Is it Spring yet?

21 01 2020

9:30 am on a Tuesday morning and I’ve pretty much mentally checked out at work.  When I woke up this morning I really wanted to just stay in bed.  It’s not that I hate my job, it’s just that today I wanted to just sleep and do other things.  What exactly I really don’t know.  Last night was Fly Tying night at the Huron River Fishing Association meeting.  I tied the two flies and gave them away to a new member who is just getting started.  I am currently overflowing with flies.  My Carp box is pretty much maxed out.  Even if I fished every day starting in May I couldn’t use them all up.

Same goes for the Steelhead box, or boxes in this case.  My main box I keep in my waterproof sling pack is full.  The three smaller carry boxes I have are full.  The reserve box I have is full.  I could start tying for my Alaska trip but I’ need to wait.  I tied up almost 10 dozen flies for the last trip and I used 12 the whole week.  One of the guides I know told me he is going to start tying in  a couple of weeks and he is going to send me pics of what I should tie.  I probably already have a bunch ready as it is.

Smallmouth box is ready along with the Gill/Trout box.  These boxes are pretty easy to keep topped off since I really don’t fish for these as much.  I could tie up some Mini Game Changers for Smallies but considering how much I fish for them I would probably be better off just buying a few.

I could have sat on the couch and watch TV but I can only take so much of watching guys in New Zealand catching trophy size rainbows in a country I will probably never visit.  Same goes for videos of GT’s crushing flies.

I suppose I’m just getting antsy for the start of a new season.  This winter has been pretty mild with the Great Lakes at only 10 % ice coverage.  If this keeps up it’s gonna be an early walleye run.  This year should be epic with back to back record hatches.  They also increased the creel limit to 6 which was a long time coming.  All the water surrounding the US side of the Detroit River has been at 6 fish for several years.  Didn’t make much sense to keep it at 5.

I most excited for fly fishing this year.  Now that I’ve spent so much time learning about the Huron I’m amped up to go after the carp and smallmouth.  Once I figured out the carp thing and started paying more attention I began to spot a lot more fish then when I would just take casual walks along the shoreline.  Recent rains flooded out one area right up to the parking lot.  I couldn’t help but think about how the carp would have been right up to the edge if this was May and not January.

As I type this there is a squirrel eating the buds off the tree outside my office window.  He is probably thinking the same thing I am, when is Spring going to get here?

I hear ya bud, I hear ya.

 

 

 





2019 Review

30 12 2019

Fishing for 2019 ended the same way it started, fishing for Steelhead with no success.  It’s a pattern I was hoping to reverse this year but unfortunately conditions and poor timing prevented it from happening.  I really can’t complain though.  I ticked off a few times from my fishing “to-do” list and explored a few new areas.  One of them being The Clinton River which I fished for the first time this past Saturday.    I was up that way for a family gathering so I took advantage of that and went fishing first.  No Steelhead but I did recover a couple of these funny looking frisbees.

For some reason I decided to keep track of the number times I went fishing this year.  Why, I really don’t know.  I just started keeping track of when I went and what I was fishing for.  I went fishing 80 times over the course of the year. Some may think that’s a lot but my daughter thinks I need to double that in 2020.  I did notice a definite shift in the type of fishing I do the most.  Used to be it was 90% handling for walleye and 10% fly fishing.  For 2019 it flipped.  I only went handlining for walleye 23 times last year and fly fishing 57 times.  Walleye fishing, for me, has turned into grocery shopping more than anything else.  With my biggest consumers gone I don’t have the desire or need to go out as much.  It has become more of a hassle to get the boat out and go as compared to fly fishing, since I always have a rod in the car and plenty of areas to fish close by.  To really drive home how big the shift has become I went fly fishing for carp more than I went walleye fishing.  Even more surprising is that I did most of my carp fishing in September.  Once I figured out how to catch these things my success rate jumped dramatically.  Now I find myself looking for signs of feeding carp.  Even this past weekend I was looking for those tell tale craters in the muck and making a mental note to try that area come Spring.  I have a feeling that I will be chasing “Hillbilly Bonefish” a lot in 2020.

Back in August I was able to add another fish to my “fish caught on a fly rod” list, Cutthroat Trout.  I had a chance to fish the Coeur D’ Alene river in Idaho last August and caught several cutthroat and a few rainbows.  I am hoping I can go back in June to see if I can’t add Bull Trout to my list.

Also got the opportunity to go ‘mousing’ for Browns on the Manistee River back in June.  I’m no stranger to fishing in the dark but this was a completely different experience.  All night long I was literally casting blind because I couldn’t see a thing.  By some miracle I never lost a fly even though I caught dozens of trees throughout the evening.

Well those were the high points for the year.  For 2020 I’m planning on going back to Alaska to fish the Naknek River north of King Salmon for Giant Rainbows.  I’ll be in the Brooks Falls area so a stop by their may be in order to watch the bears do bear things.  That’s not until September though so I have plenty of time to plan.  Right now I’m thinking about Spring and trying out the new fly rod my kids got me for Christmas.  A G Loomis IMX Pro 9′ 6wt.  This is going to be my Summer Lower Huron Bass/Carp rod and I’m itching to try it out.

Have a great New Year everyone.





Labor Day Weekend 2019

3 09 2019

I was able to get out a couple of times this past Labor Day weekend.  Walleye on Friday night and fly fishing for Carp Monday morning.  I probably should have gone walleye fishing each evening but I figured the weeds would be really bad with it being the non official last boating weekend of summer.  From here on in it should be pretty quiet on the water, except for the occasional storm.

I launched my boat around 8:30 pm Friday night and headed to my normal starting area.  The water was clear and their weren’t very many surface weeds.  Boat traffic was at a minimum and after sunset I was the only one fishing.  I though for sure there would have been a few others out, shows how much I know.  Not much happened at first.  I lost a few larger fish and caught a couple of smallmouth.  The fish were barely hitting, I would pull the wire forward and then there would be dead weight.  This went on for the first 90 minutes.  I managed to get tangled up in some old fishing line twice and the weeds were starting to thicken up.  I seriously debated just going in but it had been 3 years since the last time I got skunked and I wanted to keep that streak going.  I’m glad I stuck it out, around 10 the fish got active and I picked up my 5 fish limit in about an hour.  After that I packed up and headed for home.

 

When I went to bed Sunday I had every intention of sleeping in the next day.  I spent the last two days cleaning up and throwing out stuff from my house and I was tired.  I awoke around 6:30 am and eventually just gave up and got out of bed.  I figured I would try for landing a carp again at some new water.  My luck fly fishing for carp this year had been pretty poor so I wasn’t to optimistic.  I rigged my my Scott Flex 8 wt and headed to the Huron River.  At my first stop I soon found out that the water levels were up some and it was a little stained.  I started to feel a little better about my chances.  I saw a few fish out in the middle of the river and I made a few half ass casts towards them.  Past experience has told me that if they aren’t actively feeding my chance of hooking up was slim and nill.  After awhile I gave up on those fish and worked my way upstream.  I saw some bubbles on the surface underneath the shade of an overhanging tree.  I went into stealth mode and as I got closer I could see a pair of carp feeding in the shallows.  I carefully dropped the fly next to them and waited for one to turn my way.  After a few seconds the larger fish did and I gave the fly a twitch.  That did it and he pounced on it.  I set the hook and off he went, towards a log jam.  I jumped in the water after him and tried to steer him away.  Fortunately I was able to keep him clear of the logs and after a few minutes I landed him on the bank.  A quick pic and he was soon swimming away.

Like I said, I jumped in.

After that I took a moment to compose myself.  My Ross reel got dunked and was full of muck so I had to clean that out.  I sat at a nearby picnic table while I figured out my next move.  I pretty much trashed this area and two kayakers just paddled down so that meant they spooked anything upstream.  After about 20 minutes I started hiking upstream to new water.  I followed a drainage ditch to the river and carefully worked my way up to the edge of the water.  Apparently I wasn’t careful enough because I spooked two fish that were in the area.  I slowly backed out and figured I would come back in about 30 minutes or so.  I tried some more areas but I didn’t see anything.  I walked back to the area I spooked the pair of fish earlier and worked my way to the edge again.  I could see a silt cloud in the water so I just waited until I could verify where the fish was.  After a minute or so the tail became visible and I could make out the outline of a decent size carp.  He started to turn away from me and then up went his tail and he went into full on feed mode.  A cloud of muck arose all around him so I took advantage of his blurred vision and moved into position.  I dropped the fly about 6 inches to the left and waited.  He started to turn towards it and when I gave it a twitch he pounced on it like a cat chasing a laser dot.  A quick hook set and off he went.  Once again I was back in the water, doing my best to keep him clear of any obstructions.  He ran underneath one sunken branch which I had to clear out of the way before I could even think about landing him.  Eventually I was able to steer him towards the middle of the river where I could keep him under control.  A few short runs later and I was steering him towards the bank.

I was 2 for 2 and feeling pretty good.  It was getting later in the morning though and the sun was clearing the trees.  The fish were hanging in the shadows on the opposite side now so my chances of landing another one were dwindling.  I drove to another section of the river and saw some more carp but they weren’t very cooperative.  I did see one closer to the bank but there was no way I could sneak up on him.  He was in the middle of a log jam anyways so I doubt I could have even got him out of there if I had hooked him.  Bikers and runners were starting to fill the trails along the river so it was time for me to go home.  I’ll stop by next weekend before I head to Schultz Outfitters Fall Kick Off on Saturday.

 





Pre-Tax Day Smallmouth Weekend.

16 04 2019

Back when I was in Alaska, one of the guys I was fishing with mentioned all of us getting together to do a Smallmouth weekend with Schultz Outfitters.  At the time I didn’t think much of it because I figured it would never happen.  Well a couple of months later it was happening and next thing I knew I was paying my part of a deposit.  The man in charge reserved 3 guides and boats for the 6 of us on April 13th and 14th.  A few years back this would have never happened.  The DNR recently made bass fishing a year round sport as long as it was CPR (Catch, Photo, Release) during what was traditionally a closed season.  Since that change the guides at Schultz Outfitters have put in their homework and figured out a program to consistently catch these pre-spawn, cold water fish.

The first day I was fishing with Mike Schultz himself and Ken Fugate from my Alaska trip.  Mike told us we were right on the cusp of the fishing exploding.  Water temps were 50 degrees and the fish were really close to taking off.  Problem was that with so little rain that the rivers were low and clear.  Throw in the forecasted clear skies and it was going to be tough.  We were throwing an articulated fly called a Swinging “D”.  I have fished these flies before and the key to making them work was giving the line a hard strip and then letting the fly pause in slack water.  The pause is when the fish would come up and grab it.  If it was still moving the bigger fish would just ignore it.  Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t make it happen.  The Northern Pike sure liked it though.  I managed to hook 4 of them on Saturday.  Throw in the two smaller bass and I was beginning to question why I agreed to this.  Ken wasn’t having any problems.  He managed to land one that was around 19 1/2 inches long.  The other people in the group were catching big fish as well.  All except for me.  To say I was getting frustrated and discouraged is an understatement.  The only excitement I had was when I made a bad cast and buried the fly into my skull.  Mike was able to get it out but it was a bloody mess for a bit.

The next day was a completely different story in several ways.  Different guide, different river and different conditions.  Saturday was blue skies and sunshine.  Sunday was overcast skies, a rain snow mix and a temperature drop of around 30 degrees.  It pretty much rained the whole time we were fishing.  My guide (And Casting Instructor) today was Jay Wisnosky, also of Schultz Outfitters.  Today we were headed to a stretch of river the guides call The Land of The Giants.  I was a little more optimistic today but still cautious.  A cold front, like we had going on, can shut fish down.  About an hour later I got my answer.  I hooked and landed my new personal best Smallmouth, on a fly, at 17 3/4 inches long.

I was feeling much better now.  These fish are powerful and trying to land one on a fly rod will put a strain on the arm muscles.  After a few quick pics he went back into the water.  These fish take between and 15 to 20 years to get to this size.  Because of this extra care is taken to make sure they are unharmed and able to fight another day.  I asked Ken if he wanted to take over the front of the boat and he passed.  Yesterday we switched back and forth between the front and back of the boat, today Ken didn’t want to switch.  He was having a hard time staying warm and just wanted to sit in the back.  We tried a few more spots with only one smaller fish to show for our efforts.  Jay switched out my fly for a crayfish pattern at the next hole.  He told me to do the same thing I was doing all morning.  Cast towards the bank, let the current pull the line forward and let the fly sink.  Give it a twitch every now and then and repeat.  About half way through the hole I hooked and landed my new personal best Smallmouth at 18 1/2 inches.

After this one I thought for sure Ken would want to get in on the action but he still passed on it.  I was starting to feel guilty for catching all the fish but he said don’t worry about it so I kept at it.  We had a quick lunch after this one.  Hard to eat a warm meal when it is raining on you.  After lunch we drifted downstream to yet another hole and I went back to swinging my fly through the run.  This time I was using a Circus Peanut, similar to the one I lodged in my skull yesterday.  I managed to hook another fish in the 17 inch range that was scarred and pissed off at the world.  Jay was telling me to strip line in and I couldn’t.  The fish was having nothing to do with me and was determined to stay on the bottom.  Eventually I was able to get him up, netted and released without any damage to anything other than his pride.  Or mine, since I had such a hard time getting him in.

Farther down the river Jay switched out my fly back to the crawfish pattern I caught my new PB on. For some odd reason every time I switched flies I caught a fish.  Kind of goes against my theory of constantly changing flies but I wasn’t going to argue with the results.  It made sense though.  At this next hole the bank was lined with tree stumps or root balls and the bottom was covered with rock and boulders.  I started casting and as we slowly drifted downstream I could see a rather large boulder under water.  I was able to time my cast so that the fly drifted over the top and behind the boulder.  My eyes bugged out of my head as I watched the fish come up from the bottom and inhale the fly.  I buried that hook and the fight was on.  He did not want to come out from behind that boulder but once he did the current caught him and he took off downstream.  Eventually I was able to turn him towards me and into the net.  Jay measured him at just a hair over 19 inches.  A new personal best, again.

Now I was really wound up.  I was just hoping for one decent fish and instead I landed my 3 biggest, on a fly. to date.  By now though it was 4:30 pm and we had been on the water for almost 6 hours of wind driven rain.  We tried a few more spots but not much happened.  I managed to land one smaller fish and that was it.  I had had enough, as did Ken, so Jay just rowed for the take out point.  I wasn’t going to complain.  I was more sore then wet but I still had an hour drive home after Jay got us to our cars which were an additional hour away.

So that was my weekend.  One day of blue bird skies and the other a total opposite, both in weather and results.  During dinner Saturday night there was talk of making this a yearly event.  I’ll admit I was ready to bow out after Saturday.  After Sunday I changed my mind.

 

 





July 4th Holiday Fishing.

5 07 2018

Even though Michigan was in the middle of a heat wave I decided to go fishing anyways.  I had Wednesday off for the July 4th holiday so I figured to go Walleye Tuesday night and fly fishing for Warm Water fish the next.  Advisories were out for northern Michigan to refrain from trout fishing but that didn’t really matter where I live.  There are no trout streams nearby so Bass and Bluegill it is.  To be fair, if I was up north I would head the advisories  and not fish for trout.  I release them all anyways so why bother fishing for something that will probably die from the heat?

Tuesday night I was headed to the ramp after 9:00 pm.  I knew the water was clear (3+ feet of visibility) so there was no rush to get started.  By 9:30 I was lines down and patiently waiting.  Fishing was definitely slow at first.  For the first 45 minutes all i did was clear what few weeds there were and wipe sweat.  I was hoping that once the sun set the humidity would die down some and the fishing would pick up.  I was also praying the bugs wouldn’t be an issue as well.  With no breeze to keep them at bay it was shaping up to be a miserable night.  Around 10:15 pm I caught my first walleye and it was soon followed up by a second.  Both came on my long lead and a #11 GFR Rapala.  I kept at it and by 11:00 pm I had 4 in the cooler and I was searching for #5.  I quickly found him but lost him at the side of the boat.  I proceeded to do this two more times before I was finally able to land one.  Unfortunately that fish was to short and back he went.  Shortly after 11:30 #5 was in the cooler.

I thought about trying to upgrade some of the smaller fish but the 18 inch Smallmouth I just caught that tangled all my lines made up my mind for me.  Interesting note on this fish.  I noticed something in his mouth and it turned out he had swallowed a pink balloon.  I removed it and sent him on his way.  I guess the whole plastic thing isn’t just an issue for salt water fish.  After that I packed up and headed towards my friend Dave who was farther south of me.  He and his son showed up around 10 so I wanted to see how they were doing.  They had a couple so far and were going to stick around for another hour.  He later texted me that they ended up with 5 and left around 1 am.  I was still cleaning fish at 1 and trying to finish up so I could get to bed.  I needed a few hours of sleep before heading to my Carp/Bluegill/Bass spot the next morning.

The next morning I was walking to my usual carp/bass/bluegill spot.  I didn’t know what to expect with this heat.  I was afraid the fish might vacate the area and head for deeper waters.  As I was walking out I saw a lot of surface activity.  Once I got closer I could see it was the carp rolling around and almost acting like they were in spawn mode.  Seemed kind of odd but whatever it was they were up to it wasn’t feeding.  All morning long I was constantly seeing fish but they were all cruising along and showing no interest in what I had to offer.  As a matter of fact I didn’t see a single carp feeding all morning long.  The Largemouth Bass seemed to be in the same mood as well.  I saw dozens of them and I was only able to coax one smaller fish into grabbing my fly.

Thankfully the local Gill population was cooperative.  As a matter of fact, I found an area where some of them were on their beds.  I saw this last year as well, fish still on the beds in July.  Spawning should have been done over a month ago but yet there they were.  Easy pickings.

At one spot I just put my Scott “Flex” 8wt away and concentrated on the gills.  I was using it when I saw some carp about 10 yards out.  I started casting but the gills were hitting my carp fly the second it hit the water.  An 8wt is overkill so I put it down and started using my TFO BVK 6 wt.  I stayed in the area for about another hour and caught about a dozen or more Bluegills, most of which I would have kept for a meal if it weren’t for having to carry them 2 miles back to the car.  I also caught a few Green Sunfish.  I wasn’t quite sure what they were so when I got home I looked it up.  Didn’t know we had these in Michigan.  I have been catching a few all year but never really paid attention, just figured they were a bluegill mixed with something else.

I also learned a valuable lesson in paying attention to my surroundings.  As you can see, in the background of the pictures, the shoreline had this green algae/moss/muck that went out for a couple of feet.  I released one of the many gills I caught into a hole between the patches.  As I did a carp shot out from underneath the green goop.  He may have been feeding and if I had seen him I might have has a chance at him.  I’ll never know now.  Oh well.

Around 10:30 am I started back for my car.  I had some family obligations and I was going to see “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” before hand.  I plan on going walleye fishing again Friday night and fly fishing again on Sunday.  Temps are supposed to cool down and I’m hoping the fish are more cooperative.

Until then……

 

 

 





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?

 





8/15/17 Dink Report

16 08 2017

August is usually a transition  month for walleye on the river.  Surface temps are in the 70’s.  Weed beds have popped up everywhere.  Boaters trying to get those last few trips in before the season is over.  Me raining hell fire down upon them for the last 4 months doesn’t help either.  Without a fresh influx of fish from Erie the fishing can get a little tough.  This was what I was up against last night as I tried to put a few more in the cooler.  Clear, warm water.  A moderate amount of weeds.  A few pleasure boaters and lethargic fish.  I did catch plenty of walleye, problem is most of them were 13 inches long.

I started off by the tires again to see if the last trip was a fluke.  I marked a lot of fish but the majority of them were undersized.  I did manage to catch one keeper out of that spot.  Once the sun set I headed farther downstream and got to work.  Again it was more of the same, lots of undersized fish and less than enthusiastic strikes.  On more than one occasion I thought I had a bunch of weeds on only to find it was a fish.  Some of the hits I barely felt, a slight bump and then dead weight.  Most of these fish I lost right at the boat, some before I could see them and others as I was getting ready to flip them in.  It was like they discussed this and came up with a plan.  Barely grab the lure, wait till he is about to flip us in the boat and then shake like crazy to throw the hook.  It was a strategy that was working all to well.  I was getting so gun shy that I kept the net right along side of me.  Not that it did any good.  My last fish of the night was a smoker candidate that I lost about 5 feet from the boat.  He barely hit my #9 original Rapala and never fought as I was bringing him up.  Once I got him into the light I could see he was barely hooked.  I went for the net and that was when he threw my lure right back at me.  After that one I packed it in.  2 1/2 ours of fishing and all I had to show for it was 2 keepers, a bunch of dinks, several “Baaa’s”, a couple of “Yo Adrian’s”, and one baby “Bronzeback”.  The fish are there, I just need to be out there when they are feeling a little more aggressive.  Maybe next week.  Headed up north this weekend to try for Atlantic Salmon and Pink Salmon.  Hopefully they are a little more cooperative.