Class Is In Session

22 04 2017

Last Friday, when I came in from fishing I met a DWF club member, Steve Sheldon, as I was pulling in my boat.  Apparently he had been trying to track me down to ask me about handlining.  He had been going out but was only catching one or two fish here and there.  He figured he was doing something wrong and he was hoping I could help him out.  He asked if I could take him out some night and Friday (4/21) was going to be that night.

I had contacted Steve earlier in the week and told him to be at my house around 8.  I also told him to bring his stuff so I could check to make sure his shank/leader set up was correct.  I have found that when someone isn’t catching fish it is either that or his boat handling skills.  At least I would be able to eliminate one variable.  After a quick check of his stuff we were packed up and headed out.  The weather tonight was damn near perfect.  Once again a slight NW breeze, overcast skies and not to cold.  The water was still clear and my only concern wasn’t those other fish,  it was undersized fish.  I had been hearing reports that the river was now full of 13 inch walleye.

The reports were right.

We started around 8:30 pm and in the first 10 minutes I landed 5 fish and all of them undersized.  I eventually caught a couple of keepers but during this time Steve hadn’t caught anything.  I was just about ready to switch seats with  him so he could fish my set up when he got snagged, BAD.  After making a few donuts around the weight the shank busted and he lost the whole set up.  I rigged him back up with one of my shanks and a 40 foot and 6 foot leader.  After that it didn’t take long and Steve was flipping fish in the boat.  For the next 45 minutes it was game on.  We still caught a few undersized ones, and of course those other fish, but we were catching plenty of legal ones as well.  By 10:00 pm we were all done and putting gear away.  Steve was amazed how one small change, albeit an important one, could make all the difference in the world.  He went from spending hours and maybe catching two fish to catching a limit in just under 45 minutes.  Needless to say he was happy.  We put everything away and headed towards the dock.  Other than the snag, which turned out to be a good thing, it was a near perfect night.  When we got back to the house we chatted some more about strategies for different conditions and what to watch for concerning boat control.  I gave Steve one of my shanks and a weight for him to copy.  He probably spent part of today making new shanks and leaders.  Hopefully he will be able to get out again soon.

As I had mentioned earlier the water was still clear and no debris.  Most of our fish came on #11 blue and silver Rapala and a #11 Downriver Tackle Custom Rainbow Trout, which has a blue back, pink sides and a white belly.  We tossed back just as many as we kept and we only caught a handful of those other fish.  Most of them being big females.  Very few boats out for a Friday night which was surprising.  It’s go time and I really couldn’t understand why so few people were out.  Their loss.

The smaller fish is a great sign.  Successful hatches the last few years is starting to show and it looks like we will have plenty of walleye for years to come.  Based on what I have been catching it should be a good mix of fish from 15 to 24 inches for some time.  We’re going to need it because I’m afraid the hatch this year is going to be a bust.  Any eggs laid before those two big storm events we had probably covered all the eggs with silt which means they will have suffocated.  I certainly hope I’m wrong.





7/28/16 TC Walleye

31 07 2016

This one is going to be short, sweet and to the point. About the only difference from this report and the previous two is that the weeds were a pain and we were losing fish on a regular basis.  I figured the conditions wouldn’t have changed much from the previous weekend to this past Thursday (7/28) so I told John to meet me at my house around 8:00 pm and we would give it a shot.  Water was still clear but this time the wind was out of the south, though it wasn’t much of a wind.  It didn’t take long and I had our first fish in the boat which I quickly followed up with another.  Things were looking good, especially since John had just boated one as well.  From then on though it was a different story.  After that third fish the rest of the evening was short fish and fish lost at the side of the boat.  Both John and I continually lost fish right at the side of the boat.  At one point I had a double and I couldn’t land either fish.  I don’t think I have ever done that before.  To make matters worse the weeds showed up in grand fashion shortly after 10 pm.  The Sam Laud was off loading coal at the Edison Plant and left around 9.  As he headed up stream he must have cut a lot of weeds upstream.  No big mats but tons of single strands were coming down.  After 11 we finally gave up and headed in.  We ended up with 6, lost 6 and threw back just as many.  Definitely not how I expected the night to go.  The weeds I could understand but losing so many fish annoyed the snot out of me.  At least there are still a lot of fish in the system just waiting for better conditions.  Hopefully I will be able to get out soon to find out.

Like I said the water is still very clear and it started off weed free. I have no idea what the water temp was since I never did turn on my Depth Finder.  Natural colors were catching the fish tonight.  Original and Bleeding Olive Rapala’s in size 7 and 9.

An interesting little tidbit occurred while we were back at the ramp putting stuff away. A coyote started howling and yapping from the park.  He couldn’t have been more than 100 yards away.  Wish I could have recorded that or got a picture of him.

 

7-28-16 walleye





7/22/16 Muggy Evening Walleye

23 07 2016

90 degrees, 100% humidity, no breeze, seemed like a perfect evening for walleye fishing to me.

It had been well over a month since I was out walleye fishing and I was determined to go.  Work had been kicking my ass for the last month and I was in dire need of a break.  I really didn’t care how humid it would be, I needed some fresh fish.  After a quick inspection of the boat, Susan and I were on our way and by 9:15 pm I was lines down.  From there the next two hours went pretty much like this.

Cat, short, short, short, short, short, wipe sweat, swat gnats, move, snag, snag break leader, move, legal, legal, smallmouth, HOLY CRAP, silver bass, barely legal, wipe sweat, short, swat more gnats, smallmouth, short, BOOYAH……time to go home.

By 11:00 pm I had 5 in the box and we were headed back to the dock.  All of the fish, except for HOLY CRAP (she came on a #11 Bleeding Copper Flash Rapala), came on a #9 Bleeding Olive Rapala.  At first I was catching them all on my kicker but after the 7th fish I put another one on my 20 foot lead and caught the last ones on it.  They were really focusing on a lure with a natural finish.  Not surprising seeing as how the water is so clear.  It made for some interesting visuals.  Susan would shine a spotlight in the water as I was bringing in fish.  It was really cool to see them come out of the darkness and into the light.  Seeing a 27 incher with mouth open, coming into the light, has a tendency to make one say HOLY CRAP!

Weeds were a non issue tonight, with 2 days of west winds they better not have been.  Other than the humidity it was a pretty nice evening.  The NW breeze that was originally forecasted would have helped but at least it wasn’t a south wind.  No other fishermen out tonight either.  I fear the summer handliners are becoming very rare.

Still haven’t paid to launch yet this year.

 

Cooler Walleye 7-22-16 Walleye





Words of Wisdom from the North Shore Tying Co. Blog.

18 04 2016

Just read part 1 of 3 and even know this is from a fly fishing blog the rules still apply for handlining.  I can’t stress enough the importance of number 2.  I think too many people are in such a hurry to get to the next spot that they go to fast and don’t really work an area.  Take it easy, be methodical, work the area and for God’s sake don’t change lures every 10 minutes.

https://northshoresstyingtyingco.wordpress.com/2016/04/18/15-habits-every-angler-should-develop-part-one/

I will re-post the next two when they become available or you can just follow the blog as well.

 





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

 

 





Fanatic Status.

22 11 2015

Fanatic

It’s official, I have hit fanatic status.

Yesterday, while most of Michigan was under a winter weather advisory, I was out Steelhead fishing.  It was only cold at first but after an hour of standing waist deep in 40 degree water it started to snow.  Not much at first but eventually it started to come down just like in the picture.

Did I quit? Nope.

I kept at it for the next hour even though I didn’t catch anything.  I had one hit, no hook up, no fish.  The only other excitement was a whitetail doe sneaking up behind me and snorting.  I guess she felt I shouldn’t have been out either.  She kept looking at me like “What the hell is that standing in the water?”  Eventually she just gave up and walked away and left me to my fishing.  I didn’t fish much longer after that.  Even I figured it was pretty futile after 2 hours.  I had stuff to do and I needed to get out of the water and get the circulation going in my legs again.  I did learn one thing today though.  Just like in walleye fishing, wool gloves and steelhead don’t mix.  At least it doesn’t when swinging flies.  The line just slides between my wool covered finger and the cork handle whenever I would make my cast.  That leads to a mess.  I think one of those handlining doll slippers might cure that.

Wonder if I have any of those things lying around?





Weeds Still Suck

22 09 2015

Originally I had no plans to fish last night (9/21/15).  I was planning on going out on Thursday since I had the next day off from work.  Figured I would be able to stay out as long as I want and maybe experiment with some other lures.  What changed my mind was the wind forecast.  The forecast called for NE, E and SE winds all week.  That meant that by Thursday I would have needed a brush hog to find any clear water.  So I figured last night would be my best bet.  Unfortunately the weeds were still bad, not as bad as my previous trip but bad enough.  I only fished for about 90 minutes and managed one 18 inch walleye and one 19 inch Smallmouth (which really made a mess of my leaders).  Both fish came on the same blue and white pencil plug I have been using for the last month.

No pictures this time.  I figured everyone has seen enough pics of an 18 inch walleye and by now everyone should know what that pencil plug looks like.  Water temps was 68 degrees and the water is still extremely clear.  Weeds were all throughout the water column.  Mats on top and single strands below the surface.

Taking a break for awhile.  Got enough fish for my mom’s fish fry so I’m good for now. I’ll wait until the water cools down some more and we get a few days of west winds.  I’m hoping a few new fish will move in from Erie.  Not that I did that much damage to the local population but it would be nice to get some new fish in the river.