Cargo trailer conversion project part one

Since I now have a teen that once in a while expresses interest in Kayaking with me I realized that unless I had some style of toy hauler trailer to be able to haul three full sized kayaks and the little mini one for the 7 year old I couldn’t do it on camping trips Luckily my wife was able to find an older style cargo trailer for fairly cheap. Now for the project of converting it to an insulated trailer for sleeping and just enjoying some camping.

The Trailer is a Tacom cargo trailer from 1975. I cant find any information on this brand so some more research is needed. Last year I built up a small trailer for hunting or just camping alone with my wife. It works great but it only sleeps 2 and even then there is not a lot of room for anything except sleeping.

16 foot dual axle on it
Nice to have a side door so the back end door does not need to be down all the time
Entire inside has a steel frame.
With this style of door it shouldn’t take much to quickly load kayaks and gear in
This back corner is the only real damage I need to fix

Overall there is not a lot of outside damage that needs to be fixed quickly. The back corner is crumpled a bit and the metal sheet ripped. The previous owner used nearly a tube of caulking to patch it. I will add some roof patch to his repair job before I start insulating this area. The front by the ladder has an old patch job that looks like it is just silicone caulk with some old mesh stuff pushed into it. Be best to remove and then also reseal.

Short little walk through

My plan for the trailer is to seal the two spots back up and then come up with a plan for where to wire lights inside. I would like to get the outside repainted before the fall rains start but as long as it is fully sealed and not leaking I am not to worried about that yet.

Unexpected crappie catch from Hills Creek Reservoir

You have probably noticed I fish this lake often for a quick limit of trout. It is heavily stocked and most days the trout will bite nearly anything that is thrown in front of them. Which also makes it easy if you want to experiment with different trolling presentations and are not sure how they would work. As always when I go I bring a trolling pole and my normal trout gear. But this time just on a whim I tossed in some panfish gear I got in a mystery tackle box. I figured that hatchery fish eat anything and panfish gear was no exception. That and trout are fun on ultralight gear.

a bit of wind and a downpour greeted us. 5 minutes after launching it was nearly impossible to see down this section.

Normally When I am up here fishing I follow the old channel of the river since that is the coolest area and the trout tend to be a down about 20+ feet this time of year. Year ago when fishing with my grandfather I remember him talking about when he would troll and circle across the shallower side of the lake he would catch the occasional crappie on his trout gear. Since I brought the ultralight gear (Okuma Celio ultralight trout pole) I put on an underspin jig head and a small curly tail grub. I have not fished for crappie in a long time, and it has been over 20 years since I caught one over 8 inches.

I wasn’t sure about the pink but it proved to be effective

Within 5 minutes of cutting over to the other side I caught a smallish 8″ crappie on the jig. Since it was big enought to eat I kept it and continued trolling. within another 5 minutes I had another bite and had something way bigger on. Since I normally just catch trout I expected a holdover stocker trout. But it was a big 14″ crappie. This ended up being the largest of the trip and at just over a pound by far my personal best. The last largish one I caught was maybe 10 inches and that was when I was a teenager in the 90’s (yes I am old). The fish finder showed several schools in the area so I continued and just kept circling the area for them. Between the grub and a sixth sense crank bait I ended up with over 20 crappie total. Of those 6 of them were over 12″ and I lost several others that were the same size.

First three of the day.

Kept six of them for dinner. Total wight of the 6 fish was 6.76 pounds

Over all even with all the rain and wind it ended up being a very good day on the water. Didn’t catch a single trout but I did lose a bass that was about the same size as the crappie. catching these makes me want to try for more and to see how big of crappie I can find there. I have heard that Lookout point has had some caught up to 16 inches. With a state record of over 4 pounds for a white crappie that would be a fun fish to catch. Hard to imagine one that big though.

Practiced my fillet skills. I am very out of practice and need to catch more crappie, bluegill or bass to practice on.

Gear used in today’s trip:

Converting a Watersnake trolling motor for a Hobie outback Kayak part 2

After the first test run using the motor there were several things that needed to be fixed to make it easier to use.

  • The cassette is made to be put in only one direction and not both. Some rubber pads would be helpful to prevent kick up every time the motor starts and stops.
  • Adding a DC controller between the battery and motor to give it a variable speed while trolling.
  • The clamps on the motor made it difficult to hook to the controller box. They should be removed and some circle ones installed so it can be screwed down. Same with my connectors from the battery to the controller
  • Add Volt meter to controller box to see how much power is left in the battery
  • At full speed the motor wanted to shift in the cassette and would have to be held to keep it from angling.
  • Removing the motor from the cassette hole is very difficult if the blade is not straight up and down.

The first thing I adjusted was to make sure the motor is facing the correct way for how the cassette fits into the mirage drive hole and then sealing the top and bottom of where the drive post goes into the cassette with waterproof epoxy. This fixes two of the issues I was having. It prevents some of the kick up of the motor when started, and will keep the motor from shifting sideways at higher speeds.

Top section sealed with Epoxy.
And the bottom sealed up

One thing that I saw other people had issues with is the cassette vibrating and making a bit of noise. I did not notice that to much, but as a preventative I filled the cassette with waterproof expanding foam. This also adds some rigidity to the cassette since it is not very thick plastic. Make sure that the foam you get is outdoor spray foam. The indoor variety tends to break down quickly when exposed to the elements. Once the foam has been added and dried cap the hole with some silicone or epoxy so water cannot enter

A small hole drilled into both sides of the cassette to put the straw from the can of spray into.

And now for the control panel. I did not get any pictures of the build but the box is clear and you can see all the connections. I used a sealed Pelican box to hold the controller so that the electronics parts wouldn’t get wet. To keep it sealed I drilled holes in the sides and put a bolt facing out and then used a wing nut to hold it on with a drop of sealant on the bolt head to keep it sealed. One side the clamps from the motor can go on and on the other side O-clamps for wire terminals that the wingnut holds in place. Once turned on the speed can be adjusted by the just turning the nob up or down

I also added a volt meter just so I could do a quick look to see how the charge is

Now to take it on a test drive to see if there is any other tweaks needed. And maybe a video of the next test run.

Backyard foraging: Dandelions are everywhere

What do you eat when you are stuck at home, and don’t want to chance going to the store for fresh vegetables? In these times when many people are afraid to leave their homes there is one plant you can find across North America and many places in the world.

Dandelion boardering the yard.
Dandelion bordering the yard.

Spring is a season of renewal and new beginnings(and new dangers this year).  All of the trees break out in bright green growth as the leaves unfurl from their winter sleep.  Ahh the joys of spring, I can go on and on about it.  It is by far my favorite time of the year.  One of the great things about spring is if you like to forage, or try some of the bounty of nature you can get many delicious greens.

The easiest one for anyone to find is what many people consider an annoying weed.  The common dandelion is the easiest of all edibles to find.  The plant is native to Eurasia, but was brought by settlers as a hardy green to grow and eat.  Dandelions are found on all of the worlds continents and have been gathered since prehistory, but the varieties cultivated for consumption are mainly native to Eurasia. Dandelions are a perennial plant, its leaves will grow back if any part of the tap root is left intact. To make leaves more palatable later in the later parts of the year they are often blanched to remove bitterness.  The bitterness is mostly in the leaves late in the growing season when water starts getting in short supply.  In the spring it is only mildly bitter and makes a great addition to salads.  I am actually thinking of growing them on purpose. Every part of the plant can be used for something.

The flower petals, along with other ingredients, are used to make dandelion wine. This is very very strong, but also very good. I have seen where the flowers can also be used to make a dye, but I have not had a chance to try that. The ground, roasted roots can be used as a caffeine-free dandelion coffee. I add mine to roasted chicory root for a tasty coffee alternative.   Dandelion was also traditionally used to make the traditional British soft drink dandelion and burdock, and is one of the ingredients of root beer. Also, Dandelions were once delicacies eaten by the Victorian gentry mostly in salads and sandwiches. Dandelions leaves contain abundant vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins A, C and K, and are good sources of calcium, potassium, iron and manganese.

They grow everywhere.  Even in the cracks in the walkway
They grow everywhere. Even in the cracks in the walkway

Roasted dandelion root is a simple thing to make if you are interested in trying to do it yourself.  First gather up a dozen or so plants with as much of the root attached as you can get.  The two-year old plant will have a nice large root on it.  Remember to save the leaves and any flowers for a nice salad or to add to a sandwich. Cut the individual roots into 1-inch sections and cover with water. White sap will leach from the roots causing the water to cloud. Agitate the roots with your hands to remove any remaining soil and to remove the sap. Pour off the water and repeat the process until the water is clear. If you skip this step you will have a much more bitter tea.  Process the roots in a food processor until they are coarsely chopped.  Spread a 1/2-inch layer of chopped dandelion roots on a cookie sheet, and set the oven at 250 degrees, leaving the oven door open a crack to allow moisture to evaporate. Roast the dandelion roots for 2 hours or until the roots are the color of coffee grounds. Stir the dandelion roots every 15 to 20 minutes to allow them to dry evenly. Remove from the oven when the roots are the color of ground coffee. Allow to cool and store in glass jars. You can further grind them with a coffee grinder, but if you don’t have one, that’s okay too, as they can be used as is.

Below are some great resource guides if you are interested in more on foraging for weeds and other edibles.

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Converting a watersnake trolling motor for a Hobie outback Kayak

Lately as I get older it has been a bit more difficult for me to always use the hobie mirage drive for all day. Finishing a day of trolling, and barely being able to walk due to back pain is a bit discouraging. So after some searching I found a build to convert a Watersnake 18 lb motor into a trolling motor that fits into a hobie mirage slot on the kayak. This build looks like it will work on any size of watersnake. But really I cant see the need for a bigger thrust then I currently have. Now for some long ocean trips maybe to deal with the current.

Things needed to do the conversion with link if you need them

Watersnake all ready to start the conversion. Total weight at start is just 8 lbs
First step as with most things is to remove screws. There are 4 screws that hold the top to the bottom part of the control panel
Before removing any wires make sure you take a picture of how it looks. This makes it a lot easier to reassemble after you shorten the shaft. There are only three wires that have to be removed. All three lead into the shaft so it is easy to tell which three they are
After removing the controller from the top you will need to insert a small PVC pipe into the shaft. These will keep you from accidentally cutting the wires as you shorten the shaft.
Before cutting the shaft you will need to get the the cassette plug set up to insert the shaft into it. The easiest way is to use a 1″ spade bit. A hole needs to be made on each side of the cassette so the motor shaft can fit into it.
Once the cassette is seated onto the shaft use a piece of tape to mark where you will cut it off. I put the cassette just above the blades of the motor and then added about 5 inches above to where I cut it off. This is right at 10″ cut off. Do not discard the top. You will need it as a template to cut out guides into the new shortened shaft.
Once the shaft is cut off you will need to cut out the gap and the hole through to reattach the controller. Once you have it cut out reassemble everything.
Once everything is assembled you are ready to go

Once you are done the set up is ready to go as is. There are several other adaptions that are useful in the long run while using this set up. At this stage you are limited to only the two speeds that are set up on the motor. high and just slightly less then high. Good for going from place to place but way to fast for trolling. At least for my trolling.

Some things to note from my first test run:

  • The cassette is made to be put in only one direction and not both. Some rubber pads would be helpful to prevent kick up every time the motor starts and stops.
  • I added a DC controller between the battery and motor to give it a variable speed while trolling. (worked perfect for this)
  • The clamps on the motor made it difficult to hook to the controller box. They should be removed and some circle ones installed so it can be screwed down. Same with my connectors from the battery to the controller
  • Add Volt meter to controller box.
  • 21AH battery lasted just over 4 hours of trolling. A 2nd battery will probably be needed at some point.

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Since there were some tweaks needed I made a part 2 to better stabilize it. Converting a Watersnake trolling motor for a Hobie outback Kayak part 2

Birthday Kayak trip to Hills Creek in late fall

Late fall lake fishing in Oregon can be a lot of hit or miss. When the storms roll through it can make for some high waves and a very difficult time controlling a kayak. We started out the day thinking we might be able to catch some walleye or something else in Lookout point reservoir. Even with our early start there was already some chop on the water, and as comfortable as I am in the kayak I am leary of trying to fish that lake with even a chance of wind. Lookout point is 12 miles long down a valley. I have kayaked it in the summer and it went from flat calm to white capped waves in 30 minutes.

Video fishing. I wish I had these when I was younger fishing in Alaska

Instead of taking a chance on the lake birthday boy Jeremy and I decided to hit our standby of Hills Creek. We do fish it a lot, but it is close and nearly always provides some fish for us to catch. It seems in recent years that the average fish size has increased in the lake. Or we are just getting much better at catching the bigger fish ( I like the 2nd answer myself)

Started out with drizzle but became a beautiful day

Today’s water was around 55 degrees for this late November trip. Not as cold as it will get but still cold enough I decided to wear my dry suit. Early in fall I was not paying attention and leaned over the edge to grab a floating cap and flipped my kayak. I can go out in two foot waves and heavy wind with no issues. But a glass calm lake and not even moving and I flipped. At least it had been warm still then.

For this trip I branched out and decided to try something other then my normal gear. 90% of the time I use a dodger with a Brad’s cut plug or troll a rainbow colored rapala. Both of those are highly effective in nearly every body of water I have fished. Except Odell lake, for some reason nothing hits a cut plug there. Well a mackinaw might but I haven’t trolled for them with a cut plug. That is part of next years fishing goal. Anyway back to the gear. instead of the cut plug I used a pink and silver wedding ring with a smile blade on it. It didn’t have quite enough weight to get down more then a foot until I added a quarter ounce weight to it. This was a highly effective setup! 10+ fish and nothing smaller then 12 inches. The only thing I caught on my rapala on the 2nd pole ended up being just a single landlocked Chinook. It was easily over 12 inches and a great fighter.

I realized I need to take more pictures for all of you to enjoy. But if you want to watch the video of the day please check out below.

Rustic passive phone speaker

In addition to doing a lot of outdoors adventures I also like to find and create things from dead falls I find when I am out and about adventuring. While visiting my Dad there was an Oregon bitter cherry at the corner of his driveway that had died during the summer and needed removed. This wood has supplied a lot of the crafting wood for my wood turning hobby.

Since my children are home for a school holiday we decided that it would be nice to leave the house a bit and make something that they could use with a phone or tablet when we go on camping trips. The biggest thing they would like is to be able to hear their music better. I am a big advocate for less electronics while we are camping and found a design for a simple passive speaker that I could make on the wood lathe.

Fist step was to bore out the hole and then taper it towards the edge so it in the shape of a cone.
After it is bored out you will need to cut out a slot for your phone to sit in.

Once the basic shape was made and the slot cut for the phone to sit in we gave it a quick test using my phone. The only thing I didn’t realize is that on my oldest daughters phone is that the speaker is in the back of the phone and to the side. This will require a different style and slightly wider base so her phone will not fall out.

Test with unfinished wood. Didn’t want to wait for the oil rub to dry before we tested it.
Still need to sand the bottom flat so it doesn’t roll. But it looks way better after a coat of oil

Fall fishing Lookout Point Reservoir

When I was a youngster, many years ago. Lookout point reservoir was known only as a place to fish for trash fish. It wasn’t stocked with anything and the northern pikeminnows had pretty much out competed every other fish. You would catch an occasional trout, but for the most part suckers and pikeminnows were all. And then came the illegal stocking of warm water species into this reservoir. It is now one of those lakes that if it lives anywhere in Oregon then you can probably catch it if you learn the lake and where to target them.

For our fall trip down to the lake, we are trying to catch for us the elusive Walleye. Several years ago ODFW did a study in the lake to the percentage of predator species, and how they are distributed in the lake. I was able to get ahold of one of the biologists that were a part of the study and when they did the trapping for them they found several Walleye over 24″ in length. This was nearly a decade ago study so she believed that some of them could be pushing up to 30″ now. Neither Jeremy or I have ever caught a walleye so this would be a great catch to add to our bucket list of fish. Walleye are limited in Oregon to the Columbia river, small stretches of the Willamette river and now Lookout point.

One thing I have noticed in the last five years is the reduction in pikeminnow in the lake. Years ago when we trolled we would catch 5 pikeminnow to 1 of any other species. Now I rarely catch any at all.

Finding a place to walk down to the water is always a challenge since the lake is so steep. But we were able to find a place we could walk down and fish along the edge. A storm was coming in so our fishing time was limited before the heavy rain and wind hit. Third cast once we made it to the water my shad rap was hammered by a very nice sized Small mouth bass. Before this fish I actually didn’t know there was small mouth in the lake and thought the bass were limited to the large mouth variety.

First nice smallmouth bass I have caught this year

As with most reservoirs in the area there is also tons of stumps everywhere. After a near loss of the crankbait I swapped over to a finesse jig to try nearer the stumps. I will say now that I am not a bass fisherman. Or really much of a fisherman for anything other then trout and salmon. But I am trying got change that. Last month I signed up to start getting a monthly bag of bass gear from 6th sense. Using the finesse jig this was my first attempt at using anything other then a worm and bobber for bass. Jigging is a skill I need to work on, but I was able to somehow catch another bass near a stump using the jig. If you watch my video you can tell I am a bit excited about catching my first bass on a finesse jig

My first bass ever caught on a finesse jig from 6th sense.

With the short amount of time we had before the weather turned and we had to pack it up we caught three nice smallmouth bass and lost a couple of others. And of course lost several lures to the stumps. No Walleye on this trip but that just means we will need to go back and try again at some point. As windy as this lake gets it is hard to fish from our preferred choice of a kayak. But we will someday catch one even if it is tiny.

For more fishing or hiking in the area please check out these books

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Compact DIY Emergency fishing kit

No one can predict when an emergency will happen. It can be anything from as simple as having your vehicle break down, to a natural disaster that effects the entire area you are living in. One thing that is good to keep in a vehicle just for an emergency is a small kit filled with basic fishing supplies. For this kit I use a small metal altoid can. But any container that is small enough to fit in a glove box will work. The nice thing about these little metal boxes is that they can be used for several purposes once you have removed the fishing supplies. This also makes a great 5 minute craft to put together with children

Simple kit with basics in it. I do recommend more hooks and weights then what is shown in the picture.

Possible list of what you can put into your box:

Still some room that more weight and hooks can be added and a small folding knife

This list is for a very basic kit and can easily be customized to whatever works for you. As you can see from the pictures there is still lots of space inside the tin to add some other things to the kit. One additional thing that would be good to have in this kit is a compact knife. I always carry a belt knife so it is not needed for my kit. this would be very useful for gutting any fish and cutting a pole to use as a fishing rod.

The best way to store the line is to wrap it around the box and then secure it with tape. For this kit I am using 100lb nylon braid. Very strong and can also be used as cordage for any needs.
Wrap multiple layers of tape around the kit to secure the line and also to use in an emergency.

If making your own mini kit is not something you would like to put together then there are several pre-built kits available on Amazon that can be purchased.

This is a good list of books that are fairly compact and can be carried in the glove box or in an emergency bag.

All That the Rain Promises and More: A Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms by David Arora (smaller pocket guide that is excellent to use)

The Forager’s Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants

Pacific Northwest Foraging: 120 Wild and Flavorful Edibles from Alaska Blueberries to Wild Hazelnuts (Regional Foraging Series)

SAS Survival Handbook, Third Edition: The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Anywhere This is the go to guide for most people looking into survival

And some good survival gear

There are also several E-books that can be found on Kindle unlimited

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Hills creek fishing in the slippery mud

Fall fishing in Oregon tends to be either weeks of dry or so wet everything is a slippery mud mess. Today’s fishing trip was one of the later. And I’m sure the slowly lowering water in Hills Creek reservoir was not any help. In the Willamette valley most of the reservoirs are used for winter flood control. I have seen pictures from my grandparents of the yearly flooding in the valley every year before the dam’s were built in the 1950’s and 1960’s. All the houses at the time were built up on higher ridges and that were just barely above the floods. Even with the dam’s in place there is still a chance of flooding year to year.

Lots of fish and mud shenanigans
Hills creek reservoir
Muddy and rocky everywhere this time of year. Luckily there are stumps available to stand on to keep from sliding in to the lake.

Today’s trip started out as mostly a mushroom hunting trip since the chanterelles are up. But since we stopped at the reservoir we decided that a few casts would be nice since the rain was holding off some. The forecast was for up to half an inch of rain so we both wore solid rain gear from head to toe. Before we even were able to cast out there were multiple fish jumping out of the water. Just from seeing that we had high hopes of catching something.

Our hopes were realized very quickly. In less then 30 minutes we had caught five fish between us. Blue fox and my generic jointed jerkbait were the ticket for catching them. One planted spring Chinook (only about 10″) and four nice hatchery rainbow trout. Most were a nice 12″ size but one was close to 16″. I am curious to see how well the holdover survival rate for them is going to be this year. Earlier I caught a very large 20″ hatchery rainbow in the same area. This is by far the largest trout I have ever caught in Hills creek. I keep hearing of larger landlocked Chinook or the rare Bull trout that are caught in the reservoir but I have not yet been able to catch one. Both tend to live down deep and the only way to get them is with a downrigger. I do have one that I adapted to use from my kayak but that is something that I really need to practice to be good at it.

Hills creek reservoir Hatchery rainbow trout
Nice hatchery rainbow on one of the first few casts

My last fish of the trip was the largest one of the day at close to 16″ and also one that nearly made me slide into the lake. Once I got the trout out of the water the line to the lure broke and I dropped the fish. The mud there is slippery enough I nearly slid into the water trying to get it. Luckily a stump stopped me before I hit the water. Otherwise I would have slid into water that was easily over my head in depth.

best lures of the day to catch fish:

  • Jerkbait close to what I was using sadly there is no marks on it on who it is made by
  • Jeremy’s favorite panther martin
  • and my normal Mepps aglia size zero. This works everywhere in Oregon for nearly everything. Both the silver and brass colors are equally effective.
  • For any other fishing areas near this please check out the fishing in Oregon book. I am slowly picking places and trying to fish them all.

Shane’s outdoor fun is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com