A Carptastic weekend, sort of.

5 09 2017

I originally wasn’t planning on doing a whole lot of fishing this Labor Day weekend.  With it being the last “hurrah” for pleasure boaters and a forecast for NE winds I figured I would just stay home.  I had enough chores to keep me busy for the weekend anyways, one of them being re-staining and sealing my deck.  I had been putting it off all summer and I was running out of time.  So with all that in mind I did what any other respectful fishing fanatic would have done.  Went fishing anyways.

A friend of mine had told me about a nearby lake (more of a pond actually) along the Rouge River.  He told me that it was full of carp and nothing else.  I was supposed to meet a friend for lunch up in Garden City around noon on Sunday so I figured I would leave early and check out the area first.  When I arrived I saw that the “lake” was in desperate need of rain, much like the local rivers.  I walked the perimeter and wouldn’t you know it, I spotted a lone carp slowly cruising around in about a foot of water.  I went back to my car and quickly rigged up my TFO BVK 6 wt with an olive damsel fly.  I headed back to the area and after a few minutes I located the same lone carp.  Now came the hard part, trying to find an area I could cast to him.  This part of the lake was surrounded by trees and no room for a back cast.  I wasn’t wearing boots or waders so wading was out of the question.  Never the less I made my way down to the shoreline and waited, hoping he would come in a little closer.  After a few minutes he did and I was able to make a roll cast to get the fly out in his direction.  I patiently waited as he swam closer and then gave the fly a short strip.  He turned towards the fly and swam in.  I wasn’t going to be able to see the take so I kept ready for any sign of it.  Just as he got to where I though my fly was I gave it another twitch and he turned on it.  I lifted my rod, felt the weight, drove the hook home and it was off to the races.  Once again there were other carp right along the shoreline that I did not see.  When he took off 3 more did from the shallows as well.  Now it was going to be a combination of me balancing myself on a log to keep from falling in and to keep him from swimming under the numerous blow downs in the area.   He did manage to swim under small one but I was able to pull him back from under it.  Five minutes later he was in hand and posing for a pic.  After that he was back on his way and I was headed to lunch, a little wet and dirty.  He flopped out of my hand as I was taking the pic and he splashed muck all over my jeans.  Oh well, wasn’t the first time nor will it be the last.

My Precarious Perch

Just before the flop

The next day I headed back hoping for a repeat.  This time the carp were concentrated right in front of the parking lot so I spent my time right there trying to catch one.  This time I wore my knee boots to keep from getting wet.  These fish were feeding but they really didn’t want anything to do with my olive damsel.  I did manage to hook one for a few brief seconds but I think it was a foul hook in the pectoral fin.  I still tried, spooked a few, had a few swim right up to the fly and refuse it and others that just plain flat out ignored it.  One of these days I will figure out how to catch these “cruising” carp with more consistency.  I saw a lot of depressions in the muck and I figured they had to be from bass.  I didn’t see any at first but while I would bring in my fly smaller fish were trying to grab it.  After awhile I switched to a smaller fly to see what they were.  Figured they were bluegill but it turns out they were young Smallmouth Bass.

Guess I’ll have to figure out where the parents are.  When I’m not catching carp of course.

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A Year in a Life – October

14 10 2014

October is my favorite time of year and probably one of my favorite times to be on the river fishing. Every spring I count the days until I can get the boat in the water but come July I’m already thinking ahead to October. This month has consistently produced more big fish for me than any other. I know the Spring Run produces a lot of big females but for me the Fall fishing has been my best time of year. I have lost some wall hangers and also landed my personal best on a Halloween afternoon a few years back. We have all heard it before about how the fish go on a feeding binge to prep for the upcoming winter and it shouldn’t be ignored. Fishing can be tough because of the weather but the rewards can be awesome.

 
There are two areas on the Detroit River where the fish start to pile up in preparation for winter and the Spring spawning run. At the north end up near Peche Island and the South end from the Grosse Isle Free bridge to south of Celeron Island. They do catch a few fish mid river but the catches are more consistent at the north and south ends. The schools also pile up in Lake Erie from Brest Bay down to Huron Ohio but I don’t have the boat for that so I stick to the river. They also catch a lot of walleye north of the Blue Water bridge up at Port Huron but I’m not making that run either. For me though it is all about the Trenton Channel. I know big surprise.

 
During the Fall the walleye in the channel are feeding on 4 different types of baitfish. Emerald Shiners, Gobies, young of the year Smallmouth Bass and eventually Gizzard Shad. The Gizzard Shad follow the warm water from the Edison Plant discharge and the walleye are right behind them. You can always tell when they are in because you will see them jumping and there will be a big increase in Egret’s, Heron’s and Eagles in the trees along the shore. This means big baits, size #11 and #13 Rapala’s and Thundersticks. My usual set up this time of year is all Rapala’s with a 13 on my 40, an 11 on my 20 and a 9 on my kicker. Of course this can change after I have been out there for a bit but 90% of the time I start out like that. It all depends on what the fish want. It can be baffling though. I have caught barely legal fish on a #13 Rapala and a 6 or 7 pounder on a #7 Rapala. Lord for bid they stick to my plan of attack.

 
Another good thing about this time of year is that the fish hit hard. None of this lightly sucking in the bait or just nipping at the tail crap. They hit these lures like a freight train. Out in the Lake the small inline planer boards turn into bobbers that disappear under the surface. For the handliner it’s not uncommon to find the whole lure inside the fish or every hook stuck in him somewhere. Of course because the fish are so big and feisty I tend to lose a lot of fish. All the head shaking produces a lot of tearing and eventually lures being thrown back at me just as I get them within a few yards of the boat. This is a time when I really prefer to fish by myself so that I can turn the boat into the fish and try to finesse them in a little more. I also keep a net handy, especially if I can see those tell tale holes in the jaw from where the hook has been pulling.

 
Couple of other things to take into consideration for the Fall fishing. Weather plays a big role in success. Once the water temps get around that 50 degree range it’s game on. If things get to cold to quick it can shut down in a hurry. Also, October storms can tear up the water in an instant. A few years back Super Storm Sandy trashed the river for weeks and the fish shut right down. I have also noticed that since the fish are more active they are willing to chase bait and sometimes are up cruising around off the bottom. I catch more fish while bringing my lines up or setting them down this time of year over any other. If I notice this I will shorten up my 20 foot lead and my kicker. I won’t touch the 40 just in case there are still a few lazy ones down there. It also helps to keep one line away from the boat in case they are a little skittish in the shallow clear water. I have also noticed that these fish will feed at the most ridiculous times. Like I said earlier my personal best came on a Halloween afternoon at 2:00 pm. I have had some of my best days on clear blue bird days at 10:00 am. I rarely get that in the summer but it happens on a regular basis in the Fall. Bottom line is when the dinner bell rings it’s best to be out there. Weeds too can be a problem, it’s not the big mats like in the summer but just all the single strands that are dying and breaking off downstream. These tend to be below the surface so a good west wind isn’t going to help keep them in Canada. In other words clear the lines on a regular basis.

 
That’s it for my thoughts on the fall fishery. If all goes well this can carry on into November and December. It all depends on what kind of a mood Mother Nature is in. In 2007 I was catching limits well into December but last year everything came to a screeching halt in November. Each year is different, just remember to dress warm and have fun.

10-26-12 TC 2 10-26-12 TC 1 10-20-12 TC 1 TC 11-10-12 11-10-13 TC