Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Smallmouth Fishing on the Menominee River

In late July Dick Dragiewicz and Harry Blessing went smallmouth bass fishing on the Menominee River. This scenic river is located on the boundary of northeast Wisconsin and the western edge of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. A Friday morning to Sunday evening trip gave us two full days of drift boat fishing on this great river.

Using eight weight fly rods rigged with floating bass tapers or RIO Clouser lines we cast big foam poppers and even bigger un-weighted streamers to likely looking spots along the shoreline and to mid-stream structure. Occasionally we changed our set up by adding an indicator to the leader. Using this indicator set up we drifted weighted clouser and crayfish patterns along current seams and next to wood and rock structures that looked like they would be the perfect places for smallmouth bass. All of these techniques enabled us to catch bass.

A six or seven weight rod could be used for this type of bass fishing if the wind is calm and smaller flies are used. However, it’s more comfortable to use an eight weight rod for most bass fishing because it’s easier to cast big streamers and wind resistant foam poppers with this size rod/line.

Dave Pinczkowski was our guide. His new 18 foot boat, powered by a jet propulsion outboard motor, is perfect for fly fishing. The boat requires minimal amounts of water. Dave says when the boat is planing it needs less than six inches of water and not much more when it’s drifting. This capability is important when water levels are low as they were on this trip.

His boat was designed for fly fishing. Most boats, including drift boats used for fly fishing rivers, have fixtures, parts, and other things that seem to snag and tangle fly lines almost every time you make a cast. Dave’s boat doesn’t have these obstacles. The casting platforms on the front and back of the boat provide lots of room to stand while casting and lots of open space to hold fly lines that are being cast to waiting bass.

Another advantage of this boat is that you can launch and return from the same location. There’s no need to arrange shuttle service for the truck and trailer. What a convenience.

Even though fishing (actually the catching part) was slow on Saturday we managed to land some bass. The high winds made casting challenging. So it was important to make sure all the flies had barbless hooks or barbs were mashed down to minimize potential injuries.

On Sunday the fishing and catching improved especially in the afternoon. In the morning the sun was shining bright, the wind speed was low, and the fish were really spooky. We drifted over one area and saw what must have been hundreds of bass swimming away as the boat drifted by them. Some of these bass looked really BIG. In the afternoon we went downstream of the launch site and started catching more fish. We even lost a couple of flies to pike with razor sharp teeth.

During both days we’d periodically hear three or foot sturgeon or ten or fifteen pound carp jumping out of the water and make splashes big enough to startle everyone. Sometimes we were lucky enough to see these jumps. What a sight.

Mature and immature eagles regularly flew along the river. Sometimes they’d perch high on a tree branch or land along the river’s shoreline. They were probably looking for food in the river or perhaps a fishy donation from us.

Smallmouth bass fishing, under the clear water conditions we had required long casts to reach the shoreline without spooking the fish. These casts needed to be done with a minimum of false casts and accurately so as not to disturb the water. Not being able to consistently make these casts, Dick asked Dave for some help. He immediately showed him how to improve his casting skills. And, with some practice Dick was able to do it correctly.

Overall the trip was great. We had a good time, and caught enough nice sized bass to encourage us to think about returning to the Menominee River in the near future.

Do you want to go on a great Wisconsin smallmouth bass fishing trip? Of course you do. Then you should consider fishing the Menominee River with Dave Pinczkowski (cell phone 414-412-1838 or dpheron@aol.com) . He knows where and how to find smallmouth bass. If you want more details on this trip or fishing opportunities with Dave call Harry or Dick.

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