Erie Perch, 08/27/17

28 08 2017

My original plan for last weekend was to take care of some chores and do a little fly fishing each morning.  That all changed early Saturday when I got a text from Steve Schoonover, owner of The Mad Viking Tackle Company.  Normally I don’t start perch fishing until the Fall when they make their way into the river.  Since they have been doing so well on Erie I jumped at the chance to get an early start on putting some in the freezer.  We made plans to meet at the Bolles Harbor Marina the next day around 10:00 am.  Fellow Handliner Dave and his son Braden were also along for the trip.  That meant we had the potential to go home with a 4 man limit of perch, 200 of them.  While that sounds both excessive and awesome the thought of cleaning that many really didn’t appeal to me.  I’d be happy with a couple of dozen each.  I give most of the yellow perch I catch to my Mom and she really can’t eat that many anyways.

Once we got the boat loaded up with our gear we made our way to the first stop near Stony Point.  There were some decent rollers so it made for a bumpy ride.  The Algal bloom wasn’t to bad in this area but looking out over the lake you could see where the surface would go from green to blue.  We started drifting perch rigs (supplied by Steve) at first to find some active fish.  Once we did we dropped anchor.  The first stop yielded about 2 dozen perch in the 9 to 11 inch range.  Not a bad start but after an hour we moved on towards the Raisin River bouys.  There were a lot more boats in this area so we picked a spot just outside of the pack.  The bloom was a little thicker here but nothing like the pea soup it had been like a week ago.  We picked up about another dozen during the next hour.  Around 1 Steve had us pull lines and we moved deeper into the center of the pack.  Once we dropped lines it was game on.  For the next couple of hours the 4 of us steadily filled the live well.  We only got a handful of doubles but we weren’t complaining.  We were kept busy and there were very few lulls in the action.  If we didn’t get a bite after a minute or two we were pulling in to check for bait.  The minnows we had didn’t survive well and by now we were using dead ones.  The perch didn’t seem to mind but whenever we set the hook the minnows would come off all the hooks.  We were even doubling up on the minnows on each hook.  We pretty much had to, the emeralds we had were in two sizes, extra large and extra small.  The extra large ones were used first, after that it was the pinheads, two at a time.  Like I said though, it didn’t matter.  The perch were abundant and hungry.  Only problem was that being bounced around in the boat for the day was starting to take it’s toll.  We were already at 100 so Steve decided we should quit at 125.  Braden brought in #125 but since we still had lines out it was soon followed by numbers 126 and 127.  All that was left now was the trip back in and the cleaning.  With four people helping it only took about an hour, which isn’t to bad at all.

Father & Son

Captain Steve, The Original Mad Viking.

Doubling Up

 

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7/1/17 Walleye Report

3 07 2017

Last Saturday night started out much like any other night.  I Arrived at the ramp after 9, no wind and a bit humid.  I thought to myself that it would probably be a bad night for bugs.  Little did I realize just how bad it would be.  There wasn’t much boat traffic, which was kind of surprising considering the weather and what day it was.  The water was still clear and no visible signs of any floating weeds.

So far so good.

By 9:30 pm I was in my usual spot and setting lines.  I started off with a couple of spoons and a #9 Original Rapala.  One of the spoons was a new pattern I picked up last year and never used until tonight.  I figured with the clear water we had been experiencing a spoon with a natural finish would do pretty well.  It didn’t take long to find out.  10 minutes later I had two in the cooler and both of them came on that spoon.  I was feeling pretty good about how this night was going to go and then it happened.  First it was one, then a couple which turned into a swarm.  Ten’s of thousands of mayflies began hatching all around me.  They weren’t the big hex’s, a slightly smaller cream colored version, but they were everywhere.  I had never been in the center of a hatch like this before and it was awe inspiring.  The numbers were unbelievable and I could only imagine what was going on below the surface.  I didn’t think about it at first but this was going to give me the opportunity to see just how active the walleye are during a mayfly hatch.  I had heard from multiple people that you can’t catch walleye during a hatch.  I never really believed that and I was about to find out first hand.  I don’t know how much the walleye feed on the nymphs but I’m sure they are chasing after the baitfish that are feeding on the nymphs.  Five minutes into the hatch I got my answer when number 3 hit that same spoon.

So there I was, 10 pm and in the middle of a mayfly hatch with 3 in the cooler when I got my next surprise.  Fireworks.  Turns out the Duck Dynasty boat was occupied that evening.  The first one exploded right on the deck but after that they got their act together and continued to launch them out over the river for the next 30 minutes.  I wonder if that would be considered littering?  Not much I could do about it so I stayed on the west end of the river until they were done.  I really didn’t want one to land in my lap, especially after I watched them drop one onto their dock and explode and burn for a bit.  Around 10:30 pm they quit along with just about everyone else on the island so I slowly made my way back over to where I wanted to be.  By now the hatch had ended but I was still plucking bugs off of me and my boat.  During this time I managed to catch a few blankity blanks (apparently they didn’t get the memo) and my first 20 inch smallmouth of the year. Fortunately he hit my top lead and manged to stay clear of the rest of my leaders.  When one that big hits the kicker lure he has a tendency to tangle up everything.  I also caught a few more throwbacks in the 10 inch range.  These would be walleye from last year’s hatch.  The trawl results indicated that 2016 was a below average hatch but that was out in Lake Erie.  I really would like to know how many walleye successfully spawn in the river.

Around 11:00 pm the weeds started up and fishing became a drag, literally.  At one point I hit a patch of weeds about 20 yards long and 10 yards wide.  By the time I saw it it was to late and all 3 of my lines caught it.  The drag created by the weeds turned my boat around and headed me downstream.  It took me about 20 minutes to get everything clear and get back up to my spot.  From then one I was clearing lines every 5 or 10 minutes.  I was debating heading in but whenever I did I would lose a walleye or catch another dink.  I figured it would just be a matter of time before I would fill out my limit.  Around midnight I did just that.  I was pulling in my lines to clear the weeds and a walleye grabbed my kicker lure just as I was about to pull it out of the water.  Either he followed that lure up or he was cruising the surface chasing baitfish that were feeding on the few emergers or spinners I saw on the surface.  Either way I was done and headed in.  Perseverance and a little luck paid off tonight.

A few observations about tonight, the first being that you can catch walleye during a mayfly hatch.  The other being that the only absolute when it comes to walleye (or any fish for that matter) is that they are going to do whatever they damn well please.  As you can see in the pictures the walleye wanted small baits, about the size of an emerald shiner.  When I got home and cleaned them one walleye had a goby in him that was about twice the size of my lures.  None of the walleye had any mayfly nymphs in them.  Other than the goby I didn’t find anything else they had been eating. So take it for what it’s worth.  You can catch walleye before, during and after a mayfly hatch, size does matter and matching “the hatch” doesn’t always pay off.  I ran #9 and #11 Rapala’s in darker colors and I never caught a fish on any of them.

So much for “Matching the Hatch”

 

 





A Year in a Life – October

14 10 2014

October is my favorite time of year and probably one of my favorite times to be on the river fishing. Every spring I count the days until I can get the boat in the water but come July I’m already thinking ahead to October. This month has consistently produced more big fish for me than any other. I know the Spring Run produces a lot of big females but for me the Fall fishing has been my best time of year. I have lost some wall hangers and also landed my personal best on a Halloween afternoon a few years back. We have all heard it before about how the fish go on a feeding binge to prep for the upcoming winter and it shouldn’t be ignored. Fishing can be tough because of the weather but the rewards can be awesome.

 
There are two areas on the Detroit River where the fish start to pile up in preparation for winter and the Spring spawning run. At the north end up near Peche Island and the South end from the Grosse Isle Free bridge to south of Celeron Island. They do catch a few fish mid river but the catches are more consistent at the north and south ends. The schools also pile up in Lake Erie from Brest Bay down to Huron Ohio but I don’t have the boat for that so I stick to the river. They also catch a lot of walleye north of the Blue Water bridge up at Port Huron but I’m not making that run either. For me though it is all about the Trenton Channel. I know big surprise.

 
During the Fall the walleye in the channel are feeding on 4 different types of baitfish. Emerald Shiners, Gobies, young of the year Smallmouth Bass and eventually Gizzard Shad. The Gizzard Shad follow the warm water from the Edison Plant discharge and the walleye are right behind them. You can always tell when they are in because you will see them jumping and there will be a big increase in Egret’s, Heron’s and Eagles in the trees along the shore. This means big baits, size #11 and #13 Rapala’s and Thundersticks. My usual set up this time of year is all Rapala’s with a 13 on my 40, an 11 on my 20 and a 9 on my kicker. Of course this can change after I have been out there for a bit but 90% of the time I start out like that. It all depends on what the fish want. It can be baffling though. I have caught barely legal fish on a #13 Rapala and a 6 or 7 pounder on a #7 Rapala. Lord for bid they stick to my plan of attack.

 
Another good thing about this time of year is that the fish hit hard. None of this lightly sucking in the bait or just nipping at the tail crap. They hit these lures like a freight train. Out in the Lake the small inline planer boards turn into bobbers that disappear under the surface. For the handliner it’s not uncommon to find the whole lure inside the fish or every hook stuck in him somewhere. Of course because the fish are so big and feisty I tend to lose a lot of fish. All the head shaking produces a lot of tearing and eventually lures being thrown back at me just as I get them within a few yards of the boat. This is a time when I really prefer to fish by myself so that I can turn the boat into the fish and try to finesse them in a little more. I also keep a net handy, especially if I can see those tell tale holes in the jaw from where the hook has been pulling.

 
Couple of other things to take into consideration for the Fall fishing. Weather plays a big role in success. Once the water temps get around that 50 degree range it’s game on. If things get to cold to quick it can shut down in a hurry. Also, October storms can tear up the water in an instant. A few years back Super Storm Sandy trashed the river for weeks and the fish shut right down. I have also noticed that since the fish are more active they are willing to chase bait and sometimes are up cruising around off the bottom. I catch more fish while bringing my lines up or setting them down this time of year over any other. If I notice this I will shorten up my 20 foot lead and my kicker. I won’t touch the 40 just in case there are still a few lazy ones down there. It also helps to keep one line away from the boat in case they are a little skittish in the shallow clear water. I have also noticed that these fish will feed at the most ridiculous times. Like I said earlier my personal best came on a Halloween afternoon at 2:00 pm. I have had some of my best days on clear blue bird days at 10:00 am. I rarely get that in the summer but it happens on a regular basis in the Fall. Bottom line is when the dinner bell rings it’s best to be out there. Weeds too can be a problem, it’s not the big mats like in the summer but just all the single strands that are dying and breaking off downstream. These tend to be below the surface so a good west wind isn’t going to help keep them in Canada. In other words clear the lines on a regular basis.

 
That’s it for my thoughts on the fall fishery. If all goes well this can carry on into November and December. It all depends on what kind of a mood Mother Nature is in. In 2007 I was catching limits well into December but last year everything came to a screeching halt in November. Each year is different, just remember to dress warm and have fun.

10-26-12 TC 2 10-26-12 TC 1 10-20-12 TC 1 TC 11-10-12 11-10-13 TC