July 4th Weekend Report

7 07 2014

Decided to give it a shot Saturday morning (7/5) figuring no one would be on the water after all the celebrating from the day before.  Problem was I didn’t take into account that I would be getting home so late myself.  I ended up getting a later start than I wanted and what made it worse was Gibraltar road was closed so I had to take a detour.  Add in the fact that I was heading over to Amherstburg and the ensuing call in (which was remarkably easy) I didn’t even start fishing until 8:30 am.  I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal since the water is deeper here and there was a nice stain to the water.  What I didn’t count on was the millions and millions of mayfly casings floating on the water.  They were all bunched up in groups and they were everywhere.  I’m betting the people that live up on lake St. Clair are having a fit right now.  Floating weeds were mixed in with the casings and I ended up spending most of my morning clearing lines.  I could have ran back over to the US side but I had already wasted enough time and it was getting to late in the morning for it to do any good.  I fought through it for a couple of hours, tried different areas but I only managed one small walleye.  I didn’t even catch any non target species.  Either the fish gorged themselves on mayfly nymphs or they were still in hiding from all the rockets red glare the night before.  At least I’m on the Ontario database now so calling in should be a breeze. 

Originally my plan was to sleep in on Sunday (7/6) but after my abysmal trip the day before I had to try and salvage something for the weekend.  This time I was up at 5:30 am and on the water with lines down at 6:00 pm back in US water.  It was still cloudy out and the water much cleaner and the surface was casing and weed free.  Things were looking good.  Just wish the walleye felt the same way.  I didn’t get my first fish until almost 7:30 am. and it turned out to be a 36 inch Musky.  I picked up a few smallmouth and around 8:00 am I finally had a walleye in the box.  By now the sun was well above the tree line but the clouds were still keeping it in check.  I worked over my usual areas pretty hard trying different speeds, spoons, body baits, anything I could think of to trigger a strike.  I only had a short window of opportunity since I had to do some river work for the HRWC at 11:30 up near South Lyon.  I decided to give the deeper water below the free bridge a shot for the last 30 minutes.  I Marked a number of fish but all I was able to get was another smallmouth.  As I was nearing the end of the coal dock I noticed how the current formed and eddy at the very head of it and sped up as it went around.  I thought to myself that that looked like a good ambush spot and moved in to try and work the seam.  It didn’t take long when my second walleye hit and shortly thereafter he was in the box.  I made another loop through the area but didn’t catch anything else.  I would have worked the area harder but I had to get going.  I marked the waypoint for future reference.  I’ll have to run over the entire length of the dock and mark the depth change a little more closely. 

So that was it for the weekend, 3 fish for almost 6 hours of fishing.  A couple of things to note.  Both walleye caught in US waters had a size #9 Goby in their stomach.  I tried #9 Rapala’s in several colors but with no luck.  I did catch both of them on a #7 Clown Rapala.  So much for matching the hatch.  The water on the US side is still ridiculously clear and the weed growth is showing it.  Shallow areas around the islands have weeds all the way to the surface.  Once these west winds stop I have a feeling the floating weeds mats are really going to be a problem very soon. 

I hope July starts to turn around, so far it is really starting to suck.

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A year in a Life – June

16 06 2014

The Second Coming.

Now I’m not going to start reciting bible verses by heart or quoting scripture but June to me is all about the Second Coming. Or in this case the 2nd run. That’s right, a second run of walleye into the Detroit River. Shortly after the silver invasion heads back out into Lake Erie a smaller run of walleye leave Lake Erie and head back upstream. Many old timers used to tell me about this and it never really made sense to me but since I started keeping more accurate records and paying closer attention to the fish being caught I started to notice a few trends.

The first thing I noticed was that when June and July rolled around I started catching smaller fish, lots of eaters in the 15 to 18 inch range and more sub-legal fish. I never thought about it before but I started to wonder why I rarely catch any sub-legal fish during the Spring run? The other thing I noticed was that some of the fish I would catch would be really dark in color (resident fish) and others would be very light in color (migrants) , similar to the light tan colored fish caught in Lake Erie. Inquiring minds wanted to know so I asked our local fisheries biologist what was up.

He told me that the Detroit River experiences a smaller run of walleye mid summer and it lasts for several months. Mainly smaller immature fish that move in to chase the smaller baitfish, in this case minnows, goby’s and eventually smallmouth fry. The bigger mature fish head east (Ohio) and north (Canada) to deeper and cooler waters. Now I don’t know what they are chasing in Ohio but I do know that in Canada it is smelt. As for the smaller versions they stay in the river and load up on shiners. Now there are local fish that stick around through Silver time but the lower river fills up with “Eater” walleye, especially on the Amherstburg side.

I can’t wait for the Second Coming. This is when I really go into attack mode and stock up the freezer. I will catch more fish in June or July than I will in March, April and May combined. That first couple of weeks after the Silvers leave is a feeding frenzy. Fishing is easy and can be fast and furious when conditions cooperate. Give me a little stain to the water and early morning fishing can be a riot. This is when I break out the spoons and I give the walleye a steady diet of them. Walleye are gorging themselves on shiners and I am trying to oblige them. On numerous occasions I have found bunches of dead minnows in my cooler that the walleye have caught coughed up. Upstream fishermen will be running spinners and Rabble Rousers but in my area it’s spoons, spoons and more spoons. I’ll even run them at night, usually on my kicker, and still catch fish. The worst part about this is trying to get to that point. It’s not like I can get a message from the Fish Gods declaring that the Second Coming has arrived. I have to go out there and find out the hard way if the Barbarian Silver Horde has left. Sometimes I get lucky, most times I don’t. The reward though can make it very worthwhile. Just remember in the daylight hours think small. After you find a few dead minnows in your cooler you’ll know what I mean. Spike Spoons and size #5 and #7 Rapala’s.

Oh, one other advantage to this time of year. No more long lines at the ramps or sharing a spot with 100 other boats. All those once a year guys have put their boat away for the year or have headed out to Lake Erie. Most mornings or evenings it’s half a dozen boats at most and I pretty much know all of them. Just the die hard River Rats that know all about the Second Coming.





A year in a life – March

5 03 2014

This is it, the month I have been waiting for.  All my preparations are finally going to come into play.  The all out assault can begin.  Oh wait, that was last year.

Fast forward to 2014 and the never ending winter.  This one has been so bad that I can’t even tell my kids that I used to have winters like this all the time when I was their age.  Not anymore.  The last time we received this much snow was during the winter of 1880/81.  That’s right, over 130 years ago.  To top it all off the Great Lakes are nearing 100% ice cover.  This has never happened in my lifetime and probably never will again.  The latest 10 day forecast shows a couple of days just above freezing but the nights will still be in the teens and 20’s.  All this means is that I won’t even get the boat in the water until the end of April.  I’m beginning to wonder if the lakes in northern michigan will be ice free by the trout/walleye/pike/muskie opener on April 26th.

Once things do break up I will be in full attack mode.  That means fishing new areas and using techniques I don’t normally use.  Normally handlining doesn’t start to heat up until the surface temps get above 40 degrees.  That could be the beginning of May at this rate.  In the mean time I may have to do some jigging to put some fresh fish in the freezer.  Early on it is more snagging than actually jigging but the alternative is doing nothing.

Once temps creep into the right zone than it will be a steady dose of Rapala’s in various sizes and colors until those other things show up.  Then it will be Pencil Plugs at night and weekend trips to the St. Clair river.  I might even throw in a early trip to Sanilac, Lexington or Oscoda to see if I can catch any Atlantic Salmon.  If not it will be a full court press on the walleye.  This summer will be that same thing.  Come July my weekend excursions will be lots of trips to Amherstburg to pull wire when the weeds and wind cooperate.  If not then it will be Bottom Bouncers or jigging in the same area.  The fish are there all summer it’s just a matter of getting the right presentation to make them hit.  Normally all I will do is pull wire but when the weeds are bad it will be Bottom Bouncers or jigs.  It’s a lot easier to deal with the floating weeds moving with them instead of against them.

Hopefully I will be able to use some of my owed favors for a trip or two on Lake Erie.  I usually make one trip a year but the last few have proven to be very daunting.  Engine problems, rough water, horrendous weed conditions and a lack of fish have made the trips more trouble than they are worth.  I know some people say it’s just good to be on the water but I won’t say that.  Getting bounced around a boat while constantly clearing lines for weeds while catching dinky white perch is not my idea of a good time.  I’ll stay home and go to Plan B.

I’m starting to feel like those people on Alaska The Last Frontier.  Got to fill the freezer before winter sets in.  Winter isn’t even over and already I am planning on how to fill the freezer.  I never realized just how much I miss having fresh fish.  I pulled some walleye out the other night and part of it was freezer burned.  I still ate it but it wasn’t quite as good as what I am used too.  I may have to start keeping a few steelhead, salmon and bluegills to help stretch out the fish diet.

Oh well, it will start soon enough.  As for now I will still plot, plan, scheme, dream, swear, complain, beg, pray and anything else I can think of until I finally hit the water.





Lessons learned 2013

1 01 2014

2013 turned out to be a very frustrating year for walleye fishing.  Granted some people had better results than me and some worse.  No matter where I may have ended up on the grand scheme of things I still sit back and contemplate what went right and what went wrong.  So without further ado here are my lessons learned from 2013.

#1  Prior year success does not guarantee future success.

Kind of sounds like what of those investment commercials telling you past performance does not guarantee future results.  2012 turned out to be the best year of my life.  The weather cooperated and the walleye were plentiful.  Fishing was so easy that i never went over to Amherstburg to fish.  Why make the run when I am catching easy limits less than 1/4 of a mile from the ramp?  I was so confident that I didn’t buy a CDN license for 2013.  That turned out to be a big mistake.  Around mid July the walleye in the Trenton Channel were few and far between.  Meanwhile fishermen were catching easy limits over in Amherstburg.  Granted I could have bought a license in July but I was convinced I would be able to find fish in US waters.  Eventually they did show back up again but not until October and the weather was not cooperating.  Oh well, live and learn.  I will be getting a CDN license for 2014, especially since I now have and engine I can trust and will make the trip a whole lot faster.

#2 Sometimes you just have to let go.

For close to 35 years my little Crestliner was powered by a 20 HP Mercury.  Over the last few years I was starting to have problems but I continued to work around them.  I refused to give up my engine until the day it happened, my worst nightmare, hung up and the engine stalls.  I was able to get the engine started and I didn’t lose any equipment nut It could have been a lot worse.  After that incident I went out and bought my 25 HP Evinrude E-Tech.  All I can say is that I wish I had done this sooner.  It’s just hard to let go and before anyone makes any comment about the boat forget it.  I am not, repeat not getting rid of my boat for a new one.  There are some things I just refuse to get rid of.

#3 The same old lures still catch fish. 

Every year I try and find that new color that will make the fish just jump right into the boat.  Guess what? I still haven’t found it and the same old patterns still produce.  You think I would have learned by now.  I did make a point of using Pencil plugs this year and guess what?  They caught fish as well.  Imagine that.

#4 Is it just me or is the %^*$ Bass run lasting longer?

This year I caught my first fish that shall not be named mid April and my last one mid July.  That’s 3 months of dealing with those things.  People ask me how long the run lasts and I used to say between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.  Not anymore.  I have no idea when they are going to show up and when they are going to leave.  I moved up the start of my handlining tournament by a week in order to avoid them and it didn’t matter.  I wish the DNR would do set the limit like it is in Canada, no daily limit.  Maybe then the tri-hull navy will thin out the population some.

#5 No Muskie or Steelhead this year.

What’s up with that?  Usually I catch a few of each but not this year.  Instead I catch channel cats, on spoons.  That has me even more perplexed.

 

Well that’s it for 2013, hopefully 2014 will give us a hatch like 2003 and full freezers like 2012.

 

 

 

 

 





Christmas Wish List

18 12 2013

From what I have been told I am impossible to shop for.  How difficult can it be?  I am an outdoorsman, there should be plenty of options out there.  Problem is I am not a “mainstream” sportsman.  My whole life does not revolve around Whitetails or Largemouth Bass and it seems that all products are geared towards those two species.  Just turn on the TV to the Sportsman channels and you will get  steady diet of deer and bass.  My needs are a little more speciaialized and I am very particular about the equipment I use. 

Item #1

Now those who know me would probably expect this to be a butt load of Rapala’s.  Thruth is those that know me know I already have a butt load of Rapala’s and I really don’t need anymore (yeah right).  Actually, what I need is something to get me through those winter months when the ramps are iced up and I can’t launch my boat.  This year I am going to try Steelhead fishing.  Yeah you read that right, Steelhead.  I already have all the accessories, all I need is a rod.  This of course will have to be left up to me because no one in my family has any clue as to what the difference is bewteen one fishing rod or another.  I can already picture my sister in law picking out an Ugly Stick and a Zebco 404 reel to go with it. Not even close.  After the Christmas rush is over I’ll take a drive up to Andy’s Tackle and pick out one to my liking. 

Item #2

This isn’t something I really don’t need but it would be nice to have.  Problem is once you buy one it is already obsolete and the newer version is already in production.  I could really use a new Depthfinder/GPS for my boat.  Something in color of course and it doesn’t have to be in HD though I’m sure if I cave in and buy one I will go all out.  My current graph is an old B/W Eagle and while it works I never really know if that grey blob is a fish or just junk.  A color one will help.  Then again I wonder what the point is, I always fish the same areas and if I don’t catch fish in one area I move on to the next.  If I was fishing the lake a lot I would already have one but my river spots don’t change much.

Item #3

Speaking of river spots its time to re-visit my Canadian ones.  Last summer in the Channel was rough and they were hammering away at the walleye in Amherstburg like thay always seem to do.  I didn’t buy a CDN license in 2013 because I did so well in 2012 in US waters that I didn’t feel the need.  Big Mistake!!

Item #4

Last but not least I have one more item I want and it isn’t fishing related.  I want a new .22 rifle for squirrel hunting.  Though there is nothing wrong with my old Marlin Model 60 I am seeing the need for a clip fed rifle and a more powerful scope.  My eyes aren’t what they used to be and trying to put the crosshairs on the noggin of a squirrel is getting to be more and more difficult.  Granted getting a new scope would be a cheaper alternative but I want a rifle that can shoot squirrles out to 50 yards and shoot any type of .22 ammo I feed it.  My current rifle is a tube fed semi-auto and while it is fun to shoot it can be tempermental.  I may not be able to squeeze off many quick shots with a bolt action but I will be able to shoot all the boxes of sub sonic .22 ammo that I have right now.  With the current shortages of ammo, having a rifle that can shoot just about anything I can find is a definite plus. 

Well there it is, my wish list for this Christmas.  What’s on your list this year?

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Mark Schaller





Boblo Island Walleye 6-27-12

27 06 2012

Took the morning off to try get some fishing in before my afternoon of errands and dr. appointments. I had sent an e-mail to my friend Jerry the other day to see if he was going out and if he wanted company. His answer was yes, providing I bring him some more rhubarb from my garden. No Problem.

I arrived at his house bright and early and after a brief discussion Jerry decided we should go try the Amherstburg Channel. He had heard from a fellow DWF member that they were catching a lot of walleye in that area. We both had our Canadian licenses so east we went. After a short boat ride around Celeron Island and the south tip of Grosse Isle we were soon passing the north end of Bois Blanc Island, better known as Boblo Island. Back in the day this island used to be an Amusement Park. Now all that is left is the needle, a few docks and some old buildings on the south end. The north end is now luxury homes that can only be accessed by a ferry crossing in Amherstburg.

We set up in the channel on the NE side of the island. There were a few other hand liners just north of us so Jerry pointed the boat upstream and headed their way. We fished around the area for about 20 minutes but all we got were Silver Bass (my favorite) and Sheepshead (my other favorite). We saw more boats farther up stream so Jerry said pull lines and we headed north. We started again in about 30 feet of water and we were on the fish this time. We stayed in the area for the next hour or so and picked up 8 fish. Our depths varied from 20 to 30 feet and we picked up fish at all depths. There was no real pattern as we caught fish all over the area and on several different color spoons. Around 10:00 am we started to pack it up so that we had time to head back and clean fish. I told my son Jacob that I would pick him up around 11 and the hour would be just enough time to get everything done.

Once we were back at Jerry’s I took a quick picture of our catch and Jerry started cleaning. This was alright, I didn’t have to drive the boat, all I had to do was fish and now someone else was cleaning my catch. Life is Good. Jerry kept a couple for dinner tonight for he and his wife Sue. The rest he gave to me which was much appreciated. My family is planning a get together for the 4th and I have been told I am cooking fish.

No pictures of the spoons today.  I forgot but then again I would need to take a picture of 7 different spoons.  We caught fish on every lead and just about every color in our combined arsenals.