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.


Thursday, July 16, 2020

July Continues!

New Trailer Brake Actuator
It's been an interesting summer for sure.  The good news is that the garden is growing like crazy,  With the right amount of proper fertilizer, warm muggy days and warm nights, along with timely rains, the first planting of corn is tasseled out, the cucumbers are producing like crazy and the potatoes look fabulous.  I did speak too soon on the potato bugs as I am seeing a few these days.  As most of you know my boat has been a curse these last 12 months.  After getting the live well valve replaced and backing it into the shed the next morning there was a puddle of brake fluid under the surge brake actuator by the hitch.  Pulling the plug where one checks and fills the brake fluid, it was completely empty.  After filling it up again and letting it sit a few days, nothing leaked out but still there was something wrong.  My estimates on the trailer is it probably has 30,000 to 40,000 miles on it.  Last fall it got 4 new tires, a new axle, it isn't worth the chance to mess with the brakes.  Looking online an original OEM Dexter actuator replacement was about $350 by the time you add shipping and taxes.  Last fall when I needed an axle I was given Kremer Services as the "official" RangerTrail service center.  I called them and it wouldn't be till the end of July before they could order one and get me in.  the service guy was going to call me back but never did.  Last Thursday there was a "MEGA" fishing garage sale in Lindstrom, MN, near Frankie's.  Deciding to go it would also gave me the opportunity to stop and discuss my new problem.  The sale was a complete dud although I did buy 7 pairs of Green Bay Packer socks for $20, but that was about it.  Stopping at Frankie's, Deb was behind the counter as I told her my boat is lonely already for your shop!  Discussing the latest issue she said, yes we do these all the time, in fact I have the actuators in stock.   Well put my name on one and I'll be back on Monday.  She promised me they would put it in while I waited.  On Monday the boat was dropped off and instead of waiting around it was a great opportunity to drive to Burnett Creamery just east of Grantsburg, Wisconsin about 35 minutes away.  Uffda, their cheese curds were out of this world.  Freshly bagged from the morning they were still warm, squeaked like crazy, and had the best flavor of any curds.  Ended up with 4 bags of curds, some 14 year old cheddar, and 4 rounds of 3 pepper Colby cheese, incredible.   Next stop was to cross country it to Cumberland Wisconsin and stop at Louie's Finer Meats for their amazing homemade bratwursts.  Got 3 flavors, Packer Brats which has sauerkraut and cheese in them, Pickle and Cheese, and plain Beer Brats.  Before getting to Louie's, Jared from Frankie's called and said the trailer is done.  Incredibly the charges on fixing the trailer were $410, a heck of a deal considering it was done right and I wouldn't have to find a guy who knew what they were doing to bleed the brakes.  As well it was very noticeable once pulling, it's possible that the brakes had been going bad for a while.  Well now they are fixed.  I ended up giving some cheese to Deb as she asked if I would pick up some of that 3 pepper stuff.

Bill's 18 inch Smallie
Last Wednesday Bill Lundeen was in town, as mentioned in the last post.  He said he'd like to go fishing and thought a river trip would be nice so he showed up at noon, we loaded the Jon boat on the UTV and headed to the river.  Admittedly my routine is pretty much the same, run up about 4 miles then fish the north side of the river with crankbaits while drifting down.  As stated, the water temperature is quite high and usually my river fishing is done in August but I am surprised at the few smallmouth we have been catching.  Finally Bill hooks into a nice one, we were probably double the distance from the shore as we usually are, maybe this is trying to tell us something!  Never the less this was an interesting experience for Bill, one that was all my pleasure.  One of the best places to fish is where the shoreline rocks meet deeper water and the fish hang in the small areas of calmer water next to the main current, this hasn't been very productive either.  It's a fast paced fishing experience as one is drifting with the current about 2 to 2.5 mph, so everything is fast.  It was nice that Bill caught the first fish and the way it was going, maybe the last fish.  After passing the good areas we anchored just downstream from Cloquet Island to fish with worms but nothing was biting.  Giving it 20 minutes we moved downstream to another deeper eddy and anchored.  After about 15 minutes something hit my bait but after lifting the rod and feeling nothing I set it down.  Another tap tap, another lifting the rod, another nothing.  Deciding to reel it in to check the bait, the hook finally connected with a nice smallmouth bass.  Apparently the fish had the bait and was swimming upstream with it making it virtually impossible to detect.  After deciding to reel in the circle hook did it's job and fish on!!!  It's an interesting way to catch a fish but it works.  Once again zero rough fish caught, not even a catfish.  I am getting to think that the real trick is to get up into the shallow areas where the fish come up to feed, like off of John's dock.  Checking it out it's only about 3 feet but Jake and myself's best day was there.  You would think the deeper holes would hold more fish but that seems not to be the case.

Second Smallie on a bottom crawler rig
After fishing with Bill I noticed that the ceramic inside ring of one guide was missing.  Thorne Brothers fixes these so on my way back from the garage sale last week a detour on Central Ave to Thorne's I dropped of the rod.  This Monday when returning from Frankie's they called to say my rod was done.  Another detour and picked up the rod, a Fenwick HMX casting rod, not an overly expensive rod but worth fixing for sure.  The guide was a single foot guide, small diameter and quite honestly it's almost impossible to even tell which guide they had fixed.  The workmanship is excellent, and it was even a matching guide.  The next thing was the price, only $12.  I felt so guilty I had to buy a bait!  Nice job and highly recommend them for rod repair.  The other thing happening is fixing up the river boat.  When out with Bill it was very difficult loading the boat on the trailer.  When I got the boat my brother-in-law had side guides mounted but they were not very good and the brackets became more of a problem than what they were worth, so they got removed.  Fast forward, this spring the thought was to weld a plate to the trailer then using better u bolts, that would be more secure.  Neighbor Brandon volunteered to weld the trailer, so we did it last Thursday night.  After looking at it we decided to weld the side guides directly on the trailer, using some angle iron to brace it.   They look pretty good and now will stand up to getting the boat straight on the trailer better. At the same time the winch didn't function well.  Brandon was going to fix the front roller stop however decided to simply move the winch down.  This worked but the winch handle was still too long and hit the boat on that last turn.  Ordering a new winch from Amazon, one with a strap, it needed modifying in the form of a new mounting hole on the trailer as well, decided to shorten the winch handle as it was also to long.  This is sort of a pain but a few trips to the hardware store and getting out the seldom used drill press, it is a work of art! The next thing is mounting some navigation lights which are done and just needs to be hooked up.  New guides, winch, lights, now all we need is the fish to cooperate better as I'd hate to say fishing off of John's dock is more productive!

Monday, July 6, 2020

Hot, Hot, Hot!!!

Great picture of Toolman!!
It's been almost too hot to write!!  Great excuse but our weather has been hot and muggy for the last week, admittedly the garden likes it but then again, that's more work.....uffda! So we finally got to say goodbye to our good friend and neighbor "Toolman" Tim Kuntz.  Back on April 6th I mentioned Tim in that week's post.  He was diagnosed with cancer on February 2nd and passed away just 8 short weeks later.  On Monday June 29th, Tim's official funeral was at his home church, Sacred Heart in East Grand Forks, MN.  With all this Covid restrictions, this was the first opportunity to have a meaningful service.  While Pete, Bots and their wives went up the night before and stayed in town, my wife Lyn and I decided to drive to Alexandria and stay with Lory and Lynn Brasel at their cabin on Lake Ida.  We spent a quiet evening making steaks and enjoying the view of the lake before getting up early and driving the 2 1/2 hours to East Grand Forks.  The funeral really helped give some closure to the unfortunate passing of our good friend Tim.  Pete, Tim's niece and myself got up and said a few words about Tim, it was the first time for Pete but that was good for him and he did a great job.  It's never fun to attend these things however it gives one some perspective on how important your friends are in your life as well, things change and not always for the better. We all benefit from these friends whether they be one's that you have known all your life, like my buddy Kevin, or you have only know them later in life, like Tim.  Good friends are hard to come by so make sure you treat them well and with respect because after they have left, the only thing you have is whether or not you are a better person for knowing them.  In Tim's case it is a resounding yes, I still drive by his place looking to see if he's in the garage.  Old habits are hard to break for sure but I suspect somewhere he is watching me probably giving me hell for thinking he's home.

Ben's new 620FS
So after the last outing on Mille Lacs with my friends Jack and Pete, there were some boat issues that needed to be cleaned up.  In the meantime Ben Aiona was on the hunt for a boat like mine.  Ben fishes big water a lot and wanted a larger boat.  His current boat was a Ranger 618T with a 90 hp tiller, nice boat but a little small for Erie, Lake Michigan, and Devil's Lake.  Talking to the dealer in Chippewa Falls at a new Ranger 620FS like mine, he asked me what I thought he could get for his boat, a 2016 model.  Oh, I don't know, maybe $36,000.  Well Ben doesn't screw around and put it on Walleye Central for a lot more than that and in 24 hours it was sold!  Well he was boat less, and waiting for the one he was negotiating on to come in.  While making an appointment with Frankie's I spoke to Todd, the sales guy about a 620FS, he said at 9:00 he just unloaded one from the truck.  Getting a price then calling Ben, he was on his way up to see the boat in Chippewa as he would prefer dealing with a local dealer.  Never the less he was intrigued by the price as Frankie is one of the largest volume Ranger dealers in the country.  Ben went to look at the boat and after talking to him he said that the boat he looked at was butt ugly, no sparkles, just plain gelcoat, and he was heading up to Frankie's to look at what he had.  Deciding to meet him there and arriving earlier, they moved the boat into the show room, it was gorgeous.  Knowing Ben and this boat, I predicted that this boat will be gone in an hour.  Well sure enough Ben left with a new Ranger purchase agreement and here is a picture, it is a beautiful boat as well it has a lot of nice options as it is their Ranger Cup package.  He picked it up on Friday June 26th and drove to Chetek to do an initial run, ran down to the Mississippi river where this picture was taken, them last week was on Lake Michigan catching lake trout and salmon.  Ben has the energy to really make this boat work for him.  His dad, Kevin and I used to fish Lake Michigan with Gary Barneson, I had some down riggers from 30 years ago that were better than what Ben had so Kevin and Gary were on their way back from Devil's Lake, we met at Cabela's and I gave him the down riggers we used and some other stuff that has just been laying around. Heck if I want to go to Lake Michigan, I'll just go with Ben!

Always a nice sunset on the river.
With the hot weather and Mille Lacs being completely closed to walleye fishing for the month of July, the best alternative has been the Mississippi River behind the house.  Having been in my river boat, last night neighbor Tom joined me as we launched at Blair's and headed up stream to cast the shorelines.  The water temperature was 88 degrees, pretty hot for this time of year.  Tom is a good fisherman and between the two of use we didn't get one smallmouth bass, and after anchoring for an hour didn't even get one fish on our bottom rigs loaded with nightcrawlers.  Usually that's a deadly method of getting at least a carp, redhorse, or catfish.  Admittedly it was the first time getting skunked on the river.  After "catching" this nice sunset picture we headed back to the pole shed.  A couple of notes, earlier stopping at Vado's Live Bait in Spring Lake Park, MN (10 miles from home) I picked up 6 dozen of the fattest nightcrawlers I had ever seen.  It mystifies me as to why we didn't catch any fish on these as it was like presenting a Fillet Mignon to them, although we did get some small hits, it was nothing substantial.  I am not sure what the problem has been however this is the earliest that I have fished the river so maybe it's just me!  Anyway it was a nice relaxing time to spend on the water.  My friend Bill Lundeen is threatening me that he will be down the middle of this week, maybe I can get him to show me what I am doing wrong!

Still waiting for word as to if and when Canada will open.  Bruce is determined to go somewhere, maybe we'll fly to Lake of the Woods or Devil's Lake and hire a guide for the day.  Time will tell as summer is moving fast!

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Back Fishing!

Jake's nice 20 inch channel Catfish, no turtle pictures!
Making up for lost time the last week saw 3 fishing adventures, 2 on the Mississippi River and yesterday was a day on Mille Lacs before it closes to walleye fishing on July 1st for a month. Starting with last Wednesday night, originally I had a trip planned to Mille Lacs but with the 96 degree temperatures and 35 MPH winds, it was better to stay on shore.  Here is my Facebook post regarding the night's adventure: "So last night I spent a couple of hours drowning some nightcrawlers off of John Meyer's dock. Accompanying me was my little fishing friend, Jake Hanson, Limo's boy, and is always the gracious and enthusiastic guest. While I got set up with our circle hooks and sinkers I tied onto Jake's line a new prop frog bait, a great selection for smallies and virtually snagless. After casting out the crawler rigs, John has nothing to hold the rods, I weaved them into our lawn chairs and waited. Before long Jake's pole was heading towards the river taking the lawn chair with it. A desperate grab saved both the rod, the chair, and the fish was on. Yelling for Jake to get up here he grabbed the pole and soon about a 15# carp emerged. Forgetting to bring a net the fish eventually tangled around the dock and snapped the line. Within 5 minutes the other rod was headed towards the river, again Jake ran up to grab the pole and it was another huge carp. Plan B didn't work so good either as the hook came out. Deciding there was more action on the dock, Jake decided to stay and within 5 minutes again another ferocious hit. After setting the hook Jake stated this fish feels different, it was....we had hooked a huge soft shelled turtle and it wasn't very happy! Hoping to get a picture with Jake, using a pliers I unhooked it, it wasn't having any thoughts of cooperating and lunged at us. I didn't think a 65 year old guy could move as fast as a young teenager as I provided the evenings entertainment. As the sun set I assured Jake this was prime catfish time and before long we had a double, a nice 20 incher and a 16 incher. Teaching Jake how to hold a catfish without getting stung, he did pretty well, so we finally got our evenings picture. Jake's a pretty good fisherman and a lot of fun to be with. It reminds me when I was his age fishing catfish on the Buffalo river with my dad's friends. I told Jake, in 50 years you'll be telling the story of fishing with your dad's old friend when we caught this turtle! Thanks John for the use of the dock and helping to create some great memories for a young man that truly appreciates the experience regardless of the generation gap." Fishing with Jake is a lot of fun as it reminds me when I was young and fishing with Kevin, and that's a long time ago!  He is eager to learn and pays close attention to my advice, which is hard to find these days and is great for my ego....we both get a lot of enjoyment hanging with each other!!!

Dave's Personal best Smallmouth bass.
The second trip of the week was on Saturday with another young man, David Grant, the son of agood friend of mine, he just graduated from High school..  He loves fishing and has been with me a number of times.  Last week we went to the fishing garage sale together and bought some stuff that one always needs!  Determined to get the jon boat out of the shed and running, this became the excuse to get it done.  Dave showed up at about 5:00 in the afternoon, having a few things left we hooked the boat up to the Polaris Razor and headed for the neighbors boat landing.  knowing my luck we decided to start the motor while at the shed, just in case!  It started as though it was yesterday it last ran, rather than last September.  EFI and electric start, what a great combination!  After repairing my neighbors gate we got the boat in the river and headed upstream for about 4 miles.  It is surprising how low the water is for this time of year.  Hitting the bottom a couple of times it is nice that the motor has a rock guard on it, although it slows the speed by a mph or so, it absorbs all the damage.  Both Dave and I are partial to square bill crankbaits as they seem to not get as hung up on the bottom as other types, we both started casting our favorite colors as the long drift began.  Of course it is important to show the kid some leadership I caught the first smallie, a 15 inch fish.  Admittedly this was the earliest I have ever fished the river but with the water level down, maybe it would be great.  Soon we entered a stretch where there is a lot of rip rap along the shore line, meant to keep the erosion down but also it is prime habitat for smallmouth.  Giving Dave some tips on where to cast, a very nice fish hit his lure and we scrambled to get the boat away from the shore.  Finally netting it, a nice 19 inch bass, Dave's personal best smallie, we snapped a couple of pictures before releasing it.  We caught a few more fish including another smallmouth caught on a bottom rig using nightcrawlers, a total surprise.  It certainly wasn't our best trip fish wise however as with Jake, most of the fun is being with these bright young men and trying to teach them something.  Telling Dave he needs to try this again, this time maybe spend some more time trying to find some walleyes as they are in the river.  Notice Dave's hat, an American flag however the red strips are actually fish silhouettes, it's really interesting.  Well on Sunday a package arrived with that hat inside, thank's Dave, now we both can look swanky!

27" walleye, largest of the day!
The third trip of this week was with a couple of friends, Jack Taylor and Pete.  Pete had gotten some red-tail minnows as the reports were the walleyes were hungry on Mille Lacs.  We had cancelled 2 earlier trips because of the weather and Tuesday looked good so we decided to take the Ranger out.  Stopping at Prince's bait we picked up leeches and crawlers, along with the red-tails we were set.  Launching on the west side of the lake, it was a bit rougher than we expected.  The temperature was very nice and our first stop was the mid lake gravel bars, about 5 miles or so out.  We hit the first bar which had another boat on it so we decided to stop at the next one a half mile north.  Jack put a leech on, Pete did a red-tail and I rigged a crawler harness.  Not more than 5 minutes of dragging and a nice walleye hit my crawler.  We continued to have a steady bite alternating between my crawler, Jack's leech's and Pete's minnow.  After about 10 walleyes we decided to hit the first gravel bar that we stopped at as the boat that was originally there had left.  With a fairly string north wind we drifted at the perfect speed of about 1 mph.  It was perfect drifting weather and we caught another 16 for a total of 26 walleyes for the day.  Having never used a red-tail for walleyes I changed my rig and hooked on a big one.   Letting the line down to the bottom, after about 3 minutes the rod told me there was something going on below.  Lifting to see if I could feel the bite there was nothing.  Again there was a tap tap then nothing.  After a few minutes of this I began to reel in the line, it was obvious that the line was not behind where it should have been and ahead of it's normal position.  As the reel cranked the line in all of a sudden there was a very heavy fish on the line.  Apparently the fish had grabbed the minnow and swam towards the boat which negated any traditional feel of a bite.  Netting the walleye it was the largest of the day, 27 inches.  Many of our fish were long but skinny, this fish was fat and healthy.  Back in the water it went as we saw a storm approaching from the north.  Deciding we had enough we barely made it to the landing when the sky unloaded on us.  Luckily we had time to get the boat on the trailer and the cover on before the bulk of the rain came.  It was another successful trip, plenty of walleyes were caught however one cannot keep any walleyes from Mille Lacs this year and to add insult to injury, the month of July walleye fishing is not allowed.....period!  Based on the great fishing in June it would not surprise anyone that it will shut down for the year.  As always I'll keep my political comments to myself!

Next trip will be on the river or maybe sneak back up to Mille Lacs before July 1st.  Monday is the funeral of our good friend Tim who passed away from cancer on April 3rd.  Even though there should have been 2 trips to Lac Seul this year, the current situation has us thinking about flying somewhere with Bruce to try a new fishing experience.  More on that later!

Monday, June 15, 2020

Positive Changes are Happening!

Another Mole!
What a difference a week can make.  Thursday Frankie's called and said the boat is ready!!  I am not sure if the boat likes being at Frankie's more than at home as in the last 12 months it has spent at least 5 of them in the shop.  The fiberglass guy does a good job and it looks like new.  As long as they had the lower unit off it was prudent to change the water pump.  It still looked pretty good but I agree with that philosophy as it seemed like a great idea.  I wasn't too impressed by the repair job on the front of the skeg, I guess my idea of a repair falls more in line with the fiberglass guy, it should look like new.  You have to look close at the skeg repair and because the "trim Tab" is built into the skeg design, it probably is a hard one to duplicate however...........and I'll just leave it at that! My friend Bruce understands the dilemma, you know it isn't right, bugs the crap out of you, but what's a reasonable answer for the repair, another month of no use?  Sometimes common sense has to dictate until there is a convenient time to address the issue that unfortunately only bugs you!  Upon getting her home and checking things out, the live well still had water in it and the valve control was on empty.  I thought...........I'll bet they forgot to remove the whiskey bottle cork that I inserted in the live well input at the rear of the boat, to stop water from leaking in (and would stop water from draining out).  Sure enough, after pulling the screen it was still in there.  Although it took a channel lock to pull it out we are back to normal.  She's washed and waxed, windshield cleaned, and the electronic's software has been updated.  The grab pole for the Ezee Steps, the system for us old guys to get into the boat easier, was rusting on the mount.  Being held by 4 1 inch 1/4" bolts, after removing and wire brushing the rusted areas it was repainted with truck bed liner spray (matches the Armor Coat on the trailer) then remounted with new stainless steel bolts.  It looks pretty good, at least better than seeing rust as one enters the boat.  Last week was posted a picture of a mole that I got on the first try.  Since then these seemingly dumb creatures have done their best to outwit me.  My friend Paul Wenaas responded to my post with a fool
The Cat Earning it's Keep!
proof mole trap that I needed to get, Fleet Farm had them for only $22.00, but after three unsuccessful tries I set only 1 trap again then headed to Fleet Farm to act on his suggestion.  Upon returning to set my new trap, damn if there wasn't a mole caught in my 4th set of this tunnel.  With the dry weather upon us, the moles will head to my irrigated lawn so all is not lost.  He says this trap works pretty good, I hope so as now my collection includes a 5th style.  Oh well, if they were pocket gophers it would be a different story.  It would be really nice if somehow our cat could figure out how to catch those dang moles.  He's actually pretty good at the above ground rodents and is quite successful in keeping the mouse, vole, and stripped gopher populations in check around the house.  It is quite amazing how quick our cat, Rocky can be however  I've seen those ground squirrels out run him but he's pretty savoy when it comes to mice.  Here he is pictured with a field mouse he got in the perennial garden earlier.  It's also amazing to watch as he seldom plays with them once caught, rather simply sit's down and within a minute has devoured everything but it's guts.  As stated earlier, if we could teach him to get moles!

Shimano Stradic CI4, 2500 Series
Thursday was the annual Fishing Garage Sale which usually has taken place down the road in Champlin.  At a previous sale, I signed the registration book with my e-mail and this year it was held east of Buffalo, MN, about 15 miles away.  Calling my friend David Grant we headed out there by 9:00 and it was pretty good.  As any good fisherman knows, one never has enough fishing rods and there was a nice selection of 13 Fishing and Fenwick rods, all at about 50 - 60% off of standard retail.  I ended up with a couple of 13 Fishing, 1 Muse which is a very nice 6'10" medium light/fast action spinning rod which is extremely light and 1 lime green Fate, another 6'10" medium light/fast action rod, not as light as the Muse but the color is pretty cool!  On the way home we stopped at Cabela's as in their Father's Day flyer was Shimano Stratic CI4's for $80 off, normally $229.00 for only $149.00.  These reels are premium reels which are incredibly light and come in at 6.7 ounces.  They are extremely smooth and a pleasure to fish with, especially paired with a nice lighter rod like the Muse,  one can fish all day jigging without any fatigue, which is important at my age.  My Canada buddies laugh at me, what if it goes in..........my Ugly Stick or Snoopy Rod is just fine and I am only out $30!  Well I try to be a little more careful although admittedly I wish that were the same for my boat!  The problem was that on Thursday Cabela's only had 1 series 4000 left, too big for walleye fishing, although this is what's on my Alaskan Salmon rods.  The guys says come back tomorrow, we will have more but get here early.  Like a good sheep I was in line Friday morning by 8:45 and the doors opened at 9:00.  At the reel counter there were 15 guys listening to the man behind the counter stating that there were no reels.  After a few choice words were exchanged, the guys said he didn't know when more would be in but they could come any day.  Repeating the routine on Saturday morning they had gotten in the 2500 series only.  Although I wanted the 3000 series the only reel difference is the 3000 has a slightly larger spool however the body and weight are the same as the 2500.  They say a bird in the hand is better than 2 in the bush........I took a couple.  It looks good on the Muse and ready to go for our trip to Mille Lacs on Wednesday.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Still In The Shop

First mole of the year!
I am beginning to believe that my boat loves my dealer Frankie more than it loves me.  Of course there is a probable good reason for this, in my possession it takes it's own fate in my hands yet at Frankie's, it gets the tender loving care it really needs!  If I look at the total time it has been in the shop between May 20, 2019 to May 20, 2020, it was over 6 months!  Of course there is no one to blame except me so that leaves me tip toeing around my fishing adventures.  Of course add the current Covid situation in there and I should be on Lac Seul right now on my second trip of the year.  In the meantime I simply sit around and try to get things done.  So rather than sitting around and feeling bad about the boat not being in my possession therefore not being able to fish Devils Lake this weekend with Kevin and Ben, there were a couple of interesting moments to share.  The first is last Thursday Bruce Wiley called me to ask if I wanted to have lunch.  About 50% of the time lunch means more than just meeting him at a restaurant rather meeting him at his hanger and we fly somewhere for lunch.  The first option was Hanger 54 in the Eau Claire Airport, a quick call stated they were still closed.  Plan B was fly to Voyager Village, southwest of Danbury, Wisconsin, a large development with a golf course, clubhouse, runway, that is secluded in the middle of the woods/lake area.  A quick 35 minute flight in Bruce's Cessna 182 RG (Retractable Gear), as we approached Siren Wisconsin I saw a runway and asked about it, "nope, you need to be right on top of this one to see it" and of course he was right.  We landed basically on the golf course, hoping the guys teeing off to our right wouldn't slice one as we touched down.  Luckily we were good as we taxied our way to the plane parking area, threw $20 in the runway donation box and walked to the clubhouse and had a magnificent lunch, quite an operation.  Sat next to some retired business guys from the St. Paul area and had a good discussion of the current situations.  As we took off I was looking for my phone to take some pictures, no phone!!!  Damn, did it fall out of my pocket, did I leave it on the table....I seem to be getting worse at just set it it down and forgetting.  Well, not remembering that it was used, the last time was at the hanger, it must be there.  We landed back at Crystal Airport and made our way back to the hanger, Bruce exclaimed, "Is that your phone on the Taxi way?  Uffda it was, apparently falling out of my pocket when I entered the plane 3 hours earlier.......it was still there!  Undamaged somehow there has to be a better way of my hanging onto my phone!  So no pictures of the trip but I have been working hard on trapping a mole that is making tunnels in the yard.  These creatures are difficult to trap and finally getting one, I figured I solved that problem yet the tunnel was remade the following day.  Hopefully success will find me again, but it is a challenge for sure!

Jared's 28 inch Walleye in the Trees
At this time I am expecting a call to pick up the boat either today or tomorrow.  The river is down so I have been trying to get the jon boat ready for the river.  The contingency plan is to fish off the dock of my friend John Meyer, down the street.  He has been great to allow some of us to simply drive down and fish off his dock for catfish, carp, suckers, walleye, and whatever feels like biting.  In the meantime Ben Aiona has been texting me pictures of their success on Devils Lake, North Dakota.  His son Jared is quite a fisherman and does not hesitate to get right in the action.  Apparently they arrived last Tuesday afternoon, went out and caught over 116 stripped bass in a few hours.  That is a lot of fun.  Here is a picture of Jared's 28 inch walleye caught on a leech and bobber in the trees, you can see them sticking out of the water. Ben was having some difficulties with his HDS 12 Gen 3 however it was resolved and he didn't need mine.  With 2 trips to Lac Seul cancelled, Bruce was talking about going somewhere, Ben suggested Devil's Lake as he would be happy to guide us!  that might be a great idea and we are kicking it around.  In the meantime my garden is coming along well.  Today it will be in the 90's and everything will be growing like crazy, including the weeds!  The asparagus is doing well, and we decided to try and freeze some rhubarb this year and it went pretty well.  After picking and washing, it was cut up into cubes and put in a shallow aluminum pan, then put in the freezer for 30 minutes or so.  Frozen solid, then we vacuum packed it, 4 cups to the pouch and voila, we'll have to see how it turns out in a few months.  It looks pretty good though. 

My goal for this week is pretty simple, get my Ranger back, clean out the jon boat, the annual fishing garage sale that is held in Champlin every year has been moved to Buffalo, MN this year so on Thursday morning I hope to be there as they have some pretty sweet deals.  Hopefully it all ends with a trip to Mille Lacs to fish the flats for walleye before it closes on July 1st, which is a whole new story in itself. 

Thursday, May 28, 2020

About Time!!!

Our ice Freezer
So, my good friend Kevin sent me an e-mail asking me about my blog and what the heck I was up to.  Admittedly it seems as though the events of the last 3 weeks have taken a lot of wind out of my sails.  With the boat still in the shop getting the bottom repaired, at least it won't be like last year yet it will still be 3 weeks (by next Friday) that I will get it back.  It is sort of unnerving having to deal with this again, both from the damage, loss of the use of the boat, and what consequences will happen with my insurance.  Luckily the insurance premium was set for 2020/2021 so I will be good for a year as I have already paid it!!!  This is always a busy time of the year and it has not been without it's issues.  Honestly I should be writing about my last trip for the Canadian Opener on Lac Seul but both that and our June trip were cancelled because it was deemed a non-essential trip......For Who???  I understand their concern as they do have limited health care in Sioux Lookout and of course there is little one can do about the situation.  Last week was my dear friend's Tim Kuntz's auction that his wife had to help get sell  quite a bit of inventory after his unfortunate death.  Volunteering to help during the inspection and the pickup's as it was an online auction and it went pretty well, except for Tim's new Ram 3/4 ton pickup.  The reserve had been met however it appeared as though the bidders forgot to mention it to their wive's and both backed out at the last minute with a few lame excuses.  The auction house, Auction Master's were great and they helped Connie with dealing with helping to make it right, which they did.  While helping out it gave me an opportunity to get our ice machine running.  Years ago I was fishing with a friend and neighbor Roger Weber with his friends in Akaska, South Dakota.  It was very nice as one of his friends had a commercial Ice Machine in his pole shed, all the ice one ever wanted.  It was nice and when Tim Kuntz moved into the neighborhood, I casually mentioned having experienced the convenience of having your own ice machine that
8 pound bag of fantastic ice
would be nice to have our own ice machine.  A couple of years later he came up and asked if I was serious.  Of course I was, and apparently after starting his landscape curbing business he was buying 4 - 5 bags of ice a day, spending between $40 and $50 a week, he asked if I was interested in going half with him.  We ended up getting a a commercial machine and he had a small chest freezer to store it in.  Eventually the freezer stopped working , probably wasn't made to be put outside, so we ended up buying a commercial Ice Freezer from a friend, with the compressor on the top for outside usage.  Remembering when we first plugged it in it only got to 20 degrees F, and we assumed a freezer should be around 0 degrees F.  As it would have it, I went fishing with my brother to Canada with the guy that had a company that these ice freezers were part of his business.  When asked about the temperature only going down to 20 degrees F he said, yes they are designed that way.  Any colder then the ice starts to evaporate and a 5 pound bag of ice becomes 4.5 pounds and the cubes are smaller.  20 degrees F assures that one gets what one pays for!   A great example of....you learn something new every day! Tim provided the space, we owned the equipment together, I bought a bunch of ice bags, and we were in business.  Eventually our old ice maker stopped working so we got a newer Manitowoc 140, it makes great ice.  Every year the machine needs to be cleaned chemically with a natural Citric Acid cleaner to remove any scale from the main ice grid, so I did this on Thursday while helping with the auction.  Bagging in the morning and in the evening, I can bag between 8 and 10 8 pound bags of ice per day and have the freezer half full.  It will hold about 100 bags of ice, when it get's full we'll turn off he machine and use the ice through the summer. It's a pretty good system and unfortunately with Tim gone, the freezer won't empty so fast yet it is good to run and turn over so the neighbors have been told that if they need any ice!!!

Northern Catalpa tree starting to leaf out
The garden is fully planted with sweet corn, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, dill, cucumbers, squash and  variety of flowers to add some color.  These days my main goal is to make pickles, salsa, frozen corn, as well the asparagus is late but doing very well.  The first of May started a little dry but it quickly greening up.  One of the last trees to leaf out is the Northern Catalpa tree.  These are pretty cool trees as my friend Kevin had one in his yard when we were kids in Eleva.  They have very large leaves and pods that hang through spring.  I have 2 and in a few weeks they will sport the big beautiful flowers adding a little sense of a southern location here in Minnesota.  We are going to try and freeze some rhubarb this week as it seems pretty easy.  Basically you wash the stems, cut off the leaf, cut them in cubes and freeze them on a tray.  Using my commercial type vacuum packer, will vacuum seal them for the freezer.  It works excellent for sweetcorn, hopefully I can find some gluten free recipes for anything rhubarb as it is very good.  Not so good of news is our wonderful friend Craig Beigert passed away the other night.  Craig has lived with Multiple Myeloma for years but did pretty well.  He had the opportunity to fish with his friend Pete Sipe and myself at Lac Seul one year, it was alot of fun.  We ended up fishing on the corner north of camp, we had caught over 100 walleyes that day, mostly off the point on that corner.  We have since named that excellent spot to fish, Craig's Corner, let him know that his hotspot was named and we were looking forward to his return.  He was a great guy, is
Jared with a very nice sauger!
sad but as one get's older you experience more of this unfortunate stuff.  The other thing that has me miffed is I was kicked off Walleye Central, a fishing forum that I've been a part of for 21 years.  No specific reason and the notice says reinstatement: never.  Looking back at my last post it had a picture of the bottom damage to my boat and the post didn't appear to be offensive.  the moderator remove the picture and kicked me off,  oh well, I have asked for an explanation but nothing yet.  So I will end with my new found fishing buddy, Jared!  Although I have known him since he was born as his Grandpa Kevin is my best friend from home, it's been interesting to keep track of him, something his dad, Ben does a lot by sending me his pictures.  I have been invited to join them but it seems there is always something that gets in the way!  Anyway last weekend Ben was trolling Lake Pepin near Pepin Wisconsin.  His side scan wasn't working at Leech so we stopped at Bill Lundeen's who had a transducer for Ben to try.  After mounting it, they went down and launched at the Pepin Harbor, he called saying....I can see the rocks!  Obviously it was working.  We are working out a few other issues but he sent this picture of Jared holding a very nice sauger.  You can see they are trolling the rock shoreline next to the railroad tracks that run on either side of the lake.   I have always wanted to do this as the end of May and first of June is an excellent time to try this technique.  Well, I am not sure if I am totally caught up but if not there is always next week.  Thanks for the patience!

Friday, May 15, 2020

Cold and Costly Opener

Heavy Wet Snow on Star Point, Leech Lake, MN
First the cold part.  As the week progressed the weather forecast became less than desirable each day for the Minnesota Fishing opener with the final insult, snow was predicted for Saturday afternoon and snow it did!  although we did not get out too early on Saturday morning, it was awfully chilly!  Although seemingly dressed for the weather, I was sadly mistaken as by 1 in the afternoon the cold, wet, and heavy snow started to take a toll on the 5 of us.  It didn't seem too bad on the drive up Friday morning as we stopped in Malmo to get our weekends worth of shiner minnows, the drive up to Brindley's Harbor wasn't too bad.  The weather reports on the radio were not so optimistic however with heavy snow predicted from the Mille Lacs area all the way up to Red Lake.  Getting up on Saturday it didn't look too bad however the wind was definitely coming out of the east, not a good sign.  My dad used to say, Wind from the west, fish bite the best, wind from the east, fish bite the least!  Well it was less than 35 degrees when we hit the water on Saturday morning, Luckily we decided to start on Pine Point, not too far from the resort.  My brother Steve fished with me and Kevin, Ben, and Jared fished in Ben's boat.  The water temperature was still below 50 degrees, we were in the heart of the post spawn period, the fish were not going to be too cooperative and not unlike last year we had to find some warmer water.  In an almost identical scenario from last year we followed the wind to the windward side of the bay, onto Star Point and yes the water was warmer there, maybe a degree, not enough to make much difference.  However the wind was more manageable so we started fishing the point, away from all of the boats.  A special note, we were surprised at the number of boats on the lake considering how "concerned" people have become.  By noon you could see the snow heading towards us as that far shore disappeared pretty fast.  In a short
Jared's Nice Walleye
time the heavy, wet snow was upon us, enough to decide after a while to put the top up.  Unfortunately that just only helped us from getting wetter than we already were. It snowed pretty heavy for a couple of hours and I was starting to get cold, feet, hands, and torso.  deciding to go in about 2:00, none too soon, we got the boats tied up and decided to take a trip to Reeds in Walker, a 15 minute run.  Being surprised it was open, they had the usual precautions but for the most part it wasn't too bad.  Warmer clothes were on the list as I returned with a light winter boot that was on sale at a great price, a pair of warmer socks, and some neoprene gloves. Sunday was just as cold but we did find some fish in the 10 foot depths including this nice spawned out female that Jared, my friend's son , managed to catch.  It was real windy on Sunday and with temperatures in the 30's it stayed pretty cold and we managed to catch enough to have fish dinner Sunday night.  The wind had died down a little bit but there was still ice covering everything the next morning,  I wouldn't say brutally cold but definitely uncomfortable for May 11th.  Deciding that Steamboat Bay might have warmer water, we headed to the area only to find the water temperature to be 43, not exactly post spawn walleye temperatures.  We manged a few more walleyes on the traditional jig and minnow but decided to go in and get ready for the last session of our trip, the Monday evening bite.  the weather as bad as it was had stabilized and there wasn't the boats around like the weekend.  by 10:00 Monday we had 14 walleyes, enough for each of us to take a limit home.....mission accomplished! It was fun fishing with my "hometown" crew again in fact I commented to Kevin that this was the third time we had been fishing this year together, something we hadn't done in maybe 40 years.  It was also fun to see Jared, 13 years old, hang with the men.  This is a good way to build his skills for the future, and of course we cut him absolutely no slack!

Bottom Damage from Banging into the rocks
Costly, what can I say?  Sunday afternoon we decided to head to Little Stony Point, a rock reef that sticks out from a point and holds fish in the deeper sand just off the rocks.  Because the wind was blowing into the rocks, we set the trolling motor to pull towards the waves in a controlled drift and was able to hold in 8 feet of water quite easily.  After trying to fix Ben's depthfinder by connecting it to my network, it really messed up my settings.  Having drifted this pattern a couple of times, it seemed like a good time to reset the electronics.  In the meantime there were 3 foot rollers hitting the front side of the boat.  Apparently the wind gust got stronger than the trolling motor could overcome so the first indication was a big thump as m lower unit hit a big rock as the boat went in the trough of the wave.  We floated up on the next wave then Thump, another hit.  trying to frantically get out of there I contemplated jumping out of the boat but that would have been dumb.  Another big thump, maybe every 3 - 5 seconds.  Telling steve to lift the trolling motor and hold it, that wasn't working so we switched and I took over while he got the net to push off.  Finally getting the trolling motor locked in and shallow running we were able to motor out of danger but I knew it wasn't going to be pretty.  Finally getting the boat on the trailer, it looked like someone took a hammer and chisel to the bottom.  Dropping it off at Frankie's, the estimate came back at about $8000 in damage.  My thought was that it might be able to run this summer and fix it in the fall but they said nope, water could easily seep in and completely damage the hull.  After talking to my insurance guy who was great, we decided that because my policy has already been approved for 2020 we should turn it in and deal with the nuances of the insurance later, as my fear is the $22,000 claim from last May isn't going to help me at all.  Anyway Safeco, who really was helpful is cutting me a check as I have authorized the work to begin.  Some people say my boat is bad luck but maybe I just need to up the attention span somewhat, that or buy an armored boat.  Well there appears to be some truth to what they say BOAT means........Bust Our Another Thousand!  Hopefully it will be done by Memorial Day.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Busy Getting Ready

My long lost friend, Tom Emmons
The last week has been a mad scramble to get everything ready for Saturday's Minnesota Fishing Opener.  As stated our large group is not going until October so just a few guys and I are going.  Our Governor just announced that people should stay within a full tank of gas when deciding to go to a lake, well I can get 14.5 MPG if I drive 50 mph, 26 gallon gas tank gets me 376 miles round trip.  Brindley's Harbor is 352 miles round trip so I should be in compliance with the Covid19 police.  Getting the boat ready has been quite a chore as it was pretty dirty and disorganized.  The boat is equipped with Sirius/XM Weather (Inland Marine Package) that can be shut it off in October and reinstated on May 1st.  Usually it's pretty easy to reactivate as it just takes a phone call to their automated system, request a new activation signal, and voila, it starts up perfectly.  Well not this time!!!  After 3 days of going through the motions with no tangible results a call while in the boat took place yesterday.  After logging into my account and printing the data the person asked me for my Radio ID number.  Heck it's the same as it was last summer.  Of course one get's this....Sir, I understand but I need that number!  No what.  Admittedly every year is more of a challenge as it has been 7 months since one has operated that equipment so it takes time to figure out where to find things you need.  While on the phone and frantically pressing buttons, under the settings/network there it was, a heading called Sirius Status.  Punched that and voila, up comes the Radio ID plus the current status of the signal, INACTIVE was all over the place.  After re-looking at the data it appears as though they deactivated this radio on 4-27-2020 and activated an old one of mine.  Well Sir, there will be a $15 dollar service charge to reactivate your current radio.  M'am, not to be argumentative however I did not call to deactivate the radio in the first place.  In October I called to deactivate it with a request to turn it back on by May 1st.  It looks like they reactivated it on 4-17-2020 but must have done something wrong.  the customer service lady waived the charges, reactivated the right radio then sent a signal.  You could watch the status change on the screen and finally it was on!  There was this problem with the Sirius being attached to the wrong USB input to my audio system but that was straightened out easier than what was assumed!  I hope it's not this difficult each year going forward, as it was frustrating.
Leech Lake Eelpout
Thank the lord someone had some patience, hint....it wasn't me but I was nice!  One thing that I did was to go through all the SD cards that I had in my storage cases.  They are a collection of files and updates that are associated with my electronics and become my library for data in case I lose them because of a malfunction, I can reload them or reset the software to a previous version.  One of the cards was full of pictures I had taken with my camera back in 2010 and 2011.  Pictures are interesting, the old film type, you would take a picture, get the film developed, print them and throw them in a box never to looked at again.  Today the process is easier but the results are the same.  You take a picture, it is now a digital file, stored somewhere, never to be looked at again!  They are more convenient as you can send them easier and move them around.  Well there was 3100 pictures on that card and many brought back some good memories so I thought I would share.  The first is a picture of my good friend Tom Emmons. He was a great guy, a great friend but unfortunately had some issues he was dealing with. He did not deal with them very well and he is no longer with us.  The next picture was in 2011 on fishing opener and I had caught an eelpout.  We don't get many of these and they truly are a colorful fish and very good eating.  It was probably the last eelpout that I had caught.  we did get 3 of them on Lake of the Woods this year but none were on the end of my line!

Steve's Lingcod
Speaking of odd but colorful fish is this picture of my brother Steve holding up a Lingcod he had caught when we were in Alaska.  This was a nice sized fish and they have a gapping mouth that seems like they could swallow anything! Notice the bulging stomach as these fish really are just big eating machines. The fish this is about as long as Steve is tall is and probably over 50 pounds, as you can see he is struggling a bit to hold it for the camera!  This was in 2012 and we are fishing out of Homer, Alaska.  We often talk about going back before we get too old but I keep saying that we should go south, not north to catch some peacock bass or other tropical species.  Now that Steve was relieved of his job, both him and I have a lot of fishing to catch up on this weekend.  For fishing opener it looks like the weather will be on the colder side with lows in the upper 20's in the morning.  This is fine although my friend Kevin called me this morning worried that the harbor might be frozen over.  I laughed as we got down to business of what food to bring.  the steaks are all ready for tomorrow night, fish on Saturday and maybe Brat's on Sunday.  With 5 guys it isn't so hard to figure that out.  Now all that is needed is to make sure we have enough warm clothes for the morning.  I guess clothes are pretty easy to figure out!  Either way it should be a great opener, if nothing else but to spend it with good friends.  Hopefully there will be a good report next week.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Back In Business

Brindley's Harbor Resort
Last week was the firm cancellation of our 47th Annual Team Walleye Leech Lake opener.  It has been officially moved to the first weekend in October, 6 months from now.  Hopefully this state will get back to normal!  Because I am an admitted cynic of this situation and will not comment, and as well really enjoy fishing Leech Lake in May, my brother Steve, friend Kevin Aiona, his son Ben and grandson Jared have confirmed a reservation at Brindley's Harbor Resort starting May 8th and leaving on Monday morning, May 11.  Because of the current situation, the resort cabins and slips will be open however the lodge is closed plus there are some minor changes like we have to bring our own sleeping bags, pillows.......just like we do in Canada.  Also strict social distancing is required however I believe we will be fishing most of the time so that should not be an issue.  As of this post, the ice is still covering Leech Lake however with temperatures in the 50's and 60's we should be ice free by May 8th.  As for Leech and it's official ice out, the trend for the last 10 years has been later where we tend to deal with colder water temperatures.  Late ice out tends to mean that the walleyes are in the early post spawn period and tend to be very shallow, usually in the 6 - 10 foot range.  They haven't spread out much from their traditional spawning areas such as wind swept rock shores and points along the lake, which there are many.  It will be hard to say what the water temperature will be however last year it was relatively cold, around 47 degrees.  To find active walleyes one had to search for warmer water such as Steamboat Bay or a shoreline where the wind was blowing the surface water into.  This proved to be a great strategy, enough to win the majority of the prizes for our Team Walleye annual event.  Another excellent strategy is early evening trolling shad raps along those rocky shores.  This technique is deadly and as discussed last week, these new UV colored patterns seem to be hot.  There is always a few spawned out females swimming around which definitely gives the opportunity to catch a nice fish in the 27 to 28 inch range.  Fishing on Leech should be good again this year as the limit is 4 walleyes each, everything between 20 and 26 must be released, generally we let all the walleyes go over 20.  With the current situation it could go either way, the lake's fisherman could be few and far between or it could be the opposite as people are anxious to get out.  Either way my prediction is for a great opener!

Diawa Low Profile Line counter Reel
Although a labor of love, the last week has required getting the boat prepared for the opener.  Telling Steve that he doesn't need to bring any tackle or equipment, forces one to re-evaluate everything.  Of course the lure selections are quite easy as the boat tackle storage is quite modular with jig boxes, trolling baits, bobber rig box, live bait rig box, along with some panfish style baits and a good selection of various crankbaits to try out.  I can leave the deep runner boxes as home as we don't need them.  Basically there are 4 types of equipment that will be required.  On Friday the plan is to go crappie fishing up in Sucker Bay, the tackle strategy of choice is the slip bobber....2 of those rigs in the rod locker.  Next is a couple of jigging rods with regular monofilament for the standard 1/8 ounce Fireball Jig plus 2 jigging rods that are stiffer, and loaded with braid which can handle a new technique that we are going to try, jigging a Jiggin Rap or Rippin Rap's.  There has been a lot of talk about these types of baits in colder water and Ben is an expert at these types of baits so we will give them a try.  The forth type of rod is a longer live bait rod for pulling Lindy type rigs, 2 of them in the rod locker.  Last but not least are 2 baitcaster's with standard sized low profile reels that have line counters on them.  The line counters are not really necessary but add an element of options if a specific length behind the boat becomes needed.  I might throw in a couple of light panfish rods in case those crappies are active with small plastic jigs. While putting away the snowblower attachments in the shed, it gave me a great opportunity to start both motors on the boat.  As usual the big Evinrude starts like it never slept a wink over the winter and is ready to go on a moments notice.  It is of course Electronic Fuel Injected (EFI) so there is not hesitation as she sat there and idled till it warmed up.  The 9.8 kicker is another story as she is as cold blooded as they come.  Maybe it's my fault (of course it is!) but this is a carbureted engine and it takes a while for the gas to get everywhere it needs to fire up.  As well I am always concerned about the ethanol blend that I run as the kicker is a 4 stroke but is fed by the main gas tank.  The winterization process requires some stabilizer in the gas to help but last year I could not even get the kicker started on Opener.  After about 30 seconds of cranking over it finally started running, good enough to get her up to operating temperature as well to fire up the iTroll system, which BTW is a great way to control a kicker motor.  Everything seems to work fine and we should be ready to go with the only thing left is to clean the carpeting.  All the electronics are up to date and on Friday I plan on restarting my 6 month subscription to Sirius/XM Weather service which runs till the end of October.  This is a great feature that allows one to set a lightning warning, if lightning is within 6 miles of your current location, even in Canada, a warning goes off.  You then can overlay the weather onto your chart and go back 3 hours to see where the storm is heading.  That and Willy's Roadhouse makes it worth every penny!

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Shad Rap

Shad Rap in an Exclusive Fleet Farm color, Hot Flash
In one's fishing lifetime baits come and go.  In my early 20's Kevin and I would fish a Johnson Silver Minnow or a Moss Boss for bass in the mats of pond weed above the Alma, WI dam.We'd tie our own jigs to fish walleyes on the wing dams or in the sloughs. Smithwick Rattlin' Rouges were on the top of that list as it was a go to bait for trolling 3 Mile Reef on Mille Lacs, and did we get some dandy's.  Well the last 20 years or so, the number 1 artificial bait in the boat for catching walleyes is Rapala's Shad Rap.  There are plenty imitations and admittedly I have a few of them yet there is something about a Shad Rap that is irresistible to a walleye.   They run true out of the box, maybe it's that wobble, they do not have a sound chamber for internal rattles, about the only thing that I have figured out is often the color makes the difference.  Of course this is what they say about color, they are meant to catch the fisherman, not fish.  My obsession with these baits is sort of a testament to that theory, however over the years some proven patterns work better than others, and of course how would one ever know if a new color worked or not if one never tried it!  Being a guy that say's one never knows, in the boat is quite a menagerie of #5 and #7 Shad Raps of various colors.  Always on the prowl for the latest and greatest, Fleet Farm's ad this week featured Shad Raps on sale for $5.99 and included was some of their exclusive color schemes, unique to Fleet Farm.  Being deemed an Essential Business, essentially I was driven to check out what they had, knowing my collection needed an update!  It was once told to me that Fleet Farm sold more Rapala's than any other retailer.  I have no proof however last year Fleet Farm sold to a larger retail firm.  At that time their Shad Raps
A new twist called Frosted
were priced at $4.99 for a #5 and they would go on sale for $3.99, a real bargain.  After the new owners took over the price jumped to $6.99/$5.99 on sale.  They are still a little cheaper than most places however it is good that the majority of my inventory was bought before last year!   Seeking out their exclusive colors two really caught my eye.  The first is a derivative of a perch pattern called Hot Flash.  I have had good luck with the latest neon versions of  the perch pattern as they really stand out, especially at night.  Add to the fact that any orange seems to do well, it was a simply a had to have color and in the cart it went.  One of my thoughts for opener was a light colored crankbait, in a white, like what was posted a few weeks ago, a Wonder Bead pattern, this Shad Rap with an iridescent whit top and mirror chrome sides appeared called Frosted.  A great name, how on earth could one pass that up so it joined the other in the cart.  There were some other neat colors yet not enough to catch my interest, maybe later.  There is a trend in custom bait colors, similar to those first offered on deep diving Reef Runners , colors with funky names like Cheap Sun Glasses or Heat Stroke.  This trend has reached into the Shad Raps with a company called Viper Custom Tackle which offers various colors including ones that you might have developed, which has products in Cabela's.  They are not cheap but interesting as these weird colors are popular for fishing walleyes in clear water.  If in the future there is a have to have color maybe I'll pull the trigger but for now the tackle box marked Shad Rap's is pretty loaded to the gills!  Sorry for the pun.

Neon Green Tiger UV
Trolling Shad Raps at night during our Annual Minnesota Fishing Opener with Team Walleye has been my go to methodology, good for about 8 - 10 walleyes in the boat during that 90 minutes of time between sunset and completely dark.  With 7 boats in our team, the other guys seem reluctant to troll, whether they are uncomfortable trolling, don't have the equipment, I am not sure but it is a deadly technique, especially in the shallows ( 5 - 7 feet) in the spring.  While the tried and true method is a jig and minnow on Leech Lake, one can cover more ground looking for active fish via trolling a Shad Rap.  A #5 Shad Rap runs about 5 - 7 feet with about 75 feet of line out and is perfect.  As stated earlier these new colors offer new opportunities and last year this Green Tiger UV (Also a Pink Tiger UV) were on fire.  I would have to say that my number one color is the crawdad but that's changing and the reason that first color, Hot Flash is so appealing, a cross between a crawdad color and the tiger pattern, how could it miss!  A favorite memory is fishing Sunday night on Leech a number of years back.  With Mark Mayerich and his son Adam in the boat, we stopped at 8:30 and it was announced.....we are going to troll.  Not exactly the style they were used to and eventually I had to rig them up as it made no sense trolling with spinning rigs and 8 pound test, those shad raps were too expensive to leave on the bottom of the lake.  I carry bait casting rigs specifically for these situations so attached a different colored Shad Rap to each rod and told them to simply let out so many passes of line on the spool.  In 90 minutes we had netted 18 walleyes, one every 5 minutes, with Mark catching the majority.  Of course this is the problem with having so many colors to chose from, if one is hot you'd better have a second one for yourself, dang another reason to shop!  In truth my theory is all crankbait strikes are reaction strikes.  This thing coming through the water is creating a pressure wave that the fish can feel, it goes to investigates and notices this thing trying to flee..........bang, it hits the lure out of instinct, hit first, taste later.  Having said that, it's both the vibration and profile that are the true triggers, and believe that color just helps add to that profile, how visible is it in the waters you are trolling?  Over the years I have had identical baits both in size and color yet one seems to hammer the fish while the other is left alone.  The thought is that the good bait has a better vibration pattern, something it is difficult to quantify, much more attractive to fish than just the same bait.  Maybe the lip is off, or is perfect, it's hard to tell except for the teeth marks or the battered edge of the diving lip on the bait that really works well.

Crawdad Color, Currently My #1 Color Success
So waiting for opener has been decided.  It seems like it's the first of November, will there be enough ice by Thanksgiving or will we have to wait till after Christmas?  Mother Nature has decided that we need to cancel our traditional opener scheduled for May 9th and move it to the first weekend in October.  It is looking more like our two trips to Lac Seul, one in May and the other in June don't look like they are happening either.  So much for all the new strategies for this year! The good news is that October should be an ideal time to troll walleyes on Leech Lake and I have some perfect spots where no one in my group has fished, some shallower mid lake reefs as well as Rocky points.  My brother Steve and I are working on Plan C, maybe just a couple of us will head up to Leech, assuming it's open, and we can stay in a small group. It might take till the end of the month to decide.  Either way Fleet Farm's sale ends on Saturday, maybe another excuse!