Thursday, June 23, 2016

Kayak bass tourney, a success

Last Saturday, Fathers Day weekend, found 43 anxious kayak anglers hitting the waters of Lake Ovid in the Sleepy Hollow State park near Lansing.
With little wind, calm waters and minor motorized boat traffic the day seemed suited for a tournament with a couple of exceptions.
Temperatures were slated to go to near 90 degrees and humidity was high. Sun glancing off the water can burn skin quicker than a hot dog over a hot campfire. Long sleeves and pants with plenty of sunscreen were the order of the day.
The other exception was the mostly covered weed filled lake. Weeds were as thick as a farmers field with hay growing before the first cutting.
This wasn't a matter of throwing and retrieving lures over the tops of weeds. It turned out to be fishing for open holes in weed beds, getting a lure down deep enough as your boat slowly drifted past that hole and hoping for a bite.
I finally figured out some sort of pattern that got me a few bites; probably bluegills or perch. Then I had a good pull that turned out to be an eight-inch largemouth, too long to scale. Back in the water he went to grow up.
When you fish very hot conditions in seemingly impossible water making throw after throw with no luck it becomes easy to lose concentration and let your mind wander.
The higher the sun climbs and the bites not coming you begin to question yourself. I don't really belong here, I brought the wrong tackle, maybe I should retie and try the same baits over again and so it goes.
From each tournament there is something to learn. Ive gained several new things. They may not put me in the wind column but I think they will go a long ways toward boosting my confidence.
left is Jeff Sherwood, winner of tournament 2 in the MKS fishing series. Photo courtesy of Tom Mullins

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Kayak fishing-always something new

I'm headed to Lake Ovid around Lansing for a kayak bass fishing tournament on Saturday. New to me will be fishing thick, heavy weeds in a lake supposedly holding lots of bass, still experimenting around with equipment and where to place it all, and finally, towing a trailer with a kayak lashed to it.
New tires, new hitch pin, registration plate and a good set of tie down straps should handle everything.
I'm used to carrying my yak on the truck roof or stuffed inside the bed under the cap. So this is completely different.
I've continued experimenting with what baits and rods to bring along with other equipment to leave at  home or bring along, "just in case." That just in case pile gets bigger overtime I look in the garage.
Bait selection is always difficult for me on any outing. I take some shallow diving crank baits, a few quarter ounce spinner baits and the rest is plastics of different sizes, colors and style.
I had hope to fool around with a stakeout pole for this tournament. Right now I don't carry an anchor but due to the shallow water depths, thought I could plunge a kayakers modified anchor-a stakeout pole-into the lake bottom to keep me in once spot.
This trip I'll be camping, so my equipment for that needs rounding up and loaded along with cooking gear, food and a heavy box with a tight fitting lid to deter squirrels and raccoons from sampling the food I bring.
Better get to it. It won't pack itself!
Grandson Josh Chekal with a largemouth bass caught from a kayak.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Memorial day and bass fishing

This is the second year I'll be attending the annual get together of the Michigan Virginia Mafia, better known to this group of characters as the MVM.
For the past 10 or 12 years the same guys have been getting together to fish Lake St. Clair and it's smallmouth bass, all catch and release.
Members include Marke Cicero, John "Mini" Maniaci, Bill "Mac" McElroy, Scott Hammer, Carlos "C" Hathcock III and Shawn Dalton.
The late Ken Neeley, owner of KD Outdoors in Waterford is considered a member and throughout the week is honored and well thought of by the group.
This gathering includes lots of good food, plenty to wash it down with, great humor, lots of fishing stories and remembering those that are no longer with us.
It's absolutely held at the right time, right around this countries Memorial Day celebrations where we remember those that have given everything for all of us.
Butch Runyon pictured with his dad's WWII canteen cup.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Magical trout opener

On the Manistee River, about 45 minutes toward late afternoon turned out to be magical. Until then, the wind was blowing upstream or from the south. It blew steady and chilly.
We woke up to temperatures in the low 30-degree range. No one was in a hurry to get dressed for a go with the long rod.
Following breakfast, I head to Frederic to see old friend, fly fishing guide and fly tyer Sam Surre. I was daily confident he would be at home, holding court to friends about all things fly fishing and other subjects.
"The weather has thrown everything off," Surre said. He was referring to warmer weather several weeks earlier that had triggered a good hatch of bugs. Colder weather put a stop to that, driving bugs away and trout that weren't interested in rising for the sake of rising.
Surre feels things should improve later this week. "Warmer weather is supposed to come in later in the week which should turn things on again," he said.
About 3p.m. Rob Ward and his buddy since high school days Andy Gordon began making noises about suiting up to fish.
A few minutes after they got into the river, I walked down to see how they were doing. "There's a hatch right now," Rob said as he set the hook and missed a fish. "I've caught three right here," he said.
I got into waders and rigged up my 3-weight with a tiny olive on it. As soon as I was in the river I noticed fish rising all around me but they didn't want my fly.
I'm not good at insect identification or fly identification. If someone asks what I'm using I usually hold it up for them to see or say, "one of those little ones that's grey and black."
Although I lack in certain areas, I have paid attention and from Surre how to approach feeding fish.
I noticed a lot of bugs in the air, some dipping down to the water surface. I thought those were Hendrickson's or Hennies as the more experienced refer to them.
Taking the fly off that wasn't attracting any hits, I luckily found a small Hendrickson imitation of some kind. No sooner had a begun fishing it than I began getting trout rising to it.
As I was fishing an active trout, out of the corner of my eye I noticed a huge fish, probably over 15-inches clear the water after a bug.
Surre's lessons began paying off. Slowly and carefully I moved downstream stopping above where I had seen the rise.
After a least a dozen casts I finally manage a drift right into the lunch room of the fish I had been watching. He went for it and i set the hook. Feeling a good strong pull I thought for sure I had him.
However, he thought otherwise spitting the hook right back out. So goes the trials of fishing. That's why it's not called catching.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Fly fishing-not so mysteriousg

Instead of grabbing your favorite spring or bait casting rig, how about taking one of the long rods along on your next fishing trip?
Granted, it will take experience, the right kind of flies and some luck to get a limit of walleye on a fly rod, but there are other fish that are willing to hit or be caught.
For instance, fly rods and some form of topwater bait were made for panfish, especially in and around weeds.
At the end of your tippet or leader, tie in a small foam-bodied spider or something else that has long, shimmering, rubber legs.
Don't bother with false casting-swinging the fly back and forth in the air before delivering it-rather, make your cast and follow your line and bait to the top of the water with your rod tip.
Matt Beukema looks for a spot to through a bug-by Beukema
Take in any slack and let everything sit still for a moment. Sometimes, the bite happens as soon as the bait hits the surface of the water.
If you haven't had a strike, begin twitching the bait slight by snapping the rod tip a little, very little. There's enough action in a fly rod to really move something as small as a tiny bug without much effort.
Or you can take the line in the opposite hand from the one holding the rod and give it slight tugs. This too will add action.
Watch the bait carefully and be ready to set the hook when it goes under or you see a splash near it. Usually fish won't inhale your bait, rather they get it stuck in the lip or mouth where it's easy to extract.
Once a fish is on, no matter the size, it will put a bend in the rod and make the business end jump around like a five-pound bass had gotten it.
If you worry about fish swallowing the bait, grind the barbs off a few. That will make for a quicker and easier release.
For some "dinking around action" give a fly rod a try. You'll definitely have some action.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Leave wildlife in the wild

Good advice for any of you planning on being outside, especially in fields and woods. Birds are building nests and busy finding mates.
Waterfowl are busy strutting around marsh areas looking for likely nesting spots that will conceal babies but not too far from water for swim lessons.
Young deer, fawns, are animals most likely to be picked up by humans and brought home to be hand-raised.
By trying to do the right thing when it comes to nature, we often wind up doing the exact opposite. Those nests with young birds are fine. Parents are off searching for bugs, worms or seeds to feed the little ones with.
Does leave for most of the day leaving their fawns alone while the mothers feed. By staying away and not going in and out of the nesting place, does aren't likely to leave their scent which attracts predators.
The best advice is to leave that baby bird where you found it and get out of an area where a fawn was left.
You'll be offering them better protection.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Fly-Fishing Expo coming March 12-13


The Macomb Community College and Expo Center in Warren hosts the 2016 Midwest Fly-Fishing Expo, the oldest all fly-fishing show east of the Mississippi. The annual event is hosted by the Livonia-based Michigan Fly Fishing Club.  The Macomb Community College Sports & Expo Center is located at 14500 E. 12 Mile Rd. in Warren.  Admission is $10 per person; boys and girls age 16 and under are free. Two-day tickets are $15.  Parking is free.
“Our cast of headliners brings a blend of familiar names and newcomers,” said Expo Chairman Joe Sprys.  “Joe Humphreys leaves us in awe every time we see him.
"Ed Engle knows how to elicit a strike from even the most finicky fish.   Jeff Currier is blessed with the skills of a truly outstanding teacher.  Skip Morris is a walking encyclopedia of fly patterns and insights into how to fish those patterns.
"And Jason Randall brings volumes of knowledge from observing trout in their native habitats and is able to make that knowledge accessible to the rest of us.”
 The show will feature dozens of free seminars about fly fishing techniques, fly tying and fly fishing destinations and bring together more than 100 exhibitors, including dozens of fly tiers, rod builders, artists, guides, outfitters and conservation organizations.   “Many of our exhibitors hail from Michigan and Ohio.
"We’ve also got outfitters, guides, artisans and artists from places like Washington State, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Texas, Colorado, Illinois, Connecticut and Maine, as well as several from Ontario,” he said.
Humphreys has taught fly fishing for more than 40 years and still loves to share his insights.  In fact, he is the subject of a documentary – “Live the Stream” – currently in production.  The film focuses on Humphreys’ lifelong journey to share the sport he loves while inspiring a greater respect for his home waters near Penn State.
In the course of his more than four decades teaching fly fishing, he spent 19 years directing Penn State's angling program, succeeding the legendary George Harvey.  Some high-profile pupils include former President Jimmy Carter, former Vice President Richard Cheney, and retired basketball coach Bobby Knight. He currently teaches a weekend course at the Yellow Breeches Creek at Boiling Springs, PA, hosted by the Allenberry Resort located directly on the creek.
This is a good opportunity to gain exposure to fly fishing and tying. It's a chance to rub elbows with some of the best in this sport and make plans for the upcoming trout season.

Matt Beukema limbering up the long rod on the Mason Tract, south branch of the AuSable River.