sirius/XM Weather module.  Not cheap at about $700 the perpetrators simple cut off the connector end making it virtually useless.  This meant that it needed to be programmed for the new unit so it was the first thing to do.  You see the walleyes on Lac Seul love Willies Roadhouse!  Well the satellite attached to the unit but no sound.  After a few minutes of deep thought, especially after the bluetooth worked, I decided to check the connections however they were ok.  It ended up that I needed to change the input designation in the units and Voila.....Sound.  The next thing was to make sure the trolling motor was attached to the network so I deployed it, nothing, no power, dead as a doornail.   Started tearing stuff apart before realizing to check the battery area, where there was a circuit breaker turned off, probably a safety precaution when working on the motor.  One quick flip and everything was fine.  Next was to connect the units to the Lowrance units, you know, it really is easy but you do it so little it's hard to remember what worked the last time.  Anyway, it got figured out and now I know how to fix Bruce's connection on his new HDS-9, that is if I can actually remember what I did! The other good news is my structure scan 3D does work now and I look forward to using it on Lac Seul.

With the two main electronic issues resolved the last thing left is to deploy the new bimini top, which looks great and I must say that Lake Area Canvas sis a great job.  I looked at the snaps that secure the side panels that were added to the side of the boat and my first thought was, I don't like this!  From a practical aspect it is necessary and after an hour of thinking about it, I guess it's ok as it's really the only way to do this.  Never the less, it's painful seeing things screwed into the boat!!!  So now it's a made scramble to get everything ready to head north to Lac Seul.  My friend Paul Wenaas just got back from there and I asked how the fishing was.  He stated it was great, they got a lot of fish in the 2 to 5 foot water depth.  WHAT?!?!?! Oh well, it is good to have some different information regarding this.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Ranger 620 Saga Continues

Empty Hole where my HDS12 used to be
On Friday Lisa at Frankies sends me an e-mail....Dave, we have a problem.......we are missing a few parts that we thought were part of what we ordered to fix your trolling motor and kicker motor however that is not the case and we had to reorder some parts.  Well, OK, it is supposed to be real windy on Saturday and on Sunday we had a family reunion in Eau Claire so even if I had the boat, it would be a stretch to be able to actually use it. Besides I also had an appointment with Lakes Area Canvas to have a bimini top custom made for the boat. on Monday June 12th. My goal was to have everything mechanical done by this Saturday and the top ready to go by June 23rd, in time for my next trip to Lac Seul with Bruce and Pete. Therefore I simply made the arrangement, I would pick up the boat on Monday, take it to the canvas place, when they are done, Frankie's can pick it up and bring it back to the shop, I will pick up the boat on Saturday morning, June 17th.  Seemed like a good plan. Well I get a call from John at the canvas shop on Tuesday morning, someone had broken into his "secured" area, got into my boat and ripped out both the console HDS 12 and the bow mounted HDS 9 however the 3rd HDS 9 that I had on the dash above where the 12 was mounted was pretty much unscathed as it had a gimble lock on it that takes time to figure out.  I ran up last night to assess the damage and took some pictures.I would definitely give a shout out to DuraSafe Locks.  Even when they tried to remove it, the lock held fast and the only damage to it was the gimbal mount itself, an easy thing to replace.  Of course instead of carefully twisting off the cable connectors, they apparently just cut them on the 12. The console is scratched up and I worry about how they are going to fix my glassed in transducer now that the connector end is cut.  I was concerned about some of the other things in the boat like my tackle boxes however those were left alone.  Although some people say you'd have got all new stuff, I have over 30 years of favorites accumulated and it would be difficult to think about restocking, especially those classics that just work.  I have plastics in there that just aren't made anymore but sure are the ticket for Lac Seul.  And of course does anyone know exactly how much stuff you have?!?!?

Previous location of my bow mounted Lowrance
The criminals only grabbed what they could easily pawn for money, leaving a lot of what I consider
nice stuff behind, thank the Lord! Because Frankie's has to put the trolling motor together as well as the kicker motor, it will be interesting to see if any parts are missing because these things simply were left apart in the boat. The thieves were somewhat more considerate with my front bow mounted HDS9 as they took the time to actually undo the cables. This means that only the yellow ethernet cable will need to be replaced. Of course the panel was broken and a new one needs to be ordered from Ranger but beyond the missing HDS9, it wasn't too bad in the bow section.  I was thinking about using tamperproof screws when mounting the new ones however someone made the point that they could do more damage that way, I guess it makes sense.  Luckily I removed all of my fishing rods and reels from the center compartment.  The rod storage holds at least 12 rods and at an average of $500 each, that would have made a bad situation even worse.  I guess there are worse things in this world but it seems like my luck is about reached a peak when it comes to the boat!

So, what else is exciting in the world of Fishin' With Dave?  Grandpa's tractor, the Ferguson TO-35 has not been running too good so I took off the carburetor and cleaned it however that made it even worse! Last week I took it off and sent it to Ohio to get rebuilt.  It arrived yesterday and I got it on, she started right up!  Ran perfect, the only thing I had to do was lower the idle screw to get it to idle at a slower speed.  With that I was able to grade my pole shed driveway enough to make it decent again.  That was a total relief as I couldn't even finish mowing the back acreage last fall.  You can be assured that only Non Oxygenated gas will be run through that thing going forward.  Now that we have received a lot of rain in the last few days, the grass is looking pretty good.  The garden is up, complete with potato beetles on the newly sprouted potato shoots.  Will I have the boat back this weekend, I really only care about June 23rd when I have confirmed a trip back to Lac Seul.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Boatless in Minnesota

From my Nephew, Kevin
Last Friday my dealer called to tell me that my kicker motor had water in the oil and a new seal kit needed to be installed, however it would not be done in time for the weekend fishing.  This seemed OK as I needed some quality time to get some stuff done around the house, as well I had a pretty good offer on Sunday.   Bill called me from Mille Lacs and asked if I could help him on Sunday. Seems like it would work out for all of us, my dealer could keep the boat over the weekend, I'd get the garden and other things finished, and Sunday I could head up and spend some time with Bill.  So Saturday I finished planting the garden, sprayed my apple trees with Sevin to chemically thin them out as they have a ton of apples on them, mowed, and attempted to clean the pole shed  (Good Luck with that!)  One of the nicest things that happened this week was my nephew Kevin texted me on Monday exclaiming that I should have something special in my receiving department so I left my meeting to check it out.  I pretty much figured what it was but upon opening the box only confirmed those suspicions, some Willamette Valley wines, a Pinot Noir and a Chardonnay, both very fine wines from one of the best Pinot Noir regions in the world.  He certainly knows how to tug at his Uncle's heart strings and I look forward to enjoying these soon as I added them to my wine cellar, never the less I'm always excited to have something from him.  I will definitely post how well these vintages are as I do like Oregon wines for sure!

So a quick update on the boat, uffda.  So Joe at Frankies has reportedly fixed the network system that
Wave Pro Air Adjustable boat pedestals
is been an issue from opener.  How in the heck did a seal on a new kicker motor go, well, I guess it's possible, let's hope this is under warranty!  The trolling motor bracket is the second one I've gone through so far.  When we returned from Canada a few week back my friend Bruce experienced some terrible back issues and landed in the hospital for a few days.  We got talking about different seat mounts to help balance the ride somewhat and he ended up with Smoothmoves, something that I was looking at since the Sportsshow, but a little research and I decided to go with the WavePro style.  They seem less bulky and Frankies carries them so it seemed a bit easier just to call and order a couple, which I did!  It should make those long rides into camp a whole lot easier.  It has an optional air pump that one can use to adjust the ride softness so I am sure it will take a little getting used to. The other reason to order from Frankie's is they have said that they sell a lot of these and knowing my Ranger, I am confident that they will do it right on the selection and install.  Maybe I am just getting more lazy these days, but it will be nice and if I do get my boat for this weekend, it's going to be windy on Mille Lacs so that would be a great way to test them out.  On Monday I get to bring my boat back in to get a Bimini top made for it.  I have never been one for a top however as I get older, protection from the sun and rain seem to make more sense, especially when we fish Lac Seul where it is mostly vertical jigging off the side of the boat.  This wheel boat stuff is hard to get used to after spending 36 years in a tiller type boat!

Sunday was spent at Lundeens helping him to get his rigs ready for some up and coming guide trips. We cleaned his big ProLine first, mounted some electronics, and started it before we moved to his 16 foot Lund that we used to crappie fish last fall.  He was installing Structurescan 3D so I helped him run the NMEA 2000 network as well as fishing the transducer cable up through the side of the boat. We had originally planned to take the big boat out on the lake but there was something wrong with the motor, so it was good that we got the smaller Lund taken care of first as he ended up using that for his trip.  The walleyes have really been biting on Mille Lacs with a report in Wednesday's paper that a Launch with 20 guys went out for 3.5 hours last week, caught and released 374 walleyes.  That's a lot of fish for sure.  There are rumors that I may be back on Lac Seul on June 24th, time will tell for sure!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Ontario Walleye Opener, Lac Seul 2017

Beautiful Lake Whitefish on Lac Seul
I was graciously invited to join my friends to experience Ontario's 2017 walleye opener at Lac Seul Outpost on Chamberlain Narrows, Lac Seul Lake, out of Sioux Lookout again.  Admittedly there wasn't much time between getting home from Leech Lake (Minnesota Fishing Opener), meeting with our Taiwanese business partners on the 2 days between trips, getting the boat cleaned and ready to go but miraculously I managed!  Getting up at 5:00 on Friday morning my neighbor Pete Sipe helped hook up the boat and north we headed, to meet  Wayne, Gary, and Tom at the restaurant in Orr, MN for breakfast before pushing across the border.  There was quite a line of boats crossing at International Falls to Fort Francis but our wait was surprisingly short.  Both Pete and I have got this border crossing down pretty well, take off your hat and sunglasses, always address the border agent with quick and firm answers, look him in the eye, and always tell the truth, not trying to hide anything.  We carefully pack our things and the only issue we had was that our liquor volumes were over what is allowed for 2 guys.  It seems as though we tell them exactly what we have and they hand the passports back and tell us to enjoy and be careful.  Only once did we have to pay extra duty but the last 6 times we were able to enter with a tad more than allowed.  I think the honesty and not trying to weasel our way out of duties, which BTW I am perfectly happy to pay, works in our favor.  The next big question is whether we can get our boats through the "rags" a short cut that cuts a few miles on the trip in.  We had been in contact with our fearless leader, Bruce however he had mentioned nothing about getting through the rags. This time of year the water is pretty low and it may only be a foot or so of water through the cut.  We launched the boat then headed around the island deciding not to test the shallow water as it was pretty low.  There were a couple of Ranger boats that had just put in and I learned they were boating into Lac Seul Outpost as well.  After accepting my offer to follow us, 4 boats headed out.  It wasn't that bad as my map was very good at keeping us on course and 75 minutes later we pulled into camp without any issues. As always it was great to see Ken and Brenda, the owners as well he had some new staff people that were very good. After settling into the cabin, the weather was forecasted to be great on Saturday then rain both Sunday and Monday.  Opener was as projected, the walleyes would be fairly shallow, 8 - 12 feet and plastics worked great.  I was determined to catch a walleye on one of my ice fishing blade baits as vertical jigging was the norm.  Something really hit it and pulling it up it was a very nice large Lake Whitefish, I would estimate around 5 - 6 pounds.  The lure came loose in the net so really, I am not sure it actually hit the lure or I simply snagged it.  Officially it hit the lure so it's at Osseo Meats, in Osseo, MN as those guys really do a nice job smoking it.

River entering Scaler Lake
On Sunday we were able to fish a new area (to me) and an area that my friend, Paul Wenaas is very familiar with, Scaler Lake where the river runs into it.  Paul gave me some of his trails into the lake a couple of years back and both myself and Bruce commented how well Paul had it marked on the GPS as with the low water levels it was important to make sure you stayed in the old (Now flooded) river channel.  Anywhere there is water flowing in the lake tends to be a fish magnet and this spot was no exception as we hammered the walleyes and had a few large northern pike.   Bruce commented that this area usually has a lot of boats in the area however we were the only 2 there.  If you click on the picture you will see 2 eagles perched on the dead tree tops as there were plenty of eagles around this area.  I suspect that the fishing is pretty good for them as well.  After a couple hours of reeling in walleyes, and the rain getting heavier, we decided to head on back a little closer to camp.  Scaler Lake was the farthest we traveled to fish as it is very good fishing just across the channel from Camp.  We did run up to Birch Narrows which is north of the camp and there were 4 houseboats parked along the route including one parked right off a point that can be quite good this time of year.  While we were fishing another boat came in and got a little too close to the houseboat and some words where exchanged.  We just looked on shaking our heads as it was hard to tell who was in the wrong.  Oh well, it's a big lake but some people get pretty defensive.  I rained both Sunday and Monday so we ended back at camp maybe earlier than usual, which was fine with me!

Monday evening's dinner was Steak night again as we diligently make sure that we have enough fish to take home, 4 walleyes each.  After dinner we did a final count and I was 3 fish short of my limit.  I grabbed my spinning rod and walked down to the dock where it is pretty easy to catch a walleye and within 10 minutes I had my 3 walleyes, nice ones in the 16.5 inch range.  Of course Tuesday morning was pretty nice considering the rain which fell on Sunday and Monday, typical for the day you leave. Either way it was a great time and I look forward to my next return to Lac Seul.  My boat went in the shop on Thursday as I have some ongoing issues that need to be addressed.  I am anxious to get it on Mille Lacs as the reports coming in is that the walleyes are practically jumping in the boat.  As well, I definitely need to start looking at my river boat as I anticipate a great season of fishing on the River.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Uffda.......Busy Schedule...............But....Fishing Opener!

My gift from Jeffrey
Wow,  Last week was a whirlwind of activity, too much to even take the time to report in on the Fishing opener.  Adding to the craziness was the fact that upon returning from Leech I ended up taking my nephew to the airport then getting everything ready for my guests that were arriving from Taiwan the next day.  I spent the next Wednesday and Thursday with my "Golden" Brother CK, then a mad scrabble to get a few things done around the house, pack as we headed for Lac Seul, Canada on Friday.  It was great to see my friends from Taiwan, CK, Jeffrey, Serena, and May.  Although I usually get to see Jeffrey at least once a year, I haven't seen CK or Serena in a number of years. Jeffrey has been extremely generous and the last couple of times he brought me some Single Malt Whiskey from Taiwan's famous distillery, Kavalan.  It is ranked as one of the best whiskey distillers in the world and he went all out this time bringing me a bottle of Solist Whiskey, aged in Sherry Wine barrels, and is cast strength (meaning it's alcohol content is as it is right out of the barrel, about 57%).  It is very good and I am sure it  deserves it's world ranking as whiskey's go.  It's definitely a treat and I appreciate their generosity for sure.  It was great to see CK again, he calls me his Golden Brother because I understand the business that we are in similar to him, we see eye to eye on a lot of things.  They have been our business partners of ours for overseas manufacturing and we have done business with them for almost 20 years now.  Interesting as I told them I only have a few days between Minnesota Opener and my trip to Lac Seul and they graciously fit it into that time frame.

Ben's eelpout
So why talk about Whiskey than the Minnesota Walleye Opener, frankly because it was probably the worst opener for catching fish on Leech Lake that I have experienced since starting to go there in 1990.  Not that there are few if any fish in the lake, quite contrary, however I believe that unusual spring and a huge baitfish situation lead me to catch only 4 walleyes for 3 days of fishing, maybe I am just getting old but all the other guys didn't do so well either!!  I did get to fish with my friend Ben Taylor and we headed out to Annex Reef where he nailed this beautiful eelpout, definitely a great fish and they are absolutely delicious to eat.  Besides that I think that my boat caught a total of 10 walleyes, not many for each session and as well we only brought in 2 keeper fish (between 14 and 20 inches), pretty slow.  I even tried trolling shad raps along Ottertail point and although we did get a few fish they were all in that 10 - 12 inch range. The word was that the walleyes were very shallow, in the 4 - 6 foot range however we had water temps in the high 50's so this didn't make a lot of sense.  Usually I like the deeper structures when the water temps are up there like this however that wasn't the case as my go to spots were not very good and I didn't mark many fish on those 12 foot humps that are located off a few midlake reefs.  In the end we got enough walleyes for everyone to take a couple home plus we had our fish fry on Sunday night.  Luckily the group caught a lot of northern pike and the resort does an excellent job of cleaning out the Y bones so they deep fried just perfectly and to be honest, Northerns are a great tasting fish, firmer than walleye and they seem to have a little more flavor.  Catching isn't the most important thing about Walleye Opener however it certainly helps.  This year was Team Walleye's 44th year opening on Leech Lake and my 27th year with the group.  Time certainly flies and it seems like just yesterday when I started going with these guys in 1990.  Although it wasn't our best year of catching fish, it certainly was a good year to get the group together again, I guess as we get older this is quite a bit more important!

Stay tuned my report from last weekends Canadian Fishing Opener at Lac Seul should prove to be more positive on that elusive catching side!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Things Coming Together

Nicely tilled Garden
It's been a mad rush to get all of the "critical" things done around the house before I head out for 2 weekends in a row fishing.  Because my weekends are going to be away from home, the critical issues include getting the garden tilled, the yard cleaned up and fertilized, the fruit trees taken care of, and getting the lawn mower ready to go.  Last weekend most of the big things did get taken care of, starting with tilling the garden.  Being smart about this I took up my friend Ricky Shermer's offer to use his 6 foot tiller mounted on the back of his Kubota tractor, taking a huge amount of work and compressing it into a few hours. The tiller I have been using was my dad's yet that only does about an 18 inch swath and it requires you to go over it twice.  With Ricky's setup a single run is worth 4 times with the hand tiller and all I really need to do is sit on my butt and steer the tractor.  It does have one disadvantage, it has a tendency to pile the dirt behind the tiller but luckily I manged to work that out.  At a PTO (Power Take Off) speed of 540 RPM's the actual tiller shaft is spinning quite fast and really pulverizes the dirt nicely.  One does need to do a few passes but as stated, it's easy when the only thing is driving the tractor.  I really like how it chops up the old corn stalks and other debris from last year's garden planting.  With the tilling behind me the onions got planted and by the time I leave on Friday the potatoes will be in.  Thanks Ricky!!!

The yard needed a good mowing and picking up the stuff left over from the winter.  That got done
Apple tree in full bloom.
and with rain specified for next Monday and Tuesday the fertilizer will go down soon.  The raspberry patch is all cleaned up, it's kind of a pain removing all of the old dead canes and trimming them up but admittedly I do get a great berry crop.  Maybe my neighbor Lory will turn some of them into a nice wine this fall.  The apples and pear trees look good this year.  Last year we got a late freeze while the blossoms were in full grandeur resulting in a failure of the fruit crop however this year it looks like the weather will hold and we should have a bumper crop of apples and pears.  A good friend Eric Hayes gave me some important information on the proper apple tree spray and my goal is to locate all the ingredients to make this happen.  Our friends still have bees on the property and the trees are simply full of them, perfect addition to having all the right things come together.  What is frustrating is the boat hasn't even been in the water to test out everything.  Hopefully one nigh here I can put some muffs on the water intakes and at least start the motors to make sure at least they run. The boat is otherwise pretty much ready to go and come Friday morning it will be heading north!

All indications point to a great walleye opener as the water temps at Leech Lake are in the 50's already.  Hopefully the big hawgs are on the bite and we get a few.  I have my strategies all mapped out including a run into Walker and visiting the new brewpub in town on Sunday between fishing sessions.  There is still a lot to do and the schedule doesn't get any easier with my returning next Tuesday, our Chinese visitors here next Wednesday and Thursday, then off to Lac Seul on Friday morning to participate in the Ontario Fishing Opener.  Uffda!

Friday, May 5, 2017

One week and Counting

Panther Martin Remote Tiller Steering
The end of April has been a whirlwind of activity but admittedly it does make the time fly.  With about a week to go before we head up north for opener there is still a lot to do around the house, heck the boat hasn't even been in the water yet, maybe this weekend.  While getting things ready I noticed that the sticker on the license plate attached to the boat trailer still had 16 on it, not good.  the assumption was that somewhere I renewed it on or near the expiration date and simply misplaced the new sticker, a very plausible scenario.  Attempting to renew it online only met with a reject which was strange because the plate number and VIN number was correct.  Calling the Minnesota Department of Motor Vehicles provideded me with the answer.........Sir, your trailer was not registered for the year 2016 and has been removed from the data base.  In order to get your renewal, you need to go to a nearby Deputy Registrar's office and sign an affidavit certifying that the said trailer in question has not been used since December 31, 2015.  Apparently I did not renew it last year and the 16 designation means that the plates expired January 1, 2016 and not December 31, 2016.  Therefore I have been pulling my boat trailer all of last year on expired plates.  So I go in and sign a document that the last time I used the boat trailer was in October of 2015, that satisfied the agent and I was able to secure new tabs for this season.  It sure would be convenient to issue boat trailer license renewals similar to the boat itself, a 3 year sticker and do it at the same time. Oh well, one more thing out of the way!! This weeks picture is of the Panther Martin Remote Tiller Steering module they added to the boat.  It is quite compact and works really good, at least in the garage.  Note the heat gun on the floor for removing my old plate sticker.  As stated in the past, I really enjoy trolling Shad Raps along the shorelines on Leech Lake and this should make it quite a bit easier to control the boat while trolling. The boat is pretty well put back together with the right strategic rod/reel combos that are best suited for walleyes on Leech as most of our strategy is slow drifting with a jig and minnow combination, as well the trolling rods are ready to go!

Plano deep 3700 Series Storage Boxes
This year I intend on using plastics more.  One of the things to make storage easier was purchasing a few of the Deep Plano 3700 plastic boxes to store all of my plastics in, as they generally are kept in their original packaging bags.  Using 3 boxes I can sort them by scented ones such as Gulp and PowerBait, BFishN type baits like the Pulse X featured last week, and plain 3 - 4 inch curly tail grubs in a number of pretty wild colors. I like to be organized in the boat and these boxes really do an excellent job of storing these lures and the Ranger's compartments were specifically made to hold this size so it really makes it nice. Last year I keep them in a soft sided tackle box but it proved to be extremely difficult to access everything and this really make it easy.  One of my goal is to commit to teaching my friend Bruce the art of fishing plastics on Lac Seul this year and will probably even set up one of my jigging rods for him so he doesn't have to switch his own lures.  I have been very successful in getting him in my train of thoughts on equipment such as depth finders and trolling motors, now it's time to introduce a new method he can use when the walleye bite slows down, or to really take advantage of it when the bite is hot.  Either way both the Minnesota Opener and the Canadian Opener should be in prime!

I did pick up our Team Walleye hats and the honorary shirts for those who bring their boats.  They are pretty sharp and I will guarantee that we will be noticed on the lake!  pretty much everything is a go as my friend has confirmed our annual bait situation, so we are set there.  Lot's of stuff to get caught up on, the garden needs tilling, the lawn needs mowing and fertilizing, boat need to be checked out. The list never ends.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Getting Ready for the Season

catalpa/chartreuse Pulse R soft bait
It's been a busy last 2 weeks, since Easter.  On the same day (April 18th) that my mother passed away, our good friend Jim Carlson had passed away hours earlier.   His funeral was last Monday so we left my mom's funeral to head back up to the cities to attend his family memorials.  Jim was the brother-in-law to my really great friends Mark and Jack Taylor.  He was also a Lutheran pastor and I was instrumental in helping him get the pastor's job in my home town of Eleva, Wisconsin.  Jim's wife Linda is Mark and Jack's sister and my wife and I would always get invited to their family get together's as they were our family here in Minnesota.  Jim's funeral was Monday and we were honored when the family asked us to walk up with them as part of the family.  It was also nice to see both Dennis and Linda Barneson as well as Gary and his wife, Karen, I had just seen them on Saturday at my mothers funeral.  On Tuesday I flew down to Chicago with my production Manager, Rich Rebella, to attend the spring TTA meeting for 3 days.  I really enjoy getting together with my fellow members of our industry, we fished together last December at our fall meeting then again in late March when we all met at APEC.  Quite honestly I am anxious to just try and relax for  a few days but we all know that is going to be hard to accomplish as there is not much time between now and fishing opener.  One thing I have enjoyed is watching the In Depth Outdoors video of the host catching walleyes one the Rainy River a few weeks ago.  Here is the link to one of their latest videos that uses these Pulse R's Here  One of their baits, which I have found to be quite productive on Lac Seul is the BFishN AuthentX Pulse R soft plastics as it has a unique tail action that can be fished quite slow.  After watching the video I just had to order their new color, Catalpa/Chartreuse as it should be a real good color in the stained waters of Lac Seul.  I am bound and determined to catch a walleye on Leech Lake on one of these!

Long Day Onions planting guide
Monday evening I  picked up my onions from Andy Stevens, an engineer that used to work with us. Here is a video explaining Long day onions as many people don't understand how to get the results most people would like to see. Dixondale Farms from Texas does and excellent job of providing the right type of onion sets to assure a great crop this fall. Every year we order onions together, the right kind for our area.....Long Day onions,  Because of our long days (> 14 hours) in the growing season, you need the right ones.  As well I stopped by Beiswinggers Hardware to pick up some drive belts for my dad's old Honda Tiller. I go them on and tilled up a good chunk of the garden Tuesday night before I left.  I definitely need to get the onions and potatoes planted before fishing season starts.  If possible I'd like to get the boat out this weekend for a trial run before opener.  Although I am sure it will be just fine it's still good to try and get familiar with the new equipment before I get out on the lake.

I am writing this at the Chicago Skyclub waiting for my plane ride home.  I hear it's been cold up north, hopefully my apple blossoms are going to be ok.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The End of An Era

My mom, Betty Anderson
Tuesday, April 18th was my Mother's 83rd Birthday.  At 4:00 on that day she passed away from COPD, I probably don't need to elaborate the causes.  It marks and end of an Era, for 52 years my parents home was home, things never stay the same. My dad met my mother Betty in Milwaukee back in the early 1950's when after he finished his stint in the Air Force he went to work at the Schlitz Brewing Company.  There he met my uncle Lee Ystad who was married to my mother's sister, Dorothy.  I am sure that Lee told my dad that my wife has a good looking sister you should meet, and the rest is history! Married in 1954, they  lived with my Grandparents (Dad's Parents) for a while and I can only imagine how that went.  Mom, being from Milwaukee was a city girl and was sort of a tough gal!  Meanwhile my grandmother was a church going, small town woman, just the opposite of mom.  Well, they prevailed and eventually mom adapted to living in Eleva, a town of 465 back then.  She was the disciplinarian in our family as it never was........"Wait till your Dad get's home" rather she, and I would have to say very effectively, could dish out whatever the punishment needed to be and it was usually with her favorite weapon of choice, the fly swatter!  She knew how to use it and it was interesting as we were pretty settled down by the time Dad got home.  She eventually got a job at the local Grocery Store as a general stocking help and cashier.  In a small town everyone knows you and where you came from so everyone knew mom for sure. I find it very interesting that Mom did not have a driver's license until she was in her 50's, and even so, she never really drove at all.  I know she let her license lapse and really never wanted to drive.  She was a pretty woman up to the end and actually looked young for her age.  I remember when I was in my late teens people would often ask if I was her younger brother.  Yet she did not like her picture taken and was quite adamant about that, enough that it got me in trouble many times.  This is a picture taken about 10 years ago, she would be upset that I even published it here however I am proud of her and like to brag about her (This is where I got my good looks from!).  She was an interesting person, quite independent in many ways and quite dependent in others. Admittedly we were not a hugging, kissing, family, maybe to some it would
Mom and Dad at their 25th Wedding Anniversary
appear we were quite cold.  That's the way it was. 2 weeks before my father died (August 2, 2011) I sat on the couch with him and finally got the courage to say.....Dad, I never really told you this but I wanted you to know that I love you. Well his comeback was straight and to the point......Dave, when we were kids, we never had to say that to our parents as we just knew!  That was it, end of story!  Wow, I had to think about it for a while but vowed to start telling it to mom every time I talked to her.  After 56 years of silence I believe it changed her as she always responded to that positively.  Sitting with my brothers Steve and Blake, and Sister Beth, they gave each one of us a hand written note she had wrote and requested they be given out to each of us upon her death.  Mine says:  "Dear David,  I's so proud of what you turned out to be.  I can't thank you enough for all that you have done for me.  You take good care of me.  You have always been so hardworking, I remember when you were 12 and started working a garage after school.  You would stay there working until late at night.  Growing up you always helped me and as and adult, I always knew if I needed anything you were only a phone call away.  I love you so much! Love, Mom  The was a star at the end and another statement:  Look up at the stars and know that I am with you.  For that shining star you see is me watching you from above."   Uffda, pretty hard to top that.  Of course we all read ours out loud and between the tears we exclaimed, where did this come from!!!  From an amazing lady, one who was plucked from her world, hauled up to a foreign place, raise 5 kids, and found her real home.  Those who are reading this please consider, it's not to late to tell those who are special to you that you love them.  It's amazing what the results can be!! Love you mom.  Here is her obituary.
My new iTroll Kicker Motor Controller

So it's full speed ahead with our Opening fishing event.  I brought my boat in a couple weeks ago to Frankie's and they called, come pick it up!  I got the iTroll and remote steering installed as well, they did a number of warranty issues that I did not expect.  The tongue jack on the trailer was almost impossible to crank and the outboard engine had a few recalls that needed to be updated, a cover and the engine software.  I also had them install a timer on my baitwell aerator pump as it drove me crazy that it ran all the time. The iTroll is and interesting device as it precisely controls the speed of my Evinrude 9.8 hp kicker motor that I have been trying to use for trolling presentations.  It is a special servo motor connected to the throttle that allows you to adjust the throttle in small increments to get just the right speed.  It was difficult to set this using the shift lever to get the right speed.  As stated it was a bear to steer and the new Panther Martin remote steering should make trolling crankbaits and breeze!  I can't wait to try it on Minnesota Opener in a few weeks as I have a feeling the shallow water #5 Shad Rap bite will be pretty hot!  I will definitely give you a full report.  Now I need to find the time to get the boat in the water and try everything out as well as reorganize things, put the rods and tackle back in the boat, the list never ends.  As well the yard needs work and I am in Chicago next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  It's going to be a crazy next 4 weeks!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Ice Out

Ice out days for Mille for the Past 39 Years
When the ice has melted off a lake here in Minnesota, we traditionally call the event Ice Out.  It's a real big deal as most of our lakes have been frozen over since December and it marks the beginning of a new year of open water fishing.  The most notable lakes are the large ones like Lake Mille Lacs and Leech Lake as it sets the stage for what the fishing conditions might be for this years Minnesota Fishing Opener on May 13th.  An early ice out usually means that the spawn will have been completed and the traditional 2 to 3 weeks of recovery will be over so the fish tend to bite better. This is not always the case but can provide a good indicator of how the fishing will be.  I feel that Mille Lacs Lake is the one who's ice out sets the tone for the state.  Ice out is often defined as when someone can drive a boat unimpeded from Garrison, MN on the Northwest corner of the lake to Isle, MN which is in the Southeast corner of the lake.  The average date for the ice to leave Mille Lacs is April 27.  The earliest on record was March 26, 2012 and the latest on record is May 14, 2013 so you see there is little correlation from year to year.  Early ice out means and early spawn and the bite is usually better by fishing opener but that's
2017 MN Ice out map
not always the case.  In 2008 we still had ice on Leech Lake at opener, it wasn't officially declared Ice Out however we could get our boats into the harbor at the resort and fish the part of the lake that was open and it was absolutely fabulous!  I remember scooping up ice from the lake for the coolers however even with the cold water, fishing was excellent.  So much for that theory!  Admittedly we caught a lot of 15 - 17 inch fish which tend to be males and that makes sense.  This year's early Ice Out on Leech Lake should bode well for our 44th Annual Team Walleye opener.  The walleyes should be done spawning by May 1 and by the 13th they should really have the feedbag on.  Unfortunately the early ice out on Mille Lacs means the pre spawn netting starts.  Interesting as there will only be a catch and release season on Mille Lacs this year however when the lake was iced over till May 14th, that year we had a record spawn and the lake is just full of 14 - 16 inch walleyes............perfect for the gill nets.  It's sad but there is little one can do.   With the Minnesota Walleye Opener about 4 weeks away now things are looking like it could be a fantastic opener this year.  Time will tell!

Limit of 23 - 27 inch walleyes from Lake Erie this week.
The boat finally got dropped off at Frankie's on Friday for some minor but critical work.  First the kicker motor has to get worked on as it hardly started toward the end of last year.  The kicker is a 9.8 hp Evinrude 4 stroke made by Tohatsu and it's a nice engine when it runs!  Apparently the EPA regulations for these types of motors requires them to run so lean that they are difficult to get started again, and mine was no exception!  There are some "secret" adjustments that can be made to get them to run better.  As well they will change the oil, add what is known as an I troll to help control the throttle better, along with a new remote control electric steering for the motor.  This might be overkill however I am anxious to have better control over my trolling methods.  Another thing which is getting done is and aerator timer on my bait well.  In Canada the baitwell in my boat is indispensable as it makes getting minnows a heck of a lot easier than grabbing the minnow bucket from over the side every time.  The problem is the aerator in the bait well runs constantly,  I would like a timer that runs for a minute then rests for 5 as one doesn't need it running all the time.  Other things that are happening, my friend Bill Lundeen is up in Duluth fishing Lake Superior.  He usually is in Arizona at this time driving his mom back to Onamia but she didn't go this year and both he and Kathy need a break!  Also my friend Kevin Aiona and his son Ben are at Lake Erie pre fishing the upcoming Cabela's National Walleye Tournament, on Lake Erie the 11th and 12th of this week.  Ben texted me a picture of their limit of 8 walleyes in the 23 to 27 inch class.  His biggest was 31 inches and I don't know why he wouldn't send me THAT picture but it's OK, I'm sure it will turn up somewhere.  

Easter Weekend is coming up and often it occurs around my mothers birthday.  Unfortunately these days she is not doing so good but I am pretty sure she will be around to see her 83rd birthday. I am sure I will be spending time with her this weekend and hopefully will have a good time as I don't think she has too many more in her.  I did spend last Sunday with my brother Steve at mom's visiting and helping him rig up an HDS 12 on his Lund boat.  We moved his existing HDS 8 up to the bow and set up the boat so he could network them together.  He is thinking about getting a Motorguide i5 like I have so we are expanding his NMEA 2000 network to handle that as well.  He is getting pretty set up with updated electronics, a SonicHub audio server, the Motorguide, maybe a Point One GPS receiver.  Looks like I have lots to continue doing for him as he, along with my sister Beth, have done and outstanding job taking care of mom.  God Bless them!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Watching the Ice Melt

View from the Deck
It's time to get caught up with everything that has been waiting for the warmer weather to show itself. Actually it's been pretty nice here in Minnesota, the frost is already out and because of the lack of snow we really don't have any high water to deal with.  Most of the lakes up to Mille Lacs have experienced ice out and the Mille Lacs Webcam shows that Mille Lacs isn't that far behind.  It's been a week since I've been back from Naples and I have been enjoying eating the grouper that I brought home.  I must have had 20 pounds of fish fillets in my cooler, it was good that I turned down the refrigerator in my hotel room as the bags of fish were partially frozen when I packed them, the survived the trip quite well and are delicious!  Although last weeks post dealt with the fishing aspect of my trip, one of the things that was interesting is the experiences with my friends down in Tampa/Naples.  First was our accommodations while staying in Naples, we had the pleasure of being with my friend Glen and Tim in his Naples beach house.  A beautiful property right to the beach, it was wonderful to get up in the morning and have coffee on the deck and look out on the Gulf of Mexico, while listening to the gentle waves lapping up on the beach.  Tim is one of the most generous person's you'll ever meet and both Matt Davis (My friend from Dallas) and I certainly appreciated the hospitality shown to us. Matt and  had the pleasure to sleep in what is deferred to as "The Honeymoon Suite".  Although it had a couple of twin beds, it was right on the ground floor and the air conditioner was loud enough to drowned out any snoring that either him nor I would hear.  From Tim's house one could walk right on the sand beach where it was covered with shells and as you see in the picture, guys would actually
Joe's 58 foot boat.
surf fish off the property.  I never saw them catch anything however they must get something or what would be the point?  The next surprise was when we arrived back in Tampa to attend our APEC convention I finally ran into my dear friend Joe Stanfield from Dallas.  We attempted to get him to come fishing with us however he had lots of things to do and when we got into town it was obvious!  The Tampa Convention Center is located right on the waterfront and they had some docks where you could rent a spot to park your boat.  Well Joe decided to drive his boat up directly to those docks and use it for his accommodations during the show.  APEC is an interesting conference as it attracts some of the best and brightest electrical engineers and our company exhibits at that show, we have for at least 20 years.  Actually I had the pleasure of meeting Joe at the Cincinnati Coil Winding Show at least 20 years ago and we have been friends ever since.  Joe arranged our Cameron, Louisiana fishing trip a few years back and we never plan anything without including him in on the event.  When I first saw Joe he had let his hair grow out, I had to make a snide comment but it was sure good to see him again.  After the show was finished on Monday night he invited myself and my engineers onto his boat for an evening cocktail which was awesome.  The boat is a 58 foot yacht and quite the rig and is named appropriately "Daddy's Money"  Because it was on my way to the convention center every morning from the hotel, I would stop in and have coffee.  On Wednesday we took a little cruise up the river in his 16 foot dingy he had as his smaller boat to get around if needed. It is always the highlight of my trip to see Joe and this year was no exception.

Mike's nice norther at Lake Abram, Sioux Lookout Ontario
Well, there was still fishing going on as another good friend of mine, Mike Grant, went up to Canada for a later season Ice Fishing trip with some of his friends.  I knew he was going a few weeks ago so I volunteered the use of my Vexilar, a few nice and sturdy ice rods, and my bait collection.  His destination was Lake Abram, just out of Sioux Lookout and not to far from where I go fishing on Lac Seul.  The lake is famous for it's lake trout and nice northern pike and Mike promised me some pictures if he was lucky enough to catch something. So here is Mike with a very nice northern, at  least in the 15 pound class.  He also caught a nice lake trout and a whitefish and claims that although it wasn't a good day, it really helped to have my Vexilar showing him where the fish were and when to expect that thump.  I am really glad he got out and someday maybe he will let me horn in on his trip!  I can tell you that it certainly has the juices flowing for the opener.  Speaking of fishing opener, Team Walleye has been working hard to get ready as we finished ordering our hats for this year.  We are only 6 weeks away and the weekend after that I will be heading to the Ontario fishing opener with my friends.  There are a lot of things that need to get done, the boat needs to be brought up to Frankies for some work on the kicker motor as it is the worst starting outboard motor I've ever had.  I am adding a remote control steering to it as it can be damn near impossible to steer otherwise.  I wanted to get a bimini top for the boat however it looks like the place is tied up till June of this year, uffda!   The yard needs work, the sprinkler system needs tuning up, the garden has to be tilled up, trees dug out and replanted..........the list goes on and on!  Oh well.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Back From Naples

Successful Day on the Gulf
Well, I finally returned from my weekend in Naples Florida last night.  Every year our industry has a conference called APEC (Applied Power Electronics Conference) somewhere interesting.  Because some of my best fishing friends attend the conference and if it is in a convenient location, we try to arrange a fishing trip prior to the show.  I have done a trips to Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina, and this year we went back to Naples, Florida, where we fished after another industry event in early December, just a few months ago. We enjoyed our Captain on the Sea Legs from the previous trip however He recommended using A and B Charters out of Naples, it ended up being a great reference as we had a very good time.  On this trip were my good friends Glen Collins (Illinois), Bill Hardt (Wisconsin), Matt Davis(Texas), and Phil Gordon(Colorado). Our target species was Red Grouper as well as a number of snapper fish such as Gray Snapper (often called Mangrove), Lane Snapper, Porgy fish.  Starting at 7:00AM and running straight west out of Naples for an hour and a half we hit 60 feet of water and anchored on a reef.  Using what I call 3 way rigs, about a 1 1/2 ounce sinker at the bottom of the line then a hook about a foot up, we baited with cut fish and squid as bait and dropped them down.  It was an immediate bite and within minutes Phil landed his first ever legal (20 inch minimum) red grouper. We were surprised at the strength of the tide, I have experienced this before in Alaska were the tides get to 16 feet but these are relatively small, 2.5 feet.  Never the less the tide current had an effect on our presentation as well, the Captain stated that the grouper stay tight in their
Left to Right, Matt, Myself, Phil, Glen, and Bill
holes and crevices during the peak tides, which explained why we were mostly catching snapper.  And catch snapper we did!  Literally  as soon as you hit the bottom something was chomping on your bait.  Because of this, we caught mostly the snappers however by 12:30 the tide had diminished enough to entice the groupers to come out and join the action, which they did.  It was easy to determine if you had a larger grouper hitting your bait, it was much more solid and not so peck/peck of the smaller fish.  Once you hooked one the battle was on to try and keep the fish out of the rocks. Although we did have nice equipment, a 22 inch grouper can really bulldog itself to the bottom unless you really try and show him who's boss.  We ended the day about 2:00 as we had an hours run back to the dock. Although I am never ready to leave, I was getting wore out with reeling in fish as my left hand was starting to form a blister where it clinched around the reel handle.  Arriving at the dock we put the fish on a picture board, we had 8 nice grouper, a couple of nicer snappers as well about 50 or so of the smaller 12 to 16 inch which we were told are the best eaters! One of the things I wanted to do was to help clean the fish however I got ridiculed for my Minnesota method........while I wanted to make sure I did a good job, they simply cut the fillet diagonally from the top to the front of the rear fin, which basically eliminates any rib meat and a little of the top portion of the fish.  Not being used to that method it took me a lot longer to clean on but eventually got the hang of it.  I took a lot of ribbing however if my knife was sharper, it would have been a lot better, oh well.  We got quite a few more fish on this trip which some of them we dropped off at the restaurant we use last time and had them cook a bunch up for Sunday night dinner.  The rest of the fish I brought home and am hoping I can get my friend Mark Applen to pickle up a bunch of them snappers and I am betting they'd be excellent.

Grouper Bilbao
Next weeks post will cover the opulence that I had the pleasure of hanging around this weekend however I am really getting to like that area of Florida.  The restaurants are excellent especially the one we went to in downtown Tampa on Tuesday night.  Called the Colombia, it is the oldest operating restaurant in Florida and is the largest Spanish restaurant in the world.  I love fresh fish as I stated, we took our fish to the Boathouse near the docks and they took our Grouper and Snapper then we had it Blackened, grilled, and fried.  It was excellent with my favorite being grilled grouper.  Monday night I had grouper again then on Tuesday night at the Columbian, I had their special Grouper Bilbao, as the menu describes: Traditional Basque preparation of fillet of Red Grouper, baked in a clay casserole, layered with sliced tomatoes, potatoes, onions, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and lemon.  It was absolutely delicious, the fish was snow white and flakey, the serving was fabulous and the ambiance of the place was incredible.  I would like to try making this at home as I do have a lot of grouper fillets.

So things will be settling down again for a while as I have a ton of work to get done around the house and my boat has to be brought into Frankie's to have a remote tiller steering attached to my rig.  So many things, so little time!

Thursday, March 23, 2017


Lowrance HDS 9, Gen 3
We are in the "Inbetween" time that begs you to get some things done around the house before everything starts opening up in April.  The garden needs to be cleaned up, the apple trees need pruning, the accumulation of the winter junk around the yard needs to be picked up. it's a perfect time to start working on the boat as the temperatures are not that bad out.  As well, ice fishing season is done and it's time to put all of that stuff away in it's proper place and get my Salem wheel house cleaned up and ready for storage.  Mark Mayerich and I are tasked to get our Team Walleye hats on order so we have them in time for the May 13 Minnesota Fishing opener, I guess there is no end to the list.  One of the nice things is that we did not have much snow this year so the ground isn't so sloppy.  I hate to take the snowblower off the lawn tractor quite yet, I remember a few 12 inch April snowfalls but the long term forecast looks pretty good.  Having worked my deal with the electronics on my boat I successfully got my old Lowrance HDS9, Gen 3 installed in Bruce's boat, a nice upgrade from his older HDS7, Gen 2 that I fixed him up with a few years ago.  Bruce and I fish Lac Seul quite a bit and I enjoy helping him to upgrade his systems for a more enjoyable experience.  The map chips of Lac Seul and the integration of his trolling motor to the depth finder really makes for a safer trip as one has a better reference for the routes and hazards of the lake.  In addition, the Gen 3's latest upgrade allows one to make your own maps of the lake via the Navionics Chip and it's SonarChart Live feature. This will be really nice for making your own 1 foot contour maps of our favorite fishing areas on Lac Seul.

Panther Martin Electro-steer with Remote
Tonight I am heading to the Northwest Sportshow to get a number of things taken care of.  Frankie's Marine is my boat dealer and I need to see him about getting my rig in to fix the kicker motor starting issues and to schedule a Bimini top installation.   Also my 9.8 hp kicker motor is tied to my big motor for steering and it can be difficult to steer it without the big motor turned on.  The big motor has power steering to make it easier to turn the wheel, and if you simply turn the key on, it will engage the power steering however because the ECM (Electronic Control Module) is water cooled, if you don't have the motor running and pumping water, it can overheat the ECM and burn it out.  Instead I am going to do is have installed a Panther Martin Electro-Steering device on the boat with a remote control so I can steer my kicker a lot easier.  I really like to troll crankbaits and up to this time it's been difficult at best as my 250HP runs at 3mph and my kicker runs OK but it is awfully hard to steer.  Many guys on the forums state that one should steer with your front trolling motor but I've tried that with little success unless you have a big radius to turn, it's pretty slow to react.  As stated in previous posts I head to Naples to Grouper fish on Sunday, which should be fun.  Hopefully I bring some fish home and now that I've caught a 200 pounder in December, I don't really need to do that again!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Fishin' With Dave!!

Beautiful Saturday afternoon on the ice
Last Saturday I had the pleasure of fishing with the son of a dear friend of mine.  David is 151/2 years old, is really getting into fishing, and his dad Mike told him to e-mail me if he had any questions.  Well, to my pleasure he actually did and we have been solving all the latest fishing dilemmas of which reel to get, best line to use, bass fishing strategies and all sorts of things.  Dave is in high school and has just joined the school fishing team which sounds like fun.  We had planned to go ice fishing in March, as soon as his wrestling season was finished and March 11 was the designated day.  Well apparently Mike and his wife had also planned a trip to Florida that weekend so it would be just Dave and Dave, which suited me just fine.  Finalizing our plan the day would start out in the morning with a stop at Cabela's first the maybe Scheels in St. Cloud before heading to the northwest. Our destination was near Battle Lake, MN where I knew there would be safe ice for both of us.  I assured Dave's folks that I was much fatter than their son, if the ice was unsafe, I'd be the guy in peril as I will definitely take care of their son.  Picking Dave up at 8:30 on Saturday, we headed for Cabela's to check out the Spring Sale. After loading up on series 3700 tackle totes we stopped at McDonalds for breakfast then on to Scheels, one of my favorite stores.  Dave was looking for a fishing Rod and I gave some suggestions however it was time to head north as we had another hour and a half drive.  Buying some minnows and waxies, we headed to this "secret" lake where I had done well a few years before............yeah, I know....Fishing Memories!  The recent warm weather had me concerned about getting out on the lake.  I knew we were not going to drive however this lake had a road along the north side of the lake and it was an easy walk to where I wanted to go.  Generally the north shoreline is the first to soften and open up yet the near 0 temperatures of the last few days solidified the shore ice quite well and we were pretty safe.  The ice was not exactly as rough as I have experienced in the past however it showed the results from the previous warm spell, no snow and evidence of a lot of water that was on the ice.  I drilled a number of holes and by 1;30 we were fishing, by 4:30 we still were fishing.

Moon over Highway 210
Notice I said fishing.  Although I marked a few fish that had come through they were awfully finicky and did not seem to be interested in what we had to offer.  The last time I was at this lake it took watching my camera and actually seeing the crappies inhale the bait as it was almost impossible to tell otherwise.  Even though it was nice out, I set Dave up in my single place Clam and got the camera running.  Unfortunately neither one of us saw any more fish or experienced any bite.  By 5:00 I had decided to head out as it wasn't looking that good.  We packed up the equipment and walked back to the truck and headed back towards home.  Having never really traveled Minnesota Highway 210, we decided to take the scenic route home through Staples/Motley then on to St. Cloud then Hwy 10 to Elk River.  It was a beautiful drive as we watched the moon come up over the horizon into the deep blue sky.  Not to be totally skunked we stopped at Morey's Fish House in Motley and at least bought some fresh fish for supper!  My new found wheat allergy was attended to by Dave when he suggested we stop at Culver's and get a burger with a gluten free bun, as his parents do this.  A stop at Culver's in St. Cloud proved to be just the ticket as I ordered their butter burger with a Gluten Free bun, absolutely delicious as I have not had a real hamburger in about 3 months.  Finally getting to my place around 8:30 we unloaded all of our stuff before heading back to drop Dave off at home.  It was a wonderful experience for me.  It was like being with myself 47 years ago as my guest was a great conversationalist, very intelligent, and had a great sense of humor.  As we walked off the ice a big flock of geese flew by and a asked Dave if he knew why they fly in a V pattern.  Yes, he exclaimed, the flock can fly more efficiently that way.  Right on the money, this kid is smart.  Well then I asked him if he knew why one side of the V is usually longer than the other side, he exclaimed no he did not.  Well, I let him on to the real answer......that's because there are more geese on that side, We had a good laugh, now he has a story for life!  I'd post a picture but I'd hate to see all the girls begging me for his contact information.

Ice fishing is about finished and it's time to get the boat up and going.  I have all the replacement electronics taken care of and am waiting to get it to Frankies to have a Bimini Top added, to have a remote control steering added to the kicker motor, and hopefully get my kicker motor fixed so it's not so blessed hard to start, what a beast!  I have read about drilling out a jet to make it start easier, anything would be better than it is now.Hopefully I can get all of this done before opener.  Next week is the Sportsman Show and there is a number of people that want to go with on Thursday.  Our return Grouper fishing trip is set for March 26th again in Naples.  This weekend might just be a get caught up on things like putting the ice fishing stuff away!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Open Water is Just Around the Corner!

Collecting Maple sap
With some of the lakes around home already ice free, and the temperatures in the 60's last weekend, fishing was not in the cards.  I spent the weekend helping my friend John Matthews help rewire my sister -in-laws house as I figured he may have bit off more than he could chew! She lives in Hudson, WI so both Saturday and Sunday were spent pulling wires.  We must be at least 3 weeks ahead of what I would call a normal weather schedule as my neighbor Brandon Larsen is already been tapping the trees for maple syruping,  I have a couple of nice maples in my yard so I let him tap them and in return I get a nice bottle of homemade Maple Syrup which is exceptionally good!  The sap has been really flowing lately because of the warm days and nights below freezing, I have to believe that he has collected over 500 gallons to date from the neighbors and I.  Brandon also has an osmosis filter that essentially removes 1/2 the water when ran through the filter, making it so it does not take forever to boil off the water to get the syrup to the right stage.  Apparently he can run it through up to 4 times so 400 gallons of sap at 2% sugar content get reduced to  50 gallons at about 16%.  This saves boiling away 350 gallons of water in the original sap, a huge reduction in wood needed to fuel the boiler.  It still takes a fair amount of processing to get real Maple Syrup but the end product is definitely worth it!  Brandon has a large tray that is separated into a number of compartments.  By magic the finished syrup makes it's way to one end with a spigot and thermometer to monitor the whether it is ready.  For all practical purposes finished maple syrup boils at 219F give or take a few adjustments for altitude.  Once it hit that temperature it can be drawn off as syrup.  Brandon's neighbor Jake was over helping on Monday night as they were boiling and I stopped over.  We poured a little brandy into a cup then added some hot syrup from the spigot.....Uffda that was good, (not particularly good for my diabetes!)  One interesting thing the Brandon has been doing is finishing his syrup off in used bourbon barrels.  Het reheats the syrup then pours it in the barrel and let's it sit for 8 weeks.  the syrup picks up the bourbon flavor and it's pretty good.  The used barrels are expensive so he obviously gets more for it but it is definitely an interesting twist to his craft.

Wild Turkeys in the Garden
So this warm weather has me thinking about the garden this year.  I have quite a bit of work to do however I did order my onion sets from Dixondale Farms out of Texas again with my friend Andy.  They are great onions and much better than the ones one buys up north.  Onions are classified by Long Day, Moderate Day, and Short Day onions, a term that describes their bulbing properties.  Long day Onions need more than 15 hours of daylight to trigger them to start growing the onion.  It definitely makes a big difference as I get larger onions that last a lot longer.  One thing that has hung around my property this year has been wild Turkeys.  At some time there can be as many as 18 in a bunch and trust me, they can eat! If you look closely at the picture of them you will see a white bucket that I fill with corn. They can really clean it out and I am not sure who's worse.....the deer of the turkeys.  I compare them to a good vacuum cleaner as nothing in their path is safe.  If there is no more for them in the garden they will strut up to my deck and eat all the bird seed out of my ground feeder.  Never the less they are an impressive bird for sure and I am half tempted to enjoy a wild turkey dinner some day but that would not be the nicest thing to do and could end me up in trouble!

I have promised to take my friends the Grants out ice fishing this weekend, I am planning on heading up to the Battle Lake area and try for some crappies.  If there is any issue in walking out I have plan B, we will hit the outdoor stores of Scheels and Cabela's for David Grant, a new up and coming fisherman!  Hopefully I will have something to report next week.  I am definitely afraid this will probably be my last adventure on the ice for this year.  The next big trip is back to Naples for some great grouper fishing on March 26th.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Johnson's Perch Extravaganza

Button Drawing
Well, this year has certainly been a challenge when it comes to ice fishing.  Even northern Minnesota experienced a relatively late freeze as you can go back to my earlier Red Lake Posts, not much going on.  Usually the last "wheel house" event occurs during the last weekend in February, just before the Walleye season closes on Mille Lacs Lake, Johnson's Perch Extravaganza held at Nitti's Hunters Point Resort about halfway up the East side of Mille Lacs Lake.  A group of us including Mark, Russ, Randy, and Mike find an area out on the lake where we can park our houses on Friday night, we set up our Perch Camp. We have a lot of fun cooking, playing the the official game of us "Wheel Houser's"....Farkle, having a few cocktails and trying to catch a perch large enough to enter the contest.  This year the weather has been quite mild and although the ice on the lake is solid enough, the warm weather has caused a substantial heave near the shore as well, the shoreline ice has deteriorated significantly.  The week before saw rain fall on Mille Lacs and any hole through the ice acts as a drain with the water that's on top of the ice makes an effort to get below the ice.  These older holes from ice houses and or fisherman allows this to happen and there were reports of holes that had grown to 3 feet in diameter.  To further complicate things it got cold on Thursday night and it actually refroze the surface including lightly freezing over any of these drain holes creating a dangerous situation if a person happen to go over one.  Therefore for the most part all of the accesses on the East side were closed and not letting anyone on the ice.  Of course that didn't stop some people from showing off their stupid quotient as we stood there for the button drawing a guy in a Ford Pickup and pulling an ATV on a trailer tried to cross the crack and ended up dropping the front end down into the ice.  Luckily he only dropped to the frame and the ice held him up otherwise it would have been a lot more entertainment.  I have no idea what this guy was thinking but what ever it was he got a big surprise. The west side was letting people on but who the heck wanted to travel 12 miles over the ice with zero guarantee's one would get off in a couple of days.  Therefore we all decided to skip putting our whell houses on the ice and just attend the Button Drawing.  They sell buttons with numbers on them for $20 each,  then starting at 3:00PM the drawing begins, and of course if your number is drawn you win something.  They always have great prizes such as a couple of wheel houses, a 4 X 4 UTV side by side, as well as a bunch of new augers, tackle packages and quite a bit of pretty good stuff. Unfortunately even though I bought 2 buttons, those numbers failed to be announced.  Originally because of the ice conditions it was planned to have the drawing in the parking lot of Hunter's but boy, would that have been a mess.  Thursday and Friday saw temperatures drop into the mid teens and solidifying the shore ice so they moved the drawing onto the ice where it normally is held.   Mark found a spot up on the shore that was elevated above most people making it easy to hear the numbers called.  As well the shore tended to be warmer than standing on the ice which was a lot nicer.  After having a couple for the road I met Russ and Randy at Bayside for a burger then headed back to Dayton.  The forecast for this weekend is in the upper 50's so we are getting really close to the end of ice fishing.  Maybe 1 more time next week when I promised a friend I'd take him and his son out for crappies,  Hopefully the ice will be good!

Hand tied jigs
One of the employees at my work stopped by the office a few days ago to show me his latest hobby, tying jigs for walleye fishing.  I was impressed by his craftsmanship, attention to detail, and of course his interest in fishing.  It reminded me of 40 years ago I used to tie my own jigs using dyed fake fur as the main body.  Kevin Aiona and I used to really catch the walleyes down in Catfish Slough on the Mississippi River north of Alma (Pool 4) Wisconsin.  We would simply drift with the slow current in the channel of the slough and catch all the walleyes we wanted in a few hours.  Since then it's been told to me that the slough has filled in and is quite shallow as the walleyes are no longer in that area. It still brings back good memories as Catfish was one of our favorite places to fish.  One of these days  I will get Kevin to bring me back down on the river for a nice day of fishing, maybe we can catch some old memories!  With the early ice out maybe the river will be good this year.  At this time there isn't much of a snow pack here or  around the upper Mississippi to melt and the river level should stay reasonable for the next month or so.  I do remember taking my good friend Leon Lambert fishing below the Alma dam on April 5th of that year, it was warm and we did catch some fish.  He offered me my choice of jigs and I decided to take the middle one with the promise of a picture of me with the walleye I will catch on it in May when I head to Lac Seul.