Fringe Benefits.

11 07 2019

You never know when a fishing opportunity may present it self.  Because of this I pretty much have a fly rod in my car 24/7/365.  My Temple Fork Outfitters 6 wt BVK for the little fish, My Scott Flex 8 wt for the big fish and a switch rod for whatever season it is.  They spend more time in their cases then I would like but at least they are there when I need them.  Such was the case last night (7/10/19) as I was helping out at a local river clean-up.  Schultz Outfitters and the Huron River Watershed Council recently teamed up to sponsor river clean-ups every Wednesday evening along different sections of the Huron river.  It’s a good way for me to help out, get some exercise and find new fishing spots all at once.

Six people showed up for the evening so we split up into two groups to tackle both sides of the river.  Of course I was looking for fish whenever I wasn’t finding any garbage.  I saw a number of bass and a fair number of blue gills but no carp.  That was until I found a Mulberry tree.  I heard some splashing and saw the swirls of a few feeding carp near the waters edge.  I looked up and saw the tree and I started to grin.  There were about a dozen carp feeding in the area.  I seriously thought about going back to my car and getting my stuff but I figured they weren’t going anywhere.  The cover was thick in the area and the few fishermen around were casting for bass in more open waters.  I figured they were safe, for now.

Once we finished up I headed back to may car, assembled my Scott 8wt, tied on a Mulberry fly and headed back to the tree.  When I got there the fish were still feeding.  Now all I had to do was figure out a way to get to them.  There was a lot of overhanging branches so trying to feed a 9 foot long fly rod through them so I could drop a non weighted fly into the water was going to be difficult.  Also, because there was so much cover there was no way I was going to be able to land a fish without getting wet.  Fighting him was going to be a challenge as well.  If I was able to land one it was going to be a miracle.

While I was trying to figure this out a muskrat swam up to the bank and starting eating the berries as well.  Great, now what am I going to do?  As soon as I try to move down there the muskrat will spook and scare all the carp away.  I sat there for a few minutes and waited for him to leave.  While I did a berry dropped into the water right next to him and a carp came up to eat it.  That spooked the muskrat and the fish as well, or so I thought.  There was some splashing but the carp stuck around.  I waited a few more minutes to let them calm down and I slowly started to move into position.  5 seconds in and my rod already got stuck on a branch.  I managed to free it but did it again shortly afterwards.  Eventually I made it to the edge and tried to Bow and Arrow my fly into the water.  On my first attempt my fly caught a leaf.  Second attempt hit a branch.  Third attempt made it into the water and as soon as it hit a carp came up to suck it in.   I set the hook and missed the fish.  More splashing ensued and I figured I missed my chance.  I made another cast and out of nowhere a carp came up and took the fly.  This time I was able to drive the hook home and we were off to the races.  I stayed on shore at first and kept my rod parallel to the river.  Fortunately he took off for open water instead of the weeds and logs.  While he was running I started to clear branches away so I could have some room and hopefully stand up some.  Not that I need a lot but it would be nice to be able to life my rod up high when it came time to grab him.  This was not going to be easy.  I got him close but the cramped quarters made getting a hold of him problematic.  After a couple of attempts to get him close I just laid my fly rod down and pulled him in by the leader.  I got my hand around his tail, the fly out of his mouth and in position for a quick picture.

The fly that did the trick.

My first one for the year and my first one ever on a Mulberry fly.  I can see why Fly Carp Anglers love the Mulberry season so much.  These fish threw caution to the wind and still grabbed my fly even though I did just about everything wrong.  After this fight though the fish did scatter.  I sat around for a few more minutes just in case but nothing was happening.  The berries kept dropping and nothing was taking them.  That was my cue to head for home which I did.  I’ll come back another time.  There is another clean-up scheduled for next Wednesday.  Who knows, maybe I’ll find another one.  If so I can guarantee the fly rod will be ready.

 

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Hot, Humid Sunday Fly Fishing (7/15/18)

16 07 2018

Sunday’s forecast was for temps in the low 90’s and very humid.  Not the most ideal day to take a long 4 mile walk along a very dusty road.  Add to that zero shade and no clouds helped make the trip even more miserable.  Still, I only have 3 weeks until Alaska and I wanted to drop a few more pounds and get some casting time in with my 8wt Scott Flex before then.  With that in mind, I found myself walking to my carp spot for some more humiliation, from a fish I could have cared less about a few years back.

When I first arrived I realized I didn’t have my sunglasses.  Not the end of the world but they sure do help with cutting down the glare and spotting fish.  With the non-existent wind and clear water I was hoping to see without them.  As I rounded the corner I found it it wouldn’t be that easy.  SW winds all week had blown the dust off the dirt road onto the water and created a thin film on top.  Trying to see anything was going to be a chore.  My optimism rose when I spotted a lone carp feeding on the surface.  I was trying out a fly I tied years ago when someone I took handlining promised to take me fly fishing for carp.  I’m still waiting on that phone call, the lying bastard.  It was a half ass attempt at a damsel fly nymph.  I figured it couldn’t hurt since nothing else I had tried has.  I cast beyond the carp and stripped the fly to within inches of where he was feeding.  I let the fly rest on the weeds and waited, hoping he would head in the right direction.  He did and once again I got a little twitchy and set the hook to soon.  Once I did that he took off for safer waters.

I cursed myself as I walked on until I spotted another feeding carp.  I waited a bit to make sure what direction he was heading in.  Once again I made my cast out past him and stripped it into range.  As the fly was within about a foot of him he turned and headed towards it.  Just when I thought I was going to stick him a bluegill came out of nowhere and grabbed the fly.

I had been Carp Blocked.

The Carp Blocker

I wouldn’t have minded so much if he was bigger, if I was using a lighter rod or if I had already landed a few carp.  Seeing as how I had yet to land one this year I was a little upset.  He should be thankful I have matured and let him go, otherwise he might have become mink food.  By now I was getting pretty disgusted.  Two missed opportunities and my prospects for success were becoming few and far between.  Still, I trudged on and for the next hour.  I managed to catch a few more gills and a couple of Largemouth Bass along with plenty of Carp mocking me.

At one point I stopped to take a drink, as i was putting my water bottle back into my sling pack I noticed it wouldn’t fit.  I looked inside to see what was in the way and there they were, my sunglasses.  Now I would be able to see what was swimming around a little better.  While I was scanning the area I saw a few carp casually swimming around.  I figured they would be like all the others but I gave it a shot anyways.  I made a few casts and no response.  I saw another fish come into range and made a cast out in front of him.  As the fly slowly sank down he turned and sucked it in.  I was so surprised that I about crapped myself.  I set the hook and off he went, for about 10 feet and stopped.  My leader got wrapped up in his left pectoral fin and he just stopped, like he was hog tied and just gave up.  He rolled over on his side and I pointed my rod away from him so that the leader could slide free.  Once it did he was off to the races, again.  After a few brief runs I was able to get him close and take a pic or two.  With no net and no shallow area to beach him on I figured my chance of landing him was slim.  I tried to maneuver him in between a couple of rocks but once I grabbed the leader he wanted nothing to do with that.  One splash and the fly came free.  No biggie, I was releasing him anyways and he was well on his way to go tell his friends about his near alien abduction.

After that I headed back. I managed to catch a few more Gills and a Pumpkinseed or two along the way.  Nothing to eventful, just a long dusty walk back.  Sure hope it rains soon.

 

 





July 4th Holiday Fishing.

5 07 2018

Even though Michigan was in the middle of a heat wave I decided to go fishing anyways.  I had Wednesday off for the July 4th holiday so I figured to go Walleye Tuesday night and fly fishing for Warm Water fish the next.  Advisories were out for northern Michigan to refrain from trout fishing but that didn’t really matter where I live.  There are no trout streams nearby so Bass and Bluegill it is.  To be fair, if I was up north I would head the advisories  and not fish for trout.  I release them all anyways so why bother fishing for something that will probably die from the heat?

Tuesday night I was headed to the ramp after 9:00 pm.  I knew the water was clear (3+ feet of visibility) so there was no rush to get started.  By 9:30 I was lines down and patiently waiting.  Fishing was definitely slow at first.  For the first 45 minutes all i did was clear what few weeds there were and wipe sweat.  I was hoping that once the sun set the humidity would die down some and the fishing would pick up.  I was also praying the bugs wouldn’t be an issue as well.  With no breeze to keep them at bay it was shaping up to be a miserable night.  Around 10:15 pm I caught my first walleye and it was soon followed up by a second.  Both came on my long lead and a #11 GFR Rapala.  I kept at it and by 11:00 pm I had 4 in the cooler and I was searching for #5.  I quickly found him but lost him at the side of the boat.  I proceeded to do this two more times before I was finally able to land one.  Unfortunately that fish was to short and back he went.  Shortly after 11:30 #5 was in the cooler.

I thought about trying to upgrade some of the smaller fish but the 18 inch Smallmouth I just caught that tangled all my lines made up my mind for me.  Interesting note on this fish.  I noticed something in his mouth and it turned out he had swallowed a pink balloon.  I removed it and sent him on his way.  I guess the whole plastic thing isn’t just an issue for salt water fish.  After that I packed up and headed towards my friend Dave who was farther south of me.  He and his son showed up around 10 so I wanted to see how they were doing.  They had a couple so far and were going to stick around for another hour.  He later texted me that they ended up with 5 and left around 1 am.  I was still cleaning fish at 1 and trying to finish up so I could get to bed.  I needed a few hours of sleep before heading to my Carp/Bluegill/Bass spot the next morning.

The next morning I was walking to my usual carp/bass/bluegill spot.  I didn’t know what to expect with this heat.  I was afraid the fish might vacate the area and head for deeper waters.  As I was walking out I saw a lot of surface activity.  Once I got closer I could see it was the carp rolling around and almost acting like they were in spawn mode.  Seemed kind of odd but whatever it was they were up to it wasn’t feeding.  All morning long I was constantly seeing fish but they were all cruising along and showing no interest in what I had to offer.  As a matter of fact I didn’t see a single carp feeding all morning long.  The Largemouth Bass seemed to be in the same mood as well.  I saw dozens of them and I was only able to coax one smaller fish into grabbing my fly.

Thankfully the local Gill population was cooperative.  As a matter of fact, I found an area where some of them were on their beds.  I saw this last year as well, fish still on the beds in July.  Spawning should have been done over a month ago but yet there they were.  Easy pickings.

At one spot I just put my Scott “Flex” 8wt away and concentrated on the gills.  I was using it when I saw some carp about 10 yards out.  I started casting but the gills were hitting my carp fly the second it hit the water.  An 8wt is overkill so I put it down and started using my TFO BVK 6 wt.  I stayed in the area for about another hour and caught about a dozen or more Bluegills, most of which I would have kept for a meal if it weren’t for having to carry them 2 miles back to the car.  I also caught a few Green Sunfish.  I wasn’t quite sure what they were so when I got home I looked it up.  Didn’t know we had these in Michigan.  I have been catching a few all year but never really paid attention, just figured they were a bluegill mixed with something else.

I also learned a valuable lesson in paying attention to my surroundings.  As you can see, in the background of the pictures, the shoreline had this green algae/moss/muck that went out for a couple of feet.  I released one of the many gills I caught into a hole between the patches.  As I did a carp shot out from underneath the green goop.  He may have been feeding and if I had seen him I might have has a chance at him.  I’ll never know now.  Oh well.

Around 10:30 am I started back for my car.  I had some family obligations and I was going to see “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” before hand.  I plan on going walleye fishing again Friday night and fly fishing again on Sunday.  Temps are supposed to cool down and I’m hoping the fish are more cooperative.

Until then……

 

 

 





Father’s Day Fishing

18 06 2018

93 degrees with a heat index over 100 and 100% humidity.  That was the forecast for this past Father’s Day.  Seemed liked perfect weather to take a long walk on a dirt road with the sun beating down on my back.  At least I had enough sense to get up early before it got to hot.  But hey, it is Father’s Day and that means I can do whatever I want, within reason.  I was free of any Father’s Day obligations until noon so that gave me a few hours.  With all that in mind I was up and out the door early and starting my long walk with fly rods in hand around 7:00 am.

As I was walking along I could see some surface activity.  Didn’t know what it was but something was definitely feeding on something.  I figured the mayflies were hatching.  I was right.

There weren’t a lot of them but I managed to pick up a few hitchhikers during my stay.  The water was dead calm so spotting any carp was very easy.  Problem was they were in “I’m cruising to someplace else” mode and not “I’m Hungry” mode.  I tried but for the most part it was an exercise in futility.  I had a few turn towards my fly and acted like they showed some interest but never committed.  At one spot I set up and waited to see what might come my way.  I saw a carp slowly cruising in and made a cast way out in front of him.  As I was stripping the fly into range Bluegill #1 hit.  After I let him go I figured where there is one there is usually more.  Sure enough, about a dozen casts later and I brought about a half dozen nice sized gills to hand.

After awhile the area kind of petered out so I moved down to another area.  I stuck with the same carp fly and just started casting and stripping.  Figured I would catch gills, hoped a carp might actually hit, ended up with a surprise Largemouth Bass.  I was using my 8wt Scott Flex fly rod, overkill for gills but great for carp.  I was glad I had it when the Bass hit.  He didn’t make any great runs but he wanted to stay in the weeds and I had to put the brakes on him to prevent it.  I eventually got him to shore and after a quick pic sent him on his way.

After that I was getting tired of wiping sweat so I started my walk back.  I would stop and cast to any carp I saw that might show interest but in the end, none of them did.  I don’t know if it was the heat or the fact they might still be in spawn mode but I didn’t see any active feeders today.  Maybe next time.  I need to tie up some more carp flies in the burnt orange color.  I only have a couple left and it appears to work well for Gills and Bass.  One of these days I might finally figure out a pattern the carp will actually grab instead of ignore.

That was it for my Father’s Day Fishing adventure.  A handful of Gills, one bonus LMB and no Carp.  I was back home around 11 in enough time to go to breakfast with my kids and to see Incredibles II later.

Not a bad day.