Friday, April 29, 2011

High water-Be safe

   From the sounds of it, high water on the AuSable and Manistee Rivers may be the norm for this weekends trout opener.
   The small island in front of Dan and Suzanne Tooman's cabin on the AuSable is underwater. The Tooman's from Novi will still be around for opening weekend festivities.
   Over on the south branch near Roscommon, Bill Semion, who normally avoids the opener due to all of the iffy weather, says the small "peninsula" in front of his cabin may be submerged too.
   Fredric based guide Sam Surre plans on staying at the tying vice because of the high water. "I don't think I'll be fishing this weekend," Surre said.
   Closer to home, if fish Paint Creek or anything else close by, be double careful. A few years back there were some serious-even fatal accidents-on the Clinton due to high water.
   What is normal wading during regular, normal flows, has changed. That bottom you could feel may be very deep now.
   Those logs that you could step over may have disappeared or moved further downstream presenting another obstacle to trip over.
   This is indeed time for the utmost caution. Wading staffs, sure soled wading shoes, doing the shuffle when walking, using a PFD this time of year or maybe a float tube, are all good practices.
   Don't forget to let someone know where you will be and what time you expect to be back. And like always fish with a buddy. It's more important with these kinds of conditions. Good luck and be safe!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Grayling-trout opener destination

   Should you be in Grayling for the trout opener this weekend be sure and stop by the Old AuSable Fly Shop.
   It's located downtown exactly on the shores of the AuSable River. Friday beginning about 1p.m., food will be served until it runs out; usually quite late.
   This is a good way to kick off the new trout season, see old friends, browse the shop to see all that is new in the world of fly fishing and make a purchase or two.
   This time of the year, Grayling and environs are the location for many opening day celebrations that are annual events.
   Good friend John J.P. Long used to fondly call it a religious holiday. Long wrote the river guides for many of the rivers we all like to fish.
   His description may have been a stretch but to a lot of us, there isn't any other place we would want to be on the last Saturday in April.
   And like the Old AuSables annual celebration, we all like to get started a little early. See you in Grayling country.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Trout opener-a few days away

   This coming Saturday is the date for the yearly statewide trout opener. Some think fly fishing is for a select group.
  That's not accurate. There are m,any of us who enjoy fishing those buggy whip, long rods and a chance to fool a trout.
   Like anything else, we get older, drop out or physical limitations prohibit us from participating. Then there are those we lose each year.
   We remember them during a quiet time over an evening dinner when someone pipes up and says, "Lets take a moment to remember Fred Roeser and Mike Caparon." Followed is a brief silence, then someone may add, "lets remember the others who are no long with us too."
   And so it goes. Both Roeser and Caparon passed on during the last year and will be missed, along with Brook Bennett the man thought to have brought all of these folks together originally.
      This weekend we'll share with one of ours who has been the life and one one of the spark plugs for these weekends for many years.
   Bob Ward learned recently that he has cancer. He's had the course of treatments and is now undergoing chemo therapy. It's taking a toll on an energetic person who doesn't have the strength to do much these days.
   Son Rob will drive him to his cabin where our camp hangs out. Bobby will be there with us in spirit as well as in person.
   It just might be that this year I won't enjoy fishing after him on the river, trying to imitate his method of fishing streamers.
   If you believe in prayer, please say one for Bob. He would thank you if he could. I'll do it for him here and now.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Bad weather shortens AIM walleye tournament

WINNECONNE,WIS-Day one of the first walleye tournament of the year was cancelled due to bad weather.
   But day two got off following the National Anthem, right on time. Whether a days delay made any difference or not remains to be seen.
   But Twin Lakes resident Mark Martin, the Original PWT walleye champ came in with the lead. He seemed confident at the mandatory anglers meeting the day before the tournament.
   "I've found fish and know what they are biting on. I think they'll be there tomorrow," he said. Normally a little more outgoing about his fishing plans, he seemed a bit secretive about this tournament.
   Practice days found him several hours away fishing in the river and back marshes of the huge Winnebago system.
   Because no wake restrictions were put on most of the water due to high water levels, it would take pros 4 hours to reach the river to fish. They would have to turn around and head back to be in time for the weigh-in.
   To catch the action live, visit for real time weigh in action.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Walleye tournaments go on, rain or shine

   WINNECONNE, WIS-Boats were on the water until noon Tuesday then all tournament waters were closed until today, the first day of AIM's Pro Walleye Series.
   Listening to anglers when they came off the water the past few days, fishing was aptly named. They definitely aren't jumping in the boat.
   Pros on the water 8, 10, 12 hours daily are reporting zero catches. Not even strikes or "bumps" are  being felt.
   The water remains high, runs fast, and is very stained. Weather predictions are calling for high winds, four inches of snow, along with hard, heavy rains.
   Veterans of walleye tournament fishing call these conditions typical for early walleye tournaments. To help ward off the cold, anglers are dressed in every bit of clothing they own.
   Ice fishing clothes layered with heavy hunting paraphernalia, two or three hats, mittens or gloves, and heavy, insulated boots are standard wear. And that's for use when temperatures climb into the low 40's!
   Seriously, when the wind seems to lay down on shore, you can bet not far off shore it's blowing enough to cut through you.
   Instead of sunburn, anglers who are staying on the water for any length of time arrive back at the launch with faces red from wind burn.
   Those thinking of professional fishing as a career should come out and try one of these early tournaments and fish as a co-angler.
   It's a cheap education; just $250 per tournament. And you are in the drawing for day three. You'll know by the first day if tournament fishing is the lifestyle for you.
   Remember, regardless of the weather in your driveway, pack the warm stuff. More times than not, it will come in handy. NOTE: The tournament was cancelled about 6a.m. this morning due to high winds causing power outages and seven inches of snow.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Snow, wind, typical walleye tournament weather

   WINNECONNE, WIS.-The drive north on I-75 this past weekend was thrilling because of blizzard-like conditions along the way.
   High winds; 40-45 m.p.h., blinding snow, icy roads and lots of traffic made for an exciting ride. Cars off the road and into ditches were spotted frequently.
   The Mackinac Bridge Authority had imposed a speed limit along with leading convoys of vehicles across its expanse due to high winds.
   Thankfully, U.S. 2, toward Escanaba, was dry. Traffic moved along nicely all the way to the Bays de Noc area.
   In Wisconsin, there was no sign of snow. The sun was out but the wind was blowing. Arriving in Winneconne, the site for AIM's first walleye tournament of the year, temperatures turned as cold as fingers on the hands of anglers who had been on the water to pre-fish during the day.
   Fishing reports were about the same: no fish. The water remains dirty and high, with lots of current. If fish have spawned; and there is much debate as to whether that has happened or not, they will be scattered over this large system.

Twin Lake, Mich pro angler Mark Martin with Winnebago System fresh caught walleye. By Beukema
   If not, they have lockjaw. In any event, it's being blamed on the weather. And predictions for Wednesday, the first day of the tournament, aren't very good, calling for high winds, heavy rain and snow.   Welcome to the wonderful, exciting, and challenging world of the professional walleye fisherman.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Camp ground closing? Not so fast

   Maybe state officials will want to take a pass on closing those state forest campgrounds during this iffy economy.
   With gas prices through the roof, people are going to stay close to home. That has been the situation in past years when gas was edging up in price.
   These kinds of increases hurt a lot of people. Not just the ones looking to go north for a vacation, but the people whose living depends on tourists, anglers, campers, hikers and everyone else that plans for a few days or a week up north.
   It's similar to having a business dependent on snow then getting no white stuff for several years in a row. Those shiny new snowmobiles all of a sudden aren't worth quite so much. And those little mom and pop businesses that depend on snowmobilers fold up and leave after a winter or two without snow.
   But back to these campground closures. Certainly, more people will be thinking camping and probably close to home. We have no closures here in Oakland County, but there are some not too far away.
  Maybe the economy is going to convince people that camping is a pretty good option and the price of a state forest camp site is a bargain during these times.
   Imagine driving north with a cooler full of groceries, your tent and sleeping bags and other gear, only to find the state forest campground you had planned on visiting is closed.
   It's one more negative thing to deal with during a time when silver linings are becoming harder to come by.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

State Forest Campgrounds go unused

   If proposed changes from the NRC are approved, campers might see 23 fewer state forest campgrounds open.
  The decision to close these campgrounds comes about largely due to lack of use. The DNR stands to save some money during this belt-tightening economy where everything that isn't needed or is questionable is being chopped.
   It is all well and good to take a look at finances from time to time to see where and how money is being spent.
   In the case of these campgrounds though, there is a segment of the population that use them, no doubt not as much as the more modern parks with all of the nice attractions.
   There are campers who really enjoy roughing it in every sense. They select level ground, clear any obstacles from it like rocks and tree limbs, then pitch a tent.
   They cook either an open campfire or on a Coleman stove, outdoors. Toilets are of the vault or pit type. Hot water comes about from pumping water from a central camp well into a container, hauling it back to camp and heating it over a fire.
   Niceties in these campgrounds may consist of a screen room that doubles as the cooking area, maybe a camp chair and a nice, small campfire to sit by at night.
   Rustic campers in general shy away from the crowds that attract motorhomes and travel trailers with their generators, TVs, coffee makers and microwaves.
   Besides, it's a lot cheaper, even at $15 a night to camp in a state forest facility than a private or state park with all the trappings. We need every state forest campground we have, whether underused or not.
   The cost of keeping these 23 parks open isn't going to break the bank nor save enough money to make a difference.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Closing some state forest campgrounds-Money saver?

   Last week the DNR reported they were in the process of closing 23 State Forest Campgrounds around the state.
   The selection process to close these campgrounds came about largely from the lack of or low use by the camping public.
   Seems the DNR feels campers these days want creature comforts to run their motorhomes, travel trailers and other campers.
   Apparently some people can't leave home without air conditioning, television, computer access and a way to charge all of the hand-held toys they bring along.
   Even the kitchen has changed with the advent of microwaves, coffee makers, hot water tanks and dishwashers.
   Campers used to wash dishes by boiling water to use for washing, then another tub of hot water for the rinse. Microwaves weren't thought of, and coffee was boiled on a Coleman stove or over the campfire.
   The point in closing of any state forest campgrounds could have an affect on the population that can't afford these modern motorhomes or trailers. They are still using tents, and sleeping on cots or directly on the ground.
   There is a segment that doesn't wish to camp with all of the conveniences of home. That's where the term "
roughing it" comes from.
   You camp in areas such as this to get away from noise, other people, and that cell phone and computer. More and more of us are trying to get back to the basics and be closer to nature.
   Frankly, I don't think the savings is going to be all that great if these 23 campgrounds are closed. After all, there doesn't seem to be a lot that a full-time staff would be charged with doing.
   Septics need periodic pumping, wells attended to, garbage collected, and trees and limbs removed from roadways. After that, the grounds kind of take care of themselves what with self registration.
   These days, when we are all trying to save a buck, it seems as though these kinds of campgrounds could make a difference for a family trying to take a vacation for a few days or a week, knowing camping fees will not break the already strained budget.
   Stay tuned as they say.

Friday, April 8, 2011

No-Mo tourney could mean no experience required

   If you like to fish but don't have one of the high-priced boats loaded with enough electronics to launch the next space ship, take a look at kayak fishing.
   Here are some good reasons to get into this sport. First, it's not costly. Yaks can run from several hundred to a couple thousand dollars.
   Equipment. You probably already have most of what you'll need. Don't worry about kayak friendly clothing or the latest in style.
   Put your waders and wading boots on and you have the lower half of your body covered and protected. Add a fleece or light jacket under your PFD and you are ready to hit the water.
   For electronics, the simplest of fish finders is about all you should need. In almost every instance you'll be fishing within sight of shore so there isn't a huge need for a GPS unless you want to mark way points for fishing purposes.
   Next, get into the boat and out fishing. That's the best way to get some experience. And like other pursuits, it's a lot better when shared with a friend.
   Now, think about entering the No-Mo kayak kayak fishing tournament set for May 14. Tournament waters include anything in Wayne and Monroe Counties that is open with public access.
   Why a tournament? You don't need to be an expert fisherman to get into one. It's a great way to learn more about a sport that is fun, entertaining, and affordable for lots of people.
   And where else can you meet several like-minded people, have a shot a winning a new kayak, and eat a freshly grilled burger?
   Read my column in Sunday's Oakland Press for more information. In the meantime, check out for tournament deteails. See you on the water!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Tigers, Tuplips, and Tackle

It doesn't get much better around here than opening day for the Detroit Tigers. Add to that tulips, crocus, Hyacinth's and daffodils beginning to peak through the soil, must mean spring has arrived.
 Another sure sign is the second annual No-Mo Kayak Fishing Tournament set for May 14. This years event-a benefit tournament- will be to help support Make-A-Wish Foundation.
   Last year there were nearly 30 entries. Not bad for the first year. This year we hope to have 50 anglers participate.
   First place is a brand new Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 kayak. Other prizes include a $100 gift certificate to Hook 1, a kayak fishing gear and supply company, kayak fishing products to rig a kayak and others.
   Anglers entered will be eligible to buy raffle tickets good for a quality rod/reel combo, a one year complimentary subscription to Woods N' Water News, Kevin VanDam autographed caps, Pro in-line weight system from Off Shore Tackle, and other prizes.
   Scales and Tales cartoonist Bill McElroy is donating a one-of-a-kind 'toon for the event. For entry forms and details visit or call Riverside Kayak Connection, tournament headquarters at (734) 285-2925.
   Dust your kayak off, grab a pfd and a current fishing license, pay your entry fee, then fish any water in Wayne and Monroe Counties that has public access. You just might win that new Tarpon. But you won't have a chance unless you try. Good luck and we'll see you on the water.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Get your house, make that yard, in order

The last several days were spent cleaning up the yard and flower beds. All of the leaves, broken branches and twigs that had found their way into the yard were rakes, bagged, and set near the compost pile to be added soon.
   A new pit was dug, leveled and shaped for frequent campfires we enjoy in the evening. Sides made of field stone found on the property will be added in a day or two.
   Next is the garage and the contents contained to be hoed out, organized and put away. Some is slated for a spring garage sale.
   Other things go to the kids while other odds and ends will be given away or saved, stored in plastic boxes with labels for use another time.
   The reason for all of this activity is brought on by the warm weather we have been having and the knowledge that outdoor activities will definitely interfere with those tasks deemed necessary around the house.
   So, get em' done now before it gets really nice and you have to say no to that fly fishing trip or turkey hunt the guys are going on.
   Be as ready as you can be for the eventualities that await!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Pollution can be reversed

   Take the Detroit River as an example. In Sunday's column I write about the turnaround of not only the Detroit River but the Rogue River too.
   The Rogue, which dumps into the Detroit then on into Lake Erie has a definite impact notwithstanding its small size. That's because everything runs downhill or downstream in this case.
   For years the Rogue was no more than a cesspool of waste and filth. Today, it's much cleaner thanks to the efforts of  many like the Friends of the Rogue River, a volunteer group.
   Who would have thought near the mouth of the Rogue River there would be spawning areas for Sturgeon? And along those lines how about the wonderful fishery the Detroit River has turned into along with Lake Erie which was considered dead not too long ago.
   Marvelous things can happen once pollution is got a hold of and strangled. With some help and time, these waterways begin a healing process. Its now up to us to make sure that process continues uninterrupted.
   Thank people like Dr. John H. Hartig for all of the work he has done on behalf of these water systems and for his wonderful book, "Burning Rivers-Revival of Four Urban-Industrial Rivers that caught on Fire."
   An excellent historical book about not only the Rogue but the Chicago, Buffalo, and Cuyahoga; all of which caught fire at one time.
   Today, Hartig is still on the front lines working as Refuge Manager for the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge.
   Read about it in this Sunday's Oakland Press.