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.

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Time Heals……..Eventually

9 08 2017

We’ve all heard the saying “Time heals all wounds”.  Personally, I don’t think it does.  Two years later and I still have a hard time getting used to fishing without my Dad.  I enjoy my time on the water but not being able to have him sitting next to me, in his spot, sucks.  Even when he couldn’t go I could still call him and give him a play by play on my phone.  His reel is still prepped and ready to go, complete with his shank and leaders.  His box of Rattlin’ Rogue’s are still tucked away under the seat, waiting to be used.  Even though I can use them whenever I want I don’t.  They were his and I don’t feel right using them or letting anyone else use them.  Hell, I still have a hard time letting anyone come along and sit on his side of the boat.  On the rare occasion that I do I’m surprised I haven’t called my guest “Dad”.  Then again, I might have and they just stayed silent out of respect.  With all that in mind I found myself back out on the river tonight pulling wire.  It seemed fitting with it being the two-year anniversary of his death.  Staying home and reminiscing about past trips felt like it would do more harm than good.

I started a lot earlier than I normally do.  Even though the skies were clear and the sun was bright I didn’t care.  I needed to be on the water and catching fish didn’t seem all that important.  Around 7:30 pm I launched my boat and started my way south.  As I was going past the coal docks I noticed that the floating weeds were non-existent so I decided to make a pass there first.  Normally I don’t fish this area because the weeds are so bad.  Since the area was clear I decided to give it a shot.  I set up at the south end in about 20 feet of water and worked my way north.  Nothing happened at first but once I got to the end, things got interesting.  About 50 feet north of the dock I hooked and landed a sub-legal walleye.  No big deal but it warranted a second pass through to see if their might be more.  On my second pass I hooked a double of two more sub-legal fish.  On my next pass I hooked another double, one legal and one sub-legal fish.  My next pass yielded another sub-legal fish.  The next pass through I hooked a triple, one legal fish and two just barely sub-legal fish.  This pattern would repeat itself for the next half hour.  Catch a few fish, make a loop, do it again.  All in an area not 30 feet from shore and about 100 yards form the bridge.  Eventually I wore out my welcome and the fish shut down.  Either that or I caught them all.  By now the sun was starting to set so I pulled lines and headed down to my regular area.

Once I got down by the flag I swapped out my 1 1/2 pound weight and replaced the spoons I was using with Rapalas.  I went through my usual routine for the next hour and all I caught were a few more sub-legal fish.  After the flurry of activity I had in the first hour this next hour and a half was rather tedious.  Of course I started debating going in early but I wanted to know if their were still fish in the area so I kept at it.  Around 10:00 pm the full moon finally cleared what few clouds their were and I changed the #9 Original on my 40 foot lead to a #11 Clown.  That did the trick, in the next half hour I landed two more legal walleye and I was headed for home.  I ended up with a limit, about 2 dozen sub-legal fish, a couple of Rockies, Smallies, Sheeps and no CATS.  After my last trip I didn’t want to see any of those things.  The water is still very clear, the surface temp was around 75 degrees and the weeds weren’t much of an issue.  I don’t know when I will be out again.  I’m headed up to Oscoda for a wedding this weekend and hopefully the St. Mary’s river the following weekend to try for some Atlantic Salmon.  Hopefully, while I am gone, a few walleye will make their way into the river from Erie.  I may make a few trips during the week.  Depends on how I’m feeling and if I start to feel a little claustrophobic sitting at home.





Richard’s Do-Over, 7/26/17

27 07 2017

After our last trip, Richard had told me he wanted a do over.  This time though he wanted to take his boat and have me drive.  He had been going through a dry spell on the walleye and was curious to see if maybe he was trolling at the wrong speed.  I told him it wasn’t a problem and we made arrangements for me to meet him at the dock at 9:00 pm.  At 9:01 pm I was standing on the dock, gear in hand, and soon he was pulling up so I could jump in.  He had arrived earlier so he could make a test run to make sure everything was working.  He had replaced the impellar in his motor earlier and he wanted to make sure it was working while it was still light out.

We slowly made our way downstream and eventually Richard relinquished control of the tiller to me.  I worked my way to the east side of the river, down by the flag, and got set up.  My lines weren’t even down 30 seconds when I started to bring in number one.  Richard was still getting set up so I was sneaky about bringing the fish in.  I was holding it when I asked him where the pliers were.  He handed them to me and the look on his face when he saw the walleye was priceless.  A couple of minutes later I had another fish on and I knew that something wasn’t quite right with this one, or should I say both of them.  I flipped the first one in and while Richard was commenting about how quickly I caught it I flipped in the second one.  About 5 minutes after that number four was in the boat.  Richard just looked at me with a stare of both amazement and disgust.  I handed him my lure box and told him #9 Black and Gold.  He switched out what he was using on his 40 foot lead and got back to business.  By 10 pm I had number five and I was jokingly commenting about how he can start to contribute to the cooler.

Fishing slowed down for a bit after that initial flurry but we continued to chip away at them.  While I was untangling my lines from a foul hooked Rock Bass Richard hooked into and landed his first channel cat handlining.  He caught it on a black/gold Shad Rap.  I only mentioned the lure and color for later reference.  Around 11:30 pm we caught number ten and we headed in.  A two man limit, no lures lost or broken bills, no injuries and a bonus cat.  The only issue with the night was the weeds, which were a pain.

The water is still very clear with a surface temp of around 72 degrees.  Wind was out of the south and the skies were overcast.  All of Richard’s walleye came on the #9 Rapala in black & gold.  The same color as the Shad Rap.  This just drives home my point about how action, size and depth are more important than color.  No walleye on the Shad Rap, only the F9 Rapala.  All of mine came on the F9 in Original, the F7 Perch and a black and silver spoon.  No undersized fish tonight.  No Smallmouth Bass, just a couple of Rock Bass and one very lost Blankity Blank.  No pics today, I sent all the fish home with Richard.  Didn’t feel like cleaning any tonight and he was headed back up north so he wouldn’t be out again for a while.  As for me, I’m giving the walleye a break this weekend.  Headed up to the Manistee to go swing some streamers for trout.

 

 

 





Another Fishy Weekend

17 07 2017

Friday Evening, 7/14/17

 Friday night found me doing my usual thing at my usual spot catching my usual fish.  I started a little earlier than I have been, hoping to try and get a few on spoons before nightfall.  Didn’t turn out like I had hoped.  From 8:30 to 9:30 pm I only caught one keeper and had one throwback on the spoons.  Shortly after 9:30 it was “Hold My Beer”.  In the next 30 minutes I finished up my limit, threw back about 6 and lost 2 at the boat.  A couple of the throwbacks were just barely legal fish but I was feeling cocky so I threw them back.  It was one of those nights where everything was going right and I was sure I would catch bigger fish.  I even managed to land a 19 inch smallmouth without tangling up and of my other leaders.  By 10:00 pm number 5 was in the cooler and I was headed home.  I thought about staying out later and doing the “Catch & Release” thing but I have never been a fan of that, not when it comes to handlining.  I had my 5 so it was time to head in.  The way this summer was going I would have plenty of opportunities to catch more.

Saturday Morning, 7/15/17

My original plans for Saturday morning was to take care of some errands before I met my son for lunch around noon.  Those plans quickly fell apart when I arrived at my barber shop only to find it was closed because my barber broke his wrist.  The other items on my errand list didn’t pan out so I said screw it and went fishing.  I was going to take another crack at the carp in the same spot I went to last week.  Things didn’t go to well with the carp (I managed to hook into one that ran me to my backing before the leader broke) but the gills and Ditch Pickles kept me busy. The first gill was a surprise.  I was casting to a carp when a gill came up and grabbed my carp fly.  While I was bringing him in a Bowfin came up and tried to grab the gill.  He made several attempts but was never able to clamp down.  Once I released the gill I cast my fly towards him but he didn’t want anything to do with my offering.  Later that morning I had a Largemouth Bass do the same thing on another gill I was bringing in.  He was able to get a hold of the gill but it was to big for him to swallow.  I wasn’t able to coax him into grabbing my fly but I did manage to get about a half-dozen of his brethren.  Around noon I headed home.  Not the result I was hoping for but I wasn’t going to complain.  Anytime I can catch some nice gills and a few Ditch Pickles on a fly rod is a good day.  I made a mental note of where I saw all the beds (yes, bluegills on beds in July) and figured I would bring my 4 wt tomorrow and some gill appropriate flies.

Sunday Morning, 7/16/17

Sunday morning I was headed back to “The Carp Hole” with a new plan of attack.  I got there earlier with the hope of finding the fish a little more relaxed and in feed mode.  I brought along my      4 wt and my Bluegill/Trout box so I could play with the gills, if the carp didn’t want to cooperate.  Little did I realize that it was a good thing I did because when it came to the carp, I couldn’t do anything right.  Actually I could do one thing right, “Spook Carp”.

See carp feeding about 40 feet out.  Make cast and hook reed.  Spook Carp.

See more carp feeding, sneak down to shore to make  a cast, don’t see the carp along the shore line.  Spook Carp.

Cast to carp swimming towards me, catch bluegill instead.  Spook Carp.

Sneak up on a feeding carp, slip on rock and fall on ass.  Spook Carp.

See carp feeding along shoreline followed by two bass, over shoot cast and catch bass.  Spook Carp.

See another carp just resting, make bad cast in wind and land fly on Carp’s head.  Spook Carp.

See big Ditch Pickle cruising along, sneak into casting range and don’t see carp feeding along rocks.  Spook Carp.

Get to close to Canada Geese and they leave shore and walk into water.  Spook Carp.

Start casting to feeding carp, snag bush on back cast.  Spook Carp.

Get disgusted after 4 hours of this nonsense and leave.  Spook Carp.

It was pretty much useless at this point anyways.  The west wind had picked up making trying to see anything difficult at best.  I eventually worked my way back to the parking lot figuring I would stop at one more spot along the way that was out of the wind.  As I got close I went into stealth mode and worked my way to the water.  I carefully scanned the area and I cold see a couple of fish mucking around about 30 feet away.  I was getting ready to make my cast when out of nowhere a carp shooter shows up, bow in hand, and walks right up to the other edge of the hole.

He Spooks Carp.

I didn’t say anything.  I just stood up and continued my walk back to the car.  I’ll just try again on another day.

Sunday Evening, 7/16/17

After the disaster of this morning I needed a little redemption so around 8:30 pm I hooked up the boat and headed to my favorite walleye spot.  Winds were out of the north around 10 mph this evening.  Not the best wind direction and speed but I figured I would make the best of it.  Once I got set up I could tell boat control was going to be a pain.  With the wind coming straight down the river the current was faster than normal.  After about 10 minutes I switched over to a heavier weight just to keep better contact with the bottom and to help keep that 45 degree angle.  It seemed to do the trick because a few minutes later I was bringing in my first fish of the night.  Unfortunately, he was barely hooked and came off as I was flipping him in.  After that any fish I hooked I would immediately turn my boat into the fish to help take the extra strain off of the fish.  Old timers blame lost fish in the summer to “Soft Mouth Syndrome” or “Red Lips”.  I attribute the losses to light hits and going up-stream and pulling a lightly hooked fish against the current.  Last time I checked, bone doesn’t suddenly get soft in the summer time.   I kept utilizing this tactic for the next hour and around 10:30 pm number 5 was in the cooler.

Redemption.

One little note.  The fish at the top was a 22 inch female.  For all you guys that say you have never kept a female please enlighten me on how you would have let this one go if you had caught it?  It doesn’t matter if she is full of eggs or not, once she is removed from the fishery that’s it, so spare me your hypocrisy.

So that put a pleasant wrap on my weekend.  No carp but I still caught plenty of walleye, bluegills and ditch pickles.  The next few days are calling for unfavorable winds and thunderstorms so I’ll take advantage of the down time  to do some maintenance.  I need to replace some hooks, change the wire on a reel, make up some shanks and most of all some new leaders.  My 40 foot leader must have a dozen knots in it.  I’ve been fishing hard the last month and my equipment could use a little TLC.  Come to think of it, I could use some TLC as well.  My hands are trashed and I managed to bruise my forearm and shin when I fell off that rock.

 

 

 

 

 

 





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.

 

 





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