A Fishy Weekend.

9 07 2017

Sometimes I feel like these posts are getting a little redundant.  Go out, catch five, come in.  Trying to jazz it  up a little has become more of a challenge than the actual fishing.  Anywho, I went out several times this weekend, had to, there was a full moon and I’m not about to pass that  up.

I started off the weekend heading down to the Trenton Channel after the storms passed through.  I arrived at the ramp around 9:30 pm and started to get set up.  The Wayne County Deputies must have thought I was crazy based on the looks they were giving me.  I don’t know what they were worried about.  The storm cell had split and was heading north and south of our location.  A few minutes alter I was back in my usual spot, lines down and starting my run.  Around 10:00pm I caught my first one of the night as I was taking in the light show.  I had lightning to the north and south of me and fireworks to the west. The only light I wanted to see was from the full moon in the east but the cloud cover was preventing that.  For the next hour I trolled around and caught absolutely nothing.  During times like this I tend to start questioning everything.  I was questioning whether or not the well ran dry, if the fish had moved, was the front causing lockjaw, did I have the wrong lure?  The gerbils were in overdrive in my head as I tried to sort out what I needed to change to start catching fish.  Around 11:00 pm I found out that I wouldn’t  have to change anything.  All at once the front blew through, the wind changed direction from South to North and the clouds broke and out came the full moon.

GAME ON!!

For the next 20 minutes it was organized chaos.  Landed 4, lost 3, threw back 4, back-to-back doubles, tangled leaders, weeds and a few sheepshead and rock bass thrown in for good measure.  I was bringing in what would have been number 5 when I hit a weed patch and my motor bogged down.  Once that happened the line went slack and the fish was gone.  After I got that all straightened out I was back at it.  After 5 minutes I hadn’t caught  anything so I pulled my lines and sure enough, my kicker and 20 foot lead were tangled.  Once I got them straightened out and back to fishing it didn’t take long and number 5 was in the cooler.

Tonight was a prime example of why there are other things to consider, when the fish aren’t biting, besides color.  Several different variables changed all at once and any one of them could have been the reason why the fish turned on.  The wind had shifted 180 degrees.  The front that caused the thunderstorms had blown through.  The clouds cleared out and the full moon was able to shine clearly.  The only two variables that did not change was my location and the lures I was using.  Something to remember the next time the fish aren’t cooperating.

 

Saturday night had me back in the same area, again.  This time I was a little earlier.  I wanted to run some spoons and it would turn out to be a waste of time.  The only fish they produced were blankity blanks, a 3 inch smallie and a few rockies.  Once the sun set and the moon came out I got rid of the spoons and replaced them with Rapalas.  Fishing was slow at first but I managed to pick up a couple in between clearing my lines from weeds.  Around 11 pm I decided to switch things up a bit.  I thought with that with the clear sky and full moon the fish would need something bigger and dark to contrast against the light.  I put on a F11 Perch and that made all the difference.  By 11:30 I caught my fifth and was ready to go home.  My friends Dave and Larry were out so I stopped by to see how they were doing.  They had 8 and they had also lost a couple of bigger fish.  We talked for a few more minutes and then I was headed home (once I did I got a text from them that they caught 10).  I was glad to hear Larry caught his limit.  After we went out he checked all his leaders a few days later.  Turns out that all of them were a 1 to 3 feet short.  Something to think about when the fish aren’t biting.

 

Sunday morning found me trying something different, fly fishing for carp.  I had tried to find places this year where I could try this but I was having a hard time finding any.  Today was a little different.  I had taken a walk through this area before but never saw anything.  This morning the winds were calm, the water was clear and the carp were everywhere.  The first place I stopped at was a culvert feeding a lagoon from Lake Erie.  The carp were in their just waiting for something to flow in to eat.  The water was very dirty from all the activity, especially after I spooked them.  Lesson number one, don’t spook the fish.  I waited to let them calm down and I was able to catch one, and that was a fluke.  I couldn’t see him take the fly, I just happened to lift up on the rod as he swam by and felt the pressure because he picked up the fly.  He really stirred things up so once I got him in, took a pic and then released him I moved on to other areas.

About a quarter mile down the road I spotted a few carp swimming about.  I worked my way into casting range and managed to spook the fish once again.  I now understand what everyone was telling me about when it pays to be stealthy.  I sat down once again and just waited for a bit.  Eventually some more fish swam into range and I was able to hook another one, foul hooked that is.  Don’t know how I did it but I managed to hook him right across that dorsal fin.  That made no sense since these flies are designed to ride hook up.  I could understand hooking a pectoral fin but not the dorsal.  Of course fighting this fish spooked everything in the area so I moved down the road again.   I found some more fish but this time I waited until they swam out of the area before I worked my way down to the bank.  I set up and waited and after a few minutes I saw two carp swimming my way and feeding.  I cast the fly a few feet out in front of them and waited.  Once the lead fish got within a few inches I gave the fly a twitch and that was all it took.  The carp turned and sucked up the fly like it was going to be his last meal.  A quick hook set and off he went.  Now I see why this type of fishing has become so addictive.  Seeing the take and the bulldog fight they put up is a lot of fun.  I can only imagine what hooking into a 15 or 20 pounder in open water would be like.

After that one I packed up and headed home.  I had one last thing to do for the weekend, smoke the walleye I caught back on July 3rd.  Turned out pretty good.  A little to salty this time but I’ll adjust that for next time.

 

So that was my weekend.  More walleye, my first carp on the fly and some smoked fish for the week.  Pretty good weekend.

Oh, and I went and saw Spider Man – Homecoming.

Life is Good.

 

 

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7/1/17 Walleye Report

3 07 2017

Last Saturday night started out much like any other night.  I Arrived at the ramp after 9, no wind and a bit humid.  I thought to myself that it would probably be a bad night for bugs.  Little did I realize just how bad it would be.  There wasn’t much boat traffic, which was kind of surprising considering the weather and what day it was.  The water was still clear and no visible signs of any floating weeds.

So far so good.

By 9:30 pm I was in my usual spot and setting lines.  I started off with a couple of spoons and a #9 Original Rapala.  One of the spoons was a new pattern I picked up last year and never used until tonight.  I figured with the clear water we had been experiencing a spoon with a natural finish would do pretty well.  It didn’t take long to find out.  10 minutes later I had two in the cooler and both of them came on that spoon.  I was feeling pretty good about how this night was going to go and then it happened.  First it was one, then a couple which turned into a swarm.  Ten’s of thousands of mayflies began hatching all around me.  They weren’t the big hex’s, a slightly smaller cream colored version, but they were everywhere.  I had never been in the center of a hatch like this before and it was awe inspiring.  The numbers were unbelievable and I could only imagine what was going on below the surface.  I didn’t think about it at first but this was going to give me the opportunity to see just how active the walleye are during a mayfly hatch.  I had heard from multiple people that you can’t catch walleye during a hatch.  I never really believed that and I was about to find out first hand.  I don’t know how much the walleye feed on the nymphs but I’m sure they are chasing after the baitfish that are feeding on the nymphs.  Five minutes into the hatch I got my answer when number 3 hit that same spoon.

So there I was, 10 pm and in the middle of a mayfly hatch with 3 in the cooler when I got my next surprise.  Fireworks.  Turns out the Duck Dynasty boat was occupied that evening.  The first one exploded right on the deck but after that they got their act together and continued to launch them out over the river for the next 30 minutes.  I wonder if that would be considered littering?  Not much I could do about it so I stayed on the west end of the river until they were done.  I really didn’t want one to land in my lap, especially after I watched them drop one onto their dock and explode and burn for a bit.  Around 10:30 pm they quit along with just about everyone else on the island so I slowly made my way back over to where I wanted to be.  By now the hatch had ended but I was still plucking bugs off of me and my boat.  During this time I managed to catch a few blankity blanks (apparently they didn’t get the memo) and my first 20 inch smallmouth of the year. Fortunately he hit my top lead and manged to stay clear of the rest of my leaders.  When one that big hits the kicker lure he has a tendency to tangle up everything.  I also caught a few more throwbacks in the 10 inch range.  These would be walleye from last year’s hatch.  The trawl results indicated that 2016 was a below average hatch but that was out in Lake Erie.  I really would like to know how many walleye successfully spawn in the river.

Around 11:00 pm the weeds started up and fishing became a drag, literally.  At one point I hit a patch of weeds about 20 yards long and 10 yards wide.  By the time I saw it it was to late and all 3 of my lines caught it.  The drag created by the weeds turned my boat around and headed me downstream.  It took me about 20 minutes to get everything clear and get back up to my spot.  From then one I was clearing lines every 5 or 10 minutes.  I was debating heading in but whenever I did I would lose a walleye or catch another dink.  I figured it would just be a matter of time before I would fill out my limit.  Around midnight I did just that.  I was pulling in my lines to clear the weeds and a walleye grabbed my kicker lure just as I was about to pull it out of the water.  Either he followed that lure up or he was cruising the surface chasing baitfish that were feeding on the few emergers or spinners I saw on the surface.  Either way I was done and headed in.  Perseverance and a little luck paid off tonight.

A few observations about tonight, the first being that you can catch walleye during a mayfly hatch.  The other being that the only absolute when it comes to walleye (or any fish for that matter) is that they are going to do whatever they damn well please.  As you can see in the pictures the walleye wanted small baits, about the size of an emerald shiner.  When I got home and cleaned them one walleye had a goby in him that was about twice the size of my lures.  None of the walleye had any mayfly nymphs in them.  Other than the goby I didn’t find anything else they had been eating. So take it for what it’s worth.  You can catch walleye before, during and after a mayfly hatch, size does matter and matching “the hatch” doesn’t always pay off.  I ran #9 and #11 Rapala’s in darker colors and I never caught a fish on any of them.

So much for “Matching the Hatch”

 

 





Custom Night Walleye 9/2/16

3 09 2016

NE winds and clear blue skies.  Seems like a perfect night to go fishing.

Yes, that was sarcasm.

It had been a couple of weeks since my last trip and I was feeling the need to go fishing.  I at least waited until dark.  I arrived at the ramp at 8:30 pm and was lines down at 8:45 pm.  I was happy to see that there weren’t and big mats of weeds.  I feared it might be bad considering there were NE winds all day.  I started off with a pair of Downriver Tackle Custom Lures, a #11 Rapala in Pink Lemonade and a #9 Rapala in the Spring Valley Special II pattern.  I also had a #9 Original Rapala along for the ride since that was it all it did.  Just swim, not a single hit on it, not even a bass.

About 9:00 pm I had my first fish and by 10:45 I had my fifth keeper.  I also caught a few 8 to 10 inch walleye and all 3 hit the number #11 Rapala.  Clear proof that their eyes were bigger than their stomachs.  Only caught a couple of bass as well.  It was a pretty peaceful and uneventful night except for about 5 minutes.  Around 10:00 pm I got hung up, or so I thought.  I felt one of my lures get tangled up in what I thought was a bunch of fishing line.  I could feel it give just a little but I knew it was going to take some time.  I started to circle downstream and gain wire back into the reel.  Eventually I got close and was able to get my hand on the shank.  My 40 foot lead was the one that was snagged so I got the two shorter ones in first.  I started to pull on the longer leader and I could feel a tremendous amount of weight on it.  I slowly began to pull it in when all of a sudden it started to shake.  Turns out I wasn’t snagged on some old line, I was snagged onto a fish.  There wasn’t a lot of headshakes, just a lot of dead weight.  I thought for sure I snagged a sturgeon but it turns out I hooked a big channel cat in the head.  He was coming in upside down, thus all the weight and lack of movement.  I finally got him to the boat and removed the lure so I could send him on his way.  He was well over 30 inches and probably quite relieved to be sent on his way, minus the lure in his head.

After that not much happened.  I caught number 5 at 10:45 and packed it in shortly after that.  5 more for the freezer and no damage or lost lures.  Hope this continues for the rest of the year.  Just need the temperature to start dropping.  Then it will be walleye during the week and steelhead on the weekend.  One thing that I did notice to night was that the fish were up off the bottom and moving around.  The first two fish I caught was while I was brining in my leaders to check for weeds.  The last two came on my kicker after I shortened up the lead from 7 to 4 feet.  Just goes to show that they aren’t always hugging the rocks.

9-2-16 walleye

 





Tying Binge

3 04 2016

Around the beginning of the year I made a stop into Schultz’s Outfitters to pick up some more tying materials.  I had a few specific things I thought I needed and, as usual, I picked up some things I thought would be neat to tie with.  Of course, when I got home, I put the items in their proper bins only to find out I already had them.  It was at that point I decided to go on a tying binge and use up all the materials I could before I bought anymore.  I figured this wouldn’t be too daunting of a task.  If I ran out of black rabbit strips, I would just switch over to olive.  Pink dubbing gone, use chartreuse.  So, after I burned through 6 cards of Flashabou, 13 packs of dubbing, 7 packs of zonker strips, several bags of dyed guinea hen feathers, all my dyed mallard flanks, salmon/steelhead hooks, 25mm shanks and a couple of spools of thread, I now have enough steelhead flies to last me until 2020.  Of course, that won’t stop me.  So without further adieu, I give you the results of my tying binge.

Egg Sucking Leeches

Feenstra Grapefruit Leech.

Feenstra Grapefruit Leech.

A butt load of egg sucking leeches.  My bread and butter flies.

A butt load of egg sucking leeches. My bread and butter flies.

Hoh Bo Spey, or a close facsimile there of.

Hoh Bo Spey, or a close facsimile there of.

Spey's, Intruder Style Flies and a few Senyo A.I.'s

Spey’s, Intruder Style Flies and a few Senyo A.I.’s

Senyo AI

Sculpins

Sculpins

My sculpin, Goby, Darter, Fry box.

My sculpin, Goby, Darter, Fry box.

My river box

My river box

 

 





Last Trip 10/26/15

27 10 2015

It never ceases to amaze how quickly my attitude can change with just the flick of a switch.  Unfortunately the change wasn’t a pleasant one.  When I arrive at work it started off as a normal Monday.  Just about everyone was talking about the Lions latest debacle while I got my Pepsi and headed to my desk.  While I was checking emails and running my daily bank reports I got a message from my boss.  The Senior accountant we hired in June just resigned and only gave one weeks notice.

Day ruined.

That means everything he did as part of our monthly process just became my responsibility again.  Looks like I’m going fishing tonight.  I had already planned on going out tonight but now I was contemplating making this my last trip for the year.  Daylight savings time is this weekend so evening trips are pretty much out.  It looks like I will be putting in a lot of late hours anyways.  That will leave only the weekends and right now I want to go Steelhead fishing more than Walleye fishing.  So it looks like that when I pull in tonight the motor will get put through winterize mode.

I hit the water around 6:30 pm and set up in my usual spot.  What was very clear and about 55 degrees, no surface weeds and from what I could see not much below the surface.  The wind was pretty much non existent and there was a full moon just barely starting to rise in the east.  I started off with all Rapala’s in sizes 11, 9, and 7.  As it turns out I would change lures constantly throughout the night.  I was hoping for a few fish but all I ended up with was one 22 inch male, my biggest fish of the year and I caught it on the smallest Rapala I ran all year.  Like I said before, it’s been a strange season.

Around 8:30 I decide to call it quits.  It had been a slow night and my heart really wasn’t in it.  I had fish for the winter and Steelhead fishing will be starting soon.  Once I tied off at the dock I put the engine through it’s winterize mode.  About a minute later it was done and I was pulling it out and heading for home.  There’s always next season.

 

10-26 walleye

 





Redemption 7/22/15

23 07 2015

Remember everything I said yesterday?  Forget it.

It never ceases to amaze me how one good trip can change my whole perspective.  It didn’t start out that way but eventually everything fell into place and fishing was fun again.

I started around 7:30 pm and as promised I put on a J-9 Rapala on my 40 foot lead.  Of course the two spoons that have been so effective for me went on as well.  I started up by the Edison coal docks to see if my success last week would pan out.  It didn’t.  I made a couple of passes but no fish, not even a hit.  I pulled lines and headed downstream to Calf island.  By now I was starting to question starting so early but I dropped lines and went about my business.  There were a few other handliners in the area trying their luck.  I didn’t recognize any of the boats but I kept an eye on them just in case they started flipping fish.  About 20 minutes into my run I had a fish on and it hit my J-9 Rapala.  I carefully worked him in since I was bound and determined to end my losing streak.  I just wish the fish felt the same way.  Just as I was about to flip him in off he came.  After muttering a few foul words under my breath I dropped lines again and kept at it.  About 30 minutes later I had another fish on and just like the previous fish I lost this one as well.  This was starting to get discouraging.  I was trying everything I could think of to prevent losing fish, I even switched hats to change my luck.  After I lost the second one I decided to switch things up a bit.  With the clear skies and water I decided to go natural and switched out the J-9 for a #9 original floater in classic black/silver.  I also left Calf Island and headed up to where the Catamaran used to be.  By now it was close to 9:30 pm and all the other boats had left the river.  It was just me and the bugs.

Time to get serious.

Toledo Walleye Hat is on backwards, Headlamp is in place, Lines are clear.  Come on walleye.

It didn’t take long.

Shortly after my move I had another fish on.  This was a good solid hit.  Nothing like all the dead weight grabs I have been getting lately.  As I was bringing up my wire I could see the top lead going way off to the left.  Here we go again, another walleye on the Rapala.  I turned the boat into the fish and worked him in, all the way to the cooler.

Finally!!!  Let the trumpets sound and the pigeons loose!!!  Redemption!!!

I quickly dropped my lines back into the water and #2 was on and in the boat.  It was obvious that the spoons weren’t going to be any good for the rest of the night so off they came.  I put a #9 Blue/Silver Rapala on my kicker, switched the #9 Black/Silver to my 20 foot lead and put on a #11 Hot Steel Rapala on my 40foot lead.  Now one might wonder why I would change up what appears to be working.  I was hoping to increase the effectiveness of me offering and improve my odds.  Great theory but it didn’t matter.  My next 3 fish all came on the same lure.  The walleye were keyed in on that classic pattern and nothing else was going to sway them.  I didn’t care.  I just landed 5 nice fish in a 45 minute span and I DIDN’T LOSE ANY.

Life is good again.

A few observations about tonight.  First off the water is still very clear with a surface temp of 72 degrees.  Pretty close to what it was like last year at this time.  All the fish came after sunset which isn’t surprising given the lack of clouds.  I have been piecing together why I lost so many fish this year on the Rapala’s and I have come to a couple of conclusions.  First is the lures I was using, older lures with old hooks that are probably in need of replacing or a good sharpening.  Laziness on my part but usually a walleye hits hard enough that they do a pretty good job of setting the hook themselves.  Which leads me to my next point.  The walleye just aren’t very aggressive during the daylight.  The hits on a Rapala were more like just dead weight.  Last night they were smacking the lures and getting all the hooks in them.  None of this half ass maybe I should grab it crap.  They wanted that lure and they wanted it now.  So I guess it was part my fault and part just the lazy nature of a neutral walleye.

One other thing, two of the walleye had gobies in them.

7-22-15 Walleye All That's Left





A Year in a Life – October

14 10 2014

October is my favorite time of year and probably one of my favorite times to be on the river fishing. Every spring I count the days until I can get the boat in the water but come July I’m already thinking ahead to October. This month has consistently produced more big fish for me than any other. I know the Spring Run produces a lot of big females but for me the Fall fishing has been my best time of year. I have lost some wall hangers and also landed my personal best on a Halloween afternoon a few years back. We have all heard it before about how the fish go on a feeding binge to prep for the upcoming winter and it shouldn’t be ignored. Fishing can be tough because of the weather but the rewards can be awesome.

 
There are two areas on the Detroit River where the fish start to pile up in preparation for winter and the Spring spawning run. At the north end up near Peche Island and the South end from the Grosse Isle Free bridge to south of Celeron Island. They do catch a few fish mid river but the catches are more consistent at the north and south ends. The schools also pile up in Lake Erie from Brest Bay down to Huron Ohio but I don’t have the boat for that so I stick to the river. They also catch a lot of walleye north of the Blue Water bridge up at Port Huron but I’m not making that run either. For me though it is all about the Trenton Channel. I know big surprise.

 
During the Fall the walleye in the channel are feeding on 4 different types of baitfish. Emerald Shiners, Gobies, young of the year Smallmouth Bass and eventually Gizzard Shad. The Gizzard Shad follow the warm water from the Edison Plant discharge and the walleye are right behind them. You can always tell when they are in because you will see them jumping and there will be a big increase in Egret’s, Heron’s and Eagles in the trees along the shore. This means big baits, size #11 and #13 Rapala’s and Thundersticks. My usual set up this time of year is all Rapala’s with a 13 on my 40, an 11 on my 20 and a 9 on my kicker. Of course this can change after I have been out there for a bit but 90% of the time I start out like that. It all depends on what the fish want. It can be baffling though. I have caught barely legal fish on a #13 Rapala and a 6 or 7 pounder on a #7 Rapala. Lord for bid they stick to my plan of attack.

 
Another good thing about this time of year is that the fish hit hard. None of this lightly sucking in the bait or just nipping at the tail crap. They hit these lures like a freight train. Out in the Lake the small inline planer boards turn into bobbers that disappear under the surface. For the handliner it’s not uncommon to find the whole lure inside the fish or every hook stuck in him somewhere. Of course because the fish are so big and feisty I tend to lose a lot of fish. All the head shaking produces a lot of tearing and eventually lures being thrown back at me just as I get them within a few yards of the boat. This is a time when I really prefer to fish by myself so that I can turn the boat into the fish and try to finesse them in a little more. I also keep a net handy, especially if I can see those tell tale holes in the jaw from where the hook has been pulling.

 
Couple of other things to take into consideration for the Fall fishing. Weather plays a big role in success. Once the water temps get around that 50 degree range it’s game on. If things get to cold to quick it can shut down in a hurry. Also, October storms can tear up the water in an instant. A few years back Super Storm Sandy trashed the river for weeks and the fish shut right down. I have also noticed that since the fish are more active they are willing to chase bait and sometimes are up cruising around off the bottom. I catch more fish while bringing my lines up or setting them down this time of year over any other. If I notice this I will shorten up my 20 foot lead and my kicker. I won’t touch the 40 just in case there are still a few lazy ones down there. It also helps to keep one line away from the boat in case they are a little skittish in the shallow clear water. I have also noticed that these fish will feed at the most ridiculous times. Like I said earlier my personal best came on a Halloween afternoon at 2:00 pm. I have had some of my best days on clear blue bird days at 10:00 am. I rarely get that in the summer but it happens on a regular basis in the Fall. Bottom line is when the dinner bell rings it’s best to be out there. Weeds too can be a problem, it’s not the big mats like in the summer but just all the single strands that are dying and breaking off downstream. These tend to be below the surface so a good west wind isn’t going to help keep them in Canada. In other words clear the lines on a regular basis.

 
That’s it for my thoughts on the fall fishery. If all goes well this can carry on into November and December. It all depends on what kind of a mood Mother Nature is in. In 2007 I was catching limits well into December but last year everything came to a screeching halt in November. Each year is different, just remember to dress warm and have fun.

10-26-12 TC 2 10-26-12 TC 1 10-20-12 TC 1 TC 11-10-12 11-10-13 TC