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.

 

 

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A year in a Life – June

16 06 2014

The Second Coming.

Now I’m not going to start reciting bible verses by heart or quoting scripture but June to me is all about the Second Coming. Or in this case the 2nd run. That’s right, a second run of walleye into the Detroit River. Shortly after the silver invasion heads back out into Lake Erie a smaller run of walleye leave Lake Erie and head back upstream. Many old timers used to tell me about this and it never really made sense to me but since I started keeping more accurate records and paying closer attention to the fish being caught I started to notice a few trends.

The first thing I noticed was that when June and July rolled around I started catching smaller fish, lots of eaters in the 15 to 18 inch range and more sub-legal fish. I never thought about it before but I started to wonder why I rarely catch any sub-legal fish during the Spring run? The other thing I noticed was that some of the fish I would catch would be really dark in color (resident fish) and others would be very light in color (migrants) , similar to the light tan colored fish caught in Lake Erie. Inquiring minds wanted to know so I asked our local fisheries biologist what was up.

He told me that the Detroit River experiences a smaller run of walleye mid summer and it lasts for several months. Mainly smaller immature fish that move in to chase the smaller baitfish, in this case minnows, goby’s and eventually smallmouth fry. The bigger mature fish head east (Ohio) and north (Canada) to deeper and cooler waters. Now I don’t know what they are chasing in Ohio but I do know that in Canada it is smelt. As for the smaller versions they stay in the river and load up on shiners. Now there are local fish that stick around through Silver time but the lower river fills up with “Eater” walleye, especially on the Amherstburg side.

I can’t wait for the Second Coming. This is when I really go into attack mode and stock up the freezer. I will catch more fish in June or July than I will in March, April and May combined. That first couple of weeks after the Silvers leave is a feeding frenzy. Fishing is easy and can be fast and furious when conditions cooperate. Give me a little stain to the water and early morning fishing can be a riot. This is when I break out the spoons and I give the walleye a steady diet of them. Walleye are gorging themselves on shiners and I am trying to oblige them. On numerous occasions I have found bunches of dead minnows in my cooler that the walleye have caught coughed up. Upstream fishermen will be running spinners and Rabble Rousers but in my area it’s spoons, spoons and more spoons. I’ll even run them at night, usually on my kicker, and still catch fish. The worst part about this is trying to get to that point. It’s not like I can get a message from the Fish Gods declaring that the Second Coming has arrived. I have to go out there and find out the hard way if the Barbarian Silver Horde has left. Sometimes I get lucky, most times I don’t. The reward though can make it very worthwhile. Just remember in the daylight hours think small. After you find a few dead minnows in your cooler you’ll know what I mean. Spike Spoons and size #5 and #7 Rapala’s.

Oh, one other advantage to this time of year. No more long lines at the ramps or sharing a spot with 100 other boats. All those once a year guys have put their boat away for the year or have headed out to Lake Erie. Most mornings or evenings it’s half a dozen boats at most and I pretty much know all of them. Just the die hard River Rats that know all about the Second Coming.





08/16/13 Report

20 08 2013

I know, it’s been awhile.  Believe it or not I haven’t had a whole lot of desire to go  out walleye fishing.  I get like this about once a year, usually in August.  Summer is winding down and my desire to chase walleye hits a lull.  Usually at this time my thoughts are turning to other things.  Hunting season is just around the corner, kids are going back to school, perch are starting up.  In other words I am just feeling the need to go do something else.  Only reason I went out this time was because my Dad was down and he needed to get out.  He was down for some tests at the VA hospital in Ann Arbor so now that that was behind him he wanted to look forward to something else.

We hit the water around 8:00 pm and as I feard the SE winds were keeping the weeds on the US side of the river.  Oh well, not much we could do about it except deal with it and that’s what we did.  I hadn’t been hearing a lot of positive reports lately so I headed down to Calf Island and figured we would make a long run up to the stacks.  Once we found some active fish I would just concentrate on that area.  Problem was we never really found some active fish.  For the next 3 hours we picked up a few when we weren’t clearing weeds off of our lines.  That was about the only drawback for the evening.  It was a clear cool night, hardly any other boats on the water and even the bugs weren’t too much of a problem.  Unfortunately the fish just didn’t want to cooperate.  We did end up with 4 and my Dad lost 2.  My 3 fish came on a #7 Downriver Steel Rapala and my Dad got his on a #9 GFR Rapala.  The water is still gin clear.  3 to 4 feet of visibility which is unheard of.  It has been like this the last month.  A lack of rain and any substantial wind has kept the water very clear.  I figured the fish wouldn’t start up until after dark but we caught most of our fish before 9:00 pm and near the Blue Boat House.  From 9 to 11 all we had to show for our efforts was a lot of weeds and 1 Sheepshead.

Still it was nice to get my Dad out on the river after a day of being poked and prodded at the Hospital.  I think our next trip is going to be up his way for some more panfish.  Unless of course he comes back down and wants to try to get into some perch.  I may do that next time I feel like taking the boat out.  After I fix the broken wire on my navigation lights and replace the bracket for my GPS.

One observation was that Elizabeth Park Marina was full of minnows.  This is not surprising but I have been hearing reports all around the lower river of bass and a few walleye being caught and coughing up minnows as they are landed.  The lower river is full of them right now so I’m sure the walleye are being very finicky as to what they will grab.  Not much of an incentive to grab an imitation lure when so much of the real thing is swimming around.  Also, I have yet to catch any 3 inch Smallmouth Bass, this years hatch.  They may just be keying in on all the minnows as well but I usually catch one or two.

TC 8-16-13