Weekend Steel

4 04 2015

While the rest of Michigan was waiting for the annual Detroit river walleye run to get started I decided to go Steelhead fishing instead.  There is still ice in lake St. Clair so that means I’m staying put until it is all passed by on it’s way to Erie.  In the mean time I was going to try my luck on the Lower Huron.

One of my handlining disciples sent me a text message last week and asked if I had Friday off.  Thanks to my employer I did so Larry and I made arrangements to meet at the launch at 7:00 am on 4/3.  When I arrived Larry had the boat in the water and was loading it up.  I grabbed my stuff and a few minutes later we were headed downstream or upstream, I really can’t remember.  We were running shallow diving KVD crank baits.  Most holding areas on the river were less than 6 feet deep so a deep diving bait like a Wiggle Wart or a Hot-n-Tot wasn’t going to cut it.  We trolled through a few holes and drifted the lures into a few log jams but nothing so far.  At the next hole we finally had a hit.  As I was reeling it in something didn’t feel right.  It was fighting but the head shakes were these big slow shakes and no running that is characteristic of a steelhead.  I kept working the fish in and then I saw why it felt so weird……it was a walleye.

1st Lower Huron Walleye

1st Lower Huron Walleye

Since the season is closed for inland water walleye we took a quick picture and sent him on his way.  Back to the steel.  We tried a few more spots but no luck.  We did talk to one fisherman who had caught 3 drifting spawn.  I made note of where he was at for future reference.  About noon time we headed back to the ramp and called it a day.  I thanked Larry for the trip and showing me some of the areas and made plans to hit the “D” when it was wire time.

The next day I slept in for the first time in what seemed like forever.  Or at least that was the plan.  I forgot to shut my alarm off from the previous day and it went off at 6:30 am.  I shut it off but it was no use.  I eventually got up and started putzing around the house.  Around 11 I picked up my friend Chris and headed up to Lockeman’s Hardware to see about getting some corner brackets for my boat.  I figured he was my best bet to try and find a pair and I was right.  He had 4 left and once I left he was down to his last two.  Now all I have to do is get my transom built and these attached and I will be good to go.  I spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning up and tying more flies.  After dinner I grabbed my Switch Rod and made the 10 minute drive to the Lower Huron again.  I walked down to the same area where Larry and I talked to the guy who had 3.  I carefully waded in and started working the shoreline.  I was throwing a Zudweg Wicked Leech with a little bit of metallic blue flashabou.  After about 2 minutes I had a hit.  It wasn’t a very savage hit but I definitely felt it.  After about 10 minutes of fighting the fish and maneuvering my feet around the sunken logs I was able to get her close to shore where I could grab her by the tail.  Mission accomplished, my first Lower Huron river steelhead, caught on a fly I tied and landed by hand.  I really need to get a net.  After a quick pic I pointed her back upstream and let her get her strength back.  After a minute she swam off to fight another day.  I played around a bit more and checked out some more spots but didn’t catch anything else.  The wind was starting to pick up and casting was getting difficult so I decided to head home.  There will be plenty of other days.

1st Lower Huron Steelhead on a Zudweg Wicked Leech.

1st Lower Huron Steelhead on a Zudweg Wicked Leech.

Silver Evasion Tactic Plan “C” – 5/23/14

25 05 2014

Well the first two plans didn’t work out as well as I hoped so now it was time for Plan “C”.  Hopefully third time’s a charm.  It wasn’t.

Arrived at the Marine City dock with a friend of mine right around 8:00 pm.  There were quite a few trailers in the lot and several people launching so I was optimistic.  That optimism started to wane once I saw how clear the water was.  I had a feeling that the fish would not be holding at the mouth of The Belle River like they had been the last few days.  I was right.  We fished the area until 11:00 pm without a single hit.  To add insult to injury the only thing we caught was a whipper.  He must have had his lines 300 feet off the back of his boat.   Once we got all our lines in we cut our stuff away from his and handed it all to him.  We even gave him our two lures that were tangled up in the mess.  It was my fault and he was pretty cool about the incident so I figured we should give them to him.  No big deal and now I know better.

After that we just packed up and headed in.  We had a bit of a drive home and I was tired.  Glad we left when we did, as we drove home I blew a tire on the trailer on I-94 near the I-75 exit, not exactly the best part of town.  About 20 minutes later the tire was changed and we were on our way.  After a night like this I have to look on the bright side.  We both made it home, no injuries and my plan sort of worked.  We didn’t catch any Silver Bass.

On a side note though.  I woke up the next day and my right elbow was sore and swollen.  I’m sure bouncing that 2 pound weight around for 3 hours caused it.  I hope and pray I am not developing Tennis Elbow from handlining.  That would SUCK!!!!!

What's left of my tire.

What’s left of my tire.



16 01 2012

Recently my girlfriend and I spent a very relaxing weekend at a Bed & Breakfast in Marine City Michigan.  As luck would have it we were the only couple spending the night so we had the whole house to ourselves.  Being the nosy little busy body that I am I found myself poking around and checking out all of the rooms.  Eventually I ended up in the widow’s peak overlooking the St. Clair River.  I have always wanted to own a house with a room like this overlooking a river.  While I was up there I found a copy of “A River Runs Through It” by Norman Maclean.  As I sat down I began to flip through the pages and read some of the quotes from the book.  I could hear Robert Redford reciting them just like in the movie.   Soon I began to think about the fishing history around me, what stories the St. Clair could tell and what part it played in my own family.

I have never fished the St. Clair River but my grandfather and his brother’s did.  My Great Uncle Ed, who manufactured the Schaller Trolling Reel, moved to Algonac and set up his new shop during the early 40’s.  The house still stands where he built hundreds of the reels that became synonymous with hand lining.  Earlier that day I found an old Schaller Trolling reel in a nearby antique store.    It was an earlier model with a wooden spool that he built while he was still living in Detroit.  The older reels are not as popular as the aluminum ones  built in Algonac but I think they have more character.

Early Model Schaller Reel

As I stared out the window I wondered who owned that reel.  Was he an everyday fisherman or a weekend warrior?  Was this reel used on a regular basis or did it sit on a shelf collecting dust?  I began to think of my own fishing stuff and the history behind all of it.  The boat I own was originally built in 1957 and owned by my Great Uncle Hank. He died from a heart attack while fishing near Marysville in 1966.  My Grandfather inherited the boat and several years later it was passed on to my father.  Eventually he gave it to me and over 50 years later it is still going strong.  I spent my whole life in that boat and unfortunately I have forgotten more experiences than I can remember.  People have asked me why I don’t get a new boat but it is hard for me to let go of that history.  I grew up in that boat, why sell it to someone who would never appreciate all that it has experienced?  I know some day it will start to leak and it will have to be replaced but for now I can still day dream about all it has experienced.

Eventually I went back to reading but that soon ended once Norm began to talk about the beauty of the construction of a bamboo fly rod.  His description made it sound more like a work of art and I thought of my own bamboo rods.  I never looked at them that way before.  I used to just view them as an old rod that I would never use because they weren’t as good as today’s graphite rods.  That view changed this past Christmas when my Father gave me a bamboo fly rod that was given to him.  This rod belonged to a friend of both he and his father, Bill Boudrie.  The rod itself was made by Wright & McGill and it is in beautiful shape, except for a crack in one of the tips.  I wonder if that crack was caused by some errant car door or by a 2 pound Brookie on some isolated stream in the Upper Peninsula.  Was it one of Bill’s favorite streams or one that even Ernest Hemingway fished himself?  I will never know for sure but it is a lot of fun to think about.

I never did finish reading that book.  As usual I spent more time day dreaming then actually reading.  This was a problem I had all during my school years as well.  It didn’t do much for my grades but it sure was a lot more interesting.  Guess I will have to go back sometime and try again.