Spring Steelhead

Spring Steelhead

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fall has arrived!

My favorite time of the year is here! The rivers are loaded with salmon, the brown trout are getting their spawning colors, soon the steelhead will be entering the rivers below the dams looking for salmon eggs to gorge on, the ducks and geese are gearing up to make their annual trip south, and the whitetails are on the move!
Above are photos of the 2009 and the 2010 waterfowl opener in Zone 3. In 2003 Kanicki Farms LLC. implemented approximately 55 acres into the Conservation Restoration Enhancement Program which with alot of work over the last 8 years has turned into our own private hunting refuge. Just to make things even better, in 2007 I purchased an additional 15 acres that is adjacent to the C.R.E.P. field. With proper management and hunting only on days when the weather and wind work to our advantage, our group has harvested hundreds of ducks and geese, some great whitetails, and put a hurting on every predator that comes in range.
Swamps and duck habitat + good bird numbers = more food for the predator population.
Many of you who reside in the Saginaw Valley region may have noticed over the last decade that the coyote population has exploded. Once the coyotes establish themselves in an area, they are here to stay. Eliminating a coyote population is nearly impossible, but giving up is not a term in my vocabulary! The best times to target coyotes is during the night time hours from December through March. With snow on the ground and a full moon you would be surprised how far your eyes can see across an open field in the middle of the night. The picture of the gray fox and the coyote above was taken after a late night hunt in December of 2010. Remember this isn't like hunting out west, during the day if you do a stand in hopes to call a dog out of a wood lot across an open field, your odds are slim. Try the same approach after dark with a partner or 2 and your odds are multiplied by 100! Hunting predators in Michigan is nothing like watching a video made out west featuring Randy Anderson of the Primos Hunting Team. Don't get me wrong, that man has got skills and has earned his reputation by killing hundreds of coyotes out west. But when you come to Michigan it's a whole new ball game. Over hunting an area as well as over calling an area will kill your success regarding harvesting predators. Slip in to the area your going to hunt with a plan already implemented regarding who is sitting where and who is watching which direction. 9 times out of 10, if you think you know which way the predator is going to come to the call your wrong. That's usually the time your shaken by the gun going off behind you as your hunting buddy is blasting a coyote. You know the expression "I've got your back?" 100% true regarding hunting predators. If there are two guys hunting, sit back to back. Predators live and die by their sense of smell. So in reality one would think they would always approach a call from down wind, guess again. When a fox or coyote hears that rabbit in distress they come charging in from any and all directions, unless of course you are hunting an educated dog. In that case your best bet is to run a snare line. If you can find where the coyotes are traveling snaring is the most effective way to get them since hunting you are in and out of the woods, while snares are out 24/7. Snaring is prohibited on public land in the state of Michigan. Private land only.
Skinning a predator for their hide is a simple process and an inexpensive tannery where we send our hides is Moyle Mink & Tannery. Be sure to salt and fan dry your hides before shipping them out or they could become victim of "pelt slip" and look awful upon delivery.
Alright, I'm finished complaining about the predator population...
Back to the season at hand, fall.
According to biologists and Ducks Unlimited, the bird numbers are the highest they've been in the past 50 years!!! If this upcoming season is anything like 2009, I will be a happy hunter and Belle will sleep good at night after fetching ducks all day!

Along with smashing some ducks and geese, there is always the whitetails! Find a good run  way, make sure the wind is in your favor, sit down, and shut up. I'm not knocking any scent elimination products by name, I'M KNOCKING ALL OF THEM! I never use that dirt in a bottle neither does my father, and he has killed more bucks then anyone I know. I've had smaller bucks and does walk up and smell me during archery and firearm season without scent eliminator on. I've had trophy bucks within 10-12 yards while I was hunting on the ground. Like this fella I passed up during archery season last fall since I couldn't get a clear broad side shot.
No worries though, when he went in rut several weeks later he came in hot chasing a doe in the area my father hunts and well, as you can see above he turned broad side for my dad! If you're ever in Bay Archery on Center Avenue in Bay City, MI there is a great picture of my dad with this buck in their 2010 trophy catalog. I plowed the buck below in November with my .50 cal TC Omega. He was also chasing a doe during a moon phase I love to hunt!
Another bonus this upcoming waterfowl season is my cousin Mark will be returning from Afghanistan and will be tearing up the ducks with us! Last year he joined us waterfowling and absolutely loved it. As myself & Josh were wondering why the morning was so slow with only 2 ducks and 2 geese in the blind, mark was overwhelmed with joy. I'm really looking forward to seeing the excitement on his face when the flight birds come down and we are layed out in a cut corn field and 300-500 mallards and black ducks all drop in at the same time!
If it was November right now and a fishing buddy said "Lets take the boat up to the Au Sable! What do you want to fish for, browns below Mio or Steelhead below Foote?" For those of you who don't already know, I am a steelhead junky! I target them much more in the late winter and spring since I have to make a trip north to fish them, and because during the fall months I spend the majority of my spare time hunting waterfowl and whitetails. Fall steelhead that enter the river systems are aggressive silver bullets! They come in to the rivers to do one thing, EAT! They are looking for loose salmon eggs that are floating around, nymphs, and whatever else they can find. The neat thing about fall steelheading versus spring steelheading is the fish are more apt to chase down a streamer or some hardware. The water temps are warmer and these fish are hungry! Often times when steelhead enter the rivers in the fall, they just hang out till it's time to spawn in the spring. Therefore these guys can be fished all winter long. With colder water temperatures though, often times deep nymphing is the way to go in the brutally cold winter months.
Above is a photo of a steelhead caught on the Au Sable River in November of 2010. The best way to fish the lower river is by boat. A boat gives you access to areas a shore angler could never get to and covering more water means your covering more fish!
Good luck and best wishes to all this upcoming fall hunting and fishing season here in Michigan! I hope everyone has a safe and rewarding hunting and fishing season!
Oh yeah, I almost forgot! Last week we made a trip to the northwest side of the state and did some salmon fishing in the rivers and creeks. The fish we came across were already pretty dark, but we did manage to put a few in the net!

Salmon sure can pull, but there's nothing like an acrobatic steelhead! These fish fought surprisingly well for the time they had been in the river. The hen had not even spawned yet. Fresh eggs for tying spawn!

No comments:

Post a Comment