Have Faith

22 09 2017

To say that this past walleye season was a good one would be an understatement.  I made around 40 trips and on only a handful of occasions I did not come home with a 5 fish limit.  I could beat my chest and brag about just how awesome I am or take the humble road and say there was an overabundance of fish.  It could also be a combination of both but one thing is for certain, success breeds more success and that only comes from experience.  The only way a person can get that experience is by determination and having faith.

We have all heard the expression “Faith Can Move Mountains”, that may be true but the proper equipment, and a lot of explosives, sure make the job easier.  When it comes to fishing having all the equipment is necessary along with the knowledge on how to use it.  No one is born with that knowledge, some catch on quicker than others but the person who uses it properly will, eventually, catch more fish.  In order to get to this point a person has to have faith and believe that he or she will get there.  I cannot stress this “never give up” attitude enough and how important it is for catching fish.  Faith in one’s abilities breeds success.  If a person believes they are going to catch fish that person tries harder and pays attention to the little things.  Once a person takes on a defeatist attitude he or she won’t catch much of anything.  He or she begins to get lazy, forgets the little things, makes stupid mistakes and just gives up.  In other words, he or she loses faith.

We all have our dry spells.  As of this date I haven’t caught a Steelhead in 564 days.  That’s right….564 DAYS.  I haven’t given up though.  I have faith that this season will be different.  I will catch one.  Period.  While I write this I am already planning my trips for the year.  Steelhead Alley Thanksgiving weekend.  The Manistee and PM the first weekend in December.  Weather permitting The Alley again around Christmas.  Numerous trips to the Lower Huron, once we get some rain and colder temps.  I am going full bore, search & destroy, take no prisoners, death before dishonor, never surrender.  Granted this is more of a gung-ho attitude then anything else but if I didn’t have faith that I will succeed I wouldn’t be doing this.  I originally decided to start swinging flies for steelhead because of the challenge.  Challenge accepted.

I will lay a major smack down on them.

I will make it so.

I have Faith.

 

 

 

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Come On Fall

7 09 2017

Yesterday was one of those days at work you would like to just soon forget.  It’s not that it was a really bad day but one part of it was rather annoying.  I really hate when I am trying to complete an assignment and I have people behind me telling what to do, where to put the numbers, how to write the email, what to put in the subject line, how to format the spreadsheet.  I have no patience for back seat drivers or know it all co-workers who won’t shut up and let me do my job.  Because of all that I decided to go walleye fishing.  I figured it would be a good night weather wise and I was right.  The water was clear, very few weeds and even fewer boats.  Only problem was a lack of walleye.  I ended up with 5 for the night but I could only keep 3 of them.  I’ve said before that August and September can be transition months but this has me worried.

The first thing is a lack of baitfish.  Normally I see lots of Emerald Shiners in the Marina as I am launching.  Not this year.  I haven’t see a one.  I haven’t seen any Gizzard Shad jumping in the Edison discharge either.  It’s still a little early for them but I usually see a few by now.  I haven’t caught any young of the year smallmouth either.  As a matter of fact I haven’t caught any.  The only other fish I caught last night was another big channel cat.

The other thing is the Algal Bloom in Lake Erie.  It was bad this year and I have noticed that when the bloom is bad in Erie the Fall walleye fishing suffers in the river.  I don’t know if it is just a coincidence or if it acts as some kind of a barrier to keep the fish from moving in.  I guess I’ll find out later in October once the water temps get  back down to the 50 degree range.  Right now the surface temp is at 65 degrees so we have a ways to go yet.  I’m not about to push the panic button, there is still time.

All the fish came on a #7 Hot Steel Rapala.  I tried other sizes and colors but that was the only one producing.  I also broke the lip on my last #9 Original.  I’ll have to go raid Walmart or something soon.  I’m beginning to wish I never had all those originals I bought at garage sales painted.

No pics this time.  Who really wants to see what a 15 inch walleye looks like?

 





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.





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.

 

 

 





Yet Another Fishy Weekend.

24 07 2017

Friday, 7/21/17

Friday night found me back on the Detroit River at my usual spot but with a difference.  This time around I had my friend Richard along for the night.  He was down from northern Michigan for a few days and hadn’t been out walleye fishing yet this year.  I needed to remedy that.  When my boat was down Richard took my father out one night and he drove so that my Dad and I could just fish.  It would turn out to be the last time my Dad and I got to go fishing together.  I owe Richard as many trips as I can provide.

We headed downstream around 9:30 pm and along the way I was seeing a lot of weed mats.  Not what I wanted to see.  Turns out they would be a big problem for the entire evening, not just from having to clear lines but they played a little game of deception with me, all night.

I set up using the same lures that have been producing for me so well the last few weeks.  An Original Rapala and a Black/Gold Rapala, both F9’s and a F7 Perch.  Richard was running a F11 Original and a clown Nite Stalker.  About 5 minutes in I had one on and unfortunately I lost it right behind the boat.  This little scenario would repeat itself constantly throughout the night.  Hook a fish, bring it up, lose it at the boat.  It got to a point that I knew when I was going to lose the fish.   They were hitting so light that at times I would just feel weight on the line.  The more aggressive fish that hit would make it to the boat but not the lazy asses.   Add in the constant clearing of lines from weeds and it made for a long evening.  This was also the little deception game the walleye and weeds were playing with me.  I was clearing weeds so much that on a couple of occasions I would feel weight and just figure it was more weeds.  I would get the lines to the surface and to my surprise there would be a pair of eyes staring back at me.  That was how the night went for me.  I was able to get a limit but I lost a lot of fish and I had a lot of throwbacks as well.  Richard, on the other hand, caught nothing.  In all fairness his lures spent a lot of time out of the water.  Between weeds, leader issues and untangling a reel his lures spent more time out of the water then in.  Shortly after midnight we felt a few raindrops and after a quick check of the radar we decided to get off the water.  Richard was going to be in town for a few days so we had other opportunities.

No pics, I sent all the fish home with Richard.

Saturday, 07/22/17

The original forecast for today was rain with brief periods of no rain.  Because of this I made plans to sleep in and then take care of chores around the house.  Well it turned out that we never got any rain.  No matter though, I still slept in and took care of the chores around the house.  After dinner I had a change of heart and went out walleye fishing.  I started around 9:30 pm and by 11:00 pm I was done.  Once again the fish were very lethargic and I lost my first fish right at the boat.  From then on I gave the fish every chance to get hooked up.  Instead of bouncing the weight along the bottom I just dragged it.  That seemed to do the trick because the next 5 ended up in the cooler.  Doing this though increases the chances of getting hung up and that happened three times.  The only other fish I lost was another channel cat so I wasn’t to upset about that.  He came on my 40 foot lead and a F9 GFR.  I had swapped it out with the F9 Original earlier since it wasn’t producing as well as I wanted.  All the walleye came on the Black/Gold and Perch patterns.  As for the rest of the conditions the water is still very clear and weeds were not much of an issue.

 

Sunday, 7/23/17

My original plan was to get up at the crack of dawn so that I could go out fly fishing before everyone else showed up.  I ended up dragging my butt out of bed sometime after 8:00 am.  Turns out I would pay for my laziness but not as bad as I expected.  I started my walk to the area I have been fishing the last few weekends and along the way I spotted a few carp feeding off the surface in the weed mats.  With the water surface cover being so thick I was able to get into casting range without spooking the fish.  I made several attempts but could never get one to take the fly.  The same weeds that were making my stealth so easy also prevented the fly from sinking into the water.  At one point I did have a carp literally bump my fly with this nose but he never ate it.

After about 30 minutes of this I decided to head down to more open water and try my luck.  I could see the carp cruising along but whenever I would stop they would spook and take off for heavier cover.  I expect to spook a few fish but this was ridiculous.  I wasn’t doing anything and they were taking off.  I soon found out why.  The same carp shooter I saw last week was out and flinging arrows.  I walked past him in the hopes of getting to some fish that he hadn’t spooked yet but that lasted only a few minutes.  I saw some feeding carp and worked my way to them and made a couple of casts.  I was getting ready to make another cast when all of a sudden an arrow shoots into the water about 10 yards from me.  Sure enough, the same guy and now he was practically in my lap.  To say I was pissed was an understatement.  I let him know it as well.  I’m not against anyone legally fishing any way they want but there is no reason to be so close and shooting carp right next to someone fly fishing for them.  I told him that as well, especially when the area we are fishing is probably a 300 acre lagoon.  He didn’t seem to care so I just walked farther away, by about ½ a mile.

After I calmed down I found a quiet area and went back to fishing.  The carp were still spooky but I was able to hook up with one, along with an assortment of other fish.  The first one being a bowfin.  I was trying to get a read on which way a carp was swimming when I saw the bowfin out of the corner of my eye.  A quick cast and he was all over my carp fly.  He wasn’t the greatest fighter but he was very aggressive.  After a quick pic I sent him back on his way.  Shortly after that surprise I managed to catch a yellow perch on the same carp fly.  I was casting to another carp when all of a sudden my fly disappeared.  I set the hook and a few seconds later the perch was in my hand.  Gills and Bass I understand, Bowfins and Perch? Not so much.

 

I did take two rods again so I could play with the Gills when the carp weren’t around.  I ended up catching some of the biggest gills I have seen here along with a few bass all on a bead head nymph.  I can see that I am going to have to tie up a few more of those things over the winter.

Around noon I headed back to the car.  I had plans to go Schultz’s to pick up a new fly rod.  I am heading up to the Manistee River next weekend to go mousing for Browns and whatever else is available.  I have an Orvis Encounter 9 foot 5 wt and I wanted to upgrade.  I won this combo a few years back and it has served me well.  I never really did like the reel and after Orvis didn’t want to honor their warranty on my waders I really don’t want any of their gear anymore.  Once I got to the shop I told Corey what I wanted and he gave me a Temple Fork Outfitters BVK and a Redington Vice to try out.  After one cast with the TFO I was sold.  Corey set me up with a Sage reel and a weighted forward floating line so I am all set now for next weekend.  All I need to do now is get some flies tied up.  I will be spending my evenings doing just that this week.  First up, Muddlers.





A Fishy Weekend.

9 07 2017

Sometimes I feel like these posts are getting a little redundant.  Go out, catch five, come in.  Trying to jazz it  up a little has become more of a challenge than the actual fishing.  Anywho, I went out several times this weekend, had to, there was a full moon and I’m not about to pass that  up.

I started off the weekend heading down to the Trenton Channel after the storms passed through.  I arrived at the ramp around 9:30 pm and started to get set up.  The Wayne County Deputies must have thought I was crazy based on the looks they were giving me.  I don’t know what they were worried about.  The storm cell had split and was heading north and south of our location.  A few minutes alter I was back in my usual spot, lines down and starting my run.  Around 10:00pm I caught my first one of the night as I was taking in the light show.  I had lightning to the north and south of me and fireworks to the west. The only light I wanted to see was from the full moon in the east but the cloud cover was preventing that.  For the next hour I trolled around and caught absolutely nothing.  During times like this I tend to start questioning everything.  I was questioning whether or not the well ran dry, if the fish had moved, was the front causing lockjaw, did I have the wrong lure?  The gerbils were in overdrive in my head as I tried to sort out what I needed to change to start catching fish.  Around 11:00 pm I found out that I wouldn’t  have to change anything.  All at once the front blew through, the wind changed direction from South to North and the clouds broke and out came the full moon.

GAME ON!!

For the next 20 minutes it was organized chaos.  Landed 4, lost 3, threw back 4, back-to-back doubles, tangled leaders, weeds and a few sheepshead and rock bass thrown in for good measure.  I was bringing in what would have been number 5 when I hit a weed patch and my motor bogged down.  Once that happened the line went slack and the fish was gone.  After I got that all straightened out I was back at it.  After 5 minutes I hadn’t caught  anything so I pulled my lines and sure enough, my kicker and 20 foot lead were tangled.  Once I got them straightened out and back to fishing it didn’t take long and number 5 was in the cooler.

Tonight was a prime example of why there are other things to consider, when the fish aren’t biting, besides color.  Several different variables changed all at once and any one of them could have been the reason why the fish turned on.  The wind had shifted 180 degrees.  The front that caused the thunderstorms had blown through.  The clouds cleared out and the full moon was able to shine clearly.  The only two variables that did not change was my location and the lures I was using.  Something to remember the next time the fish aren’t cooperating.

 

Saturday night had me back in the same area, again.  This time I was a little earlier.  I wanted to run some spoons and it would turn out to be a waste of time.  The only fish they produced were blankity blanks, a 3 inch smallie and a few rockies.  Once the sun set and the moon came out I got rid of the spoons and replaced them with Rapalas.  Fishing was slow at first but I managed to pick up a couple in between clearing my lines from weeds.  Around 11 pm I decided to switch things up a bit.  I thought with that with the clear sky and full moon the fish would need something bigger and dark to contrast against the light.  I put on a F11 Perch and that made all the difference.  By 11:30 I caught my fifth and was ready to go home.  My friends Dave and Larry were out so I stopped by to see how they were doing.  They had 8 and they had also lost a couple of bigger fish.  We talked for a few more minutes and then I was headed home (once I did I got a text from them that they caught 10).  I was glad to hear Larry caught his limit.  After we went out he checked all his leaders a few days later.  Turns out that all of them were a 1 to 3 feet short.  Something to think about when the fish aren’t biting.

 

Sunday morning found me trying something different, fly fishing for carp.  I had tried to find places this year where I could try this but I was having a hard time finding any.  Today was a little different.  I had taken a walk through this area before but never saw anything.  This morning the winds were calm, the water was clear and the carp were everywhere.  The first place I stopped at was a culvert feeding a lagoon from Lake Erie.  The carp were in their just waiting for something to flow in to eat.  The water was very dirty from all the activity, especially after I spooked them.  Lesson number one, don’t spook the fish.  I waited to let them calm down and I was able to catch one, and that was a fluke.  I couldn’t see him take the fly, I just happened to lift up on the rod as he swam by and felt the pressure because he picked up the fly.  He really stirred things up so once I got him in, took a pic and then released him I moved on to other areas.

About a quarter mile down the road I spotted a few carp swimming about.  I worked my way into casting range and managed to spook the fish once again.  I now understand what everyone was telling me about when it pays to be stealthy.  I sat down once again and just waited for a bit.  Eventually some more fish swam into range and I was able to hook another one, foul hooked that is.  Don’t know how I did it but I managed to hook him right across that dorsal fin.  That made no sense since these flies are designed to ride hook up.  I could understand hooking a pectoral fin but not the dorsal.  Of course fighting this fish spooked everything in the area so I moved down the road again.   I found some more fish but this time I waited until they swam out of the area before I worked my way down to the bank.  I set up and waited and after a few minutes I saw two carp swimming my way and feeding.  I cast the fly a few feet out in front of them and waited.  Once the lead fish got within a few inches I gave the fly a twitch and that was all it took.  The carp turned and sucked up the fly like it was going to be his last meal.  A quick hook set and off he went.  Now I see why this type of fishing has become so addictive.  Seeing the take and the bulldog fight they put up is a lot of fun.  I can only imagine what hooking into a 15 or 20 pounder in open water would be like.

After that one I packed up and headed home.  I had one last thing to do for the weekend, smoke the walleye I caught back on July 3rd.  Turned out pretty good.  A little to salty this time but I’ll adjust that for next time.

 

So that was my weekend.  More walleye, my first carp on the fly and some smoked fish for the week.  Pretty good weekend.

Oh, and I went and saw Spider Man – Homecoming.

Life is Good.

 

 





7/3/17 and the Trip that Almost Wasn’t.

5 07 2017

So there I was, sitting in the Emergency room of my local hospital Monday night, July 3rd.  My original plan was to go out walleye fishing but a little carelessness on my part delayed that.  I had found a F7 Rapala and I was going to put it in one of my lure boxes in my boat.  I had it in my left hand and as I climbed in the trailing hook caught something and pulled the lead hook into my left middle finger.  50 years of fishing and I had finally done it, buried a hook past the barb.  After uttering a few expletives my daughter drove me to the emergency room to have it removed.  It must have been a slow night because just about everyone on staff had to come by and see.  They must have had a few new people on staff because the doctor brought them in to demonstrate how to remove a hook.  After a little guidance on my part as to where the best place was to use the wire cutters and class was over. About an hour later I was all bandaged up and sent home.  A few minutes later I was hooking up the boat and heading out.

We were able to save the lure.

My original plan was to start around 8:00 pm.  My Facebook memories were full of pictures of walleye that I had caught on spoons around this time.  I figured I would give it a shot and see if history would repeat itself.  My own carelessness prevented that from happening.  Instead I was on the water right around sunset.

 

Late start but a pretty one.

There was still a fair amount of boat traffic but I figured it would end soon so I wasn’t too worried about it.  I did see a good amount of floating weed mats which was discouraging.  I just shrugged it all off, at least I was still fishing and I didn’t have to get up in the morning so I could stay as late as I wanted.  Turns out I was going to need to do just that.

I set up in the same area I have been all year.  I figure I will keep starting here until the well runs dry.  My Grandfather once told me that you don’t leave fish in order to go find fish.  Besides, the area is close to the ramp and it only takes a minute or two to get there.  I started off with a J9 Chartreuse, a F9 Original and a F7 Black and Gold Rapala. Dave had done so well with a J9 Original the other night I thought I would give it a shot.  As it would turn out the only walleye that liked it were the little ones.  I didn’t get my first legal fish until after 10 pm.  I had switched out my F9 Original for a F9 Clown after I busted my 20 foot leader on a snag.  I made up a new leader and put on the Clown since I was all out of Originals.  As it would turn out it was a blessing in disguise.  After my second fish on the Clown I switched out my kicker for a F9 Black Holographic and slowly picked away at my 5 fish limit.  All the fish came from the center of the river, across from the DD boat.  This is when a GPS comes in so handy.  After the second fish I was able to see how close together they were and I was able to concentrate on that area.  If not I may have come up a few fish short for the evening.  It still took a few hours to fill the limit but I was also dealing with a lot of weeds, catches of other fish, lost fish at the boat and numerous head shakes and gone.  I stuck it out though and shortly after midnight I caught my fifth keeper.  Time to go home.

A few observations from the night.  Winds started off from the south and were very light.  They eventually worked their way around to an “in your face wind” out of the north.  By midnight the wind disappeared completely.  Weeds were a pain but somewhat manageable.  The water is still very clear.  At one point I was shining my headlamp down in the water as I was clearing weeds from my line and I could see walleye cruising about two feet below the surface.  They were barely legal size fish but there they were.  Whenever the light would hit them in the eye they would just swim back down, into the darkness.  As near as I can figure they were probably chasing baitfish that were feeding on the spent mayflies on the surface.  On more than one occasion I saw a few fish break water throughout the evening.  No big hatches but there were still plenty around.  I had to pick them off of me and my car once again tonight.  The blankity blanks are still in.  Caught about a dozen of the ones that don’t know how to read a memo.  One of them was a Master Angler size fish but I wasn’t about to turn it in.  Getting a Master Angler award for a fish I despise so much would be hypocritical.  Lost about 4 at the side of the boat and I had about a dozen head shakes.  Most of the fish were hitting very light, especially the 25 incher.  She grabbed the lure and it was just dead weight.  I thought I hit a pile of weeds at first but once she gave a shake I got serious.  She will be going into the smoker this weekend.