Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Magical Buzzbait

This 17-inch smallmouth bit on a buzzbait offering just before dark to help me avert a goose egg on the River Raisin in Monroe County, Mich., Tuesday.

ROA photo by Mac Arnold

By Mac Arnold
ROA Editor

As promised, I returned Tuesday to the honey hole on the River Raisin in Monroe County, Mich., where I had so much success smallmouth bass fishing recently with my friend Bill Brisebois.

It did not go as I imagined, or did it?

Over the years in past blog postings I've talked about being at a hot spot and trying to see if lightning would strike the same place twice, such as from a treestand where I've drilled a nice buck or an obscure hilltop where I blew a meeting with a monster tom.

The same instances can obviously be applied to fishing.

One of the earliest such examples would be when I was a boy fishing for perch at my grandmother's cottage on Bear Lake in Manistee County, Mich. I would have to merely row out about 100 yards, then head down five to seven cottages and set anchor in front of the yellow one. Jig a crawler or two and it was game on.

Most of the time, I should add.

And I believe the same is true of this recent spot on the River Raisin. It likely would have caught on fire had the temperatures not already been there for most of the day, hitting near the 90-degree mark.

With darkness fast approaching, I found myself facing a "skunked" outing to go along with a deadlined baitcaster due to an inexplicable bird's nest.

But I was still alive with another pole that was set up with a buzzbait. In the gray silence of dusk, there are few lures that contain the magic of the buzzbait -- something I learned from my West Virginia "ex-outlaws" and experienced myself over the years.

I decided on the way back to the boat launch that I would attempt a few casts at this new-found bass paradise. As I slipped slowly along the shore opposite the fallen logs and branches that are likely key to holding the fish in this bend of the river, I got out and slung the buzz straight across the shadowy ripples.

Halfway back as it bubbled and gurgled across the surface -- bam! A fish nailed the white and chartreuse lure complete with white Berkley Power Grub trailer. Unlike the earlier hits in the late afternoon-evening that didn't land fish, this baby was hooked and hooked good.

The picture says it all: relief.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The plot thickens

By Mac Arnold
ROA Editor

In July I was denied a bear permit for the upcoming season in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, which was the first time this happened in several years.

Now, this month I was rejected for a fall turkey license. True, it was for a unit (GC) that only held 200 available tags.

But just the same, I'm left wondering what the 2013 fall hunting season will hold.

On tap next will be the doe tag I applied for in Unit 081. It would be nice if this one would at least come through for me since I will be relying mostly on public land for autumn's deer hunting. Those drawing results will be posted Sept. 5 at

I've recently moved to Monroe County, and I'm going to be without private land and/or known areas when I try to fill up my freezer with the annual take of venison chops and the like.

This season's outings will likely be reduced and all over the board as the new job at The Blade in Toledo, Ohio, often has split days off and long consecutive stretches of work shifts.

I am definitely not complaining. In fact I am grateful to be working full time again after being laid off April 4 from The Macomb Daily, where I logged 16 years of service. 

It's just that it will be a schedule which will require some adjustments of fitting in deer hunting gigs, along with tying in virgin territories to boot.

Despite all of this, I will try to pass on the thrills of the outdoors on this blog in the usual fashion for the upcoming fall hunts.

Already, I've recently posted a mucho-fun bass fishing day trip on the River Raisin, and even with the impending move from the former St. Clair County home, I was luckily able to make short work of the spring turkey season in May.

Admittedly these two blog follows are too few and far in between but with the festivities of fall just around the corner it will surely pick up.

And I plan on returning to the River Raisin for more bass action on my next day off.

So do not despair, yours truly will keep you riveted and wanting more.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Bass heaven? We shall see

This was one of my better catches Aug. 10 on the River Raisin in Monroe County, Mich. Artificial worms would carry the day and many bass were landed. I hope to soon duplicate this day again. 
ROA picture by Bill Brisebois

By Mac Arnold
ROA Editor

At long last, I believe I may have found the holy bass waters in my home state of Michigan.

It will take a few more outings before I can confirm this but with it being a mere 20 minutes from my home it shouldn't be a problem.

Maybe there were other extenuating circumstances such as the perfect moon phase -- but on further review -- Aug. 10 was five days past the new moon, which some anglers believe has an effect on fish feeding behaviors.

Another one could be that the water level was just low enough in Monroe County's River Raisin to create a perfect holding pool at that bend in the river for that one moment.

Regardless, on this glorious day, from about 6 p.m. to closing time, which was around 9 p.m., I ended up catching more smallies than I could count.

In the past several years I can only remember one other non-charter fishing time when this had happened and that was on the South Branch of the Potomac River in West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle. Ever since I've tried to re-create that event -- even back on the South Branch -- but to no avail.

I must admit lately this has really had me down on fishing, especially with me being the Type A personality who always seemed to find ways to build bird's nests in reels or lasso with casts the seemingly unreachable tree branch several feet above the bank of the river.

The previous outing before Aug. 10's bountiful occasion in June I ended up dumping the canoe with Brian my fishing partner that day and play scurry around the 40th Street Pond in Port Huron to salvage what lures I could after the tackle bag spilled out its contents. True, Brian had caught a nice pike and we somehow managed to get it ashore still in tow with the canoe. But yours truly was skunked again without even a single hit at one my offerings prior to going swimming.

And pretty much every other gig in previous years was just as eventful.

So I needed this day.

Even the company couldn't have been better. Bill Brisebois and I have been friends since second grade and now we're both closing in on the midcentury mark. That's a long time. He was in from San Diego and occasionally we have taken the route of the charter fishing experience to kick back and relax to catch up on the old days.

There was the time maybe 10 years ago when everybody bailed out of a planned Lake Michigan salmon gig except us, and we had to alternate, to both having to man the poles on hits. Let me just say there was little down time and plenty of work for our reward of salmon steaks on that day.

But I digress ...

So spontaneity ruled this year's fishing. There was even a "quick" trip to Cabela's  before the canoe launch.

Before I landed my latest job at The Blade in Toledo, I had been working part time at The Monroe Evening News and driving over the River Raisin four days week pondering what it may hold in the way of angling thrills. It certainly looked as if it had fast enough water to make for fun smallmouth bassin'.

There would be no more wondering. After Bill finally harangued me enough with his watch tapping and "c'mons" it was time to leave a mecca of hunting shops and get on the river.

At our first stop, which was beginning to look like the usual, Bill lost the hook and artificial worm on his first cast. While he was tying on a new setup, I waded into the river and immediately got a nice hit and eventually landed the first smallie on the day. The action would snowball from there at the next location in the bend once we got headed downriver again.

Bill recalled how we used to fish when we were younger and battle it out for title of top angler of the day. It wasn't long before that was resurrected. After he switched the rod and reel he had started out with at my suggestion, he soon was matching my catches fish for fish. For the first hour he was mostly losing fish. (He still thinks that was a plan I hatched but I swear it wasn't.)

Even the panoramic picture he took of our surroundings looked like postcard shot. I'm trying to get him to send it to me so I can post it on here.

What a day. What a day, indeed.