Is it Spring yet?

21 01 2020

9:30 am on a Tuesday morning and I’ve pretty much mentally checked out at work.  When I woke up this morning I really wanted to just stay in bed.  It’s not that I hate my job, it’s just that today I wanted to just sleep and do other things.  What exactly I really don’t know.  Last night was Fly Tying night at the Huron River Fishing Association meeting.  I tied the two flies and gave them away to a new member who is just getting started.  I am currently overflowing with flies.  My Carp box is pretty much maxed out.  Even if I fished every day starting in May I couldn’t use them all up.

Same goes for the Steelhead box, or boxes in this case.  My main box I keep in my waterproof sling pack is full.  The three smaller carry boxes I have are full.  The reserve box I have is full.  I could start tying for my Alaska trip but I’ need to wait.  I tied up almost 10 dozen flies for the last trip and I used 12 the whole week.  One of the guides I know told me he is going to start tying in  a couple of weeks and he is going to send me pics of what I should tie.  I probably already have a bunch ready as it is.

Smallmouth box is ready along with the Gill/Trout box.  These boxes are pretty easy to keep topped off since I really don’t fish for these as much.  I could tie up some Mini Game Changers for Smallies but considering how much I fish for them I would probably be better off just buying a few.

I could have sat on the couch and watch TV but I can only take so much of watching guys in New Zealand catching trophy size rainbows in a country I will probably never visit.  Same goes for videos of GT’s crushing flies.

I suppose I’m just getting antsy for the start of a new season.  This winter has been pretty mild with the Great Lakes at only 10 % ice coverage.  If this keeps up it’s gonna be an early walleye run.  This year should be epic with back to back record hatches.  They also increased the creel limit to 6 which was a long time coming.  All the water surrounding the US side of the Detroit River has been at 6 fish for several years.  Didn’t make much sense to keep it at 5.

I most excited for fly fishing this year.  Now that I’ve spent so much time learning about the Huron I’m amped up to go after the carp and smallmouth.  Once I figured out the carp thing and started paying more attention I began to spot a lot more fish then when I would just take casual walks along the shoreline.  Recent rains flooded out one area right up to the parking lot.  I couldn’t help but think about how the carp would have been right up to the edge if this was May and not January.

As I type this there is a squirrel eating the buds off the tree outside my office window.  He is probably thinking the same thing I am, when is Spring going to get here?

I hear ya bud, I hear ya.

 

 

 





2019 Review

30 12 2019

Fishing for 2019 ended the same way it started, fishing for Steelhead with no success.  It’s a pattern I was hoping to reverse this year but unfortunately conditions and poor timing prevented it from happening.  I really can’t complain though.  I ticked off a few times from my fishing “to-do” list and explored a few new areas.  One of them being The Clinton River which I fished for the first time this past Saturday.    I was up that way for a family gathering so I took advantage of that and went fishing first.  No Steelhead but I did recover a couple of these funny looking frisbees.

For some reason I decided to keep track of the number times I went fishing this year.  Why, I really don’t know.  I just started keeping track of when I went and what I was fishing for.  I went fishing 80 times over the course of the year. Some may think that’s a lot but my daughter thinks I need to double that in 2020.  I did notice a definite shift in the type of fishing I do the most.  Used to be it was 90% handling for walleye and 10% fly fishing.  For 2019 it flipped.  I only went handlining for walleye 23 times last year and fly fishing 57 times.  Walleye fishing, for me, has turned into grocery shopping more than anything else.  With my biggest consumers gone I don’t have the desire or need to go out as much.  It has become more of a hassle to get the boat out and go as compared to fly fishing, since I always have a rod in the car and plenty of areas to fish close by.  To really drive home how big the shift has become I went fly fishing for carp more than I went walleye fishing.  Even more surprising is that I did most of my carp fishing in September.  Once I figured out how to catch these things my success rate jumped dramatically.  Now I find myself looking for signs of feeding carp.  Even this past weekend I was looking for those tell tale craters in the muck and making a mental note to try that area come Spring.  I have a feeling that I will be chasing “Hillbilly Bonefish” a lot in 2020.

Back in August I was able to add another fish to my “fish caught on a fly rod” list, Cutthroat Trout.  I had a chance to fish the Coeur D’ Alene river in Idaho last August and caught several cutthroat and a few rainbows.  I am hoping I can go back in June to see if I can’t add Bull Trout to my list.

Also got the opportunity to go ‘mousing’ for Browns on the Manistee River back in June.  I’m no stranger to fishing in the dark but this was a completely different experience.  All night long I was literally casting blind because I couldn’t see a thing.  By some miracle I never lost a fly even though I caught dozens of trees throughout the evening.

Well those were the high points for the year.  For 2020 I’m planning on going back to Alaska to fish the Naknek River north of King Salmon for Giant Rainbows.  I’ll be in the Brooks Falls area so a stop by their may be in order to watch the bears do bear things.  That’s not until September though so I have plenty of time to plan.  Right now I’m thinking about Spring and trying out the new fly rod my kids got me for Christmas.  A G Loomis IMX Pro 9′ 6wt.  This is going to be my Summer Lower Huron Bass/Carp rod and I’m itching to try it out.

Have a great New Year everyone.





Weekend Walleye, Rain and Carp report.

28 10 2019

This past Saturday I made a quick walleye trip with a friend of mine.  It was going to be cold but it wasn’t supposed to start raining until the afternoon so it was now or never.  We started around 7:30 am in my usual spot.  Water was stained, no floating weeds and a surface temp of around 52 degrees.  Not much happened in the first hour but once the sun cleared the trees the walleye finally turned on.  It wasn’t fast and furious but we picked away at a two man limit for the next 90 minutes.  Actually, it did get kind of hectic a few times.  We ended up with several doubles that morning.  We even ended the trip on a double.  As one fish was being brought in I hooked one and landed it as well.  The smaller one went back and we were headed in.  Good thing too since the NE wind was starting to pick up and the skyline south of us was starting to darken up.  One other item of note was the amount of emerald shiners and and young of the year perch we were finding as we cleaned the fish.  The fish were all males and they appear to be gorging themselves on the available food source.

A river all to myself. Fall fishing is the best.

About an hour after I got the fish cleaned and the boat put away the rain started and it didn’t quit until well into the evening.  I heard that we were supposed to get about 2 inches of rain but I never did hear a final report.  All I know was that my rivers would be blown out so steelhead fishing the next day was out.

After I finished up with some family stuff in the morning I decided to go check on the rivers, just in case.  As expected they were really high and dirty.  As I was walking along I spotted a silt trail and saw a carp feeding in a flooded ditch connected to the river.  I slowly backed away and headed back to the car to get my carp stuff.  The carp were cruising around in shallow areas that were normally dry.  They were also on high alert and hard to sneak up on.  I did manage to spot one feeding on the opposite side of a log.  I cast my fly out past him and stripped it into range.  Once he saw it he spun towards it and sucked it up.  I set the hook and off he went.  I kept him as close to me as possible since he was in an area with a lot of blow downs.  Eventually he swam over a log and the fly scraped the log and came out of the fishes mouth.  Oh well, at least I fooled one when I wasn’t expecting to even see any.  I saw a few more after that but I couldn’t get any of them to go.  I may go back Tuesday and see if any are still around.  My hot spot was so flooded I didn’t even recognize it.  If the carp are still active I’m sure there will be a few in there.





Holy High Water

4 10 2019

I really  miss having a flow gauge on my part of the Huron river.  It was so nice to look up what the levels and flows were like before I went fishing.  Now I have to go old school and drive to the river to find out what is going on.  Even then it’s a bit of a crap shoot.  The section I have been fishing for carp is between two dams.  I have watched the levels rise and drop in a day even when we haven’t had any rain.  After a couple days of rain I really had no idea what to expect.  The river could have been blown out or just a trickle depending on if the gates were open at the dams.  I had a free hour so I decided to go check it out.

It didn’t take long and I had my answer, the river was up between two and three feet.  the water was so high that the carp were right along the shoreline with their noses in the grass.  Talk about an impossible situation to sneak up on them.  They were on high alert and I couldn’t get within 10 yards without spooking them.  The flows were so fast that if I made a cast the fly was by them or over their back before I could strip it into the sweet spot.  If I could find a pool, with no current, then I could get a shot.  In this current though it wasn’t going to happen.

My next spot was my honey hole.  I was hoping that it wouldn’t be flooded out and I might be able to sneak up on one.  As I walked in the water was over the bank and picnic tables that were high and dry were now sitting in about 3 inches of water.  The bright side though was the carp were there, everywhere.  I could barely see them but there had to be at least 2 dozen of them feeding.  Seemed like easy pickings but that many fish meant a lot of eyes looking for danger.  Spooking one could send them all back out into the main river.  Fortunately it was overcast so I wasn’t throwing a shadow.  I was able to sneak into range but the fish I was casting to were refusing my fly.  I was about to swap out flies when I had a smaller one take an interest in my fly.  I set the hook as he picked it up but lost him shortly afterwards.  That spooked every fish in the area so I left.

The next spot was more of the same.  Carp on high alert with their noses in the grass.  I tried a few more spots but the water was so deep and dark I couldn’t see anything.  I was about to head home when I decided to try the honey hole one more time.  I snuck my way back in and saw one lone carp swimming around.  I dropped my fly in the water and he swam right over it.  I lifted the fly out of the water and waited for him to turn my way.  When he did I lowered the fly into his path and waited.  This time he sucked it up and I drove the hook home.  He immediately headed for the main river and I put the brakes on him to prevent that.  I wasn’t dressed to give chase so I kept him as close as possible.  About 5 minutes later I got him in the net.

After that I packed up and went home.  I had some packing to do since I’m headed north to go duck hunting and hopefully catch an Atlantic Salmon or two.





Mirror, Mirror on the Wall.

1 10 2019

Last night I wasn’t even planning on going out.  My daughter and I had to go grocery shopping and I figured it would be to late by the time we got done.  Fortunately for me my commute home was incident free and grocery shopping went rather quickly.  Even with all that happening, in my favor, my original plan was to just stay in and tie up some more flies.  I tied up two rather quickly and I liked the way they came out so much I just had to try one.

Twenty minutes later I was walking to the river to start my usual walk upstream.  Right off the bat I spotted a feeding carp but his nose was buried under some exposed tree roots and there was no way to present a fly.  I waited for a bit but not to long since I only had about half an hour of daylight left.  He swam off so I just worked my way upstream.  Levels were up from the other day but the water was still somewhat clear.  Eventually I made my way to the shaded prime feeding area where I have been consistently  seeing carp.  The lack of light and deeper than usual water made spotting one difficult.  I could see silt trails but I couldn’t see the carp making them.  Eventually I did see one in some shallower water and I made my way over to present my fly.  He really wasn’t working my way and started to swim off.  I was about to cast in front of him when I saw another carp coming into the area.  I waited a few seconds and then stripped the fly into his range.  He turned towards the fly and blocked my view of it.  I saw what looked like him sucking up the fly, it was hard to tell in the stained water, so I set the hook and the barb struck home.  Off he went into the main river and kept out of range for a bit.  Eventually I got him close to shore, once I did I soon realized I had just hooked my first Mirror Carp.  Now I got serious and I was probably way to cautious about getting him into the net.  A minute later he was in and after a quick pic he was on his way.

After that I was pretty much out of light but I found out what I needed to know.  The fly worked and their are Mirror Carp in my area of the river.  Once I got home and cleaned up I tied up a few more flies for my next trip.  My next time out to Schultz Outfitters I’ll pick up some more dubbing brushes in natural colors.  I may trim up a few of them to make them look more like a small clam or zebra mussel.  My OCD had a hard time just leaving that scruffy mess as is.  Then again, the carp don’t seem to care.

 





Stupid Is As Stupid Does

25 09 2019

Some fish deserve to be caught.  They do something so stupid and so against their normal behavior that removing them from the gene pool would be doing the species a favor.   This was the case last night when I ventured out to my usual fishing grounds.  Water levels were up and there was a bit of a stain to the river so I was hoping to find fish in the areas that are normally dry. As usual I managed to spook the first few and had one refuse my fly before he swam off.  I did spot a silt cloud in one of my high water spots but the fish was in an area between two blow downs and in a lot of heavy cover.  I figured there was no way I could sneak up on him, let alone land him if I could.  With a lot of patience and a bit of luck I was able to get into position and hook up.  It didn’t last long though, once he was hooked he headed for the nearest pile of branches and busted the line.  No big deal, I fooled him and then he fooled me.  We’re even.

The next spot was a lot of walking and a lot of refusals.  I managed to present my fly to about a half dozen fish and every one of them turned or just plain ignored it.  I was beginning to think that these fish were on to me and that I would need to find a new area (which I did later).  While I was walking along I saw a carp swimming towards me and he was followed by a small bass.  I cast the fly out in front of him and of course the bass swam up and grabbed it.  He started splashing around right on top of the carp but the carp never left.  Normally, at any sign of danger, a carp will swim off to happier waters. They are convinced that everything in the world is out to get them, even when they are in the 20 pound + range.  I’ve seen it happen dozens of times, except for this time.  The carp hung around and when the bass came free the carp swam up and grabbed the fly.

???

Of course once he did I set the hook and he wasn’t off to the races.  He just sat there, he never ran, he just stayed close by and slowly swam in circles.  The only reason it took me awhile to land him was because I was standing on a steep bank and I had to figure out how to land him.  I didn’t have my net so eventually I waded in and lifted him up and onto shore.

That was it, pretty uneventful and it really had me scratching my head.  This fish did the exact opposite of any carp I ever caught before.  It was like he just didn’t care.  After a quick pic I revived him and let him swim away to ponder his existence.  He had some very distinctive marks on him so I’m curious to see if I we will ever cross paths again.  Hopefully he will be a bit more enthusiastic next time.





Scouting

19 09 2019

Last night I decided to check out a new stretch of the Huron River.  I had been hitting the other stretch pretty hard, as of late, so I figured it was time to find a new area.  After doing some searching on Google Maps I found a few areas that had potential.  Only problem was that I had about an hour and a half of decent light so this was going to be a quick hit and run trip.

The first few areas I checked showed potential but I didn’t see any fish.  As a matter of fact I wouldn’t see any fish until the very last spot.  Even this area was very hit and miss.  At some access points the bank was 10 feet above the water and no way of getting down.  Other spots were so overgrown I wouldn’t be able to sneak in without scaring everything.  The last area was just about perfect.  Slow moving water, gradual decline to the river’s edge, a few logs and most importantly feeding carp.  I saw the silt trail of one feeding carp but I couldn’t get into position without spooking him.  He slowly swam away and as I was watching him I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye.  There was another carp, with his nose buried under the log, in full on feed mode.  As I got closer he stopped and started to swim away.  I quickly cast my fly out ahead of him and to my surprise he sucked it in.  I set the hook and off he went.  I had left my net back in my car so while I was letting him tire himself out I was trying to figure out how I was going to land him.  The last time I dragged a carp up on the sand with my fly rod, I broke the tip.  I wasn’t going to do that again.  Fortunately, the splashing fish attracted the attention of two other anglers downstream.  They walked up to see what was going on and one of them was kind enough to wade in and land the fish for me along with take a picture.  He was bass fishing but of course wanted to know why someone would actually be targeting carp on a fly rod.  After a brief explanation of how and why I thanked him again and headed back to the car.  I still have a few more miles of this river to check out but it will have to wait for another day.