Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Big Stocker Trout

Recent trout stockings have not only produced fish, but some very nice specimens as well!  A good number of fish were over 20 inches in length.

I owe a debt of gratitude to my friend Darrin for giving me a heads up about an Erie Metroparks Trout Derby. The ODNR does a lot of them and I often attend, but this was my first time doing one sponsored by a different agency. It is always nice to do a bit of guilt free harvesting of trout as these events are clearly intended as 'put & take'. Being that this wasn't the ODNR, I was curious if it would still be the same Rainbow Trout in the 10-13" range, or if a few Goldens might be thrown in as the state usually does. In fact, often I find myself going to a stocking for the sole purpose of catching one of the Golden Trout. Despite my many efforts, this still eludes me.

While no Golden Trout were seen, the pleasant surprise was the class of Rainbow Trout that were stocked. There were plenty of the typical size but also a nice mix of larger fish including some well past the 20" mark. Darrin, his son Leo and I all caught fish consistently and had a great time. The derby itself was for kids, and Leo took home the top honor in number of fish caught and was runner-up on largest fish (edged out by a mere .25").  He won largest fish last year and almost defended his title.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Grass Carp, a New Lifer!

My first Grass Carp catch, while targeting panfish with a 1/64 oz. jig
As a multi species angler, adding a species to my life list always ranks at the top of my fishing goals. Add a lifer that comes with a great story and family around to witness it, and it makes it's way into my favorite all time catches.  So let me get on with the story...
Being Easter Sunday, the family headed to Jill's aunt & uncle's home that sits on a very magnificent fishing lake.  I have caught numerous Largemouth Bass, some real monster Bluegill and a couple Bullhead in.  The fishing plan was very simple for the day, catch some fish on the spinning gear and then discipline myself to practice with the fly rod. Everything went as planned.  I caught quite a few Largemouth Bass on a jig/grub combo and then some on the 4wt fly rod.  I managed a couple real nice Bluegill, the largest being a bit over 10".  The day was complete with a Fish Ohio award sized Bluegill and catching fish on the fly rod, if it would have ended then, I was more than satisfied.
As fate would have it, I got a massive knot on the end of my fly line.  Knowing it would take quite awhile to get it untangled, I decided to throw out an offering that I could still-fish while working on the mess.  After tying on a tandem of 1/64 oz jigs, I went to the container of waxworms.  The waxworms looked like they were on steroids and then I read the container to see that it said "Butter Worms".  I asked Jill to pick up waxworms when she was out shopping, and this was what she had gotten.  I hadn't even heard of Butter Worms until today.  I cut one in half and used it on both jigs.
I had barely made progress on my knot when I saw my bobber go under.  I ran to my rod and knew instantly it wasn't anything I had encountered on this body of water before.  The fish was powerful, and nearly impossible to control on the 6# line.  I was trying to play the fish while waving frantically at everyone in the house.  I didn't have a net but thought Jill's uncle might have one, or if nothing else, people might get to see a glimpse of the fish before it broke me off.  Surprisingly, as many runs as the fish made, it stayed on.  I got it into the shallow water by the dock several times, with it slipping out of my hands and back into the water.  On the third or fourth attempt, I was able to get my fingers behind the gills to hoist it onto the shore.  At some point people must have seen or heard me as by the time it was successfully landed - everyone was standing there watching.  Jill grabbed the camera and took some really great shots rather quickly, and the fish was returned to the water without issue.  I really feel lucky to have caught and landed this fish, what a memory!

A good release for a fish that I hope to encounter again
A fish worthy of the front page at

A couple other fish from the memorable day...

On a normal day, a 10.25" Fish Ohio Award Bluegill, would have been the highlight

Catching bass on the fly rod, also would have been a highlight, now a sidenote for the day

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Wicked Tuna Circa 2008

The National Geographic Channel's show, Wicked Tuna, has become one of my favorite things to watch.  While I'm not a big fan of any of the pseudo reality garbage shows out there, this one has reeled me in.  There seems to be a buzz around the web fishing communities about it, so I thought I'd go into my archives to tell the story of my own Bluefin Tuna catch.  The trip was arranged by my brother back in 2008, as a bachelor party gift.  The following is an account of the catch, shortly after returning home;

Not as big as the fish on Wicked Tuna, but it is the largest fish I have ever caught at 130 pounds!

August 2, 2008, Atlantic City, NJ-
Weather started pretty bad with a storm that seemed to want to follow the boat. Eventually, we managed to get clear of it and started fishing about 35 miles off the coast. About an hour in, we got hooked up on a big fish. I have never seen such controlled chaos and excitement! As I positioned myself in the chair I was preparing for what I knew would be a challenge but had no idea just how big of a challenge it would be! The fight itself began really easy at first... (fish is swimming along with us). The line was coming in very easy and I either caught it up to the reel or it made a run - all I know is when I suddenly 'felt' the fish it felt like we had snagged into a submarine. I never felt something so strong in my life. Of course the fish hit on the line that was out 300 yards and I have to admit I was exhausted after the first 5 minutes. Little did I know I would be going on adrenaline for another 28 minutes. The fish made 2 major runs and it was nothing short of painful getting it back in each time. My forearms were burning bad and every muscle in my body was cursing me. The site of the leader was a thing of beauty, unfortunately I would see it come and go a few times. The crew & my brother kept shouting encouraging comments to keep me going... several times I wondered if I truly had it in me to get this fish in. I never once in my life dreamed I could encounter a fish that physically challenged me like this. I did in fact stick with it, and the fish never really gave up either. I would say it was more of just reeling like crazy until my heart felt like it was going to pound right out of my chest and then controlling the fish enough when it was close to the boat to allow the crew to try to gaff it. After a few failed attempts with the still spirited fish, the first mate Ed was able to get the gaff secure into it. He and another crew member Gene, as well as my brother, then combined to pull it up into the boat.  I was so relieved to see the fish in the boat as I honestly didn't know if I would have physically been able to continue to fight it.  Even though I was completely exhausted, it was exhilarating catching such a big fish and I just ran around the boat giving "high-fives" (even though I couldn't feel my hands to know if they actually were hitting them).  It was a treasured fishing memory I will never forget.

The author, Captain and brother, with the catch back at the Trump Hotel Casino & Marina

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Access Denied

I thought I would get creative this weekend and showcase something a little different.  I've enjoyed catching a fair amount of trout and Steelhead but needed a change of pace.  I grabbed the 4wt. fly rod and headed to a warm water discharge.  Sadly, the area was closed due to some construction.  Not that I was in the best of moods, but I did find the sign funny.  It comes across like they have one heck of a big ego, I mean say the area is closed or the warm water discharge - but saying "the river is closed"?!  I saw quite a few ducks, geese, a muskrat and tons of Gizzard Shad that didn't get the memo.
All it needed next to it was the moose with the button to play the closed announcement
(for the youngsters, National Lampoon's "Vacation" circa 1983)