4/27/12 Trenton Channel

28 04 2012

Location: Trenton Channel
Date/Time: 04/27/12 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm
Water Temp: 48 degrees
Water Clarity: Slightly stained
Weather: Overcast
Wind: S 10 mph
Water Depth: 13 feet
Presentation: Handlining 40/20/6, 30/15
Lures: #11 Bleeding Chartreuse, #11 Downriver Steel, #9 Clown, Smithwick Rattlin’ Rogue

Tonight was my Dad’s last night in town so we headed out once again. Hit the launch around 7:00 pm and got ready. While I was parking the Jeep I made a quick scan of the lot to see who was out fishing. Saw Richard’s car and trailer so before we started fishing I was going to track him down. Didn’t take long and I found his boat. He already had one in the cooler along with the bracket he made for my GPS puck. He had also made up a shank jig for me. Just goes to show you that helping people catch fish can pay out in other ways. I saw Sparky’s boat as well so I gave him a quick call to see how he was doing. He had just got out himself and was still getting set up.

That was enough chit chatting, time to start fishing. Didn’t take long and I had the first one for the night. We continued to pick away at our two man limit for the next hour trading back and forth. At one point my Dad had one on that decided he needed to be on my side of the boat. He just passed the line over to me and I brought him in. Gotta love teamwork.

I had been running a #9 Blue Holographic on my kicker leader for the evening but it wasn’t producing so I decided to switch lures. I put on a #9 Clown and about a minute later I had a fish on. I love it when that happens. He must have been hungry because he swallowed the lure.

Yes my lure is in there.

Sparky was along side of me so of course he called to see what I caught him on. The next hour was pretty uneventful. Another friend, Mark Bodrie, pulled up next to me as well to see what was going on. As he was pulling away I hooked into a little 14 incher that I tossed back. I have been hearing about quite a few of those little fish being caught. They are from the 2010 hatch which should be in the 16 to 17 inch range by next year.

We continued fishing and talked to a few more fishermen along the way. Another Mark swung by to see how we were doing and then Leo drove over to get a status update as well. Mark hung around my area and Leo headed further downstream. I found out later that Leo had picked up a 2 man limit as well. By 9:00 pm we were up to 7 fish when my Dad hooked into another one. I pulled out the spot light to shine on the fish. I thought I saw 2 sets of eyes looking back at me but they disappeared. A few second later the fish was back on the surface and sure enough there were two walleye hooked on one lure. This time we were able to get both of them in the boat. I have never done this before and my Dad has done it twice now in the last 2 weeks. Shortly after that I landed #10 and we were headed back to the ramp around 9:30 pm. Not a bad night.  Talked to a few friends back at the ramp and it appears that everyone was catching fish.  This has been a phenomenal month of fishing.  I don’t think I have ever caught this many walleye in the month of April.

We ended up with 10 keepers between 16 ½ to 23 ½ inches long for a total combined weight of 25 pounds and 10 ounces. We threw back one small one and only caught 2 (actually Dad caught them) of the Fish That Shall Not Be Named.

Still trying to figure out how a jigger, fishing in 12 feet of water, could lose 100 feet of line when snagged.

Rainy Night Walleye 04/25/12

26 04 2012

Location: Trenton Channel
Date/Time: 04/25/12 7:15 pm to 8:15 pm
Water Temp: 48 degrees
Water Clarity: Slightly stained
Weather: Overcast and Rain
Wind: S 10 to 15 mph
Water Depth: 13 feet
Presentation: Handlining 40/20/6, 30/15
Lures: #11 Bleeding Chartreuse, #9 Blue Holographic, Silver Smithwick

Dad came down tonight to go fishing and wouldn’t you know it…..Mother Nature didn’t want to cooperate. All day long the weather was beautiful but as we got closer to evening the conditions started to change. We gave it a shot anyways and by 7:00 pm we were on the water. Saw a few friends out there and they had reported that things were slow. We must live right because it wasn’t long and my Dad had the first one of the night. While he was dealing with that fish I landed a white perch (not a good omen). A few minutes later and I was tossing one into the cooler. Shortly afterwards we started to feel the first few rain drops and the wind was starting to pick up. I began debating heading in but the familiar head shake at the end of my line changed any thought of heading in. This fish turned out to be the biggest of the night, a 4 ½ pound 24 inch male. He must have been hungry too because he had both of my #11 Rapala’s in his mouth. I’m sure he just got tangled up on the other leader as I was bringing him in but telling people he hit both lures sounds cooler.

My Dad and I picked up 2 more in the next 5 minutes as the rain really started to come down. Dad said let’s get a sixth one and then head in. We fished for about 5 more minutes when I said enough is enough and he heartily agreed. We quickly pulled lines and headed in before we got any more wetter then we already were. 5 fish in under an hour is nothing to complain about, especially when we have the next few nights to get more. Even better was the fact that we only caught one of the fish that shall not be named. The water temperature drop must have shut them down or kept anymore from coming in. Either way I’m not complaining.

Final tally for the night was 5 fish, 20.5 to 24 inches long for a total weight of 17 pounds and 7 ounces. Not bad at all…..

2011 Results

23 04 2012

For several years now I have been participating in a fishing survey for the Michigan and Ontario DNR.  It is designed to give fisheries biologists an idea of the fishing success of anglers along with growth rates and locations where fish are caught.  The area is basically the Huron Erie corridor and it is broken down into specific grids.  I have a book where I have to keep track of how long I fished, where, what I caught, if I kept or released the fish and if I kept the fish how long it is and what it weighed.  It can be a bit of a hassle at times but it has provided me with some valuable information.

At the end of every fishing season the Michigan DNR sends me an envelope so that I can mail the book in for evaluation.  Once they are done with it they mail it back to me along with a new one for the following season.  Along with the new book I receive a stats sheet that lists all the data the DNR pulled from my work.  Normally I just kind of breeze through it but this year I took the time to actually read all the data.  One thing I have to do is make a better effort to make sure I write my “K” for kept and “R” for released a little more legibly.  I know I didn’t release 27 walleye last year.

One of the data metric’s the DNR records is fish caught per rod angler hour.  This is a number I really never paid any attention to and never really understood, until last week.  At the last DWF meeting the guest speaker was Ohio Fisheries Biologist Travis Hartman.  He spoke about the research that the Ohio DNR has been doing over the years and one of the topics he brought up was fish per angler rod hour.  He said that in the hay day of the 80’s the number was .45 fish per hour and recently it is .5 per hour.  He went on to say that this number relates to some fantastic fishing.  That helped put my number into more perspective for me.  My number for last year was .992 fish per hour.  This tells me a few things, the first being that I am doing a lot better than I thought.  I always figured I had a below average catch rate compared to all the reports I hear on Lake Erie.  I hear a lot of people catching limits but now I have to wonder how long it takes them to do that?  I know of one person who is always catching limits but he will stay out all day to do it.  If that is what you enjoy more power to you.  I don’t think my body could handle being out in a boat all day.  The second thing this tells me is something I have always known.  There are still plenty of walleye to catch in the river long after the spring run.  A little work and pre-planning can help you catch fish in the same locations they are caught in the spring.  The tactics may change but the results can still be the same.  I’ll never catch the monsters some of the Erie fishermen catch but I get my fair share of eaters.  I guess it all comes down to what you want to accomplish.  Hogs or piglets?

One other result that I checked out this year was the average size and weight of the fish I caught.  For 2011 the average length and weight of the walleye I caught was 19.5 inches and 2.5 pounds.  These were mostly male fish there were part of the 2003 hatch.  It amazes me that 8 years later most of the fish being caught are still from that year class.  Some of the fish were from other year classes but the majority are still part of the 2003 class.  Good thing we had that phenomenal year otherwise the fishery could be in rough shape.

The Smallmouth fishermen should be happy as well.  I caught a lot of fish ranging from 3 inches long to 20+.  Looks like those guys are going to have some great fishing for years to come.

Can’t say the same for the Muskie fishermen.  Only caught 1 last year, then again I have been avoiding the areas where I have caught them before.

The books do make for some interesting reading during the long winter months.  I’ll take them out and go over them every once and a while to reflect on seasons past.  I’ll think about those days, who I was with, what we caught and generally anything that made the trip memorable.  After all, that is what it is all about.

They’re Here !!!!!

22 04 2012

Location: Trenton Channel
Date/Time: 4/21/12 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Water Temp: 52.8 Degrees
Water Clarity: Slightly Stained
Weather: Clear Sky & Cold
Wind: NE 10+ mph
Water Depth: 13 feet
Presentation: Handlining 40/20/6
Lures: #11 Bleeding Chartreuse, GFR


Like death and taxes they are a constant in the universe, the annual White Bass run. Normally it doesn’t start until May but with our early warm up it was bound to start early. My friends had told me earlier in the week that they had showed up but I was in denial. Well, not anymore.

I had debated going out all day today, between the NE winds and the thought of having to deal with swarms of fresh water piranha I almost stayed home. Glad I didn’t. Of course the first fish I caught was a white bass but the next one was a walleye. At first I thought it was a big one until it got closer. It turned out to be a 14 incher that I snagged in the side. He was released none the worse for wear and I was back at it. Things were slow at first with the occasional bass being caught but I finally had a walleye in the box just before 8:00 pm. As the sun set lower in the sky the fish turned on just like they have so many nights this year. The white bass were even kind enough to stop feeding so for the rest of the evening it was nothing but walleye.  I ended up landing 4 more and losing one to finish up my 5 fish limit by 9:00 pm.  I even caught a little 11 inch Smallmouth tonight.  I should have gone out again the next morning but I was tired. The white bass moving in is an indication that the spring run will soon be winding down. Another indication is that all 5 of the fish I caught were spawned out males. Soon the majority of the walleye in the river will be heading out into Lake Erie where fishermen will be breaking out the planer boards, spoons and crawler harnesses. I’ll still be in the river but my tactics will be changing as well.

The hot lures tonight were the same two I have been catching fish on all season, #11 Bleeding Chartreuse and GFR Rapala’s. Though this time of year just about everything catches fish. I have had my friends tell me the colors that were producing for them and they ranged from the original black and silver to the newer bleeding olive series. One friend even said he has started to get them on spoons in the morning hours. That’s understandable though, the white bass migration usually coincides with the Minnows starting their spawning run as well.

Going to try and get out a few more times this week before the invasion kicks into high gear.  For now though it is time to listen to Dee Snyder and The House of Hair while I clean some fish.

Dad’s Turn 4/14/12

15 04 2012

Location: Trenton Channel
Date/Time: 04/14/12 7:30 pm – 10:15 pm
Water Temp: 48 degrees
Water Clarity: Clear
Weather: Overcast
Wind: SW 5-10 mph, 10–20 after 9:00 pm
Water Depth: 12 feet
Presentation: Handlining, 40/20/6, 30/15
Lures: #11 GFR, Beat Down Barbie, Bleeding Chartreuse, #9 Bleeding Chartreuse

Tonight was Dad’s turn. Normally with any type of a South wind I will stay home. My parents were down for my niece’s baptism on Sunday and my Dad wanted to go out so out we went. I was hoping the great fishing from the last few nights would carry over but with the SW winds I was a little pessimistic. We started off in my usual area, near the Catamaran in the middle of the river. It was slow at first but right on cue at 8:30 pm the fish started to hit. I hooked into one just as I went over about a 2 foot drop off. As I was flipping him into the boat my Dad hooked into one. I was so intent on him catching this fish that I forgot my lines were still up. I turned a little sharp and one of my leaders got tangled into the prop. 10 minutes later, one lost weight and about 67 feet of 30 pound Trilene XT and all was clear and back to fishing (glad I keep spares).

I must have had my Dad tuned in good this night because it wasn’t too much longer and he had another one on. As I pointed my light at the fish to help him see it I noticed that it was being followed up by another walleye. That was a good sign because it told me the fish were active tonight.

Over the course of the next hour we continued to pick away at trying to fill a 2 man limit. We were at 7 when my Dad hooked into what would turn out to be his 5th for the night. Once again I pointed the light at it but this time there was 2 sets of eyes looking back at us. My Dad was now bringing in his first double but it was on the same lure. Unfortunately the smaller one came off at the back of the boat but one in is better than nothing. About this time the winds started to pick up and I noticed some whitecaps forming. My Dad’s leaders also became tangled beyond recovery and he just wadded them all up into a ball and threw them into the bucket. He was happy with 8 fish in the cooler and so was I. We had a long day ahead of us tomorrow and after 4 nights of this I really needed some sleep.

The hot lure tonight and recipient of the double was a #11 GFR. My fish came on a #11 Bleeding Chartreuse and a #11 custom called Beat Down Barbie. I broke the lip on it during the night and that was my last one.

Final tally was 8 fish, 19 to 25 inches long for a total combined weight of 27 pounds and 8 ounces.

Still no sign of the Fish That Shall not be Named.

Friday the 13th Walleye

14 04 2012

Who says Friday the 13th is bad luck? Well maybe it is if you are a walleye.

Went back down to the channel tonight for what I hoped would be a repeat of the night before. I took a friend of mine out Thursday night (4/12) and we picked up a quick 2 man limit in just over an hour. Tonight I was taking out a fellow kayaker who has never been handlining before. I talked a good game and told Brandon that all he needed to bring was some warm clothes and a cooler for the fish. The pressure was on.

We hit the water around 7:30 and after some quick instructions Brandon was set and fishing. It wasn’t long and we had our first fish of the night, a nice 23 inch male. He was kind of unique, his right eye was missing. Apparently it never slowed him down, he was nice and fat. Fishing was kind of slow for awhile until after sundown and things started to pick up. We ended up with a 2 man limit of 10 fish and we threw back two  borderline legal fish. Brandon was able to catch his first walleye pulling wire and I think he is hooked. He told me about an article he read in the newspaper about how the author claimed handlining was a dying method of fishing. After seeing the 30+ boats out handlining last night he is convinced the author doesn’t know what he was talking about.

Learned a valuable lesson Thursday night.  While we were fishing Richard got hung up and lost both Rapalas.  When he pulled in the leader it looked like it broke at the knot.  He tied on a new crankbait snap and went back to fishing.  He didn’t catch a single fish for the rest of the night.  Turns out the line must have been nicked because it broke about 10 feet up. Of course I didn’t figure this out until later but it explains what happened.  The leader was too short and therefore he was running the lure too far up from the bottom.  Lesson learned, check leader lengths if one breaks.

Final tally for 2 evenings of fishing, 20 kept, 2 released for a total combined weight of 55 pounds and 3 ounces.  My hands are trashed.

Here’s a few pictures from 4/12 and 4/13.  The pictures of Richard, myself and the sunset are from the 12th.  The last pick is my 5 from the 13th.  I sent Brandon home with 5.  He had some explaining to do to his girlfriend, she had a hard time believing that he was out fishing so late at night.

4/11/12 After Work Walleye

12 04 2012

Location: Trenton Channel
Date/Time: 04/11/12 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Water Temp: 46 degrees
Water Clarity: Clear
Weather: Partly Cloudy at first then clear
Wind: N calm
Water Depth: 13 feet
Presentation: Handlining, 40/20/6, 30/15
Lures: #11 Bleeding Chartreuse, #11 Clown, #9 Hot Steel

Last night was a perfect example of how much of a difference water clarity can make on fishing success. Last week, when the water was dirty,  the majority of my fish were caught between sunrise and sunset. Last night, when the water was clear, all 6 were caught after sunset. At first I thought we might be ok with the overcast clouds but once we got on the water the clouds parted and the sun came out. Made for a nice evening but at the time I would have preferred the clouds.

I took one of my co-workers, Leo out tonight. Normally he is a bass fisherman (I don’t hold it against him) so he doesn’t get the opportunity to handline too much. He does have his own reels but I don’t think he likes the way they look on his Skeeter. At 8:05 Leo caught the first fish on his 30 foot lead and a #11 Clown. He ended up catching the next 2, one on the Clown and another on his 15 foot lead and a #9 Hot Steel Rapala. I ended up catching the next 3, all on my 40 foot lead and a #11 Bleeding Chartreuse Rapala. The last fish was caught just after 9 and that is when we packed it in. I had to get home because someone was dropping off a GPS unit for my boat.

Considering how this night started out we did pretty good. The snap broke on my shank and I lost my weight. By some miracle my kicker lure snagged the weight as it went by. I’ll never be that lucky again. Shortly afterwards Leo gut hung up and he almost lost the whole rig. We were able to get it free but there were some tense moments. While we were trying to free it my motor decided to stall. Luck was on our side and I was able to get the motor started and retrieve all the equipment. Leaders were tangled up but that was no big deal. I keep spares just in case.

So the final tally was 6 fish from 18 to 24 inches long with a total combined weight of 15 pounds and 1 ounce. I will be out again tonight, going to try deeper water at first to see if we can pick up a few before it gets dark. Don’t know about this weekend, MWC and MOMC both have tournaments. They had just finished setting up for the MWC tournament at Elizabeth Park when I arrived. Things might get a little crowded. Plus I have my niece’s baptism this weekend. It might not to look good if the Godfather doesn’t show up.

I suppose I could go out afterwards.