Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fall Brown Trout are now in the Rivers and Harbors

Another Deer Season hunting the UP of Michigan has passed for me, which means back to my true love, fishing!  Took a ride out to the West Twin River over the weekend in search of some Great Lakes fall run Trout.  I knew the half inch of rain on Saturday would push some fish upriver, so I headed to Shoto.

I was pleasantly surprised upon arrival to see an empty parking lot.  I hopped into my waders, grabbed my gear, and headed down to the river to float spawn through some shallow pools with hopes of hooking up with a feisty trout.  It didn't take long for my bobber to disappear under the water, as a six pound male Brown Trout inhaled my Coho spawn sac!  After a brief battle in the strong currents, I landed the nice buck. 

The fish seemed to be very active right away in the morning, as I observed several Trout move upstream through rapids and shallow pools.  I tried a few other holes in the morning, losing 3 fish on bottom rods with spawn, since the fish were biting light and I was not close enough to my bottom rod when the fish would bite!  It almost seemed like the fish would wait for me to look away or walk a few feet from the pole before they would touch the spawn!

Around 8:00 my cousin showed up to fish as well, which was welcome company for me.  We fished the pools up by the dam with nothing to show, then headed down river to float spawn through more pools. 

It didn't take long to hookup with a pig of a  Brown Trout once downstream!  On the first drift through the pool my bobber once again sank below the surface and I was fighting a fish!  This fish had broader shoulders than the last however, as it quickly began taking line off my reel, heading downstream! 

After a 20 minute fight, my cousin was able to get a hold of this fish!  The fish was a female Brown full of eggs in the 15+ pound class!  After a couple pictures and milking of some spawn, we sent her on her way back to the lake! 

It was now Austin's turn to catch a Trout!  I showed him where I had caught the last fish and let him drift his spawn through the same area.  Within another 5 minutes, he was hooked up with another mammoth Brown Trout!  A 10 minute fight resulted in another monster female Brown Trout that was pushing 15 pounds!  This fish was also loaded with eggs!  Unfortunately during the unhooking of the fish, a gill was ripped which caused the fish to bleed out.  It will now be thrown on the smoker for some Holiday smoked fish!

Austin eventually landed another female Brown Trout later in the day, which was also in the same year class as the others!  I have never seen this many monster Trout in the rivers at the same time, which was pretty cool!  Overall the day was well worth our effort, as we were both able to catch a 15+ pound Trout, and also get enough Trout eggs to use for the entire winter! 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Algoma Stream Report 11/12/11

Took advantage of the forecasted highs in the 50's and sunshine by heading towards the lake in search of some fall Trout in the tribs.  Upon arrival on the Kewaunee River I instantly noticed extremely high flows and very dirty water, which makes presenting your bait to the Trout very difficult!

Without stepping foot into my waders, I turned north on Highway 42 and headed up to Algoma.  The Ahnapee River itself was flowing nice, but not nearly as fast or dirty as the Kewaunee which was encouraging!  An hour in one of my favorite spots without a bump was enough to keep me moving however.

Next stop was Silver Creek, by the Brummerville Dam.  I have never seen Silver Creek with this type of flow!  This nice little creek has become a raging whitewater river that I could barely wade through!  I attempted to find some holes with some slower moving water, but came up empty handed again, so it was off to the next spot.

I continued north along the lake and bumped into Stony Creek and decided to give that a whirl.  Within 15 minutes I found that there were still Salmon on the redds and quite active also!  There were both Coho and King Salmon holding in shallow riffle areas, which were fun to catch.  I didn't see any Trout up shallow, so I took some time and fished the deep holes hoping to tangle with a fall Steelie, but it just wasn't in the cards today.

There was one last spot that I decided to hit in search of a Trout, and within minutes at the new spot I had one!  Too bad it was 6" long!  I ended up catching 6 baby Rainbow Trout out of a stream that isn't even stocked with Trout, a good sign of natural reproduction in the great lakes! 

Overall the high flows and dirty water really hampered the Trout fishing, but it was still a successful trip landing some nice Salmon and even some Trout!  I now have plenty of Coho eggs that need to be tied up for some early ice fishing!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Other Great Lakes Fall Run

Late fall can be the most productive time of the year for the shore fishermen on our Great Lakes.  The fall Salmon run has become the most popular bite that seems to draw large numbers of fishermen hoping to tangle with a 30 plus pound Salmon in shallow water on light tackle.  Now don't get me wrong, this type of fishing can be tons of fun, but if you are hoping to bring home dinner after a days work on the water, these Salmon are not ideal table fare! 

Salmon begin decaying from the inside-out in late September and early October as they approach their spawning grounds in the tributaries of the Great Lakes.  It starts with the shiny silver sides of the feisty open water Salmon fading to a dull white as they reach the pier heads, then the fish progressively turn darker until they become the  black/moldy Salmon that can be seen hanging on to life in the rivers weeks after the spawn has completed. 

While the color on the outside is changing, so is the color and complexity of the meat inside the Salmon.  The nice pink colored meat seen on the fish in July begins to fade towards shades of gray, and the firmness of the meat starts to turn more mushy with each hour in the turbid waters of the tributaries.  Now I cannot say from experience, but I can't imagine these fish tasting good.  This is another reason that I have turned my focus to the Trout that run up the same stretches of river, spawn, and then return to the lake without breaking down internally.
Timing is key when fishing for Trout in the fall.  Remember Trout like cold water!  Brown Trout and some strains of Rainbow Trout are know to spawn in late fall, and may sometimes even spawn under the ice!  Generally, the main fall Trout run occurs from early November through early December. 

Flow is another variable affecting when Great Lakes Trout decide to make their annual run upstream to spawn.  A good rain in this time period will almost always bring numbers of fresh fish upriver.  Knowing what flows will be fishable is also key in catching fish.  An inch of rain may make some tributaries to dirty and fast to fish, while others may be prime.  The only way to figure this out is to check the tributaries after a rain. 

Another interesting variable with fall Trout is the harbors of the Great Lakes.  Some Trout are stocked in the harbors rather than the tributaries, which causes these fish to show up in the harbors to spawn.  Once in the harbors, some Trout will actually hang around and feed on the Gobies, Shad, spawn, and other food that can be plentiful in the harbors.  Water clarity becomes the biggest variable when fishing the harbors, and can change quickly depending on the winds out on the lake.  Dirty water in the harbors makes for tough fishing, while clean water can make for great fishing if there are enough fish around!
For a shore fisherman, late fall is the time to get out and fish for some Trout!  Whether you prefer wading the tributaries or fishing along the harbor, now is the time to tangle with some of the largest Trout in the world!