Time Heals……..Eventually

9 08 2017

We’ve all heard the saying “Time heals all wounds”.  Personally, I don’t think it does.  Two years later and I still have a hard time getting used to fishing without my Dad.  I enjoy my time on the water but not being able to have him sitting next to me, in his spot, sucks.  Even when he couldn’t go I could still call him and give him a play by play on my phone.  His reel is still prepped and ready to go, complete with his shank and leaders.  His box of Rattlin’ Rogue’s are still tucked away under the seat, waiting to be used.  Even though I can use them whenever I want I don’t.  They were his and I don’t feel right using them or letting anyone else use them.  Hell, I still have a hard time letting anyone come along and sit on his side of the boat.  On the rare occasion that I do I’m surprised I haven’t called my guest “Dad”.  Then again, I might have and they just stayed silent out of respect.  With all that in mind I found myself back out on the river tonight pulling wire.  It seemed fitting with it being the two-year anniversary of his death.  Staying home and reminiscing about past trips felt like it would do more harm than good.

I started a lot earlier than I normally do.  Even though the skies were clear and the sun was bright I didn’t care.  I needed to be on the water and catching fish didn’t seem all that important.  Around 7:30 pm I launched my boat and started my way south.  As I was going past the coal docks I noticed that the floating weeds were non-existent so I decided to make a pass there first.  Normally I don’t fish this area because the weeds are so bad.  Since the area was clear I decided to give it a shot.  I set up at the south end in about 20 feet of water and worked my way north.  Nothing happened at first but once I got to the end, things got interesting.  About 50 feet north of the dock I hooked and landed a sub-legal walleye.  No big deal but it warranted a second pass through to see if their might be more.  On my second pass I hooked a double of two more sub-legal fish.  On my next pass I hooked another double, one legal and one sub-legal fish.  My next pass yielded another sub-legal fish.  The next pass through I hooked a triple, one legal fish and two just barely sub-legal fish.  This pattern would repeat itself for the next half hour.  Catch a few fish, make a loop, do it again.  All in an area not 30 feet from shore and about 100 yards form the bridge.  Eventually I wore out my welcome and the fish shut down.  Either that or I caught them all.  By now the sun was starting to set so I pulled lines and headed down to my regular area.

Once I got down by the flag I swapped out my 1 1/2 pound weight and replaced the spoons I was using with Rapalas.  I went through my usual routine for the next hour and all I caught were a few more sub-legal fish.  After the flurry of activity I had in the first hour this next hour and a half was rather tedious.  Of course I started debating going in early but I wanted to know if their were still fish in the area so I kept at it.  Around 10:00 pm the full moon finally cleared what few clouds their were and I changed the #9 Original on my 40 foot lead to a #11 Clown.  That did the trick, in the next half hour I landed two more legal walleye and I was headed for home.  I ended up with a limit, about 2 dozen sub-legal fish, a couple of Rockies, Smallies, Sheeps and no CATS.  After my last trip I didn’t want to see any of those things.  The water is still very clear, the surface temp was around 75 degrees and the weeds weren’t much of an issue.  I don’t know when I will be out again.  I’m headed up to Oscoda for a wedding this weekend and hopefully the St. Mary’s river the following weekend to try for some Atlantic Salmon.  Hopefully, while I am gone, a few walleye will make their way into the river from Erie.  I may make a few trips during the week.  Depends on how I’m feeling and if I start to feel a little claustrophobic sitting at home.

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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.

 

 

 





Memorial Fins and Feathers weekend, minus the Feathers.

30 05 2017

As in life, things don’t always go as planned.  Originally, my Memorial Day weekend was supposed to be 3 days of fishing and turkey hunting.  Due to weather, water conditions and other circumstances beyond my control all I got to do was fish for walleye Friday night.  Even that trip didn’t go as planned, actually the results were not what I figured they would be.

I left the house Friday night around 9:00 pm.  With the blankity blank run still going on I wasn’t even going to try until after dark.  I was planning on running pencil plugs as well with the hope of keeping the blankity blank catch rate to a minimum.  With that in mind I started fishing around 9:30 and shortly afterwards it began.

1,2,3,4,5,6, Hey look….a walleye, 7,8,9, Oh cool, another walleye, a third walleye….we’re cookin’ now 10,11,12,Dink,13,14,15, well at least I’m not catching them two at a time, 17,18,20,21, another walleye, I should just quit now, 22,23,24,26, that’s it, I’m done, time to pull lines.  Holy Crap, number 5, the streak continues.

That was the night in a nutshell.  I got my 5 walleye and the blankity blanks were just active enough to annoy me but not so bad that they drove me off the river.  Around 2 dozen of them in 2 ½ hours of fishing isn’t bad but when I am walleye fishing that is all I want to catch, walleye.  What I was really expecting was a lot of undersized walleye.  I had heard reports about fishermen catching 30 and 40 undersized walleye in order to get a limit of 5.  I didn’t want to deal with that along with the blankity blanks.  The longer the lures are out of the water, releasing unintentional catches, the less time they are in the water trying to catch the targeted species.  This was another reason why I was running pencil plugs.  I was hoping the bigger bait and lack of action would keep the blankity blanks and the undersized fish at bay.  It worked to some degree but it also created a headache.  One of the drawbacks with a pencil plug is that when a blankity blank grabs it the extra hooks catch the fish in odd places.  That creates a tendency for them to come in sideways and pinwheel, which leads to tangled leaders.  I got brave at first and ran 3 leaders but once I realized that the blankity blanks were not going to leave it alone I ditched my kicker to cut down on the tangles.

There were about 6 other boats out fishing tonight as well.  Most of them were south of me but one stayed in my area for a good part of the evening.  At one time they got close enough and I could see that they were bring in blankity blanks two at a time.  I was able to see what they were using for lures, #9 Clown Rapalas.  That’s as bad as wearing a Vote Hillary 2016 t-shirt at an NRA convention.  You’re just asking for trouble.  As the night progressed the other boats thinned out and by 11:00 pm I was the only one out.  By 11:30 I had 4 in the box and was debating just heading in.  I had to get up early the next morning and I needed some sleep.  I decided to stick it out to 12 and then go in no matter what.  I pointed my boat towards the Edison warm water discharge, figuring I would make my last run through there.  After I made my pass I started to pull lines.  I put my 40 foot lead over my right shoulder as I pulled my 20 and started to wrap it on my spool.  As I was bringing it in my reel started unwinding and my 40 foot lead started heading back off the stern of my boat.  At first I thought the line got hung up in my prop but that wasn’t possible.  The lure was 40 feet back, on the surface and probably only 10 feet of line in the water.  I dropped my spool and placed my foot on it to keep it from falling over.  I grabbed hold of my 40 foot lead and to my surprise I could feel that slow head shake and weight of a walleye.  I minute later and he was in the cooler and I went back to putting everything away.  10 feet of water and that walleye came up and grabbed the lure off the surface.  Sometimes it pays to be lucky.

So that was the beginning of my 3-day weekend.  One I had originally hoped would be full of fishing and some hunting but it didn’t work out that way.  I was fortunate to catch a limit of good sized fish.  I was expecting a lot of throwbacks and maybe a couple of just barely 15 inchers.  Instead I was able to keep my walleye limit streak intact for 2017.  I’ll probably try again Friday or Saturday this coming weekend.  At night.  With Pencil Plugs.  Unless the blankity blanks have left, which I highly doubt.

 





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.





Grind Time

15 04 2017

Normally when one talks about grinding around the Detroit area people usually think of The Grind Line of the Red Wings.  This time though it is all about walleye fishing on a long Good Friday evening.

This last Friday (4/14) I was headed back out once again.  This would be my fourth trip out for the week and I was hoping it would be as successful as the previous ones.  I started around 6:30 pm and found that the water still had a heavy stain to it.  I could barely see my prop, which was an improvement, but still a long way from clear water.  I was hoping I could get my limit before dark but it didn’t take long to realize I was going to have to grind this one out.  The water was choppy and there was a lot of boat traffic ripping up and down the river, which only added to the rough water.  Boat control was difficult and I was constantly lifting my lines up to keep from getting snagged as I was bounced around.  My wish was a double edged sword.  I was hoping sunset would come soon to get these boats off the water and calm it down.  Once it did though I wondered how well the fish would bite with the cloudy water.  I soon found out, sort of.  I didn’t catch my first fish until after 7:30 pm and it was an undersized fish.  My first keeper didn’t come until around 8 and for the next two hours I slowly picked away at them.  They never came hot and heavy and during the next two hours I tried everything I could think of.  Different colors, different lures, different sizes, different speeds, different areas.  Nothing really zeroed in on them.  I got my limit but the fish came from different areas on different lures at different speeds.  No rhyme or reason to it.  The only consistent thing was their inconsistency.  Persistence was the key tonight.  Good thing I didn’t have anywhere special to go.

Now for my rant.  I would like to know who thinks it is a good idea to jig with 30 pound spiderwire or fireline?  If you are afraid of losing a dollar jig then fish someplace else.  Trying to save one jig and losing 50 yards of line (expensive line) only creates something for everyone else to get snagged up on.  In other words, KNOCK IT OFF!!

Rant over.

 





October Walleye 10/06/16

9 10 2016

October is usually the start of some fantastic Fall fishing on the lower Detroit River.  Bigger walleye move back in, chasing the gizzard shad to fatten up for winter.  This year though, the timing is just a tad bit off because of the hot summer we had.  Everything is running a little later than normal.  I had debated waiting a few more weeks but when I heard that fellow handliners, Dave and Larry, were going to be out I decided to give it a shot.  Safety in numbers and we could cover more water to help us key in on the active fish.  Great theory, to bad it didn’t work.

I arrived at the ramp just after 7 p.m. and the few pleasure boaters that were out were on their way back in.  As I got my boat ready I noticed that the marina was full of weeds.  I did not want to see that.  I was hoping it was just the Marina but as I was heading south I could see mats of weeds everywhere. This was not going to be fun.  I set up in my usual area and sent a text to Dave and Larry.  They were farther south, down by Calf Island, so I just stayed up closer to the stacks.  If either of us started to catch fish we would let the other know.  About 5 minutes in I had my first walleye.  As I was flipping him in he came off the lure and slid down the edge of the boat until he hit my reel.  Once he did he fell right back into the river.

Oh well.

For the next hour it was mostly clear weeds off the lines.  Shortly after 8 I did manage to catch a 19 incher.  About 10 minutes later I caught a short.  I was starting to get a little optimistic but those feelings were quickly crushed when I hit a huge mat of weeds.  After spending the next minutes clearing them off my lines and off my prop I was back at it.  By now it was 8:30 and I told myself I would stick it out until 9.  At 8:55 I landed one more that was just over 15 niches.  A couple of minutes later and a quick text to Dave and Larry and I was headed home.  The weeds were just to much to handle.  If the fishing had been better I would have stuck it out but this was one of those nights when it just wasn’t worth the effort.  Living only 10 minutes away makes these judgement calls a whole lot easier.

The big one grabbed the size 7 and the little one grabbed the size 11. Go Figure.

The big one grabbed the size 7 and the little one grabbed the size 11. Go Figure.





Sturgeon Moon Walleye 8/19/16

20 08 2016

You can file this one under useless Cliff Clavin bar trivia.  I didn’t know this until recently but every full moon has a name.  This past full moon is known as a Sturgeon Moon.  What that actually means is still a mystery to me but it makes for a unique blog post title.

I started out fishing Friday night a little earlier than I normally do.  It was overcast so I figured going before sunset wouldn’t hurt.  Of course, once I got on the water the clouds broke and the sun came out.  Oh well, live and learn.  At least there were no weeds, for now.  I started it my usual area and threw out a few spoons and a #9 Bleeding Olive Rapala.  Not much happened at first but around 8:00 pm fishing got interesting.

Bass, Bass, Bass, Bass, Bass, Bass, Are You kidding me? Bass, Bass, Bass, Bass, Bass, Bass, swap out spoon catching all the bass.  Brief lull.  Short, Short, legal, Double Legal, Short, Short, Legal, Bass, Double Short, Really short, Lost at boat, Short, Bounced off side of boat, Short, Rocky, Short, Short, Short………………………………………………………………….Short, Ridiculously short, Where did all the weeds come from?  Screw this.  Went home.

That’s pretty much how the evening went.  From 8 to 9:30 my lines were out of the water more than they were in.  Smallmouth bass and lots of undersized walleye.  Once the full moon came up and cleared the trees the fishing really slowed down.  Kind of odd since I usually do pretty well under a full moon.  Just goes to show that there are no absolutes in fishing.  Around 10 the weeds showed up in force and fishing became impossible.  I tried to find clean water but it just wasn’t happening.  Eventually I gave up and headed in, there will be other nights.  At least I know, barring some catastrophic event, the walleye fishing next year should be awesome.

Sturgeon Moon walleye