Lost, 1 shank and 3 lures, 10/24/14. Please return if caught.

27 10 2014

Not to long ago I wrote about having one of those nights that we all dream about.  Conditions were perfect and everything went according to plan.  Well Friday Oct. 24th was not one of those nights.  Conditions were ideal but no fish and I lost an entire rig along with about 150 feet of wire.  My friend Richard and I made plans to fish out of his boat that night since mine is still in need of repair.  We started around 6:30 pm and for the next 3 hours the only thing we caught was a 12 inch Smallmouth bass that I managed to snag in the top of his head.  Around 9:30 I got hung up.  Once Richard got his line sin we started to motor up to the snag but the wire slipped from my hand, got wrapped up in the reel and it snapped.    150 feet of wire, a 1 1/4 pound weight, shank, leaders and 3 Rapala’s lost with one of them being my last #9 Bleeding Olive Flash pattern.  I felt like Charlie Brown as Lucy pulls the football away for the upteenth time.

What are you going to do?

The water is still clear and there were hardly any floating weeds.  Surface temps were around 53 degrees.  It shouldn’t be much longer and the bigger fish should be moving in.  We fished from the Blue Boat house up to the Edison Discharge.  Good luck to anyone that can make it out.  I have a feeling we are going to get a cold snap and the fall fishing will be over before it ever gets started.

 

 

 

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October Bug Hunt with the HRWC

20 10 2014

Ever wonder what it looks like when crayfish get freaky?

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This is what I saw last Saturday while I was helping out the HRWC with their Fall River Round Up.  I was a collector that day on Letz creek in downtown Chelsea Michigan.  It was a rainy miserable day but I stuck it out and went about my duties.  The creek itself is pretty shallow and narrow.  I could pretty much see anything and everything that was going on.  While I was running my sampling net along the rocks and logs hoping to scoop up a few Aquatic Benthic Macroinvertebrates I stumbled across two crayfish getting busy much like the two in this picture.  At first I thought the bigger one had the smaller one pinned down and was eating eat.  I then realized what was going on so being the wonderful individual I am I scooped them up with the net and tossed them into the sampling tray so that the young pickers could marvel at them.  I’m sure the crayfish didn’t appreciate it but If I have to be out of my natural element for the greater good so should they.  Eventually they were released but I don’t know if they managed to hook up again.  Probably not.  I’m sure that was more than the female bargained for.

We did end up catching quite a few mayfly nymphs at our two sampling sites.  That tells me the river is rather clean but this feeder of Mill Creek is to shallow and warm to support any fish that I would want to catch.  At least it is producing the insects that the stocked brown trout and smallmouth like to eat not to far away.

This marked the last of my volunteer work with the Huron River Water Shed Council for this year.  I helped out at both the Spring and Fall River Round Up’s and assisted with water quality monitoring along Ecorse Creek.  Bug ID day is this coming weekend but I already have other plans.  All the results will be posted sometime next month and once I receive it I will pass it on.





10/16/14 Walleye Report – Dad’s Turn

17 10 2014

Late last year my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer.  At first the oncologists had it under control but around the beginning of February he developed a couple of blood clots and things started going south from there.  The chemo and radiation treatments were taking a toll on him.  His legs started to swell up, he was losing weight and the treatments were zapping his strength.  May was a particularly bad month and I was beginning to wonder if my last fishing trip with him was going to be a waste of a salmon trip out of Harrisville last September.   He was staying with me for the whole month so he could go to the Ann Arbor VA for his daily treatments and I felt guilty going fishing.  It just didn’t seem right me being out there when he was back at my house and so miserable.  I had people asking me to tag along on my boat and I really didn’t want to take anyone.  That extra spot in my boat is reserved for my Dad and I didn’t want anyone else catching fish from it.  Fortunately, thanks to the oncologists at the VA in Ann Arbor, a little luck and a lot of prayers he turned around and started getting better.  The cancer is still there but it is in regression.  This summer was spent getting his weight and strength back and now he and I can go walleye fishing once again.  Of course now that he has the strength to go fishing I don’t have a boat.  This is where my friend Richard saved the day.  He offered to take my Dad and I out the next time he was down.  Well luck was on our side and the rain passed so even though Richard’s face was half numb from an afternoon dentist appointment he picked us up and we were on our way.

We started a little late, around 7:30 pm, and headed to the same spot I caught all my fish last Friday.  Since Richard’s new boat is a side console he offered to just drive while my Dad and I sat in the back and fished.  I got my Dad set up and went about getting my lures in the water.  While I was doing that my Dad pulled in his first walleye for 2014.  Mission accomplished.  All I wanted for him was to get out and at least catch one fish.  I was hoping that this early success would mean more fish but it turns out we would only get 1 more for the night.  That’s ok though.  This trip was about getting him out on the water more than anything else.  It was a beautiful night out, very few clouds, no wind, no bugs, not many weeds just not many fish.  At least we got to go and it looks like we will be going again.

As I said before it was a perfect night out.  Weeds were minimal and the water is still clear.  Surface temps were back up to between 57 and 58 degrees.  It needs to get down to the 50″s to get some of the bigger fish on the move.  My Dad caught his fish on a #9 Bleeding Olive Rapala and I caught mine on a #11 Bleeding Chartreuse Rapala.  Both of them were in the 18 inch range.  I didn’t feel like cleaning 2 fish so when Richard dropped us off I told him to keep the fish.  He was nice enough to drive us around for a few hours and I thought it was the least I can do.

Now with some more prayers maybe my Dad and I can return to tearing up the walleye population next Spring.

 

 





A Year in a Life – October

14 10 2014

October is my favorite time of year and probably one of my favorite times to be on the river fishing. Every spring I count the days until I can get the boat in the water but come July I’m already thinking ahead to October. This month has consistently produced more big fish for me than any other. I know the Spring Run produces a lot of big females but for me the Fall fishing has been my best time of year. I have lost some wall hangers and also landed my personal best on a Halloween afternoon a few years back. We have all heard it before about how the fish go on a feeding binge to prep for the upcoming winter and it shouldn’t be ignored. Fishing can be tough because of the weather but the rewards can be awesome.

 
There are two areas on the Detroit River where the fish start to pile up in preparation for winter and the Spring spawning run. At the north end up near Peche Island and the South end from the Grosse Isle Free bridge to south of Celeron Island. They do catch a few fish mid river but the catches are more consistent at the north and south ends. The schools also pile up in Lake Erie from Brest Bay down to Huron Ohio but I don’t have the boat for that so I stick to the river. They also catch a lot of walleye north of the Blue Water bridge up at Port Huron but I’m not making that run either. For me though it is all about the Trenton Channel. I know big surprise.

 
During the Fall the walleye in the channel are feeding on 4 different types of baitfish. Emerald Shiners, Gobies, young of the year Smallmouth Bass and eventually Gizzard Shad. The Gizzard Shad follow the warm water from the Edison Plant discharge and the walleye are right behind them. You can always tell when they are in because you will see them jumping and there will be a big increase in Egret’s, Heron’s and Eagles in the trees along the shore. This means big baits, size #11 and #13 Rapala’s and Thundersticks. My usual set up this time of year is all Rapala’s with a 13 on my 40, an 11 on my 20 and a 9 on my kicker. Of course this can change after I have been out there for a bit but 90% of the time I start out like that. It all depends on what the fish want. It can be baffling though. I have caught barely legal fish on a #13 Rapala and a 6 or 7 pounder on a #7 Rapala. Lord for bid they stick to my plan of attack.

 
Another good thing about this time of year is that the fish hit hard. None of this lightly sucking in the bait or just nipping at the tail crap. They hit these lures like a freight train. Out in the Lake the small inline planer boards turn into bobbers that disappear under the surface. For the handliner it’s not uncommon to find the whole lure inside the fish or every hook stuck in him somewhere. Of course because the fish are so big and feisty I tend to lose a lot of fish. All the head shaking produces a lot of tearing and eventually lures being thrown back at me just as I get them within a few yards of the boat. This is a time when I really prefer to fish by myself so that I can turn the boat into the fish and try to finesse them in a little more. I also keep a net handy, especially if I can see those tell tale holes in the jaw from where the hook has been pulling.

 
Couple of other things to take into consideration for the Fall fishing. Weather plays a big role in success. Once the water temps get around that 50 degree range it’s game on. If things get to cold to quick it can shut down in a hurry. Also, October storms can tear up the water in an instant. A few years back Super Storm Sandy trashed the river for weeks and the fish shut right down. I have also noticed that since the fish are more active they are willing to chase bait and sometimes are up cruising around off the bottom. I catch more fish while bringing my lines up or setting them down this time of year over any other. If I notice this I will shorten up my 20 foot lead and my kicker. I won’t touch the 40 just in case there are still a few lazy ones down there. It also helps to keep one line away from the boat in case they are a little skittish in the shallow clear water. I have also noticed that these fish will feed at the most ridiculous times. Like I said earlier my personal best came on a Halloween afternoon at 2:00 pm. I have had some of my best days on clear blue bird days at 10:00 am. I rarely get that in the summer but it happens on a regular basis in the Fall. Bottom line is when the dinner bell rings it’s best to be out there. Weeds too can be a problem, it’s not the big mats like in the summer but just all the single strands that are dying and breaking off downstream. These tend to be below the surface so a good west wind isn’t going to help keep them in Canada. In other words clear the lines on a regular basis.

 
That’s it for my thoughts on the fall fishery. If all goes well this can carry on into November and December. It all depends on what kind of a mood Mother Nature is in. In 2007 I was catching limits well into December but last year everything came to a screeching halt in November. Each year is different, just remember to dress warm and have fun.

10-26-12 TC 2 10-26-12 TC 1 10-20-12 TC 1 TC 11-10-12 11-10-13 TC





10/10/14 Walleye Report

11 10 2014

Well after a 2 month hiatus I finally hit the river again.  Since my boat is still down for the count I gave my friend Richard a call and convinced him to take me out.  We hit the water around 6;30 pm and headed down south of The Cat.  The water is still very clear with a surface temp of 56 degrees.  Once it gets down to 50 it usually means game on and that shouldn’t be to far away.  There were some weeds which is understandable, with the temps falling the weeds are dying off and floating to Ohio.  Just have to deal with it.

I set up with a #11 Clown and a #9 Bleeding Olive Flash.  It didn’t take long and while Richard was still getting set up I snuck in a walleye and flipped at his feet.  We were off and running, 10 minutes later I was bringing in another one that came on the #9 BOF.  We started to work our way over to the stacks where Richard had picked up 5 last night.  There were a few boats long lining in The Slot so we had to maneuver around them at first.  Once we got into the discharge lane Richard picked up his first fish of the night on a Clown Nite Stalker.  That would be the only fish we would catch in that area for the next hour and a half.  I suggested we head back to where we started and once we did I was quickly bringing in another fish.  As I was bringing him in Richard hooked one and lost it behind the boat.  We slowly worked our way upstream and after about 10 minutes I put number 5 in the cooler.  After that one we pulled lines and spun back around and headed back to our initial starting point.  I caught number 6  which also turned out to be our last fish of the night.  We played around for a few more hours but we couldn’t get anything to hit.  Between 10:30 and 11:00 pm both of us got hung up pretty bad and after we got free we packed it in and headed home.  It had been a long day for me and I was tired.  We had 6 in the cooler and that wasn’t to bad, especially since I have been hearing a lot of people haven’t been catching anything.

So a quick re-cap.  We caught our first fish just after 6:30 and our last one around 9.  Three of the fish came on a #9 BOF on my 20 foot lead.  The other 2 came on a #11 Clown and a #11 Black/Gold Rapala, both on my 40 foot lead.  As I said before Richard got his on a Clown Nite Stalker.  He caught 4 the previous night on that same lure.  All the fish were 18 inch eaters, perfect size and in good shape.  The 3 I kept and cleaned all had baitfish in them the size of a #9 Rapala.  Hint, Hint!!!!

That’s it for now.  Richard and I are supposed to go out again next Thursday and take my Dad out for his first Handlining trip of the year.  My boat will not be ready until next spring so if anyone is looking for a passenger just let me know.  Hint, Hint!!!!

 





From a Super Secret Undisclosed Location, I bring you Duck Season.

5 10 2014

Super Secret my butt.  Anyone who has followed this blog knows where I’m at, my favorite wood duck hole.  I had high hopes for this opener. Barry and I saw a lot of woodies the previous weekend so we were expecting a great opener.  Even the weather looked like it was going to cooperate.  West winds, overcast, drizzle, just ducky weather.  But just like the best laid plans of mice and men it didn’t quite work out the way we wanted.

We awoke the next day to dead calm and clear skies.  No clouds, no wind, no rain…..what the hell happened?  I just hope the ducks didn’t ride the front out.  We arrived at our spot around 6:30 am and dropped the kayak in the water.  Since neither of us have a dog anymore I get to play retriever and decoy spreader.  Barry walked to our spot while I paddled around the blow downs and sunken stumps.  I threw out about half a dozen wood duck decoys and then we hid the kayak in the woods.  Woodies are not known for their decoying and the ones that frequent this area are no different.  They come in from all directions with no regard for wind direction and either plop down immediately or just fly by.  We have to be on our toes because they can be in and out in a second.  Barry and I scanned the skies for ducks but 20 minutes later and a fair amount of shooting from the lake produced nothing.  In years past we have had ducks fly in and land right in front of us before shooting hours started.  This year we had nothing.  It was 7:30 am before our first duck arrived and he flew in and out before we could even raise the guns.  Shortly after that 3 flew in and we fired.  Barry missed his but I knocked down a male woodie.  A few minutes later Barry spotted 4 more coming in and we each managed to knock one down.  That was it for the next hour.  Around 10:00 am we had a single woodie come in from the east and Barry and I both hit him and he landed on the other side of the pond in the woods.  I pulled out the kayak and went after him.  I found him about 30 yards in lying next to a log.  That proved to be our last bird of the morning.  We packed up and I paddled out while Barry walked back to the truck.

After we had a snack and something to drink we headed over to the sand pit so I could sight in my .22 with the new scope.  While we did that Dean showed up with a couple of squirrels he shot earlier.  Sighting in didn’t take very long so we drove around scouting for likely deer hunting spots.  By now the wind was starting to pick up and the overcast skies finally arrived.  We weren’t finding a lot of deer sign so we headed back to the lake house to get some lunch.  Dean decided to go home so Barry and I decided to fish and discuss strategy for tonight.  We weren’t seeing any ducks flying around the lake so we decided to go back to the wood duck hole.  They normally don’t roost in that area but we hoped we might get a few to fly through and give us a shot.  By now it was approaching 4:00 pm and getting close to time for us to leave.  We cleaned our catch of 13 crappie, 4 ducks and the 2 squirrels.  Once that was done we headed back to the hole.  We got comfortable and waited and waited and waited.  Just when we thought tonight was going to be a bust I spotted 3 coming in from the west.  I yelled out to Barry but he couldn’t get to his gun in time.  I picked the lead bird and fired once and knocked her down, another woodie.  This one would turn out to be our 5th and final bird for the day.  Just before shooting hours ended we did see 3 more and they did circle us a couple of times but never came into range.  As I was picking up the decoys the rain arrived.

Never fails. It was still a good day. 10-4 Crappie 10-4 Woodies





September Fur, Fish and Feather Extravaganza

3 10 2014

Every September my friends and I get together for a long weekend of Hunting and Fishing.  We have been doing this for almost 30 years now.  The game has changed over the years but the outcome is always the same.  A guy’s weekend where if the season is open we are going after it.  This time of year it’s all small game.  First on the list is squirrel followed by Grouse and Woodcock.  We don’t do as much bird hunting anymore since none of us have a dog.  We still get a few birds here and there but without a lab or setter it just ins’t the same.

Saturday morning started out very foggy so while we waited for the fog to burn off some we got in a little crappie fishing.  Barry has been creating fish structures off his Mom’s dock and it is starting to pay off.  In less than an hour we managed to get 10 crappie for a fish fry later.  The fish turned off rather quickly but no matter, the fog was lifting so it was time to shoot a few squirrels.  We grabbed the .22’s and headed to a stand of oaks not to far down the road.  Barry headed south and I headed east.  Dean was doing something else so I don’t know where he ended up.  I was glad to see that the long winter didn’t affect the acron crop.  If anything it helped, they were everywhere.  I can’t remember the last time the crop was this good.  An abundance of acorns usually means an abundance of squirrels.  I saw a fair share of them that morning and was able to connect on two.  If I carried my shotgun I’m sure I would have filled my 5 squirrel limit but I like using my Marlin Model 60.  It is a lttle more challenging to hit a squirrel with a .22 but at least I don’t have to pick shot out of the meat.  The drawback though is that since I have started using bi-focals trying to spot squirrels in the tree tops and then focusing through the scope is a little more difficult.  I told myself that I would get  a new scope this summer but I never got around to it.  I paid the price for my procrastination later that day when I missed 3 easy shots.  We could have stayed out a little longer but there was a group training search and rescue dogs using the area so we decided to stay out of their way.  We had other things to keep us occupied, like fishing.

Later that evening we took the pontoon boat out and did a little fishing.  We were hoping to add to the crappie in the fish basket but no such luck.  I did catch a 17 inch largemouth bass but I don’t eat those so back he went.  After dark we set up to do a little catfishing and I caught my personal best 31 inch Channel Cat.  Turns out is qualifies for a Master Angler award.  Not my proudest moment but I’ll take it.  I don’t eat these either so after a few pics he went back in the water.  That was it for day 1

Day 2 started out the same as day 1, foggy.  We tried fishing again but no luck.  It was like they just shut down.  Later that day we talked to a few other anglers and they reported the same thing.  Barry and I gave up after about 30 minutes and went squirrel hunting again.  We managed 3 this morning and we checked out our opening day wood duck spot.  With all the acorns we figured their would be a lot of wood ducks in our usual area.  We had to change things up some since we no longer have a dog for retrieval duties.  Had to make sure I could get the kayak back in our spot.  It’s looking good since we jumped about 30 or 40 woodies from the area.  Hope they stick around until the opener on Oct. 4th.

Around noon I packed up and headed to Oscoda to spend some time with my parents.  I got there just in time for a dinner of the perch my Dad and I caught earlier this summer.  Once that was done I drove over to one of my grouse and woodcock thickets to see if I could find a few birds.  As usual the cover was thick and the warm, humid day made for rough walking.  It seems like I was stopping every other minute to wipe the sweat off my face and glasses.  I managed to put up 3 woodcock and 1 grouse.  I never got a shot at the grouse but I did connect on one of the woodcock.  Problem was I connected to well.  It was what I like to call a dead on impact hit.  I couldn’t have hit this bird any more square with my shot pattern.  Some people would say that I should have let him get out a little farther but in prime woodcock cover you don’t always get that chance.  10 more feet and the bird can disappear.  After that I found my trail out and walked back to the car.  On the way though I decided to walk across the nearby creek to see how well a clear cut grew back in.  The US forestry service Cut this area back in the 90’s and it never really took off like I hoped it would.  Lots of dry summers kept the aspen from growing like it should.  Well it finally came in and it looks pretty good.  I took a quick walk through and managed to put up another woodcock.  This are should be full of them come migration time.  Fingers crossed.

The next morning I was back chasing squirrels again.  This time I was in a new area I discovered during one of my kayak/bass trips down the AuSable.  It is part of an ORV/Snowmobile trail system so that meant lots of easy walking through the oaks.  Not as many acorns as in Sanford but still plenty to go around.  I saw many squirrels but due to my own laziness I scared more than I shot at.  Most of them were on the ground and I would walk right up on them and by then it was to late.  Again if I had my shotgun it would have been a different story.  I did managed to tag a few and I spent a lot of time walking around the area to get a good idea of how much huntable land there was.  I’ll be back here throughout the season.

After lunch My dad and I took the .22 pistols down the hill to go plinking.  I managed to pick up a few bricks of ammo so now we can actually shoot his Colt Woodsman and my Beretta Model 71.  Once we were done with that we took a walk through the nearby oak trees to see if there were any squirrels about.  I managed to shoot a grey right away and missed a black in the same tree.  After that it was like they all disappeared.  I soon found out why.  The wind had shifted and we had a storm coming in.  The wind started gusting to over 20 mph and it sounded like hail with all the acorns coming down.  We got out of the woods and under cover just as the rain started to come down, which it did on and off for the rest of the night.  So much for salmon fishing this evening.

The next morning I woke up to drizzle, a north wind and temps that were 30 degrees below yesterday’s temp.  I decided to pack my stuff and head for home.  I did swing back towards my new squirrel spot and walked around for about an hour.  I manged to get one more black squirrel before calling it a day.  I took some of the back roads home and stopped at a few gun shops along the way.  I did find a new 3×9 32 mm scope for the .22 so hopefully my miss rate will drop drastically.  Providing I get it sighted in soon.  If not I can always do it after the opening morning duck hunt.

So for my long weekend I ended up with a bunch of squirrels, a few crappie, 1 master anlger Channel Cat and 1 decimated woodcock.  Not bad considering how hot it still is.  Not too much fun trying to hunt while swatting mosquitoes and wiping sweat off my glasses at the same time.  Hopefully the duck opener is a little cooler.

photo 6

Squirrels are getting freaky with skunks.

Squirrels are getting freaky with skunks.

Master Angler Cat

Master Angler Cat

photo 4

Zoom in and try to count all the feathers.

Zoom in and try to count all the feathers.

photo 7