Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Lake Fork Here we Come!

Lake Fork Largemouth Bass
Time sure seems to fly these days!  This Friday is when I head to Dallas to be picked up by my friends Matt Davis and Joe Stanfield.  We are headed for the Mustang Resort (no, not the Mustang Ranch!) for a day of hopefully trophy largemouth bass fishing.  Here is an excerpt from their website: Lake Fork is the number one trophy bass lake in the United States. The spectacular fishery has produced bass up to and including the Texas State Record of 18lbs., 3oz.  I checked what Minnesota's State record largemouth bass weighed in at.....8 lbs 6 oz, wow that's almost a 10# difference.  My goal would be beating the Minnesota State Record, we'll see!  Lake Fork is a reservoir just northeast of Dallas.  It is stocked with the Florida Strain of Largemouth Bass which are famous for growing to large proportions, especially in Texas and California.  We are in the prespawn period, just before the fish spawn and the big females are especially heavy from the eggs developing inside them.  The research says that the water is still too cool for spawn but the fish are feeding nonetheless.  We have a guide for Saturday and I am looking forward to learning a few things about fishing down south.  Our original plans were to go further south and fish the Gulf area for saltwater fish but the hurricanes of this past summer has put a damper on fishing, fishing areas, and places to stay.  I suspect in a few years things will get back to normal in those areas however I am really looking to experience fishing Lake Fork Reservoir, it will be a new experience for sure, something that I love to do!

Winning perch, 2.05 pounds 
Last weekend was the Annual Johnson's Portside Perch Extravaganza held at Hunter's Point Resort on the east side of Mille Lacs.  This is one of the biggest events on the lake in the winter, it is not a fundraiser but rather a for profit event by one of the owners of Johnson's Portside in Isle, MN, Steve Johnson.  The event consists of  3 parts, the perch fishing contest, the hat competition, and the general drawing.  I suspect that over 8,000 tickets are sold each year and the prizes for the drawing are pretty substantial like 2 Ice Castle wheel houses and 2-4 wheel drive UTV's, powered ice augers, and many nice prize packages.  The drawing is of course the main event with the Biggest perch being next with the hat contest being 3rd.  Every year for the last few years one has to wonder about the perch contest.  This year's winner weighed 2.05 pounds, an awfully big perch for Mille Lacs.  Not being smart enough to say anything other than in the 35 years I have been ice fishing Mille Lacs, I have never caught a perch over 1.50 pounds, ever.  An observation, we used to head out to the Sliver Flat, drill a couple of holes just off the 25 foot edge and catch 15 nice 12" - 14" perch all the time. Today it's a lot different and you'd be lucky to find a couple.  We know the adult population of perch is down but just maybe the ones that are left are huge, like this one!  Oh well, one can make their own conclusions, and maybe I am missing it but what the heck, not much of the prizes are for the biggest fish anyway so in the grand scheme of things, it may not make anything difference either way.  Because of the pending storm that predicted for Saturday night, I chose to simply drive up, see my friend Bill, buy a couple of tickets and meet my friends out on the ice for the traditional BBQ Ribs.  It wasn't hard to find them and ribs we had.  Mark, Russ, and Randy had their houses together so I decided to fish Mark's house until we headed to the drawing at 2:00.  After all of this, there were no numbers called that had any meaning to me so I headed back to Bills around 5:00, and of course, just when the heavy snow started to fall.  After making it to Bills, dropping off some equipment, and picking up some Maple Syrup for this weekend, I was on the road at 8:30, what a mess.  It had snowed at least 6 inches in a broad band stretching my entire journey, got home in time to shovel and get the truck put away, the rest could wait until the morning

So the rest of the week is for packing and getting ready to go.  We have caught up with the snow totals for the year and by the end of the week much of it will be gone with temperatures climbing to the 50's next Sunday.  That's fine with me as I have much to do in the pole shed to get it cleaned up.  The electronics need to be reinstalled back in the boat as the boat is at Bruce's enjoying the warm winter storage.  He is heading south on his self piloted airplane vacation so it will be sometime in the next 3 weeks and she'll be ready to go!  Getting back from Texas late next Wednesday here's hoping to have a good report.  It's looking like my next trip will be an ice fishing one with my wife's uncle Andrew and his crew somewhere near Rice Lake, Wisconsin.  

Friday, February 23, 2018

Finally, Back Out!!

Quite a Catch on 2# Test
My neighbor and friend Lory has a cabin on Lake Ida, just northwest of Alexandria, MN, about 2 hours from the house.  He was going up last weekend to check to see how it's doing and invited me with.  Agreeing only if we get out and try for some of those big bluegill that are reportedly in the lake, he acknowledged and by 7:00 Friday we were on the freeway heading northwest.  The traffic wasn't too bad and we were able to make it by 9:00, enough time to stop and turn the heat up in the cabin before we headed to Leaf Valley Tavern for some supper.  5 miles up the road, we settled on pork ribs, they were the typical ribs that many restaurants, fall off the bone with a mild covering of sauce.  They ain't no Famous Dave's but did the job of filling us up as they do a good job completing the courses!  I had bought 2 bottles of wine so we turned the TV on and watched Perry Mason before hitting the sack.  I slept pretty well so after getting up we went to town and got some breakfast before going out fishing.  Our destination was a place called the Coffee Pot.  Absolutely excellent, I had the corned beef hash with a couple of fried eggs on top.   I love these places, they just cater to the breakfast and lunch crowd then shut down for the rest of the day.  Highly recommend if you are ever in Alexandria!  Upon returning we pulled out Lory''s wheel house and set it up in 28 feet of water just at the mouth of the bay his cabin is on.  Using maps, it seemed like a good spot, time will tell.  After about an hour of nothing but 4 inch perch I decided to head into the bay where all the "other" people were.  It only made sense they were catching something.  We were in a 20 foot hole in the bay and I set up on the edge where it went from 20 to 15 feet.  Almost immediately the sunfish started hitting.  Unfortunately they were small as well.  It was quite windy out and difficult to fish the 2# test that is on the rod, all of a sudden something a lot bigger than what was biting hit the lure.  Although the bass looks bigger in the picture..........Sure, it was 5 pounds!.........about 16 inches and maybe 1.5 pounds, it was a nice change from the peck, peck of those smaller sunfish.  I ended up catching 4 bass that day, all in the 12-16 inch range, not large by any means, however it was action!  After about my 50th 5 inch sunfish and getting quite chilled from the wind, the next destination was back in Lory's wheel house.  He had not caught anything worth bragging about however he had the camera down and saw a bigger school of larger fish but was never able to connect.  As the sun set we packed up everything and headed back to shore, no fish to clean but a good time never the less.  My goal is to get back up this spring in some of those maller lakes and try for some crappies, like we did a few years ago on Bass Lake, those were some dandies!  On the way back we stopped for supper at Doolittles Woodfired Grill.  I still had a nice bottle of wine so we asked if they had a corkage fee (you bring the wine, they charge you a fee for opening and serving).  The receptionist didn't know however our waitress did, $15.  That was reasonable seeings how my wine had a value of about $150, I went in the truck and brought it in.  Again, we were pretty impressed with the quality of the food, I had the leftover Valentines special, braised lamb shank, and Lory had a steak, both went perfect with the wine!.

This weekend is the Johnson Portside Perch Extravaganza which occurs on the last weekend in
February on Mille Lacs, out of Hunter's Point Resort up about 30 minutes north of Isle, Minnesota.  Normally I have taken my wheel house up there and stay Friday night through Sunday morning.  This year it's a little different because I have just not been that organized to get myself in line with our normal program.  Besides next weekend I am heading to Texas to fish with my friends for some big bass and this has sort of gotten in the way.  This tournament is really the last full week of ice fishing walleyes in the winter as the season will close on February 25 unless it is border waters such as Lake of the Woods.  I was also invited to go to JR's at Upper Red Lake this week for his Fly In but needed Bruce's airplane and him to fly us.  Unfortunately Bruce just got his plane fixed and the Perch Extravaganza is the same weekend, choices, choices!  It would be fun as JR and I have a good time together when I'm there and he has Denny Showalter, of Showalter Fly-in Service in Ontario.  He is a great guy to sit down with and talk.  Maybe one year.  Next week is my trp to Texas and it's been raining quite a bit down there, enough so my friend Matt e-mailed me and said this is going to affect the fishing.  My response was, not the fishing, maybe the catching!  He'd be surprised what a guy that hasn't seen soft water for 3 months can do!  We'll have a great time regardless.

This is the time of year that we need to get organized for our annual Leech Lake Fishing Opener.  It will be the groups 45th Annual and every 5 years we like to order something special, usually a coat that has our name and the Team Walleye logo in it.  This year we are going to do the ever so popular Hockey Hooded Sweatshirt.  It will be nice and everyone is getting one, so Mark and I have been working on that as it is only 11 weeks away.  I have already received the invite for Ontario Fishing Opener, on the following week, May 19th.  This is always a great time and for sure keeps me busy from about the 11th of May till about the 22nd.  Oh well, more fishing...........dang!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

To Busy to Fish!?!?!?!

Cold outside!
Well, that and the cold weather has really put a damper on the February fishing, uffda!  Last week was spent in Anaheim California at the MD and M (Medical Device and Manufacturing) Show.  We exhibit at this show every year as it is the largest show in the country featuring Medical products, which we do make at work.  Sunday the 4th was the SuperBowl and every year my neighbor Tim has a spectacular party so we went to that.  I had to leave on Monday morning, the day after the big event, and was reminded to get to the airport 3 hours early.  Well it wasn't that bad but luckily I have a lifetime membership to the Sky Club so it's a nice place to relax, get something to eat and surf the internet.  The prices for flights out of Minneapolis was crazy so I decided instead of flying into LAX I went into Orange County otherwise known as John Wayne and/or Santa Ana airport.  Either way my flight took me through Seattle with a 2 hour layover  that turned into a 4 hour layover.  Ah the joys of flying.  Landing in Anaheim at 8:00 PM my friend Mike Schubert picked me up and we headed to my hotel.  From -5F when I left to 70 degrees in California, it was sweet to ride around with the car windows down.  When flying one of the things I like to do is get a handle on whats going during the flight.  Preferring window seats allows me to keep track of where we are and the changing landscape below us.  The  picture is one of the flight data while on our way to Seattle,  Notice we are flying at 36,000 feet and it is a cool -81 below zero.  At that temperature the plane was definitely leaving our mark on the sky in the form of contrails.  My tickets were in First Class and I had the pleasure of sitting next to a lawyer from New York, who had been at the Super Bowl then heading to California. He was a liability lawyer and it was interesting to hear about his business. 

Ivanpah Solar Power Facility
After the show was done on Thursday, Mike suggested I check out of the hotel early and stay at his house for the night.  It seemed like a good idea and was looking forward to stopping by his American Legion Post in Newport Beach.  It is the largest post in the United States boosting over 4500 members.  As I entered the Legion hall it suddenly dawned on my that my coat was left in my room.  Quickly calling the hotel they called back and said yes, we have it.  Well, in California it sometimes takes an hour to get anywhere so I just had them send it to me.  Worried because of the money that was in the pocket, well it was too late for that.  As a surprise it arrived at work on Monday with everything still intact.  After enjoying a nice prime rib at the Legion we headed to Mike's drank a bottle of wine and the next morning left for the airport.  My flight would take me to Salt Lake City then back to Minneapolis.  The desert intrigues me as we flew over what appeared to be a huge solar collector where mirrors are focused on a concentrated solar collector to convert heat to electric power.  It was kind of interesting as one could barely look at the 3 units in the desert just southwest of Las Vegas as they were extremely bright, like a welding arc.  Further investigation shows that it is called the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility and is the largest of its kind in the world.  Check the link out as it is quite interesting. Salt Lake is an interesting town as it is bordered on the east by mountains and on the west by Great Salt Lake.  Finally getting home was nice after a week away, although the weather in California was nice, it does seem to get boring after a while!  When boarding the plane out of Orange County Airport the flight attendant saw my American Legion hat and it's reference to Newport Beach, he exclaimed, Going the wrong way aren't you?  My response was that I missed the cold weather and needed to go ice fishing.  It is interesting to show my colleagues pictures from Red Lake, they think we are all crazy up here............maybe they're right!

My next trip is to the APEC conference in San Antonio, TX.  This year we've got a trip to fish the prespawn largemouth bass on Lake Fork Reservoir, east of Dallas.  It is famous for their big Largemouth Bass as they have stocked the Florida Strain of bass and the Texas state record of over 18 pounds came from Lake Fork.  Compared to Minnesota where the state record largemouth bass is only 8.5 pounds, it should be interesting.  We were thinking about going to the gulf to fish however my friends Joe and Matt claim they still have not recovered very well from last summer's hurricanes. Although its really fun to fish the saltwater, maybe I can get something larger than 8 pound and have a graphite reproduction made, that would be nice.  As well, it's simply a pleasure hanging with my friends from Texas and truth be told, if I never caught a fish I'd still be happy.........we'll catch fish though!!