Monday, December 13, 2010

Wild Weather Soaks Chicago's Lakefront

Yesterday I watched as waves built and wind speeds rose, finally things looked like they were going to peak and a couple of friends and I hopped in the car and headed into the gale.  We arrived at a parking lot, only to be steered away by police who said the waves were too big and that we would not be allowed to leave the parking lot with our cameras.  We scouted several other harbors, all of which had their token police cruiser.  Finally we found a spot to slide past the patrols (who were certainly doing their job, which I can not blame them for).  We hiked a few blocks and across a wide field through storm force winds and snow drifts finally to find ourselves standing in awe at Lake Michigan in the darkness.  Tremendous waves were rolling in on the backs of one another, crushing the seawall and throwing water in excess of 50 feet into the air.  The gale and freezing temperatures would instantly turn much of the spray into snow, where it was whipped away from vision into the blizzard.
At peak there were waves in the 25 foot class in Indiana.
At long last we couldn't handle the wind chill and we retreated to the car.  I readied my camera and set the alarm for an hour before sunrise.  I picked up my photographic counter-part, Matt Messner, and we headed again into the white.  We were not impeded by police this morning and arrived at Belmont Harbor just before sunrise.  As we set up the waves were crashing in with just as much force as the night before.  All told we spent about 45 minutes getting coated in freezing spray, our cameras were fogged, iced, and every other undesirable thing that could happen to a camera.  Tripods did little while perched on ice in 25 mph sustained winds, but we made the best out of what we had.

Matt cautiously waiting for a particularly crushing wave to finish breaking, shielding his lens from the spray.

 Enjoy the images, and please go out to the lake to see just how amazing this lake can be, even if from the safty and warmth of your car.  The waves should be good until the end of the day.

These are the current observed wave conditions.  Still very impressive.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Milwaukee Area Brown Trout Report : Thanksgiving Weekend

I am lucky enough to find a fishing report in my inbox every now and again submitted from you, the reader.

This one comes from a fellow I met one night after a banner day of Salmon fishing in Milwaukee.  He sent the following:

"I only got out once this week, but it was sure a nice day. Browns are in nicely with some late cohos.  I landed 3 browns, 2 cohos, and missed just as many of both in 4.5 hours of fishing. Didn't see any chrome, but I'm sure they're in there.  Get out while its good!"

Thanks Ying for the great report!  I wish I could get out, I'm burried in work and catching up with things around the apartment after my great western vacation.

Here is Ying and 1 of 5 photos of brown trout he sent me!  Way to go!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Big Sur River, Clear Water and Trout

 I parked the car, shut the door, and hobbled to the river's edge where a flood of clear-water memories washed right over me.  I have forgotten what it is like to fish clear, clean, cool, spring fed rivers.  As I towed my understanding girlfriend upstream (upstream mind you, not downstream, I am a trout fisherman after all), I ambled over gravel and boulders to spy into pools that I thought might just hold trout.  They did, it was beautiful. Being in California visiting my girlfriend for Thanksgiving, I had no pole and no time to fish, but just being there filled me with a sense of belonging.  I love the Milwaukee River, Oak Creek, the Root River and Pike Creek but friend... If we had rivers that ran deep and clear and cold like these, I might just find myself out of a job and firmly planted to the river bottom (not really, but my spare minutes would all be accounted for, that's for sure).

Enjoy the images, I had no tripod so I found photographing the water tough to say the least, as the sun was low and the valley was only filled with very cool, bounced light from the hills above.

 Trout live here.  At least a couple do, I could see them as I crouched over the top of the boulder on the left there.

The Steelhead Season opens in 2 days on this river.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving, Rivers Rise, Steelhead and Brown Trout to Follow

We finally got what we had been waiting for, a real rainstorm.  In the desert that has been south-eastern wisconsin a good downpour is more than welcome.

In chicago here I drove home from my shoot today through swamped streets and flooded intersections, all the while thinking about trout after trout turning nose from the harbor to the mouths of the river, many will make the surge tonight and tomorrow.  Look for thanksgiving weekend to be great.

Remember small tributaries like Oak Creek and Pike Creek will shoot up extremely fast, but subside almost equally as fast.  Big water like the Milwaukee river will spike and then slowly arc down over several days.  If you need to get out in the next 2 or 3 days, I'd choose oak creek followed by the root river.  The Milwaukee river should be shaping up in time for Black Friday.

Yes, that is what it looks like when the river spikes from 1 (ONE!!!) cubic foot per second to 200 in a few minutes!

As temps drop, put away the streamers and tie up nymphs and egg patterns fly fishermen, once these fish get holding you'll have to coax them gently during daylight hours.

A few Coho should still be around, but targeting big Brown Trout and feisty Steelhead will probably be your best bet!  As for me, I'm off to San Francisco tomorrow to visit my lovely girlfriend.  I will be out of touch with the Great Lakes for a few days but I will be taking in some Point Lobos, Big Sur, ocean views!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Fishing Headquarters Magazine : Volume 1 : Issue 1,View Here!

Take a look a the whole magazine here, but be sure to visit fishing headquarters to see it in it's full glory!

Fishing Headquarters Magazine : Volume 1 : Issue 1

I've featured many magazines and e-magazines here in the past such as This is Fly, Catch, and Fish Can't Read.  Finally I have one to feature that not only comes from close to home, not only is it published by friend and fishing companion Andrew Ragas, but it contains a couple dozen pages of photos by yours truly and some text from right here at Great Lakes Angler.

You all have homework over thanksgiving, you need to read this thing cover to cover.  If you read this blog every page of information in this thing comes from waters out your front door.  Muskies, Lake Trout, Salmon, Steelhead, Brown Trout, Pike, Crappies, Fall Fishing, Local Spots... it's all in here guys.

I'm especially proud of pages 48-63, most of the images were taken by me and given to Andrew to help get his magazine rolling and I must say, he did a great job of presenting them to the world through his magazine.

Andrew thanks, what an exciting project and I can't wait to be a part of more issues in the future.

Now go everyone!  Time to read!

Click this link to go view the magazine online!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Musky On the Fly, Zero to Hero

I remember the jolt of electricity the first musky I hooked put through my body.  I can only dream of one smashing a fly.  I've been following the blog these guys write for a while now, you've got to take a look at the trailer for their Musky Country movie.

Musky Country: Zero 2 Hero Trailer from RT on Vimeo.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Milwaukee Brown Trout and Coho Salmon

More information to come later, but for now, there are browns in the harbor, there are coho in the rivers, and my friends over at the Chicago Trout Bum, seem to have a pretty good bead on where the Steelhead are, even if I can't find them yet!  The guys over at Illinois-Wisconsin Fishing have locked in on the Coho bite so if that's what you're after have a read over there.

Harbor Brown Trout from Saturday the 13th.  This big fella fought like a champ.

A friend, Keith, caught a gorgeous fresh lake run Brown who still had skeins.  Brown trout eggs work the best and early morning and after dark are the best time to target these roaming harbor monsters.

I found some feisty coho in a couple of my favorite spots to fish and found that very small spawn sacs, only containing a couple eggs drifted through pools just down from bedding fish payed out.  I was able to manage 2 coho, this nice female and a fiery male that jumped like crazy.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Great Lakes Documentary : Waterlife : Trailer

Enjoy this trailer for a documentary that will come out soon.  It sounds like it does the grandeur of the great lakes justice, as well as inform thoroughly of the impending consequences of our actions in the region.

Waterlife, Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Southeastern Wisconsin Coho Salmon Report

The recent rain has not only brought a torrent of water, but a torrent of Coho Salmon into the tributaries as well.  I predicted this would happen Sunday or Monday after those rains, and suspicions have been confirmed by this report by friend of the Great Lakes Angler at Illinois Wisconsin Fishing.  The link to the blog is on the right bar there, go take a look!

Have a look at his report for proof!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Milwaukee Area Salmon Fishing Report : 10/23/2010

The Salmon season is grinding to a close in South-Eastern Wisconsin and though there are still a few Kings left to be caught, many of them are circling the drain and will not be around for long.

Today I got out with a friend Matt who, until today, has never caught a Salmon.  The day started with a blanket of much needed rain.  Matt and I both got off to a bad start with 2 missed fish each, 1 break off and 3 missed hook sets due to distraction.   As the dawn bite faded it took with it our hopes of a fast and furious day of catching.  The morning went on and things slowed to a near stop as all fishermen had ceased catching Salmon at the location we were fishing, I hiked around the harbor on a scouting mission and found a huge school of playful Kings that I hoped would produce a fish.  We relocated and got set up.  It wasn't 5 minutes before Matt hooked his first Salmon ever.  It took his float down, made a run out in front of us, then made a line for the lake, it wasn't until a load of drag screaming and about 200 feet of line later until the fish stopped running.  It took Matt 15-20 minutes to coax the beautiful female King Salmon to shore where I promptly netted it and got it ready for a photo shoot with Matt.  Just as we were releasing it I remembered our proximity to the harbor scale so we made the 15 second jog and weighed her.  Just a hair over 17 pounds!  A trophy of a first King.

Matt was then off to an appointment, he had in the city.  I nabbed some lunch, scouted Oak Creek, which was looking dismal, and returned to the harbor.  I found the discharge flowing quite nicely from the rain that was coming down and immediately hooked a nice King, from there on out things were slow again, with a hook up here and there.

First Steelhead of the year, this thing jumped so many times, I think it may have actually spent more time in the air than during the water during the fight!

One of the real highlights of the day was meeting a fellow named Woody and his son Trevor.  They had come to visit Milwaukee from Madison for the day and were hoping to do some fishing elsewhere but had been thwarted by some circumstances that didn't allow them to get out.  Trevor, a 3rd grader who really wanted to fish, had his rod in the car. His dad got it, I rigged him up from my own gear, got a good chunk of Skein on his hook, and had him in the water in no time!  It wasn't too long before my own float went down.  I set the hook and nabbed Trevor's rod and traded it for my own!  The little guy fought this 12-13 pound king for 20 minutes before he was finally able to get it to the wall for me to net it.  He was exhausted from the fight and absolutely beaming with joy, the fish was almost as big as he was!  Incredible.  All in all a good end for me to the fall King Salmon run.  28 Kings this fall makes it my best fall ever!  I really learned harbor fishing better this fall as the Milwaukee River, Oak Creek, and the Root River were all but unfishable during the peak of the season.

Trevor and his father, great team work men!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Grand Rapids Michigan Salmon Fishing Report : 10/7/10

While working in Grand Rapids this week I made sure to make it down to the fish ladder and falls on the grand river, get some photographs, and talk with some of the fishermen.  It would seem that numbers of King Salmon, Coho, and Steelhead have made it to the base of the dam.  They are not, however, there in large numbers.  One or two fish jump up a section of the fish ladder every 5 or 10 minutes and some are very small stockers.  Spawn sacs fished on river rigs on the bottom took all the fish I saw caught, and most came from the first 50 feet below the falls. 

Fishing pressure is moderate during the early morning hours, light during the day, and then heavy at dusk and just after dark.  Some very silver Coho and Steelhead are at the falls, but darker King Salmon outnumber those by a great deal.  I talked to a couple of fishermen who say they have walked entire lengths of streams up-river and have not even seen fish moving up river.

A detail of the fish ladder.

Artprize is happening in Grand Rapids and there are many pieces of publicly displayed art along the river walk and all over town, so if you're in the city to fish before Sunday, be sure to take a walk and see some of the art.  There is even a Sturgeon peice at the fish ladder.

Fish were hopping up while I was there, but I wasn't able to capture one with the camera phone.
Here are a couple of views of the river from a higher vantage point.  The river is very low and fairly clear, it seems as though a bit of rain wouldn't hurt fishing in Lower Michigan, the same as in Lower Wisconsin.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Milwaukee Area Salmon Fishing Report : 10/02/2010

Any Salmon fisherman knows that in order to catch a salmon it requires at least some degree of knowledge of the fish, it takes time spent on the water, and it takes luck.  Put those three together, and in time you'll hook one and at least get to battle with it, weather it breaks your line or not, well that's up to you.  Some days it takes more of one than the other.  If you really study how the fish work you can make a very educated guess to where and why Salmon are where they are, and because of this you'll catch a fish that day while others don't.  Some days it takes hours, just casting and casting as the hours pass, and eventually some lone fish decides enough is enough and hits your bait.  The final ingredient is luck, and this is a tricky one.  Some days you just get lucky and the fish just so happen to be where you are, and you just so happen to want to catch them.

Yesterday, two friends and I had all three of these things in abundance.

It turned out to be a day of such volume and magnitude of fish that I'm not sure I've heard of a day like it.

My of fishing started with a stop at Oak Creek, which is running very low, clear, and as far as I can tell is empty at the moment.  Rain will pick things up, and we need it bad.  At this point my knowledge of Salmon started to kick in.  My reasoning in my next move is as follows.  Since it is now October and we've been rain free for more than 2 weeks now the fish have got to be around in number in the harbor.  There are 4 harbors in my range however... so which one should I pick? Well I know that the only source of moving water in range is the Milwaukee River, which is actually running at a reasonable flow, not a flow great enough to push fish into the system, but for this time of year, it's running at an average rate.  So Milwaukee it is, now where in the harbor should I try for these Salmon in broad daylight.  Well... if there are hundreds of Salmon in the harbor waiting for a torrent of moving water where can you find them?  Well the night before last we had a brief downpour in the region, not enough to make the rivers swell, but probably enough to get the discharge near McKinley Marina flowing at least a bit.  So that would be my destination in hopes that a little trickle of water would draw in fish, fish that hopefully would be willing to bite on chunks of Salmon skein that I happened to have in my car, just in case the situation came up.

I pulled my car up, there were 3 fishermen there.  One had a fish on, good sign.  As it was netted I walked up,  said nice fish, I then moved around the other two fishermen to claim my spot on the railing.  As I put down my stuff one turned to me and said "TOM!", it was my friend Keith, who I had fished with the night before in Racine. Mike was there as well, I asked if they had and fish, and sure enough, Mike had caught a fresh, silver Coho, which was on the pavement behind us.  I asked how long they had been here, they replied only 15 minutes.  Hopes were high at this point.

The next 6 hours may be the best 6 hours of shore Salmon fishing I'll ever experience.  Between the 3 of us we landed 32 fish, were broken off by 7 more, lost 10 more to spit hooks, and had probably 30 hits that we missed.  28 king salmon, 3 Coho, and one Brown Trout.  Absolutely amazing.

To anyone who thinks this years salmon run is already over, there is no other way to put this, you are wrong.  The run is late, and is only just starting.  A warm summer, cool temps near shore in the fall, and a lack of rain have lead to a very slow start and a prolonged run, I will not be surprised if we still see a strong spawning run going into November.

We kept 12 fish, released the rest until the last 3 fish of the night, which we also kept.  All fish except 3 were donated to the fishermen around us who were fishing for food and were not as lucky as us.

We fished cured salmon skein about 3 feet under a float.  That's all there was to it.

Every Once in a Great Great While....

Intuition, time spent, and luck all collide and things are perfect.

In 6 hours we landed 32 salmon and trout from shore, between the 3 of us.  Ended up keeping a 3 handed limit toward the end of the night, all of which was given to fishermen near by that were fishing for food.  I will have a very detailed report later in the day when I sort through these photographs.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

Root River Fishing Report : 9/27/2010

An email rolled into my inbox today from someone who I've had the pleasure of talking to a couple of times through emails this year, who I hope to fish with this fall.  He's been making some sly moves on the Root River and you can find some gems of information in his blog.  Fish, though you may have to hike, climb, and search for them, are to be found in the Root River contrary to popular belief.

A great shot of a chrome Steelhead he picked out from between a King Salmon and a Brown Trout last week, you can see the fly in the mouth if you look very closely.

I'd recomend you have a look at his blog if you plan on hitting the South Eastern Wisconsin tributaries soon.

Northern Minnesota Musky

It seems that just when you think you're on some big fish lately an email rolls into your inbox that makes you think.... "man that King Salmon, that huge one that towed your Kayak all over Milwaukee... that thing only weighed half as much as this fish!"

This is a good friend of mine, a relative of my girlfriend, Rich and his 47" Muskie, tipping the scales at right around 30 pounds.  Looks like the weather was beautiful up there this weekend.  Congrats on another epic fish Rich. 

Rich and I have a little competition going for first Walleye from this lake over 10 pounds or 30".  As he said in his email.... "it's not a Walleye"  but it will do!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Milwaukee Area Salmon Fishing Report : Kayak Fishing : 9/26/2010

After a busy week I've finally found time to get a bit of writing in for you all here.  Internet is finally up and running here at adventure headquarters and I expect I'll be doing a bit more posting here.

Last weekend I was able to get out in Milwaukee and land 6 king salmon from my kayak.  A mighty thunderstorm in the morning and heavy overcast skies made for excellent conditions in the harbor.  An influx of fresh runoff coming from the discharge, combined with north winds pushing a good flow into the harbor made for a complex mud-line and mighty currents that whirled in some spots, and just flowed quickly in others.

Whenever I find a good mud-line in/around the harbor I always concentrate on fishing both sides of it heavily as I know bait fish and salmon like to move in and out of the wall of debris in the water.  Last weekend I found the line on the inside of McKinley pier, and began trolling patterns pulling crank baits.  My first fish came on a medium sized bleeding pearl Rapala Tail Dancer.  It came when I was letting line out on my other rod.  I hooked in, held on with one hand and quickly reeled in my second line with the other.  Once I had things together I began gaining line foot by foot, but the fish took several huge runs and started pulling the kayak to the south.  I was in the open harbor just on the south side of Veteran's Park and the fish had miles of open water to move in.  I started with about 50 feet of line out and must have had over 100 out when it took its first jump.  It was silver as they get and I thought it might be a huge brown despite the King like runs it was doing.

These were the first 2 kings of the day, the left, a 16 pound male, very silver. The right, a 15 pound female full of roe.  Still quite silver as well.

After a few more minutes of towing I finally tired it enough to get it boat side, got it on a stringer, and sat back in my seat for a minute, drifting slowly, with my adrenaline pumping.  For the whole time I had the fish on I thought, I can't believe I'm into my first King, this is what I've been waiting for, I hope I don't loose this beautiful thing.

I reset my lines and just 10 minutes later I hooked into a wild fighting, high jumping steelhead that threw the hook after 4 or 5 jumps.

From there on out the action was hot and heavy.  I switched to 2 white crank baits, and for the rest of the day I couldn't keep fish off of the full sized, deep running, wonder-bread reef runner. The pattern that worked the best was getting to full speed (around 2.5 miles an hour), holding that speed for a few minutes, then simply stop paddling except small dips to maintain a vector.  All my hits but one came as my lures (both slow, very wide wobbling lures that hold up at slow speeds) slowed to a crawl and probably started floating up in the water column.

This is another 15 pound female, this puts in scale how huge these fish are compared to the vessel I'm in.  Lots of fun.

I ended the day 6/9 fish landed, with about 8 more hits that shook the rod violently for a second but released before I could get the rod out of it's holder.

The lowlight of the day came when I was lifting a 15 pound female King Salmon out of the water, she slipped and buried a single hook of one of the trebles in my left index finger.  She was attached to me via the hook and thrashing away in the water.  Fortunately I was able to yank it loose (bending the hook about 10 degrees as it pulled from my own flesh).  Ouch.  Needles to say I made a trip to the cleaning station to fillet what I had and to clean out my wound.  I made friends with a fellow fisherman who was landing his boat and politely asked if he might spare a band-aid from a first aid kit in his boat (one of which I now have in my kayak for just such an accident.

In the morning after the rains I stopped by the discharge in the harbor and quickly hooked this beautiful walleye on a thunderstick.  It gave a good hit and I thought I had a Salmon for just a second.  But then, as walleyes usually do, she dragged in like a log and didn't give me much of a fight. Nice to catch such a healthy, fat walleye from Lake Michigan though! She was released right away, despite calls from some other fishermen near by to let them keep it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

South Eastern Wisconsin Kayak Fishing Report : September 11, 2010

After a long week of work and the fact that I would be up bright and early for work again on Sunday I loaded the car and readied the Kayak for another tour in Wisconsin Saturday afternoon.

I launched at a different spot this time, from the beach just north of the north arm of the Racine breakwater.  The kayak was easy to drag through the sand and I could load it next to the car and then pull it down to the water's edge.  The waves were 2-3 feet and rolling in the long gradual rise to the beach there in Racine, which made for a perfect spot to launch when waves would prevent launch on other beaches with steeper banks.  I paddled out through the break, keeping as dry as one can in a Kayak in 3 foot waves.  After the break the swell was very easy to handle and proved no challenge.  Water temperature was near 60 degrees at the beach and clicked down degree by degree as I headed east into the lake, finally resting at about 54 degrees.  I started marking fish almost immediately in 6 feet of water, and continued to mark fish all the way out to 30 feet of water, where marks started becoming less frequent.  Bait was not present in any large numbers but the sheer volume of large marks on the depth finder kept my hopes up.  I did about a 2 mile loop and after receiving a phone call I decided to head back to shore and meet friends further north.

As I neared the beach I decided to pull lines in 8 feet of water.  As I drifted with the waves I pulled a dipsy with a magnum spoon, as I was unhooking the snap swivel and stowing that rig my other rod started making a loud noise and bouncing in the rod holder.  I swiftly grabbed the rod and gave it a good hook set.  Fish on.  The fished thrashed on the surface, dove and took a strong run, jumped a few times, then calmly retreated to the side of my Kayak.  It was a beautiful female steelhead at around 8 pounds (I did not weigh or measure as I released it boatside).

She hit a J-13 while I drifted in the waves.  The lure must have been shallow and should have been making random dives as large waves lurched me forward.  It was a beautiful fish, and would be the only one I caught all day, though I did hook up once later at dusk at Oak Creek.

Oak creek is running strong and some fish have made it up the short run to the main pool under the falls.  I saw a pair of steelhead, a coho, and a nice jack king get pulled from the main pool while I was there, and I saw several gold colored kings pushing up through the turbulence.  I'm hoping conditions improve in the next week or two and we finally start to see large schools of Kings pushing to the harbor mouths.  It's been a slow start in terms of King Salmon and hopefully the ball will get rolling soon.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lake Michigan Kayak Fishing Report : Salmon and Trout : September 5, 2010

Strong west winds and cool September nights have turned the lake over and has set the wisconsin harbors and river mouths in motion for shore fishermen, and small craft fishermen alike.  Water surface temperatures from the state line all the way up past Milwaukee range from 48 degrees to 53 degrees.  Water inside the Milwaukee harbor runs an average of 55 degrees as of Sunday.

My first time out this fall started at dawn on Sunday morning as I launched my newly fitted Kayak from the beach at the mouth of Pike Creek in Kenosha, where there was a colony of tents and shore fishermen hoping to tie into their first King of the fall.  I did a 2 mile loop, marking an occasional stray fish in the 15 foot deep range.   I kayaked out to 30 feet of water and hooked back to shore, as the other handful of boats out all pulled away one by one to deeper water where more fish could be found.  I wanted to get the Kayak in Milwaukee harbor where I knew more fish would be holding.

I launched from the rocks near the channel head light and set out in calm waters under a blue sky to the middle gap.  I was marking dozens of fish and bait clouds inside the wall of the harbor which dissapted after heading out of the main gap into the lake.  A freighter headed past and sounded its horn as it passed through the channel under the Hoan bridge.

Wind was steadily rising from the south and clouds were moving in.  I made a line to the North gap and began trolling counter clockwise circles through the gap.    At 1:45 p.m. I hooked and landed my first Kayak salmonid.  It was a small but beautiful brown trout.  It hit a Green Dolphin Magnum Stinger spoon behind a dipsy diver in 29 feet of water.   There was 30 feet of line on counter.   As winds had continued to rise I battled across the harbor to my launch point and pulled out and headed south to Racine to meet the crew I salmon fish with, I haven't seen them since the end of Steelhead season in the spring and was looking forward to catching up.  After arriving at the channel head and swapping fish stories from the summer I began casting a jig with a 5" gulp minnow.  A Steelhead had been landed by my friend Mike shortly before my arival.  Another friend Andrew, who runs the fishing website Fishing-Headquarters, which you should all check out, swiftly hooked a beautiful fall King Salmon at about 9 lbs.  After the sun set I hooked on a glow spoon (a 3/4 oz. Moonshine) and stuck the biggest Steelhead I've caught to date.  32" of chrome, beauty.

It was exactly how a start to the salmon season should go.  Just increadibly excited about the fall.  You can expect regular reports from here on out.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Perch, Year Classes in Lake Michigan, By the Numbers

As you will often hear from old timers next to you fishing for perch along the miles of shoreline on Lake Michigan, things aren't what they used to be.  The good old days died in the early nineties with mussels, alewifes, overfishing, and dwindling bait fish populations to name a few.  Here's a graph that not only tells you the state of fishing this year, but can be used to help predict years to come.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Lake Michigan Hits Eighty Degrees : One Away From All Time High Temperature

A buoy in the middle of Lake Michigan hit 80 degrees last week; the first time it's hit that mark since 2001.  The warmest it's ever been was in 1995, it hit 81 degrees.  Warm water means more plankton and faster growth rates for your favorite species of fish.  This may mean some big perch coming to the end of your line next year, and even bigger salmon and trout in the years to come as well.

Here's a great article from the Journal Sentinel that goes into greater depth about the matter.

A look at temperatures in our end of the lake.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Illinois Wisconsin Fishing Blog

A fellow emailed me this week and wanted to introduce me to his blog named Illinois Wisconsin Fishing, and now I'd like to extend the same gesture to you, I'll suggest you click here to visit the site and have a read for yourself.

As it turns out, fishermen make fish stories and, big surprise, we want to tell them.  That's how this little project started out for me.  Now I'm a few hundred posts deep and still look forward to punching keys after a good outing.  It even motivates me to get out sometimes, as I know I can't write about my adventures until I actually have them.  So as David (the Chicago Trout Bum) supports me and I him in our parallel quests to enjoy the aquatic gifts we've been given, I hope you support Illinois Wisconsin Fishing by having a read.  I'm going to start keeping my eye on the site, no question about that.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Northern Minnesota : July 2010

Each year I am lucky enough to spend a week or two at a cabin in Northern Minnesota with some wonderful scenery and world class fishing.  The lake the cabin sits on is full of large Walleye, mean Smallmouth, big Musky, and a good smattering of Largemouth Bass and Northern Pike.

Dusk falling away on the lake as my girlfriends father keeps us on a good line using the depth finder as a guide when a visual of the reeds falls away.  Nights spent under the inky sky of Northern Minnesota, quietly moving through the lake in a boat older than either man on board has become part of who I am.  I am one who appreciates water and sky and stars, but there is something exactly perfect about summer nights up there.

I spent the week of the 4th of July up there this year and spend every night trolling and casting break lines and reefs for Walleye and Smallmouth.  I was lucky enough to land a 22+" Smallmouth, a personal best of mine, adding to my other personal best this year (caught on memorial day weekend) 8 lb. walleye from the same lake.

The warm year has made our usual style of fishing the shallow break line less effective and we were forced to use new strategies to find the fish.  I welcome a challenge and it was fun learning some new water this year.

The Smallmouth, which hit an x-rap, trolled over a sloping boulder field.  I found that trolling a soft zig zag between slightly deeper and slightly shallower than the lure runs often results in good hits from big fish.

I also had a chance to play guide a couple nights, captaining one boat or another with two good comrades with me.  We had loads of fun and got some great fish in the boat.

 This is Chris, who recently returned from Iraq, it became my goal to get him a good Smallmouth, as he told me he has been having a Smallmouth dry spell and hadn't caught one in 4 years.  We got him a decent fish, followed by his personal best, pictured above.  Icing on the cake was him bagging a personal best walleye, unmeasured and released I would put it around 24" and somewhere around 3.5 pounds.  It was a great fish.

Here's Nick with a stringer of Walleye that fed the whole cabin dinner the next night.  That night was one of the few that we managed to identify a pattern and methodically filled a stringer with enough to feed the gang.

Another great part about the location of this cabin is that it is just a 15 minute drive from a small lake that is chalk full of nice Largemouth Bass and feisty Northern Pike.  Catching a dozen or more of each in a short morning is no where near unheard of.

Only accessible by canoe and kayak keeps the fish many and the shoulder room generous. Here is Rich with a northern on the line.  You can't beat the scenery here either.  It's as good as any post card you'll ever find.

Finally a nice largemouth being released kayak side.  A huge plus of fishing from a canoe or kayak is that boat-side release is done with ease, most fish never need leave the water to be released.

In short order I will be leaving for a week in the Upper Peninsula, where I will try my hand at trolling for lake trout.  Flashers, Dodgers, Flies, Spoons, and Body Baits are prepared, leaders are ready and rod holders are installed on our 16 foot aluminum.  It's been a great summer.