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!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Finally, Back Fishing! Lac Seul Part 1.

Craig with a nice walleye.
Admittedly this is an interesting year for me and my fishing.  Normally I try to make it out once a week, starting with 3 days on Leech Lake, taking advantage of the hot bite on Mille Lacs in June, first part of July, fishing the Mississippi River in August, then switching to the evening shad rap bite on the reefs at Mille Lacs.  Well all that has changed this year.  Normally there is 21 - 22 weeks of open water fishing before deer hunting starts and the ice forms on the lake.  If I get 20 days of open water fishing in, it's been a good year.  So far I have gotten 20 days of open water fishing however it has been concentrated on mostly Lac Seul (14 days), Leech (3 days) and only 1 lowly trip to Mille Lacs Lake, the Mississippi River, and the Gulf of Mexico off of Florida.  With Mille Lacs now closed to walleye fishing, I suppose I could go and cast Shad Raps on the rocks for smallmouth but who am I kidding?  Bill and I usually get out trout fishing once so the number of trips is pretty much average however the makeup of those trips are significantly different than in the past.  Not that I am complaining yet you notice that no longer are the posts about last weeks fishing adventure.  This week I have had the opportunity to go up to Lac Seul again for 3 days of some of the greatest fishing I have experienced.  Our host, Bruce Wiley states that after fishing Lac Seul, it doesn't pay to fish anywhere's a hard philosophy to argue with yet there is a lot of water out there to be fished.  So Last weekend's fishing was in paradise at Lac Seul Outposts again, my 3rd trip there and 4th to Lac Seul this year. This year we were blessed to have Craig Biegert as our boat guest.  Craig is a friend of both my neighbor Pete and our host, Bruce.  He has a cabin on Big Pine Lake, the same as my friend Mark Mayerich, which is just a stones throw east of Bruce's place on Round Lake, just north of Mille Lacs. Craig has been battling Multiple Myeloma and to be honest, you'd never guess.  I was fortunate to have him in my boat and he was a perfect gentleman..........he even washed the sand off his shoes before going in the Ranger!  Craig has a few bone fractures associated with his condition so I made sure that if there was anything making him uncomfortable, he needed to let me know. Fortunately my boat is like riding on a cloud as we made the 34.5 mile trip into camp without an issue.

Wapesi River Emptying into the Lake
Wapesi Lake is usually our first stop, so on Wednesday of the the three days we were to be in camp it is where we fished. Wapesi is just northwest of the outpost, about a 10 mile boat ride, we go up to Pecker Point then turn west into the lake. Wednesday was kind of goofy weatherwise, clear and cool in the morning, it gave way to some pounding rain around noon. We had found a point off an island which was producing quite well when you could see the rain heading for the boat. One of the things I really appreciate these days is the bimini top I had put on this June.  We quickly assembled the top and secured everything just as the wind and rain came upon us.  Snug and dry inside the boat was nice, almost to the point of wondering why I carry a rainsuit anymore!  The Motorguide does an incredible job of keeping the boat in an "anchored" position as we rode out the storm squall.  Once it was evident that the weather was clearing we headed to an area which we felt Craig would enjoy, where the Wapesi River dumps into the lake.  It is gorgeous back there as the river tumbles over the rock as it essentially falls into the bay.  It is also a great place to fish however at this time of year the walleyes tend not to be stacked very well.  It's still a great place to fish as the current is always carrying a meal to the fish.  One of my favorite methods is using a Gulp twister tail as it is fairly shallow and where there is current, there is always some active fish, the total on Gulp was 8 walleyes and a northern pike.  It is one of my favorite spots to visit and fish while in Wapesi Lake, that's for sure.

As stated before, we launch in Deception bay on the southeast side of the lake and make our way through the rock strewn channels, around islands for a total of 34.5 miles to camp.  About 5 miles into our trip the outboard display went blank then the motor shut down to an idle.  The error code 114 showed up on the display, I put the motor back in neutral, reset the display, and the motor ran perfect until  the next 5 miles.  It shut down a total of 8 times then like magic, it ran great for the rest of the trip.  We have limited Wifi at camp so I e-mailed my mechanic at Frankies, he got back to me on the code meaning yet because it ran great, I haven't been able to look at the NMEA 2000 network cable connections in the back of the boat but will get to it sometime.  As always, Lac Seul is a great place to catch walleyes as well it is alot of fun hanging with the guys that I have been so graciously invited to attend!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Same Old Story, Different week

The Kramer Open was pretty good this year.  Unfortunately we didn't have the number of shooters as we have had in the past but that's OK.  I didn't shoot my best score ever but it wasn't too bad, 83 out of 100 nailed.  It's been a year since I have shot so there's is little to complain about.  Sporting Clays is quite fun and can be challenging.  We used to shoot in a league at Wild Marsh, 500 birds per the league season, 100 per month and could be shot anytime within that month.  It was pretty handy because one wasn't on a set schedule, you could shoot at your convenience and if you did not like your score you could reshoot the course however you had to use your latest scores.  The course is set up almost like golf.  You have 8 stations within each course and 7 of the 8 would be 6 targets thrown execpt 1 would be 8 targets for a total of 50. Usually we shoot 2 courses then add up the scores.  I started shooting trap with my old neighbor Roger Weber and used a Browning A5 12 gauge shotgun. Although it was a nice gun I honestly could not hit anything with it, scoring and average of 16 out of 25. Getting into the sport I moved up to a Over/Under Browning Citori realizing I had bought an upland game shotgun, I could us it for dual purpose, sport shooting and hunting grouse and pheasants.  Quite honestly I never really got into the hunting part of that statement and did most of my shooting at the range.  A number of years back I joined some of my friends in the sporting clays and used my Upland game gun.  It was Ok with my average around 68/100.  I was really getting into it and felt that the only way of improving was to get a gun with a longer barrel.  A guy at work dealt in guns and he
Citori 525
ended up getting me an Over/Under made specifically for Sporting Clays, a Browning Citori 525. It is a very nice gun, has a fully engraved reciever, hand oiled stock finish, and a nice case.  With 32 inch barrels it was amazing how much better I shot as my average went up by 8 birds, 76/100.  I think that the course we shoot for the Kramer Open is set up for higher scores because my average is another 7 - 8 birds higher than my league average was, and I only shoot once a year now.  It is a lot of fun and I wouldn't mind getting on a team to do the 500 bird league again, we'll see.  There are a lot of good shooters that attend the Kramer and if you want to be in the top tier one better shoot higher than 90, I did that once.

Sirius weather overlay on the GPS.  Here is a line of thunderstorms
I did get the boat back and have begun to put it back together for my trip next week.  It got move up a day and we are now leaving next Tuesday, coming back on Saturday.  I have noticed a few more scratches in the boat, and have the estimate to fix the area on the bottom where a rock scraped it as I dropped Pete off on shore to do his business.  We are going to have to figure something elese out that is safer and easier on the boat.  Frankie's put in the new dash pieces that were destroyed last June when they ripped off my electronics.  They also replaced a power pedestal under warranty, one of my back side decals got messed up on Minnesota Opener, they took that of but the new one that came in was too small.  Everything looks pretty good, at least good enough to make the trip.  I don't know if this is a good idea or not but I have removed the screws that are used to flush mount my HDS12 and 9 into the main console and front dash and replaced them with tamper resistant torx head stainless steel screws.  I guess if someone wants them that bad they will figure out a way however the lock that held my gimbal mounted HDS 9 did it's job and I ended up only having to replace the bent gimbal rather than the entire unit.  Joe Dusenka is Frankie's son and he always treats me right.  When they replaced the electronics, one of the things they replaced was my Sirius/XM module as the thieves cut off the connector end.  These modules are not cheap but are super nice to have in the boat as it will give you a weather overlay on your GPS screen.  Also, something really nice, there is a lightning alarm that will sound when it detects lightning within a 6 mile distant from the boat.  I asked joe to see if he could fine me a bad Ethernet cable and maybe I can repair the broken module.  Well, he didn't forget and in the boat was a cut off cable end.  I am going to try and repair it because I think my brother Steve could use a nice upgrade in his boat, we'll see if I can get it to work.

There is a lot of work to do before Tuesday, the garden is about done, my tomatoes look like crap.  I need to spend some quality time reassembling my Ice Cabin.  Boat needs to get packed and ready, where the time goes these days, I have no idea!

Friday, September 8, 2017

No Time to Fish

Dealing With the Rust on My Salem Ice Cabin
Boy, isn't that a sad headline, No Time To Fish.  Unfortunately this is true but I do have some good excuses!  First of all my Ranger remains at Frankies to get the rest of the insurance work done from the time when some low life's broke into my boat and literally ripped out my flush mount electronics. Although I got my rig back functional, there still needed work to be done on the dash pieces that the electronics were mounted into.  The bow dash was broke so we riveted it together, and the console was scratched up pretty bad, nothing that would affect my fishing but it seemed like a good time to get the boat in and get this stuff finished up. Although the bow trim is relatively easy the console replacement isn't that quick, and because I want it done right....if it takes a couple of weeks so be it, I just want to make sure it's ready to go by September 16th so I have time to get everything repack in the boat for our trip to Lac Seul.  My other excuses are that Mille Lacs Lake has been reclosed to walleye fishing last week as well, the river has been running high and fast due to the recent rains.  Of course there is plenty to do around the house, getting ready for the upcoming Ice Fishing Season, namely fixing the huge amount of rust on my Wheel House frame.  I had LimoJoe stop by and with his dustless sand blaster, he removed most of the visible rust from the frame.  It's sort of a mess but it works really good by cleaning the metal completely free of rust.  After he was done with the actual sandblasting he rinsed off the sand with a mixture designed to remove the sand and deposit it a temporary coating to prevent the bear metal from starting to rust.  Using a new product I was unaware of, PDR15, it really worked good in coating the trailer frame, however it sticks to your hands and does not come off!  I got the first coat done and am planning on giving it a finish coat next week.  It is some pretty amazing stuff and it looks like new again!

A pre 1930's corn processing machine
Sunday used to be the day when my younger brother Steve and I would go motorcycling around the La Crosse, WI area.  Well, since the motorcycle was totalled in 2014 I have directed my attention to the Fountain City Farm Fest.  It is quite interesting as they have a number of old turn of the century farm implements such as very large Steam tractors which ran a number of interesting machinery. They had a huge steam tractor which ran an old time sawmill and were actually cutting rough cut lumber, quite interesting.  Most of the real old machinery was belt driven as you can see in the picture of this core schuker.  When the harvest cam around farmers would actually cut the corn plants at ground level then tie them up in a vertical stack called Corn Sheaf.  After drying in the field, they would get a wagon and stack these sheafs on it then take it to a machine like this.  One could throw an entire sheaf into the hopper and out the left end would come totally husked corn cobs and on the right it spit out nice chopped corn stalks to be uses as cattle feed and bedding. Now days they simply take a $650,000 combine, put a corn picking head on it and the combine cuts the stalks, removes the ears of corn, then they remove
the kernels of corn, from the cobs.  Shelled corn is easy to dry, easy to store and one man can do the work of 30 men Years ago.  Farming is big business these days as I stood among over $1,000,000.00 in equipment, all GPS/computer controlled, nothing like 40 years ago when I used to help bale hay back in Eleva during the summers.

Hopefully next week I'll have the boat back which should give me time to get it read for Lac Seul. Saturday is the Annual Kramer Open, a 100 bird sporting clays shoot that I use to go with my dearly departed friend Tom Emmons, it's good to go as it serves as a good tribute to Tom and the times we had together.  The wheel house needs another coat of PDF15 and put back together,  the pears are close to be picked and the Pole Shed need a good cleaning.  Dang, there will be snow pretty soon! It's a good time to think about my friend Tim Smith and his house on the beach in Naples Florida.  You can be assured that this Hurricane Irma is going to raise some hell with it as the storm track has it right in the bullsye.  I guess we should be thankful that we only deal with very narrow Tornados and not a 20 mile wide cyclone!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Labor Day Here Already

Horacene and Dick Daugird
This has been an interesting week for weather for my friends in Texas.  Back in March of 2011 I fished in Rockport, Texas with my good  friend Joe Stanfield, where he introduced me to Dick and Horacene Daugird,  a retired couple from the Houston area who decided after retirement to form a charity, The Lighthouse Team, for the sole purpose of helping those who have been affected by natural disasters, such as Hurricane Harvey that has been pounding the Rockport, Houston area this last week.  Joe and I drove the coast, all the way from Rockport to Galveston reviewing the still evident damage from the 2005 Hurricane Katrina.  It was quite amazing as there were still empty stilts were houses once stood, areas in Galveston that were yet to be rebuilt, and may never will  We stopped at the Lighthouse Charity's building and Joe introduced me to both Dick and Horacene Daugird, founders of the charity.  Dick turned his love to cook BBQ into a simple cause, to cook food for those helping in the relief efforts as well as the victims of a disaster, they are in full swing Hurricane Harvey and I am sure they will be extremely busy for the next 3 months or so.  A great couple and even though I haven't seen them in a few years I do keep up with their where abouts through my friend Joe.  The events of the last few days have made me keep them close to my thoughts as I know the fabulous work that they do in this terrible situation.  This picture is from a few years ago but still applicable.  Their work reminds me of my good friend Mark Applen and his charity work he does for cancer families.  These are all good charities to support as you can be assured that your money is not being wasted on administrative cost but go directly to help!

Add caption
Well, unfortunately because of the current situation at Mille Lacs, Walleye fishing will close at 12:00 AM on Tuesday September 5 and not reopen again until December 1, 2017.  This is a direct result of the mess our DNR has agreed to and is tied to what I feel is a fictitious hooking mortality number that is defined by a quota system which is hard to believe is correct.  No doubt that hooking mortality exists as fishing walleyes on Mille Lacs was closed most of July, into August to cut down on the hooking mortality numbers.  It is too exhausting to go into the arguments however fall was my favorite time to fish walleyes on the reefs, especially after dark.  I guess legally one can fish smallmouth bass with artificial baits like shad raps, I have caught plenty of smallmouths while targeting walleyes in the past, I am not sure how that would work in reverse............I caught plenty of  walleyes while targeting smallmouth.  I suppose I had better check on that premise as catching a walleye on the reef in 5 feet of water, with a crankbait, they tend to release very well.  It just came out this week that the DNR has negotiated with the band for the next 3 years of fishing and it doesn't look good.  I definitely am disappointed with our DNR but like a lot of things, there seems little one can do but complain.  It does bring up a point, that I spend more and more time fishing walleyes in Canada.  So far this year I fished Lac Seul 11 days verses fishing in Minnesota 5 days.  Over all the average number of days is once a week however it is concentrated in fewer trips, as one can tell by my posts.  Unfortunately I have had little time to get out on the Mississippi River this year, maybe I will get caught up this fall!

Ipod Touch
A few years back I upgraded my Sonichub audio server in my boat to the latest and greatest, with bluetooth.  This is a nice function however the new equipment would not play my existing 160 gb Ipod.  The answer was to buy a new Ipod however the largest "new" one available only had a 64gb solid state drive vs the old 160gb, miniature hard drive.  The solid state drive is better but I had to decide which files I wanted to eliminate.  When I was in Canada last month, Mike Worms wanted my music so I sold him my old Ipod as now the newer Ipod's have 128gb of memory.  It's been interesting to try and get the new one set up as years ago I had movies burned to my Ipod so I could watch them on my business trips, especially to China. I am having some luck getting it set up the way I want and my ultimate goal is that my HDS 12 in my boat has a video input, maybe I can play movies on my main depthfinder when fishing get's slow.  We'll see!  Unfortunately I have read that Apple will discontinue the Ipod because there are so many choices with cell phones these days, man is it difficult to keep up with the latest and greatest entertainment technology.  Admittedly I do enjoy my music collection, especially while fishing!