Grandpa’s Tackle Box

7 06 2012

The other day I was putting away all my camping stuff away after another trip. While I was making room on the shelves I spotted my grandfather’s old tackle box. I picked it up to move it to another place in the garage but for some reason I decided to poke through it again. I brushed away the cobwebs and dirt and took it inside the house. The old green metal box is mostly rust now and I wondered if the locks would even open. As the lids creaked open I stared inside and thought to myself, what in the world was he thinking?

The box, a little rusty but a lot of personality.

My grandfather was a jack of all trades kind of guy. He worked for Hudson motors, Chris Craft, built landing craft during the war, owned a cab company, a mink farm and eventually a marina in Wyandotte on the Detroit River. It is even rumored that he ran whiskey across the Detroit River during prohibition. The one constant that remained the same throughout his life is that he loved to fish. One of my last memories of him was sitting on his lap as he taught me how to tie a clinch knot. He also told me that when I got older he was going to teach me the right way to catch walleye. I had no idea what he was talking about but I finally figured it out 35 years later. When he finally retired he would fish just about every day of the year. He went so much that my Grandma insisted that one Sunday he wasn’t going fishing and that he should take her for a drive instead. So the next Sunday they got into the car and went for a drive……to go check out a new fishing spot.
His retirement also coincided with the start of the salmon plantings in Lake Michigan. This was new territory for both he and my father. They had fished for Steelhead in Owen Sound and Lake trout in Lake Michigan but catching 25 pound salmon in the Manistee River and lake was new territory for both of them. It was nothing like pulling pencil plugs for walleye. All the salmon lures we have today had yet to materialize so he had to improvise. That meant taking his existing lures and modifying them for salmon. It most cases it wasn’t anything too drastic but it still made me wonder. He really liked using Helin Flatfish lures but the hooks were too small. Simple fix, bigger hooks but I sometimes think he got a little carried away. Then again I’m used to the advanced lines and hooks we have today. Back in 1970 equipment was a little different.

Big fish need bigger hooks, or so he thought.
Paint schemes were new territory for him as well. Most of the lures he had were dull natural paint schemes. He probably had more frog pattern flatfish than anything else. Someone most have told him that pink was the “hot” color at the time because he painted over a few lures. It was crude by today’s standards but it must have worked.

A little pink never hurts
Paint schemes and modifications are one thing but some lures I just had no clue as to why he had them. They just didn’t fit for what he was trying to catch. All the spoons, flashers, cowbells, and dodgers made sense but a couple of them really made me scratch my head. My Grandfather would fish for anything but Bass were never high on his list. Bass are the only fish I could think of that these lures would be used for but why would they be in a tackle box full of salmon and walleye stuff? Then again I am probably just over analyzing and comparing his way of doing things to mine. I probably have 10 times the lures he did and I have them all organized in separate boxes by size and use. Knowing my grandfather he just threw everything into one box and took it everywhere. I still have to wonder why he ever bought these two though.

I still can't figure out what he used these for.
I really enjoyed looking through the old tackle box that day. Why I did it with more scrutiny this time still escapes me but I’m glad I did. It still amazes me how far the technology has come and how much lures have changed in just the last 40 years. I can only hope that my Grandkids will get the same enjoyment going over all my fishing stuff 40 years from now.

4/27/12 Trenton Channel

28 04 2012

Location: Trenton Channel
Date/Time: 04/27/12 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm
Water Temp: 48 degrees
Water Clarity: Slightly stained
Weather: Overcast
Wind: S 10 mph
Water Depth: 13 feet
Presentation: Handlining 40/20/6, 30/15
Lures: #11 Bleeding Chartreuse, #11 Downriver Steel, #9 Clown, Smithwick Rattlin’ Rogue

Tonight was my Dad’s last night in town so we headed out once again. Hit the launch around 7:00 pm and got ready. While I was parking the Jeep I made a quick scan of the lot to see who was out fishing. Saw Richard’s car and trailer so before we started fishing I was going to track him down. Didn’t take long and I found his boat. He already had one in the cooler along with the bracket he made for my GPS puck. He had also made up a shank jig for me. Just goes to show you that helping people catch fish can pay out in other ways. I saw Sparky’s boat as well so I gave him a quick call to see how he was doing. He had just got out himself and was still getting set up.

That was enough chit chatting, time to start fishing. Didn’t take long and I had the first one for the night. We continued to pick away at our two man limit for the next hour trading back and forth. At one point my Dad had one on that decided he needed to be on my side of the boat. He just passed the line over to me and I brought him in. Gotta love teamwork.

I had been running a #9 Blue Holographic on my kicker leader for the evening but it wasn’t producing so I decided to switch lures. I put on a #9 Clown and about a minute later I had a fish on. I love it when that happens. He must have been hungry because he swallowed the lure.

Yes my lure is in there.

Sparky was along side of me so of course he called to see what I caught him on. The next hour was pretty uneventful. Another friend, Mark Bodrie, pulled up next to me as well to see what was going on. As he was pulling away I hooked into a little 14 incher that I tossed back. I have been hearing about quite a few of those little fish being caught. They are from the 2010 hatch which should be in the 16 to 17 inch range by next year.

We continued fishing and talked to a few more fishermen along the way. Another Mark swung by to see how we were doing and then Leo drove over to get a status update as well. Mark hung around my area and Leo headed further downstream. I found out later that Leo had picked up a 2 man limit as well. By 9:00 pm we were up to 7 fish when my Dad hooked into another one. I pulled out the spot light to shine on the fish. I thought I saw 2 sets of eyes looking back at me but they disappeared. A few second later the fish was back on the surface and sure enough there were two walleye hooked on one lure. This time we were able to get both of them in the boat. I have never done this before and my Dad has done it twice now in the last 2 weeks. Shortly after that I landed #10 and we were headed back to the ramp around 9:30 pm. Not a bad night.  Talked to a few friends back at the ramp and it appears that everyone was catching fish.  This has been a phenomenal month of fishing.  I don’t think I have ever caught this many walleye in the month of April.

We ended up with 10 keepers between 16 ½ to 23 ½ inches long for a total combined weight of 25 pounds and 10 ounces. We threw back one small one and only caught 2 (actually Dad caught them) of the Fish That Shall Not Be Named.

Still trying to figure out how a jigger, fishing in 12 feet of water, could lose 100 feet of line when snagged.

Quiet Water Symposium

4 03 2012

The best laid plans of mice and men…..ever hear that phrase before? It comes to mind every time I have something planned and it doesn’t happen. This time it was for The Quiet Water Symposium I was supposed to attend. Unfortunately work, kids and other responsibilities come up and plans fall apart. I would have liked to have gone but at the same time I am not going to lose any sleep over it. A year ago I didn’t even know this show existed. As I sit here and type I’m still trying to remember how I ever found out about it. This show doesn’t have all the pomp and circumstance of some of the bigger shows but that really wouldn’t work for this one.

The Quiet Water Symposium is a show about quiet, clear flowing streams and experiencing all that nature has to offer from a canoe or kayak. A couple of years ago I would have never cared but since I picked up a couple of recreational kayaks I have a new found appreciation for quiet times on isolated rivers. As much as I like running the Detroit River in my aluminum boat and 20 hp outboard I do enjoy being by myself and floating down the AuSable or Manistee river systems.  It’s hard to describe but the feeling i get catching fish with no one else around is very rewarding.  It might not be like “The Old Man and the Sea” but to me it’s like heaven on earth.

Like the other shows I attend I am there to gather information. When I attended last year my goal was to get as many maps and flyers as I could find about my local streams. I didn’t know it at the time but there is a Huron River Watershed Council that works to promote recreational activities on the Huron. That was my first map along with a list of all their paddle dates. All throughout the summer they sponsor paddling weekends on different sections of the Huron. They coordinate drop-ins and shuttle services during the day along with instructions for the first timers. I never did attend any of the event but the information and maps will come in handy someday.

I talked to a lot of people that day about everything from catching grayling and brook trout to the damage being done by feral hogs. When all was said and done I left with a bag full of flyers and maps for the Huron, Flint and Shiawassee rivers with all the kayak put-ins and take outs. I didn’t get the opportunity to use any of them last summer but hopefully I will this year.

Next week, The Midwest Fly Fishing Expo…….providing the mice and men don’t interfere.

1st Fishing Report for the year 2/5/12

5 02 2012

Location: Trenton Channel
Date/Time: 9:15 am to 11:00 am
Water Temp: 34.8 Degrees
Water Clarity: Clear
Weather: Clear and Sunny
Wind: N and calm
Water Depth: 13 feet
Presentation: Handlining, 3 Leads 40,20,6
Lures: F 11 Clown

Notes: Had to take advantage of the warm weather so I went out today. Picked up one 20 inch male NW of the Catamaran. I have now caught a walleye in every month of the year in the Trenton Channel. Fair amount of floating weeds and no debris. Lots of geese still around and a few ducks. Did see what appeared to be an immature Bald Eagle down by Humbug Marsh.