Sunday, November 29, 2020

Getting Lazy!!

 Strikemaster 40V 10" electric auger 
 This covid has really affected things, especially my ambition.  There are a ton of things that need to be done before next weekend, especially making sure that the wheel house stuck axle gets done before ice fishing.   Thank the Lord I have friends like Bruce Wiley that has offered to help me in his heated workshop.  I did the worst one back before we got the 8 inches of snow in October only to discover that the worst side actually better than the "better" side so the help is greatly appreciated.  This pandemic has created a lot of disruption in what normally are events that I look forward to.  The Blaine Ice Show at the Sports center was cancelled, it's a great little show that has a lot to offer being the first show of the season.  The big Ice Fishing show at the St. Paul Civic Center which usually takes place the first weekend in December has been cancelled.  The Governor has shut down everything until December 21st but I have no hope that this will be it.  It is funny, when I was young it was interesting to see how cynical the older men like my grandpa was, now I understand!!  The big show is the Northwest Sportshow held at the Minneapolis Convention Center and is scheduled for March 25 thru the 28th.  At the present time it's not cancelled yet  don't hold your breath.  As well the "Black Friday" deals are around but most are online or run for a week, which results in simply regularly sale priced items disguised as "great" deals. Traditional Black Friday deals required a guy to get to the store before noon to take advantage of 50 - 60% off a few but nice items.  2 years ago I purchased 2 very nice Pflueger spinning reels for 50% off, which was $15 less than the standard sale price.  Last year there were some excellent deals on fishing accessories, this year....not much.  This years situation lead me to hit Cabela's last Wednesday and walked out of there with a new 10 inch Strikemaster 40V Electric Auger.  I do have a 10 inch Strikemaster Big Volt auger that is basically a 12 Volt starter motor attached to a transmission.  Rigging up a trolling motor plug inside my wheel house it works pretty good but it is slow and in the cold the chipper blade has a tendency to freeze up the cutting edge.  Although not on sale it was the last one left and with my $300 in Cabela's Points it prompted me to pick it up.  One issue these days is that many manufacturers now limit inventory.  A concern was that the existing auger bit and extension would not fit however Strikemaster did a great job and everything is interchangeable making my 9 inch bit on my gas auger useable, my extension, and the old 8 inch bit that sits in the pole shed. A quick check on Strikemaster's web site showed this item was sold out.  It was probably a good idea to get this over with.  Beyond that, this was the extent of my Black Friday week sales this year.  Now it's time to get ready to to go to Red soon!!

Jared's nice 8 point buck
Well deer hunting is over and it was pretty uneventful.  That's probably good as there is little room in the freezer.  Besides I have enough venison from last year to make another batch of summer sausage with Lory Brasel, we are getting pretty good at this.  Last spring we made 2 batches with adding Fermento, a powdered buttermilk product to add some tang to it.  Here in Minnesota there are few places that know how to make good summer sausage.   People argue with me but if your used to the bland sausage they make here, I guess ones prospective isn't developed as well.  This year we are going to add encapsulated citric acid, as the Fermento was OK, it still wasn't very tangy.  Last year my good friend Kevin Aiona and his son Ben provided me with all the venison I needed.  Ben leases some land near Eleva and do really well deer hunting.  Here is a picture of Ben's son Jared with a beautiful 8 pointer he took on the Wisconsin deer hunting opener weekend.  After hunting for 50 years, this is considerably nicer than anything I have ever shot.  To be honest it really doesn't matter anymore as getting out with my friends is more important than horns on the wall.  My friend Russ Praught and his nephew went up to Red on Thanksgiving day and was able to walk out on 6 inches of ice. He sent me a picture of some nice walleyes they got then the next day fished the morning getting a few more before parking his house at JR's, ready for the next trip.  The 10 day outlook has temperatures in the mid teens and maybe a week after my wheel house get's fixed we should be ready.  This covid has messed up the experience as one can clean your walleyes in the bar area, they will do their famous fish fry as take out so there is hope!  Either way I am excited as all of this comes together.  Our experience at Springsteel Island Resort on Lake of the Woods in Warroad was nice last winter so the plan is to fish Red a couple of times before moving it north.  Ben will bring his house there as well and in February and March we will fish there. It is a long ways but it will be a long winter.  As well my friend Dave Johnson has a cabin at the resort so we have a nice place to headquarter out of.  Hopefully my next update will include success with getting my axle loosened up.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Deer Hunting, 2020 Back at Rich's


3 of the 4 deer bagged on Opening day
Well despite it getting more difficult to deer hunt each year, I decided to go again this year.  Hunting with my good friend Jack and his son Ben, a number of years we started hunting by his cabin on Platte Lake, west of Mille Lacs.  Soon we befriended a man named Rich Allen, who owned 160 acres about 3 miles southwest of Jack's cabin.  The land is mostly a peat swamp with some high ground east across the swamp as well as an wooded island that is slightly higher but not by much.  In the later years the water level had risen so high that it was almost impossible to get back to our hunting spots on the island.   Rich had passed away a number of years ago however his nephew Brett now has the land and he has always welcomed us to hunt.  Unfortunately we have chosen an easier path of hunting, another friend of Jack's, Loren has land about 15 miles from his cabin but for the most part it's dry and easy to walk.  This year Brett with the help of his son Trent and Jack's son Ben, they started clearing out all the overgrown brush that basically was holding back the water in the swamp.  After many weekends of work they were able to clear out the old drainage ditch enough to lower the water in the swamp by at least 6 inches.  Many years ago Jack had some solid aluminum catwalk pieces and gave them to rich to put across the ditch as a bridge.  Prior to clearing the ditch the water was about 2 inches above the deck.  When we walked over it on Friday to check out the stands the water was at least 6 inches under the bridge, however it was still pretty wet in the swamp as I soon found out that leaving my knee boots at home wasn't such a great idea!  Luckily Jack had some to use, I would have been wet without them.  One thing that Brett also did was allow me to use one of his plastic roto molded deer stands that he put up in strategic locations.  Admittedly it was very nice, a swivel chair, propane heater, nice windows, sitting up 10 feet off the ground supported by a number of treated 4 x 4's and a concrete anchor, it was very nice.  It was also nice of Brett to allow myself this luxury, maybe because I am getting old, never the less it was appreciated.  Either way it was nice to walk out to the stands on Friday to get familiar with the area again as it's been maybe 4 years or so since we hunted the swamp.  Friday night was our traditional Steak a la Kienitz night as appreciation to allowing us to hunt the land, we provide Friday night steak, baked potatoes, and fixing's.  It was always appreciated by Rich so we have kept the tradition going.  The first year we hunted with Rich, we brought a Flip Flop grill from Eleva.  Rich was so impressed he asked me to pick him up one, which after my mother got one for me, we had the next year.  Brett still has the grill as it does the steaks perfectly (although they were originally for chicken).

Plastic shelter on stilts!
We got up early, 5:00 AM on opening morning.  Being retired this isn't my normal routine however I did survive!  After a quick bite to eat we were headed to Brett's place to walk out to the stands.  It was quite dark yet the path was easy to follow.  Ben went south to a stand about 100 yards from Jack. Jack took the first stand on the edge of the wooded island, near where I would set up my old stand years ago.  Funny all those good trees were blown down and the feel of the area had changed quite a bit.  After wishing Jack good luck, my path took me about 150 yards north to the northeast point of the woods overlooking the edge of the swamp as well as the point.  It was unusually warm for this time of year with the high temperature predicted in the high 60's.  No need for heavy clothes so I removed my coat and sat down and got comfortable.  It was great!  With a nice south wind, it was just perfect as I stayed there till dark.  About 10:00 there were 2 shots very close.  Soon a call from Jack, Ben had a spike buck down and he went to get the special ATV to drag it back.  They were visible from my stand but it was just too comfortable to get my jacket and boots on to trudge my way over to see the deer, it would be there upon my return.  His buck is the one on the right in the first picture.  It was interesting as to the left of the stand was a pile of corn and 6 Mountain Dew bottles.  Legally one cannot hunt over a bait pile yet this was left over from bear hunting, in which it is legal to hunt.  Apparently the deer hadn't found the corn pile as it was still pretty intact.  Asking Brett what the Mountain Dew bottles were doing, he stated that bear love Mountain Dew and will rip open the tops and drink the entire half gallon, and there were 6 of them.  I didn't see any bear as the season closed a number of weeks ago and Brett had not cleaned it up.  Oh well, it was interesting about the Mountain Dew.  Because of my scheduled angiogram for next Monday which includes having a Covid Test on Thursday, I will be quarantined either way, if I am negative they don't want me to risk catching it between Thursday and the procedure on Monday, or if I am positive, it still means quarantine for 2 weeks........a lose lose deal so no more deer hunting this year!  The reason for all of this is my heart valve is slowly deteriorating.  This isn't an issue as I am schedule to have a TVAR type valve replacement which no longer requires open heart surgery. Previous test show not much change to the valve but one of my symptoms is getting out of breath easy.  A CT with Contrast showed some narrowing of the coronary arteries but not abnormal however a better test is the angiogram.   I think my issue is simply retirement and I am definitely out of shape.  After Monday we'll know more as my friend Mark Applen just had the same thing done and they put in 2 stents, which they might do to me.  Oh well.  Winter is coming and there's still a lot to do! 

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Hanging with Pete

The home base on the Sipe property
 Last Wednesday Pete invited me to his family's compound east if Marcell, MN just north of Grand Rapids. Along with us was Pete's brother Tim, he reminds me of my brother, Steve.  He has talked about getting me up to the land that his dad and uncle owns, 200+ acres that border the Chippewa National Forest. It's quite the place, nothing fancy as you can see the main lodge on the land, however it is quite nice in it's own way.  Dating back to the 1940's, Pete's grandfather bought the land and today it is in the hands of Pete's dad and Uncle.  The land is basically in the middle of nowhere as one hears nothing but the wind at night, quite peaceful.  It's quite a hike off the main roads as one travels dirt forest roads to their land.  The landscape is full of huge old growth Red and White  Pines that stand tall and are impressive.  As well the area has been slowly logged off so it's an interesting mix of these large pines, quite a bit of Poplar Trees with a smattering of birch and oak trees.  Pete tells the story of his uncle that in the past would bring acorns with him and he would drop them in the woods as he walked, stepping them into the ground as he went along.  You can see the results all around as the woods have a lot of smaller oak trees growing.  The cabin in the picture is a single room building with a metal roof, old style shingle siding, with 4 bunks inside, a propane range for cooking, a barrel stove for heat, and and old style sand point through the floor with a hand pump by a sink that needed to have the plugs reinstalled and the pump primed.  Because the water used in the sink is pretty clean, the sink's drain empties on the ground outside the cabin.  There is electricity available for lighting and in both Pete and my case powering our Cpap machines.  No television, it was nice.  A simple picnic table served as our main seating area for eating and relaxing.  As you see there was a small amount of snow in the area with ice forming along the lake shore.  Pete and Tim gave me the grand tour of the surrounding lakes, forest roads and points of interest.  Along with the tour was commentary on the CCC projects in the area, the WW2 German Prisoner of war camps where German prisoners were transported back to camps in the US to work in the mines, cutting wood in the forests, or working the farms.  Many of these prisoners ended up staying in the US after the war.   

View from the shoreline.
One thing I found unique was the entire lake called Heinen Lake was completely within the property.  Although not a big lake it is fed by a river that runs through a number of lakes on it's way to join the Big Fork River in the city of Bigfork.  Apparently the lake's outlet seldom freezes over the winter so they leave their docks in.  Between the lakes one experiences a lot of beaver activity which constantly changes to water levels as the lake was quite high for this time of year. Claiming there is a nice 20+ hole in the lake, the fish seem to be hard to find in the winter.  There is another lake that borders the property that is better for fish in the winter and I am looking forward to possible trying my luck sometime this winter, maybe later in February or March. Because the forest roads are not plowed in the winter, generally the mode of transportation into the land is via a snowmobile.  Hopefully I will have my sled running by then and get the chance to chase those nice crappies Pete and Tim were talking about.  We did end up putting a ladder stand together for Pete then selecting a nice tree in a stategic location.  There seemed to be quite a few deer around however a few deer can make a lot of tracks.  Tim had a trail cam by his stand and we brought it back to camp to look at what has been walking by.  A couple of does, a fox, and a very nice 8 point buck staring right into the camera.  Pete claims that over the years one usually finds the area is dominated by one nice buck and usually a smaller spike buck and a few does.  There used to be a wolf pack on the property however both state that it is not a factor.  There is only a few doe permits allowed so it's mostly buck hunting.  I guess we will see what next week brings.

As far as my hunting, Jack, Ben, and I will be hunting our old stands on Rich's old property owned by Brett.  We haven't hunted the area in the last few years because it's been so wet however this year Brett had a couple of guys clearing out the drainage ditch that runs through the center of the property.  Apparently this had significantly drained the water, enough that one can walk or take an ATV and not get wet or stuck.  This well be nice as it make it easier to get to our stands.  Unfortunately I need to leave on Saturday night to attend a family event in Wisconsin, but that's okay, Jack and I can hunt all next week as he is also retired.  The weather has been nice with highs in the mid 60's helping to allow getting done at the last minute.  I should be able to get all those things that the early snowfall a couple of weeks ago stopped progress.  

Monday, October 26, 2020

Winter is Early

Evinrude 250 HO G2
 Winter has definitely arrived here in Dayton, and around much of the upper Midwest.  Along with winter comes the mad scramble to get things done, or at least as much as one can.  As I grow older it is unclear as to if I am getting wiser or simply lazier!  Upon returning from our delayed Leech Lake Opener it was decided that October 13 would be a good day to get the boat winterized, seeing it was forecasted to get colder in the next week, and there was time, the water was still hooked up, yeah one could possibly go fishing one more time but......  I have mentioned this before regarding my Evinrude 250 HO G2 outboard, unfortunately BRP has decided to quit producing them.   Being a fishing forum geek, you'd swear anyone owning a recent G2 Evinrude is going straight to hell, yet my dealer, Frankie's does a good job with Joe being a certified mechanic, heck the engine may very well out last me so what's the issue?  Anyway this outboard has a great feature for winterizing it as it's been discussed before.  It is a oil injected 2 stroke, V6.  In the digital display control data center it has a function called "Winterize".  Sometimes I have done this at the boat landing as I load it up one last time, however lately it's done at the pole shed, simply hook up the water to the engine, start and let it warm up then hit the winterize button.  The engine goes into a high idle, I suspect until it hits a certain temperature then it starts to fog itself.  From a virtual no smoke in the exhaust to a heavy blue oil smoke it runs for about 15 more seconds before shutting itself off.  The last check is the lower unit grease which is a plastic reservoir under the hood, the big boy is all set for the winter.  The 9.8 hp kicker is a 4 stroke and when it was in to get the livewell valve fixed they changed the oil and the lower unit grease.  Dumping in some gas treatment as this engine is carbureted,  the kicker was started and run for about 15 minutes.  The last act of winterizing was to pull off the gas line and let the engine run out of gas.  With that out of the way she is ready for a long winter's sleep.  The boat needs to be cleaned as it is pretty dirty from the October Team Walleye Opener.  More on that later as there is another boat in the shed that needs some attention as well! 

7.8 inches of snow overnight
All of this was with amazing foresight as last week we had a record snowfall for this early in October.  Usually Tim Kuntz would help me blow my sprinkler system out before it snows and freezes.  Of course Tim passed away in April yet it was amazing the people who stepped up and offered their services.  Bruce has a big compressor and he offered to let me use it, my neighbor Rich had an extra compressor as backup and offered it.  As well Limo Joe Hanson has a big compressor to run his sand blasting equipment, he went and did Connie's (Tim's wife) system before coming over to my shed and hook up.  It was just in the nick of time as you can see by my truck, 7.8 inches fell last week.  Of course with the snow comes the cold and the big scramble to take care of the rest of things needed to be done.  The list is crazy because the leaves didn't get picked up, with a lot still on the trees as of today.  Potatoes are still in the ground, garden supports need to be removed.  Mover deck removed and the snow blower attachment and cab attached.  Oil changed on the 25 hp river boat.  In normal years one usually has till the first of November to get these things taken care of.  Oh well, it is what it is!  Not only that but the Salem needs some maintenance.  The last trip to Lake of the Woods, the wheel stayed up.  Luckily Ben had a propane torch and with some heat it went down.  Well of course waiting until the last minute, the right side came off with a little convincing needed however the left is being really stubborn.  Bruce has offered to help me and I will be taking him up on the offer soon, or at least before Thanksgiving.  It's really a 2 man job, figuring the best way to remove the wheel pivot assembly, not an easy job.  The weather forecast for the end of the week calls for more normal temperatures, say in the lower 50's, maybe some things will get done!!  Deer hunting is coming soon and with the snow on the ground basically through most of Minnesota, ice fishing is just around the corner!

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Leech Lake Opener, Team Walleye

Andy with a Nice Walleye
Because of concerns about the Covid virus, Team walleye decided to move it's 47th annual Minnesota Fishing Opener from the traditional weekend of the second Saturday in May to October 9th at Brindley's Resort on Leech Lake.  It was absolutely beautiful with the surrounding green pines and the yellow aspen trees complimented with the chestnut to red leaves of the oak trees, it was very nice.  Not unlike spring the walleyes tend to return to the shallower haunts that they are in May, however the wind plays a very important role in determining where the walleyes are.  Also the water temperatures are about what they are in a normal May, 50 - 55 degrees F.  Also not unlike the May opener, minnows and trolling crankbaits were the strategy.  Our first issue was to find minnows.  In May spot tail shiners are the preferred minnow species and we will use some fathead minnows, however the fall is not the season for spot tails so we were forced to use golden shiners instead.  These are available as they are grown in commercial minnow ponds and serve the winter market for larger minnows.  As well we were able to get some medium sucker minnows which turned out to work very well.  Having done well on Redtail chubs this summer and fall I decided to get a gallon and split it with my brother Steve.  These minnows are supposed to be work very well but they are expensive, much more than the suckers so we were the only 2 boats using them as we purchased them separately.  Everyone arrived at the resort on Friday, October 9th by 5:00.  Some had come earlier to scout the popular spots and did okay, a great sign.  The weather was supposed to be nice on Saturday with little wind, Sunday was ahead of a cold front and had very strong southerly winds and rough, turning to rain that evening lasting through Monday, with northwesterly winds on Monday, we were hoping that cold front would not effect anything.  It turns out that the nicest day, Saturday was my worst day of catching.  My strategy was to find the mid depth humps off Submarine Island and pull Lindy Rigs or jigs in 14 -16 feet of water.  Heck, we never even marked a fish.  Although disappointing we headed back towards Pine Point to drift across the area which is about 10 feet.  There my friend Jay Johnson managed to get 5 fish bringing our total to 7 walleyes which included zero for me! Back at the cabin the guys were giving me a hard time about possibly winning the DCS (Didn't Catch Sh!t) award, well the tourney was still young.  As stated, Sunday the wind took an abrupt shift 180 degrees and blew with vengeance out of the northwest.  Because the other  6 boats seem to catch something out between Pine Point and Grand Vu Flats we decided to try there.  It was much better with my friend Andy Achman nailing this nice 21 inch walleye.  The walleyes were very good sized and matched up with the Leech Lake limit of 4 under 20 inches or 3 under 20 and 1 over 20.  There were a lot of fish in that 20 - 23 inch range and we definitely kept one apiece. That evening I had Ben and Mason in the boat and we spent a lot of time trolling the east side Ottertail Point, usually a very good spot.  We must have made 4 trolling runs and nothing to show for it.  The moon was not out resulting in the night being very dark.  This time of year 8PM is completely dark and it became difficult to see the shoreline.  Relying on the GPS tracks works good but the kicker motor doesn't respond that quickly making it somewhat challenging.

24 inch Walleye
When fishing Sunday I happened to pull in beautiful fish measuring 24 inches.  We set our own limit at 21 inches as the biggest we would keep to that went back into the lake.  The north wind was cold for sure but the bite was not deterred. All of our 7 boats stayed in the general area and did pretty well.  I ended up with 3 walleyes, at least I was out of the basement!  Because the bite was good on Pine Point we decided to try it again after dinner.  We got a few more but admittedly the bite wasn't very good after 7:00 PM.  We switch around boats and Monday I enjoyed the company of Mike Kimpel and  James.  Quite honestly my boat wasn't on fire so we decided to try the shallows for perch as Leech Lake has a nice perch population. After drifting Pine for a few hours we headed for the Narrows, an area between the main lake, Walker Bay, and Steamboat bay.  Averaging around 4 to 5 feet deep, there are a lot of isolated reed beads and the perch congregate in those areas.  We have seen some 12 inches caught back at the resort so we figured we'd try it.   Because all of the buoys were already removed it was a challenge to find a spot to start.  Picking a reed bed we drifted into it using the Motorguide to anchor us at the edge.  There were perch but the average was only about 5 inches.  We caught a ton of them but only kept 4 in that 9 inch range.  After an hour or so and about 100 small perch we decided to finish the afternoon off back at Pine Point.  At 2 we decided to hang it up as it was important to eat early so we could get out before dark!  Deciding to drive to shop at Reeds, arriving at Walker it was closed.  The guys that had been there on Sunday made no mention of the big sign on the door.....damn!!

Gill Net set on OtterTail Point
Monday night proved to be the most interesting for me.  With Mike and James still with me they both agreed that experimenting might be worth while.  The northwest wind was blowing into Duck Point all day and it seemed a natural for walleyes to be in that area.  Well they weren't.  I really wanted to try trolling again and my guests agreed to try it, maybe 30 minutes earlier in the day.  We headed east to Ottertail Point again as I really marked fish in 12 feet there earlier and maybe they would head to the shoreline to feed.  We started trolling when Mike noticed a laundry detergent bottle floating on the surface.  Well maybe some one was marking something.  Trolling well outside the makeshift buoy my shad rap got hung up.  Getting just above where the bait was stuck, the line finally snapped.  Deciding to try a Rattlin Rouge we kept goin up the shore line when we passed a bleach bottle floating.  This time our normal route took us to the shore side of the buoy and we passed just fine.  Turning around  and staying to the outside there was a third buoy and sure enough, I lost my bait again.  Now we were thinking someone might have secured a rope to the bottom to collect trolling lures but side scan showed nothing.  This time a cheap Sassy Shad, $1.49 went on the end of the line.  Sure enough it also got snagged and lost.  All but frustrated as I have made at least 50 trolling runs along this course and never lost a lure.  Before leaving we went up to one of the jugs and pulled it up, it was making sense now.  Mike found a gill net attached to the buoy line with a 15 pound barbell weight attached to the bottom.  As we pulled more up, there were 4 walleyes caught in the net.  Not sure if anyone was watching us we freed a couple of the walleyes and dropped the mess back down.  I have never experienced that on Leech before yet we had never fished the fall before.  Greg at Brindley's acknowledge that the Indians can and do net the lake in the fall however he was surprise they had gone that far.  As stated we were tempted to retrieve our lost lures but decided that $15 wasn't worth the potential hassle.  At least the mystery was solved!  We cabin ended up being able to keep 84 walleyes, 4 each for 21 guys.  They were the nicest sized walleyes we had caught in as long as I remember.  The total was 170 walleyes caught, probably not our best year however the overall size was excellent. The fishing was good enough to want to go back there in the fall and we'll see if next year we can get a group of guys to go!  As always thanks to Mark Mayerich and his dedication to our group.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Preparing For Our Delayed Opener


Bush King Acorn Squash

The last few weeks have been filled with preparing everything for our delayed fishing opener.  Usually held on the second week of May, due to the covid situation we were able to reschedule our big cabin at Brindley's Harbor to the weekend starting October 9th till the 13th.  One of my big things was to try and get my livewell valve working as it is supposed to.  When we went up to Leech on the traditional Minnesota Fishing Opener, it didn't take long to discover that my livewell valve had frozen and cracked. 
This is a problem that was the first time in almost 30 years I have seen one crack.  Maybe it happened when they replaced the axle last December, it was inside for a while and it might have melted some water along with the need to jack the trailer up, but no difference, it was cracked.  Having it repaired a couple of times, the livewell simply did not seal right when switched to recirculate.  This mode allows one to recirculate the water inside the livewell without draining it, great for moving from spot to spot with walleyes in the livewell.  Well, the valve continued to leak even after a few ideas were tried.  This time Frankie's put a new control cable in and it works like new now.  I have my suspicions but will leave it at that!  It is also harvest time in the garden as we finally had a killing frost a couple of nights ago.  A bumper crop of raspberries have had me look at the method of freezing that works well on my sweet corn.  Pick them and put on a tray to freeze.  Once frozen vacuum pack them, they should be sealed and fresh for the coming winter. Did some rhubarb this spring, it will be interesting to see how these turn out.  If it's anything like the sweet corn, stuff I did over a year ago still tastes a fresh as the day it was picked.  In fact our neighbor Lynn Brasel introduced us to a new way to prepare.  Take the corn and heat it in a pan, add about a couple tablespoons of butter then a good portion of cream cheese.  Simply awesome! The other surprise was the acorn squash that was planted called Bush King.  Figuring it would be somewhat manageable I planted 3 hills of it, maybe 4 seeds per hill.  They say acorn squash is ready when the undersides turn from yellow to orange.  The plants were about dead anyway so the harvest began.  When through there were over 60 squash.  Not overly large but a single squash is perfect for 2 people.  Taking one and cutting it in half, scraped the seeds out and replaced it with butter and Brandon's Raspberry Infused Bourbon Maple Syrup, wrapped in foil and cooked on the grill.  Simply amazing!  Okay, this isn't Cooking with Dave but these recipes are too good not to share.  The fishing stories should come next week!!

Wild Marsh Sporting Clay Course

On September 18th, delayed a week again from this covid stuff, we had the Kramer Open.  This is a sporting clays event that Dave Kramer, a friend and one time customer, does to help raise money for a friend of his that passed away at an early age leaving his wife and children to themselves.  I really got started through my friend Tom Emmons, who tragically died in 2012 ( a bad year as I lost a few friends by the time it ended).  Dave still raises money for the children of his friend and I continue to try and make it as a remembrance of my friend Tom.  Also it is a lot of fun as years ago we had a team that would shoot 100 rounds every month for 5 months.  My old neighbor, Roger Weber got me into trap shooting in the mid 80's.  Then I used my old Browning A5 (squareback)   shotgun and did horrible, averaging about 16 clays in 25.  There is something about that gun which just didn't feel right.  It was acquired back in the mid 70's when I traded my old snowmobile for it and a 22 rifle.  The Browning is an original Belgium model with a blonde stock, it's probably worth more now than I paid for the snowmobile.  Still wanting to shoot better and blaming the gun....the obvious solution was to get a different gun.  One day we were in Galyan's store in Minnetonka and they had a great gun selection.  A lot of guys shoot over/under's so I ended up buying a Browning Citori 12 ga, 26 inch barrels, figuring it would be a good upland game gun for grouse and pheasants.  Little did I know that longer barrels 30 inches or so were better for shooting clays.  Never the less this gun did it's job and immediately saw a 5 bird improvement over the A5.  When I started sporting clays that's a whole new experience as the stations are setup to mimic real situations, even throwing the targets so they roll on the ground like a rabbit!  My 26 inch Citori was nice but again I was stuck at around 30/50 on each course, 60/100 for the round.  In the meantime at work a guy who worked there dealt in guns.  It was fun to talk with him and we soon decided that a longer barrel would help me.  A few years later he let me know he could get Browning Citori 525, a gun made specifically for shooting clays, it had a 30 inch barrel, hand removeable chokes that extended another inch, changeable triggers, in a nice case.  He had a guy that was ordering some and  wanted to know if I was interested, as they were $1000 less than what they were selling in the gun shops.  Of course!!! Upon receiving the new over/under my scores jumped up another 8 per 100 and ended my average around 76/100.  It was a big improvement and much more enjoyable to shoot with.  In recent years I only average about 1 event per year, however this year I got 2 rounds in, one as a substitute for a guy in my neighbors league, and the Kramer.  68 was my first shoot and 78 was my score at the Kramer.  We did the Red and Blue courses this year.  It is sort of like golf, 8 stations (Holes) for each course, 6 clays on 7 and 8 on one.  Again because of covid I was on a team who I have never shot with, but it was fun as we rented a golf cart to make our way around the course. Although I did not place with the guys we shot with, I did wind the most in a row, 23 which is not bad seeing's how they were the first 23 clays I shot, my teammates must have thought I was a ringer, but soon my real colors started to show!  Oh well it was fun and a good day to look back at all the good times we had shooting.

Coming back from Frankie's last Thursday there was a fishing garage sale that just had to be visited.  I walked out of there with a couple of deep diving X Raps and a nice smaller Abu Garcia Black Max casting reel.  Making it to Cabela's I got the last 6'6" Berkley Lightning Rod casting rod they had.  Just a side note, these Berkley Lightning rods are quite incredible.  At $35 each you'd never believe that they are so cheap as they feel like a $100 Fenwick.  Anyway after mounting the Black Max reel and filling it with 15# P-Line, it will be a gift for my nephew, Kevin Anderson, as he is flying in from Portland to fish with us this weekend.  I give him crap as he lives right at the tip of the Willamette Valley in Oregon, one of the best places in the world for Pinot Noir wines.  I make him bring me a unique bottle every time he comes home, which he does and the wines have been excellent.  Because trolling shad raps will be the hot ticket this weekend for walleyes, I figured he needed a good trolling rod which this combination will do just perfectly.  Depending on the quality of the Pinot Noir he brings this time, I picked up a couple of great lures for him that maybe he could get as well!!

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Smallmouth Paradise

19.5Inch Smallie
Last Monday I had the opportunity to fish the Mississippi River near Monticello, MN for the first time in a number of years with my friend Pete Mlinar.  Pete is an expert river rat who owns the perfect river boat, a RiverPro with a 200 hp Optimax jet drive, one can drive 5 feet from the shore at 36 mph without a worry.  He's an expert at fishing Redtail chubs for smallmouth bass and is not as na├»ve as I am when it comes to fishing smallies on the river.  While my trips consist of casting crankbaits into shore, Pete works an area very meticulously exploring every place a smallie could hide.  Interesting as I was determined to get a smallie on a crankbait but only a little one, then was focused on a Katlin Tickle Tail, which I ended up with a nice one, but they were the only two on artificial's. We fished 4 different areas, a couple that if it were me, I'd a threw in a few casts and moved on.  Not Pete.  Our main technique was to use a single hook with a bullet sinker about 12 -16 inches above the hook, drop it in the current and bounce it down stream then go back.  It was amazing as we would often catch fish just under the boat.   The second rig was a  large torpedo shaped bobber 16 - 18 inches above the bait and simply cast out to drift past the current breaks or whatever held fish.  In the end we caught 40 fish which included 1 walleye, 4 northern pike ( which by the way were the nicest pike I had seen caught on the river), and 35 small mouth bass that averaged about 18 inches each, nothing under 15 and quite a few over 19.  And fat, these fish were footballs!  It is pretty amazing fishery but I am pledged to not publish our stretch of the river on the blog.  We even positioned ourselves not to give away our locations.  It was also a learning experience as when I fish smallies behind the house we are moving pretty good and quickly pass by spots that look similar to where we fished.  Before September ends I am committed to trying some medium sucker minnows and the technique as I have to imagine it would work.  Thanks Pete for a great day on the water as well as a few fishing lessons.

Joanne, Vic and their family at Vic's 80th
Friday we were invited to Eleva to be part of a private ceremony to intern my old boss, Vic Wenaas at his final spot in the Cemetery back home in Eleva.  I always held Vic in high regard as I credit a lot of my success in my life to him and his family.  Vic passed away on April 3rd of this spring, the same day we lost our neighbor Tim Kuntz, a double whammy.  With all the stuff going on the family decided to forgo a funeral but at some point everyone has to move on.  It was a very nice service and included the Eleva American Legion to give Vic the proper honors.  I was able to find this picture from Vic's 80th Birthday, Vic and Joanne are sitting in front and in the back are their children, from left to right it's Mike, Annette, Gail, Susan(Suzy), and Paul.  Vic now joins his wife Joanne who passed away a few years ago.  Paul is still one of my best fishing buddies and Suzy daughter Presley is good friend with our niece's daughter Kaylee.  I always like to tell some Vic Wenaas stories because things were a lot different growing up in a small town, guys like Vic were an important part of your life.  We would work together on Saturday's and he always had WAXX 104.5 FM, a country station out of Eau Claire.  I started working there 50 years ago this fall.  Even as a teenager his music influence turned permanent.  Often a song would come on that you could sing to and I was belting out the words to a favorite.  Vic came up to me while I was trying to carry a tune, put his hand on my shoulder and said "Davey, you know I can't sing either!"  He'd laugh!!!  On another occasion a beloved song by Eddy Arnold called the Cattle Call started playing.  As I was working under the hoist, he started whistling along with the music.  All of a sudden he stopped, looked me straight in the eye and said...."Davey, don't you wish you could whistle like me!" then started laughing.  Today Willy's Roadhouse is my favorite station on XM as it reminds me of Vic and the traditions we enjoyed then.  The greatest compliment I have ever received was told to me by my Uncle Jerry.  My grandparents, Roy and Myrtle, live just below the gas station and I would visit Grandpa Roy before starting work at 5:00 PM.  Uncle Jerry lives in Idaho and when visiting his them he would often walk up to the gas station to see Vic.  Jerry told me that Vic once told him that...Davey, quite the guy, you know the customers always left with more than they came in for.  I only heard this a few years ago from my Uncle Jerry.  It really explains Vic's influence in my life as I carried that philosophy throughout life.  I could go on and on but I don't want to bore you too much!  Anyway it was a good week, 18 days till Leech Lake.  Uffda! 

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Quick Trip to Lake John

Satellite view of Lake John

Lake John is a small lake just west of Annandale, MN.  In the past 40 years it's been one of my favorite lakes to just go fishing for the afternoon.  Mark Taylor's brother in law, Tim Guzek introduced us to the lake back in the early 1980's, apparently he had a connection somewhere.  It's always been a good panfish and largemouth bass lake, they even stock walleyes however one has never graced the end of my hook.  The lake runs north and south with a long narrow bay extending from the northwest corner.  The water is fairly clear but has a lot of weeds in it these days.  Back in the mid 80's we made a cheap plywood fishing shack and pulled it out to the lake on a snowmobile trailer.  With a small wood stove it was pretty nice for a bunch of guys who couldn't afford much.  We'd light a fire then fish the evening bite with crappies our main target, and we'd always come home with a few.  In this part of Minnesota one has to have your ice shack off the lake by February 28th.   This was our second year of having the shack and not being too smart, there was a lot of snow on the ice which pushed the ice down.  The last time we fished after re-drilling the holes, the water came up over the floor by about 4 inches and subsequently froze.  Having come out the week before we had to have it off the ice to start the process of removing it, there was no way with 4 inches of frozen ice over the floor.  It was a plain untreated floor as well so the ice was very much adhered to wood.  Plan B.....go into town and get a 40# bag of water softener salt.  Returning we spread the entire bag across the floor and headed home to come out the following weekend to finish the job.  Upon returning we were pleasantly surprised the salt did exactly what we predicted, the floor was bare, not a bit of ice was on it.  The next job was to lift the house off the ice and load it on our trailer.  In our arsenal was a couple of long ice chisels as well as pry bars but to no avail, the bottom of the house was froze to the surface yet.  It was critical that we have it removed that weekend as the DNR fine was pretty hefty.  A guy walked by with a hunting rifle and suggested he could remove the house, simply shoot through the floor and the impact would crack the ice and all would be good.  Back into town to get a box of 30-06 shells.  Returning he began to shoot the bullets through the floor, all 20 of them.  It was pretty loud but seemed like a good idea as on the edges you could see the ice shatter.  With all 20 shells shot into the floor we again tried to pry the house off the ice but it still held tight.  With daylight fading fast, we decided it just wasn't worth messing with anymore and tore the shack apart, wall by wall.  We did get the floor detached from the 2 x 4's that were stuck in the ice and pried what 2 x 4's we could but I an sure we left a few reminders of our presence there, of course it was a good spot so those left over boards would be perfect for marking our spot for next year!  Our fish shack was now on layers stacked on the snowmobile trailer, we headed up the road and stopped at a friends house, he had a couple of acres.  He let us unload the heap of wood which eventually he ended up burning.  Portable shacks were just coming into play so that ended our adventure into what turned out to be our permanent ice fishing shack.  

HDS 12 Live

My neighbor Tom Olson asked me to go with him in his boat which was nice as I  didn't have to do anything.  We did catch a few bass on a wacky worm set up which was one of the original intents for going to Lake John, try for some bass.  Unfortunately it was quite windy, coming out of the west as 15 - 20 mph.  our plan was to fish the edges of the long east to west bay where the wind would push us along the shore.  Within 5 minutes there was a small bass on my line.  Maybe 13 inches, not enough to take a picture.  A few more were caught before Tom caught this really funky looking bass.  He threw it back before I had time to snap a picture so no proof of our limited success.  Drifting the north side and casting for crappies, one finally hit my jig, maybe 9 inches, good enough to keep but it would be hard to work that area well so it went back.  It was just too windy to fish comfortably so we headed back to the landing.  It was still nice to fish a lake that I had not been to since 2015. 

Last fall I traded with Bill my HDS 12 Carbon for his HDS 12 Live, a newer unit.  It has some interesting features you can use like Live Sight for looking forward for fish.  Garmin has really set the industry ablaze with it's Panoptics system which people rave about for ice fishing.  Lowrance has some catching up to do however if and when they do I will be ready.  It's still a process to get everything changed over and working as their a little changes done every time they change models as well they have software upgrades to fix issues that were missed.  It's an easy process, simply download the update to your computer then transfer it to a miniSD card, insert the card and through the menu system find the upgrade then install it.  Admittedly it's nice to have everything talking to each other and working but sometimes it would just be nice not having to worry about it, like the good old days!  Oh well.  Yesterday Bruce Wiley flew me to Siren, Wisconsin's Burnett County Airport.  There we filled the plane up with their cheaper 100 octane low lead airplane fuel, punched to code in for the main airport building where we signed out the courtesy car and headed to Burnett County Coop to have lunch, buy some of their delicious cheese, and pick up some spotted cow beer for the neighbors.  That is always a fun couple of hours for sure. This new format is going to be the death of me!!!!!!

Saturday, September 5, 2020

More Like It!

First Nice smallie in the Boat
With the better part of August relegated to the garden and the higher water, the plans to fish the Mississippi River didn't materialize as much as I had planned on it.  Also the closure of Mille Lacs, we fished the river quite a bit in July however with the warm water temperatures and the expectations of a normal bite never materialized.  Last Sunday my good friend Lory Brasel was in town so we decided to try the last part of August bite on the river.  Heading out about 1:00, I grabbed the nightcrawlers from the refrigerator but one whiff and it was apparent this was going to be strictly a crankbait trip.  They might have worked for catfish but I didn't want to deal with that smell all day!  The water was up about a foot from a "Normal" flow which was not bad as the thought was the smallies would be pushed against the bank more.  The plan was the usual routine, motor up about 4 miles just past the last island before the town of Dayton, hug the north side of the river casting various crankbaits.  The water was definitely fast and dirtier than normal but still inviting enough to try our luck.  As stated in faster water the fish tend to be up close to the shore, taking advantage of  current breaks available as well the become a great ambush point for stuff coming down the river.  My bait of choice this year is a somewhat larger square bill crankbait.  I like the way they cast and tend not to get too hung up on the bottom.  Being a little heavier, it is easy to place them right at the edge of the water then crank out.  Within 5 minutes there was a nice smallie on the line.  Of course one is never ready for that first fish and by the time we got out the net the fish came by the boat, took one last leap and spit the bait out, LDR (long distance release).  The rule in the boat is if you get a good look at the fish, can identify it, it counts as one caught.  Trying to save some of the good spots for Lory, we came upon a smaller current break when Lory pulled one as he retrieved it down the break.  Again another nice smallie about the same size as mine, maybe 17 inches, got the net out but before we got the net in the water another LDR.  Never the less it was fun!  Lory had a smaller profile crankbait with a larger lip to help get the bait down.  A few minutes later he was fighting a fish again, this time it was a 13 inch walleye.  We occasionally get walleyes when casting the shore and this would have been the 3rd such as typically they are in the deeper holes, something that's on the list to learn.  Quickly he pulled it in and released it.  Next was my turn and this time we were successful in landing the fish.  Although not huge it was still a nice smallie for the river.  We were on a good pace, a fish every 15 minutes.

6 inch Smallie on a 2 inch crankbait
Sometimes it never fails to amaze me how small a fish can be verses the the size of the crankbait it hits.  Lory was casting about a 2 inch Bandit and this 6 inch smallie hits it with vengeance.  Honestly it's quite amazing and sometimes it verifies that many of these fish simply strike out of reaction.   We released this smallie but took a picture to show just how aggressive these fish can be, heck the bait is one third it's length.  Reminds we when we were fishing for ocean run stripers in Massachusetts and catching 26 inch fish using 14 inch mackerel for bait.  The fast current made for a quick trip and without any live bait we made it down by Kings Island, just across the river from Blair's house where I land the boat.  There is a small channel that surrounds the island so we decided that with the high water, we'd boat around the island, which is privately owned by Vista Outdoors, they acquired the property when they bought Federal Cartridge in Anoka.    Only about 20 feet wide and a foot and a half deep there were a few guys casting for northerns with some luck.  It is kind of interesting idling through the channel as the roar of cars from Highway 10 is present.  It's sort of a dichotomy of things, you feel you are in a remote area with civilization right in walking distance.  There are 2 duck blinds on the property and you can get a permit to hunt ducks along the river, I hear them shooting all the time.  I guess it's nice to have somewhere close where you can do these things.  

The plan is to try and get out on the river a few more times as it is really a unique experience.  The tomatoes  are really coming in and although I still have salsa from last year, it's not what I would say the best and continue to experiment with my formula.  Wednesday was salsa night and it seems as though the correct ratio of spices seems to be coming together, about time!  The real problem this year is trying to find canning supplies, jars and lids.  It's insane for sure.  I think it will be fine as I've picked up a few things here and there.  One shout out to Lynn Brasel, Lory's wife.  After our fishing adventure on Sunday we were invited over for supper.  The Brasel's provided the salmon and a special treat, fresh Chicken in the Woods mushrooms they picked on their farm near New York Mills.  For our part we provided scallops, wine, and a bag of my frozen sweet corn.  One of the results of our fabulous supper makes me want  to share Lynn's way of serving it, she cooked the corn then added butter and cream cheese.  Uffda, my new favorite way of preparing corn, and  have lot's of it as last month I made over 90 bags (about a quart), happy eating for a year!  This new format is getting better  but still am struggling a bit.  Oh well.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Try Mille Lacs One More Time

Bruce's First Deep Water Walleye
With the official policy preventing US citizens from entering Canada extended to September 21st, this all but killed any notion of making it up to Lac Seul Outpost this year, as well everyone is got something going on this summer. Bruce, Pete and I decided to try and repeat the performance from the week before on Mille Lacs and do some deep water trolling.  I know these guys have never tried this so it would be a good experience for them.  Deciding last Friday would be a good time, we hooked the boat up and met Bruce at the public landing just north of the Casino.  The weather had been stable all week with Friday being no exception.Calm conditions were nice but it was pretty hot with temperatures in the low 90's.  With 2 goals in mind, 1 was to catch fish and the other was to show Bruce some of the screen shots of fish on the depth finder as they are easily detectable in the waters deeper than 20 feet.  The strategy would be the same as last week, one planar board out with a Reef Runner while putting 2 lead core rods out each side of the back pulling #5 Shad Raps.  The nice thing about the lead core setups is it's easy to change out baits and try to establish a pattern faster.  On the way back last week we drove over both 9 Mile and 7 Mile flats and they had a lot of fish around them so it was decided to start there.  Doing a complete circle around 7 Mile produced nothing so we made a beeline and trolled across to 9 Mile Flat.  Although we marked a lot of fish, as my buddy Kevin would say....."You can't make mark soup!".  Circling 9 mile produced nothing so we headed back to 8 mile where we got 7 the week before.  As stated before, 8 Mile Flat is a H shaped flat and is the longest mid-lake structure on Mille Lacs.  It is nice trolling the outside edges as it is fairly straight north and south, with the long stretches, one can easily control the trolling direction and speed.  As around 7 and 9 mile flat we were marking a lot of fish.  Unfortunately nothing was hitting.  Probably close to 3 miles long with a couple of smaller flats off of the northwest tip, it took about 1 1/2 hours to troll the west side.  Unlike last week we arrived at the end of the flat with nothing to show.  Deciding to change colors on my lead core, I let out the 4 colors of line and continued trolling.   As we turned east it was decided to weave in between the smaller flats on our way to the northeast corner.   All of a sudden the starboard side lead core rod starts to bounce.  Grabbing the rod and giving it to Bruce, I slowed the boat down to give us some better control.  First fish in the boat, about a 23 inch walleye.  Well, at least we weren't skunked! Thinking we should change Pete's Shad Rap to a different color we set the lines and started to troll again.  Last week the hot Shad color was a Chartreuse back and a white bottom but it did nothing this trip.  The Hot Steel pattern was the winner as it does have a silver back and chartreuse bottom, go figure!  As stated before, the nice thing about the lead core is changing lures is quite easy.

Not going too far when the rod started bouncing again. Although not a huge fish, maybe 19 inches, it

The first double of the day.
was a fish never the less!  Again this was on the #5 Shad Rap.  We got the lines set again and started trolling as Pete indicated we were due for a double.  Once again the starboard line started bouncing, as I handed Bruce the rod, Pete reeled his in like always to prevent any tangles.  All of a sudden Pete announces he has a fish on as well.  Suspecting the fish hit the bait as he started to reel, we definitely got our first double!  Pete's fish wasn't very big, about 15 inches but it was nice to see some smaller year classes being caught.  In the meantime Bruce had another one about 22 inches.  With the hot temperatures we try to get the fish back in the water with minimal handling and every fish swam away healthy however Bruce's fish stayed on the surface.  Rather than just leaving it we turned around to see if we could revive it somewhat.  Approaching the fish and attempting to net it, the minute the net touched the walleye it slapped it's tail and disappeared.  We ended up with 1 more walleye for a total of 5 fish boated.  A couple of thoughts, first they say never leave biting fish.  Hindsight is 20/20 and we should have never left the north end to continue down the east side of 8 Mile.  Catching all of our fish weaving between those smaller flats should have been a clue.  Secondly unlike the week before, we never caught a fish on the planar board, whereas last week 4 of the 7 were on the planar board.  I did switch out baits to match more closely to the colors of the Shad Raps we were having success on but it just wasn't in the cards that day.

We ended up back at Bruce's cabin before having dinner at the Lonesome Pine on Bay Lake.  The prime rib was superb!  After dinner we ended up at Jerry Kiffmeyer's place and I will not elaborate how that went!  Breakfast at Ricky Shermer's before heading home, 7 hours in the hot sun, a big meal and maybe too many refreshments made for a full 2 days.  Oh well, I'd do it again.  With the water temperatures dropping and myself getting better at boat control I  might just do some sunset trolling this fall on the reefs.  I used to do this all the time before the restrictions set in on Mille Lacs.  It's also a great time for smallies on the river as I have not done very well this year, maybe hit the river this week end.  I have still not mastered this new Blogger and may have to change my format to make it easier, driving me crazy!

Monday, August 17, 2020

Back On the Big Water

Ben's First Walleye of the Day

 I won't bore you with the details however Mille Lacs Lake opened back up to walleye fishing August first after being closed for the entire month of July.  August is not one of the best months to fish walleyes on Mille Lacs but after a scorching hot July, with a moderate amount of rain in the area as well as cooler night time temperatures, the lake surface temperature  has dropped at least 8 degrees, things were going in the right direction.  After watching this video of one of my favorite YouTube guys, Tom Boley, it was titled, Mille Lacs, Part 2.  Tom is a young guide from the Hayward, Wisconsin area and has his own YouTube channel regarding fishing.  He does an excellent job of explaining the fishing scenario's on his video's and is especially interesting when it comes to going through how to use electronics to locate fish.  Tom posted this video last week and it influenced myself to get and try lead lining an long line trolling with planar boards in the deeper water off the flats on Mille Lacs.  I have been asked buy a good friend Greg Kinblom  to take him and his son Marcus back to Mille Lacs and this was a perfect time.  Although storms blew by the night before, Sunday was to be calm, partly cloudy, a perfect setup for trolling.  Unfortunately Marcus has a girlfriend who's parents were coming over for dinner on was a no go.  In their place was my good friend Jack Taylor and his son Ben.  I guess next time I see Marcus we'll have to go over his priorities once again!  Heading to 8 Mile Flat, the strategy was to fish just off the 25 foot break in the 32 feet of water. With barely a breeze we headed out from the landing at full throttle, full trim.  It was fun opening the boat up and still remain comfortable as we made the 6 mile run in about 15 minutes.   Everything ran exceptionally well with the exception of my live well valve, it still won't shut off the water coming into the live well on Recirculate.  More on that later.  8 Mile Flat looks like a big H facing north and south.  Starting on the west (Left) side of the bottom of the flat we positioned ourselves about 50 yards off the edge and got set up.  The first rod we rigged was a long line rod with a Reef Runner 800 deep diver.  This lure will run at 28 feet with the about 150 feet of line let out.  Ben originally wanted to use pink, not my favorite on Mille Lacs but the kid needed to learn a lesson so we put on a pink colored Reef Runner.   Using a line counter reel we let the proper amount of line then attached a Offshore Tackle planar board to the line which will carry it 20 yards to the side of the boat.  Next Jack an I rigged up a lead line setup, each has an 8'6" trolling rod with a large reel that carries 10 colors of lead line.  Lead line is simply a braided Dacron line with a lead core inside.  The line comes in a variety of diameters based on the breaking strength one is interested in.  Regardless of the size (diameter) they all have on thing in common, the line is segments of 10 yards (30 feet) long that are different colors.  For each segment or color, the line at 2.0 mph will sink 5 feet deep.  With normal lead line to fish 25 feet deep, one would let out 5 segments or colors.  On the end of the lead line is tied a fluorocarbon leader, maybe 10 - 12 pound test and I tend to make them 10 - 15 foot, so the lure has a minimal effect on how deep the lure itself will run.  With a number 5 Shad Rap it may only run a couple of feet deeper than the stated lead line depth,  and usually a walleye on the bottom will come up 4 to 5 feet and slam the lure.  In all the years fishing I would estimate that the number 5 shad rap crankbait has caught more walleyes in my boat than all other crankbaits combined.  Of course I do use them alot!  In the case of lead line my reels are loaded with Suffix brand 832, a thinner diameter line that runs 7 to 8 feet per color instead of the standard 5 foot per color.  The thinner diameter allows one to add more line to the reel and in the case of using the 832, I can get all 10 colors on my line counter reel just in case something would happen to the end of the line, which I've experienced before.  In 32 feet of water we attached our lures and set them to the proper depth.  It took a while but about after an hour of trolling Ben's planar board was acting funny.  I had him reel it in and checked the lure, nothing so telling Ben pink was not cutting it I attached one of my favorites, a brown perch pattern.  20 minutes latter Ben pull this walleye from the depths.

Fishing wasn't terribly fast.  We had a little trouble with the planar boards a those reef runners pull very

Jack's 25 inch walleye
hard and was finding it difficult to keep the back line clip in place.  Keeping slack between the main line clip near the front of the board and the back clip that is hooked to a flag system is critical as the flag acts as a strike detector and if it's down you probably have a fish.  After getting it clamped on the line we let it out and before long the flag went down, another fish.  That would be Reef Runner 2, Shad Raps 0.  We started aggressively changing colors on our Shad Raps, finally putting a Fluorescent green/white on Jack' line and before long his rod was bouncing in the rod holder.  One nice thing is my EZ Troll, kicker motor throttle control.  When we had a fish on we could dial down the speed to a crawl, this would not mess up the existing lines that were set yet allow one to fight the fish without the pull of the motor.  This fish looked like a nice walleye and once in the net it was definitely what we were looking for, a 25 incher.  Deciding that this might be a clue I changed the Shad Rap on my line from a crawfish colored pattern to a lighter colored, similar to Jack's.  The previous strategy was to use a color similar to the Reef Runner as Ben had already caught 2 nice walleyes, but I had dragged it for over an hour with little success.  Unfortunately I had a nice white/chrome shad rap on earlier but it got hung up in some weeds that were floating and the line broke.  We did go back to try and find it but were not successful unfortunately.  Well after 30 minutes of switching my rod starts to bounce in the holder, I was finally on the board.  After setting the lines and another 30 minutes of trolling Jack tied into a dandy.  The battle ensued and he finally got it up to the surface.  I estimate it was in that 27 to 18 inch range.  Putting the net in the water and asking Jack to bring it my way, a quick head shake and the hook came out.  A quick flip of it's tail and she was gone.Although it meant no picture, it's a great way to release a fish as we work hard to unhook them quickly and get them back in the water.

Finally a Walleye!
So a quick day of fishing which included 6 hours on the water, 7 walleyes to the boat, and a variety of lures tried.  Maybe not my best day of trolling but we did not come home skunked.  The lake was beautiful and with a slight breeze from the Northwest it was just about perfect.  the original plan was to go on Saturday but severe storms had moved through that area Friday night and usually fishing isn't that good after a big storm rolls through.  Apparently they had an isolated storm come across Mille Lacs Saturday night..........well that sounds like a great excuse!  Either way it was fun, especially being able to teach Ben how to run the boat, he did fine so all I had to do was to bark out some instructions and keep the lines going.

I am still having issues with this new version of blogger, it tends to drive me crazy.....I suppose it's the old adage, it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks!  Between trying to get out on the boat and the river, there are plenty of things to do.  The second crop of sweet corn is ripening this week, the tomatoes look great and it will be time to make salsa again this year.  Canada recently closed it's border until September 21st so no trip to Lac Seul this fall, a pretty big disappointment but one just has to take it in stride.  It looks like our rescheduled Leech Lake Opener on October 9th is still on so that is good.  The winning strategy there should be trolling shad raps and I am set.  My brother Steve is working on getting a new boat and I've committed to helping him remove any electronics from his current boat and reinstalling them.  One thing that has me going is seeing the posts from my good friend Keith Holtan (he is located at the left side of this post or here ) .  Gary Blinn, a guy who frequents Keith's place in Alaska but also by chance is often at Lac Seul Outposts when we are there, is pictured with a nice silver salmon.  It takes me back to those days with my brother and cousins as this is the perfect time of the year to fish Alaska as the pinks come into the rivers and it's like catching sunfish!  Those were some good times for sure.  We will see Keith this winter, maybe I'll help him with his booth at the Sport show this year, and we'll definitely have to go ice fishing again!

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Mid Summer Chores


First Crop ready to be cut off the cob.
Although I am still trying to figure out this new format, it doesn't seem too bad this week.  The problem with being retired  and fishing is there always seems to be something going on during the weekends and everyone else is working during the week days.  With Mille Lacs opening back up to walleye fishing, and even though it is catch and release only, my goal is to get up there in the next couple of weeks to try some lead line trolling in the basin areas.  I haven't done that in years because of the various closures however this August should be a great time.  In addition to that, hopefully the Mississippi River turns on soon as we have caught some fish, it's been a slow year.  Admittedly I usually don't start fishing the river until August and this year was July, time will tell as the river is hot on my list.  So what's been going on?  My last post had a picture of my sweet corn and this week it's finally ready to go, and go it is.  The garden has 6 rows of corn, each at about 48 feet long.  The first 3 rows were planted first with the last 3 rows planted 2 weeks later.  Each row produces about 10 dozen ears of corn and as of this post, I have only dealt with the first 1 1/2 rows, meaning there is still about 15 dozen ears that have to be taken care of before the next batch ripens, meaning there will be another 30 dozen ears to attend to!  I have shared some corn with the neighbors and there is already 19 vacuum packed bags in the freezer so hopefully with the help of my friend Bill Lundeen we can hammer out the rest of the first crop, which he should be nicely rewarded with for his help!  The cucumbers are about done, maybe a few more batches and the tomatoes are just starting to turn red.  A bumper crop of peppers and the onions look fabulous, I suspect the salsa production will start up real soon.  One day I might figure out that all this gardening is simply work yet the vacuum packed frozen corn freezes well and even after a year it still tastes as fresh as the day it was picked.  It's pretty amazing.

Honey Bees at Work.

Besides dealing with the garden, the city of Dayton decided to plow up a perfectly good 2 acre park down the road and plant it with sunflowers.  Admittedly it looks good however there are about 60 cars parked up and down the streets with little regard as to who's grass their car tires are on.  It is quite a field however with the traffic I have been avoiding it.  Apparently it has gone viral on the local Dayton and Champlin community Facebook pages, people all dressed up to take pictures, families with kids, it's all good.  What it is really good for is the bees that are on the back of my property.  Years ago a friend of a friend was looking for a place close to his home where he could keep honey bees.  With the orchard and a big garden, this would be perfect and invited Bruce to utilize my land for his hives.  the bees do a fabulous job, one could actually sit in my cucumbers and listen to the chorus of bees humming all around you.  Perfect for assuring a good crop.  Well the sunflowers should really help to provide a nice yield of honey this year as the bees do not have to travel far.  Her is a picture of one of the two hives.  The bottom pick and greenish compartments are where the queen resides.  She lays her eggs to produce worker bees to make honey to survive the winter.  There is a screen between the pink section and the first blue/yellow section to prevent the queen from laying eggs into those top boxes.  The screen is too small to let the queen who is much larger than the worker bees to get through yet it allows the workers to make their way up and basically make honey in the upper sections.  Often they make so much honey that they remove a full box and replace it with an empty one that the bees fill up again.  The bees make considerably more honey than they need to survive the winter, and sadly with disease and things like mites, often the hives die out in the winter, and they have to be replaced each year.  Supposedly this year's bees are said to be of a Russian variety and more hardy to the cold as well as more disease resistant.  We'll see as I really enjoy them on the property and they are pretty low key as pollen is their only focus, not stinging people!

As stated, I am hoping our luck changes on the river this month.  Canada is closed until August 21st and nobody is optimistic that we will be able to fish Lac Seul in September of this year.  Team Walleye did move our fishing opener event out to October 9th and it seems like everyone is gearing for that date.  Being a pretty good at trolling for walleye, October is an excellent time of the year for this technique.  Some of our guys have been calling me on techniques and preferred lures for Leech in October.  Letting out too many secrets is necessarily smart but they still have to catch them!  Besides trolling is work and many of the guys aren't into it.  My brother Steve Anderson has been negotiating on a new used boat that would be a nice upgrade for him.  It's a great time to sell a boat and I promised him help with transferring his electronics and trolling motor.  I remember when he bought the one he is selling, he called and told me he was going to look at a Lund 1625.  After telling him he's crazy and to definitely go bigger he called on the way back stating I was right and he ordered the 1725.  Well this new one is a 1775, a little longer and has more space.  He just retired and my advise.....your not getting any younger!  Leech Lake and Lac Seul is where one appreciates the extra size.  Oh well, obviously there is plenty to do. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Blogger has Changed, Let's see if this works!!!

Sweet corn in great shape
Well, Google decided to change it's format and quite frankly teaching an old dog isn't exactly my idea of fun but I guess one cannot stop progress....if that's what they call it!  I guess after 12 years of using the old system it was time to shake up things a bit, and shake them up they did!!  So forgive me if this is late or looks a little odd, I am only human!  So as I struggle to even get this picture where it supposed to be, let me tell you it's been hot.  Along with timely rains, my corn is literally reaching for the sky. The first three rows were planted  right after the fishing opener with the next 3 rows a few weeks later on June 1st.  This is done so it all doesn't ripen at the same time which then brings a mad scramble to get it packed away.  When it is about a foot high each row gets a side dressing of 46-0-0 fertilizer which is 46% nitrogen per 100 pounds of fertilizer and nothing else.  Corn loves nitrogen and as you see in the picture it has done extremely well.  Probably 6 - 7 feet tall, the leaves are a beautiful dark green, and the ears are forming very nicely.  Of course it along with the cucumbers thrive in this weather.  Personally I could use it a little cooler but it is what it is!  A few past posts have explained my method of preserving the corn for all year, using my dad's recipe, boil the corn for 3 minutes, remove from the water to stop the cooking.  Using an electric knife, cut off the kernels,  adding nothing, simply put the corn in the vacuum sealer bags, seal and freeze.  The corn tastes just like the day one packed it, absolutely delicious.  Along with the corn, the cucumbers have really been keeping me busy.  The Zucchini has been growing like crazy as well as the peppers and tomatoes.  Foolish me, have been bragging that the potatoes were free of potato bugs but alas, it's a daily job to pick them off now.  Should have kept my mouth shut!
Nice smallie on Monday

So back to fishing.  A couple of things.  Last Sunday we went down to Lake City to celebrate my grand niece's birthday with he parents.  We had a fabulous lunch at the Lake House on Pepin.  In preparing the trip it was asked of me to bring down my boat and the 7 of us could go for a ride.  the winds were scheduled to be 20 mphout of the northwest, no the perfect scenario for calm day on the water, never the less the boat was in tow.  The lake didn't look too bad howevee once on the water a number of issues became apparent.  Even though the boat has a 250 hp motor, it is not propped for that load and we could never get on plane in the rough water, and when we attempted all the boat would do is porpoise.  Even under the best throttle/weight distribution combinations, it wasn't good as a lot of the passengers were uncomfortable.  Oh well, it wasn't my idea!  Last night (Monday) my good friend Mike Grant's son David called to see if I wanted to go out.  Well of course!  Brandon had just welded the guides onto the trailer, the winch was replaced with something heavier duty and with some modifications, should make winching the boat up the trailer much easier.  With the water level up about 18 inched we headed up river all the way to Elk River. There were some great looking places to fish but no luck.  Spending more time than planned we motored back down to our normal starting point and fished the shorelines.  Still nothing as I figured the higher water would have pushed the fish shallower.  After the "milk run" drift" it was time to start the motor and hesd down to a few holes and catfish.  Well the motor started, then stuttered before stopping completely.  It would not start again as it seemed to be out of gas.  The tank still had a couple of gallons but something didn't feel right.  Reading the manual it said if you run it out of gas, the fuel system needs to be purged.  No where in the manual does it say how to do this!!!  We were 3 miles from Blair's landing and with a 2.5 mph drift, we'd get there a little after sunset.  The disadvantage is the electric will not push against the current so if you are snagged you are out of luck.  We each lost a nice crankbait.  Like a couple of weeks ago we did find some fish just off shore including this nice 17 inch smallie that hit my new Rapala BX Big Brat square bill crankbait.  It casts like a dream and goes over the rocks very well.  Dave missed a few and we both caught each about an 8 inch northern pike.  Arriving at the landing both the welded on guides and the winch worked beautifully.  Dave headed home while I looked at the motor, added gas to the tank and discovered a valve stem device on the inputs to the intake manifold.  Pumping the bulb then pressing the valve, air and gas came out.  A quick press on the starter button and she popped right off.  There needs to be a little research to make sure it is the proper method as I'd hate to be downstream the next time it decides to do that!  One last thing, my Sirius Radio hasn't been working on the big boat.  It was updated prior to fishing opener however it was giving me grief then.  A quick review of the last update in May states....Fixes Sirius/Weather issues.   It's pretty easy to upgrade the software, pulled it out so the antenna had a clear view of the sky and now it works perfectly.  Dang computers!!!  It will probably take a few posts to get everything back to normal, or at least my normal.........which is probably questionable anyway.