Friday, July 25, 2014

Holy St. Clair

Joe and I spent 4 days fishing on the hallowed musky grounds of Lake St. Clair with guide Mike Hulbert. There's way too much to tell about the interesting geography of this lake, the incredible fish populations and everything that goes down in 4 days of musky fishing, so instead I'll keep this short and put up some pics. We had a massive cold front come through, but on a lake like St. Clair and fishing with a guy like Mike, you're still going to catch fish. We boated 17 muskies to 48.5 inches over 4 days, had a few come unglued, a few more missed opportunities and lots of lookers.

One thing I will say is that I could not have had a better time fishing with Joe and Mike. We knew Mike was the best musky fisherman on St. Clair, but we had no idea we'd spend half the trip belly laughing and having such a good time. Mike put a ton of effort into making sure we caught as many fish as possible, keeping us out for up to 13 or 14 hours a day. The conditions didn't permit the double-digit days he'd been having of late, but we were happy. Mike has a pretty full schedule, but if you're looking to cast for muskies on this phenomenal fishery, I'd sincerely consider giving him a call before trying anyone else.

Thanks Joe and thanks again to Mike for an amazing trip.

A few pics for Day 1 shore fishing.

Musky pics...........

Monday, July 21, 2014

Third Time's A Charm

Matt with a 20-pound carp.

When: Monday, June 30th, from 5am to 2pm
What: Carp fishing with Matt
Weather: Partly cloudy, warm (but not as bad in the shade). 61 degrees warmed to 82, wind calm to variable at 6mph and S to 8mph.
Barometric Pressure: 30.06in to 30.10in to 29.99in.
Relative Humidity: As low as 50%
Sunrise: 5:29am
Sunset: 8:32pm
Moon: Waxing, 3 days after new. Rise 8:41am. Overhead 3:36pm.
Water Conditions: Murky.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Lazy Sunday Morning

Joe with one of two nice Union County
largemouth he caught on a lazy Sunday morning.

When: Sunday, June 29th, from 5am to 11am
What: Carp fishing and bass fishing with Joe
Weather: Warm and sunny with clear, high skies. Wind calm to variable at 3mph and SW at 3mph. Temps in the high 60's.
Barometric Pressure: 30.25in.
Relative Humidity: 70% down to 64%
Sunrise: 5:29am
Sunset: 8:32pm
Moon: Waxing, 2 days after new. New. Rise 7:45am.
Water Conditions: Stained at both locales. Low tide at 5:15am on the river.

Even though Joe pulled out two nice bass at the buzzer today, I couldn't help but notice this was my second straight trip without a fish.

I definitely got a bit spoiled, with the last month being one of the best fishing months of my life. It's been almost six weeks since I've gone two consecutive trips without a fish. Turtles don't count.

But it's always a pleasure getting out, and especially seeing friends catch fish. For awhile I didn't think we were going to score anything today, but Joe turned that around with a spinnerbait in the final moments.

We decided to stay close to home on Sunday morning, and picked out a spot to do some carp fishing and try for bass while we waited for a run-off. True to form, my hot spot was covered in carp, many of which were breaking the surface. However, for whatever reason, they just did not seem to want to eat. Or at least they did not want to eat what we were offering.

This was the second carp trip in a row that fish seemed to be everywhere but on our hooks.

We sat it out for almost 3 hours, then decided to try another spot. The next produced the same number of carp, but now, we didn't even see any signs of life.

We sat it out for another hour and then decided to try one last spot.

The next spot didn't look any more promising, but there were some sparse weeds that looked perfect for spinnerbait fishing.

So Joe tied one on, and first

He landed it, we took a couple pics and repeated the same process a few minutes later.

Both were solid fish, especially for a pressured Union County pond. And I got to put a picture up on my report instead of another sob story of getting skunked, or turtled.

Still, I couldn't help but notice that I'm fishless in the last two outings.

Hopefully that changes soon.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Formidable Adversary

Mark took the liberty of landing this massive snapping turtle for me.

When: Friday, June 27th, from 6am to 1pm
What: Carp fishing with Mark and Joe
Weather: Warm and humid, overcast to mostly cloudy. Calm wind to N at 6mph E at 7mph and variable at 3 mph. Temps in the mid-80's before noon.
Barometric Pressure: 30.09in and rising
Relative Humidity: As low as 37%
Sunrise: 5:26am
Sunset: 8:31pm
Moon: New. Moonrise 5:51am. Overhead 1:17pm.
Water Conditions: Muddy and warm.

My buddy Chris Lido put it best when he said, "the snapping turtle is a formidable adversary."

Turtles, and in particular snapping turtles, can be an outright nuisance to carp and catfishermen. They often steal bait, get tangled up in the line and every once in awhile, they get hooked. Getting them off the line is a bit tricky, especially when they're over 40 or 50 pounds with a huge head and sharp jaws that try to take your fingers off with every move.

Mark invited me to do some carp fishing on Friday in his neck of the woods after musky fishing on Wednesday. Joe came along and between the three of us, we had no shortage of carp tackle, carp rods and carp bait. Joe got started early by landing a carp on a mulberry under a mulberry tree, but things got quiet for awhile after that.

We tried different baits, different rigs and different flavors, but it was just one of those days when there were carp around and they just didn't seem to want to eat.

It happens.

As we were nearing the end of our fishing session, some telltale bubbles started appearing around one of my baits. Unfortunately, these were not the telltale bubbles of a carp. Within minutes, my line took off, but not with the speed at which a carp would take it.

I had a turtle on the line.

And it was a big one.

I tussled with a big snapper for a few minutes, and although I would normally try to liberate it from a distance, Mark was all about landing it for a photo op.

Better him than me.

It took Mark a minute to haul the beast up the bank, but he eventually succeeded. We snapped a few money shots, Mark took the hook from its paw, and we set it free no worse for the wear.

That would be the biggest thing we landed, but Joe added a couple other carp to our haul.

Once again, it was pleasure fishing with Mark and I learned a ton from his vast knowledge of carp fishing. Looking forward to catching some big carp with him, and hopefully a few big muskies as well.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Keeping It Going

Another nice muskellunge.

When: Wednesday, June 25th, from 5am to 1pm
What: Musky fishing
Weather: Warm and humid, overcast to mostly cloudy. Cleared in the afternoon a bit. High 60's warmed to high 70's. Wind from S to SW up to 4mph and gusting to 7mph.
Barometric Pressure: 30.00in to 29.94in and falling.
Relative Humidity: Low of 57%, but much higher all day.
Sunrise: 5:29am
Sunset: 8:35pm
Moon: Waning, a day before New. Rise 4:19am. Overhead 11:42am.
Water Conditions: Clear on one pond, brown on the other. Temps in the mid-70's.

Either I'm getting better at musky fishing or the fish are getting dumber.

I'd like to think it's the former.

I met Mark Lowrie through some friends. Mark is the North Jersey Chairman for the Carp Anglers Group and one of the most respected carp anglers in the state. I love carp fishing and Mark was generous enough to agree to take me out and show me how it's done, but that was going down on Friday.

When he expressed interest in doing some musky fishing, I offered to show him what I've learned.

We hit the water in the VERY early AM as I'm not a huge fan of tossing huge baits and cranking double-10 bladed bucktails in 90-degree heat. Musky trips of late have had me on the water early, fishing for 8 or so hours and then home by mid-afteroon.

This timing has been working really well for me when it comes to catching 'skis.

Although I've only been musky fishing for a few years, this has, by far, been my most successful year. I seem to be hooking fish almost every time I go out and I can only attribute this to practice and study. The more work I put into learning about musky fishing, the more fish I seem to catch.

That being said, the morning started off quiet. We moved a few fish, but overall it was a low key day. After about 6 hours on the water, with the boat sitting in 14-feet of water, I cast my hefty bucktail towards the weedline. A few cranks in, and it got whacked.

I immediately knew it was a musky. And if I had any doubt, the fish let me know by going completely airborne moments after I hooked it. It then took two deep runs under the boat, but I was finally able to pull it up and steer it into the net.

I could see when it came to the surface that the fish was barely hooked, and the bucktail did indeed shake free the second the fish was in the net. Mark only had one shot to net that fish before it got away, but he made it count.

Thanks, buddy!

That would be all the action for the day. It was great day on the water with a new friend, and we have some pics of a beautiful fish to show for it. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Testing The Water

When: Sunday, June 22nd, from 6am to 11am
What: Musky fishing with Joe C.
Weather: Cooler and partly cloudy to overcast. Wind calm to E at 3mph.  High of 73.
Barometric Pressure: 29.93in rose to 29.97in.
Relative Humidity: 86% down to 56%
Sunrise: 5:30am
Sunset: 8:32pm
Moon: Waning, 3 days after the Last Quarter. Overhead 9:11am.
Water Conditions: Crystal clear, between 75 and 76 degrees.

You definitely can't win 'em all, especially in musky fishing.

My musky outings have been very successful of late, so I guess I was due for a fishless day. Even at that, and even on a new body of water, Joe and I had high hopes we could get bit.

And we almost did.

Well, we did, but we didn't catch any.

I scooped Joe up in the AM and we headed not too far from his home in PA to a deep, gin-clear lake that is supposed to have some not too tiny tiger muskies. We knew that not many people fish this lake for skis, and with less fishing pressure, the muskies can be more willing to bite.

The one huge drawback of this lake was the lack of structure. I had done some research and knew what to expect, but was still surprised at the complete lack of weeds in the lake. Muskies love weeds, and without them, they can be tricky to find.

And they were.

The main "structure" in this lake was steep break from 3 feet of water down to as much as 30 feet. With this being the only thing to go on, we kept the boat positioned within casting distance of the drop-off and proceeded to cast towards it. I started off with a glider that I let fall through the water column, and Joe tried his luck with the fly rod.

This game was well out of my norm for musky fishing, but I still felt confident.

I felt even more confident when a small tiger musky crunched on my lure in the first 30 minutes of fishing. Unfortunately, it didn't find any hooks. Small fish are hard to stick sometimes.

A few hours later, Joe had a follow from a good fish on the fly. We hit that same area a couple more times, but it never came back.

Unfortunately, except for some surface activity on the way back to the launch, that would be all the action for the day.

We both had some stuff to do, and this was a planned "short session."

Even without any fish, we were pretty intrigued by this place. There is something to be said for moving 2 muskies on a brand new body of water in just a few hours, and even without any weeds, Joe and I put a pretty good idea together of where to look for fish.

We will definitely be back.