A Bump in the Flows, Makes Them Go.

3 08 2020

The beginning of July was all about the Mulberries.  Once they stopped it was all about the water levels, or lack there of.  I did have one great outing after an all day rain but after that it was pretty tough.  Water levels were so low that all my ambush points were dry.  Weeds were exposed and rotting in the sun make for some smelly and undesirable conditions.  Add that to me being exposed to someone who might have been in contact with a positive Covid-19 Person, and it made for a frustrating couple of weeks.  This past weekend though that all changed after we received rain and all persons exposed tested negative.

I spent most of the weekend up at my Mom’s taking care of some chores.  While I was north it was raining back home and it rained all day Sunday on my drive home.  Once I got unpacked and the rain stopped I grabbed my 8 wt. Scott Flex and headed to the river.  The river levels were back to normal but a bit muddy.  I didn’t care, all my spots were full of water again and they were full of actively feeding carp.  So many carp that I had to be extra careful sneaking up on them.  Lot’s of extra eyes to look for danger so I literally approached each spot at a snails pace to make sure I didn’t spook any at my feet.  Such was the case at my first stop.  I could see carp feeding about 10 yards ahead of me in some dirty water.  Before I moved on them I scanned the area carefully first and sure enough, there was a closer one not 5 feet from me.  I placed my fly in front of him and a second later he as hooked and headed for the main river.  I kept him close and after several failed attempts to get him into my net I finally landed him.

He trashed the area so I just moved on.  The next spots were more of the same.  Fish in all of them but with the dirty water it was hard to see them and because of that I spooked a lot of them.  I managed to pick up a few smaller ones as I bounced back and forth between my spots.  As I was leaning up against a tree, trying to figure out how I could get to a carp that was half under a bush, I saw a swirl downstream from me.  The water was rising now and getting dirtier so I figured I had a chance to sneak up on what was down there.  as I worked my way into position I could see 3 or 4 fish just ahead of a log.  I cast my fly up ahead of the group and let it drift down.  The first fish swam up to the fly and engulfed it.  I lifted up and off he went.  Fortunately for me he headed up stream and not down towards the log.  He was a bigger fish and since I was dealing with him in the current of the main river, I had my hands full.  I just let him run to tire himself out.  About 5 minutes later I was able to get him in the net.

After that one I headed for home.  It was starting to rain again and the river was getting dirtier and higher by the minute.  I had been out for about 2 hours and the river rose about a foot in that time.  Hopefully the levels don’t drop two feet in the next 12 hours like it did after the last rain we got.

Back to the wire

20 07 2020

It had been almost two months since the last time I went grocery shopping, I mean walleye fishing.  I really didn’t know what to expect.  I knew the humidity was going to be terrible and the water was going to be clear.  I didn’t know what the weeds, bugs or pleasure boaters were going to be like though.  Didn’t have much control over any of it but I did wait until after 9:00 pm before I headed out.  I was hoping most of the boats would be off the water by then, I was wrong.

I set up in my usual area and I immediately started battling the weeds.  Lots of single strands and a few mats on the surface.  It took me awhile but I was finally able to get the lures to the bottom without them getting fouled.  The pleasure boaters were just now coming off of Erie and headed back to the marinas so I was getting bounced around by them as well.  For the first half hour all I did was clear lines and dodge wakes.  I was seriously debating giving up, especially after I hit a mat so big I couldn’t pull my lines in.  I had to turn the boat and head downstream just to get lines in.  By then it was almost 10:00 pm and after I got everything cleared I pushed the reset button.  A few minutes later and the first one was in the boat.  Shortly afterwards he was followed up with a second.  The third one was a few minutes after that but I lost him as I hit another patch of weeds and he came off.  I hit another big patch of weeds shortly after that and I seriously thought about just going in.  The humidity was so bad I couldn’t wear my glasses and I was having a hard time seeing.  The bigger boats were still coming and the weeds were not thinning out.  Hooking and landing 3 and 4 in the next couple of minutes changed my mind and I stuck it out until I got 6 in the cooler.  Once that was done I didn’t waste anytime heading for the dock.  I was soaked with sweat and I was whipped.  It has been a long time since I had to work that hard to catch walleye.  Guess I got spoiled.

I shouldn’t complain to much though.  I was out for just over an hour and I got a 6 fish limit.  There appears to be a lot of fish in the river and it should be easy pickings for awhile.  I just need to get a few days of strong west winds to push all the weeds to Canada.

Looks like I picked the right size and color lure tonight.

Just Add Water

17 07 2020

Last Sunday I thought for sure I would have a good week of fishing with the recent rains.  I went out the following evening and apparently someone closed off the dams upstream.  The same areas I was catching fish in 24 hours earlier were now dry.  I was not happy.

Fast forward to Thursday (7/16) and my area got an inch of rain in the morning.  I went out after work and with the rise in water levels came a bunch of hungry carp.  The first stop had about a dozen fish in a hole no more than 20 feet in diameter.  Most were nose down in some tree roots so I just waited for one to get clear.  It didn’t take long and another fish swam in. I dropped my fly in front of him and the splashing commenced.  Unfortunately the hook came loose about a minute later and he was gone.  After that I bounced back and forth between 4 different spots within 100 yards of each other.  I managed to land 5 and lose another in about an hour and a half.  After I would catch one I would move on to another spot to give the previous spot a chance to calm down.  The strategy paid off well.  I also started slowing down my hook sets.  I was getting to crazy doing the Orvis hook set and whenever I missed, I would send the fly into the trees above me.  Now, when I see a take, I just lift up slowly until I feel the weight.  Once the fish takes off I clamp down and bury that hook.  It has made a big difference in my hook up percentage.

Once it started getting dark I headed for home.  I was having a hard enough time trying to see the fish through my continuously fogged up sunglasses anyways.  I’ll be back Saturday morning, unless of course the dams upstream get closed off again.

Post Mulberry Carp.

13 07 2020

Well it looks like Mulberry season is done for this year.  I went to my usual spot last night and struck out.  I saw a few carp but I didn’t see a single berry drop for the half hour I was there.  There are still some in the tree but I don’t think I am going to get the major drop like I saw over a week ago.  After that I headed back to my old fishing grounds.  Fortunately we received a lot of rain last Friday and ambush spots that were bone dry were once again full of water.

I started off to my favorite spot but there were people swimming.  I moved on to another area and climbed up a log to check everything out.  There they were, slowly cruising around and looking for something to eat.  I switched out my Mulberry fly and tied on my OCD fly.  I flipped it out in front of the first carp that came into range and like so many before him he hoovered it up without hesitation.  Since I was standing on a log I had my hands full trying to keep him from going underneath it.  He managed to a couple of times but I was pull him back and eventually into the net.

After I released him I waited for things to settle down.  As I was checking my line for abrasions I spotted another feeding carp directly below me on my right.  I lowered the fly down by hand and placed it just off to his right.  He moved towards the fly but I couldn’t see him pick it up.  I slowly lifted the rod and once the line went tight he took off for the main river.  Once again I was back to trying to keep him out in front of me and not underneath the log.  He was a little more cooperative and after about 5 minutes I had him in the net as well.

He pretty much trashed the other side of the log so I packed up and headed for home.  I’ll have about a week of fishing here with the bump in the flows, unless someone upstream decides to close a dam.  Once this place dries up others will become available.  I’ll find them, they cannot hide.

Mulberry Season

8 07 2020

I love this time of year. These fish get so stupid.  All rules go out the door as they will not spook, they stop cruising so they can hoover up a dropping berry and they don’t spit the fly as quickly.  Some of them were caught 100 yards away from the nearest Mulberry Tree.  It must be like crack to them.  As a size reference the opening of my net is 23 inches long.  Tactics are so simple.  Drop fly in front of fish swimming your way and then hang on.  I’ve probably lost just as many the last week due to old fishing line, logs and other snags.

Bluegills, the Gateway Drug.

5 07 2020

It’s a pretty safe bet that most anglers got their start with bluegills.  They are the gateway drug to all other fish.  Once some discover other fish they never go back.  I may forget about them from time to time but at least once a year I go back to my beginnings.  Today was one of those days.  With water levels on The Huron being very low I went back to Pte. Mouille to see if the Bowfin were still in close.  They weren’t but the Gills were plentiful and I was luck enough to find an area with a lot of slab size fish.

I probably caught 30 or 40 in this size with a few even larger.  All of them on a shrunken down version of one of my carp flies.  They were a lot of fun on my 6 wt rod.  I keep thinking about getting a 3 or 4 wt. for this but I always manage to talk my way out of it.  Probably because I keep thinking about a 10wt for salt water and pike.

Maybe someday, until then here’s the the Bluegill.  Small in stature but the start of a life long journey for many.


30 06 2020

As fishermen we all have those days where nothing goes right.  Whether it be from poor conditions or mental lapses it is going to happen.  Sunday night (6/28) was just one of those evenings.  I spotted several carp and I was able to cast to three of them effectively. They all swam up to take the fly and on every occasion I got twitchy and set the hook early.  Of course I missed every fish and they all swam off to find less intrusive water.  People relaxing in the park were probably contemplating calling the police to report some lunatic fisherman that was walking around and cursing, rather loudly, at himself.

The following night I sought redemption.  I know better than to get to anxious and to wait for the fly to disappear.  If I can still see the fly that means the carp didn’t eat it and I shouldn’t be setting the hook.  I repeated this to myself as I ventured off to my happy fishing grounds.  With the high water I went to a spot that floods out and it gives me a pretty shady and advantageous view of the river.  I climbed up on a log and leaned up against the tree and waited.  It didn’t take long and several fish moved into the area.  When one got close enough I dropped my fly ahead of him and he immediately charged it.  I thought he ate it but apparently he didn’t.  When i set the hook he was gone and my fly was in the tree.  He took off along with a couple of the fish that came with him.  While I scanned the area another fish had moved in and was feeding just out of range.  He had his back to me so I worked my way a little closer.  I tossed my fly out ahead of him and to the right.  He moved towards the fly and I waited. Once I saw the puff of silt I lifted up, felt the weight and drove the hook home.  At this point my main concern was keeping him from diving under the log I was standing on.  I jumped in the water and kept him away.  A few minutes later he was in the net and I was redeemed.

After that the area was pretty trashed so I just headed for home.  The humidity was terrible and I was dripping with sweat.  Not a bad way to end June and I still have about 4 months left to go.


Father’s Day Mixed Bag Weekend.

22 06 2020

It’s not like I need a holiday for an excuse to go fishing.  I can pretty much go whenever I want, wherever I want.  I didn’t have anything planned with the kids anyways so off I went.

Knowing that the levels on The Huron River were still going to be low I decided to try out Pte. Mouille.  It had been awhile since I was out there last.  I took my 6 wt and 8 wt rods, the 6 wt was set up with an SA Sonar sink tip line and a Mini Game Changer fly.  The 8 wt was rigged with my standard carp fishing set up, floating line and one of my burnt orange OCD flies.  I made the journey out to my usual fishing spot along a very dry and dusty road.  That didn’t help my asthma much but at least it wasn’t windy.  Just unbearably hot and humid.  Water clarity was good up close but I couldn’t see more than a couple of feet out past the rocks.  These same rocks were covered in that slimy green moss and and weeds growing up in between them.  About 20 yards further out were even more weeds.  This would prove to be my undoing today.

As I worked my way along the road I would stop and make a couple of casts here and there with the game changer.  On my first stop I hooked a fish and to my surprise it was a bluegill.  I was not expecting this.  Maybe some smaller bass but not a gill.  They aren’t exactly known to chase down and grab 4 inch streamers.

As I worked my way down I spotted a pair of bowfin in close.  They were just lying about so I dropped my carp fly near them to see what would happen.  They really didn’t seem to care so I just moved on.  A few minutes later I spotted another one feeding so I snuck up and dropped the fly next to him.  I could see him move suddenly towards the fly so I lifted up and he was on.  I let him run and that was my first mistake.  Into the taller weeds he went and I couldn’t get him out of there.  Eventually he came off.  This scenario would repeat itself throughout the day.  I had two choices.  Fight the fish close among the rocks and hope the leader doesn’t get frayed and break or let him run and try and keep him out of the taller weeds.  Throughout the course of the day I would go through this 3 more times.  Twice on the carp fly and twice with the game changer.  I have to admit that watching a bowfin charge a streamer from 5 feet away and inhale it is pretty cool.  Watching him keep on going and into the weeds is not.

For the next few hours I continued to catch bass and even a small pike, my first for this area.

Eventually I started to head back but at a slower pace.  I was determined to land a bowfin so I was taking my time and watching for any movement.  Eventually I spotted the tail of another feeding bowfin.  I worked my way down to the shoreline and laid the fly on the downward slope of a rock he was feeding next to.  As the fly slid down he saw it and came up and grabbed it.  This time I kept the fish close and hoped for the best.  A few minutes later I was able to get a hold of him for a pic and then sent him on his way.

I must have see two dozen of these today, the most I had ever seen here.  I don’t know if they were in close to spawn or because the habitat is so weedy they prefer to be there now.  I’ll go back in a few weeks and find out.

The next morning I decided to stay close.  I probably logged about 4 or 5 miles the day before and I was still a little tired.  I headed back to The Huron and as expected, levels were still low and clear.  I saw carp at the first few spots but I couldn’t get any of them to cooperate.  The next place was more of the same.  Low clear water and no fish, at first.  Eventually I found them, multiple fish in the middle of the river casually feeding on the gravel.  I tried casting several different flies at them but they ignored everything.  While I was taking a break Jesse, from Schultz Outfitter’s (My local fly shop), showed up as well.  He was getting a few hours in before he had to go to work.  He started casting to the same carp I was seeing but to no avail.  While we talked I saw one moving in closer to shore.  I pointed him out to Jesse and let him take a crack at it.  A few minutes later I spotted another one moving in and he started feeding in the nearby shade of a tree.  I worked my way in, laid the fly down to his left and he spun around and ate it.  I set the hook and off he went.  With the tree in the way I jumped into the water to keep him under control.  I worked my way upstream where I could beach him and without hesitation Jesse waded in and landed him for me.  I quick pic later and he was on his way.

While Jesse and I talked another fish moved in and Jesse laid his fly out in front of him.  I watched the carp swim up and take it and Jesse drove the hook home.  I worked my way back into the water to return the favor but the leader busted before I ever got a chance to help out.  After that I told Jesse good luck, wished him a happy Father’s Day and headed home.  I had chores to get too and fresh waffles that my daughter was making for me.

I Got Wet.

12 06 2020

Thing is though, I knew it was going to happen.

A front had moved through our area the night before, knocking down the heat and humidity and making conditions more bearable.  After dinner I packed up and headed to the river.  When I arrived there was someone fishing in my usual starting point so I just moved up stream.  I snuck into a shaded area and scanned the water for a feeding carp.  Eventually I spotted some movement and I got into position.  He was about 20 feet away and looking straight at me.  Fortunately for me he hadn’t spotted me yet so I cast my fly out and carefully dropped it just inches from his nose.  As soon as it landed in front of him he stopped feeding.  I gave the line a small strip and made the fly jump about 3 inches.  He moved up on it and I thought for sure he was going to take it.  Instead he just swam right on by it, turned and headed back out into the main river.  This is the most frustrating thing about fly fishing for carp.  Just when I think i have one dead to rights the fish goes and does something like that.

After that I moved on to the next spot.  With the river being low the weeds were getting thick and flowing downstream with the current.  As I worked my way along I could see several carp in the weeds mouthing them, looking for nymphs.  I kept a close eye on them as they moved their way in and out of the weeds, sometimes out in the open and at other times disappearing completely.  I was about to change my fly to a damsel fly nymph when I spotted a carp moving into and opening and grubbing along a log.  I figured if I could drop my fly on the log he might grab it.  Problem was the fish had 3 options once he was hooked.  Bury himself into the weeds, take off under the log or head downstream into open water.  I figured I would worry about all of that later, first I had to get him to eat.  I flipped the fly out in front of him and by some miracle I got it to land on the log.  He spotted it right away and took it.  I set the hook and he dove right into all the weeds.  I tried everything I could think of to get him out of there but they were just to thick.  I realized I only had one option and that was to wade in after him.  I took my phone and wallet out of my pockets and waded in.  I cleared all the weeds away and was finally able to get him into the net.  A quick pic on shore and he was back in the water.

After that I headed back to the car.  My knee boots were full of water and I was soaked all the way to my belt.  There will be other days and next time I’ll have enough sense to bring my long handled net along.

Game On.

9 06 2020

Well it looks like things are getting back to normal on my river.  I had some free time after dinner so I decided to make a quick trip Monday evening.  Temps are supposed to be in the 90’s on Tuesday and they are calling for high winds and rain on Wednesday so this was my best shot.

I started off at my honey hole thinking there might be a few hanging out in the shade.  I could see a couple of carp feeding out towards the main river so I just hung around for a bit.  During that time there were a quite a few Largemouth Bass in the area so I started casting towards them.  I hooked one who went tear assing all over the place and stirred everything up.  I eventually lost him so I just waited for things to calm down.  The first carp I saw were still out on the edge of the slack water so I climbed up on a nearby picnic table to see if I could get a little extra distance.  I was next to a tree and well shaded so I figured they couldn’t see me.  I still couldn’t reach them so I just waited.  While I waited a pair of more respectable size bass moved in so once again I started casting my little crayfish fly their way.  They looked at it, bumped it but never really committed to it.  While this was all going on a carp had moved into range right below and started rooting around in the leaf packs underwater.  I slid my fly right in front of his nose and he immediately chased it down and hoovered it up.  I set the hook and the splashing soon started.  It took me awhile to get him under control.  Every time I was about to net him he’d take off again.  By the time I finally got him in the net he was covered in leaves, weeds and sticks.  I cleaned him up, set my camera on the picnic table for a pic and then sent him on his way.

After that I headed for home.  I was a sweaty mess and a cold shower sounded pretty good.  Hopefully we will get some rain Wednesday since some of my ambush points are to shallow now for the fish to get into.  If not I’ll go to some other spots.  I have all summer and Fall now.