Short and NOT Very Sweet...

So, I finally picked up my new musky rods.   As I excitedly drove out of the parking lot with my new stash, I celebrated by opening my sunroof and turning up the music.  Seconds later I heard a funny noise and glanced up to see a pile of rod tips caught in the receding sunroof.  I scrambled and panicked to try and hit the "off" button, but not before being startled by that TERRIBLE sound of snapping rod tips just a few inches from my head.  Yea.  What a great day suddenly gone horribly wrong.


 Stay turned!  I'll expect to have an update from our fishy trip to Sault Ste. Marie shortly.... Big fish trip!


Whoa, Don't See That Very Often...

Sometimes I see stuff that completely catches me off guard.  Yesterday, while on the road shooting stories in Southern Minnesota, I walked into the bait shop to see this;  Our television camera in three pieces.  "Oh no", I thought...



Monday morning, Photojournalist Lorri Burchett and I set out on our Southern Minnesota tour.  Three days, three stories shot.  We started Monday in Mankato at one of my all-time favorite companies, "Minn Kota".   Talk about a cool history.  I'll spare you the details until the television story hits the airs, but needless to say, touring Minn Kota's three buildings is certainly something to see.  Fact is, we're the first TV crew to get in there.  Here are a few teaser shots....

Building Bow-Mount Units...

 A Cool Picture.... Lorri Shooting Building Number Three

 Okay,  we jump to Tuesday.  Stacy Leesch and I decided to do a little bass fishin'. 5:30 am, we head out to two local lakes.  Lura and Jefferson.   Whoa, bad idea?  We found 88 degree water temps in spots.   We threw everything everywhere.   No bass to be found.   Long story short.  We got our perennial bass tails handed to us.  I'll blame it on extra hot weather and extra hot water.  Found one small fish late in the day and a few pike.  See?  It happens to everyone! Okay, now we jump to day # 3.   Lorri and I head to Waterville, MN to shoot Sakatah State Park and the local lakes.  On the way into town, we swing by the first bait shop we find.  A little family place called Axel's.

Axel's Bait Shop

 I run inside to grab a couple spinner baits and meet this guy, Axel. 
We strike up a conversation and soon enough Lorri and I are inside shooting a story on this gem of a spot. Turns out Axel build his own spinner baits.  They've got a secret twist (which you'll have to discover for yourselves). Needless to say I couldn't leave without purchasing several!  On the way out, we look over in the corner of the shop we discover a bunch of very cool paintings.  Turns out Axel recently got married and his wife's hobby is art.  I'm thinking it should be her career.  Just look at her work. 
Irina at Work...
That drawing Irina's working on there is of a guy worked at the restaurant next door doing odd jobs.  He was kinda a favorite in the area. He recently passed away and Irina agreed to create a piece to remember the guy.  Wow... 

    That's the way our adventures sometimes go.  We always seem to stumble onto the best stories when we're not looking for them.   All the sudden?  Blurry pictures...  The camera lens goes on the fritz and we're outta business.  So, that's what it's like to shoot outdoor television.  You just never know who you're going to meet or what you're going to see....

Until next week,

"The Man About The Woods"


On The Road, Again....

We'll I'm packing my bags and the boat for next week's adventure.  We'll be headed to Southern Minnesota for a couple of very cool shoots. Every wonder where the name Minn Kota came from?  We'll, we're headed to headquarters to find out! As well, we'll get the full history on Minn Kota and how the best trolling motors out there came to be!   Also, we'll be fishing a little know destination called Lura Lake?  What do you know about it and what does some of Minnesota's hottest bass fishing have to do with one of our coldest days ever shooting on the lake?  Here's a hint!

The Hint!

   I'll explain later!  Oh, and we got a tip on another GREAT summer destination in Southern Minnesota.  Bigtime fishing, trails and camping.  Any guesses where we'll be?  

The Due North Outdoors/Rapid Marine Lund

 Be sure to watch for the Due North Outdoors/Rapid Marine Lund.  Remember to enter Rapid Marine's big contest.  Simply snap a photo of the Due North Boat and get that shot posted on Rapid Marine's Facebook page and you could win!  Prize to be announced soon!   I'll have a fishing report from Southern Minnesota coming up shortly!


Switching Thing Up...

My alarm chirped at 4:50 am sharp and I hopped out of bed and snuck out of the room, careful to not wake Katie.   I clicked on the coffee maker in a sleepy haze and slapped on my spf 50.  A big   A couple  minutes later I had a hot mug of jo in one hand,  and pushed the Lund away from the dew-covered dock.  I still had 15 minutes until the sun would peek from behind the far shore, and I noticed a lot of loons on the water as I made my way up Gull Lake to Grassy Point and the bulrushes.  Only now do I tend to find bass in these shallows early in the morning.  While you can chuck a bunch of different stuff to these early-morning feeders, I prefer to switch things up this time of year.  I keep my baitcasters in the rod locker and instead pull out a fly rod.  Over the years I've found fly roddin' to be deadly for shallow fish and maybe, just maybe, I find throwing unconventional gear in conventional territory a bit fun.   In fact, it's become such a hobby of mine that each spring, I now brainstorm and tie a couple dozen homemade bass poppers.  A few friends have even started collecting 'em.   Most recent was the series made out of wine corks, the result of a bet from a buddy...

On this morning, I  reached for my fly rod.  Whoops. 
A Mess!
Appears one of my crank boxes didn't want me using that darn rod.   Spent the next ten minutes untangling that mess, took a swig of my now lukewarm coffee and grabbed my popper box and pulled out one of my 2009 patterns.  It's essentially three sheets of 2mm foam glued together and cut to size.  I tie in a 3/0 hook and legs and add eyes.  
My 2009 and 2010 Patterns
I like to throw my bigger bass poppers using a 6 or 7 weight fly rod with heavy bass lines and 10lb leaders.   I picked up a 6 wt and got to the casting.  
A Fishy Spot...
When I fish a long line of bulrushes, I set the boat to slowly move parallel to the outside edge of the weeds and I just start casting, picking out pockets and lanes.   I prefer to have an accurate shot, so I keep my casts to about 60 or 70 feet.   The other thing about shorter casts?  It can be tough to get good hook sets on fast takes when you have too much line out....

Hooked Up!
As the sun just started to peek over the edge of the trees, I threw my first casts, letting the popper settle, then pulling just a couple of aggressive twitches,  "BLOOP!"  "BLOOP!"  I love that sound on quiet mornings.... Eventually, that swirl I love so much....
Fish on the Bottom!   He sipped in the popper,  I set the hook and we battled it out, fish jumping from the water repeatedly and me slowly working him closer and closer to the boat until I leaned over, lipped the tired fish and popped the fly from his mouth.  As I laid the fish back in the water and he slid away, I laughed a bit, knowing my summer topwater bite had started.

I REALLY look forward to this fishing pattern.  Maybe it's the fact that I'm about the first person on the lake.  Maybe it's the idea that I'm tricking fish into biting using something I created?  Maybe it's the sounds of sunrise on open water.  All I know is I wait all year long for mornings like this.   In a window from 5:45-7:30 I boated around two dozen fish.  A couple pushed the 3lb mark, pretty good for Gull Lake.  I lost one popper to a fish that startled me when he took the fly.  Let's just say my hookset was a bit too much for the 10lb leader.   I also used my 2010 pattern tied using wine corks.  That fly worked just fine too.
The Wine Cork Popper!
 By the end of the weekend, I had torched my 6 wt, probably the result of hard use over the years and a bit of rough treatment in the boat.   I prefer to tell people I simply caught too many fish for the rod...

 Another One Bites the Dust....



A Fishy Win For Camp Confidence! 

Man,  the rods are piled up in the boat at the moment.  I've got wads of rods tangled with cranks tied, Lindys danglin', tube baits twisted, even a few bobber rigs bouncing around.  It's 'cause I'm a bit mixed up, maybe, like the fish this year.  We've had a cooooold, wet spring.  The good news? Water levels in many parts of the Midwest are back up where they need to be.  The bad news?  Fish aren't quite in their timely patterns yet and last week, that would prove to be a good thing for the Sherck/Swendra team.....

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Each June, I volunteer to guide a team of anglers as part of Camp Confidence's WONDERFUL Classic Tournament.  This was the event's 28th strong year in existence.  The tournament is a chance to raise big dough for the camp, which provides outdoor opportunities to literally thousands of people with developmental disabilities.   This year, I had buddies in the boat.  Rob Swendra and  I always seems to talk about going fishing, but just never seem to get around to it.   Rob anteed up for the event and brought along his wife, Karen (turns out she would be our ringer).   We pulled a good number for the tournament, #7 and we were one of the first teams to blast off on Saturday morning and head out onto Gull Lake's expanse.  Dead calm and heavy gray skies.  Perfect.   The tournament format is a fun one.  Three fish limit in separate bass, walleye, northern and mixed bag categories.  Rob and Karen hoped we'd find a few walleyes, so we took a fifteen minute trip to the north end of the lake and dropped a few Lindys over the side.  In the first two hours, we found and landed a couple of small wallies and I mean tiny, like 12-14 inchers.  Hmmmm.  Not the way I like to start a tournament.  We decided to move down the lake a ways and I noticed no one on another of my favorite spots.  We threw a few small Northland fireballs tipped with redtails into the weedy spot and soon had a 23 incher in the livewell.  "Good", I thought.  We had one good fish and had 2 1/2 hours to find a few more.  Walleye fishing on Gull can be a grind at times, so I decided to switch us up and head to a bass spot.  *Bang!* Rob's wife put a nic e 3 pound fish in the boat right away. A couple casts later, *bang!* another nice bass.  Suddenly, I wondered if we should ditch the walleyes and switch to the bass category.  After all, we had two nice fish.   Again, I decided to change things up.  We threw a few Rapalas on trolling rods and slowly headed down along the edge of a fishy weedline and settled into a few sandwiches.   Two bites in,  Rob dropped his turkey and swiss and grabbed the #1 port-side rod.   Moments later, we had a small pike in the boat.   I don't think Karen was halfway through her roast beef and cheddar before her rod popped and suddenly she had a nice pike in the boat. 

Karen's First Pike!

The next pike would be our keeper.  Remember that Purpledecent Shad Rap I used to nab the big pike in Canada?  Well, I'd tied that on and had it down about 8 feet when a nice fish grabbed it.  Rob netted our pike and suddenly I smiled. "We're actually looking pretty good for the mixed bag tournament."  "What do you guys want to do the last hour?"  "I say we just fish for fun".  "Cool..."   We snuck over to another of my favorite areas and started throwing Rapala DTs and on Rob's first cast with the Crawdad Red, he put a 4+ pound largemouth in the boat! Rob!  Way to go! 
Karen and Rob's two biggest bass
Suddenly we had a SOLID bag for the bass category.  Good Lord! Well,  we caught plenty of fish in that last hour and with roughly 10 minutes left, I put another 23+ inch walleye in the boat and decided we'd had an awfully good day of fishing.  As we zipped back to the weigh-in, we decided to pick the mixed bag category and enter Rob's bass in the lunker contest.   
Getting our fish ready for weigh-in and release!
 Turns out, we would win the mixed bag tournament and Rob would also get the lunker award. 

  What a FUN day of fishing! Even my son got in on the action winning a new fishing pole after taking part in the kids casting clinic.  Does he look excited or what?

   All I can say is THANKS to the good people at Camp Confidence.  They put on one heck of a tournament and run the best darn camp in Minnesota.  PS:  Did I mention that the Classic weekend raised $100,000 for campers.  Amazing......

 They didn't look giant in photo, but weighed HEAVY on the scale!