Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Back From Lac Seul, Part 2.

Nice 24 inch Canadian Walleye
Because our trips to Lac Seul usually run 3 days then upon return it's usually a weekend to get caught up, and there is usually a lot of things to post about, I tend to take advantage and stretch it into 2 weeks.  It is interesting, before going to Lac Seul I would have at least 4 trips to Mille Lacs by now yet I am still waiting for the opportunity to get there as the reports are the bite has been short of phenomenal, maybe next weekend as there is a family get together this weekend that will put a damper on my ambitions to get to Mille Lacs.  So I did catch some fish the previous weekend.  As stated last week, the numbers were not there yet I was still impressed by the numbers of larger fish over 22 inches, clearly over 50% of our walleye's caught, including the one pictured here!  Usually we stop at the Ojibwa Baits in Sioux lookout and I buy 3 or 4 dozen large minnows specifically for these big fish.  Not that the minnows in camp are sub-par, but it's nice to have a few larger minnows to attract the larger fish.  The group ended up fishing Wapesi again on the second day as Bruce decided to do a shore lunch for our 10 year old guest, Alex.  Shore lunch is always a group event, I clean the fish, a fire needs to be built, potatoes and beans are cooked first before the old cast iron frying pan is filled with oil and put directly on the fire. We found a nice sandy area where I could park my boat without worry of scratching the bottom on the rocks.  While cleaning the walleyes I noticed a leech had attached to a sore on my foot and was having its own "shore lunch"  Leeches, especially the blood sucking kind, are opportunists and with a sore, blood vessels are just a bit away as they somehow have an analgesic effect where one doesn't feel them bite then secondly they inject and anticoagulant so as to keep the blood flowing as they feed.  I didn't take a picture unfortunately, but it did remind me of my late brother Jon, who had a tissue transplant on his face due to the horrible disease he suffered with.  In the hospital the doctors
Bruce Cooking Shore Lunch
would put on special blood sucking leeches that were bred specifically for this function.  The nurse came in and using sugar water set a leech on his cheek to entice them to bite.  Once attached to his skin, they would inject the anticoagulant into his tissue and start sucking blood.  The would literally gorge themselves and become 6 or 8 times their original size.  What this did was promote the proper blood flow into his transplanted tissue as they did this a number of times during the day.  It worked and Jon was able to have some sense of a new cheek.  When I removed the leech from my foot the sore bled for a good 10 minutes before it stopped.  I guess we all have to eat!  Well, Bruce's shore lunch was delicious as always and both Alex and his dad had a great experience.  It took about an hour before we cleaned up our mess, put everything in the "Shore lunch" box, then made triple sure the fire was put out before heading back to fish.  It was kind of nice as everyone was quite full wen getting back to the cabin so no one had to make supper that night!

Two Handsome Guys!
One of my favorite things is to meet people, especially those who have something in common with myself or a situation.  My good friend Keith Holtan, Alaskan Guide, has cabins on the Kenai River near Soldotna, and every time we tried to rent from him in August, he was already booked with a man from Chattanooga, Tennessee, Gary Blinn.  This happened for a couple of trips then one year Gary took Keith to Lac Seul Outposts with him and his crew, as Keith had worked out the time to fish with him.  Well, Keith informed me that Gary would be in Camp the same days that I would be so it turned into a goal, to go and introduce myself to Gary.  Talking to Ken, the owner of Lac Seul Outpost, and asking him which cabin Gary was in, he said Cabin 6.  And oh by the way, Gary is a great guy, you'll like him.  Well those words echoed Keith's same thoughts so I knocked on the door and introduced myself.  It was a great first meeting as I started by giving him crap for renting Keith's place when we were there! Actually not a big deal as we shared some home made core hush puppies he had made, absolutely fabulous.  Not wanting to over play my self invite, we talked about things we had in common and I promised I'd return on Tuesday night with a bottle of good Red wine and a steak that I cook every trip.  Of course I kept that promise, he enjoyed the steak and wine, and it fulfilled a desire to meet this famous man that graces a number of people I know.  We had a great time and his guest were also pretty interesting, all in the medical fields in or near Chattanooga.  One actually was very good at playing the guitar and sung pretty well.  I challenged Gary to bring himself and some of his friends to experience ice fishing this winter at JR's on Red Lake.  We'll get some houses and stay on the ice, these southern boys will be in for an experience of a lifetime, at least for them!  It is an even year on the Kenai and Gary will be at Keith's again so I told him to add to the pressure, they can fly into MSP, I'll pick them up and away we go north, first to Brainerd to pick up Keith then on to JR's, I know they would have a blast!

As stated, I have to get to Mille Lacs soon before the bite slows down.  Next week is the 4th of July and for years I fished with my good friend Tom Emmons and Tom McAtee on this day.  It's a great time to remember him.  The 4th is on a Wednesday and the plan is to go to Eau Claire and have a catfish fry, sounds good to me!

Friday, June 22, 2018

Back From Lac Seul, Part 1

Bruce with a nice walleye
Our second trip to Lac Seul this year came about a week early. Water levels were about a foot higher than in May, so we cruised through the rags without an issue however fishing was considerably different than a month ago.  My good friend Paul Wenaas was on his way back from Lac Seul the morning we left and was fortunate to have him call us when he arrived at International Falls, MN and we were in Cloquet, MN.  The report..........slow, little wind and cloud cover made for difficult fishing and their best day was their last day when it clouded over and the wind picked up.  The other thing Paul talked about was the difficulty in trying to figure out the best dept for the fish.  He felt their best success was in the 8 - 15 foot of water, pretty shallow for this time of year.  I guess the late spring has messed things up somewhat.  On this trip we had our host Bruce along with his son Michael and their guests Dave and his 10 year old son Alex.  Dave does some work for Michael and Bruce so was invited up.  Then of course their was Pete and myself.  Our plan was to get up at a reasonable hour on Saturday morning, drive to Sioux Lookout and meet Bruce, who was planning on flying his Cessna 182 to the Sioux Lookout Airport and we would pick him up and he could ride into camp with us.  Well the weather proved interesting and although it would only take about 2 hours and 40 minutes to fly from Crystal Airport to Sioux Lookout, there were thunderstorms from the Twin Cities all the way to Lac Seul.  Luckily there was a window of opportunity between fronts and he successfully slipped between them.  In the meantime Pete and I were trying to judge the right timing as we spent at least 40 minutes in line to cross into Canada at International Falls.  Tasked with buying groceries we spent a half hour at the Safeway in Dryden before deciding to have something for lunch.  Although the skies looked fine above us, the horizons all around us looked dark and intimidating.  Arriving at Sioux Lookout we stopped at the bait store that our Camp is headquartered to get a few things, the owner Vicki asked if we were going to camp and if we could bring some minnows to camp, which we have done many times.  She needed about 45 minutes so we decided to head to the airport, about 5 miles away and wait for Bruce.  Parking the boat next to the fence where Bruce parked his plane the last time, Pete went in to check and see if anyone had an ETA for Bruce's arrival.  Sure enough the guy stated, "Just talked to him, he'll be here in less than 10 minutes!"  Absolutely amazing timing, drive 11 hours, stop for gas, food, delayed at the border, and come within 10 minutes of meeting him, Pretty good if you ask me!  Bruce landed and he tied down his plane while we transferred his stuff to the truck and in 20 minutes we were back at the Ojibwa Baits to pick up the minnows for camp as well as some for ourselves, as I tend to like to have some larger minnows for the big walleyes!

A Beaver Stopped by to See Our Fish Catching Techniques
At the landing Bruce finally got to spend some time in my boat.  Actually he fished with Pete and I the entire time while Michael had Dave and Alex in Bruce's boat.  I'm sure it was interesting for him, as it is when I fish with someone in their boat.  One get's used to being in control and when you are sitting on the passenger side, you can only offer an opinion and hopefully it's a good one!  Never the less on our first day of fishing, Sunday, the weather was overcast and enough wind to keep it interesting.  One of Bruce's favorite spots was Wapesi Bay, northwest of camp.  We did alright but as Paul stated, it was somewhat difficult to nail down exactly what depth the fish were at, especially when the water temperature was already in the lower 70's.We did get a number of nice fish including the one Bruce is holding in the top picture.  I would not say the fish were exceptionally fat but like a month ago, a good proportion of the walleyes we caught were over the 22 inch length.  After fishing our typical hot spots in Wapesi we headed for the area in which the Wapesi River flows into the lake.  The river cascades down a sizable rapids before entering the lake and it creates about a 100 yard stretch of current that was full of walleyes and a few northerns.  Because of the current it was quite easy to catch them on plastic as more of the fish are grabbing anything that looks like it could be eaten as it passes by in the current.  It is one of my favorite ways to catch fish, keep the bait moving and off the bottom and smash, one never knows what's at the end of your line.  I am still waiting for additional pictures to be sent to me!  Fishing the Wapesi River got our boat count up to 77 walleyes for the day, a far cry from the 158 we caught in one day a month ago, it was still fun and provided enough action to keep things interesting for sure.  The above picture was a very large beaver that swam across the river behind us.  As it sat near the shore, and between the 2 dead tree stumps in the water, I quickly took this picture, pretty interesting. 

We again saw a few bears on this trip, one by the road on the way up and one on the shore just a quarter mile north of camp, which isn't usually a good thing for the bear.  Unfortunately I'll finish that story next week.  The lawn needed cutting real bad and the garden needs to be worked on this week, the boat is a mess, never any rest for the wicked!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Not Much to Report.

Jared with 2 of their walleyes
With the late spring and fishing 2 weekends in May, (trust me, not complaining) the things that need to get done around the house are never ending.  One of the biggest thing has been the garden, and I am not quite sure how important is it other than it's something to fill up that big brown area behind the house.  Dad was a good gardener yet even he cut back somewhat as he got older, something that should probably be taken to heart!  Never the less I got the onions in a couple of weeks ago however just got everything in by Sunday.  What really exciting happened is my good friend Kevin Aiona's son Ben and his grandson Jarred entered the Spirit Lake Walleye Classic tournament this weekend at the Spirit Lake Casino on Devil's Lake, North Dakota.  Ben and Jared are pretty good fishermen and with Ben's new Ranger boat with a fancy new to him Lowrance HDS 12, it is good to see them put all that equipment to good use!  Kevin, Ben, and their families usually go out to Devil's Lake this time of year and fish.  Knowing that the tournament is during the same time they decided to enter.  Tournament fishing is not as easy as it sounds.  You are fishing for money, recognition, and your own self pride.  It is fun but there is a lot of pressure on a number of areas, did you use the right bait, techniques, did we go to the wrong area, where is everyone else catching fish? Mark Applen and I definitely understand as we have fished the MTT walleye tournament on Mille Lacs a couple of times with our first rookie year capturing 3rd place for $1200.  Well Ben and Jared didn't do too bad at all coming in at 5th place with a $2000 prize.  That's pretty exciting, and to hear that they were just 0.04 pounds behind 4th place, Ben exclaimed that in the livewell one of the fish coughed out a 8 inch perch, that perch was probably worth a $1000 and 4th place.  Also he said that they had a nice 27 inch sized fish come off at the boat, uffda!! Oh well, I am sure it was a blast for Jared, something he'll remember for the rest of his life.  For what it's worth, Mark Applen had his Golf Tournament this weekend and his neighbor at the lake once again donated a spot on the Minnesota Tournament Trail for Mille Lacs next year.  Of course we bought it and will be back on the walleye circuit soon!
Jared and a nice Devil's Lake Walleye

Jared is quite the fisherman for his age.  Just like his dad Ben, who is was just a few months old when he was in the boat with his dad, sitting on the floor in a Infant carrier....wait, that was my boat below the dam in Alma!!! Ben sent me this picture from Monday of a nice walleye he just caught.  It's really nice to see a young man like Jared acquiring the skills needed to help guide me when I will be too old and feeble!! On a died note we are getting ready to leave for Lac Seul this Saturday.  Upon the return of my last trip, there was a steel leader and mono-filament line wrapped around the prop shaft, under the prop.  Removing the prop and getting it untangled went smoothly however it would probably a good idea to check the lower unit grease level, even though there appeared to be no leaks.  One checks the level in the engine compartment as the lower unit is vented to a small tank mounted in the compartment and serves as an expansion reservoir for the lower unit.  Basically when running the grease gets hot then expands.  by having a hose come to the compartment, any expansion fills the plastic cylinder and when it cools it get's put back in, similar to today's radiators.  Well, checking it there was absolutely no grease apparent so I am immediately thinking, OH OH, did it all leak out via the seal?  The Evinrude Etec G2 lower unit does not have any traditional lower unit drain/fill screws, rather you simply remove a screen for the water intake and the fill hole is under it.   Interesting as it is not on the bottom of the gear case like most are, rather in the front, therefore you need to tilt it up to drain out the remaining grease.  Luckily there was at least 1.5 quarts of grease that came out, so that was a relief!  I have used Amsoil lower gear lube in the past with excellent results however this time it was replace with Evinrude's own HPF PRO Gear Lube, as the motor is still under warranty, it was worth the few extra dollars to keep it to factory specs.  I have an old pump up sprayer device made specifically for dispensing lower unit grease, just pour into the sprayer, twist the top pump assembly on and pump it up to pressurize the tank.  The hose end has a rubber adapter that fits and seals into the fill hole and you just squeeze the valve as you hold it tight.  I watched it finally hit the reservoir and fill up to the proper level.  It was easy and convenient and we will be looking for any changes when we get back from Lac Seul next week to see if the prop shaft seal was damaged.  there are no leaks now and usually if they will leak, they leak!!  This trip will be an experiment by putting the original 22 pitch prop on the motor to see if it improves my gas mileage.