Back to Walleye Fishing 8/22/18

23 08 2018

After 6 straight days of fly fishing for salmon it felt weird to be pulling wire for walleye.  It took me a bit to get the feel again but I managed to pick up 3 and a throwback in a little over an hour.  It was dead calm when I started around 8:30 pm but sometime after 9:30 pm it started to sprinkle and I felt a little wisp of a wind out of the NW.  Something didn’t feel right so I pulled lines and hauled ass to the dock.  By the time I go there the wind had picked up to a spin my boat and flip it over wind.

Go Figure.

I made a modification to a Rapala in the hopes of better hook ups with hose light hitting, short striking, lazy walleye.  Seems to work so far.  Lure still has good action and I managed to catch 2 walleye, a channel cat and a sheepshead with it.  The real test will be to see if I lose any fish at the side of the boat.

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Day – 2 Arrival

17 08 2018

Day 2 – I woke up bright and early to catch my next flight out of Anchorage to King Salmon.  Our flight was delayed by half an hour because of rain and fog.  I was beginning to think I would never see the sun again.  Saw this sign at check in.  Made me realize that I am not in Kansas anymore.

After that I boarded the Saab 2000 with the rest of the Steelhead Alley Outfitters gang for our 1 hour flight to King Salmon.

The view was rather impressive.

After we landed in King Salmon things got interesting.  It was still raining and there was no set time for us to be picked up and flown out. We were taken to “Eddie’s” the local bar to wait for our pickup.  This is about the only place in town to eat or get a drink.  I honestly don’t know how the locals could afford to drink or eat there.  I got 2 slices of French Toast for breakfast and it was 7.95.  Doesn’t  seem that expensive but the 2 slices were once piece of toast, cut in half.  The local grocery store was selling a cooked rotisserie chicken for 35 dollars.  Don’t even ask what a case of beer goes for.  So we ate and waited for our call up.  About 2 hours later our plane arrived and I was in the first group out.  We would be flying to the lodge in a de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver.  They built over 1,600 of these planes starting back in 1947 and there were approximately 900 of them still flying.

We took off and started our flight north.  The fog was getting thicker and visibility was getting worse.  At one point we were flying at around 100 feet as the pilot tried to spot a path between the fog banks and hills.  About 20 minutes out and 10 minutes from the lodge he couldn’t see anymore and turned around.  Needless to say my heart sank.  This was not how I wanted my trip to start.  Once we landed we were taken back to Eddie’s where the rest of our group had a look of surprise and disappointment on their faces.  We were told it could be awhile and even started to look into renting motel rooms just in case.  About 2 hours later I was picked up for round 2.  Back into the Beaver we went.  This time though we made it a little farther than the last time.  Once I saw the Alagnak River I knew we were home free.  The pilot would be able to follow the river up to the lodge and land, which he did.

Finally!  After many years I was actually going to be fishing in Alaska.  Even though it was raining I just stood there for a moment and took it all in.

All that was left was to move my gear to my cabin and wait for everyone else to show up.  It took a few hours and an extra plane but everyone was able to get in and the clients already there were able to get out.  Around 6:30 we were all served dinner which was followed by Bear Class.  That’s right, Bear Class.  We had to learn what to do and what not to do in bear country.

Don’t run.

Make lots of noise when walking along the shore and in tall grass.

If you have a fish on and see a bear just break the line and back away.

If you see a bear yell out so that everyone in the group knows, especially the guide.  The one with the shotgun and bear spray.

Enjoy your stay.

 

Next up…..The fishing begins.





Lake Huron Flats Smallmouth.

21 05 2018

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow, Tomorrow……

That was the song, and the video of Deadpool singing it, stuck in my head all morning long this past Saturday.  I had decided to go up to Port Austin to fish for Pre-Spawn Smallmouth’s on the flats several weeks ago and of course the weather turned to crap.  The rain pretty much covered the whole state so I wasn’t alone.  I made the most of it though.  I had a friend along (Non Fishing Muggle Type) so we stopped at the Farmer’s Market in Port Austin.  Bummed around Caseville a bit and stopped at a local beach near Grindstone City where i skipped stones to help pass the time.

At one point we stopped at a public access area and found about 2 dozen fishermen wading the bay and doing a whole bunch of casting and not a lot of catching.  I was beginning to think that my weekend was going to be a bust but as the day progressed the rain let up and the wind slowly began to lie down.  We went back to the same public access spot in the evening and this time all the fishermen were gone, except for two that looked they were done for the day.  I started to talk to them and they said they were waiting for their friend who was still out there.  Sure enough, about a quarter mile out there was one lone fishermen casting away.  They said he was catching fish and a minute later I saw his net hit the water.  That was all the convincing I needed.  On went the waders,  broke out the Orvis Helios 7wt, tied on a weighted sculpin and started the long trek out.  Eventually I reached the end of my wading depth limits (Damn my “S” gene) and started casting.  It took a few minutes to knock the rust off but eventually I was making a decent enough cast.  I just hoped they were far enough to get to the fish.  A couple of minutes later I got my answer.

After that it was pretty much game on for the next hour.  I was far enough from the other guy to keep from interfering but close enough so we could talk.  We were both catching a lot of fish but the majority were in the 12 inch range.  About 30 minutes later his friends started yelling and he took that as his cue to get going, not that he wanted to but they were his ride.  He wished me good luck and headed back to shore.  After he left fishing slowed up for a bit but not enough to keep me from leaving.  I was hoping for a bigger fish and after about 10 minutes I had one.  He wasn’t going to break any records but he was still one of my bigger Smallmouth on a fly.

After a quick pic I sent him on his way and got back to business.  Every time I caught another bass I would tell myself this would be the last one and I would head in.  After 13 fish I finally did, it helped that I ended it on a good note.

 

All told I ended up catching 13 and losing 2.  Not bad for a little over an hour’s worth of fishing in a place I never had been to before.  Earlier in the day I was sure the whole weekend was going to be a bust but instead it turned out to be one of the more enjoyable times I have had fly fishing.  I’ll definitely be coming back up here again to do this.  Doubt it will be this year but the more I think about it, staying home next year and taking long weekends to local spots is sounding pretty good.  Next time I’ll bring my kayak along.  A group from the Michigan Fly Fishing Club were up for the weekend and most of them were fishing the local rivers to avoid the wind.  I found out later that some of them did pretty good.  As for me my friend and I we went to dinner, sat around the bonfire for a bit and then passed out in my camper.  The next morning the wind had picked up overnight and there were now whitecaps in the area I was fishing 12 hours earlier.  I took that as a sign to just pack up the Mobile Steelhead Command Center and head for home.  Via the long way so I could check all the ports along the Thumb to see if anyone was catching anything.

The Sculpin Pattern that caught them all.

 

 





Thanksgiving Weekend Steel

2 12 2015

Thanksgiving vacation.  Most people are thinking about family, friends, food, football and eventually shopping.  I, of course, am only thinking about how much fishing I can get in over the next couple of days.  My original plan was to go out every morning, for a few hours, before any family obligations or chores.  It didn’t work out exactly how I had planned but I was able to get out every day.

My multi-day fishing excursion got an early start.  Our office closed up early on Wednesday so I hauled ass home, grabbed my stuff and headed for The Huron.  I only had about 45 minutes but that was enough to warrant the stop.  Water levels hadn’t changed much from the previous weekend and there was still a good stain to it.  I swung one of my leech patterns until dark but nothing happened.  Oh well, I still had the rest of the weekend.

Thanksgiving morning found me back on The Huron along with a few other fishermen.  When I arrived at the parking area there were already two trailers and several other vehicles there.  I rigged up my switch rod and headed upstream.  The first place I stopped  had a couple of people there so I kept walking further upstream.  I found another access point and waded in.  I was casting into an eddy that was caused by a tree that was mostly submerged.  It must have had a few branches in the pool because I got hung up and broke off twice.  Either that or I found the underwater cache for the guy that is doing this.

Hope he isn't an Angry Beaver

Hope he isn’t an Angry Beaver

 

As I worked my way downstream the other fishermen moved out and I just kept working my way down.  I fished the area for a couple of hours with no success.  By now it was approaching 11:00 am and I needed to head home.  I had a few things to take care of before heading to my brother’s for dinner.

Black Friday found me back in the water once again.  I didn’t know what to expect for today.  It had rained on and off during the night so I expected the water to be up some and colder.  The forecast called for rain all day today as well.  It was already overcast when I started, I was just hoping that it would hold off for a few hours.  It didn’t.  About an hour into my casting I started to question my sanity.  Here I was, waist deep in 45 degree water , getting rained on and casting a fly to a fish that I don’t even know BAM, AIRBORNE, FISH-ON!!!

Just that quick everything changed.  One minute I’m debating quitting and the next I’m debating staying out longer.  First things first though.  I had to get this fish in.  It was a smaller steelhead, probably in the 18 inch range but still full of fight and a lot of fun.  After several jumps and a couple of short runs I was able to get her close and get a hold of her tail.  A few quick pics and she was released to grow and fight another day.  I caught this one on another egg sucking leech pattern, just like all the others I have caught on the Huron.  I stuck around for about 30 more minutes but by now my legs were getting numb and it was time to head home.

Airborne

My kind of Black Friday Deal.

My kind of Black Friday Deal.

 

Saturday found me back in my usual spot albeit a little closer to shore.  The all day rain raised the water by about a foot and dropped the water temp by about 3 degrees.  I didn’t know what to expect for today but since I reached fanatic status I had to try.  There was a lot of boat and foot traffic today.  I had several people come up to me from behind to see how I was doing and around 5 or 6 anglers in boats troll by.  One boat had my friends Larry and Dave in it and Dave took a second to take this pic for me.

wading

No fish today again, I’m figuring the high water and temperature drop has them on lock down.  Didn’t hear of a whole lot of any fish being caught by anyone and those that were caught were small.

Sunday morning I slept in and made plans to go out in the evening.  I didn’t see much use to trying again in the morning with the water levels being what they were.  It didn’t matter though.  The water was still up, the water was even colder and I struck out again.

Monday was going to turn out to be a repeat of Sunday, sleep in and go out in the afternoon.  The fish results were the same but a had my usual visitors and a bit of an accident.  I started off at a new run and fished there for about an hour.  No fish, more boat traffic and the permanent park residents stopping by to check on my success.

usual visitor

I worked my way down to a different run and started to cast.  I wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings and as I was making my forward cast I hit a branch and pulled my line right across my face.  Of course that Daiichi hook was attached at the end and it stuck right into my right cheek.  Of course this all happened while I was waist deep in the river, the current is pulling the line downstream and pulling on the fly in my face.  I can’t see how deep the hook is but I got a pretty good idea just by the feel from my numb fingers.  I could feel that the barb was just under the skin so I pushed down and pulled.  Out came the hook.  All that was left now was a little clean up and a bandage.

doctor

Now any normal person would have probably walked back to his or her car and called it a day.  Not me, I’m not right in the head.  I just waded downstream a little farther and started casting once again.  Not that it mattered, I didn’t catch anything.  You would think the fish gods would have taken pity on me but apparently they feel I haven’t paid enough dues yet.  I think they felt that younger fishermen needed their divine intervention.  A watched 3 anglers in their late teens/early 20’s land one from their boat.  It must have been a first fish for someone because they took a lot of pictures.  So many that they lost track of where they were and drifted into shore.  By then it was approaching 5:00 pm and I needed to get home.  The Schwan man was dropping off an order between 5:30 and 6:30 pm and I needed to be home.  I was happy though.  I got a lot of fishing in over the last 6 days and I even managed to land one. That fish brought my total to 7 steelhead on the swing so far this year.  Not bad for my first year and I still have the whole month of December.  Hopefully I put the hooks to the fish instead of myself.





Halloween Steel

3 11 2015

Several months back I booked a steelhead trip with Drew Rosema and Feenstra Guide Service.  At the time, I figured Fall temps would have set in and the run would be in full swing.  As it turns out, I would be early, a few weeks early.  A lack of rain and warm weather had everything starting late by a few weeks.  I couldn’t cancel the trip and I didn’t want to anyways.  This weekend was my 51st birthday and I wanted to go fishing.  I was hoping there would be a few around and fortunately for me we did get some rain the week before.  I would find out later that it was just enough to get the flows back to normal but it was better than nothing.

I met Drew around 7:00 am at a roadside park and from there we drove to the ramp.  We launched his boat and soon we were headed upstream.  He told me that they have had a few fish in but not the numbers they are used to this time of year.  The water temp was in the range he liked but the lack of rain hasn’t brought in very many fish.  The few that are in are staying put in specific holes, mostly behind gravel beds feeding on any drifting salmon eggs deposited by what few zombies were left in the river.  We would fish holes like this throughout the day casting egg sucking leech patterns.  When we would fish a run or hole that wasn’t near a gravel bed I would use a small sculpin pattern.

We set up at one of the aforementioned gravel beds and started fishing.  Today I was using a Scott 13-6 Spey rod with an intermediate line.  I had never cast a rod this long or with this type of line before but after a few pointers from Drew I was laying the fly where it needed to be.  It was still dark where we first started so this stop was more about practice instead of fishing.  Once the sun started to rise and we could see better, we moved on to the next spot.  Drew anchored the boat downstream from a gravel bed that still had a few rather nasty looking salmon on it doing their thing.  I started drifting a small egg sucking leech along a seam that fed into the hole behind the gravel bed.  Just as we were about to finish up and move on, I hooked into a little 10 inch steelhead.  Not exactly what I was looking for but it was a steelhead.  I brought him in quickly and released him none the worse for wear.  We repeated this process a few more times before we stopped at a hole I know all too well.  The same hole I caught my first swung steelhead back in February.  Drew switched out the leech for a small sculpin that he tied on a cotter pin.  I got into position and let it work.  Drew and I were talking about the work the Army Corps of Engineers had done on the shore to prevent erosion while I cast the fly.  As I was making my 5th or 6th drift my fly got bumped and I got dead quiet and serious.  Drew asked if I had just had a hit when the fish came back and smacked it a second time.

Hit, Set, Airborne…….

I didn’t have to answer him.  After the first 3 or 4 jumps the fish took off upstream towards me instead of downstream.  Not that it mattered, with a rod this long I could keep pressure on him while I reeled in line.  He made a few more jumps and a couple of short runs but after about 5 minutes or so he was in the net.  A few quick pictures and he was carefully released to fight another day.  We fished that hole for another 20 minutes but I didn’t get any other takers.  As we were moving on to the next hole it started to rain, and rain, and rain, and rain some more and then, just for good measure, it continued to rain.  All day long as a matter of fact.  This rain was kind of bitter sweet.  I don’t like fishing in a downpour but an all day rain would help bring in more fish.  Not that it was going to do me any good today but I was planning on coming up and fishing again on 11/14 before I go deer hunting.

We tried a few more spots but it was to no avail.  We covered a lot of water but the earlier spots were the only ones that produced any fish.  Around 12:30 we called it a day and headed for the ramp.  I wasn’t going to complain, that’s two trips now and I have caught fish on each of them.  Swinging flies isn’t about numbers.  If that was the case, I would be plugging or drifting spawn.  This method is the most challenging but the strikes are the most exciting.  I’ll keep at it and one of these times I will catch more than one on a trip.  I just wish my Dad could have joined me for one of these trips.

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I love October

6 10 2015

There’s just something about his month that makes it better than any other month of the year.  The cool breeze in the air, the change of the season from summer to Fall, the colors and most of all just about everything is open.  For a hunter and fisherman nothing beats October.  The fish are starting to go into their pre-winter feeding binge.  Steelhead are starting their trip back upstream.  Several hunting seasons open up.  So much to do and so little time.  Heck, back when I was in college I probably spent more time afield and on the water then I did in class.  Now with work and other responsibilities my time outdoors is not as much as I would like but I still try to squeeze in as much as possible.  Weather permitting…..

Saturday Oct. 3rd would start my month long obsession with trying to get in as much hunting and fishing as possible.  It was opening day of waterfowl season for Zone 2 and that means Wood Ducks in my favorite spot.  My friend Barry had counted 26 woodies there the day before so the outlook was promising.  All we could do now was hope that they didn’t decide to ride the 20 mph winds out of there during the night.  As legal shooting hours approached we had a few singles fly through and a pair landed about 75 yards down from our position.  With the overcast skies visibility was poor so it was hard to keep an eye on them.  Not much more happened for the next 10 minutes or so and then it started…..

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We had ducks coming in from all different directions.  Wood ducks are known for appearing without warning here but this was ridiculous.  Barry was shooting, I was shooting, Dean was shooting.  I was drawing a bead on a second duck when two landed in front of me.  Of course I focused on them and forgot about the other one but as they took off Barry shot and I lost track of them as well.  A few seconds later I singled out a lone drake and dropped him with one shot.  As I was confirming where he fell Barry shot another one in front of me and Dean was shooting at one flying over the top of us.  After several minutes of chaos we had 7 ducks down.  Barry shot 3, Dean shot 2 and I shot 2.  Now it was time to go pick them up before we lost track of where they were.  I launched the kayak and started retrieval duties (I miss my dog).  Of course as I was picking up ducks more started to fly in.  Dean took a couple of shots but missed.  After some searching for the seventh duck I was on my way back to shore.  After that flurry things were really quiet.  We only saw two more ducks and I managed to shoot one of them.  Dean left to go squirrel hunting but Barry and I stuck around for a bit longer to see if any mallards might fly in.  We had our wood duck limits filled so it was mallards from here on in.  Not that it mattered, we didn’t see any wood ducks either.  By 9:30 I launched the kayak again to go pick up decoys and head back to the truck.

IMG_2403

We decided to go try for some squirrels in the ridiculously high winds before lunch.   Squirrel hunting was pretty slow, understandable with the winds as high as they were.  Each of us managed to shoot a black squirrel.  Mine made two mistakes.  The first was running through the tree tops when I walked by.  The second was stopping to take a look to see what I was doing.

IMG_2404

The winds were picking up so we headed back to the house for lunch, check the weather and to clean ducks and squirrels.  After a quick bite we cleaned the critters and debated what to do next.  The NE wind was blowing right at the house and their were whitecaps on Sanford Lake.  It was starting to drizzle a little so of course I went fishing.  Dean and Barry had been doing pretty good on the crappie and the thought of taking home a dozen for a meal or two was quite appealing.  Getting rained on wasn’t.  No big deal, I had dry clothes and a warm house to retreat to if necessary.  We were fishing with minnows and slip bobbers right off the dock in about 12 feet of water.  It was slow but Barry and I managed to catch 15 crappie on and off for the next few yours.  The weather would go from drizzle to down pour and back to drizzle all afternoon.  When the rain got  bad we went in, when it stopped we went out.  It really is nice having a house on the lake.

IMG_2407

By 5 o’clock the rain and wind had stopped completely.  We had a window of a couple of hours before the next front moved through so we grabbed the .22’s and headed back into the woods.  It was a pretty quiet evening.  It looked like most of the squirrels decided to stay holed up for the evening.  Barry and I managed to shoot 3 more before we called it quits.  It had turned out to be a pretty good day and I was not going to get greedy, besides Barry had shot 5 the day before and I had them to add to my freezer as well.  I could have stayed to hunt and fish tomorrow as well but I needed to get home.  Susan wanted to go to a flea market the next day and the group that was supposed to go with her backed out at the last minute.  I didn’t want her to go alone so once I finished cleaning the last 3 squirrels and fish I was headed south.  There will be other days.

So the final tally for Friday and Saturday was 8 Wood Ducks, 11 Squirrels and 15 Crappie.  All that was left now was to seal them up and put them in the freezer.

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I love October.

 

 





8/11/12 TC Walleye

12 08 2012

It had been over a week since I was last on the Channel so I was due for another visit. I was supposed to take someone out Friday night but the threat of rain kept us home. It never rained at my house but according to reports it dumped down in Trenton. It had rained all day Thursday as well. We really needed an all-day rain but now I was concerned as to what it would do to the river. I expected levels to be up and lots of floating weed mats coming downstream. Much to my surprise neither had happened, as a matter of fact there were hardly any floating weeds at all.

 
I hit the water just before 8:00 pm and set up next to the catamaran. I started off with spoons on all my leads, Riley Special, Flying Tiger and a Copper/Florescent Orange Spoon. A few minutes in and I hooked into a 12 inch smallmouth bass. No big deal but he was a precursor of things to come. Turns out I was going to be plagued by these fish all night long. I caught a half dozen more about this size before I ever caught my first walleye and that fish I had to throw back. Eventually I did pick up a keeper on the flying tiger spoon but he was barely legal. I thought about tossing him back but the way things were going I thought it might be a lean night. Turned out to be a painful night as well. Shortly after throwing back yet another 12 inch smallie I landed a 16 ½ bass. As I was trying to take the hook out he jumped some and stuck the barb into my finger, right along the edge of the nail. The hook also split the nail. After I got him back in the water I did a little first aid on my finger and was back to fishing. It was now about 9:00 pm and I had just swapped out 2 spoons for a #11 Bleeding Chartreuse Rap and a custom painted #9 that was green with black dots. For the next half hour all hell was about to break loose. First up was a 20 inch Smallmouth that made a mess of things. He was followed up by a 17 inch fish who didn’t want to cooperate either. This turned out to be a double, he was pulling so much on one of my leaders I didn’t even realize I had a walleye on another leader until I released the bass. This fire drill went on for the next 20 minutes where I landed 2 walleye, 3 smallmouth and 2 Spotless Freshwater Redfish. I also hooked into two fish that I never saw. They were big fish and I couldn’t get them to the boat. One kept pulling the wire and line through my hands. After a minute or two the hooks came free and that was the end of it.

 
I needed to take a break and re-organize so I pulled lines, checked hooks and re-positioned myself downstream a bit. My friend Dan had been texting me most of the night to get a fishing report so I gave him an update. He was coming out after work with another friend of mine so they wanted up to date info on conditions and action. It was nearing 10:00 pm and the smallmouth action had finally started to slow down. I had 3 walleye in the cooler and 1 throwback so far. I had intended to stay out until Dan and Richard showed up so I kept at it. By 11:00 pm I had added two more to the cooler and two more throwbacks. Dan had texted me that he was back at the ramp and waiting on Richard so I putt putted around for a few more minutes before I pulled lines and headed in. I had my 5, more smallmouth than I cared to deal with and a very sore left trigger finger.

 

Back at the ramp I shared my information with the two of them. Surface temp was 74.2 degrees (a drop of 6 degrees from my last trip a week ago) and the water was very clear. Most of my walleye came on the Rapala’s (I swapped out a CCT at one point when I busted the lip on the other custom). Very few floating weeds and just enough of a breeze to keep the bugs away. Final total was 5 walleye kept and 3 released, 15 Smallmouth (all Released), 4 Spotless Freshwater Redfish and one sore finger. Not a bad night.

 
Side Note: I picked up a ram mount for my digital camera so that I could take photos in the boat of all the Smallmouth Bass I release.  Unfortunately I broke my camera in Erieau.