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.

10/16/14 Walleye Report – Dad’s Turn

17 10 2014

Late last year my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer.  At first the oncologists had it under control but around the beginning of February he developed a couple of blood clots and things started going south from there.  The chemo and radiation treatments were taking a toll on him.  His legs started to swell up, he was losing weight and the treatments were zapping his strength.  May was a particularly bad month and I was beginning to wonder if my last fishing trip with him was going to be a waste of a salmon trip out of Harrisville last September.   He was staying with me for the whole month so he could go to the Ann Arbor VA for his daily treatments and I felt guilty going fishing.  It just didn’t seem right me being out there when he was back at my house and so miserable.  I had people asking me to tag along on my boat and I really didn’t want to take anyone.  That extra spot in my boat is reserved for my Dad and I didn’t want anyone else catching fish from it.  Fortunately, thanks to the oncologists at the VA in Ann Arbor, a little luck and a lot of prayers he turned around and started getting better.  The cancer is still there but it is in regression.  This summer was spent getting his weight and strength back and now he and I can go walleye fishing once again.  Of course now that he has the strength to go fishing I don’t have a boat.  This is where my friend Richard saved the day.  He offered to take my Dad and I out the next time he was down.  Well luck was on our side and the rain passed so even though Richard’s face was half numb from an afternoon dentist appointment he picked us up and we were on our way.

We started a little late, around 7:30 pm, and headed to the same spot I caught all my fish last Friday.  Since Richard’s new boat is a side console he offered to just drive while my Dad and I sat in the back and fished.  I got my Dad set up and went about getting my lures in the water.  While I was doing that my Dad pulled in his first walleye for 2014.  Mission accomplished.  All I wanted for him was to get out and at least catch one fish.  I was hoping that this early success would mean more fish but it turns out we would only get 1 more for the night.  That’s ok though.  This trip was about getting him out on the water more than anything else.  It was a beautiful night out, very few clouds, no wind, no bugs, not many weeds just not many fish.  At least we got to go and it looks like we will be going again.

As I said before it was a perfect night out.  Weeds were minimal and the water is still clear.  Surface temps were back up to between 57 and 58 degrees.  It needs to get down to the 50″s to get some of the bigger fish on the move.  My Dad caught his fish on a #9 Bleeding Olive Rapala and I caught mine on a #11 Bleeding Chartreuse Rapala.  Both of them were in the 18 inch range.  I didn’t feel like cleaning 2 fish so when Richard dropped us off I told him to keep the fish.  He was nice enough to drive us around for a few hours and I thought it was the least I can do.

Now with some more prayers maybe my Dad and I can return to tearing up the walleye population next Spring.



Last trip for April 4/25/14

26 04 2014

This will be my last walleye report for the month of April.  Short, sweet and to the point.

Went out 4/25/14, caught 6, kept 5 and threw back 1.

4 trips, 4 limits.  Life is Good.

The End


Actually there is a little more than that.  I didn’t even arrive on the water until after 8:00 pm.  With a clear sky and even clearer water I didn’t see much of a point to start too early.  By 8:30 pm I had my first fish and by 10:00 pm I caught my 5th keeper.  All 5 fish came on my 40 foot lead and a #11 Bleeding Chartreuse Rapala.  I did catch a sub legal walleye on my kicker and a #7 Fire Tiger Rapala.  Water temp was around 46 degrees and as I said before remarkably clear.

Taking a break for the next week.  I’m going to be out of town for a bit so the local male walleye population will be granted a reprieve.

Now when I come back…….Game On Part II.


18 to 24 inches long, all males.

18 to 24 inches long, all males.