Friday, April 27, 2018

Wacky Wormin' Bass in Texas

Matt's nice bass on an orange wacky worm
Well, the time sure flies and this week was no different.  Monday morning I boarded a plane for Dallas, the main purpose was to attend the TTA meetings in Fort Worth, however one can never resist the opportunity to spend a few hours fishing, and that's exactly what we did Monday evening and Tuesday morning.  Time was tight as there were scheduled meetings on Tuesday afternoon yet we were successful in catching our share of fish in the short time that was available.  My good friend Matt agreed to pick me up at the airport and was gracious enough to make a quick stop at the Bass Pro Shop, just outside of the airport in Dallas.  Last time we were there I picked up some nice clothing and was interested in getting a few more items along with some baits to try for our fishing adventure.  Fishing with plastic worms, wacky style seemed like something we should have in our bag of tricks so in the plastic worm aisle, there was what looked like a local guy with a few packages in his hand.  Walking up to him I commented "You look like you know what the fish are hitting on...I just got into town from Minnesota and I would appreciate any advice!"  His response was what I figured after seeing what was in his hand.  Senko's is the bait right now, use them Wacky Style, my reply.........yes but that's not what's in your hand!  OK, we both knew what Gary Yamamoto Senko's cost, about $1.00 each.  Nope was his reply, the Bass Pro Stik-O Worm is just as good and quite a bit cheaper as we walked over to where they were on the rack.  Acknowledging that there are others knockoff's to Senko's how good were these.  Being assured they would work just fine the next question.....which colors are hot?  Reaching on the rack, he pulled off what he said was the best, Junebug, a dark blue with silver flecks mixed in.  That would not have been my first choice but when in Texas do what the Texan's do!  The next was a medium Green with gold flecks called Green Pumpkin Magic, then it was suggested that we get a bright Orange color.  Picking up a pack of Eagle Claw Trokar weedless Wacky Worm hooks in the 2/0 size, as well an O ring tool, we were pretty well set.  One thing I wanted to do was try for some catfish so we picked up some dip bait, dip worms, and sinkers as well.  The one thing we completely forgot was a good long nosed pliers. More to come on that topic!

Typical size bass we caught
Our fishing pond was about a 5 - 7 acre conservation Pond on our friend Joe Stanfield's farm.  He had a small plastic boat called a Pond Prowler from Bass Pro Shops.  Paired with a 12Volt 45# thrust Minnkota trolling motor, it actually worked pretty good.  Lacking any electronics, we simply followed the shorelines where the weed beds ended.  Last time we fished Joe's pond in March, the water was quite cloudy however this time it was surprising how clear it was.  Because of the weeds we started throwing spinner baits towards shore and had a few hits and a couple of fish.  As we moved down the shoreline the water was getting deeper and the deeper weed line became obvious so I decided to switch tactics.  Having another rod rigged up for wacky wormin', the green pumpkin color seemed like a great place to start based on the water clarity.  The sink rate is somewhat slow, sort of like a gentle drift downwards and being hooked in the middle created an enticing pulse when tugged on.  One could watch the baits slowly sink to about 4 feet, eventually disappearing in the depths.  A few casts later and all of a sudden one feels a tap on the line and it's moving away from you.  A sharp hook set and the battles were on!  These Trokar Hooks are amazing, strong and very sharp with an unusual point/edge that is really sticky.  One did not have to set the hook with a massive hook set and the first few bass that were caught were hooked quite deep.  Letting them take it too long resulted in the fish dang near swallowing the worm, something that surprised us.  It was these times that we wished there was a good needle nose in the boat as it took some doing to unhook the fish.  I wouldn't say we were killing the fish but catching them on somewhat of a consistent basis.  Deciding to try the Junebug color was nothing short of amazing.  It was like the fish turned on as though someone had flipped a switch.  Maybe it was the time of day, maybe there were more fish in that corner of the pond, regardless I was hooking a bass a cast.  In the end we probably caught 60 bass this weekend.  Matt had great luck on Tuesday morning with the orange color worm as well, maybe a different day.  Joe has 4 ponds on the lake with all of them in a row to conserve water and prevent erosion.  We caught fish in all 4 however the large pond at the end of his property was the best.  I can't wait to try this method for smallmouth on the river this summer.

As my plane was making it's way to the gate after landing in Dallas, it was a good time to check the e-mails and see what was missed whilst in the air and the phone shut off.  One of the first e-mails was this one: Hi Dave,  This is Bruce Buratto’s son Matt. I was just standing waiting to get on my plane to Dallas and I thought I saw you but wasn’t sure since I’ve never met you in person haha. I checked your blog and saw you’re headed to Dallas too so was like that’s definitely you. I’d love to say hi when we get to Dallas so I figured I’d send you this quick message in hopes you’ll see it so I can catch you when we get off.  Interesting as Matt is one of the followers of the blog and like he said, I know who he is but I have never met him.....I didn't even have any idea what he looked like!  Either way I stood in the concourse at the gate and sure enough, he recognized me.  I suppose my Ranger hat and Ranger/Evinrude shirt was a dead give away yet it was a very nice experience meeting Matt, especially under the circumstances.  Matt is in his early 30's and I give him a lot of credit for being on the ball like that.  One just feels like he is going to be super successful, if no other reason, he is very aware of what's going on around him.  I know he reads this as he is one of my follower's so here's a big thank you for taking your time to say hi, it really meant a lot to me, it made my day!!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Fishing for Polyps

Well seeings how the fishing hasn't been in the front of my activities I though it would be a good time to discuss a very critical procedure that was endured on Wednesday of this week, my scheduled 5 year colonoscopy.  This is my 5th one since I noticed blood in my stools in 2000.  Admittedly this is an uncomfortable subject however I feel very strong about this as in 2000 they removed a polyp from my colon, which the doctors stated is a definite warning sign/risk factor for colon cancer.  No Thanks!  I know people who have survived colon cancer and those who have died, and to be honest, this is quite an easy way to screen yourself.  Yes they have less intrusive ways to screen for cancer however this is the only way to discover polyps and remove them before they become a problem.  The best prevention is to catch it early!  Actually the procedure isn't that bad, drink a gallon of what they call Golytely, trust me, it's certainly a play on words!  The best results start with a good prep and after drinking a gallon of this, I guarantee, there is nothing left to be had!!  It was a very interesting procedure this time as the doctor had some notoriety for preforming the procedure without the usual sedation.  Rather than look forward to another 6 hour recovery time I agreed to try it.  Admittedly it was different as the physician was from the Netherlands and we pretty much discussed fishing during the entire procedure.  He coined the phase of the title, fishing for polyps!  He talked  about fishing when he was young, how they would catch pike then eat them.  He didn't like the Y bones very much so we discussed  the way you can remove them in the filleting process!  His assistant was also a fisherman so it was a great way to pass the time while looking at the screen as the scope kept moving up the colon.  It is kind of funny when you really think about it, fishing in Canada as we work up 6 feet to the end.  It is also kind of fascinating, looking at the display and discussing the procedure and diagnosis of each section.  I had to laugh, the doc said that I had good storage...........I won't go into what that means, but you can guess.  In the end he gave me an excellent report and based on the current standards switched me from every 5 years to repeating this in 10 years, based on the great shape my colon was in and also past reports.  I definitely encourage all of my friends over 50 to get this done, it's relatively easy and quite painless and very important!  Some people find it uncomfortable however the doc complimented me on the ability to do this without drugs.  They had an IV in me just in case I started to get uncomfortable, an emergency dose would settle things down yet I made it just fine.  He told me that you just have to have the right attitude and that not all people can endure this procedure without some sedation.  I walked out of there and could even drive home by myself!

Bass Spawning schedule
Monday is my scheduled trip to the Dallas/ Fort Worth area to spend some time with my friends Matt Davis and Joe Stanfield as our plans are to fish his tank for Bass and hopefully try for some catfish.  Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are the spring TTA meetings in Fort Worth, then I fly home on Thursday afternoon.  The plan is to experiment with a number of typical bass baits, this time of the year should be well past the post spawn stage and into the pre summer period and feeding heavily.  I am betting on some action baits like spinner baits or rattle baits.  The Solunar tables for next Monday put the peak times at just when we arrive!  In addition my friends are anxious to try Steaks a la Kienitz, a recipe from my friend Troy Kienitz that is out of this world.  Admittedly it fun to prepare this in front of people who have never had the experience to have a great steak after it been marinated in Tabasco sauce, Frank's hot Buffalo Wing sauce, and Hot Picante sauce.  It's pretty amazing as I have discussed this before.  Along with a nice bottle of red wine, it doesn't get any better.  The other thing that we are going to try and do is catch some catfish that is supposedly in the tank.   Man that's hard to's a pond stupid!!!  Anyway with 3 weeks to opener there's a lot of ice to be melted but with 70 degree weather in the forecast, it might not take too long!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Repeat of 2013!?!?!?!

New Boat for 2018 Minnesota Fishing Opener
Well last week it was complaining about the weather however this week it's getting ridiculous!  With 12 inches of snow predicted for the weekend and next weeks forecast in the mid 40's, almost 15 degrees below normal, everyone is starting to discount fishing opener because it would appear there is little time and little warmth to effectively cause the ice to go out on Leech Lake by May 12, the date for Minnesota Opener.  Even more interesting is whether or not the ice will be off of Lac Seul in time for the Ontario Fishing Opener scheduled for May 19th, the very next weekend.  Well, a lot can happen in 4 weeks as one of the best Minnesota Walleye Fishing Opener was when the ice went off the Saturday of opener, there was quite a bit of floating ice, especially off of Pine Pine, down from Brindley's.  Actually one had to stay on the main part of the lake because of the ice.  Never the less, the walleye fishing was fabulous.  It really doesn't matter if there is some ice on the lake however in 2013 the harbor at Brindley's was froze completely shut, one could not even launch a boat.  Hopefully it will turn around but to be quite honest, it's looking more desperate with every day and weather forecast!

Jerry's 20 inch Sauger
So some people are getting out on open water!  I have had the pleasure of meeting a gentleman, Jerry via  Walleye Central  where there are a number of forums that walleye fishing topics are discussed.  Most are pretty good but like a lot of things, often you have to wade through the BS!  Never the less my discussions regarding Lac Seul lead to Jerry requesting my help with an issue regarding navigation on Lac Seul.  After a number of tries, I finally managed to successfully fill his needs.  At the same time he had sent me a beautiful collection of his own hand made jigs and admittedly they are very good.  Being a fan of the B Fish N series H2O Precision Jigs, they are great for plastics as they have a wire keeper that really does a fabulous job.  Admittedly it brought me back to a time when Kevin and I made our own jigs for fishing walleyes in the backwaters of the Mississippi between Wabasha, MN and Alma, WI.  The jigs received are perfect plus the colors are excellent, he told me that he does his own epoxy powder coat on them.  Pretty impressive as we simply painted our jig heads by hand.  After he confirmed that my strategy worked he sent a picture of this beautiful 20 inch sauger that was caught on the Illinois River a few days ago.  A sauger is almost identical to the walleye however it's coloring is somewhat different and freshly caught, I think they are a stunning fish.  They tend to inhabit rivers and will tend to be in the deeper water than walleyes.  One tends to find them a little more south than walleyes, yet we have caught them on Lac Seul in Canada.  A 20 inch sauger is a really nice fish as they tend to be smaller than walleyes.  Either way it's a very nice fish and it's great to see that someone is at least enjoying the soft water.

Ben's nice Mississippi Perch
My friend Ben Aiona was out on the Mississippi River with his new Ranger on Tuesday learning to use his Lowrance HDS 12, Gen 3.  Calling me on his cell phone, it was fortunate that I had a Lowrance HDS9, Gen 3 in my office and could easily power it on and look at the menu's with him.  There were two things that he needed help with, the temperature sensor was not displaying, and his structure scan was not working right.  Because of my experience with  Ranger boats and Lowrance, the first thing is to look at the NMEA 2000 network devices listed as the temperature sensor on Ranger's is connected through the network.  Walking through the screens we found the device so then I told him to configure the network and VOILA, the temperature display came up on the screen.  The next was the structure scan and my hunch was it was still set to Structure Scan 3D.  We reset the machine and VOILA, I look like a genius and Ben was now viewing a what he was looking for.  It's kind of nice to be able to help someone yet it can be difficult as one may only need to change the settings once or twice in the life of one dealing with these machines.  It becomes more about thinking like the Lowrance software engineers would think and getting use to how the menu's are configured and the logic of it all.  Before we hung up the phone "Send me some nice fish pictures" was the last thing said.  Well, here you go, a nice picture of Ben and what looks like a 1 1/2 pound perch.   In the last few weeks I've been reading about the resurgence of the perch in the Mississippi River south of Lake Pepin.  A number of theories abound such as the Zebra Mussels have increased the water quality, that may be true but it sure hasn't done much for the perch on Mille Lacs, that's a different story!  As stated, it's nice to see someone is catching fish!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Relentless Winter!

Snow depth at the pole barn!
Well the winter of 2017-2018 is really testing one's patience these days.  With a good 8 inches of snow on the ground and for the most part, it's still snowing.  We received about 9 inches the last few days and the temperatures have been almost 20 degrees colder than normal.  With the Minnesota Fishing opener about a 5 weeks away and with most lakes up north reporting up to 36 inches of ice, it's starting to look like a repeat of 2013 when we could not get out on Leech Lake as it was totally iced up.  Although we did stay at the resort, we did so to keep the tradition going as we all headed home on Sunday.  It would appear as though the Canadian Fishing Opener might be in jeopardy as well.  A lot can happen in 5 weeks however the cold looks like it will hang on till about Tax Day, April 15th before it starts to act more like normal.  It doesn't take long as the days are longer and the sun is more intense.  My experience with late ice on fishing opener has not been that bad, actually on of the best years we experienced on Leech was when the ice officially went out on the Saturday of opening fishing, I remember scooping up ice for the cooler from the edge of the ice and open water on the lake.  We did very well and caught a lot of those big female walleyes that were in the shallows and still in prespawn.  I guess we never know what Mother Nature will throw at us but I can assure you that it is getting quite old blowing heavy wet snow this time of the year!!  Oh well, there's little we can do and you can be assured that bitching about it hasn't really solved anything.  The good news is we got our Team Walleye hats and because it's our 45th Annual this year we did embroidered hooded hockey style sweatshirts, both look really good and if nothing else, we'd be styling this year!

1/4 oz Gapen Crawfish Ugly Bug
Last week was my experience meeting Dan Gapen at the Sportsman Show at the Minneapolis Convention Center.  It was a great experience which lead to the ordering of some of his signature baits like the pictured Ugly Bug, as well as a number of his old DVD, Classic series on fishing walleyes and smallmouth on rivers.  Well the order came in and it's pretty exciting.  After watching the DVD's it was quite interesting.  The main purpose of getting the DVD's is to better understand how to fish the Mississippi River that runs behind the house.  Although we do catch the occasional walleye, I am interested in learning more about reading the river and walleye locations within the system.  The walleye DVD was exclusively Canadian Shield area rivers, usually fast flowing, full of boulders, and fish.  Although interesting, it did not fulfill the original intent of purchasing them.  The second DVD was filmed on the Mississippi River about 20 miles north of me and was exactly what I was looking for!  Filmed with Dan in his small jon boat, similar to the one I own, the descriptions of areas to fish and the film demonstrated the exact areas that one encounters when on the river.  I am already excited to try my new found knowledge, if it ever warms up!!  Being interested in possibly more DVD's that feature the Mississippi, a quick phone call and a followup e-mail brought the appropriate response.   Ordering three more DVD's, they might simply be repeats of what I already have but they are pretty easy to watch and hopefully they will arrive soon.  The Ugly Bug jig has been around for a long time and it was never a standard in the boat however I did pick up a good number of them.  In the DVD's, Dan shows exactly the how and why's to this bait and it seems logical.  Hopefully it may help the catch rate at both the Minnesota Opener as well as the Canadian Opener. 

We spent Easter with my wife's relative's in Eau Claire, the same guys I fished with on Palm Sunday.  We got to remiss about what we should have done as fishing wasn't very good.  Oh well, hindsight is 20/20.  Hopefully the boat will start to take shape as the step on the winch tree needs to be re-welded. the depth finders need to be installed and the rest of my gear needs to be put away.  5 weeks will come in a hurry!