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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.

Examples:

-- 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.














Saturday, July 22, 2017

From Bluegill and Bass, to Common Carp

When I was a young boy we had a farm pond on my family's property and I spent many afternoons there catching bluegill, bass and occasionally a catfish.

Fishing is inexpensive entertainment for people who had very little money to spent on traditional entertainment like movies, restaurants and traveling for family vacations. People now think nothing of $12 (per person) for stadium seats at the movie theatre, $25 for dinner (per person), $10 for a 6-pack of locally brewed craft beer, but for someone growing up in a farm family in the mid-1970's spending money on those things was unheard of...so we fished. We fished a lot.

The only direct cost to the 6 year old me involved the time spent getting a shovel from the shed, finding an old coffee can and asking my grandpa to join me in our favorite worm-digging bed behind the chicken house where the rain ran off the roof and the red wigglers were always plentiful. (A single hook would last all summer long.)

As a kid who counted everything from the number of fence posts in a particular field as we drove by, the number of tractors I saw between our house and grandma's on the way to Sunday dinner, to the number of airplanes I saw on a Saturday afternoon and yes the total number of worms dug with grandpa on Sunday after church; I was serious about worm hunting. Our record worm find was 105 in about 15 minutes. My grandpa made worm digging much easier. There is something to be said for his bigger boots, bigger biceps and stronger back compared to my smaller size and strength that made the search so much better.

I didn't worry so much about the size of the fish we caught, but of course I always wanted to catch the biggest possible. We ate the fish we caught. Mom had a rule, "You catch it, you clean it." The bigger fish were much easier for me to clean. By big, I'm talking adult palm-sized bluegill and 2 pound catfish. Big from a farm pond, but not big by a river size at all.

My bus driver liked to talk about fishing. Catherine, and her husband, Clyde, spent most Sunday afternoons creek fishing in various local spots. She talked about perch, catfish and carp. Hearing her stories were the first time I knew there was fish called carp.

She caught carp with hominy, corn, grubs and even worms. And from the sounds of it, carp were pretty big fish. I remember asking my mom and dad once if we could try creek fishing for carp, but they were not supportive. To them, the farm pond was fine.

It was almost 40 years later before I actually saw my first carp. I was fishing alone when another local fisherman had a fish on and asked if I wanted to reel it in.

I ended up landing a 16 pound mirror carp. The biggest fish I'd every caught by at least 13 pounds!

I took the information I learned that day and headed back out on my own 2 days later. Within a few minutes of arriving to the spot and casting out, I had another carp on the line. That fish weighed in at about 14 pounds.

My first carp
 And from that day forward I have been a carp fishing fool! I have always had a love for fishing, but catching carp is much more exciting.

Carp are pretty smart. They don't fall for plastic lures, or for worms on a hook and bobber float set-up very often. They are leery fish and seem to spook easily so the tactics required offer a challenge that goes farther than the "flip and rip" style of fishing used to catch bass.

Landing a carp on rod and reel takes some finesse. A double digit pound fish doesn't give in easily. They will go left, go right and every other way looking for an escape. Snags are popular destinations and if one is close by they will find it, resulting in a break off or "hook pull" that is a common frustration for carp fishermen.

I used to watch a lot of fishing shows on ESPN. They would be fishing for tarpon near Fort Myers, peacock bass in Costa Rica, bonefish in the Florida Keys, or redfish in the flats of Tampa Bay; and I was so, so jealous. "Some day" I'd say, "I'm going to do that." With carp, someday came a lot sooner.

I've heard some people refer to carp as "fresh water bonefish" and since fresh water is everywhere, that means I don't have to drive to Florida or fly to Costa Rica to catch exciting sport fish. You can catch carp in a large variety of states, rivers, creeks, lakes, reservoirs and even ponds.

Here are some more pictures of my "red neck bonefish" catches.

20 pounds

12 pounds


24 pounds

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Carp Fishing Near Lake Erie

After the fiasco in Davison MI on Friday, I headed back out on Saturday to drown my sorrows with some carp fishing at a local spot I know very well.

Here are some pictures:

My spot on Saturday taken about 8 a.m.

The first cap I landed at about 2:30 p.m.

I really liked the scales on this fish. The picture definitely do them justice.

An perfectly scale pattern on this fish

Two heads close-up (better than one)

The first fish on Saturday was a small catfish

The second fish on Sunday was another slightly bigger catfish
I hadn't been "finned" by a catfish in more than 20 years, but this one got me when I tried to hold him for a picture. I guess I got a little too familiar with holding him for the shot with one hand and snapping the picture with the other. Needless to say, I didn't end up getting a picture after all.

I did clean the puncture with some anti-bacterial wipes I keep on hand while fishing and my hand was fine in about 90 minutes. I didn't get any swelling or numbness at all. Cleaning the wound was a great idea, because the last time I got finned I remember my entire hand swelling up and it being sore for several days.

Trip to Genesee County, Car Trouble and the Case of the Missing Fishing Spot

I took a vacation day on Friday to meet a carp fishing friend at a new spot in Genesee County that we wanted to try. I scouted the spot via YouTube and a tip from this blog about the potential to catch some quality carp.

I left the house at 4:15 a.m., drove 95 miles to Davison MI and just as I was pulling off the exit on I-69 I heard a noise emanating from underneath the rear of the 13-year old Explorer that did not sound normal, so I pulled into a shopping center.

It was still dark and all 4 tires were up, so I ventured on. My reasoning was that at least I'd be with someone I knew and who had transportation just in case it was something serious.

I continued on following the GPS directions and ended up in a sub-division. What !@#$?

To make a long story short, I ended up calling for a tow truck. After 2 hours at the Ford dealer in Lapeer for $275 worth of new lug nuts and wheel studs I was back on the road.

Again I went to Google and used the GPS on my phone, but it took me back to the sub-division.

Ticked off and tired of driving in circles I decided to head back home - 95 miles from Davison to Belleville. Halfway home it occurred to me - Google had the wrong address.

I called the Genesee County Parks Office. I'll be honest and say that I was expecting a little sympathy from the parks department and even an apology for the mix up with the address.

The gentleman on the phone didn't have any sympathy whatsoever and responded to my suggestion to update the address on Google with the correct address with - "Well, we have no control over that. The locals would just know." He did, however; give me the correct street address, which was on a totally different street about 3/4 a mile from the point where I had my vehicle towed.

I forgot to mention that the county employee at the boat ramp I talked to gave me incorrect information as well. The man on the phone didn't even respond to that point at all.

Next time I'm scouting a new spot 95 miles from home, I'll drive a different vehicle and call ahead to confirm the address. (I can almost laugh about it now, but believe me when I tell you I was not laughing on Friday.)

Friday, July 7, 2017

Independence Day Carp Fishing

I am always torn about fishing on July Fourth. The parks are usually very crowded and people who fish only occasionally usually decide to sit up right next to me on the bank, even though there may be plenty of space a little further down. But this year I couldn't resist the chance to go fishing and my wife tagged along to help with netting and photos.

Here are a few pictures from the day's activities.


The small mouth buffalo show a redness this time of year  for some reason.
I don't know if it is due to spawning activity or something else. But it seems
to show up in warm weather. This redness is not present in the cool weather months.


A second small mouth buffalo I caught

I'm not sure why I wasn't smiling. Catching this fish made me pretty happy.

What's up with the smiles? I need to work on my fishing facial expressions I think.

And here's the same fish after running the picture through a few minutes of lighting adjustments in a free photo filter software.

The picture is still backlit and not great, but the filter helps a lot. I used Repix for this one.

My rig and bait that produced very well

Saturday, July 1, 2017

$50 Finder's Fee Available

I am going to try something new this year and offer a "finder's fee" for a specific type of fishing tip.

There's $50 in it for you if you can help me out.

What I'm looking for...
  • New places to fish for carp
  • A place I haven't fished before
  • A place where I can access shore fishing within a couple hours or less from Ann Arbor
  • A place where I can fish from shore and catch a carp of more than 30 pounds
How to earn $50:

If I catch a carp of more than 30 pounds in 2017, at a location you recommend, I will pay you a $50 finder's fee.

Here's an example of the type of fish I'm looking for:

 

Early Summer Carp Fishing

We're beginning the summer slow down for carp fishing. In the spring time, carp begin to recover from the winter period when their metabolism slows down dramatically, so they come to life with the warmer water temperatures in spring (late April in Michigan this year).

When the spawn starts (mid to later in May in Michigan), fishing slows down for a couple of weeks (depending on the venue) and then picks back up slowly.

With the summer heat carp seem to move from the shallow water spots into deeper water. That leaves the carp fisherman with a few options:
  • Fish venues with deeper water (near dams, in mill ponds, specific spots in rivers, deeper lakes)
  • Cast further from show into deeper water (7 or 8 feet seems to be my sweet spot )
  • Fish early mornings and later into the evenings (depends a little on the specific venue)
I typically try to do some of all three, but do seem to have more success fishing the spring venues and casting further from shore out into the deeper parts of the lake. I seems to catch most of my fish around 10 a.m. to noon and then from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. or so at my favorite venue.

Here are a few pictures from last weekend's efforts:

Morning carp

Small mouth buffalo

Biggest common carp of the day in the mid teens

Early afternoon common carp

Small mouth buffalo weighing 17 pounds

Carp fishing action shot and the last fish of the day

Occasionally I catch carp like this one with the crooked tail, which seems to be a birth defect
In these pictures I wasn't wearing a hat. I took it off in an attempt at better photos and fewer shadows. I always wear a hat while outside in summer and apply sunscreen regularly. I urge you to do that same. Skin cancer is bad. It affects people of all ages and it does not discriminate (fair skin like mine or a full fledged sun tan, skin cancer doesn't seem to care one way or the other).

I wear SPF100 from Neutrogena in the "dry" formulation.