Labor Day Weekend Fin and Feather Extravaganza!

5 09 2014

It’s not to often that I get to combine my favorite past times in to one weekend but when the opportunity presents itself I take advantage of it.  Or in other words, when opportunity knocks……Shoot!

It all started on Friday evening.  Earlier in the week I had made plans to meet up with my friend Dave and his son on the Huron River in Dexter for some smallmouth fishing.  We  had talked to some of the guides at the Huron River Fly Fishing Festival a few weeks earlier so we thought we would give it a shot.  Dave had arrived earlier since I had to work so I met him on the river.  Fishing was slow but we gave it our best shot.  I ended up catching one small fish on a foam hopper pattern I tied up the night before.  Dave caught one as well but I can’t seem to remember what on.  I think it was a streamer patter of some kind.   I didn’t stay long, I still had to pack for my trip north.

The next morning I was up bright and early for my first stop, Auburn Michigan and my friend Barry’s house.  We were going crow hunting so after a quick bite to eat we were on our way.  Our first stop was near Sanford lake on some state land.  We heard crows off in the distance so we took up hiding spots and turned on the caller.  The crows never came in so we packed up and moved on to the next spot, sort of.  When we got to the end of the road there were several crows sitting out in the middle of the road.  We turned around and set up again.  This time they came in but to far out of range.  After a short ride we set up in another area and a couple of crows snuck in behind us.  Barry was able to knock one down and that was it.  Just as we were packing up the storm clouds started to roll in and the rain came down.  Oh well, so much for crow hunting.  I said my good bye’s and headed up to my parents in Oscoda.

The next morning found my father and I on Lake Huron in hopes of catching a few salmon.  We set up about a mile out from the river and ran spoons and plugs.  There weren’t many boats out, only about a dozen and most of them out on the horizon.  We gave it our best shot but all we really did was wash lures.  Around 10 we headed in for breakfast.  A little later, as we were putting the boat away, I heard some crows mouthing off across the street.  I quickly grabbed my stuff and took a short walk.  I found a small group of scrub oaks to hide in and then turned on the crow distress call.  It didn’t take long and soon I had a crow in range.  1 quick shot and he was on the ground.  I missed a second one flying behind him and quickly re-loaded.  A couple of seconds later 2 more came in and after 2 shots they were both down as well.  I love early season stupid crows.  The remaining crows quickly left the area so I gathered everything up and headed home.

The following morning found me standing waist deep in a small inland lake for the early Goose and Teal opener.  This was the first early Teal season in Michigan in almost 50 years and I was going to give it a try.  I had shot both teal and geese in years past on this lake but without doing any pre-season scouting I wasn’t expecting much.  I did have plenty of wood ducks and mallards fly around me but no teal or geese.   It was a pretty uneventful morning except for the part where I waded into a hole up to my neck in mucky water.  What Fun!

After a hot shower and some lunch I had my Dad drop me off at Foote Dam so I could try some more smallmouth fishing.  I took the fly rod along but with the wind picking up I decided to stick to tossing tube baits into all the log jams.  Fishing was pretty easy with lots of smaller bass in the 8 to 10 inch range.  Not exactly the size I was looking for but I was catching them pretty regularly.  Eventually I did find some bigger fish but unfortunately I lost them at the side of the boat.  I still need to remember to set the hook harder.  The main thing is that I was catching more and bigger fish and learning more about the river.  When I first started fishing here all I caught were rock bass and 1 smallmouth.  since then I haven’t caught any rock bass and more smallmouth.  Now I am catching more and bigger fish.  Hopefully soon the bigger fish will out number the smaller ones.  I may even use my fly rod more once I get a little more confidence with the area.  This trip was cut short though by the rain.  About 30 minutes from where I was going to be picked up the clouds opened up and down came the rain, in buckets.  A wet ass twice in one day.  What Fun!

That was the last of my fishing any hunting for the weekend.  Home was a long drive away and I was tired.  I would make a few stops along the way but eventually I got home around midnight.  I had a long day of doctor’s appointments ahead of me and I needed some sleep.  It won’t be long and squirrel, grouse and woodcock will be open and I will be headed north again.  Until then I’ll get some rest and prepare.

Huron Sunrise Dam Water Stupid Crows Smallie

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AuSable Smallmouth 7/29/14

4 08 2014

The next morning I decided to take the kayak out and paddle down the AuSable.  This would be the first time this year that I have been out kayaking.  My Dad dropped me off at Foote Dam and he was going to pick me up at the Whirlpool ramp later, about a 3 hour trip.  I started off with a crankbait but after quickly losing it to a log jam I switched over to the old reliable tube bait.  That did the trick.  They weren’t huge like the ones I catch on the Detroit River but at least they were being caught on a fishing rod and not with wire.

One thing of interest was that a lot of the smallmouth I caught were spitting up crayfish as I was reeling them in.  Not surprising since I caught most of them near rocky edges.  I did manage to pull a few out of the many log jams but the majority were caught near the rocks. On area in particular was a rocky ledge that ran for about 100 yards downstream.  I managed to hook and lose 4 in that spot.  I really need to remember to set the hook a lot harder when I get a hit.

It was very peaceful on the river.  My only company was a couple of bald eagles and a family of river otters.  No other people the whole time on the water.  Pure serenity.

 

AuSable Downstream II Bald Eagle Smallie 1 Smallie 2





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.





Have Kayak, Will Fish Part II

20 05 2012

Next July my family, girlfriend and I are planning a long weekend camping trip to Harrisville Michigan. Since my siblings are kind of novices at this tent camping stuff I suggested a trial run campout at Sterling State Park. Of course I had an ulterior motive, I wanted to go take the kayak out again and fish the Lagoon at the park. Last year I did pretty well on the Largemouth Bass and I was hoping that it would repeat. In this case though history did not repeat itself.
Normally any time I go camping it is a safe bet that it is going to rain. This weekend was the exact opposite, clear skies and sunshine. As a matter of fact it has been awhile since we have received any rain. Because of this the water levels are down on the Detroit River and Lake Eire and the SSP Lagoon was no exception. The other thing that changed from my last time here was that the water was very clear. Normally that is no big deal but the low clear water seemed to make the fish skittish and they would scatter as I paddled up on them. Another surprise was all the minnows that were chasing insects on the surface. I thought they were small panfish at first but to my surprise it was minnows, by the thousands. That bothered me, with all this baitfish I really wondered just how responsive the bass would be. After about 30 minutes I found out that they were going to be difficult. I started off with my usual tube baits but they didn’t produce this time around. I switched over to some spinners and then cranks but still nothing. After about an hour I gave up and decided to come back out again after dinner. Besides, I was close to the Bass Pro Shop south of Toledo Ohio and I wanted to stop in.
After a dining on bacon wrapped barbecued walleye and a pineapple upside down cake that I baked in my Dutch oven I launched my kayak once again. Kelly came by for moral support and to enjoy the cool evening air. I fished the west side of the lagoon first and still nothing. I pitched my tube bait up around a few blow downs and some reeds but still no fish. The sun was starting to set so we made our way back to camp. I decided to make a few final casts by the fishing pier when I finally hooked into my only fish for the weekend. He smacked a white tube bait as I was twitching back towards the surface. A quick picture and he was back on his way. No Skunk this day.

Another entry for the Season Long Challenge

The next morning my sister-in-law Karen wanted to go try out her new custom fishing rod I had made up for her. She is taking this whole being a Schaller thing to heart and wants to learn how to fish. At first she wanted my Dad to teach her because he isn’t as species specific as I am…..she’s starting to come around. A pack of wax worms (purchased at Bass Pro), a small teardrop, one slip bobber and she was ready to go. Things were slow at first but I spotted a group of bluegills in the shallows and soon Karen was bringing them in left and right. She ended up catching about 30 bluegills in various sizes from a couple of inches up to about 8 inches in length. Didn’t matter, she was having fun and all she had to do was reel them in. I did everything else. In a couple of years I will get to teach her daughter Katie how to do this. I can’t wait; teaching kids to fish is one of the great joys in life for a devoted fisherman. I know my Father and Grandfather did.

One of the smaller ones





Have kayak, Will Fish.

12 05 2012

A short time ago in a campground not too far away I had a thought. I wonder if the fishing is better on the other side of the lake. I thought about this as I watched people catch 5 inch bluegills from a fishing pier at a State Park. I looked out across the lake and on the other side I could see cattails, lily pads, blow downs and even a stream flowing into the lake. I knew there had to be something better then what was being caught in this vicinity. Problem was how to get to the other side; I couldn’t just “cross the road”. Nope, it was at this point that I decided it was time to break down and finally buy myself a kayak.
The last few years have seen a boom in kayak fishing. Just go on to “You Tube” and type in kayak fishing and you will see videos of fishermen catching everything from bluegills on small ponds to bull sharks in the ocean. This boom has led to the development of all kinds of different kayaks designed just for fishing. Add some creative rigging and these boats rival my aluminum boat that I use for walleye fishing. Fortunately for me I didn’t need to go that extreme so my choice was relatively easy. Something small, inexpensive and easy for me to store and transport. If a kayak was going to be my primary fishing vessel I would have gone with a sit in style that is designed for fishing. I was thinking along the lines of a part time fishing/rec/touring kayak so I went with the more traditional sit in style. I ended up buying a Patriot, seemed fitting since I also own a Jeep Patriot.

The Jeep always looks better with the kayaks on top.

It’s not the most ideal set up for fishing but it works. After one trip I quickly learned that you have to be organized and all fishing rods better be attached to the kayak or have a float on them. On 3 different occasions my rod went for a swim that first trip. Thankfully I had a float.
I have learned a lot since that first trip down the Gibraltar canals. Since most of my kayak fishing is for bass and panfish I scaled down my tackle to 2 rods, my custom kayak rod and my fly rod. I even scaled back on the lures. I never realized just how versatile a tube bait is until I started this. Of course you can catch just about anything on a fly rod but I have a new found respect for a tube bait and what it catches and where I can use it. I have caught both Largemouth and Smallmouth bass along with many other species of fish on ponds, lakes, impoundments and rivers all with simple tube bait. I still keep some crank baits and spinners handy but my go to lure is a white tube.
On this day my girlfriend Kelly and I decided to make a quick trip to Kent Lake which is in the Kensington Metro Park. I haven’t fished this lake in probably 20 years so I was pretty much going in blind. The catch and release bass season is open now so I was hoping to catch a few to enter into the Kayak Fish the Great Lakes Season Long Online Tournament. I had yet to enter any fish and it was bothering me so I was going to remedy that today. I had heard the Kent Lake was having a problem with invasive weeds and it was quite evident that what I heard was true. Here it is the beginning of May and already the weeds were at the surface and just about everywhere. I made the most of it and was able to catch one small Largemouth.

A little later on I found a sandy gravel area on the south side of the lake that looked like it might hold a few bluegills. I broke out the fly rod and on the first cast I pulled an 8 inch gill. After a quick pic he was released and I was in search of another.

Just about that time the wind picked up and it started to rain. Kayaks, fly rods and wind don’t mix and I was soon blown out of the area I wanted to fish. Kelly and I were running out of time anyways so we headed back towards the ramp. Besides, I was going camping at Sterling State Park next weekend and Houghton Lake on Memorial Day weekend. I would have other opportunities. It was still nice to get out though and paddle around. The quiet that comes from kayak fishing is a pleasant change from my noisy outboard and hand lining.
One other thing, this is for those guys that ignore the DNR signs at boat ramps about cleaning out your intake to prevent the spread of invasive species. I snagged a stick that was covered with zebra mussels today. It doesn’t take much to spread those things around and it only takes a few minutes to prevent it from happening.

http://www.kayakfishthegreatlakes.com





Quiet Water Symposium

4 03 2012

The best laid plans of mice and men…..ever hear that phrase before? It comes to mind every time I have something planned and it doesn’t happen. This time it was for The Quiet Water Symposium I was supposed to attend. Unfortunately work, kids and other responsibilities come up and plans fall apart. I would have liked to have gone but at the same time I am not going to lose any sleep over it. A year ago I didn’t even know this show existed. As I sit here and type I’m still trying to remember how I ever found out about it. This show doesn’t have all the pomp and circumstance of some of the bigger shows but that really wouldn’t work for this one.

The Quiet Water Symposium is a show about quiet, clear flowing streams and experiencing all that nature has to offer from a canoe or kayak. A couple of years ago I would have never cared but since I picked up a couple of recreational kayaks I have a new found appreciation for quiet times on isolated rivers. As much as I like running the Detroit River in my aluminum boat and 20 hp outboard I do enjoy being by myself and floating down the AuSable or Manistee river systems.  It’s hard to describe but the feeling i get catching fish with no one else around is very rewarding.  It might not be like “The Old Man and the Sea” but to me it’s like heaven on earth.

Like the other shows I attend I am there to gather information. When I attended last year my goal was to get as many maps and flyers as I could find about my local streams. I didn’t know it at the time but there is a Huron River Watershed Council that works to promote recreational activities on the Huron. That was my first map along with a list of all their paddle dates. All throughout the summer they sponsor paddling weekends on different sections of the Huron. They coordinate drop-ins and shuttle services during the day along with instructions for the first timers. I never did attend any of the event but the information and maps will come in handy someday.

I talked to a lot of people that day about everything from catching grayling and brook trout to the damage being done by feral hogs. When all was said and done I left with a bag full of flyers and maps for the Huron, Flint and Shiawassee rivers with all the kayak put-ins and take outs. I didn’t get the opportunity to use any of them last summer but hopefully I will this year.

Next week, The Midwest Fly Fishing Expo…….providing the mice and men don’t interfere.

http://www.quietwatersymposium.org/

http://www.hrwc.org