Saturday on Brest Bay: back to dragging meat

IMG_3813Monday funday again, and a good time to look back at a pretty good day fishing this past Saturday.  After watching my brother’s house for a couple of days, watching his four neurotic dogs, and making sure my niece’s two new guinea pigs survived, I was ready to hit the water. Loaded up my neighbor Cliff’s new boat, and we headed for the bait shop.  Jeff’s Bait and Tackle had some really nice looking crawler’s, and since I already had the crawler harnesses tied on, we moved on to Sterling State Park to launch the boat.

After leaving the dock, we ran into Captain Ken Clark of Fishmas Charter’s coming in with some happy clients.  Have known Ken for a little under a year now, and we are both on staff with Church Tackle and Northland Tackle.  He had fished on the south side of #1 and #2 buoys, and I let him know that I was running up to the Pointe and would report in later.

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We set up in 24 feet of water, and with the wind blowing the waves to set up a  Northeast to Southwest drift back towards the bay, that was the tack we took for our first drift.  Before we had four rods in the water, Cliff pulled in a short 14 incher, and then I brought  two more fish to the boat.  Five minutes, three hookups, you would think we were rolling in the eyes.  For that first drift we did, catching three more legal sized walleye on a combination of Big Eye Custom Lure #6 spinner blades.  Really no pattern to report; pinks, purples and a combination of white patterns all caught fish during the day.

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Pulled up the gear and went back for another pass after catching five white perch in a row.  Went back along the same track, and Erie being Erie, didn’t catch a single fish.  We did everything the same; ran the two ounce Bass Pro fish weights at the same depths, and kept the speeds right in the same zone at 1.2-1.4 mph.  After not catching, we picked up gear, I ran the harness lines to check for nicks in the line, because you never want to lose a fish because your harness is wore out.  And to be honest, I hate losing good blades because I was too lazy to make sure the gear wasn’t in good shape.

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Although the skies were overcast most of the day, my thought process was that the fish had gone out to deeper water as the day progressed.  As the sun comes up on most warm days, I have found that the walleye seem to progress out to deeper water to find their comfort zone.  Saturday was not normal so I didn’t worry about it, wrong, should have followed my hunch right away.  We set up in 26 fow and our drift  would take us towards the river channel.  You would think the strategy was going to quickly pay off when we landed our first walleye shortly after getting all six rods in the water.

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Not so much though, it was a grind to get six more fish in the boat, but we were catching.  We did lose a nice one at the boat that had some weight to it.  You can almost always tell its a walleye because they will come in smoothly, like dragging a weight, but if they stay down, its probably and eye.  The second tell tale sign is that they don’t go crazy until we what we call, “seeing the boat.”  That is when the thrashing starts, since my rigs are tied to 7 foot in length they usually go nuts when I can see the weight.  If they are head shaking before that, 90% of the time its usually a sheepshead.

Quick Note: Whether my blades come from Big Eye or Northland Tackle, I hand tie all my own gear.  My general rule of thumb is that I want my harnesses to be as long as my rod will allow.  There are two factors when considering the length of the rig versus the rod,  first off is total length, which is simple enough.  The second is the action of the rod, and although my Premier Glass trolling rods are a medium/moderate action, they don’t have a lot of bend to them.  All this means is that I can tie my rigs a little bit longer, and for those big spooky walleye, it keeps the meat away from the lead weight, even if it does look like a fish.  If I was using a softer glass rod, say a downrigger rod for an example, which has a lot of give/bend to the rod, I would tie the rigs 5 to 6 foot in length, depending on the length of those rods. It is all about being to handle the rod with a fish on, and being able to get the net into position.

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Finally we got our 12th fish to finish off our two man limit for the day.  It was also our biggest fish of the day coming in at 7.75 pounds.  Thought we had the winning weight for the walleye contest at Jeff’s Bait. We get to the bait shop feeling a little confident, which always seems to be a bad thing when it comes to fishing.  Case in point, the winning weight was 8.8 lbs, over a pound more than we had. As they say, that’s fishing.

Copyright, 2016

 

 

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For Sale: 46 Reef Runner 800’s

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Selling 46 Reef Runner 800’s for $230.00, most have never seen the water, and thinning out my tackle box.  These are both stock and custom colors.  Cant ship, but will meet up near Sterling State Park, Monroe, MI.  Email me at fishingwithmace@yahoo.com if interested. SOLD

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The Pencil Plug: A Detroit River Classic

When the handliners first started pulling wire with their homemade Victrola reels in the 1930’s and ’40’s, there was a pencil plug at the end of the line more often than not.  Whether bought at the local shop, or hand carved in a garage, pencil plugs were the lure of choice. Were has the pencil plug gone?

I have a couple dozen left in the basement, both the longer version that was well known, and the rarer, stubbier, river rat version.  Hand carved, hand painted, these classics will probably never see the water.  They are a treasure, and although I don’t collect a lot of tackle, these and my grandfather’s reel are the highlight of what I do have.  Ok those and my Little Cleo’s with the dancing girl on the back proving that the old spoons did indeed, wiggle! But, I digress.

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Although you will be hard pressed to find any of the antique wooden pencil plugs, the folks at Sportsmen’s Direct are keeping the tradition alive by introducing their own Pencil Plug in 16 various colors.  Included are three versions (clear, chrome and gold), produced just for those who like to paint their own lures, or have a favorite custom guy.  The 13 painted lures include some river favorites like Wonderbread, Clown and Firetiger.

If you pull wire on the Detroit River, there are two ways you can get these lures.  You can order online on their website, www.sportsmensdirect.com.   Or if you are more like me, and want to see the lures for yourself, head for the western banks of Lake St. Clair and check them out first hand on Jefferson Ave in their new expanded showroom.  Look for John on the weekends, my old tournament ice fishing partner, he’s the owner, or Justin the manager who I have known for 15 years.  Good service, good price, and better yet, great selection for not only the Detroit River, but for Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River too.

Copyright, 2016

 

 

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Getting a Naked UV Jig Coat

With another river tourney on the schedule this weekend, I went up into jig lab and came up with some more ultraviolet  paint schemes for my 5/8ths ounce jigs. Whether UV finishes are effective or not when it comes to walleye is yet to be determined, the Detroit River offered little proof either way, I do like the look of these jigs.  The UV Clear from TJ’s Tackle makes the bring colors really pop, and a slight blue hue to the clean (freshly poured) sections of the jigs.  This “Naked” finish makes the bottom of the jigs, in my opinion, look more like a minnow in the water.

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Starting on the left side of the picture above; (Top Left) is what I call a Mackerel pattern, (Bottom Left) is a fresh poured jig just clear coated with UV, (Top Right) is a Naked Pink Lemonade pattern, and these next two came out really well.  Middle Right is what I dubbed Sprite, because it has a lemon/lime look, and on the Bottom Right is Maui Waui, because it was inspired by one of my favorite spinner blades.

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In this picture, on the Left are  Hot Pink and Bright Green Naked’s were inspired by an ice finish one of my friends came up with.  Liked his idea so much, decided to make a few of my own with UV coats.  The Top Right, is a Purple Pirate scheme, and then on the Bottom Right, I did a Naked Clown finish.

I used a combination of “candy” powder paints and traditional colors to come up with these jig colors.  At first I thought using the candy paints would be the way to go with the UV Clear, but really liked the end results of these traditional colors also.  In fact, there are three more combinations I would like to try before the tourney on Saturday, so will see what I can come up with when time is starting to run out on the preparation for this tournament.

Copyright, 2016

 

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Great Time at the Local 3000 Walleye Tourney

Well, it’s just another typical Monday after fishing all weekend, my back is sore as ….you know what I mean.  Before getting into all the details, we had a bumpy ride from Brest Bay back to the Lake Erie Metro Park for the three o’clock weigh-in.  It was a little closer to the time limited than we wanted to be because right before we picked up the boards, we went through a school of silver bass and tangled up four lines at once.  To say the least it was crazy!

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The run down from the metro park was golden, flat water and an easy 35 mph in my buddy Cliff’s new boat with a 115 Mercury on the back.  We set up just north of Stoney Pointe and made a pass southwest for a perfect clip of the rocks off the pointe.  In order to dial in the program quicker we ran one side of the boat with the Rapala DHJ-12’s targeting the top half of the water column, with the other side going for the lower half of water.  It wasn’t long before the first fish hit a Glass Purple Perch at 100 ft back of my Church Tackle TX-22.  There was some debris in the water, so after checking some of the lines, we added a few more GPP’s at the same 100′ depths and started picking up more fish.

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On the second pass we added some additional spring type colors, Glass Pink Clown took some fish, and my favorite spring pattern, Lime Attack by Big Eye Custom Lures out of Green Bay.  Don does a phenomenal job with his paints and they are practically chip/peel proof.  As it turned out, I set that one a little deeper since nothing running above 100 ft back was getting fish.  I pushed it down to 140 foot and picked up out biggest fish of the day before the boat had issues with the trolling motor.

We still landed a few more fish to finish 8 out of 9 for the day to finish up near 18 lbs.  A respectful weight for not having pre-fished down here at all, and we still had a blast.  Until that is, right at the end we went through a school of silver bass and four of the six boards started popping back.  Ended up with a few tangles which ate up a bunch of time that we need to get back to the park.

Had a great time at the weigh-in.  Finished fourth or fifth (at that point, does it matter if you aren’t in the top three lol), watched a couple of buddies from Ida take 3rd place, met some more nice people from Local 3000, and the bonus….they fed us fresh walleye!

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Quick product tip, I always wanted a tourney weigh-in bag.  After much discussion with tourney guys, charter captains, and even Adrian College’s bass fishing team, I went with Bass Mafia’s Body Bag, its a 26 x 26 inch bag that passed with flying colors.  I liked the handles and there were not leaks in its initial time being used.

Copyright, 2016

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Quick Trip to Brest Bay on Saturday

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Saturday we left the house at 6:00 AM but didn’t hit the water until 2:30 PM.  Why the discrepancy when the house is only 20 minutes to the lake?  Well it was my buddy’s birthday and he bought a new (used) boat, but we had to go a little northwest of St. Johns, Michigan to pick it up.  It was a great day to break it in, so we took I-94 off 127, to 275 and got on I-75 and headed to Sterling State Park to give his boat its maiden voyage.

Since we didn’t have all day, we only made two passes along the river humps. Cliff had to get back at a decent time for his wife had made dinner plans. Lets just say, they ordered in anyway.  The first pass on the north side was uneventful except for seeing some of the jiggers catching a few fish right on top of the humps.  First come, first serve and since we were pulling boards, I decided not to crowd them by trying to cut in with our spread cutting a much wider swath through the water.

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Next we ran to the south side of the channel and started next to the #1 and #2 buoys and headed back towards the power plant.  Since no one was on this track we could get right on top of the humps with our spread of Church Tackle TX-22 Planer Boards, love this board for running cranks and light trolling weights up to two ounce.  I had the St. Croix rods rigged with a wide variation of Rapala Deep Husky Jerk colors. We let enough line out of the Daiwa’s to run 40 foot to 100 ft behind the boards.

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We managed to pull in three fish on the second and last pass of the day.  They were 40, 50, and 100 foot behind the boards, and slower was better this trip with 43 degree water temperatures, +/- depending on how clean the water was.  Fishing in the slightly stained water worked best for us.  Of course one came on the DHJ-12 in Purple Perch, has to be one of their most productive colors over the last 5 years.  Then my favorite color from last year produced a fish, Lime Attack from Big Eye Custom Lures, and the last fish came on another Big Eye spring favorite, Boo Berry.

Quick note, from the picture above.  Those grey meat trays from Cabela’s make excellent basins for cleaning fish! Stop over in Dundee and ask either Kristy or Kimberly and they will hook you up. No pun intended.

Copyright, 2016

 

 

 

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The Annual UAW Walleye Tournament is April 24, 2016

Its that time of the year again for Local 3000’s Annual Walleye Tournament at the Lake Erie Metro Park on Jefferson Ave.  Located just a short drive from Monroe (right across from Bottom Line Bait n Tackle) and all places in the Downriver Area.  This is a fun tourney, and the cost is only $25 and you can have a crew up to four people, you just need one them to be a current member of ANY UAW local. That means you can work for either Ford, Chrysler or General Motors and participate.  All the particulars are listed in the flyer below.  Remember you can fish in Michigan, Ohio or Canadian waters, but you must have your current 2016 fishing license for those states or providence, and if fishing Canada don’t forget to call it in!

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Also, remember you can sign up the morning of the tourney, just be there before 6:30 in order to make it a smooth process.  Good Luck and see you there!

Copyright, 2016

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Protect Your Arsenal: Jig Maintenance

This weekend looks to be a great weekend on the water, a total 180 from fishing last weekend in snow storms on the Detroit River.  After the going through some bow busting waves on Sunday all my gear was soaked; clothes, plastics and three boxes of jigs.  In preparation for the tourney I had been a lead pouring fool and the last thing I wanted to see was a couple of boxes full of rusty hooks the next time I went jigging, which will be next month for the Spring Fling on the Saginaw River.

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So, after stripping off all my went gear and getting the clothes hung up to dry and getting a hot shower in, I went to work on my tackle.  I was looking for anything to hang my jigs on.  Totes, trays and buckets, anything that would hold a hook.

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Now my furnace out in the shop will suck the water out of the air like nothing I have ever seen.  Every day when I start it up, I have to dump about 3 inches of water that drain into a 3 gallon bucket.  Knowing this, I knew the jigs, and their hooks would be good to go after running the heat on for a couple of nights.  While having completed this job, I made sure that my boxes were dry as well.  It would be crazy to put dry gear back into wet boxes.

If you have some silica packs, it will be a bonus for taking out any extra moisture that might escape the drying process. It also wouldn’t hurt to wipe your hooks down with some WD-40, it’s a really good rust preventer.  Just remember if you take care of your gear, it will take care of you, and you wont have to spend more time and money from making your jigs all over again!

Copyright, 2016

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Picking a Jigging Rod for the Detroit River

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Trolling on Lake Erie is a blast,  the method has put a lot of walleye in the box.  That said, there is fishing, and then there is fishing.  There is something to be said about drifting and jigging, that concept of having the rod in your hand and feeling every bite.  Being in tune with the whole set-up means having the gear to get the job done right.

Full disclosure, for those new to the Fishing Michigan blog, I am on staff with St. Croix Rods.  Why, because St. Croix is simply the best in my opinion and completely trust the product.  When it comes to jigging,  this Wisconsin based company has several rods in their line-up that are perfect for jigging in the “D”.

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I have two sets of St. Croix’s when it comes to jigging.  Why two, because like many people I purchased the rods I could afford at the time, and those were my Avid spinning rods.  My first pair were matched for my style of jigging, two rods at a time.  I even have the reel handles turned around so if a fish hits one of the rigs, I can put the other rod down and start reeling with that hand.  The rods are two different lengths, one is 6’3″ and the other is 6’8″ in length and both are Medium Xtra-Fast in their actions.

Fast is good, but for feel, bite detection and hooksets, Xtra-Fast is better! There really is a huge difference between the two actions, and once you fish with one, you will know what I mean the first instant you hook a fish.  There is less of a “bend” in the rod, and this will drive the hooks home, and help you land more fish.

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Although my head is cut off and the fact that I am on the Saginaw River and not the “D”,  this fish was caught on one of my Legend Tournament Walleye Spinning rods.  Whether I am fishing the light jigs like the 3/8ths to 5/8ths on the Sag River or down on the Detroit where you can use up to a 1 oz jig, these medium extra fast rods work best. Remember this, when a rod is rated for weights that you can use, this is strictly in reference to casting a bait, not jigging. These medium rated rods will handle the jigs, and in my case with the right Daiwa spinning reels, will handle the biggest hog you can hook into.

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When I hear that you need a short rod to fish the Detroit River, I kind of chuckle a bit to myself and wonder who the person was that started that nonsense.  I personally don’t want to use a 7 foot rod while jigging river systems, but to say that a 5’6″ rod is a must really doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.  I have in the right circumstance, no problem using my 6’8″ MXF rods, or my 6’3″ rods for that matter in all situations on the DR.

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Now I did add a shorter rod to my lineup this year, in both the Avid and LTWS series, I brought a 5’9″ into the mix, but not just for the Detroit River.  If you ever fish one of each series in your hands at the same time, there is a difference in action and feel, and it throws me off when jigging.  For this reason I am still adding to my arsenal in both series.  I actually got them specifically for fishing the Saginaw River in tight fishing situations.  Getting in close to break walls and old wood pylons required the 6’3″ or shorter rod, so I figured why not the 5’9″ MXF models.  If I am running the bow mount and fishing up there, then the 6’8″‘s are fine in just about any situation you can find yourself in.

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Another reason I would choose St. Croix’s over other rod manufactures is for a reason I hear all the time from folks who choose another brand.  For whatever reason in a year or two, or even three and four years down the line, something happens to their rod.  They call that company up to find out about their warranty status.  More often that I care to share they get this response, yes your rod is covered under the original warranty, but we no longer make that rod, and cannot replace it with the same rod or original value.  Honestly, just get a St. Croix, you wont be sorry, and these rods are tested, and I hear all the time how great the warranties are with the rods.  Besides getting a great rod that you will really love to fish with, its pretty nice to know that St. Croix stands behind their products too.  It’s no wonder that they can lay claim to making the Best Rods on Earth!

 

Copyright, 2016

 

Posted in Product Reviews, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

Getting an UV Overcoat

Does an UV finish catch you more fish, I honestly don’t know.  When it comes to my ice fishing jigs for bluegill and crappie, I have so many I can’t in all truthfulness keep track of which is which.  I have “people” who will swear that it makes a difference, not just for panfishing through the ice, but also on the big water for walleye.

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I have been making jigs for this spring the last week or so, and got into the shop last night to put on my powder coat finishes.  I decided to keep some jigs with regular coats, and then use my powder paint air brush to apply the UV clear coat on some others.

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Some like Blue Ice, my “go to” color last fall on the Saginaw River, will not get the UV treatment.  For this finish, I take freshly poured lead, when it is still shiny, and give it a Candy Blue back.  Then I top it off with a clear coat, that I mixed Silver Holographic flake into.  This gives it a more natural belly look than a base coat of Chrome will give you.

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What I am going to apply the UV Clear to is some of my brighter jigs.  The top pick is my take on the classic crankbait color, Pink Lemonade.  In the bottom picture, I coated these jigs with a Pearl White finish, then topped them off with Bright Green and Blaze Orange.  Orange and Green, classic walleye colors, and that Lemonade pattern gives me some chartreuse and pink to go with some others I already have painted up.

Won’t be long now and these will be put to the test on Lake Erie, the Detroit and Saginaw Rivers.  Hopefully then will be able to share whether or not the UV clear coat can be a difference maker, or just another trend in walleye fishing.

Note:  All my powder paint supplies come from TJ’s Tackle.  Sure you can get powder paint just about anywhere, but honestly in my opinion, this is your one stop place to shop.  From starting out to making it a production line, the website has everything.  Since I am painting some larger jigs (up to 1 oz), I went with the 3″ fluid bed and cups.  It’s a little easier when you have room to horizontally dip your jig for that “back” coat to give more of a fish appearance like I did with the Blue Ice pattern.

Copyright, 2016

Posted in Do-It-Yourself, Fishing Websites/Stores, Lure Making, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment