Port Austin 2019

20 05 2019

This past Thursday (May 16th) began my now annual Smallmouth Trip to Port Austin.  I started making this yearly trek last year and my plan is to do it every year.  The only thing that could stop me now would be gale force east winds or my health.  I wasn’t going to have to deal with either this weekend (or so I thought) so away I went.  I arrived at Port Crescent State Park mid afternoon and set up camp.  Once that was all done I headed to the lake to start fishing.  When I arrived there were a few other fishermen out but they were all in kayaks.  I brought mine but I really don’t like fishing from a kayak.  I prefer to wade so I put my waders on and started out.  The water levels on Lake Huron are up considerably from last year and I didn’t think I was going to be able to make it as far out as I did last year.  As it turns out I wouldn’t have to.  Once I reached the old rock road I started casting.  3 casts later and the first one was in hand.

Not a monster by any stretch but it was a good start.  At least the fish were in close which is what I was hoping for.  With the west winds blowing the warmer water out I was hoping it would bring the fish in.  One thing I have learned about smallmouth fishing is that a few degree increase in temps can make a huge difference.  Over the next half hour I continued to catch fish.  Most of them were in the 12 inch range with one that was closer to 14.

The size was trending up but no where near the toads I caught last month.  These fish were still in pre-spawn mode and I believe the big ones hadn’t moved in yet.  I kept at it though when suddenly it happened.  It was just a occasional drip at first but soon the skies opened up and I got dumped on.  I could see clear skies in front of me but apparently I picked the only spot on Lake Huron to fish that was getting rained on.  It didn’t last long but it was enough to get me thoroughly soaked.  I debated heading in but I was a quarter mile from my car and I was already wet.  I waded out a little farther and made a few more casts.  My perseverance paid off.

This was my biggest lake Huron fish to date.  I estimated the length to be around 16 inches.  A quick pic and he was on his way.  After that one I headed in, the wind was starting to pick up and I was getting a chill.  I wasn’t expecting rain so I left my rain gear in the car.  A warm fire at camp was sounding pretty good right about now anyways.

I had all weekend so there was no sense in me getting crazy that first night.  If I had known what was going to happen the next 3 days I might have stayed out longer.  I awoke the next morning to the sound of rain hitting the roof of my camper.  It wasn’t a long rain but it was enough to discourage me from getting out of bed.  Once I did I looked out of over Lake Huron and could see it was dead calm.  That part I liked, except for the fact that I wasn’t going to be fishing this side of the point.  The other side faced east and the wind had changed to the direction during the night.  For the next two days it was straight in my face east winds and morning rain showers.  I tried to fish in it but it was pretty futile.  Dodging waves while casting into a 15 mph head wind is pretty much pointless.  So for the next few days I just hung around camp, tied some flies, played with the fire, fed the chipmunks and pretty much relaxed.  It’s still early yet so I may make the trip back up in a few weeks.

 

Until next time.

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Mental Health Walleye Trip 5/14/19

15 05 2019

5/14/19 and the Barbarian Horde still hasn’t taken over the river.

Thank God!

Earlier I had a routine doctor appointment that got a little out of hand.  It was supposed to be a follow up but it turned into a bit of a health scare and an all day event.  Everything is ok now but the one test sent me into a panic so I figured my best course of action to relax was to go fishing.  I would have liked to have gone out earlier but since it was such a beautiful day I opted to start after sunset.  The annual “Other Fish” invasion was on the verge of exploding and I didn’t need that to add to my stress.  With that in mind I launched right around 9:00 pm.  As expected the water was clear and still running high.  As a matter of fact, based on the water levels on shore, it looked a little higher than last time out.  Remnants of the Tri-Hull navy were coming in as I was getting ready.  I was hoping they were still early.  In a few minutes I would find out that my prayer’s were answered.  My first two fish were a couple of those little buggers but that was it.  After that it was all walleye for the next 30 minutes.

No specific color or lead out produced the other tonight.  I caught fish on all of them.  As a matter of fact, I have stuck to the same 3 or 4 patterns all season.  All have consistently produced, except for that one night with my cousin when the new pattern produced half the fish caught.  Still a fair amount of debris in the water and the current was really humping.  Had to kick up the rpm’s on my motor a bit to keep some forward momentum.  If I didn’t I soon found myself going downstream instead of up.  Lot of head shakes and probably a few scrapes tonight.  When I got home I found a few scales on one of my Rapalas.  I think I bonked a couple on the head with my weight as well.  There has got to be a lot of fish in the river right now.  I would like to think they are all walleye but I know better.  About a dozen other handliners out tonight, most I’ve seen all season.  A little late to the party but that’s their business.

I felt a lot better after I got the fish cleaned and the boat put away.  Going back up to Port Austin this weekend to chase Smallmouth Bass.  I’ll try for the walleye again after I get home.

 

 





10/13/18 Walleye

15 10 2018

It had been well over a month since the last time I went walleye fishing so I was due.  Wind was out of the SW but it was in single digits so I figured it wouldn’t be much of an issue.  I was more concerned about water clarity with all the rain we received in  the last week.  Turns out it wasn’t that bad, around 2 to 3 feet of visibility.  Surface temps were around 59 degrees, still to high but at least it was heading down instead of up.  Weeds weren’t much of an issue, just the single strands that I am accustomed to this time of year.

I dropped lines sometime around 5:30 pm and by 6 I had my first fish, a nice 22 inch male, biggest walleye I’ve landed in months.  Over the next hour I was able to land a couple more along with a few smallmouth bass.  It was a pretty slow and uneventful night.  There was one other boat out trolling and I saw them catch a couple of fish.  I kept my sonar going for awhile and most of the fish I marked were 2 to 4 feet off the bottom.  I know a few of them were walleye but I’m betting some of the other marks were smallies and a few trash fish.  Around 8 it was getting colder so I headed in.  The Fall bite is just starting and I have a few months left to fill the freezer for winter.  Weather permitting.  If the weather goes to hell I’ll just start chasing Steelhead earlier than I was expecting.





6/27/18 Walleye

28 06 2018

After almost a two month hiatus from walleye catching I decided to get back out on the river last night.  That and my supply in the freezer is getting dangerously low.  My original plan was to not even leave the house until after 9:00 pm but overcast clouds and a favorable report, from the day before, changed my mind.   I should have stuck to my original plan.  Double digit NW winds and rain made the first hour pretty miserable.  Throw in some of those other fish still being around and I was really questioning why I decided to go out.  I at least had a nice view for awhile.

Eventually the rain stopped and the wind died down enough to where I could concentrate more on fishing instead of fighting the elements.  The action wasn’t fast and furious but I was able to catch my 5 fish limit by about 10:00 pm.  There was no particular pattern that out performed the other.  Every lure and lead caught fish from the smallest Rock Bass to an 18 1/2 inch pissed off Smallmouth.

I ended up with 10 walleye tonight and released 5 that were borderline legal.  I was catching some better fish compared to the Spring so I was getting picky, even though conditions were tough.  All throughout the night the Other Fish were pushing the minnows to the surface while the gulls and tern dive bombed them from above.  Several times I was right in the middle of it with minnows jumping and predator fish boiling within feet of me.  It would have been a lot of fun if I had my 5 wt in my hand instead of wire.  I was there to catch walleye anyways and they were on the feed as well.  Every one I caught had Emerald Shiners or Gobies in their stomachs.  Not to surprising to see this.  After the Other Fish run winds down the resident walleye seem to go on a feeding binge.  Probably since they no longer have to compete with millions of other minnow eaters.

Despite the wind and rain the water was in good shape.  The water is clear and very few floating weeds.  Not very many mayfly husks on the surface either.  I never did take a temperature reading but the level is still way up.  The breakwall at Elizabeth Park is still under water but it looks likes they put out some new markers.  I’m sure a few members of the Tri-Hull navy ran aground during the Other Fish run.  Temps are supposed to jump into the 90’s for the next few days and with it being The 4th of July weekend I’ll be staying off the water.  I need to run up to my Mom’s anyways to take care of some chores.  I’ll be at it next week some night.  It’s going to be a great summer of walleye fishing.

 

 





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.

 

 





Come On Fall

7 09 2017

Yesterday was one of those days at work you would like to just soon forget.  It’s not that it was a really bad day but one part of it was rather annoying.  I really hate when I am trying to complete an assignment and I have people behind me telling what to do, where to put the numbers, how to write the email, what to put in the subject line, how to format the spreadsheet.  I have no patience for back seat drivers or know it all co-workers who won’t shut up and let me do my job.  Because of all that I decided to go walleye fishing.  I figured it would be a good night weather wise and I was right.  The water was clear, very few weeds and even fewer boats.  Only problem was a lack of walleye.  I ended up with 5 for the night but I could only keep 3 of them.  I’ve said before that August and September can be transition months but this has me worried.

The first thing is a lack of baitfish.  Normally I see lots of Emerald Shiners in the Marina as I am launching.  Not this year.  I haven’t see a one.  I haven’t seen any Gizzard Shad jumping in the Edison discharge either.  It’s still a little early for them but I usually see a few by now.  I haven’t caught any young of the year smallmouth either.  As a matter of fact I haven’t caught any.  The only other fish I caught last night was another big channel cat.

The other thing is the Algal Bloom in Lake Erie.  It was bad this year and I have noticed that when the bloom is bad in Erie the Fall walleye fishing suffers in the river.  I don’t know if it is just a coincidence or if it acts as some kind of a barrier to keep the fish from moving in.  I guess I’ll find out later in October once the water temps get  back down to the 50 degree range.  Right now the surface temp is at 65 degrees so we have a ways to go yet.  I’m not about to push the panic button, there is still time.

All the fish came on a #7 Hot Steel Rapala.  I tried other sizes and colors but that was the only one producing.  I also broke the lip on my last #9 Original.  I’ll have to go raid Walmart or something soon.  I’m beginning to wish I never had all those originals I bought at garage sales painted.

No pics this time.  Who really wants to see what a 15 inch walleye looks like?

 





A Carptastic weekend, sort of.

5 09 2017

I originally wasn’t planning on doing a whole lot of fishing this Labor Day weekend.  With it being the last “hurrah” for pleasure boaters and a forecast for NE winds I figured I would just stay home.  I had enough chores to keep me busy for the weekend anyways, one of them being re-staining and sealing my deck.  I had been putting it off all summer and I was running out of time.  So with all that in mind I did what any other respectful fishing fanatic would have done.  Went fishing anyways.

A friend of mine had told me about a nearby lake (more of a pond actually) along the Rouge River.  He told me that it was full of carp and nothing else.  I was supposed to meet a friend for lunch up in Garden City around noon on Sunday so I figured I would leave early and check out the area first.  When I arrived I saw that the “lake” was in desperate need of rain, much like the local rivers.  I walked the perimeter and wouldn’t you know it, I spotted a lone carp slowly cruising around in about a foot of water.  I went back to my car and quickly rigged up my TFO BVK 6 wt with an olive damsel fly.  I headed back to the area and after a few minutes I located the same lone carp.  Now came the hard part, trying to find an area I could cast to him.  This part of the lake was surrounded by trees and no room for a back cast.  I wasn’t wearing boots or waders so wading was out of the question.  Never the less I made my way down to the shoreline and waited, hoping he would come in a little closer.  After a few minutes he did and I was able to make a roll cast to get the fly out in his direction.  I patiently waited as he swam closer and then gave the fly a short strip.  He turned towards the fly and swam in.  I wasn’t going to be able to see the take so I kept ready for any sign of it.  Just as he got to where I though my fly was I gave it another twitch and he turned on it.  I lifted my rod, felt the weight, drove the hook home and it was off to the races.  Once again there were other carp right along the shoreline that I did not see.  When he took off 3 more did from the shallows as well.  Now it was going to be a combination of me balancing myself on a log to keep from falling in and to keep him from swimming under the numerous blow downs in the area.   He did manage to swim under small one but I was able to pull him back from under it.  Five minutes later he was in hand and posing for a pic.  After that he was back on his way and I was headed to lunch, a little wet and dirty.  He flopped out of my hand as I was taking the pic and he splashed muck all over my jeans.  Oh well, wasn’t the first time nor will it be the last.

My Precarious Perch

Just before the flop

The next day I headed back hoping for a repeat.  This time the carp were concentrated right in front of the parking lot so I spent my time right there trying to catch one.  This time I wore my knee boots to keep from getting wet.  These fish were feeding but they really didn’t want anything to do with my olive damsel.  I did manage to hook one for a few brief seconds but I think it was a foul hook in the pectoral fin.  I still tried, spooked a few, had a few swim right up to the fly and refuse it and others that just plain flat out ignored it.  One of these days I will figure out how to catch these “cruising” carp with more consistency.  I saw a lot of depressions in the muck and I figured they had to be from bass.  I didn’t see any at first but while I would bring in my fly smaller fish were trying to grab it.  After awhile I switched to a smaller fly to see what they were.  Figured they were bluegill but it turns out they were young Smallmouth Bass.

Guess I’ll have to figure out where the parents are.  When I’m not catching carp of course.