Class Is In Session

22 04 2017

Last Friday, when I came in from fishing I met a DWF club member, Steve Sheldon, as I was pulling in my boat.  Apparently he had been trying to track me down to ask me about handlining.  He had been going out but was only catching one or two fish here and there.  He figured he was doing something wrong and he was hoping I could help him out.  He asked if I could take him out some night and Friday (4/21) was going to be that night.

I had contacted Steve earlier in the week and told him to be at my house around 8.  I also told him to bring his stuff so I could check to make sure his shank/leader set up was correct.  I have found that when someone isn’t catching fish it is either that or his boat handling skills.  At least I would be able to eliminate one variable.  After a quick check of his stuff we were packed up and headed out.  The weather tonight was damn near perfect.  Once again a slight NW breeze, overcast skies and not to cold.  The water was still clear and my only concern wasn’t those other fish,  it was undersized fish.  I had been hearing reports that the river was now full of 13 inch walleye.

The reports were right.

We started around 8:30 pm and in the first 10 minutes I landed 5 fish and all of them undersized.  I eventually caught a couple of keepers but during this time Steve hadn’t caught anything.  I was just about ready to switch seats with  him so he could fish my set up when he got snagged, BAD.  After making a few donuts around the weight the shank busted and he lost the whole set up.  I rigged him back up with one of my shanks and a 40 foot and 6 foot leader.  After that it didn’t take long and Steve was flipping fish in the boat.  For the next 45 minutes it was game on.  We still caught a few undersized ones, and of course those other fish, but we were catching plenty of legal ones as well.  By 10:00 pm we were all done and putting gear away.  Steve was amazed how one small change, albeit an important one, could make all the difference in the world.  He went from spending hours and maybe catching two fish to catching a limit in just under 45 minutes.  Needless to say he was happy.  We put everything away and headed towards the dock.  Other than the snag, which turned out to be a good thing, it was a near perfect night.  When we got back to the house we chatted some more about strategies for different conditions and what to watch for concerning boat control.  I gave Steve one of my shanks and a weight for him to copy.  He probably spent part of today making new shanks and leaders.  Hopefully he will be able to get out again soon.

As I had mentioned earlier the water was still clear and no debris.  Most of our fish came on #11 blue and silver Rapala and a #11 Downriver Tackle Custom Rainbow Trout, which has a blue back, pink sides and a white belly.  We tossed back just as many as we kept and we only caught a handful of those other fish.  Most of them being big females.  Very few boats out for a Friday night which was surprising.  It’s go time and I really couldn’t understand why so few people were out.  Their loss.

The smaller fish is a great sign.  Successful hatches the last few years is starting to show and it looks like we will have plenty of walleye for years to come.  Based on what I have been catching it should be a good mix of fish from 15 to 24 inches for some time.  We’re going to need it because I’m afraid the hatch this year is going to be a bust.  Any eggs laid before those two big storm events we had probably covered all the eggs with silt which means they will have suffocated.  I certainly hope I’m wrong.





Weird Weather Wednesday Walleye

20 04 2017

Mother nature can be very fickle and the evening of Wednesday, 4/19/17 was proof of that.

The original forecast called for rain and wind during the afternoon and evening.  As the day progressed it slowly started to change to something a little more pleasurable.  Around mid-afternoon the forecast changed to all rain being over by 8 and the wind out of the NW at 4 mph.  I received a text from fellow handlining enthusiast Dave saying he was debating going to tonight with a friend from church.  I told him I would meet him at the ramp after 8.  Around 8:15 I arrived at the ramp and Dave was there getting his boat ready.  We chatted about life in general for a bit and then finished getting ready.  Their was a fair amount of fog on the river but I didn’t think much of it at first.  Once I launched and headed downstream I quickly realized it was a lot thicker than I thought.  Visibility was about 50 yards in any direction.  I couldn’t see either shoreline, just the lights from the Edison plant.  Fortunately, where I wanted to fish was close by so I would be able to keep my bearings straight.  By 8:30 pm I was lines down and trolling NE (with my navigation lights on).  It was really eerie fishing under these conditions.  A flock of geese flew by close enough that I could hear their wing beats but I couldn’t see them.  I could hear Dave’s boat off in the distance coming my way but I couldn’t see him.  About the time he passed me I hooked and landed fish number 1 for the night.  I don’t think he ever saw me as he headed further downstream.  About 10 minutes later number 2 was on but I lost this one flipping him in when the line broke on my kicker.  Been a long  time since I had that happen.  I quick check of my leader showed that the last 6 inches were all scrapped and nicked up.  I cut off the bad line and re-tied a new snap and lure.  Shortly after that I heard another boat coming downstream.  I could barely make out the silhouette of the boat but he was coming right at me.  As he got closer I stood up to make sure he could see me which he eventually did.  He slowed down until he was past me and then floored it.  You would think that after coming up on one boat in the fog he would take it easy.  Apparently not.

Shortly after he left I boated number 2.  Once I got all straightened around is when things started to get weird, and scary.  I looked upstream and off in the distance I could see what looked like a mini front moving in from the NE.  It was a big white cloud or fog stretching from the NW to the SE and coming right down the river.  Underneath it the sky was dark and I thought it might be rain.  It made no sense though.  All day long the rain and wind was coming out of the west and now here was what looked like an apparent front moving in from the NE.  I kept watching it and about the time it cleared the Grosse Isle free bridge everything changed.  It was like someone flipped a switch.  The wind instantly changed from a few mph out of the west to 15-20 plus out of the NE.  The fog vanished in an instant and the temperature dropped.  While I was trying to figure out what was going on the wind spun my boat around like a whirling dervish.  I quickly recovered and got my boat point back north again.  How it could go from dead calm and perfect to Holy Crap was beyond me.  I was a little concerned at first but once I got my act together I worked through it and managed to put 3 more in the cooler over the next 30 minutes.  By 9:30 I was done and headed for the dock.  I tracked down Dave first to see how he was doing.  They were recovering from a snag and getting back to it.  I told him I was leaving and asked him to text me to make sure he got off the water ok.  It was to weird of a night to take any chances.  Five minutes later I was safe and sound on dry land.  I have never experienced a weather change like that before while fishing and I hope I don’t ever again.

So I ended up with 5 more in just under and hour.  Most of the fish came on a #11 Blue/Silver Rapala.  The water is still clear and I only caught two of those other things.  The weather for the next few days looks sketchy so I’ll be staying home.  I should have about another week before the full on, feed all night, drive me insane invasion starts.  Hopefully I will get a few more trips in before then.

Providing Mother Nature isn’t fickle.





They’re HEEEEEERRRRRRREEEEEE!!!!!

18 04 2017

%#$^@*((&$^%%&#)@)$*$

April 17th is probably a new record for the earliest I have ever caught one of these things.  Fortunately it was only one of two but where there are two, millions more are waiting.  This will probably be the last week of decent fishing until the invasion is in full swing.  Glad I didn’t wait until this week to start.  The fear of them starting to show up soon was the driving force as to why I went out Monday night.  Normally I would have stayed home with a 10+ mph NE wind but the thought of my window of opportunity being slammed shut spurred me on.

I figured the water would have cleared up from the previous week so I didn’t even get on the water until after 7:00 pm.  Visibility was a lot better so I set up, dropped lines and started my usual Trenton Channel trolling pattern.  I was basically killing time until it got dark.  I might get lucky and pick one up before then but I figured I wouldn’t catch any walleye until about 8:30 pm.  I was pretty close, I hooked one and lost it around 8:15 and my first keeper came after 8:30 pm.  The wind made boat control difficult and I spent more time than I wanted trying to fight through it.  Eventually I started to pick away at them and by 9:30 I had 3 in the cooler.  I was beginning to debate leaving when I caught a forth but that fish came about 10 minutes later.  I then convinced myself that I would leave at 10 no matter what.  At 9:58 and 34 seconds number 5 was in the cooler and I was headed home.  I love it when a plan comes together.

Now for the conditions.  Like i said earlier it was  NE wind the whole time I was out and it never let up.  Skies were overcast when I started but as the sun set the clouds broke and the stars began to shine.  Water has cleaned up considerably and it doesn’t look like it will be clouding up again anytime soon.  I didn’t get a water temp reading but I’m betting it is 50 or greater.  Most of the fish came on the #11 Blue/Silver Rapala.  Only one came on the GFR which was on my 20 foot lead.  Everything else on my 40 and the *&^&%$^&%(^#* came on my kicker.

No more trips until probably Friday and that will be a late one.  SE winds tonight and rain the next couple of days.  My hands need a rest anyways, they are trashed.  I’m a perfect 20 for 4 trips on my boat so far.  The only night I didn’t pull a limit was when I went out with my friend Jerry.  I got 4 that night and we quit early when we both got hung up and our lines tangled.  I’m not going to complain though.  24 walleye in 5 trips is nothing to be upset about.





Windsday Walleye

12 04 2017

Oops, my mistake, never mind, I erred.  Forgot what day it was.

So I went out Tuesday night to add some more fish to the freezer.  I knew it was going to be windy but I thought with it being straight out of the west that it wouldn’t be to bad.  I was wrong.  The wind never did lie down and I was fighting it all night.  If I took my hand of the tiller I would start to spin around like a top in no time.  Fortunately, I was only out for an hour and a half.  The water was still dirty so I started with the same Smithwick’s I used Saturday.  That changed though because 5 minutes in I got hung up.  I managed to pull the weight free but my 40 foot lead was caught as well.  The wind started to spin me around, over the line, so I just snapped it before it got a chance to get hung up in the prop.  It broke right at the knot so I tied on an old snap that was lying on my console.  I grabbed a #11 bleeding Chartreuse Rapala that was attached to my magnetic strip and I was back at it.  Normally I don’t mix lure like this, because of the different dive rates, but having to fight the wind limited my ability to dig around in the storage area for my lure box.   It did get tangled with my 20 foot lead a couple of times but 3 of my fish came on the Rapala and the other 2 on the clown Smithwick.  I got my first fish about 6:45 pm and my last one at 8:00 pm.  There was about a half hour lull between numbers 4 and 5.  With darkness quickly approaching I figured I was going to be stuck at 4 but I told myself I would keep at it until 8 and my persistence paid off.

No size to any of these fish, all between 16 and 18 inches.  They are all probably from the same year class. No undersized fish yet and no big ones either.  Not that I’m complaining but I would like one 25+ inch fish to smoke.

As I said before the water is still dirty but it is improving.  I’ve heard reports that there is clear water upstream so it shouldn’t be much longer.  I didn’t take a water temperature reading either but I’m betting it is in the upper 40 range.  Soon those other fish will show up and I can hardly wait.  NOT!!!!





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.

http://sportsmensdirect.com/shop/pencil-plug-by-hwi/

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 www.downrivertackle.com  (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.





Wash, Rinse, Repeat.

8 05 2016

Went out last Friday evening (5/6) for another crack at the walleye before those other fish show up in force.  Weather wise it was completely different from two days ago.  Clear skies and warmer temps were the norm this evening.  Because of that I didn’t even leave the house until well after 8.  There were a few more boats out tonight compared to Wednesday as well.  Word must have got out that the fish were snapping.  Either that or the fact that this was going to be the nicest night weather wise we have had in over 2 weeks.  I headed to my usual area and started fishing around 8:45 pm.  My girlfriend Susan came along this evening to enjoy the nice weather and keep me company.  She also kept track of what time I caught each fish. I kept her busy almost immediately because I caught my first one in 5 minutes and by 10:02 pm number 5 was in the boat and we were headed home.

8:50

8:52

9:02

9:32

10:02

There was one undersized fish thrown in there between numbers 4 and 5 and a few of those other fish as well.  I know there are millions of them sitting in Lake Erie just waiting for the temperature to hit that magic number.  They probably started moving in this weekend.  I just hope they get it over with early this year.

All in all it was a near perfect evening.  Water is still very clear and the surface temp was around 51 degrees.  There was a lot of debris in the water tonight, like someone opened a sewer line farther upstream.  One fish came on Riley Special spoon and the rest came on the same two Rapala’s from Wednesday night.  Talked to a few other fishermen and it seemed like everyone was catching fish, some more than others.  I was glad I could get out these last couple of nights.  High winds will be keeping me on shore for the weekend.  Maybe one more night next week before the other fish hit their peak.

We shall see.

IMG_5159 IMG_5160 FullSizeRender IMG_5158

 





Drizzly Walleye 5/4/16

5 05 2016

There is nothing more depressing than watching the rain fall through your office window when you want to fish.  This was the case Wednesday as I sat at my desk and stared out the window in front of me.  This window is on the 6th floor and faces NW so I get a bird’s eye view of any storm coming my way.  Most days it is pretty cool to see a thunderstorm roll in but today was different, I wanted to go fishing after work.  Early forecasts were calling for thunderstorms in the evening but as the day wore on that chance dwindled away.  By the time I got home all rain had stopped, the wind had died down to nothing and the overcast skies remained.

Time to catch some fish.

Of course, once I arrived at the ramp around 8:15, the rain started up again.  It was just a light drizzle and it would continue to do this the whole time I was out.  At least the wind was next to nothing.  When I was out last Sunday night the NE wind never quit and I spent more time fighting it instead of fishing.  I’ll take a little rain over the wind any day.  By 8:30 pm I was lines down and working my way north against the current.  Water temps were right around 50 degrees and the water was still very clear.  Nothing much happened at first but once it got dark things turned on in a hurry.  Just after 9:00 pm I had my first fish on for the night and what would turn out to be the biggest.  A 24 inch male grabbed my #11 Black and Gold Rapala on my 40 foot lead.  I eased him and and when I got him to the surface I could see he was barely hooked.  I had a feeling he might be since he hit it so lightly.  I had my net handy and after a well placed scoop he was in the cooler.  About 5 minutes later number 2 grabbed the same lure and he met the same result.  While I was resetting lines I decided to swap out the #9 Rapala on my 20 foot lead for another #11 Rapala in a custom color called Pink Lemonade.  No sooner had the weight hit the bottom when number 3 hit that custom Rapala.  A quick flip and he was in the cooler as well.  Around 9:30 number 4 hit the same Rapala and into the cooler he went.  I was beginning to think that I would be done soon and of course, it didn’t happen.  I didn’t catch the last one until 10:00 pm.  That 30 minutes seemed like forever.  I started to question lure color, location, speed, everything I could think of.  I guess it just goes to show how spoiled I am when it comes to walleye fishing.  I know a lot of people that would be thrilled to get a limit in less than an hour and here I am bitching about it.  The last fish was the smallest of the night and he too hit the pink lemonade Rapala.  Nothing on my kicker tonight and I only had one casualty,  I busted the lip on #9 Rapala earlier.  During that half hour I also caught two of those other fish.  To be honest I was surprised I didn’t catch more.  I had been hearing reports for the last week of people catching them everywhere.  It was only a matter of time.  They should really take off this weekend with the warm water.

So the final tally for the night was 5 walleye ranging in size from 18 to 24 inches long, all males and all caught on #11 Rapala’s in Black/Gold and Pink Lemonade.  One minor casualty and a couple of unmentionables.  It drizzled most of the night but it was so light I never really got wet.  The wind did eventually pick up some but nothing to get excited about.  During my short little slump I did move out of the area that I had caught all my fish.  Don’t know how much of a difference it really made but once I got about 200 yards north I hooked and landed the last one.  Did they move?  Did they shut down?  Was it a fluke?  I’ll never know, to many variables to try and pin it down on one thing.  Doesn’t matter though, 5 fish were in the box and I was headed home.

FullSizeRender