Sunday, April 20, 2014

More spring fishing

ROA photo by Mac Arnold
Casting at the Flat Rock, Mich., fish ladder was
a great way to blow off steam on a Friday night.

By Mac Arnold
ROA Editor

As the time winds down to Michigan's spring gobbler opener, I seem to keep finding ways to get outdoors on the water in some capacity.

The latest excursion was Friday, April 18, along the Huron River in Flat Rock, Mich.

Mainly, it was a quick-hitter to scope out another potential spot to add to my repertoire.

In the 10 minutes I was there, I had no takers for my setup, which I tossed to the center of the ladder runoff and floated down with a bobber to keep the spawn bag above the crags and rocks below the surface. I noted that the other anglers were concentrating on putting their baits down under the rough waters. With the limited time I had before my planned Friday night spiritual meeting, I knew I didn't want to be dealing with a snag since I would be limited in how many casts I could make before departing.

Someone closer to the ladder in fact did catch what looked to be a small trout but he kicked it off.

I can definitely see this as a relaxing gig for later on this summer with my lady, with one of the top drawing points being there is a Dairy Queen less than a 100 yards away on the corner from the prime angling spots.

Now that's living.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Not too active

By Mac Arnold
ROA photos by Mac Arnold
Staying somewhat out of the wind April 4
coyote hunting in Sanilac County, Mich.
ROA Editor

I make no apologies for not being very active in the great outdoors after deer season.

There is often a lull for this aging gobbler and whitetail hunting practitioner between fall's "90 days of insanity" and when spring turkey season opens in May.

Although in some past years, I have pursued coyotes with vigor. But again, 2014 wasn't one of those years.

The same holds true for ice fishing. However, I think the future will hold big things for me next year on the frozen waters of Lake Erie now that I live hardly more than 10 minutes away from its shores.

I did get out -- barely -- for an evening coyote gig this past weekend for an hour. I must admit it felt great. Unfortunately I could only put in a decent hour on stand, mainly because I went against a known travel route and tried another, with that one being I-75 all the way to M-59, rather than the trusted I-94 route to Wadhams Road. Plus, it was rush hour in Detroit. So a one-way 1½ hour road trip was nearly doubled. But regardless, I wanted to put in a solid hour as darkness approached until closing time, and I did. I saw it as a vindication of sorts after kicking my ass for most of the way from M-59 on until I got to the Sanilac County, Mich., hunting camp.

Once there, with little time to spare, I threw on the scent-free clothing and dashed out to the southeast corner of the property to watch the wooded corridor along the property line. My strategy was to put out deer scent and make distressed fawn calls, which I've seen work quite well on predators. But, alas, Friday, April 4, wasn't one of those times.

What amazed me the most, since I've touted being cold-weather lightweight this winter and others, is how long I made it on stand with the winds blowing most of the time between 10 to 20 mph from southeast and temperatures dropping through the 40s to high 30s. I was only layered in the old standby cotton turtleneck I usually wear during turkey season and still managed to go until dark. But likely it would have been a different story had the hunt called for more than an hour on stand.

With coyote season ending Tuesday, April 15, that probably will be it for me huntingwise until the glorious spring turkey season opens, which for me is May 5 -- the second half of Michigan's two-part private land hunt.

I have no doubt this will be the best one of the two the way everything this spring is close to a month behind. The first one kicks off April 21 and I'm wondering if the birds even will be split off from their bachelor groups, let alone gobbling.

The moon rise over the Huron River in Monroe
County, Mich., added some visual element to the
April 11 steelhead fishing.

Another long-time annual outing in spring for me is the steelhead run, where I long to relive an amazing catch of a 13-pounder I had off a pier on Grand Traverse Bay, Michigan, in the late 1980s. It's been quite some time since that awesome day with many spring trout tries ending in goose-eggs. Some of which have extended as far as the Tippy Dam in Manistee County, Michigan. But mostly they are no-frills ones around southeast Michigan. And this was the case this past weekend as Walt Lucken III and I went on a recon for a spot along the Huron River near the Monroe-Wayne County line.    

The weather couldn't have been more perfect for sitting along the bank. A few wispy clouds hung overhead but for the most part we had bluebird skies and later an early moon rise. 

There have been reports of steelhead heading up the river but for the most part this gig Friday, April 11, was a recon and a couple of canoe runs were plotted out for later in the summer.  

And even though no hits were had by either of us, I liked the various structures I saw heading all the way down to where the river opens up into Lake Erie.

It won't be long and it will be trial and error rather than mere observation.