Hot, Humid Sunday Fly Fishing (7/15/18)

16 07 2018

Sunday’s forecast was for temps in the low 90’s and very humid.  Not the most ideal day to take a long 4 mile walk along a very dusty road.  Add to that zero shade and no clouds helped make the trip even more miserable.  Still, I only have 3 weeks until Alaska and I wanted to drop a few more pounds and get some casting time in with my 8wt Scott Flex before then.  With that in mind, I found myself walking to my carp spot for some more humiliation, from a fish I could have cared less about a few years back.

When I first arrived I realized I didn’t have my sunglasses.  Not the end of the world but they sure do help with cutting down the glare and spotting fish.  With the non-existent wind and clear water I was hoping to see without them.  As I rounded the corner I found it it wouldn’t be that easy.  SW winds all week had blown the dust off the dirt road onto the water and created a thin film on top.  Trying to see anything was going to be a chore.  My optimism rose when I spotted a lone carp feeding on the surface.  I was trying out a fly I tied years ago when someone I took handlining promised to take me fly fishing for carp.  I’m still waiting on that phone call, the lying bastard.  It was a half ass attempt at a damsel fly nymph.  I figured it couldn’t hurt since nothing else I had tried has.  I cast beyond the carp and stripped the fly to within inches of where he was feeding.  I let the fly rest on the weeds and waited, hoping he would head in the right direction.  He did and once again I got a little twitchy and set the hook to soon.  Once I did that he took off for safer waters.

I cursed myself as I walked on until I spotted another feeding carp.  I waited a bit to make sure what direction he was heading in.  Once again I made my cast out past him and stripped it into range.  As the fly was within about a foot of him he turned and headed towards it.  Just when I thought I was going to stick him a bluegill came out of nowhere and grabbed the fly.

I had been Carp Blocked.

The Carp Blocker

I wouldn’t have minded so much if he was bigger, if I was using a lighter rod or if I had already landed a few carp.  Seeing as how I had yet to land one this year I was a little upset.  He should be thankful I have matured and let him go, otherwise he might have become mink food.  By now I was getting pretty disgusted.  Two missed opportunities and my prospects for success were becoming few and far between.  Still, I trudged on and for the next hour.  I managed to catch a few more gills and a couple of Largemouth Bass along with plenty of Carp mocking me.

At one point I stopped to take a drink, as i was putting my water bottle back into my sling pack I noticed it wouldn’t fit.  I looked inside to see what was in the way and there they were, my sunglasses.  Now I would be able to see what was swimming around a little better.  While I was scanning the area I saw a few carp casually swimming around.  I figured they would be like all the others but I gave it a shot anyways.  I made a few casts and no response.  I saw another fish come into range and made a cast out in front of him.  As the fly slowly sank down he turned and sucked it in.  I was so surprised that I about crapped myself.  I set the hook and off he went, for about 10 feet and stopped.  My leader got wrapped up in his left pectoral fin and he just stopped, like he was hog tied and just gave up.  He rolled over on his side and I pointed my rod away from him so that the leader could slide free.  Once it did he was off to the races, again.  After a few brief runs I was able to get him close and take a pic or two.  With no net and no shallow area to beach him on I figured my chance of landing him was slim.  I tried to maneuver him in between a couple of rocks but once I grabbed the leader he wanted nothing to do with that.  One splash and the fly came free.  No biggie, I was releasing him anyways and he was well on his way to go tell his friends about his near alien abduction.

After that I headed back. I managed to catch a few more Gills and a Pumpkinseed or two along the way.  Nothing to eventful, just a long dusty walk back.  Sure hope it rains soon.

 

 

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Tag Team Walleye Fishing, 7/11/18

12 07 2018

Last week I contacted my friend Jerry to tell him I had more items to donate to The Bedford Lions Club.  I asked if he would be at The Bait & Tackle Box Sunday so I could drop them off.  He told me he wouldn’t but told me to come over Wednesday night for dinner and then we could go walleye fishing afterwards.

Works for me.

So after a quick burger I grabbed my gear and we headed towards his dock.  It’s really nice having a friend who lives on the Gibraltar Canals sometimes.  After a short trip out of the canal we were out on the main river and setting up by Horse Island.  Jerry wanted to try there first to work the edge of the weed bed on the west side of the river.  I set up with my usual #9 Rapalas and a black/silver spoon.  Jerry started off with a spoon and a f-7 Flatfish tipped with a crawler.  The plan was to try here first but if the weeds got to bad we would mover farther upstream.  Needless to say the weeds were horrendous so we didn’t stay long.  I did manage to pick up a pair though and one dink.  After my second keeper Jerry told me to keep my lines in because we were heading north.

Once we reached the second spot Jerry swapped out his flatfish for a Rapala and got down to business.  The weeds were pretty much non-existent and the water was very clear.  As we worked our way upstream we slowly picked away at the fish.  Nothing hot and heavy but we were consistently putting fish in the cooler, when we weren’t losing them.  For most of the night we were getting a fair number of those 1 or 2 second head shakes and then nothing.  I even had a few that were hard hits and then nothing.  At one point we both had it happen, at the same time, we both threw our lines back and we both had another hit.  Mine was a keeper while Jerry’s turned out to be a throwback.  As the sun set fishing began to pick up but by 10:00 pm Jerry wanted to call it quits.  He has problems seeing after dark so he wanted to get home.   As he was putting his lines away I was in the process of landing number 8.  Just as I threw it in the cooler I heard Jerry yell out.  He accidentally buried a hook in his finger right along the nail.  I helped him cut the line and get the lure out of the way so he could try and get it out.  It was no use, the barb was under the nail and he would have to go into the hospital to have it removed.  Once I got my and his stuff put away we hauled ass back to his  house.  After we got into the marina I called his wife to let her know what happened.  The hook was in his left hand and he writes left handed so Jerry needed her to fill out paperwork.  Not the way he wanted to spend the rest of his evening but what are you gonna do?  Once we got back to his dock I tied the boat down and got everything put away while he got ready to go to the hospital.  He told me to take the fish which I gladly did.  I thanked him for the trip, asked if there was anything else he needed me to do and then told him I would catch up with him tomorrow.  You got to appreciate a fishing buddy that invites you out, lets you keep the fish and deals with a hook in his finger and still says the had a good time.





July 4th Holiday Fishing.

5 07 2018

Even though Michigan was in the middle of a heat wave I decided to go fishing anyways.  I had Wednesday off for the July 4th holiday so I figured to go Walleye Tuesday night and fly fishing for Warm Water fish the next.  Advisories were out for northern Michigan to refrain from trout fishing but that didn’t really matter where I live.  There are no trout streams nearby so Bass and Bluegill it is.  To be fair, if I was up north I would head the advisories  and not fish for trout.  I release them all anyways so why bother fishing for something that will probably die from the heat?

Tuesday night I was headed to the ramp after 9:00 pm.  I knew the water was clear (3+ feet of visibility) so there was no rush to get started.  By 9:30 I was lines down and patiently waiting.  Fishing was definitely slow at first.  For the first 45 minutes all i did was clear what few weeds there were and wipe sweat.  I was hoping that once the sun set the humidity would die down some and the fishing would pick up.  I was also praying the bugs wouldn’t be an issue as well.  With no breeze to keep them at bay it was shaping up to be a miserable night.  Around 10:15 pm I caught my first walleye and it was soon followed up by a second.  Both came on my long lead and a #11 GFR Rapala.  I kept at it and by 11:00 pm I had 4 in the cooler and I was searching for #5.  I quickly found him but lost him at the side of the boat.  I proceeded to do this two more times before I was finally able to land one.  Unfortunately that fish was to short and back he went.  Shortly after 11:30 #5 was in the cooler.

I thought about trying to upgrade some of the smaller fish but the 18 inch Smallmouth I just caught that tangled all my lines made up my mind for me.  Interesting note on this fish.  I noticed something in his mouth and it turned out he had swallowed a pink balloon.  I removed it and sent him on his way.  I guess the whole plastic thing isn’t just an issue for salt water fish.  After that I packed up and headed towards my friend Dave who was farther south of me.  He and his son showed up around 10 so I wanted to see how they were doing.  They had a couple so far and were going to stick around for another hour.  He later texted me that they ended up with 5 and left around 1 am.  I was still cleaning fish at 1 and trying to finish up so I could get to bed.  I needed a few hours of sleep before heading to my Carp/Bluegill/Bass spot the next morning.

The next morning I was walking to my usual carp/bass/bluegill spot.  I didn’t know what to expect with this heat.  I was afraid the fish might vacate the area and head for deeper waters.  As I was walking out I saw a lot of surface activity.  Once I got closer I could see it was the carp rolling around and almost acting like they were in spawn mode.  Seemed kind of odd but whatever it was they were up to it wasn’t feeding.  All morning long I was constantly seeing fish but they were all cruising along and showing no interest in what I had to offer.  As a matter of fact I didn’t see a single carp feeding all morning long.  The Largemouth Bass seemed to be in the same mood as well.  I saw dozens of them and I was only able to coax one smaller fish into grabbing my fly.

Thankfully the local Gill population was cooperative.  As a matter of fact, I found an area where some of them were on their beds.  I saw this last year as well, fish still on the beds in July.  Spawning should have been done over a month ago but yet there they were.  Easy pickings.

At one spot I just put my Scott “Flex” 8wt away and concentrated on the gills.  I was using it when I saw some carp about 10 yards out.  I started casting but the gills were hitting my carp fly the second it hit the water.  An 8wt is overkill so I put it down and started using my TFO BVK 6 wt.  I stayed in the area for about another hour and caught about a dozen or more Bluegills, most of which I would have kept for a meal if it weren’t for having to carry them 2 miles back to the car.  I also caught a few Green Sunfish.  I wasn’t quite sure what they were so when I got home I looked it up.  Didn’t know we had these in Michigan.  I have been catching a few all year but never really paid attention, just figured they were a bluegill mixed with something else.

I also learned a valuable lesson in paying attention to my surroundings.  As you can see, in the background of the pictures, the shoreline had this green algae/moss/muck that went out for a couple of feet.  I released one of the many gills I caught into a hole between the patches.  As I did a carp shot out from underneath the green goop.  He may have been feeding and if I had seen him I might have has a chance at him.  I’ll never know now.  Oh well.

Around 10:30 am I started back for my car.  I had some family obligations and I was going to see “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” before hand.  I plan on going walleye fishing again Friday night and fly fishing again on Sunday.  Temps are supposed to cool down and I’m hoping the fish are more cooperative.

Until then……

 

 

 





6/27/18 Walleye

28 06 2018

After almost a two month hiatus from walleye catching I decided to get back out on the river last night.  That and my supply in the freezer is getting dangerously low.  My original plan was to not even leave the house until after 9:00 pm but overcast clouds and a favorable report, from the day before, changed my mind.   I should have stuck to my original plan.  Double digit NW winds and rain made the first hour pretty miserable.  Throw in some of those other fish still being around and I was really questioning why I decided to go out.  I at least had a nice view for awhile.

Eventually the rain stopped and the wind died down enough to where I could concentrate more on fishing instead of fighting the elements.  The action wasn’t fast and furious but I was able to catch my 5 fish limit by about 10:00 pm.  There was no particular pattern that out performed the other.  Every lure and lead caught fish from the smallest Rock Bass to an 18 1/2 inch pissed off Smallmouth.

I ended up with 10 walleye tonight and released 5 that were borderline legal.  I was catching some better fish compared to the Spring so I was getting picky, even though conditions were tough.  All throughout the night the Other Fish were pushing the minnows to the surface while the gulls and tern dive bombed them from above.  Several times I was right in the middle of it with minnows jumping and predator fish boiling within feet of me.  It would have been a lot of fun if I had my 5 wt in my hand instead of wire.  I was there to catch walleye anyways and they were on the feed as well.  Every one I caught had Emerald Shiners or Gobies in their stomachs.  Not to surprising to see this.  After the Other Fish run winds down the resident walleye seem to go on a feeding binge.  Probably since they no longer have to compete with millions of other minnow eaters.

Despite the wind and rain the water was in good shape.  The water is clear and very few floating weeds.  Not very many mayfly husks on the surface either.  I never did take a temperature reading but the level is still way up.  The breakwall at Elizabeth Park is still under water but it looks likes they put out some new markers.  I’m sure a few members of the Tri-Hull navy ran aground during the Other Fish run.  Temps are supposed to jump into the 90’s for the next few days and with it being The 4th of July weekend I’ll be staying off the water.  I need to run up to my Mom’s anyways to take care of some chores.  I’ll be at it next week some night.  It’s going to be a great summer of walleye fishing.

 

 





Father’s Day Fishing

18 06 2018

93 degrees with a heat index over 100 and 100% humidity.  That was the forecast for this past Father’s Day.  Seemed liked perfect weather to take a long walk on a dirt road with the sun beating down on my back.  At least I had enough sense to get up early before it got to hot.  But hey, it is Father’s Day and that means I can do whatever I want, within reason.  I was free of any Father’s Day obligations until noon so that gave me a few hours.  With all that in mind I was up and out the door early and starting my long walk with fly rods in hand around 7:00 am.

As I was walking along I could see some surface activity.  Didn’t know what it was but something was definitely feeding on something.  I figured the mayflies were hatching.  I was right.

There weren’t a lot of them but I managed to pick up a few hitchhikers during my stay.  The water was dead calm so spotting any carp was very easy.  Problem was they were in “I’m cruising to someplace else” mode and not “I’m Hungry” mode.  I tried but for the most part it was an exercise in futility.  I had a few turn towards my fly and acted like they showed some interest but never committed.  At one spot I set up and waited to see what might come my way.  I saw a carp slowly cruising in and made a cast way out in front of him.  As I was stripping the fly into range Bluegill #1 hit.  After I let him go I figured where there is one there is usually more.  Sure enough, about a dozen casts later and I brought about a half dozen nice sized gills to hand.

After awhile the area kind of petered out so I moved down to another area.  I stuck with the same carp fly and just started casting and stripping.  Figured I would catch gills, hoped a carp might actually hit, ended up with a surprise Largemouth Bass.  I was using my 8wt Scott Flex fly rod, overkill for gills but great for carp.  I was glad I had it when the Bass hit.  He didn’t make any great runs but he wanted to stay in the weeds and I had to put the brakes on him to prevent it.  I eventually got him to shore and after a quick pic sent him on his way.

After that I was getting tired of wiping sweat so I started my walk back.  I would stop and cast to any carp I saw that might show interest but in the end, none of them did.  I don’t know if it was the heat or the fact they might still be in spawn mode but I didn’t see any active feeders today.  Maybe next time.  I need to tie up some more carp flies in the burnt orange color.  I only have a couple left and it appears to work well for Gills and Bass.  One of these days I might finally figure out a pattern the carp will actually grab instead of ignore.

That was it for my Father’s Day Fishing adventure.  A handful of Gills, one bonus LMB and no Carp.  I was back home around 11 in enough time to go to breakfast with my kids and to see Incredibles II later.

Not a bad day.





One Last Crack

11 06 2018

A few days before Memorial Day weekend a friend of mine contacted me to tell me the Steelhead had just started moving into the St. Mary’s Rapid’s.  Of course he wanted me to come up then but family obligations prevented that.  He told me they should still be around well into June so I had time.  That would work because I was invited to a wedding at Carp Lake, MI on June 8th so I figured I could make the hour drive the next day while everyone else was sleeping off hangovers and doing the tourist thing at Mackinac City.

The next morning I was headed north at 4:30 am.  As expected the roads were empty, there wasn’t even any traffic on either of the bridges and I think I woke up the customs guard in Canada.  A little after 6:00 am I was suiting up and heading to the river.  As I drove over the bridge I could see that the water level was down and there was only one other person fishing.  So far so good.  I waded across and noticed the shadows of a few fish taking off in front of me.  I was feeling very optimistic at first but I soon realized that all of the shadows I was seeing were suckers, hundred’s of them.  My heart sank but I gave it my best shot anyways.  I swung flies for the next few hours without even so much as a bump.  At one point I though I had a take but when I brought the fly in I could see a small scale on the hook and figured I just scraped a sucker.  Around 10:00 am I put away the streamers and broke out one of my burnt orange carp flies.  By now there were about a dozen nymphers and pinners out drifting beads and egg flies.  I did see one nympher catch a bright skipper on an egg fly so I figured what the hell.  About 20 minutes later I saw a bow start in my line and I figured I was snagged.  I pulled in the line and lifted the rod and felt a strange shake.  Sure enough, I had a sucker on.  It didn’t take long for me to get him in, he didn’t have much of a chance against a 13 1/2 foot 8wt Spey rod.  I took a quick pic and then let him go.

Whistletrout

Shortly after that I headed in and just as I was about to climb out I spotted about 1/2 a dozen very dark Steelhead sitting on the end of a run.  I immediately started casting but they showed zero interest in what I was offering.

Story of my life.

After about 30 minutes I gave up.  I saw another fish caught by a pinner as I was walking out.  A dark male that hardly fought.  I took that as a sign that the fish didn’t care either.  I just chalked it up as another learning experience.  Four trips here and still no steelhead.  One of these days I will time it right and actually catch one.  Until then there is always Alaska.  As a matter of fact, 2 months from today will be the last day of my week long trip.  Better days are ahead.





Inaugural Bass/Bluegill/Carp trip for 2018

5 06 2018

This past Sunday (6/3) was my first fly fishing trip to my super secret, catch just about anything, spot.  I expected the carp to be spawning but I was hoping I would find a few asexual carp that didn’t care about that thing or a few that were already done.  My main fear was being over run my carp shooters.  There was a big bowfishing tournament going on this weekend and I was hoping none of them would be in my area.  Turns out none of them were in my area.

I got to the parking lot around 7, rigged up my TFO Clouser 5 wt and my Orvis Helios II 7 wt and started the long trek.  Overcast skies and a slight NE breeze made for an enjoyable walk up to my first stop, which wasn’t because of a fish.  It was this girl doing her thing.

I haven’t found a snapping turtle laying eggs since my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary weekend in St. Ignace.  I feel sorry for these little guys though.  They won’t have an easy hike across a beach to water.  She laid her eggs on top of a dirt road that sits on top of a bunch of boulders.  I’ll have to look up the incubation time for snapper eggs and see if I can time when they hatch.  It would be cool to see.

After that I continued my walk until I spotted some carp doing the spawn thing.  They were jumping around and splashing about, having themselves a grand old time.  Along the shoreline I did spot about a 10 pounder cruising along.  He was mouthing some floating reeds as I made my first cast out in front of him.  I let the fly sink as he slowly started to swim my way.  When he was about 3 feet out I slowly began to strip the fly in.  I lost sight of the fly as it dropped between some rocks.  The carp saw it though so I just stopped and let him swim in.  He started to nose down and tail up right over the fly.  I saw his mouth open and it looked like he sucked in the fly.  I raised up to set the hook and missed him completely.  He didn’t stick around to figure out what was going on and I started cursing myself for getting so twitchy.  I know better than that.  Oh well, on to the next one.

The rest of the carp fishing was pretty uneventful.  I saw a fair number of carp but they were all doing the same thing.  Mouthing pulled reeds floating on the surface and not paying much attention to anything else.  The water was very dark so it was hard to see.  Not sure why, it wasn’t dirty, just dark.  I couldn’t even see any gills.  The only one I did catch was by accident while I was casting to a carp.

After a few hours it started to sprinkle some so I headed back to the car.  Along the way I spotted a Bowfin feeding like a carp, head down and tail up.  I flipped my fly out near him and let it sink right down alongside of him.  I saw him react to it and this time I drove the hook home.  I played around with him for about a minute or so and eventually lost him as I was trying to land him.  I wasn’t going to keep him anyways so it was no big deal.  At least I didn’t get completely skunked and I’ll be back many times this summer.

Last item of note was a White Pelican sighting as I was heading back.  It was the first one I had seen in a few years.  There was a bird watcher riding out as I was heading in so I told him about it and where he landed.  Hope he got some decent pictures.  Kind of late in the year for one to be migrating north.  This season has everything screwed up.  We went from winter to summer for a week and then back to Spring.  I’m going steelhead fishing next weekend on the St. Mary’s rapids.  Never expected to be fishing for them in June.  The water coming out of Lake Superior is still in the 40 degree range.  Not that I’m complaining.  I had so many things going on last month I thought I was going to miss my chance.  Hope I get one this time.  This will be my fourth trip up there and all I have caught are Atlantic’s.

Until then.