Memorial Weekend Report

27 05 2013


Friday, 5:00 pm and I am running out the door.  I couldn’t get out of work fast enough this week.  Too much stress and too many other things going on outside of work.  I needed a break and that meant only one thing…….therapy through handlining.

Since the Silver Bass were still in I waited until after 9:00 pm to hit the river.  I was still a little pessimistic since it was going to be a clear night with a full moon.  Sometimes on nights like this the Silvers feed all night.  I was going to run chrome pencil plugs tonight and hope for the best.  On clear full moon nights chrome works quite well but Silvers really like Chrome.  As I was heading down to the “Cat” I saw a bunch of gulls and terns dive bombing the surface.  That meant the Silvers were pushing minnows up and they were in attack mode as well.  I kept away from that area.



By 9:15 I had lines down and at 9:20 I had walleye number 1 in the box.  So far so good.  A short time later I had another one in but this one was a bit small and was going back.  I had yet to catch a Silver so I decided to get brave and put on a #9 Clown Rapala on my kicker.  Big Mistake, the weight never made it to the bottom and I had one on.  After about 20 minutes of constantly hooking Silvers on that one lure it came off and I was back to just 2 leads with Pencil Plugs.  The action was a lot slower but I was only catching walleye and that was fine with me.  By 11:30 pm I had 5 in the box and I was headed home.  I talked to two other handliners that started the same time I did and they only had 2 but they caught a butt load of Silvers.  They were running Rapala’s.  Make note of that guys……


No Caption Necessary

No Caption Necessary

You think I would have slept in some after not going to bed until 2:00 am but not me.  I awoke with the sun and got ready to start my day.  I was headed up to Sanford Lake today to spend some time with some friends of mine.  Their mother has a home on the lake so I was going old school fishing, sitting on the dock, bobber and worm, catching bluegill.  Not my usual thing but I wasn’t going to complain.  Can’t think of much better way to spend a day but on a lake fishing with friends.  Unfortunately Midland had over 2 inches of rain in the last few days so the streams were running high and dumping a lot of dirty water into Sanford Lake.  Visibility was less than a foot, hardly ideal for catching panfish.  We discovered that the fish weren’t even on the beds yet.  Oh well. We made the best of it.  We did catch enough for a lunch and that was good enough.  Did find an interesting item at a garage sale, those who know me will get it.


Actually it was the evening of Day 3.  My parents were down so that meant my Dad and I would be going walleye fishing.  This time though I would have my younger cousin John along.  He wants to learn how to fish and his mother told him he needed to talk to his Uncle Frank and Cousin Mark.  I sent him a message earlier in the week and invited him along.  We picked him up around 7 on Sunday night and headed out.  Since the only fishing he has ever done was for bluegill on Coan Lake in Heritage Park I figured I would let him jig for a while and catch Silver Bass.  As expected we caught a bunch of Silvers but while I was watching him jig I saw him set the hook on a fish.  I noticed there was more of a bend in the rod this time and he wasn’t cranking it in like the smaller silvers.  I reeled my line in and got the net ready.  Sure enough, walleye.  After a quick pic it was in the cooler and we were back to catching Silvers.  Around 9:00 pm I told everyone to pull lines, it was time to catch walleye the right way.

We pulled up in front of the “Cat” and started to get set up.  I set John up with a 15 foot lead and a #9 Pink Lemonade Rapala that I just got back from Jim at Downriver Tackle.  I figured he would catch lots of Silver Bass with this but it would be good practice for him.  He might get lucky too and catch a walleye.  I set up with the same Wonderbread Nite Stalkers as the other night.  As expected John hooked Silver after Silver but he was having fun so he really didn’t care.  I on the other hand was catching walleye.  I had the first 3 in the box when I noticed that John was having a hard time bringing in his next bass.  I had a feeling and sure enough it was a walleye.  I talked him through getting it in the boat and even though he bounced it on the side he got it in the boat.  Now he was all smiles.    He just landed the biggest fish of his life and all he could think about was how good it was going to taste.  After that I landed a couple more so by now John said he had had enough of the Bass and wanted to catch only walleye.  We switched out the Rap for a Chrome Nite Stalker and shortly afterwards he was bringing in another walleye.  That gave us 9 so far.  John asked how much longer we would stay out and I told him after we got number 10.  No sooner did I say that and John was bringing in number 10.  It was now 11:00 pm and time to call it a night.  We still had fish to clean and John had plenty for him, the rest of his family and his Grandmother, my Aunt, to eat for dinner.

John's 1st Walleye

John’s 1st Walleye

His Haul

His Haul


Food, Family and Friends.  I’m beginning to understand what those Duck Dynasty guys are talking about.

A Change of Pace

19 05 2013

Every year during the month of May my boat and Schaller reels get a break from fishing.  Not because I need a break but because I don’t like catching Silver Bass.  I love to fish but Handlining is strictly a walleye thing.  It wasn’t designed for catching Silver Bass.  They are a take a kid fishing with light tackle thing.  During this time I usually pursue other types of fishing, more recently it has been out of my kayak.  This year it would be something else.

I don’t really remember how it came about but Dave Fitch, a fellow handliner, asked me if a ever went fly fishing.  I told him it had been awhile but I learned how to cast a fly rod when I was about 10 years old and I also tied my own flies.  Next thing I knew I was invited to a weekend fly fishing trip on the AuSable river up near Grayling.  I was a little worried at first.  I hadn’t caught a trout on a fly rod in over 30 years.   I was going to be a little out of my comfort zone.  I would be trading in  my 30 pound test leaders and a 5 inch long Rapala’s for a 2 pound leader and a #16 Adams.  This could get embarrassing.

I arrived in Grayling Friday night and gave Dave a call to see where he was at.  He and his friend “Corky” had just come off the river and they would be back at the cabin shortly.  I had some time to kill so I took a walk down to the AuSable to just relax.  A few minutes later Dave’s truck was pulling in and after meeting Corky and his son Spencer we were on our way to get something to eat.  During dinner the whole conversation was about where to go tomorrow.  Apparently the local fly shop had said that the stretch of river we were supposed to fish was too high and fast.  This same topic carried over into the morning at breakfast.  Eventually it was decided to at least go see what the water was like on the lower AuSable.  Turns out it was the right decision.  The water level was up but when we arrived the fish were feeding so it didn’t take a lot of convincing to try here.  A few minutes later we were back at the truck and gearing up.  We headed upstream for a bit and then waded in.  I spotted a few trout rising not to far away and slowly worked my way to them.  I made my first cast and just like that I caught a tree.  This was going to be a long day.  I re-tied and soon I was flipping the fly in the general area of the rising trout.  I took a little practice and some patience but I was finally able to catch my first trout in over 30 years.  Granted it was only a 5 inch brook trout but it was a good start.

That is basically how the day would progress, catching a few small brook trout in between snagging the fly eating trees behind me.  I did find out one thing that really bothered me.  Apparently the tendonitis in my right wrist was worse than I thought.  The more I cast the more it hurt.  By the time evening was setting in it hurt so much I could hardly hold my fly rod.  I just gave up and waded to our walk out point.  I figured I would just sit and relax until the rest of the group had showed up.  I really wasn’t missing much, I hadn’t caught a fish in the last few hours and I didn’t even see many fish rising.  Eventually the rest of the group showed up and we stood around discussing the lack of trout and bugs.  Around 8:00 pm that all changed.  the bugs starting hatching and the fish started feeding again.  Ten minutes ago all was quiet but now their were fish rising all around us.  We all piled back into the river and started casting away.  I soon remembered something I learned about trout fishing a long time ago.  Trout can be the most finicky damn fish known to man.  The 4 of us tried just about every fly we had and I think we managed 1 fish in the next hour.  There is nothing more frustrating than watching a trout rise and grab a fly right next to mine.  You would think that even one fish would make a mistake and grab mine by accident but no……..

Around 9:00 pm the hatch started to slow down and the fish weren’t rising as much.  Time to call it a night.  We still had to put things away and get back into town before the the local eating establishments closed up for the evening.  I was tired and I’m sure the rest of the crew was as well.  All day wading fast water can really take a toll on the body.

Even though I didn’t catch any monsters, nothing new with me, it was still an enjoyable way to spend the day.  Sure beats fighting with the Silver Bass.  One final thought, it just goes to show you how helping out a fellow fisherman can be rewarding.  I have never fished with Dave but because I helped him, answered a few questions and gave him a few tips he invited me along for this trip.  If I had just ignored him none of this would have never happened.

I first Brookie in over 30 years.

My first Brookie in over 30 years.

All to myself and no fish.  Did see a river otter though.

All to myself and no fish. Did see a river otter though.

Handliners....even when trout fishing they never use a net.

Handliners….even when trout fishing they never use a net.

5/10/13 TC Walleye Report

11 05 2013

(Sing to the tune, Silver Bells)

Silver Bass,

Silver Bass,

It’s Silver time on the river.

Hear Mark Scream,


Soon he will lose his Freakin’ mind……..

Yeah it’s that time again.  The annual invasion.  I generally don’t go out that much when the horde is in but I had a really crappy week and I needed a break.  I figured I would wait until just before dark and hope that the fresh water piranha would shut down.  I ended up hitting the river around 8 and instead of going to my usual starting point I headed north for a bit.  I though I would jig for awhile and just play around for a bit.  After about a dozen or so Silvers I figured it was late enough to start pulling wire.  Ehhhhhh…..Bad Idea.

I headed down stream and set up just south of the Catamaran.  I was going to run a pair of Nite Stalkers on my 40 and 20 leads.  It was 8:30 and getting dark fast so I thought I was ok.  Once the weight hit the bottom I found out just how wrong I was.  Not only were they in thick but the NW wind made boat control darn near impossible.  After 20 minutes of fighting the wind and fish I was seriously debating calling it quits.  I didn’t want to go home empty handed so I decided to stick it out.  About 45 minutes and roughly 2 million Silver Bass later I finally caught a walleye, it was quickly followed up by another and things were looking up.  The Silvers had slowed way down and the fish I was looking for were hungry.  I ended up catching 2 more before 10:30 pm rolled around giving me 4.  I was hoping I would get 1 more but the Silver Bass had other ideas.  They decided it was time to eat again.  Fifteen minutes of non stop Silver action was more than I could take and I headed home.

Just like the other night, 4 was good enough for me.

Now for the specifics.  Water was clear and the surface temp was 59 degrees.  NW wind never laid down so boat control was very difficult.  The wind kept pushing me downstream.  I need to get more weight in the front of my boat and maybe a drift sock to help keep the bow in place.

Either that or I stay home on nights with 20 mph NW winds.

I'm really starting to like these Nite Stalkers.

I’m really starting to like these Nite Stalkers.

Shameless Plug Walleye Report

5 05 2013

After 35 years my old MERCURY 20 HP outboard had finally seen it’s last day.  After thousands of hours on the river and great lakes it was time for a new engine.  After talking to fellow DWF member Tom at ANGLERS MARINE in Taylor Michigan I purchased a new 25 HP EVINRUDE E-Tech.  The crew at ANGLERS MARINE hooked it all up and bolted it down to my old CRESTLINER last Friday so I decided to take it out and run it the next day.  Since the White bass had moved in I decided to wait until the evening.  Besides I needed to time get used to a new engine and all the little bells and whistles that came with it.  That and I needed to mount my SCHALLER AUTOMATIC TROLLING REEL, my EAGLE depth finder and LOWRANCE GPS back onto my boat.

I did get out a little bit before dark.  I wanted some time to run around on the river and get acquainted with my new toy.  I have never owned an electric start engine before so just pushing a button was a pleasant change.  I have to admit I really like my E-TECH.  I have nothing against my MERCURY but I really wore that engine out.  I just need to get used to the sound, or lack there of, of the E-TECH.  I have trolled for so many years with the MERC that I could tell by the sound of the engine when the RPM’s were just right for the speed I wanted.  Need to spend a few hours now and learn that sound again.  Nice thing about the E-TECH is that it has a toggle switch that will increase or decrease the RPM’s by 100 with just a push.  That’s a nice little feature to have.  I can give the lures a little push every once and awhile to see if I can trigger a strike.  OK, enough love for the E-TECH, time for the fishing results.

I set lines around 7:30 pm.  There were a few other Handliners out but it was still early.  The Tr-Hull nave was in full force along the Gibraltar/Trenton side of the river.  Not a good omen.  I put on a #11 COPPER CRAZY TIGER and a #9 SPRING VALLEY SPECIAL II from WWW.DOWNRIVERTACKLE.COM.  I also put on a SPIKE SPOON (He will be missed) in a RILEY SPECIAL pattern.  I figured I was going to get a few White/Silver Bass but I was expecting to pick up an occasional walleye until it got dark.  Turns out I was pretty right in my prediction.  I just wasn’t expecting how it would happen.  Most of the bass came on Jim’s Holographic lures.  Pretty much 95% of the bass I caught came on those lures.  I expected the spoon to catch most of them but I only caught 2.  My first walleye came on the spoon and the walleye that was 14 15/16 inches came on the #11 CCT.  Even after it got dark I was still catching the bass on the RAPALA’S.  Eventually I got fed up (not hard to do when it comes to those rotten little things) and I swapped out the RAPALA’S and replaced them with some NIGHT STALKER Pencil Plugs.  I have a lot of wooden pp’s but the eyelet is set to far back and the crank bait snaps that I use can’t get through the eyelet.  The NIGHT STALKERS are plastic and the eyelet is far enough forward so I could attach them with the crank bait snap.  3 walleye came on the 40 foot lead and a chartreuse  with black dots NIGHT STALKER.  I also hooked in to something big but I never got it in.  Once I got my hand on the leader I could hear it rolling and splashing way behind the boat.  I knew this wasn’t going to last long and I tried to throttle down some to relieve the pressure but it was to late.  I fished until about 10:30 pm but the wind was picking up and it was getting cold so I headed in.  I had 4 in the cooler and sometimes 1 short of a limit is no big deal.  The best thing was that I never caught a single white bass on a pencil plug.  Don’t know if that will hold true during the peak of the run but I will find out.

So I ended up with 4 in the box, 1 throwback and lost probably a Muskie.  Surface temps are at 53.5 degrees and the water is very clear, over 2 feet of visibility.  NE wind with a partly cloudy sky.  Back to a night fishery again, especially with the you know what’s in town.

One more plug….

May The 4th Be With You.

May the 4th Be With You walleye

May the 4th Be With You walleye