7/3/17 and the Trip that Almost Wasn’t.

5 07 2017

So there I was, sitting in the Emergency room of my local hospital Monday night, July 3rd.  My original plan was to go out walleye fishing but a little carelessness on my part delayed that.  I had found a F7 Rapala and I was going to put it in one of my lure boxes in my boat.  I had it in my left hand and as I climbed in the trailing hook caught something and pulled the lead hook into my left middle finger.  50 years of fishing and I had finally done it, buried a hook past the barb.  After uttering a few expletives my daughter drove me to the emergency room to have it removed.  It must have been a slow night because just about everyone on staff had to come by and see.  They must have had a few new people on staff because the doctor brought them in to demonstrate how to remove a hook.  After a little guidance on my part as to where the best place was to use the wire cutters and class was over. About an hour later I was all bandaged up and sent home.  A few minutes later I was hooking up the boat and heading out.

We were able to save the lure.

My original plan was to start around 8:00 pm.  My Facebook memories were full of pictures of walleye that I had caught on spoons around this time.  I figured I would give it a shot and see if history would repeat itself.  My own carelessness prevented that from happening.  Instead I was on the water right around sunset.

 

Late start but a pretty one.

There was still a fair amount of boat traffic but I figured it would end soon so I wasn’t too worried about it.  I did see a good amount of floating weed mats which was discouraging.  I just shrugged it all off, at least I was still fishing and I didn’t have to get up in the morning so I could stay as late as I wanted.  Turns out I was going to need to do just that.

I set up in the same area I have been all year.  I figure I will keep starting here until the well runs dry.  My Grandfather once told me that you don’t leave fish in order to go find fish.  Besides, the area is close to the ramp and it only takes a minute or two to get there.  I started off with a J9 Chartreuse, a F9 Original and a F7 Black and Gold Rapala. Dave had done so well with a J9 Original the other night I thought I would give it a shot.  As it would turn out the only walleye that liked it were the little ones.  I didn’t get my first legal fish until after 10 pm.  I had switched out my F9 Original for a F9 Clown after I busted my 20 foot leader on a snag.  I made up a new leader and put on the Clown since I was all out of Originals.  As it would turn out it was a blessing in disguise.  After my second fish on the Clown I switched out my kicker for a F9 Black Holographic and slowly picked away at my 5 fish limit.  All the fish came from the center of the river, across from the DD boat.  This is when a GPS comes in so handy.  After the second fish I was able to see how close together they were and I was able to concentrate on that area.  If not I may have come up a few fish short for the evening.  It still took a few hours to fill the limit but I was also dealing with a lot of weeds, catches of other fish, lost fish at the boat and numerous head shakes and gone.  I stuck it out though and shortly after midnight I caught my fifth keeper.  Time to go home.

A few observations from the night.  Winds started off from the south and were very light.  They eventually worked their way around to an “in your face wind” out of the north.  By midnight the wind disappeared completely.  Weeds were a pain but somewhat manageable.  The water is still very clear.  At one point I was shining my headlamp down in the water as I was clearing weeds from my line and I could see walleye cruising about two feet below the surface.  They were barely legal size fish but there they were.  Whenever the light would hit them in the eye they would just swim back down, into the darkness.  As near as I can figure they were probably chasing baitfish that were feeding on the spent mayflies on the surface.  On more than one occasion I saw a few fish break water throughout the evening.  No big hatches but there were still plenty around.  I had to pick them off of me and my car once again tonight.  The blankity blanks are still in.  Caught about a dozen of the ones that don’t know how to read a memo.  One of them was a Master Angler size fish but I wasn’t about to turn it in.  Getting a Master Angler award for a fish I despise so much would be hypocritical.  Lost about 4 at the side of the boat and I had about a dozen head shakes.  Most of the fish were hitting very light, especially the 25 incher.  She grabbed the lure and it was just dead weight.  I thought I hit a pile of weeds at first but once she gave a shake I got serious.  She will be going into the smoker this weekend.





7/1/17 Walleye Report

3 07 2017

Last Saturday night started out much like any other night.  I Arrived at the ramp after 9, no wind and a bit humid.  I thought to myself that it would probably be a bad night for bugs.  Little did I realize just how bad it would be.  There wasn’t much boat traffic, which was kind of surprising considering the weather and what day it was.  The water was still clear and no visible signs of any floating weeds.

So far so good.

By 9:30 pm I was in my usual spot and setting lines.  I started off with a couple of spoons and a #9 Original Rapala.  One of the spoons was a new pattern I picked up last year and never used until tonight.  I figured with the clear water we had been experiencing a spoon with a natural finish would do pretty well.  It didn’t take long to find out.  10 minutes later I had two in the cooler and both of them came on that spoon.  I was feeling pretty good about how this night was going to go and then it happened.  First it was one, then a couple which turned into a swarm.  Ten’s of thousands of mayflies began hatching all around me.  They weren’t the big hex’s, a slightly smaller cream colored version, but they were everywhere.  I had never been in the center of a hatch like this before and it was awe inspiring.  The numbers were unbelievable and I could only imagine what was going on below the surface.  I didn’t think about it at first but this was going to give me the opportunity to see just how active the walleye are during a mayfly hatch.  I had heard from multiple people that you can’t catch walleye during a hatch.  I never really believed that and I was about to find out first hand.  I don’t know how much the walleye feed on the nymphs but I’m sure they are chasing after the baitfish that are feeding on the nymphs.  Five minutes into the hatch I got my answer when number 3 hit that same spoon.

So there I was, 10 pm and in the middle of a mayfly hatch with 3 in the cooler when I got my next surprise.  Fireworks.  Turns out the Duck Dynasty boat was occupied that evening.  The first one exploded right on the deck but after that they got their act together and continued to launch them out over the river for the next 30 minutes.  I wonder if that would be considered littering?  Not much I could do about it so I stayed on the west end of the river until they were done.  I really didn’t want one to land in my lap, especially after I watched them drop one onto their dock and explode and burn for a bit.  Around 10:30 pm they quit along with just about everyone else on the island so I slowly made my way back over to where I wanted to be.  By now the hatch had ended but I was still plucking bugs off of me and my boat.  During this time I managed to catch a few blankity blanks (apparently they didn’t get the memo) and my first 20 inch smallmouth of the year. Fortunately he hit my top lead and manged to stay clear of the rest of my leaders.  When one that big hits the kicker lure he has a tendency to tangle up everything.  I also caught a few more throwbacks in the 10 inch range.  These would be walleye from last year’s hatch.  The trawl results indicated that 2016 was a below average hatch but that was out in Lake Erie.  I really would like to know how many walleye successfully spawn in the river.

Around 11:00 pm the weeds started up and fishing became a drag, literally.  At one point I hit a patch of weeds about 20 yards long and 10 yards wide.  By the time I saw it it was to late and all 3 of my lines caught it.  The drag created by the weeds turned my boat around and headed me downstream.  It took me about 20 minutes to get everything clear and get back up to my spot.  From then one I was clearing lines every 5 or 10 minutes.  I was debating heading in but whenever I did I would lose a walleye or catch another dink.  I figured it would just be a matter of time before I would fill out my limit.  Around midnight I did just that.  I was pulling in my lines to clear the weeds and a walleye grabbed my kicker lure just as I was about to pull it out of the water.  Either he followed that lure up or he was cruising the surface chasing baitfish that were feeding on the few emergers or spinners I saw on the surface.  Either way I was done and headed in.  Perseverance and a little luck paid off tonight.

A few observations about tonight, the first being that you can catch walleye during a mayfly hatch.  The other being that the only absolute when it comes to walleye (or any fish for that matter) is that they are going to do whatever they damn well please.  As you can see in the pictures the walleye wanted small baits, about the size of an emerald shiner.  When I got home and cleaned them one walleye had a goby in him that was about twice the size of my lures.  None of the walleye had any mayfly nymphs in them.  Other than the goby I didn’t find anything else they had been eating. So take it for what it’s worth.  You can catch walleye before, during and after a mayfly hatch, size does matter and matching “the hatch” doesn’t always pay off.  I ran #9 and #11 Rapala’s in darker colors and I never caught a fish on any of them.

So much for “Matching the Hatch”

 

 





Memo……

3 07 2017

7/3/17

 

To: The White Bass

From: The Lord and Master of the area on the Detroit River known as The Trenton Channel, NW of the flag, up to and including the landmark known as the Duck Dynasty boat.

Re: Occupancy

Be it known that spawning season is over.  Therefore all remaining White Bass (aka, Silver Bass, Fresh Water Piranha, Blankity Blanks) must return to Lake Erie, now.  Water temperature readings are over 70 degrees so there is no longer any reason for you to remain in the Lower Detroit River section known as The Trenton Channel.  You are free to join the White Perch in Lake Erie so that together, you may terrorize and annoy the meat dragging, planer board brigade.  Your cooperation with this is greatly appreciated.

Thank You.

Mark F. Schaller, Lord and Master of the above mentioned section of the Detroit River.

 

 





Dave’s turn, 06/27/17

28 06 2017

Since the fishing has been so good as of late I decided to give Dave a crack at them as well.  I have known Dave for a while but this was going to be the first time we have pulled wire together.  Usually it is he and Larry that are out together in Dave’s boat so sitting on the port side was going to take some adjustment for him.  We started out at 9:30 pm and literally dropped lines right on top of the fish.  We landed 9 in the first hour along with a few blankity blanks and a couple of throwbacks.  Actually, I was getting the blankity blanks and throwbacks, Dave was the one catching nothing but legal walleye.  We figured we would be done soon but it took us another hour to catch that last fish.  During that hour I caught more throwbacks and a few more blankity blanks.  They got over their shyness with Dave and eventually he caught one as well along with a small sheepshead.  The walleye were there, they just started hitting very lightly and we kept losing fish on the initial hit.  We would feel them grab it and then a second or two later they would be gone.  Words cannot describe how frustrating this is when you are trying to get that last one to fill a limit.  Around 11:30 I had another one on and fortunately he grabbed it hard and hooked himself well enough to where I could flip him in.  After that we pulled lines and headed to the dock.

Conditions were damn near perfect.  A light west breeze, clear water, very few bugs (even less after I swallowed one) and some floating weeds.  About the only bad thing about last night was that I busted the lips on 2 Rapalas.  It was my own fault too.  I could feel them get hung up and instead of throwing my lines back I pulled through.  SNAP!  I know better than that.  No one else out at first but eventually another boat did show up that hugged the Grosse Isle shoreline at first and then headed south.  Another boat came right up to us just as we were leaving.  For some reason he felt the need to pass within 10 feet of me on his way down.  My fish all came on #9 Rapalas and the majority of Dave’s came on a J-9 Original Rapala.  This year is shaping up to be the best of my life.  That’s 14 trips now and 13 limits.

Life is Good!

Time to clean.

 





Weekend Report Part II

26 06 2017

Friday, June 23rd, 2017

Where are all the handliners?

I understand that fewer people fish now and even fewer pull wire but no one else on a perfect weather Friday night?  That’s just ridiculous.  That was the case though this past Friday.  I was the only one fishing the Trenton channel.  Just me, no one else, nadda, zip, no ah ah.  I can’t understand it either.  It was a near perfect night.  A slight breeze, partly cloudy skies, no weeds and temps in the low 70’s.  There weren’t any pleasure boaters out either.  Just me and the fish.  I started at 9:30 pm and was done less than an hour later.  5 more for the freezer, 1 throwback and only 2 blankity blanks.  Like I said, a near perfect night.  Maybe everyone is believing all the social media hype this past Spring of no fish.  How the commercial fishermen caught them all.  How the DNR are mismanaging the walleye population.  How tribal fishermen are secretly catching all the fish to sell to Estonia, oh wait, that’s the Lake Trout.  My mistake.

One very small item of note is this little guy.  I pulled him out of the top walleye as I was cleaning him.  I posted the pic on Facebook and told everyone that it is the smallest fish I ever caught while pulling wire.  No one has figured out how I managed to do that yet.

 

Saturday, June 24th, 2017

Since Friday night went so well I decided try for a repeat.  This time I invited my friend Larry along to get in on the easy fishing.  Conditions were about the same except for the wind coming out of the SW but it was nothing to be concerned about.  We did see two other handliners out though but one of them was an upstreamer so I really don’t count that boat.

We started at 9:15 pm and it wasn’t long before I had one in the cooler.  Larry didn’t even have his lines in the water so of course I started giving him grief about it.  It continued as I landed numbers two and three, tossed back a couple of undersized ones and lost one at the boat.  I suggested he start adding to the cooler otherwise it was going to be a long night for him.  After that initial flurry things slowed down.  We managed to pick up 5 more over the next 2 hours but it was one here and there.  Just about the time I was thinking about moving to a different location one of us would catch or lose one and I would change my mind.  On our last run we lost 3 in about 5 minutes.  Larry was having a tough time with snap swivels.  Three of them broke and he lost a couple of lures because of it.  I know that feeling, I lost 3 lures and 3 fish one night because of that.  All of my snaps were replaced the next day.  Around midnight we packed it in.  The weeds were getting worse and even though it was a no moon period the blankity blanks kept feeding after dark.  No sheepshead though but I did catch my first channel cat for the year.  We both thought it was big walleye until he was in the boat.  It was still a pretty good night.  We ended up with 8, threw back 4 and lost just about as many.  The fish were anywhere from 15 to 20 inches.  Most came on #9 Rapalas in original or bleeding olive.  No pictures tonight, Larry took his home and I just cleaned mine without taking a pic first.  Just refer to the Friday catch picture and block out one fish.

Sunday, June 25th, 2017

Sunday was supposed to be a day of fly fishing but 20 mph SW winds took care of that.  I walked around the lagoons at Sterling State Park to scout out the area for fishing opportunities.  I was hoping I could wade around instead of taking my kayak.  Still undecided about that.  I might go back this upcoming weekend.  The weather is looking pretty good for the rest of this week.  I’ll go walleye fishing at least once, possibly more.  Still trying to find an area with some active carp that I can cast a fly to.  It would be great if I could find a Mulberry Tree along some water.

 

 

 





Just one of those nights…..

22 06 2017

Ever have one of those nights when nothing seems to go right?  The kind of night when you have that feeling deep down that it is going to be a disaster and you should just stay home?  Well last night was one of those nights.  I had been debating going fishing all day.  Originally the weather forecast was calling for light west winds but that changed to SSE winds at 10 mph.

Strike One.

It was also June 21st, the longest day of the year.  That meant it wouldn’t get dark until after 10:00 pm, thus giving me a very short window of opportunity since I had to get up for work the next day.

Strike Two.

With all the warm weather I was expecting here to be a lot of boat traffic, which is never fun.

Strike Three.

The Fish Flies were hatching.

I really can’t consider this a strike since I usually do pretty well when they are hatching.  Problem is I have had nights where they covered the boat and car which is really annoying.  So keeping all this in mind I did what any logical fisherman would do, I went out anyways.  I arrived at the ramp around 8:30 pm and as expected there were mayfly casing covering the water and lots of big boats out.  I must have had a look of disgust on my face because the ramp attendant asked me if I was “ok” when he took my launch fee.  I launched anyways and became even more disgusted when I saw the mats of weeds floating downstream.  The water was very clear as well which would probably mean lots of the other fish until dark, providing they were still around.  They usually leave about the time the mayflies start up.  I headed for deeper water first until the sun got a little lower on the horizon.  I started off with a couple of spoons and a #9 CCT Rapala.  It didn’t take long and I had my first fish for the night.  Problem was that it wasn’t a walleye, it was a walleye’s smaller cousin, a yellow perch.  A first for me.  I have never caught a yellow perch pulling wire, nor on a Rapala.

If he had been a few inches longer I would have kept him.

From then on it was clearing weeds, dodging pleasure boats and catching everything else but a walleye.  Yellow perch, White perch, White bass, Smallmouth bass, Rock bass, Sheepshead.  Even after dark i was still catching this crap.  Almost two hours of this line fouling nonsense.  At one point I was surrounded by a bunch of Common Terns and Ring Billed Gulls.  I knew what was coming and before I could pull my lines it happened.  The water boiled from those other fish pushing emerald shiners to the surface and then the birds dove in with me right in the center of it all. As expected all of my lures had fish on them.  Once i got them in I got out of that area and headed north.  Shortly after that I got rid of the spoons and switched over to all Rapala’s.  That cut back on some of the junk fish but they were catching every weed floating by.  I had debated quitting but I didn’t want to go in empty handed.  It has been years since I have been skunked and I wanted that streak to continue.  Around 10:30 I finally caught a walleye.  I seriously thought about just throwing him back and heading in but I wanted some fresh fish so I decided to stick it out for a bit longer. I stayed in the same area where I caught the one and in the next 20 minutes he was joined by four of his pals.  Now I was heading in.

A couple minutes later I was back at the dock and tying off.  I was feeling a little better now but I questioned whether or not it was worth the effort.  I go fishing to relax, not stress myself out.  As I pondered this I made it back to my car where I got the final kick in the teeth.

I know it doesn’t look to bad but I knew that once I opened the hatch to put  gear away they would swarm into my Escape and I would be finding dead flies for the next week.  I suppose I shouldn’t complain, at least my car wasn’t coated like the white Border Patrol car parked next to me.

My silver lining for the night, along with the fish.

 

 





Weekend Update

5 06 2017

Friday, June 2nd, 2017

This past Friday evening started off pretty much the same as the prior one.  I was back walleye fishing in my usual spot at 9:30 pm.  Conditions were pretty good, partly cloudy skies with a slight NW breeze.  Boat traffic was a little higher than normal and in about 30 minutes I was about to find out why.  No matter though, I got set up and started my usual routine for night fishing when the other fish are in.  About 5 minutes in I had my first fish on and it turned out to be a 23 inch male walleye.  That was soon followed up by a second 21 inch male.  I was beginning to think that maybe the other fish had left.  That things would get back to normal.  That I wouldn’t have to constantly be pulling lines in to remove unwanted accidental catches.  I was wrong.

1,2,3,5,6,7,8,9,11,12,13,14,15,16…..

Around 10 pm I sensed a flash of light behind me and then a resounding boom.  Grosse Isle was shooting off fireworks, thus the reason for the increased boat traffic.  Shortly after the start of the show I picked up a third walleye and it would turn out to be my last one for the night.  Once the show was over all the boats headed for the docks and after that it was nothing but the other fish for the next few hours.  My last fish of the night turned out to be a white perch that had a brush with a muskie.  When I flipped it in the boat it had teeth marks across both sides.  Lucky little bugger.

 

Hope I never lose that Blue & White PP. It’s the only one I have.

 

Saturday, June 3rd, 2017

Chores.  I did find another Blue & White Pencil Plug while I was cleaning out the garage.  Day wasn’t a total waste of time after all.

 

Sunday, June 4th, 2017

Sunday started off with me attending Demo Days at Schultz’s Outfitter’s.  This is an annual event full of fly fishing, tying classes and demonstrations.  I signed up for the Micro Spey – Trout and Smallmouth class presented by Tom Larimer.  When spey fishing first arrived in Michigan it was all about Steelhead.  Lately though there has been an interest in scaling things down for the resident Brown & Rainbow Trout and Smallmouth bass.  Tom has been heavily involved with this, working with both G. Loomis in developing fly rods specifically for this and lines from Airflo to go with them.  Since I enjoy spey casting so much I wanted to learn how to incorporate what I have learned so far into catching the aforementioned species.  Class started off indoors at first with discussion about presentation, reading water and fly selection.  After that we wadered up and were standing in the water casting.  Tom brought along two prototype rods from G. Loomis and worked with each of us on our spey casting.  I like to think that I am getting better but after watching Tom I quickly realized I have a long way to go.  He did point out a couple of small items that I need to work on.  A couple of the finer points of setting “the anchor” that when done properly make a huge difference.  When I don’t do it things get ugly.  Just like anything else that is new I need to practice more.  I figure I’ll go down to the river a few times a week with my spey and switch rods and do just that.

Later that evening I grabbed my 5wt fly rod and headed to Washago Pond in Willow Metropark to play around with the bluegills.  Susan and I used to go to the park about once a month in the Spring and Summer.  She would read and take pictures while I fished.  Afterwards we would drive around and look at the deer or whatever other critter might be out and about.  Now it’s just me and the fish.  When I arrived around 8:00 pm it was dead calm and no sign of any surface activity.  Usually the swallows are skimming the surface trying to pick off newly hatched bugs, not tonight.  Undeterred from the lack activity I walked over to the edge of the pond, tied on a #14 Elk Hair Caddis dry fly and went at it.  The fly wasn’t on the surface for a second when the first bull gill smacked it.  About a minute later he was in hand.

The first of about 2 dozen.

This continued on for the next hour.  Every other cast resulted in another nice gill.  Eventually my dry fly started to turn into an emerger/sub surface fly and then a slow sinking fly.  I could of changed flies but it was still working so I didn’t bother.  The last few caught were strip sets.  I would see a subtle swirl where I thought my fly was and once I gave a tug I could feel the weight.  I must admit though, I tied that fly right.  It never fell apart, even after being almost swallowed by most of the fish.  Around 9:00 pm fishing started to slow down so after one more fish I packed it up and went home.  My elbows and wrists were getting sore from all the fly casting today anyways.  I can always come back.

In the immortal words of Porky Pig….”That’s All Folks“.

 

Afterwards I drove around the park to watch the deer, just like Susan and I used to do.  There were about a dozen of them out, most with their summer cinnamon tan already.  No fawns yet, they are probably hunkered down somewhere safe from the resident coyotes.

Perfect way to end the weekend.