Wash, Rise, Repeat……….Sort of.

4 05 2020

Wen out this past Friday and Saturday and picked up a limit each night.  Not hard to do right now since this time of the year the river is full of 15 to 20 inch post spawn fish that are very hungry.  Only item of note was that getting to those limits were different each night.  Just goes to show how one change in condition can make a big difference.

I was on the water Friday night around 7:30 pm.  I had a bad week and was anxious to get started and de-stress a bit.  I didn’t expect to catch much until dark and considered anything before sunset a bonus.  There was a SW breeze making the water a little bumpy but nothing to get excited about.  It was more of a good “Walleye Chop”.  It didn’t take long before I had the first one in the cooler.  I followed that one up with 3 more before 8:00 pm.  At this rate I figured I’d be done soon but just that quick the wind died down to nothing and so did the fish.  For the next hour I didn’t catch a thing and from what I could see, no one around me was either.  Why walleye shut down like that with a wind change still baffles.  Like many years before this one though once it turned 9:00 pm I picked up the last two in a couple of minutes.  Now it could have been because it was past sunset or I found some active fish or my speed was just right or a multitude of other things but something changed in those couple of minutes.  Just like knowing the number of licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie pop, the world may never know.

The following night I didn’t even hit the water until 8:30 pm.  It had been windy all day and I was waiting for it to die down some before I went out.  West winds around 10-15 mph I can deal with, it’s those 25 mph gusts I don’t want to deal with.  The winds weren’t causing much wave action on the water, it just made boat control a pain.  Still, I set up and started my usual pattern.  My friend Dave was out with his son Brayden and I saw him lose a fish at the side of the boat.  Of course I had to give him some crap for that.  A little while later I had my first one at 8:55 pm.  About 10 minutes later I caught my last 5 fish in a five minute period.  Numbers 3 & 4 were a double that both hit at the same time.  The last fish was the biggest and it managed to tangle up my 40 foot leader.  I just waded it all up in a ball and threw it in the bucket.  Winds were picking up and I wanted to get off the water.  I tracked down Dave to say good night and he told me they had 3.  The next day he told me they finished up their 2 man limit around 10:15 pm.  Again, he didn’t start catching anything until after 9.  The sun must be just low enough that the walleye go into night feeding mode at 9:00 pm.  It’s odd but that pattern repeats itself year after year.  Providing the water is very clear, which it was.

I stayed home Sunday night.  Winds were the same as the night before and I didn’t want to fight them again.  They are supposed to be in the single digits all week so I’ll go out then.  Water temps are in the 50 degree range so those other fish aren’t to far off.  Though we have a couple of frost warnings this week so that may put a damper on their migration.

 





Mental Health Walleye Trip 5/14/19

15 05 2019

5/14/19 and the Barbarian Horde still hasn’t taken over the river.

Thank God!

Earlier I had a routine doctor appointment that got a little out of hand.  It was supposed to be a follow up but it turned into a bit of a health scare and an all day event.  Everything is ok now but the one test sent me into a panic so I figured my best course of action to relax was to go fishing.  I would have liked to have gone out earlier but since it was such a beautiful day I opted to start after sunset.  The annual “Other Fish” invasion was on the verge of exploding and I didn’t need that to add to my stress.  With that in mind I launched right around 9:00 pm.  As expected the water was clear and still running high.  As a matter of fact, based on the water levels on shore, it looked a little higher than last time out.  Remnants of the Tri-Hull navy were coming in as I was getting ready.  I was hoping they were still early.  In a few minutes I would find out that my prayer’s were answered.  My first two fish were a couple of those little buggers but that was it.  After that it was all walleye for the next 30 minutes.

No specific color or lead out produced the other tonight.  I caught fish on all of them.  As a matter of fact, I have stuck to the same 3 or 4 patterns all season.  All have consistently produced, except for that one night with my cousin when the new pattern produced half the fish caught.  Still a fair amount of debris in the water and the current was really humping.  Had to kick up the rpm’s on my motor a bit to keep some forward momentum.  If I didn’t I soon found myself going downstream instead of up.  Lot of head shakes and probably a few scrapes tonight.  When I got home I found a few scales on one of my Rapalas.  I think I bonked a couple on the head with my weight as well.  There has got to be a lot of fish in the river right now.  I would like to think they are all walleye but I know better.  About a dozen other handliners out tonight, most I’ve seen all season.  A little late to the party but that’s their business.

I felt a lot better after I got the fish cleaned and the boat put away.  Going back up to Port Austin this weekend to chase Smallmouth Bass.  I’ll try for the walleye again after I get home.

 

 





Erie Perch, 08/27/17

28 08 2017

My original plan for last weekend was to take care of some chores and do a little fly fishing each morning.  That all changed early Saturday when I got a text from Steve Schoonover, owner of The Mad Viking Tackle Company.  Normally I don’t start perch fishing until the Fall when they make their way into the river.  Since they have been doing so well on Erie I jumped at the chance to get an early start on putting some in the freezer.  We made plans to meet at the Bolles Harbor Marina the next day around 10:00 am.  Fellow Handliner Dave and his son Braden were also along for the trip.  That meant we had the potential to go home with a 4 man limit of perch, 200 of them.  While that sounds both excessive and awesome the thought of cleaning that many really didn’t appeal to me.  I’d be happy with a couple of dozen each.  I give most of the yellow perch I catch to my Mom and she really can’t eat that many anyways.

Once we got the boat loaded up with our gear we made our way to the first stop near Stony Point.  There were some decent rollers so it made for a bumpy ride.  The Algal bloom wasn’t to bad in this area but looking out over the lake you could see where the surface would go from green to blue.  We started drifting perch rigs (supplied by Steve) at first to find some active fish.  Once we did we dropped anchor.  The first stop yielded about 2 dozen perch in the 9 to 11 inch range.  Not a bad start but after an hour we moved on towards the Raisin River bouys.  There were a lot more boats in this area so we picked a spot just outside of the pack.  The bloom was a little thicker here but nothing like the pea soup it had been like a week ago.  We picked up about another dozen during the next hour.  Around 1 Steve had us pull lines and we moved deeper into the center of the pack.  Once we dropped lines it was game on.  For the next couple of hours the 4 of us steadily filled the live well.  We only got a handful of doubles but we weren’t complaining.  We were kept busy and there were very few lulls in the action.  If we didn’t get a bite after a minute or two we were pulling in to check for bait.  The minnows we had didn’t survive well and by now we were using dead ones.  The perch didn’t seem to mind but whenever we set the hook the minnows would come off all the hooks.  We were even doubling up on the minnows on each hook.  We pretty much had to, the emeralds we had were in two sizes, extra large and extra small.  The extra large ones were used first, after that it was the pinheads, two at a time.  Like I said though, it didn’t matter.  The perch were abundant and hungry.  Only problem was that being bounced around in the boat for the day was starting to take it’s toll.  We were already at 100 so Steve decided we should quit at 125.  Braden brought in #125 but since we still had lines out it was soon followed by numbers 126 and 127.  All that was left now was the trip back in and the cleaning.  With four people helping it only took about an hour, which isn’t to bad at all.

Father & Son

Captain Steve, The Original Mad Viking.

Doubling Up

 





8/15/17 Dink Report

16 08 2017

August is usually a transition  month for walleye on the river.  Surface temps are in the 70’s.  Weed beds have popped up everywhere.  Boaters trying to get those last few trips in before the season is over.  Me raining hell fire down upon them for the last 4 months doesn’t help either.  Without a fresh influx of fish from Erie the fishing can get a little tough.  This was what I was up against last night as I tried to put a few more in the cooler.  Clear, warm water.  A moderate amount of weeds.  A few pleasure boaters and lethargic fish.  I did catch plenty of walleye, problem is most of them were 13 inches long.

I started off by the tires again to see if the last trip was a fluke.  I marked a lot of fish but the majority of them were undersized.  I did manage to catch one keeper out of that spot.  Once the sun set I headed farther downstream and got to work.  Again it was more of the same, lots of undersized fish and less than enthusiastic strikes.  On more than one occasion I thought I had a bunch of weeds on only to find it was a fish.  Some of the hits I barely felt, a slight bump and then dead weight.  Most of these fish I lost right at the boat, some before I could see them and others as I was getting ready to flip them in.  It was like they discussed this and came up with a plan.  Barely grab the lure, wait till he is about to flip us in the boat and then shake like crazy to throw the hook.  It was a strategy that was working all to well.  I was getting so gun shy that I kept the net right along side of me.  Not that it did any good.  My last fish of the night was a smoker candidate that I lost about 5 feet from the boat.  He barely hit my #9 original Rapala and never fought as I was bringing him up.  Once I got him into the light I could see he was barely hooked.  I went for the net and that was when he threw my lure right back at me.  After that one I packed it in.  2 1/2 ours of fishing and all I had to show for it was 2 keepers, a bunch of dinks, several “Baaa’s”, a couple of “Yo Adrian’s”, and one baby “Bronzeback”.  The fish are there, I just need to be out there when they are feeling a little more aggressive.  Maybe next week.  Headed up north this weekend to try for Atlantic Salmon and Pink Salmon.  Hopefully they are a little more cooperative.





Time Heals……..Eventually

9 08 2017

We’ve all heard the saying “Time heals all wounds”.  Personally, I don’t think it does.  Two years later and I still have a hard time getting used to fishing without my Dad.  I enjoy my time on the water but not being able to have him sitting next to me, in his spot, sucks.  Even when he couldn’t go I could still call him and give him a play by play on my phone.  His reel is still prepped and ready to go, complete with his shank and leaders.  His box of Rattlin’ Rogue’s are still tucked away under the seat, waiting to be used.  Even though I can use them whenever I want I don’t.  They were his and I don’t feel right using them or letting anyone else use them.  Hell, I still have a hard time letting anyone come along and sit on his side of the boat.  On the rare occasion that I do I’m surprised I haven’t called my guest “Dad”.  Then again, I might have and they just stayed silent out of respect.  With all that in mind I found myself back out on the river tonight pulling wire.  It seemed fitting with it being the two-year anniversary of his death.  Staying home and reminiscing about past trips felt like it would do more harm than good.

I started a lot earlier than I normally do.  Even though the skies were clear and the sun was bright I didn’t care.  I needed to be on the water and catching fish didn’t seem all that important.  Around 7:30 pm I launched my boat and started my way south.  As I was going past the coal docks I noticed that the floating weeds were non-existent so I decided to make a pass there first.  Normally I don’t fish this area because the weeds are so bad.  Since the area was clear I decided to give it a shot.  I set up at the south end in about 20 feet of water and worked my way north.  Nothing happened at first but once I got to the end, things got interesting.  About 50 feet north of the dock I hooked and landed a sub-legal walleye.  No big deal but it warranted a second pass through to see if their might be more.  On my second pass I hooked a double of two more sub-legal fish.  On my next pass I hooked another double, one legal and one sub-legal fish.  My next pass yielded another sub-legal fish.  The next pass through I hooked a triple, one legal fish and two just barely sub-legal fish.  This pattern would repeat itself for the next half hour.  Catch a few fish, make a loop, do it again.  All in an area not 30 feet from shore and about 100 yards form the bridge.  Eventually I wore out my welcome and the fish shut down.  Either that or I caught them all.  By now the sun was starting to set so I pulled lines and headed down to my regular area.

Once I got down by the flag I swapped out my 1 1/2 pound weight and replaced the spoons I was using with Rapalas.  I went through my usual routine for the next hour and all I caught were a few more sub-legal fish.  After the flurry of activity I had in the first hour this next hour and a half was rather tedious.  Of course I started debating going in early but I wanted to know if their were still fish in the area so I kept at it.  Around 10:00 pm the full moon finally cleared what few clouds their were and I changed the #9 Original on my 40 foot lead to a #11 Clown.  That did the trick, in the next half hour I landed two more legal walleye and I was headed for home.  I ended up with a limit, about 2 dozen sub-legal fish, a couple of Rockies, Smallies, Sheeps and no CATS.  After my last trip I didn’t want to see any of those things.  The water is still very clear, the surface temp was around 75 degrees and the weeds weren’t much of an issue.  I don’t know when I will be out again.  I’m headed up to Oscoda for a wedding this weekend and hopefully the St. Mary’s river the following weekend to try for some Atlantic Salmon.  Hopefully, while I am gone, a few walleye will make their way into the river from Erie.  I may make a few trips during the week.  Depends on how I’m feeling and if I start to feel a little claustrophobic sitting at home.





Richard’s Do-Over, 7/26/17

27 07 2017

After our last trip, Richard had told me he wanted a do over.  This time though he wanted to take his boat and have me drive.  He had been going through a dry spell on the walleye and was curious to see if maybe he was trolling at the wrong speed.  I told him it wasn’t a problem and we made arrangements for me to meet him at the dock at 9:00 pm.  At 9:01 pm I was standing on the dock, gear in hand, and soon he was pulling up so I could jump in.  He had arrived earlier so he could make a test run to make sure everything was working.  He had replaced the impellar in his motor earlier and he wanted to make sure it was working while it was still light out.

We slowly made our way downstream and eventually Richard relinquished control of the tiller to me.  I worked my way to the east side of the river, down by the flag, and got set up.  My lines weren’t even down 30 seconds when I started to bring in number one.  Richard was still getting set up so I was sneaky about bringing the fish in.  I was holding it when I asked him where the pliers were.  He handed them to me and the look on his face when he saw the walleye was priceless.  A couple of minutes later I had another fish on and I knew that something wasn’t quite right with this one, or should I say both of them.  I flipped the first one in and while Richard was commenting about how quickly I caught it I flipped in the second one.  About 5 minutes after that number four was in the boat.  Richard just looked at me with a stare of both amazement and disgust.  I handed him my lure box and told him #9 Black and Gold.  He switched out what he was using on his 40 foot lead and got back to business.  By 10 pm I had number five and I was jokingly commenting about how he can start to contribute to the cooler.

Fishing slowed down for a bit after that initial flurry but we continued to chip away at them.  While I was untangling my lines from a foul hooked Rock Bass Richard hooked into and landed his first channel cat handlining.  He caught it on a black/gold Shad Rap.  I only mentioned the lure and color for later reference.  Around 11:30 pm we caught number ten and we headed in.  A two man limit, no lures lost or broken bills, no injuries and a bonus cat.  The only issue with the night was the weeds, which were a pain.

The water is still very clear with a surface temp of around 72 degrees.  Wind was out of the south and the skies were overcast.  All of Richard’s walleye came on the #9 Rapala in black & gold.  The same color as the Shad Rap.  This just drives home my point about how action, size and depth are more important than color.  No walleye on the Shad Rap, only the F9 Rapala.  All of mine came on the F9 in Original, the F7 Perch and a black and silver spoon.  No undersized fish tonight.  No Smallmouth Bass, just a couple of Rock Bass and one very lost Blankity Blank.  No pics today, I sent all the fish home with Richard.  Didn’t feel like cleaning any tonight and he was headed back up north so he wouldn’t be out again for a while.  As for me, I’m giving the walleye a break this weekend.  Headed up to the Manistee to go swing some streamers for trout.

 

 

 





Another Fishy Weekend

17 07 2017

Friday Evening, 7/14/17

 Friday night found me doing my usual thing at my usual spot catching my usual fish.  I started a little earlier than I have been, hoping to try and get a few on spoons before nightfall.  Didn’t turn out like I had hoped.  From 8:30 to 9:30 pm I only caught one keeper and had one throwback on the spoons.  Shortly after 9:30 it was “Hold My Beer”.  In the next 30 minutes I finished up my limit, threw back about 6 and lost 2 at the boat.  A couple of the throwbacks were just barely legal fish but I was feeling cocky so I threw them back.  It was one of those nights where everything was going right and I was sure I would catch bigger fish.  I even managed to land a 19 inch smallmouth without tangling up and of my other leaders.  By 10:00 pm number 5 was in the cooler and I was headed home.  I thought about staying out later and doing the “Catch & Release” thing but I have never been a fan of that, not when it comes to handlining.  I had my 5 so it was time to head in.  The way this summer was going I would have plenty of opportunities to catch more.

Saturday Morning, 7/15/17

My original plans for Saturday morning was to take care of some errands before I met my son for lunch around noon.  Those plans quickly fell apart when I arrived at my barber shop only to find it was closed because my barber broke his wrist.  The other items on my errand list didn’t pan out so I said screw it and went fishing.  I was going to take another crack at the carp in the same spot I went to last week.  Things didn’t go to well with the carp (I managed to hook into one that ran me to my backing before the leader broke) but the gills and Ditch Pickles kept me busy. The first gill was a surprise.  I was casting to a carp when a gill came up and grabbed my carp fly.  While I was bringing him in a Bowfin came up and tried to grab the gill.  He made several attempts but was never able to clamp down.  Once I released the gill I cast my fly towards him but he didn’t want anything to do with my offering.  Later that morning I had a Largemouth Bass do the same thing on another gill I was bringing in.  He was able to get a hold of the gill but it was to big for him to swallow.  I wasn’t able to coax him into grabbing my fly but I did manage to get about a half-dozen of his brethren.  Around noon I headed home.  Not the result I was hoping for but I wasn’t going to complain.  Anytime I can catch some nice gills and a few Ditch Pickles on a fly rod is a good day.  I made a mental note of where I saw all the beds (yes, bluegills on beds in July) and figured I would bring my 4 wt tomorrow and some gill appropriate flies.

Sunday Morning, 7/16/17

Sunday morning I was headed back to “The Carp Hole” with a new plan of attack.  I got there earlier with the hope of finding the fish a little more relaxed and in feed mode.  I brought along my      4 wt and my Bluegill/Trout box so I could play with the gills, if the carp didn’t want to cooperate.  Little did I realize that it was a good thing I did because when it came to the carp, I couldn’t do anything right.  Actually I could do one thing right, “Spook Carp”.

See carp feeding about 40 feet out.  Make cast and hook reed.  Spook Carp.

See more carp feeding, sneak down to shore to make  a cast, don’t see the carp along the shore line.  Spook Carp.

Cast to carp swimming towards me, catch bluegill instead.  Spook Carp.

Sneak up on a feeding carp, slip on rock and fall on ass.  Spook Carp.

See carp feeding along shoreline followed by two bass, over shoot cast and catch bass.  Spook Carp.

See another carp just resting, make bad cast in wind and land fly on Carp’s head.  Spook Carp.

See big Ditch Pickle cruising along, sneak into casting range and don’t see carp feeding along rocks.  Spook Carp.

Get to close to Canada Geese and they leave shore and walk into water.  Spook Carp.

Start casting to feeding carp, snag bush on back cast.  Spook Carp.

Get disgusted after 4 hours of this nonsense and leave.  Spook Carp.

It was pretty much useless at this point anyways.  The west wind had picked up making trying to see anything difficult at best.  I eventually worked my way back to the parking lot figuring I would stop at one more spot along the way that was out of the wind.  As I got close I went into stealth mode and worked my way to the water.  I carefully scanned the area and I cold see a couple of fish mucking around about 30 feet away.  I was getting ready to make my cast when out of nowhere a carp shooter shows up, bow in hand, and walks right up to the other edge of the hole.

He Spooks Carp.

I didn’t say anything.  I just stood up and continued my walk back to the car.  I’ll just try again on another day.

Sunday Evening, 7/16/17

After the disaster of this morning I needed a little redemption so around 8:30 pm I hooked up the boat and headed to my favorite walleye spot.  Winds were out of the north around 10 mph this evening.  Not the best wind direction and speed but I figured I would make the best of it.  Once I got set up I could tell boat control was going to be a pain.  With the wind coming straight down the river the current was faster than normal.  After about 10 minutes I switched over to a heavier weight just to keep better contact with the bottom and to help keep that 45 degree angle.  It seemed to do the trick because a few minutes later I was bringing in my first fish of the night.  Unfortunately, he was barely hooked and came off as I was flipping him in.  After that any fish I hooked I would immediately turn my boat into the fish to help take the extra strain off of the fish.  Old timers blame lost fish in the summer to “Soft Mouth Syndrome” or “Red Lips”.  I attribute the losses to light hits and going up-stream and pulling a lightly hooked fish against the current.  Last time I checked, bone doesn’t suddenly get soft in the summer time.   I kept utilizing this tactic for the next hour and around 10:30 pm number 5 was in the cooler.

Redemption.

One little note.  The fish at the top was a 22 inch female.  For all you guys that say you have never kept a female please enlighten me on how you would have let this one go if you had caught it?  It doesn’t matter if she is full of eggs or not, once she is removed from the fishery that’s it, so spare me your hypocrisy.

So that put a pleasant wrap on my weekend.  No carp but I still caught plenty of walleye, bluegills and ditch pickles.  The next few days are calling for unfavorable winds and thunderstorms so I’ll take advantage of the down time  to do some maintenance.  I need to replace some hooks, change the wire on a reel, make up some shanks and most of all some new leaders.  My 40 foot leader must have a dozen knots in it.  I’ve been fishing hard the last month and my equipment could use a little TLC.  Come to think of it, I could use some TLC as well.  My hands are trashed and I managed to bruise my forearm and shin when I fell off that rock.