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.

 

 

 

 

 

 





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

 

 





Strange Night Walleye 8/5/16

7 08 2016

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

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

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

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

muskie net Walleye 8-5





7/28/16 TC Walleye

31 07 2016

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

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

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

 

7-28-16 walleye





Wash, Rinse, Repeat.

8 05 2016

Went out last Friday evening (5/6) for another crack at the walleye before those other fish show up in force.  Weather wise it was completely different from two days ago.  Clear skies and warmer temps were the norm this evening.  Because of that I didn’t even leave the house until well after 8.  There were a few more boats out tonight compared to Wednesday as well.  Word must have got out that the fish were snapping.  Either that or the fact that this was going to be the nicest night weather wise we have had in over 2 weeks.  I headed to my usual area and started fishing around 8:45 pm.  My girlfriend Susan came along this evening to enjoy the nice weather and keep me company.  She also kept track of what time I caught each fish. I kept her busy almost immediately because I caught my first one in 5 minutes and by 10:02 pm number 5 was in the boat and we were headed home.

8:50

8:52

9:02

9:32

10:02

There was one undersized fish thrown in there between numbers 4 and 5 and a few of those other fish as well.  I know there are millions of them sitting in Lake Erie just waiting for the temperature to hit that magic number.  They probably started moving in this weekend.  I just hope they get it over with early this year.

All in all it was a near perfect evening.  Water is still very clear and the surface temp was around 51 degrees.  There was a lot of debris in the water tonight, like someone opened a sewer line farther upstream.  One fish came on Riley Special spoon and the rest came on the same two Rapala’s from Wednesday night.  Talked to a few other fishermen and it seemed like everyone was catching fish, some more than others.  I was glad I could get out these last couple of nights.  High winds will be keeping me on shore for the weekend.  Maybe one more night next week before the other fish hit their peak.

We shall see.

IMG_5159 IMG_5160 FullSizeRender IMG_5158

 





Elitist Snob to Knuckle Dragger in 48 hours

28 04 2016

Last weekend I headed up to my Mom’s, in Oscoda, for a visit.  My trips north used to be hunting and fishing from sun up to sun down.  Now it’s Mom’s to do list from sun up to dinner and maybe a few hours of fishing afterwards.  While I was driving up Friday afternoon I listened to another one of April Vokey’s podcasts.  The guest talked about the divide in the steelhead world where fly fishers view gear fishermen as knuckle draggers and gear guys view the fly guys as elitist snobs.  This kind of thing has been going on for years but it got me thinking.  Where do I fit in?  My two favorite forms of fishing are swinging flies for steelhead and pulling wire for walleye.  Two types of fishing that are polar opposites and couldn’t be any further apart on the fishing spectrum.  One is steeped with visions of pristine rivers and a certain amount of poetry and grace.  The other is meat fishing in it’s truest form.  Both are relaxing, both catch fish and both are very enjoyable to me.  I can see how the outsider would view both practices but like the only saying goes….you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.  Just because I carry a fly rod doesn’t mean I’m a snob and just because I handline doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the serenity of fly fishing.

After a  home cooked walleye dinner on Friday night I grabbed my switch rod and headed for the AuSable.  This would only be my second attempt this Spring to catch a steelhead.  Snow, rain, high water and work have made finding time to get out very difficult.  I waded down to a run that I hoped would be holing a fish or two.  I did manage to see one swimming around but I couldn’t get him to eat.  I tried another spot further downstream but it was to no avail.  After a couple of hours I packed it in and headed for home.  My left leg was soaked (still haven’t fixed the leak in my waders) and it was getting dark.  I didn’t like the thought of not catching anything during the Spring run but there wasn’t much I could do about it.  There was a chance I could try again tomorrow, depending on the size of my mom’s to do list.  Turns out it was a long list so I never got that second chance.

You would think there would be at least one hungry steelhead in there.

You would think there would be at least one hungry steelhead in there.

Sunday morning found me headed south and home.  While I was driving I called my friend Dean to see if he wanted to go fishing later that night.  I owed him a few trips and he had been bugging me about going so I thought tonight would be a good opportunity.  I told him to meet me at the house at 7 and of course he was early.  I told him there was no rush but he was anxious to go.  I dragged my feet as much as I could but he was getting impatient.  When we arrived at the ramp my friend Richard was there so I took the opportunity to talk to him and waste more time.  This plan didn’t work out too well either because Dean got the boat ready and was holding the rope with a “Let’s go” look on his face.  I wished Richard good luck and soon we were on our way.  After a brief refresher course for Dean on leader management and lure selection we were fishing by 7:45 pm.  I told Dean that with the clear water we weren’t going to catch anything until 9 o’clock.  He didn’t believe me.  For the next hour we just washed our Rapala’s and wasted time.  Eventually I had a hit and our first walleye was in the boat.  Once I got it in I showed Dean the time on my watch.

9:01 pm

I won’t repeat his reply but for the next hour it was game on.  We ended up landing 6 fish and losing 4.  They were hitting light tonight, barely grabbing the tail hook.  I did have another walleye make a banzai charge on my prop and I lost that one, of course.  Dean ended up catching two and he didn’t lose any.  I caught 4, lost one to the prop, one as I was flipping him in, one on the surface and the last one at the stern.  I had just told Dean too that I was going to lose this one and when he said why, out came the lure.  It was a light hit and he was barely hooked, it was only a matter of time.  Around 10 we got our lines all tangled up so I called it a night.  I didn’t feel like digging out extra leaders and we both had to work in the morning.  I was really tired as well.  I never sleep well when I am at my mom’s.  That air mattress sucks.  So the night ended with 6 fish, 4 premature releases, 1 lost lure and 2 broken ones, 5 tangled leaders and two lost shanks.  Richard had called me while I was out and lost his shank.  He asked if I had any spares and I gave him two.  Also, we didn’t catch any of those other fish.  This surprised me because I had been hearing reports of them being caught all over the river.  I’m to the point now that I don’t believe anything I hear on the message boards.  I should know better, all season long I have been hearing negative reports of no fish.  Me and the other handliners have a different view of the walleye fishing this season.

#9 Original Black/Silver took the bulk of the fish. The big one came on a Riley Special Spike Spoon.

#9 Original Black/Silver took the bulk of the fish. The big one came on a Riley Special Spike Spoon.

 

 

 





“Blue” Full Moon Walleye 8/28/15

29 08 2015

What a week.  This was my first full week at work in almost a month and it was brutal.  I was so stressed out today that I swore at some random guy at work who was trying to push his political agenda on me.  Normally I just walk away but I was compelled to share a few sentence enhancers with him.  That brief and unpleasant confrontation was the final determining factor, I was going fishing tonight.

After a quick dinner at the local Coney Island with Susan and her nephew I was hooking up the boat and heading for the river.  By 8:00 pm I was lines down and fishing.  Fellow handliner aficionado and owner of the Mad Viking Tackle Company  Steve Schoonover was out as well.  He was farther downstream than I wanted to be so I didn’t talk to him right away.  We would chat later as I was pulling in my second fish of the night.

I started up by where the “Cat” used to be with a pair of spoons and a Blue and Silver #9 Floating Rapala.  About 20 minutes later I was pulling in my first walleye of the night on the Rapala.  A few minutes later I had a second one on but I knew I was going to lose this one.  A cruiser was passing me on my starboard side to close for me to turn into the fish.  It was a light hit so I figured he was barely hooked.  I was right, just as I got ready to flip him in the hook came free.  The people on the bought let out a collective “Awww” and I just smiled.  I had a different word to describe the outcome.

It was around 8:45 pm now so it was time to ditch the spoons and break out the pencil plugs.  I put on the same blue and silver one I used last week along with a Black and Silver #9 Rapala.  About that time Steve pulled up along side of me and asked if I had my limit yet.  Just as I was about to answer I had another hit.  Steve got out of the way and less than a minute later this one was in the cooler as well.  I trolled around for two more hours and eventually picked up the rest of my limit.  I tried different color Rap’s and PP’s but all my fish came on the Blue and Silver Rap and the Blue and Silver PP.  It was a Blue kind of night.

Couple of observations about tonight.  First off it was a full moon which means chrome and pearl colored baits.  Glad I kept some of the pearl body ones on because the chrome wasn’t cutting it.  I also noticed that one of my Nite Stalker PP’s had no action at all.  It was like dragging a pencil through the water.  Wonder how long that has been going on?  I may have to check all my Nite Stalkers to see if anymore are like this.

Awhile back I mentioned how walleye seem to hit a PP center mass and get all the hooks in them.  One of the walleye tonight really did just that, one treble in the lower jaw, another in the upper jaw and one in the eye.  Good thing he was legal size.  He wasn’t going to survive this ordeal.

The water is ridiculously clear, so clear that even in the dark I can see the fish 3 feet down with a headlamp on.  There isn’t even any algae in the water.  I can’t remember a time when I have seen it this clear this late in the season.  I know a lot of people that are complaining about how difficult the fishing has been during the day.  This has got to be the reason why.  The walleye are just waiting until the evening.  The way I see it is if you want to catch fish adjust!  It’s pretty simple.

Later

08-28-15 walleye