Elitist Snob to Knuckle Dragger in 48 hours

28 04 2016

Last weekend I headed up to my Mom’s, in Oscoda, for a visit.  My trips north used to be hunting and fishing from sun up to sun down.  Now it’s Mom’s to do list from sun up to dinner and maybe a few hours of fishing afterwards.  While I was driving up Friday afternoon I listened to another one of April Vokey’s podcasts.  The guest talked about the divide in the steelhead world where fly fishers view gear fishermen as knuckle draggers and gear guys view the fly guys as elitist snobs.  This kind of thing has been going on for years but it got me thinking.  Where do I fit in?  My two favorite forms of fishing are swinging flies for steelhead and pulling wire for walleye.  Two types of fishing that are polar opposites and couldn’t be any further apart on the fishing spectrum.  One is steeped with visions of pristine rivers and a certain amount of poetry and grace.  The other is meat fishing in it’s truest form.  Both are relaxing, both catch fish and both are very enjoyable to me.  I can see how the outsider would view both practices but like the only saying goes….you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.  Just because I carry a fly rod doesn’t mean I’m a snob and just because I handline doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the serenity of fly fishing.

After a  home cooked walleye dinner on Friday night I grabbed my switch rod and headed for the AuSable.  This would only be my second attempt this Spring to catch a steelhead.  Snow, rain, high water and work have made finding time to get out very difficult.  I waded down to a run that I hoped would be holing a fish or two.  I did manage to see one swimming around but I couldn’t get him to eat.  I tried another spot further downstream but it was to no avail.  After a couple of hours I packed it in and headed for home.  My left leg was soaked (still haven’t fixed the leak in my waders) and it was getting dark.  I didn’t like the thought of not catching anything during the Spring run but there wasn’t much I could do about it.  There was a chance I could try again tomorrow, depending on the size of my mom’s to do list.  Turns out it was a long list so I never got that second chance.

You would think there would be at least one hungry steelhead in there.

You would think there would be at least one hungry steelhead in there.

Sunday morning found me headed south and home.  While I was driving I called my friend Dean to see if he wanted to go fishing later that night.  I owed him a few trips and he had been bugging me about going so I thought tonight would be a good opportunity.  I told him to meet me at the house at 7 and of course he was early.  I told him there was no rush but he was anxious to go.  I dragged my feet as much as I could but he was getting impatient.  When we arrived at the ramp my friend Richard was there so I took the opportunity to talk to him and waste more time.  This plan didn’t work out too well either because Dean got the boat ready and was holding the rope with a “Let’s go” look on his face.  I wished Richard good luck and soon we were on our way.  After a brief refresher course for Dean on leader management and lure selection we were fishing by 7:45 pm.  I told Dean that with the clear water we weren’t going to catch anything until 9 o’clock.  He didn’t believe me.  For the next hour we just washed our Rapala’s and wasted time.  Eventually I had a hit and our first walleye was in the boat.  Once I got it in I showed Dean the time on my watch.

9:01 pm

I won’t repeat his reply but for the next hour it was game on.  We ended up landing 6 fish and losing 4.  They were hitting light tonight, barely grabbing the tail hook.  I did have another walleye make a banzai charge on my prop and I lost that one, of course.  Dean ended up catching two and he didn’t lose any.  I caught 4, lost one to the prop, one as I was flipping him in, one on the surface and the last one at the stern.  I had just told Dean too that I was going to lose this one and when he said why, out came the lure.  It was a light hit and he was barely hooked, it was only a matter of time.  Around 10 we got our lines all tangled up so I called it a night.  I didn’t feel like digging out extra leaders and we both had to work in the morning.  I was really tired as well.  I never sleep well when I am at my mom’s.  That air mattress sucks.  So the night ended with 6 fish, 4 premature releases, 1 lost lure and 2 broken ones, 5 tangled leaders and two lost shanks.  Richard had called me while I was out and lost his shank.  He asked if I had any spares and I gave him two.  Also, we didn’t catch any of those other fish.  This surprised me because I had been hearing reports of them being caught all over the river.  I’m to the point now that I don’t believe anything I hear on the message boards.  I should know better, all season long I have been hearing negative reports of no fish.  Me and the other handliners have a different view of the walleye fishing this season.

#9 Original Black/Silver took the bulk of the fish. The big one came on a Riley Special Spike Spoon.

#9 Original Black/Silver took the bulk of the fish. The big one came on a Riley Special Spike Spoon.

 

 

 

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Part 2 from the North Shore Tying Co.

27 04 2016

https://northshoresstyingtyingco.wordpress.com/2016/04/25/15-habits-every-angler-should-develop-part-two/#comments





Words of Wisdom from the North Shore Tying Co. Blog.

18 04 2016

Just read part 1 of 3 and even know this is from a fly fishing blog the rules still apply for handlining.  I can’t stress enough the importance of number 2.  I think too many people are in such a hurry to get to the next spot that they go to fast and don’t really work an area.  Take it easy, be methodical, work the area and for God’s sake don’t change lures every 10 minutes.

https://northshoresstyingtyingco.wordpress.com/2016/04/18/15-habits-every-angler-should-develop-part-one/

I will re-post the next two when they become available or you can just follow the blog as well.

 





1st walleye trip for 2016.

17 04 2016

There’s always something special about that first trip for the new year.  The anticipation of maybe, just possibly, that this season may be the year I get that wall hanger.  Seeing old friends again on the water.  Feeling that familiar head shake of the first fish after a 5 month absence.  It’s a feeling that can’t be described to a person who has never experienced fishing or has the same passion as I do.  I’ll admit that the excitement has become a little more subdued over the years.  When I was a teen, I would be like a kid at Christmas when my Dad and I started to get the boat ready for that first trip.  The next day at school, I wouldn’t be able to concentrate all day long knowing that in a few hours, I would be catching walleye again.  Now, 30 years later, I still look forward to that first trip but I have enough sense to pick my days and go when the river isn’t literally so thick with boats you could almost jump for boat to boat and reach Canada.  I don’t dodge icebergs anymore nor do I fight the crowds on the weekends.  I wait until weekday evenings when most people are already off the water.  I choose days with favorable conditions and stay indoors during sudden snow squalls (like last weekend).  Some call it laziness and saying I have lost my passion.  I say I have become wiser and more of a realist.  Unlike 90% of the jig fishermen out there right now I have all summer and into fall to catch walleye in the Detroit River.  They aren’t going anywhere.

I had been paying attention to the reports for the past few weeks and things didn’t sound promising.  Lots of bad reports and claims that everyone missed the run.  I really didn’t believe it.  Mother Nature threw us a major curve ball this year and decided to extend winter an extra month, even though that stupid groundhog said otherwise.  We had such a mild winter and no ice cover that a lot of people expected the run to start early this year.  Just when the water temp started to creep up we got slammed with a lot of non typical cold April days.  Here it is mid-April and the surface temps are still in the 40 degree range.  Throw in a lot of dirty water from the snow melt run-off and fishing was not what everyone was expecting.  Fish were being caught but not in the numbers everyone was hoping for.

My friends and fellow handliners, Dave and Larry, had been texting me for about the last week about current conditions and all the complaining on the message boards.  We had been discussing when would be a good time to start pulling wire.  Usually handlining doesn’t really start to take off until water temps hit the 45 degree mark.  It was getting close but not quite there yet.  after a few more texts we decided that Thursday, 4/14/16, would be a good evening to start.  It’s always good to have a second or third boat out on the initial voyage in case any of use have any engine problems.  It also makes trying to find active fish easier.  We can split up and cover more water until one of us zeroes in.  Thus was the case this last Thursday.  Dave and Larry got an earlier start than me but I was able to track them down.  They were fishing downstream so after some info sharing I headed farther upstream.  There was a SW wind this evening and it was making the lower river a little bumpy.  All the more reason for me to head up and get out of the choppy water.  I set up with a pair of #11 Rapala’s and a #9 on my kicker.  I trolled around for about an hour without much activity.  I talked to a few friends who were out jigging and they repeated what I had been hearing for the last few weeks.  Very few fish and mostly eaters.  This was a little discouraging but they are jigging and I was handlining.  Two completely different presentations that can produce completely different results.  Especially as the sun starts to set.

Around 8:15 pm I felt that old familiar hit and shake.  I went through my routine and about 30 seconds later the first fish of 2016 was in the cooler, an 18 inch eater.  This once came on my 40 foot lead and a #11 Chartreuse.  A quick text off to Dave and Larry and I was back at it.  Shortly after that fish I got hung up really bad.  Turns out the 20 inch clevice on my shank got wedged in a rock.  Once I pulled that loose the Rapala on my 20 foot leader got hung up as well.  It eventually pulled free but it took me almost half an hour to get myself situated and back to fishing.  Once I got the shank and lure replaced I motored back to where I caught the first fish and set lines.  By now it was close to 9:00 pm and I was hoping the fish would get active.  They did.  over the next half hour I managed to put 3 more in the cooler, one of them being a 25 inch male.  He turned out to be my last fish of the night.  They turned off just as quickly as they turned on.  After the 4th fish was in the box I called Larry to let them know where I was and what lures I was getting them on (they quit shortly after I did with 3 fish).  I fished for about another 15 minutes but I was getting cold and tired so I headed in.  There were plenty of fishing days ahead.

All in all it was a pretty good start for the season.  I managed 4 in about 2 1/2 hours of fishing.  I had one minor casualty and everything on the boat worked fine.  Water clarity had a bit of a stain to it and that little bit will probably disappear over the weekend.  No rain or wind for the next few days should do it.  That will mean very few fish caught during the day for me.  When I go out again it will be closer to dark, as everyone is leaving the river.

Good luck everyone.

Never stretched out a split ring before. The hook should have bent out or broke before this happened.

Never stretched out a split ring before. The hook should have bent out or broke before this happened.

04-14-16 TC

A late night snack. I scoff at restaurants that tell me their fish is fresh.

A late night snack. I scoff at restaurants that tell me their fish is fresh.





Tying Binge

3 04 2016

Around the beginning of the year I made a stop into Schultz’s Outfitters to pick up some more tying materials.  I had a few specific things I thought I needed and, as usual, I picked up some things I thought would be neat to tie with.  Of course, when I got home, I put the items in their proper bins only to find out I already had them.  It was at that point I decided to go on a tying binge and use up all the materials I could before I bought anymore.  I figured this wouldn’t be too daunting of a task.  If I ran out of black rabbit strips, I would just switch over to olive.  Pink dubbing gone, use chartreuse.  So, after I burned through 6 cards of Flashabou, 13 packs of dubbing, 7 packs of zonker strips, several bags of dyed guinea hen feathers, all my dyed mallard flanks, salmon/steelhead hooks, 25mm shanks and a couple of spools of thread, I now have enough steelhead flies to last me until 2020.  Of course, that won’t stop me.  So without further adieu, I give you the results of my tying binge.

Egg Sucking Leeches

Feenstra Grapefruit Leech.

Feenstra Grapefruit Leech.

A butt load of egg sucking leeches.  My bread and butter flies.

A butt load of egg sucking leeches. My bread and butter flies.

Hoh Bo Spey, or a close facsimile there of.

Hoh Bo Spey, or a close facsimile there of.

Spey's, Intruder Style Flies and a few Senyo A.I.'s

Spey’s, Intruder Style Flies and a few Senyo A.I.’s

Senyo AI

Sculpins

Sculpins

My sculpin, Goby, Darter, Fry box.

My sculpin, Goby, Darter, Fry box.

My river box

My river box