Wednesday, December 27, 2017

In the Deep Freeze

Ben Aiona's LOTW haul!
The predicted chunk of cold air that "broke" off from Siberia finally arrived in full force this weekend with temperatures of -16 this morning with highs of just below zero for daytime temperatures, the good news is it's making ice like crazy.  5 hours north of here at Red Lake and Lake of the Woods (LOTW) the nighttime temperatures are reaching the -25 to -30 range.  My friend Ben Aiona decided to go to LOTW on Monday with his family with only his Polaris Ranger and some thermal portables.  Dang lucky he's young because I would have second thoughts about being in a portable at -25F, although it's not to say that I haven't been, just age has made me a lot smarter! Anyway, on Tuesday Ben texted me a picture of their catch, a nice mess of saugers, they kept 24 (their leagal limit) and caught over 55 for the day.  This is not a bad haul, especially considering the temperature.  LOTW has a nice population of nice sized saugers and walleyes, I will call him later to see how him and his family are doing.  Ben is a good fisherman so if the fish are there, he'll get them for sure.  Personally I really enjoy renting a heated house up there, I will never forget the time my good friend Mark and I rented a house out of Wigwam on LOTW, that was 5 years ago and the highlight was the sturgeon that Mark had caught.  You can see that post Here if you want.  Frankly it doesn't seem like 6 years ago but it was.  One day I would like to bring the wheel house up and stay for a few days of fishing, LOTW is a fabulous fishery and you can get some really nice walleyes there as well and the limits are 8 fish in which only 4 can be walleyes, which is more than enough fish.

Cousin Julie
On Christmas Eve my cousin Julie passed away.  Julie had just turned 61 but had some health issues that she simply couldn't shake.  Both her and her brother Paul were our best friends when we were young and without saying Paul and I are still quite close.  Julie's dad was my dad's brother "Uncle Keith" and growing up, their family was an important part of our family as we tended to do a lot of things together.  Julie eventually married Clint Eide and resided on a farm between Eleva and Strum.  Our paths didn't cross much these last few years however we often had some interesting discussions on Facebook that kept us ever close in our minds.  Her obituary is Here and she will be missed.  It is a difficult time of the year as my brother Jon died on New Years Eve last winter so I understand what my cousin's are going through.  Never the less I will be heading back down to Eleva on Thursday to say good bye but to also see my surviving cousins and her mother, Aunt Dorothy.  It seems like it's the old adage, you only see your relatives at weddings and funerals, rings true however I did send in my deposit for fishing with Paul next August, it is important to make sure those friendships stay alive.  Paul was the only boy in the family of 4 children so often times my brother Steve and I look at Paul as our brother as well.  You can't have too many of those.  God Bless you Julie and our prayers are with you.

So back to reality, after (like right after) the funeral Steve, my neighbor Lory Brasel, and myself will be driving up to Red lake to fish the weekend.  As stated, it's cold up there but it will be snug and warm in the house.  The usual suspects will be there, Mark Applen and his son-in-law and grandson, Russ Praught and his crew.  Russ has given me an ETA at JR's of around 9:00 PM on Thursday and with some pushing we should be there about the same time and be able to follow him out to where Mark is parked.  I do enjoy fishing together as it's easier to coordinate when we go in to eat, as well, often a good break from your existing company!  Hopefully the fish are still biting, at least enough to eat something each night.  I am sure we will go through plenty of propane this trip.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Ice Fishing at last!

My First Walleye of the Season
This weekend was my official start to the ice fishing season.  Red Lake is located  5 hours north of my home and as stated the last couple of weeks, we were finally waiting for the ice thickness to develop enough to allow vehicles and wheel houses on the ice.  Last Thursday the resorts deemed it safe enough to drive 1/2 ton pickups with single axle wheel houses, the perfect description of my rig.  My friend Mark Applen had left on Tuesday afternoon with Russ being a day behind him, both pulled their rigs out on Thursday and had our location pretty well set before I got up there.  In my house were my 2 good friends, Kevin Aiona from Eleva and Keith Holtan, my Alaskan Guide friend who spends his winters in Brainerd.  It was great to see both of them and even better to have them in my house for a few days.  Kevin Drove up from Eleva Friday morning while I finished packing and hooking up the fish house.  With the new pickup and 10 months behind me in exactly what it was that is needed to make sure the house sits correctly on the hitch, my initial assumptions did not work out well as I assumed from the measurements that the new truck sat 2 inches higher at the hitch than my old on did.  Upon hooking up the house it was apparent that it wasn't the case and it took some scrambling to get the proper fit, luckily I had earlier ordered a different receiver hitch that is quite adjustable and once that was changed out, it was easy to get it right.  Kevin showed up and we were on our way to Lundeen's to get the "now needed" State of Minnesota ice shelter license.  A couple of dozen minnows packed in oxygen and we were off to pick up Keith in Brainerd.  Arriving at JR's around 2:30, Russ just happened to be in the bar and they had finished eating a walleye lunch. Checking the propane in the house, one of the 30 pounders looked like it needed to be filled so we got that taken care of and we followed Russ to our destination on the lake.  Mark had his fish already so he came by to help set up.  Setting up includes unhooking the house from the truck, drilling the holes through the ice, with the electric jacks by the wheels lift the weight off the tires and pull the pins that secure the main springs to the shackles, retract the shafts to set the house on the ice.  I have curtains that go over the wheel wells, snow has to be packed along the edge to keep out the wind.  Furnace is on, generator needs to have the extended run auxiliary tank connected, hooked up and started.
My Friend Kevin with a nice fish.
DirecTV antenna needs to be plugged in and hooked up as well the receiver needs to be installed inside.  The last thing to be done is setting up my flagpole so we can display the Stars and Stripes, the Green Bay Packer flag, as well there is a strobing light that only operates when it's dark, which helps us relocate the house after dark. All of this takes about an hour, even with 2 people extra, but when you are finally ready, it's wonderful to sit down in a warm house, mix a congratulatory cocktail and get down to the business of catching fish!  And catch we did, enough to provide a walleye dinner a few hours later at JR's.  The regulations this year on Red Lake ar 4 fish total with only 1 allowed over 17 inches.  The fish were absolutely beautiful with most of them being in the 15 to 17 inch range, as well we had a number of them in the 17 to 19 inch range.  Nothing huge but definitely a lot of nice fish and great eating size.  Friday night was an absolute zoo in the house as the rattle wheels we set just kept going off every 45 minutes or so.  I could hear Keith get up to tend to the job of catching these fish and catch he did.  Waking  up on Saturday morning there  was7 in the pail and as I stated, some real nice fish.  Seeings how these guys were my guests I felt obligated to make sure they caught the fish while I stayed comfortably in my sleeping bag, just proving what a good friend I really am, guys like me are hard to find!!!

JR's Airplane
The fishing slowed down a little on Saturday however we did manage to catch our allotted 12 fish for the day and took 6 of them in to clean and eat.  JR's does a great job as he has a nice cleaning area, you simply filet your walleyes and bring them into the bar where they take them and deep fry along with some French Fries, all for $5.00 each, a bargain.  The people at JR's including JR himself and his son Adam along with everyone else really do a spectacular job.  Heck, they even let me bring in my own corn based fish coating as I am allergic to wheat, and make sure that I get the right fish back.  As well, on Saturday morning my friend Andy Achmann called to see how we were doing.........apparently better than they were.  Asking if I minded if he moved by us....No problem, just stay 100 feet away from everybody.  Andy showed up and joined our little "camp" out on the ice.  The first thing Andy told me was he felt the ice was thicker where we were than his previous spot.  We absolutely had zero issues with the ice thickness, in fact the buoyancy of the ice sheet was excellent as sometimes the weight of the house and truck will cause the ice to bow, causing water to sit on the ice.  At the end of the weekend we each ate 2 meals of walleyes, took home our limit of 4, and probably caught and released 20 more fish.  Personally it wasn't my best trip as I did not catch a fish until Saturday night but it was still a blast being with my friends.  It is always good to see JR as he was flying around the lake to get a handle on the conditions.  Luckily he landed just as we got there and had a chance to talk to him.

Monday and Tuesday was spent in Chicago on business.  Always one to mix business with pleasure, we were able to get to the Bass Pro Shop in Gurnee, Illinois.  Although we have Cabela's there are some things I like about Bass Pro.  It's a pretty large store and has a lot of fishing stuff.  I simply love their Redhead crew socks and buy many pair the same type, it's easier to match them then.  They had a pretty good deal on a 1/4 zip pull over and when I held it up the XL seemed too large and the large seemed just right,  Not the case.  I called them and because Bass Pro bought Cabela's, I can take the pullover back to Cabela's for a refund....interesting.  I did get a couple of little single LED lights like Keith had for charging his glo baits, maybe that's why he caught more walleyes than me!  The next trip looks like it will be after Christmas, unfortunately the cold weather is supposed to arrive at the same time with -12 predicted for the high on Tuesday and -22 for the low.  Uffda is all I can say, other than it will be making ice for sure!!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Red Lake, Here we come

JR's on Red Lake
After much anticipation and juggling of guest, Friday my friends Kevin Aiona and Keith Holtan will be joining me for the first excursion of the year to JR's and Red Lake.  Mark Applen drove his house up on Tuesday night and called with a report last night, the bite was fabulous, he had fished in one of JR's Rentals and did pretty well.  As well here is JR's fishing report from this Wednesday : 12-13-17. Well that time of year is here that we have all been waiting for.... 1/2 ton trucks and single axle houses are good to go
starting tomorrow Thursday. We have some of our sleeper houses still available for this weekend, Friday and Saturday. Please call to book one now as the bite is very strong. As for the ice conditions we are at 12 to 15 inches of ice In the areas we are allowing the traffic, but we are still asking you to use caution and be careful. The trucks will be limited to west to the rockpile and North to 14 feet of water, this depth seems to be very key right now to get on the hot bite.    Mark is going to put his wheel house out on the ice today, as well our mutual friend Russ Praught was heading up this morning and will join Mark out on the ice.                 
2018 GMC 1/2 ton truck.

Last week I indicated that I had been negotiating on a new pickup truck.  Well on Friday I took delivery of a 2018 GMC 1/2 ton Sierra XLT with a heavy duty towing package.  I still need to get a few things put on like the tonneau cover but after only a few days I can see how much nicer this is as it has a 6.2 engine which is bigger than the 5.3 I have had in my other trucks.  The side mirrors are great, they pull out to extend, which will be nice for towing my wheel house.  The mirrors also have a great LED lighting system for backing up as well as they are 2 section and the bottom mirror really gives you visibility along side the truck. The rear has heavy duty springs which are nice but required me to reset all of my reciever hitches as the heights are all hosed up for each of my trailers, especially the Salem Ice Cabin.  It required a 4 inch rise on the hitch but now the receiver is 2 inches higher so it needed to be lowered by 2 inches.  I am sure I will need to redo the one I use for the boat but admittedly this isn't much of a problem.  Another thing I like is the fact that when I have the cell phone bluetoothed to the audio system, when a text message comes in
there is an option to listen to it, which is nice.  The dealer is scrambling to get the tonneau cover on today and stated it might take till tomorrow so we need to give you a rental car.  I told her as long as the rental is a 1/2 or 3/4 ton truck so I can pull my wheel house to Red on Friday morning, trust me, if I go through the ice I'd rather it be your vehicle then mine!  They did not find it very funny and said they would have mine done today!

TX Bourdon
For Christmas my good friend Matt Davis from Texas sent me a bottle of TX Bourbon.  This stuff is super popular and must be really good as the first batch that the distillery released sold out in less than 6 hours.  It is made in Fort Worth, TX and is only available in Texas, as is their other product, TX Blended Whiskey.  Matt tested me as to whether I liked it or not however he was informed that the official opening would only be after I caught my first walleye on Red Lake, it just seemed fitting!  Because my friend Mark Applen is a bourbon fan, I will definitely use the occasion to get his input as to the validity of this product.  Something tells me it's going to be pretty smooth! Besides this, I have some Gluten Free Waffle mix and corn based fish breading, which the cooks at JR's accommodates me very well!  The plan is to have Kevin meet me around 8 AM tomorrow, we will stop at Lundeens to pick up my now needed ice shelter license as well as some minnows.  Head to Brainerd and pick up Kieth before beelining it for Red Lake.  My last fishing trip was in September so I am really looking forward to wetting a line!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Waiting for Ice

Special Ice Lures from JR's
The warm weather has finally left us and we have returned to much better conditions, at normal or below!  With near zero or below temperatures at Red Lake, we should be making at least and inch a day of ice an if it continues we should have enough ice to pull out the wheel houses next week, which would be nice! Last week the topic was the Ice Fishing show in St. Paul and of course one could not leave without buying a few lures to add to the collection.  My friend Keith Holtan was looking for some bubblegum colored jigs with a gold back, the best I could find were these glow Pink/red with gold glitter on the back.  Not exactly what he was looking for however they are dang close!  I have offered him these but he stated he will hold off.  That's OK, when I am slaying them on Red Lake next week with them he will definitely be rethinking his decision!  These lure are made by JR's in Brooklyn Park, MN and are featured across the Midwest.  I drive by their shop every night going home from work and have spent a lot of time talking with it's owner, Duane, regarding the current stat of the wholesale fishing business.  He is quite interesting to talk to as both of us have been to China and share our stories!

Air boat for fishing the shallow saltwater sloughs
We have our annual APEC conference in San Antonio, TX this year in March and I have got my friends fired up to maybe spend the weekend before the conference fishing down along the Texas coast near Corpus Christi.  We have done this a couple of times like last year when the conference was in Tampa, FL or a few years back when it was in Charlotte, NC and we drove to Charleston to fish for sheepshead.  I have fished in Texas a few times with my friend Joe and Matt with the first time fishing out of a high powered air boat like the one pictured here.  This matches the one we fished out of a few years ago, it has a big block GM engine with 2 counter-rotating 8 bladed propellers.  Sitting on the top seat, high up off the water is quite the thrill for sure as being from Minnesota this is an absolute blast and I'll be the first to sign up.  Looks like we can round up three or four guys, at minimum my friends Matt and Joe, staying at a nice resort along the inter-coastal and fish for red fish, black drum, sea trout and flounder.  My assumption is that the resort will cook our fish and there is nothing better than fresh red fish or sea trout with a nice glass of TX Whiskey to wash it down.  I should have more information by next week, it will depend on how many guys we can get lined up.  I might even get the opportunity to bring home some fish.

Brandon's Walleye's
My neighbor Brandon Larson stopped by the house on Thursday night with his newer 2017 GMC 1 ton diesel pickup truck. I am looking at something somewhat similar so we took a ride as he explained he was heading to Red Lake in the morning with a friend.  I asked him to text me a report, which I received a few hours ago.  They have about 12 inches of ice for about a mile out and they pulled their wheelhouse out with an ATV.  Brandon claims that this afternoon they nailed 7 keeper walleyes, most on the rattle reels.  It matches a lot of reports that I have seen today and I am looking forward to talking to him on Monday when he returns.  He is out of Greater Minnesota Rentals which is a few miles East of JR's, our preferred outpost, on the south shore.  I am sure that the ice is better there than by JR's.  As I stated, I have been negotiating on a different pickup truck and should have most of it done by next week.   

Monday, December 4, 2017

Better Late Than Never

Phoenix from the plane
It has been a whirl wind of events in the last 5 days.  Last Wednesday thru Friday was spent in warm Phoenix Arizona for our annual fall TTA meeting at the Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch.  It was very nice there although there was little time to do anything interesting and little water to plan a fishing trip with my friends like previous years.  It was interesting as the weather was somewhat cooler than normal in Scottsdale and back home the weather was warmer than normal however we had a number of interesting speakers and learning sessions.  The most interesting topic came on Friday morning when the gentleman from ITR gave his annual economic forecast and it certainly didn't look good for 2030.  Hopefully I will be retired by then!  Phoenix is quite dry and unless you are on a golf course or irrigated farm land it pretty brown.  Some people claim the bass fishing is quite good in some of the reservoirs however when I travel my intent is to fish for something I cannot catch in my backyard, like last year's Goliath Grouper.  In March we have our annual APEC conference in San Antonio, TX and we were talking about seeing if we can get back to the fish camp in Cameron, Louisiana.  Now that was a fabulous trip and amongst our friends, we all would love to get back there to catch some nice redfish, I guess we will have to see if we can get our friend Joe to set it up again.

Pistol gripped Ice Rod
As stated last week, myself and neighbor Lory headed to the Ice Fishing show on Sunday.  It was packed but is well worth the time and effort to spend it with the various vendors and resorts.  One area that caught my eye was ice fishing in Door County, Wisconsin in March for both large walleyes staging to spawn and also fish whitefish in the deeper waters.  I really enjoy catching tullibee in Mille Lacs, which are technically cisco's, a member of the whitefish family.  Lake whitefish are larger yet share the same traits of following your bait and fighting hard. I'll start thinking about this after the first of the year.  In the meantime I did buy some things for this years upcoming ice fishing season.  First it was an unusual ice rod with a molded handle.  It is an interesting pistol grip which affords you to hold the rod in a more natural position for your hand and arm, thus minimizing the fatigue. It feels really good and I am anxious to catch some Red Lake walleyes with this!  The other thing I bought was a pop up Eskimo insulated portable fish house, I call them hub styles.  My ground blind I use for deer hunting is made the same way, the frame is attached to a center connection point then one simply pops it out to set up.  Years ago I had bought one from Cabela's which included a sled, hand auger, the fish house, a couple of collapsable chairs and a cover for the whole thing for about $150 on clearance. I liked it however it was not built very good and after a couple of years it broke.  I told this to the guy at the show about it and he wanted to take care of me however I suggested that it was a cheap house to begin with.  I like these houses as they are fairly light, can fit inside the back of my truck very easily, big enough for 2 or 3 guys, don't take much to heat, and the quality of the frame systems looks much improved.  They had a lot of dealers selling them at the show however at this late time, no one had the one I wanted in stock.  The Eskimo guy new just what to do for me.  Normally the model I was looking at was $329.  Reeds had it in at the show for $289.  The Eskimo guy brought me to the Cabela's booth where they were simply price matching plus a discount so they signed me up for the same thing for $232, however I needed to pick it up by 7:00 at the store near my house.  Lory and I left the show and headed for the store where they gave me an extra $30 off so I ended up buying it for $202, not a bad deal at all!  I had enough Cabela points so I paid it from there, no cash out of my pocket!  While looking at some stuff my friend Ben Aiona spotted us and said hi.  His dad Kevin, my great friend from Eleva, was on his way up so we hoped we would meet him, eventually we did.  Both Lory and I had a great time, I bought a few things, got to talk to a few guys, including the owner of Vexilar, that was quite interesting.  Tom Zenanko was in the booth and I was telling him that our company was instrumental in getting his Clear Water Classic to market via designing the output transformer that drives the transducer, we ended up making 15,000 before it went to China.  It was a good conversation.

South Shore of Red Lake via JR's, lots of open water!
Well Red Lake has went backwards the last 2 weeks with the warm weather raising chaos with the ice conditions up there.  3 weeks ago it looked like we were in for an early season and I would be dragging my wheel house to JR's this coming weekend.  The opposite happened and the ice conditions deteriorated as the warm weather took it's toll.  Last weekend a young couple drove their ATV into the water and they along with their ATV were eventually found at the bottom of the lake. Sorry but I know things happen however this early in the season, there is no excuse for recklessness.  If you are going to venture on questionable ice at least wear a life jacket and have some ice picks with you.  There is no fish worth dying for.  I will simply leave it at that.  The good news is, after today the temperatures will plunge into the single to below zero range at night with highs in the mid teens during the day..........cold enough to start making an inch a day of good ice.  It is supposed to snow there and that will not help anything yet I predict that by December 16th things will be in full swing as I will haul my wheel house up for that weekend and get ready for the week after Christmas.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

Nice walleye from Kieth
Thanksgiving is finally here and it will be the first that I will be without either parents.  The old house in Eleva is sold so where we have celebrated for the last 50 years is no longer in the picture.  As the old saying goes, nothing ever stays the same and definitely is a true statement.  Although most of the small lakes are ice covered the weather has turned somewhat mild in the last few days and the hard freeze of an inch a day will not return until Monday.  This is OK as after going to Eau Claire to have Thanksgiving with my wife's uncle Andrew and his family, Friday and saturday look to be relatively nice out, enough to get the boat cleaned up for it's voyage to Frankie's and get some last minute warranty work done before the spring rush.  My good friend Bruce has offered me a space in one of his heated rental units where he keeps his boat and I am definitely going to take advantage of his generous offer.  I need to work on my electronics before next year's opener and this will give me an excellent opportunity to take care of that.  The mild weather on Friday will also give me a chance to pull off my mower deck and mount the snowblower and cab.  Not a job I am looking forward to, never the less it needs to be done.  My friend Kieth is back from Alaska for his winter getaway in Brainerd!  His home is on North Long Lake and the early ice has him out fishing.  This afternoon he sent me a picture of his first walleye through the ice, not bad!!!  Makes me want to head north yet the next two weeks has me quite busy.  I know that my other friends Russ and Mark may be heading to Red to walk out for the first years fishing, probably leaving their wheel houses up at JR's.  Speaking of wheel houses our illustrious Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has decided that a Portable Ice House on wheels are no longer classified as portable therefore you need an Ice House License even if you just pull it out for the day and remove it from the ice at night.  Interesting because you did not haven't had to do this for the last 5 years and the fact is that this announcement was on Monday, 10 days before the "winter" season begins.  See the announcement HERE.  I guess I really don't expect any better for our Minnesota DNR....It's all about the money.  I have informed all of my friends that own wheel houses of this new requirement and I even called my friend Bill Lundeen to see if he can sell me one.  Yes, he has them, they are just the standard shelter license.

December 1 - 3
Monday will start a frantic week with as stated, dropping my boat off at Frankie's.  Although it seems that this boat has had more issues, which is true, it has more stuff.  I seldom had to bring my 2 previous Rangers back to the shop but I really don't mind as I enjoy seeing Frankie, Deb, Lisa, and Joe, they really take care of me well! On Wednesday of next week I fly to Scottsdale, Arizona for a 3 day convention of The Transformer Association.  It is a group of transformer manufacturers and suppliers and we discuss industry trends, the future, and learn about a number of new things.  Last year the meeting was in Naples so a bunch of us usually try to go fishing afterwards.  There is not much water in Arizona so hopefully I will get back in time to attend the St. Paul Ice Fishing Show which usually falls on the same weekend as our conference (This year it's December 1 - 3).  It's a pretty good show with a lot of good products and information but to be quite honest, I'd rather be pulling grouper out of the Gulf of Mexico like we did last year in Naples Florida. I do enjoy the conference however, even if it is with my competitors, they are truly my friends.   With my hectic schedule it looks as though I may be able to pull up the wheel house to JR's at Red Lake around December 8th,  there should be enough ice to drive on the lake by then, at least according to Intellicast!  I already have purchased some wild rice for my friend JR who really likes the stuff and keeps him smiling that he will have this year's harvest.  The fishing reports published about  Red Lake from the guys walking out to the first break are pretty good as the water clarity is stated to be around 28 inches which is excellent for this time of year.  Red Lake is quite windblown and the water get's pretty stirred up just before ice over.  Of course the clearer the water, the better the walleye bite on Red.   Have a great Thanksgiving and hopefully I will get a chance to post from Scottsdale, or at least while I am waiting for a plane somewhere!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Fast Week

Sitting on the Stand
My computer went goofy on me this week and I finally got it fixed.  It is simply amazing how much it has become an integral part of our lives, unfortunately.  So last weekend was the end of our deer hunting in the zone which we hunt, Zone 2, so I decided to head back up with Jack and Ben to try and bag some venison.  The good new was that the cold weather during the previous week had been cold enough to freeze the swamp and one could easily walk out to the areas that we hunted when Rich was still alive.  It was pretty good as on opener one would have needed hip boots and a lot of ambition to trudge through the swamp, which was as full of water as I've ever seen in the 10 or so years I have hunted this property.  There are a lot of deer around as Brett had planted a wildlife plot and 8 or so deer, mostly does and fawns, would come in every afternoon/evening to partake in the feast, even though there was a lot of standing corn in the area, apparently deer love the sugar beets he planted!  Deciding to show up for the Saturday afternoon hunt I walked out to the island where I used to put my stand and sat on the one facing the Northeast, we call Bobby's stand (Rich's brother from Seattle who hunted with us those last years Rich was alive).  It was very nice, the temperature was in the low 30's and we had a dusting of snow which made it easy to see anything coming.  Unfortunately nothing came other than a few small flocks of Tundra Swans flying by.  Sitting there till dark, 12 foot up in the tree, is quite a bit better than sitting in a ground blind as I did the previous week.  Admittedly it was warmer but at least I could see quite a ways.  The fresh snow also gave us some indication of any deer movement however there were few if any tracks around my stand.  Often times the second weekend of hunting is not as good because there are less people pushing the deer around.  At sunset I met Jack and Ben, who were sitting just south of me and we walked out of the swamp.  Brett had shot a nice doe Friday evening and we told him that we would tag one if he had the opportunity however there were no shots that day.  We got up about 5:30 on Sunday and headed back to the stands.  Sunday morning was quite quiet yet I did se fresh deer tracks in my footprints in the snow as I walked out.  It appeared to be exactly what Brett was seeing, a doe and 2 fawns.  Leaving at noon, we went back to Jack's cabin as he was heading back in the afternoon, I decided to stay and hunt the evening.  Jack has a nice stand in a good location so I decided to use his for the duration of the hunting time.  I arrived at the stand around 2:30 and hunted till 5:15 before walking out.  I knew Brett was still out there so I waited for him, he returned to say he had shot a nice doe around 2:00 but nothing else came through.  He tagged it, I loaded up and headed south.  As stated, it was nice to get back in the swamp but I guess this year I was one of the 70% of hunters that don't bag a deer each year.  No big deal, the important thing is to get out with Jack's son Ben and get the next generation interested in hunting.

Pete's Pail of Fish
The next thing on the agenda is ice fishing!  My friend Pete has been out with his friend Dave Genz fishing somewhere north of Highway 2 in Minnesota.  Apparently they nailed some nice 12 inch crappies and a few good sunnies on there trip.  Pete told me that Dave will be on this week's show, John Gillespies Waters and Woods fishing with Dave on the Mississippi not to far upstream from where I live.  I guess it might have been more productive fishing than hunting but you can't be in two places at once!  Oh well, I have a pretty full schedule the next 3 weeks, the snow blower needs to get mounted to the lawn tractor, the shed needs cleaning, Thanksgiving is next week, I need to bring my boat back to Frankie's on November 27th to get the scratch on the bottom fixed as well as the rod locker lid replaced.  On the 29th I head to Scottsdale Arizona for a 3 day convention for the TTA, the Ice Fishing show is on the weekend I get back, December 2nd and 3rd.  Reports have Red Lake ice at about 7 to 8 inches so by December 8th I'll be ready to haul up the house for a couple of months of great fishing!  They upped the limit of walleyes on Red to 4, of which only 1 can be over 17 inches, which is fabulous. I know Mark and I would like to fish on the Reservation for trout like we did last year, that was fun.  The wheel house is pretty well set to go, I need to check the air in the tires and straighten things out a bit but that won't take too long.  Winter is here and even though it is somewhat mild, at Red Lake they are averaging highs in the low 20's and low's in the single digits, just what the doctor ordered, making ice!!!  I might even get Pete to take me with for some early season crappie fishing.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Deer Hunting Success

Flock of Migrating Sandhill Cranes Passing Overhead
My measurement for deer hunting success these days consists of whether I even get a chance to get out in the woods any more and has little to do with if I actually shoot a deer or not`. Oh well, I usually have enough friends that have been successful and quite honestly get enough venison to satisfy my cravings. Last week's post talked about making my late brother-in-laws absolutely fabulous venison bologna recipe and it looks like neighbor's Pete and Todd have enough to supply the deer meat with me supplying the recipe, know how, sausage stuffer, smoker, and vacuum packer, it looks like we are set for a fun day of bologna making.  As stated, Rich's land is really wet, the wettest we've ever seen. Like the last 3 years we hunted Jack's neighbor's land, Loren's.  Loren is Jack's neighbor at his cabin on Platt and is a fabulous guy.  There is quite a few deer around however I think that if we want to get serious about hunting his land, we need to make some decent tree stands as the ground blinds are nice yet the view is limited.  Admittedly the ground stands are nice, especially this year when it snowed about 4 inches on Friday night then rained all day on Saturday.  Actually the snow had collapsed the roof of my stand when I arrived on Saturday however it didn't take long to pop it back out and get the heater started.  It's pretty comfortable inside and I had a nice view of the clearing in front of me.  There was a lot of standing corn in the area and was little shooting in the morning.  We saw fresh tracks in the snow as we drove in along the corn however heading to our stands, we were the only ones making tracks.  Of course with the fresh snow on the ground, anything walking did not make any noise so it was difficult to hear anything.  Except around 10:00 Saturday morning, a God awful racket was to the north of me coming closer.   They were much louder than geese so I stepped outside to see a flock of 51 sandhill cranes come flying over.  They are beautiful birds and it was interesting to watch them, they would fly a few hundred yards then pick up an updraft where they took advantage of it as the entire flock circled to gain altitude.  They did this a number of times before I was unable to see them anymore.  The cold weather has frozen the swamp so it looks like we will be able to hunt the high ground by Rich's (Now Brett's) this weekend.  Maybe I'll actually have some venison to contribute to the bologna making party!  If anyone wants the recipe let me know.

Pretty Much Says it All!
This week has been very stressful as I lost my phone while in Costco picking up steaks for last week. Losing a phone is almost as bad as losing your wallet these days.  With the help of my friend Welly we were able to lock up the phone via the internet and locate it.  I have learned that this "location" is not very accurate and is based on how well it is receiving a GPS signal.  Well my wife happened to call Costco on Sunday and even though we went there on Friday to see if they had it, apparently the left hand doesn't talk to the right hand very well, I think they did have it but what the heck, I got it back.  It is a pain to unlock it as you basically have to start all over again, uffda.   Then on Saturday I called my wife via my OnStar in my truck............more good news, the well stopped pumping water.  This happened in 1999 and e had the pump replaced, that one lasted 7 years, this one was going on 19 years, I guess that's double the original.  I called the guy and he came out on Tuesday morning, did a few things, pulled the cover off the well and VOILA there was a dead mouse laying on the wires it chewed on. I guess that was a fitting ending to it's life but the good news was the fix was relatively easy.  A new splice, some adjustments to the cover so this would not happen again, and $200, we had water again.  That sure beats filling the toilet tanks by hand or paying $2000 for a new pump to be installed. So everything is almost back to normal again.  It looks like I will be back up with Jack and try my luck deer hunting this weekend.  the latest satellite pictures show Upper Red Lake pretty much froze over and the temperature tonight will be around 5 above zero so it won't be long now!  I guess the picture above says it all.

A beautiful lady for sure!
As a parting note there was some sad news from my home town of Eleva this week, our good friend Joanne Strong passed away this weekend from Pancreatic cancer.  Joanne was what Eleva is, a beloved resident who was a dear friend when I grew up in town.  As a teenager I worked at Wenaas Mobil and Joanne always had something wrong with her car like a flat tire or the muffler was loose.  I would fix it and tell her to simply get out of here as she never had much money!  She worked at the service bar at Wagner's 66 1/2 Lanes in Eau Claire (Click on her name to see her obituary) and it was a time when bowling was actually something to do on a Saturday night.  Yes, like the obit says, she made the best Bloody Mary's as I'll never forget the time my brother Steve and I went up to bowl.  Danny Van Pelt, another good influence in my life, loved Vodka Gimlets with olives and he had graced me with acquiring the taste of them while we were in Canada with the Tollefson's.  I remember making them for him by chipping ice off the big block we bought in town before we went on the lake (Actually it was cut lake ice).  This was my choice cocktail that night.  Joanne made the best and the more I had the better I bowled as I racked up 4 strikes in a row, a spare and 4 more strikes in a row finishing with a score of around 240, the absolute best I had ever done.  I blame my good score on the gimlets that Joanne was giving me!!  Thank the Lord Steve drove home that night.  One day she needed a different car so her step dad, Stanley, Joanne, and myself (they respected my opinion) drove to Mondovi to look at what I remember was a 1965 Dodge Dart.  It was like new on the inside, some rust on the body and it was powered by the famous slant 6 engine.  I noticed some hesitation in the transmission, he wanted $125 for it, I told Joanne that the tranny sounded rough but we could put one in from the junk yard later if needed, offer him $75.  The guy took it and Joanne drove that car for at least 6 more years without a problem.  Even the last time I saw her she still remembers that day we went to get the car.  I am planning to go see Joanne one last time, unfortunately it is a cruel reminder that we are all getting older. Maybe I'll have a gimlet tonight in memory of my dear friend Joanne, I am sure that the people of Eleva will definitely miss her.  Here's to a grand Lady, Love you Joanne!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Deer Hunting Time

Antique Enterprise Sausage Stuffer
This weekend is the start of the Minnesota Deer Hunting season.  It seems like just yesterday I was going deer hunting with my uncle Dewey on Gordon Sather's land, just south of Eleva.  Deer hunting in Minnesota starts 2 weeks earlier than in Wisconsin, I suspect because half the state is farther north.  In my earlier years living in Minnesota I would hunt "Up North" near Roseau Mn with my friends the Taylors, Tim Guzek, Mark Mayerich, the late Ron Edberg, and the Ullom boys.  Today it just remains Jack and his son Ben Taylor and myself hunting near his cabin on Platte Lake, 12 miles west of Mille Lacs Lake.  We used to hunt a Rich's land, basically 120 acres of swamp with a few choice islands where the deer are thick.  This year was extremely wet with over 7 inches of rain in October.  Admittedly I am getting older and the thought of trekking through the swamp before the sun shows itself has little appeal to me.  I used to wear hip boots, walk the seemingly 5 miles (actually about 1/4 mile) carrying my clothes with on my back, changing in the woods then repeat on the way out.  That was fun but today it seems like a lot of work simply to shoot a deer.  And the shooting is the easy part, it would need to be dragged out of the swamp, gutted, and hung up.  Today we hunt on of Jack's lake neighbors land, he has 80 acres of mixed woods, field and swamp that is pretty nice.  We can drive right to it, there are plenty of sign around and it is a lot easier on the body! Friday night will always be our steak feed at Brett's (Rich's place) and we will hunt hard for the weekend, with a little luck, we'll end up with something. I have rallied the neighborhood guys into pooling our resources after deer hunting to make my late Brother-in-law's homemade venison ring bologna.  He made the greatest bologna I have ever had and it was great to have on a cold winter day. 
Ring Bologn
I used to help him out where we would make a couple hundred rings at a time with the guys back home.  So inspired, I began to acquire the equipment needed to do this in Minnesota, the first thing was to get a sausage stuffer.  I remember about 35 years ago he brought me to a house in Winona, MN where we opened a door in the floor and went down into the cellar.  There he had an Enterprise 4 quart stuffer in pretty good shape and only $35, quite a bargain as these now sell for over $300.  Since I've had a friend sand blast it and electrostatically coat with a black, food grade teflon coating.  I looks like it's brand new and does a fabulous job of stuffing meat into casings.  With a pool of neighbors, we should get some venison and because the recipe calls for 50% Pork, we would only need about 25 pounds of trimmings to make 50 or so rings.  Tim and Lory have the heated sheds, Tim and I have a smoker, I have the recipe, hopefully we will be able to make something.  It would be a great for treat for ice fishing this year, nothing is better than what those guys in Independence would make.  I am looking forward to bagging a deer but especially getting the guys together and making sausage.  When we lived in Brooklyn Park back in the 80's we made about 100 rings of bologna with my neighbors.  For a smokehouse I simply bought some cheap paneling, made a big box, then put a crude wood stove inside.  The house backed up to a main highway, 85th Ave.  The meat needs about 4 hours of smoke so we sat around drinking beer till it was done.  A drive along 85th seen the smoke coming out of our homemade smoker, drove around the block to get to the house and came to the door.  I went to answer the door and upon opening it he told me that my shed was on fire!  We showed him the bologna in the box, he went away somewhat embarrassed however it was still nice that he took the time.  I still laugh!

Gouge on the bottom of the Ranger
There are a few issues that I would like to get done with my boat before winter sets in hard.  I had an appointment for last week however the dealer doesn't have the parts yet and I feel my boat is better in my garage than in their fenced in area.  There are 3 main things that need attention, first the back Ranger Logo that I damaged during opener needs to get put on.  Secondly, the Rod locker lid had delaminated and it has not come in yet.  The third issue is getting the bottom of my boat fixed.  While in Canada, someone in the boat (he knows who he is) had some important business to do on shore.  We looked for a sandy beach area near by and found one with a few boulders to be careful around.  This was at the same time that the steering went out on the big motor so unfortunately we backed right over one of those boulders and there was not much we could do about it because we had no steering.  Although the gouge is under the boat and impossible to see, it still bothers me so it's going to get fixed.  Hopefully I can get in after deer hunting and get this stuff taken care of before it get's too cold!  Speaking of cold, there is already a nice snow cover in the northern part of the state.  Forecasts for Waskish, on Red Lake show that after this weekend lows will be in the lower teens with single digit lows towards Thanksgiving.  I won't be long now before Red Lake freezes over and maybe by the first of December we'll be fishing on the ice!  Lot's to do before then but the Ice Cabin is pretty much ready to go.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Apple Cider Time

Cider Press with Grinder
A couple of weeks ago the apple harvest began in earnest and when it was all said and done I suspect we had over 20 bushels of apples to deal with.  So what does a guy do with 20 bushels of apples .... well, the quickest thing is to make it into a drinkable form.  Here is a picture of my cider press with an apple grinder attached to the top of it.  I don't know why I did take any good pictures last night, I guess I was working too hard! Depending on the type of apples we get from 2 - 3 gallons of pressed cider per bushel of apples.  It is always good to blend varieties of apples, as I believe it makes for a better balanced juice, not too tart with a full rich flavor.  As stated before, the majority of the apples this year consisted of Haralson, Fireside, Honey Golds, McIntosh, and Wolf River varieties.  I personally like a good base of Haralson apples (Tart) blended with the Honey Golds(super sweet) , a fantastic combination.  This year we had a bumper crop of Haralsons which made up the basis for most of our cider.  Last night we doubled down with quite a crew to finish the 8 bushels of apples we had left before the weather turns cold on Thursday night.  My crew consisted of my neighbors, Lory and Lyn Brasel, Todd and his daughters Allie and Brenna, along with my friend Jack and Janet Taylor with their son Ben, and of course myself and Lyn.  It was a lot of fun as we ground up the rest of the apples and pressed 17 gallons of fabulous apple cider.  I would say that we processed around 50 gallons of cider this fall.  Lory took 12 gallons and has started making wine, Todd has got about 11 gallons and he is making hard cider out of it, and the Lyn's will be making apple sauce, all is good at the Anderson Orchard!  What was really fun is to have both or Todd's girls and Ben help with the process.  It is fabulous to work with the outstanding young people as some of my fondest memories growing up was hanging out with my dad's friends, Vic Wenaas, Daniel Van Pelt, Art Kelley, my uncles Keith, Dewey, and Jerry, Gyle and Bud Tollefson, all treated me as their friend and always had a lot of expectations of me, which was good.  I love paying that forward to our young people today.  Even at 62 I cannot help but remember Art Kelley who loved pheasant hunting and would have me clean his pheasants for $0.50 each.  For me the money was the bonus, just to be thought of as one of the guys was all I needed to be happy.  Or cat fishing with Vic or bailing hay with Gyle, these guys still influence my decisions every day and hopefully I can be that for some young person going forward!

Last weeks post was a summary of my day of fishing with my good friend Bill Lundeen at a special trout lake north of his shop.  As stated previously, I acquired an in line camera called the Water Wolf that attached to my main fishing line causing the camera to face backwards towards the lure.  I attached an 18 inch crawler rig with a spinner and used a half a crawler and embedded it to the 2 hook rig.  The results is sort of random as being in a canoe, I wasn't about to bring a computer with me to validate the camera's integrity, so it would be what it was!  In total I filmed over 2 hours of action with the camera facing the bait.  I have a guy at work who with my help we edited down to about 15 minutes and admittedly it's pretty cool as the trout are quite easily recognized and even though it was a 2 hook rig and I made sure the hook were sticky sharp, it was amazing how many hits that did not hook up.   The sounds that are present are the sinkers banging against the body of the camera as the fish hit and fight.  Some of the highlights points are at the 3:00 mark I am reeling up to check my bait after a sunfish hit it a few seconds earlier.  You can tell the lure is getting close to the surface as the background color goes from green to blue.  Just near the top a rainbow trout hit the nightcrawler and I catch it.  At around 7:28 you can see a sunfish go after the lure however a trout decided it was going to succeed and soon became dinner!  At around the 8:10 mark you will see 3 trout come after the lure, and of course one does eventually get it!  One of the things that was interesting is how long some of these fish will follow the lure before getting striking it.  Anyway it's interesting as the camera is tied right to the line.  You can be assured I used a heavy duty rig with 40# Fireline.  Now that I have some experience, I am going to see how it would work icefishing as it would be a lot better with the camera inline with the bait instead of simply sitting next the main line down the hole.  Less tangles for sure.

Well they are predicting snow on Friday night, maybe this is a good omen for ice fishing this year.  Still there is a lot to do yet, dig potatoes, finish putting the Salem Ice Cabin back together, getting the boat up to Frankies to finish those less important issues that need to be taken care of.  This weekend means I need to put up my deer stand and get my license.  Uffda time moves!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Trout Fishing With Bill

Nice Rainbow Trout
For the last few years, the third week in October generally means a trip with my friend Bill Lundeen to fish trout is in order.  This week was no exception as we could not have planned a more perfect day.  We took off  to Bill's "secret" lake where we launch the canoe complete with front and rear depthfinders, electric trolling motor, and a definite cramped style that takes a bit to get comfortable with, which is not impossible.  This year I decided to purchase a Water Wolf underwater camera that attaches directly to your line.  The camera looks back as you tie your lure to the end of it, therefore you can record a video of the bait going through the water and any of the fish that happen to strike the lure.  The camera has 4 hours of battery life and a 32 gb memory card, the card and on/off switch is embedded under a water tight cap so once you turn it on, it's on.  It purely records video and records everything, however you do not have any feedback on how you are doing until you pull out the memory card and put it in a viewer.  Because it's a .mov file, it has to be a compatible viewer and for me, Quicktime seems like it is the only easy accessible viewer that works.  Therefore you don't know if you have too much weigh making the lens point up or down, not straight back.  Obviously speed makes a difference as well.  We fished from about 11:00 AM til 2:00 in the afternoon and accomplished catching our limit each of nice trout.  In addition there is about 2 hours of video that needs to be edited down to show the highlights of the action.  It is very cool but it probably won't be done for a couple of days so I will have to add it to a future post.  I did get to see some of the video recordings before starting to write this and admittedly it's pretty interesting.  Fearing I could lose the camera, it was fastened to one of my casting rods with 30 lb test braided line.  Luckily we did not run into any issues as the transducer position gave me a perfect understanding of how deep I was.  Either way it's simply amazing how hard those fish hit the lure, one 13 inch fish almost jerked the rod right out of my hand.  In two and a half hours we stopped our trolling and started to cast simple ice fishing spoons that we use for walleyes, and had very good luck.  It was a nice change of pace as well.  As soon as the edited video is done, it will go on my Youtube channel, elevadave, and I think you will find it interesting for sure!

Nice crappie, unfortunately the only one I caught!
Getting our trout early means there is time in the rest of the day to crappie fish.  We chose Camp
Lake, just west of Mille Lacs for our destination.  Camp is a very pretty lake and the deepest areas of the lake tend to be about 30 feet deep.  Here the crappies tend to follow their predictable patterns and start schooling in the deeper structures, suspending off the bottom.  These schools are relatively easy to find on the depthfinder, look for solid marks or blobs just off the bottom or suspended half way in 25 feet or deeper water.  After checking out the issues with Bill's trolling motor earlier, we were successful in having it work for our crappie fishing which is critical, for as soon as we mark a school of fish, we hit the anchor mode on the trolling motor and fish the area.   Bill seemed to have the crappie touch this time as I sat and watched him pull in one after another.  Finally decided that maybe they didn't like an orange jig or I wasn't deep enough, I finally switched to a chartreuse color.  As well, I added a large split shot just above the jig head to aid in it's descent.  I finally nailed a really nice crappie, the largest of this portion of our adventure.  With the sun setting and a desire to get something to eat, we left before it got dark.  It would have been nice to get a number of this size fish but our excuse was that it was quite windy therefore making it hard to fish with light line in deeper water............sounds good to me!! It turned out to be a beautiful day, we caught some nice fish and spent some quality quiet time away from the hustle and bustle of work.  I am so glad that this has become a tradition for us, I really enjoy the fishing and spending time with Bill.  As a bonus, I even bought some of his hand harvested Wild Rice, it is so good!

The neighbors Todd, Lory, Lynn and my wife Lyn, they all helped to get the apples picked.  If I had to guess, I'll bet there is over 20 bushels of apples.  On Tuesday we pressed 8 gallons of cider and barely made a dent.  Todd needs cider to make his homemade hard cider and Lory needs about the same, 10 gallons to make his homemade apple wine.  As long as they help, it's a good use for the apples, but admittedly it's a lot of work.  I guess that's what makes it so good!  Definitely have cider pressing on the agenda for this week end.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Fall is Finally Here

Haralson Apples
Well, it's the week of October 9th and we finally received our first killing frost of the autumn season early this week.  It wasn't too long ago that we would have a frost in September and this time of year would be known as Indian Summer, the warming period after the first frost.  The first frost also is the signal that most of my apples are ready to harvest.  As some of you know I have a small orchard on my land that consist of about 7 mature apple trees and 3 mature pear trees.  The pears were done a month ago and our neighbor has taken some and canned them as well, has a batch of pear wine brewing in his basement. My main varieties of apples include McIntosh, Haralson, Fireside, Honeygold, Haralred, Zestar, and I have a rouge Wolf River apple that provides a great conversational piece as they often weigh up to a pound each.  The McIntosh apples are generally the earlier ripening apples and although good, they turn mushy pretty fast.  I actually have 2 of these trees, personally I would not have planted another one however like my wolf River apple, the trees were mismarked at the nursery and by the time they are producing apples it's too late to complain.  One other issue that I have is the trees were planted in the early 1990's and 27 years later they are starting to die off one by one.  I talked to a guy who seems to know what he's talking about and his claim is the trees only last about 25 to 30 years then fade away.  I am sure that a a disease known as fire blight doesn't help, some of my trees are more resistant to it however my Honeygold's and Fireside's seem to be more susceptible to this as I have lost a couple of my trees in the last few years and this summer I had 4 heavily laden branches simply break off, and these were substantial limbs.  Oh well, I am not a big fan of the Honeygold apples anyway as they seem to turn brown quite easily.  The gentleman at Anoka Feed Store sold me some fire blight spray which I will try next spring.  In the meantime this year is a bumper crop so the harvest goes on.  The frost is great for the Fireside apples, my favorite of them all and the plan is to get out the cider press and maybe make 10 - 20 gallons of fresh cider.  Both my neighbors have sight on getting some cider, on will make apple wine and the other wants to try and get good at making hard cider.  I am all for it as the truth of the matter is.......what the heck am I going to do with all of these apples!  They are very good to eat for sure!

Check Out the Size of that Minnow!
Being preoccupied with my fall routines gives little time to go fishing.  To be fair, my travels have put me behind in a number of things and as well, the older I get the lazier I get!!  Never the less my friends continue to report on their fishing successes and one such guy is Pete Mlinar of Monticello, MN. Pete is an amazing river rat and it's been a while since I have fished with him however he is the guy who got me going on fishing the Mississippi River.  His technique is quite simple, fish the largest Redtail or Creek Chubs you can and hang on. He has been teasing me with his pictures of  the walleye's they are getting on the river and I have to admit, it working.  Pete is retired so it's easier for him to just leave and fish whenever he wants.  He sent me this picture earlier this week of a nice walleye he had gotten however the first thing I noticed was the size of the minnow in the walleyes mouth.  I call him and asked if this was staged but he assured me that this came right out of the water, if you look closely you can see the line under his wrist.  That is pretty amazing.  Now he did sent some pictures of the 27 inch walleyes that they caught but to me this one was the most impressive.  I know that they simply bounce rigs off the bottom in 10 - 12 foot holes in the river, something I would like to try behind the house as I know where these holes are.  Just where to find the time is always the problem.  One of the things I have learned to do is shoot photography.  I have a nice camera and photoshop to process them.  Over the years I have done a lot of my friends and relatives, and their children's wedding photo's but admittedly that takes time.  This Saturday I am committed to help a friend out and do his wedding pictures. I hate to turn my friends down when they ask however for the most part I'm going to be there anyway I might as well be doing something.  These events always come with a caveat, I am not a professional and I will shoot it in a more casual theme.  Well, that along with picking apples will pretty much eat up all my time this weekend.

Wednesday is my annual Trout fishing date with Mr. Lundeen.  We go to his secret lake and fishing out of a canoe we generally do quite well, each coming back with our limit of 14 - 17 inch rainbow trout.  The lake is quite clear so this year I have a Water Wolf, in line underwater camera with hopes to capture some footage of the trout hitting the spinners we pull behind.  We will see and maybe next week I'll have some interesting results.   Like everything it will probably take me a few days to learn this.  Still need to get my step welded on the Ranger Trailer, The boat goes in next week to Frankies and have some of my lingering issues taken care of before the winter. I really need to grease the wheel bearings on my Ice Cabin before it get's too cold.  The list goes on and on and on and on!  Heck somewhere I have to fit sighting in my gun for deer hunting which is 3 weeks away.  Next Wednesday my good friend Mark Applen is heading to Colorado to hunt elk and I am pretty excited to see the results.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Back From Chicago

My Friend Gary Hicks and a Nice Lake Michigan King Salmon
This week was spent in Chicago at the International Coil Winding show, sounds exciting doesn't it! It gives me a chance to touch base with all of my important vendors who service our business as well cmake contact with my fellow colleagues, who own their own transformer winding companies to see how they are doing. Of course most of my friends at the show know about how much I like to fish and as well have fished with me in the past at conferences around the United States.  One of those guys is Gary Hicks, he is the owner of Dongan Electric Manufacturing in Frazier, Michigan.  He is also an avid fisherman and when I saw him on Tuesday the first order of business was talking about his salmon fishing trip on Traverse Bay of Lake Michigan.  That really brought back some memories of the mid 1980's when my friend Kevin Aiona and I would meet Gary Barneson in Appleton then go over to Algoma or Two Rivers Wisconsin and troll for salmon and trout in my 16 foot Lund Pro Angler boat with a 50 hp, 4 cylinder, tiller Mercury motor.  That was some of the best fishing times I have experienced.  Gary Barneson lived in Appleton at the time and he became quite proficient at fishing Lake Michigan in small boats...........heck he had (still has) an Early 1980's S14 Deluxe with a 25 hp Johnson tiller motor, he was my influence as in 1982 I bought the very same rig.  The 16 foot boat wasn't much larger however the 50 hp Merc purred like a kitten yet it would burn a gallon of gas an hour at trolling speed.  We really never encountered bad weather as the wind was more often from the west which would blow the warmer surface water to the east and the colder water from the deep would replace it.  Surface temperatures would often be in the high 40's so the fish would not be very deep at all, often in the 20 to 40 foot range.  We had 2 downriggers, 2 large planar boards, a couple of Dipsy Divers, the two of us could legally rig up 3 lines apiece.  Our tackle consisted of very light weight spoons we called Northport Nailers, brightly colored 6 inch minnow baits like Rebels, and flashers and rubber squids, we'd alternate baits and different colors to try and figure out what the fish would hit more consistently then switch the lines to those baits or colors.Downriggers were dropped to 40 feet, Dipsy Divers took the bait down and out, meanwhile the
Captain Aiona Running the Tiller!
trolling boards would get your bait away from the boat in case it was spooking the fish. It was fun as you never knew what would hit what.  One of the nice things that you could do in a smaller boat is stop the motor and fight your fish.  If you notice the prop wash in the picture of Gary, the charters never stop their boats.  Because of the amount of lines out and the mad scramble, they would simply let the water push the fish to the top and if everything worked out right you would reel that fish up the prop wash.  Kevin and I did it differently.  If we hooked a fish we'd hollar.......FISH ON and the scramble began.  The other guy in the boat would crank up the down riggers, trip the dipsy lines and reel them in, and depending on what the fish was caught on and where it was, we would usually leave the trolling boards out as well.  Then the fight was on!  We were fighting the fish on our terms and fight they would often pulling the boat until it or we were exhausted  At that time the fish were pretty good size as we would go in Mid July when Gary could get off.  It was certainly a team effort as we'd normally take turns steering the boat as the downrigger board was secured to the middle of the boat and we needed that leverage and space to reel them up each time.  The usual bag of fish included  King Salmon, Coho Salmon, Rainbow trout, Brown trout and the occasional lake trout that showed we would try for every once and a while. The last time I fished Lake Michigan was probably in 1986 with my dad and brother as we were on a trip to visit my Uncle in Sheboygan.  Today I understand because of the water clarity most have to fish away from the boat and using super long lines and or lead or copper lines to get the bait down.  We did get some nice fish however, King Salmon in the 35 pound range, Coho's (Silver) in the 15 -20 pound range and big football shaped browns in the 16 pound range.  We occasionally went out into the 120 feet of water and hauled some beautiful lake trout up from the bottom.  It was interesting as the boat had a paper graph for a depthfinder.  I wish I would have saved some of those rolls of paper as they told an interesting tale indeed.

Inside of my Rod Storage Lid delaminating
This weekend is my cousin Paul's daughter's wedding, as well I have plenty of apples to pick and process.  With little time available, I have been cleaning the sand out of the boat from the Lac Seul trip a few weeks ago.  Opening the rod locker, something didn't seem right so I forced it open and apparently the fiberglass is delaminating.  I sent this picture to Frankies and told them to order a new cover, thy said it should be covered under warranty.  Pulling the carpet back in the cockpit area to dry out, I decided to look at the batteries. sure enough the latch pulled right out.  These latches are very heavy duty and I have never had one do this on my last 3 boats.  I found the back flange the keeps it in place, stopped at my neighbor Todd's and he gave me new stainless steel replacement bolts.  A little blue Loctite thread locker on the threads and it's good as new.  Today was the day to get the trailer step welded but the weather doesn't look so good that will have to wait till next week sometime.  We haven't had a frost yet so everything is pretty green, that will probably change next week.  Bill and I usually go trout fishing in October so I have committed to go in a couple of weeks however both of us are quite busy so we will see what happens.  Deer hunting is in 4 weeks and the long term forecast is for a cold winter, maybe enough to allow us to pull the wheel house out on Red Lake over Thanksgiving like we did in 2015.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Lac Seul Part 2

Nice walleye
Finally getting caught up on the time and the big plus is having something to write about, this weeks post finishes the report on last weeks trip to Lac Seul with Bruce.  Believe it or not I did get some nice walleyes yet my attempt to try and fish similar structures that we fished during the last trip to Fisherman's Cove did not work out very well.  With only 3 days to fish and the anxiety of trying to fish where you know there are fish.........doesn't make for a very good formula for going out simply to explore!  In other words, it's almost impossible to leave biting walleyes no matter what the size.  Coming into camp I marked a few mid lake humps, not too far from camp yet we never made it to them. Fishing the west side last month the mid lake humps were loaded with nice walleyes, and I would say that the average was quite a bit larger than we find at camp.  In August about 75% of the fish we caught were over 22 inches but I would say that our average around Chamberlain Narrows is around 75% of the fish under 16 inches.  Generally the numbers make up for the size and numbers we get.  It rained quite a bit on Wednesday, our first day fishing yet we got on a point that was super productive and our total for the day was about 68 walleyes.  Thursday we went to Tuk Bay, my all time favorite spot and the bit was quite a bit slower.  Of course the rain had moved on and high pressure, bluebird skies greeted us as we anchored on Dan's point and started catching fish.  As the day wore on the bite diminished to the point where we could catch a walleye to save our butts.  Moving up the channel our first stop was a point I had discovered a year ago and we did very well on it last June.  I have it marked with a waypoint called Dave's Luck Would Have It Point!  The first thing I look for when fishing an area is whether or not the fish finders are marking any fish.  If the walleye's are there, the will show up on the sonar clear as a bell.  We were marking fish like crazy and admittedly it was as many fish as I have seen yet they were not in the mood to attack our minnow presentations.  We tried all sorts of things, different colors, different jig sizes and weights, big minnows, small minnows, name it we threw it at the walleyes but it was a fruitless time in the old Ranger as nothing worked.  Oh well at least we were still in Canada.

Huge sauger that I caught!
Friday turned out to be on of the best days experienced on Lac Seul.  Ken had commented that we should try large minnows in the 40 feet of water in front of the cabin as the big females are moving into the deeper areas to feed on cisco's.  Luckily I had bought 3 dozen large minnows at the bait shop, consisting of large rainbow shiners and some big sucker minnows.  Dropping in 40 feet, it took a while for the 1/4 oz jig to reach the bottom but it got there.  The Lowrance has a glassed in transducer which essentially gives you readings that are about 1/3 the diameter of the depth of the water.  In 40 feet we could see about a 14 foot circle of whatever is on the bottom and it was easy to spot my jig and minnow on the screen. Unfortunately we didn't mark any fish and finally both Craig and I caught something each, two 15.5" walleyes.  Uffda, although Craigs went back down just fine, mine wasn't so fortunate as it's swim bladder was extended and it would probably end up as eagle food later.  After retrieving it we put it into the fish bag, the first of 12 walleyes we needed to take home our limits. We headed north to the unnamed point just as you turn west from Chamberlain Narrows, about a mile from camp.  There we set the anchor on the trolling motor and the action began almost immediately.  It was about 10:00 in the morning and by 11:00 we had around 30 walleyes.  We were pulling in doubles and the occasional triple but the walleyes kept coming.  Craig was pulling them in left and right and although the action slowed, changing the XM radio channel from Fox to Willy's Roadhouse made a significant difference as the bite took off again.  We had about 70 walleyes on the counter/clicker when Bruce showed up and their report was not that good.  Although the bite did slow up somewhat towards the end, it picked up about 3:00 and by Cocktail Hour (4:00PM) we had 103 walleyes on the counter, quite a day considering we hadn't left and area no more than 50 feet by 100 feet, all day.  I did catch a pretty small sauger as pictured, about 6 inches.  It is amazing the size of minnows a small fish like this will attack.  Never the less it counts as a fish caught!

Pete Caught a Number of Nice Walleyes like this
Four O'clock marked the end of our last day in camp, it's always a sad time to go but it's about the right amount of time.  The last day of fishing means Steak night as we use this day to equalize our 4 fish limit we each bring home to enjoy later.  This year we had boneless tenderloins marinated in Tabasco sauce, Frank's Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce, and Hot Picante Salsa.  2 hours of soaking in that mixture does wonders for the flavor!  While the steaks marinated I cleaned the 19 fish that filled out the limits we needed to stay legal.  Volunteering to be the fish cleaning guy, I happily do this every night.  We put the steaks on the grill and 2 bottles of wine later it was done, off to bed to get up early and clear camp.  It was a blast having Craig Biegert with this trip.  I understand that he had Chemo this Thursday however according to my friends he could not stop talking about the great time he had and all the fish he caught, especially on the last day.  I would have him in my boat any day.  One interesting observation, both Pete and I helped Craig bait his jig and also helped him remove and release any fish.  One time I was putting his minnow back on his jig when I noticed something very unusual.  We generally put the hook through the minnow's mouth, out through the gill plate, then rotate the jig and insert the hook tip through the back.  This keeps the minnow securely hooked to the jig and prevents losing a lot of minnows if the fish just grabs it.  Grabbing his jig to resecure the minnow I noticed that he had it what I would call.....assbackwards!  Generally I hold the minnow with my left hand using my right to thread it through the right side of the minnow.  He had it through the left side of the minnow.  What the heck, this seemed strange until it dawned on me, Pete is left handed and probably hooks his minnows the opposite I do, holds the minnow in his left hand.  It gave me another reason to make a stink about something admittedly I had to laugh at myself! As you see in the picture the backwards minnow method is effective as Pete did get a number of fish in the 25 inch class.

The fish house is basically put back together again as I have to admit that the Salem Ice Cabin looks pretty nice.  There are still some new plastic plugs to be inserted in the frame, a good job for this weekend. The Rangertrail Trailer has to get brought to Nick and get the step welded and braced up as I missed my steps when getting in and out of the boat.  I might get to go back up to Lac Seul to help Bruce close the cabin however it's a matter of timing as next week I am in Chicago.  Hopefully the annual trout fishing expedition with Bill can still take place this month.  Deer hunting is only 4 weeks away as time continues to fly at a record pace!