Ribbet, Squeak.

31 05 2015

This weekend I had 3 goals to accomplish.   The first one was to smoke a pork shoulder.  I have never done this before so I was going to babysit my smoker while the pork shoulder was cooking.  Fortunately I have a remote thermometer so I wouldn’t have to literally watch the smoker 24/7.  This would allow me enough free time to tie up a bunch of Zudweg Zudbubblers and a foam version of a Moorish Mouse.

First up on the tying agenda would be the Zudbubblers.  I attended a Bar Fly night sponsored by Schultz’s Outfitters back in February. The guest tier for the evening was Matt Zudweg and he showed us how to tie his Zudbubbler.  This is a very simple pattern and the color schemes are endless.  As a matter of fact, Matt states that to get creative with the color scheme’s.  I plan on using these for top water bass both on The Huron and up at Sanford Lake.  I had ordered a bunch of the foam heads from Matt a few months ago now all I needed to do was tie them up.  I think they will work.


A Butt Load of Bubblers.

A Butt Load of Bubblers.

Next up were the mice.  Years ago I used to tie up deer hair mice for a fly fisherman to use up on the AuSable for big browns.  Foam flies were pretty much nonexistent back then but now the different patterns seem to be endless. Earlier this year I came across a video by the guys at Hook Shots on Facebook. The author showed a quick and easy recipe made with foam and rabbit strips that resembled a Moorish Mouse.  I was all for it since it met my requirements and a bonus feature.  It was cheap, easy, looked cool and it didn’t involve trimming deer hair, something I try to avoid whenever I can.  I tied a bunch up in different colors figuring I could use them for bass as well.  They should really shine though on a river where they can imitate a mouse that has fallen in and is trying to swim across, against the current.  I should be able to swing these as well.  We shall see.

Mickey, Minnie, Mighty, Speedy, Jerry and that French one that was always outsmarting Klondyke Kat.

Mickey, Minnie, Mighty, Speedy, Jerry and that French one that was always outsmarting Klondyke Kat.


I’m Back

25 05 2015

In the not so immortal words of General Douglas MacArthur…”I have Returned”.

It has been over 8 months since I was last on the river, in my boat.  The cracks have been welded and the transom has been rebuilt.  The engine is back in place and my Schaller Reel is right where it belongs.  Now it’s time to catch some walleye.  Only problem is that the annual White Bass run is in full swing.

Oh Joy!

Well if I can’t avoid them I figured I might as well have some fun with them.  That’s just what I did.  After I got out of work last Friday I grabbed my 5wt fly rod and headed for the river shortly after 8:00 pm.  Water was very clear and their was a slight north east breeze.  The clouds were scarce and there was just a hint of a waxing crescent moon in the western sky.  It looked like it was going to be a good night for pulling wire but that would come after dark.  In the mean time I was going to play for a bit.

I pulled into the Edison discharge area and broke out the rod.  I was surprised to see that there were no remnants of the tri-hull navy anywhere.  As a matter of fact there were only 3 other boats out fishing for Silver Bass.  Seemed kind of strange to me but I didn’t care.  Makes it easier for me to cast with so few boats around.  I found a slack water area out of the current and started casting a White Slumpbuster streamer.  It took a few casts to get a rhythm down but soon I was getting the weighted streamer out into the direction I wanted.  All I needed to do now was to get the bass to cooperate.  Believe it or not they were actually refusing my fly.  I couldn’t believe it, the fish that are known to eat anything were refusing my fly.  This had me perplexed and confused.  I was making short sporadic casts at first and I was only catching the occasional fish.  I also trimmed the fly down by about an inch, I could feel them tugging at the tail end.  After about 45 minutes of catching a fish here and there I started to switch things up a bit.  I quit making the short slow strips and started making long fast strips.  That did the trick.  After that the fish were coming on every cast right up until dark.  Once they started to slow down I figured it was safe to start pulling wire.

I started south of where the catamaran used to be.  I threw on a couple of chrome pencil plugs and headed upstream.  I figured the white bass would leave them alone.  I wanted to use Rapalas but with the Erie Scourge in I wasn’t going to take any chances.  I fished for about 2 hours and all I had to show for my efforts were one throwback and a heavy head shake.  At least I didn’t get skunked and I only caught about 6 Silvers.  The NE wind started to pick up as the night wore on and it got colder with each passing minute.  I wasn’t dressed for the cold so I packed it in around 11:00 pm.  No big deal, the season is just starting for me and in a couple of weeks the unmentionables will be back out in Erie.  Until then I play with the fly rod some more and maybe catch a few crappie up on Sanford Lake.

Felt good to have some wire in my hand again.

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Vise Therapy

22 05 2015

Each person has their own way of dealing with stress. Some people may resort to more extreme measures like rock climbing or swimming with sharks while others may indulge in less extreme methods like drinking herbal tea or yoga. In my case though one season of high school wrestling pretty much ruined my body for yoga. My body just doesn’t bend like that anymore.

My preferred way to unwind from it all is of course fishing. Problem is that I can’t always go as much as I would like. So many things get in the way – like weather, work, family, health, river conditions, social unrest, geo-political factors and of course global warming. Oh, I’m sorry I forgot it is now “climate change” – unless of course you live in Florida where you are not supposed to talk about this at all. When all of these issues get in the way I turn to my tried and true stress reliever. Therapy through Fly Tying.

Normally I spend my winter months tying flies. For years I would spend December through February re-stocking my dry fly boxes. Now a days though, I seem to be tying more year round. A lot of this is because of taking up Steelhead fishing which, it turns out, is a September through May sport. The other reason is that I just need to unwind. 2015 has probably been the most stressful year of my career. The accounting department in the company that I work for has gone through a lot of turnover this year. One person went on maternity leave and the person we hired to fill in for her quit after a month. The other accountant on staff resigned at the same time and didn’t give a 2 week notice. The woman who was on maternity leave came back in May only to resign as well. Add to that the audits, numerous requests for financial information by the owners, investors and banks and just the day to day activity for a growing company has taken its toll on me. By the time I get home I’m so wound up I need to relax and tying feathers onto hooks is just the ticket.

I don’t really create any flies, I just modify existing patterns to the materials I have on hand. As I sit there listening to Pink Floyd while tying feathers, flashabou and fur to the hook my mind wanders too far off Steelhead streams and whether or not any fish will like what I tie. Eventually, I start to unwind and half a dozen flies later I’m feeling much better. Spending time at the vise also has a hidden side effect. While I am tying away, I am not spending my time on the couch like some slug eating junk food while watching TV. Any night I can keep from doing that is a good night. Of course, tying does have a tendency to get in the way of chores but last time I checked no one ever considered doing laundry a stress reliever.

Latest Therapy Session.  Don't know what I will use them for but they sure are pretty.

Latest Therapy Session. Don’t know what I will use them for but they sure are pretty.

Huron River Clean Up Day.

17 05 2015

Spent the morning of Saturday May 16th cleaning up a section of the Huron river below Peninsular Dam with some other volunteers.  We filled close to two dozen bags with garbage.  Afterwards I got a vote of approval from a very unlikely individual.

It made my day.

Galactic Empire Approval



Fly Tyers Anonymous

6 05 2015

Shameless Plug time.

The internet can be both a good thing and a bad thing.  On the bad side it seems like there were more people on the Detroit River walleye fishing than ever before.  I’m sure part of the reason for the increase in crowds was all the pictures and posts on social media sites.  Everyone wanted in on it and it got crazy.

On the good side I have found a bunch of different websites and groups on Facebook that are all about fly tying and fishing.  One of the more helpful ones is Fly Tyers Anonymous which I found on Facebook.  Most of the members are addicted to fly tying (thus the name) and they post a ton of pictures of their different creations.  The creator of the page even has his own website where he sells hand tied flies from his group of tyers.  To make things even better all flies are 20% off for the rest of May.  So for you fly fishermen out there who buy your own instead of tie your own now is the time to act.



Night Time Tarpon

4 05 2015


I knew that someday the Weather Gods would smile down on me and take pity.  Late Wednesday, April 29th, was that time.  It had rained all day long and the wind was in the 20mph range again.  The weather forecasts for the evening weren’t looking any better.  There was a 70% chance of thunderstorms before midnight and the winds weren’t showing any signs of diminishing.  I kept waiting for Gabe to call and say the trip was cancelled but it never came.  The last of the storms blew through around 5:00 pm and the winds died down.  I got a text shortly after from Gabe saying we were still on and to meet him at the marina around 9:45 pm.


We weren’t launching from the same place we started Tuesday.  Gabe pulled up and told me to follow him about 4 or 5 miles north on US 1 to a different launch area.  By 10:00 pm we were in the water and heading to his “Secret Spot”……another bridge.  He gave me a quick run down of the situation and then handed me a 10 wt. rod for which I was to use to do battle with my quarry.  Gabe told me that with the all day rain he was hoping that the shrimp would get flushed out of the mangroves and that the Tarpon would be feeding on them.  Prime time would be in that first hour of high tide and we were in position to take advantage of it.  He told me to cast in between the arches of the bridge and listen for the sounds of a bowling ball hitting the water.  As if on cue, when he said that we heard the tell tale splash of a tarpon feeding.  I was making short 30 foot casts under the bridge arches.  I let the line glide between the handle and my right trigger finger as I made slow short strips with my left hand.  When a fish hit I was supposed to give a hard pull on the line with my left hand to set the hook.  Once that happens I was supposed to let go of the line with my left hand and let it slide between my right trigger finger and the handle until all the slack was taken up and I was tight with the reel.  Only then could I pull back on the rod and let it bend.

Easier said than done.

After hooking and landing thousands of fish handlining, ranging from Y.O.Y. Smallmouth to 4 foot long Muskie’s, letting go of the line isn’t part of my DNA.  It just doesn’t happen.  A very wise Jedi Master once told his young Padawan that “You must unlearn what you have learned”.  It took a little doing (3 busted leaders to be exact) but I finally got it figured out.  Gabe just laughed with each busted leader and lost fly but he said they were busting the water tonight and it was only going to be a matter of time before I got one to the boat.  Things started to change on the 4th fish I “stuck”.  I didn’t bust the leader but she jumped about 3 feet in the air and when she landed she took off for the boat.  I never got a chance to reel in the slack line and she was gone.  Gabe checked the leader once again and re tied the fly.  He would do this after every strike.  Gabe explained the a Tarpon’s head is like a cinder block that is lined with sandpaper.  It is hard to drive that hook home and the 40 pound test mono leader I was using was taking a beating.  Once I was set up again, I went back to casting and it wasn’t long before I stuck another.  This time I did everything right and the fight was on.  This was a bigger fish than the previous ones and instead of staying near the boat he took off between the arches of the old bridge.  We gave chase and I was now fighting the fish in between the old and new bridge.  All I had to do was keep him away from the pilings and out in clear water.  He had other ideas.  Of course, he swam right between two pilings, fortunately for me they were wide enough and we were able to maneuver the boat between them.  Once we did, he took off for open water and we were in the clear.  With some coaching from Gabe I was able to get him to the side of the boat where we could get a light on him and see how big he was.  Gabe estimated him to be in the 70 pound range.  I wasn’t going to argue, he was a beast to me.  We turned our headlamps on and Gabe grabbed hold of the leader to try and remove the hook.  One he got hold of his lower jaw the fish came back to life and he broke free.


I was hooked now.  After a few high fives and fist bumps, Gabe showed me the leader and just how trashed it was.  I could now see first hand just how easy it is for one of these fish to bust the leader.  It was a frayed mess.  Gabe tied on a new section of leader and another little white rabbit strip streamer and I got ready for more.  We headed back “up front” (Atlantic Side) since we landed this fish “out back” (Gulf Side).  A few casts later and I was hooked into another fish.  This turned out to be a Mangrove Snapper, the Bluegill of the Ocean.  We dropped him in the live well and I went back to my routine.  I “stuck” a few more, some jumped and threw the hook, others I just never really got the hook set deep enough.  Eventually I did hook into another smaller Tarpon and after a few brief jumps and short runs we were able to get her to the boat for a quick pic and a release.  This one stayed up front so it wasn’t long before I hooked into another fish.  This one turned out to be a Snook and unfortunately the leader busted before I ever got him to the boat.  It was after midnight now and we were nearing the end of the bridge.  Gabe told me that we had time for a few more casts.  Just like my first steelhead on a fly, on my last cast, at the last arch I hooked into another Tarpon.  This one took off through the arch and we had to give chase.  He was smaller and easier to control so I was able to keep him in between the bridges.  A few more jumps and he was tired enough to bring him to the boat for another pic and release.

That was my night, 3 Tarpon landed, a Mangrove Snapper, 1 lost Snook and I stuck well over a dozen Tarpon.  I have a cut on my trigger finger where the fly line kept rubbing.  My right arm and wrist are very sore and I would do this again in a heart beat.  I love handlining walleye but I would give that up in a second for the opportunity to do this in the evening.  The best thing was that we were the only boat out here.  Gabe told me that he is the only guide that does these night fly fishing trips.  No one else wants to do them.  I can’t understand why, it was a blast!  I was fortunate enough to see what this fishery has to offer.  So many different species and so many different scenario’s.  I could spend a lifetime down here trying to learn it all.  Of course I would still have to make a few trips north to put some walleye in the freezer and freeze my butt off catching steelhead but I would have no problem spending the rest of my time down in the flats chasing Tarpon.

Mangrove Snapper Tarpon 2 Tarpon 3