Back to the Home Waters

1 10 2020

It’s weird being back on The Huron after fishing in Alaska.  When this guy started splashing around on the surface I looked behind me to see if one of those 1,000 pound brown furry things was going to show up.

Alaska 2020

30 09 2020

Just finished up another trip to Alaska courtesy of the Naknek River Camp and Steelhead Alley Outfitters.  If there is one thing I can say about this area is you never know what to expect.  Itineraries can change in a second and the best laid plans can fall apart in a heartbeat.  I didn’t catch as many fish as my trip two years ago but this trip was much more memorable.  In the first few hours I was there I had my closest bear encounter to date.  I was fishing the Naknek river when a sow and her 3 cubs walked to within 15 yards of me.  I was waist deep in the river and the only way i could go was back to the shore she was standing on.  Fortunately she turned around and went the other way.

As for the fish I caught the biggest rainbow trout in my life at 31 inches long.  I have yet to have a Steelhead almost spool me like that fish did.  Silver salmon, fresh from the ocean, were still coming in so we took advantage of that for a couple of days.  I got to take a very eventful trip to Brooks Park for a day where I saw so many Brown Bears that I lost count.  On our way over a float plane had crashed on the lake and we ended up rescuing the passengers and carried them to the park.  I can only imagine the relief they felt when they saw our boat coming towards them.

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.

A Bump in the Flows, Makes Them Go.

3 08 2020

The beginning of July was all about the Mulberries.  Once they stopped it was all about the water levels, or lack there of.  I did have one great outing after an all day rain but after that it was pretty tough.  Water levels were so low that all my ambush points were dry.  Weeds were exposed and rotting in the sun make for some smelly and undesirable conditions.  Add that to me being exposed to someone who might have been in contact with a positive Covid-19 Person, and it made for a frustrating couple of weeks.  This past weekend though that all changed after we received rain and all persons exposed tested negative.

I spent most of the weekend up at my Mom’s taking care of some chores.  While I was north it was raining back home and it rained all day Sunday on my drive home.  Once I got unpacked and the rain stopped I grabbed my 8 wt. Scott Flex and headed to the river.  The river levels were back to normal but a bit muddy.  I didn’t care, all my spots were full of water again and they were full of actively feeding carp.  So many carp that I had to be extra careful sneaking up on them.  Lot’s of extra eyes to look for danger so I literally approached each spot at a snails pace to make sure I didn’t spook any at my feet.  Such was the case at my first stop.  I could see carp feeding about 10 yards ahead of me in some dirty water.  Before I moved on them I scanned the area carefully first and sure enough, there was a closer one not 5 feet from me.  I placed my fly in front of him and a second later he as hooked and headed for the main river.  I kept him close and after several failed attempts to get him into my net I finally landed him.

He trashed the area so I just moved on.  The next spots were more of the same.  Fish in all of them but with the dirty water it was hard to see them and because of that I spooked a lot of them.  I managed to pick up a few smaller ones as I bounced back and forth between my spots.  As I was leaning up against a tree, trying to figure out how I could get to a carp that was half under a bush, I saw a swirl downstream from me.  The water was rising now and getting dirtier so I figured I had a chance to sneak up on what was down there.  as I worked my way into position I could see 3 or 4 fish just ahead of a log.  I cast my fly up ahead of the group and let it drift down.  The first fish swam up to the fly and engulfed it.  I lifted up and off he went.  Fortunately for me he headed up stream and not down towards the log.  He was a bigger fish and since I was dealing with him in the current of the main river, I had my hands full.  I just let him run to tire himself out.  About 5 minutes later I was able to get him in the net.

After that one I headed for home.  It was starting to rain again and the river was getting dirtier and higher by the minute.  I had been out for about 2 hours and the river rose about a foot in that time.  Hopefully the levels don’t drop two feet in the next 12 hours like it did after the last rain we got.

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.