Thursday, July 26, 2018

Busy Weekend!

Andy with the first bass
The first item on the agenda for last week was to take my wife's Uncle Andy and Cousin Jason fishing on Saturday morning.  It would have been nice to run up to Mille Lacs and try the deep basin bite however there was not enough time as Andy needed to get back to Eau Claire later in the afternoon so we decided to fish Lake Minnetonka, about a 15 minute ride from Jason's house.  Lake Minnetonka in the 10th largest lake in Minnesota and is well known for it largemouth bass, pike, and panfish.  We decided to try for bass this trip and after landing in Maxwell Bay, we headed to the upper end of North Arm.  It's been over 10 years since I have fished Minnetonka and with a recent cold front passing through the wind was blowing pretty good out of the northwest, the conditions were difficult.  Our strategy was to fish the docks where the water depth at the end of them was fairly deep, in the 5 - 7 foot range.  While Andy used his confidence bait, a scum frog, Jason tried a spoon with a plastic thing threaded on the hook, I was bound and determined to catch a bass using the wacky worm style that was so effective in Texas back in April.  We started fishing the docks when Andy landed his bait on one of the docks.  Because his was weedless, a slight tug and it dropped right off the dock and into the water.  Immediately a bass hit the lure and the fight was on.  Andy was using a spinning rig so on light tackle, he had a good battle.  Netting the fish we unhooked it and took this picture, the first fish of the day.  It happened pretty quick and it hopefully was an omen of things to come.  My rig was a blueish with glitter sinking type plastic worm that has an O ring slid in the center of it and a weedless hook hooked between the worm and the o ring.  I am not sure why this has a lot of appeal but it sure worked good on Bass at Joe Stanfield's pond (OK Tanks).  Casting as close to the edge of the docks as possible, the worm naturally sinks and this time
3 guys out for a cruise
something big hit it.  I reared back and set the hook, only to feel a nice tug on the line then it went limp.  After reeling it in, it was soon discovered that at the end of my line was simply the bare hook with the O ring attached.  Apparently what ever hit it was large enough to pull that worm clear through the O ring leaving me with nothing left but hardware.  It was surprising as I figured anything hitting that hard would automatically be hooked, I guess I may need to reevaluate the time between the strike and when I should set the hook.  That was about it for the day, Jason caught a little bass, not even big enough to bother taking a picture.  We tried many different areas with the same results, not very good.  Lake Minnetonka consists of many lakes tied together by channels, the places to fish and boat are endless.  All the channels are no wake areas, which makes sense as they are only about 25 feet wide.  We were entering the channel in front of a popular hangout, Lord Fletchers, idling through when we came upon this boat anchored at the mouth and taking pictures of the boats that came by, including ours.  The sign said, Tonka Paparazzi, go to to see your pictures.  Well, I did just that to see what it was all about and there it was under July 21, a nice picture of us 3 heading back.  I figured it had to cost something but all they asked is you visit their sponsors.  Anyway I downloaded the picture and now we are in internet immortality!

Monday was my EAA Oshkosh Air Show adventure and adventure it was!  The plan was to leave Crystal Airport at 7:00 AM with Bruce Wiley's plane, a Cessna 182 RG, his friend Jim Shull, a very competent pilot himself, and me sitting in the back seat taking it all in!  Both of these guys are IFR rated (Instrument Flight Rules) and had filed a flight path to Oshkosh, about and hour and twenty minutes away.  Taking off we headed north a bit before we turned to the east with a little southerly angle, we passed just south of Eau Claire, west of Niellsville, South of Wisconsin Rapids and over my cousin Don's place before we cancelled our IFR routing and went into the required VFR ( Visual Flight Rules), dropping down to 1800 feet altitude, and slowing to 90 mph. Some where around Ripon Wisconsin the only way I can describe it was when the pandemonium began.  Planes coming in from all directions, above you, from the left, from the right, coming up behind you.  All of the air traffic is controlled by ground crews 6 - 10 miles from the Oshkosh airport.  One is not allowed to talk back to the air controllers, they just simply acknowledge your position, ask to rock your wings so they know you understand their instructions then head into the airport.  The key is getting in line, and with 30 or so planes in your immediate area it's not that simple.  We ended up doing circle patterns around Green Lake and Rush Lake before we could find a slot to slip into the line heading to the airport.  There were guys that cut in front of you, came in from behind and at the last minute pulled up.  Some of those twin engine planes have a hard time keeping their speed around 90 mph and you were told to keep one mile of separation between planes.  Jim had a flight tracker that would display all the plane in the air around you and and I can say is Uffda!  Finally finding a slot we got our instructions...182 rock your wings!, thank you proceed in.  We landed then spent another 45 minutes looking for a parking spot.  After about 30 minutes of taxiing, a guy told us all General Aviation Parking is filled.
Standing next to a C47
  Asking about Parking in the camping area, yes, that is $120/night.  After spending the last 3 hours in the plane we had little option but to go that route.  I think the guy parking us felt our pain and didn't push the fee.  Nobody ever collected and by 6:30 we were headed for the runway, ready to fly home.  Although the only thing I pilot is my boat, it was a lot of fun walking around, looking at the planes and talking to the vendors, sort of like going to the State Fair.  There were 2 goals I wanted to acomplish, first is to have answered my question, why do turbo props have their propellers facing forward at stop.  The second was to actually see a C47, the plane my dad flew in Panama.  Not dissappointed, those 2 goals were met, the prop question had to do with the fact that if a turboprop engine fails, one wants the props to present no load to the engine, especially important in a dual engine plane.  Also when starting the turbo engine, having the propeller fully "Feathered" reduces the load on the starter as it takes more juice to start than a standard piston engine.  The second is represented by the picture above, I got to see a C47 up close and envision what my dad probably went through as he flew around in South America.  Obvious we did get home safely, a little tired, and my feet are still somewhat sore!  I am not sure what is on tap for this weekend but it would be a good time to get my jon boat out and try fishing the river for some catfish and smallmouth bass before heading back to Lac Seul next Friday.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Back To Mille Lacs

Well it was back up to Mille lacs Lake again last weekend, however the purpose was not to fish but to help my friend Bill move some stuff out of his basement and into his offsite garage.  Not that fishing wasn't thought of however the time seems to get to compressed these days and besides, the Mille Lacs area had around 7 inches of rain in the last week so the water levels really jumped as you can see by the graph.  Big changes like that seem to change the bite somewhat and besides, the wind was blowing out of the northwest pretty hard and I really didn't feel like getting tossed around all day anyway, so I chose lifting heavy objects!  Actually the deep water basin bite has started, one of the fishing methods that better suits my boat setup (Wheel Boat with a kicker motor) straight line trolling with either planar boards or lead core.  During the 2018 fishing opener, we utilized my kicker, the I Troll set up and the remote control steering on the kicker motor and got pretty proficient at controlling the boat.  As they say, practice makes perfect, and I am looking forward to using this setup maybe later next week.  One of the more effective ways of trolling is to use a line counter reel on a fairly long trolling rod setup, attach either a deep running Reef Runner or a Deep Diving Rapala Tail Dancer, both will dive to 30 feet on standard monofilament with 150 feet of line let out.  Connect an inline planar board and it will take that line out 50 feet to the side of the boat.  Because there is a flag hooked to the line, if a walleye hits the lure the flag will be down and there is nothing left to do but reel in the fish.  With lead core line, I use Suffix 832 which sinks at about 8 feet per color (30 feet per color) at 2 mph.  Usually a standard shallow water crankbait like a #5 Shad Rap, a Smithwick Rattlin' Rouge, or other baits that their dive curve is in the 3 - 7 feet range.  Simple let out 3.5 colors, which will take the end of the lead-core to about 28 feet.  I like a 20 - 30 foot leader on the lead-core so the baits run 2 - 4 feet down from there, perfect in that 32 - 35 feet of water depth, as walleyes will always come up to hit something that looks good to eat.  My friend Chuck Teasley is supposed to be up next week and maybe we'll have to try a day of trolling.  Here is a great YouTube episode of James Holst trolling walleyes on Mille Lacs Lake in the summer.  I've never fished the area they were at so it will be worth a try.

Saturday I have agreed to take my wife's Uncle Andy and cousin Jason fishing. I was really thinking
Air Force C47
hard about heading to Mille Lacs however they only wanted to go out for a few hours so I decided to go to Lake Minnetonka and try some panfish and bass fishing.  I haven't bee on that lake in years so it will be interesting for sure.  If nothing else and we don't catch any fish at least Andy will enjoy looking at all the mansions on the lake, it's pretty impressive.  My strategy will be to try the wacky worm rigs that we used in Texas earlier this year.  It is definitely one of the more popular methods of fishing bass and it would be nice if we were successful.  If nothing else I am sure we can find some panfish somewhere.  Monday I fly to Oshkosh for the EAA airshow, one of the largest in the world.  Bruce Wiley asked me if I'd be interested in flying out in the morning and coming back the same day in his Cessna 182RG.  He claims it's only and hour and 15 minute flight and is quite an experience.  One of the things I am looking forward to is this years display of C47, the Military version of the old DC3 used as a passenger plane in the 50's and 60's.  Dad was stationed at Howard Airforce Base in Panama and flew C47's all around South America in the late 40's.  He told me a few stories as he was a navigator.  One thing he did teach me when I was young was the Morse Code.  Sort of geeky these days but I still remember most of it.  Now that he is passed away I wish I could have had more conversations with him about his time in the Air Force, so I am looking forward to actually seeing the plane he flew in. 

Other interesting things, our last trip to Lac Seul found myself somehow flipping the built in fish measuring ruler that stores neatly in my boat into the Wapesi River.  Although only in 4 feet of water and we could see it sitting on the bottom, there was too much current to deal with it, even my friend Pete went overboard in an attempt to retrieve it, it was pretty much impossible to get.   It was tough leaving it on the bottom as one could see it very plainly but left it we did.  I ordered a new one for my boat as it was pretty handy, $53.  I guess I need to be more careful where I put it the next time I take it out.  We are still set to head up to the Fisherman's Cove on the Northwest side of Lac Seul.  We have basically figured out our September trip leaving the 17th.  Admittedly this summer is flying by, I guess the older one get's the faster they go!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Time For Mille Lacs

Marcus with a 26.5 inch walleye
With the success of my friend Ben Aiona on Mille Lacs last week, it was time to head on up and try our luck.  My friend Greg "Bone collector" Kimblom and his 17 year old son Marcus were guests on the boat last Sunday.  Meeting at Cabela's was easy, it's on the way for me and very convenient for them as they drove up from Elk Mound, Wisconsin.  Marcus fishes in his high school fishing club and had never been to Mille Lacs, so the pressure was on!  The largest walleye he had ever caught was 17 inches, a number that I assured him we could beat.  A quick drive through for coffee at McDonalds before we headed north.  On the way we stopped for gas then onto Lundeen's for bait, licenses, and time for me to fix Bill's line counter, which took alot more thinking than one should have to do on a Sunday morning.........oh well, it's fixed.  Also I picked up my 4 bladed stainless steel prop that Ben dropped off last week.  Bill has a guy that makes the rounds picking up props, repairing them, and dropping them back off at his shop.  He does an excellent job and it looks like new again.  Even though it wasn't that bad, I am not interested in saving $200 and later watching my lower unit go bad.  Picking up crawlers and leeches, we headed to the landing, loaded up everything and motored to a spot on Sherman's Flat called the cut.  We had about a 15 MPH wind right out of the southwest and to be honest, I am not a big fan of my new wheel boat on Mille Lacs as having tiller boats for the last 35 years, admittedly I had a process.  That process has really changed and part of the problem is that I haven't fish Mille Lacs very much since being spoiled by Lac Seul, which the fishing suits my boat better.  I am getting better and  I suppose it wouldn't hurt to practice more often!  Oh well.  With the southwest wind it set up the perfect drift up the edge of the flat.  Using the trolling motor, we would edge the boat just off the flat then the wind would blow us back on the top of the flat at a gradual angle.  It wasn't back trolling but close!  We managed to get 2 walleyes off the cut before heading out to 7 Mile Flat which was suppose to be the hot spot.  We did manage another fish their however it wasn't on fire like all the reports.  Next stop was 9 mile flat where the same strategy as on the cut was implemented,  let the wind push you up the east edge as one used the trolling motor to adjust the depth and drift.  Interesting, we approached the south end of  9 mile, there was a larger Skeeter boat putting up his Bimini Top, I suppose we got within 25 feet of him.  His first words were..he didn't know this was the hot spot!  I simply asked him what direction was he heading, up the east side or West side.  With a confirmation that it was the west side, I assured him our paths will never cross!  Never the less that was slow as well.

Hey Greg, Some say I look goofy!
Next stop was 5 mile gravel, maybe they are on the gravel........ ended up at 3 Mile Reef first so we casted for smallies with zero luck before we headed more south.   5 mile gravel had fish on it but nothing was very cooperative.  With 2 more places in mind so we headed directly to the Southwest corner of the lake where the water was significantly calmer then gave the boat controls to Marcus.  Without hesitation he took the wheel and we headed up the shoreline to what I call Eddy's Reef. Admittedly it was fun to let a 17 year old drive the Ranger with a 250 hp motor, something he has never experienced.  He did a fabulous job of handling the boat and getting us to our next destination both in a timely fashion as well, we survived the trip!  Setting the Motorguide I5 as an anchor, we rigged up 3 slip bobber rigs and before long Marcus was holding his largest walleye ever, a 26.5 incher as shown in the first picture.  the fish bite soon after we got settled in yet this was our only fish, uffda.  Next taking a clue from Ben Aiona's report of last week, we finished the day bobber fishing off Indian Point.  I know we were a little early so I went a little deeper yet by 6:30 we were done as these boys had to go back to Elk Mound later in the evening.  It wasn't the best trip for catching however we did have a good time and Marcus got to see how we did it on the big lake.  The fish we got were pretty nice and after stopping to see Bill, we had dinner at Chico's just south of Onamia, a nice place to unwind after a day for hard fishing.  It was hot and windy, how is that for an excuse???  It was still nice on the lake but amazingly hot on shore.  We did run across 2 large dead floating walleyes, and a real nice tullibee, the water temperature was pretty warm. 

I use only Turn Turn baitholder hooks on my crawler rigs as the walleyes tend to hook themselves rather than having to let them take the bait and often swallow it.  Greg (pictured above in the goofy hat) is an interesting guy.  He works for a company that harvests bone, veins, and various other tissues from those who have Donor designations.  Often time people don't realize how important his work is and how one in death can make a huge difference to someone who needs these "parts".  I am always amazed at his courage and dedication to his job and what he does for all of us.  I am working on getting the Jon boat out to start fishing the river soon.  My future events include a day at the EAA in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, my good friend Bruce and another pilot friend have invited me to ride along for a day as we fly there in the morning and back in the evening.  I've already got my ticket and am looking forward to it as they have a squadron of C47 aircraft there, the same airplaine my dad flew in 1948 while he was stationed in Panama as he joined the newly formed United States Air Force.  August 3rd I head back up to the Northwest side of Lac Seul and fish with my cousin Paul, Brother Steve, Mike Worms, and the Joyce clan.  This is my longest trip of the year and I am looking forward to it again!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

4th of July Rememberance

My Good Friend, The Late Tom Emmons
My apologies however this 4th of July has got me missing my good friend Tom Emmons as this was our traditional fishing day, we usually went out every 4th of July to Mille Lacs for the day and sometimes we'd stay till dark to watch the Garrison Fireworks from the boat.  I know that this is a repeat post but sometime keeping memories alive is more important!  Tom was the perfect friend, a big mass of a person that would give you his shirt off his back if he could.  He loved going to Mille Lacs with our friend Tom McAtee and myself, the 4th of July was always good for fishing the flats with crawlers and spinner rigs.  We always good some nice fish and as stated, it became a tradition anyway so the date was automatically put in our calendars.  Tom was a Viet Nam era veteran and although did not serve in Viet  Nam, he was a dog handler/guard in the Army and was in charge of guarding the USA's nerve gas stores in Okinawa.  Military life was not too bad for Tom however it did change him for the rest of his life, unfortunately.  In the end Tom was dependent and despondent, and eventually ended his time on Earth way to early.  So I sat down on Tuesday wishing something that can never be again, Tom was going to show up tomorrow and we'd head out for our annual July 4th trip to Mille Lacs.  Instead the boat sat in the pole shed, waiting to hooked up and pulled somewhere.  I guess when you get something in your head what simply cannot be, it takes some of the wind out of your sails.  One can simply be lucky to have memories as none of us can change the past.  Anyway, to you Mr. Emmons, I miss you tremendously. 

So someone did some fishing this weekend as I still am getting caught up with my chores around the
Ben and His Son Jared.
house from being gone in Canada last month.  My good friend Kevin Aiona's son, Ben called me about Mille Lacs Lake.  The fish have really been biting and he wanted to go on up to try his luck.  Last year Ben bought a Ranger 618T with a 90 hp Merc tiller and after being in aluminum all his life, I know he's enjoying the advantages that fiberglass has on bigger water.  The fish Devils Lake alot however that is quite a ways for them, so Ben, his wife Heather, and their son Jared ended up at Eddy's resort.  They stopped by my work on the way up as I gave him my detailed map chip for his Lowrance, as well my prop was a little bit dinged up from the trip to Wapesi last month, so I had him drop it off at Lundeen's to get fixed, he has a guy that picks them up and does a nice job for quite a bit less than the prop shops in the cities charge.  I gave all of my hot spots to Ben however his complaint was they were only getting smaller fish, the 15 - 20 inch walleyes (The enormous 2013 year class).  Despite my advice, they were not getting any larger fish.  Finally on Monday and after it rained, Ben Figured it out.  He is a dang good fisherman and can generally figure out where the fish are.  Not being a regular, I applaud him for finally finding some better fish up to 28 inches. 

My plans are to head to the lake on Sunday and fish with Greg and his son Marcus.  It will be my first trip to Mille Lacs this year, hardly believable yet with 3 days of fishing on Leech then another 6 at Lac Seul this year, I have gotten my normal time of fishing in however they tend to be concentrated more.  Admittedly my boat control techniques with the wheel boat still need some refining but as they say, practice makes perfect!