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.



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.


Pre-Tax Day Smallmouth Weekend.

16 04 2019

Back when I was in Alaska, one of the guys I was fishing with mentioned all of us getting together to do a Smallmouth weekend with Schultz Outfitters.  At the time I didn’t think much of it because I figured it would never happen.  Well a couple of months later it was happening and next thing I knew I was paying my part of a deposit.  The man in charge reserved 3 guides and boats for the 6 of us on April 13th and 14th.  A few years back this would have never happened.  The DNR recently made bass fishing a year round sport as long as it was CPR (Catch, Photo, Release) during what was traditionally a closed season.  Since that change the guides at Schultz Outfitters have put in their homework and figured out a program to consistently catch these pre-spawn, cold water fish.

The first day I was fishing with Mike Schultz himself and Ken Fugate from my Alaska trip.  Mike told us we were right on the cusp of the fishing exploding.  Water temps were 50 degrees and the fish were really close to taking off.  Problem was that with so little rain that the rivers were low and clear.  Throw in the forecasted clear skies and it was going to be tough.  We were throwing an articulated fly called a Swinging “D”.  I have fished these flies before and the key to making them work was giving the line a hard strip and then letting the fly pause in slack water.  The pause is when the fish would come up and grab it.  If it was still moving the bigger fish would just ignore it.  Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t make it happen.  The Northern Pike sure liked it though.  I managed to hook 4 of them on Saturday.  Throw in the two smaller bass and I was beginning to question why I agreed to this.  Ken wasn’t having any problems.  He managed to land one that was around 19 1/2 inches long.  The other people in the group were catching big fish as well.  All except for me.  To say I was getting frustrated and discouraged is an understatement.  The only excitement I had was when I made a bad cast and buried the fly into my skull.  Mike was able to get it out but it was a bloody mess for a bit.

The next day was a completely different story in several ways.  Different guide, different river and different conditions.  Saturday was blue skies and sunshine.  Sunday was overcast skies, a rain snow mix and a temperature drop of around 30 degrees.  It pretty much rained the whole time we were fishing.  My guide (And Casting Instructor) today was Jay Wisnosky, also of Schultz Outfitters.  Today we were headed to a stretch of river the guides call The Land of The Giants.  I was a little more optimistic today but still cautious.  A cold front, like we had going on, can shut fish down.  About an hour later I got my answer.  I hooked and landed my new personal best Smallmouth, on a fly, at 17 3/4 inches long.

I was feeling much better now.  These fish are powerful and trying to land one on a fly rod will put a strain on the arm muscles.  After a few quick pics he went back into the water.  These fish take between and 15 to 20 years to get to this size.  Because of this extra care is taken to make sure they are unharmed and able to fight another day.  I asked Ken if he wanted to take over the front of the boat and he passed.  Yesterday we switched back and forth between the front and back of the boat, today Ken didn’t want to switch.  He was having a hard time staying warm and just wanted to sit in the back.  We tried a few more spots with only one smaller fish to show for our efforts.  Jay switched out my fly for a crayfish pattern at the next hole.  He told me to do the same thing I was doing all morning.  Cast towards the bank, let the current pull the line forward and let the fly sink.  Give it a twitch every now and then and repeat.  About half way through the hole I hooked and landed my new personal best Smallmouth at 18 1/2 inches.

After this one I thought for sure Ken would want to get in on the action but he still passed on it.  I was starting to feel guilty for catching all the fish but he said don’t worry about it so I kept at it.  We had a quick lunch after this one.  Hard to eat a warm meal when it is raining on you.  After lunch we drifted downstream to yet another hole and I went back to swinging my fly through the run.  This time I was using a Circus Peanut, similar to the one I lodged in my skull yesterday.  I managed to hook another fish in the 17 inch range that was scarred and pissed off at the world.  Jay was telling me to strip line in and I couldn’t.  The fish was having nothing to do with me and was determined to stay on the bottom.  Eventually I was able to get him up, netted and released without any damage to anything other than his pride.  Or mine, since I had such a hard time getting him in.

Farther down the river Jay switched out my fly back to the crawfish pattern I caught my new PB on. For some odd reason every time I switched flies I caught a fish.  Kind of goes against my theory of constantly changing flies but I wasn’t going to argue with the results.  It made sense though.  At this next hole the bank was lined with tree stumps or root balls and the bottom was covered with rock and boulders.  I started casting and as we slowly drifted downstream I could see a rather large boulder under water.  I was able to time my cast so that the fly drifted over the top and behind the boulder.  My eyes bugged out of my head as I watched the fish come up from the bottom and inhale the fly.  I buried that hook and the fight was on.  He did not want to come out from behind that boulder but once he did the current caught him and he took off downstream.  Eventually I was able to turn him towards me and into the net.  Jay measured him at just a hair over 19 inches.  A new personal best, again.

Now I was really wound up.  I was just hoping for one decent fish and instead I landed my 3 biggest, on a fly. to date.  By now though it was 4:30 pm and we had been on the water for almost 6 hours of wind driven rain.  We tried a few more spots but not much happened.  I managed to land one smaller fish and that was it.  I had had enough, as did Ken, so Jay just rowed for the take out point.  I wasn’t going to complain.  I was more sore then wet but I still had an hour drive home after Jay got us to our cars which were an additional hour away.

So that was my weekend.  One day of blue bird skies and the other a total opposite, both in weather and results.  During dinner Saturday night there was talk of making this a yearly event.  I’ll admit I was ready to bow out after Saturday.  After Sunday I changed my mind.