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.

Weeds, weeds and more weeds. 8/21/12 Trenton Channel

22 08 2012

I was out tonight with a person I met through the Michigan-Sportsman website. Tom usually jigs or runs bottom bouncers in the same area I pull wire. He expressed an interest in learning how to catch fish my way so I agreed to take him out. Since he lives in the “Level Pebble” we made arrangements to meet at the launch. I arrived a little after 7:00 pm and found that half the launch area was blocked off for the FLW. I guess next week I will be catching a lot of Smallmouth Bass. Oh Joy!!

Tom arrived a little later and after a brief chat with him and a few of my friends that were also heading out we launched the boat. We set up in my usual starting point and dropped lines after a brief explanation of how this all works. It didn’t take long and I caught my first walleye of the night on my good old Riley Special spoon. Fishing slowed a little after that with only the occasional Smallmouth Bass being caught. Tom was able to hook into a couple of smaller Smallmouth’s as well but still no walleye. As the evening progressed the floating weeds slowly began to increase in number and size. When we first started out they were staying on the west side of the river but they were appearing in the middle and the east side as well. Once it got dark they became downright unbearable. It seemed like we were clearing lines every 5 minutes. This gave Tom a lot of practice in leader management but he wanted to get that experience bringing in fish. I managed to catch a few more walleye and ended the night with a double, unfortunately Tom didn’t catch anything. It happens and the weeds didn’t help his chances of success any. This was the worst the weeds have been all year. I don’t know what triggered it but it wasn’t welcome. As we were getting ready to leave we pulled up along side my friend Dan and he only had one fish and was debating quitting as well. I must have made up his mind for him because once I said we were heading in he started to pull lines as well.

After we pulled the boat Tom, Dan and I stood around at the ramp for awhile and just talked about fishing in general. I’m sure we could have stood there and talked for hours but it was getting late and I had to work in the morning. Tom had to get going as well since he promised to take his wife out bass fishing at a local inland lake in the morning. I told him that if he wants to go again just give me a call. Hopefully the weeds won’t be as bad and I can get him into some fish.

No pictures again tonight. I gave the walleye to Dan and in turn he promised to give me some geese when the season opens on Sept. 1st. They were caught on a #9 CCT Rapala and a Riley Special spoon. I did get a new digital camera so I should have pictures from the next trip.

Fermi Fish 6/16/12

17 06 2012

Well after a whopping 4 hours of sleep I was up and getting ready to go walleye fishing once again. My original plan was to go pull wire in the river but an e-mail to my friend Jerry changed that. Earlier in the week I e-mailed him to see if he was going handlining as well Saturday morning. He and Mike were planning on making the run to Fermi and he asked me if I wanted to join them. I accepted of course. I don’t have a boat that can make that run so I have to depend on other people to go. So after a quick stop at the donut shop I was on my way to Gibraltar.

Once we finished loading the boat we were on our way and shortly afterwards our morning trip took a turn for the worse. Just as we cleared the canals Jerry lost power steering on his boat. We pulled the engine cover and sure enough the power steering and water pump belt broke. We limped back to the dock while Jerry figured out what to do next. Once we were home Jerry hopped into his truck to see if the local Marine shop was open. As he was driving there he saw the owner walking down the road. The two of them drove up to the shop and 10 minutes later we were installing a new belt. Problem solved.

Once again we were on our way out into Lake Erie. Jerry and his friend Tom pulled a 2 man limit the other day in front of the Fermi Nuclear plant so we were heading there first. We set up in about 20 feet of water and start to troll into the wind towards the Bell Buoy. We set up 6 lines on planer boards with 1 ½ ounce in line weights and crawler harnesses in various colors 30 to 35 feet back. Pink, purple and chartreuse were the predominate color combinations. We also ran two rods with 4 ounce bottom bouncers off the side with crawler harnesses as well. One of those rods produced the first fish, unfortunately it was a channel cat.

Keeping the boards in a line like this helps to determine if one is fouled or has a fish. If something is wrong the board will drift back.

The action was slow at first with the occasional white perch or silver bass being the only thing caught. Eventually we did catch a walleye or two but it was nothing to get excited about. Jerry switched tactics up a bit and swung the boat around so the waves would be on our stern. We started to troll towards Estral Beach and we soon began to pick up some fish. Flags began to start dropping and boards were drifting back from the line. This continued for the next few hours and we slowly began to fill the cooler. When we weren’t brining in fish we were swapping out harnesses that weren’t producing and replacing them with a different color. We never did find the one color that out produced everything else but at least we were catching fish. From what we were picking up on the radio it seems like it was slow for a lot of people.

Our Captain, hard at work.

Around noon Jerry told us to pull lines. He had to be at his grandson’s graduation party this afternoon so it was time to go. We ended up with 12 in the cooler and 3 throwbacks. Not bad considering we got a late start and almost didn’t make it out at all. Once we were back at the dock we quickly put things away and secured the boat. Mike and I cleaned the fish so that Jerry could get ready for his party. Overall it was a great morning. We caught fish for the club fish fry next Monday and other than the belt we didn’t have any other bad incidents. Hopefully the fish stick around long enough so I can get another shot at them.

Cooler Shot