Wednesday, September 5, 2018

It's Never Too Late...Sometimes It Is

Leon and His Granddaughter, That's my Leon!
There are often times when you wait to do something and after doing it people say, Well it's better late than never......or It's never too late.  Unfortunately that is not always the case.  On Friday night I was tying up some snells for catfishing on the river.  Using turned eye circle hooks, snelling them was a great way to assure the proper hook set for these types of hooks.  There are many ways to tie a snelled hook and the method I use was taught to me by my friend Leon Lambert.  Leon was a purchasing agent for one of my customers in Pueblo, Colorado and we often talked on the phone.  One thing lead to another and it was soon discovered that we enjoyed fishing alot.  So much that one time in the early 90's he had to travel to the corporate offices in La Crosse, Wisconsin for meetings so I arranged to meet him and we both went fishing in my boat below the dam in Alma, Wisconsin for walleyes.  It was the first part of April and luckily turned out to be great day to fish, few boats on the river, the water wasn't too high or fast, we had a great time.  We did catch a few fish, it was a little early in the season but it really turned out to be a blind date as Leon or I had never met, we just met and went fishing.  Well that date cemented what turned out to be a life long friendship.  That friendship included a few trips fishing in Colorado, once on the Arkansas River, west of Pueblo.  Action wasn't fast or furious but never the less it was an adventure.  One winter's day we had a conference at our facility in Fort Collins.  I brought our UL guy, Rick Barthel with me and we arrived on a Saturday, destined to fish the weekend before heading to the plant on Monday.  Our destination was DeWeese Reservoir, about 50 miles West of Pueblo, near Westcliffe, Colorado.  The plan was to ice fish for trout in the morning then head to Eleven Mile Reservoir and maybe catch some larger fish.  DeWeese is at 7700 feet of elevation and the ice was pretty thick.  Leon didn't have much for ice fishing except a hand auger and some older equipment.  In the meantime, being from Minnesota, Rick and I were well equipped as we brought our made for ice fishing poles, tackle, and we even brought a depth finder, my Vexilar FL8.  There were a few people on the ice however by the time we got set up, we were the stars of the show.  Everyone was fishing with short casting rods and spin cast reels while we were finesse fishing with our equipment, and quite successful I might add.  After catching a number of trout we packed up and headed to another of Leon's spots, Eleven Mile.  Unlike DeWesse, and even though it was at a higher elevation, there was no snow on the ice, it was bare, wind sweeped, and treacherous.  Of course our fishing destination was across from our landing and about halfway there Leon slipped and fell on his wrist.  In quite a bit of pain we turned around and brought him home.  That evening we had learned Leon had broke his wrist and had it in a cast.  The good news is that he learned quite a bit about finesse ice fishing and eventually bought the electronics to improve his game.  Leon retired about 11 years ago in 2007, we stayed in touch but as it goes, time flies fast enough.  Well tying those snells made me think of Leon so I decided that it's been too long, and dialed his number.  Being around 9:40 it might have been a little late as he did not answer the phone.  Well at least his voice mail worked so I left a pointed message and figured I'd call in the morning.  My phone rang at 7:30 and by the time I got to it, too late.   Well I'll call later, which I did and his wife Carol answered.  The first thing to come out of my mouth was...Where's that husband of yours?  I sensed from her tone that it wasn't going to be something I wanted to hear and I was right as she told me that Leon had passed away 10 days ago on August 20th of a heart attack.  At that point one is speechless.  I suppose it had been 2 years or so since I had spoken to Leon, it was now too late.  Leon was one of those guys who fit the saying....Friends are like stars, you might not always see them but you know they are always there.  Well Leon, you are always in my heart, God Bless you and hopefully I will head in the same direction that I know you are.  See you my friend.  If one is ambitious simply go to the left hand side and you can click on Leon's name and see the other posts about him!

21 inch Smallmouth Bass, a Trophy
So what would Leon expect me to do, sit around and moan or go fishing and enjoy life.  So with a heavy heart and a head spinning, we did what I am sure would have made Leon happy and went out on the River for a few hours on Saturday night with my neighbor Todd, the catfish king!  The plan was simple, 4 miles up river and cast for smallies till about 7:30 then head to below the island and fish for whatever is eating night crawlers.  Although Todd professed to understand how to cast a levelwind, admittedly it was painful to watch.  Our strategy was to cast crankbaits into the shore and reel them so they either came straight back to the boat or slightly downstream (Last weeks post dealt with that!).  About a half mile down from our stopping point where there was some rip rap along the shore with about 10 feet of calmer water before the current break was, a huge fish hit my lure and right away one knew it was nice.  It was in the same area that a large smallie took a swipe at my bait last week, this one was solidly hooked.  With some coaxing Todd finally got the net in place, head first, and he successfully netting this beautiful 21 inch smallmouth, my personal best.  We let her go after taking a few pictures, she was a beast for sure.  We did manage a few more fish even as Todd spent at least half his time undoing bird's nests in the reel.  He finally got the hang of it somewhat just as we approached 7:30 so we put everything away and headed downstream.  Anchoring just below Cloquet Island we did manage a few smaller catfish, another rock bass yet I don't really think that is correct and am doing some more research.  Todd caught another Redhorse before it got too late and we had to go.  The motor on the jon boat is still acting up somewhat as it seems to flood very easily.  The float is probably bad in the carburetor,  another project on the list.  Using the trolling motor to go back to the landing, that was working for a while but one last try on the Mercury and it started.

Beautiful ending to a evening on the River.
It was a long day for sure but an evening on the river is magical.  While anchored and looking upriver I took this picture of the sunset.  It was like Leon was smiling down on us and congratulating us on the good evening of fishing, like I know he would.  In the meantime there has been a lot of work done on the Ranger.  Having electrical problems from the last trip to Lac Seul, my goal is to have all of it fixed by the time we leave back to Chamberlain Narrows on September 17th.  It hasn't been that easy as Ranger's have these internal electronic circuit breakers that really work well but have their limitations.  The best thing was to run a separate power circuit from the battery to the front console then use that as a strong source for your electronics power needs, separate from the standard boat accessories.  Although not done, I have the 6 gauge cable ran, the ring terminals crimped, and awaiting my Amazon ordered power distribution terminal strips to make sure that the job is done professionally.  Hopefully it will all be done by the weekend as I need to also update my electronics before I go.  Lowrance's new upgrade allows one to now make your own maps as a previous update did using Sonar Charts Live.  The difference is one no longer needs to have the latest Navionic's Chip that has the current $99/year subscription attached to it.  The mapping option, down to .5 feet resolution is now a free option on Lowrance HDS Carbon's and Gen 3's.   The only thing one needs to do is download the software on a MicroSD card, insert it into the card slots on the device and turn it on.  The software will need a blank 32 gigabyte or less card to record the maps it creates. That's easy as you can now buy quality 32 gigabyte MicroSD for about $10 these days.  Amazing as when I started digital photography memory cards were $1 per megabyte, now it's less than $0.00032 per megabyte.