Is it Spring yet?

21 01 2020

9:30 am on a Tuesday morning and I’ve pretty much mentally checked out at work.  When I woke up this morning I really wanted to just stay in bed.  It’s not that I hate my job, it’s just that today I wanted to just sleep and do other things.  What exactly I really don’t know.  Last night was Fly Tying night at the Huron River Fishing Association meeting.  I tied the two flies and gave them away to a new member who is just getting started.  I am currently overflowing with flies.  My Carp box is pretty much maxed out.  Even if I fished every day starting in May I couldn’t use them all up.

Same goes for the Steelhead box, or boxes in this case.  My main box I keep in my waterproof sling pack is full.  The three smaller carry boxes I have are full.  The reserve box I have is full.  I could start tying for my Alaska trip but I’ need to wait.  I tied up almost 10 dozen flies for the last trip and I used 12 the whole week.  One of the guides I know told me he is going to start tying in  a couple of weeks and he is going to send me pics of what I should tie.  I probably already have a bunch ready as it is.

Smallmouth box is ready along with the Gill/Trout box.  These boxes are pretty easy to keep topped off since I really don’t fish for these as much.  I could tie up some Mini Game Changers for Smallies but considering how much I fish for them I would probably be better off just buying a few.

I could have sat on the couch and watch TV but I can only take so much of watching guys in New Zealand catching trophy size rainbows in a country I will probably never visit.  Same goes for videos of GT’s crushing flies.

I suppose I’m just getting antsy for the start of a new season.  This winter has been pretty mild with the Great Lakes at only 10 % ice coverage.  If this keeps up it’s gonna be an early walleye run.  This year should be epic with back to back record hatches.  They also increased the creel limit to 6 which was a long time coming.  All the water surrounding the US side of the Detroit River has been at 6 fish for several years.  Didn’t make much sense to keep it at 5.

I most excited for fly fishing this year.  Now that I’ve spent so much time learning about the Huron I’m amped up to go after the carp and smallmouth.  Once I figured out the carp thing and started paying more attention I began to spot a lot more fish then when I would just take casual walks along the shoreline.  Recent rains flooded out one area right up to the parking lot.  I couldn’t help but think about how the carp would have been right up to the edge if this was May and not January.

As I type this there is a squirrel eating the buds off the tree outside my office window.  He is probably thinking the same thing I am, when is Spring going to get here?

I hear ya bud, I hear ya.

 

 

 





2019 Review

30 12 2019

Fishing for 2019 ended the same way it started, fishing for Steelhead with no success.  It’s a pattern I was hoping to reverse this year but unfortunately conditions and poor timing prevented it from happening.  I really can’t complain though.  I ticked off a few times from my fishing “to-do” list and explored a few new areas.  One of them being The Clinton River which I fished for the first time this past Saturday.    I was up that way for a family gathering so I took advantage of that and went fishing first.  No Steelhead but I did recover a couple of these funny looking frisbees.

For some reason I decided to keep track of the number times I went fishing this year.  Why, I really don’t know.  I just started keeping track of when I went and what I was fishing for.  I went fishing 80 times over the course of the year. Some may think that’s a lot but my daughter thinks I need to double that in 2020.  I did notice a definite shift in the type of fishing I do the most.  Used to be it was 90% handling for walleye and 10% fly fishing.  For 2019 it flipped.  I only went handlining for walleye 23 times last year and fly fishing 57 times.  Walleye fishing, for me, has turned into grocery shopping more than anything else.  With my biggest consumers gone I don’t have the desire or need to go out as much.  It has become more of a hassle to get the boat out and go as compared to fly fishing, since I always have a rod in the car and plenty of areas to fish close by.  To really drive home how big the shift has become I went fly fishing for carp more than I went walleye fishing.  Even more surprising is that I did most of my carp fishing in September.  Once I figured out how to catch these things my success rate jumped dramatically.  Now I find myself looking for signs of feeding carp.  Even this past weekend I was looking for those tell tale craters in the muck and making a mental note to try that area come Spring.  I have a feeling that I will be chasing “Hillbilly Bonefish” a lot in 2020.

Back in August I was able to add another fish to my “fish caught on a fly rod” list, Cutthroat Trout.  I had a chance to fish the Coeur D’ Alene river in Idaho last August and caught several cutthroat and a few rainbows.  I am hoping I can go back in June to see if I can’t add Bull Trout to my list.

Also got the opportunity to go ‘mousing’ for Browns on the Manistee River back in June.  I’m no stranger to fishing in the dark but this was a completely different experience.  All night long I was literally casting blind because I couldn’t see a thing.  By some miracle I never lost a fly even though I caught dozens of trees throughout the evening.

Well those were the high points for the year.  For 2020 I’m planning on going back to Alaska to fish the Naknek River north of King Salmon for Giant Rainbows.  I’ll be in the Brooks Falls area so a stop by their may be in order to watch the bears do bear things.  That’s not until September though so I have plenty of time to plan.  Right now I’m thinking about Spring and trying out the new fly rod my kids got me for Christmas.  A G Loomis IMX Pro 9′ 6wt.  This is going to be my Summer Lower Huron Bass/Carp rod and I’m itching to try it out.

Have a great New Year everyone.





Labor Day Weekend 2019

3 09 2019

I was able to get out a couple of times this past Labor Day weekend.  Walleye on Friday night and fly fishing for Carp Monday morning.  I probably should have gone walleye fishing each evening but I figured the weeds would be really bad with it being the non official last boating weekend of summer.  From here on in it should be pretty quiet on the water, except for the occasional storm.

I launched my boat around 8:30 pm Friday night and headed to my normal starting area.  The water was clear and their weren’t very many surface weeds.  Boat traffic was at a minimum and after sunset I was the only one fishing.  I though for sure there would have been a few others out, shows how much I know.  Not much happened at first.  I lost a few larger fish and caught a couple of smallmouth.  The fish were barely hitting, I would pull the wire forward and then there would be dead weight.  This went on for the first 90 minutes.  I managed to get tangled up in some old fishing line twice and the weeds were starting to thicken up.  I seriously debated just going in but it had been 3 years since the last time I got skunked and I wanted to keep that streak going.  I’m glad I stuck it out, around 10 the fish got active and I picked up my 5 fish limit in about an hour.  After that I packed up and headed for home.

 

When I went to bed Sunday I had every intention of sleeping in the next day.  I spent the last two days cleaning up and throwing out stuff from my house and I was tired.  I awoke around 6:30 am and eventually just gave up and got out of bed.  I figured I would try for landing a carp again at some new water.  My luck fly fishing for carp this year had been pretty poor so I wasn’t to optimistic.  I rigged my my Scott Flex 8 wt and headed to the Huron River.  At my first stop I soon found out that the water levels were up some and it was a little stained.  I started to feel a little better about my chances.  I saw a few fish out in the middle of the river and I made a few half ass casts towards them.  Past experience has told me that if they aren’t actively feeding my chance of hooking up was slim and nill.  After awhile I gave up on those fish and worked my way upstream.  I saw some bubbles on the surface underneath the shade of an overhanging tree.  I went into stealth mode and as I got closer I could see a pair of carp feeding in the shallows.  I carefully dropped the fly next to them and waited for one to turn my way.  After a few seconds the larger fish did and I gave the fly a twitch.  That did it and he pounced on it.  I set the hook and off he went, towards a log jam.  I jumped in the water after him and tried to steer him away.  Fortunately I was able to keep him clear of the logs and after a few minutes I landed him on the bank.  A quick pic and he was soon swimming away.

Like I said, I jumped in.

After that I took a moment to compose myself.  My Ross reel got dunked and was full of muck so I had to clean that out.  I sat at a nearby picnic table while I figured out my next move.  I pretty much trashed this area and two kayakers just paddled down so that meant they spooked anything upstream.  After about 20 minutes I started hiking upstream to new water.  I followed a drainage ditch to the river and carefully worked my way up to the edge of the water.  Apparently I wasn’t careful enough because I spooked two fish that were in the area.  I slowly backed out and figured I would come back in about 30 minutes or so.  I tried some more areas but I didn’t see anything.  I walked back to the area I spooked the pair of fish earlier and worked my way to the edge again.  I could see a silt cloud in the water so I just waited until I could verify where the fish was.  After a minute or so the tail became visible and I could make out the outline of a decent size carp.  He started to turn away from me and then up went his tail and he went into full on feed mode.  A cloud of muck arose all around him so I took advantage of his blurred vision and moved into position.  I dropped the fly about 6 inches to the left and waited.  He started to turn towards it and when I gave it a twitch he pounced on it like a cat chasing a laser dot.  A quick hook set and off he went.  Once again I was back in the water, doing my best to keep him clear of any obstructions.  He ran underneath one sunken branch which I had to clear out of the way before I could even think about landing him.  Eventually I was able to steer him towards the middle of the river where I could keep him under control.  A few short runs later and I was steering him towards the bank.

I was 2 for 2 and feeling pretty good.  It was getting later in the morning though and the sun was clearing the trees.  The fish were hanging in the shadows on the opposite side now so my chances of landing another one were dwindling.  I drove to another section of the river and saw some more carp but they weren’t very cooperative.  I did see one closer to the bank but there was no way I could sneak up on him.  He was in the middle of a log jam anyways so I doubt I could have even got him out of there if I had hooked him.  Bikers and runners were starting to fill the trails along the river so it was time for me to go home.  I’ll stop by next weekend before I head to Schultz Outfitters Fall Kick Off on Saturday.

 





7/20/19 Walleye

24 07 2019

Went out.

Caught five.

Came In.

The End.





Squeak

10 06 2019

Back when I was a wee little fly tier I used to tie deer hair mice for one gentleman.  Every year he would go on a trip to the AuSable, with some of his friends, to go fishing for Brown Trout at night.  I would tie him up 2 dozen mice and 2 dozen Houghton Lake Specials.  One year, he invited my Father and I to tag along but unfortunately we were unable to make it.  I was always intrigued about this type of fishing but never got the opportunity until this past weekend.  My guide in Alaska, Tim Schut, told me he was going to back in Michigan for a few months before he went back to Alaska.  After working through our conflicting schedules we were able to arrange an evening that worked for both of us.  I met him at our take out point on the Upper Manistee around 6:30 pm.  I wondered why we were meeting so early since ‘mousing” was done during the dark of the night.  He told me we would park the boat downstream and wait to see if we would get any type of an insect hatch.  That and eat dinner.  Dinner was great (grilled steak and asparagus) but a hatch never really materialized.  Tim said most of the Spring had like this.  Light hatches and when they do happen the insects fly into the trees instead of spinning out and landing on the water.  We only saw a few trout rise and most of them were small.  No big deal, that wasn’t why I was here anyways.

Around 10:00 pm we started downstream and started fishing.  Tim would tell me which side of the river to cast too and slowly retrieve the mouse pattern across the water to create a wake.  He told me to let the current swing the fly downstream and across and make long, steady retrieves to keep it moving.  Seems simple enough except that I couldn’t see the shoreline and I had no idea if I was making a wake or not.  The only time I could see was when there would be a reflection on the water from the light of an occasional cabin.  Tim had also told me that no matter how close I think the trees are to add 3 more feet.  The closer I could get the mouse to the shoreline the better.  He also said don’t worry about hooking the trees, it’s gonna happen.  If I’m not catching the trees it’s obvious I’m not landing the mouse close enough to the bank.  With all that in mind we went about our business, for 3 hours.

Cast, plop, drift, retrieve, cast again, catch tree, retrieve fly, cast again, swat mosquito, catch tree behind me, retrieve fly, stare at the stars, question my sanity, cast, plop, drift, retrieve, repeat.

This was the bulk of the evening.  I got to hand it to Tim though, he was doing his best to keep me positive.  If I was doing something wrong with my cast he would help me correct it and made sure I was casting in the right direction.  After a few hours I was starting to get frustrated because I was convinced I was doing something wrong.  Tim assured me I wasn’t.  He said it is going to happen, we just need to find a hungry fish.  He compared it to Spey fishing for Steelhead.  He said there are a lot of fish in the water, we are trying to find the one with the attitude.  Around 1:00 am the sliver of the moon set below the horizon and then it got really dark.  Tim switched out the fly to a jointed rabbit fur mouse of his own design.  It makes a very distinctive sound when it hits the water.  Also, he tied a pair of dumbbell eyes to the back of the hook to get the tail end to sink a little.  That did the trick because about 15 minutes later it happened.  I heard the splash, felt the weight and did nothing.  That’s right, nothing.  The one thing I have read over and over is that when a Brown hits a mouse, never set the hook until the weight of the fish is felt.  Tim stressed this as well.  When I hear a splash and I think a fish hit, DO NOTHING!!   A Brown trout will swim up and strike a mouse to kill it and then swing back around to finish it off, much like a shark will with live prey.  He told me that many people lose the fish because when they feel the hit they do the straight up Orvis hook set and send the fly into the trees.  If a fish hits and misses he will come back around.  Tim had told me of instances where he had a Brown hit the same mouse multiple times before he was finally hooked up.  Relax and wait, easier said than done but I did it and once I felt the fish turn and the weight on the rod I pulled back on the rod, across my body and parallel to the river.  FISH ON!

I almost lost this one.  I was so startled that the line slipped through my fingers as I was trying to strip him in.  I was able to keep a bend in the rod and the pressure on and about a minute later he was in the net.  My first Brown on a fly, my first Brown on a Mouse and my first Brown over 20 inches.  To say I was happy would be an understatement.  After a few pics we sent him on his away and got back to business.  I was feeling a lot better now and Tim made sure I didn’t get ahead of myself.  He reminded me not to get twitchy and remember to DO NOTHING!  I firmly believe this is where Spey fishing and Handlining so much benefits me.  When jigging or casting a lure, the second I feel anything I set the hook.  With handlining, once I feel a fish I wait for him to get those initial headshakes out of the way.  With Spey fishing I wait until the fish takes the fly and turns away.  I’ve been able to condition myself to not get so crazy with the hook set.  I still get a little twitchy from time to time but for the most part I can take it easy.  So much so that on the next fish I never even knew he took a swipe at the fly.  There was splash in front of me and Tim asked if I had a hit.  I told him I didn’t feel anything but he was convinced a fish had taken a swipe at my fly and missed.  I told him I didn’t even hear it and it was right then that he hit it again.  This time though he didn’t miss and he immediately went airborne.  Tim got the light on him so we could watch his aerobatic display. He was smaller then the first fish but he was definitely a lot more active.

It still amazes me how the same species of fish can have suck drastic differences in their spots.

After that not much happened.  The temperature was starting to drop and by 2:30 am there was fog on the water.  Tim told me trying to catch fish when the fog is out is damn near impossible.  I made a few more casts but nothing happened so around 3 we pushed on to the pull out point.  That last mile Tim kept his headlamp on so he could maneuver the river (how he was able to in the dark was beyond me) and show me the fish we would spook.  I probably saw about a dozen Browns in the 20 inch range cruising around in the shallow water.  I was told that this section held some big fish but I always doubted it.  Not anymore.

All in all it was a good night.  Mosquitoes weren’t a problem.  Caught my first and biggest brown trout to date.  I didn’t bury a hook in the back of my head but at one point I did bounce the fly off my hat.  Only bad part now was the drive home on no sleep.  Next time I’m bringing my camper and taking a nap before I head home.  Driving home on deer infested roads with no sleep is a dangerous combination.  Speaking of deer, they make a lot of noise running through the water at 2:00 am.  So do bears, we think we spooked one when we came around one bend.  We could just make out the silhouette of a lone tree shaking back and forth.  As we got closer we heard of lot of crashing as whatever it was ran off.  So it was either a bear or Bigfoot.  Didn’t hear any tree knocks so I’m sticking with a bear.

I’m going to be up this away again the last weekend of June.  I won’t be wading this area at night, it is way to dangerous to do since I don’t know the river.  I might wade in at a few of the access points and try a few casts but nothing to extreme.  I’m kind of hoping the Hex hatch is going on.  Never fished during one but I have heard it is insane.

We shall see.

 





Memorial Weekend Fishing, 2019

28 05 2019

My 3 day weekend started a bit early when my boss told me I could leave early.  I was planning on fishing tonight anyways but now I had a few extra hours to relax and get things ready.  Normally I’m all set and ready to go whenever I want but tonight was going to be a little different.  Since I had extra time I thought I would go out early and fly fish of those other fish until it got dark.  I planned on using my Redington Hydrogen 4wt switch rod.  I haven’t caught a fish on it yet and I haven’t really cast it much since Schultz Outfitter Demo Days last year.  I figured this would be a good opportunity since the chance of me catching something was pretty much guaranteed.

I arrived at the launch around 8:00 pm and was surprised to see the water had risen even more.  The Wayne County Sheriff had built another dock so they could reach their boats and all the ramps were partially under water.  This is starting to get serious.  I read a report earlier that Lake Erie is expected to rise another 6-10 inches in June.  If that happens the boardwalk at Elizabeth Park will be under water.  I was still able to launch my boat but I need to remember to bring my knee boots next time.  I set up downstream of the Edison discharge and started fishing.  It didn’t take long and I had my first one on.  When these other fish are in a person could literally catch on on every cast.  It’s a perfect opportunity to introduce a kid to fishing, it’s also a terrible time for a handliner.  Most of the fish I was catching were big females in the 15 to 16 inch range.  My biggest one being 16 1/2 inches, which qualifies for a Michigan DNR Master Angler entry.  Normally I never send these in but they have a cool patch this year and I want one.

After about an hour of messing around with these fish I packed everything up and headed over to my usual walleye starting point.  Since the other fish were in thick I started off with Pencil plugs.  The action wasn’t fast and furious but I was able to pick up 4 walleye before I called it quits around 11:00 pm.  I could have stayed out longer to get my last fish but I was tired and I had things to do tomorrow before I had to attend a wedding in the afternoon.

After the wedding I headed up to my Mom’s to take care of her chore list and hopefully get some time on the river for Steelhead and Atlantic Salmon.  With Spring being a few weeks late the fish were still in the river.  Once the chores were done and I ate dinner I was headed to the AuSable.  I took two rods with me, my “meat” rod Redington Chromer 7 wt and my new Echo Full Spey 7wt.  I have yet to cast this one so I was eager to try it out.  I had two different Skagit heads to try out, one new and one old leftover from my Ross Reach which I broke.  I started with the old one first.  Casting was a bit of a struggle, I’m not used to casting these bigger rods, especially after casting a light weight switch rod.  It took some time but I was able to make some decent casts.  Next time out I’ll try the other line.  Demo Days is coming up next weekend and I can always visit the Scientific Angler tent to try out their Skagit heads on it.  There were a lot of people out fishing as well and not a lot of catching.  As a matter of fact there wasn’t any catching.  I could see a few fish but not any great numbers.  I was fishing downstream, away form the crowds at the tail end of a large pool.  I was watching some of the other anglers when it happened.  That tell tale hit and shake of a fish.  I set the hook and the fish was on, for about 2 seconds.  Just like that the fish was off.  As I was looking downstream I could see the fish rolling and jumping.  I figured he had my hook still in his mouth and was trying to shake it.  I brought in my line and to my surprise the fly was still there.  Guess he just felt like putting on a show or he was thumbing his nose at me.  Either way at least I know I am starting to get this river figured out.  My last two trips I have hooked a fish on each one.  Hopefully the third times a charm.  Unfortunately it will have to wait until the Fall.

On my out out I did pick up a few empties and carried them out for recycling.  Not to bad for a Memorial Day Weekend.  Figured they would be a lot more garbage.  It would be even better if I never found any.





Mental Health Walleye Trip 5/14/19

15 05 2019

5/14/19 and the Barbarian Horde still hasn’t taken over the river.

Thank God!

Earlier I had a routine doctor appointment that got a little out of hand.  It was supposed to be a follow up but it turned into a bit of a health scare and an all day event.  Everything is ok now but the one test sent me into a panic so I figured my best course of action to relax was to go fishing.  I would have liked to have gone out earlier but since it was such a beautiful day I opted to start after sunset.  The annual “Other Fish” invasion was on the verge of exploding and I didn’t need that to add to my stress.  With that in mind I launched right around 9:00 pm.  As expected the water was clear and still running high.  As a matter of fact, based on the water levels on shore, it looked a little higher than last time out.  Remnants of the Tri-Hull navy were coming in as I was getting ready.  I was hoping they were still early.  In a few minutes I would find out that my prayer’s were answered.  My first two fish were a couple of those little buggers but that was it.  After that it was all walleye for the next 30 minutes.

No specific color or lead out produced the other tonight.  I caught fish on all of them.  As a matter of fact, I have stuck to the same 3 or 4 patterns all season.  All have consistently produced, except for that one night with my cousin when the new pattern produced half the fish caught.  Still a fair amount of debris in the water and the current was really humping.  Had to kick up the rpm’s on my motor a bit to keep some forward momentum.  If I didn’t I soon found myself going downstream instead of up.  Lot of head shakes and probably a few scrapes tonight.  When I got home I found a few scales on one of my Rapalas.  I think I bonked a couple on the head with my weight as well.  There has got to be a lot of fish in the river right now.  I would like to think they are all walleye but I know better.  About a dozen other handliners out tonight, most I’ve seen all season.  A little late to the party but that’s their business.

I felt a lot better after I got the fish cleaned and the boat put away.  Going back up to Port Austin this weekend to chase Smallmouth Bass.  I’ll try for the walleye again after I get home.