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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Morning Carp Session

We spent the day fishing. We arrived at 6:01 a.m. and had lines in the water by 6:30 with the first fish on the landing mat about an hour later.

We spent the next 3 1/2  hours wondering if spending the day fishing was a good idea after all. Fish were jumping to the right, left and center. At times it seemed like they were laughing at us. They did everything but bite a hook.

We were using panko, cream corn and butternut flavoring. Occasionally I would mix up a batch of panko with pineapple flavoring. Today, the fish like pineapple better. The pineapple worked them up into a feasting frenzy.

At one point I was landing them on alternating rods every 10 minutes. I could barely land them, take a picture, get them back in the water and re-cast the rods fast enough. We even had a double run (see picture below).

20 pounds

I wore a blister on my left index finger from reeling so much today. That's a very nice problem to have in my book.

And for those more inclined to watch video, here are a few of today's catches in video format.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Carp Fishing Rods

I started fishing for carp using a King Cat medium action rod from Cabela's. It's designed for catfish, but at $29.99 it's acceptable for entry level carp fishing on a budget. The Ugly Stik would also be a worthy low budget rod, although it's more than twice the price.

After a few weeks a friend I met on the banks from Ford Lake in Ypsilanti loaned me 2 Wychwood Signature carp rods and 2 Black Phantom carp rods.

I am currently shopping for some new rods. I am considering the Daiwa Mad Dragon 12' / 3.00lb test curve. They are not really "cheap" rods, but they are what I consider to be a step up from the Black Phantoms.

At $59.99 they are affordable and provide the opportunity to have 3 matching rods to go along with the matching Okuma Coronado reels that I have on my shopping list. There is absolutely nothing wrong with my Okuma Avengers, but they don't really have enough torque and stopping power to feel in control of some of the larger carp I've been catching lately in the "screaming teens and twenties".

Update: I took advantage of the special buy-one-get-one-free promotion on ResistanceTackle.com last night and ordered 4 Hurricane Carp Rods.

The Hurricanes are perfect for the majority of situations. They are slim, light, responsive and have Fuji fittings throughout. They are an absolute pleasure to play fish on and that’s a fact! Their unique power progressive curve loads seamlessly along the rod length when casting and delivers a crisp tip recovery. This adds yards onto the casting abilities of the average angler. The action provides the right level of forgiveness under the rod tip that is a must today especially with braided mainlines. They have a very modern understated finish which adds beauty to a classic finish of the rod. A classic Fuji 20mm hooded reel seat allows for all reel sizes. They have top quality Fuji rod guides from 40mm, 30mm, 25mm, 16mm and 16mm tip ring. The tip ring diameter allows for effortless casting whilst using shock or snag leaders. No stone has been left unturned in this rod design and the hook retaining clip is another useful addition.

I chose the 3# test curve rods. They also offer a 3.5# rod, but since I've been fishing with 2.50# and 2.75# rods for the past year I was afraid the 3.5#'s might be a little too stiff for what I'm used to.

I can't wait until they arrive and try them out.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Sterling State Park Carp Fishing - 121 Pounds of Fish!

I had a great day of carp fishing at Sterling State Park today. The carp starting biting early and often. I arrived shortly after 6 a.m. and had lines in by 6:45. It didn't take long after that to land my first carp.

Sunrise near Lake Erie, 6 a.m

Here are some pictures from today's session. I caught 13 common carp and a catfish. I was holding out hope for a small mouth buffalo too, but luck was not with me today for that goal.

16 pounds

13 pounds
At one point, I had a double run. My #2 rod had a run and as I picked it up for retrieval, my #3 rod took off on a screaming run as well. This is the first time in the year or so that I've been fishing for carp that I experienced a double run.

I looked over at my wife sitting in a chair to my right and said, "You're going to need to grab that one." She goes fishing with me a lot, but yesterday was the first time she ever tried to land a fish. We did get her a fishing license earlier this year for just this type of scenario. When the bit is fast and furious, having an extra pair of hands available helps out a lot. (It also helps provide time for using the restroom if that is necessary. Previously I had to pull the rods out of the water.)

13 pounds

13 pounds
My wife helps with the netting and at one point I just couldn't seem to get the fish close enough to the bank and into the net. I tried moving right. I moved left. I walked backward up the bank, but the fish was determined to stay out of the net at all costs. And as expected, the length of time for netting resulted in the fish becoming unhooked.

It's easy to second guess that process of course and easy to blame the person doing the netting. In the end I just chalk it up to carp being strong fish and pretty smart too. They have strategies for "escape".  If they can't get away running north and south; they switch to east and west. Some will even try to fool you by running straight at you. More than once carp have fooled me into thinking the fish got away, but no sooner than I relax and continue the retrieve the action starts again.

16 pounds

16 pounds
A young kid nearby us was fishing with dead minnows and landed a very good sized gar pike. He and his grandfather stopped by to talk for a while wanting to learn how I was landing all those fish. They didn't stay around quite long enough though because my plan was to let them fight a fish or two to get the feel for fighting a carp.

18 pounds
When this fish hit the net I was sure it was the largest of the day, but after weighing the fish tipped the scales at 18 pounds. Those scales don't lie, but my eyesight sometimes does.

My largest fish today was 19 pounds
Judging from this picture, I must have had the fish tilted slightly backwards and away from the camera because it clearly weighed more than the other fish and ended up being my largest catch.

It's not a carp! Fishing for carp provides a few surprises from time to time.
 Some people I know would call this a "big" catfish, but fighting this catfish was a piece of cake compared to those mid-and-high-teens common carp.
Each and every carp caught today was released back into the water gently
 so that someone else has a chance to catch them again some day.
I call this one "Little Guy". Compared to the 16, 18 and 19 pounders, he was indeed "little".
He weighed in at 10 pounds.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Few Pictures from Last Weekend's Holland Trip

This is a view from our Sunday position carp fishing on the east side of the Koellen Park waterfront walkway.

Those gentlemen in the background caught at least 20 catfish in the 1 1/2 - 2 pound range
 in about 5 hours of fishing using nightcrawlers as bait.

One four carp and 3 catfish I caught on Sunday

Koellen Park is an excellent venue for carp fishing. There is plenty of room. Clean restrooms, a playground for kids, close to downtown if your wife doesn't like to fish as much as you do, etc.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Daiwa Regal 5000 Baitrunner

4000 is pictured, but I've been seeing the 5000 being used a lot recently

Daiwa Emcast Spinning Reel Baitrunner

Daiwa Emcast BR5000

As I continue shopping for a new bait runner spinning reel, I keep finding new and interesting reels that I haven't seen locally such as this nice offering from Daiwa.

Monday, May 19, 2014

2014 Wooden Shoe Carp Classic – Holland, Michigan

We just returned from competing in the Wooden Shoe Carp Classic on May 17-18 on Lake Macatawa, which connects to Lake Michigan. The lake produced some common carp in the 27 pound range this weekend, which is a little lower than the upper 30’s range achieved in the 2013 event.

Koellen Park is a fabulous venue for fishing with plentiful bank space, good parking areas, good lighting and very clean rest rooms. Lake Macatawa flows from Lake Michigan toward downtown Holland, MI. Located in the southeast corner of the lake, Koellen park has a walkway spanning more than a quarter mile with direct access to the water. For landing larger carp or catfish, a substantial net with a long handle is a requirement. From the railing to the water is at least 4 feet depending on the lake levels.

Hotels are plentiful in Holland. Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Days Inn and others are within reasonable distance to the park. We stayed at the Days Inn for $99 a night. It was no frills accommodations, but the front desk staff were very friendly and efficient. The décor in the rooms was a little dated, but clean. We had two double beds, a refrigerator, microwave and coffee maker.

On Saturday, I had the first pick in the peg draw. Since it was my first time at the event, I relied on input and advice from a few others as we gathered for the drawing. I picked peg 11. On Saturday that peg along with 12 and 13 were pretty poor producers. We fished from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. and my peg produced exactly zero fish, runs or even bites.

The weather was on the cool side for May with temperatures in the mid-30's when we arrived at 6 o'clock. At mid-day the wind picked up with 10 -15 mph gusts and conditions remained challenging for the remainder of the day. High temperatures on Saturday topped out in the mid-50's.

Peg 11 shortly after arrival.

Carp fishing can be a brutal mistress sometimes. Some days your catch so many carp you get tired fighting and landing them. And on other days (like Saturday), you wonder if all the carp in the lake went on vacation because bites and runs are no where to be found. That's just a part of fishing. Sometimes you're the windshield and sometimes your the bug.

My neighbor's pod at peg 12

On Sunday, I had the last pick and selected peg 21. My peg on Saturday was in a clump of other anglers so I had a change of strategy and picked a peg located away from the thick of things on the outer edge of the venue. My results improved significantly with 3 catfish and 4 common carp.

My first carp weighed in at 15 lbs.

Early morning carp

The second weighed 10 lbs.

Mid morning carp

The third weighed 8 lbs.

Afternoon carp

I hooked two other fish in the after that I lost due to hook pulls. The biggest was a real nice one that I fought for 2 or 3 minutes. I may have gotten a little aggressive playing the fish and as the fish surfaced I had a hook pull. The fish was looking right up at me and then…wham...that was it…gone. Over. Done.

My fourth fish weighed 12 lbs. (if I remember it correctly, give or take a few ounces). I had to turn in the score sheet, so I might be a little low or a few ounces too high. The rules allowed us to double the weigh on one fish upon landing it. Luckily I chose to double my first fish, so it scored 30 lbs. toward my total of 61 lbs. for the two day contest.

Last carp of the day
I did not win Big Fish or Total Weight awards, but had a lot of fun. I’m a competitive person so the challenge of proving I could actually catch and land fish on day two was fulfilling. With gusting winds, rough water with white caps and waves in the 1' - 2' range from time to time, peg 21 at the far end of the fishing area was intimidating at first but after I started catching fish my confidence improved.
My first 2 catfish and largest carp fell to a hair rig of pineapple maize and fake maize soaked in pineapple flavoring, but the other three carp were caught on a pineapple boilie topped with a piece of orange colored fake maize.
When fishing for carp, sometimes catfish find your bait and cause a little aggravation for anglers. After my drought on Saturday, the catfish didn't really bother me. I just wanted to catch fish at that point. Here are a few catfish pictures.
My first catfish weighed 9 lbs.
I caught two other smaller catfish at 5 - 6 lbs.
We met several guys who fish that spot for catfish on a regular basis. One guy told me that he had been fishing that spot for 8 years and never caught a carp after hundreds of casts. Hearing him say that, I groaned a little and had resigned myself to catching a lot of catfish to fill the time. Casts to the right of the red buoy yielded catfish and casts at the buoy or slightly left yielded carp. So I dialed in on a spot about 20 feet left of the buoy and 50 feet from the walkway.
I had trouble near the end of the day getting my panko to hold together during casts so fixing that with a firmer "pack" slowed the breakdown and delayed the bites. I am sure that a couple more hours of fishing time would have yielded at least a few more carp. If the event is held again next year, maybe I'll try that spot again.
Here is a link to some pictures taken by Dave Mull during the last hour of the event on Saturday:

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Two More Common Carp

Here are the first 2 fish from Sunday's session. These were caught relatively close to shore within 30 minutes. I made a strategy adjustment and found some bigger fish, but I enjoyed catching these just the same.

9 pounds
I caught this 9 pound common carp on pineapple maize and fake maize on a hair rig and glugged. The 10 pound below was also caught on the maize and glugged.

10 pounds

Monday, May 12, 2014

Okuma Coronado Baitfeeder Spinning Reel

After fighting a couple of 20 + pound sized fish this past weekend I am learning that a light duty reel might be affordable, but it's not always ideal for heavier duty work. After almost losing the catch of my lifetime on Sunday due to a broken handle on my reel, I have started shopping for something a little bigger and stronger.

Okuma Coronado Baitfeeder Spinning Reel

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Landed Two New Personal Best Common Carps Today

Spring weather finally arrived in Michigan this weekend. With temperatures in the 70's and sunny, I could not resist heading out for some carp fishing. I had a nice session hooking 5, landing 4 and achieving 2 personal bests within 45 minutes. I probably would have improved my personal best a third time today, but we lost a very large 3rd fish a mere inch or 2 from the net.

My wife did a great job capturing these pictures.

Sterling State Park, 8 a.m.

Another view

Baiting up

The first cast

Resistance Tackle sling with our 3rd catch of the day...a new personal best for me

20 pounder caught on maize and fake maize

Landing this hog was quite an adventure. After the initial runs and fighting for about 4 minutes the crank knob of my reel broke off. I was determined to land the fish, because by this time I knew it was pretty big. I kept the rod tip up and cranked the best I could with the remaining handle on the reel. It was slow going, but steady as the fish tired a little.

Fighting a big common carp

Metallica Net with another personal best

Second personal best in 45 minutes at 24 pounds 11 ounces
I caught this fish on a pink double pop-up dumbbell. Pink has been very good to me recently. I want to make sure I have plenty of these dumbbells for the tournament next week in Holland, MI.

Releasing the big boy to grow even bigger for someone else to enjoy catching later on
This picture turned out very well. I enjoy catching these big freshwater carp, but it's even more satisfying to snap a few pictures and then release them back for someone else to catch again. Who knows...it might even grow a bit more!

I don't know what it is with me an northern pike recently, but there were at least 15 to 20 small ones darting back and forth in front of me today and knocking into my lines a lot. It was fun watching them. We've even got some decent pictures of them.

I have two more pictures from today of some smaller 9 and 10 pound fish. Somehow it just doesn't seem right to post them in comparison to these beauties.