Tournament Date Dilemma

29 01 2014

Here’s the deal.  Every year I put on a tournament strictly for handliners.  Those that have participated know what a chore it has been trying to schedule a date that doesn’t conflict with the multitude of other tournaments and the annual White Bass run.  The last few years have been especially difficult because the run has been early.  This year there is a new wrinkle, I will be out of town on May 2nd and 3rd of 2014.  With that in mind I have two options.

Option #1 April 25 – 26th.

After last years disaster I figured I would hold the tournament early to try and avoid the White Bass.  Well this winter has been one of the most brutal on record.  Michigan has broken records all month long for cold days and snow totals.  The latest long range forecast shows this continuing into February and no end in sight.  I have a feeling some of the major tournaments that are scheduled for the beginning of April are going to be cancelled because there will still be ice flowing down the river.  With that in mind I have a feeling things are going to run late.  Fish will be there but they will still be very lethargic because of the water temps and no one is going to want to be on the river at night when surface temps are still in the 35 to 40 degree range.  That also means that the White Bass will still be out in Lake Erie where they belong. 

Option #2 May 9th and 10th.

I first started fishing for Detroit River walleye back in the 70’s.  My Dad and I didn’t even start until the beginning of May.  That was when the run really took off and easy limits of hungry males could be had.  We didn’t even worry about the White bass because they didn’t show up until after Mother’s Day and didn’t get unbearably thick until June.    10 Years of mild winters have altered that to where the fishing is hot and heavy in April along with the White Bass migration.  This year could be like those days in the 70’s and 80’s where I could catch butt loads of fish all through the month of May.  Of course the jet stream could shift and we might get a quick warm up in March and throw everything all out of whack.  Of course walleye can still be caught during the White Bass run but it takes some doing and a few tricks.  Tricks of course I will not divulge until after the tournament.  After all I would like to win my own tournament just once. 

Well there you have it.  You guys that fish the tournament what do you think?  I have to pick a date soon and I may not be able to change the date come April when I will have a better idea of the weather is going to be like.

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What exactly is a Polar Vortex?

21 01 2014

Polar Vortex.  Who comes up with this crap?  When I was younger and it was cold out it was just that, cold out.  Now they have to give it a name, what ever happened to just saying it is colder than a witch’s left…..well you know.  One thing this cold has done is give me a serious case of fishing withdrawal and the colder it gets the worse it gets.  My original plan was to do a little Steelhead fishing on the Huron and AuSable River.  Last time I checked most of the Huron from the mouth on up was frozen or there was so much shelf ice that fishing was darn near impossible.  The AuSable isn’t much better.  I go out and buy a new fishing rod and take the time to tie up a bunch of fancy jigs and all I can do is stare at both of them. 

This Sucks!

There is a silver lining to all of this and it has to do with the water levels.  During our last cold spell when we all about froze are butts off (see, isn’t that better than Polar Vortex?) meteorologists made a few comments about the Great Lakes.  I read that it is estimated that up to 60% of the Great Lakes could freeze this winter.  This would help prevent evaporation and keep the water levels from dropping like they have during our previous mild winters.  I’m all for that, water levels were getting so low that boat launching was problematic at some ramps, especially with any type of a west wind.  Hopefully northern Ontario is getting record snow falls like we are as well.  Of course if this does keep up the ice will still be flowing downstream in April.  So I guess I have to pick my poison, early fishing or long term relief?  I’ll take long term relief. 

  1. Of course this extreme cold and deep snow is going to have other affects both good and bad.  A major freeze like this will kill off the gizzard shad which area known predator of walleye fry.  Of course they are a food source for adult walleye as well.  To bad the freeze doesn’t have the same effect on White Bass.
  2. The deer herd is going to take a beating if this keeps up.  This will make the farmers and AAA happy but the deer hunters and the industry that supply’s them won’t be so thrilled.  Those guys seem to have enough to complain about it as it is, they really don’t need anything else.
  3. I also read that the Straits of Mackinac froze over, here come the wolves.  I’m kind of on the fence on this.  I have no desire to hunt a wolf but I believe that the numbers have to be kept in check.  It would be cool to see one in the wild but I am not a farmer who has to worry about his cows disappearing.  Their control should be left up to the DNR not the general, uneducated public.
  4. The ice fishermen should be loving this.  They haven’t been able to get out on to Brest Bay the last couple of years but they can this year.  What really cracks me up though is all the bitchin’ I hear in the Spring about guys keeping female walleye.  Guess what they are catching through the ice out on the lake?  Yep, female walleye.  How come I don’t hear anyone complaining about that? 

I just realized that I am basically rambling on about nothing.  Bottom line is that it is just cold out there.  Bundle up everyone, it doesn’t look like it is going to get above freezing until next month. 

Time to go tie some more flies.





A Year in a Life – January

12 01 2014

January is a tough month for me.  Season just finished up and April is still a couple of months away.  Ice fishing is always an option but not for me.  God told Noah to build an ark for a reason and it wasn’t so he could drag it out on the ice in case he fell through or got caught on an ice break.  I do not want to be one of those guys who get’s the expensive ride in the Coast Guard helicopter.  I can wait.  In the mean time there are other things to keep a die hard river rat occupied.  Specifically get my stuff organized for next season.

During a typical 8 or 9 month river walleye season I put my equipment through hell.  Every winter I pull everything out and give it a good going over.  Reels, shanks, weights, leaders, miscellaneous equipment and of course lures.  Lots and lots of lures.

Reels

Most years I don’t do much to my reels except give the aluminum a bit of a polish.  Their operation is pretty simple and there isn’t much that can go wrong.  Except for last year.  On one of my trips I got hung up pretty good and trashed a lot of wire.  I peeled the nylon coating off of about 30 feet in several places.  Normally I would just flip it around and put that part on the inside of the reel but I had already done that from a previous year.  Time to replace all of it.  It’s pretty easy to replace it, the only hard part is getting up to Andy’s to pick up a new spool of nylon coated #60 test Mason wire.  A couple of crimps and 211 revolutions later and I will be all set to go.

Shanks, Weights and Leaders

These items are more inventory than inspection.  If I haven’t used them they are still good, I just need to know if any more have to be made.  It is very frustrating to lose a shank and find out that was the last one in the box.  Leaders can be made on the boat pretty quickly but making a shank is a little more difficult and a weight is damn near impossible.  The shanks that are on the reel are removed and the clevises and snaps are recycled.  Same with the leaders.  All old nylon line is removed and the snaps recycled.  I won’t buy new line and make up new leaders until March.  I have always bee a firm believer in fresh line.  Granted it takes a lot to damage #30 Trilene XT but I’m not taking any chances.  I still want that wall hanger.  If I have to make any weights I’ll start poking around for scrap lead and copper tubing and make some up once it warms up some.  As of right now I have plenty to get me through the next few years.  Unless of course I take out a lot of newbies and they get donated to the lower channel river monster.  I do have to make up a few 2 pound weights for the St. Clair River but that can wait until March.

Lures, Lures, Lures

Where do I begin?  Over the years I have accumulated a butt load of lures.  Rapala’s, Spoons, Pencil Plugs, Night Stalkers, Bombers, Thundersticks, Stubbies, McGintys, Smithwicks, Spinners and a few Flat Fish just for good measure.  Well that’s it, no more purchases, at least for this year.  I need to save my money for an Alaska trip and if I can’t catch fish on what I have than I suck.  I did this back in 08 and 09 during the start of the recession.  I had to take two furlough days a month so my spending money went out the door.  I bought a handful of spoons then and that was it and guess what…..I still caught fish.  Apparently you don’t need the hottest color out there to catch fish.  The old reliables still work.  It also helps too that back in November I walked in to a clearance store that was selling brand new in the box size 9 and 11 Rapala’s for 4 bucks a piece.  Needless to say I bought every one they had, especially the Clown’s.

All my lures

Here they are, every walleye lure I own. I think.

So all that is left is to organize, consolidate, check and then put them back in the boat.  Easier said than done.  I still have a lot of boxes to go through and one box I need to do some work on.  The dividers on my spoon Plano box come loose so I need to glue them all in to place.  I’m tired of them coming out whenever I pull out a spoon.   Of course that means I have to pull all the spoons out of the box and keep them all separated until I can put them back.  I know when I do this I am going to wonder why I ever thought I would need so many different color patterns.  Sometimes I think these lure manufactures come up with new colors just to make me buy more.  Those Bastards……

 

The Miscellaneous Crap

There seems to be a never ending list of things I want to do to my equipment, especially my boat.  It seems like every time I am out I come up with some new idea on how to make things easier or more efficient.  Last year wasn’t any different.  I made new mounts for my reels but now they are too close to the side of the boat and the casing is rubbing up against the boat.  Need to fix that.  I also want to mount magnetic strips along the sides to hang lures.  Better to be on the side and out of the way instead of on the bottom of the boat.  I also have a couple of tubes I want to mount so that I have a place to put the weight when it comes in the boat.  Again, better to be out of the way instead of rolling around on the deck.  Need to come up with a new headlamp.  I keep trying different styles but they all have their drawbacks.  I’m sure I will come up with more as the winter months wear on.  It makes a nice diversion though until Spring gets here.  That and the fishing shows.

Pass

 

 





What’s in store for 2014.

3 01 2014

So it is snowing outside, the wind chill it is something below zero and the boiler is out in my office building.

Is it Spring yet?

This of course has me thinking about what I am going to do this year?  What new adventures await me?  Last year wasn’t all that exciting, mostly the same old same old.  I did go Fly Fishing for a weekend on the AuSable river.  This was something I hadn’t done in years and I forgot just how enjoyable it was.  I plan on doing more of that this year along with a few other things.  With that in mind here is a brief run down of what to expect on this blog for 2014.

A year in the life of a die hard walleye fisherman.

I had this idea awhile ago about what goes through a walleye fisherman’s head for a year.  Not just a weekend warrior type but one who is constantly thinking about catching walleye.  This year I plan on putting that into words.  Starting in January I will post monthly entries of what it is like to be a walleye fanatic 24/7/365.  Granted some months are going to be more about planning and prepping instead of fishing but it should be interesting.

There is more to life than just walleye.

This year I am also making a concerted effort to go fishing for other species.  I forgot how much I enjoy fly fishing so there will be more of that in my future.  Not just for trout but panfish as well, maybe a few Smallmouth or Largemouth Bass if I ever get some bigger flies tied up.  Speaking of fly tying I will also be making a few posts about some of my own creations.  Winter time is tying time and with the weather being what it is I might as well.  If the weather ever does break I will be making a few Steelhead trips too.  I still have to get the rod and tie up some jigs but that won’t take long.  Hopefully I will be able to hook into a few on my local stream the Huron.  If not I will have to go visit my parents and take my chances along the AuSable. 

Another plan is to do some fishing out of state.  First on the list is Dewey Lake in Kentucky.  My girlfriend has friends down there she likes to visit and Dewey lake is only a few miles away.  It is an 18 mile impoundment that is supposed to have some walleye in it, panfish and Striped Bass.  Hopefully I can make this work.  I’ll need to do some checking to help cut down on my paddle time in the kayak.  18 miles is a little too much water to cover by kayak.

The big out of state trip for 2014 is Alaska.  For years my Father and I tried to put together a trip but it seemed like every year we wanted to go something happened.  This trip almost didn’t happen again when my Dad was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer but that is under control so we have been given the green light.  The last week in July My Father, Brother and I will be flying up to Homer Alaska for a week.  Currently Halibut, Silver Salmon (Coho), Big Rainbows and Grayling are on the agenda but that could change depending on weather and what is hot at the moment.  The cabin we are staying at has WIFI so you can expect updates and pictures from the field as they happen, or at least that evening after dinner.     

Back closer to home the DNR have been stocking Atlantic Salmon in Lake Huron.  This spring those 2013 plants should be showing up and I hope to get a few.  The AuSable was one of the planting areas so my Dad and I are making plans to target them.  If what I have read is correct they should start showing up in the harbors and rivers about the same time those other fish show up in the “D”.  I hope so, it will be a nice change of pace.

Another change of pace during the “Invasion” will be the St. Clair River.  I made my first trip up there last May and I plan on going back.  I am thinking about staying at Algonac State Park for a weekend and jig by day and pull wire by night.  I may even make this an event to see if other people want to tag along and share resources.  Always easier to zero in on the fish when you have multiple boats out.  That way we can also compare notes and tactics to help improve everyone’s success. 

Can’t forget about hunting season either.

I really, really, really miss small game hunting.  Unfortunately I don’t have the access to private land around home like I used too.  All my small game hunting is up around Midland or Oscoda and I can’t get away for the weekend like I used too.  Hopefully that will change this year and I can post a few items about Grouse, Woodcock and of course Squirrel.  There may even be a post about an early Teal season hunt.  The DNR is pushing for Michigan to have an early Teal season.  The USFWS always shot it down but it looks like they may let it happen in 2014.  If so I know of a few spots that hold a fair amount of Green Wing Teal.  I won’t make any plans until I know for sure but it would be nice.    

Well there you have it, 2014 in a nutshell.  I’m sure I won’t get to do everything I want but if I can pull off half of it I will be happy.  I do know it is going to be a lot of writing and picture taking.  Speaking of picture taking I’m debating purchasing a GoPro video camera.  If so I may have videos to post as well.





Lessons learned 2013

1 01 2014

2013 turned out to be a very frustrating year for walleye fishing.  Granted some people had better results than me and some worse.  No matter where I may have ended up on the grand scheme of things I still sit back and contemplate what went right and what went wrong.  So without further ado here are my lessons learned from 2013.

#1  Prior year success does not guarantee future success.

Kind of sounds like what of those investment commercials telling you past performance does not guarantee future results.  2012 turned out to be the best year of my life.  The weather cooperated and the walleye were plentiful.  Fishing was so easy that i never went over to Amherstburg to fish.  Why make the run when I am catching easy limits less than 1/4 of a mile from the ramp?  I was so confident that I didn’t buy a CDN license for 2013.  That turned out to be a big mistake.  Around mid July the walleye in the Trenton Channel were few and far between.  Meanwhile fishermen were catching easy limits over in Amherstburg.  Granted I could have bought a license in July but I was convinced I would be able to find fish in US waters.  Eventually they did show back up again but not until October and the weather was not cooperating.  Oh well, live and learn.  I will be getting a CDN license for 2014, especially since I now have and engine I can trust and will make the trip a whole lot faster.

#2 Sometimes you just have to let go.

For close to 35 years my little Crestliner was powered by a 20 HP Mercury.  Over the last few years I was starting to have problems but I continued to work around them.  I refused to give up my engine until the day it happened, my worst nightmare, hung up and the engine stalls.  I was able to get the engine started and I didn’t lose any equipment nut It could have been a lot worse.  After that incident I went out and bought my 25 HP Evinrude E-Tech.  All I can say is that I wish I had done this sooner.  It’s just hard to let go and before anyone makes any comment about the boat forget it.  I am not, repeat not getting rid of my boat for a new one.  There are some things I just refuse to get rid of.

#3 The same old lures still catch fish. 

Every year I try and find that new color that will make the fish just jump right into the boat.  Guess what? I still haven’t found it and the same old patterns still produce.  You think I would have learned by now.  I did make a point of using Pencil plugs this year and guess what?  They caught fish as well.  Imagine that.

#4 Is it just me or is the %^*$ Bass run lasting longer?

This year I caught my first fish that shall not be named mid April and my last one mid July.  That’s 3 months of dealing with those things.  People ask me how long the run lasts and I used to say between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.  Not anymore.  I have no idea when they are going to show up and when they are going to leave.  I moved up the start of my handlining tournament by a week in order to avoid them and it didn’t matter.  I wish the DNR would do set the limit like it is in Canada, no daily limit.  Maybe then the tri-hull navy will thin out the population some.

#5 No Muskie or Steelhead this year.

What’s up with that?  Usually I catch a few of each but not this year.  Instead I catch channel cats, on spoons.  That has me even more perplexed.

 

Well that’s it for 2013, hopefully 2014 will give us a hatch like 2003 and full freezers like 2012.