4/30/18 Walleye and breaking in a Padawan Grasshopper.

1 05 2018

To say the fishing has been outstanding these last few weeks would be an understatement.  Easy limits have been the norm and the only problems has been the weather.  Last night was no exception, it was warm out out but the SW wind I could have done without.  Didn’t matter though, I had a new fisherman on my boat and he was determined to catch his first walleye.  Kyle bought a boat about a month back and after several goose eggs he really wanted to know what he was doing wrong.  Everyone around him was catching fish and all he was doing was losing jigs.  After several unsuccessful trips I told him we could go out Monday night (4/30) and I will try and help him out.

We started off in a deeper water area that didn’t have a lot of snags.  I figured this would be a good area to let him jig and I can show him the importance of an electric motor and boat control.  We made one long drift down the channel from Rotary Park all the way to Elizabeth Park.  We didn’t catch anything but he didn’t lose any jigs either.  Kyle did get hung up a few times and I showed him what to do when he does.  The best way I have found to deal with a snag, while using Fireline, is to just point the rod towards the snag and hold onto the spool.  The jig is either going to come free or snap the line.  After a few snags he started to get the hang of it.  After that long drift we moved to another area.  We made two more drifts and towards the end of the second one he finally hooked a fish.  A minute later his first walleye was in the net.  I’d say he was a happy camper.

By now the sun was starting to set so it was time to put the rods away and get the Schaller Trolling reels into action.  Since Kyle had never done this before and really had no idea what it was about I set him up with one leader and a #9 custom painted Spring Valley Special II Rapala.  The way the fishing has been I was confident he would get at least one.  After some quick instructions on what to do and what not to do I just let him fish and figure out the rest on his own.  While I was getting set up he had a hit, unfortunately the fish got away as I was talking him through what to do.  Shortly after that I boated our 2nd, 3rd and 4th fish of the night.  Kyle was amazed at the speed we were catching fish and then it happened, he got snagged.  He tried to force it and I told him to just throw the wire backwards to take the pressure off.  I pulled my lines up and then just had him hand his wire to me.  A quick throw and he was free.  I felt the familiar shake at the end so I just handed it all back to him and told him to being his fish in.  He gave me a puzzled look and I told him again to bring in his fish.  About 30 seconds later his first walleye handlining was in the boat.  I jokingly told him that there is an easier to catch them other than by getting hung up.  After that we went back to the task at hand and finished up our 2 man limit in the next half hour.  All that was left to do now was head home and clean fish, which was his next lesson.  Filleting and zipping walleye, after I bled them out first.  I’d say he learned a lot tonight.  Of course he can’t wait to go out again.

FYI…water is very clear now.  I’m back to starting after dark again.  The 70-80 degree days coming up are probably going to be the start of the “Other Fish” invasion.  I can’t wait. NOT!  I really shouldn’t complain though.  This has probably been the best and easiest April fishing I have ever had.  Five trips, easy limits each time and I probably landed over 40 walleye in about 5 total hours of fishing.

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4/27/18 Walleye

30 04 2018

This past Friday I took out a friend who I owe many a trip.  Richard took my father and I out, while my boat was down, and that trip turned out to be the last time my Dad and I ever went fishing together.  We didn’t catch many but at least we got to spend time on the river, one last time.  So with memories of that final trip on a constant loop in my mind we headed down to my usual spot on the Trenton Channel.  As expected, the water was clear and there were about 3 dozen other boats on the water.  It was a 50/50 mix of jiggers and handliners but as the sun started to set the jiggers were becoming fewer and fewer.  Boat control tonight was going to be a problem with a North wind blowing at over 10 mph.  I was hoping it would die down as the sun set but it didn’t until we were done, a couple of hours later.  The fishing wasn’t fast and furious but once it got dark and I found them we managed to pick away at our 2 man limit of ten.  We also managed to catch about 1/2 a dozen throwbacks and lost a number of fish as well.  All total I think we boated about 17 fish.  Once I landed number 10 Richard started to bring in his lines when he hooked one as well.  Since it wasn’t any bigger than any of the fish we already had he tossed it back.  During all our catching I managed to get my first double of the year.  I also got one on the surface.  As I was landing a fish on my 20 foot lead another walleye grabbed the lure on my 40 foot lead off the surface.  Near as I can figure another walleye must have followed up the one I hooked, hoping he might get any missed scraps.  He’ll never make that mistake again.  Around 10:00 pm we started to pack it in and that was when the wind finally started to die down.  No matter, we were done.  Took a little longer than I expected but Richard enjoyed himself and that’s what matters.





4/25/18 Walleye

26 04 2018

This is getting ridiculous.  I know last year I said the 2018 fishing was going to be phenomenal but this is nuts.  3 trips, 3 limits and I have yet to fish past sunset.  Last night was no different.  I started at 7:45 pm in the same area, with the same 3 lures, and by 8:15 I was done.  Water is clearing up, about 2 feet of visibility.  Not very many boats out tonight but the one handliner I talked to had his 5 and was headed in.  Hope this lasts another week or so.  Forecast is for temps near 80 next week and once that starts it won’t be long before those other things show up.

Wish I had more to write about but it’s been pretty straight forward fishing.  Go out, catch fish, come in.  Not out there long enough to see anything or make any observations.  No guess work, just drop lines and have at it.  I did see a Common Loon as I was headed back in.  Apparently he heard about how good the fishing was as well.

 





4/23/18 Walleye

24 04 2018

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate a South wind?

Left the house after 7:00 pm to see if I could get another quick limit tonight.  There was a breeze out of the east in single digits so I figured it wouldn’t be to big a deal.  As I was heading down to my spot I spotted Richard’s boat so I slowed up to see how he was doing.  As I pulled up alongside he was bringing in a walleye.  We chit chatted for a bit and eventually I started fishing at 7:38 pm.  At 7:40 pm the wind shifted to straight out of the south and the speed increased to double digits.  Whitecaps appeared on the water and the wind was blowing so hard it was pushing my boat upstream, against the current.  I thought it might just be a quick gust but even after it died down some the direction did not change.  For 10 minutes I fought it and even thought about heading for the dock.  It was right about then that I got my first fish so after I carefully brought him in I decided to stick it out.  The other handliners in the area were all catching fish so I figured it wouldn’t take long.  At 8:20 pm number #5 was in the boat and I was headed for home.

Water clarity was clearer than Friday and not as much junk.  I took a temp reading this time and it was around 44 degrees.  If the weather doesn’t start to get to crazy warm I should have about 2 weeks before those other fish show up.  Same lures as last time (still lazy) with the #9 Original Rapala taking most of the fish.  I also threw one back that was a borderline legal fish.  When the fishing is this stupid easy I have no problems throwing one back with the hope of catching a non questionable fish.

Nothing else to report other than the fishing is fantastic right now.  All the handliners I have talked to are catching fish and I have yet to fish past sunset.  Got to love it when fishing is this good.

 

 





Maiden Voyage, 2018

23 04 2018

This one is going to be short, sweet and to the point.  I don’t have much to say since I wasn’t out there that long.

Friday (4/20/18) was my first trip of the year.  It had turned out to be one of the best days weather wise we have had so I decided to take advantage of it.  Never know when Mother Nature is gonna go off her meds again.  I didn’t get on the water until around 7:15 pm.  Weather reports said the wind was in the single digits and out of the south.  The way I was getting bounced around it seemed higher than that.  Eventually I made it to where I wanted to start, a spot in the middle of the river away from all the other boats.  I started off with 3 of the lures that were lying on my console from last year (I am so lazy).  The water had a nice stain to it but it was full of junk from the recent downpours.  Only took a couple of minutes and the first one for the 2018 season was in the boat.  It was soon followed up by another and then another.  After number 3 was in the cooler I was surrounded by other boats.  Fishing must have been slow for them.  It didn’t matter though.  A few minutes later I had the rest of my limit in the cooler and I was packing up to head for home.  I thought about doing the catch and release thing for a bit but it was just after 7:30 pm and I figured if I left now I could beat the rush back to the ramp.  There were about 50 or 60 boats in the area and I didn’t want to deal with them.  So I headed back to the ramp and eventually home.  Cleaned the fish, put everything away and was on the couch flipping channels by 8:30 pm.

Feels good to be pulling wire again.





The Alley

27 11 2017

As I stated on my last post I  was going to fish some of the rivers known collectively as Steelhead Alley over the Thanksgiving weekend.  I wasn’t leaving until Friday afternoon so I had a little free time before I left.  I was originally planning on doing some fishing on The Huron but my mother changed that plan for me.  She said she wanted some fresh walleye so I begrudgingly hooked up my boat Thursday morning (11/23) and went walleye fishing instead.  The sacrifices I make for her.

I got to the ramp around 8:00 am and got everything ready.  The temperature was a balmy 29 degrees but it was supposed to reach a high of around 38 later in the day.  I wasn’t planning on being out that long.  I was hoping to be off the water after only a couple of hours.  A SW wind and below freezing temps makes for a cold boat ride downstream.  I had received a tip that they were catching a lot of fish farther downstream than I normally fish so I set up there at first.  Turns out that would be a waste of about 45 minutes.  I didn’t catch anything there so around 9 I headed up to my normal stomping grounds.  Grandpa always told me, never leave fish to find fish.  One of these days I might listen.  It didn’t take long and I had the first one in the cooler.  That fish was followed up by 3 more.  I was debating heading in because my hands were getting cold and sore.  I told myself I would quit at 10:00 am and a few minutes later I had number 5 in the cooler.  By 10:00 and 18 seconds later I was headed for the dock.

Water was dirty today or as I like to call it a nice handlining shade of grey.  Very few weeds and a temp of around 41 degrees.  Temps are supposed to stay in the upper 40’s all this week.  If I was going to be around next weekend I would go out again for sure.  The 4 smaller walleye were full of emerald shiners and the big one on top was full of gizzard shad.  The walleye were definitely in “let’s eat” mode today.  On to the Alley.

I had booked a trip with Steelhead Alley Outfitters about a month ago.  Five years ago I didn’t even know there were Steelhead runs on any of the Lake Erie Tributaries of Ohio and Pennsylvania.  Since then I have fished them sporadically without any luck.  I was hoping that would change with this trip.  I just had to wait to find out which of the dozen or so rivers I would be fishing.  My guide, Nate Miller,  called me Thanksgiving evening to tell me what river and what time we would meet up.  He told me he would pick me up at my hotel at 5:30 am (The Sadist) on Saturday morning.  The reason why he was picking me up so early was that he wanted to fish a specific stretch so we had to get there before anyone else.  That part of the plan worked but it didn’t prevent anyone from showing up afterwards and camping out on both sides of me.  I had the river all to myself for about 45 minutes.  Around 8 two eggers showed up and surrounded me.  One upstream and the other downstream at the end of the run I was fishing.  As expected the person downstream started catching fish so his partner moved down to where he was.  He hooked into a fish on his first cast but it was short lived, his rod broke during the fight.  Some may think how terrible that is but not in this case, I call it Karma, river etiquette rule #1 is don’t low hole someone.  He went back to his car to get another rod which opened up a little more water for me.  It didn’t help any though, I swung several different streamers for about an hour with no takes.  I could hear Nate talking on his phone with another guide and he was mentioning breaking out the indicator rod if I got desperate.  I told him I was getting to that point.  Normally I will stick to swinging but watching these other guys hook fish pretty much at will was getting to me.  I switched rods and started casting.  My first cast was crap, I’m not used to casting a float with an egg fly on the end.  My second cast wasn’t much better and it wasn’t more that 15 feet in front of me.  Didn’t matter though, 3 seconds into the drift and it was Bobber Down.

I felt so ashamed that I didn’t want my face in the picture. lol

I played around with the indicator rig for about another half hour until the other guy showed back up and moved right back in downstream.  Nate asked me if I wanted to move on to a new spot and I agreed.  He knew of another place further upstream that would be a bit of a hike.  He said there would be other people there as well but we would have about a mile of good water to fish.

At the next spot Nate asked me if I wanted to take both rods.  I said nope, from here on in it’s swing or die.  I know guides want their clients to catch fish but if I was worried about numbers I would have bought a center pin setup instead of a spey/switch rod.  For the next 5 hours I worked several runs and holes with still no  luck.  We talked to a couple of other guys who were swinging flies and they weren’t having any luck either.  They said that the day before they hooked into 12 but nothing today.  Sounds like the story of my life, always a day late.  Never the less I continued on and kept at it.  We set up on one last run and I was bound and determined to make the most of it.  We switched my streamer over to a bright orange one, hoping it was obscene enough to piss off at least one fish.  About ten minutes in I was starting to strip in my line to make another cast when I had a hit.  I set the hook and the fight was on, for about 20 seconds.  After the initial run the fish started shaking his head and that was when the fly pulled free.  I didn’t know it at the time but Nate was filming all of this with his phone.  It wasn’t until I got home that night when I saw the footage of my overly dramatic response to losing the fish.  This happens but considering I haven’t caught a steelhead on a fly since Jan. 2nd, 2016 this hurt.  My window of opportunity was quickly shrinking and the odds of me landing a fish was growing slimmer by the minute.  After I composed myself I waded back in and got back to business.  After about 20 minutes Nate told me to move back upstream and start over.  Now any normal person would have reeled in his line and fly before wading back up.  Not me, I left the line and the fly in the water, put the rod over my right shoulder like a rifle and proceeded to walk upstream.  Two steps later…..WHAM!  I spun around, set the hook and yelled to Nate to get the net because we weren’t going to screw around with this one.  A couple of minutes later she was in the net.

Redemption

After we released her we headed in.  After almost 8 hours of wading 42 degree streams in and on/off all day rain I was whipped.  I had 3 1/2 hour drive ahead of me as well.  I was happy, I ended my no steelhead streak, unfortunately my never losing a steelhead streak ended as well.  I had my first multiple fish day.  I learned a lot about the rivers in the area, specifically how flow rates dictate which one to fish.  This is a vital piece of information I needed to help increase my chance of success.  Since that day I’ve uploaded all the Steelhead Alley rivers I could to my Fish Head app.

As for Sunday, I just slept in.

Next up, The Manistee and the Pere Marquette.

 

 

 





Have Faith

22 09 2017

To say that this past walleye season was a good one would be an understatement.  I made around 40 trips and on only a handful of occasions I did not come home with a 5 fish limit.  I could beat my chest and brag about just how awesome I am or take the humble road and say there was an overabundance of fish.  It could also be a combination of both but one thing is for certain, success breeds more success and that only comes from experience.  The only way a person can get that experience is by determination and having faith.

We have all heard the expression “Faith Can Move Mountains”, that may be true but the proper equipment, and a lot of explosives, sure make the job easier.  When it comes to fishing having all the equipment is necessary along with the knowledge on how to use it.  No one is born with that knowledge, some catch on quicker than others but the person who uses it properly will, eventually, catch more fish.  In order to get to this point a person has to have faith and believe that he or she will get there.  I cannot stress this “never give up” attitude enough and how important it is for catching fish.  Faith in one’s abilities breeds success.  If a person believes they are going to catch fish that person tries harder and pays attention to the little things.  Once a person takes on a defeatist attitude he or she won’t catch much of anything.  He or she begins to get lazy, forgets the little things, makes stupid mistakes and just gives up.  In other words, he or she loses faith.

We all have our dry spells.  As of this date I haven’t caught a Steelhead in 564 days.  That’s right….564 DAYS.  I haven’t given up though.  I have faith that this season will be different.  I will catch one.  Period.  While I write this I am already planning my trips for the year.  Steelhead Alley Thanksgiving weekend.  The Manistee and PM the first weekend in December.  Weather permitting The Alley again around Christmas.  Numerous trips to the Lower Huron, once we get some rain and colder temps.  I am going full bore, search & destroy, take no prisoners, death before dishonor, never surrender.  Granted this is more of a gung-ho attitude then anything else but if I didn’t have faith that I will succeed I wouldn’t be doing this.  I originally decided to start swinging flies for steelhead because of the challenge.  Challenge accepted.

I will lay a major smack down on them.

I will make it so.

I have Faith.