Silver Evasion Tactic Plan “C” – 5/23/14

25 05 2014

Well the first two plans didn’t work out as well as I hoped so now it was time for Plan “C”.  Hopefully third time’s a charm.  It wasn’t.

Arrived at the Marine City dock with a friend of mine right around 8:00 pm.  There were quite a few trailers in the lot and several people launching so I was optimistic.  That optimism started to wane once I saw how clear the water was.  I had a feeling that the fish would not be holding at the mouth of The Belle River like they had been the last few days.  I was right.  We fished the area until 11:00 pm without a single hit.  To add insult to injury the only thing we caught was a whipper.  He must have had his lines 300 feet off the back of his boat.   Once we got all our lines in we cut our stuff away from his and handed it all to him.  We even gave him our two lures that were tangled up in the mess.  It was my fault and he was pretty cool about the incident so I figured we should give them to him.  No big deal and now I know better.

After that we just packed up and headed in.  We had a bit of a drive home and I was tired.  Glad we left when we did, as we drove home I blew a tire on the trailer on I-94 near the I-75 exit, not exactly the best part of town.  About 20 minutes later the tire was changed and we were on our way.  After a night like this I have to look on the bright side.  We both made it home, no injuries and my plan sort of worked.  We didn’t catch any Silver Bass.

On a side note though.  I woke up the next day and my right elbow was sore and swollen.  I’m sure bouncing that 2 pound weight around for 3 hours caused it.  I hope and pray I am not developing Tennis Elbow from handlining.  That would SUCK!!!!!

What's left of my tire.

What’s left of my tire.

 

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Gill time

18 05 2014

Well since my first strategy for Silver avoidance went so well I decided to give Plan “B” a shot.  It was still a little early yet for bugs, especially with the latest cold snap but I really didn’t feel like pulling wire again tonight.  After I finished up the last of the mulch spreading in my garden I grabbed the fly rod and my newly stocked fly boxes and headed to Washago Pond.  This pond is located in the Willow Metro Park just of off I-275 and it’s not to far from my house.  BONUS!!!!

I have never fished here before so I really didn’t know where to start.  With the wind starting to pick up I started in an area a little out of the wind.  I tied on one of the many foam bluegill flies I tied up and let it fly.  20 minutes later I was still letting it fly with nothing to show for it.  Time for something new, I know, I’ll use one of the many flies I tied up for trout.  Sure enough, that did the trick.  All those foam flies and I catch them on a #16 Elk Hair Emerger pattern.  I give up.

Not a whole lot of size to them but I wasn’t expecting any bruisers either.  I have a few other areas to go check out and they haven’t even started hitting the beds yet.  For now the Fly rod will get stored in the car along with the fly boxes.  Nothing stopping me from make a quick trip on my way home from work some evening.

First Gill on a fly in a coon's age.

First Gill on a fly in a coon’s age.





5/17/14 Pencil Plug Walleye

17 05 2014

Well so much for my theories, then again I did say they weren’t foolproof.

Went out on the evening of Friday the 17th to see if I could put some more walleye in the freezer.  With the silver horde in town I waited until after dark and ran only pp’s.  I was hoping that this combination would keep the Silver’s at bay but it failed miserably.  for 2 1/2 hours it was constantly clearing my lines of Silver Bass.  After the first 20 minutes I was getting so frustrated that I pulled my kicker line and switched over to darker color plugs because it was obvious the chromes were too enticing for the species I didn’t want.  By 11:30 pm it was starting to rain so that was my cue to quit.  I did end up with 2 walleye but it wasn’t worth the aggravation.

Now for the vital stats.  Water had about 2 to 3 feet of visibility and a surface temp of 54 degrees.  Cloudy skies and the near full moon only appeared for about 20 minutes.  I was hoping it would help get the walleye active but it never got a chance to clear the island.  Light west winds and rather cold out for mid May.  I guess I shouldn’t complain.  At least it wasn’t snowing like it was up north.

 

10-17-14 TC





A Year in a Life – May

14 05 2014

May is a very fickle month for a die hard river rat. By now the water temps are up in the 45 to 50 degree range and the big girls are out of the river. The males are in feeding mode now and that means easy limits. Problem is that it doesn’t seem to last very long anymore. Back in the 80’s it was a given that the walleye fishing would be fantastic until mid month. It still can be now but we have to deal with something else. That’s right; my favorite’s…….the White Bass.

For the last 5 or 6 years it seems like this run has lasted longer than the previous year and produced more and more fish each time it happens. There has always been a healthy population but now it seems like they completely take over the entire river system. Some people can’t wait for them to show up. I’m not one of them. The DNR could take away the possession limit and it wouldn’t bother me one bit. Like death and taxes though they are a constant annoyance and they have to be dealt with. Walleye can be caught though during these trying times, the tactics just have to change.

There are a couple of options I have to avoid the White Bass. Though they are not entirely fool proof they can at times drastically reduce my catch and still put walleye in the boat. The first one is to change presentations. This time of year I will jig more than any other. I use a ¾ ounce jig and a Wyandotte Worm and I will jig the channel edges north of the Grosse Isle free bridge. I will still catch White Bass but I will also catch the occasional walleye. It won’t be a lot of them but I can usually manage to put a couple in the cooler until it gets dark. Once it gets dark I put the rod away and head back downstream. Now some may ask why I don’t just stay where I am. Well the reason is that I hate catching White Bass in deep water Handlining, especially 3, 4 or 5 at a time. It’s bad enough in 10 feet of water but 30 feet down gets old in a hurry. Some nights it’s not a problem, usually dark, cloudy no moon periods. Other times though they will feed all night. I never know what they are going to do so I limit my exposure and hassles as much as possible. Besides, I really enjoy fishing that 10 to 15 feet of water in The Channel. Again, there are walleye all up and down the river, it’s just a question of fishing where someone is most comfortable.

Once it is well past sunset I will set up in my usual areas and run the same leads with one change. The Rapala’s stay in the box and out come the pencil plugs, or more specifically Nite Stalkers. A Nite Stalker is nothing more than a plastic pencil plug. For years pp’s (pencil plugs) were made by hand and out of wood. Nothing wrong with them and there are plenty of them in handliner tackle boxes. I just like the Nite Stalkers (I wonder how many more shameless plugs I can get it in?) because they are plastic, they have great color patterns and most importantly the eye on the front is forward enough that I can use the same crank bait snaps I use for other body baits and spoons. The old wooden pencil plugs have the eye set so far back in the cup of the head that I can’t get the snap on. I don’t like fighting with lures when I should be fishing so I just stick to the Nite Stalkers (4). Besides, they come in a lot of chrome patterns and I like chrome. Also, Nite Stalkers (5) are made right here locally in Michigan and I’m all for supporting the local businesses.

Now on most nights a White Bass won’t bother with a pp, they don’t have a lot of action so they won’t trigger a lot of strikes. There are those nights when it just doesn’t matter, usually during the very peak of the run. There are ways around that as well but I will discuss that later. I will still get a few but no where near the 100 or so I would catch if I was using a Rapala. That’s not an exaggeration either, a handliner could very easily catch 100 or more in an evening during the run when using Rapala’s or spoons. Over the years I have kept track and I average about 2 or 3 white bass for every walleye caught using Nite Stalkers (6) or pp’s. If I was running Rapala’s or Spoons the number would increase 10 fold. Fortunately for me I live so close that if I get one of those nights where they just won’t stop I can always go in and try another day. I feel sorry for those that have to make the long drive. They are pretty much stuck and just have to deal with it.

One more thing about Nite Stalkers (7) and I promise I will quit. They have big sharp hooks and a lot of them. I don’t lose too many walleye when I am using them. They don’t dive as much as a Rapala either so I don’t tend to get hung up as much. Also, Nite Stalkers (8) are almost half the price of a New Rapala.

Now one of my other tactic changes is that I fish a lot later at night. The run coincides with each passing day getting longer so I have to start later. Because of this most of my fishing is reserved for Friday and Saturday night since I don’t have to work the next day. Since I don’t have to worry about getting up the next morning that opens up another opportunity, fishing farther north……the St. Clair River.

The St. Clair River poses some new challenges, they aren’t too difficult but they have to be taken into consideration. The first is the drive. Depending on where I go it can be 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours. That may not seem like much but when it’s past midnight and I am driving home the extra time starts to be a grind. Another thing to consider is that the St. Clair is deeper and the current is faster than the Trenton Channel. Water depths average over 30 feet and with the current I have to use a 2 pound weight. Just think about bouncing that weight along the bottom for a few hours. It can make for a long night, especially if I’m not catching anything. There is a trade off though, the White Bass are non-existent. Now that I have typed this I’m sure they will show up but I have yet to catch one up there. I can use Nite Stalker’s (9, sorry) here as well but with no threat of White Bass I usually run my Rapala’s. Another good point about fishing up this way is that the size limit is only 13 inches and the daily possession limit is 6. Kind of makes that extra drive a little more worthwhile. Now that the DNR have changed the possession limit to 3 days I am planning a weekend trip up to Algonac. Stay at the Algonac State Park, fish Friday and Saturday night, sleep in, and have a fish fry Saturday before I head out.

The last tactic to avoid catching them is to just not even fish for them to begin with. Between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day I tend to break out the fly rod. Bluegill and Trout are always a lot of fun on a 4 or 5 weight rod. With the brutal winter we had I spent a lot of time filling up the fly box both with traditional trout flies and foam patterns. I should be all set. I’ll probably go visit a local pond this Memorial Day weekend. I could go for a fresh bluegill dinner.

So there it is my White Bass avoidance tactics or my Year in a Life strategy for May. Of course this same strategy will carry over into June and maybe even July if they don’t leave.





Walleye Relocation Excercise 5/9/14

11 05 2014

After the storms blew through I thought it would be considerate of me to relocate 5 walleye from their current location to my freezer. I figure that with the annual fish that shall not be named (hence forth known as them, they or any other disparaging remark I can think of) invasion starting up that there might be some walleye that want to get out while the gettin’s good.

Now let me start out by saying that I had no business being out on the river Friday night. I thought I could get a few hours in before the storms and I was wrong. I arrived at the ramp around 8:30 pm and the thunderstorms were just rolling in. I decided to wait it out and I spent time talking to another fisherman waiting out the rain. The rain didn’t last long but the south wind never quit. Around 10 we both headed out and that was a big mistake. Knowing the wind was coming out of the south and with it being so dark I had no idea just how rough it was and it was rough. I was getting bounced around a lot and I should have just turned around and went back in. My motives were sound, or so I thought. I figured with the unmentionables moving in and having to go out of town to help my parents I figured this was my only chance for a while. Let me just say that no walleye is worth my own safety, especially when fishing alone. Even though I stuck to the west side of the river to try and keep out of the SW wind it was poor judgment on my part to continue. If I had a line get wrapped in the prop and lose power I would have drifted right into the rough water and then I would have been in big trouble. Like I said, poor judgment. Lesson learned, I made it home ok but from now on I will use better judgment.

Ok, no more preaching. By just sticking to the west side of the river and staying out of the wind I was able to pick up 5 walleye. Because those other things are in I ran chrome pencil plugs to help keep those unintentional catches to a minimum.  It worked, only caught about 10 of them and managed to catch my limit of walleye. There are a lot of nice fish still in the river, we just have to contend with the silver invasion.

Be safe out there, we have a long season. No sense getting crazy.

5-9-14 TC





5/6/14 Walleye

7 05 2014

Hey Walleye…..Did you miss me?

 

After being out of town all last week I wanted to get out and see if I could get back into walleye mode. Since I have a tournament coming up this Friday I needed some answers to a couple of questions. The first one was water clarity and the other was whether or not those other things had showed up yet. Last week I read a report about how a group of guys caught over 150 of them. I was hoping it was another false report and a bold faced lie.

Since I didn’t know what the water would be like after a week of windy days and some rain I hit the water shortly after 7:00pm. Apparently the wind and rain had no affect on the water, it was still to clear for daytime wire pulling.

Question 1 answered.

While I was heading downstream I saw my friend Richard so I pulled up along side of him to see how he was doing. He had just landed a nice 24 inch walleye and he also told me caught one of those other things. I wasn’t too happy to hear that but maybe it was just a fluke catch like the ones I caught a few weeks back. We chatted for a few more minutes and then I headed further downstream to get set up. I started off with the #11 Bleeding Chartreuse Rapala that has been producing so well for me lately, a #9 Clown and a custom painted #7 Downriver Steel. Now all I needed was for the sun to set and this NE wind to die down. Forecast said it would but it never did, if anything it picked up after dark with gusts strong enough to spin the boat around whenever I wasn’t paying attention. At one point the wind was so constant that between it and the current I was at a stand still in the water. Boat control was a chore all night along. I was constantly increasing and decreasing my speed and fighting to keep the bow pointed upstream and not sideways. Fishing was slow at first with only a smallmouth and a headshake for my efforts. Just after 9:00 pm I had my first walleye of the night and I would pick up 3 more before 10:00pm. The wind was really starting to get on my nerves and after I had landed my third fish I told my self I was calling it quits with 4. Which I did. Before I packed it in I called Richard to see how he was doing, he had 3 in the boat and one of them was a nice 28 inch fish. He also told me he caught another one of those things. As for me I didn’t catch a single one.

Question 2 answered.

All in all it wasn’t a bad night, could have done without the NE wind but I have dealt with worse. Surface temp was 49.5 degrees when I started and by the time I had left it had dropped almost a degree. One of these days I will tie a thermometer on to my weight so I can get an idea of what the temp is at the bottom. My 4 fish were all eaters in the 17 to 20 inch range. Great for the freezer but lousy for a tournament. Hope I can find some bigger fish Friday night.

 

5-6-14 Walleye