A Fishy Weekend.

9 07 2017

Sometimes I feel like these posts are getting a little redundant.  Go out, catch five, come in.  Trying to jazz it  up a little has become more of a challenge than the actual fishing.  Anywho, I went out several times this weekend, had to, there was a full moon and I’m not about to pass that  up.

I started off the weekend heading down to the Trenton Channel after the storms passed through.  I arrived at the ramp around 9:30 pm and started to get set up.  The Wayne County Deputies must have thought I was crazy based on the looks they were giving me.  I don’t know what they were worried about.  The storm cell had split and was heading north and south of our location.  A few minutes alter I was back in my usual spot, lines down and starting my run.  Around 10:00pm I caught my first one of the night as I was taking in the light show.  I had lightning to the north and south of me and fireworks to the west. The only light I wanted to see was from the full moon in the east but the cloud cover was preventing that.  For the next hour I trolled around and caught absolutely nothing.  During times like this I tend to start questioning everything.  I was questioning whether or not the well ran dry, if the fish had moved, was the front causing lockjaw, did I have the wrong lure?  The gerbils were in overdrive in my head as I tried to sort out what I needed to change to start catching fish.  Around 11:00 pm I found out that I wouldn’t  have to change anything.  All at once the front blew through, the wind changed direction from South to North and the clouds broke and out came the full moon.

GAME ON!!

For the next 20 minutes it was organized chaos.  Landed 4, lost 3, threw back 4, back-to-back doubles, tangled leaders, weeds and a few sheepshead and rock bass thrown in for good measure.  I was bringing in what would have been number 5 when I hit a weed patch and my motor bogged down.  Once that happened the line went slack and the fish was gone.  After I got that all straightened out I was back at it.  After 5 minutes I hadn’t caught  anything so I pulled my lines and sure enough, my kicker and 20 foot lead were tangled.  Once I got them straightened out and back to fishing it didn’t take long and number 5 was in the cooler.

Tonight was a prime example of why there are other things to consider, when the fish aren’t biting, besides color.  Several different variables changed all at once and any one of them could have been the reason why the fish turned on.  The wind had shifted 180 degrees.  The front that caused the thunderstorms had blown through.  The clouds cleared out and the full moon was able to shine clearly.  The only two variables that did not change was my location and the lures I was using.  Something to remember the next time the fish aren’t cooperating.

 

Saturday night had me back in the same area, again.  This time I was a little earlier.  I wanted to run some spoons and it would turn out to be a waste of time.  The only fish they produced were blankity blanks, a 3 inch smallie and a few rockies.  Once the sun set and the moon came out I got rid of the spoons and replaced them with Rapalas.  Fishing was slow at first but I managed to pick up a couple in between clearing my lines from weeds.  Around 11 pm I decided to switch things up a bit.  I thought with that with the clear sky and full moon the fish would need something bigger and dark to contrast against the light.  I put on a F11 Perch and that made all the difference.  By 11:30 I caught my fifth and was ready to go home.  My friends Dave and Larry were out so I stopped by to see how they were doing.  They had 8 and they had also lost a couple of bigger fish.  We talked for a few more minutes and then I was headed home (once I did I got a text from them that they caught 10).  I was glad to hear Larry caught his limit.  After we went out he checked all his leaders a few days later.  Turns out that all of them were a 1 to 3 feet short.  Something to think about when the fish aren’t biting.

 

Sunday morning found me trying something different, fly fishing for carp.  I had tried to find places this year where I could try this but I was having a hard time finding any.  Today was a little different.  I had taken a walk through this area before but never saw anything.  This morning the winds were calm, the water was clear and the carp were everywhere.  The first place I stopped at was a culvert feeding a lagoon from Lake Erie.  The carp were in their just waiting for something to flow in to eat.  The water was very dirty from all the activity, especially after I spooked them.  Lesson number one, don’t spook the fish.  I waited to let them calm down and I was able to catch one, and that was a fluke.  I couldn’t see him take the fly, I just happened to lift up on the rod as he swam by and felt the pressure because he picked up the fly.  He really stirred things up so once I got him in, took a pic and then released him I moved on to other areas.

About a quarter mile down the road I spotted a few carp swimming about.  I worked my way into casting range and managed to spook the fish once again.  I now understand what everyone was telling me about when it pays to be stealthy.  I sat down once again and just waited for a bit.  Eventually some more fish swam into range and I was able to hook another one, foul hooked that is.  Don’t know how I did it but I managed to hook him right across that dorsal fin.  That made no sense since these flies are designed to ride hook up.  I could understand hooking a pectoral fin but not the dorsal.  Of course fighting this fish spooked everything in the area so I moved down the road again.   I found some more fish but this time I waited until they swam out of the area before I worked my way down to the bank.  I set up and waited and after a few minutes I saw two carp swimming my way and feeding.  I cast the fly a few feet out in front of them and waited.  Once the lead fish got within a few inches I gave the fly a twitch and that was all it took.  The carp turned and sucked up the fly like it was going to be his last meal.  A quick hook set and off he went.  Now I see why this type of fishing has become so addictive.  Seeing the take and the bulldog fight they put up is a lot of fun.  I can only imagine what hooking into a 15 or 20 pounder in open water would be like.

After that one I packed up and headed home.  I had one last thing to do for the weekend, smoke the walleye I caught back on July 3rd.  Turned out pretty good.  A little to salty this time but I’ll adjust that for next time.

 

So that was my weekend.  More walleye, my first carp on the fly and some smoked fish for the week.  Pretty good weekend.

Oh, and I went and saw Spider Man – Homecoming.

Life is Good.

 

 





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 of 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.  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





3 more for the freezer 9/13/15

14 09 2015

I had some more free time Sunday night so I decided to see if I could add to my Mother’s request for a fish fry for her friends.  I thought I had enough but she keeps adding people and time is running out.  I got a late start and arrived at the ramp around 8:30 pm.  No one at the gate and I was the only car in the lot.  Kind of spooky being the only person there after dark.  I quickly launched my boat and soon I was heading downstream to my usual starting point, right where the “Cat” used to be.  I started off with the same two Rapalas and Pencil Plug I have been having all my success with.  If it’s not broke why fix it?  As it turns out it would be somewhat broke tonight and try as I might I couldn’t get anything going on the Rapalas.  All my walleye tonight came on the same blue and white Pencil Plug.  I needed to check my boxes to see if I have anymore of these pp’s tucked away.

I only ended up with 3 walleye, it could have been 4 but 1 walleye made a kamikaze death charge right at my prop and off he came.  They must teach them that at walleye survival school because that is the second time I have had one do that to me.  Water is still very clear and the surface temp has dropped 5 degrees from the previous trip on Wednesday.  It should warm back up again later this week as temps get back up into the 80’s.  Weeds were not an issue, the skies were clear, the wind died down to nothing and as I said before I was the only one out there.  The only other boat I saw was the Homeland Security boat around 9:00 pm.

Nothing else to report other than I caught another channel cat and a couple of smallmouth bass.  From what I have been reading it sounds like the bass have moved into the lower river.    Wish some bigger walleye would move in.  One or two 25 inch fish would cure my fish fry needs.

I know I’m going to jinx myself for saying this but this is 4 trips now and I still haven’t lost a lure.

IMG_2348





Taking stock of 2015, so far.

22 07 2015

This has been a weird season.  I know I got a late start due to work, family health issues and my boat being down but I wasn’t expecting the pickings to be this slim.  I usually catch more fish in June and July than I do in April and May during the peak of the Spring run.  This year however, has been a tough one to figure out.  Some of it being a real head scratcher.

1.  I have yet to catch a fish on a Rapala.  A #9 Rapala is my bread and butter lure.  When all else fails this body bait will produce.  I have been running a #9 or #11 on my 40 foot lead every trip this season.  So far nothing, nadda, zilch, zippo, diddly squat.  I will admit I have had a couple on and lost all of them but no fish? This leads me to my next head scratcher.

2.  I have lost more fish this year than I can ever remember.  Used to be I could go several weeks without losing a fish but this year I am losing fish on an average of 2 or 3 per trip.  I know it happens but this is getting ridiculous.  Losing a fish once and awhile is no big thing, it happens, but this is has me second guessing everything I am doing.  I was starting to think that the fish are just hitting light but I have brought in a few that have completely swallowed the spoon.  For some reason the fish are getting barely hooked on my Rapala’s.  WTH???

3.  I have yet to catch a single walleye over 20 inches long.  Granted I like to get the eaters but the last few seasons I would catch at least one in the 24 to 25 inch range every trip.  This year they have all been 20 inches or less.  Again, I am not complaining but it just has me wondering what is going on.  Have all the big fish moved out into Erie?  Are they in a different part of the river?  Are they just that finicky?  Inquiring minds want to know.

4.  Now this one I am really happy about but again it has me wondering if the structure below has changed or if the baitfish are not there.  I have only caught 2 dink smallmouth and one rock bass so far.  No Sheepshead, no Channel Cats, no Muskie, no Steelhead, no White Perch and lately no White Bass.  Normally July produces a lot of smallmouth anywhere from 6 to 20 inches long.  This year has been the exact opposite.  Two bass and both of them less than 8 inches long.  Is the lack of other predators due to a lack of baitfish or some other factor?  So far the walleye I have caught have all come up empty, no shiners or goby’s in any of them.  What are they feeding on and when?

5.  Now this may have something to do with the consistency.  Water levels are up from previous years but I really can’t see it affecting the fishing that much.  Granted some areas that were too shallow before may be more attractive now but not the whole river?  Surface temps are about a degree lower than last year at this time so maybe it is cooler down at the bottom.  Don’t know for sure.  I do know the surface weeds have been a pain but that is to be expected with the east winds and higher water.  The water is again ridiculously clear but I have been catching fish both in the daylight and after dark, there just hasn’t been any consistency.  The one trip I got a limit was an overcast morning a month ago.  Since then I have been pecking away and coming up short of a limit.  Granted if I would quit losing fish my numbers would improve but I am still having a hard time finding groups of active fish.  One night I picked up 3 in a 5 minute span but mostly it is 1 or 2 fish every hour and none of them in the same area.  I went back and looked at my way points for this year and other than that one 5 minute spurt the marks are all over the place.

6.  Ninety percent of my fish have come on the same two spoons, the ones pictured in my last post.  I have tried different colors and styles but these two have been the best producers.  Of course I am always running these two now since they are catching fish so their production rate is slightly skewed.  Lately though the majority of my fish have come on the chartreuse spoon on my kicker.  I have noticed that this one has a very aggressive action so maybe it is triggering more strikes.  The smaller orange one has been completely swallowed though and on more than one occasion.  You can make your own assumptions based on my findings. I think the next time out I am going to run a jointed Rapala and see if the increased action has an affect.  I will let everyone know how it works out.

Well there you have it, my mid season findings for 2015.  I hope it gets better or I may start having to keeping some of the steelhead I hope to catch this fall.  either that or I may have to start perch fishing again.