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Monday, December 4, 2017

Small Mouth Buffalo

It looks like I may have forgotten to post this picture. I don't see it when I scroll down the page. Forgive me if it's been posted before, but even if it has, it was such a nice fish I don't mind posting it again one bit.

This fish was from a tough session this past fall of 2017. We tried a spot in the morning that didn't work out and then moved to another spot just before lunch. The wind was gusting to 30 mph at times and the conditions were pretty tough, although luckily it was a sunny day.

After losing a fish around lunch time, it was beginning to look like we'd end without a fish. My fishing partner threw in the towel around 3 p.m. and then about 20 minutes after he left, I caught this absolutely beautiful, flawless small mouth buffalo. This was the most pristine small mouth buffalo I have ever caught in this location. It weighed 16 pounds. Most of the bigger buff's look a little rough when they grow very big at all, but this one made me a happy fisherman.

Lake Erie

Update 12/4/17: After some additional research online, I'm beginning to think the fish in the picture below is not 100% small mouth buffalo. It looks to be a hybrid of some type. Black buffalo / Small-Mouth, Big Mouth / Small-Mouth, or something like that. Either way it's still a cool fish.

My favorite carp fishing spot over the years, which is near my home, easily accessed and a consistent producer did not let me down last weekend. I fished 7 1/2 hours with two bites and nothing landed, but as I started to pack up and head home I heard a few "beeps" on the alarm.

I picked up the rod and reeled gently and soon realized "fish on".

Very careful not to lose the fish, I kept the drag fairly loose. The fish started far right and ended up far left with the loose drag. I loosened it even more as the fish neared the net to be doubly sure there wouldn't be a hook pull once I say it was a very nigh small-mouth buffalo.

It turned out not to be a new personal best for me, but does rank 3rd on my largest small-mouth buffalo catches in the last 3 years.

This rig did not catch anything for me this time out,
but many people catch carp on similar rigs.

My personal best small-mouth buffalo is just over 21 pounds. This one was 20 pounds and a few ounces. It's a fish I am very
proud of. It saved a "blank" on a tough day of fishing and although you can't tell from the picture....it added a big smile
on my face when this fish was secured safely in the net.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

2017 Winding Down

I had the day off of work on Friday, but with temperatures in the low 20's I did not head out to my planned fishing spot as planned. The air temperatures remained in the 20's the entire day, so I didn't get to do any fishing on the Veteran's Day Holiday either. Major bummer...Last year I landed my current personal best of 29 pounds 2 ounces on Veteran's Day.

2016's best
With the winter slow down on the way, it's a good time to start making a shopping list for carp fishing items you need for next year. With fishing slowing down, sales are the carp equipment retailers slow down also. This provides an opportunity to pick up some nice merchandise for "sale" prices.

If you need carp rods, reels, landing mats, nets, etc. it's a good idea to keep any eye out on websites like Carp Kit and Johnson Ross Tackle to see what items they may have on sale. You can pick up some name brand items for very good prices if you keep an eye on their websites.

And it's not just the higher dollar items that go on sale either. If you need hooks, flavoring, fishing line, etc. you can buy them for 50% off (or better) sometimes. I've purchased Korda Wide Gap hooks for 50% off multiple times.

I have also been able to purchase 50# braided fishing line at Cabela's for 50-60% off in the fishing off season as well. I like to go in January. They often have fishing line at very good discounts.

Happy shopping.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Four Carp for Fall Weather Pattern

Fall fishing can be hit or miss. The cooler nights with temperatures nearing 32 degrees takes a toll on water temperature in local rivers and lakes sooner or later. The cool water slows down the fish, which slows down feeding and, therefore, eventually puts the brakes on fishing.

It's still possible to catch carp, but it takes considerably more effort, time and prior planning.

Yesterday weather yielded strong winds and temperatures in the mid-40's for a high with rain headed from west to east toward my fishing location. There were two very short periods of sunshine and the rest of the day was overcast.

My strategy for cooler weather is to use less bait, recast more often to keep fresh bait in the water, using brand new hooks for every session to increase the odds of hooking up and watching the rods very closely.

I have found that fish bite softer in cool weather, so a sharp hook helps a lot. If the fish are biting aggressively, you can get by with a hook that's been used for a session or two, but I prefer to increase the odds in my favor as much as possible. The cost of a hook runs me about $0.69 each for the Korda Wide Gap hooks I use. That seems like a small price to pay versus running the risk of a "blank" aka "not catching".

Here are some pictures:

This one's a little scrapper for sure. This little guy did not want to be captured in the net AT ALL.
It took a while to land him.

This carp was very healthy looking.

I love the scale pattern on this one.

I've actually caught this fish previously. I can only speculate, but the missing lip indicates to me that it may have been hooked before. It kind of looks like the upper lip may have been pulled off, which can happen if the drag on the reel is set too tight, if treble hooks are used, or for a variety of other possibilities.

This fish is built for future growth.

This fish has been through some challenges. The missing scales and overall condition of the fish indicates the fish has been in the thick of trouble in recent weeks or even days. While I can't say for sure what caused the scrapes and scale issues, I can say the fish was a healthy swimmer. I found the darker head coloration compared to the rest of the body scale colors fascinating.
Hopefully the weather will cooperate and I can get in one or two more days of fishing next weekend. If the high temperatures drop into the 30's this week, I may be out of luck for 2017. I'll be on the look out for a warm water discharge in the meantime to help extend my fishing into the winter if possible. If you know of a warm water discharge (a place where the river or lake doesn't freeze in winter), please let me know.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

River Carping in Michigan

Rivers offer a wide variety of carp fishing opportunities. There are big rivers, small rivers and every size in between. Quick running rivers are more challenging for carp fishing. When the water runs fast, it's best to find a current break like a dike, a boat, a bridge, pier, etc. that might provide the fish some relief from the strong current.

As a general rule, the wider and deeper rivers are difficult because they are just so darned big. The potential for big carp is present in rivers like Missouri, Mississippi, Ohio, St. Clair and Detroit, but the same benefits also make it difficult to find the fish. Sight fishing on those big rivers is nearly impossible without a boat. Smaller rivers like Saginaw, Huron, Rouge, Ecorse or Raisin make it easier, but success is often coupled with the specific time of year. Timing plays a big part. The ability to access the water is also important. There is a lot to be said for owning a pontoon boat, jon boat or kayak.

If the carp won't come to you, then you must go to the carp if you want to catch them.

Here are a few pictures from early in the fall of 2017.

I plan to spend some more time fishing the local rivers in 2018. Hopefully I can get on some fish on a more consistent basis.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Short Afternoon Carp Session

When I go carp fishing, I prefer to make a day out of it. It's been my experience that an hour or two is not enough time to catch carp and make it worthwhile to dig out all the equipment, drive to the spot, set up and fish. (There's something to be said for traveling light and I'm going to be working on a strategy for that over the winter months.) But yesterday I scheduled a vacation day in the afternoon and headed out anyway.

I got my first fish within 15 minutes of casting out and it took 3 1/2 hours to get 3 more (in a 20 minute span) for a total of 4 in a few minutes past 4 hours before I had to go and the rain rolled into the area. I would have stayed another 45 minutes or so, but I had an appointment and had to go.

Here are some pictures:

This one was kind of a blooper. A passer-by agreed to take some pictures for me, but the fish had other plans.

This is the same fish once I wrangled him into position.
I may have been the best dressed fisherman in America yesterday. As you can tell from my button down shirt, I came straight from work stopping just long enough to change shoes and pull on some rain pants to protect my pants.

The first fish caught me by surprise.
I hadn't finished setting up and as you can tell didn't have a good strategy for self-timer pictures yet either.

When fishing alone, sometimes you have to get creative with ways to take pictures.
I snapped this one in the net.

I'm not sure about the facial expression, but I enjoyed catching the fish.

Another fish; another picture in the net.
I am convinced that carp move around in shoals of 5 or 6 fish (maybe more). Many times I have waited hours for a fish and then caught multiple fish in short succession. When they do decide to move on the bait, it's game time.

Two of these fish never sounded the alarm, so it pays to watch the rods pretty close. Yesterday it may have made the difference between 2 fish and 4 fish. Sometimes it could mean the difference between no fish and a single fish. One's certainly better than none every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Overall it was a good day. I'll take days like this as the season turns colder. Fishing days are going to end in a week or two for me.

I don't have any spots where the water stays warm. A warm water discharge would be nice. Drop me a note in the comments if you know of any warm water spots that have open water year-round.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Tips for Catching Small-Mouth Buffalo

Where I live, it's fairly rare to catch a small-mouth buffalo. Although Lake Erie does have a population of the fish, we haven't been able to catch them with regularity like we have carp and catfish, so when one shows up in the net it's always a treat.

A recent small-mouth buffalo I caught
In this post I'd like to share some tips that I have learned that I feel help increase the odds of catching them.

How to catch more small-mouth buffalo
  • Target bodies of water with confirmed populations of fish.
  • Use baits with "hot" characteristics such as chili powder, hot pepper, hot sauce, etc.
  • Make some boilies from habernero, jalapeno or serrano peppers.
  • Watch your rods closely.
  • Let me repeat....watch your rods closely.
  • Buffalo bite very, very lightly on the bait, so you have to detect bites when they occur.
  • Buffalo very seldom ever take a bait and run with it, so you usually have to "set the hook".
  • Buffalo sometimes "mouth" a bait for 10, 15 or even 30 minutes.
  • It may seem like a fish is "bumping" the pack bait, but in reality it may be a small-mouth buffalo "mouthing" the bait.
  • It's quite possible that the fish is hooked, but still sitting there content to "hold" the bait.
  • I feel the longer they hold it without a hook set, the more chances they will "leave" without being caught.
I don't usually grab the rod and set the hook with every little bump, but if I have watched for a while and notice the line tightening and loosening 2 or 3 times in a short period I try to pick up the rod and reel in some line. Most of the time I find a buffalo on the hook.

When I first started catching them it was quite accidental. I caught them in spite of myself. I've heard people say it's bad luck to watch the rods while bottom fishing for carp, but I'm someone who likes to watch my rods and I feel it's helped put more small-mouth buffalo in the net as a result.

My niche in carp fishing seems to be catching small-mouth buffalo. Some people catch a lot of mirrors. Some catch a lot of two-tones. I seem to catch a higher number of buffalo. And I'm not complaining. I will continue to experiment and find new ways to swing the odds in my favor while bank fishing.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Autumn Carp Fishing in Michigan

We've definitely been spoiled with some fantastic carp fishing weather recently; with only an occasional exception here and there. And you can be sure that I have taken advantage of this cold weather hiatus to get out on the bank and do some fishing.

On Saturday I decided to head to my favorite spot on Lake Erie. Things started out quickly, but instead of carp, it was a 2 pound channel catfish. I barely had a chance to sit down in my chair after casting before the alarms were ringing with the alert. It didn't take long to figure it out - Mr. Whiskers was hungry. The familiar thump-thump-thump as I retrieved the line gave it away.

Those who regularly fish for carp know that carp are more likely to 1) bolt away-from-the-bank and keep on going, 2) swim straight-at-the-bank with hopes of finding shallow water and rid themselves of the hook, or 3) swim sideways with the same goal.

Likewise I can usually tell the size of the fish with general accuracy based on the speed that the carp takes the bait. A blazing run usually indicates a small, but scrappy fish; while a slow-roller or intermittent speed that rises and falls usually indicates a bigger fish or sometimes a small-mouth buffalo depending on the venue. (Catfish will also sometimes take the slow-roller approach, but in the places I fish I catch more catfish than carp 99% of the time.)

Lucky for me I had a slow-roller, a fast-and-furious and a couple of straight-at-the-bank fish during the session.

Here are some pictures:

This is the typical size we've been catching this year

This 22 pound 6 ounce fish is my biggest carp since May 2017.

The shadow on this fish is not an indication of a two-tone color, but is a shadow from the person taking
the picture as the sun was behind the cameraman.

A quality fish

Safe return for someone else to catch in the future after the fish packs on a few more pounds.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Labor Day Weekend Carp Fishing

I headed out on Saturday for some carp fishing to get the weekend started - carp fishing style.

The results were a little less than I hoped for but it wasn't for a lack of trying. I ended with 2 carp and two catfish.

The alarms were silent after 1 p.m. so I finally threw in the towel at 4:30. Hopefully with fall approaching the carp will start packing on the pounds for winter preparations and the fishing will improve.

This carp is the first I've caught in a while now, so it was a welcome site in the net

Small and scrappy, but I'll take it 

A nice looking catfish, but not what we're after
And if the carp fishing doesn't pick up pretty soon, I'm tempted to finish out the season fishing for sturgeon. If I'm going to "blank", why not blank bigger?

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Secret Fishing Spots

When I started carp fishing, I was so enthusiastic and excited about it that I told everyone I met about it. My friends, family and co-workers knew about my new love of carp fishing; and anyone else who would listen to me talk about fishing got the spiel about how much fun I was having with it. For most people to step out of their comfort zone and try something new, they need to have some successes right out of the gate; so I helped point them in the right direction and sometimes took them out fishing just as others did for me when I started.

Periodically I hear conversations and read posts on social media pertaining to "secret" fishing spots. It reminds me of the excitement I felt when I started and how it made me feel as a newbie (and to this day) when others helped point me in the right direction. When I first started carp fishing, I was really surprised to find that people actually had "secret" spots. That was a new concept to me.

I later learned from carp fishermen with a little more experience that sometimes telling others about a "secret" spot can be undesirable.


-- It becomes so popular with others that the "best" spots are seldom available and almost always occupied when  you want to fish in those specific locations.

-- Bow fishermen might go to the spot and shoot the biggest "trophy" carp purely for spite, meanness and thrill they get out of killing animals (kind of barbaric, but perfectly legal).

Four years later I have reached the conclusion that there are not really any "secret" spots on "public" waters. "Public" waters are open to the public. No one person has more rights to one "public" water than another person. Just as a boater has no more right to a lake or river than a shore fisherman. We have to share the water and share the fish too.

I have also learned that it's nice for new comers to find the honey holes early on. Catching fish helps build skill and leads to even more catches. Without success, many people will quit before they actually know enough to even begin experiencing the real possibilities. With success, new comers become "hooked" on carp fishing sooner and they stick with it longer term; which helps grow the sport. Growing the sport helps everyone involved because more carp fishermen leads to more vendors, manufacturers and purveyors of carp supplies, equipment, tackle, and gear. The increased competition helps reduce prices for fishermen and increased sales helps the businesses at the same time. It's a win, win.

We can attempt to disguise the photos when posting on social media (I've done it myself), but it really only keeps it "secret" for a short time. Someone always figures it out eventually.

As I have gained experience, I find myself venturing out more and more on my own to find new places to fish - my own "secret" spots if you will. And when I am out fishing those spots it never fails that I meet someone who see's me catching carp and tells me about how they also have caught carp there, that bow fishermen shoot fish there, their grandpa caught them with corn, grandma made bread balls wrapped in bacon to catch them (true story), and so on. So my "secret" is only a secret to me. Others have known there were carp to be caught in those spots long before I got there. But I still enjoy looking and finding these hidden treasures when I can. It just adds another element of enjoyment to my personal fishing journey. It's another aspect to the hobby that helps keep me interested.

If you want to know where I fish - just ask me. If I know you well, I'll provide more details than if I don't. I meet a lot of people while carp fishing and many have become very close friends. So stick around and continue reading about my carp fishing efforts (and sturgeon adventures coming soon). Or better yet, come out and fish with me and my friends sometime. I think you'll enjoy it. :-)

Monday, August 7, 2017

Big River Carping

I spend a lot of time fishing lakes for carp. They are my preferred waters for carp fishing.

But occasionally I do enjoy fishing rivers. The fish are stronger, longer and tougher. Pound for pound they are more powerful overall. Detroit River is an obvious choice for big river carping here in southeast Michigan.

Saturday we headed out to a favorite Detroit River spot and settled in for a session.

It didn't take long for my fishing partner to land a couple of mid-teens carp. And a couple of hours later, some carp starting hitting my net.

Here are some pictures.

I loved the scale pattern on this nice muddler

Another small muddler
And I caught this sheepshead on a night crawler while trying my luck in my first attempt fishing for sturgeon (I have a sturgeon tag).

Although it only weighed a couple of pounds, it's still my personal best sheepshead (first and only sheepshead in fact)
This spot on the Detroit River has yielded several fish for me in the past year, but none have been larger than 19 pounds and change. I'd love to find some more productive spots because the potential in that river for big carp is significant.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Tough Day on Saturday

We headed out Saturday morning with high hopes. After success last Sunday with 12 carp and 3 catfish, I was hopeful that the winning streak would continue.

Alarm, bank stick and hanging bite indicator

The set-up I use for pier fishing
Unfortunately, the carp went the way of Elvis on Saturday - they had left the building - or at least weren't biting in the heat.

The water was very warm to the touch and unusual. I don't think I've ever felt water as warm as a bath tub in Lake Erie before.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Carp Fishing Action Video

As a Christmas gift to myself I purchased a GoPro Hero 5 Black the day after Thanksgiving in 2016. After a few trials and tribulations with the camera I took a few time lapse videos over the period of a few weeks.

The video below was taken last weekend during a fishing session my wife and I shared on the Raisin River. This video is a good example of some "hidden gems" that are hiding in plain site. Most people we talked to in the 7 or 8 hours had no idea they could catch fish weighing up to 18 pounds in this public park.

We met a lot of friendly people and made some new fishing friends and prospective future carp fishermen. Kids in particular, seem to enjoy watching the biggest fish they have ever seen be caught in the same water they catch bluegill using Spider-Man and Barbie fishing rods.


I formatted this video in black and white as an experiment. I like the way it turned out, but it's hard to argue with the original "full color" version straight from the GoPro.

My primary goal in purchasing the camera was to use it to take video of my carp fishing efforts. I have used it a few times this summer, but not as much as I hoped.

I definitely need to work on my editing skills, but I have found GoPro Studio, which has the more powerful editing tools, very difficult to use. I've had to download a few versions of the Studio software because my original copy had a "fatal error".

Here is the same video in full HD color:

If you have any GoPro carp fishing videos to share let me know and I will embed them on my carp fishing blog.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Small River Carp Fishing

I fished a spot on Sunday for the third time that I first fished back in October of 2015. I've previously landed a 20 pounder from this venue, which is the biggest fish I know of that has been caught in this location by any CAG member.

My wife has been encouraging me to try it again, so we did. I landed 12 carp and 3 catfish. The rain ruined our fun, or we likely would have caught even more. There is likely a mid twenty hiding in that river location and I'll be back someday trying to find it too.