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I went to Sterling State Park in Monroe, MI this morning, but today was different for a couple different reasons for me. First off, I wasn't fishing solo. I got there at about 8:15AM and at the bait store near the entrance of the park I met up with Kevin, a member of one of my Yahoo fishing groups that drove down from the Detroit area. I tell you what, it was cool for a couple different reasons. For one, he's one of the more active posters on the group who's put a good amount of time fishing and secondly somebody that we could bounce ideas and strategies off each other.
Upon picking up some minnows at the bait shop we went to a pier that I figured we could do some damage at-in a positive catch up some fish perspective of course. I started off like I normally do with two poles cast out off the bottom with minnows and another pole cast in the shallows with a minnow under a bobber. Kevin worked on a couple different lures as well as a jighead with corn rigged up hoping for some carp. Within 20-30 minutes or so I had caught the first fish, with the minnow/bobber setup I hooked a small smallmouth that was maybe 4" long. It was so small that it couldn't bring the bobber down. In that time Kevin did get a couple light taps on one of his lures.
With a little bit of a lull in the action as far as us landing fish, but still getting a couple bites on both ends (on my end, longnose gars cast out off the bottom) I decided to change up with the heat making it's presence known. I kept my medium action rod on the bottom, but the heavy action rod I decided to slap a bobber on, lose a sinker, put another hook on, and go with two minnows under the bobber. The third pole that had the bobber I brought up and started using my ultra light and waxworms along the edge of the pier. In the meantime, Kevin was working his tail off between a few different lures on a couple different poles, a couple of which I've seen work there at the park. He also went to some homemade boilies after the corn wasn't working and chumming with corn wasn't bringing in any carp strikes.
After the changes were made, I was getting a hold of mostly small bluegills with the ultra light/waxworm combo. One of which was relatively small, smaller then one's thumb even. So, upon suggested by Kevin, I decided I was going to have some fun with the little turd. I brought in my heavy action set up, and after a cut in the gut I rigged the little gill on one of the hooks and continued for a little while fishing like that under the bobber. In the meantime, the medium action pole didn't get a lot of action but the ultra light was doing a decent job on hits and catching bluegills. Kevin did have a strike on the boilie but nothing more then that, unfortunately. He eventually decided to use a crawler under a bobber as well as the boilie set up. He did get a couple hits on the crawler/bobber set up.
After nothing hitting on the bluegill/minnow/bobber set up I decided to bring in the medium action pole, rig it with a bobber and a second hook and minnow, and cast that in shallower water. With the heavy action set up I put a sinker on and cast that bluegill out deep hoping for some bottom action. That's where things got a little interesting and something I really hope gets some feedback. I'll explain: In three different occasions within I'd say a 45 minute window I had some major hits on that set up. On all three, the pole doubled over (7'2" rod with 25 lb test). On the first two I missed on the hookset. The third time I had it on for a couple seconds and it found itself off the hook. The first two times it left the bluegill in tact and minus any tooth marks. The third time it took the bluegill. The third time when it was on for those brief couple seconds, it was a definite heavy hitter. How big is hard to tell, but big enough that it was a tuggin' on the line. The two of us bounced ideas of what it could've been that hit me up. We quickly ruled out the obvious choices: another bluegill, perch, snake, and given the size of the bluegill being in the 3-4" range we figured a snapping turtle might not be a great guess just because the first two hits left the bluegill largely in tact. We also pretty much ruled out a northern pike because of the warm waters, but couldn't be totally ruled out because it *may* not be as warm at the bottom where the fish was laying. My best guess is that the bluegill was sitting in at the very deepest maybe 10-12', but I don't know the exact depth. I personally rule out muskie just because I've never in the many years of fishing there haven't heard of any muskie reports. We ruled out carp and sheephead because of their mouth structures. I honestly don't think it was a bullhead or smallmouth because the first don't get big enough that I know of there to take on a bluegill of that size and the latter much the same. If it was a largemouth it would've had to be one of the biggest I've come across there, either seen or heard. Personally, my best guess as well as Kevin's is either a big channel or even a flathhead catfish, bowfin, or longnose gar. The latter two would've also had to be nice sized, given the fight I very briefly had and with the size of the bait. Any suggestions?
We ended up calling it a day about 6PM. Unfortunately for Kevin he got skunked, but he did put in a good effort and hopefully he decides to come back and make up for today. I can't say I was exactly keeping track but I'd guess-timate that I caught around a dozen or so bluegills. Kevin had an hour drive ahead of him plus there was a thunderstorm coming in, which always makes for a fun drive while on I-75.
 
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