River Kayak Fishing

 

Sit on top or Sit in Kayaks

Kayaking has exploded over the last few years. Canoes and tubers used to be all you would see on a Michigan river, but now they are pretty rare compared to kayaks. Really I can see why. Tubes are fun, but hard to steer down winding rivers and can be hard on the butt. Canoeing can be hard to master without tipping several times and is much easier with two passengers. On the other hand, kayaks are great for only one person, they are easily maneuvered through tight spots, and are easily transported by yourself.

I just recently started kayak fishing in rivers. The first couple times I deemed it impossible to cast where I wanted, reel the lure back, get the fish off the hook and release it before needing to drop the pole and grab the paddle. Most Northern Michigan rivers are very winding and have a decent flow to them, so I just used the kayak to explore new holes and get out in shallow spots to fish. The only problem with this method was the amount of time it took to float a section of river. Pulling over, getting out and back in really slows up a trip and can be very loud which in turn spooks fish. Then, there are the places that look like great fishing spots, but you just can’t find a place to get out and stand. All of these problems were solved with experience.

I started out with a sit inside type of kayak. It had pole holders, which told me right away that it was meant for fishing. This summer we bought a sit on top. Wow what a difference. With this type you have everything right at your grasp and in site, instead of reaching inside, feeling around helplessly. It has weep holes so any water that comes in, goes right back out, but this does mean water is going to come in and you will get wet. Anyways, that was improvement number one.

It takes practice to be able to see a good fishing spot before you get to it. While floating down river, I am constantly looking ahead of me, scanning the river. When you see a spot you would like to cast to, you need to figure out where your kayak should be positioned. That is the most important part. I typically fish the outside bend of a curve in the river. This means I’m constantly paddling to the inside of the bend. Always paddle backwards right when you first see a place to cast. This slows you down and keeps you away from the hole while you get prepared. If you end up floating into the hole, don’t be disappointed. Just paddle on and realize what you did wrong so you don’t do the same thing at the next bend.

The other important thing to learn is when to give up on a cast. Every trip I have to decide between making a cast and dumping the kayak. It’s much better to lose a five dollar lure than get tipped over and lose all your gear. Sometimes I have to put my pole between my legs while fighting a fish so I can steer away from downed logs and rocks. This can allow the fish to get off, but still better than dumping most of the time.

It’s like everything else in fishing. With a little practice and patience it can be a great experience. Give it a try some time, but remember, I hated it my first couple times and now love it, so don’t give up.

Visit www.FishMich.com for more Michigan Fishing Information and Tips.

Fishing, Fire and Seclusion

Every summer Michigan residents pack their vehicle to the gills and head to their favorite campground. Some, in their deluxe R.V. equipped with satellite television and air conditioning and others in ginormous tents the size of their master bedroom with king size air mattresses. Most campers, I’ve noticed, have everything possible to make the woods as much like their homes and to keep themselves as clean as they can. I’ve camped every summer for as long as I can remember and in just about every situation. I have no problems with anyone’s idea of camping, but would like to remind people of the traditional sense of camping.

Life in today’s world has become so fast. With cell phones ringing constantly, internet everywhere we look and the kids glued to the television, a camping trip is the last place I want technology. Most people go camping in an area with a lot of attractions. I go camping to be outside and get the family back to nature. We all need to slow down once in a while and be reminded of the peacefulness of the outdoors. You can sit by a campfire for hours doing nothing without getting bored like while watching T.V. or playing video games.

Here’s my family’s idea of a great camping trip.

First and foremost is location, location, location. If you can’t see another person, there is no electricity or running water and staying there is absolutely free, you’ve got a great camping site. The only thing that would make me sacrifice any one of those features is water. It doesn’t have to be great water frontage, but it does need to be close. Whether it’s a trout stream, a sandy beach or a frog pond, water can keep anybody occupied for hours and hours.

Next is camping equipment or lack there of. With a propane camping grill and a cast iron skillet supplemented with a good camp fire, you can cook practically anything. We take one cooler filled with enough food to last two days unless it’s more remote. Then we add another cooler with dry ice for a deep freeze. We sleep in a tent on the ground with blankets, but I truly miss a sleeping bag next to the fire. That’s how I grew up camping with my dad. If it started to rain, I would get the truck cab and he would sleep underneath the truck. Just make sure you’re parked at the top of a hill.

That’s it food and shelter and the all important fishing gear. Our fishing gear will typically take up more room than the rest of the gear. This type of camping isn’t for everyone, but we are out there to get away from life and show our kids the true beauty Michigan has to offer. At 6 and 4 years old they have caught 100’s of frogs, turtles, lizards and snakes while camping and now have began asking if we can sell our house and live in the woods. When my kids ask if they can be homeless, it makes me proud. To me, camping in the woods is a great type of homelessness.

Thanks for reading and be sure to leave us a comment or check out www.FishMich.com for more Michigan Fishing information

Spinning Reel Vs. Baitcaster

Reels

Baitcaster vs Spinning Reel

The two most popular fishing reels are the Spinning and the Bait caster. A lot of fisherman learn on the spinning reel first and never try a bait caster. Everybody can identify the two by looking at them, but we’ll talk about the differences while fishing.

Spinning reels are easy to use and don’t take very much practice for beginners. The spool spins while being reeled and stays still while casting. Basically the line comes off the reel in hoops and when the lure hits the water, the line stops. One of the problems with these hoops is line rubs on the eyes of your pole and slows it down. Another is memory. Those hoops can remain after casting which leaves slack in the line. It allows casting into the wind and is very forgiving with tangles. The spool itself is larger than a bait caster which allows for more line. The bigger spool and more line creates a faster retrieval speed. Gears play a big part of this, but the spool size and amount of line is usually overlooked.

Bait casters function completely different. When casting, the spool actually spins releasing the fishing line in a straight line. This helps the line go evenly through the eyes of the pole. The line will release as fast as the weight on the end will pull it. This means a large weight can be thrown very far with little resistance. The problem is stopping that spool from turning. As anybody that has used a bait caster knows, when your lure hits the water or any other object the spool keeps turning and the line binds up. This is called a bird’s nest and can be very irritating. A lot of anglers become discouraged with it and stop using them completely, but learning the reel’s braking system is key to casting.

Now for the advantages and disadvantages of both. Bait casters are superior for pulling big fish out of thick cover. Spinning reels are better for light tackle and sensitivity. They are more accurate for long casts, but bait casters are more accurate in short flipping situations. Getting precise casts in heavy cover or under obstructions the bait caster wins. They also win for long casts with baits over 1/4 ounce. Newer spinning reels with one finger trigger systems have made them the easiest and most popular for all around fishing, but the newer braking systems on bait casters have helped anglers add them to their fishing arsenal. Whichever one you prefer, adding the other technique can help catch more fish in certain situations. I suggest practicing with both on land first and stick with it.

For more advice on fishing reels check out our forum at www.FishMich.com

Topwater Explosions

Large  Mouth Bass

Fishing topwater

The only thing I don’t like about topwater fishing is that it doesn’t always work. If it did, I would never fish any other way. Topwater lures are the most exciting method to take bass or pike. When you’ve casted six or seven times with no success and you just start to let your guard down WHAM. A bass comes out of the water with an explosion and rips into your lure from the top side. If you’ve never tried it, you are missing out. When I was sixteen I bought my first Rapala Skitter Pop. I didn’t have a clue on how to fish it, but when I finally got my first strike, I fell in love. I can’t remember ever being that surprised while fishing.

There are many topwater lures out there and every version is fished differently. I typically use some version of a plug. When fishing with this, cast out and let it set. I like to wait for the ripples to disappear completely. Then give it a short jerk or two and let it set. When it’s sitting still, make sure there isn’t too much slack in the line because this is when the bass erupts out of the water. Keep this action up until it reaches you and then do it all over again.

With a buzz bait I like to keep it a pretty even retrieve. The propellers will make the splashes to draw attention from the fish. Just mix it up a little and give it a few pauses.

Topwater lures are best used in the spring time during spawning periods, but I use them all year. Shallow, calm water is definitely best. Whenever you see bass actively feeding on top of the water, tie one on. I like to fish these around docks and islands early morning or late evening when the water has calmed down. Sometimes you can draw a bass up in deep water, but it has to be pretty calm and nice clear water.

So next time you see a bass surface to eat a fly on the surface tie on a top water lure and let the fun begin. You won’t regret it.

If you have any tips or experiences with a top water lure feel free to leave a comment.