Erie Perch, 08/27/17

28 08 2017

My original plan for last weekend was to take care of some chores and do a little fly fishing each morning.  That all changed early Saturday when I got a text from Steve Schoonover, owner of The Mad Viking Tackle Company.  Normally I don’t start perch fishing until the Fall when they make their way into the river.  Since they have been doing so well on Erie I jumped at the chance to get an early start on putting some in the freezer.  We made plans to meet at the Bolles Harbor Marina the next day around 10:00 am.  Fellow Handliner Dave and his son Braden were also along for the trip.  That meant we had the potential to go home with a 4 man limit of perch, 200 of them.  While that sounds both excessive and awesome the thought of cleaning that many really didn’t appeal to me.  I’d be happy with a couple of dozen each.  I give most of the yellow perch I catch to my Mom and she really can’t eat that many anyways.

Once we got the boat loaded up with our gear we made our way to the first stop near Stony Point.  There were some decent rollers so it made for a bumpy ride.  The Algal bloom wasn’t to bad in this area but looking out over the lake you could see where the surface would go from green to blue.  We started drifting perch rigs (supplied by Steve) at first to find some active fish.  Once we did we dropped anchor.  The first stop yielded about 2 dozen perch in the 9 to 11 inch range.  Not a bad start but after an hour we moved on towards the Raisin River bouys.  There were a lot more boats in this area so we picked a spot just outside of the pack.  The bloom was a little thicker here but nothing like the pea soup it had been like a week ago.  We picked up about another dozen during the next hour.  Around 1 Steve had us pull lines and we moved deeper into the center of the pack.  Once we dropped lines it was game on.  For the next couple of hours the 4 of us steadily filled the live well.  We only got a handful of doubles but we weren’t complaining.  We were kept busy and there were very few lulls in the action.  If we didn’t get a bite after a minute or two we were pulling in to check for bait.  The minnows we had didn’t survive well and by now we were using dead ones.  The perch didn’t seem to mind but whenever we set the hook the minnows would come off all the hooks.  We were even doubling up on the minnows on each hook.  We pretty much had to, the emeralds we had were in two sizes, extra large and extra small.  The extra large ones were used first, after that it was the pinheads, two at a time.  Like I said though, it didn’t matter.  The perch were abundant and hungry.  Only problem was that being bounced around in the boat for the day was starting to take it’s toll.  We were already at 100 so Steve decided we should quit at 125.  Braden brought in #125 but since we still had lines out it was soon followed by numbers 126 and 127.  All that was left now was the trip back in and the cleaning.  With four people helping it only took about an hour, which isn’t to bad at all.

Father & Son

Captain Steve, The Original Mad Viking.

Doubling Up

 

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A year in a Life – August

27 08 2014

August. 

Not much can be said for this month.  This is usually the time of year I start to slow down and take it easy.  I have been hitting it pretty hard for close to 4 months now and I start to experience a little burnout.  Both my self and my equipment has been taking a beating so it’s time to re-tool, relax and get ready for the start of hunting season and the fall walleye run.  Getting ready for small game doesn’t take much, buy a few licenses and zero in the .22 rifle is about all I need to do.  Getting ready for Fall fishing is a ltitle more involved.  The first thing I do is check all my gear for battle damage.  This means new leaders, swivels, snaps and shanks.  Four months of beating them on rocks takes their toll and now is not the time to discover something is damaged while I’m bringing in a 6 pound fish.  Fall fish mean big, aggressive fish and I don’t want to lose any because of a nicked line or damaged swivel.  I know I should be checking these things throughout the season but I’ll admit I get lazy.  Summer time fish are generally smaller and they don’t fight a lot.  Even the Smallmouth are pretty lethargic.  That all starts to change though once it starts to cool down. 

The other thing I need to do is dig out the big baits, all my size #13 Rapala’s.  I have to keep these out of the boat just because I don’t have the room.  I know it should seem like a no brainer to find them but every year I seem to put that box in a place I can never find.  I’ll end up spending an afternoon searching the garage and my house to find them.  One of these days I will get myself organized.  Another thing I need to do is get the perch stuff out and ready.  If for some reason the walleye don’t want to cooperate I can usually go get a few perch.  I don’t need to fill the boat with them but enough for a meal or two is a nice change from my usual walleye diet.  Again, the hardest part about getting the perch stuff ready is trying to find my box of snelled hooks, sinkers and other miscellaneous items.     

 





Van Etten Lake Panfish 7/28/14

4 08 2014

My first morning in Oscoda was going to be spent on Van Etten lake with my Dad and his neighbor Dennis.  They have been doing rather well on the panfish and perch and I was hoping that would continue.  Since I can’t put salmon in the freezer I am hoping to replace it with some panfish and perch.  We hit the water around 9:30 am and headed for the east side of the lake to a weedy are in about 7 feet of water.  We had a brisk wind out of the north so I was going to stick to using leaf worms instead of my fly rod.  My Dad and Dennis were going to use leaf worms as well on snelled hooks and crappie rigs.  I was using a small jig below a slip bobber set at about 5 feet.  Once we got the anchors set we dropped lines and quickly started to catch fish.  We continued to pick away at them for the next few hours.  We really didn’t move around to much unless the anchor lost it’s hold and the wind pushed us south.  After about 4 hours things were starting to slow down so we packed it in.  We ended up with 22 panfish and 74 perch.  Not to bad and the best part is that I didn’t have to clean them.  Wellman’s, the local bait shop, cleans fish for 4 bucks a pound.  I’ll pay that all day long to keep from having to scale and clean that many fish.

Panfish Haul Sunfish 2 Sunfish 3





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.





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





Van Etten Perch 7/27/13

29 07 2013

I spent this past weekend up at my parents place in Oscoda.  I used to go up there on a regular basis but 4.00 dollars a gallon for gas kept me at home more than I wanted.  My brother and his wife were also planning on coming up and they wanted to go fishing.  Not a problem, my Dad had wanted to go perch fishing on Van Etten Lake so this seemed like a good opportunity.

After a breakfast of homemade waffles Dad and I got the boat ready.  I don’t fish for panfish too much so I had to do some digging for the proper tackle.  #11 Rapala’s aren’t exactly the best thing for perch, though it would be interesting to see the perch that would grab one.  A few minutes later I had everything I needed and we were on our way.  A friend of my Dad’s had caught a bunch of big red ear sunfish earlier in the lake so we were off to try and find the same spot.  Of course we never found it.  We were slowly trolling around trying to find a drop off from 5 to 8 feet of water.  I had one rod rigged up with a sinker and baited hook and I was dropping it in until we found some fish.  I picked one perch and then another so we dropped anchor and got after them.  I was using my sister-in-laws rod so I handed that back to her and got my brother set up.  Soon everyone was catching fish but me.  I had yet to get my rod set up.  I was going to experiment.

I really hate using bait, especially worms like everyone else was using.  I had been following another blog (D & B Ice Adventures) about a guy who fishes for panfish in Vermont A LOT.  He and his fishing buddies use a lot of small artificial jigs so I was going to give it a shot.  I was hoping this would work because it would be a lot easier and cleaner.  It did.  I dropped down a small chartreuse jig with a white plastic body and a few seconds later I was bringing in my first perch.  This was great, the water was clear enough that I could see my white jig.  The second it disappeared, set the hook and bring in the fish.  This went on for about the next hour.  Eventually the bite started to slow down so we started to move around to find another active group.  We tried a few more spots but with no luck.  We had a fair amount of fish and it was past lunch so we headed in.  We had other things to do today and the skies were starting to look a little menacing.  50 perch and 1 big red ear sunfish was nothing to complain about.  All that was left now was to drop them off at Wellman’s for cleaning.  Which, by the way, they scaled and filleted for 10 dollars.  I will gladly pay that if I can keep from cleaning panfish.

Now for the vital stats.  Water was clear with about 5 feet of visibility.  We were fishing in 5 feet of water near a drop off to 8 feet.  Weeds were kind of sparse and a few bare patches here in there.  There was a light wind out of the SE and it was overcast.  Everyone else was using a #6 gold plated hook baited with a leaf worm tied above a bell sinker.  I was using a small chartreuse jig with a soft body bait (pictured below).  I would twitch it and bounce it around to keep the perch interested.  They would grab it as it was going up, down and even just sitting there.

All in all it wasn’t a bad way to spend a morning.

IMG_1405 IMG_1406 IMG_1409