Yet Another Fishy Weekend.

24 07 2017

Friday, 7/21/17

Friday night found me back on the Detroit River at my usual spot but with a difference.  This time around I had my friend Richard along for the night.  He was down from northern Michigan for a few days and hadn’t been out walleye fishing yet this year.  I needed to remedy that.  When my boat was down Richard took my father out one night and he drove so that my Dad and I could just fish.  It would turn out to be the last time my Dad and I got to go fishing together.  I owe Richard as many trips as I can provide.

We headed downstream around 9:30 pm and along the way I was seeing a lot of weed mats.  Not what I wanted to see.  Turns out they would be a big problem for the entire evening, not just from having to clear lines but they played a little game of deception with me, all night.

I set up using the same lures that have been producing for me so well the last few weeks.  An Original Rapala and a Black/Gold Rapala, both F9’s and a F7 Perch.  Richard was running a F11 Original and a clown Nite Stalker.  About 5 minutes in I had one on and unfortunately I lost it right behind the boat.  This little scenario would repeat itself constantly throughout the night.  Hook a fish, bring it up, lose it at the boat.  It got to a point that I knew when I was going to lose the fish.   They were hitting so light that at times I would just feel weight on the line.  The more aggressive fish that hit would make it to the boat but not the lazy asses.   Add in the constant clearing of lines from weeds and it made for a long evening.  This was also the little deception game the walleye and weeds were playing with me.  I was clearing weeds so much that on a couple of occasions I would feel weight and just figure it was more weeds.  I would get the lines to the surface and to my surprise there would be a pair of eyes staring back at me.  That was how the night went for me.  I was able to get a limit but I lost a lot of fish and I had a lot of throwbacks as well.  Richard, on the other hand, caught nothing.  In all fairness his lures spent a lot of time out of the water.  Between weeds, leader issues and untangling a reel his lures spent more time out of the water then in.  Shortly after midnight we felt a few raindrops and after a quick check of the radar we decided to get off the water.  Richard was going to be in town for a few days so we had other opportunities.

No pics, I sent all the fish home with Richard.

Saturday, 07/22/17

The original forecast for today was rain with brief periods of no rain.  Because of this I made plans to sleep in and then take care of chores around the house.  Well it turned out that we never got any rain.  No matter though, I still slept in and took care of the chores around the house.  After dinner I had a change of heart and went out walleye fishing.  I started around 9:30 pm and by 11:00 pm I was done.  Once again the fish were very lethargic and I lost my first fish right at the boat.  From then on I gave the fish every chance to get hooked up.  Instead of bouncing the weight along the bottom I just dragged it.  That seemed to do the trick because the next 5 ended up in the cooler.  Doing this though increases the chances of getting hung up and that happened three times.  The only other fish I lost was another channel cat so I wasn’t to upset about that.  He came on my 40 foot lead and a F9 GFR.  I had swapped it out with the F9 Original earlier since it wasn’t producing as well as I wanted.  All the walleye came on the Black/Gold and Perch patterns.  As for the rest of the conditions the water is still very clear and weeds were not much of an issue.


Sunday, 7/23/17

My original plan was to get up at the crack of dawn so that I could go out fly fishing before everyone else showed up.  I ended up dragging my butt out of bed sometime after 8:00 am.  Turns out I would pay for my laziness but not as bad as I expected.  I started my walk to the area I have been fishing the last few weekends and along the way I spotted a few carp feeding off the surface in the weed mats.  With the water surface cover being so thick I was able to get into casting range without spooking the fish.  I made several attempts but could never get one to take the fly.  The same weeds that were making my stealth so easy also prevented the fly from sinking into the water.  At one point I did have a carp literally bump my fly with this nose but he never ate it.

After about 30 minutes of this I decided to head down to more open water and try my luck.  I could see the carp cruising along but whenever I would stop they would spook and take off for heavier cover.  I expect to spook a few fish but this was ridiculous.  I wasn’t doing anything and they were taking off.  I soon found out why.  The same carp shooter I saw last week was out and flinging arrows.  I walked past him in the hopes of getting to some fish that he hadn’t spooked yet but that lasted only a few minutes.  I saw some feeding carp and worked my way to them and made a couple of casts.  I was getting ready to make another cast when all of a sudden an arrow shoots into the water about 10 yards from me.  Sure enough, the same guy and now he was practically in my lap.  To say I was pissed was an understatement.  I let him know it as well.  I’m not against anyone legally fishing any way they want but there is no reason to be so close and shooting carp right next to someone fly fishing for them.  I told him that as well, especially when the area we are fishing is probably a 300 acre lagoon.  He didn’t seem to care so I just walked farther away, by about ½ a mile.

After I calmed down I found a quiet area and went back to fishing.  The carp were still spooky but I was able to hook up with one, along with an assortment of other fish.  The first one being a bowfin.  I was trying to get a read on which way a carp was swimming when I saw the bowfin out of the corner of my eye.  A quick cast and he was all over my carp fly.  He wasn’t the greatest fighter but he was very aggressive.  After a quick pic I sent him back on his way.  Shortly after that surprise I managed to catch a yellow perch on the same carp fly.  I was casting to another carp when all of a sudden my fly disappeared.  I set the hook and a few seconds later the perch was in my hand.  Gills and Bass I understand, Bowfins and Perch? Not so much.


I did take two rods again so I could play with the Gills when the carp weren’t around.  I ended up catching some of the biggest gills I have seen here along with a few bass all on a bead head nymph.  I can see that I am going to have to tie up a few more of those things over the winter.

Around noon I headed back to the car.  I had plans to go Schultz’s to pick up a new fly rod.  I am heading up to the Manistee River next weekend to go mousing for Browns and whatever else is available.  I have an Orvis Encounter 9 foot 5 wt and I wanted to upgrade.  I won this combo a few years back and it has served me well.  I never really did like the reel and after Orvis didn’t want to honor their warranty on my waders I really don’t want any of their gear anymore.  Once I got to the shop I told Corey what I wanted and he gave me a Temple Fork Outfitters BVK and a Redington Vice to try out.  After one cast with the TFO I was sold.  Corey set me up with a Sage reel and a weighted forward floating line so I am all set now for next weekend.  All I need to do now is get some flies tied up.  I will be spending my evenings doing just that this week.  First up, Muddlers.

Pre-Harvest Moon Walleye 9/15/16

19 09 2016
Moon over the Grosse Isle bridge.

Moon over the Grosse Isle bridge.


It’s no secret that I like to fish for walleye during the full moon periods.  Normally I do pretty well but after the last two full moons I’m beginning to wonder.  The Sturgeon Moon was less than stellar and The Harvest Moon turned out to be even worse.  Hopefully the Hunter’s Moon in October will break the trend.

I arrived at the ramp around 8:30 pm and I had the whole place to myself.  No other cars in the lot, not even the ones normally parked over by the Marina.  I launched and headed south to my usual starting spot.  The water was still clear and a surface temp of around 65 degrees.  A few weeds were floating down, mostly single strands with the occasional large mat.    The south wind had died down to almost nothing which kept the water relatively calm.  Seemed like the start of a good night.  To bad the walleye had other plans.

I trolled around for the next two hours and all I had to show for my efforts was a half a dozen smallmouth and a few sub-legal walleye.   I tried different size lures, different colors, spoons, pencil plugs, just about every thing I could think of but I couldn’t get anything going.  Around 10:00 pm I got hung up bad and after 10 minutes of trying to free the weight the shank snapped right at the loop.  I lost the shank, weight and 3 custom painted Rapala’s.  I thought about giving up right then but I hadn’t been skunked in almost 3 years and I wasn’t about to let it happen tonight.  I dug out another shank, weight, leaders and lures and started all over again, after I moved away from where I got hung up.  About 15 minutes later I finally caught a legal fish.  Not much of one but it was a start.  I tossed him in the cooler and headed towards the Edison discharge.  I hadn’t been by there lately so I thought I would give it a shot.  Weeds were a lot worse there and I could feel them starting to pile up on my line.  Just as I was about to pull my lines and clear the weeds I felt a lot of weight.  I figured I hit a big mat of weeds, under the surface, so I started to pull it all up.  The “weeds” were all on my 40 foot leader so once I got my other two lines clear and out of the way I started to bring it in.  About half way in the load became lighter and I figured some of them must have come off.  I looked back and my headlamp showed a pair of eyes staring back at me.  That stupid fish never shook once, she just came in like a wet towel.  It was a bigger fish so I wasn’t taking any chances.  I got my net behind her and just as I start to scoop she shook and threw the lure.  Didn’t matter, she was in the net and then in the cooler.  After that I decided to call it a night.  I was headed to Columbus Ohio in the morning and I needed some rest.  I had enough fish to fill a vacuum seal bag and I didn’t get skunked.  It did turn out to be my most expensive trip of the year but I won’t lose any sleep over it.  It was my own fault for not swapping out shanks and leaders.  I had been using the same one all season so I’m sure it had been stressed in a few places.  One of these days I will start to listen to my own advice.

I doubt it.




A Shameless Plug for Pencil Plugs.

14 05 2016

Normally I don’t make a lot of shameless plugs, unless you count that one post that was a slew of them.  Well this plug is about just that, a plug, a pencil plug to be exact.  Long time readers know that I have used Nite Stalker pencil plugs before, and shamelessly plugged them as well.  They have been hard to come by but a new company has taken up the mantle and they are being produced once again.

They are just like the old Nite Stalkers and are available here in Michigan.  They offer them in many colors along with Chrome, Gold and Blank if you want to paint them yourself.  As for me I will be sending some up to Jim at  (see what I did there?) to paint mine up.  He told me he can work wonders with the blank and chrome plugs.

I’ll be ordering some this weekend to use once those other fish leave the river.

If you have never fished with a pencil plug before for walleye you might want to give it a shot.  They don’t dive as deep as a Rapala so they don’t get hung up as much.  Walleye tend to hit them center mass and they get all those hooks in them.  Since they don’t have a lip they do a decent job of not getting fouled with weeds and they are just plain cool.

“Blue” Full Moon Walleye 8/28/15

29 08 2015

What a week.  This was my first full week at work in almost a month and it was brutal.  I was so stressed out today that I swore at some random guy at work who was trying to push his political agenda on me.  Normally I just walk away but I was compelled to share a few sentence enhancers with him.  That brief and unpleasant confrontation was the final determining factor, I was going fishing tonight.

After a quick dinner at the local Coney Island with Susan and her nephew I was hooking up the boat and heading for the river.  By 8:00 pm I was lines down and fishing.  Fellow handliner aficionado and owner of the Mad Viking Tackle Company  Steve Schoonover was out as well.  He was farther downstream than I wanted to be so I didn’t talk to him right away.  We would chat later as I was pulling in my second fish of the night.

I started up by where the “Cat” used to be with a pair of spoons and a Blue and Silver #9 Floating Rapala.  About 20 minutes later I was pulling in my first walleye of the night on the Rapala.  A few minutes later I had a second one on but I knew I was going to lose this one.  A cruiser was passing me on my starboard side to close for me to turn into the fish.  It was a light hit so I figured he was barely hooked.  I was right, just as I got ready to flip him in the hook came free.  The people on the bought let out a collective “Awww” and I just smiled.  I had a different word to describe the outcome.

It was around 8:45 pm now so it was time to ditch the spoons and break out the pencil plugs.  I put on the same blue and silver one I used last week along with a Black and Silver #9 Rapala.  About that time Steve pulled up along side of me and asked if I had my limit yet.  Just as I was about to answer I had another hit.  Steve got out of the way and less than a minute later this one was in the cooler as well.  I trolled around for two more hours and eventually picked up the rest of my limit.  I tried different color Rap’s and PP’s but all my fish came on the Blue and Silver Rap and the Blue and Silver PP.  It was a Blue kind of night.

Couple of observations about tonight.  First off it was a full moon which means chrome and pearl colored baits.  Glad I kept some of the pearl body ones on because the chrome wasn’t cutting it.  I also noticed that one of my Nite Stalker PP’s had no action at all.  It was like dragging a pencil through the water.  Wonder how long that has been going on?  I may have to check all my Nite Stalkers to see if anymore are like this.

Awhile back I mentioned how walleye seem to hit a PP center mass and get all the hooks in them.  One of the walleye tonight really did just that, one treble in the lower jaw, another in the upper jaw and one in the eye.  Good thing he was legal size.  He wasn’t going to survive this ordeal.

The water is ridiculously clear, so clear that even in the dark I can see the fish 3 feet down with a headlamp on.  There isn’t even any algae in the water.  I can’t remember a time when I have seen it this clear this late in the season.  I know a lot of people that are complaining about how difficult the fishing has been during the day.  This has got to be the reason why.  The walleye are just waiting until the evening.  The way I see it is if you want to catch fish adjust!  It’s pretty simple.


08-28-15 walleye

Why did I use that lure?

3 01 2015

A while back someone asked me one very simple question. Why did I use that lure?

Seems simple enough but it really got me thinking. Why do I really use Lure “A” and not Lure “B”? What is the logic behind the selection? Is there a science or is it just because I saw Lure “A” before Lure “B”? I really didn’t know how to approach this subject at first. After some careful consideration I think I figured out a way to best answer this without taking a gazillion year’s like that stupid computer in A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

Before I begin though I need to lay down a few ground rules. Not so much rules but something to remember while reading this and taking in all the information. I am by no means an expert and there are a multitude of variations based solely on personal preference. This is what works for me and I will do my best to give an explanation as to why I choose A, B and C over X, Y and Z.

  1. This is for Handlining only. Some of the logic will apply to other methods but this is for my preferred method of walleye fishing.
  2. This is my opinion and like something else everybody has one. This is just something to think about and not some concrete, cast in stone, this is the only way, rule.
  3. I am not going to spend a lot of time on color. I am a firm believer that too many fishermen spend way to much time thinking about color. There are more important things to consider. You can run all the Clown Rapala’s you want but if your presentation isn’t right you are not going to catch much. Remember that!!
  4. Finally, and I can’t stress this enough, find what works for you and exploit it. If you’re catching fish don’t change because someone else says you have to do it his way. I can right a book on the bad advice and silly theories I have heard over the years. Now that I think about it that might not be a bad idea.

Now that I got that out of the way lets get started. I am going to break this down into 3 different categories, body baits or stick baits, pencil plugs and spoons

Body Baits/Stick Baits

Original Floating Rapala’s in sizes 5 to 13.

Smithwick Rattlin’ Rogue’s (not the suspending lures).

Bomber Long “A”s.

Storm Thunder sticks in both regular and junior sizes.


Pencil Plugs


Wooden Pencil Plugs.

Nite Stalker Pencil Plugs.



Spoons, specifically Spike’s Spoons.


Each one has their time and place. Some of them I use all season long (Rapala’s), other’s only dirty water periods (Smithwick’s) and other’s only when the water temp hits a certain point (Spoons). Of course this varies on conditions but for the most part my reason for using them has held true over the years. So with that being said let’s get started.


Body Baits/Stick Baits


I use these types of lures more than anything else. From ice out to ice in my Rapala’s are always in my boat. This is the lure of choice for many handliners both in factory paint schemes and custom paint schemes. About the only time I don’t use them is when the White Bass run is in full swing or if the river is full of weeds. Once the ice is out and the boat is in the water I will run all Rapala’s, generally in sizes 9 through 13. I will run a 13 on my long lead, an 11 on my mid lead and a 9 on my kicker. All 3 will be in different contrasting colors. Usually this time of the year the walleye like them big. A walleye can eat a baitfish up to 1/3 of their size and I have seen plenty of 6 to 8 inch shad in their stomachs to back that up. The smaller sizes like a 5 or 7 will work and I know people that have great success with them. I just prefer the bigger lures, especially in the early Spring. The fish are big and they take a toll on equipment. Those tiny hooks on the smaller lure don’t hold up. This holds true for the Fall fishing as well. The walleye are storing up for the winter and they can be very aggressive and big. The gizzard shad start to move back into the lower river and the walleye are right behind them. The emerald shiners are still around but given a choice between one easy meal and having to chase hundreds of minnows I think the walleye are going to take the easy way out. Again though it is a rule of thumb, I still run 3 leads and I will vary the sizes on each one until I find what they want. During both the Spring and Fall I have run nothing but size 7 and 9 Rapala’s and had success on both. It all depends on the mood of the fish that day. During the summer I will run the smaller sizes during the daylight hours, especially on my long lead. I’ll run a size 9 on my long lead and a couple of spoons on the other. Unless of course the weeds are horrendous then the Rapala’s stay in the box. That lip catches every weed that floats downstream whereas the single hook on a spoon sheds most of them. Once night time rolls around though the spoons usually come off and it’s nothing but Rapala’s and usually in the bigger sizes. I want that big silhouette contrasting against the night sky. If I want some extra vibration I will run a Smithwick, Thunderstick or a Bomber. These lures are all plastic, hollow and usually contain rattles in them. That extra sound can prove to be a difference maker some nights, especially in stained or dirty water. I want to make it easy for a walleye to find my lure so if conditions dictate it I’ll take advantage of it. I will run the rattle lures during the day under dirty/stained water conditions. Again, it’s all about making it easier for the fish to find the bait. A walleye can’t eat what he can’t find.


As for colors my hands down, all time, go to, never fails me, greatest pattern ever is a #11 Bleeding Chartreuse Rapala, followed closely by a #11 GFR. I have more of these than any other factory paint scheme Rapala. They have been proven fish catchers under all conditions. Mostly because I will grab one of those before anything else. Confidence in a lure will do that. As for Custom Paint scheme’s it’s a Copper Crazy Tiger from Jim at Downriver Tackle. This pattern is deadly during the summer months. It has a copper body with purple stripes and it resembles the goby’s and immature smallmouth that are present in the lower river during the summer. These are of course just my preference, ask a dozen other fishermen and they will all come up with something else. It just shows that they all work and being on top of fish with the proper presentation is more important.


Pencil Plugs


Pencil plugs have been around since the early 1900’s. In the beginning many of them were hand made in the garages and shops (and secretly in a lot of shops of the Big 3) of local fishermen all around south east Michigan. They are a very basic design and hundreds of thousands of walleye have fallen victim to them. When compared to the action of a Rapala it is almost non-existent and one would wonder how it catches anything at all, but it does. That subtle action coupled with its large size can prove deadly to a walleye when the conditions are right. I start to run these once the White Bass show up. For some reason the White Bass really don’t like them whereas a Rapala they will attack without hesitation. Granted there are those nights when the White Bass will hit everything that moves but as a rule that subtle action doesn’t trigger a strike from a bass. A walleye on the other hand will still hit it. On more than one occasion I have caught my limit of walleye and only a dozen white bass while other fishermen running Rapala’s have caught a few walleye and a couple of hundred White Bass to go with them. Granted there are nights when the walleye don’t want anything to do with them but if the peak of the White Bass run is on I won’t run anything else.


Once the run is over and things return back to normal I will still use them during those summer evenings, especially when the weeds are bad. PP’s don’t collect the weeds as will as lipped body bait. The weeds will still get hung up on the hooks but it isn’t as bad. The weeds tend to miss them because of the angle at which the lure runs. It still happens but not with the frequency of the body baits. One other advantage is those hooks, all 3 of them. I can honestly say that when a walleye grabs a pencil plug chances are he is going to end up in the boat. They just don’t nip at the end of these lures, they hit it right in the center and get all those hooks in them. A walleye is lying on the bottom behind some kind of structure waiting for something to come overhead and when the pp comes along they go after it center mass. I don’t know why this doesn’t always happen with a Rapala but for some reason I don’t get a lot of light or short strikes with a pp. It may be because a pp floats higher and doesn’t dive like a Rapala thus allowing a walleye to be more lethargic about grabbing the bait. All I know is that on more than one occasion a pp caught walleye will have all 3 hooks in him.


The rule of thumb for color selection on a pencil plug is bright colors on clear nights, dark colors on cloudy nights and chrome during full moon periods. The main idea is contrast. A walleye is looking up for dinner, not down. On cloudy nights the man made lights reflect against the clouds and a darker lure creates a better silhouette. Clear nights or no moon periods don’t offer that reflection so bright colors or lures with an orange stripe on the belly are the norm. As for a full moon period I like to run chrome or pearl body baits. I really like fishing during a full moon. Give me a clear night with a full moon, nice west breeze to keep the weeds and bugs at bay and cool temps and I am in heaven. I have never tried them in the Fall but I don’t see why they wouldn’t work. I usually go back to the other body baits but maybe I will give the pencil plugs a try some evening in October.




Last but not least are the spoons. These are another niche lure that I use during the daylight hours after the White Bass run is over. Normally when the surface temps start to approach that 50 degree mark the spoon bite for walleye will start up. Problem is at those temps the White Bass run is starting to peak and it is impossible to get 3 leads with spoons down to the bottom before the White Bass will grab all 3 spoons. Now once they clear out, usually around the end of June, I will run spoons during the day all summer long. The river gets a second run of smaller walleye and they are in there feeding on the emerald shiners which are about the same size as a 1 to 1 ½ inch spoon.   Those first couple of weeks after the white bass run is over can be some of the best fishing all season. Lot’s of eater size walleye that will readily attack a spoon. Of course everything else has gone back to feeding and they all like spoons. Rock Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, Sheepshead, White Perch, White Bass, Channel Cats, Steelhead, Musky, they all grab them. Some days it can be an exercise in futility trying to get through everything else to get to a walleye but it does pay off. Just remember that in order for a spoon to be effective it has to really be kicking. Speed up the motor a notch and make that lure dance.


As for colors I have just about every possible color pattern there is but I generally stick to the same ones. Anything with chartreuse or orange in it. Just about every time I go out I can safely say that a certain chartreuse, orange and black spoon will be attached to a lead. I’ll also run different contrasting colors, sizes and shapes to see if one kind performs better than others. For the most part though I stick to the willow leaf style or the teardrop/daredevil style spoon. If I am fishing the CDN side I will run brass spoons because of all the goby’s on that side of the river. For some reason the Amherstburg Channel has a lot of Goby’s. The US side of the lower river has a lot more shiners so I will stick to the aluminum or tin spoons.


Well there you have it, my reasoning behind what lures I use and why. There are other lures that I did not mention that other handliners use and with great success. I just don’t use them for one reason or another. I don’t use spinners because I don’t like messing with live bait. I don’t own any Rabble Rousers because I have found that Smallmouth Bass like them better than walleye. As for flatfish I don’t use them because once they get fouled they tend to spin around in a big circle and tangle my leads. Everybody has their own personal preference though, they all work. My only suggestion is to find the ones that work for you and stick with them. If you are catching fish there is no need to change just because someone else tells you that you have to use X,Y,Z because he catches fish as well. There are other variables involved and past success does not guarantee future success.

Some of my Favorites

Some of my Favorites

Every lure I caught fish on one year.

Every lure I caught fish on one year.

Some of my more productive patterns.

Some of my more productive patterns.






10/10/14 Walleye Report

11 10 2014

Well after a 2 month hiatus I finally hit the river again.  Since my boat is still down for the count I gave my friend Richard a call and convinced him to take me out.  We hit the water around 6;30 pm and headed down south of The Cat.  The water is still very clear with a surface temp of 56 degrees.  Once it gets down to 50 it usually means game on and that shouldn’t be to far away.  There were some weeds which is understandable, with the temps falling the weeds are dying off and floating to Ohio.  Just have to deal with it.

I set up with a #11 Clown and a #9 Bleeding Olive Flash.  It didn’t take long and while Richard was still getting set up I snuck in a walleye and flipped at his feet.  We were off and running, 10 minutes later I was bringing in another one that came on the #9 BOF.  We started to work our way over to the stacks where Richard had picked up 5 last night.  There were a few boats long lining in The Slot so we had to maneuver around them at first.  Once we got into the discharge lane Richard picked up his first fish of the night on a Clown Nite Stalker.  That would be the only fish we would catch in that area for the next hour and a half.  I suggested we head back to where we started and once we did I was quickly bringing in another fish.  As I was bringing him in Richard hooked one and lost it behind the boat.  We slowly worked our way upstream and after about 10 minutes I put number 5 in the cooler.  After that one we pulled lines and spun back around and headed back to our initial starting point.  I caught number 6  which also turned out to be our last fish of the night.  We played around for a few more hours but we couldn’t get anything to hit.  Between 10:30 and 11:00 pm both of us got hung up pretty bad and after we got free we packed it in and headed home.  It had been a long day for me and I was tired.  We had 6 in the cooler and that wasn’t to bad, especially since I have been hearing a lot of people haven’t been catching anything.

So a quick re-cap.  We caught our first fish just after 6:30 and our last one around 9.  Three of the fish came on a #9 BOF on my 20 foot lead.  The other 2 came on a #11 Clown and a #11 Black/Gold Rapala, both on my 40 foot lead.  As I said before Richard got his on a Clown Nite Stalker.  He caught 4 the previous night on that same lure.  All the fish were 18 inch eaters, perfect size and in good shape.  The 3 I kept and cleaned all had baitfish in them the size of a #9 Rapala.  Hint, Hint!!!!

That’s it for now.  Richard and I are supposed to go out again next Thursday and take my Dad out for his first Handlining trip of the year.  My boat will not be ready until next spring so if anyone is looking for a passenger just let me know.  Hint, Hint!!!!


The 2nd Coming………Almost

22 06 2014

Weekend Report.

I decided to give it a shot Friday night after I got word that my fellow handliner compadre Dave was going to head out.  It looked like the rain was going to clear out before dark so I made plans to hit the water around 8.  Of course the rain didn’t completely quit but a little sprinkle was no big deal.  When I arrived at the ramp I was pleased to see that the water levels were way up.  As a matter of fact they were at the highest levels I had seen in years.  Not surprising with all the rain we have had.  After I launched the boat I pointed her downstream and headed towards the only other boat on the river, Dave’s.  I pulled up along side and asked how he and Larry had been doing.  No walleye yet but only 1 Silver Bass.  Oh Happy Day could they finally be gone?  We shall see.

I went downstream a bit more and set up behind them.  I started to follow them for a bit but once I saw both of them bringing in Silver Bass at the same time I made a right turn and avoided that area.  Didn’t matter, I found them as well.  Oh well, can’t have everything.  It wasn’t too much longer before I felt that old familiar headshake that I have missed so much.  A few seconds later and I had my first walleye in the box.  I would end up with 3 for the night, 2 on a #11 Clown Rapala and 1 on a Red Wonderbread Nite Stalker Pencil Plug.  I ended up catching about 20 Silver Bass.  Once it got dark they pretty much shut down.  The only problem was the weeds, not the ones on the surface but that stringy moss that seems to hang around the bottom.  It seems like I was clearing lines every ten minutes.  I’m sure that wasn’t helping my catch rate.

I did catch one fish that surprised the hell out of me.  I have caught just about everything the River has to offer but not one of these.  As a matter of fact after 40 years of fishing the Detroit River this is the first one I have ever caught.  I have picked up a few in the canals around Grosse Isle or Gibraltar out of my Kayak but never in the middle of the river while walleye fishing.  When it first hit I wasn’t quite sure what it was.  There was to much weight for it to be a Silver Bass but it was fighting too much to be a walleye and not enough to be a Smallmouth Bass.  I hoped I wouldn’t lose him because I really wanted to see what it was.  I was careful and eventually I got him in, a Largemouth Bass.  That was a first and I will probably never repeat it.  Largemouth Bass are not known to hang out in the area I caught him in, Smallies yes, Bucketmouth’s no.

Around 11:00 pm I finally called it quits.  3 fish wasn’t too bad, I didn’t lose any lures and no damage to the hands.  The Silver Bass are definitely thinning out and by next weekend they should all be out in Lake Erie terrorizing the Planer Board Brigade.

Conditions weren’t bad.  Surface temps were 67 degrees and the water clear.  No surface weeds but that moss below was a pain.  The NE winds were calm for the most part but they did pick up as the evening progressed.  Not a bad night after not getting out for a month.

Sunday morning I headed for the river again and hit the water at the crack of 6:20 am.  I wanted to start earlier but I overslept a little.  The water temps were about the same as Friday and it was still clear.  A few surface weeds and a fair number of dead Mayfly’s and casings.  It was overcast as well and I hoped it would last.  I started running spoons and a #9 Rapala at first and it wasn’t long before I was into the Silver Bass.  They were in small schools much like Friday night,  3 or 4 right away and then nothing for about 20 minutes.  Problem was the walleye were scarce as well.  I didn’t catch my first one until almost 9:00 am.  I ended up with 2 and I lost one at the boat as well.  I caught about a half dozen Smallmouth Bass ranging for a minuscule 3 inches to a 20 inch pig.  Boy was he a handful.  Around 11 I gave up and headed home.  I had a long list on yard chores waiting for me and they weren’t going to get done on their own.

Conditions weren’t bad at first.  Light winds and overcast skies.  Water was still clear with about 3 feet of visibility.  If it continues to stay that way I am going to stick to evening fishing.  I may try over at Amherstburg this weekend in deeper water.  Hopefully some of the smaller eaters will move back into the river by then.  Once they do it will be Game On II.06-20-14 Walleye

First Largemouth Bass Ever on the "D".

First Largemouth Bass Ever on the “D”.

TC Walleye 6-22-14

The Pig

The Pig

The baby

The baby

5/17/14 Pencil Plug Walleye

17 05 2014

Well so much for my theories, then again I did say they weren’t foolproof.

Went out on the evening of Friday the 17th to see if I could put some more walleye in the freezer.  With the silver horde in town I waited until after dark and ran only pp’s.  I was hoping that this combination would keep the Silver’s at bay but it failed miserably.  for 2 1/2 hours it was constantly clearing my lines of Silver Bass.  After the first 20 minutes I was getting so frustrated that I pulled my kicker line and switched over to darker color plugs because it was obvious the chromes were too enticing for the species I didn’t want.  By 11:30 pm it was starting to rain so that was my cue to quit.  I did end up with 2 walleye but it wasn’t worth the aggravation.

Now for the vital stats.  Water had about 2 to 3 feet of visibility and a surface temp of 54 degrees.  Cloudy skies and the near full moon only appeared for about 20 minutes.  I was hoping it would help get the walleye active but it never got a chance to clear the island.  Light west winds and rather cold out for mid May.  I guess I shouldn’t complain.  At least it wasn’t snowing like it was up north.


10-17-14 TC

A Year in a Life – May

14 05 2014

May is a very fickle month for a die hard river rat. By now the water temps are up in the 45 to 50 degree range and the big girls are out of the river. The males are in feeding mode now and that means easy limits. Problem is that it doesn’t seem to last very long anymore. Back in the 80’s it was a given that the walleye fishing would be fantastic until mid month. It still can be now but we have to deal with something else. That’s right; my favorite’s…….the White Bass.

For the last 5 or 6 years it seems like this run has lasted longer than the previous year and produced more and more fish each time it happens. There has always been a healthy population but now it seems like they completely take over the entire river system. Some people can’t wait for them to show up. I’m not one of them. The DNR could take away the possession limit and it wouldn’t bother me one bit. Like death and taxes though they are a constant annoyance and they have to be dealt with. Walleye can be caught though during these trying times, the tactics just have to change.

There are a couple of options I have to avoid the White Bass. Though they are not entirely fool proof they can at times drastically reduce my catch and still put walleye in the boat. The first one is to change presentations. This time of year I will jig more than any other. I use a ¾ ounce jig and a Wyandotte Worm and I will jig the channel edges north of the Grosse Isle free bridge. I will still catch White Bass but I will also catch the occasional walleye. It won’t be a lot of them but I can usually manage to put a couple in the cooler until it gets dark. Once it gets dark I put the rod away and head back downstream. Now some may ask why I don’t just stay where I am. Well the reason is that I hate catching White Bass in deep water Handlining, especially 3, 4 or 5 at a time. It’s bad enough in 10 feet of water but 30 feet down gets old in a hurry. Some nights it’s not a problem, usually dark, cloudy no moon periods. Other times though they will feed all night. I never know what they are going to do so I limit my exposure and hassles as much as possible. Besides, I really enjoy fishing that 10 to 15 feet of water in The Channel. Again, there are walleye all up and down the river, it’s just a question of fishing where someone is most comfortable.

Once it is well past sunset I will set up in my usual areas and run the same leads with one change. The Rapala’s stay in the box and out come the pencil plugs, or more specifically Nite Stalkers. A Nite Stalker is nothing more than a plastic pencil plug. For years pp’s (pencil plugs) were made by hand and out of wood. Nothing wrong with them and there are plenty of them in handliner tackle boxes. I just like the Nite Stalkers (I wonder how many more shameless plugs I can get it in?) because they are plastic, they have great color patterns and most importantly the eye on the front is forward enough that I can use the same crank bait snaps I use for other body baits and spoons. The old wooden pencil plugs have the eye set so far back in the cup of the head that I can’t get the snap on. I don’t like fighting with lures when I should be fishing so I just stick to the Nite Stalkers (4). Besides, they come in a lot of chrome patterns and I like chrome. Also, Nite Stalkers (5) are made right here locally in Michigan and I’m all for supporting the local businesses.

Now on most nights a White Bass won’t bother with a pp, they don’t have a lot of action so they won’t trigger a lot of strikes. There are those nights when it just doesn’t matter, usually during the very peak of the run. There are ways around that as well but I will discuss that later. I will still get a few but no where near the 100 or so I would catch if I was using a Rapala. That’s not an exaggeration either, a handliner could very easily catch 100 or more in an evening during the run when using Rapala’s or spoons. Over the years I have kept track and I average about 2 or 3 white bass for every walleye caught using Nite Stalkers (6) or pp’s. If I was running Rapala’s or Spoons the number would increase 10 fold. Fortunately for me I live so close that if I get one of those nights where they just won’t stop I can always go in and try another day. I feel sorry for those that have to make the long drive. They are pretty much stuck and just have to deal with it.

One more thing about Nite Stalkers (7) and I promise I will quit. They have big sharp hooks and a lot of them. I don’t lose too many walleye when I am using them. They don’t dive as much as a Rapala either so I don’t tend to get hung up as much. Also, Nite Stalkers (8) are almost half the price of a New Rapala.

Now one of my other tactic changes is that I fish a lot later at night. The run coincides with each passing day getting longer so I have to start later. Because of this most of my fishing is reserved for Friday and Saturday night since I don’t have to work the next day. Since I don’t have to worry about getting up the next morning that opens up another opportunity, fishing farther north……the St. Clair River.

The St. Clair River poses some new challenges, they aren’t too difficult but they have to be taken into consideration. The first is the drive. Depending on where I go it can be 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours. That may not seem like much but when it’s past midnight and I am driving home the extra time starts to be a grind. Another thing to consider is that the St. Clair is deeper and the current is faster than the Trenton Channel. Water depths average over 30 feet and with the current I have to use a 2 pound weight. Just think about bouncing that weight along the bottom for a few hours. It can make for a long night, especially if I’m not catching anything. There is a trade off though, the White Bass are non-existent. Now that I have typed this I’m sure they will show up but I have yet to catch one up there. I can use Nite Stalker’s (9, sorry) here as well but with no threat of White Bass I usually run my Rapala’s. Another good point about fishing up this way is that the size limit is only 13 inches and the daily possession limit is 6. Kind of makes that extra drive a little more worthwhile. Now that the DNR have changed the possession limit to 3 days I am planning a weekend trip up to Algonac. Stay at the Algonac State Park, fish Friday and Saturday night, sleep in, and have a fish fry Saturday before I head out.

The last tactic to avoid catching them is to just not even fish for them to begin with. Between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day I tend to break out the fly rod. Bluegill and Trout are always a lot of fun on a 4 or 5 weight rod. With the brutal winter we had I spent a lot of time filling up the fly box both with traditional trout flies and foam patterns. I should be all set. I’ll probably go visit a local pond this Memorial Day weekend. I could go for a fresh bluegill dinner.

So there it is my White Bass avoidance tactics or my Year in a Life strategy for May. Of course this same strategy will carry over into June and maybe even July if they don’t leave.

A Year in a Life – January

12 01 2014

January is a tough month for me.  Season just finished up and April is still a couple of months away.  Ice fishing is always an option but not for me.  God told Noah to build an ark for a reason and it wasn’t so he could drag it out on the ice in case he fell through or got caught on an ice break.  I do not want to be one of those guys who get’s the expensive ride in the Coast Guard helicopter.  I can wait.  In the mean time there are other things to keep a die hard river rat occupied.  Specifically get my stuff organized for next season.

During a typical 8 or 9 month river walleye season I put my equipment through hell.  Every winter I pull everything out and give it a good going over.  Reels, shanks, weights, leaders, miscellaneous equipment and of course lures.  Lots and lots of lures.


Most years I don’t do much to my reels except give the aluminum a bit of a polish.  Their operation is pretty simple and there isn’t much that can go wrong.  Except for last year.  On one of my trips I got hung up pretty good and trashed a lot of wire.  I peeled the nylon coating off of about 30 feet in several places.  Normally I would just flip it around and put that part on the inside of the reel but I had already done that from a previous year.  Time to replace all of it.  It’s pretty easy to replace it, the only hard part is getting up to Andy’s to pick up a new spool of nylon coated #60 test Mason wire.  A couple of crimps and 211 revolutions later and I will be all set to go.

Shanks, Weights and Leaders

These items are more inventory than inspection.  If I haven’t used them they are still good, I just need to know if any more have to be made.  It is very frustrating to lose a shank and find out that was the last one in the box.  Leaders can be made on the boat pretty quickly but making a shank is a little more difficult and a weight is damn near impossible.  The shanks that are on the reel are removed and the clevises and snaps are recycled.  Same with the leaders.  All old nylon line is removed and the snaps recycled.  I won’t buy new line and make up new leaders until March.  I have always bee a firm believer in fresh line.  Granted it takes a lot to damage #30 Trilene XT but I’m not taking any chances.  I still want that wall hanger.  If I have to make any weights I’ll start poking around for scrap lead and copper tubing and make some up once it warms up some.  As of right now I have plenty to get me through the next few years.  Unless of course I take out a lot of newbies and they get donated to the lower channel river monster.  I do have to make up a few 2 pound weights for the St. Clair River but that can wait until March.

Lures, Lures, Lures

Where do I begin?  Over the years I have accumulated a butt load of lures.  Rapala’s, Spoons, Pencil Plugs, Night Stalkers, Bombers, Thundersticks, Stubbies, McGintys, Smithwicks, Spinners and a few Flat Fish just for good measure.  Well that’s it, no more purchases, at least for this year.  I need to save my money for an Alaska trip and if I can’t catch fish on what I have than I suck.  I did this back in 08 and 09 during the start of the recession.  I had to take two furlough days a month so my spending money went out the door.  I bought a handful of spoons then and that was it and guess what…..I still caught fish.  Apparently you don’t need the hottest color out there to catch fish.  The old reliables still work.  It also helps too that back in November I walked in to a clearance store that was selling brand new in the box size 9 and 11 Rapala’s for 4 bucks a piece.  Needless to say I bought every one they had, especially the Clown’s.

All my lures

Here they are, every walleye lure I own. I think.

So all that is left is to organize, consolidate, check and then put them back in the boat.  Easier said than done.  I still have a lot of boxes to go through and one box I need to do some work on.  The dividers on my spoon Plano box come loose so I need to glue them all in to place.  I’m tired of them coming out whenever I pull out a spoon.   Of course that means I have to pull all the spoons out of the box and keep them all separated until I can put them back.  I know when I do this I am going to wonder why I ever thought I would need so many different color patterns.  Sometimes I think these lure manufactures come up with new colors just to make me buy more.  Those Bastards……


The Miscellaneous Crap

There seems to be a never ending list of things I want to do to my equipment, especially my boat.  It seems like every time I am out I come up with some new idea on how to make things easier or more efficient.  Last year wasn’t any different.  I made new mounts for my reels but now they are too close to the side of the boat and the casing is rubbing up against the boat.  Need to fix that.  I also want to mount magnetic strips along the sides to hang lures.  Better to be on the side and out of the way instead of on the bottom of the boat.  I also have a couple of tubes I want to mount so that I have a place to put the weight when it comes in the boat.  Again, better to be out of the way instead of rolling around on the deck.  Need to come up with a new headlamp.  I keep trying different styles but they all have their drawbacks.  I’m sure I will come up with more as the winter months wear on.  It makes a nice diversion though until Spring gets here.  That and the fishing shows.