Huron Small Jaws

25 04 2017

About the time those other fish start to show up I begin to look to other fishing opportunities until they leave.  Instead of heading north to go chase Steelhead I decided to make a local trip for some Huron River smallmouth.  A few years ago this wouldn’t have been an option but the DNR recently changed the rules to where bass are now open year round for catch and release.  This presented an opportunity for the gang at Schultz’s Outfitter’s to start guiding trips in April instead off May.  A quick phone call and I was all checked in for a Sunday morning (4/23) float.

My guide today was going to be the newest member to the Schultz team, Justin Pribnac.  This is his inaugural season as a guide for the shop.  He has been guiding for the last 10 years but the Huron was a new area to him.  Seemed fitting as this was my first time targeting Smallmouth Bass with a fly rod.  I have caught them before but it was always by accident.  Now, I was going to be casting big streamers to likely holding spots from a drift boat.  I’m sensing a lot of streamers in trees.

My Chariot for the Day

 

Once we got into the boat we started our drift downstream.  This was my kind of fishing, I stand up front and cast while someone else rows.  I have to hand it to Justin, he kept me in the zone all day and set the boat up so I could make easy casts.  While I was casting he would give me tips on placement and how to get the fly to twitch just right.  Since he knew I was a big fan of the two hand spey game he described the presentation in ways I could easily relate to.  Since the river was flowing high, from all the recent rains, we concentrated our efforts on the “couch” areas.  Places on the river downstream of logs and obstructions that formed slack water areas or pools.  Since it was a bright sunny day  we tried to focus on shady areas as best we could.  This got to be harder and harder to do as the sun rose.  By noon I was praying for any type of a cloud.  It wasn’t gonna happen today.  As the morning progressed I was able to move a few fish and I did catch one smaller bass on a white Game Changer.  Not exactly what I was hoping for but it is to be expected on a bright day like this and early in the season.  The bigger fish are on full alert and after being in the river for over 10+ years they are well educated.

We kept at it though and eventually  we found an area that had a few willing fish.  In about a 100 yard stretch I was able to catch two and had two long distance releases.  I moved a couple as well which.  It was still great to see the fish come from out of what seemed like nowhere to crush the streamer.  This is one of the reasons why Smallmouth are such fun to catch on a fly rod, at any size.  I can only imagine what a true trophy would feel like and someday I hopefully will.  Today just wasn’t going to be that day.  It happens though, that’s why I do this, for the challenge.  If I wanted easy I would stick to pulling wire for walleye.

So that was my initial foray into the world of fly fishing for Small Jaws.  I learned a lot and have a new found appreciation for someone who knows how to row a drift boat.  Hat’s off to Justin who worked his butt off to keep the boat where it belonged and my casts in the zone.  I will definitely be doing this again, I just hope it is on a cloudier day.  Maybe I’ll try a PM float.  After dark.  When I am in my element.  Muhahahahaha…….

 

Oh, one other thing.  I didn’t lose a single fly today.





A New Season

21 02 2017

These past few days of record breaking warm temperatures has most fishermen in my area in a frenzy.  Many are gearing up for the upcoming walleye season but it got me thinking, does the season ever really end?  I get that the annual walleye run only happens once a year (twice actually) but for the more diversified angler there is never an off season.

This morning I found myself back on the Huron River still searching for that unicorn.  These last few months have been difficult trying to land one steelhead.  A lack of fish and high water have made my efforts basically futile.  I keep trying though.  It beats sitting at home and counting the days till the walleye start up.  I’m sure there are a few out there now, there always are but I’m in no hurry.  The time will come when I will be able to catch them on a regular basis and I won’t have to fight the crowds to do it.  This should be the start of some great fishing for the next few years.  Successful hatches for the last three years have increased the western basin population so I’m optimistic.  In the mean time I’ll continue to chase unicorns and possibly some smallies or a carp or two for now.  I have time, all year as a matter of fact.  That’s the advantage of being a diversified angler and not a one trick pony.  I can fish open water pretty much all year.  That point really hit home when I bought my new Simms waders.  James, at Schultz’s outfitters, told me that after a few months of use they would send them back to Simms to pressure check them for leaks.  He told me when I have some down time and I wasn’t fishing to bring them back.  I gave him “the look” and he laughed and said “you’re right, what was I thinking”.

So good luck everyone, a new season is upon us, or for the more fortunate it is just a continuation.  Either way get out and enjoy it.

feeling-blue

I was tossing one of these today. Had a hit on one on the St. Mary’s so I thought I would give one a try on The Huron. No luck this time around.

 





Custom Night Walleye 9/2/16

3 09 2016

NE winds and clear blue skies.  Seems like a perfect night to go fishing.

Yes, that was sarcasm.

It had been a couple of weeks since my last trip and I was feeling the need to go fishing.  I at least waited until dark.  I arrived at the ramp at 8:30 pm and was lines down at 8:45 pm.  I was happy to see that there weren’t and big mats of weeds.  I feared it might be bad considering there were NE winds all day.  I started off with a pair of Downriver Tackle Custom Lures, a #11 Rapala in Pink Lemonade and a #9 Rapala in the Spring Valley Special II pattern.  I also had a #9 Original Rapala along for the ride since that was it all it did.  Just swim, not a single hit on it, not even a bass.

About 9:00 pm I had my first fish and by 10:45 I had my fifth keeper.  I also caught a few 8 to 10 inch walleye and all 3 hit the number #11 Rapala.  Clear proof that their eyes were bigger than their stomachs.  Only caught a couple of bass as well.  It was a pretty peaceful and uneventful night except for about 5 minutes.  Around 10:00 pm I got hung up, or so I thought.  I felt one of my lures get tangled up in what I thought was a bunch of fishing line.  I could feel it give just a little but I knew it was going to take some time.  I started to circle downstream and gain wire back into the reel.  Eventually I got close and was able to get my hand on the shank.  My 40 foot lead was the one that was snagged so I got the two shorter ones in first.  I started to pull on the longer leader and I could feel a tremendous amount of weight on it.  I slowly began to pull it in when all of a sudden it started to shake.  Turns out I wasn’t snagged on some old line, I was snagged onto a fish.  There wasn’t a lot of headshakes, just a lot of dead weight.  I thought for sure I snagged a sturgeon but it turns out I hooked a big channel cat in the head.  He was coming in upside down, thus all the weight and lack of movement.  I finally got him to the boat and removed the lure so I could send him on his way.  He was well over 30 inches and probably quite relieved to be sent on his way, minus the lure in his head.

After that not much happened.  I caught number 5 at 10:45 and packed it in shortly after that.  5 more for the freezer and no damage or lost lures.  Hope this continues for the rest of the year.  Just need the temperature to start dropping.  Then it will be walleye during the week and steelhead on the weekend.  One thing that I did notice to night was that the fish were up off the bottom and moving around.  The first two fish I caught was while I was brining in my leaders to check for weeds.  The last two came on my kicker after I shortened up the lead from 7 to 4 feet.  Just goes to show that they aren’t always hugging the rocks.

9-2-16 walleye

 





Sturgeon Moon Walleye 8/19/16

20 08 2016

You can file this one under useless Cliff Clavin bar trivia.  I didn’t know this until recently but every full moon has a name.  This past full moon is known as a Sturgeon Moon.  What that actually means is still a mystery to me but it makes for a unique blog post title.

I started out fishing Friday night a little earlier than I normally do.  It was overcast so I figured going before sunset wouldn’t hurt.  Of course, once I got on the water the clouds broke and the sun came out.  Oh well, live and learn.  At least there were no weeds, for now.  I started it my usual area and threw out a few spoons and a #9 Bleeding Olive Rapala.  Not much happened at first but around 8:00 pm fishing got interesting.

Bass, Bass, Bass, Bass, Bass, Bass, Are You kidding me? Bass, Bass, Bass, Bass, Bass, Bass, swap out spoon catching all the bass.  Brief lull.  Short, Short, legal, Double Legal, Short, Short, Legal, Bass, Double Short, Really short, Lost at boat, Short, Bounced off side of boat, Short, Rocky, Short, Short, Short………………………………………………………………….Short, Ridiculously short, Where did all the weeds come from?  Screw this.  Went home.

That’s pretty much how the evening went.  From 8 to 9:30 my lines were out of the water more than they were in.  Smallmouth bass and lots of undersized walleye.  Once the full moon came up and cleared the trees the fishing really slowed down.  Kind of odd since I usually do pretty well under a full moon.  Just goes to show that there are no absolutes in fishing.  Around 10 the weeds showed up in force and fishing became impossible.  I tried to find clean water but it just wasn’t happening.  Eventually I gave up and headed in, there will be other nights.  At least I know, barring some catastrophic event, the walleye fishing next year should be awesome.

Sturgeon Moon walleye

 





Strange Night Walleye 8/5/16

7 08 2016

Ever have one of those nights where you just know nothing is going to go right?  That nagging feeling where something feels off?  Like maybe you should have just stayed home?  Well tonight was one of those nights.  I can’t pin that nagging feeling on any particular thought but I just knew it was going to be a strange night.

I arrived on the water just before 9:00 pm.  The water was still clear and there were hardly any weeds.  So far so good.  About 10 minutes in I had my first walleye on and unfortunately I lost him as I was flipping him in.  No big deal, it’s happened before and it will happen again.  Shortly after that I had another fish on but it was no walleye.  It took me awhile to get him to the surface but when I did my thoughts as to what it was were confirmed, Muskie.  There are two fish I never want to deal with out here, a sturgeon and a muskie.  One because he is too damn big, the other because he has too many teeth.  This one was hooked well too (on a 50 cent tin spoon no less), right in the top of the jaw.  Normally I try to keep him in the water and just try to remove the lure with a pair of pliers.  There wasn’t much of a chance for that so I netted him, or at least I tried to.  Once I got him in the net, it broke.  It took some doing but I eventually got the hook out of him.  This is when things got interesting.  I dropped the lure into the bottom of the boat, or so I thought.  The leader fell over the side and drifted back into my prop.  I saw the leader peel out of the boat and I quickly killed the engine.  So there I was, drifting downstream, 3 tangled leaders, one in the prop and a 30 inch muskie in my hand.  First things first, I released the muskie and got the leader out of my prop.  I replaced the leader that was all chewed up by the prop and teeth, pointed my boat back north and started fishing again.

By now the sun had set and the wind was slowly shifting from west to NW.  It was a light wind at first but eventually it sped up to around 15 mph.  Boat control was interesting once that happened.  I could point my boat straight north and still move sideways from west to east.  If I wasn’t careful I would be headed downstream in a hurry.  I fought through it though and managed to pick up a couple of walleye before I hooked into 20+ inches of line tangling fury, a smallmouth.  I wasn’t taking any chances tonight, especially after my last incident.  I got my other two leaders in and then I concentrated on getting the fish in.  It took awhile but eventually I got him to the boat and released.  It was way to dark for a decent picture so I just let him go.  I had drifted downstream some so I motored back up to where I wanted to be and got back to the walleye.  By now I had two in the cooler and was debating quitting because of the wind.  Fishing isn’t any fun when you are constantly battling the conditions.  While I was assessing my options I hooked what turned out to be about 100 feet of spider wire and all the crap that had collected around it.  What a mess.  I finally got that straightened around and I was seriously debating just giving up when I had another fish.  It turned out to be a channel cat, why these things took up residence in the channel is still a mystery to me.  This was starting to get annoying, I was catching more of what I didn’t want instead of what I did want.  It was at that point that I hooked and landed my 3rd walleye for the evening.  It never ceases to amaze me how catching another fish can give you just enough incentive to stay out a little longer.  I told myself that I would stick it out until I got a 4th.  About 10 minutes later I did and was headed in.  I thought about trying for a 5th but I wasn’t going to push my luck.  A lot of things went wrong tonight (I won’t even go into the boat that cut me off) and I didn’t see a need to press it.  I still had that nagging feeling that I should get off the water.  With no moon or cloud cover it was very dark and I was the only boat out.  Discretion is the better part of valor and so I headed in.  There will be better days.

Huh…I just noticed this in the picture.  The rear hook on the #9 Rapala is gone.  Wonder when that happened?

muskie net Walleye 8-5





7/28/16 TC Walleye

31 07 2016

This one is going to be short, sweet and to the point. About the only difference from this report and the previous two is that the weeds were a pain and we were losing fish on a regular basis.  I figured the conditions wouldn’t have changed much from the previous weekend to this past Thursday (7/28) so I told John to meet me at my house around 8:00 pm and we would give it a shot.  Water was still clear but this time the wind was out of the south, though it wasn’t much of a wind.  It didn’t take long and I had our first fish in the boat which I quickly followed up with another.  Things were looking good, especially since John had just boated one as well.  From then on though it was a different story.  After that third fish the rest of the evening was short fish and fish lost at the side of the boat.  Both John and I continually lost fish right at the side of the boat.  At one point I had a double and I couldn’t land either fish.  I don’t think I have ever done that before.  To make matters worse the weeds showed up in grand fashion shortly after 10 pm.  The Sam Laud was off loading coal at the Edison Plant and left around 9.  As he headed up stream he must have cut a lot of weeds upstream.  No big mats but tons of single strands were coming down.  After 11 we finally gave up and headed in.  We ended up with 6, lost 6 and threw back just as many.  Definitely not how I expected the night to go.  The weeds I could understand but losing so many fish annoyed the snot out of me.  At least there are still a lot of fish in the system just waiting for better conditions.  Hopefully I will be able to get out soon to find out.

Like I said the water is still very clear and it started off weed free. I have no idea what the water temp was since I never did turn on my Depth Finder.  Natural colors were catching the fish tonight.  Original and Bleeding Olive Rapala’s in size 7 and 9.

An interesting little tidbit occurred while we were back at the ramp putting stuff away. A coyote started howling and yapping from the park.  He couldn’t have been more than 100 yards away.  Wish I could have recorded that or got a picture of him.

 

7-28-16 walleye





More Muggy Walleye, 7/24/16

24 07 2016

Don’t make a blog post in over a month and now I’m making two within 12 hours of each other.

After the success of last night I had to go and try again.  We got a later start this time since we had to find bug spray.  As it would turn out we wouldn’t need it.  Started fishing at 9:30 pm and by 9:52 pm 5 were in the cooler.

Legal, legal, smallmouth, double, legal, home.

4 fish in 4 minutes and an extra 15 minutes to catch the last one.  Got to love nights like this.

As I was leaving I ran into my friend Richard who was just heading out with his friend Brian.  I gave them all the where, when and on what’s and then wished them luck.  I was heading home with 5 more for the cooler.

7-24-16 Walleye

One other thing, my luck ran out on me.  I had to pay to launch tonight.