Boblo Island Walleye 6-27-12

27 06 2012

Took the morning off to try get some fishing in before my afternoon of errands and dr. appointments. I had sent an e-mail to my friend Jerry the other day to see if he was going out and if he wanted company. His answer was yes, providing I bring him some more rhubarb from my garden. No Problem.

I arrived at his house bright and early and after a brief discussion Jerry decided we should go try the Amherstburg Channel. He had heard from a fellow DWF member that they were catching a lot of walleye in that area. We both had our Canadian licenses so east we went. After a short boat ride around Celeron Island and the south tip of Grosse Isle we were soon passing the north end of Bois Blanc Island, better known as Boblo Island. Back in the day this island used to be an Amusement Park. Now all that is left is the needle, a few docks and some old buildings on the south end. The north end is now luxury homes that can only be accessed by a ferry crossing in Amherstburg.

We set up in the channel on the NE side of the island. There were a few other hand liners just north of us so Jerry pointed the boat upstream and headed their way. We fished around the area for about 20 minutes but all we got were Silver Bass (my favorite) and Sheepshead (my other favorite). We saw more boats farther up stream so Jerry said pull lines and we headed north. We started again in about 30 feet of water and we were on the fish this time. We stayed in the area for the next hour or so and picked up 8 fish. Our depths varied from 20 to 30 feet and we picked up fish at all depths. There was no real pattern as we caught fish all over the area and on several different color spoons. Around 10:00 am we started to pack it up so that we had time to head back and clean fish. I told my son Jacob that I would pick him up around 11 and the hour would be just enough time to get everything done.

Once we were back at Jerry’s I took a quick picture of our catch and Jerry started cleaning. This was alright, I didn’t have to drive the boat, all I had to do was fish and now someone else was cleaning my catch. Life is Good. Jerry kept a couple for dinner tonight for he and his wife Sue. The rest he gave to me which was much appreciated. My family is planning a get together for the 4th and I have been told I am cooking fish.

No pictures of the spoons today.  I forgot but then again I would need to take a picture of 7 different spoons.  We caught fish on every lead and just about every color in our combined arsenals.

Quick Trip 6/23/12

24 06 2012

After going to see “Brave” and a quick dinner at Manuel’s Taco Hut with Kelly and our kids my Dad and I made a quick trip to the river. We didn’t even get on the water until after 9. Normally this is no big deal but with the cloud cover it was going to get dark early. I could already tell that the weeds were going to be a problem tonight so I knew it was going to be a quick trip. I saw fellow DWF member Larry Elkins out there and he already had 4 and released 4. That was a good sign so we quickly set lines. We managed to pick up 5 and release 1 in about 90 minutes of fishing. Four of the fish were 20+inches. Around 10:30 my Dad said the weeds were too much and he wanted to go in. I can’t say that I blame him. There were some big patches coming downstream and it was only a matter of time before a patch tangled up all the lines. There was a lot of pleasure boat traffic today so I’m sure that got all the weeds moving. Hopefully I will get some west winds before Tuesday and the rive will clear up some by then.

No pictures tonight. I was in a hurry to get the fish cleaned and into bed. Besides, the lure that caught the biggest and most fish is now part of the structure at the bottom of the Detroit River. I told you I was going to lose that black and orange spoon. If my Dad had said lets go in 5 minutes sooner I would still have it. Oh well…..

Rainbow Walleye 6/22/12

23 06 2012

I really have to wonder about weather forecasts sometimes. I checked before I left and one site said a north wind at 7 mph. Another one called for a south wind at 10 mph. Turns out they were both right. When I launched the boat at 7:30 pm the wind was straight out of the south. Not my favorite direction but it wasn’t too bad. I set up in my usual spot with the same 3 lures I used the last time. Fellow DWF member Steve Schoonover was out here and fishing just north of me. It didn’t take long and I had two in the boat. As I was getting my lines back in the water the wind suddenly changed direction and came straight out of the north. There was one big cloud above me but it didn’t look that ominous. The wind started to pick up in speed and it started to rain. It wasn’t much but they were big ole fat Forrest Gump raindrops. It didn’t last long but the wind continued to build and soon boat control became difficult. I had picked up a third one so I wasn’t about to give up just yet. Besides, a rainbow had appeared and according to Noah and the Bible that is a promise of better times. I was right, caught the last two as the clouds passed and I was pulling lines.

Steve Schoonover fishing under the Rainbow

Before I left I pulled up alongside of Steve to see how he was doing. He is just getting started on handlining so I wanted to make sure he was catching fish. Fishing is great but catching is better. He had one throwback and after a brief chat about his set up I gave him a shorter and lighter weight to try. Hopefully that got his spoons in the strike zone. I’m still waiting to hear back from him on how he did.
I talked to Dave Fitch as well. He was out there with his boys and they had one so far. There was one other boat out tonight, an elderly gentleman in a green Lund. He trolled by me at one point and he looked like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. He had a lit pipe hanging out the left side of his mouth and he was wearing an old tattered hat. Don’t know if he caught anything but he made for an all American portrait. Wish I would have taken one.
Final tally was 5 dish rags for just over an hour of fishing. I called the walleye this because that is what they fought like, wet dish rags. No pulling, no head shakes, just dead weight. Now walleye are not known for their fighting ability but this was ridiculous. It was like they would just grab the lure and say “Oh it’s Mark, I give up “and just let me drag them in. Of course when they hit the cooler they came to life but it was too late by then.
Couple of side notes for tonight. Caught my last rag on the orange and black spoon at the bottom of the picture. I own close to 800 spoons and that is the only one I have in that pattern. Of course that means I am going to lose it soon. For now though I have one more trip in the books and I still haven’t lost a lure. Of course that will probably change tonight when I take my Dad out.

The 5 Lazy Wet Dish Rags

All wrapped and ready to go for the next trip.

My friend Jerry Hinton told me of this neat little trick he does when storing his leaders. He keeps the spoons attached and winds them all up together. This really works slick, especially with a YoYo handline reel. I can pull off all 3 leaders and be set up in fishing in under a minute. No more digging around in the spoon box to pull lures first. They are already there. I am a creature of habit anyways so using the same lures from the last trip doesn’t bother me.


Therapy Walleye 6/20/12

20 06 2012

Location: Trenton Channel
Date/Time: 7:30 am to 9:30 am
Water Temp: 71 Degrees
Water Clarity: Still Stupid Clear
Weather: Hot, Hot and more Hot
Wind: S light at first but stronger as the day wore on
Water Depth: 13 feet
Presentation: Handlining 40/20/6
Lures: Metallic Blue Spoon, Riley Special

There is nothing quite as therapeutic as fishing. I don’t care how bad life may be, one trip on the river cures any depression or turmoil in one’s life.

Work and life in general was really beginning to take a toll on me lately so I decided to take a day off. Originally I was just going to leave early so I could take my daughter to a doctor’s appointment. After checking to see how many vacation days I had left I just decided to take the day off. I needed a break and this day was just as good as any other. I wanted to get up earlier and get on the river at sunrise but I overslept. No big deal, the walleye weren’t going anywhere. I launched the boat at 7:30 am and a few minutes later I had my first fish in the cooler. I picked up 3 more in the next hour but once that sun cleared Grosse Isle the fish shut down. I switched out spoons and tried different locations but by 9:30 it was getting too hot and I pulled lines. I had to pick my daughter up by noon anyways so I needed time to clean fish, shower and pick up a new license plate bracket for my trailer. I noticed that it was barely hanging on the trailer, one good bump and it would have been gone. I stopped at Vicar’s Trailer and picked up a metal bracket instead of the cheap plastic one that came with the trailer. Anyone reading this that has a boat trailer may want to go check their trailer plate as well. A replacement plate only costs 5 bucks but who wants to spend time at the Secretary of State office?

So I ended up catching 4 more walleye this morning and just like I said would happen I lost my first fish for the month. As I was flipping one in the line slipped through my fingers and back into the water he went. No big deal, I think he would have been too small to keep anyways. Everything came on my short leads. I couldn’t get anything going on my 40 foot lead. I must have tried a half a dozen different spoons but I didn’t catch a thing. Only other boat handlining today was up south of the free bridge in 24 feet of water. I watched him for a bit and he just kept motoring up stream. Don’t know if he caught anything or not but he covered a lot of water. There were a few remnants of the tri-hull navy fishing the Edison discharge for the few remaining Silver Bass that have yet to return to Lake Erie.

Couple of side note items for today. A bald Eagle swooped in on me as I was bringing in a smallmouth. He must have seen it splashing on the surface as I was bringing it in. That could have been interesting if he grabbed it. I also started wearing a glove on my left hand to cut down on the cuts and scrapes from the fish. It’s just a brown jersey glove but it seems to help. I just have to remember to take it off before I stick my hand in the cooler to grab something to drink.

A front is supposed to come in tomorrow and start to cool things off a bit for the weekend. Hopefully it does and the guys fishing the DWF tournament this weekend won’t fry out on Lake Erie.

Still haven’t lost a lure.

The best kind of therapy for what ails you…..walleye in the box.

Father’s Day Walleye 2012

18 06 2012

Decided to make a quick trip down to the river tonight. I only planned on fishing for a couple of hours and I didn’t even get down to the ramp until 8 o’clock. I figured what was the rush? The last few trips all my fish have been caught after 9:00 pm anyways. As is usually the case things change. I set lines at 8:15 and once the weight hit the bottom, WHAM….fish on. That usually doesn’t happen for me but it sure is nice when it does. I continued fishing and picked up 3 more walleye in the next 45 minutes or so. I was thinking this was going to be a quick night but around 9:00 pm the SW died done to nothing and so did the fish, not even a smallmouth or silver bass. I don’t have a scientific reason as to why something like this would affect the fish but it does. I had caught all my fish traveling west to east so as near as I can figure that wind blowing at my back affected my speed. I tried to vary my speed to trigger a strike but to no avail. Shortly after 9:30 pm I hooked into a small walleye that I released for me to catch another day. After that I decided to pull lines and just head in. I had to work in the morning and I already had 4 fish to clean. I’ll take 4 keepers over 90 minutes of fishing any day.

Couple of interesting items about tonight. The first was that the Silver Bass are still in the area but they weren’t hitting my Spikes Spoons. On several different occasions I got caught in the middle of a feeding frenzy between the bass and the gulls. The gulls were picking away at the minnows on the surface and the bass were pushing them up from the bottom. I could see the silver bass rolling on the surface and for some reason they left my spoons alone. Thank God.

Another thing was I caught several 3 inch smallmouth bass and two of the walleye I caught had some in their stomachs. Catching them this small isn’t anything unusual but for this time of the year it is. Normally I don’t catch bass this size until late August or early September. Near as I can figure the bass had a really early spawn or these are hold overs from last year that didn’t grow very well.

The last little tidbit (and I am probably going to jinx myself for saying this) is that this makes 4 trips now without losing a single walleye or lure. Now that I have said this I am going to lose half a dozen fish and a whole rig the next time I’m out. It’s still a nice little streak to have right now, considering how notorious the area I fish is for claiming equipment.

The Green/Silver spoon with the pink dot is a new one I have never tried before.  It accounted for the 3 bigger fish tonight.  I’ll have to go dig through my storage box to see if I have anymore.  Once this gets out I’m sure some of my friends are going to want one.  Last year I was tearing up the fish on a pink and black spoon I found somewhere.  Several of my friends had their eye on it and I had to guard it continuously.

White Perch Side Note

17 06 2012

When I was out fishing on Lake Erie 6/16 we caught a few White Perch. I always considered them a nuisance fish like White Bass. I never thought about eating one but then again I am a bit of a fish snob. I have always had fresh caught and because of that I won’t buy any fish from a store or rarely order it in a restaurant. Today though Jerry and Mike convinced me I should try it. We had been catching a few nice size White Perch so I decided to keep a few and give them a try. There wasn’t much to a fillet, especially after i cut off the darker meat. I didn’t do anything fancy for cooking them up. Just rolled them in bread crumbs and into some hot oil and my cast iron skillet. Much to my surprise they weren’t bad. It wasn’t as good as yellow perch but then again not much is. I still don’t plan on keeping any though. Like I said before there isn’t a whole lot of meat on one once I cut away the dark meat. I’ll stick to yellow perch.

Fermi Fish 6/16/12

17 06 2012

Well after a whopping 4 hours of sleep I was up and getting ready to go walleye fishing once again. My original plan was to go pull wire in the river but an e-mail to my friend Jerry changed that. Earlier in the week I e-mailed him to see if he was going handlining as well Saturday morning. He and Mike were planning on making the run to Fermi and he asked me if I wanted to join them. I accepted of course. I don’t have a boat that can make that run so I have to depend on other people to go. So after a quick stop at the donut shop I was on my way to Gibraltar.

Once we finished loading the boat we were on our way and shortly afterwards our morning trip took a turn for the worse. Just as we cleared the canals Jerry lost power steering on his boat. We pulled the engine cover and sure enough the power steering and water pump belt broke. We limped back to the dock while Jerry figured out what to do next. Once we were home Jerry hopped into his truck to see if the local Marine shop was open. As he was driving there he saw the owner walking down the road. The two of them drove up to the shop and 10 minutes later we were installing a new belt. Problem solved.

Once again we were on our way out into Lake Erie. Jerry and his friend Tom pulled a 2 man limit the other day in front of the Fermi Nuclear plant so we were heading there first. We set up in about 20 feet of water and start to troll into the wind towards the Bell Buoy. We set up 6 lines on planer boards with 1 ½ ounce in line weights and crawler harnesses in various colors 30 to 35 feet back. Pink, purple and chartreuse were the predominate color combinations. We also ran two rods with 4 ounce bottom bouncers off the side with crawler harnesses as well. One of those rods produced the first fish, unfortunately it was a channel cat.

Keeping the boards in a line like this helps to determine if one is fouled or has a fish. If something is wrong the board will drift back.

The action was slow at first with the occasional white perch or silver bass being the only thing caught. Eventually we did catch a walleye or two but it was nothing to get excited about. Jerry switched tactics up a bit and swung the boat around so the waves would be on our stern. We started to troll towards Estral Beach and we soon began to pick up some fish. Flags began to start dropping and boards were drifting back from the line. This continued for the next few hours and we slowly began to fill the cooler. When we weren’t brining in fish we were swapping out harnesses that weren’t producing and replacing them with a different color. We never did find the one color that out produced everything else but at least we were catching fish. From what we were picking up on the radio it seems like it was slow for a lot of people.

Our Captain, hard at work.

Around noon Jerry told us to pull lines. He had to be at his grandson’s graduation party this afternoon so it was time to go. We ended up with 12 in the cooler and 3 throwbacks. Not bad considering we got a late start and almost didn’t make it out at all. Once we were back at the dock we quickly put things away and secured the boat. Mike and I cleaned the fish so that Jerry could get ready for his party. Overall it was a great morning. We caught fish for the club fish fry next Monday and other than the belt we didn’t have any other bad incidents. Hopefully the fish stick around long enough so I can get another shot at them.

Cooler Shot

Silver Bass Test Take II

16 06 2012

Location: Trenton Channel
Date/Time: 6/15/12 8:00 pm to 11:00 pm
Water Temp: 69 Degrees
Water Clarity: Ridiculously Clear
Weather: Clear sky, warm
Wind: ESE light
Water Depth: 13 feet
Presentation: Handlining 40/20/6
Lures: #9 Hot Steel, Riley Special, Blue Ice

The other day a couple of friends of mine told me that the Silver Bass had pretty much left the river. Between the two of them they only caught 12 last Wednesday night… to my ears. Now I could get back to what life is all about, catching walleye. I was so optimistic about tonight that I started earlier than I normally do. That turned out to be a bit of a mistake. As luck would have it there were still just enough Silver Bass around to tick me off. As a matter of fact I caught 14 of the things before I ever caught my first walleye. Actually it was 14 Silver Bass, 6 Smallmouth Bass and 1 Muskie before I caught that first one. Just like last time he came after 9, 9:07 pm to be exact. Two more soon followed and I had my 4th right around 9:45. Unfortunately he was only 14 ½ inches long so he went back so that he could grow up some more.

Once it got dark I swapped out the spoons and switched over to my trusty Rapala’s, a #11 GFR and a #9 Hot Steel. This is standard procedure for me in the summer time on the river, spoons by day, body baits by night. Most of the time this works out pretty good, unless the weeds are bad and tonight they were. Rapala’s have a bad habit of catching every weed floating in the river. I should have expected this, the last couple of days have been east winds and that pushes the weeds to the US side of the river. I can usually find a few clear pockets to fish in but that is kind of hard to do in the dark. Persistence usually pays off though and after about 30 minutes I had my number 4. BY now it was 10:30 and I was debating how much longer I was going to stay out. I was going fishing on Lake Erie in the morning and I had to be in Gibraltar by 6:30 am. Sleep was starting to sound like a better option than continuously clearing weeds off my lines. Only problem was that I wanted that 5th fish. Why I don’t know but I wanted it. I told myself that by 11:00 pm fish or no fish I was heading in. Luckily for me she came at 10:58 pm. And she was also the biggest one of the night, 26 inches and 5 ½ pounds.

So the final tally for the night was 19 Silver Bass, 7 Smallmouth Bass (1 being 17 ½ inches long), 1 White Perch, my first Muskie of the year and 5 walleye for the freezer. The Silver Bass have definitely thinned out to where I can start fishing in the daytime again. For now it is time to get some sleep and get ready for my annual trip to Lake Erie. Hope the wind shifts or it is going to be very bumpy out there tomorrow.

6/8/12 Trenton Channel

9 06 2012

Location: Trenton Channel
Date/Time: 06/08/12 9:15 to 12:15
Water Temp: 65 Degrees
Water Clarity: Clear
Weather: Clear
Wind: Calm
Water Depth: 13 feet
Presentation: Handlining 40/20/6
Lures: #11 Bleeding Chartreuse, #9 Blue & Silver, Metallic Blue Spoon

Well I thought I would go out tonight and see if the Silver Bass were still around. Much to my dismay they still are. I took me almost 20 minutes to get all my lines set and down. Every time I threw a lure out a Silver would grab it off the surface. Eventually I was able to get everything set and start fishing.  The Silver Bass really never did slow down. I would go for a couple of minutes without catching one but it never lasted long. The majority of them were really small as well. Most around 10 inches and even smaller. It’s been over a month now, they should be heading back out into Lake Erie any time.

Around 9:45 pm I caught my first walleye, a nice 23 inch male. I caught him on my kicker lead with a metallic blue spoon. In the next 30 minutes I picked up two more. I tried to stay in the area but I kept losing track of where I was as I was fighting the Silver Bass. I was determined to get a fourth so I kept at it for a few more hours. It was a clear calm night and I was in no big hurry to head in. Around midnight the Silvers really started biting again and I just gave up.

I suppose I shouldn’t complain too much. I did catch 3 walleye and all it cost me was a little gas. I didn’t have to pay to launch and I didn’t lose any lures. I didn’t get rained on or run off the river by lightning either. No bugs, except for the few mayflies that were on my Jeep back at the launch area.  Better times are ahead, the Silver Bass won’t stick around forever.  Then it will be the Smallmouth Bass.

The only 3 walleye in the river that are faster then the Silver Bass

Grandpa’s Tackle Box

7 06 2012

The other day I was putting away all my camping stuff away after another trip. While I was making room on the shelves I spotted my grandfather’s old tackle box. I picked it up to move it to another place in the garage but for some reason I decided to poke through it again. I brushed away the cobwebs and dirt and took it inside the house. The old green metal box is mostly rust now and I wondered if the locks would even open. As the lids creaked open I stared inside and thought to myself, what in the world was he thinking?

The box, a little rusty but a lot of personality.

My grandfather was a jack of all trades kind of guy. He worked for Hudson motors, Chris Craft, built landing craft during the war, owned a cab company, a mink farm and eventually a marina in Wyandotte on the Detroit River. It is even rumored that he ran whiskey across the Detroit River during prohibition. The one constant that remained the same throughout his life is that he loved to fish. One of my last memories of him was sitting on his lap as he taught me how to tie a clinch knot. He also told me that when I got older he was going to teach me the right way to catch walleye. I had no idea what he was talking about but I finally figured it out 35 years later. When he finally retired he would fish just about every day of the year. He went so much that my Grandma insisted that one Sunday he wasn’t going fishing and that he should take her for a drive instead. So the next Sunday they got into the car and went for a drive……to go check out a new fishing spot.
His retirement also coincided with the start of the salmon plantings in Lake Michigan. This was new territory for both he and my father. They had fished for Steelhead in Owen Sound and Lake trout in Lake Michigan but catching 25 pound salmon in the Manistee River and lake was new territory for both of them. It was nothing like pulling pencil plugs for walleye. All the salmon lures we have today had yet to materialize so he had to improvise. That meant taking his existing lures and modifying them for salmon. It most cases it wasn’t anything too drastic but it still made me wonder. He really liked using Helin Flatfish lures but the hooks were too small. Simple fix, bigger hooks but I sometimes think he got a little carried away. Then again I’m used to the advanced lines and hooks we have today. Back in 1970 equipment was a little different.

Big fish need bigger hooks, or so he thought.
Paint schemes were new territory for him as well. Most of the lures he had were dull natural paint schemes. He probably had more frog pattern flatfish than anything else. Someone most have told him that pink was the “hot” color at the time because he painted over a few lures. It was crude by today’s standards but it must have worked.

A little pink never hurts
Paint schemes and modifications are one thing but some lures I just had no clue as to why he had them. They just didn’t fit for what he was trying to catch. All the spoons, flashers, cowbells, and dodgers made sense but a couple of them really made me scratch my head. My Grandfather would fish for anything but Bass were never high on his list. Bass are the only fish I could think of that these lures would be used for but why would they be in a tackle box full of salmon and walleye stuff? Then again I am probably just over analyzing and comparing his way of doing things to mine. I probably have 10 times the lures he did and I have them all organized in separate boxes by size and use. Knowing my grandfather he just threw everything into one box and took it everywhere. I still have to wonder why he ever bought these two though.

I still can't figure out what he used these for.
I really enjoyed looking through the old tackle box that day. Why I did it with more scrutiny this time still escapes me but I’m glad I did. It still amazes me how far the technology has come and how much lures have changed in just the last 40 years. I can only hope that my Grandkids will get the same enjoyment going over all my fishing stuff 40 years from now.