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.

 





Pre-Harvest Moon Walleye 9/15/16

19 09 2016
Moon over the Grosse Isle bridge.

Moon over the Grosse Isle bridge.

 

It’s no secret that I like to fish for walleye during the full moon periods.  Normally I do pretty well but after the last two full moons I’m beginning to wonder.  The Sturgeon Moon was less than stellar and The Harvest Moon turned out to be even worse.  Hopefully the Hunter’s Moon in October will break the trend.

I arrived at the ramp around 8:30 pm and I had the whole place to myself.  No other cars in the lot, not even the ones normally parked over by the Marina.  I launched and headed south to my usual starting spot.  The water was still clear and a surface temp of around 65 degrees.  A few weeds were floating down, mostly single strands with the occasional large mat.    The south wind had died down to almost nothing which kept the water relatively calm.  Seemed like the start of a good night.  To bad the walleye had other plans.

I trolled around for the next two hours and all I had to show for my efforts was a half a dozen smallmouth and a few sub-legal walleye.   I tried different size lures, different colors, spoons, pencil plugs, just about every thing I could think of but I couldn’t get anything going.  Around 10:00 pm I got hung up bad and after 10 minutes of trying to free the weight the shank snapped right at the loop.  I lost the shank, weight and 3 custom painted Rapala’s.  I thought about giving up right then but I hadn’t been skunked in almost 3 years and I wasn’t about to let it happen tonight.  I dug out another shank, weight, leaders and lures and started all over again, after I moved away from where I got hung up.  About 15 minutes later I finally caught a legal fish.  Not much of one but it was a start.  I tossed him in the cooler and headed towards the Edison discharge.  I hadn’t been by there lately so I thought I would give it a shot.  Weeds were a lot worse there and I could feel them starting to pile up on my line.  Just as I was about to pull my lines and clear the weeds I felt a lot of weight.  I figured I hit a big mat of weeds, under the surface, so I started to pull it all up.  The “weeds” were all on my 40 foot leader so once I got my other two lines clear and out of the way I started to bring it in.  About half way in the load became lighter and I figured some of them must have come off.  I looked back and my headlamp showed a pair of eyes staring back at me.  That stupid fish never shook once, she just came in like a wet towel.  It was a bigger fish so I wasn’t taking any chances.  I got my net behind her and just as I start to scoop she shook and threw the lure.  Didn’t matter, she was in the net and then in the cooler.  After that I decided to call it a night.  I was headed to Columbus Ohio in the morning and I needed some rest.  I had enough fish to fill a vacuum seal bag and I didn’t get skunked.  It did turn out to be my most expensive trip of the year but I won’t lose any sleep over it.  It was my own fault for not swapping out shanks and leaders.  I had been using the same one all season so I’m sure it had been stressed in a few places.  One of these days I will start to listen to my own advice.

I doubt it.

09-15-16-walleye

 

 





7/22/16 Muggy Evening Walleye

23 07 2016

90 degrees, 100% humidity, no breeze, seemed like a perfect evening for walleye fishing to me.

It had been well over a month since I was out walleye fishing and I was determined to go.  Work had been kicking my ass for the last month and I was in dire need of a break.  I really didn’t care how humid it would be, I needed some fresh fish.  After a quick inspection of the boat, Susan and I were on our way and by 9:15 pm I was lines down.  From there the next two hours went pretty much like this.

Cat, short, short, short, short, short, wipe sweat, swat gnats, move, snag, snag break leader, move, legal, legal, smallmouth, HOLY CRAP, silver bass, barely legal, wipe sweat, short, swat more gnats, smallmouth, short, BOOYAH……time to go home.

By 11:00 pm I had 5 in the box and we were headed back to the dock.  All of the fish, except for HOLY CRAP (she came on a #11 Bleeding Copper Flash Rapala), came on a #9 Bleeding Olive Rapala.  At first I was catching them all on my kicker but after the 7th fish I put another one on my 20 foot lead and caught the last ones on it.  They were really focusing on a lure with a natural finish.  Not surprising seeing as how the water is so clear.  It made for some interesting visuals.  Susan would shine a spotlight in the water as I was bringing in fish.  It was really cool to see them come out of the darkness and into the light.  Seeing a 27 incher with mouth open, coming into the light, has a tendency to make one say HOLY CRAP!

Weeds were a non issue tonight, with 2 days of west winds they better not have been.  Other than the humidity it was a pretty nice evening.  The NW breeze that was originally forecasted would have helped but at least it wasn’t a south wind.  No other fishermen out tonight either.  I fear the summer handliners are becoming very rare.

Still haven’t paid to launch yet this year.

 

Cooler Walleye 7-22-16 Walleye





Huron River Spawning Success and Storm Run-Offs.

7 03 2016

I received my copy of the HRWC newsletter the other day.  There is an interesting article in there about how spawning success is affected by high flow rates brought on by storms and dam operations.

 

HRWC Newsletter

 

 





Weeds Still Suck

22 09 2015

Originally I had no plans to fish last night (9/21/15).  I was planning on going out on Thursday since I had the next day off from work.  Figured I would be able to stay out as long as I want and maybe experiment with some other lures.  What changed my mind was the wind forecast.  The forecast called for NE, E and SE winds all week.  That meant that by Thursday I would have needed a brush hog to find any clear water.  So I figured last night would be my best bet.  Unfortunately the weeds were still bad, not as bad as my previous trip but bad enough.  I only fished for about 90 minutes and managed one 18 inch walleye and one 19 inch Smallmouth (which really made a mess of my leaders).  Both fish came on the same blue and white pencil plug I have been using for the last month.

No pictures this time.  I figured everyone has seen enough pics of an 18 inch walleye and by now everyone should know what that pencil plug looks like.  Water temps was 68 degrees and the water is still extremely clear.  Weeds were all throughout the water column.  Mats on top and single strands below the surface.

Taking a break for awhile.  Got enough fish for my mom’s fish fry so I’m good for now. I’ll wait until the water cools down some more and we get a few days of west winds.  I’m hoping a few new fish will move in from Erie.  Not that I did that much damage to the local population but it would be nice to get some new fish in the river.





Bump and a Headshake, 2 Fish.

17 09 2015

I don’t think I would get the same reaction from Roger Rabbit as the version from the movie.

Made a quick trip last night to see if I could catch a few more for the ever looming fish fry.  I can sum up the night in 2 words…..Weeds Suck!  They were horrendous.  If I didn’t catch a fish in the first minute my lures were down I was pretty much screwed.  Every time I brought them up I would have weeds on the shank and each lure.  The two I did manage to catch each hit the lure within the first minute they were down.  Not my idea of a fun night.  After about an hour I gave up.  There was one other boat out with two fellow handliners in it.  They had 3 and were giving up, they had had enough of the weeds as well.  Can’t say that I blame them.  I would have preferred to stay out longer.  It was a nice night and my girlfriend Susan was along for the trip.  She has been wanting to see first hand how I catch walleye and unfortunately I had to cut the trip short.  The two I did mange to catch were nice fish in the 18 to 20 inch range.  Both caught in the middle of the river from where the “Cat” used to be.  No Cats or Smallies but I did catch one over zealous Rockbass.  Water is still very clear and 68 degrees.  It needs to drop about another 20 degrees before things really get interesting.  I hope.

walleye