Weekend Report Part II

26 06 2017

Friday, June 23rd, 2017

Where are all the handliners?

I understand that fewer people fish now and even fewer pull wire but no one else on a perfect weather Friday night?  That’s just ridiculous.  That was the case though this past Friday.  I was the only one fishing the Trenton channel.  Just me, no one else, nadda, zip, no ah ah.  I can’t understand it either.  It was a near perfect night.  A slight breeze, partly cloudy skies, no weeds and temps in the low 70’s.  There weren’t any pleasure boaters out either.  Just me and the fish.  I started at 9:30 pm and was done less than an hour later.  5 more for the freezer, 1 throwback and only 2 blankity blanks.  Like I said, a near perfect night.  Maybe everyone is believing all the social media hype this past Spring of no fish.  How the commercial fishermen caught them all.  How the DNR are mismanaging the walleye population.  How tribal fishermen are secretly catching all the fish to sell to Estonia, oh wait, that’s the Lake Trout.  My mistake.

One very small item of note is this little guy.  I pulled him out of the top walleye as I was cleaning him.  I posted the pic on Facebook and told everyone that it is the smallest fish I ever caught while pulling wire.  No one has figured out how I managed to do that yet.

 

Saturday, June 24th, 2017

Since Friday night went so well I decided try for a repeat.  This time I invited my friend Larry along to get in on the easy fishing.  Conditions were about the same except for the wind coming out of the SW but it was nothing to be concerned about.  We did see two other handliners out though but one of them was an upstreamer so I really don’t count that boat.

We started at 9:15 pm and it wasn’t long before I had one in the cooler.  Larry didn’t even have his lines in the water so of course I started giving him grief about it.  It continued as I landed numbers two and three, tossed back a couple of undersized ones and lost one at the boat.  I suggested he start adding to the cooler otherwise it was going to be a long night for him.  After that initial flurry things slowed down.  We managed to pick up 5 more over the next 2 hours but it was one here and there.  Just about the time I was thinking about moving to a different location one of us would catch or lose one and I would change my mind.  On our last run we lost 3 in about 5 minutes.  Larry was having a tough time with snap swivels.  Three of them broke and he lost a couple of lures because of it.  I know that feeling, I lost 3 lures and 3 fish one night because of that.  All of my snaps were replaced the next day.  Around midnight we packed it in.  The weeds were getting worse and even though it was a no moon period the blankity blanks kept feeding after dark.  No sheepshead though but I did catch my first channel cat for the year.  We both thought it was big walleye until he was in the boat.  It was still a pretty good night.  We ended up with 8, threw back 4 and lost just about as many.  The fish were anywhere from 15 to 20 inches.  Most came on #9 Rapalas in original or bleeding olive.  No pictures tonight, Larry took his home and I just cleaned mine without taking a pic first.  Just refer to the Friday catch picture and block out one fish.

Sunday, June 25th, 2017

Sunday was supposed to be a day of fly fishing but 20 mph SW winds took care of that.  I walked around the lagoons at Sterling State Park to scout out the area for fishing opportunities.  I was hoping I could wade around instead of taking my kayak.  Still undecided about that.  I might go back this upcoming weekend.  The weather is looking pretty good for the rest of this week.  I’ll go walleye fishing at least once, possibly more.  Still trying to find an area with some active carp that I can cast a fly to.  It would be great if I could find a Mulberry Tree along some water.

 

 

 





Just one of those nights…..

22 06 2017

Ever have one of those nights when nothing seems to go right?  The kind of night when you have that feeling deep down that it is going to be a disaster and you should just stay home?  Well last night was one of those nights.  I had been debating going fishing all day.  Originally the weather forecast was calling for light west winds but that changed to SSE winds at 10 mph.

Strike One.

It was also June 21st, the longest day of the year.  That meant it wouldn’t get dark until after 10:00 pm, thus giving me a very short window of opportunity since I had to get up for work the next day.

Strike Two.

With all the warm weather I was expecting here to be a lot of boat traffic, which is never fun.

Strike Three.

The Fish Flies were hatching.

I really can’t consider this a strike since I usually do pretty well when they are hatching.  Problem is I have had nights where they covered the boat and car which is really annoying.  So keeping all this in mind I did what any logical fisherman would do, I went out anyways.  I arrived at the ramp around 8:30 pm and as expected there were mayfly casing covering the water and lots of big boats out.  I must have had a look of disgust on my face because the ramp attendant asked me if I was “ok” when he took my launch fee.  I launched anyways and became even more disgusted when I saw the mats of weeds floating downstream.  The water was very clear as well which would probably mean lots of the other fish until dark, providing they were still around.  They usually leave about the time the mayflies start up.  I headed for deeper water first until the sun got a little lower on the horizon.  I started off with a couple of spoons and a #9 CCT Rapala.  It didn’t take long and I had my first fish for the night.  Problem was that it wasn’t a walleye, it was a walleye’s smaller cousin, a yellow perch.  A first for me.  I have never caught a yellow perch pulling wire, nor on a Rapala.

If he had been a few inches longer I would have kept him.

From then on it was clearing weeds, dodging pleasure boats and catching everything else but a walleye.  Yellow perch, White perch, White bass, Smallmouth bass, Rock bass, Sheepshead.  Even after dark i was still catching this crap.  Almost two hours of this line fouling nonsense.  At one point I was surrounded by a bunch of Common Terns and Ring Billed Gulls.  I knew what was coming and before I could pull my lines it happened.  The water boiled from those other fish pushing emerald shiners to the surface and then the birds dove in with me right in the center of it all. As expected all of my lures had fish on them.  Once i got them in I got out of that area and headed north.  Shortly after that I got rid of the spoons and switched over to all Rapala’s.  That cut back on some of the junk fish but they were catching every weed floating by.  I had debated quitting but I didn’t want to go in empty handed.  It has been years since I have been skunked and I wanted that streak to continue.  Around 10:30 I finally caught a walleye.  I seriously thought about just throwing him back and heading in but I wanted some fresh fish so I decided to stick it out for a bit longer. I stayed in the same area where I caught the one and in the next 20 minutes he was joined by four of his pals.  Now I was heading in.

A couple minutes later I was back at the dock and tying off.  I was feeling a little better now but I questioned whether or not it was worth the effort.  I go fishing to relax, not stress myself out.  As I pondered this I made it back to my car where I got the final kick in the teeth.

I know it doesn’t look to bad but I knew that once I opened the hatch to put  gear away they would swarm into my Escape and I would be finding dead flies for the next week.  I suppose I shouldn’t complain, at least my car wasn’t coated like the white Border Patrol car parked next to me.

My silver lining for the night, along with the fish.

 

 





Weekend Update

5 06 2017

Friday, June 2nd, 2017

This past Friday evening started off pretty much the same as the prior one.  I was back walleye fishing in my usual spot at 9:30 pm.  Conditions were pretty good, partly cloudy skies with a slight NW breeze.  Boat traffic was a little higher than normal and in about 30 minutes I was about to find out why.  No matter though, I got set up and started my usual routine for night fishing when the other fish are in.  About 5 minutes in I had my first fish on and it turned out to be a 23 inch male walleye.  That was soon followed up by a second 21 inch male.  I was beginning to think that maybe the other fish had left.  That things would get back to normal.  That I wouldn’t have to constantly be pulling lines in to remove unwanted accidental catches.  I was wrong.

1,2,3,5,6,7,8,9,11,12,13,14,15,16…..

Around 10 pm I sensed a flash of light behind me and then a resounding boom.  Grosse Isle was shooting off fireworks, thus the reason for the increased boat traffic.  Shortly after the start of the show I picked up a third walleye and it would turn out to be my last one for the night.  Once the show was over all the boats headed for the docks and after that it was nothing but the other fish for the next few hours.  My last fish of the night turned out to be a white perch that had a brush with a muskie.  When I flipped it in the boat it had teeth marks across both sides.  Lucky little bugger.

 

Hope I never lose that Blue & White PP. It’s the only one I have.

 

Saturday, June 3rd, 2017

Chores.  I did find another Blue & White Pencil Plug while I was cleaning out the garage.  Day wasn’t a total waste of time after all.

 

Sunday, June 4th, 2017

Sunday started off with me attending Demo Days at Schultz’s Outfitter’s.  This is an annual event full of fly fishing, tying classes and demonstrations.  I signed up for the Micro Spey – Trout and Smallmouth class presented by Tom Larimer.  When spey fishing first arrived in Michigan it was all about Steelhead.  Lately though there has been an interest in scaling things down for the resident Brown & Rainbow Trout and Smallmouth bass.  Tom has been heavily involved with this, working with both G. Loomis in developing fly rods specifically for this and lines from Airflo to go with them.  Since I enjoy spey casting so much I wanted to learn how to incorporate what I have learned so far into catching the aforementioned species.  Class started off indoors at first with discussion about presentation, reading water and fly selection.  After that we wadered up and were standing in the water casting.  Tom brought along two prototype rods from G. Loomis and worked with each of us on our spey casting.  I like to think that I am getting better but after watching Tom I quickly realized I have a long way to go.  He did point out a couple of small items that I need to work on.  A couple of the finer points of setting “the anchor” that when done properly make a huge difference.  When I don’t do it things get ugly.  Just like anything else that is new I need to practice more.  I figure I’ll go down to the river a few times a week with my spey and switch rods and do just that.

Later that evening I grabbed my 5wt fly rod and headed to Washago Pond in Willow Metropark to play around with the bluegills.  Susan and I used to go to the park about once a month in the Spring and Summer.  She would read and take pictures while I fished.  Afterwards we would drive around and look at the deer or whatever other critter might be out and about.  Now it’s just me and the fish.  When I arrived around 8:00 pm it was dead calm and no sign of any surface activity.  Usually the swallows are skimming the surface trying to pick off newly hatched bugs, not tonight.  Undeterred from the lack activity I walked over to the edge of the pond, tied on a #14 Elk Hair Caddis dry fly and went at it.  The fly wasn’t on the surface for a second when the first bull gill smacked it.  About a minute later he was in hand.

The first of about 2 dozen.

This continued on for the next hour.  Every other cast resulted in another nice gill.  Eventually my dry fly started to turn into an emerger/sub surface fly and then a slow sinking fly.  I could of changed flies but it was still working so I didn’t bother.  The last few caught were strip sets.  I would see a subtle swirl where I thought my fly was and once I gave a tug I could feel the weight.  I must admit though, I tied that fly right.  It never fell apart, even after being almost swallowed by most of the fish.  Around 9:00 pm fishing started to slow down so after one more fish I packed it up and went home.  My elbows and wrists were getting sore from all the fly casting today anyways.  I can always come back.

In the immortal words of Porky Pig….”That’s All Folks“.

 

Afterwards I drove around the park to watch the deer, just like Susan and I used to do.  There were about a dozen of them out, most with their summer cinnamon tan already.  No fawns yet, they are probably hunkered down somewhere safe from the resident coyotes.

Perfect way to end the weekend.

 

 

 

 





Memorial Fins and Feathers weekend, minus the Feathers.

30 05 2017

As in life, things don’t always go as planned.  Originally, my Memorial Day weekend was supposed to be 3 days of fishing and turkey hunting.  Due to weather, water conditions and other circumstances beyond my control all I got to do was fish for walleye Friday night.  Even that trip didn’t go as planned, actually the results were not what I figured they would be.

I left the house Friday night around 9:00 pm.  With the blankity blank run still going on I wasn’t even going to try until after dark.  I was planning on running pencil plugs as well with the hope of keeping the blankity blank catch rate to a minimum.  With that in mind I started fishing around 9:30 and shortly afterwards it began.

1,2,3,4,5,6, Hey look….a walleye, 7,8,9, Oh cool, another walleye, a third walleye….we’re cookin’ now 10,11,12,Dink,13,14,15, well at least I’m not catching them two at a time, 17,18,20,21, another walleye, I should just quit now, 22,23,24,26, that’s it, I’m done, time to pull lines.  Holy Crap, number 5, the streak continues.

That was the night in a nutshell.  I got my 5 walleye and the blankity blanks were just active enough to annoy me but not so bad that they drove me off the river.  Around 2 dozen of them in 2 ½ hours of fishing isn’t bad but when I am walleye fishing that is all I want to catch, walleye.  What I was really expecting was a lot of undersized walleye.  I had heard reports about fishermen catching 30 and 40 undersized walleye in order to get a limit of 5.  I didn’t want to deal with that along with the blankity blanks.  The longer the lures are out of the water, releasing unintentional catches, the less time they are in the water trying to catch the targeted species.  This was another reason why I was running pencil plugs.  I was hoping the bigger bait and lack of action would keep the blankity blanks and the undersized fish at bay.  It worked to some degree but it also created a headache.  One of the drawbacks with a pencil plug is that when a blankity blank grabs it the extra hooks catch the fish in odd places.  That creates a tendency for them to come in sideways and pinwheel, which leads to tangled leaders.  I got brave at first and ran 3 leaders but once I realized that the blankity blanks were not going to leave it alone I ditched my kicker to cut down on the tangles.

There were about 6 other boats out fishing tonight as well.  Most of them were south of me but one stayed in my area for a good part of the evening.  At one time they got close enough and I could see that they were bring in blankity blanks two at a time.  I was able to see what they were using for lures, #9 Clown Rapalas.  That’s as bad as wearing a Vote Hillary 2016 t-shirt at an NRA convention.  You’re just asking for trouble.  As the night progressed the other boats thinned out and by 11:00 pm I was the only one out.  By 11:30 I had 4 in the box and was debating just heading in.  I had to get up early the next morning and I needed some sleep.  I decided to stick it out to 12 and then go in no matter what.  I pointed my boat towards the Edison warm water discharge, figuring I would make my last run through there.  After I made my pass I started to pull lines.  I put my 40 foot lead over my right shoulder as I pulled my 20 and started to wrap it on my spool.  As I was bringing it in my reel started unwinding and my 40 foot lead started heading back off the stern of my boat.  At first I thought the line got hung up in my prop but that wasn’t possible.  The lure was 40 feet back, on the surface and probably only 10 feet of line in the water.  I dropped my spool and placed my foot on it to keep it from falling over.  I grabbed hold of my 40 foot lead and to my surprise I could feel that slow head shake and weight of a walleye.  I minute later and he was in the cooler and I went back to putting everything away.  10 feet of water and that walleye came up and grabbed the lure off the surface.  Sometimes it pays to be lucky.

So that was the beginning of my 3-day weekend.  One I had originally hoped would be full of fishing and some hunting but it didn’t work out that way.  I was fortunate to catch a limit of good sized fish.  I was expecting a lot of throwbacks and maybe a couple of just barely 15 inchers.  Instead I was able to keep my walleye limit streak intact for 2017.  I’ll probably try again Friday or Saturday this coming weekend.  At night.  With Pencil Plugs.  Unless the blankity blanks have left, which I highly doubt.

 





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.