Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Back to Back weekends

The wife and I headed north to Michigan for a long weekend mini vacation.  The whole purpose was to visit family and see our niece and nephew.  Well seeing how I had never been to Michigan during the warmer months and considering  my fishing disorder it was a must to try my luck on Michigan waters and species.  We flew in to Detroit, drove 2 hours northwest, I met up with my brother in-laws and then headed north for another 2-1/2 hours.  We made it on the water as the sun was going down chocked full of anticipation and with high hopes of filling the cooler with Rainbow Trout.  It was a chilly yet clear night; the stars where shining bright but the fishing was slow. We only managed 2 keeper Rainbow’s and about two dozen smelt.  The savor of the evening was I caught my personal best Rainbow trout…it was a whopper…watch out!

The whopper Rainbow...
Lucky me I married the best wife I could have ever imagined.  I got the clearance to get a second time on Sunday with my inlaw’s neighbor.  I met up with Eric and his son Dan at 3:30 am to make the 2-hour trip to Muskegon, MI in the hunt for Chinook and Coho Salmon on Lake Michigan.  The conditions couldn’t have been better, we had partly cloudy skies, a light breeze and perfect water temps.
Sunrise over the sand dunes on Lake Michigan
Again I was plagued with a slow to non-existent bite.  We had 9 rods out at one time with a big wide spread.  With the smorgasbord of lures we couldn’t buy a bite.  We were marking fish but hours went on with only one hit where it looked to be a big steelhead that hit the outside planer board, but shaked off as quick as it hit. Hope was fading and just when we decided to take a minute to snack, so did the fish.  I was up first and popped the cherry on my first Coho and the big fish of the day.

My first Coho Salmon
On the next pass in the area I hooked up again but lost it five feet from the net.  We were pumped and started to develop a pattern.  Sure enough, with another pass I was hooked in to a real fighter; this Coho had spunk.  After running through two other lines, cutting them off and tangling up all the gear, we had to get all the other lines in quick and turn the boat around to give chase.  We won the battle in the end.  I thought by the fight it was gonna be a monster…it was a solid fish but smaller than the first one. As fast as the bite turned on - it turned off and with the weather starting to turn with increasing winds we called it a day.  As I was pulling in the last line heading into the harbor, I had a hit and this time I got the Chinook (King) Salmon we were looking for.  He was much smaller than we wanted but still made it to the cooler. A big thank you goes out to Eric for putting me on some fish -  this guy knows Salmon.

Couple Coho's

  Shortly after our trip, he went back out and sent me a text while I was at work … he got a citation 27.02# Chinook (King) Salmon.

Eric's Trophy King Salmon

What a blast it was fishing new waters for new species and learning new techniques.  I am looking forward to the next trip to Michigan; hopefully it will include some monster Muskie and Walleye.
This was only half of the equation
Recently it’s been on my list to head up to Richmond VA for some Smallmouth Bass and Flathead Catfish.  What better time to go then when the winds looked crappy for my original planned targets in the Chesapeake Bay?  I called up Dan Smullen, made a game plan and it was fish on!  For August, the morning started off cold and rainy.  I made it up to Richmond to fish the James River a little later than planned.  It didn’t matter seeing how the bite was nowhere to be found.  I threw everything I had including the kitchen sink.  I was starting to dread the thought of a skunk coming on.  Late in the afternoon I decided to catch some Bream for Flathead bait and after catching a few, the Bass bite was finally on!  I landed the first Smallmouth of the day on a gulp cricket.

That was followed up with a big channel Cat that broke off when I grabbed the leader.  Then I went back to tossing artificial lures and caught five more smallies on the Rapala in a short amount of time but none worth writing home about.  All fish where no bigger than 8-12 inches.  So I decided to go back to cat fishing and it didn’t take long and I caught the first Flathead of the day. This guy was merely an appetizer.

I didn’t get any measurement but I’m guessing he was mid 20’s - y’all can be the judge.   Well the bite slowed down and it was getting late so we made our way back to the ramp.  I still had a lively bluegill hooked on so I dropped it down and decided to leave the reel in the free spool as we paddled back.  I mentioned to Dan how I didn’t know how I was going to reel in my line without getting snagged up, and jokingly said “I will wait to reel it in with a fish on…”.   With my kayak lying up on the bank while I prepared to load everything up, my rod started to shake and the line started to peel off the spool -  yup Hooked UP!  I couldn’t believe it.  Did I just call it or what?  This was a much stronger fighting fish than earlier and after a short battle I dragged the beasty Flathead up from the river.

37" Flathead
I wish every infishicated adventure ended in this fashion.

What a nice photo bomb!

This is what happens when I leave, they killed it.  I missed out by a couple of days.