Easter Weekend Steel

2 04 2018

You really have to appreciate it when the VP of the company I work for tells you they are closing the office at noon on Good Friday.  Especially when your car is packed and ready to  head north.  I didn’t have to be told twice and a few minutes later I was on the highway and headed to my Mom’s place in Oscoda.  Since I was arriving so early I was hoping to get her to-do list done toady and go steelhead fishing the next morning.  For once everything worked out like I wanted and I was all clear to fish the following day.

I awoke the next morning bright and early, around 8:30 am.  I got all my gear together and made the short drive over to the AuSable river.  Along the way I spotted a female woodcock doing the “timberdoodle two-step” across King’s Corner road so I stopped to watch her for a bit.  Turns out a lot of critters were out and about this morning.  I saw plenty of deer and sandhill cranes in the fields getting a late morning meal, And one turkey that had something else on his mind.

I arrived at the parking lot around 9:00 am and got set up.  I was expecting a lot of vehicles with it being the weekend and I was surprised to see only one truck.  I wasn’t going to complain but I couldn’t help but wonder if it was a sign that there weren’t any fish around.  Once I got to the river I spotted the truck owner, a Father and Son spending the morning together.  I talked to the Father for a few minutes, they caught one small steelhead further upstream and a sucker a couple of minutes ago.  I asked which way they were headed and then I went in the opposite direction.  Once I got about 100 yards away from them I waded in and started swinging a black/purple Senyo A.I.  I was also using my Sage “Pulse” 8wt rod today.  I have a feeling this is going to be the rod I use the most in Alaska so I wanted to spend as much casting time with it that I can.  I started going through my usual routine.  Cast, mend, take two steps downstream.  I kept trying to land the fly at an angle along the seam on the opposite side of the river.  I was standing in an area where the current shifts from the north side to the south.  I was hoping a fish would be lying on the opposite side and be pissed off enough that he would crush my fly.  No such luck.  Eventually the two fishermen I saw earlier had left so I continued to work my way downstream.

A River all to myself.

After about an hour I waded out and decided to switch flies (Pink Predator Scandi) and put on a heavier MOW tip.  I was running a T-11 2.5 float/7.5 sink and I changed over to a T-14.  I really have no idea how deep the water is on the other side but since I wasn’t hitting bottom I knew I wasn’t getting deep enough.  Even though the water is very clear I don’t expect the fish to chase a fly to much in this cold water.  I gave that set up a swing for about half an hour to no avail as well.  I had some more time before the wind advisory was supposed to go into affect (possible 45 mph winds) so I decide to go on a walk-a-bout and see what I could find downstream.  There is plenty of fishable water, it’s just a matter of getting to it and no one else being there.  Eventually I ended up at a spot called “Joe’s Point”.

It is across the river from a very popular area and once again no one was around.  I went back to casting but once again I didn’t have any luck.  I didn’t see any fish on the gravel either.  Still, it was a near perfect day.  Overcast skies, no wind (yet) and nature was definitely active.  Mallards and Woodducks were making all kinds of noise along with the occasional Kingfisher.  As I was walking out I bumped another Woodcock.  He’s probably thinking he should have stayed south a little bit longer this year.  I was thinking I should have stayed in bed longer as well.  Oh well, there will be another time.  Don’t know if I will be able to get back up here again though.  I may have time for a trip to the Alley for a day but I don’t know about a run north.  Guess it depends how ambitious I get.  On my way home Sunday I did stop at Omer to see how the sucker run was going.  I had stopped on the way up and their were a few fishermen catching suckers.  The trip home was a different story.  The cold front was keeping people indoors and I wasn’t seeing any fish being caught.  I’m sure Monday will be a different story, no wind and warmer temps.  Until the next front comes through.

 

 

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Thanksgiving Weekend Steel

2 12 2015

Thanksgiving vacation.  Most people are thinking about family, friends, food, football and eventually shopping.  I, of course, am only thinking about how much fishing I can get in over the next couple of days.  My original plan was to go out every morning, for a few hours, before any family obligations or chores.  It didn’t work out exactly how I had planned but I was able to get out every day.

My multi-day fishing excursion got an early start.  Our office closed up early on Wednesday so I hauled ass home, grabbed my stuff and headed for The Huron.  I only had about 45 minutes but that was enough to warrant the stop.  Water levels hadn’t changed much from the previous weekend and there was still a good stain to it.  I swung one of my leech patterns until dark but nothing happened.  Oh well, I still had the rest of the weekend.

Thanksgiving morning found me back on The Huron along with a few other fishermen.  When I arrived at the parking area there were already two trailers and several other vehicles there.  I rigged up my switch rod and headed upstream.  The first place I stopped  had a couple of people there so I kept walking further upstream.  I found another access point and waded in.  I was casting into an eddy that was caused by a tree that was mostly submerged.  It must have had a few branches in the pool because I got hung up and broke off twice.  Either that or I found the underwater cache for the guy that is doing this.

Hope he isn't an Angry Beaver

Hope he isn’t an Angry Beaver

 

As I worked my way downstream the other fishermen moved out and I just kept working my way down.  I fished the area for a couple of hours with no success.  By now it was approaching 11:00 am and I needed to head home.  I had a few things to take care of before heading to my brother’s for dinner.

Black Friday found me back in the water once again.  I didn’t know what to expect for today.  It had rained on and off during the night so I expected the water to be up some and colder.  The forecast called for rain all day today as well.  It was already overcast when I started, I was just hoping that it would hold off for a few hours.  It didn’t.  About an hour into my casting I started to question my sanity.  Here I was, waist deep in 45 degree water , getting rained on and casting a fly to a fish that I don’t even know BAM, AIRBORNE, FISH-ON!!!

Just that quick everything changed.  One minute I’m debating quitting and the next I’m debating staying out longer.  First things first though.  I had to get this fish in.  It was a smaller steelhead, probably in the 18 inch range but still full of fight and a lot of fun.  After several jumps and a couple of short runs I was able to get her close and get a hold of her tail.  A few quick pics and she was released to grow and fight another day.  I caught this one on another egg sucking leech pattern, just like all the others I have caught on the Huron.  I stuck around for about 30 more minutes but by now my legs were getting numb and it was time to head home.

Airborne

My kind of Black Friday Deal.

My kind of Black Friday Deal.

 

Saturday found me back in my usual spot albeit a little closer to shore.  The all day rain raised the water by about a foot and dropped the water temp by about 3 degrees.  I didn’t know what to expect for today but since I reached fanatic status I had to try.  There was a lot of boat and foot traffic today.  I had several people come up to me from behind to see how I was doing and around 5 or 6 anglers in boats troll by.  One boat had my friends Larry and Dave in it and Dave took a second to take this pic for me.

wading

No fish today again, I’m figuring the high water and temperature drop has them on lock down.  Didn’t hear of a whole lot of any fish being caught by anyone and those that were caught were small.

Sunday morning I slept in and made plans to go out in the evening.  I didn’t see much use to trying again in the morning with the water levels being what they were.  It didn’t matter though.  The water was still up, the water was even colder and I struck out again.

Monday was going to turn out to be a repeat of Sunday, sleep in and go out in the afternoon.  The fish results were the same but a had my usual visitors and a bit of an accident.  I started off at a new run and fished there for about an hour.  No fish, more boat traffic and the permanent park residents stopping by to check on my success.

usual visitor

I worked my way down to a different run and started to cast.  I wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings and as I was making my forward cast I hit a branch and pulled my line right across my face.  Of course that Daiichi hook was attached at the end and it stuck right into my right cheek.  Of course this all happened while I was waist deep in the river, the current is pulling the line downstream and pulling on the fly in my face.  I can’t see how deep the hook is but I got a pretty good idea just by the feel from my numb fingers.  I could feel that the barb was just under the skin so I pushed down and pulled.  Out came the hook.  All that was left now was a little clean up and a bandage.

doctor

Now any normal person would have probably walked back to his or her car and called it a day.  Not me, I’m not right in the head.  I just waded downstream a little farther and started casting once again.  Not that it mattered, I didn’t catch anything.  You would think the fish gods would have taken pity on me but apparently they feel I haven’t paid enough dues yet.  I think they felt that younger fishermen needed their divine intervention.  A watched 3 anglers in their late teens/early 20’s land one from their boat.  It must have been a first fish for someone because they took a lot of pictures.  So many that they lost track of where they were and drifted into shore.  By then it was approaching 5:00 pm and I needed to get home.  The Schwan man was dropping off an order between 5:30 and 6:30 pm and I needed to be home.  I was happy though.  I got a lot of fishing in over the last 6 days and I even managed to land one. That fish brought my total to 7 steelhead on the swing so far this year.  Not bad for my first year and I still have the whole month of December.  Hopefully I put the hooks to the fish instead of myself.





Steel Update.

15 11 2015

I know it has been awhile since I posted anything but work has been a royal pain in the ……  Work hasn’t changed any but I do have a little free time to get caught up.

All year long I had been looking forward to November.  Everything I had read about Steelhead fishing in Michigan said that November was the month.  Cooler temps and the usual cold Fall rains bring the fish into the rivers.  Of course, the year I start steelhead fishing, Mother Nature doesn’t want to cooperate and the Fall run was late.  I found out later that I was lucky to catch the one fish I got in Muskegon a few weeks back.  No matter though, the run may be getting off to a slow start but I was bound and determined to make the best of it.

The weekend of Nov. 7th I was staying home to take care of some chores.  My to-do list was increasing instead of decreasing and I had to get started on reversing that process.  If I planned things right I figured I would get a chance to get out for a quick evening trip.  As luck would have it I was able to make a run to the Huron Saturday night.  I have to admit, living where I am now really does have its advantages.  I am 15 minutes away from arguably the best walleye fishery in the world and 10 minutes away from a river with a fair number of steelhead in it.  The Huron doesn’t get as many as the west side of Michigan but there are enough to be worth the effort.  So with my switch rod in hand I waded out to my usual spot in hopes of hooking into another fish.  As luck would have it I managed to hook a small male on my last cast.  To be fair it was my last cast only because by the time I landed him it was past sunset and I couldn’t see anymore.  Since it was after dark I couldn’t get a decent picture so you will just have to take my word for it.  It took about 5 minutes to land him but it took me forever to revive him and send him on his way.  I don’t know why he was so tired.  He made a few half ass jumps and one short run, nothing to completely wear him out like this.  Eventually he came around and swam off to fight another day.

The following weekend I was just as busy with chores but I would make sure to set aside some me time.  With about an hour of daylight on Saturday I hit my usual spot on the lower Huron River.  It would turn out to be a rather uneventful evening, fishing wise.  No steel but I did catch a rather small and unintentional fish…..the much sought after Rock Bass.

IMG_2488

This is embarrassing.

I was about to release him when I remembered the mink I saw earlier running along the bank.  I looked around for him but he was nowhere to be found.  If he was I would have tossed him an easy meal.  Lucky for the rocky that he wasn’t so I dropped him back in the water.  After that it was starting to get dark so I just headed back to the car.  Tomorrow was another day and I would try again.

Sunday morning greeted me with bright sunshine and no clouds.  Not exactly steelhead weather but I was expecting it.  Last night I got really cold standing in the water so today I was putting on the thermals and the wool.  Of course by 10:00 am I was over heating but it was better than freezing.  I started off further downstream at a different access point.  The water level was a little higher than yesterday and a little dirtier.  I found a spot to wade in and started casting.  There were a couple of other fishermen downstream so I stayed upstream from them.  The water was deeper here so I couldn’t wade out to far, that and the bottom was very mucky and wading was tricky.  After about 30 minutes I gave up and decided to go back to my usual spot.  As I was walking in I spotted a deer staring at me about 20 yards away.  So stood still long enough to let me take a pic.

I wonder if she realizes it's 11/15?

I wonder if she realizes it’s 11/15?

After she scampered off I walked down to me entry point and waded in.  I proceeded to swing an egg sucking leech pattern over and over and over again.  When I’m not catching anything I get tempted to switch flies but, like walleye fishing, presentation is more important than the lure.  That and fishing where the fish are.  I continued to work my way downstream when I finally had a hit.  I didn’t know what it was at first because it never jumped or ran.  Instead it just let me reel it right in.  Once the fish got within about 10 feet of me it finally woke up and took off.  She didn’t run far but for the next 10 minutes she would make short runs and jump about all within 20 feet of me.  Eventually I was able to get ahold of her, take a few pics and send her on her way.  I made a few more casts in the area but it was to no avail so I just packed it in.  By now the sun was high and bright so I figured I would go home and knock off a few more chores on my to do list, while the weather was so agreeable.  I was content, another fish hooked and landed and I still haven’t lost a fish yet.  Of course now that I said this my next hook up will be with a 10 pounder that will absolutely smoke my ass.

I can’t wait!

I love my leeches.

I love my leeches.

 





A long wet weekend

24 09 2012

This past weekend was the opener for the youth deer hunt in Michigan. Since Kelly and I were planning on taking her son Adam up to the family hunting lodge to try his luck I took a Friday and Monday off. We had to get up north early so that we could get Adam registered. Since we weren’t leaving until the afternoon I had the morning open to go fishing. My morning success has been pretty pathetic but I figured it would turn around soon. I couldn’t have been more wrong. After I dropped my daughter off art school I headed to Elizabeth Park to launch the boat. By 8:00 am I had my lines in the water and I was making my first pass from the Cat to the stacks. The surface temp on the water was 64 degrees and there was a little bit of a stain. Hardly any wind and overcast clouds above. Almost immediately I had a hit but it quickly came off, whatever it was. It wasn’t too much longer and I picked up a 4 inch small mouth on a #7 CCT Rapala. I swear he wasn’t much bigger than the lure. I really have to wonder just how many of those YOY fish are down there. For the next several hours I tried many different color and size Rapala’s, spoons and locations. Nothing worked and I was rewarded with my first skunk of the year. Guess I shouldn’t have eaten that banana for breakfast. I quit around 11:00 am. I still had to pack so it was best that I just went home.

 
After a quick lunch and some creative packing in the Jeep the 3 of us were on our way. Forecast was supposed to be a 50% chance of rain for the whole weekend. I hope it holds off. I really want Adam to get his first deer. Once we got to the house we unpacked and got Adam all set for tomorrow’s hunt. As it sometimes happens to even the best laid plans of mice and men I awoke to an absolute downpour. So much for the first morning. The rain stopped a few hours later but the radar showed more coming in. I took Adam down to the range so he could practice some more with the rifle he was using. I was letting him use my Remington 788 in .243 Winchester. Last year he used his Grandfathers 30.06 and he missed a deer. He has a hard time getting the scope lined up and he wasn’t very comfortable shooting it. My rifle is cut a little shorter so I thought it might fit him better. Judging from the numerous bulls eyes he had I think this rifle will suit him better. Now all we need is for the rain to lay off.

 
We headed out to the blind around 4:00 pm to find that the area had been clear cut and the trail to his Uncle’s blind was gone. Fortunately I marked the spot with my Garmin GPS and after a little bush whacking we were able to find the blind. While we were doing this it decided to start raining on us again. It only lasted a few minutes but this process repeated itself 5 more times. After the fifth time Adam had said he had had enough and wanted to go home. I wasn’t about to argue. Even though we had rain gear we still got soaked and I didn’t want him to get anymore discouraged than he already was. Besides, tomorrow will be another day.

 
The next morning produced clear skies and cold temps. We bundled up and headed out. This morning we set up on the edge of a sugar beet field. The woods were still wet and I didn’t feel like getting soaked again walking to the blind. As the sun began to rise I saw a lone coyote walking the edge of the field. Just as I told Adam to pick up his rifle he disappeared. It looked like the animals were moving, now all we needed was a deer. A few minutes later we saw what we were looking for. Off in the distance I saw something move across the field. When I picked the deer up in my binoculars I could see it was a buck. I had Adam get his rifle ready and as he moved the deer saw us and stopped. It was a nice 8 point and he was broadside and looking right at us. Only problem is that he was close to 300 yards away. Adam was looking at the deer through his scope and asking me what to do. 300 yards is a long shot for any hunter, especially a first time hunter who has never taken a shot like that before. I sat there debating what to tell Adam. Seconds seemed like minutes and after a short period the deer got nervous and ran off. Adam looked disappointed but I explained to him he would be even more upset if he wounded the deer and we never recovered it. That is a sick feeling and one I did not want him to experience if it could be avoided. He understood and we settled down to wait for the next one. We didn’t have to wait long. As I was scanning the edge of the field Adam motioned for me to look to my right. There stood a doe not 20 yards away from us. As part of the youth hunt Adam could shoot a doe and the club encouraged it. They want to keep the buck/doe ration in line so a certain number have to be taken. Problem with this one is that it was on my right, Adam was on my left and the deer was looking right at us. I slowly backed up as Adam tried to turn to get a shot. There was tree in the way and he couldn’t get a clear shot. She needed to take a few more steps forward but instead she took a few more steps backwards. Once we couldn’t see her anymore we heard her run off into the woods. By now it was 8:00 am and the sun was shining right in our face. I told Adam we had two choices, we either had to move or head back to the house. He was cold and wanted to go back to the house and that is what we did. Just as well, more rain was on the way and once we got back to the house it started again. Kelly and I had some breakfast and Adam went back to sleep. He had been having a hard time with his allergies all weekend and it was taking a lot out of him. I told Kelly about how the morning went and we talked about what we should do for the rest of the day. We went into town for a little bit while Adam slept. He woke up around lunch and we discussed his options. I told him we could go back out tonight which he seemed willing to do. We decided to get the Jeep packed and the house cleaned up so we could leave right after we came in. While we were packing it started to rain again, this time though it was hail. I gave up, sometimes it is just better to cut your losses and go home. Kelly and Adam agreed. Opening day of rifle is less than 2 months away and he will get another chance. Until then we will go back to chasing squirrels and possibly some grouse and woodcock.

 

As for the walleye? The next few days are supposed to be more wind and rain.  Maybe I’ll get a chance one night this week.  Next weekend is the waterfowl opener in the northern half of the lower peninsula and I know where a few wood ducks are hanging out.