Strange Night Walleye 8/5/16

7 08 2016

Ever have one of those nights where you just know nothing is going to go right?  That nagging feeling where something feels off?  Like maybe you should have just stayed home?  Well tonight was one of those nights.  I can’t pin that nagging feeling on any particular thought but I just knew it was going to be a strange night.

I arrived on the water just before 9:00 pm.  The water was still clear and there were hardly any weeds.  So far so good.  About 10 minutes in I had my first walleye on and unfortunately I lost him as I was flipping him in.  No big deal, it’s happened before and it will happen again.  Shortly after that I had another fish on but it was no walleye.  It took me awhile to get him to the surface but when I did my thoughts as to what it was were confirmed, Muskie.  There are two fish I never want to deal with out here, a sturgeon and a muskie.  One because he is too damn big, the other because he has too many teeth.  This one was hooked well too (on a 50 cent tin spoon no less), right in the top of the jaw.  Normally I try to keep him in the water and just try to remove the lure with a pair of pliers.  There wasn’t much of a chance for that so I netted him, or at least I tried to.  Once I got him in the net, it broke.  It took some doing but I eventually got the hook out of him.  This is when things got interesting.  I dropped the lure into the bottom of the boat, or so I thought.  The leader fell over the side and drifted back into my prop.  I saw the leader peel out of the boat and I quickly killed the engine.  So there I was, drifting downstream, 3 tangled leaders, one in the prop and a 30 inch muskie in my hand.  First things first, I released the muskie and got the leader out of my prop.  I replaced the leader that was all chewed up by the prop and teeth, pointed my boat back north and started fishing again.

By now the sun had set and the wind was slowly shifting from west to NW.  It was a light wind at first but eventually it sped up to around 15 mph.  Boat control was interesting once that happened.  I could point my boat straight north and still move sideways from west to east.  If I wasn’t careful I would be headed downstream in a hurry.  I fought through it though and managed to pick up a couple of walleye before I hooked into 20+ inches of line tangling fury, a smallmouth.  I wasn’t taking any chances tonight, especially after my last incident.  I got my other two leaders in and then I concentrated on getting the fish in.  It took awhile but eventually I got him to the boat and released.  It was way to dark for a decent picture so I just let him go.  I had drifted downstream some so I motored back up to where I wanted to be and got back to the walleye.  By now I had two in the cooler and was debating quitting because of the wind.  Fishing isn’t any fun when you are constantly battling the conditions.  While I was assessing my options I hooked what turned out to be about 100 feet of spider wire and all the crap that had collected around it.  What a mess.  I finally got that straightened around and I was seriously debating just giving up when I had another fish.  It turned out to be a channel cat, why these things took up residence in the channel is still a mystery to me.  This was starting to get annoying, I was catching more of what I didn’t want instead of what I did want.  It was at that point that I hooked and landed my 3rd walleye for the evening.  It never ceases to amaze me how catching another fish can give you just enough incentive to stay out a little longer.  I told myself that I would stick it out until I got a 4th.  About 10 minutes later I did and was headed in.  I thought about trying for a 5th but I wasn’t going to push my luck.  A lot of things went wrong tonight (I won’t even go into the boat that cut me off) and I didn’t see a need to press it.  I still had that nagging feeling that I should get off the water.  With no moon or cloud cover it was very dark and I was the only boat out.  Discretion is the better part of valor and so I headed in.  There will be better days.

Huh…I just noticed this in the picture.  The rear hook on the #9 Rapala is gone.  Wonder when that happened?

muskie net Walleye 8-5





Taking stock of 2015, so far.

22 07 2015

This has been a weird season.  I know I got a late start due to work, family health issues and my boat being down but I wasn’t expecting the pickings to be this slim.  I usually catch more fish in June and July than I do in April and May during the peak of the Spring run.  This year however, has been a tough one to figure out.  Some of it being a real head scratcher.

1.  I have yet to catch a fish on a Rapala.  A #9 Rapala is my bread and butter lure.  When all else fails this body bait will produce.  I have been running a #9 or #11 on my 40 foot lead every trip this season.  So far nothing, nadda, zilch, zippo, diddly squat.  I will admit I have had a couple on and lost all of them but no fish? This leads me to my next head scratcher.

2.  I have lost more fish this year than I can ever remember.  Used to be I could go several weeks without losing a fish but this year I am losing fish on an average of 2 or 3 per trip.  I know it happens but this is getting ridiculous.  Losing a fish once and awhile is no big thing, it happens, but this is has me second guessing everything I am doing.  I was starting to think that the fish are just hitting light but I have brought in a few that have completely swallowed the spoon.  For some reason the fish are getting barely hooked on my Rapala’s.  WTH???

3.  I have yet to catch a single walleye over 20 inches long.  Granted I like to get the eaters but the last few seasons I would catch at least one in the 24 to 25 inch range every trip.  This year they have all been 20 inches or less.  Again, I am not complaining but it just has me wondering what is going on.  Have all the big fish moved out into Erie?  Are they in a different part of the river?  Are they just that finicky?  Inquiring minds want to know.

4.  Now this one I am really happy about but again it has me wondering if the structure below has changed or if the baitfish are not there.  I have only caught 2 dink smallmouth and one rock bass so far.  No Sheepshead, no Channel Cats, no Muskie, no Steelhead, no White Perch and lately no White Bass.  Normally July produces a lot of smallmouth anywhere from 6 to 20 inches long.  This year has been the exact opposite.  Two bass and both of them less than 8 inches long.  Is the lack of other predators due to a lack of baitfish or some other factor?  So far the walleye I have caught have all come up empty, no shiners or goby’s in any of them.  What are they feeding on and when?

5.  Now this may have something to do with the consistency.  Water levels are up from previous years but I really can’t see it affecting the fishing that much.  Granted some areas that were too shallow before may be more attractive now but not the whole river?  Surface temps are about a degree lower than last year at this time so maybe it is cooler down at the bottom.  Don’t know for sure.  I do know the surface weeds have been a pain but that is to be expected with the east winds and higher water.  The water is again ridiculously clear but I have been catching fish both in the daylight and after dark, there just hasn’t been any consistency.  The one trip I got a limit was an overcast morning a month ago.  Since then I have been pecking away and coming up short of a limit.  Granted if I would quit losing fish my numbers would improve but I am still having a hard time finding groups of active fish.  One night I picked up 3 in a 5 minute span but mostly it is 1 or 2 fish every hour and none of them in the same area.  I went back and looked at my way points for this year and other than that one 5 minute spurt the marks are all over the place.

6.  Ninety percent of my fish have come on the same two spoons, the ones pictured in my last post.  I have tried different colors and styles but these two have been the best producers.  Of course I am always running these two now since they are catching fish so their production rate is slightly skewed.  Lately though the majority of my fish have come on the chartreuse spoon on my kicker.  I have noticed that this one has a very aggressive action so maybe it is triggering more strikes.  The smaller orange one has been completely swallowed though and on more than one occasion.  You can make your own assumptions based on my findings. I think the next time out I am going to run a jointed Rapala and see if the increased action has an affect.  I will let everyone know how it works out.

Well there you have it, my mid season findings for 2015.  I hope it gets better or I may start having to keeping some of the steelhead I hope to catch this fall.  either that or I may have to start perch fishing again.





Night Time Tarpon

4 05 2015

FINALLY!!!!!

I knew that someday the Weather Gods would smile down on me and take pity.  Late Wednesday, April 29th, was that time.  It had rained all day long and the wind was in the 20mph range again.  The weather forecasts for the evening weren’t looking any better.  There was a 70% chance of thunderstorms before midnight and the winds weren’t showing any signs of diminishing.  I kept waiting for Gabe to call and say the trip was cancelled but it never came.  The last of the storms blew through around 5:00 pm and the winds died down.  I got a text shortly after from Gabe saying we were still on and to meet him at the marina around 9:45 pm.

FINALLY!!!!!

We weren’t launching from the same place we started Tuesday.  Gabe pulled up and told me to follow him about 4 or 5 miles north on US 1 to a different launch area.  By 10:00 pm we were in the water and heading to his “Secret Spot”……another bridge.  He gave me a quick run down of the situation and then handed me a 10 wt. rod for which I was to use to do battle with my quarry.  Gabe told me that with the all day rain he was hoping that the shrimp would get flushed out of the mangroves and that the Tarpon would be feeding on them.  Prime time would be in that first hour of high tide and we were in position to take advantage of it.  He told me to cast in between the arches of the bridge and listen for the sounds of a bowling ball hitting the water.  As if on cue, when he said that we heard the tell tale splash of a tarpon feeding.  I was making short 30 foot casts under the bridge arches.  I let the line glide between the handle and my right trigger finger as I made slow short strips with my left hand.  When a fish hit I was supposed to give a hard pull on the line with my left hand to set the hook.  Once that happens I was supposed to let go of the line with my left hand and let it slide between my right trigger finger and the handle until all the slack was taken up and I was tight with the reel.  Only then could I pull back on the rod and let it bend.

Easier said than done.

After hooking and landing thousands of fish handlining, ranging from Y.O.Y. Smallmouth to 4 foot long Muskie’s, letting go of the line isn’t part of my DNA.  It just doesn’t happen.  A very wise Jedi Master once told his young Padawan that “You must unlearn what you have learned”.  It took a little doing (3 busted leaders to be exact) but I finally got it figured out.  Gabe just laughed with each busted leader and lost fly but he said they were busting the water tonight and it was only going to be a matter of time before I got one to the boat.  Things started to change on the 4th fish I “stuck”.  I didn’t bust the leader but she jumped about 3 feet in the air and when she landed she took off for the boat.  I never got a chance to reel in the slack line and she was gone.  Gabe checked the leader once again and re tied the fly.  He would do this after every strike.  Gabe explained the a Tarpon’s head is like a cinder block that is lined with sandpaper.  It is hard to drive that hook home and the 40 pound test mono leader I was using was taking a beating.  Once I was set up again, I went back to casting and it wasn’t long before I stuck another.  This time I did everything right and the fight was on.  This was a bigger fish than the previous ones and instead of staying near the boat he took off between the arches of the old bridge.  We gave chase and I was now fighting the fish in between the old and new bridge.  All I had to do was keep him away from the pilings and out in clear water.  He had other ideas.  Of course, he swam right between two pilings, fortunately for me they were wide enough and we were able to maneuver the boat between them.  Once we did, he took off for open water and we were in the clear.  With some coaching from Gabe I was able to get him to the side of the boat where we could get a light on him and see how big he was.  Gabe estimated him to be in the 70 pound range.  I wasn’t going to argue, he was a beast to me.  We turned our headlamps on and Gabe grabbed hold of the leader to try and remove the hook.  One he got hold of his lower jaw the fish came back to life and he broke free.

FINALLY!!!!!

I was hooked now.  After a few high fives and fist bumps, Gabe showed me the leader and just how trashed it was.  I could now see first hand just how easy it is for one of these fish to bust the leader.  It was a frayed mess.  Gabe tied on a new section of leader and another little white rabbit strip streamer and I got ready for more.  We headed back “up front” (Atlantic Side) since we landed this fish “out back” (Gulf Side).  A few casts later and I was hooked into another fish.  This turned out to be a Mangrove Snapper, the Bluegill of the Ocean.  We dropped him in the live well and I went back to my routine.  I “stuck” a few more, some jumped and threw the hook, others I just never really got the hook set deep enough.  Eventually I did hook into another smaller Tarpon and after a few brief jumps and short runs we were able to get her to the boat for a quick pic and a release.  This one stayed up front so it wasn’t long before I hooked into another fish.  This one turned out to be a Snook and unfortunately the leader busted before I ever got him to the boat.  It was after midnight now and we were nearing the end of the bridge.  Gabe told me that we had time for a few more casts.  Just like my first steelhead on a fly, on my last cast, at the last arch I hooked into another Tarpon.  This one took off through the arch and we had to give chase.  He was smaller and easier to control so I was able to keep him in between the bridges.  A few more jumps and he was tired enough to bring him to the boat for another pic and release.

That was my night, 3 Tarpon landed, a Mangrove Snapper, 1 lost Snook and I stuck well over a dozen Tarpon.  I have a cut on my trigger finger where the fly line kept rubbing.  My right arm and wrist are very sore and I would do this again in a heart beat.  I love handlining walleye but I would give that up in a second for the opportunity to do this in the evening.  The best thing was that we were the only boat out here.  Gabe told me that he is the only guide that does these night fly fishing trips.  No one else wants to do them.  I can’t understand why, it was a blast!  I was fortunate enough to see what this fishery has to offer.  So many different species and so many different scenario’s.  I could spend a lifetime down here trying to learn it all.  Of course I would still have to make a few trips north to put some walleye in the freezer and freeze my butt off catching steelhead but I would have no problem spending the rest of my time down in the flats chasing Tarpon.

Mangrove Snapper Tarpon 2 Tarpon 3

 

 





July 4th Weekend Report

7 07 2014

Decided to give it a shot Saturday morning (7/5) figuring no one would be on the water after all the celebrating from the day before.  Problem was I didn’t take into account that I would be getting home so late myself.  I ended up getting a later start than I wanted and what made it worse was Gibraltar road was closed so I had to take a detour.  Add in the fact that I was heading over to Amherstburg and the ensuing call in (which was remarkably easy) I didn’t even start fishing until 8:30 am.  I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal since the water is deeper here and there was a nice stain to the water.  What I didn’t count on was the millions and millions of mayfly casings floating on the water.  They were all bunched up in groups and they were everywhere.  I’m betting the people that live up on lake St. Clair are having a fit right now.  Floating weeds were mixed in with the casings and I ended up spending most of my morning clearing lines.  I could have ran back over to the US side but I had already wasted enough time and it was getting to late in the morning for it to do any good.  I fought through it for a couple of hours, tried different areas but I only managed one small walleye.  I didn’t even catch any non target species.  Either the fish gorged themselves on mayfly nymphs or they were still in hiding from all the rockets red glare the night before.  At least I’m on the Ontario database now so calling in should be a breeze. 

Originally my plan was to sleep in on Sunday (7/6) but after my abysmal trip the day before I had to try and salvage something for the weekend.  This time I was up at 5:30 am and on the water with lines down at 6:00 pm back in US water.  It was still cloudy out and the water much cleaner and the surface was casing and weed free.  Things were looking good.  Just wish the walleye felt the same way.  I didn’t get my first fish until almost 7:30 am. and it turned out to be a 36 inch Musky.  I picked up a few smallmouth and around 8:00 am I finally had a walleye in the box.  By now the sun was well above the tree line but the clouds were still keeping it in check.  I worked over my usual areas pretty hard trying different speeds, spoons, body baits, anything I could think of to trigger a strike.  I only had a short window of opportunity since I had to do some river work for the HRWC at 11:30 up near South Lyon.  I decided to give the deeper water below the free bridge a shot for the last 30 minutes.  I Marked a number of fish but all I was able to get was another smallmouth.  As I was nearing the end of the coal dock I noticed how the current formed and eddy at the very head of it and sped up as it went around.  I thought to myself that that looked like a good ambush spot and moved in to try and work the seam.  It didn’t take long when my second walleye hit and shortly thereafter he was in the box.  I made another loop through the area but didn’t catch anything else.  I would have worked the area harder but I had to get going.  I marked the waypoint for future reference.  I’ll have to run over the entire length of the dock and mark the depth change a little more closely. 

So that was it for the weekend, 3 fish for almost 6 hours of fishing.  A couple of things to note.  Both walleye caught in US waters had a size #9 Goby in their stomach.  I tried #9 Rapala’s in several colors but with no luck.  I did catch both of them on a #7 Clown Rapala.  So much for matching the hatch.  The water on the US side is still ridiculously clear and the weed growth is showing it.  Shallow areas around the islands have weeds all the way to the surface.  Once these west winds stop I have a feeling the floating weeds mats are really going to be a problem very soon. 

I hope July starts to turn around, so far it is really starting to suck.





A Unique Way to Get an Accurate Fishing Report.

20 03 2014

Used to be that in order to get any type of a fishing report a fisherman would have to call (yes, actually use a phone) a local bait shop.  This info was iffy at best since the bait shop owner wants to make money and he isn’t going to sell any bait if he says the fishing sucks.  Of course there was always word of mouth, the old reliable “My cousin’s, uncle’s, brother twice removed from his friend’s aunt caught fish yesterday” report.  We all know how well that works.

Today though we have an over abundant amount of information literally at our fingertips.  Thanks to the internet, smart phones and savvy tech nerds we can now access a litany of on-line sources.  Club web sites, message boards, forums, state reports and social media have completely changed getting an accurate fishing report.  Some of it is good but also some of it is bad and when it’s bad it can really be garbage.  The task now is to determine what a credible source is and what isn’t. 

Let’s start with the bad; after all bashing something is a lot easier than giving a source credit, specifically message boards and forums. 

There is more to social media than just Facebook and Twitter.  The advent of the Public Forum has given people the opportunity to post just about anything their heart desires whether it is true or not.  Political rants, bashing the local DNR and fishing regulations, criticizing other fisherman and questioning what someone caught is more the norm nowadays.  I’m not saying they are all like this but there seems to be a growing number of haters out there.  The reason is that a lot of people use these forums for more of a bragging page than anything else.  Someone will come on and say he caught a limit of fish and when asked where he will respond with “I caught them on the Detroit River between Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie”.  Gee, thanks for nothing.  For those of you that don’t know that section of river is over 30 miles long.  This kind of thing drives me nuts because the people that post these same vague reports are the same people that are constantly using this source to find and locate fish.  Nothing like spreading the wealth.  Years ago I quit one forum because someone accused me of posting his “secret” location on my club website and ruining the spot.  He saw 3 (that’s right 3) boats on that section of the river the next time he went out and because of me I ruined everything for him.  News Flash, that section of river is right next to a Senior Living Center that is full of spies.  That’s right, spies who look upon that river all day long and tell their kids and grandkids when they see boats out in front of the building fishing.  Second News Flash, fishermen have been catching fish on that part of the river for the last 100 years.  Nothing new there, move along, try again, have a nice day.

Now I’m not saying the info posted is pure garbage but the reader has to sift through the report and pull the useful information.  I’m not talking color, size or exact location.  Those variables change daily if not hourly.  The main thing I want to know is time.  Just how long did it take to catch that limit?  I learned this little tidbit many years ago.  A friend of mine and I were heading out one evening when another boat was just pulling in.  I asked how they did and one guy said we got a 3 man limit as he puffed out his chest.  Another fisherman climbed out of the boat and stretched his back while he complained about being in the boat for 12 hours.  That’s 12 hours for 18 fish or 1.5 fish per hour.  That isn’t exactly tearing them up.   After that evening I ask two questions from any report, how long and what time of day.  I’ll figure everything else out for myself. 

Now for the good and it is a pretty easy solution but one that seems to be lacking for a lot of fishermen.  This one is so easy it’s stupid but for some it seems impossible.

Friends.

Yep, that’s all there is to it.  I’m not talking Facebook friend but people you actually talk to and fish the same areas you do.  Once you build up a group of friends that fish like you do info comes free and easy.  Creating this group is pretty easy too; all you have to do is help and give an honest report.  Pay it forward as they say.  For me this all started when I met a local fisherman called “Sparky”.  He took me fishing on one condition; I would have to return the favor to someone else.  Since that time I have given several seminars and helped many fishermen learn how to catch walleye on my beloved river.  Some have bled me dry of info and then disappeared but there are others that have stuck around and they make it all worthwhile.  I can call, text, e-mail or even yell across the river to any of these guys and they will tell me the where, when, how, why and on what’s that are working for them.  Even during my tournament I have had people tell me what is working for them and I have done the same.   With a group of close fishing buddies it’s all about everyone catching fish, not out doing everyone else (though winning my tournament would be nice).  

I can never understand why some people want to be so secretive.  I know of one old timer that will only fish at night so no one can see where he is fishing and another that purposely hides himself bringing in a fish from anyone who may be watching. 

Really?  Is that necessary?

We all started out the same way, not knowing anything and trying to figure out how to catch fish.  A kind word and some constructive help goes a long way.  A lot more than a turned up nosed and ignored questions.  Granted we can’t change the world but at least we can make our little part of it better.  It’s something to think about the next time someone asks how you did at the dock.  You never know what it could lead too.  I used to keep to myself a lot but thanks to giving a few seminars and helping people out I have standing invitations to fish on a dozen different boats for Walleye, Trout, Steelhead, Perch, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike and Muskie from Northern Lake Huron to the Western Basin of Lake Erie.  All I have to do is call. 

Never would have happened if I just said I caught fish between Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie.





Lessons learned 2013

1 01 2014

2013 turned out to be a very frustrating year for walleye fishing.  Granted some people had better results than me and some worse.  No matter where I may have ended up on the grand scheme of things I still sit back and contemplate what went right and what went wrong.  So without further ado here are my lessons learned from 2013.

#1  Prior year success does not guarantee future success.

Kind of sounds like what of those investment commercials telling you past performance does not guarantee future results.  2012 turned out to be the best year of my life.  The weather cooperated and the walleye were plentiful.  Fishing was so easy that i never went over to Amherstburg to fish.  Why make the run when I am catching easy limits less than 1/4 of a mile from the ramp?  I was so confident that I didn’t buy a CDN license for 2013.  That turned out to be a big mistake.  Around mid July the walleye in the Trenton Channel were few and far between.  Meanwhile fishermen were catching easy limits over in Amherstburg.  Granted I could have bought a license in July but I was convinced I would be able to find fish in US waters.  Eventually they did show back up again but not until October and the weather was not cooperating.  Oh well, live and learn.  I will be getting a CDN license for 2014, especially since I now have and engine I can trust and will make the trip a whole lot faster.

#2 Sometimes you just have to let go.

For close to 35 years my little Crestliner was powered by a 20 HP Mercury.  Over the last few years I was starting to have problems but I continued to work around them.  I refused to give up my engine until the day it happened, my worst nightmare, hung up and the engine stalls.  I was able to get the engine started and I didn’t lose any equipment nut It could have been a lot worse.  After that incident I went out and bought my 25 HP Evinrude E-Tech.  All I can say is that I wish I had done this sooner.  It’s just hard to let go and before anyone makes any comment about the boat forget it.  I am not, repeat not getting rid of my boat for a new one.  There are some things I just refuse to get rid of.

#3 The same old lures still catch fish. 

Every year I try and find that new color that will make the fish just jump right into the boat.  Guess what? I still haven’t found it and the same old patterns still produce.  You think I would have learned by now.  I did make a point of using Pencil plugs this year and guess what?  They caught fish as well.  Imagine that.

#4 Is it just me or is the %^*$ Bass run lasting longer?

This year I caught my first fish that shall not be named mid April and my last one mid July.  That’s 3 months of dealing with those things.  People ask me how long the run lasts and I used to say between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.  Not anymore.  I have no idea when they are going to show up and when they are going to leave.  I moved up the start of my handlining tournament by a week in order to avoid them and it didn’t matter.  I wish the DNR would do set the limit like it is in Canada, no daily limit.  Maybe then the tri-hull navy will thin out the population some.

#5 No Muskie or Steelhead this year.

What’s up with that?  Usually I catch a few of each but not this year.  Instead I catch channel cats, on spoons.  That has me even more perplexed.

 

Well that’s it for 2013, hopefully 2014 will give us a hatch like 2003 and full freezers like 2012.

 

 

 

 

 





Silver Bass Test Take II

16 06 2012

Location: Trenton Channel
Date/Time: 6/15/12 8:00 pm to 11:00 pm
Water Temp: 69 Degrees
Water Clarity: Ridiculously Clear
Weather: Clear sky, warm
Wind: ESE light
Water Depth: 13 feet
Presentation: Handlining 40/20/6
Lures: #9 Hot Steel, Riley Special, Blue Ice

The other day a couple of friends of mine told me that the Silver Bass had pretty much left the river. Between the two of them they only caught 12 last Wednesday night…..music to my ears. Now I could get back to what life is all about, catching walleye. I was so optimistic about tonight that I started earlier than I normally do. That turned out to be a bit of a mistake. As luck would have it there were still just enough Silver Bass around to tick me off. As a matter of fact I caught 14 of the things before I ever caught my first walleye. Actually it was 14 Silver Bass, 6 Smallmouth Bass and 1 Muskie before I caught that first one. Just like last time he came after 9, 9:07 pm to be exact. Two more soon followed and I had my 4th right around 9:45. Unfortunately he was only 14 ½ inches long so he went back so that he could grow up some more.

Once it got dark I swapped out the spoons and switched over to my trusty Rapala’s, a #11 GFR and a #9 Hot Steel. This is standard procedure for me in the summer time on the river, spoons by day, body baits by night. Most of the time this works out pretty good, unless the weeds are bad and tonight they were. Rapala’s have a bad habit of catching every weed floating in the river. I should have expected this, the last couple of days have been east winds and that pushes the weeds to the US side of the river. I can usually find a few clear pockets to fish in but that is kind of hard to do in the dark. Persistence usually pays off though and after about 30 minutes I had my number 4. BY now it was 10:30 and I was debating how much longer I was going to stay out. I was going fishing on Lake Erie in the morning and I had to be in Gibraltar by 6:30 am. Sleep was starting to sound like a better option than continuously clearing weeds off my lines. Only problem was that I wanted that 5th fish. Why I don’t know but I wanted it. I told myself that by 11:00 pm fish or no fish I was heading in. Luckily for me she came at 10:58 pm. And she was also the biggest one of the night, 26 inches and 5 ½ pounds.

So the final tally for the night was 19 Silver Bass, 7 Smallmouth Bass (1 being 17 ½ inches long), 1 White Perch, my first Muskie of the year and 5 walleye for the freezer. The Silver Bass have definitely thinned out to where I can start fishing in the daytime again. For now it is time to get some sleep and get ready for my annual trip to Lake Erie. Hope the wind shifts or it is going to be very bumpy out there tomorrow.





2011 Results

23 04 2012

For several years now I have been participating in a fishing survey for the Michigan and Ontario DNR.  It is designed to give fisheries biologists an idea of the fishing success of anglers along with growth rates and locations where fish are caught.  The area is basically the Huron Erie corridor and it is broken down into specific grids.  I have a book where I have to keep track of how long I fished, where, what I caught, if I kept or released the fish and if I kept the fish how long it is and what it weighed.  It can be a bit of a hassle at times but it has provided me with some valuable information.

At the end of every fishing season the Michigan DNR sends me an envelope so that I can mail the book in for evaluation.  Once they are done with it they mail it back to me along with a new one for the following season.  Along with the new book I receive a stats sheet that lists all the data the DNR pulled from my work.  Normally I just kind of breeze through it but this year I took the time to actually read all the data.  One thing I have to do is make a better effort to make sure I write my “K” for kept and “R” for released a little more legibly.  I know I didn’t release 27 walleye last year.

One of the data metric’s the DNR records is fish caught per rod angler hour.  This is a number I really never paid any attention to and never really understood, until last week.  At the last DWF meeting the guest speaker was Ohio Fisheries Biologist Travis Hartman.  He spoke about the research that the Ohio DNR has been doing over the years and one of the topics he brought up was fish per angler rod hour.  He said that in the hay day of the 80’s the number was .45 fish per hour and recently it is .5 per hour.  He went on to say that this number relates to some fantastic fishing.  That helped put my number into more perspective for me.  My number for last year was .992 fish per hour.  This tells me a few things, the first being that I am doing a lot better than I thought.  I always figured I had a below average catch rate compared to all the reports I hear on Lake Erie.  I hear a lot of people catching limits but now I have to wonder how long it takes them to do that?  I know of one person who is always catching limits but he will stay out all day to do it.  If that is what you enjoy more power to you.  I don’t think my body could handle being out in a boat all day.  The second thing this tells me is something I have always known.  There are still plenty of walleye to catch in the river long after the spring run.  A little work and pre-planning can help you catch fish in the same locations they are caught in the spring.  The tactics may change but the results can still be the same.  I’ll never catch the monsters some of the Erie fishermen catch but I get my fair share of eaters.  I guess it all comes down to what you want to accomplish.  Hogs or piglets?

One other result that I checked out this year was the average size and weight of the fish I caught.  For 2011 the average length and weight of the walleye I caught was 19.5 inches and 2.5 pounds.  These were mostly male fish there were part of the 2003 hatch.  It amazes me that 8 years later most of the fish being caught are still from that year class.  Some of the fish were from other year classes but the majority are still part of the 2003 class.  Good thing we had that phenomenal year otherwise the fishery could be in rough shape.

The Smallmouth fishermen should be happy as well.  I caught a lot of fish ranging from 3 inches long to 20+.  Looks like those guys are going to have some great fishing for years to come.

Can’t say the same for the Muskie fishermen.  Only caught 1 last year, then again I have been avoiding the areas where I have caught them before.

The books do make for some interesting reading during the long winter months.  I’ll take them out and go over them every once and a while to reflect on seasons past.  I’ll think about those days, who I was with, what we caught and generally anything that made the trip memorable.  After all, that is what it is all about.