September Walleyes at Calling Lake
johnboy & TeeDub
September Walleyes at Calling Lake (9/25/00)
johnboy & TeeDub (Alberta, Canada)

TeeDub and I made a trip up to Calling Lake yesterday and had another one of those special fishing days, just like back in July.

We got on the water around 10:30 or so and headed straight over to the west side, Pedersons Point, by the old Volkswagon and started running botton bouncers and spinner rigs with big crawlers. Red floats with white blades seemed to do the trick and we immediately started hitting fish.

The fish were a good size, running 4-5# on average with lots of big girls in the 6-7# range with a few up to 8+# and plentiful. We lost count early on but both of us were complaining about sore arms on the drive back home. That's something I don't mind bitching about!

We were really hoping to pick up a 10+ but didn't quite make it. Close, but no cigar (well TW was smoking those little smelly things he likes but that don't count). Bassdog's record still stands. Bye the bye, we had THREE scales on board and they all read different so we just kind of averaged them all out.

Even the weather cooperated as the day was reasonably warm, a little overcast and with a wind you could still stand up in - not bad for the "Great White North" in late Sept.

Picked up most fish in the 25-30 foot range. I was marking lots on the sounder in 40+ but since this is a c&r fishery, we didn't want to bring any up from that depth and stuck to the shallower ones. No shortage there. Scrappy fish, as usual. Don't know what it is about this lake but these are walleye with an attitude. They fight like hell.

Anyway, TW will be posting some pics so you will have something to drool over later on.

Good fishing!!

Good report Johnnyboy! Not much I can add to that... except that the 8+ pounder must have been that one of mine. That'd be the one we didn't weigh or take a picture of. Damn big fish though! I'd guess we caught about 40 fish with numerous doubles. It really was a fine day... one that doesn't come near often enough and one that many walleye fishermen regrettably will never experience.

John started out with red and white as he mentioned and I started with a pink float, blue and glow beads and ahammered silver blade but I quickly (after John boated the first two fish) switched to a white/glow # 5 blade. The pink and glow combo, my favourite for this lake, served me well and it didn't take long to catch up. I pulled a fire tiger RipStick for awhile as well, just to see it it would work and it did... as did the green/chartreuse spinner float combo that I finished the day with. It was just one of those days!

We made fun of our inability to correctly guess the size of a fish before we brought it in. On numerous occasions, we both thought we had real lunkers on, only to discover that it was just another routine 5 or 6 pounder. Those Calling Lake Walleye really do have an attitude, especially at this time of year as the water cools down.

The Great Alberta Walleye Expedition
The Great Alberta Walleye Expedition - 8/6/00

This is my, bassdog’s, version of the truth regarding the Great Alberta Walleye Expedition hosted and led by none other than the venerable TeeDub…

My flight into Edmonton was uneventful. Though I sat right across the aisle from Buckrub on the connecting flight from Denver, introductions weren’t made until we began to deplane. Barry Bob Posthole told me to seek out someone with the looks and disposition of Eeyore. He was right about the disposition part.

Clearing customs was a bit dicey as I had neither a passport nor a birth certificate to verify my US citizenship. The official looked at me as if I was the most pitiful pup of the litter and didn’t buy my explanation that I had been in Canada a number of times and never had to produce such proof. I offered my driver’s license but he said that only proved that I could drive in Iowa. Guess that these Alberta types take their job a little more seriously than they do in Ontario. I did the only thing I could think of and started shrugging my shoulders and made my bottom lip quiver and muttered "Oh woe, oh woe" repeatedly. It had the desired effect because I was granted entrance with an admonition to not try again without the required "proper" documentation.

TeeDub and Kribbs were waiting on Bucky and me as promised. We acquainted and reacquainted and proceeded on the next leg of the adventure -–TeeDub and Kribbs leading the way and Bucky and me dutifully in tow dragging our considerable baggage.

The rest of Thursday day and evening was spent getting provisions and preparing for the next few days of fishing. The first stop was the Edmonton Mall, the largest in the world, where we exchanged some American money for Canadian currency, the obligatory stop at Hooter’s (Jim is a piece of work-positively shameless. He has a well-honed patter designed, no doubt, to produce weak knees and giggles and damned if it didn’t almost work with that young, nubile, well-endowed bar maven), and we purchased our fishing licenses. Then it was on to Stony Plain with a short detour to buy the spirits that would sustain us over the next three days. The evening meal was terrific, the hostess was the most gracious and that Canadian beer will make you have visions if you’re not used to it. (I love that stuff)

Friday morning we arose early to pack the gear and get on the road. There was a minor delay while Bucky located his money, but we made the rendezvous with John semi on time. We stopped for breakfast in Athabaska, and then it was on to Calling Lake and the launching of the boats. Now Calling is deemed a collapsed fishery for walleye according to Alberta’s Conservation Department and because of that you may catch but you may not keep any fish. TeeDub thinks it may be that there is some reason that the walleye population is not sustaining itself as evidenced by the absence of young, small fish that are caught. My brother Booker confirms this assumption after I described the average size of the ‘eyes we caught – 2 to 4 lbs. common, 5 and larger not much less so. Book says it sounds like we were in pods of the same year class. That if the fish were successful spawners we most certainly would have happed across some shrinkers, as he calls them, and wouldn’t have been able to keep them off the hooks. I did catch about a 13 incher and the lack of others like it does not bode well for Calling. But I wasn’t complaining on this day.

John and I started on the east side of the lake pulling bottom bouncers and spinning rigs, long snells-4 to 6 feet, baited with live night crawlers in about 10 to 14 feet of water. As we marked fish on the sonar it was almost certain to be followed by a bite on one or both of our offerings. Most of the fish seemed to hang on the transition from sandy bottom to gravel, which is very evident when fishing with bottom bouncers. TeeDub, Kribbs, and Bucky worked a 12-foot depression in the middle of 8-foot water off the swimming beach and were met with similar luck. We experimented with different colored blades and also different sizes. It didn’t seem to matter to the walleyes. John mentioned reading an article by a walleye pro where the pro stated that he didn’t fuss with live crawlers and favored Berkley’s Power Crawlers – less hassle, less mess and every bit as effective as the real thing. It just so happened that I had some in my bag so I opted for the PowerBait and for the rest of the trip that was all I used.

We were having phenomenal success. Nearly every “paint” on the Lowrance X55 display resulted in a fish in the boat. The image would travel across the screen and not soon after it was out of sight, we’d feel the unmistakable tap, bump of a hungry fish. Drop the rod back to the fish, let the line go taut, feel the weight and sweep the hook home. TeeDub and the boys motored towards us just as, right on cue, I tagged a nice 4 pounder. "My best one so far." I proudly said as I held up the golden beauty for them to see, posing like a television pro. The response from the other boat was not what I expected but should have. "That’s nothing", "Peewee", " That’s as small as anything we’ve been catching." I humbly returned my catch to the lake.

"We’re heading over to the west side to fish over by the Volkswagen if you care to join us." And TeeDub pushed down the throttle and the Lund and its occupants sped away across the lake leaving us to rock in its wake.

I looked at John and we decided to stay on the east side for a while longer. A bird in the hand. Good fishing continued for us. John talks to the fish. He would see a mark on the sonar and start coaxing them.

"Come on. You know you want it. There you go." And wham! He’d drive the hook home. On one such occasion, I turned my head to watch as he started with his pick up lines. "Gotcha!" he said as he reared back on the set. The rod bent like a horseshoe, the drag on his Abu Garcia screamed and then, snap! There was nothing left of the spinning rig when he reeled his line back to the boat. "Look at that!" he said as he showed me the frayed line, "That’s 20 pound test!" Probably a big pike but, then again, maybe it was a giant ‘eye. We’ll never know and that’s what makes great fishing stories.

At this point, or roughly thereabout, we decided to head west and join the others. Little did we know how our luck was going to change.

The Big Ones

Our run to the west side of the lake was a rough one. The wind had picked up since we first launched and was creating swells of about 3 feet. John’s Smoker Craft handled the water well and aside from a few loosened fillings we were none the worse for wear when we reached our destination.

We set up our trolling path along a ledge that paralleled the north shoreline, dragging our bottom bouncers in 18 – 22 feet. The fish we were marking were hugging the bottom or just a foot or so off and every now and then we’d see a cloud of baitfish with big paints underneath. Much like it was happening earlier we would see an arc, or arcs, and in a few seconds there would be the anticipated bump. Fish on! But unlike earlier in the day, these ‘eyes were running bigger. It was at this time that I brought my camera out and started to preserve some of the moments of what would turn out to be the most phenomenal day of fishing I have ever experienced. Big fish and lots of them. Having put most of my walleye hunting time on the dishpan lakes of southwest Minnesota where 3 keepers (and I’m talking in the pound-and-a-half class) is a damn good outing, catching 4s and 5s nearly every time I dropped my line in the water was beyond imagining.

"You been keeping count, John?" I asked.

"Nope." He replied. " I just know it’s more than I have fingers and toes."

"So it isn’t just me" I thought to myself and lowered my rig back to the bottom to wait on another strike. We were doing well. The fish seemed a little more scattered than on the previous spot but were every bit as cooperative as their cousins on the other side of the lake. Later on in the day John hooked up with a real nice ‘eye. She stayed deep and shook her head for all she was worth but John prevailed and we got her into the boat.

"I’ve got a scale around her somewhere. I’m going to weigh this one." John said as he rummaged through one of the boat’s compartments. He managed to locate the scale and gently, almost lovingly, hooked the big gal under the gill, lifted her up, and watched for where the needle would settle.

"That’s not a 4 pound fish!" he spat. "This thing is broke. I’ve got to get me a new one." And he tossed the scale back into the compartment and released his fish into the lake. I confess, I am an analog man in a digital world (all of my watches have hands, no Dick Tracy jobs for me) but what I wouldn’t have given for a digital scale at that point. "John, that is an easy eight if I’ve ever seen one. Probably closer to nine." I said. My comment was obviously of no comfort to him as he just muttered and growled and got back to the business of fishing.

"You know John", I said some time and several fish later in the afternoon, "maybe you were reading the kilo scale on that thing." I had seen the red needle stop just past the 4 on the inside graduations but my eyes weren’t good enough and my brain wasn’t fast enough to register the reading on the outside set of little hatches. Damn bifocals.

"That scale doesn’t have kilos" he replied. And that was the last that was said on that subject.

Brother Booker has always said that when you tag into a giant ‘eye, you’ll know it beyond all doubt. "You’ll feel the bite, drop your rod tip toward the fish, and rear back to cross its eyes and be stopped dead. It will rock you all the way to your shoulder and to the bottom of your shoes. You had better hold on ‘cause the first move she’ll make when she feels the hook is down. That is how a big sow will feel." He has two of them on his wall so you have to believe the man.

It was getting late in the afternoon and close to the time when we would have to load the boats and head for Slave Lake when I discovered just what Booker always talked about. I was still using the Power Bait but had down-sized the spinner blade and shortened the snell to about 4 feet because the last couple of fish I had caught were on the trailing hook of the 2 hook crawler harness. The display was painting some really nice arcs just off the bottom and we waited with anticipation for the strike.

I felt a bump and immediately dropped my rod back toward the fish. I watched my line go taut, felt the weight and swept my rod to set the hook but this time was different. Instead of the long sweep I had employed the entire day, I was stopped cold after travelling only about a foot or so and the suddenness of it jolted all the way to my shoulder and down to the bottom of my feet. I turned to face the fish and raised my rod up high and watched the line strip off of the reel. This was a BIG fish. I tried to gain some of the line back but it continued to run off the reel. "John, I can’t budge this fish" I said and he brought in his rig, grabbed the net and made himself ready to assist should I manage to get this girl to the boat.

I was finally able to turn her head and was starting to recover some of the line lost when the resistance lessened and it almost seemed as if this walleye was swimming toward the boat. That was a short lived sensation however as just as suddenly she headed back toward the bottom shaking and jerking her head against the hook and line. Big walleye, I found out, will really put a bend in your rod. And when they’re sounding and jerking their head the end of the rod throbs up and down and it feels like a puppy tugging on the end of an old sock. Line was growing back on my reel when I saw the bottom bouncer and behind it a long, dark shape. Then there was a flash of gold as she turned broadside and the sun reflected off her flank and down deep she went. The giant ‘eye made several more attempts to go deep but she eventually tired enough for me to get her within netting distance.

"She won’t fit in my net!" John exclaimed as he reached out with the net and I steered her toward it. John scooped, lifted, and at last we had her in the boat.

It’s hard to describe accurately all that I was feeling and thinking at that moment. Exhilaration. Relief. Unmitigated joy. My feet, which had been driven so firmly into the deck on the hookset, were now a foot above it. It felt like the first time. Not the first first time but the first time with that very special someone that happens so unexpectedly and leaves you deliriously happy and gasping for breath, never wanting the moment to end. I was weak in the knees and even the simple act of removing the hook, which I had done countless times that day, took all my concentration. I reached my hand underneath her gills and raised her up. My 10 pound walleye!

"We’ve got to get her back in the water," John said and I looked at him and came down out of the clouds.

"Yeah. Let’s get some pictures." The pictures would have to tell the story. Weighing the big girl on John’s scale was not a consideration, no telling what it would read. My priority at this moment was to get a couple of pictures and get her back in the water and hope I hadn’t had her out too long. The glorious event preserved on film, I moved my left hand under her belly, grabbed her tail with my right, leaned over the side of Smoker Craft and gently lowered my dream fish into the water. I moved her forward and back a couple of times to get some water through her gills and felt her coming to life. I let go of her tail and watched as she swam out of sight.

"That’s it for me John. Let’s go in" and we headed for the landing.


I’d like to take this chance to thank some people…TeeDub, Kribbs, Buckrub and John for making this fishing trip an unforgettable experience. Singular rogues, each and every one of them but no more generous and genuine people will you ever meet.

Thanks to TeeDub’s wife Marg for her hospitality and kindness.

Barry, thanks to you, friend, for the invite. Sure wish you could have been there. Next time.

Laura, thanks for riding my butt to get the plane tickets.

My thanks to the moderators and members at Good Hunting for your indulgence and for providing a forum where a hack can pretend he’s an honest to god writer with something worth sharing.

Booker, thanks for preparing me for a moment I thought would never come. I could hear you in my head the very split second the shock went up my arm as the giant walleye stopped my hookset cold dead and all throughout the battle to bring her to the boat. I can finally relate.

Thanks to Brother Paul for your infectious enthusiasm and encouragement. You knew the day would come. I hope I am there to share your 1st double digit ‘Eye.

Lastly, I’d like to thank my Dad and dedicate this account and the fish to him. Dad took my brothers and me fishing. He taught us how to catch them, clean them, and cook them and nobody enjoyed walleye fillets more than Dad did. He passed away this past April just 4 days short of his 73rd birthday after a long battle with cancer. During a visit home just before Booker and I were to leave for a day’s fishing, I thanked him for teaching us how to fish and promised him that when he felt up to it, that we were going to get him out in the boat and return the favor. Needless to say, that chance never came. Thanks, Dad.

Uncle Bill's Hooch Guide Service
Trout fishing
Uncle Bill's Hooch Guide Service - 6/27/00

The day began with about 4 cups of coffee and a 30 minute trip south to the rendezvous point. Upon reaching the "Steak and Shake" I met up with my guide for the day...Uncle Bill Co9. A truly hospitable fellow, he had a nice truck and a Gheenoe with a little 6 horse motor. We stopped at the Walmart to pick up a license, hit McDonald's and headed for the Chattahoochee River to chase a few trout!

It was a perfect morning, warm and sunny. We launched the boat and after about 20 minutes of begging, the engine decided to turn over and we were on our way. We cruised up stream for about 30 minutes noticing several nice trout along the way. The river, according to Uncle Bill, was clearer than it had been in some time, which in my mind meant goooood fishin! The river was beautiful and we saw a few herons, a bunch of ducks and quite a few other anglers.

We eventually made it to the fishing hole and began our drift (thanks to Bill's finger which he used to manually operate the carb, hehe). Uncle Bill was using red plastic worms and I tried the flies. Not much was biting as we drifted back downstream but eventually, Bill got a bite. And eventually, the fish got off. Damn! A short time later, I hooked up with a nice rainbow on a egg sucking leech pattern. It gave a few nice jumps before I got him to the boat. But then, in my infinite wisdom, I decided to just grab the line and pull the fish into the boat. He shook, snapped my line and swam away with my fly. Damn!

Then we began to hear the crash of thunder. Georgia has been in a drought situation for 3 years and rain is very welcomed down there. So as the storm approached, we decided to duck into a dredging barge to take cover from the rain and lightning. Soon the storm passed and we resumed our drift. Bill and I talked about everything under the sun, except politics (Thank God). But the drift was great as we continued to move through the fog created by the warm rain falling on the cold stream.

After being checked by the game wardens, we continued our drift. And then I saw it! It was a nice fish feeding on the surface, but of course I had a nymph on. So I tried to hook him with the nymph. He messed with it a couple times but wouldn't take the fly. So I pulled in and quickly switched to a dry fly. It was a pattern I had picked up in Ireland with brown hackle and body and gold ribbing.

By this time, Uncle Bill had stopped fishing as he wanted to see me catch this bad boy. I made the first cast just a bit short, but the second cast drifted right over his nose! Sure enough....SLURP! And he was hooked! The fish went straight to the bottom and as I got him closer to the boat, I got a good look and said to Bill, "That's no rainbow!" As excited as I could be, I guided the fish to Bill and he netted him with ease! To my surprise, I had hooked a nice 13" brown trout! It was my first brownie and according to Bill a nice fish for the area! WooHoo, it was more exciting than I ever expected! How did it taste Bill?

We fished a little longer before we realized it was getting late, so we headed home. If you ever get the chance, take advantage of Uncle Bill's Hooch guide service! Thanks a million Bill. I had a trip I will never forget!

Year 2K Fishing Start & a Boat Launch Goof
Year 2K Fishing Start & Boat Launch Goof
TeeDub (Alberta, Canada)

Finally managed to get the boat on the water for the first time this year. Not without a considerable amount of effort though and maybe just a touch of embarrassment. We were late getting away this morning and decided to just go out to Lac La Nonne which is maybe 45 minutes from here. Turned out there was no way to get the boat in at our normal launch. They have a stake next to the launch showing the various water levels over the years. Highest was 1997. Lowest.... until this year, was 1940. I couldn't believe how much it had dropped. (Not that I was around in 1940 mind you.)

We drove around the lake to check other boat launches that I thought might be deeper. The next two were worse than the first. Finally, at the last launch that I'm aware of, another couple had just pulled their boat out. Theirs was about the same size as ours, but they warned us not to back the trailer in beyond the red stake that marked the end of the concrete as it dropped off suddenly.

No sweat I thought and I positioned the good wife at a spot where she could wave as the trailer wheels lined up with the stake. She waved... I stopped.... and the back of the boat was still clear of the water. On further investigation, I could clearly see that she stopped me about three feet short of the stake. I guess she saw the look of frustration on my face as I climbed back in the Jeep because she didn't so much as lift a finger as I promptly backed one wheel of the trailer off the drop. Whoops, now I've done it. I'm never gonna live this one down. The bad news was I had all four wheels burning rubber and there was no way it would budge. The good news was that the back of the boat was at least touching the water.

After considerable effort... with no help from my wife I might add, I managed to get the boat in the water. Thank God I had only dropped one wheel off, because without the weight of the boat it pulled out quite handily. I had visions of the cross member being hung up, then I'd have really been in a pickle.

It was a gorgeous day. Bright sun, temperature about 85 F and barely a breath of wind. Only a few other boats out there as well, which was a real bonus. The fish weren't all that accommodating, but we did manage to pick up a couple of nice Walleye and a few Northerns. All in all a great day, in spite of the fact that Marg started talking to me again after an hour or so.

Here's the first Walleye entry. I know it won't hold up, but hey.... it's an entry! 22 inches. Estimated weight 2 1/2 to 3 lbs. Released.

Flyfishing for Trout in PA
Cliff Claven
Fly Fishing for Trout in PA - 5/16/00
Cliff Claven (Pennsylvania)

This is THE month for PA trout fishing, and I have been making the most of my last spring here. I've been out either trout fishing or turkey hunting at least some for 10 of the last 11 days. It has been great.

At this time of year, the mayflies hatch. There is a bright yellow mayfly called a sulfur fly that hatches on a nearby stream, Spring Creek, in huge numbers. People travel from all over to fish this hatch. I live ten minutes away. It really is something to see even if you don't like flyfishing. There are thousands of these yellow mayflies (they're pretty cool looking), and on a blue-ribbon stream the water looks like it is boiling with trout. That is no exaggeration.

Spring Creek is one of the great streams in the country. The only problem is, with so many bugs to choose from, the fish can be tough to fool. And sometimes the hatch doesn't start until almost dark, which means you have ten minutes of frantic fishing and then it gets too dark.

I had been catching a few fish each time but the hatches were all starting late in the evening. Last night I got to the stream at 7:30 pm. I saw the hatch was on...and I looked at the stream and trout were rising and jumping everywhere! The weather was quite cold and the mayflies were too cold to take off from the water surface. The trout were just gobbling them like you wouldn't believe.

I stepped in made two casts, and caught my first fish. Three more cast and I caught another. Soon all around me fish were feeding. I had some feeding with 3 feet of me. It was a frenzy. Wild brown trout are known as one of the wariest species of fish. They can be tough to catch, and can be spooked very easily if you are careless with casting or wading.

But, with thousands of bugs on the water surface, it was like a brown trout riot. These were all wild fish, not hatchery rejects. I have never seen anything like it. I hooked a bunch of fish, landed some really nice ones, and called it a night when bats started diving at my fly. It was too dark to see anyhow.

I know most of the Good Hunters don't care about flyfishing, but for me, this is about as good as fishing gets. Matt

Ice Fishing in SW MN
Ice Fishing in SW MN - 1/12/2000

Since my New Year's weekend was obligated to work and Y2K I took last Friday off and headed home to see the folks and hopefully get some time on the ice with brother Booker. The fall bite never really happened with all this wierd weather we have had and the winter so far has been unseasonably warm. But Book reported that there was safe ice in the area and he and a friend had been getting "a couple of bites" a night from the walleyes.

I arrived at Mom and Dad's about 1 in the afternoon just in time for some of Mom's chili and summer sausage sandwiches. Mom's brother Mark was visiting from California and Booker was there as well. Spent a few hours chatting until Booker said we needed to get out to Dave's and put the finishing touches on the fish house so we could get her on the lake before dark.

The axle on the ice house had busted when Booker was taking it off Clear Lake and the end of last season and Dave had been welding on a new one at his farm. We got out there just as he was putting on the final weld and mounted the tires and proceeded to check out the rest of the gear. When we fire tested the stove we found a leak in the gas line and while trying to repair it broke the thermocoupler. A trip to town for a new thermocoupler, some drilling, wrench work, swearing, and finally the stove was operational but by now it was too dark to take the house to the lake.

Booker and I got up Saturday morning, made some lunch, coolered some brews and headed for Dave's to get the ice house. We decided on Little Spirit thinking that that was the best chance to find ice thick enough to support a car. There had been some reports that the 'eyes were biting on Loon and there were houses on Clear but we stuck with our decision.

When we got there we stopped and talked to a local guy about the state of the ice. He pointed out different areas and gave us the thickness, 5" over there, 7" there, 8" over there..." He was using his four-wheeler to move his house around but since we were without we decided to chance it in Booker's van. We would venture out a ways and then walk ahead and drill some holes. 8", 9 1/2". Not ideal but it was good ice, clear and hard as my head. Booker would walk back and move the unit forward while I waited and listened as the ice cracked as he moved towards me. We repeated this routine until we got the point we wanted to set up on and to our relief found the ice to be an honest 10" and in some places almost 12", plenty for a vehicle.

We drilled our holes, banked the house, set the tip-ups and tuned in the football on the TV and settled in to wait on the walleyes. The stove must have been jostled in the move because when Booker put a match to it it was leaking again from the coupling. While he worked on that, I tended the lines.

About 5 in the afternoon, one of the rattle reels in the house went down. I jumped into action, peeled off some slack in case it took a run and slowly pulled in line until I could feel the fish on the end of the line. As soon as I felt the resistance I set the hook and hauled in a nice eater. At last, a walleye in the bucket.

We both were on alert then as usually the action is rapid when the 'eyes move through the holes but the one we got must have been on his own for we had no other action on either the tip-ups outside or the lines in the house. At about 8 o'clock our attention was drawn away for the TV as another line in the house went down. Booker took the honor this time. He carefully pulled in line, felt the fish, and set the hook. "Ooh, a nice one" I could tell by the way Booker was playing it it was and when I saw her head first appear in the hole all I could think was "No shit". Booker brought her in and we both admired this healthy, beautifully golden walleye. She weighed out at 5.1 pounds and didn't have a mark on her. A couple of pictures and back in the water she went. Book's rule is anything over 5 gets their freedom and I staunchly agree. We recorded the catch on the wall of the house: 1/8/00, 5.1#, LIL SPIRIT. And that will be there when our kids use the house when we're both too brittle to chance a winter's day on the ice.

Deep Sea Fishing at Puerto Vallarta
Deep Sea Fishing at Puerto Vallerta - 11/1/99
Helen (California)

We booked ourselves on a deep sea charter for a full day of fishing. As promised, the boat was a 40 footer with only 4 other passengers. However, we didn't realize that a "full day" of fishing actually meant about 3 hours of fishing. That realization dawned on us when we were well into our second hour of cruising out to sea without any sign of putting a line in the water. I guess we were spoiled by our experience in Hawaii where it took about 20 minutes to get out to "deep sea" and fish.

Just at the point that all the passengers were grumbling about "When the hell do we get to fish?" we hit a school of bonito. They are small tuna and were hopping and skipping in great numbers across the top of the water. We brought in a few of those. The crew prepared them as bait and the passengers were mollified for a while, but still waiting for the "real fishing". We all knew it wasn't sailfishing season for another month, but we had hopes.

Cruised along a little longer and swigged on icy Coronas, then suddenly, the crew got agitated. There were 3 of them and they seemed to be moving all over the boat doing stuff. All of a sudden, one of them appeared with a pole and thrust it into the hand of a startled passenger. "Reel!", he said. The fellow did as he was told, hesitantly at first, but then the line tautened and whipped to the side. He started reeling in earnest. All of the rest of us passengers were watching in riveted silence. We leaned forward and strained in empathy as the guy reeled and grunted. One of the crew led him to one of the chairs and guided the butt of the pole into the gimbelled holder. After a bunch of reeling, drag pulling, more reeling, and some rod wobbling (those stubby deep sea poles wobble more than whip), the surface of the water exploded and a huge gold bullet with a fin soared into the air. All of us gringos gasped like we just saw an awesome fireworks display. It twisted and turned in the air in a spectacular acrobatic fight with the line and then disappeared back into the water. The crew told us it was a dorado (mahi mahi to Hawaiians). Every time he did another jump, it brought out more oohs and aahs.

Finally, the sweating, trembling fisherman brought in his catch. Sad to say though, that the stunningly beautiful fish that appeared to be encased in gold and speckled with turquoise jewels lost its color within minutes of being landed. We all eventually caught our share of them and that first one wasn't even the biggest. It probably ran about 25 pounds. It was the most memorable though for the visual impact, mostly due to the element of surprise. None of us had ever seen a dorado before.

The hubby probably got the biggest one. Our guess is that it ran about 40+ pounds. I had the best jumper. It managed to get oohs and aahs out of us even after we had landed about 10 or so previous dorados by then.

In summary, it was great fun. Dorados don't put up as much of a fight in the water as king salmon or stripers because they don't do the sudden deep dives, but they are powerful side pullers on the line and they put on a spectacular fight in the air. I've never experienced anything like it before. Sure wish one of us had hooked a sailfish. The crew told us they are the best for the air acrobatics. We did spot one sailfish jump through the air in the distance, but didn't get any takers on our lures. It was a brief, breathtaking sight though.

We only took a small fillet from one of our catch back with us. We let the crew keep the rest. They assured us they would donate them to feed the poor of the area. We think they sell them to local restaurants, but that is OK too. We just wanted to make sure they wouldn't go to waste. We took the fillet we kept to our resort and had the chef cook it up for us. Oh wow was that good! I gave the chef 20 pesos for his trouble and I thought he was going to follow me home. I guess no one thinks of tipping the chef. Keep in mind that 20 pesos is equivalent to about $2. The man couldn't do enough for us after that.

Going for Blues on Cape Cod
Going for Blues on Cape Cod -- July 7, 1999
Miked (Massachusetts)

Spent a few days on Cape Cod this week. Hooked up with a buddy of mine and fished Wellfleet harbor. This is on the bayside of the cape near the very end.

Took my 10 yr.old son Sean, and met my buddy and his 17 yr. old son. We set out of the harbor at 10 am and headed for an island 2 miles out. (This island is really a sandbar at lowtide) The weather was dead calm, sunny and HOT! We hit the water and it was 90 already.

All of us were using top water plugs, no bait here, we are after blues! My buddy sets up a rod for my son and tells him what to do if he gets a fish on. Sean has bass fished with me but has never gone for blues or stripers. We are watching him. He made me proud with a beautiful cast. He flips the bail and starts retrieving the lure, SLAM! We all go nuts, yelling instructions to him and hooting and hollering! Man, I can't begin to tell ya how proud I was watching him fighting that brute like a pro. After 5 minutes, he pulled the fish up to the boat, a nice fat ten pound blue. Sean needed a break after that one, he said his arms were killing him.

Soon all of us were plugging. These blues were thrashing and smashing these lures. All were 8-15 lbs,a nice size fish but they do get up to 25 lbs.We fished for 2 hrs. and decided to eat and go swimming off the island for a few. If you haven't been to the Cape, pictures won't do it justice. Here we are, swimming in crystal clear water with fish, big ones, jumping 100 yds off the island. The island or sandbar, resembles something you might see in the Bahamas.

After eating lunch we set out for more fishing. A fellow we met swimming told us of a school of stripers he saw the day before, fish in the 20-30 pound range. We searched around the island and into the bay, catching some 25" stripers but nothing bigger.My friend and his son took us to Sunken Meadow beach. You can walk a mile out into the harbor at low tide there.

We get into water 4-6 ft deep and you can see the blues zipping by. We stop and cast. As soon as my plug hits the water, a blue jumps 2 ft. out of the water and then SMASHES my lure. These fish can fight better than any other fish I can think of! Behind me I hear Sean yell, "Dad, I got one and I can't hold him!" The fish is stripping line like there was no tomorrow, but we can't help him because we are ALL fighting fish. We coached him through it till I got mine in. I then convinced him he could do it, and was spraying him with a water bottle because he was sweating so bad and burning up with the heat! He hung in there and landed a nice 15 pound Blue!

After landing maybe 20 more blues or so, we decided to put the top up and go cruising. The temp had reached the 100 mark or so it felt. The water was so calm, we actually saw people water skiing in the harbor, an almost unheard of sight. We ended up heading toward port when we saw a guy bring up a nice fish. Awww what the hell! All of us were getting slammed again, so much so that we ended up taking off the hooks. Just watching these fish thrash these plugs was fun enough at that point.

From there we headed in, four very HOT and tired guys. The youngest had a grin that wouldnt go away. I was hoping to post a pic for here, but like an idiot left the camera in the van. Thurs., if the boss says so, I'll be heading back up to Plumb Island in search of some keeper Stripers.

Happy Fishing, Mike

Chesapeake Bay Striper Trip
Chesapeake Bay Striper Trip - 7/3/99

Got my wife's step dad to take me out on his boat Saturday. We talked to a guy who goes out all the time, gave us some coordinates for the ole Furuno GPS, told to be out there an hour before high tide which was at 10:30.

Got my bait, Alewife (menhaden) and a gallon of chum the night before and we we're off at 9:30am to hit "The Spot".

The way they do it around here is to make a small chum slick and then fish with cut bait at different places in the water column. We got out there fast, the boat is a 30 foot searay with 2 455's... I'd have to get a second job just to keep gas in that hog!

We anchored and I began to fish... the heat was sweltering... I got skunked. 2 bites in 3.5 hours.

As we headed back in, I think he knew from my pouting that I was less than pleased with our results and he said, "You know, we can try tomorrow if you want"... I perked up and said, "Can we just fish the old fashioned way? Get up early and head out ?" He said, "Sure".

We were up at 5:00am, on our way by 6:00. Anchored by 6:30am, I threw a little chum and set my poles out, one on the botom with 1 oz of weight and one drifting in the current. In about 10 minutes I had one ! Reeled him in, 17.5 inches... DAMN DAMN DAMN DAMN DAMN !!!! They have to be 18 inches to keep. 2 per day.

Since I caught him on the bottom, I weighted the other pole and threw them both out again. In 15 minutes, I had boated 5 or 6 rockfish, all 17.5 inches. Do they KNOW that I can cook them if they're over 18 inches? I told the pop that if I got another one 17.5 inches, I was gonna stomp on his ass until he was 18!!

Right then, I saw my smaller, medium light action pole get a hit, it was a pull, long and strong, I reeled the slack and got ready to catch another 17.5 incher... I reared up with the pole and set the hook and my drag started screaming! I thought I was going to run out of line... he gave me a little slack and I got some line back.. Then it went totally slack, nothing... Then I remembered Helen saying how they love to run toward the boat sometime... I started reeling like crazy and finally caught up with him. He was about 10 feet from the friggin boat... "WILL, GET THE NET!!! Hurry, Hurry!!!"... I saw him. He saw me. I think he laughed at me as he turned and the drag started groaning again...

He did this 3 more times and on the last run to the boat, he caught the other line I had out in the water and started another run...

I told Pops to reel in the other line and he did. It was wrapped hopelessly around the line of my fish... I told him to hold it up. As he did, I pulled my handy dandy buck knife from its sheath, and in one fluid move, sliced the offending tangle... Whew.. I thought I was gonna lose him....

We finally boated him... he was 30 inches. My biggest Striper ever... I showed my Mom the pictures... She said I had the same stupied grin on my face as when I got married...


PS He fed 9 people on the 4th. I cut up the fillets in "nuggets", battered and fried them... Mmmmm Mmmmm Good.

The Two-Rod Dilemma
The Two-rod Dilemma - 6/28/99
Miked (Massachusetts)

Got out this week more than I did all last year. I'm out fishing on the flats on the Merrimack river at Plumb Island, myself, two buds and our gear in my 14 ft. bass boat. Heading onto the river at the state ramp the Merrimack commands repect. At 1/2 the outgoing tide, the current there rips up to 11 knots!

As the 3 of us motor past the 40 ft sailboats, cabin cruisers and moored trawlers, we see a seagull land ahead of us in the water. SWOOSH! A small school of bluefish take a swipe at the seagull, only to get a few feathers from his behind. We hurry to get a few plugs going but nothing. Go figure. A little further down river, we pass the last bridge. From there it's a 10 minute no wake cruise to the flats.

The wind is blowing at 15 m.p.h. We are getting a little wet from the 2 ft chop. Not too bad yet. Any more and I'll have to turn around. The flats are a cove, about 3/4 mile long and 1/2 mile deep. At low tide it's all sand and mud. 3 hrs before high, it's 2 feet deep and that's when we go in. The edges are surrounded by grass. The big boys come in and feed on eels as soon as the water allows.

It's now 6 p.m., just where we want to be as high tide is at 9:30. I get the boat into position as I have on the previous trip. I tell my buds, who have never fished here,that when the water hits 3 ft. the fish will come. At 7 pm we get the first fish, a 25" striper. Not too bad but I am looking for keepers (28+ ") The fishing is slow for the next hour or so. At 8:30,all hell breaks loose. All 3 of us are fighting fish, still no keepers, 7 fish just under the 28" limit. Damn!

It's getting dark. The wind has died and the flats are like a mill pond. A beautiful night with almost a full moon. Fish start hitting the top now. I nail 2 small ones on a plug. We pull in a few more on bait, but still no keepers. We are past the high tide now and in one hour the current in the river will start ripping. In a 14 ft. loaded boat with a 15 h.p. motor we could only stay 30 more minutes.

The 3 of us a this point are just marvelling at the beauty that surrounds us. I wished we could have stayed all night.Mother Nature calls and as I'm in the middle of relieving myself, my rod nearly gets ripped out of the holder and the line is singing as it's getting stripped off the spool! Being a true fisherman, I grab the FISHING rod and set the hook. This fish was out at 100 yds.and not wanting to come in. The sight of seeing him thrash on the moonlit water was truly awesome.

At this point my buddies are screaming at me to give THEM the rod. Not a chance! The slight breeze kinda felt nice-hehe. I got the fish under control and fixed myself. I fought him for 10 minutes with my pecker hanging in the wind. I forgot all about it till they said something. I got him close and my buddy netted him -- a nice 35" fish shaped like a football. We guessed him to be about 20 pounds or so.

The trip in was smooth. We beat the tide and the water was like glass. Tomorrow night, bass for din din. Next week we hit Cape Cod for a week. Try and get the big mamas. Sorry this was so long,but it felt good! Happy fishing all!


Playing Hooky & Chasing Smallies
Playing Hooky & Chasing Smallies - 6/23/99
LJ (Virginia)

"Hey Boss, It's me, I'm taking a mental health day, the date time stamp (0400am) on this voice mail is an indicator that yes, I will have a fishing pole in my hands in an hour or two, I'll be in on Thursday morning..."

I transferred all my Smallmouth River Wading Tackle, into my "Customized River Wading Fishing Backpack". BAM, 4:05am, on the road, down Rt 29... Drove through the sleepy little town of Remington Va, population, about 2 dozen. 5 miles south of Remington is the nothern border of CW Phelps Wildlife management area that borders the Rappahanock River. I parked at one of the few access points for the WMA and began the trek..

I chose this particular place because of the limited access and the 3 mile hike to the river would preclude anyone less than totally committed to the cause from gaining access... This idea paid off handsomely.

Walking, the trail skirts along farms, hardwoods and small creeks that feed the river. As I came up on a soybean field, I stalked up to see if there were any deer around and there was plenty let me tell ya... A group of 20 or so, I stopped, careful to keep still. I watched for a few minutes until my scent finally reached them.. Now THERE'S a familiar sight, a bunch of deer running away from me.

I finally reached the river, the warm water and cool air creating a mist that clung tightly to the water. I slowly waded in just below a small riffle below a gentle rapid, perfect smallmouth habitat.

As my topwater plug hit the water, I must have cast right on top of the fish because the lure was smashed and under the water in less than one second. I set the hook hard, and felt the strong pull... the strength of a big Bronzeback that was ready to explode. The fish jumped what seemed like 2 feet clear of the water, trying to throw my lure... He didn't, and came up again, tail walking about 10 feet across the riffle. What a sight. The fight over, I lipped him, said a quiet "thanks bud" and returned him to his hidey hole.

Still in the middle of the river, I cast my plug WAY up river, the sun still well below the tree line I saw some movement on the bank of the river, about 50 yards up, I froze... A small buck drank from the river, totally unaware of me in the river. There was a rock right next to me in the river so I sat. I watched the buck for 15 minutes, probing the river, taking his time and finally find a place to cross, he moved slowly and quietly across the river, took a bite or two from a low hanging branch and slipped quietly away. I hadn't even noticed that my lure had come all the way downstream and was down river, fishing itself...

As the day grew hotter, I continued fishing, the topwater bite died off and I swtiched to soft plastic bait, no weight. As soon as I made this switch I began to catch some very nice smallmouth. A had a dozen fish over 14 inches before the day was over, half a dozen more well over 18 inches, the biggest smallies I've ever caught. I probably caught around 35 fish, it's a quite a treat to lose count.

Right after I'd landed the largest fish, around 21 inches and football like in shape, a turkey hen flew in to a sandbar by me. She started putting and I gave a putt right back. Apparently I said something in turkey talk that she didn't like so she ran up the river bank, crashing through the brush, making a hell of a racket. A little too nervous for my taste anyway...

I also saw a Heron, with a new chick, giving a fishing lesson to her youthful ward, the mother would strike, then bring up a good sized minnow, the chick alternating between watching Momma and playing on the sandbar. Apparently, there was too much emphasis on the playing and the mother Heron gave a screeching admonition to her child, bringing it quickly in line for futher instruction. I guess some things aren't as species specific as I had thought.

As I walked back down the river to head home, I wondered what it would be like to do this every Wednesday... Hmmmmmmm.