Another Fishy Weekend

17 07 2017

Friday Evening, 7/14/17

 Friday night found me doing my usual thing at my usual spot catching my usual fish.  I started a little earlier than I have been, hoping to try and get a few on spoons before nightfall.  Didn’t turn out like I had hoped.  From 8:30 to 9:30 pm I only caught one keeper and had one throwback on the spoons.  Shortly after 9:30 it was “Hold My Beer”.  In the next 30 minutes I finished up my limit, threw back about 6 and lost 2 at the boat.  A couple of the throwbacks were just barely legal fish but I was feeling cocky so I threw them back.  It was one of those nights where everything was going right and I was sure I would catch bigger fish.  I even managed to land a 19 inch smallmouth without tangling up and of my other leaders.  By 10:00 pm number 5 was in the cooler and I was headed home.  I thought about staying out later and doing the “Catch & Release” thing but I have never been a fan of that, not when it comes to handlining.  I had my 5 so it was time to head in.  The way this summer was going I would have plenty of opportunities to catch more.

Saturday Morning, 7/15/17

My original plans for Saturday morning was to take care of some errands before I met my son for lunch around noon.  Those plans quickly fell apart when I arrived at my barber shop only to find it was closed because my barber broke his wrist.  The other items on my errand list didn’t pan out so I said screw it and went fishing.  I was going to take another crack at the carp in the same spot I went to last week.  Things didn’t go to well with the carp (I managed to hook into one that ran me to my backing before the leader broke) but the gills and Ditch Pickles kept me busy. The first gill was a surprise.  I was casting to a carp when a gill came up and grabbed my carp fly.  While I was bringing him in a Bowfin came up and tried to grab the gill.  He made several attempts but was never able to clamp down.  Once I released the gill I cast my fly towards him but he didn’t want anything to do with my offering.  Later that morning I had a Largemouth Bass do the same thing on another gill I was bringing in.  He was able to get a hold of the gill but it was to big for him to swallow.  I wasn’t able to coax him into grabbing my fly but I did manage to get about a half-dozen of his brethren.  Around noon I headed home.  Not the result I was hoping for but I wasn’t going to complain.  Anytime I can catch some nice gills and a few Ditch Pickles on a fly rod is a good day.  I made a mental note of where I saw all the beds (yes, bluegills on beds in July) and figured I would bring my 4 wt tomorrow and some gill appropriate flies.

Sunday Morning, 7/16/17

Sunday morning I was headed back to “The Carp Hole” with a new plan of attack.  I got there earlier with the hope of finding the fish a little more relaxed and in feed mode.  I brought along my      4 wt and my Bluegill/Trout box so I could play with the gills, if the carp didn’t want to cooperate.  Little did I realize that it was a good thing I did because when it came to the carp, I couldn’t do anything right.  Actually I could do one thing right, “Spook Carp”.

See carp feeding about 40 feet out.  Make cast and hook reed.  Spook Carp.

See more carp feeding, sneak down to shore to make  a cast, don’t see the carp along the shore line.  Spook Carp.

Cast to carp swimming towards me, catch bluegill instead.  Spook Carp.

Sneak up on a feeding carp, slip on rock and fall on ass.  Spook Carp.

See carp feeding along shoreline followed by two bass, over shoot cast and catch bass.  Spook Carp.

See another carp just resting, make bad cast in wind and land fly on Carp’s head.  Spook Carp.

See big Ditch Pickle cruising along, sneak into casting range and don’t see carp feeding along rocks.  Spook Carp.

Get to close to Canada Geese and they leave shore and walk into water.  Spook Carp.

Start casting to feeding carp, snag bush on back cast.  Spook Carp.

Get disgusted after 4 hours of this nonsense and leave.  Spook Carp.

It was pretty much useless at this point anyways.  The west wind had picked up making trying to see anything difficult at best.  I eventually worked my way back to the parking lot figuring I would stop at one more spot along the way that was out of the wind.  As I got close I went into stealth mode and worked my way to the water.  I carefully scanned the area and I cold see a couple of fish mucking around about 30 feet away.  I was getting ready to make my cast when out of nowhere a carp shooter shows up, bow in hand, and walks right up to the other edge of the hole.

He Spooks Carp.

I didn’t say anything.  I just stood up and continued my walk back to the car.  I’ll just try again on another day.

Sunday Evening, 7/16/17

After the disaster of this morning I needed a little redemption so around 8:30 pm I hooked up the boat and headed to my favorite walleye spot.  Winds were out of the north around 10 mph this evening.  Not the best wind direction and speed but I figured I would make the best of it.  Once I got set up I could tell boat control was going to be a pain.  With the wind coming straight down the river the current was faster than normal.  After about 10 minutes I switched over to a heavier weight just to keep better contact with the bottom and to help keep that 45 degree angle.  It seemed to do the trick because a few minutes later I was bringing in my first fish of the night.  Unfortunately, he was barely hooked and came off as I was flipping him in.  After that any fish I hooked I would immediately turn my boat into the fish to help take the extra strain off of the fish.  Old timers blame lost fish in the summer to “Soft Mouth Syndrome” or “Red Lips”.  I attribute the losses to light hits and going up-stream and pulling a lightly hooked fish against the current.  Last time I checked, bone doesn’t suddenly get soft in the summer time.   I kept utilizing this tactic for the next hour and around 10:30 pm number 5 was in the cooler.

Redemption.

One little note.  The fish at the top was a 22 inch female.  For all you guys that say you have never kept a female please enlighten me on how you would have let this one go if you had caught it?  It doesn’t matter if she is full of eggs or not, once she is removed from the fishery that’s it, so spare me your hypocrisy.

So that put a pleasant wrap on my weekend.  No carp but I still caught plenty of walleye, bluegills and ditch pickles.  The next few days are calling for unfavorable winds and thunderstorms so I’ll take advantage of the down time  to do some maintenance.  I need to replace some hooks, change the wire on a reel, make up some shanks and most of all some new leaders.  My 40 foot leader must have a dozen knots in it.  I’ve been fishing hard the last month and my equipment could use a little TLC.  Come to think of it, I could use some TLC as well.  My hands are trashed and I managed to bruise my forearm and shin when I fell off that rock.

 

 

 

 

 

 





Evolution

5 03 2016

About a week ago I was listening to a podcast by April Vokey. She has been interviewing people who are instrumental in the fly fishing world. One interview in particular really got me thinking. The person stated that he cuts the point off of the hook when he fishes for steelhead. The thrill for him now is proving to himself that the fish was there. He has no desire to hook, fight and then land the fish, especially if it is a wild Pacific Northwest Steelhead. This really struck a chord with me and got me to question my own motives. I started to ask myself, when did I evolve from racking up a body count to just enjoying the experience?
Before I get too philosophical, I suppose I should try to explain where I am going with this. I’m not going to bash anyone who decides to keep a legal limit whenever they go out. I’m also not suggesting that anyone who keeps fish is not out there for the experience either. I’ll be honest; there aren’t many walleye that I release, unless of course it was a pre-mature release 20 feet from the boat. I guess what I am trying to figure out is when did I start to care more about being out fishing and not so worried about catching?

When I was a wee little tyke, catching bluegills with my Zebco 202 at my Grandparents cottage, all I cared about was catching as many as possible and the bigger the better. It was all about bragging rights and showing my father and grandfather that I could catch fish just like them. As I got older it wasn’t so much about trying to impress them as it was trying to show up the neighborhood kids. They may have been better at baseball but by God I could catch Largemouth Bass all day long on a Panther Martin spinner. That continued on into my foray as a boy scout. Campouts were all about fishing and who could catch the most. Summer Camp at D Bar A held a point contest every year for wildlife. We could get points for any fish entered. I racked up such a body count that they instituted a new rule the following year. Troops were only allowed to count 3 fish toward their total. In retrospect now the amount of damage I did, and other scouts, to the population was probably pretty bad. I doubt very many of those fish ever survived the catch and release process.

Back then though it was all about the numbers, Catchin’ and Killin’ as my one friend put it. We had to be in that top 10% that catches 90% of the fish and we were relentless. We spent many a night on the beaches of Harrisville tight lining salmon. Was it legal? Yes. Was it ethical? Nope. Yes, these fish were going to die anyways and none of them were ever going to get the opportunity to spawn. Technically they were a controlled experiment to keep alewife numbers low. They were past that point in their usefulness so hauling them out of the water like we were was no big deal, at least that is how we viewed it. Back then I could only go salmon fishing a few weekends a year. The anticipation was more of a drug than the actual catching. As with all addictions the high eventually wears off and in this case it was cold turkey, the salmon disappeared. I had to replace it with something else so I went full bore on walleye. Again, it was back to the take no prisoner’s attitude and catch as many as legally possible. Eventually, I honed my presentation to the point of where days of not catching a fish were pretty rare. In a word I got bored. I was catching walleye pretty much whenever I wanted. I wasn’t forced to do all my fishing during the Spring run when everyone out there is an “expert”. As long as the ramps are open I could come and go as I please. I was spoiled. Many view the annual run as a once a year event, to me it became a nuisance. Too many boats and too many fishermen. I would go on select evenings but never the weekend or during the day. I began to long for more peaceful times when it would just be me and the fish. I wanted that serenity that other writers could so poetically put into words. It didn’t happen overnight, it just built up to one year when I decided I had had enough of the craziness.

This desire to get back to a more simple way of fishing led me to my next adventure, Steelhead.

I don’t know what it was about these fish but for some reason I just decided that I was going to catch them spey casting and I was going to release everything I caught. I have no idea what brought on this revelation but I made up my mind that this was going to be the way to do it. I bought a 11-9 switch rod, learned how to cast it, tied up some flies and once again I was relentless. The big difference this time around was that it was no longer about the numbers. Now all that mattered to me was landing 1 fish and releasing said fish to fight another day.  Racking up a body count was no longer the end goal.  Relaxing and enjoying everything going on around me was now that goal.  Granted, that hit or “Tug” has become my new drug but standing in a river and peacefully swinging a fly downstream became more important than filling a cooler.  Hassle free fishing was what I was after.  So much so that I don’t even take my boat, I just put on my waders and start walking.  I know there are better holes that are accessible only by boat but that is more of a hassle when I’m only going out for an hour or so.  Success for me is no longer measured by numbers of fish caught.  I guess as I got older I began to realize more and more that our fisheries are a fragile resource and they can’t be taken for granted.  I know that my releasing a few dozen fish a year is not going to make or break a fishery but it gives me peace of mind.  Come to think of it, that is what I desire most now.  That peace of mind that can only come through fishing.





Thanksgiving Weekend Steel

2 12 2015

Thanksgiving vacation.  Most people are thinking about family, friends, food, football and eventually shopping.  I, of course, am only thinking about how much fishing I can get in over the next couple of days.  My original plan was to go out every morning, for a few hours, before any family obligations or chores.  It didn’t work out exactly how I had planned but I was able to get out every day.

My multi-day fishing excursion got an early start.  Our office closed up early on Wednesday so I hauled ass home, grabbed my stuff and headed for The Huron.  I only had about 45 minutes but that was enough to warrant the stop.  Water levels hadn’t changed much from the previous weekend and there was still a good stain to it.  I swung one of my leech patterns until dark but nothing happened.  Oh well, I still had the rest of the weekend.

Thanksgiving morning found me back on The Huron along with a few other fishermen.  When I arrived at the parking area there were already two trailers and several other vehicles there.  I rigged up my switch rod and headed upstream.  The first place I stopped  had a couple of people there so I kept walking further upstream.  I found another access point and waded in.  I was casting into an eddy that was caused by a tree that was mostly submerged.  It must have had a few branches in the pool because I got hung up and broke off twice.  Either that or I found the underwater cache for the guy that is doing this.

Hope he isn't an Angry Beaver

Hope he isn’t an Angry Beaver

 

As I worked my way downstream the other fishermen moved out and I just kept working my way down.  I fished the area for a couple of hours with no success.  By now it was approaching 11:00 am and I needed to head home.  I had a few things to take care of before heading to my brother’s for dinner.

Black Friday found me back in the water once again.  I didn’t know what to expect for today.  It had rained on and off during the night so I expected the water to be up some and colder.  The forecast called for rain all day today as well.  It was already overcast when I started, I was just hoping that it would hold off for a few hours.  It didn’t.  About an hour into my casting I started to question my sanity.  Here I was, waist deep in 45 degree water , getting rained on and casting a fly to a fish that I don’t even know BAM, AIRBORNE, FISH-ON!!!

Just that quick everything changed.  One minute I’m debating quitting and the next I’m debating staying out longer.  First things first though.  I had to get this fish in.  It was a smaller steelhead, probably in the 18 inch range but still full of fight and a lot of fun.  After several jumps and a couple of short runs I was able to get her close and get a hold of her tail.  A few quick pics and she was released to grow and fight another day.  I caught this one on another egg sucking leech pattern, just like all the others I have caught on the Huron.  I stuck around for about 30 more minutes but by now my legs were getting numb and it was time to head home.

Airborne

My kind of Black Friday Deal.

My kind of Black Friday Deal.

 

Saturday found me back in my usual spot albeit a little closer to shore.  The all day rain raised the water by about a foot and dropped the water temp by about 3 degrees.  I didn’t know what to expect for today but since I reached fanatic status I had to try.  There was a lot of boat and foot traffic today.  I had several people come up to me from behind to see how I was doing and around 5 or 6 anglers in boats troll by.  One boat had my friends Larry and Dave in it and Dave took a second to take this pic for me.

wading

No fish today again, I’m figuring the high water and temperature drop has them on lock down.  Didn’t hear of a whole lot of any fish being caught by anyone and those that were caught were small.

Sunday morning I slept in and made plans to go out in the evening.  I didn’t see much use to trying again in the morning with the water levels being what they were.  It didn’t matter though.  The water was still up, the water was even colder and I struck out again.

Monday was going to turn out to be a repeat of Sunday, sleep in and go out in the afternoon.  The fish results were the same but a had my usual visitors and a bit of an accident.  I started off at a new run and fished there for about an hour.  No fish, more boat traffic and the permanent park residents stopping by to check on my success.

usual visitor

I worked my way down to a different run and started to cast.  I wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings and as I was making my forward cast I hit a branch and pulled my line right across my face.  Of course that Daiichi hook was attached at the end and it stuck right into my right cheek.  Of course this all happened while I was waist deep in the river, the current is pulling the line downstream and pulling on the fly in my face.  I can’t see how deep the hook is but I got a pretty good idea just by the feel from my numb fingers.  I could feel that the barb was just under the skin so I pushed down and pulled.  Out came the hook.  All that was left now was a little clean up and a bandage.

doctor

Now any normal person would have probably walked back to his or her car and called it a day.  Not me, I’m not right in the head.  I just waded downstream a little farther and started casting once again.  Not that it mattered, I didn’t catch anything.  You would think the fish gods would have taken pity on me but apparently they feel I haven’t paid enough dues yet.  I think they felt that younger fishermen needed their divine intervention.  A watched 3 anglers in their late teens/early 20’s land one from their boat.  It must have been a first fish for someone because they took a lot of pictures.  So many that they lost track of where they were and drifted into shore.  By then it was approaching 5:00 pm and I needed to get home.  The Schwan man was dropping off an order between 5:30 and 6:30 pm and I needed to be home.  I was happy though.  I got a lot of fishing in over the last 6 days and I even managed to land one. That fish brought my total to 7 steelhead on the swing so far this year.  Not bad for my first year and I still have the whole month of December.  Hopefully I put the hooks to the fish instead of myself.





Fanatic Status.

22 11 2015

Fanatic

It’s official, I have hit fanatic status.

Yesterday, while most of Michigan was under a winter weather advisory, I was out Steelhead fishing.  It was only cold at first but after an hour of standing waist deep in 40 degree water it started to snow.  Not much at first but eventually it started to come down just like in the picture.

Did I quit? Nope.

I kept at it for the next hour even though I didn’t catch anything.  I had one hit, no hook up, no fish.  The only other excitement was a whitetail doe sneaking up behind me and snorting.  I guess she felt I shouldn’t have been out either.  She kept looking at me like “What the hell is that standing in the water?”  Eventually she just gave up and walked away and left me to my fishing.  I didn’t fish much longer after that.  Even I figured it was pretty futile after 2 hours.  I had stuff to do and I needed to get out of the water and get the circulation going in my legs again.  I did learn one thing today though.  Just like in walleye fishing, wool gloves and steelhead don’t mix.  At least it doesn’t when swinging flies.  The line just slides between my wool covered finger and the cork handle whenever I would make my cast.  That leads to a mess.  I think one of those handlining doll slippers might cure that.

Wonder if I have any of those things lying around?





Ribbet, Squeak.

31 05 2015

This weekend I had 3 goals to accomplish.   The first one was to smoke a pork shoulder.  I have never done this before so I was going to babysit my smoker while the pork shoulder was cooking.  Fortunately I have a remote thermometer so I wouldn’t have to literally watch the smoker 24/7.  This would allow me enough free time to tie up a bunch of Zudweg Zudbubblers and a foam version of a Moorish Mouse.

First up on the tying agenda would be the Zudbubblers.  I attended a Bar Fly night sponsored by Schultz’s Outfitters back in February. The guest tier for the evening was Matt Zudweg and he showed us how to tie his Zudbubbler.  This is a very simple pattern and the color schemes are endless.  As a matter of fact, Matt states that to get creative with the color scheme’s.  I plan on using these for top water bass both on The Huron and up at Sanford Lake.  I had ordered a bunch of the foam heads from Matt a few months ago now all I needed to do was tie them up.  I think they will work.

 

A Butt Load of Bubblers.

A Butt Load of Bubblers.

Next up were the mice.  Years ago I used to tie up deer hair mice for a fly fisherman to use up on the AuSable for big browns.  Foam flies were pretty much nonexistent back then but now the different patterns seem to be endless. Earlier this year I came across a video by the guys at Hook Shots on Facebook. The author showed a quick and easy recipe made with foam and rabbit strips that resembled a Moorish Mouse.  I was all for it since it met my requirements and a bonus feature.  It was cheap, easy, looked cool and it didn’t involve trimming deer hair, something I try to avoid whenever I can.  I tied a bunch up in different colors figuring I could use them for bass as well.  They should really shine though on a river where they can imitate a mouse that has fallen in and is trying to swim across, against the current.  I should be able to swing these as well.  We shall see.

Mickey, Minnie, Mighty, Speedy, Jerry and that French one that was always outsmarting Klondyke Kat.

Mickey, Minnie, Mighty, Speedy, Jerry and that French one that was always outsmarting Klondyke Kat.

 





Fly Tyers Anonymous

6 05 2015

Shameless Plug time.

The internet can be both a good thing and a bad thing.  On the bad side it seems like there were more people on the Detroit River walleye fishing than ever before.  I’m sure part of the reason for the increase in crowds was all the pictures and posts on social media sites.  Everyone wanted in on it and it got crazy.

On the good side I have found a bunch of different websites and groups on Facebook that are all about fly tying and fishing.  One of the more helpful ones is Fly Tyers Anonymous which I found on Facebook.  Most of the members are addicted to fly tying (thus the name) and they post a ton of pictures of their different creations.  The creator of the page even has his own website where he sells hand tied flies from his group of tyers.  To make things even better all flies are 20% off for the rest of May.  So for you fly fishermen out there who buy your own instead of tie your own now is the time to act.

http://www.shop.flytiersanonymous.com/

 





An Observation

22 03 2015

Tug is the Drug

I spent the better part of this past weekend helping my friends out at their gun show.  Dean and Barry have been putting on this show a couple times a year for quite some time now.  I usually sit at the front and collect the fees and check the firearms coming in that people are trying to sell.  It can be fun but it can also be a drain.  Sitting there for 7 hours and answering the same question over and over can really wear on you.  Once the show ended at 5 I thought I would go down to the lower Huron river and practice my swing casting some more.  I am heading up to Oscoda next weekend to work on my boat and get a little steelhead time in.  I wasn’t expecting to catch anything, I just needed to practice and de-compress a bit.

I walked around for a bit before I got set up and checked the water levels and to see if anyone was catching anything.  I wanted to try a specific spot so I walked there first.  On my way I saw another fly fisherman in the stream spey casting as well.  I watched for a bit, checking to see how he was handling the faster current.  After a few minutes I continued on and saw the spot I wanted to fish was open so I went back to get rigged up.

I put on my Orvis waders and Simms boots.  Next I rigged up my Ross Reach Rod and Ross Reel.  Now this may look like a shameless plug but I need to mention this so I can make my point.  I pulled one fly out of my box and made my way back downstream.  As I was walking by I was getting peculiar looks from the people fishing.  The same people that paid no attention to me before were now staring at me.

What changed?

I thought for a second and then realized what it was.  I had transformed into the embodiment of something I swore I would never become.  A walking billboard for Orvis and everything that I thought was wrong with fly fishing.  Fishermen that are more concerned with appearance than actually fishing.  I hadn’t changed but now I was on the other end of the stares.  I remember my first time ever steelhead fishing on the lower Huron 30 years ago.  I was the kid with the spinning rod not knowing what he was doing, being judged by the “pro’s” that knew what they were doing.  I remember looking at those guys with contempt as they fished with all their “fancy” gear while all I had was my Ugly Stick.  Now 30 years later it is the other way around.  I’m the “fancy snob” and they were the every day Joe fisherman.  Again, what changed?  I’m still the same person but because I wasn’t fishing the same way everyone else was I was now that walking billboard I swore I would never become.  I blew it off and went about my business.  I waded in and started my casting.  The current was faster than what I have been on so far but I was able to figure it out and actually get some distance with my roll casts.  I also learned a few things about reading the water and getting the drift right.  After about half an hour I was headed back to my car.  Again I got the stares and they were probably thinking, “Oh look, Mister Big Shot with his fancy rod didn’t get anything either”.  Whatever.

Before I left I walked upstream towards the dam to check things out.  There was one guy floating spawn so I asked him if he caught anything.  I got a resounding “NO”.  What the hell?  Do I have a big sign on me that says I’m a jerk, don’t talk to me?  When did it get like this?  When did fishing become so divided.  It’s fishing, a common bond amongst sportsmen and women.  I just don’t get it.  Granted you are going to have undesirable people in every type of outdoor activity but why here?  Fishing was supposed to be a common ground for all people.  We are all after the same thing, to feel that tug and watch that fish run.  It shouldn’t matter how we catch one whether it be by floating spawn, drifting a jig, back trolling a plug or swinging a fly.  It’s fishing, PERIOD.  I don’t know why it is like this and unfortunately I don’t know how to change it.  I know posting the cartoon doesn’t help the situation but I thought it was funny.  It helped to prove my point though.  People out there actually think this way.  People can fish any way they want as long as it is legal.  End of Story.

Off my soapbox now.

Back to the vise, sculpin patterns today.