Weekend Report

22 07 2012

This is going to be short, sweet and to the point. This may be my last report for a while as well but more on that later.

As I stated earlier my Dad and I went out last Friday night (7/20) down to the channel. We got a late start since my parents arrived at my house around 6:00 pm. After a quick dinner we hooked up the boat and headed out. As has been the case all summer the water was still clear with a surface temp of around 80 degrees. It didn’t take long and I hooked into a Smallmouth, he came off at the boat which was fine with me. Shortly afterwards my Dad picked up a walleye which he followed up with another about 10 minutes later. His success was short lived because I caught the next 5. As it started to get dark we both noticed an increase in boat traffic. We soon realized they were going to have fireworks as part of the Trenton Roar on the River Festival. We didn’t want to get caught up in that so we decided to pull lines. We had to get up early anyways for Marty’s funeral. As we were headed in we saw our friend Richard so we pulled up to see how he was doing. He had 2 in the box so far and was going to stick it out for a while longer. I can’t blame him, it was a near perfect night out.

After the funeral my parents headed home and I decided to get some chores done. One of the chores was to try and get my outboard motor running right. Last night it kept wanting to stall whenever I would idle down. It also started to skip on one cylinder before it would stall. A few people had told me about the wonders of Sea Foam so I picked up a can to dump in the tank. I also bought a can of the Carb cleaner as well. I played around with that for about an hour and made plans to go out again that night. The first thing I did when I launched was make a long run down to Calf Island and back. I wanted to give the Sea Foam a chance to loosen up the carbon build up. It seemed to make a difference at first but after about 5 minutes the same symptoms started again. I took off again and ran it at top speed for about 30 minutes and tried again. Still no change. I tried to fish for bit but still no change, it just got worse. I was able to pick up 1 small walleye but I just let him go. I didn’t feel like cleaning one fish and I was pretty frustrated at the moment. So once I finish posting this I will finish cleaning out the boat so I can take it into a mechanic. I hope it’s nothing serious but the engine is over 35 years old and it has had thousands of hours put on it. We shall see.

So Long Marty

21 07 2012

My father’s best friend and fishing buddy Marty passed away last Thursday 7/19/12. My Grandfather, Father and Marty covered a lot of water together. As I got older I started to tag along on these trips and once my Grandfather passed away it was the three of us. We fished from Grand Traverse Bay on Lake Michigan and on the sunrise side of Lake Huron by Harrisville and Oscoda all the way down to Lake Erie. “Stosh”, as my dad jokingly called him, was the butt of a lot of jokes from both of us. No matter what kind of donuts he would bring we would always complain about him not bringing a certain kind. On one trip we complained about not having lemon filled donuts. The next time out the whole box was lemon filled. Of course we wanted glazed that morning. We even gave him a hard time about the brand of pretzel rods he brought. Then there was that silver Heddon Shark pole and oversized Diawa reel. Oh the crap he used to get from us about that thing. It was all in fun and I can’t help but smile as I type this. Every trip my Dad put together Marty was always there, rain or shine, warm or cold, salmon or walleye, it didn’t matter. We even made an ill fated trip to Cedarville one year for fresh water herring and that was a disaster. Didn’t matter, Marty went and afterwards he was willing to go again on the next trip. As the years passed the fishing trips together became less frequent. I was busy with school, work and raising a family. Trying to plan a weekend for all 3 of us became more and more difficult, especially after my Dad moved up to Oscoda. Unfortunately these things happen but at least we have those fond memories to fall back on.

As my Dad and I fished tonight we talked and joked about all the fishing trips the three of us made together. The fish we caught, the ones we lost, the little old lady that was inadvertently terrorized in the outhouse by flying frogs. Marty will be missed but never forgotten.

Marty Tarlowicz 12/16/1933 – 07/19/2012

Quick Trip Walleye

15 07 2012

Weekends are meant for sleeping in, one of these days I will do just that. I woke up this morning at 4:30 am and lay in bed hoping to fall back asleep. Around 5:30 I gave up and decided to hook up the boat and head out for a few hours. Originally I didn’t plan on going fishing this weekend. The Gold Cup races were going on upstream and the FLW was in town. That meant a lot of boat traffic, a lot of floating weeds and a lot of Smallmouth Bass. I figured I would be out early enough to avoid the boat traffic but the weeds and Bass were debatable.

I arrived at Laker Erie Metro Park around 6:30 am and quickly got the boat launched. The shallow areas were thick with weeds but the channel was clear. I slowly made my way out and then north up the river to the Catamaran. As expected the water is still very clear but the skies were overcast, I hoped it would last. It didn’t take long after setting my lines and I had my first fish on, another channel cat. I have never caught channel cats down here before and now I have two in the last few weeks. I released him and as I was getting my lures back down I picked up what was to be the first of many Smallmouth Bass. With the FLW holding their tournament at Elizabeth Park most of the Bass caught and released after weigh in hang out in the channel before heading back out into Lake Erie. He was a chunky 16.5 inch fish and was soon followed up by another chunky 16 inch fish. Eventually I hooked into a walleye but I lost him at the side of the boat. He was barely hooked and I knew he was going to come off before I even got him close. A few minutes later I had another walleye on, this one I got in but he was a sub legal fish so back into the river he went. About 10 minutes passed before I hooked into another walleye. This one turned out to be a 22 inch 3 pound male. Shortly after I put him in the cooler the clouds started to break and out came the sun. So much for my overcast skies. Once the sun broke through the fishing slowed down drastically. I would pick up a few undersized Smallmouths here and there but nothing to get excited about.

Around 8:30 a fellow club member pulled out from the discharge area and came over to see how I was doing. As he pulled up I hooked into another fish, another Smallmouth and my biggest one for the day. I told Larry the area was full of them and that I hadn’t caught a walleye in the last hour. He pointed his boat north and headed up to Wyandotte. A mutual friend had told him he was doing pretty well up there and decided to give it a shot. After Larry left and I released the fish I headed downstream to try some deeper water for a bit. All I caught were more Smallmouth Bass so I decided to pack it in. I had things to do and it was starting to get hot. Besides, the bigger pleasure boats would be pulling out and starting upstream to watch the race. I had fish for dinner tonight and that was all I really wanted. There will be other days, I’ll just wait until the evenings.

Crayfish Boil Part II

9 07 2012

About a year ago I was poking around on the Michigan-Sportsman.com website and I came across a thread about trapping crayfish. One of the contributors stated that she wanted to have a crayfish boil get together. I attended that first one and Lisa decided to make this an annual event. So here I was once again headed to the Reedsburg Dam State Forest Campground for the MS Crayfish Boil Part II. When I arrived at the river last year I found Lisa (the host) knee deep in the river catching crayfish. This year was no different. There she was once again knee deep in the river doing what she loves so much, fishing. A new participant, Hoss, was also out in the river catching them as well. After a quick hello and some small talk I was on my way back to the Jeep to get my stuff. I grabbed my traps, line, bait, net and wading shoes and soon I was in the river as well. The warm weather and lack of rain had lowered the water level on the river but it didn’t affect the crayfish population, they were still present in the thousands. I baited 2 traps with walleye scraps and placed them in what I thought was a mud buggy type area. I then tied a piece of scrap walleye to a hook and line and went fishing.
Catching crayfish is extremely easy. They can be caught by setting a trap which is nothing more than a wire minnow trap with the entrance holes enlarged a bit. Hang a piece of fish, I use walleye scraps, and set it in the water. All that is left to do is to wait for the crayfish to crawl in. This method works better at night when they are more active but in this area they are so plentiful they are active during the day as well. The other method is with a hook, line, bait and a net. The Rusty Crayfish is very aggressive and this trait makes them very easy to catch. All a person has to do is wade around and look for a crayfish crawling around. Drop the bait down to the crayfish and wait until he grabs hold. Slowly lift him up and then scoop him up with a net. Really it is just that easy. Even if he lets ago he will grab the bait again if he gets the chance. Some actually refuse to let go of the bait even when they are in the net. In just over 2 hours I had over 100 crayfish and once they were added to Lisa and Hoss’s numbers we were up to around 50 pounds of crayfish. Time to start cooking.
Hoss does a crayfish boil every year for some friends so he volunteered to do the cooking for this one. He has an industrial size cooker that can handle up to 100 pounds at a time. Before we could start though we had to sort through our catch and remove any dead ones. After that it was time to purge them. Washing the crayfish in a salt water solution helps to clear out the mud vein, similar to what someone would find in shrimp. Once that was done everything was handed off to Hoss so he could work his magic. Our catch was then dumped into a pot of boiling water that had some Cajun seasoning added to it. A few minutes later and they were removed from the pot. Once they were all scooped out in went the potatoes, corn, onions and sausage. A little while later the veggies and sausage were removed and everyone dug in. Eating these things is messy but that is half the fun and they are extremely good. I had 3 or 4 helpings myself. I never seem to have the time to do this at home so I take advantage a meal like this when I can.
If you should decide you want to try this yourself please check your local fishing rules. In Michigan the Rusty Crayfish is considered and invasive species (from Ohio no less) and it is illegal to transport them to another waterway. Also, a fisherman needs an all species license to trap them. Once you have that all that is needed is some basic fishing equipment and bait (Lisa likes to use hot dogs). Find an area with a lot of rocks and some clear water and go get them. Not only will you be catching a very tasty meal but you are helping to reduce the number of an invasive species that is playing havoc with the local eco-systems.

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Pre 4th of July Walleye

5 07 2012

After the storms had finally passed through the area I hooked up the boat and headed to the channel. At first it looked like it was going to be a perfect night, cloud cover with a slight breeze. Neither one lasted. About 8:30 pm the clouds cleared out and the breeze left as well. Oh well….it’s not like I was going to quit just because of that. What should have made me stop was an engine that still didn’t want to cooperate. It started stalling once again and the only way I could keep it running was to increase my speed. I could never find the sweet spot between too fast and too slow. If I had been catching fish I wouldn’t have minded but after an hour the only thing in my cooler was a bottle of water. At some point I checked my lines and noticed that my main line wasn’t at the angle I desired. This made sense since I was trolling at a faster speed than I normally do. I switched over to a heavier weight and almost immediately I started to catch fish. They weren’t the right species but at least it was something. Around 9:00 pm I got a triple but unfortunately it was 2 Smallies and 1 walleye. Once I figured out what line the walleye was on I got him in and dealt with the other 2 later. I was still having the engine problems but at least I was putting walleye in the box. I managed to pick up a couple of more walleye but what really bugged me was that I lost 4 right at the side of the boat. I had only lost 4 fish for the whole month of June and now I matched that in one evening, 3 in about a 10 minute span. I lost every fish on my 40 foot lead and a #9 Copper Crazy Tiger Rapala (Custom Paint Job by Downriver Tackle). Yes, the hooks were sharp, brand new Mustad Triple Grip hooks. I don’t think the fish were getting hooked all that well to begin with. I also had about a dozen Hit & Spit’s that night.

I kept at it though determined to get my limit. Around 10:30 I hooked into what felt like a pretty good fish. As I was brining it in I realized that it wasn’t a walleye or a Smallmouth Bass. Even when I had it along side of the boat I couldn’t tell what it was but I knew once I flipped it in, a channel cat. That was a first for me, I have never caught a channel cat in the Detroit River before. It was a nice 20 inch fish and very fat. I got the hook out of her jaw and sent her back to the bottom. Not much more happened that evening and I just gave up around 11. The bugs were really starting to get to me as well. I had 3 and with my engine acting the way it was I figured I better not tempt fate. Didn’t want to need a tow in like the boat I towed in the other night.

Just before it got dark I saw an Osprey flying back towards Humbug March. I had seen him the other night but that time he had a Smallmouth Bass in his talons. Tonight it looked like he was going home hungry. Still strange to see Osprey and Eagles while fishing for walleye on the Detroit River. This river certainly has come a long way since the 50’s and 60’s.

Final tally for the night was 3 walleye measuring 15 to 18 inches long. All of them came on a Riley Special and a Pink Shiner spoon. All the walleye I lost at the boat were on the Copper Crazy Tiger Rapala. The water temp was 76 degrees and still ridiculously clear. Maybe the storms from the past few days will dirty things up a bit.

End of June Walleye

1 07 2012

I knew it was going to catch up to me sooner or later. Fishing had been going so well that eventually everything was going to blow up in my face. Well Friday night it did and carried over into Saturday morning.

I had promised to take out a club member Friday night to see if I could help get him pointed in the right direction for handlining. Steve had just started this method of fishing and he was having some success but was looking for a few pointers. He showed up at my house just in time to help me fix my garage door. The bracket holding the track up on the left side snapped and the whole door was listing to one side. We finally got it into place but it was only a temporary fix. That should have been a warning but as usual I ignored it. We made our way to the ramp, launched the boat and soon we were on our way to my starting point. I pointed the boat upstream, set it to its trolling speed and then the engine died. I got it started again but once I tried to increase the speed it stalled again. I repeated this process for a few more times but it kept stalling out. I checked to see if I was getting fuel and if the prop was fouled but everything was fine. I was really getting frustrated now because I promised to take Steve fishing and it wasn’t looking good. I finally got it going to and took off.  I decided to run the snot out of the engine for a while to see if it would clear out anything in the lines. After about 20 minutes I slowed down again and this time the engine was running fine. Go Figure.

We finally started fishing after an hour delay. It was slow at first but eventually we started to pick up a few fish. At one point I had a double on but it turned out to be a Sheepshead and a walleye. I had the walleye in my hand when Steve yelled out that he was hung up. Without even thinking I threw the walleye back and proceeded to help him get his line free. This isn’t the first time I have done something like this. A couple minutes later we were back to fishing and then I got hung up. I wasn’t so lucky, I lost 2 lures in the process. I replaced my leaders and was back at it about 5 minutes later. Shortly after that I got hung up and I lost my weight. I didn’t have a replacement shank so I had to improvise. While I was doing this Steve managed to land his first fish of the night on a #9 Vampire. We had 4 in the cooler when I was bringing in what I thought would be #5 for the night. Of course he came off right at the boat. That was the 3rd fish I had lost tonight. By now it was past 10:00 pm and I would normally head in around now. It was a beautiful night with hardly any floating weeds so we decided to stay out a little longer. I was hoping I could get Steve into a few more fish but fate stepped in and changed that. There was a boat anchored near shore and he was shining his spotlight at us. I figured he was just looking around for something but Steve said he could hear him yelling. Our lines we already in so we headed over to see what was up. Sure enough he couldn’t get his engine started and needed help. He threw me a rope and we towed him back to the ramp. On the way in I told Steve we were done for the night and he agreed. So after a late start, engine problems, 2 lost lures, a lost weight and broken shank, 3 lost fish and a tow in we ended up taking home 4. Could have been 5 but I had a brain cramp. I was hoping the good karma from helping out a fellow boater in need would carry over to the morning. No such luck.

The next morning I was taking Mike Barkley out. He doesn’t have a boat so the only way he is going fishing is if someone takes him along. Mike makes custom fishing rods so this handlining thing was kind of out of his comfort zone. I took him out a few years ago and there has been know stopping him since. This morning we awoke to cloudy skies and the possibility of rain. It did sprinkle a little but nothing much. After a whole month of high temps and almost no rain a little more would have been appreciated. At least it was cloudy, too bad it wouldn’t last. It didn’t take long and we had 1 walleye in the box. A few minutes later Mike had a fish on, unfortunately it was a Sheepshead. Around 7:30 am the wind shifted and started to pick up straight out of the south. It wasn’t long and we had whitecaps on the river. This surprised both of us but we were still getting the occasional fish so we stuck it out. By 8 we had 3 walleye and about a dozen Smallmouths that we released, a couple of them over 16 inches long. The wind had also started to die down and our cloud cover disappeared. My friend Jerry had called me and told me his neighbor had just pulled a quick limit in front of Humbug Marina. We pulled lines and made a mad dash downstream to try it out. After 2 passes and only 1 Sheepshead for our trouble we headed back to the stacks. We trolled around there for a little while longer but with the sun getting higher it wasn’t promising. While we were up there I got hung up once again and lost a whole rig. This was starting to get expensive. We tried for a little while longer but we weren’t getting anything so we packed it in.

So for the last week of June everything kind of fell apart. After two trips I lost four weights, 3 shanks, several leaders and about a dozen spoons. All of this for 7 walleye, 1 throwback, 3 lost at the boat, several Spotless Freshwater Redfish and a bunch of Smallmouth Bass. Quite a turnaround from the rest of the month.

Hope July starts off better than the way June ended.  The water is still stupid clear.  What I wouldn’t do for a good storm and some dirty water.

The only picture I took. I really need to have my guests bring a camera.