Huron Small Jaws

25 04 2017

About the time those other fish start to show up I begin to look to other fishing opportunities until they leave.  Instead of heading north to go chase Steelhead I decided to make a local trip for some Huron River smallmouth.  A few years ago this wouldn’t have been an option but the DNR recently changed the rules to where bass are now open year round for catch and release.  This presented an opportunity for the gang at Schultz’s Outfitter’s to start guiding trips in April instead of May.  A quick phone call and I was all checked in for a Sunday morning (4/23) float.

My guide today was going to be the newest member to the Schultz team, Justin Pribnac.  This is his inaugural season as a guide for the shop.  He has been guiding for the last 10 years but the Huron was a new area to him.  Seemed fitting as this was my first time targeting Smallmouth Bass with a fly rod.  I have caught them before but it was always by accident.  Now, I was going to be casting big streamers to likely holding spots from a drift boat.  I’m sensing a lot of streamers in trees.

My Chariot for the Day

 

Once we got into the boat we started our drift downstream.  This was my kind of fishing, I stand up front and cast while someone else rows.  I have to hand it to Justin, he kept me in the zone all day and set the boat up so I could make easy casts.  While I was casting he would give me tips on placement and how to get the fly to twitch just right.  Since he knew I was a big fan of the two hand spey game he described the presentation in ways I could easily relate to.  Since the river was flowing high, from all the recent rains, we concentrated our efforts on the “couch” areas.  Places on the river downstream of logs and obstructions that formed slack water areas or pools.  Since it was a bright sunny day  we tried to focus on shady areas as best we could.  This got to be harder and harder to do as the sun rose.  By noon I was praying for any type of a cloud.  It wasn’t gonna happen today.  As the morning progressed I was able to move a few fish and I did catch one smaller bass on a white Game Changer.  Not exactly what I was hoping for but it is to be expected on a bright day like this and early in the season.  The bigger fish are on full alert and after being in the river for over 10+ years they are well educated.

We kept at it though and eventually  we found an area that had a few willing fish.  In about a 100 yard stretch I was able to catch two and had two long distance releases.  I moved a couple as well.  It was still great to see the fish come from out of what seemed like nowhere to crush the streamer.  This is one of the reasons why Smallmouth are such fun to catch on a fly rod, at any size.  I can only imagine what a true trophy would feel like and someday I hopefully will.  Today just wasn’t going to be that day.  It happens though, that’s why I do this, for the challenge.  If I wanted easy I would stick to pulling wire for walleye.

So that was my initial foray into the world of fly fishing for Small Jaws.  I learned a lot and have a new found appreciation for someone who knows how to row a drift boat.  Hat’s off to Justin who worked his butt off to keep the boat where it belonged and my casts in the zone.  I will definitely be doing this again, I just hope it is on a cloudier day.  Maybe I’ll try a PM float.  After dark.  When I am in my element.  Muhahahahaha…….

 

Oh, one other thing.  I didn’t lose a single fly today.





Back at the keyboard

29 01 2017

Hey everyone.

It’s been about 3 months since my last post and it has been a very trying 3 months.  As some of you already know Susan, my friend, companion, fiancé and partner in crime, passed away on Oct. 26th from complications from surgery for an aneurism.  Since then I have been adjusting to life with out her.  On top of that I am the executor of her will and I have been dealing with that.  As you can imagine wanting to do anything, let alone fishing, has been difficult.  Granted, time on the water can be the best therapy but not being able to share that with my two biggest supporters (My dad and Susan) takes the fun out of it.  It’s getting better and I hope to make 2017 a great year.  Only time will tell.  In the mean time I’ll catch up with what has been going on the last 3 months.

November turned out to be a warmer than normal month.  I had hoped to spend it fishing for steelhead but they were even later than last year.  I went up to the Pere Marquette river for a few days and all I saw was half dead Coho’s, low clear water and no steelhead.  The water on the Huron was pretty much the same, low, clear and way to warm.  Because of that I went back to my old reliable, Detroit River walleye.  I had traded all the fish in the freezer to a relative that raises cattle for beef.  I need a few fish for the winter so I went out a couple of times.  The water was clear and no weeds but I managed to get a couple of limits.  My last trip was towards the end of the month.  I only got a couple of small ones and since a cold front was coming in I just winterized the boat.  Love that E-Tech.

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During Thanksgiving I decided to take a break and head north to Sault Ste. Marie to fish the St. Mary’s river to try for steelhead up there.  I figured the temps would be cold enough there, little did I know it wasn’t.  I was going to be there for two days and I was going to make the best of it.  The first day I was not able to concentrate on what I was doing and managed to miss two fish.  One grabbed the fly and I never set the hook.  The second one swam up and took a swipe at it and I just sat there and watched.  I was beginning to think I should have stayed home but tomorrow would be another day.

The next morning I was back at it in the same area.  Fishing was a lot better this time around.  I ended up going 3 for 5 but not on what I was expecting.  Instead of Steelhead I went 3 for 5 on Atlantics.  I have no idea why but for some strange reason there were still a few hanging around in the rapids.  The 3 I caught were on the small side.  One of the fish I lost was a brute in the 8 to 10 pound range.  He hit like a freight train and went airborne immediately.  Once he landed he made a dash downstream and on the next jump my fly and about 90 feet of Skagit head and running line came right back at me.  I finished fishing that run but I didn’t hook into anything else.  As I finished the run I could see someone leaving the next run I wanted to fish.  He was drifting beads under a float and as it turned out had caught nothing there in the last hour.  I can’t tell you how pissed he was when he saw me hook and land a fish on my second cast in the same run he had just spent the last hour fishing.  I love it when that happens.

My last fish of the day came completely by accident and it was quite a learning experience.  As I was walking down the concrete berm I noticed two fish lying near a rock.  I got up ahead of them and proceeded to drift my fly past them, repeatedly.  If the fly was up high they would swim up and take a look at it.  If it drifted right at them they would ignore it.  After about 20 minutes of refusals I changed flies to a small egg sucking leech.  I made a few more drifts and it was the same result.  I made another cast and it was a really bad one.  The fly was high and way to the right and over the fish’s head when it hit the water.  It was already past her when the fish swung around and charged the fly.  Five minutes alter she was unhooked and released to fight another day.

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December was pretty uneventful.  Fishing on the Huron sucked.  High water one day, low the next and absolutely no fish.  I went out about a dozen times and never even had a hook up.  January, on the other hand, was a different story.  Towards the middle of the month we experienced a unseasonable warm up.  It lasted about 10 days so I made another run up to the St. Mary’s river and once again all I caught was another Atlantic Salmon.  My guide, Rod Trudel, started calling me the Atlantic Whisperer.

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The fish surprised both of us.  An Atlantic at the end of January was the last thing we expected.  Especially a nice clean fish like this one.  I won’t complain to much, it was better than being skunked.

So there has been what I have been up to for the last 3 months related to fishing.  I can’t say how much walleye fishing I will be doing this year.  With the two biggest consumers of walleye gone from my life I really don’t have a lot of desire to go.  I’m sure I’ll be out there at the end of April but I can’t guarantee I’ll be hitting the river on a regular basis. Who knows though.  I have been asked  to give handlining seminars at the Columbus Fishing Expo in February.  Maybe it will give me the incentive to go out more.

Only time will tell.

 





Huron River Trash Bash 2016

5 06 2016

Several months back a couple of trolls on the Michigan Sportsman website were giving the locals a hard time about how trashy the Huron River is.  They were saying that if we really cared about our home waters we would take the time to clean it up.  So some of us took them up on that and the Huron River Trash Bash was born.  Actually the first person to start the process was a local fisherman named Carl.  A few weeks later he and I and one other gentleman met and we picked 6/4 as the day to do it.  We got the word out the best we could and on Saturday morning we met at Huroc Park along with 8 other people and 2 boats.  From there we split up into 2 teams.  5 people with the boats and the other 5 on land working the shoreline of both Huroc Park and Dodge Park.  4 hours later and some dirty hands and muddy feet we were done.  Our pile didn’t look that impressive but in a way that is a good thing.  That section of the river wasn’t as dirty as we thought.  We did manage to recover what seemed to be several miles of fishing line though.  Some people hate seeing the plastic blue worm containers, discarded fishing line really bugs me.  That stuff never breaks down, gets wrapped up into everything and is a life threatening hazard to the local wildlife.  Anytime I can get it off the ground and out of harm’s way is a plus in my book.

It was a good thing we finished up when we did.  As we were piling up the garbage bags into the trash bins provided by the City of Rockwood it started to rain.  Not much at first but enough to motivate us to get the job done.  So after that was done the group loaded up, said our good byes and went home.  It was great to meet a few of the local fishermen who care about their home river as much as I do.  I’m sure this will become an annual thing and hopefully it will grow to cover more of the lower river.

On a side note.  One of the benefits about doing stuff like this is the knowledge you sometimes receive.  A participants was nice enough to tell me about some gravel beds and winter holding areas for steelhead on the river.  They are only accessible by boat, which I can arrange.  A couple of hours of manual labor and I learned a few new winter fishing spots.  Not a bad trade off if you ask me.

Trash Bash Trash Bash Trash

 





Winter Steel

19 01 2016

I belong to the Downriver Walleye Federation and last week the editor asked me if I would write an article about steelhead fishing for the monthly newsletter.  I thought they must be really hard up for content since out of almost 400 members I know I’m the only one who fly fishes for steelhead.  I told him I would since I know how difficult it is trying to get an article from anyone when I was the editor.  So without further ado here it is.

Winter Steel

 

 





Thanksgiving Weekend Steel

2 12 2015

Thanksgiving vacation.  Most people are thinking about family, friends, food, football and eventually shopping.  I, of course, am only thinking about how much fishing I can get in over the next couple of days.  My original plan was to go out every morning, for a few hours, before any family obligations or chores.  It didn’t work out exactly how I had planned but I was able to get out every day.

My multi-day fishing excursion got an early start.  Our office closed up early on Wednesday so I hauled ass home, grabbed my stuff and headed for The Huron.  I only had about 45 minutes but that was enough to warrant the stop.  Water levels hadn’t changed much from the previous weekend and there was still a good stain to it.  I swung one of my leech patterns until dark but nothing happened.  Oh well, I still had the rest of the weekend.

Thanksgiving morning found me back on The Huron along with a few other fishermen.  When I arrived at the parking area there were already two trailers and several other vehicles there.  I rigged up my switch rod and headed upstream.  The first place I stopped  had a couple of people there so I kept walking further upstream.  I found another access point and waded in.  I was casting into an eddy that was caused by a tree that was mostly submerged.  It must have had a few branches in the pool because I got hung up and broke off twice.  Either that or I found the underwater cache for the guy that is doing this.

Hope he isn't an Angry Beaver

Hope he isn’t an Angry Beaver

 

As I worked my way downstream the other fishermen moved out and I just kept working my way down.  I fished the area for a couple of hours with no success.  By now it was approaching 11:00 am and I needed to head home.  I had a few things to take care of before heading to my brother’s for dinner.

Black Friday found me back in the water once again.  I didn’t know what to expect for today.  It had rained on and off during the night so I expected the water to be up some and colder.  The forecast called for rain all day today as well.  It was already overcast when I started, I was just hoping that it would hold off for a few hours.  It didn’t.  About an hour into my casting I started to question my sanity.  Here I was, waist deep in 45 degree water , getting rained on and casting a fly to a fish that I don’t even know BAM, AIRBORNE, FISH-ON!!!

Just that quick everything changed.  One minute I’m debating quitting and the next I’m debating staying out longer.  First things first though.  I had to get this fish in.  It was a smaller steelhead, probably in the 18 inch range but still full of fight and a lot of fun.  After several jumps and a couple of short runs I was able to get her close and get a hold of her tail.  A few quick pics and she was released to grow and fight another day.  I caught this one on another egg sucking leech pattern, just like all the others I have caught on the Huron.  I stuck around for about 30 more minutes but by now my legs were getting numb and it was time to head home.

Airborne

My kind of Black Friday Deal.

My kind of Black Friday Deal.

 

Saturday found me back in my usual spot albeit a little closer to shore.  The all day rain raised the water by about a foot and dropped the water temp by about 3 degrees.  I didn’t know what to expect for today but since I reached fanatic status I had to try.  There was a lot of boat and foot traffic today.  I had several people come up to me from behind to see how I was doing and around 5 or 6 anglers in boats troll by.  One boat had my friends Larry and Dave in it and Dave took a second to take this pic for me.

wading

No fish today again, I’m figuring the high water and temperature drop has them on lock down.  Didn’t hear of a whole lot of any fish being caught by anyone and those that were caught were small.

Sunday morning I slept in and made plans to go out in the evening.  I didn’t see much use to trying again in the morning with the water levels being what they were.  It didn’t matter though.  The water was still up, the water was even colder and I struck out again.

Monday was going to turn out to be a repeat of Sunday, sleep in and go out in the afternoon.  The fish results were the same but a had my usual visitors and a bit of an accident.  I started off at a new run and fished there for about an hour.  No fish, more boat traffic and the permanent park residents stopping by to check on my success.

usual visitor

I worked my way down to a different run and started to cast.  I wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings and as I was making my forward cast I hit a branch and pulled my line right across my face.  Of course that Daiichi hook was attached at the end and it stuck right into my right cheek.  Of course this all happened while I was waist deep in the river, the current is pulling the line downstream and pulling on the fly in my face.  I can’t see how deep the hook is but I got a pretty good idea just by the feel from my numb fingers.  I could feel that the barb was just under the skin so I pushed down and pulled.  Out came the hook.  All that was left now was a little clean up and a bandage.

doctor

Now any normal person would have probably walked back to his or her car and called it a day.  Not me, I’m not right in the head.  I just waded downstream a little farther and started casting once again.  Not that it mattered, I didn’t catch anything.  You would think the fish gods would have taken pity on me but apparently they feel I haven’t paid enough dues yet.  I think they felt that younger fishermen needed their divine intervention.  A watched 3 anglers in their late teens/early 20’s land one from their boat.  It must have been a first fish for someone because they took a lot of pictures.  So many that they lost track of where they were and drifted into shore.  By then it was approaching 5:00 pm and I needed to get home.  The Schwan man was dropping off an order between 5:30 and 6:30 pm and I needed to be home.  I was happy though.  I got a lot of fishing in over the last 6 days and I even managed to land one. That fish brought my total to 7 steelhead on the swing so far this year.  Not bad for my first year and I still have the whole month of December.  Hopefully I put the hooks to the fish instead of myself.





I am now a Swinger….

9 01 2015

 

 

I Shall Fear No Fish.

I Shall Fear No Fish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now that you have gone past the title and got over your initial thought of what kind of a pervert I have turned into the picture should answer any questions you may have had.  Swingers in the Steelhead world are fly fishermen that swing cast or swing flies downstream.  Seems simple enough but it is rather overwhelming.  Skagit lines, Mow tips, t-7, t-11, t-14, perfection knots and the big flashy flies are a little daunting.  I won’t even get into the 11′ – 7″ rod and Ross reel that holds the 3 colors of backing, Shooting Line, Skagit Head and Mow tip.  It made my head spin when I took the steelhead fishing class back in November.  I learned how to cast on one of the I never knew existed steelhead streams in northern Ohio.  Problem was that was back in November and now several months later I have forgotten everything I learned.  Swinging “D”, Reverse “C”, Roll Cast……all seemed very easy back on November 2nd.  Not so much now.  That is what got me out on the Lower Huron this cold Sunday afternoon.  A need to practice before I hit the AuSable and thoroughly embarrass myself.

I need a lot of practice.





October Bug Hunt with the HRWC

20 10 2014

Ever wonder what it looks like when crayfish get freaky?

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This is what I saw last Saturday while I was helping out the HRWC with their Fall River Round Up.  I was a collector that day on Letz creek in downtown Chelsea Michigan.  It was a rainy miserable day but I stuck it out and went about my duties.  The creek itself is pretty shallow and narrow.  I could pretty much see anything and everything that was going on.  While I was running my sampling net along the rocks and logs hoping to scoop up a few Aquatic Benthic Macroinvertebrates I stumbled across two crayfish getting busy much like the two in this picture.  At first I thought the bigger one had the smaller one pinned down and was eating eat.  I then realized what was going on so being the wonderful individual I am I scooped them up with the net and tossed them into the sampling tray so that the young pickers could marvel at them.  I’m sure the crayfish didn’t appreciate it but If I have to be out of my natural element for the greater good so should they.  Eventually they were released but I don’t know if they managed to hook up again.  Probably not.  I’m sure that was more than the female bargained for.

We did end up catching quite a few mayfly nymphs at our two sampling sites.  That tells me the river is rather clean but this feeder of Mill Creek is to shallow and warm to support any fish that I would want to catch.  At least it is producing the insects that the stocked brown trout and smallmouth like to eat not to far away.

This marked the last of my volunteer work with the Huron River Water Shed Council for this year.  I helped out at both the Spring and Fall River Round Up’s and assisted with water quality monitoring along Ecorse Creek.  Bug ID day is this coming weekend but I already have other plans.  All the results will be posted sometime next month and once I receive it I will pass it on.