Evening Stroll

27 08 2020

After chucking streamers at Smallmouth Bass for 16 hours, this past weekend, I thought a casual stroll for carp would be a nice change of pace.  We received some rain earlier in the morning so I was hoping the levels would be up some.  They were but not enough to fill up my favorite spots.

I started at my usual area and sure enough there were silt clouds all out in the deeper water, just out of casting range.  While I stood there debating what to do I saw a tail through the clouds of a feeding carp in range.  I made a cast just ahead of him and much to my surprise, he swam out of the cloud and sucked it up.  He was a little guy and didn’t fight much so I got him in pretty quickly.

From there I went on to my next spot only to find that it was pretty shallow, about 6 inches of water in most of it.  I did see one smaller carp out in the center but he was swimming right towards me.  I waited for him to turn around and once he did I got into position, made a cast in front of him and then hung on as he took the fly and headed straight for the main river.  He wasn’t much bigger than the first but once he got that current working with him he was off like a bullet.  Eventually I worked him into shore and landed him.  I didn’t bother with a picture, he was the same size as the first so I kept my phone in it’s waterproof case.

From there I went to my last spot, on this stretch, that would hold fish with the levels being this low.  As I walked up I could see the silt clouds from several fish and one within range facing away.  I waited a few minutes for him to turn and once he did I dropped the fly right next to him.  He pounced on it and once I set the hook the splashing commenced.  Eventually he got his bearings straight and ran out of the hole and into the river, all the way across, into the weeds.  Once he made it to the weeds he slowed down but I wasn’t able to pull him out and eventually the hook came loose.  No biggie, my favorite part of this is watching the eat.  It still amazes me how sometimes they will completely ignore the fly and swim away like it’s poison and other times they attack it likes it’s the first meal they have had in weeks.

After that I went downstream to another area I discovered a few weeks back.  I’ve been waiting for some rain to help fill up one spot to help draw the fish closer into shore.  As I was walking to it I spotted some movement among some lily pads.  I worked my way closer concentrating on the pads to see if there was a carp underneath them.  I was so focused on that area that I never saw him swimming towards me.  he turned around and swam away.  From there I went to my next spot and as I was walking in I could see the back of one carp out of the water and about 15 feet from shore.  I got in line with a large tree on the shoreline to block his view and got into range.  After a little maneuvering I was able to place the fly just ahead of his nose.  He shot forward but since I couldn’t see the take I slowly lifted up, as I did he felt that hook and spun around.  I set the hook and held on expecting him to make a run for the river.  Problem was the water was so shallow he couldn’t get any traction so he just splashed and rolled right in front of me.  Eventually I waded out to him and picked him up.  I removed the hook and waded through the muck to some deeper water where I revived him and let him go.

It was getting late so I started back towards the car.  As I walked by I saw movement again at my first stop.  I snuck in again using the trees for cover and spotted another carp feeding with his tail to me.  I got into range and dropped the fly just off to his left.  He turned to his left and sucked it up.  Once I set the hook he took off through the lily pads.  I had tried to stay somewhat dry all night but I had no choice now.  I jumped in and started to clear my line from the pads.  He was already in the main river and pulling line so I was in a hurry to get it clear.  After about a minute of pulling pads out of the way I was clear.  I can’t believe I kept tension on him the whole time.  Once I gained some of my line back he just played around in front of me for the next 5 minutes or so.  Every time I would try to net him he would take off for about 10 feet and just bull dog me.  This went on for quite some time.  After about 5 or 6 attempts I finally got him in the net.  I got him on shore where I could take a quick pic and then waded back out into deeper water to revive him and send him on his way.

After that one I headed for home.  I was soaked up to my waist and in need of a shower.  I wasn’t going to complain, I went 4 for 5 tonight and I was only hoping for maybe 1, 2 if I was lucky.  Hopefully we will get some more rain this weekend.  Once we do I will be back out there.

 

 





The Trip That Almost Wasn’t.

24 08 2020

Originally this trip was supposed to happen in April but due to Covid-19 it was postponed to this past weekend.  I had never fished for Smallmouth Bass in the Summer and with the 90 degree forecasts it was going to be challenging.  Low clear water makes for very spooky fish.  To make things interesting the group of 6 decided to make a little contest out of it.  Each person was going to chip in 50 dollars with 100 dollars going to biggest fish, 100 dollars going to the guide for the person who caught the biggest fish and 100 dollars going to the boat that caught the most fish.  Didn’t matter what size, it just had to be a smallmouth.  I came in second for the biggest fish but I made up for it by catching the most fish.  I think I caught over 50 total for the weekend (thanks to the guide giving small streamers the size of the baitfish in the river) but most of them were in the 10-12 inch range.  Only a few over the legal limit of 14 inches.  Still it was fun, tiring but fun.  16 hours of stripping streamers in 90 degree heat will suck the life out of you.  Hopefully things will get back to normal and we can do this again next April.





I love it When it Rains.

17 08 2020

Yesterday morning my area received the first significant rain fall in almost two weeks.  The water levels were getting so low that all my ambush points were bone dry.  The only fish I was seeing were in the main river, far from shore and almost impossible to sneak up on in the shallow, clear water.  All that changed though with one thunderstorm.

I tied up a bunch of new flies while I waited for the water to return and this was going to be my chance to try them out.  It is based on the Clouser Swimming Nymph but modified for carp by the guys at Mad River Outfitters.  I took it one step further and swapped out the hen hackle for the thorax and used rabbit strip tied in a dubbing loop.  I don’t have any hen hackles small enough but I have a butt load of rabbit strips.  I knew it would work but I wanted to try it out and see if I needed to tweak it any.  So far all I need to do is secure the tail better.  After several carp the tail was pretty much gone.

My first couple of stops proved to be difficult to catch any fish.  With the rising water came the turbidity and trying to see anything was going to be a struggle.  At the first couple of spots I could see silt trails but I couldn’t figure out where the the fish were that were causing them.  At the next spot I could see a lot of activity so I snuck in and just waited.  Eventually I saw bubbles of a feeding carp right in front of me.  I got a glimpse of his tail so I took a guess as to where his head was and lowered my fly.  I guessed right.  Off he went and I went into the water after him.  There was a log jam just downstream and I didn’t want him getting tangled up in it.  I took awhile but I was able to get him into the net. I really need to get a long handle net.  When I’m waist deep and wading my short handle net works fine.  When I am on shore though they really don’t want to cooperate.

At my next spot the water was clearer and unfortunately there were a lot of carp in there.  I knew this was going to be a one and done shot because if I hooked one he was going to scare out every fish in the area.  I got in close next to a tree and waited.  It didn’t take long and a pair of cruising carp came into range.  I dropped my fly into their path and they both went for it.  The larger fish won out, or so he thought.  Once he felt that hook he took off for the main river.  It was at this point that I slipped down the muddy bank and went into the water.  With my right hand holding my G Loomis IMX-PRO high in the air my left hand was trying to grab a branch to stop my slide.  I ended up sliding in up to my waist.  Fortunately my phone was in a waterproof case and I was able to get my feet under me.  I climbed out and eventually got the fish landed.  I never did get a pic because while I was digging my phone out he flipped out of the net and back into the water.  As expected every fish in the area disappeared.  Probably more from me than the carp but it really didn’t matter, they were gone.

It was starting to get late so I decided to head back to the original spot I started.  I could tell there were a couple of fish their earlier but I couldn’t see them.  I was hoping more would have joined in and maybe I could see a tail or something to give me an idea of where to cast.  When I arrived I could see a lot of silt clouds and air bubbles.  Near as I could tell there were about half a dozen fish feeding in the area.  I waited until one got close enough and after a few minutes I could see the tail of a carp on the surface.  I could see the bubbles from him rooting around so I placed my fly just ahead of them.  I saw his tail twitch and I figured he saw the fly.  I slowly lifted up, felt the weight and set the hook.  He immediately took off downstream and into the main river.  I could tell this was a bigger fish and there was no stopping him.  He took me all the way into the backing of my reel, the first fish I’ve had do this to me on The Huron.  Eventually he turned around and started swimming back towards me as fast as I could reel.  Once he got close he spun around and shot off downstream again.  This went On for about 10 minutes or so.  Every time I though he was done he would take off again.  Eventually I was able to get him into some shallow water and get him under control.

This guy measured around 27 inches long and probably went about 9 or 10 pounds.  He was definitely feisty.  After I got him back in the water I headed home.  It was getting dark and I was soaked to my underwear.  Dry clothes was sounding pretty good right now.  I just wish the water levels would remain up for another night but I know it won’t.  The dam operators have been playing keep away with the water all summer.  I’m sure the places I was catching fish in last night won’t have any today.

 





Quick Trip

10 08 2020

A little over a week ago I discovered some new waters to fish.  The area holds a lot of promise but with the shrinking water levels the carp have been hard to reach and even harder to catch.  After several trips all I had been able to accomplish was losing one fish to the weeds and scaring a lot of others.  I had a few hours to kill last Saturday night so I though I would take another crack at them.

There are a lot of “couch” water areas on this stretch of The Huron River.  Some areas are all muck and bordered by weeds, others are just slow water areas under large overhanging trees.  With the continuously decreasing water levels trying to sneak up on these fish has been problematic.  They are usually out of range in the deeper water or I can be easily spotted with the clear water.  The bright side is with the water being so shallow they are easy to locate.  Silt clouds, splashing and their backs sticking out of the water make them easy to locate.  Sneaking up on them is a different matter.

Such was the case this past Saturday night.  I was walking along the trail when I heard some faint splashing in the water.  I worked my way through the trees and saw swirls in the water ahead of me. Using the trees as cover I was able to get to the edge of the river.  Sure enough, there was on lone carp feeding in a spot maybe 20 feet in diameter.  There were a fair number of small branches in the water but a clear shot to the river except for a small clump of reeds maybe a foot wide.  I worked my way into position and placed the fly about 6 inches off his nose.  He quickly sucked it up and as soon as I set the hook he spun around and headed straight for the small clump of reeds.  Little did I know there was a branch buried in them as well that he swam under.  I mean, why not swim over it or just avoid the reeds and head through the open water?  Sometimes I really hate these fish.  Into the water I went to get my line clear.  Once that was done he took off downstream and headed for another log jam.  I was able to turn him back up stream and eventually I got him into the net.

This was a really thick fish, probably in the 8 to 10 pound range.  One of the bigger ones I have caught this year, which was a welcome change to all the 5/6 pound fish I’ve been getting.  After I got the hook free I revived him and sent him on his way.  I saw a few more fish in the next hour but I couldn’t get to any of them.  If we were to get some rain or the dam operators upstream would quit hoarding the water this area could get really interesting.  Until then I’ll just have to work though the different scenarios I’m presented.





Back to the wire

20 07 2020

It had been almost two months since the last time I went grocery shopping, I mean walleye fishing.  I really didn’t know what to expect.  I knew the humidity was going to be terrible and the water was going to be clear.  I didn’t know what the weeds, bugs or pleasure boaters were going to be like though.  Didn’t have much control over any of it but I did wait until after 9:00 pm before I headed out.  I was hoping most of the boats would be off the water by then, I was wrong.

I set up in my usual area and I immediately started battling the weeds.  Lots of single strands and a few mats on the surface.  It took me awhile but I was finally able to get the lures to the bottom without them getting fouled.  The pleasure boaters were just now coming off of Erie and headed back to the marinas so I was getting bounced around by them as well.  For the first half hour all I did was clear lines and dodge wakes.  I was seriously debating giving up, especially after I hit a mat so big I couldn’t pull my lines in.  I had to turn the boat and head downstream just to get lines in.  By then it was almost 10:00 pm and after I got everything cleared I pushed the reset button.  A few minutes later and the first one was in the boat.  Shortly afterwards he was followed up with a second.  The third one was a few minutes after that but I lost him as I hit another patch of weeds and he came off.  I hit another big patch of weeds shortly after that and I seriously thought about just going in.  The humidity was so bad I couldn’t wear my glasses and I was having a hard time seeing.  The bigger boats were still coming and the weeds were not thinning out.  Hooking and landing 3 and 4 in the next couple of minutes changed my mind and I stuck it out until I got 6 in the cooler.  Once that was done I didn’t waste anytime heading for the dock.  I was soaked with sweat and I was whipped.  It has been a long time since I had to work that hard to catch walleye.  Guess I got spoiled.

I shouldn’t complain to much though.  I was out for just over an hour and I got a 6 fish limit.  There appears to be a lot of fish in the river and it should be easy pickings for awhile.  I just need to get a few days of strong west winds to push all the weeds to Canada.

Looks like I picked the right size and color lure tonight.





Just Add Water

17 07 2020

Last Sunday I thought for sure I would have a good week of fishing with the recent rains.  I went out the following evening and apparently someone closed off the dams upstream.  The same areas I was catching fish in 24 hours earlier were now dry.  I was not happy.

Fast forward to Thursday (7/16) and my area got an inch of rain in the morning.  I went out after work and with the rise in water levels came a bunch of hungry carp.  The first stop had about a dozen fish in a hole no more than 20 feet in diameter.  Most were nose down in some tree roots so I just waited for one to get clear.  It didn’t take long and another fish swam in. I dropped my fly in front of him and the splashing commenced.  Unfortunately the hook came loose about a minute later and he was gone.  After that I bounced back and forth between 4 different spots within 100 yards of each other.  I managed to land 5 and lose another in about an hour and a half.  After I would catch one I would move on to another spot to give the previous spot a chance to calm down.  The strategy paid off well.  I also started slowing down my hook sets.  I was getting to crazy doing the Orvis hook set and whenever I missed, I would send the fly into the trees above me.  Now, when I see a take, I just lift up slowly until I feel the weight.  Once the fish takes off I clamp down and bury that hook.  It has made a big difference in my hook up percentage.

Once it started getting dark I headed for home.  I was having a hard enough time trying to see the fish through my continuously fogged up sunglasses anyways.  I’ll be back Saturday morning, unless of course the dams upstream get closed off again.





Post Mulberry Carp.

13 07 2020

Well it looks like Mulberry season is done for this year.  I went to my usual spot last night and struck out.  I saw a few carp but I didn’t see a single berry drop for the half hour I was there.  There are still some in the tree but I don’t think I am going to get the major drop like I saw over a week ago.  After that I headed back to my old fishing grounds.  Fortunately we received a lot of rain last Friday and ambush spots that were bone dry were once again full of water.

I started off to my favorite spot but there were people swimming.  I moved on to another area and climbed up a log to check everything out.  There they were, slowly cruising around and looking for something to eat.  I switched out my Mulberry fly and tied on my OCD fly.  I flipped it out in front of the first carp that came into range and like so many before him he hoovered it up without hesitation.  Since I was standing on a log I had my hands full trying to keep him from going underneath it.  He managed to a couple of times but I was pull him back and eventually into the net.

After I released him I waited for things to settle down.  As I was checking my line for abrasions I spotted another feeding carp directly below me on my right.  I lowered the fly down by hand and placed it just off to his right.  He moved towards the fly but I couldn’t see him pick it up.  I slowly lifted the rod and once the line went tight he took off for the main river.  Once again I was back to trying to keep him out in front of me and not underneath the log.  He was a little more cooperative and after about 5 minutes I had him in the net as well.

He pretty much trashed the other side of the log so I packed up and headed for home.  I’ll have about a week of fishing here with the bump in the flows, unless someone upstream decides to close a dam.  Once this place dries up others will become available.  I’ll find them, they cannot hide.





Mulberry Season

8 07 2020

I love this time of year. These fish get so stupid.  All rules go out the door as they will not spook, they stop cruising so they can hoover up a dropping berry and they don’t spit the fly as quickly.  Some of them were caught 100 yards away from the nearest Mulberry Tree.  It must be like crack to them.  Tactics are so simple.  Drop fly in front of fish swimming your way and then hang on.  I’ve probably lost just as many the last week due to old fishing line, logs and other snags.  As a size reference the opening of my net is 23 inches long.





Bluegills, the Gateway Drug.

5 07 2020

It’s a pretty safe bet that most anglers got their start with bluegills.  They are the gateway drug to all other fish.  Once some discover other fish they never go back.  I may forget about them from time to time but at least once a year I go back to my beginnings.  Today was one of those days.  With water levels on The Huron being very low I went back to Pte. Mouille to see if the Bowfin were still in close.  They weren’t but the Gills were plentiful and I was luck enough to find an area with a lot of slab size fish.

I probably caught 30 or 40 in this size with a few even larger.  All of them on a shrunken down version of one of my carp flies.  They were a lot of fun on my 6 wt rod.  I keep thinking about getting a 3 or 4 wt. for this but I always manage to talk my way out of it.  Probably because I keep thinking about a 10wt for salt water and pike.

Maybe someday, until then here’s the the Bluegill.  Small in stature but the start of a life long journey for many.





Redemption

30 06 2020

As fishermen we all have those days where nothing goes right.  Whether it be from poor conditions or mental lapses it is going to happen.  Sunday night (6/28) was just one of those evenings.  I spotted several carp and I was able to cast to three of them effectively. They all swam up to take the fly and on every occasion I got twitchy and set the hook early.  Of course I missed every fish and they all swam off to find less intrusive water.  People relaxing in the park were probably contemplating calling the police to report some lunatic fisherman that was walking around and cursing, rather loudly, at himself.

The following night I sought redemption.  I know better than to get to anxious and to wait for the fly to disappear.  If I can still see the fly that means the carp didn’t eat it and I shouldn’t be setting the hook.  I repeated this to myself as I ventured off to my happy fishing grounds.  With the high water I went to a spot that floods out and it gives me a pretty shady and advantageous view of the river.  I climbed up on a log and leaned up against the tree and waited.  It didn’t take long and several fish moved into the area.  When one got close enough I dropped my fly ahead of him and he immediately charged it.  I thought he ate it but apparently he didn’t.  When i set the hook he was gone and my fly was in the tree.  He took off along with a couple of the fish that came with him.  While I scanned the area another fish had moved in and was feeding just out of range.  He had his back to me so I worked my way a little closer.  I tossed my fly out ahead of him and to the right.  He moved towards the fly and I waited. Once I saw the puff of silt I lifted up, felt the weight and drove the hook home.  At this point my main concern was keeping him from diving under the log I was standing on.  I jumped in the water and kept him away.  A few minutes later he was in the net and I was redeemed.

After that the area was pretty trashed so I just headed for home.  The humidity was terrible and I was dripping with sweat.  Not a bad way to end June and I still have about 4 months left to go.