Lake Huron Flats Smallmouth.

21 05 2018

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow, Tomorrow……

That was the song, and the video of Deadpool singing it, stuck in my head all morning long this past Saturday.  I had decided to go up to Port Austin to fish for Pre-Spawn Smallmouth’s on the flats several weeks ago and of course the weather turned to crap.  The rain pretty much covered the whole state so I wasn’t alone.  I made the most of it though.  I had a friend along (Non Fishing Muggle Type) so we stopped at the Farmer’s Market in Port Austin.  Bummed around Caseville a bit and stopped at a local beach near Grindstone City where i skipped stones to help pass the time.

At one point we stopped at a public access area and found about 2 dozen fishermen wading the bay and doing a whole bunch of casting and not a lot of catching.  I was beginning to think that my weekend was going to be a bust but as the day progressed the rain let up and the wind slowly began to lie down.  We went back to the same public access spot in the evening and this time all the fishermen were gone, except for two that looked they were done for the day.  I started to talk to them and they said they were waiting for their friend who was still out there.  Sure enough, about a quarter mile out there was one lone fishermen casting away.  They said he was catching fish and a minute later I saw his net hit the water.  That was all the convincing I needed.  On went the waders,  broke out the Orvis Helios 7wt, tied on a weighted sculpin and started the long trek out.  Eventually I reached the end of my wading depth limits (Damn my “S” gene) and started casting.  It took a few minutes to knock the rust off but eventually I was making a decent enough cast.  I just hoped they were far enough to get to the fish.  A couple of minutes later I got my answer.

After that it was pretty much game on for the next hour.  I was far enough from the other guy to keep from interfering but close enough so we could talk.  We were both catching a lot of fish but the majority were in the 12 inch range.  About 30 minutes later his friends started yelling and he took that as his cue to get going, not that he wanted to but they were his ride.  He wished me good luck and headed back to shore.  After he left fishing slowed up for a bit but not enough to keep me from leaving.  I was hoping for a bigger fish and after about 10 minutes I had one.  He wasn’t going to break any records but he was still one of my bigger Smallmouth on a fly.

After a quick pic I sent him on his way and got back to business.  Every time I caught another bass I would tell myself this would be the last one and I would head in.  After 13 fish I finally did, it helped that I ended it on a good note.

 

All told I ended up catching 13 and losing 2.  Not bad for a little over an hour’s worth of fishing in a place I never had been to before.  Earlier in the day I was sure the whole weekend was going to be a bust but instead it turned out to be one of the more enjoyable times I have had fly fishing.  I’ll definitely be coming back up here again to do this.  Doubt it will be this year but the more I think about it, staying home next year and taking long weekends to local spots is sounding pretty good.  Next time I’ll bring my kayak along.  A group from the Michigan Fly Fishing Club were up for the weekend and most of them were fishing the local rivers to avoid the wind.  I found out later that some of them did pretty good.  As for me my friend and I we went to dinner, sat around the bonfire for a bit and then passed out in my camper.  The next morning the wind had picked up overnight and there were now whitecaps in the area I was fishing 12 hours earlier.  I took that as a sign to just pack up the Mobile Steelhead Command Center and head for home.  Via the long way so I could check all the ports along the Thumb to see if anyone was catching anything.

The Sculpin Pattern that caught them all.

 

 

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I love October

6 10 2015

There’s just something about his month that makes it better than any other month of the year.  The cool breeze in the air, the change of the season from summer to Fall, the colors and most of all just about everything is open.  For a hunter and fisherman nothing beats October.  The fish are starting to go into their pre-winter feeding binge.  Steelhead are starting their trip back upstream.  Several hunting seasons open up.  So much to do and so little time.  Heck, back when I was in college I probably spent more time afield and on the water then I did in class.  Now with work and other responsibilities my time outdoors is not as much as I would like but I still try to squeeze in as much as possible.  Weather permitting…..

Saturday Oct. 3rd would start my month long obsession with trying to get in as much hunting and fishing as possible.  It was opening day of waterfowl season for Zone 2 and that means Wood Ducks in my favorite spot.  My friend Barry had counted 26 woodies there the day before so the outlook was promising.  All we could do now was hope that they didn’t decide to ride the 20 mph winds out of there during the night.  As legal shooting hours approached we had a few singles fly through and a pair landed about 75 yards down from our position.  With the overcast skies visibility was poor so it was hard to keep an eye on them.  Not much more happened for the next 10 minutes or so and then it started…..

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We had ducks coming in from all different directions.  Wood ducks are known for appearing without warning here but this was ridiculous.  Barry was shooting, I was shooting, Dean was shooting.  I was drawing a bead on a second duck when two landed in front of me.  Of course I focused on them and forgot about the other one but as they took off Barry shot and I lost track of them as well.  A few seconds later I singled out a lone drake and dropped him with one shot.  As I was confirming where he fell Barry shot another one in front of me and Dean was shooting at one flying over the top of us.  After several minutes of chaos we had 7 ducks down.  Barry shot 3, Dean shot 2 and I shot 2.  Now it was time to go pick them up before we lost track of where they were.  I launched the kayak and started retrieval duties (I miss my dog).  Of course as I was picking up ducks more started to fly in.  Dean took a couple of shots but missed.  After some searching for the seventh duck I was on my way back to shore.  After that flurry things were really quiet.  We only saw two more ducks and I managed to shoot one of them.  Dean left to go squirrel hunting but Barry and I stuck around for a bit longer to see if any mallards might fly in.  We had our wood duck limits filled so it was mallards from here on in.  Not that it mattered, we didn’t see any wood ducks either.  By 9:30 I launched the kayak again to go pick up decoys and head back to the truck.

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We decided to go try for some squirrels in the ridiculously high winds before lunch.   Squirrel hunting was pretty slow, understandable with the winds as high as they were.  Each of us managed to shoot a black squirrel.  Mine made two mistakes.  The first was running through the tree tops when I walked by.  The second was stopping to take a look to see what I was doing.

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The winds were picking up so we headed back to the house for lunch, check the weather and to clean ducks and squirrels.  After a quick bite we cleaned the critters and debated what to do next.  The NE wind was blowing right at the house and their were whitecaps on Sanford Lake.  It was starting to drizzle a little so of course I went fishing.  Dean and Barry had been doing pretty good on the crappie and the thought of taking home a dozen for a meal or two was quite appealing.  Getting rained on wasn’t.  No big deal, I had dry clothes and a warm house to retreat to if necessary.  We were fishing with minnows and slip bobbers right off the dock in about 12 feet of water.  It was slow but Barry and I managed to catch 15 crappie on and off for the next few yours.  The weather would go from drizzle to down pour and back to drizzle all afternoon.  When the rain got  bad we went in, when it stopped we went out.  It really is nice having a house on the lake.

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By 5 o’clock the rain and wind had stopped completely.  We had a window of a couple of hours before the next front moved through so we grabbed the .22’s and headed back into the woods.  It was a pretty quiet evening.  It looked like most of the squirrels decided to stay holed up for the evening.  Barry and I managed to shoot 3 more before we called it quits.  It had turned out to be a pretty good day and I was not going to get greedy, besides Barry had shot 5 the day before and I had them to add to my freezer as well.  I could have stayed to hunt and fish tomorrow as well but I needed to get home.  Susan wanted to go to a flea market the next day and the group that was supposed to go with her backed out at the last minute.  I didn’t want her to go alone so once I finished cleaning the last 3 squirrels and fish I was headed south.  There will be other days.

So the final tally for Friday and Saturday was 8 Wood Ducks, 11 Squirrels and 15 Crappie.  All that was left now was to seal them up and put them in the freezer.

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I love October.

 

 





From a Super Secret Undisclosed Location, I bring you Duck Season.

5 10 2014

Super Secret my butt.  Anyone who has followed this blog knows where I’m at, my favorite wood duck hole.  I had high hopes for this opener. Barry and I saw a lot of woodies the previous weekend so we were expecting a great opener.  Even the weather looked like it was going to cooperate.  West winds, overcast, drizzle, just ducky weather.  But just like the best laid plans of mice and men it didn’t quite work out the way we wanted.

We awoke the next day to dead calm and clear skies.  No clouds, no wind, no rain…..what the hell happened?  I just hope the ducks didn’t ride the front out.  We arrived at our spot around 6:30 am and dropped the kayak in the water.  Since neither of us have a dog anymore I get to play retriever and decoy spreader.  Barry walked to our spot while I paddled around the blow downs and sunken stumps.  I threw out about half a dozen wood duck decoys and then we hid the kayak in the woods.  Woodies are not known for their decoying and the ones that frequent this area are no different.  They come in from all directions with no regard for wind direction and either plop down immediately or just fly by.  We have to be on our toes because they can be in and out in a second.  Barry and I scanned the skies for ducks but 20 minutes later and a fair amount of shooting from the lake produced nothing.  In years past we have had ducks fly in and land right in front of us before shooting hours started.  This year we had nothing.  It was 7:30 am before our first duck arrived and he flew in and out before we could even raise the guns.  Shortly after that 3 flew in and we fired.  Barry missed his but I knocked down a male woodie.  A few minutes later Barry spotted 4 more coming in and we each managed to knock one down.  That was it for the next hour.  Around 10:00 am we had a single woodie come in from the east and Barry and I both hit him and he landed on the other side of the pond in the woods.  I pulled out the kayak and went after him.  I found him about 30 yards in lying next to a log.  That proved to be our last bird of the morning.  We packed up and I paddled out while Barry walked back to the truck.

After we had a snack and something to drink we headed over to the sand pit so I could sight in my .22 with the new scope.  While we did that Dean showed up with a couple of squirrels he shot earlier.  Sighting in didn’t take very long so we drove around scouting for likely deer hunting spots.  By now the wind was starting to pick up and the overcast skies finally arrived.  We weren’t finding a lot of deer sign so we headed back to the lake house to get some lunch.  Dean decided to go home so Barry and I decided to fish and discuss strategy for tonight.  We weren’t seeing any ducks flying around the lake so we decided to go back to the wood duck hole.  They normally don’t roost in that area but we hoped we might get a few to fly through and give us a shot.  By now it was approaching 4:00 pm and getting close to time for us to leave.  We cleaned our catch of 13 crappie, 4 ducks and the 2 squirrels.  Once that was done we headed back to the hole.  We got comfortable and waited and waited and waited.  Just when we thought tonight was going to be a bust I spotted 3 coming in from the west.  I yelled out to Barry but he couldn’t get to his gun in time.  I picked the lead bird and fired once and knocked her down, another woodie.  This one would turn out to be our 5th and final bird for the day.  Just before shooting hours ended we did see 3 more and they did circle us a couple of times but never came into range.  As I was picking up the decoys the rain arrived.

Never fails. It was still a good day. 10-4 Crappie 10-4 Woodies





Labor Day Weekend Fin and Feather Extravaganza!

5 09 2014

It’s not to often that I get to combine my favorite past times in to one weekend but when the opportunity presents itself I take advantage of it.  Or in other words, when opportunity knocks……Shoot!

It all started on Friday evening.  Earlier in the week I had made plans to meet up with my friend Dave and his son on the Huron River in Dexter for some smallmouth fishing.  We  had talked to some of the guides at the Huron River Fly Fishing Festival a few weeks earlier so we thought we would give it a shot.  Dave had arrived earlier since I had to work so I met him on the river.  Fishing was slow but we gave it our best shot.  I ended up catching one small fish on a foam hopper pattern I tied up the night before.  Dave caught one as well but I can’t seem to remember what on.  I think it was a streamer patter of some kind.   I didn’t stay long, I still had to pack for my trip north.

The next morning I was up bright and early for my first stop, Auburn Michigan and my friend Barry’s house.  We were going crow hunting so after a quick bite to eat we were on our way.  Our first stop was near Sanford lake on some state land.  We heard crows off in the distance so we took up hiding spots and turned on the caller.  The crows never came in so we packed up and moved on to the next spot, sort of.  When we got to the end of the road there were several crows sitting out in the middle of the road.  We turned around and set up again.  This time they came in but to far out of range.  After a short ride we set up in another area and a couple of crows snuck in behind us.  Barry was able to knock one down and that was it.  Just as we were packing up the storm clouds started to roll in and the rain came down.  Oh well, so much for crow hunting.  I said my good bye’s and headed up to my parents in Oscoda.

The next morning found my father and I on Lake Huron in hopes of catching a few salmon.  We set up about a mile out from the river and ran spoons and plugs.  There weren’t many boats out, only about a dozen and most of them out on the horizon.  We gave it our best shot but all we really did was wash lures.  Around 10 we headed in for breakfast.  A little later, as we were putting the boat away, I heard some crows mouthing off across the street.  I quickly grabbed my stuff and took a short walk.  I found a small group of scrub oaks to hide in and then turned on the crow distress call.  It didn’t take long and soon I had a crow in range.  1 quick shot and he was on the ground.  I missed a second one flying behind him and quickly re-loaded.  A couple of seconds later 2 more came in and after 2 shots they were both down as well.  I love early season stupid crows.  The remaining crows quickly left the area so I gathered everything up and headed home.

The following morning found me standing waist deep in a small inland lake for the early Goose and Teal opener.  This was the first early Teal season in Michigan in almost 50 years and I was going to give it a try.  I had shot both teal and geese in years past on this lake but without doing any pre-season scouting I wasn’t expecting much.  I did have plenty of wood ducks and mallards fly around me but no teal or geese.   It was a pretty uneventful morning except for the part where I waded into a hole up to my neck in mucky water.  What Fun!

After a hot shower and some lunch I had my Dad drop me off at Foote Dam so I could try some more smallmouth fishing.  I took the fly rod along but with the wind picking up I decided to stick to tossing tube baits into all the log jams.  Fishing was pretty easy with lots of smaller bass in the 8 to 10 inch range.  Not exactly the size I was looking for but I was catching them pretty regularly.  Eventually I did find some bigger fish but unfortunately I lost them at the side of the boat.  I still need to remember to set the hook harder.  The main thing is that I was catching more and bigger fish and learning more about the river.  When I first started fishing here all I caught were rock bass and 1 smallmouth.  since then I haven’t caught any rock bass and more smallmouth.  Now I am catching more and bigger fish.  Hopefully soon the bigger fish will out number the smaller ones.  I may even use my fly rod more once I get a little more confidence with the area.  This trip was cut short though by the rain.  About 30 minutes from where I was going to be picked up the clouds opened up and down came the rain, in buckets.  A wet ass twice in one day.  What Fun!

That was the last of my fishing any hunting for the weekend.  Home was a long drive away and I was tired.  I would make a few stops along the way but eventually I got home around midnight.  I had a long day of doctor’s appointments ahead of me and I needed some sleep.  It won’t be long and squirrel, grouse and woodcock will be open and I will be headed north again.  Until then I’ll get some rest and prepare.

Huron Sunrise Dam Water Stupid Crows Smallie





AuSable Smallmouth 7/29/14

4 08 2014

The next morning I decided to take the kayak out and paddle down the AuSable.  This would be the first time this year that I have been out kayaking.  My Dad dropped me off at Foote Dam and he was going to pick me up at the Whirlpool ramp later, about a 3 hour trip.  I started off with a crankbait but after quickly losing it to a log jam I switched over to the old reliable tube bait.  That did the trick.  They weren’t huge like the ones I catch on the Detroit River but at least they were being caught on a fishing rod and not with wire.

One thing of interest was that a lot of the smallmouth I caught were spitting up crayfish as I was reeling them in.  Not surprising since I caught most of them near rocky edges.  I did manage to pull a few out of the many log jams but the majority were caught near the rocks. On area in particular was a rocky ledge that ran for about 100 yards downstream.  I managed to hook and lose 4 in that spot.  I really need to remember to set the hook a lot harder when I get a hit.

It was very peaceful on the river.  My only company was a couple of bald eagles and a family of river otters.  No other people the whole time on the water.  Pure serenity.

 

AuSable Downstream II Bald Eagle Smallie 1 Smallie 2





What’s in store for 2014.

3 01 2014

So it is snowing outside, the wind chill it is something below zero and the boiler is out in my office building.

Is it Spring yet?

This of course has me thinking about what I am going to do this year?  What new adventures await me?  Last year wasn’t all that exciting, mostly the same old same old.  I did go Fly Fishing for a weekend on the AuSable river.  This was something I hadn’t done in years and I forgot just how enjoyable it was.  I plan on doing more of that this year along with a few other things.  With that in mind here is a brief run down of what to expect on this blog for 2014.

A year in the life of a die hard walleye fisherman.

I had this idea awhile ago about what goes through a walleye fisherman’s head for a year.  Not just a weekend warrior type but one who is constantly thinking about catching walleye.  This year I plan on putting that into words.  Starting in January I will post monthly entries of what it is like to be a walleye fanatic 24/7/365.  Granted some months are going to be more about planning and prepping instead of fishing but it should be interesting.

There is more to life than just walleye.

This year I am also making a concerted effort to go fishing for other species.  I forgot how much I enjoy fly fishing so there will be more of that in my future.  Not just for trout but panfish as well, maybe a few Smallmouth or Largemouth Bass if I ever get some bigger flies tied up.  Speaking of fly tying I will also be making a few posts about some of my own creations.  Winter time is tying time and with the weather being what it is I might as well.  If the weather ever does break I will be making a few Steelhead trips too.  I still have to get the rod and tie up some jigs but that won’t take long.  Hopefully I will be able to hook into a few on my local stream the Huron.  If not I will have to go visit my parents and take my chances along the AuSable. 

Another plan is to do some fishing out of state.  First on the list is Dewey Lake in Kentucky.  My girlfriend has friends down there she likes to visit and Dewey lake is only a few miles away.  It is an 18 mile impoundment that is supposed to have some walleye in it, panfish and Striped Bass.  Hopefully I can make this work.  I’ll need to do some checking to help cut down on my paddle time in the kayak.  18 miles is a little too much water to cover by kayak.

The big out of state trip for 2014 is Alaska.  For years my Father and I tried to put together a trip but it seemed like every year we wanted to go something happened.  This trip almost didn’t happen again when my Dad was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer but that is under control so we have been given the green light.  The last week in July My Father, Brother and I will be flying up to Homer Alaska for a week.  Currently Halibut, Silver Salmon (Coho), Big Rainbows and Grayling are on the agenda but that could change depending on weather and what is hot at the moment.  The cabin we are staying at has WIFI so you can expect updates and pictures from the field as they happen, or at least that evening after dinner.     

Back closer to home the DNR have been stocking Atlantic Salmon in Lake Huron.  This spring those 2013 plants should be showing up and I hope to get a few.  The AuSable was one of the planting areas so my Dad and I are making plans to target them.  If what I have read is correct they should start showing up in the harbors and rivers about the same time those other fish show up in the “D”.  I hope so, it will be a nice change of pace.

Another change of pace during the “Invasion” will be the St. Clair River.  I made my first trip up there last May and I plan on going back.  I am thinking about staying at Algonac State Park for a weekend and jig by day and pull wire by night.  I may even make this an event to see if other people want to tag along and share resources.  Always easier to zero in on the fish when you have multiple boats out.  That way we can also compare notes and tactics to help improve everyone’s success. 

Can’t forget about hunting season either.

I really, really, really miss small game hunting.  Unfortunately I don’t have the access to private land around home like I used too.  All my small game hunting is up around Midland or Oscoda and I can’t get away for the weekend like I used too.  Hopefully that will change this year and I can post a few items about Grouse, Woodcock and of course Squirrel.  There may even be a post about an early Teal season hunt.  The DNR is pushing for Michigan to have an early Teal season.  The USFWS always shot it down but it looks like they may let it happen in 2014.  If so I know of a few spots that hold a fair amount of Green Wing Teal.  I won’t make any plans until I know for sure but it would be nice.    

Well there you have it, 2014 in a nutshell.  I’m sure I won’t get to do everything I want but if I can pull off half of it I will be happy.  I do know it is going to be a lot of writing and picture taking.  Speaking of picture taking I’m debating purchasing a GoPro video camera.  If so I may have videos to post as well.





Opening Day Early Geese and Thank God for Kayaks.

2 09 2013

Normally when one thinks of goose hunting he or she envisions cold wintery weather and huge flights of migratory Canada Geese.  The thought of 85 sunny degrees and 100% humidity really doesn’t enter into the equation.  Unless of course it is the early goose season in Michigan.  For many years now this 2 week season has been in place to help reduce the resident population of Giant Canada Geese.  Some years the weather is cooperative and somewhat comfortable.  Most years it isn’t.  This was one of those years.

My friend Dan was able to get permission to hunt some private property around the south Branch of the Kalamazoo River in Hillsdale county.  All the crops were still standing so we would be hunting water today.  The original plan was to hunt a large pond but after some more scouting it was decided to hunt the river itself.  There were geese in the area and we were hoping that after the shooting started they would be looking for a safe place to rest.  Dan had no idea how deep the water was so he asked me to bring my kayak along to place the decoys in the river.  We arrived at our destination about an hour before shooting hours and we started to set up.  I dropped the kayak in the water, turned on my cap light and started placing decoys in the dark in a river I have never seen before.  Hope I get it right.  Meanwhile the rest of the crew was clearing the area for some filed decoys and preparing hiding places for us.  After I was done setting the floaters I paddled back to shore and then hid the kayak under some trees.  I then found myself a place to hide and waited for 6:34 am.

An hour later and no geese.  This was not looking good.  We had yet to even hear a goose honk.  No the first time I have had a hunt turn out this way but I was hoping to at least hear something.  Fortunately about 30 minutes later that changed.  WE some geese in the air and headed our way.  Paul started calling them our way and soon we had 3 Canada’s overhead.  They were in range and showing no sign of decoying so Paul yelled out “Take Em”,  A volley of shots later and we had 2 birds heading down.  Problem was they were falling downstream and not dead.  Paul’s dog Dozer had no chance of retrieving these (no Dog would) so he told me to get the kayak and go after them.  Eventually I caught up with both crippled birds several hundred yards down stream and after a few shots they were in the kayak and I was paddling back upstream.  That was a lot of work for 2 geese but I don’t like to let any crippled game animal get away.

We had another small group fly over but we passed on them.  They looked like they might decoy in but they changed their mind and flew south.  That was pretty much our excitement for the day so we headed in for a lunch of venison brats around 10:30 am and took a nap.  We headed back to our hunting area around 6 for the evening hunt.  The only geese we saw during legal shooting hours never even gave us a look as they flew by.  We did have a few more fly by about 30 minutes after shooting hours was over.  Not much we could do about those.  Nice to know there were more geese in the area than the 7 or so we saw in the morning.

It didn’t take long to pack everything and soon we were on the road and heading home.  One of the members in our group (Jim) had to be to work at midnight.  I was glad I was going to be able to sleep in tomorrow.  Just hope I could.

Thanks again Dan.  More proof that taking a person fishing once and awhile can pay off in other ways.

9-1-13 Geese Dozer