Friday, April 26, 2019

Two Weeks and Counting

Being at a conference in Nashville since Monday, I finally got to post something.  Lot's of things are happening fast, the ice is slowly melting and by the looks of the Modis current satellite picture Mille Lacs is about 70% ice free while it looks like Leech is still struggling but it should be off by opener.  I have to admit that it seems as though the later the ice our, the better the fishing on Leech.  We will have to see how that goes but for the most part the walleyes will be quite shallow, which is nice.  Had the chance to get the Ranger 620FS out of storage last Friday.  Although she was in good shape, after getting her settled in the pole shed it was time to take a first look inside, and trust me, it wasn't pretty.  Apparently some mice had decided to shred up the paper towelling I had in the rear starboard storage area as well as the front port storage.  First opening the rear storage, what a mess as a whole roll of toweling was made into a mouse condo with a partial roll serving as it's toilet.  Other than the mess, it appears to be just cosmetic and got most of it cleaned.  Opening the left front compartment, the first thing I see is a mouse staring at me.  In a frantic attempt to make him pay for the mess that was in that compartment, it slipped away.  Frantically throwing stuff out to get an attempt at his life, no such luck as it was obvious it went down the drain hole in the corner.  Not even cleaning, a mouse trap baited with peanut butter was set and the compartment door closed, a look the next morning was successful as the score was now evened!  After 7 days of continual trapping opportunities it has appeared as though any resident mouse has been eliminated!  Now it's a matter of disinfecting everything, vacuuming, organizing my tackle and putting everything in it's place.  The Lowrance's have been installed and the latest and greatest software updates are loaded into each unit.  The electronics looks good but there is still a lot of cleaning and getting everything in order.

Okuma LOw Profile Line Counter Reel
Previous posts dealt with 2019 as a year to try out new strategies.  On our Leech Lake Fishing Opener one of my new strategies is to troll crankbaits along the shallow and rocky shorelines.  The usual procedure is to put on a #5 shad rap then put the lure in the water and put out about 8 passes of line out, hopefully about 100 feet or so.  What appeared this week in the mail box was a new Scheels sales flyer featuring a cool looking low profile line counter casting reel for trolling.   Usually line counter reels tend to be larger and more bulky however this reel looked like it would work pretty good.  There was a nice price on it in the flyer however it meant that a trip to St. Cloud, the closest Scheels store, would be needed.  Deciding to look online instead, and already sites reacting to the sale, I found it for $2.00 less and free delivery to the house.  It isn't that I would not enjoy a trip to Scheels, but the practical guy in me thinks, that would have cost at least $18 in gas so what the heck.  It will be delivered on Monday and I'll just take my favorite walleye trolling rig, throw on some 10 or 12 pound test monofilament line just in time for opener.  This way if one can establish a pattern, it will be a lot easier than guessing how much line one has behind the boat.  This should be a great rig for fall trolling on Mille Lacs or even getting those deeper diving lures down further than one can by casting.  Also I have the trolling app on my phone, you can easily look up a lure, with 10 pound test and 2 mph, it will tell you the depth the lure is running based on how much line one lets out.  It's a real nice app called the Precision Trolling.  Basically you buy the app and it updates the data when a new lure comes out.  Although the app is not free, the updates are. Now I just need to practice using my kicker motor more precisely!

Spring is definitely here with a lot of yard work to get caught up on.  Asparagus should be sprouting soon and our Texas ordered onions will show up next week.  It's supposed to snow tomorrow, if so it will not last for sure.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Easter Weekend

Beautiful Stream Caught Brown Trout
Time continues to fly like crazy, here it's another weekend coming up....Easter Weekend.  Today is Thursday, April 18 and it marks the 2 year anniversary of the passing of my mother, Betty Anderson.  It has changed our visiting habits as Easter was always a tradition we spent with my wife's uncle, we will still do that this weekend, however we will not drive down home to see mom.  It just makes you think about things.........oh well.  So in the fishing side of things, not much is happening except a lot of lakes around Minneapolis are ice free.  With only 3 weeks till opener, lets hope that old mother nature can put the ice melt on high and Leech will be ice free by May 10th.  We've had it really close a few time where we had to fish only certain spots as the ice was still filling up certain bays.  And who could not remember 2013's Team Walleye Leech Lake Opener when the ice never did go out and we ended up spreading Ron Edberg's ashes on the ice instead of fishing.  The forecast looks great for the next couple of weeks and with the warm sun and rain, I am sure things will be okay.  Actually the mid winter's heavy snow prevented as much ice as there could have been so it might not take too long.  I also think that a late ice out produces more fish as the male walleyes are quite shallow and the females may still be waiting to spawn. So earlier this week my good friend Mark Applen went with a friend of his down near Whitewater State Park, northeast of Rochester, MN to do some stream trout fishing with light tackle and spinners.  Telling Mark I needed a good picture for the blog, on Monday I got this text with a note that the fishing was fabulous.  I am glad that someone is at least getting out and wetting a line.  Embarrassingly I haven't been out since January 23rd of this year.  The heavy snows of February and March as well as my birthday put a damper on any practical fishing outings the last 3 months.  Of course this has left me posting my friends adventures but least someone is fishing!

Panther Remote Controlled Steering
So with Team Walleye's 46th Annual Leech Lake fishing opener in 3 weeks, it's probably a good idea to head up to Bill's and get my boat out of his pole shed.  That in itself is a long story but it definitely needs to happen this weekend.  There is a lot of things to do before taking her out on the water as she's been hibernating since October.  There are new software updates for all of the electronics on the boat, engines need to be started, especially the kicker as it hasn't been run for at least 9 months.  One of strategies that has proven to be successful is trolling #5 shad raps however it's taken a few years to get the hang of slow forward trolling with the 9.8hp kicker motor, especially now that I have the iTroll system for adjusting speed and the remote Panther T5 steering system, it is actually pretty nice.  My goal is to get more proficient with it and head to Lake Erie.  Putting in a plug for In Depth Outdoors, they had a great show on last week regarding fishing Lake Erie.  Actually one of their techniques was to use the front trolling motor running in the opposite direction of the kicker motor to help maintain a more constant speed.   I was on the forum, and actually asked the host, James Holst a question regarding this technique and he actually answered, that was pretty cool.  I recommend looking at all their recent shows, one of their recent ones was Lake Trout fishing in the fall on Lake Nipigon.  What was interesting is it was in the same area that I fished with back in the early 1970's with my friends the Tollefson's and the Semingson's.  That went back on the bucket list as well!

On Tuesday I pulled off my 54" front mounted snowblower attachment off the John Deere X734 lawn tractor.  The real purpose is to assure that the amount of accumulating snow is finished for the spring.  Now comes the hard part of cleaning the lower deck, sharpening the blades and getting everything properly greased then mounting it on the tractor.  It is on of these new...."simply drive on" attachment but after looking at the YouTube video, it doesn't look that easy.  Oh well it has to be done!

Friday, April 12, 2019

Another Storm

Snow Report Map From This Week's Storm
Well I warned my neighbor Todd.......don't take your curb markers out yet, we usually get dumped on in April but he didn't listen to me.  Starting on Wednesday and going to this morning, we definitely got dumped on!  Luckily everything is warm so the snow we did get was wet, slushy, and a lot of it melted.  They did get more to the north as there was colder weather just 50 miles away and it should bring the river back up again, we'll have to see.  Either way I did not remove my snow blower from the lawn tractor and that was a good thing as this snow is very heavy.  The blower attachment to my John Deere 728 does a fantastic job of clearing and what it didn't remove the sun will as we are predicting 60's by next Tuesday so this stuff won't last long.  I will need to head on up to Bill's place on Lake Mille Lacs and get my boat out of storage as opener is only 4 weeks away and there is a lot of work to be done to get everything ready.  Luckily we finally got our Team Walleye hats ordered and getting our signage done.  The lakes are still froze pretty tight up north but it won't take too much to clear them out as we are predicting rain next week.  In the meantime there has been a lot of thought about trying new things this year as well as utilizing the electronics a bit more intensively.  That is always a challenge but as they say, practice makes perfect.

Top Jig is Our Go To jig, Bottom is New Long Shanked Jig
There is a just released product that admittedly I am pretty excited about for this year.  In the past few weeks there has been a glimpse of some new strategies for walleye fishing in Canada this year, especially in the plastics, deep driving crank baits, and northern pike fishing areas.  Not to be outdone  Northland Tackle located in Bemidji, MN has introduced their new Long Shanked Fireball jig head.  The shank on the jig hook is at least 1/2 inch longer than the standard jig hooks we use and should work out much better for the jig and minnow combination that we normally fish.  While fishing Leech Lake for opener, we normally just take a standard short shafted jighead and hook the minnow through the lips then drift, dragging the jig along the bottom as we move.  The long shafted jig head is more suited for what is referred to as the "Canadian" style of hooking a minnow, basically one takes the hook and runs it through the mouth and out the gill.  Then you take the hook and embed it just by the dorsal fin of the minnow.  The problem is with larger minnows and the shorter shanked hooks, sometimes you can only get as far back as the back of the head.  One reason that is nice about having the hook back farther on the minnow is often a walleye will just grab half the minnow so with the hook back further one has a better chance of hooking the fish more quickly.  With that technique it isn't too unusual to catch 3 - 4 walleye on a single minnow which is nice as you spend more time catching and less time baiting your hook!  They had a 20% off sale earlier this week so I ordered enough for everyone, that is of course if they cough up some cash!  Bruce and Pete like gold so I got 25 of that color plus I like a chartreuse color so I ordered 25 of them plus as stated earlier, plastics might be the hot ticket this year so I bought 3 standup style jigs to try.  I can guarantee if it turns out to be the hot bait, I'll guarantee the price will reflect the success!

I have been looking at a jet boat for the River however will probably just get a new 25 hp outboard for my Jon Boat and be done with it.  There is some definite advantages as well as disadvantages with a standard propeller driven motor verses a Jet yet 95% of my river fishing will be just fine with the standard outboard.  Four weeks till the Minnesota Fishing Opener, I'm getting restless!

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Signs of Spring

Galloway Park on the Mississippi River
Well, after a pretty hard winter, the month of March has brought what it normally does, warmer weather and snow melt.  This year saw an snowpack on the ground that was equivalent to the spring prior to the devastating floods of 1965.  There were some concerning flooding predictions this year as the first part of March saw a fairly rapid snow melt along with some local heavy rains.  Things settled down a bit with drier weather and freezing temperatures at night, it really slowed down the runoff.  The rivers have crested slightly above their flood stages and even though there are areas of concern, for the most part things are looking good as the rivers are starting to recede.   Behind the house the Mississippi has peaked and is going down.  Every 10 years or so it overflows into the neighbors pasture and into Galloway Park, just on the border of Champlin and Dayton, MN.  Stopping by this morning to snap this picture, although the water is still running across the road, if the projected rains forecasted for this weekend stay on the light side, it should still be headed back to normal.  With Temperatures scheduled to be in the 60's and  the below normal amount of ice on the lakes this year, ice out should be pretty much normal this year, no one was talking about this at the end of February, the predictions were a late ice out.  It is amazing how fast things can change this time of year as it looks like our Team Walleye 46th Annual Minnesota Fishing Opener will be just perfect.  Mark Mayerich has been working especially hard on this as we have lot's of things to do, organize the meals, bait, signs, new hats, it's not that easy, but it'll get done!

Picture Perfect Fish
A dream trip of mine is to try and schedule a trip to fish the Port Clinton Ohio area of Lake Erie in early April.  My friends Kevin and Ben Aiona headed there last Sunday as I was supposed to drop off some lures for him.  Unfortunately I never made it which was OK anyway, they had left by noon and when I did call them they were in Chicago already.  Ben has an 18 foot Ranger 618T with a 90 hp Mercury Tiller.  Maybe somewhat of a small boat but they managed.  On Monday night Ben sent me a picture of this beautiful and fat 27 inch walleye.  I sent this to my friends and we all agreed that the measuring stick they used must be wrong as that looks bigger than 27.  Apparently they got there, figured out a system however it took them almost all day to find clear water and when they did, they were able to catch 4 nice walleyes.  According to Ben the walleyes were in 40 feet of water suspended up around 20 feet deep.  Using well known trolling apps and line counter reels one can easily calculate how much line one needs out, at what speed to make a certain bait run in the strike zone of 20 feet.  His report yesterday was a little better as Kevin tested this at about the same time they caught the big on pictured at 4:00:  We are at 34 so far today.  All on Bandits, 75 to 100 feet back, 1.0 - 1.7 mph.  I would say 24 is our biggest and 20 is the smallest in the box.  It was a better bite his morning.  He sent me another picture and it looks like it was a little more rougher seas, as well the fish was smaller...maybe something for next week.

Walleye caught by the Wolf River Cam, Shiocton 2 Site
One of the things that is going are the Wolf River Camera's, underwater camera's on the Wolf River, northwest of Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin.  The cameras record the fish migration up the river to spawn and although many of the fish are suckers, there are quite a few walleyes and there was even a sturgeon that swam by today.  To the left is a screen shot of a nice walleye swimming by.  There has been some larger females however for the most part the majority of the walleyes have been the smaller males.  It's cool looking at these as one never knows what will swim by.  As well they often travel in small groups so if one swims by, chances are a couple more will follow.  The have 5 different areas along the river however it seems as though only Shiocton 1, Shiocton 2, and New London are operating.  Someone put a sinker in front of the New London camera as well I think the Shiocton 1 and 2 cameras are more active these days.  As the water gets warmer, more toward next week the migration will definitely pick up.  Maybe you will get to see that massive sturgeon swim by!