A new personal record Freshwater Drum

The holiday weekend provided an opportunity to get back out on the kayak. I wanted to get out in Lake Erie but was worried about the wind and subsequent wave height. For once, I felt like I made a thoughtful well calculated plan, and chose to put in at Emerald Necklace Marina on the Rocky River. It was close enough to the mouth that I could paddle to the lake, yet if conditions were bad I could just stay in the river. So I put my plan into action and sure enough the lake was far to choppy for me to feel safe. I did not use good judgment as I was compelled to go out and ‘test it’, but dumping would never be a good way to say, “yes I was right, too poor of conditions”. My novice status as a kayak fisherman was also evident by my failure to realize I had left the scupper plugs in. A self bailing sit on top does no good when soaked if the plugs aren’t out. Lesson learned.

CWF052515drumThe largest Freshwater Drum I’ve ever caught, 27 1/2″

While I was disappointed to be heading back into the river, I still had great expectations of good fishing and maybe would get into some Smallmouth Bass, Channel Catfish, or Common Carp.  Reports had all of these species being picked up in good numbers recently.  While highly unlikely, I also thought maybe I stood a chance at a Steelhead heading back out to the lake.  As the day went on and the fishing was slow, I went from wondering what I was going to catch to wondering if I was going to catch at all.  It may have been due to all the boat traffic and recreational paddlers, maybe the people and dogs splashing in the water, but the end result was nothing happening as far as fish.

I’m never one to give up easily and after multiple lure changes, I settled in on using a Blue Fox Super Vibrax.  I’m a big fan of inline spinners and this is one of my favorites.  After 5 or 10 minutes, I felt my first nudge of the day and a few casts later I had my first fish, a small drum.  As slow as the fishing was, I appreciated anything willing to bite and that included a small non noteworthy fish.  I also have to say that any catch from the kayak is celebrated, as it is a newer experience.  I decided I would just keep throwing the same lure and it paid off in consistent catches, albeit small to medium sized drum.  They fight plenty good for their size and I wasn’t looking for a meal, so it suited me fine.  I remained optimistic that eventually something else would come along, but if it didn’t at least I was catching.  As I was nearing my time to quit for the day, I had a massive strike and my drag immediately was screaming.  I was pulled to the center of the river rather quickly and was fortunate that traffic was light at this time.  A few recreational yakers moved out of the way and proceeded to have some entertainment, I also noted a considerable amount of shore fisherman and onlookers watching the battle ensue.  I figured it was a drum as it was reluctant to do anything other than hug the bottom as it fought, but it was remarkable in it’s ability to change direction and I found myself fighting it at various times from either side of the kayak.  Landing it was no easy task, but after 5 or 6 minutes I got it in the net.  I have to admit I was not expecting a fish of this size and it was truly the most fun fish to catch in a very long time.  I put the fish on a stringer just to help control it for the photo op and it also proved to help with reviving for release.

No success getting a photo while it was perfectly straight on the Hawg Trough

While I know a good majority of angler’s will simply say, “it’s just a drum”, I love catching the rough fish and less widely accepted and targeted species.  This was the largest I have ever caught and a welcomed upgrade on my life list.  It far exceeded the 22″ necessary for Fish Ohio Award and gave me quite the memory.   Call it a Sheephead, Reef Donkey, or whatever you want, I’ll call it a trophy.

Making the most of little time

Time is a commodity I don’t have much of these days.  Between a demanding career and family, fishing has been few and far between in 2015.  Along with very limited outings, getting the time to even do a brief write up has proven difficult.  On the up side, when I have made it out I have had some good success.  Most notably, I made it over to the Sandusky River White Bass run and timed it perfect.  It was non stop action with a real nice class of fish.  Plenty of bonus species also kept things interesting.

CWF05032015wbA 16″ Fish Ohio Award White Bass

The pond has been fishing well, and of course gets the majority of my attention as it provides a quick fishing ‘fix’ when there is no time to get anywhere else.  For the most part, I just have been working on my fly fishing and seem to be getting more proficient.

CWF05032015pumpkinPumpkinseed are quite beautiful

CWF05032015flybassA few Bass get to the fly before the Bluegill

Only a single trip was made to the various spring trout stockings and even on that day I didn’t have much time.  I was happy to at least get a fish, a rather decent 12″ Rainbow that under the circumstances, made my day.

CWF05032015troutInstagram trout selfie

I’m not feeling very worthy of calling myself a fishing blogger these days with so little time for fishing and writing.  I appreciate the folks that still stop by and/or follow on Facebook, even a small following makes me want to continue doing this.  I hope everyone out there is having a fun spring and making some great catches!

New personal best, Largemouth Bass

Every now and then a fisherman is rewarded for their efforts with a significant catch. This reward that we are constantly in search of, when found, makes up for the countless hours and sometimes awful conditions we endure seeking it. My reward came tonight via a 22″ Largemouth Bass, a bass greater in size than any I have ever encountered.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESMaybe my new Cleveland Metroparks T-Shirt is lucky!?

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESLooking confident and almost ‘smug’, doing cartwheels on the inside

While I don’t target bass a lot, this evening I tied on a spinner specifically going for them.  I had caught several and actually had considered the fishing a success.  Often, in my mind I will say “last cast” when I am done, tonight was wild in that I actually uttered the words “last cast” out loud.  Maybe because I had actually said it, it caused me to pay attention to the cast, more so than any of the night.  It was a long cast, that I attempted to retrieve running parallel to the shoreline, about 5 feet out.  I recalled that the water temperatures were cooling, and slowed my retrieve.  When the spinner was about 12 feet from me, the fish hit with a dull heavy thud.  Other than a huge wave forming, nothing broke the surface, and I had no idea it was a bass.  For a few moments, I thought there was a good chance I inadvertently snagged into a Grass Carp.  It just felt too heavy to be a bass and wasn’t fighting like one.  It didn’t rise at all and wanted to stay down.  As I continued to fight the fish to shore, it eventually made a small jump and I got a clear side view of the fish.  My brain then registered the fact that I was fighting the biggest Largemouth Bass of my life!  I tried my best to remain calm and stay focused, as I got the fish to the water’s edge.  Normally, I would be somewhat cautious lipping a fish knowing there was a spinner with a treble hook present – but for this fish, I didn’t care.  I was prepared to take all three points into my fingers if necessary.  As good fortune would have it, and the unusually huge mouth of the fish, there was plenty of room for the lure and my fingers.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe trophy bass fell for this Blue Fox, Super Vibrax, size 3, inline spinner

The lure was sitting in the bottom lip of the fish, and was removed quickly.  I did a quick photo on the tape measure, then snatched it up for a quick photo op with me.  As much as I wanted to admire the fish, I knew the right thing was getting it returned to the water.  Apparently, I did a good job being quick about everything as the fish barely was back in the water as it bolted out of my hands and swam away strong.  It was a fantastic fish and seeing it swim away was the perfect ending.  Maybe, we cross paths again!

A pretty fly, Fourth of July

CWF070414bluegillA dozen ‘Hand sized’ Bluegill highlighted the day

Catching Bluegill on the fly rod isn’t necessarily noteworthy.  Every Bluegill caught being over 9 inches, however, is definitely something worth writing about.  As I fished in private waters today, I was reminded that the most important factor in fishing is simply having quality fish available at the location you are at.  Sometimes we over emphasize the smallest of details, technique and gear, when in actuality the most important thing to do is find a place with quality fish that are hungry.  I remember watching the weigh-in at a PWT (Professional Walleye Trail) years ago where the winning angler was getting asked all kinds of questions regarding lures, depth, speed, what kind of bottom structure – all kinds of specific detailed things.  The angler looked at the emcee and simply said, “I found a school of hungry fish, and they were big”.  I thought to myself, this angler won’t have a single sponsor left as to not take advantage of a line of questions that was perfectly set up to ‘name drop’ sponsors for every aspect of how he won the tournament.  As I later reflected on the comments, I simply appreciated the honesty and thought there was an abundance of truth in what he said.  So today, I wasn’t an amazing or accomplished angler for catching a dozen “Fish Ohio Award” sized Bluegill on the fly – I simply chose an amazing place to fish.

An enjoyable day with family & fishing

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe family had a gathering today that happened to be at a relative’s house that lives on a beautiful private lake.  As one might expect, I had fishing gear in tow.  As one of my goals this year was to do more fly fishing, I took a 7 wt. fly rod as my weapon of choice.  Although I was mostly going to be targeting Largemouth Bass and Bluegill, this was the scene of my first ever Grass Carp catch and went a little heavier in case one bit.  Without the potential of these carp, I likely would have just taken the 4 wt.  I also brought along one spinning rod in case the fly fishing wasn’t working out.  I’m far from a purist, I just want success!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWhile it did prove to be overkill using the 7 wt., the fishing was fantastic and numerous Bluegill and Largemouth Bass were caught.  All of the fish hit on a rust colored Woolly Bugger.  Three Bluegill were well over the 9″ Fish Ohio Award length, while all of the bass ranged from 11 to 14″.  It was easily the best fly fishing I have ever done, as far as numbers vs. the time fished.  Truly, a banner day.

So after getting my fill of the fly rod, I switched over to the spinning.  I was seeing tons of Grass Carp, but was not successful coaxing one to hit a fly.  I took a bobber and placed a hook about 4 inches under it, and then took some long blades of grass and tied them onto the hook.  This was getting a lot of attention from the fish and sometimes right as the bobber hit the water, a fish would swim over to inspect it.  After tons of experimenting, I finally was getting the fish to feed on the offering.  Unfortunately, I was too excited and kept pulling the hook out of the fish’s mouth before it truly had it good enough.

CWF062114grasscarp2This was getting very aggravating, but I reminded myself that this was my first time targeting the species (the only one I had ever caught was inadvertent and only saw it after it was hooked) and it would take a bit more figuring out.  The scenario kept playing out where a monster fish, like the one pictured to the left, would either swim up to the bait or take it – only to have me miss.  I must have pulled the hook out of 4 or 5 fish before I finally was patient enough to let the fish carry the food away before setting the hook.  When I did finally nail it, the sensation was awesome!  The drag was screaming and I can’t begin to describe how good it felt to have such a heavy big fish on the line.  It changed directions often and it would actually create a wake towards shore when it did.  When it splashed, it wasn’t the high pitched light sprinkling water sound, it was more of a dull thud and ‘whooosh’.  As I kneeled on the dock, praying the fish wouldn’t come off, all of the family came down to see the action.  I didn’t bring a long handled net, which only further complicated trying to get it landed.  Every time it got close to the dock it would spook and take off again.  Finally, it decided to go under the dock which turned out to be a help to me.  As it swam out from under it, it didn’t get much of a chance to see the net come down and that was it.  Landed!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe massive Grass Carp was considerably bigger than the net

While the net was short handled, it had a deep basket.  The fish still exceeded this length, with a good portion of it hanging out, as you can see above.  On shore, everyone just commented on how astonishingly big it was.  We hurriedly took a measurement that put it just under 40″ and then I prepared for some photos.  While being measured, the fish got a little ‘dirty’ so I decided I would let it revive in the water and clean it off.  This proved to be a huge mistake, as the power of the fish in the water overwhelmed me, and it got away.  So much for any type of ‘hero’ photo of me with the catch.  At least I had a lot of witnesses, and got to experience the catch with a lot of family.  It was sad though, as this was my lengthiest freshwater catch, with no great photo.  In its own way, the photo above has an artistic qualities and some personality to it – and captures the moment fine.

First “Fish Ohio Award” of the year

CWF05242014carpCall me crazy, I think it’s a nice looking fish

CWF05242014brycecarpThat’s my boy, never pass up an opportunity to get in a fish photo

 A trip to my parent’s home today, meant a chance for the family to do some fishing.  We were on the Sandusky River, north of Fremont, targeting White Bass with minnows.  The action was okay, but quite a bit slower than what I was expecting.  In order to generate a few more bites, I opted to use Nightcrawlers on the second rod.  I figured two different kinds of bait might get us a few more strikes.  This would be especially important to keep Bryce’s attention.  The decision ended up being a good one, as I ended up reeling in a rather large Common Carp.  The hard fighting fish took me about 7 minutes to bring in and went 30″ on the tape.  It has been quite awhile since I caught a Fish Ohio Award qualifying catch and it was fun that Bryce was right there getting to see and touch (actually hugged) the fish.

The carp was the showstopper today, but plenty of White Bass, Sheephead and White Perch also were caught by day’s end.  Bryce has gotten pretty comfortable around the fish and became increasingly insistent on being able to handle them.  Jill did a great job getting some photos of him trying to be patient and taking instruction from me.  He was very happy to hold a fish on his own and even throw it back in the water for his first ever unassisted catch & release.  His form could use some work but at least he enjoyed letting them go.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAttempting to show him how to lip a fish, but he just grabbed it

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESHe was fortunate the dorsal spines stayed down, or bye-bye smile

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe release

So there you have it, a memorable day with the family on the Sandusky River.  I appreciate everyone’s tolerance as I am sure I will post every ‘first’ that Bryce does as it relates to fish and/or fishing.  What can I say, I love my boy!, and I know other dad’s understand.