Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Drummond Island Fall Perch Trip

We reserved a cabin on the first eastern island off the UP for early Sept.    Fall perch fishing was a happy memory for my brother, Gary, and I as we were growing up. We were on several trips in Jr. High/High School and now we were going to do the trip with Dad watching down on us.

Mikey-Pikey, Gary's old WMU roommate, was up for the trip also.  We arrived early at Gary's and ate dinner at Kolu's in Elk Rapids. Best dinner/lunch for $5!!


We were off by 9:00 am for our trip across the Mackinaw Bridge and then across the eastern Upper Peninsula to Drummond Island. Once we arrived at the eastern end of the UP, we waited 10 minutes for the ferry.  The ferry is down about 13 cars/trucks.  At this point we always wonder if we will get on this trip or wait 30 minutes for the next ferry.  Dad always use to say, when we started heading East towards Detour, "Don't let any car pass you.  It might take our spot on the ferry".


We traveled to the NW corner of Drummond to find our cabin ready for us.  It was about $80/day split three ways. Not bad, as it was where we had stayed back in HS. Dad would like that.

Vechell's Cabins also included an old boat with the cabin.  We packed Gary's 9.9 motor so we could get out of fishing just in front of the cabins. It was rainy and windy every day of the 4 day, 3 night trip.  It is hard to plan a fishing trip months in advance and have the weather turn out perfect.  We were there so we fished rain or shine.  Not much shine, while we were there.
Mikey-Pikey was ready for any weather.  Actually we now call him, Mikey-Perchy.  Mike caught more fish this trip than all the other trips combined. 

We were using perch rigs with 1/2 - 3/4 oz  river sinker and 6 - 8 size hooks with minnows.  We would lower the sinker until it hit bottom and then just lift it slightly to tighten the line.  After fishing in the group of boats in the bay, we decided to slowly drift between the small islands.  This technique worked well for us.  Each day we caught more fish.  We had to sort through the dinks to find the eaters - 7-8" and the occasional jumbos 12+"ers. Our best day we caught 35 nice keepers and threw back as many dinks.  At least there was action.

Gary has one of the Jumbo perch that Drummond Island is famous for.  You can also fish in the Spring after the ice goes out and get some pike along with the perch.  In June, the walleyes are around so it is a great place to fish.

We cooked up about 15 fish for our last night's meal.  Beer battered perch, tartar sauce, sliced potatoes, and corn makes a great monochromatic meal, as my ex would say.

This trip brought back many happy fishing memories of our Dad.  It also gave us some new ones.
We froze up about 15 perch a piece to take home to our families.  There is nothing like fresh lake perch.  Join us for our next trip next spring.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sturgeon Released into the Manistee River

 The 10th annual sturgeon release in the Manistee River (MI) was hosted by the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians on Sept. 14.  Over 370 sturgeon were released by 370 people attending the celebration.  This year's release topped the previous totals of less than 100 in the past. The biologist are hoping for a 50% survival.  These pre-historic looking creatures can live over 100 years. It takes 15-20 years for the sturgeon to mature and start spawning.

The narrow road down to Rainbow Bend was lined with cars.  This was the largest turnout with 20% tribal and 80% community citizens. The sturgeon rearing trailer was open for the public to view the small 3-4" fry prior to the release.

Staff encouraged the visitors to hold a small sturgeon in the rearing tank which carried Manistee River water to implant the fish. The many families attending were helped to learn more about this remarkable fish. 

The eggs and/or fry are netted from the river and then incubated in the rearing trailer until they are 5-6 months old.

The link below tells more of the sturgeon story.

A number of children's activities were provided to help the children feel part of this special day.  They made stamped neckerchiefs, drew pictures, and held fish in their hands.

Larry Romanelli, chief or ogema of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, welcomed the large crowd and explained Indian beliefs about nature and helping to restore nature as it was in the past.  Sturgeon helped to feed the early Indians but the logging, dams, and over-fishing diminished the number of sturgeon now found in the rivers.  The Little River band worked closely with the Michigan DNR, U.S. Forest Service, Great Lakes Fishery Trust, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to provide this special project.

The drum band of the tribe played tribal music to call the crowd together.  A peace pipe symbolic presentation offered blessings to the people, the fish and the land.





The crowd was then instructed to get a tin pail that contained one sturgeon and go down to the release site along the river.  Families and children carried the pail down and gently put the fish in their hand for a second and then slowing lowered the tiny sturgeon into the river.

The sturgeon just settled down and acclimated for a few seconds before slowly swimming off into the river.  Two divers with video cameras were filming the underwater release.

This was an educational, inspirational, and personal moment for me.  It was wonderful to know that the sturgeon released that day will outlive me.  The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians have given back to nature and society a small part of the life that use to be. So far, 800 sturgeon have been released to swim out to the Great Lakes and mature and then return 15-20 years later to spawn in the river where they were released.

This is a Youtube video from 2011 that shows more of the sturgeon release.

 Here is another film trailer of the event.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Japanese Fly Fishing - Tenkara

When I was visiting the Cinque Terra area of Italy last year, I met an Italian fly fisherman.  He introduced me to the concept of Tenkara or Japanese fly fishing.  It sounded interesting and when I return to the USA, I told one of my former students in PA about Tenkara fishing.  He ordered a Tenkara rod and started using it on small streams in Western PA.

I started looking for information about Tenkara and found it was introduced to the US about 2 years ago.  Here is an introduction to Tenkara from You-Tube.

After reading some articles and viewing some more video, I ordered my Tenkara rod.  It was a Tenkara Japan,  13' long,  5.5 action.  You can get 8', 10', 12', 13' Tenkara rods.  The action can be ultra light, (5.5), light (6.4), or medium (7.3).

The Tenkara fly rod came in a nice pouch inside of a strong 22 1/2" tube.  The 21" rod pulls out into a 13' fly rod.  There is a cork handle (can also get foam handle) and stopper knob that fits inside the top to hold the collapsible sections inside the rod. The tip is very sensitive and very tiny.  The instructions were to be very careful when attaching the line to the rod tip.

This shot shows the delicate tip , the end cap and the red "lilian" braded line attached to the tip.  I put a knot in the end of it.

Next the fly line is attached to the Lilian tag with a Girth Hitch (slip loop).  Note that there is a braided loop attached to the fly line (I used fly line backing).

I put the Lilian line knot through the Girth Hitch twice and cinch down the hitch knot around the Lilian.  The small tag ends help to release the line for storage.

Here is a video on Tenkara knots.

There are several types of fly lines that can be used on the Tenkara.  I ordered a few of the furled leaders and level line leaders.  Then I made some of my own.

The left leader is a typical Japanese braided furled line that is just a foot or two shorter than the fly rod length.  The right leader is a furled mono leader.  There is a small circle or loop at the end for the 3-4" tippet of light line.  I used 4 # tippet with the size 12-14 flies.  A braded loop is attached to the top of the fly line for the Girth Hitch to the red Lilian.  The tippet loop can be attached loop to loop to fly line.  Most of the time, almost half or more of the leader is in the air by raising the long fly rod.
A straight fly line (1-2 weight),  a straight level mono leader (I used red Amnesia), or a part fly line and part mono leader can also be used.  You use mono for floating and fluoro-carbon for wet, sinking flies.  I made a 6' piece of 2 or 3 weight fly line and attached a section  of tapered fly line.  This was about 13' and then I added a 4' tippet of 4 #s.  This worked well for my wet fly and my smaller popper.  Landing a fish was a little hard so I shortened the tippet a foot to a foot and a half.

This is the Japanese leader spool.  It has a soft rubber center and multiple slots to attach your fly and then wind the tippet and leader around the center and hook the braided loop back through one of the slots.  The spool can be slid down the collapsed rod  to the next fishing hole.

These are two old fly leader spools that could be a cheap way to store your leaders also.




This is the traditional Japanese way to carry your rod and line to the stream.  Very simple outfit and easy to use.
I added these two hook keepers as a way to wrap the line and hold the tip inside the rod between holes or on the way back to the car.  They flip flat against the rod when not in use.
These are typical wet and dry flies used in Tenkara fishing.  They are tied reverse hackles.  The hackles point forwards for more motion. 


Here is another shot of the reversed hackle flies.  You will soon learn that there are three way to fish Tenkara.  One is the Traditional Japanese Tenkara style.

The Traditional Tenkara style is very simple.  It will have a furled braded leader with a short tippet.  The use of one fly like the last fly pictured above so that it is a simple, relaxing style of fishing.  Minimum of gear and simple.  You can learn to cast Tenkara  in 10 minutes and a lifetime of perfecting Tenkara fly fishing techniques.  This is the purist approach which pays strict attention to the traditional style of fishing.  It honors the history and the traditions. You fish the surface or one foot below with our flies.  The approach and cast is slow and graceful.  The fishing is as important as the catching.  It is a more relaxed style with attention paid to your surroundings.

The next style would be the Western Fly Fishing approach, which is using the fly fishing techniques you all ready have with a long limber rod and flies that you already use.

The third style is a mix of the two styles.  I use Tenkara with small flies.  I add a bead head to the nymphs to get just a  little deeper.  I use regular and reversed hackles.  I make my own leaders.  I use fluoro-carbon tippets sometimes.  I use Tenkara when I want to relax and fish for smaller fish on smaller streams. I have used it on the streams, a small bass lake; while using my bike, my motorcycle, and for hiking. It would be a great carry-on for the plane.

The choice is up to you.  You can get everything you need for Tenkara fishing for $100 - 150.  The rods can get expensive if you so desire.

Here is my first Tenkara trout.  It was a nice brown trout on a size 12 Tenkara wet fly. It was exciting to use a light weight rod and it was very easy to flick the fly out.  The casting is easier because it is so light.  It is intuitive casting. You use a shorter wrist stroke and just flick it out.

Here is a casting lesson on the Tenkara.

I have caught trout, rock bass, largemouth bass, bluegills, crappie, perch, and a small walleye so far on the Tenkara.  I can't wait to try it out on those Yellowstone streams I love.  I might take it down to Punta Gorda to try from my kayak.

Let me know what you think about this new style of fly fishing. I sure enjoy using it and tying my flies.