Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Detective Fisher

One aspect of species fishing is learning how to tell the differences in the species.  This can be simple such as the differnce between a Northern Pike and a Muskie, but some species it can get real confusing and even takes a bit of research (it helps to have fisheries friends).

In MN there are 6 species of Redhorse, 4 species of Salmon, 3 Carpsuckers, etc.  Sometimes the differences come down to scale counts and other times it can be fin shape/position along with a whole managery of head, body, and fin ray counts.

After consulting a few "in the know" with the Salmonids I (we) have come to the conclusion that my North Shore trip was a success with a new species for myself.  I looked in the mouth of said fish to see if it was black (which most Salmon have black mouths) and the mouth wasn't black or white, kind of greyish.  I thought this meant that said fish was in fact a small Steelhead.  I thought something was off though and consulted my panel.  Considering caudle fin shape (deep fork), lack of spots on the tail/body, head shape, and the fact that the scales easily rubbed off; my small Steelhead is in fact my first Coho Salmon.  Woohoo!

I took a couple pictures; one with flash and the other without.  When I clean up the second one it becomes clear that we are talking Coho here.

Ah, the joys of species fishing.  Now the only MN Salmonid I have left to catch is the Atlantic......which could be nearly impossible in this day in age, but we'll see, I never give up.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What is it all about?

What is fishing all about?  Why can't I stop?  Why don't I want to stop?  Is it the fish, the trophy, the challenge, the comrodery, the flesh, the wilderness, the techniques, the friends, the time away, the solitude, or is it just the way some of us are wired?

I can't say for sure, but it must be all of the above and more.  I love fishing for any species and being on the water in the outdoors.  I try not to limit myself to just one type of angling, I like to use them all to some extent and try to use the tactic that will best suit the situation.

I'm a flyfisher, baitfisher, lure chucker, and handliner; an all around angler.  I enjoy using 1# test and an ultralight to catch various minnows species and I enjoy big rods with roller guides and big chunks of fresh cutbait for Cats and Sturgeon.  I can often be fishing for Muskies and come to a good White Sucker stretch and switch to a bottom rig or be flycasting to Smallmouth Bass with clouser minnows only to switch to a small nymph when I see Bigmouth Buffalo in the shallows.  I have no predjudice as to species or methods of fishing (as long as you can release the fish unharmed), I like them all.

So what is it?  Do I like to show off?  I don't think so, because many people are turned off by some fish species I choose to pursue.  Roughfish are called so because I believe they are the roughest fighting fish around.  What would you rather catch 20, 1 pound Bass a day or 2, 20 pound Carp.  I like hard fighting fish so my answer is simple; the Carp.  Muskie guys snub the Walleye guys and Trout guys snub the Muskie guys, but what is it really all about?  Is it elitest, to be better then the next person?  I don't understand!  What makes one species better than the next?  Food quality, fight, or atta-boys from your buddies?  I don't get it!

One thing I can say for sure, is that I like it.  I think thats what its all about.  I just like it, I'm obsessed with it and it makes me happy.  I can't stop thinking of it and it's an eternal fire thats always burning in my soul.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Never Give Up!

The Bois Brule River in northern Wisconsin..........I've always wanted to fish there.  After a few years of becoming familiar with the North Shore of Lake Superior it was only a matter of time before my curiosity got the best of me and I had to check out "The Brule". 

Day 1: The Brule is a very beautiful river and my first visions of this river was near a spot called "Pincherry".
I arrived in the afternoon and mostly scouted the first evening.  The water is extremely low and too warm, I never saw a fish.  The moonrise through the pines was amazing.

Day 2: I decided to start near Red Gate and work upstream.  Warning: Some private land near here and a very disgruntled landowner lives yourself and stay in the river!  I worked hard and covered water, fishing pockets and snags galore, never to see or feel a fish. 

Day 3: I make the brash move to drive into the night to get to a location on the North Shore of Superior right at legal fishing light.  In the morning darkness as I wait for the time to be right, all I can hear is fish swirling and working in the riffle in front of me.
BAM!!  A nice little buck Pink Salmon.  Then about ten minutes later.
A little Hen Pink.

I fished this river for a few hours and saw many dead Pinks and many still spawning.  I saw a couple giant Coaster Brook Trout in here as well.  I caught a nice little Brookie on this particular river too.

I decided to move on and do some more scouting; I checked 3 other rivers and all had dead and dying Pinks and another had many Coasters and a couple Steelhead.

I was really looking for bigger salmon.  I really wanted to catch my first Coho Salmon which are getting ready to spawn soon.  Before they spawn they stage out in the main lake near the river mouths and wait for the signal.  Many times you can cast spoons and spinners off of breakwalls and jetti's and catch a few.  I've tried this a handful if times with no luck.  This night my luck changed.
I was casting a orange #5 vibrex super spinner and this little Steelhead nailed it.  I can't believe the power in these fish, everytime I hook one I am amazed at their power and beauty.  The picture is cool because the sun is setting and a barge is just pulling into port. 

The moons captivating glow reflecting off of Superior was truely beautiful. 
Freight ships, storm cells, and the awesomeness of fall fishing.

Day 4:  To end my journey, as I shorecast in hopes of my Coho I witness a beauty of a Lake Trout that once lived a vivrant life in the icy waters of the largest lake in the world.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Rescued by Ol' Spadeface

This weekend was supposed to be a hardcore Lake Sturgeon trip with my wife.  Sturgeon have been being caught lately and our anticipation was reaching boiling point.  We fished a community hole that usually gives up 6 or more Lake Sturgeon a night peaking at 11pm.  We fished from 8pm until 2am, 6 straight hours of baiting 4 rods, re-baiting, adjusting casts, adjusting positions and never even had a nibble.

Feeling quite defeated this morning, we decided to keep our chins up, head to a different river, and try for the Lake Sturgeon's cousin; the Shovelnosed Sturgeon.  My Shovelnose spot is a beautiful old river with muddy banks and snagpiles as tall as a building.  Its prehistoric beauty hides many prehistoric relics.
The river this trip was a bit low and averaged 3-5 feet deep with holes up to 37 feet deep and vast hidden sandbars, sometimes only and inch or two under the surface.  This truely is a rugged river and is one of the last strongholds of the beautiful and unique Shovelnosed Sturgeon.
The Shovelnosed Sturgeon is an amazing fish that uses sensory organs located all over their snouts to detect food items and help guide the fish through its muddy environment.  Notice the organ markings on the top and bottom of the snout.
Notice also the 4 barbels which are used to feel the bottom and food items along the bottom.  Shovelnose also have clusters of papillae along its lips; these are the taste buds.
Between my wife and I we must have caught 15-20 Shovelnosed Sturgeon today.  Here's a few shots.

To top it all off I caught a very welcomed bonus fish.  This fish isn't large for the species, but is only my second one and my largest so far.  My Flathead Catfish, yeah!
Saturday night pretty much sucked royaly, but today made it all better because Ol' Spadeface keeps flourishing and keeps my rods bent.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Big Black Stones

Big black stonefly nymphs are on the menu.  I encounter many large stone nymphs in the streams of Lake Superior every year.
I'll be using some variations of these nymphs soon.
Drift these badboys through a deeper pool, or let them blow into the side of a rock eddy and you'll get bit for sure.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Best Anniversary Gift!

Thanks honey!  $100 gift card to Chifly and the complimentary Chifly flybox.  Awesome!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Invasion of the Rodents!

It occured to me today that I was all out of "good" mouse patterns for the up and coming Brown Trout session.  I love mouse patterns because they catch all kinds of fish during all seasons and locations.  The mouse has to be one of the best representations of an all-around prey species, that exists everywhere, and is eaten by anything large enough.  I started a few variations today.