I love October

6 10 2015

There’s just something about his month that makes it better than any other month of the year.  The cool breeze in the air, the change of the season from summer to Fall, the colors and most of all just about everything is open.  For a hunter and fisherman nothing beats October.  The fish are starting to go into their pre-winter feeding binge.  Steelhead are starting their trip back upstream.  Several hunting seasons open up.  So much to do and so little time.  Heck, back when I was in college I probably spent more time afield and on the water then I did in class.  Now with work and other responsibilities my time outdoors is not as much as I would like but I still try to squeeze in as much as possible.  Weather permitting…..

Saturday Oct. 3rd would start my month long obsession with trying to get in as much hunting and fishing as possible.  It was opening day of waterfowl season for Zone 2 and that means Wood Ducks in my favorite spot.  My friend Barry had counted 26 woodies there the day before so the outlook was promising.  All we could do now was hope that they didn’t decide to ride the 20 mph winds out of there during the night.  As legal shooting hours approached we had a few singles fly through and a pair landed about 75 yards down from our position.  With the overcast skies visibility was poor so it was hard to keep an eye on them.  Not much more happened for the next 10 minutes or so and then it started…..

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We had ducks coming in from all different directions.  Wood ducks are known for appearing without warning here but this was ridiculous.  Barry was shooting, I was shooting, Dean was shooting.  I was drawing a bead on a second duck when two landed in front of me.  Of course I focused on them and forgot about the other one but as they took off Barry shot and I lost track of them as well.  A few seconds later I singled out a lone drake and dropped him with one shot.  As I was confirming where he fell Barry shot another one in front of me and Dean was shooting at one flying over the top of us.  After several minutes of chaos we had 7 ducks down.  Barry shot 3, Dean shot 2 and I shot 2.  Now it was time to go pick them up before we lost track of where they were.  I launched the kayak and started retrieval duties (I miss my dog).  Of course as I was picking up ducks more started to fly in.  Dean took a couple of shots but missed.  After some searching for the seventh duck I was on my way back to shore.  After that flurry things were really quiet.  We only saw two more ducks and I managed to shoot one of them.  Dean left to go squirrel hunting but Barry and I stuck around for a bit longer to see if any mallards might fly in.  We had our wood duck limits filled so it was mallards from here on in.  Not that it mattered, we didn’t see any wood ducks either.  By 9:30 I launched the kayak again to go pick up decoys and head back to the truck.

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We decided to go try for some squirrels in the ridiculously high winds before lunch.   Squirrel hunting was pretty slow, understandable with the winds as high as they were.  Each of us managed to shoot a black squirrel.  Mine made two mistakes.  The first was running through the tree tops when I walked by.  The second was stopping to take a look to see what I was doing.

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The winds were picking up so we headed back to the house for lunch, check the weather and to clean ducks and squirrels.  After a quick bite we cleaned the critters and debated what to do next.  The NE wind was blowing right at the house and their were whitecaps on Sanford Lake.  It was starting to drizzle a little so of course I went fishing.  Dean and Barry had been doing pretty good on the crappie and the thought of taking home a dozen for a meal or two was quite appealing.  Getting rained on wasn’t.  No big deal, I had dry clothes and a warm house to retreat to if necessary.  We were fishing with minnows and slip bobbers right off the dock in about 12 feet of water.  It was slow but Barry and I managed to catch 15 crappie on and off for the next few yours.  The weather would go from drizzle to down pour and back to drizzle all afternoon.  When the rain got  bad we went in, when it stopped we went out.  It really is nice having a house on the lake.

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By 5 o’clock the rain and wind had stopped completely.  We had a window of a couple of hours before the next front moved through so we grabbed the .22’s and headed back into the woods.  It was a pretty quiet evening.  It looked like most of the squirrels decided to stay holed up for the evening.  Barry and I managed to shoot 3 more before we called it quits.  It had turned out to be a pretty good day and I was not going to get greedy, besides Barry had shot 5 the day before and I had them to add to my freezer as well.  I could have stayed to hunt and fish tomorrow as well but I needed to get home.  Susan wanted to go to a flea market the next day and the group that was supposed to go with her backed out at the last minute.  I didn’t want her to go alone so once I finished cleaning the last 3 squirrels and fish I was headed south.  There will be other days.

So the final tally for Friday and Saturday was 8 Wood Ducks, 11 Squirrels and 15 Crappie.  All that was left now was to seal them up and put them in the freezer.

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I love October.

 

 





I’m Back

25 05 2015

In the not so immortal words of General Douglas MacArthur…”I have Returned”.

It has been over 8 months since I was last on the river, in my boat.  The cracks have been welded and the transom has been rebuilt.  The engine is back in place and my Schaller Reel is right where it belongs.  Now it’s time to catch some walleye.  Only problem is that the annual White Bass run is in full swing.

Oh Joy!

Well if I can’t avoid them I figured I might as well have some fun with them.  That’s just what I did.  After I got out of work last Friday I grabbed my 5wt fly rod and headed for the river shortly after 8:00 pm.  Water was very clear and their was a slight north east breeze.  The clouds were scarce and there was just a hint of a waxing crescent moon in the western sky.  It looked like it was going to be a good night for pulling wire but that would come after dark.  In the mean time I was going to play for a bit.

I pulled into the Edison discharge area and broke out the rod.  I was surprised to see that there were no remnants of the tri-hull navy anywhere.  As a matter of fact there were only 3 other boats out fishing for Silver Bass.  Seemed kind of strange to me but I didn’t care.  Makes it easier for me to cast with so few boats around.  I found a slack water area out of the current and started casting a White Slumpbuster streamer.  It took a few casts to get a rhythm down but soon I was getting the weighted streamer out into the direction I wanted.  All I needed to do now was to get the bass to cooperate.  Believe it or not they were actually refusing my fly.  I couldn’t believe it, the fish that are known to eat anything were refusing my fly.  This had me perplexed and confused.  I was making short sporadic casts at first and I was only catching the occasional fish.  I also trimmed the fly down by about an inch, I could feel them tugging at the tail end.  After about 45 minutes of catching a fish here and there I started to switch things up a bit.  I quit making the short slow strips and started making long fast strips.  That did the trick.  After that the fish were coming on every cast right up until dark.  Once they started to slow down I figured it was safe to start pulling wire.

I started south of where the catamaran used to be.  I threw on a couple of chrome pencil plugs and headed upstream.  I figured the white bass would leave them alone.  I wanted to use Rapalas but with the Erie Scourge in I wasn’t going to take any chances.  I fished for about 2 hours and all I had to show for my efforts were one throwback and a heavy head shake.  At least I didn’t get skunked and I only caught about 6 Silvers.  The NE wind started to pick up as the night wore on and it got colder with each passing minute.  I wasn’t dressed for the cold so I packed it in around 11:00 pm.  No big deal, the season is just starting for me and in a couple of weeks the unmentionables will be back out in Erie.  Until then I play with the fly rod some more and maybe catch a few crappie up on Sanford Lake.

Felt good to have some wire in my hand again.

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From a Super Secret Undisclosed Location, I bring you Duck Season.

5 10 2014

Super Secret my butt.  Anyone who has followed this blog knows where I’m at, my favorite wood duck hole.  I had high hopes for this opener. Barry and I saw a lot of woodies the previous weekend so we were expecting a great opener.  Even the weather looked like it was going to cooperate.  West winds, overcast, drizzle, just ducky weather.  But just like the best laid plans of mice and men it didn’t quite work out the way we wanted.

We awoke the next day to dead calm and clear skies.  No clouds, no wind, no rain…..what the hell happened?  I just hope the ducks didn’t ride the front out.  We arrived at our spot around 6:30 am and dropped the kayak in the water.  Since neither of us have a dog anymore I get to play retriever and decoy spreader.  Barry walked to our spot while I paddled around the blow downs and sunken stumps.  I threw out about half a dozen wood duck decoys and then we hid the kayak in the woods.  Woodies are not known for their decoying and the ones that frequent this area are no different.  They come in from all directions with no regard for wind direction and either plop down immediately or just fly by.  We have to be on our toes because they can be in and out in a second.  Barry and I scanned the skies for ducks but 20 minutes later and a fair amount of shooting from the lake produced nothing.  In years past we have had ducks fly in and land right in front of us before shooting hours started.  This year we had nothing.  It was 7:30 am before our first duck arrived and he flew in and out before we could even raise the guns.  Shortly after that 3 flew in and we fired.  Barry missed his but I knocked down a male woodie.  A few minutes later Barry spotted 4 more coming in and we each managed to knock one down.  That was it for the next hour.  Around 10:00 am we had a single woodie come in from the east and Barry and I both hit him and he landed on the other side of the pond in the woods.  I pulled out the kayak and went after him.  I found him about 30 yards in lying next to a log.  That proved to be our last bird of the morning.  We packed up and I paddled out while Barry walked back to the truck.

After we had a snack and something to drink we headed over to the sand pit so I could sight in my .22 with the new scope.  While we did that Dean showed up with a couple of squirrels he shot earlier.  Sighting in didn’t take very long so we drove around scouting for likely deer hunting spots.  By now the wind was starting to pick up and the overcast skies finally arrived.  We weren’t finding a lot of deer sign so we headed back to the lake house to get some lunch.  Dean decided to go home so Barry and I decided to fish and discuss strategy for tonight.  We weren’t seeing any ducks flying around the lake so we decided to go back to the wood duck hole.  They normally don’t roost in that area but we hoped we might get a few to fly through and give us a shot.  By now it was approaching 4:00 pm and getting close to time for us to leave.  We cleaned our catch of 13 crappie, 4 ducks and the 2 squirrels.  Once that was done we headed back to the hole.  We got comfortable and waited and waited and waited.  Just when we thought tonight was going to be a bust I spotted 3 coming in from the west.  I yelled out to Barry but he couldn’t get to his gun in time.  I picked the lead bird and fired once and knocked her down, another woodie.  This one would turn out to be our 5th and final bird for the day.  Just before shooting hours ended we did see 3 more and they did circle us a couple of times but never came into range.  As I was picking up the decoys the rain arrived.

Never fails. It was still a good day. 10-4 Crappie 10-4 Woodies





7/19/14 All Day Fishing

20 07 2014

Actually it started Friday night.  My friends Dean and Barry convinced their mother that she needed a summer home on Sanford lake.  Since then they have been spending a fair amount of time trying to find the fish on the lake.  Lately they have been doing well on the crappie and I wanted to get in on that.  I packed the car and after work on Friday I headed north.  I arrived at Barry’s and he informed me we had to run to his Mom’s house that night.  No problem, start fishing early.  We fished from the dock and managed to get a couple of crappie and some bluegills.  So far so good.

During the night Dean arrived and after a quick stop for some minnows we were on the boat to try a few spots.  Our plan was to target structure around the lake, mainly fallen trees and stumps.  It was pretty hit and miss at first, couple here, couple there, nothing to get excited about.  At one stop we tried by the M-10 bridge going over the lake.  No crappie but there were dozens of bluegills hanging around the pilings.  They weren’t big but this was a perfect chance for me to try my new 4wt Echo fly rod.  I tied on an a little emerger pattern and let it fly.  It’s hard to cast from a pontoon boat, especially with 3 people on board.  To make matters worse I was trying to cast under a bridge.  I managed to get the fly in there and catch a few.  Even though the fish were small they were a lot of fun on that light rod.  I think I am going to really like fishing with it. I just need more practice.  We didn’t stick around too long.  Dean wanted to go to an antique flea market so we headed back to the dock.  After a quick lunch Barry and I were back out again.  We went back to a blow down in one of the canals that we couldn’t fish earlier because someone else was already was.  The wind had started to pick up a bit so we anchored the boat upwind and drifted in to the area.  We were able to let our baits drift right into the limbs of the tree that were underwater.  It didn’t take long and soon we were catching crappie left and right.  Unfortunately the vast majority of them were around 6 inches long.  This went on for about an hour until we ran out of minnows.  We tried worms for a bit but it was obvious the crappie wanted minnows.  We pulled anchor and headed home so we could get more.  By now Dean was back and he was headed with us, after we sent him to the bait shop to get more minnows of course.  About an hour later we were headed back only to find another boat fishing there.  He was set up on the other side of the tree and I have to admit, he was one dedicated fisherman (more on that later).  We anchored away from him and were back to drifting minnows back into the tree limbs.  Only problem was that the wind had died down so know we were casting into them.  We still managed to catch fish but no at the pace we were earlier.  We stuck to it though for a couple of hours and managed to put a few in the live well.  By now it was 5:00 pm and time for me to head home.  I wanted to go walleye fishing tonight and I had a 2 hour drive ahead of me and a bunch of fish to clean.  I said my good-bye’s and was soon heading home.

After I got the fish cleaned I hooked my boat up and was headed to Elizabeth Park.  It was after 9 now and getting dark.  Not a problem since the water has been so clear and with no cloud cover nothing was going to happen until after dark anyways.  I started fishing just before 10:00 pm running Rapala’s and Pencil plugs.  The weeds were a bit of a problem but not as bad as I thought they might be with no wind.  Bugs weren’t too bad either.  I kept swapping out colors and sizes for the next few hours trying to find something they like.  I managed to get one walleye on a Chartreuse and Chrome Nite Stalker and another on an Orange and Black wooden PP.  As the night wore on the weeds steadily got worse and worse.  There must have been a mayfly hatch upstream as well because I was spotting hundreds of casings all over the river.  This was starting to get old so shortly after midnight I just gave up and headed home.  I had been fishing all day and I was tired.  I had a lot of chores to do tomorrow so sleep was a better option than dodging the ever increasing weed patches.  I’m not going to complain.  I got a few walleye and a fair number of crappie for the freezer.  Sounds like a good day to me.

Side Note:  Ok, I have always thought that I am a pretty devoted fisherman.  I have been known to ignore a lot of things in order to catch fish and I get so focused on fish that I block out everything else around me.  Earlier today I met someone who is more dedicated than I am.  As I said earlier there was another fisherman at one of our spots.  Well he wasn’t alone.  He had his girlfriend/wife along and she was sunbathing in the boat with him.  She was wearing a red, white blue bikini and was laying spread eagle in front of him in the boat.  He sat there the whole time fishing while she was laying in front of him and he wasn’t catching anything yet he kept trying.  That’s Dedication!!!

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This guy appeared while I was cleaning fish.  He was alive and I have no idea where he came from.

This guy appeared while I was cleaning fish. He was alive and I have no idea where he came from.

Sanford Lake Crappie