Went out Monday evening (4/24/17). Started at 9:00 pm and finished at 9:46 and 37 seconds. Same area. Same routine. Caught about a dozen of those other fish as well.
That is all.
Went out Monday evening (4/24/17). Started at 9:00 pm and finished at 9:46 and 37 seconds. Same area. Same routine. Caught about a dozen of those other fish as well.
That is all.
Last Friday, when I came in from fishing I met a DWF club member, Steve Sheldon, as I was pulling in my boat. Apparently he had been trying to track me down to ask me about handlining. He had been going out but was only catching one or two fish here and there. He figured he was doing something wrong and he was hoping I could help him out. He asked if I could take him out some night and Friday (4/21) was going to be that night.
I had contacted Steve earlier in the week and told him to be at my house around 8. I also told him to bring his stuff so I could check to make sure his shank/leader set up was correct. I have found that when someone isn’t catching fish it is either that or his boat handling skills. At least I would be able to eliminate one variable. After a quick check of his stuff we were packed up and headed out. The weather tonight was damn near perfect. Once again a slight NW breeze, overcast skies and not to cold. The water was still clear and my only concern wasn’t those other fish, it was undersized fish. I had been hearing reports that the river was now full of 13 inch walleye.
The reports were right.
We started around 8:30 pm and in the first 10 minutes I landed 5 fish and all of them undersized. I eventually caught a couple of keepers but during this time Steve hadn’t caught anything. I was just about ready to switch seats with him so he could fish my set up when he got snagged, BAD. After making a few donuts around the weight the shank busted and he lost the whole set up. I rigged him back up with one of my shanks and a 40 foot and 6 foot leader. After that it didn’t take long and Steve was flipping fish in the boat. For the next 45 minutes it was game on. We still caught a few undersized ones, and of course those other fish, but we were catching plenty of legal ones as well. By 10:00 pm we were all done and putting gear away. Steve was amazed how one small change, albeit an important one, could make all the difference in the world. He went from spending hours and maybe catching two fish to catching a limit in just under 45 minutes. Needless to say he was happy. We put everything away and headed towards the dock. Other than the snag, which turned out to be a good thing, it was a near perfect night. When we got back to the house we chatted some more about strategies for different conditions and what to watch for concerning boat control. I gave Steve one of my shanks and a weight for him to copy. He probably spent part of today making new shanks and leaders. Hopefully he will be able to get out again soon.
As I had mentioned earlier the water was still clear and no debris. Most of our fish came on #11 blue and silver Rapala and a #11 Downriver Tackle Custom Rainbow Trout, which has a blue back, pink sides and a white belly. We tossed back just as many as we kept and we only caught a handful of those other fish. Most of them being big females. Very few boats out for a Friday night which was surprising. It’s go time and I really couldn’t understand why so few people were out. Their loss.
The smaller fish is a great sign. Successful hatches the last few years is starting to show and it looks like we will have plenty of walleye for years to come. Based on what I have been catching it should be a good mix of fish from 15 to 24 inches for some time. We’re going to need it because I’m afraid the hatch this year is going to be a bust. Any eggs laid before those two big storm events we had probably covered all the eggs with silt which means they will have suffocated. I certainly hope I’m wrong.
Normally when one talks about grinding around the Detroit area people usually think of The Grind Line of the Red Wings. This time though it is all about walleye fishing on a long Good Friday evening.
This last Friday (4/14) I was headed back out once again. This would be my fourth trip out for the week and I was hoping it would be as successful as the previous ones. I started around 6:30 pm and found that the water still had a heavy stain to it. I could barely see my prop, which was an improvement, but still a long way from clear water. I was hoping I could get my limit before dark but it didn’t take long to realize I was going to have to grind this one out. The water was choppy and there was a lot of boat traffic ripping up and down the river, which only added to the rough water. Boat control was difficult and I was constantly lifting my lines up to keep from getting snagged as I was bounced around. My wish was a double edged sword. I was hoping sunset would come soon to get these boats off the water and calm it down. Once it did though I wondered how well the fish would bite with the cloudy water. I soon found out, sort of. I didn’t catch my first fish until after 7:30 pm and it was an undersized fish. My first keeper didn’t come until around 8 and for the next two hours I slowly picked away at them. They never came hot and heavy and during the next two hours I tried everything I could think of. Different colors, different lures, different sizes, different speeds, different areas. Nothing really zeroed in on them. I got my limit but the fish came from different areas on different lures at different speeds. No rhyme or reason to it. The only consistent thing was their inconsistency. Persistence was the key tonight. Good thing I didn’t have anywhere special to go.
Now for my rant. I would like to know who thinks it is a good idea to jig with 30 pound spiderwire or fireline? If you are afraid of losing a dollar jig then fish someplace else. Trying to save one jig and losing 50 yards of line (expensive line) only creates something for everyone else to get snagged up on. In other words, KNOCK IT OFF!!
After what turned out to be the worst week of my life I decided I needed a little normalcy. Since the Huron hasn’t been cooperating for Steel I decided to go back to my old reliable, Detroit River walleye. I arrived at the ramp around 6:00 pm and to my dismay I saw that the river was a lovely shade of grey. Normally dirty water doesn’t scare me but with overcast skies and a sunset coming soon my window of opportunity would be short. I set up in my normal area and worked over my familiar haunts. Visibility was about a foot and there were hardly any weeds. Surface temp was about 52 degrees which is just a lot better then the 65 degrees it was last time out. It didn’t take long and I had my first eater in the box. He hit a #7 Perch Rapala (The discontinued style with the gold plate belly) on my kicker. As it would turn out, every fish I caught would come on that lure, even the one I lost. I only managed three for the night and they all came in the first 45 minutes. Once it got dark out everything shut down. I fished until 8 but it was to no avail. Not surprising, experience has shown me that dirty water and nightfall do not necessarily equal success. If anything it means I should have got out earlier. At least I was able to get out for a few hours and escape my phone for a bit. I didn’t winterize the engine, not just yet. Temps are going to stay in the 50’s for awhile so I may take advantage of it for a bit. It’s not over yet.
So I ended up with 3 eaters, all light, grey fish. Not the typical yellow/black colors more common for the resident river fish. All of them had emerald shiners in their stomachs. I also noticed a lot of splashing in the Edison discharge so that means the gizzard shad are in. Hopefully some more walleye are right behind them.
No pictures tonight. I figure everyone has seen enough pictures of 17 inch fish.
On another more personal note, I am going to shut this down for a bit. As I had said earlier this past week was the worst of my life and it really drained me emotionally. I have a lot of things to sort out now and take care of and I really don’t have the energy, time or desire to make anymore entries. Maybe after a break of a few moths I will start up again. There is still plenty of time left to get some walleye so get out there, good luck, be safe and cherish the ones around you.
It’s no secret that I like to fish for walleye during the full moon periods. Normally I do pretty well but after the last two full moons I’m beginning to wonder. The Sturgeon Moon was less than stellar and The Harvest Moon turned out to be even worse. Hopefully the Hunter’s Moon in October will break the trend.
I arrived at the ramp around 8:30 pm and I had the whole place to myself. No other cars in the lot, not even the ones normally parked over by the Marina. I launched and headed south to my usual starting spot. The water was still clear and a surface temp of around 65 degrees. A few weeds were floating down, mostly single strands with the occasional large mat. The south wind had died down to almost nothing which kept the water relatively calm. Seemed like the start of a good night. To bad the walleye had other plans.
I trolled around for the next two hours and all I had to show for my efforts was a half a dozen smallmouth and a few sub-legal walleye. I tried different size lures, different colors, spoons, pencil plugs, just about every thing I could think of but I couldn’t get anything going. Around 10:00 pm I got hung up bad and after 10 minutes of trying to free the weight the shank snapped right at the loop. I lost the shank, weight and 3 custom painted Rapala’s. I thought about giving up right then but I hadn’t been skunked in almost 3 years and I wasn’t about to let it happen tonight. I dug out another shank, weight, leaders and lures and started all over again, after I moved away from where I got hung up. About 15 minutes later I finally caught a legal fish. Not much of one but it was a start. I tossed him in the cooler and headed towards the Edison discharge. I hadn’t been by there lately so I thought I would give it a shot. Weeds were a lot worse there and I could feel them starting to pile up on my line. Just as I was about to pull my lines and clear the weeds I felt a lot of weight. I figured I hit a big mat of weeds, under the surface, so I started to pull it all up. The “weeds” were all on my 40 foot leader so once I got my other two lines clear and out of the way I started to bring it in. About half way in the load became lighter and I figured some of them must have come off. I looked back and my headlamp showed a pair of eyes staring back at me. That stupid fish never shook once, she just came in like a wet towel. It was a bigger fish so I wasn’t taking any chances. I got my net behind her and just as I start to scoop she shook and threw the lure. Didn’t matter, she was in the net and then in the cooler. After that I decided to call it a night. I was headed to Columbus Ohio in the morning and I needed some rest. I had enough fish to fill a vacuum seal bag and I didn’t get skunked. It did turn out to be my most expensive trip of the year but I won’t lose any sleep over it. It was my own fault for not swapping out shanks and leaders. I had been using the same one all season so I’m sure it had been stressed in a few places. One of these days I will start to listen to my own advice.
I doubt it.
This one is going to be short, sweet and to the point. About the only difference from this report and the previous two is that the weeds were a pain and we were losing fish on a regular basis. I figured the conditions wouldn’t have changed much from the previous weekend to this past Thursday (7/28) so I told John to meet me at my house around 8:00 pm and we would give it a shot. Water was still clear but this time the wind was out of the south, though it wasn’t much of a wind. It didn’t take long and I had our first fish in the boat which I quickly followed up with another. Things were looking good, especially since John had just boated one as well. From then on though it was a different story. After that third fish the rest of the evening was short fish and fish lost at the side of the boat. Both John and I continually lost fish right at the side of the boat. At one point I had a double and I couldn’t land either fish. I don’t think I have ever done that before. To make matters worse the weeds showed up in grand fashion shortly after 10 pm. The Sam Laud was off loading coal at the Edison Plant and left around 9. As he headed up stream he must have cut a lot of weeds upstream. No big mats but tons of single strands were coming down. After 11 we finally gave up and headed in. We ended up with 6, lost 6 and threw back just as many. Definitely not how I expected the night to go. The weeds I could understand but losing so many fish annoyed the snot out of me. At least there are still a lot of fish in the system just waiting for better conditions. Hopefully I will be able to get out soon to find out.
Like I said the water is still very clear and it started off weed free. I have no idea what the water temp was since I never did turn on my Depth Finder. Natural colors were catching the fish tonight. Original and Bleeding Olive Rapala’s in size 7 and 9.
An interesting little tidbit occurred while we were back at the ramp putting stuff away. A coyote started howling and yapping from the park. He couldn’t have been more than 100 yards away. Wish I could have recorded that or got a picture of him.
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.