Weird Weather Wednesday Walleye

20 04 2017

Mother nature can be very fickle and the evening of Wednesday, 4/19/17 was proof of that.

The original forecast called for rain and wind during the afternoon and evening.  As the day progressed it slowly started to change to something a little more pleasurable.  Around mid-afternoon the forecast changed to all rain being over by 8 and the wind out of the NW at 4 mph.  I received a text from fellow handlining enthusiast Dave saying he was debating going to tonight with a friend from church.  I told him I would meet him at the ramp after 8.  Around 8:15 I arrived at the ramp and Dave was there getting his boat ready.  We chatted about life in general for a bit and then finished getting ready.  Their was a fair amount of fog on the river but I didn’t think much of it at first.  Once I launched and headed downstream I quickly realized it was a lot thicker than I thought.  Visibility was about 50 yards in any direction.  I couldn’t see either shoreline, just the lights from the Edison plant.  Fortunately, where I wanted to fish was close by so I would be able to keep my bearings straight.  By 8:30 pm I was lines down and trolling NE (with my navigation lights on).  It was really eerie fishing under these conditions.  A flock of geese flew by close enough that I could hear their wing beats but I couldn’t see them.  I could hear Dave’s boat off in the distance coming my way but I couldn’t see him.  About the time he passed me I hooked and landed fish number 1 for the night.  I don’t think he ever saw me as he headed further downstream.  About 10 minutes later number 2 was on but I lost this one flipping him in when the line broke on my kicker.  Been a long  time since I had that happen.  I quick check of my leader showed that the last 6 inches were all scrapped and nicked up.  I cut off the bad line and re-tied a new snap and lure.  Shortly after that I heard another boat coming downstream.  I could barely make out the silhouette of the boat but he was coming right at me.  As he got closer I stood up to make sure he could see me which he eventually did.  He slowed down until he was past me and then floored it.  You would think that after coming up on one boat in the fog he would take it easy.  Apparently not.

Shortly after he left I boated number 2.  Once I got all straightened around is when things started to get weird, and scary.  I looked upstream and off in the distance I could see what looked like a mini front moving in from the NE.  It was a big white cloud or fog stretching from the NW to the SE and coming right down the river.  Underneath it the sky was dark and I thought it might be rain.  It made no sense though.  All day long the rain and wind was coming out of the west and now here was what looked like an apparent front moving in from the NE.  I kept watching it and about the time it cleared the Grosse Isle free bridge everything changed.  It was like someone flipped a switch.  The wind instantly changed from a few mph out of the west to 15-20 plus out of the NE.  The fog vanished in an instant and the temperature dropped.  While I was trying to figure out what was going on the wind spun my boat around like a whirling dervish.  I quickly recovered and got my boat point back north again.  How it could go from dead calm and perfect to Holy Crap was beyond me.  I was a little concerned at first but once I got my act together I worked through it and managed to put 3 more in the cooler over the next 30 minutes.  By 9:30 I was done and headed for the dock.  I tracked down Dave first to see how he was doing.  They were recovering from a snag and getting back to it.  I told him I was leaving and asked him to text me to make sure he got off the water ok.  It was to weird of a night to take any chances.  Five minutes later I was safe and sound on dry land.  I have never experienced a weather change like that before while fishing and I hope I don’t ever again.

So I ended up with 5 more in just under and hour.  Most of the fish came on a #11 Blue/Silver Rapala.  The water is still clear and I only caught two of those other things.  The weather for the next few days looks sketchy so I’ll be staying home.  I should have about another week before the full on, feed all night, drive me insane invasion starts.  Hopefully I will get a few more trips in before then.

Providing Mother Nature isn’t fickle.

Advertisements




A Year in a Life – May

14 05 2014

May is a very fickle month for a die hard river rat. By now the water temps are up in the 45 to 50 degree range and the big girls are out of the river. The males are in feeding mode now and that means easy limits. Problem is that it doesn’t seem to last very long anymore. Back in the 80’s it was a given that the walleye fishing would be fantastic until mid month. It still can be now but we have to deal with something else. That’s right; my favorite’s…….the White Bass.

For the last 5 or 6 years it seems like this run has lasted longer than the previous year and produced more and more fish each time it happens. There has always been a healthy population but now it seems like they completely take over the entire river system. Some people can’t wait for them to show up. I’m not one of them. The DNR could take away the possession limit and it wouldn’t bother me one bit. Like death and taxes though they are a constant annoyance and they have to be dealt with. Walleye can be caught though during these trying times, the tactics just have to change.

There are a couple of options I have to avoid the White Bass. Though they are not entirely fool proof they can at times drastically reduce my catch and still put walleye in the boat. The first one is to change presentations. This time of year I will jig more than any other. I use a ¾ ounce jig and a Wyandotte Worm and I will jig the channel edges north of the Grosse Isle free bridge. I will still catch White Bass but I will also catch the occasional walleye. It won’t be a lot of them but I can usually manage to put a couple in the cooler until it gets dark. Once it gets dark I put the rod away and head back downstream. Now some may ask why I don’t just stay where I am. Well the reason is that I hate catching White Bass in deep water Handlining, especially 3, 4 or 5 at a time. It’s bad enough in 10 feet of water but 30 feet down gets old in a hurry. Some nights it’s not a problem, usually dark, cloudy no moon periods. Other times though they will feed all night. I never know what they are going to do so I limit my exposure and hassles as much as possible. Besides, I really enjoy fishing that 10 to 15 feet of water in The Channel. Again, there are walleye all up and down the river, it’s just a question of fishing where someone is most comfortable.

Once it is well past sunset I will set up in my usual areas and run the same leads with one change. The Rapala’s stay in the box and out come the pencil plugs, or more specifically Nite Stalkers. A Nite Stalker is nothing more than a plastic pencil plug. For years pp’s (pencil plugs) were made by hand and out of wood. Nothing wrong with them and there are plenty of them in handliner tackle boxes. I just like the Nite Stalkers (I wonder how many more shameless plugs I can get it in?) because they are plastic, they have great color patterns and most importantly the eye on the front is forward enough that I can use the same crank bait snaps I use for other body baits and spoons. The old wooden pencil plugs have the eye set so far back in the cup of the head that I can’t get the snap on. I don’t like fighting with lures when I should be fishing so I just stick to the Nite Stalkers (4). Besides, they come in a lot of chrome patterns and I like chrome. Also, Nite Stalkers (5) are made right here locally in Michigan and I’m all for supporting the local businesses.

Now on most nights a White Bass won’t bother with a pp, they don’t have a lot of action so they won’t trigger a lot of strikes. There are those nights when it just doesn’t matter, usually during the very peak of the run. There are ways around that as well but I will discuss that later. I will still get a few but no where near the 100 or so I would catch if I was using a Rapala. That’s not an exaggeration either, a handliner could very easily catch 100 or more in an evening during the run when using Rapala’s or spoons. Over the years I have kept track and I average about 2 or 3 white bass for every walleye caught using Nite Stalkers (6) or pp’s. If I was running Rapala’s or Spoons the number would increase 10 fold. Fortunately for me I live so close that if I get one of those nights where they just won’t stop I can always go in and try another day. I feel sorry for those that have to make the long drive. They are pretty much stuck and just have to deal with it.

One more thing about Nite Stalkers (7) and I promise I will quit. They have big sharp hooks and a lot of them. I don’t lose too many walleye when I am using them. They don’t dive as much as a Rapala either so I don’t tend to get hung up as much. Also, Nite Stalkers (8) are almost half the price of a New Rapala.

Now one of my other tactic changes is that I fish a lot later at night. The run coincides with each passing day getting longer so I have to start later. Because of this most of my fishing is reserved for Friday and Saturday night since I don’t have to work the next day. Since I don’t have to worry about getting up the next morning that opens up another opportunity, fishing farther north……the St. Clair River.

The St. Clair River poses some new challenges, they aren’t too difficult but they have to be taken into consideration. The first is the drive. Depending on where I go it can be 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours. That may not seem like much but when it’s past midnight and I am driving home the extra time starts to be a grind. Another thing to consider is that the St. Clair is deeper and the current is faster than the Trenton Channel. Water depths average over 30 feet and with the current I have to use a 2 pound weight. Just think about bouncing that weight along the bottom for a few hours. It can make for a long night, especially if I’m not catching anything. There is a trade off though, the White Bass are non-existent. Now that I have typed this I’m sure they will show up but I have yet to catch one up there. I can use Nite Stalker’s (9, sorry) here as well but with no threat of White Bass I usually run my Rapala’s. Another good point about fishing up this way is that the size limit is only 13 inches and the daily possession limit is 6. Kind of makes that extra drive a little more worthwhile. Now that the DNR have changed the possession limit to 3 days I am planning a weekend trip up to Algonac. Stay at the Algonac State Park, fish Friday and Saturday night, sleep in, and have a fish fry Saturday before I head out.

The last tactic to avoid catching them is to just not even fish for them to begin with. Between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day I tend to break out the fly rod. Bluegill and Trout are always a lot of fun on a 4 or 5 weight rod. With the brutal winter we had I spent a lot of time filling up the fly box both with traditional trout flies and foam patterns. I should be all set. I’ll probably go visit a local pond this Memorial Day weekend. I could go for a fresh bluegill dinner.

So there it is my White Bass avoidance tactics or my Year in a Life strategy for May. Of course this same strategy will carry over into June and maybe even July if they don’t leave.