Really Quick Report

25 04 2017

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.





Class Is In Session

22 04 2017

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.





Windsday Walleye

12 04 2017

Oops, my mistake, never mind, I erred.  Forgot what day it was.

So I went out Tuesday night to add some more fish to the freezer.  I knew it was going to be windy but I thought with it being straight out of the west that it wouldn’t be to bad.  I was wrong.  The wind never did lie down and I was fighting it all night.  If I took my hand of the tiller I would start to spin around like a top in no time.  Fortunately, I was only out for an hour and a half.  The water was still dirty so I started with the same Smithwick’s I used Saturday.  That changed though because 5 minutes in I got hung up.  I managed to pull the weight free but my 40 foot lead was caught as well.  The wind started to spin me around, over the line, so I just snapped it before it got a chance to get hung up in the prop.  It broke right at the knot so I tied on an old snap that was lying on my console.  I grabbed a #11 bleeding Chartreuse Rapala that was attached to my magnetic strip and I was back at it.  Normally I don’t mix lure like this, because of the different dive rates, but having to fight the wind limited my ability to dig around in the storage area for my lure box.   It did get tangled with my 20 foot lead a couple of times but 3 of my fish came on the Rapala and the other 2 on the clown Smithwick.  I got my first fish about 6:45 pm and my last one at 8:00 pm.  There was about a half hour lull between numbers 4 and 5.  With darkness quickly approaching I figured I was going to be stuck at 4 but I told myself I would keep at it until 8 and my persistence paid off.

No size to any of these fish, all between 16 and 18 inches.  They are all probably from the same year class. No undersized fish yet and no big ones either.  Not that I’m complaining but I would like one 25+ inch fish to smoke.

As I said before the water is still dirty but it is improving.  I’ve heard reports that there is clear water upstream so it shouldn’t be much longer.  I didn’t take a water temperature reading either but I’m betting it is in the upper 40 range.  Soon those other fish will show up and I can hardly wait.  NOT!!!!





Strange Night Walleye 8/5/16

7 08 2016

Ever have one of those nights where you just know nothing is going to go right?  That nagging feeling where something feels off?  Like maybe you should have just stayed home?  Well tonight was one of those nights.  I can’t pin that nagging feeling on any particular thought but I just knew it was going to be a strange night.

I arrived on the water just before 9:00 pm.  The water was still clear and there were hardly any weeds.  So far so good.  About 10 minutes in I had my first walleye on and unfortunately I lost him as I was flipping him in.  No big deal, it’s happened before and it will happen again.  Shortly after that I had another fish on but it was no walleye.  It took me awhile to get him to the surface but when I did my thoughts as to what it was were confirmed, Muskie.  There are two fish I never want to deal with out here, a sturgeon and a muskie.  One because he is too damn big, the other because he has too many teeth.  This one was hooked well too (on a 50 cent tin spoon no less), right in the top of the jaw.  Normally I try to keep him in the water and just try to remove the lure with a pair of pliers.  There wasn’t much of a chance for that so I netted him, or at least I tried to.  Once I got him in the net, it broke.  It took some doing but I eventually got the hook out of him.  This is when things got interesting.  I dropped the lure into the bottom of the boat, or so I thought.  The leader fell over the side and drifted back into my prop.  I saw the leader peel out of the boat and I quickly killed the engine.  So there I was, drifting downstream, 3 tangled leaders, one in the prop and a 30 inch muskie in my hand.  First things first, I released the muskie and got the leader out of my prop.  I replaced the leader that was all chewed up by the prop and teeth, pointed my boat back north and started fishing again.

By now the sun had set and the wind was slowly shifting from west to NW.  It was a light wind at first but eventually it sped up to around 15 mph.  Boat control was interesting once that happened.  I could point my boat straight north and still move sideways from west to east.  If I wasn’t careful I would be headed downstream in a hurry.  I fought through it though and managed to pick up a couple of walleye before I hooked into 20+ inches of line tangling fury, a smallmouth.  I wasn’t taking any chances tonight, especially after my last incident.  I got my other two leaders in and then I concentrated on getting the fish in.  It took awhile but eventually I got him to the boat and released.  It was way to dark for a decent picture so I just let him go.  I had drifted downstream some so I motored back up to where I wanted to be and got back to the walleye.  By now I had two in the cooler and was debating quitting because of the wind.  Fishing isn’t any fun when you are constantly battling the conditions.  While I was assessing my options I hooked what turned out to be about 100 feet of spider wire and all the crap that had collected around it.  What a mess.  I finally got that straightened around and I was seriously debating just giving up when I had another fish.  It turned out to be a channel cat, why these things took up residence in the channel is still a mystery to me.  This was starting to get annoying, I was catching more of what I didn’t want instead of what I did want.  It was at that point that I hooked and landed my 3rd walleye for the evening.  It never ceases to amaze me how catching another fish can give you just enough incentive to stay out a little longer.  I told myself that I would stick it out until I got a 4th.  About 10 minutes later I did and was headed in.  I thought about trying for a 5th but I wasn’t going to push my luck.  A lot of things went wrong tonight (I won’t even go into the boat that cut me off) and I didn’t see a need to press it.  I still had that nagging feeling that I should get off the water.  With no moon or cloud cover it was very dark and I was the only boat out.  Discretion is the better part of valor and so I headed in.  There will be better days.

Huh…I just noticed this in the picture.  The rear hook on the #9 Rapala is gone.  Wonder when that happened?

muskie net Walleye 8-5





A Shameless Plug for Pencil Plugs.

14 05 2016

Normally I don’t make a lot of shameless plugs, unless you count that one post that was a slew of them.  Well this plug is about just that, a plug, a pencil plug to be exact.  Long time readers know that I have used Nite Stalker pencil plugs before, and shamelessly plugged them as well.  They have been hard to come by but a new company has taken up the mantle and they are being produced once again.

http://sportsmensdirect.com/shop/pencil-plug-by-hwi/

They are just like the old Nite Stalkers and are available here in Michigan.  They offer them in many colors along with Chrome, Gold and Blank if you want to paint them yourself.  As for me I will be sending some up to Jim at www.downrivertackle.com  (see what I did there?) to paint mine up.  He told me he can work wonders with the blank and chrome plugs.

I’ll be ordering some this weekend to use once those other fish leave the river.

If you have never fished with a pencil plug before for walleye you might want to give it a shot.  They don’t dive as deep as a Rapala so they don’t get hung up as much.  Walleye tend to hit them center mass and they get all those hooks in them.  Since they don’t have a lip they do a decent job of not getting fouled with weeds and they are just plain cool.





Drizzly Walleye 5/4/16

5 05 2016

There is nothing more depressing than watching the rain fall through your office window when you want to fish.  This was the case Wednesday as I sat at my desk and stared out the window in front of me.  This window is on the 6th floor and faces NW so I get a bird’s eye view of any storm coming my way.  Most days it is pretty cool to see a thunderstorm roll in but today was different, I wanted to go fishing after work.  Early forecasts were calling for thunderstorms in the evening but as the day wore on that chance dwindled away.  By the time I got home all rain had stopped, the wind had died down to nothing and the overcast skies remained.

Time to catch some fish.

Of course, once I arrived at the ramp around 8:15, the rain started up again.  It was just a light drizzle and it would continue to do this the whole time I was out.  At least the wind was next to nothing.  When I was out last Sunday night the NE wind never quit and I spent more time fighting it instead of fishing.  I’ll take a little rain over the wind any day.  By 8:30 pm I was lines down and working my way north against the current.  Water temps were right around 50 degrees and the water was still very clear.  Nothing much happened at first but once it got dark things turned on in a hurry.  Just after 9:00 pm I had my first fish on for the night and what would turn out to be the biggest.  A 24 inch male grabbed my #11 Black and Gold Rapala on my 40 foot lead.  I eased him and and when I got him to the surface I could see he was barely hooked.  I had a feeling he might be since he hit it so lightly.  I had my net handy and after a well placed scoop he was in the cooler.  About 5 minutes later number 2 grabbed the same lure and he met the same result.  While I was resetting lines I decided to swap out the #9 Rapala on my 20 foot lead for another #11 Rapala in a custom color called Pink Lemonade.  No sooner had the weight hit the bottom when number 3 hit that custom Rapala.  A quick flip and he was in the cooler as well.  Around 9:30 number 4 hit the same Rapala and into the cooler he went.  I was beginning to think that I would be done soon and of course, it didn’t happen.  I didn’t catch the last one until 10:00 pm.  That 30 minutes seemed like forever.  I started to question lure color, location, speed, everything I could think of.  I guess it just goes to show how spoiled I am when it comes to walleye fishing.  I know a lot of people that would be thrilled to get a limit in less than an hour and here I am bitching about it.  The last fish was the smallest of the night and he too hit the pink lemonade Rapala.  Nothing on my kicker tonight and I only had one casualty,  I busted the lip on #9 Rapala earlier.  During that half hour I also caught two of those other fish.  To be honest I was surprised I didn’t catch more.  I had been hearing reports for the last week of people catching them everywhere.  It was only a matter of time.  They should really take off this weekend with the warm water.

So the final tally for the night was 5 walleye ranging in size from 18 to 24 inches long, all males and all caught on #11 Rapala’s in Black/Gold and Pink Lemonade.  One minor casualty and a couple of unmentionables.  It drizzled most of the night but it was so light I never really got wet.  The wind did eventually pick up some but nothing to get excited about.  During my short little slump I did move out of the area that I had caught all my fish.  Don’t know how much of a difference it really made but once I got about 200 yards north I hooked and landed the last one.  Did they move?  Did they shut down?  Was it a fluke?  I’ll never know, to many variables to try and pin it down on one thing.  Doesn’t matter though, 5 fish were in the box and I was headed home.

FullSizeRender





Elitist Snob to Knuckle Dragger in 48 hours

28 04 2016

Last weekend I headed up to my Mom’s, in Oscoda, for a visit.  My trips north used to be hunting and fishing from sun up to sun down.  Now it’s Mom’s to do list from sun up to dinner and maybe a few hours of fishing afterwards.  While I was driving up Friday afternoon I listened to another one of April Vokey’s podcasts.  The guest talked about the divide in the steelhead world where fly fishers view gear fishermen as knuckle draggers and gear guys view the fly guys as elitist snobs.  This kind of thing has been going on for years but it got me thinking.  Where do I fit in?  My two favorite forms of fishing are swinging flies for steelhead and pulling wire for walleye.  Two types of fishing that are polar opposites and couldn’t be any further apart on the fishing spectrum.  One is steeped with visions of pristine rivers and a certain amount of poetry and grace.  The other is meat fishing in it’s truest form.  Both are relaxing, both catch fish and both are very enjoyable to me.  I can see how the outsider would view both practices but like the only saying goes….you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.  Just because I carry a fly rod doesn’t mean I’m a snob and just because I handline doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the serenity of fly fishing.

After a  home cooked walleye dinner on Friday night I grabbed my switch rod and headed for the AuSable.  This would only be my second attempt this Spring to catch a steelhead.  Snow, rain, high water and work have made finding time to get out very difficult.  I waded down to a run that I hoped would be holing a fish or two.  I did manage to see one swimming around but I couldn’t get him to eat.  I tried another spot further downstream but it was to no avail.  After a couple of hours I packed it in and headed for home.  My left leg was soaked (still haven’t fixed the leak in my waders) and it was getting dark.  I didn’t like the thought of not catching anything during the Spring run but there wasn’t much I could do about it.  There was a chance I could try again tomorrow, depending on the size of my mom’s to do list.  Turns out it was a long list so I never got that second chance.

You would think there would be at least one hungry steelhead in there.

You would think there would be at least one hungry steelhead in there.

Sunday morning found me headed south and home.  While I was driving I called my friend Dean to see if he wanted to go fishing later that night.  I owed him a few trips and he had been bugging me about going so I thought tonight would be a good opportunity.  I told him to meet me at the house at 7 and of course he was early.  I told him there was no rush but he was anxious to go.  I dragged my feet as much as I could but he was getting impatient.  When we arrived at the ramp my friend Richard was there so I took the opportunity to talk to him and waste more time.  This plan didn’t work out too well either because Dean got the boat ready and was holding the rope with a “Let’s go” look on his face.  I wished Richard good luck and soon we were on our way.  After a brief refresher course for Dean on leader management and lure selection we were fishing by 7:45 pm.  I told Dean that with the clear water we weren’t going to catch anything until 9 o’clock.  He didn’t believe me.  For the next hour we just washed our Rapala’s and wasted time.  Eventually I had a hit and our first walleye was in the boat.  Once I got it in I showed Dean the time on my watch.

9:01 pm

I won’t repeat his reply but for the next hour it was game on.  We ended up landing 6 fish and losing 4.  They were hitting light tonight, barely grabbing the tail hook.  I did have another walleye make a banzai charge on my prop and I lost that one, of course.  Dean ended up catching two and he didn’t lose any.  I caught 4, lost one to the prop, one as I was flipping him in, one on the surface and the last one at the stern.  I had just told Dean too that I was going to lose this one and when he said why, out came the lure.  It was a light hit and he was barely hooked, it was only a matter of time.  Around 10 we got our lines all tangled up so I called it a night.  I didn’t feel like digging out extra leaders and we both had to work in the morning.  I was really tired as well.  I never sleep well when I am at my mom’s.  That air mattress sucks.  So the night ended with 6 fish, 4 premature releases, 1 lost lure and 2 broken ones, 5 tangled leaders and two lost shanks.  Richard had called me while I was out and lost his shank.  He asked if I had any spares and I gave him two.  Also, we didn’t catch any of those other fish.  This surprised me because I had been hearing reports of them being caught all over the river.  I’m to the point now that I don’t believe anything I hear on the message boards.  I should know better, all season long I have been hearing negative reports of no fish.  Me and the other handliners have a different view of the walleye fishing this season.

#9 Original Black/Silver took the bulk of the fish. The big one came on a Riley Special Spike Spoon.

#9 Original Black/Silver took the bulk of the fish. The big one came on a Riley Special Spike Spoon.