A bird in hand is better than two in the field

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

For me bow hunting provides the rare opportunity to get out and hunt before most people have had a chance to alert the wildlife that hunting season is upon us. It’s peaceful, quiet, serene, and above all else untouched.

On a recent outing I was given the show of a lifetime by two seemingly undisturbed ruffed grouse. Somewhere in between sunrise, and my stomach demanding I leave my tree stand for breakfast, I watched two grouse fly down from their roost and charge towards each other from a hundred yards away. On the forest floor they began to reenact a dance scene reminiscent of the dancing mushrooms in Disney’s Fantasia.

Amidst their strutting, clucks, and purrs I was able to climb down from my stand and sneak extremely close to their show. I was literally ten feet away from them, filming with my cell phone in awe of their beauty. It was then that my hunter/gatherer instincts kicked in. I have never shot a grouse before in my life, granted I have taken more than my fare share of shots at them. This was the closest I had ever been to one so I knew I had to “try” the impossible.

I slowly set my bow down and like a bobcat I slinked in on the two inching myself closer. Once I was five feet away I pounced. To my surprise in my hands was a grouse. I couldn’t believe what had just happened. With my heart beating through my chest in excitement all I could think of is “could I take a deer this way?”

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Kids and Fishing

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

These days kids have thousands of options for staying “entertained”. I don’t need to go into detail. We all know of them either directly or indirectly. Kids that are “hooked” on fishing are rare these days.  A quick lunch break  fishing excursion I took today opened my eyes and gave me hope.

If I can hit all the lights I can usually get to the nearest lake and have a solid 25-30 minutes of fishing before I must :( return to work. There is no better way to spend a lunch break than wetting a line. Often I forgo sustenance in exchange for a little soul nutrition which in my case is fishing. So I bombed down to the lake and started walking to one of my favorite spots for a quick dip. Before I could even think about casting a little boy about 9 years old came running up shouting about crappies and snapping turtles.

He jabbed away for 15 minutes about the snapper and how much he loves crappies. It warmed me to the core. I remember being his age, and how much my life revolved around fishing. After I landed my first crappie he politely asked if he could come and fish next to me “of course bud” I replied. I gave him some tips on early season pan fish and how important wind and water temperature are to finding fish. In a few minutes he too landed a nice crappie. My new friend informed me that he was on spring brake and his friends were all at home playing video games. I commended him on getting outside and doing something he loves. He said he had been at the lake since 6:30am and didn’t plan on going home till it was dark.

My short term fishing trip came to an end as quickly as it started. As I bid my new friend farewell I noticed how serious he was about his day of fishing. This little guy had hauled down five fishing rods, two tackle boxes, a huge cooler, multiple chairs, a side table and enough bait to last a year. It was refreshing to see such a young mind so enthralled with fishing that he was ready to set the video games aside and get outdoors.

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Fishing for friends

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Last weekend I made some time to get out and enjoy the “not so enjoyable” weather. Originally the plan was to meet up with a few old friends and see if we introduce some slabs to gravity. I woke up bright and early, started organizing my tackle box, and got all of my gear ready for the day. After waiting a few hours for my friends to realize it was in fact morning, and the sun was in fact up, I decided to hit a few spots myself.

I ventured west. I was searching for smaller lakes with north facing bays that I could easily access from shore. A brief (2 hour) layover at Gander Mountain proved to be beneficial as I absolutely LOVE shopping for sporting goods. I picked up a few new jigs and spins in hopes one of them would be the ticket to landing some fish.

I tend to be a “lone ranger” when I fish. I like working on my own clock and fishing hard. It can be tough to do everything the way I want to do it when fishing with friends but there is something to be said about fishing with friends. I ended up helping a very close friend of mine move his boat and other belongings to his new lake house. We didn’t get fishing till late afternoon and by that time the wind had picked up considerably bringing colder temps.

We fished a few spots with no luck and decided that maybe we should retire to a grill covered in luscious cuts of meat. This brings me to a important point. Fishing, for me, is a gateway drug. It is a gateway drug to quality time and great conversation. Sometimes you don’t have to net the big ones or limit out. It’s the time you spend with loved ones that really makes fishing so great. I do a lot of fishing alone and tend to forget how important it is to share my passion with friends and family. Sitting around a campfire enjoying a meal with good company is as exhilarating as landing a big fish any day. At least in my book.

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Fishing tournaments this weekend

Friday, February 17th, 2012

Great things are always happening when your a sportsman. Fishing season, hunting season, gear tweaking season… Its never ending and that’s what I love about it. This weekend I’m taking the boy back up to Mille Lacs to do a little tournament fishing and see if I can win him some prizes. I have been checking around most of the local resorts and word on the reef is fishing has been heating up. Walleye bites are getting more consistent as the year comes to a close and fish are moving back towards the breaks and shallow reefs. Should be a great weekend. Stay posted. I’ll do my best to update with pictures and heartfelt stories.

Keep your line wet and who knows what might happen.

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Metro bucks coming soon!

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Great news! I’ve been posting a few trail cameras behind my house and have been getting some great pics. I live very close to the capital of Minnesota (St. Paul) and have some amazing bucks that use the woods behind my house as a safe zone. I will be posting updated pics as we get them in. I’m very excited to watch these bucks grow and go through the process of shedding and re-growing their antlers.

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Mille Lacs Lake 1/28/12

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012


Another great weekend on the ice. Mille Lacs has been an interesting body of water this year. From a late freeze to constant shifting of ice sheets and stranded anglers its been one heck of a season.

I made it up around 8pm on Friday with my boy and immediately started getting set up. He always looks forward to our ice fishing trips and loves to sit on my lap and help me drive as we make our way out on the ice. We had holes drilled in our ice house and the heat up by 9pm and set in for a great night of sleep.

We did not have any rattle reels go off during the night but I woke up early and started jigging with my Marcum around 6am. My son woke up around 7am super excited and ready to enjoy the day. By noon we had landed about a dozen jumbo perch

Most of the fish where caught on a Chubby Darter in shad pattern. As the day progressed I switched over to a Lindy Flyer Spoon in 1/8th oz size. The had activity slowed down substantially by mid afternoon so we opted to put out a few tip ups with sucker minnows and take a ride on the snowmobile.

That evening we picked up a few more jumbo perch and one nice 15” walleye. We did not get any fish overnight but Sunday morning we pulled in a beautiful 32” Pike. The pike hit a custom made quick strike rig with a medium (8inch) sucker minnow. It had a steel leader going down its throat and line wrapped around his head from a previous encounter with a fisherman so we relieved him of his extra gear and sent him on his way. All in all another great weekend on the ice.

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Tonka 4/28/11

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

I went out on Lake Minnetonka this evening in search of crappies. I started out in Black Lake and worked my way around the docks and into the back channel looking for fish. The water temps where fairly high ranging from 47-49 degrees. The evening was beautiful but the day started out pretty crummy. I think this is why I was unsuccessful on this particular excursion. I fished the bay pretty extensively with everything from tube jigs to flu flu’s and the good old fashioned crappie minnow. As it turned out the fish where not cooperating (at least this is my excuse for not catching any). I did however manage to land a decent pike around 28 inches. No monster but it sure was nice to drive home knowing I didn’t get skunked.  This weekend I plan on attending a few Crappie tournaments (weather permitting) and do what I love. Fishing.

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Christmas Lake

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Well the other day I had the opportunity to get my boat out for the first time of the year. I took the “Red Beetle” as my cousin calls her out on Christmas Lake in Excelsior. I motored all around the lake and the warmest water I found was 45 degrees. After a little more searching and looking for schooling fish I started looking for a pattern. I started out in 3-4 feet of water and worked my way deeper looking for fish. On the particular excursion I was not lucky enough to find any bluegills or crappies but I sure had a good time. I worked the weed lines with small jigs tipped with crappie minnows and wax worms. I tried pulling a beetle spin around the points. All in all I ended up empty handed but came home with a better understanding of what it takes to make me happy.
Give me a fishing rod and the chance at landing a lunker and I will be content. I hope everyone out there can do the same. Take a moment and just relax. Find your zen. Sometimes the most relaxing things are the ones that take you out of the daily struggle and just let you think.

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Follies of an angler at bay

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Today was quite possibly the worst day ever……for me. For everyone else around me I’m sure it was the highlight of their life. It all started out with a snowstorm. A blizzard that ravaged the mid west with such vulgarity grandmothers refused to provide desert and prayer ensued. In the aftermath my driveway and any hopes I had of going fishing sat under 18inches of snow. To my pure delight my girlfriends car was completely stuck in the driveway. I spent close to a hour shoveling, pushing,  grunting and questioning my very existence.  Once the work was done I decided to brave the -20 windchill and blowing snow. My purpose? Even the most feeble attempt at fishing today can make the horrific morning seam like it never happened. As soon as a big bluegill circles its way up to me from the depths my soul will be at rest. There’s just nothing that puts me at ease like fishing. It’s my zen.

So I am up to my knees in snow and slush and working like a sled dog pulling all my gear.

I’m not struggling to pull my otter sled with my gear, but I’m working hard. Today I plan on targeting panfish and crappies.  I will be fishing in the mouth of a small bay where the weed line drops off  abruptly to 22 feet. By the time I make it to the mouth of the bay I am soaked in sweat.  I shoveled some of the snow away from where I wanted to set up my house to create a wind break. When I started drilling my holes everything was going smoothly until I noticed I was standing in four inches of water.  My feet now soaked I decided to shovel snow back into the water and pack it down so I could get my feet up above the water.  I’m in it this far so why turn back now? I figured if I could get in my shelter with the heater on  I could tough it out for a hour or two.

I started getting my portable fish house put together. It usually is a simple task, but this is the first time I have had it out this year. I completely forgot what order to “pop” the walls out. After a few minutes of struggeling I had lost all strength in my arms and could barely hold the house up. I was finally able to get all the sides popped out when a huge gust of wind came up. It pulled the house right out of my hands and in a matter of seconds was 50 yards away and blowing across the lake. I started running. Screaming at the top of my lungs I ran as fast as I could until tripping and falling face first in the snow. I looked up. To my horror my house had been blown all the way across the lake. A full mile and a half at least. I wiped the snow from my face and began my long journey of defeat.

Finally I made it to the other side of the lake where my house came to a rest hung up on a strangers dock. Miraculously the house made it through this whole ordeal without any damage. The same can not be said for myself. I could barely keep my arms up while trying to break the house down. I was at the end of my rope. Finally the house was broken down and ready for transport…back across the lake. When I finally made it back to my starting point I was so tired I decided to call it a day. My neighbor was out putting up Christmas lights and witnessed the whole ordeal. “Your crazy” she said. “Are you training for a triathalon?”. I shook my head no. “Just trying to go fishing” I replied.  Apparently not everyone in this world holds the same zest for connecting with the outdoors.  Its a bit humbling to go through such an ordeal to do something that many people don’t value or understand. Today was not about my attempt at fishing or my string of bad luck. It was a test to prove my loyalty to the fish gods. I have blood, sweat and tears invested in this and I’m not giving up that easy.

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Are your reels rattling?

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

This last weekend I spent a fair amount of time working on my fish house. I wanted to make sure that everything is in order for the up and coming season. New rattle reels made it to the top of my list this year. If you have a permanent fish house you can’t place enough emphasis on these wonders of technology and design. Besides the obvious fact that they look cool they have a specific function to serve. They provide you with a solid foundation to fish from and alert you when a fish has taken your bait. There are many styles of rattle reels on the market today and each one of them is claiming a major innovation. This isn’t rocket science so why resort to flame retardant bushings and carbon fiber spools? The key to choosing a good rattle reel is keeping it simple.  You don’t need space age materials to land fish. As a child I landed hundreds of fish with nothing more than a stick, some line, and a hook. Here are a few key things to look for when purchasing a new rattle reel.

1- Mounting:   You want to make sure that you have the proper mounting hardware. Some rattle reels utilize clamps that allow you to take the reels with you as you move from hole to hole. I prefer to mount my reels directly to the wall (they look great that way too) but, for some folks who may travel the clamp style mount is great. Make sure that the bracket that secures the reel to the wall is sturdy. Also check the screws that come with the mounting bracket. Some times the supplied screws aren’t long enough to get through the wall to a stud. A friend of mine found this out the hard way when a musky ripped his right off the wall and took it into the abyss.  He was watching the big fish on his underwater camera, and didn’t even realize it had his hook until it was to late. If you find a good rattle reel but it has less than desirable parts just take a trip to your local hardware store. You can get high quality screws and brackets for fairly cheap.

2- The Bell and Spool:    Some reels have a contained bell chamber and some have dowels that leave the chamber open.  The open chamber reels excel because they allow the bell that is inside to really sing when a fish pulls your line. Believe it or not the bell inside is very important. I have actually had bells stop rattling all together.

3- The Nut:    No, not my neighbor who insists on snow blowing his roof in the middle of the night. It’s the little attachment that keeps your spool on the axle and controls how fast it spins. The nut is essential. Without it, a fish could send your spool into a spinning frenzy, or even worse fall off. If the nut is to tight your spool won’t spin at all. You won’t know when a fish takes the line, and you know those light biting finicky walleyes? Forget about em.  Look for a good nut that holds the spool securely in place and wont loosen or tighten when a fish takes the line.

The bottom line here is to look for quality. Don’t be fooled by new and fancy designs. They often don’t stand the test of time and can wind up costing you fish. Find a good hand made reel at your local bait store and you wont be disappointed. You will put more fish on the ice and your wallet will thank you for it.

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