Have Faith

22 09 2017

To say that this past walleye season was a good one would be an understatement.  I made around 40 trips and on only a handful of occasions I did not come home with a 5 fish limit.  I could beat my chest and brag about just how awesome I am or take the humble road and say there was an overabundance of fish.  It could also be a combination of both but one thing is for certain, success breeds more success and that only comes from experience.  The only way a person can get that experience is by determination and having faith.

We have all heard the expression “Faith Can Move Mountains”, that may be true but the proper equipment, and a lot of explosives, sure make the job easier.  When it comes to fishing having all the equipment is necessary along with the knowledge on how to use it.  No one is born with that knowledge, some catch on quicker than others but the person who uses it properly will, eventually, catch more fish.  In order to get to this point a person has to have faith and believe that he or she will get there.  I cannot stress this “never give up” attitude enough and how important it is for catching fish.  Faith in one’s abilities breeds success.  If a person believes they are going to catch fish that person tries harder and pays attention to the little things.  Once a person takes on a defeatist attitude he or she won’t catch much of anything.  He or she begins to get lazy, forgets the little things, makes stupid mistakes and just gives up.  In other words, he or she loses faith.

We all have our dry spells.  As of this date I haven’t caught a Steelhead in 564 days.  That’s right….564 DAYS.  I haven’t given up though.  I have faith that this season will be different.  I will catch one.  Period.  While I write this I am already planning my trips for the year.  Steelhead Alley Thanksgiving weekend.  The Manistee and PM the first weekend in December.  Weather permitting The Alley again around Christmas.  Numerous trips to the Lower Huron, once we get some rain and colder temps.  I am going full bore, search & destroy, take no prisoners, death before dishonor, never surrender.  Granted this is more of a gung-ho attitude then anything else but if I didn’t have faith that I will succeed I wouldn’t be doing this.  I originally decided to start swinging flies for steelhead because of the challenge.  Challenge accepted.

I will lay a major smack down on them.

I will make it so.

I have Faith.

 

 

 

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Come On Fall

7 09 2017

Yesterday was one of those days at work you would like to just soon forget.  It’s not that it was a really bad day but one part of it was rather annoying.  I really hate when I am trying to complete an assignment and I have people behind me telling what to do, where to put the numbers, how to write the email, what to put in the subject line, how to format the spreadsheet.  I have no patience for back seat drivers or know it all co-workers who won’t shut up and let me do my job.  Because of all that I decided to go walleye fishing.  I figured it would be a good night weather wise and I was right.  The water was clear, very few weeds and even fewer boats.  Only problem was a lack of walleye.  I ended up with 5 for the night but I could only keep 3 of them.  I’ve said before that August and September can be transition months but this has me worried.

The first thing is a lack of baitfish.  Normally I see lots of Emerald Shiners in the Marina as I am launching.  Not this year.  I haven’t see a one.  I haven’t seen any Gizzard Shad jumping in the Edison discharge either.  It’s still a little early for them but I usually see a few by now.  I haven’t caught any young of the year smallmouth either.  As a matter of fact I haven’t caught any.  The only other fish I caught last night was another big channel cat.

The other thing is the Algal Bloom in Lake Erie.  It was bad this year and I have noticed that when the bloom is bad in Erie the Fall walleye fishing suffers in the river.  I don’t know if it is just a coincidence or if it acts as some kind of a barrier to keep the fish from moving in.  I guess I’ll find out later in October once the water temps get  back down to the 50 degree range.  Right now the surface temp is at 65 degrees so we have a ways to go yet.  I’m not about to push the panic button, there is still time.

All the fish came on a #7 Hot Steel Rapala.  I tried other sizes and colors but that was the only one producing.  I also broke the lip on my last #9 Original.  I’ll have to go raid Walmart or something soon.  I’m beginning to wish I never had all those originals I bought at garage sales painted.

No pics this time.  Who really wants to see what a 15 inch walleye looks like?

 





8/15/17 Dink Report

16 08 2017

August is usually a transition  month for walleye on the river.  Surface temps are in the 70’s.  Weed beds have popped up everywhere.  Boaters trying to get those last few trips in before the season is over.  Me raining hell fire down upon them for the last 4 months doesn’t help either.  Without a fresh influx of fish from Erie the fishing can get a little tough.  This was what I was up against last night as I tried to put a few more in the cooler.  Clear, warm water.  A moderate amount of weeds.  A few pleasure boaters and lethargic fish.  I did catch plenty of walleye, problem is most of them were 13 inches long.

I started off by the tires again to see if the last trip was a fluke.  I marked a lot of fish but the majority of them were undersized.  I did manage to catch one keeper out of that spot.  Once the sun set I headed farther downstream and got to work.  Again it was more of the same, lots of undersized fish and less than enthusiastic strikes.  On more than one occasion I thought I had a bunch of weeds on only to find it was a fish.  Some of the hits I barely felt, a slight bump and then dead weight.  Most of these fish I lost right at the boat, some before I could see them and others as I was getting ready to flip them in.  It was like they discussed this and came up with a plan.  Barely grab the lure, wait till he is about to flip us in the boat and then shake like crazy to throw the hook.  It was a strategy that was working all to well.  I was getting so gun shy that I kept the net right along side of me.  Not that it did any good.  My last fish of the night was a smoker candidate that I lost about 5 feet from the boat.  He barely hit my #9 original Rapala and never fought as I was bringing him up.  Once I got him into the light I could see he was barely hooked.  I went for the net and that was when he threw my lure right back at me.  After that one I packed it in.  2 1/2 ours of fishing and all I had to show for it was 2 keepers, a bunch of dinks, several “Baaa’s”, a couple of “Yo Adrian’s”, and one baby “Bronzeback”.  The fish are there, I just need to be out there when they are feeling a little more aggressive.  Maybe next week.  Headed up north this weekend to try for Atlantic Salmon and Pink Salmon.  Hopefully they are a little more cooperative.





Time Heals……..Eventually

9 08 2017

We’ve all heard the saying “Time heals all wounds”.  Personally, I don’t think it does.  Two years later and I still have a hard time getting used to fishing without my Dad.  I enjoy my time on the water but not being able to have him sitting next to me, in his spot, sucks.  Even when he couldn’t go I could still call him and give him a play by play on my phone.  His reel is still prepped and ready to go, complete with his shank and leaders.  His box of Rattlin’ Rogue’s are still tucked away under the seat, waiting to be used.  Even though I can use them whenever I want I don’t.  They were his and I don’t feel right using them or letting anyone else use them.  Hell, I still have a hard time letting anyone come along and sit on his side of the boat.  On the rare occasion that I do I’m surprised I haven’t called my guest “Dad”.  Then again, I might have and they just stayed silent out of respect.  With all that in mind I found myself back out on the river tonight pulling wire.  It seemed fitting with it being the two-year anniversary of his death.  Staying home and reminiscing about past trips felt like it would do more harm than good.

I started a lot earlier than I normally do.  Even though the skies were clear and the sun was bright I didn’t care.  I needed to be on the water and catching fish didn’t seem all that important.  Around 7:30 pm I launched my boat and started my way south.  As I was going past the coal docks I noticed that the floating weeds were non-existent so I decided to make a pass there first.  Normally I don’t fish this area because the weeds are so bad.  Since the area was clear I decided to give it a shot.  I set up at the south end in about 20 feet of water and worked my way north.  Nothing happened at first but once I got to the end, things got interesting.  About 50 feet north of the dock I hooked and landed a sub-legal walleye.  No big deal but it warranted a second pass through to see if their might be more.  On my second pass I hooked a double of two more sub-legal fish.  On my next pass I hooked another double, one legal and one sub-legal fish.  My next pass yielded another sub-legal fish.  The next pass through I hooked a triple, one legal fish and two just barely sub-legal fish.  This pattern would repeat itself for the next half hour.  Catch a few fish, make a loop, do it again.  All in an area not 30 feet from shore and about 100 yards form the bridge.  Eventually I wore out my welcome and the fish shut down.  Either that or I caught them all.  By now the sun was starting to set so I pulled lines and headed down to my regular area.

Once I got down by the flag I swapped out my 1 1/2 pound weight and replaced the spoons I was using with Rapalas.  I went through my usual routine for the next hour and all I caught were a few more sub-legal fish.  After the flurry of activity I had in the first hour this next hour and a half was rather tedious.  Of course I started debating going in early but I wanted to know if their were still fish in the area so I kept at it.  Around 10:00 pm the full moon finally cleared what few clouds their were and I changed the #9 Original on my 40 foot lead to a #11 Clown.  That did the trick, in the next half hour I landed two more legal walleye and I was headed for home.  I ended up with a limit, about 2 dozen sub-legal fish, a couple of Rockies, Smallies, Sheeps and no CATS.  After my last trip I didn’t want to see any of those things.  The water is still very clear, the surface temp was around 75 degrees and the weeds weren’t much of an issue.  I don’t know when I will be out again.  I’m headed up to Oscoda for a wedding this weekend and hopefully the St. Mary’s river the following weekend to try for some Atlantic Salmon.  Hopefully, while I am gone, a few walleye will make their way into the river from Erie.  I may make a few trips during the week.  Depends on how I’m feeling and if I start to feel a little claustrophobic sitting at home.





What a Mess!!!

6 08 2017

After the disaster that was my trout fishing trip last weekend I felt I needed a trip back to normalcy.  Normally a wire pulling trip on the lower river is a slam dunk but not this night.  With overcast clouds and a mostly full moon already up I headed for the ramp around 8:30 pm Saturday night (8/5).  Little did I know that there was a jazz festival going on at Elizabeth Park and traffic was backed up everywhere.  What was normally a 10 minute ride turned to over half an hour.  Once I made it to the launch I sent a quick text to Dave to let him now to come in from a different direction.  He had contacted me earlier in the day and told me he was headed out tonight with his son Braden.  Our mutual friend Larry was up north so of course we decided to blow his phone up with texts and pictures.  Shortly after 9 I started the onslaught.

The first phone blow up pic

For the next 30 minutes fishing was going well and I expected it to be a quick night.  Everything went to hell in a hurry after number 4 hit the cooler.  Dave had forgotten his extra spools and was short a few leaders.  A quick message later and I was on my way to the rescue.  I gave him my last extra spool of leaders and of course Murphy’s Law kicked in.  As I was bringing in a dink a cat hit my other line and tangled up my 40 and 20 foot leads.  After I made up some new leaders I got back to dink fishing.  For almost an hour that was all I caught.  Dink after dink after dink after dink after dink after dink…..It was getting ridiculous.  All I needed was one more legal fish and everything was coming up short by about 1 inch.  Like I said earlier this year, next summer should be phenomenal but it wasn’t doing me a whole lot of good now.  During this time my 40 and 20 foot leads got tangled up a second time on another cat.  I made up two more and went back to dink fishing.

Around 10:30 pm I was bringing in my 10th or 12th dink of the night when another cat hit my 40 foot lead.  He managed to tangle up everything and somehow I lost one of my lures as well.  After that I said screw it and went in.  I didn’t fell like making up any more leaders.  Besides, I was going fly fishing in the morning and I needed some sleep.

 

Sunday Morning (8/6) found me back at my Carp/Bass/Bluegill/Perch/Bowfin spot.  My heart sank when I arrived amd I saw two boat trailers in the lot.  I thought for sure they were carp shooters but it turns out they were duck hunters scouting for the 9/1 early teal/goose season.  I got set up and walked out to my usual spot and to my dismay the water was very dirty.  Trying to spot anything was difficult and as expected I spooked my fair share of fish.  I did manage to catch a few gills but no carp or bass.  It was still overcast and cool so at least I didn’t sweat to death.  Hopefully I can get back out before duck season starts.





Richard’s Do-Over, 7/26/17

27 07 2017

After our last trip, Richard had told me he wanted a do over.  This time though he wanted to take his boat and have me drive.  He had been going through a dry spell on the walleye and was curious to see if maybe he was trolling at the wrong speed.  I told him it wasn’t a problem and we made arrangements for me to meet him at the dock at 9:00 pm.  At 9:01 pm I was standing on the dock, gear in hand, and soon he was pulling up so I could jump in.  He had arrived earlier so he could make a test run to make sure everything was working.  He had replaced the impellar in his motor earlier and he wanted to make sure it was working while it was still light out.

We slowly made our way downstream and eventually Richard relinquished control of the tiller to me.  I worked my way to the east side of the river, down by the flag, and got set up.  My lines weren’t even down 30 seconds when I started to bring in number one.  Richard was still getting set up so I was sneaky about bringing the fish in.  I was holding it when I asked him where the pliers were.  He handed them to me and the look on his face when he saw the walleye was priceless.  A couple of minutes later I had another fish on and I knew that something wasn’t quite right with this one, or should I say both of them.  I flipped the first one in and while Richard was commenting about how quickly I caught it I flipped in the second one.  About 5 minutes after that number four was in the boat.  Richard just looked at me with a stare of both amazement and disgust.  I handed him my lure box and told him #9 Black and Gold.  He switched out what he was using on his 40 foot lead and got back to business.  By 10 pm I had number five and I was jokingly commenting about how he can start to contribute to the cooler.

Fishing slowed down for a bit after that initial flurry but we continued to chip away at them.  While I was untangling my lines from a foul hooked Rock Bass Richard hooked into and landed his first channel cat handlining.  He caught it on a black/gold Shad Rap.  I only mentioned the lure and color for later reference.  Around 11:30 pm we caught number ten and we headed in.  A two man limit, no lures lost or broken bills, no injuries and a bonus cat.  The only issue with the night was the weeds, which were a pain.

The water is still very clear with a surface temp of around 72 degrees.  Wind was out of the south and the skies were overcast.  All of Richard’s walleye came on the #9 Rapala in black & gold.  The same color as the Shad Rap.  This just drives home my point about how action, size and depth are more important than color.  No walleye on the Shad Rap, only the F9 Rapala.  All of mine came on the F9 in Original, the F7 Perch and a black and silver spoon.  No undersized fish tonight.  No Smallmouth Bass, just a couple of Rock Bass and one very lost Blankity Blank.  No pics today, I sent all the fish home with Richard.  Didn’t feel like cleaning any tonight and he was headed back up north so he wouldn’t be out again for a while.  As for me, I’m giving the walleye a break this weekend.  Headed up to the Manistee to go swing some streamers for trout.

 

 

 





Yet Another Fishy Weekend.

24 07 2017

Friday, 7/21/17

Friday night found me back on the Detroit River at my usual spot but with a difference.  This time around I had my friend Richard along for the night.  He was down from northern Michigan for a few days and hadn’t been out walleye fishing yet this year.  I needed to remedy that.  When my boat was down Richard took my father out one night and he drove so that my Dad and I could just fish.  It would turn out to be the last time my Dad and I got to go fishing together.  I owe Richard as many trips as I can provide.

We headed downstream around 9:30 pm and along the way I was seeing a lot of weed mats.  Not what I wanted to see.  Turns out they would be a big problem for the entire evening, not just from having to clear lines but they played a little game of deception with me, all night.

I set up using the same lures that have been producing for me so well the last few weeks.  An Original Rapala and a Black/Gold Rapala, both F9’s and a F7 Perch.  Richard was running a F11 Original and a clown Nite Stalker.  About 5 minutes in I had one on and unfortunately I lost it right behind the boat.  This little scenario would repeat itself constantly throughout the night.  Hook a fish, bring it up, lose it at the boat.  It got to a point that I knew when I was going to lose the fish.   They were hitting so light that at times I would just feel weight on the line.  The more aggressive fish that hit would make it to the boat but not the lazy asses.   Add in the constant clearing of lines from weeds and it made for a long evening.  This was also the little deception game the walleye and weeds were playing with me.  I was clearing weeds so much that on a couple of occasions I would feel weight and just figure it was more weeds.  I would get the lines to the surface and to my surprise there would be a pair of eyes staring back at me.  That was how the night went for me.  I was able to get a limit but I lost a lot of fish and I had a lot of throwbacks as well.  Richard, on the other hand, caught nothing.  In all fairness his lures spent a lot of time out of the water.  Between weeds, leader issues and untangling a reel his lures spent more time out of the water then in.  Shortly after midnight we felt a few raindrops and after a quick check of the radar we decided to get off the water.  Richard was going to be in town for a few days so we had other opportunities.

No pics, I sent all the fish home with Richard.

Saturday, 07/22/17

The original forecast for today was rain with brief periods of no rain.  Because of this I made plans to sleep in and then take care of chores around the house.  Well it turned out that we never got any rain.  No matter though, I still slept in and took care of the chores around the house.  After dinner I had a change of heart and went out walleye fishing.  I started around 9:30 pm and by 11:00 pm I was done.  Once again the fish were very lethargic and I lost my first fish right at the boat.  From then on I gave the fish every chance to get hooked up.  Instead of bouncing the weight along the bottom I just dragged it.  That seemed to do the trick because the next 5 ended up in the cooler.  Doing this though increases the chances of getting hung up and that happened three times.  The only other fish I lost was another channel cat so I wasn’t to upset about that.  He came on my 40 foot lead and a F9 GFR.  I had swapped it out with the F9 Original earlier since it wasn’t producing as well as I wanted.  All the walleye came on the Black/Gold and Perch patterns.  As for the rest of the conditions the water is still very clear and weeds were not much of an issue.

 

Sunday, 7/23/17

My original plan was to get up at the crack of dawn so that I could go out fly fishing before everyone else showed up.  I ended up dragging my butt out of bed sometime after 8:00 am.  Turns out I would pay for my laziness but not as bad as I expected.  I started my walk to the area I have been fishing the last few weekends and along the way I spotted a few carp feeding off the surface in the weed mats.  With the water surface cover being so thick I was able to get into casting range without spooking the fish.  I made several attempts but could never get one to take the fly.  The same weeds that were making my stealth so easy also prevented the fly from sinking into the water.  At one point I did have a carp literally bump my fly with this nose but he never ate it.

After about 30 minutes of this I decided to head down to more open water and try my luck.  I could see the carp cruising along but whenever I would stop they would spook and take off for heavier cover.  I expect to spook a few fish but this was ridiculous.  I wasn’t doing anything and they were taking off.  I soon found out why.  The same carp shooter I saw last week was out and flinging arrows.  I walked past him in the hopes of getting to some fish that he hadn’t spooked yet but that lasted only a few minutes.  I saw some feeding carp and worked my way to them and made a couple of casts.  I was getting ready to make another cast when all of a sudden an arrow shoots into the water about 10 yards from me.  Sure enough, the same guy and now he was practically in my lap.  To say I was pissed was an understatement.  I let him know it as well.  I’m not against anyone legally fishing any way they want but there is no reason to be so close and shooting carp right next to someone fly fishing for them.  I told him that as well, especially when the area we are fishing is probably a 300 acre lagoon.  He didn’t seem to care so I just walked farther away, by about ½ a mile.

After I calmed down I found a quiet area and went back to fishing.  The carp were still spooky but I was able to hook up with one, along with an assortment of other fish.  The first one being a bowfin.  I was trying to get a read on which way a carp was swimming when I saw the bowfin out of the corner of my eye.  A quick cast and he was all over my carp fly.  He wasn’t the greatest fighter but he was very aggressive.  After a quick pic I sent him back on his way.  Shortly after that surprise I managed to catch a yellow perch on the same carp fly.  I was casting to another carp when all of a sudden my fly disappeared.  I set the hook and a few seconds later the perch was in my hand.  Gills and Bass I understand, Bowfins and Perch? Not so much.

 

I did take two rods again so I could play with the Gills when the carp weren’t around.  I ended up catching some of the biggest gills I have seen here along with a few bass all on a bead head nymph.  I can see that I am going to have to tie up a few more of those things over the winter.

Around noon I headed back to the car.  I had plans to go Schultz’s to pick up a new fly rod.  I am heading up to the Manistee River next weekend to go mousing for Browns and whatever else is available.  I have an Orvis Encounter 9 foot 5 wt and I wanted to upgrade.  I won this combo a few years back and it has served me well.  I never really did like the reel and after Orvis didn’t want to honor their warranty on my waders I really don’t want any of their gear anymore.  Once I got to the shop I told Corey what I wanted and he gave me a Temple Fork Outfitters BVK and a Redington Vice to try out.  After one cast with the TFO I was sold.  Corey set me up with a Sage reel and a weighted forward floating line so I am all set now for next weekend.  All I need to do now is get some flies tied up.  I will be spending my evenings doing just that this week.  First up, Muddlers.