"Cooler By The Lake"
2003 Fishing Log
Here's my 2003 fishing report. Overall, it was only a fairly good fishing year. We were off to a slow start because of all the ice in the harbor in April and the Dead River flooding in May didn't help either. I complained about the lousy Fall weather last year and it was even worse this year. Just when the fishing should have been best I couldn't get out. My fish-per-hour rate decreased to 1.38 from 1.60 in 2002 - not good. Why, I'm not exactly sure but some of it may have been that I tried a few different fishing techniques (that obviously didn't work out.) The Fall fishing overall was pretty poor for me too, normally one of the better times. Still, it was a great year on the water with a lot of good friends and company and a lot of fun. Thank you for looking in on us and your nice comments. I hope to see you next year. I'll try to update my Woodshed soon.
Fishing summary for 2003
265 (268 last year)
93 (96 last year)
Fish per hour
1.38 (1.60 last year)
Total fish caught
382 (includes released fish) 412 last year
Skunks during year
4 (Pretty good eh? 0 last year)
Number & average weight of Lake Trout
3.2 lbs. (3.4 lbs. last year)
Average weight of Lake Trout w/thumb on scale (just kidding)
Number & average weight of Steelhead
1 Steelhead weighing 6#.
Number & average weight of Coho
2 Coho weighing 1.5# each.
Fish per hour rates 1984 through 2003
.39, .74, .75, .89 1.08, .92, 1.21 1.29, 1.38, 1.21, 1.54, 1.57, 1.63, 1.51, 1.30, 1.67, 1.58,1.55,1.60,1.38
17 Nov - I stored the boat for the season and will be wearing a black armband for a while in mourning.
16 Nov - I lied - last time wasn't my last trip of the year. Today was. Conditions looked decent with a light wind so I headed out shortly after noon. While heading out, I mulled over fishing shallow or go just a bit further to the 75'+ and got out. The latter won out and at 90' in 10 minutes, I caught the first small Laker near the bottom. Five minutes later, another hit that made the bell ring but came up empty. There were lots of fish marks between 100' and 120', then hardly a mark so I turned around and went back through all the marks where I caught two more small Lakers and missed another, all of this action in a little over an hour. After all, I had pressure to get back for the Packer game. This might really be the last trip of the season. No one believes me now.
14 Nov - It was warmer this morning (36 degrees) than last evening and the wind was decent so I hit the launch at 8:00 a.m., the only boat in the area, save two ore boats and the USCG Buoy Tender Sundew. I was pumped to get the Dipsy Divers working (can you believe it?) so I ran two and one downrigger with a stacker. It was beautiful on the water but the fish must have been sightseeing too, and they apparently weren't looking for lures. I never got a hit, nada! After a little over two hours of fishing and sightseeing, I decided to wrap it up and was actually hoping I wouldn't get a hit just before quitting, which has happened all too often. First of all, I had to head home for a project that was a little time sensitive and secondly, I didn't want to go through the motions of cleaning just one fish. Lastly, my subconscious told me that I wouldn't feel quite as bad if this were the last trip of the year, and the fish were all gone from the harbor. How's that for rationalizing? Well, I've got a whole year to think a fresh approach to Fall fishing. I suspect this will be it for the big boat this year so I may put it away shortly. However, my 14' boat may be pressed into service if we get a day that's just too nice to resist. Any such trips may or may not be reported here, more likely will be though if I'm successful.
11 Nov - My autopilot acted up yesterday and I was pretty sure what the cause and fix were. After running several errands, I finally got to my autopilot repairs done around noon. Well, the sun had just come out, it had warmed up considerably, and the wind was still not kicking as predicted. I felt I really had to check out the autopilot (weak excuse), so off I went with the boat in tow. I fished for about 20 minutes and one downrigger started ringing and shaking but by the time I got to the rod, the fish was gone. About a half hour later, the Dipsy, yes I said Dispy, went off and I caught a nice 5#+ Laker. I continued to work the area for a couple more hours with only one more hit and miss. Finally, just minutes before quitting, a 3# Laker hit the downrigger. It was a beautiful day on the water, the wind initially kicked to 15-20 mph but then suddenly, slowed down to almost calm. The water temperature had gone up from yesterday to 46 degrees and the air temperature was 50 degrees. Still and all, when I got to the dock, I drained the engine water and I/O just in case it's the last trip of the year. However, I'm still hoping for a few more last trips. Today was just too nice to give it up. The only other harbor fisherman showed me his 8# (he later told me actual weight) Steelhead he caught on 6# test line.
10 Nov - This morning my guest was Frank Herveat, an ardent fisherman who has put his 24' boat away and I asked out so I could get an earful on how good Dipsy divers were. I didn't get much chin music on the divers but the Dipsy's proved themselves catching 4 of the 5 Lakers we landed. However, we caught one and missed two off the riggers so it's not like they were just along for the ride. The air temperature was 36 degrees, about 10 degrees better than yesterday and the wind didn't go much over 10 mph until just as we were quitting. The water temperature had dropped to 43 degrees. Lakers were in the 40' - 60' range and ranged from 3# to 7#. All were all nice leans.
8 Nov - The sun was out occasionally but the temperature was only 27 when I launched in the afternoon. The motors fired up fine but the gear linkage was frozen so that cost nearly half an hour to get that working. I fished the harbor for nearly an hour and a half in pretty breezy conditions. Nearing quitting time, I saw one rigger jiggle, then nothing for quite a while so checking it out, there was a small Laker hanging on for the ride. I was able to release it easily. While wrapping it up, on the alternate downrigger was a 3 1/2 Laker which was quite a surprise. I had already put the frozen net away so I just hefted the fish into the box, subconsciously hoping it would fall off and I wouldn't have to clean fish when I got home. The surface water temperature was 46 degrees, still what I felt was relatively warm for this time of year. The cold had gone through me and I was glad to head home and out of the cold wind.
2 Nov - Well, I got light winds that I wished for, which made the same 37 degree temperature as yesterday feel a lot warmer today. The pressure was on me because I wasn't hampered by the weather (no excuses) so I fished the harbor for about an hour where I caught a 4# Laker on a light surface line. I circled and circled that area and couldn't shake another out so I fished to the sand hole to the east, a favorite spot I hadn't fished for a long time. Boiling my report down, in the sand hole I had two doubles and ended up releasing 3 dinks (small Lakers), missing 3, and finally boxing two more just under 3#.
1 Nov - Talk about a brisk morning, but still better than average this Fall. I launched with the air temperature 37 degrees and a stiff westerly wind that was supposed to slow down in time. Setting up in 30' of water, 10 minutes later I had a nice 7# Laker on and of course, someone wasn't prepared with the net set up but I managed to get it together and do a not-too-pretty net job. I watched the one other boat out, a bass boat with two downriggers off the back. There couldn't have been 1' of freeboard but I did see them catch a Laker and they sure looked like they were having fun. My second Laker came in 50' of water, about 30' down. From then on it not much happened so I headed for the 70' depths and still nothing happened so I put the good ole pumper (steel line) rod out and pulled in the surface line. Within a short time I had a nice 4k# Laker that fought hard, so it was time to get off the lake. Of course the wind was just dying off and the sun was out. Now for just a few more nice days like today. I don't want to sound desperate though.
27 Oct - Planning to go out this morning and having little wind didn't fully prepare me for the snow sitting on a car parked in front of my house...and it was still snowing lightly. My main concern was whether there would be any ice or snow on the ramp and as the streets looked pretty wet but bare, off I went. The dock had a couple inches of snow on it but ramp traction was good. I waited for the Indians to head out as when I arrived, they were tied up to the dock I normally use. Looking out I could see the DNR setting nets in the harbor. The snow started again and was building up on the windshield as I headed out to deep water. I set up in 120' of water north of white rocks and within a few minutes, I had a Laker on that didn't stay on but for a very short time. Ten minutes later, I hit into a double and got both 3# Lakers in the box while I nearly froze my hands. The air was 39 degrees and the surface water had dropped from 52 degrees two days ago to 49 degrees today. As I was reeling in the fish, a small sparrow kept circling the boat looking for a rest no doubt but he never landed and finally headed off through the snow towards land. I finally picked up my 3rd Laker and was headed in within the hour. I didn't mind going in even though the weather seemed to be getting progressively better.
25 Oct - The forecast for decent winds just didn't sit right and sure enough, it was already at 12 mph when I got out in the harbor, so that's where I stayed, contrary to plans to fish deep. The wind slowly built to 18 mph+ but it was manageable as was the water. I enjoyed my hot coffee and cookies, treats I usually don't have with but something told me I wouldn't be busy catching fish. I wasn't and didn't get a single hit. There were 3 other boats fishing the area and they all indicated catching nothing too. Oh well, at least it was sunny.
24 Oct - Today I was bound and determined to catch a fish in the harbor under the threat of rain moving in by noon. I worked the different depths in somewhat bouncy water and after a little over two hours, hit a 7# Laker. Next, I got off the lake before the rains moved in. Still, the harbor fishing in the Fall has been a big disappointment the past few years, but this year in particular.
23 Oct - It wasn't a very pretty day and it started with rain that turned to mist as guest Reggie Gego and I headed to deeper water. The wind was coming from the NW at 10 mph but the seas were decent as we set up in 90' of water. Before long, we hit a nice 5# Lean Laker, then another. Then a dry spell for quite a while as we searched for more. We finally hit into some nice sized Lakers in about 150' of water, the last two coming when we had 5 in the box so we had to release one. Four of the 7 fish were on stacker lines, something rather unusual. Sizes ranged from 3# to 6# but were mostly around 5# each. The wind was building considerably the last hour and it rained as we put the boat away. A couple of the Lakers were not the usual colorful leans.
22 Oct - The forecast was for light winds but rain by noon. Stepping out my back door, it seemed pretty breezy but no immediate sign of rain. I headed out for some harbor fishing as the winds were at 10 mph from the north. When I looked at the breakwater, an occasional spray would rocket skyward from the big rollers coming in from the north and crashing against the breakwater. As a result, I thought the harbor was a good place to start so I fished there for an hour and a half, nearly running into an Indian net that caught me by surprise. You'd have to be out there to appreciate how hard it is to see a net flag when you're in 4' rollers and waves. Using binoculars is next to impossible. The short of that aspect was not a hit or a miss in the harbor, a place in prior years that invariably produced some nice Lakers. My fallback was to head to deeper water north of white rocks so out I went in rollers there were often 4' plus a little, but the wind was dying all the time, as were the rollers. While walking in place to keep my balance and with the downriggers occasionally dipping into the water, I managed 3 nice Lakers in the next hour and a half, all being near the bottom in roughly 150' of water, even though I had two lures suspended the whole time. Actually, the weather had gotten very nice by the time I left (not a trace of rain) but it was time to do boat maintenance in preparation for storage, although hanging it up should not happen for another couple of weeks, weather permitting. Yesterday I removed my I/O and change the water pump impeller while the wind huffed and puffed. Routine maintenance paid off as the not-so-old impeller was fatigued and cracking.
19 Oct - Rock and roll but with light winds - just the way I like it. Apparently, the fish didn't think that much of it as it was pretty slow. I started at the bubbler and within a minute, I had a dink on, probably less than 1# so I released it in good shape. I later hit a 4# Laker just 25' down and 12' back. Ah, I said, there's going to be so good action out here. Wrong! I dragged my lures through some prime areas for the next couple of hours but to no avail. Finally, I headed to deeper water where I had a double on at 120' of water, but lost one. Worked out perfectly as it was time to go in to watch the Packer game. Well, I should have kept fishing! Not a pretty game for the Packers.
A moment to reminisce. Whilst times were slow fishing today, I thought I'd try a lure that an ole fishing acquaintance Bernie, had given to me. Bernie was a master at fall fishing. In his own boat, he would invariably kick my butt at catching the Fall Lakers. This was back in the days when CB radios were popular. I could never get a straight answer from Bernie on the CB, even though I knew him fairly well and been to his house a few times. For example, I'd be Fall fishing and Bernie would come out and before long, have 6 nice Lakers in the box and I'd have 2 or 3. When I asked Bernie where he was I'd get the usual vague response of "In Lake Superior". I knew where he was - I could often see him. One day when I asked him what seemed to work best for him, he gave me the lure I tried today. It's a small, unusual looking Luhr Jensen lure. Well, I didn't catch anything on it today but I'll try it again sometime. However, I get that feeling that wherever Bernie is now (he's been dead a few years), he might be yucking it up knowing that I was dragging that lure around. Back to the CBs, Bernie and another acquaintance used to have codes to tell how many fish they had when they talked to each other on the CB. Heaven forbid they'd never use their marine radios or someone might hear. They would also say switch and go to another prearranged channel. Their conversations were masked not to tell how they were doing. For example, one would say "I saw Frank go by" and that would mean they had 3 Laker. Unbeknownst to Bernie, I had the list of those codes and their alternate channels. Anyway, all fishermen are not paranoid. Why do you ask?
18 Oct - The net that was set into the harbor yesterday was gone today and the remaining ones were out far enough to permit maneuvering in the harbor. The weather was beautiful with light winds. Within ten minutes I missed my first fish and it took a while before I caught a 7# Laker that fought hard, and finally another but smaller Laker after that. I ranged in depths from 30' to 80'. There was an ore boat anchored just outside the harbor amidst the nets and that's always a nice sight. There were only a few boats out fishing.
17 Oct - Today the forecast and reality came together as a beautiful day. There was frost on the launch dock but the wind was a relatively light 8 mph from the west. Of course I headed back to the area I did well at yesterday and to no big surprise, nothing there cooperated for me today. I worked the area hard but couldn't get a hit in a couple of hours. Finally I moved to deeper water where I caught a 6# Laker in 80' and also a dink (small Laker) which I released, at the same time. I later hit another small Laker which I would have rather released but knew it wouldn't make it. Another pass into shallow water again and still nothing. I hated to give up, especially as the water was so nice but when I finally pulled the gear, here was another dink on my rigger line and he was in good enough shape to release. At the launch, I asked the Indians if they found my lure from yesterday and sure enough, they gave it to me.
16 Oct - My wife asked why I wasn't fishing seeing that wasn't terribly windy. I got the hint and headed out around 10:00 a.m. My plan was to dodge the nets on the way out of the harbor, then fish the 70' - 90' water. Well, I had just dodged one net when my surface line was hit like dynamite. It was a 6# Steelhead that danced on the water over and over again. Talk about fun! Shortly after that, I caught a 3# Laker on the same lure. Ironically, the lure, which I won't identify, was one someone mentioned to me a few weeks ago and had blue in it. I don't own any lures with blue so I borrowed one from my neighbor. I suggested today he might not see it again. Anyway, I hit another Laker about 30' down that acted more like a fighting salmon. I had long abandoned the notion of fishing in deep water so I swung around the inside of the net, trying to give the DNR boat in the harbor more latitude when I caught and lost my lures on the net anchor lines. I rerigged and headed out again. This time I hit probably a 6# Chinook. I fought that for several minutes but the wind was suddenly blowing the boat fast and it was on a stacker line so I had a real hassle getting it to the net. In fact, I got it only about a foot away where I could see the lure in its mouth with the line tangle around the hook. I knew that wasn't good and following more flopping around, away the Chinook swam. Rats! All during the last fish a wind front came through and I looked at the wind speed which was kissing 25 mph at times and the waves had suddenly built to over 3' in the harbor. That was my clue to head in.
14 Oct - Not the best forecast but away I went around the breakwater, to be greeted by 12 mph winds and 2-3' waves. So the next best option was to fish just outside the harbor, one of my favorite fall runs. Well, I nearly went crazy trying to figure where all the Indian nets ran. I counted 5 sets and when you can't see or determine where both ends are, forget about effective fishing. Anyway, one net end I just couldn't located so I raised all the riggers until I finally saw the flag laying flat on the water. Enough of that so I thought it better to head to deep water and brave the wind, now a steady 17mph and waves around 3' but some to 5'. I was surprised to get a hit on one rigger set around 40' and another hit on the one set at 100', the latter getting off. I worked my way to near white rocks where I could see just one bird sitting on the rocks. I knew what that had to be so I got out the binoculars and in bouncy seas, confirmed my suspicion it was a Bald Eagle. Seagulls and Cormorants automatically give up their spaces when the boss of the airways is around. Anyway, I hit two more Lakers on the downward leg with the wind and was glad to head in. As I came into the marina, the Indians were unloading their fish from their boat to their truck, tying up our one good launch so I had to wait 15 minutes until they finished. After I got my boat out, a fishing partner of a friend came by and related they had recently tangled into an Indian net adrift several hundred feet east of white rocks. That was confirmed by the Indians who said they had lost a 2,000' net and had tried unsuccessfully to locate it.
10 Oct - With full expectation that it would likely get quite windy, I went fishing anyway, setting up in 200' of water and putting a couple of suspended lines down. The wind was pushing me pretty fast as I worked towards shallower water, where I then ran one rigger to the bottom. There were a couple of big fish marks near the bottom in 165' of water and I wondered whether I would get a hit from one of them, something that very rarely happens. Well it did and it turned out to be a 2# Laker. Judging from the size of the marks, if that fish was one of the marks, then what would a 15# Laker look like and why are there not more marks? Those ole questions again. Anyway, the wind was kicking at 16mph+ so I decided to pull the gear and head home after a little over an hour of fishing. We've got more nice fishing weather coming yet, I hope, hope, hope.
9 Oct - Today my guest was Gary Gibbs, owner of Yoopernet.com, where I used to host this web site. The weather was beautiful with a southerly breeze that stiffened occasionally but was quite manageable. We went nearly an hour before we hit what we thought was a really big fish but after struggling a long time to reel it in, we found it foul hooked and pretty small. We later hit into a 7# and 8# Laker, and a couple smaller ones. All were in around 165', even though we tried shallower earlier. In a little over 2 1/2 hours we ended with 5 nice Lakers, just as the wind was starting to kick. Ironic that Gary and I caught 5 Lakers almost exactly one year ago on the 10th of October.
8 Oct - Yesterday, I fished on someone else's boat and we got 4 nice Lakers ranging from 6# to 9#, but over a rather long time span. Today, Reggie Gebo joined me on a simply beautiful day, with light winds and temperatures getting into the low 70s. The leaves were finally turning colors. We didn't go far before we started fishing but we went quite a while before we caught anything, probably nearly 2 hours. However, that first fish was a 14# Laker. We tried various depths and ended with 4 nice Lakers, none in less than 150' of water. The wind stayed under 10 mph most of the time but kicked to 17 as it swung SW, just before we quit. Great day!
6 Oct - Obviously, weather plays a big role in fishing, so I mention it often. Today is no exception as George Patrick and I headed out under cool conditions but with the NWS promise of warmer temperatures and 5-10 mph winds from the south. The ramp dock had heavy frost on the planks and we were the first ones out at 8:30. Winds were from the south at 15 mph (so much for predictions) and waves were close to 3'. My Honda auxiliary motor didn't want to run because of carburetor icing, which I've experienced several times before at 35 to 40 degrees. The solution is to run it a bit, then shut it off so the heat can creep up to the carburetor. Then it's fine. Well, that's what I did and with the pumper rod already out in 150' of water, I killed the Honda and we were quietly drifting at 1.8 mph with the wind. Suddenly, the pumper rod shook and we caught a 3# Laker while drifting with a spoon. That's one for my books. Later, when things were more normal, we finally connected on a couple of Lakers, some on the bottom, some suspended. In one goat rope, the Laker on the pumper rod caught the rigger line and the inevitable happened as it got off and swam away right behind the boat. Later, we caught probably a 2# Laker and while I was bumbling around with it in the net, it literally went through the net and into the Lake, gaining its freedom. Bottom line: winds died to 10 mph, the Lake settled somewhat, temperatures went up nicely, and we went home after a great day with 5 nice Laker in the box, 2 of which were planters but all were leans.
5 Oct - Following another windy session, this morning's weather promised decent winds but I didn't trust the forecast. I headed out past the breakwater to 12 mph winds and didn't want to get into the same situation with building seas as last time. So, I headed towards the harbor and shallower water. Well, the winds kept increasing and hit an average of 16 mph but it was manageable so we hung in there for just under two hours. Only fish we caught was a Coho just under 2#.
2 Oct - Ah, I said, another weather break so out I went. My newly installed anemometer, which I'll discuss in the future, showed an average 17 mph winds and the seas were 3'- 4'. I put up with that bouncing and trying to stand up for around an hour and a half, then decided to move to more sheltered and shallower water. It was still a windy there but more manageable what with somewhat calmer seas. I got some chores done while fishing, such as tying a few more stacker lines, reorganizing my lures (read that to mean I won't be able to find them as quickly any more), and a few other things. Finally, I decided it was time to go so I completed my log as a skunk, rationalized that I was kind of glad I didn't have to clean fish, put the net away, and got ready to go. Ring, ring, at the last second and I had a nice lean 5# Laker on. Couldn't complain about that but I resisted to the urge to fish more and went home to a much more unpleasant plumbing task.
29 Sep - Well it's been 8 straight days of wind and rain and finally we got a little break. I called George Patrick, and visiting Louie Carpinelli this morning while it was still dark, after checking several weather reports. Louie fished with us last year. It sounded decent with winds forecasts for 5-10 mph from the north. I had looked out and the sky was peppered with stars. One half hour later it was raining. Eh, eh! Anyway, we were the only boat out, understandably what with 3-4' seas and winds averaging 17 mph from the north west. We went nearly 2 hours before we got a hit, and it was on the pumper rod. Louie worked hard to get that Laker in, only to have it shake off 50' behind the boat. It wasn't long after that we hit a 9# red fin Laker on the suspended line which proved a good fighter. Then the pumper line hit again but we could just feel the weight of a fish but no fight for lots of cranks. Then, shake, shake and it was gone. Again we put it down and hit still another Laker that literally bent the rod over and took out line, something that rarely happens. Well, that was a big fish but unfortunately, we never got a look at it as it stayed on for less than a minute. From the sound of the forecast, there probably won't be any fishing for the next several days, but who know.
21 Sep - Sure the forecast was for modest winds early, then it was supposed to kick to 10 to 20 around noon. Well, I'm in the Eastern Time Zone and apparently the NWS was in the Twilight Zone at the time of the forecast. I got an early start, before 7:30 a.m. and already it was kicking. Fishing with the wind was a piece of cake, even though the wind was building the whole run. By the time I made my turn, I clocked the wind at 20 mph, and that was at 9:00. While running both motors into the waves, I heard the downrigger bell, which was ringing a lot anyway with all the waves, give an unusual ring and I could tell I had hooked into a nice fish. The line just kept slowly peeling off the rod. I hauled in the pumper rod so it wouldn't tangle as I couldn't make any progress getting the fish in. I turned to run with the wind, killed the big motor, and reversed the auxiliary motor so I could make some progress getting the fish in. Even with the small motor in reverse, I was moving with the wind at over 2 mph. My netting was not pretty, but I was lucky which is often more important. The Laker weighed 14 pounds, 15 ounces. It wasn't a very good looking Laker but when I filleted it, it was beautifully lean. Actually, I would have released it had it been in better shape when it came to the net, but it was completely spent and would not have survived. At that point, I decided to call it a day and head in as it was just a little too lumpy on the Big Pond for me. I'll come back on another day.
20 Sep - Rockin' and a rollin' we did go! The wind had finally died off but the water didn't seem to know that. I set out mid morning and turned the breakwater corner to be greeted by 4' to 7' rollers. Several times I would drop into a trough and not be able to see land. I took several pictures, all of which don't really give you the feeling of being there. Perhaps I'll hang them later on my web site. I walked a lot in place just to stay upright but never felt threatened. It was not a productive fishing day as I got my first skunk in 66 consecutive trips. Being as rough as it was, I fished suspended the whole time, but did hang the pumper rod out. There were times going into the waves I was going less than 1mph and other times over 3 mph. That should have given those Lakers enough variety but apparently didn't. I did observe a strange phenomenon shortly before I quite. The water in a relatively small are (let's say about a city block in size) was in a turmoil. In fact, it was so pronounced that I wondered if it was a clash between warm and cold water clashing.
16 Sep - Today the water started out decent but over time got even bumpier than yesterday. My guest Derek Krause, a freshman at NMU, and I headed out before sunrise as Derek had a tight schedule due to an 1100 class. Fortunately, we weren't out long before we hit into two nice Lakers, each over 5#. Our speed was uneven as the wind built to 16 mph, then would back off for a while and the waves and rollers made for lots of walking in place on the boat. We ranged around at first but decided to work some structure until we hit into 3 more Lakers, smaller but nice lean ones. Derek got to use the pumper rod to experience the direct connection to the fish with steel line and how you feel every movement. We rolled into the launch shortly after 1000, in plenty of time for him to get to class.
15 Sep - Finally a break in the weather. I waited until nearly 11:00 before deciding it was fishable. One boat commented on the radio as I was launching there were 4-5' rollers and they were quitting. Well, rollers never bothered me so out I went. Heck, they were maybe 3' rollers and rollers that size I actually enjoy. Today I vowed to fish differently than I usually do, and to map out depths in some waters I rarely fish. I set up the pumper rod out the back but didn't hit bottom as usual as I wanted to work the 150' to 250' depths but fish suspended. I then sent both downriggers down with 4 lures spaced at different depths but still suspended. After about 25 minutes, I noticed one rigger started to rattle with a fish, then the pumper rod, the latter which I thought should have priority to get in. While reeling that in, the other rigger went off. The short of it was I got an 11# Laker on the pumper (steel line) rod, and a 9# Laker on the last rigger. The original rigger that rattled came up empty. I later lost 2 more Lakers, one on the pumper rod which I could hardly haul in because of the weight of the fish. That lasted about 5 minutes and it was gone. The rain cells were forming to the east and I decided to call it a day before getting wet. Besides having lot of fun with those fish, I had mapped a considerable area I wanted to. Fishing suspended is so much less busy work than following the bottom. I love it as Fall comes on.
10 Sep - I worked like a dog trying to catch a Laker today and succeeded in catching only one and missing one in over 3 hours. Conditions were pretty decent but the current again so strong going one way, I couldn't always follow the bottom. The lures I ran suspended got one hit and miss but that was it. The one I caught is still out there because I thought I'd be smart and heft it into the box without a net. That didn't work.
9 Sep - The wind wasn't stirring at home and the forecasts of 5-15 mph and calm to 2' waves just didn't seem right in my skeptical fisherman's heart. I shouldn't have ignored my gut feelings as it was ripping pretty good when I got out at 12 mph and soon, the seas were nearing 3' from the south with rollers coming in from the east. I set up as winds kept increasing and with the small motor on idle, I was moving at over 3 mph and couldn't even hit bottom with the weights. I decided to suspend one rigger and fish the other lines close as I could to the bottom. Surprise, I hit a nice 4#+ Laker on the suspended line. Completing that run in record time I turned to face the wind, now clocked at 18 mph with higher gusts. With the Honda running near full speed, I could barely average 1.5mph. However, I hit another suspended Laker, this time nearly 5#. I fished a little longer but then finally thought, I'll come out again another time when it's not so rambunctious.
8 Sep - My guest this morning was Bob Schmeltzer, a neighbor, as we headed north of white rocks, starting in about 90' and working out. We didn't do much until we hit 150' when we got a double. The wind was starting to kick to around 12 mph from the south and there were only two other boats in sight. I was on a straight run for nearly half an hour when we noticed another boat off about a quarter mile but rapidly gaining on us, even though it was apparent he was trolling by himself. I wondered how he was maintaining his course so well into the wind when the next thing I noticed his boat did a quick turn and suddenly was going 180 degrees away from us. He finally got control of the boat and again headed directly into our path, cutting across our bow by no more than 100'. Both Bob and I were in complete shock. It was no more than a few minutes later he tangled into our downrigger and made a mess. I raised him on the radio and he had the guts to say I had changed courses and denied cutting right in front of me. I looked at my GPS trail and it was straight as an arrow for the last 45 minutes so that was not true. His boat name is "Revenge" and he refused to apologize for his stupid actions. Who needs ignorant people like that on the water? Mind you, there wasn't another boat around us for over a mile. Besides, how could he say he even had a course when just minutes before he was going away from us? Now that that's said, Bob and I caught 6 nice Lakers, the last a 14# beauty.
7 Sep - Today I got a late start, hosting a cold but not wanting to miss a calm morning. The pressure was on myself to get back before the Packer game began. It took a while but I eventually hit into 3 nice Lakers, one a red fin Mackinaw. I didn't get home for the beginning of the game but judging from the play the 1st half, I might have better stayed on the Big Pond. All Lakers were in around 140' near the bottom, nothing on the stackers.
6 Sep - Today was the SSFA Bay Classic fishing contest. Cooler Crew team members John Wells, Mike Reckker, Reggie Gebo and I launched at 6:00 a.m., to some pretty windy and rough conditions. Like a lot of others, we hung towards the south shore for calmer seas and hopes of a salmon. The latter didn't happen for us nor for most others. As the water slowly settled, we tried for Lake Trout and hit our first one at 9:00. We gradually caught 17 Lakers, releasing 6. Shortly after noon, the wind clocked north and really started building. Mind you, the forecast was for calming seas. Finally, around 2:00 I clocked the winds at 18, gusting to 25 mph and we headed in to weigh the fish. We placed 10th in the Lake Trout category. Our biggest Laker was 9.5 pounds and like most others, wished for just one more big one to up the total weight. However, we had a lot of fun. We also wish to thank the SSFA and all those that contributed to making this contest such a success. Click here to see a picture of the results of the contest.
5 Sep - There was a pretty good breeze from the south when George Patrick and I started north of white rocks and it started building from there. However, we did get into 5 nice Lakers, the last two being one one line going into 18 mph winds. That turned into a minor goat rope with a tangled downrigger so we called it a day to wait for calmer times.
2 Sep - Today my guests were Marquette native Dan DeYonke, whom I've known for many years, and his son Mike. The water had a nice chop on it but with predictions to kick as the morning went on. We ranged all over in depths but just couldn't shake anything loose except to hang a downrigger on the bottom, which we managed to get out after much maneuvering in increasing seas. However, we lost no equipment which was a pleasant surprise. We finally hit a nice 4# Laker which Mike reeled in and we continued to roam around until we caught another and ended with a double in about 150' of water. By then, the wind was out of the south at 16 mph and the waves were getting pretty feisty so we bunched it for the day. All in all, it was a beautiful day and with the forecast for the next few days showing lots of wind, a great time to go.
1 Sep - I got a late start this morning as the grandchildren spent the night over. That was fun but tiring. I got the "green light" from headquarters I could go fishing around 9:00 a.m. so off I went. I put my lines down fairly shallow on beautify calm seas. I looked around for nets and didn't see any. Ten minutes later, I hung both lines into some nets. All I lost was some time and a few lures but it could have been worse. I saw Dan Alexander, one of the Indian fishermen coming out in his boat and I told him what happened because of my own stupidity. I noted to him the nets were well marked, albeit one end I couldn't see well looking into the sun but it still was my own fault. He said he was lifting the nets and to check back with him in an hour.
I circled the area whilst fishing, watching them lift the nets and finally after a couple of hours I got my third Laker (all were small but great eaters), I stopped by Dan's boat. He showed me what he'd pulled up, including several lures and a couple of weights. I couldn't believe it but I recognized every lure he had, including a couple of releases, and the weights with writing on them. As it turned out, everything but my two lures were my next door neighbor's, who went fishing in the same area a couple of hours earlier. When I got home, my neighbor just returned from Gander Mountain replacing all the equipment he'd lost. Needless to say, he was really glad to get all his lost equipment back, as I was my two lures. There were no lures in the nets that were not ours. What are the odds of that happening?
26 Aug - What a difference a day makes. Big thunderstorm rolled through early morning but it quickly cleared off so I headed out in calm seas. It didn't take long before I got a double, both around 3#. Then it got slow and I trolled a couple of hours more before finally hitting the third one, about the same size as the others. During the last hour, the wind kicked to 12-16 mph from the north and it got bumpy so I didn't mind getting off the water.
25 Aug - Super morning with the sun coming up and even with the 10 mph north wind, seas were very nice with a 1' chop. I set up the three lines and ran across a small ridge that has been productive lately. One downrigger went off, then the steel line started hammering, and then the other downrigger - a triple and I was by myself. Someone was looking after me as I got all three in, the largest nearly 8# and the next largest 5#. In 45 minutes I was headed in with mixed emotions of having to quit so early.
24 Aug - I woke up to the sound of wind and thunder and knew a fishing trip wasn't in my immediate future. However, around supper time, the wind just went flat and temperature shot up. I checked various internet weather sites and the local winds (who knows where they're clocked?), were showing 14 mph from the SW. To shorten the story, I decided to make a short fishing run and invited my brother Ed Buys, who canceled his heavy social calendar (yeah right!) and came with. We started in 80' of water and fished to 130'. Between those depths we caught 5 nice Lakers in under 2 hours on beautifully calm waters. After the second fish I asked Ed if he had a fishing license. He said yes and it was just like new. OK! With each fish, I mentioned I preferred for him to reel them in and I would do the netting. He said since he missed that one Laker with the net over 25 years ago, no one seems to have forgotten nor forgiven him and let him net any more. Great sense of humor eh?
23 Aug - The wind finally stopped after huffing and puffing for several days so George Patrick and I headed out about 10 minutes after we thought the Lakers would be awake (8:00). We set up in 80' of water with the steel line and before we could get anything else set, we had a nice 3# Laker on. At least one was awake. There was no wind but still there were gentle rollers left over from yesterday. Slowly over the next 3 hours we boxed 5 more nice Lakers, 2 of which were over 4# and all were leans. The deepest water we hit was 140'. We were quite lucky as I heard a lot of moaning on the radio about how slow it was, with several boats having only a few Lakers or none. However, that's radio talk. The current was again very powerful and running one way my little motor was wound up and coming back, nearly on idle.
19 Aug - I was the first to launch and the only boat around when I set up. The wind was still behaving itself when I caught a 3# Laker in 120' of water. It wasn't too long after I got another the same size. Then the wind built to 16 mph and 2'-3' waves, and later backed off again. After an hour I got the third Laker to, but not in the net. Rats! I spent the next couple house trying for the third fish, but not successfully. Very slow fishing. Marked very few too.
18 Aug - The wind wasn't bad when I set up but before long, waves were capping and I clocked winds at 18 mph. I hit 2 Lakers in roughly, and I mean roughly, 120' of water. One of the Lakers was 6# and the other 9#, both leans. The last fish was a fun hassle to get in and put up a great fight. Finally after 2 hours and lots of white caps, that was enough for the day.
17 Aug - It was nearly 9:00 a.m. when I set my first line. I think the Lakers already had breakfast as they weren't very anxious to bite. I noted a few big marks in 133' of water but I eventually caught 4 Lakers in about 155', where I didn't mark anything. The one small Laker I released looked in good shape but struggled before swimming down. I have gotten to release less and less fish lately. The water was a little lumpy with 2' rollers and a NE wind sometimes at 10 mph but perfectly fishable. All the Lakers came off the same lure near the bottom, with nothing suspended hitting, even though I tried.
16 Aug - This morning I set out early towards the sand hole and to avoid "net anxiety." The water was nearly calm with a steady breeze from the SE (vs. the north at 5-15 predicted) and it was beautiful. The first Laker came on the steel line in 144' of water and really put up a fight all the way. I was very surprised that it was only a 3# Laker. The second Laker hit in 158' and weighted slightly more than the first. I circled and hit my third Laker which proved to be a dink but I kept it as it wouldn't have survived being released. Great work in an hour and 15 minutes.
15 Aug - As usual, I was confused about the weather forecast. The marine forecast said under 10 mph winds and the local forecast said 10-20 mph later in the day. Well, it was 16 mph out of the southwest shortly after I got set up. My first Laker came quickly on a stacker about 50' down. The second was also on a stacker but one set near the bottom. The boat was rocking and bouncing in the 2-3' waves and just as I reeled the Laker within netting range, the lure flew out of his mouth and the fish started downward. I thought, what the heck and plunged the net deep into where I thought the fish was headed and voila, I pulled it up with nice 3# Laker. There was a really big boat fishing just ahead of me and as I looked past his boat, I spotted a net. I called him on the radio and he had just seen it too. I asked if he could see the other end and neither of us could so there were a couple of panic turns. The third Laker came mercifully soon thereafter so I was able (not that I couldn't have quit anytime) to get off the bouncy pond. Still, it was fun. As to the net, I later found it is adrift with rotting dead fish in it and the Indians have been notified to recover it.
10 Aug - I found out what my role is on my boat while my grandson Spencer is along. It's to run the equipment and hook fish, then notify him whilst he's playing games in the cabin so he can reel the fish in. We (he) caught 3 Lakers just north of white rocks in 160' of water. The water was beautifully calm but the weather needed watching as there was a big rainbow in the west when we started. Finally, that disappeared and it later got dark to the north and there was a rumble in the distance that told us to go home - which we did. All we got was a sprinkle but it rained hard in a few nearby places according to people we talked with.
9 Aug - What a beautiful day on the water! Guests George Patrick and Ron Rabe and I headed away from the crowds to fish shallow. It was foggy in the harbor and a little past white rocks but then it cleared off up north. We slowly hit a couple of Lakers in 80' of water and missed another at the net. We then trolled to deeper water where we caught a couple more Lakers, and missing another. George brought the snacks and I brought some smoked salmon and Lake Trout so it was a rough day out there. Yeah, right! Our 6th Laker was on George's line when we were pulling lines to quit so it must have hit at the last second per George. That's his story and he's sticking to it. Another year, right!
6 Aug - Based on a hot tip from a friend, guest Jim Mansfield and I headed to 60' water in an area different from yesterday. Action started slowly but we hit a couple of beauties and missed another right behind the boat. The water was flat as a pancake and it was a fantastic day on the Big Pond. Things got a little slow after those hits so we trolled out for a favorite spot and suddenly hit a double in 100' of water. One was on a stacker line about 10' off the bottom. After that, the wind picked up and we fished the 160' area for a while and finally decided to call it a day. That was fun!
5 Aug - Today was a dink around day, scouting some different fishing spots. I started about 5 miles north at a ridge that has often been good fishing but I knew the Indians had nets nearby. Well, I spotted them and worked around them, only to discover another set of nets a little further up. Got around those and found still a 3rd set of nets. I had trolled for nearly an hour in 135' of water and discovered I had a 2# Laker on which I shook off intentionally. I'd had enough of the nets as they were right across my run. I pulled my gear and headed to 80' of water where I trolled a considerable time, getting only two hits. Both fish were at least in the 5# category but all I got was a look at both of them. Enough of that. I then headed to what I call the black hole as it's really deep if you go just a little off track. I slowly picked up 3 nice Lakers, the last just as I was quitting. The water was beautiful and the wind behaved well except for about an hour. It was a good day to do that what with no guests to bore with the slow fishing. I was hoping for better action as I have guests the next couple of days. Hmmmm! Now where to go?
4 Aug - More fog again, along with a 10 mph north wind and 2-3' rollers, it was a bit bumpy fishing into the wind and rollers. We tried our suspended lures and ended with 3 nice Lakers near the bottom in 155' of water in just an hour. The last one I caught about 25' up from the bottom because I was preparing to turn around. No hits on the suspended lures.
3 Aug - It looked fishable per the forecast and weather radar, fog excepted. I launched as the 2nd boat and headed north in light fog, radar spinning. I dropped the steel line down in 122' of water and it wasn't a minute later I caught a 2# Laker. Of course the net wasn't ready yet. The powerful current was at work again as I headed north into 10 mph and 1' seas, yet I almost idled the trolling motor to keep the trolling speed down. Weird! Anyway, I picked up another Laker at 155' and the third swam away, right behind the boat. I finally caught the keeper third just as it started to rain. I ran 2 lures suspended but never got a hit on them. The fog gotten very thick shortly after I got out and between fish I was listening to two other boats talking on the marine radio, apparently around the lower harbor. It's a little scary, but funny at the same time. Here's the gist of it.
Boat 1 (we'll call him Alf) calls his buddy Ralph (boat 2) and says he doesn't know where his or Ralph's boat is in the fog and he doesn't have GPS. Ralph asks how deep of water Alf is in. The reply is 19' to which Ralph, who has GPS but doesn't see or know where Alf is but tells Alf based on the depth he must be in the harbor. Which way should I go asks Alf? Ralph tells Alf to go northwest and he can't go wrong.
2 Aug - It wasn't easy getting Harry "Crack of Dawn" Purvis to fish with me at 7:30 in the morning. His philosophy is basically that fish don't bite early anyway. In the past when I'd ask Harry what time he was going fishing, he'd say crack of dawn. Then he'd roll up about 10:00. Harry has a 22' Starcraft himself (its real name is Hideaway) but we decided to fish in water under 80' as he's had considerable luck there lately. We left in heavy fog with the radar going and the fog didn't lift until late in the morning. We caught 4 nice sized Lakers but it took over 4 hours which was fine as the water was nice. Most were right on the bottom. Fish marks were scarce on the graph. All four Lakers were planters, the largest 6# and smallest 3#.
1 Aug - Today was one of those days to check the forecast and radar early and go like the dickens if things look good. Winds were predicted 5 - 10 mph and thunderstorms were possible early and likely later. I decided to head north past white rocks and not go too far. Well, the winds were a little more than expected but at least it didn't rain. Trolling north, the currents were so intense that my auxiliary motor was nearly set back to idle and I was still moving at 2.5 mph or better. Coming back, it was nearly running full throttle and I was moving at 1.8 mph. Wow! Anyway, I saw the "stuff" on the graph around 50', but varying up and down. No one seems to know what it is but there's plenty of theories, from a thermocline to bait fish. Anyway, I decided to run one rigger through it and the other lures on the bottom. After a little while, I hit a double, a 7# lean Laker that was one of the prettiest with its markings, and a 4# Laker on the bottom. I then managed to miss 3 Lakers from the deep lines and until I tightened my stacker release. Then I then finally got my 3rd Laker which worked out good as I had just clocked the winds at over 16 mph. Never got another hit on the suspended line.
29 Jul - With Grandson Spencer Smith (7) in tow, we headed east on great water to where I did so well yesterday. That was yesterday. Today it was extra slow and every time the rigger bell rang from touching bottom, the question of is that a fish was asked. Only once could I say yes as that's all we caught, a 4# Laker, and it was just when we were quitting and on a suspended lure, probably around 80' down. Thank you Gameboy for providing some entertainment for Spencer (and I even tried it for a while.)
On a second trip in the evening, Jim Cochran, and his sons Austin (9) and Evan (5) joined me as we again headed east, knowing we wouldn't be confronted with Indian nets up North and hoping the front projected to move in would put the bite on. The water was great but the action was on the slow side. We managed 3 Lakers, each under 3# but fun nonetheless. We had to go to deeper water (160'+) before things picked up.
28 Jul - I headed out pretty early but I was still the 8th boat to launch. The water was beautiful and calm and I headed to the sand hole, east of the launch. I started in 135' of water with 3 lures near the bottom and 2 lures around 70' down, where strange fish-like marks were showing on the graph. In about 15 minutes, a double hit and I boxed two nice Lakers. I marked the spot on the GPS, then circled to go through there again. Nothing this pass but after circling again, I caught a 7#+ Laker that really fought well. Never did get a hit on the suspended lures but I probably won't give that up. Maybe they're, whatever they are, asleep. In a little over an hour I was headed in with mixed emotions at having to leave with the lake so perfect. I didn't fish any water over 145' deep.
20 Jul - My guest today was myself. The weather was a little iffy with lightning off to the east. I started early and headed for the sand hole, starting at 139' and working to 180' at the deepest. I stirred up a dink (my term for small Laker under 2#) and kept staring at the graph with all the clutter at 120'. I decided to crank up one rigger to that depth and just as I could see a wind line coming across the water, the rigger I just cranked up went off. Turns out there were 2 Lakers on one line, one 6# and the other 2#, a nice bonus. I was off the lake by 9:00. This will be my last report for a week as I'm going to Lake Michigan after Chinook. There will be no Chinook report when I get back.
19 Jul - Guests today were Jean DePetro and her Grandson P.J. DePetro (16) here visiting. We headed to shot point for a change of scenery and to see if action would be as good as our last trip there. Well, it wasn't. We caught a small Laker quickly and then a lot of waiting took place. For some goofy reason, I must have missed 4 Lakers that rattled the rigger but disappeared somewhere enroute from the bottom to the top of the lake. We ended with 5 small Lakers, the last two occurred with one hitting as I was hauling in gear and the other hanging on to the stacker line, a surprise when we quit. Nearly all the Lakers were in 160' water. Talking with others at the launch, one fisherman said he caught 8 Lakers, all over 200' while another got only 2 Lakers. There wasn't much chatter on the radio about fish being caught but that doesn't mean much anyway. By the way, I dragged a Dipsy Diver and surface most of the time with the usual absence of luck.
18 Jul - We're baaaaack! Tried to do a little Bluegill fishing since the last Lake Superior fishing trip but that wasn't too successful. It was fun though. Today, George Patrick joined me on a beautiful, cool morning with great water. We fortunately had a head's up phone call before starting to warn us the Indian nets were right across our normal route so we carefully set lines after the net. Those flags are hard to see! Anyway, we struggled to get 4 small Lakers boxed in slightly over 3 hours. However, we ran a Dipsy Diver which did get a hit and the fish came completely out of the water so it had to be a a salmon. Unfortunately, the fish went one way and the lure the other way. By the way, one of the riggers hung bottom and it was a dog and pony show thereafter. We lost two lures, bent the downrigger a little, but other than that, came out of it OK.
Then there was the one fish we caught on the steel line. I reeled it in as George has a sore elbow. He offered to hold the rod and I thought that wouldn't be good for his arm so I mentioned I would crank the fish to the back of the boat and net it myself - that's what I do when I'm alone. Well, George watched as I swept the net towards the Laker and neatly took the hook from its mouth and it swam away. Hmmmmm I said to myself, that wasn't very impressive but it was a small Laker so I mumbled that was no big deal. George is a gentleman so he didn't say that was really a rotten netting job. Anyway, we hooked 6 fish and boxed 4. All in all, it was a great on the water and the fish were fire red when I filleted them. Three were on the bottom in 165' water, one one the stacker line about 7' up.
13 Jul - With the lake calm as glass, I headed only a little way north before hitting the 150' water, where I picked up 3 Lakers in a little over an hour. Two of the three were on stacker lines set about 7' up from the weight. Later in the morning I took John Devere and his 5-year old daughter Kieran out on the big pond. As luck would have it, action had slowed considerably and we only caught a small Laker and missed another. The wind was slowly picking up and on the way in, there were a few drops of rain on the windshield. It turns out we timed getting off well as it really poured after we were home, including thunder. Mind you, no rain was even mentioned in the forecast.
9 Jul - My guest this morning was nearby neighbor Bob Schmeltzer, who last fished with me in 2001and we had been talking about getting out ever since. At the marina, Neil was launching the only other boat as the fog was really heavy. He asked if I was going up where he usually fishes and though I hadn't planned on it, I agreed as I had radar and GPS and he followed right behind. Bob and I slowly hit into 6 Lakers, releasing a small one. It was very slow fishing but the fog lifted mid morning and it got quite nice and the water laid down, but the air temperature didn't get above 51. Most fish were caught in 140' water.
For my second trip of the day my guest was John Devere from California, visiting here as he does annually. We headed east to avoid any Indian nets as it was still a little foggy and spotting nets in the fog is next to impossible. We started in the sand hole and fished over 2 hours with one bump and it quickly got off. We ended the last 45 minutes catching 4 Lakers, the largest over 6# and the smallest we released. The largest fish had a red tag in it so I mailed it off for the reward. All were caught in around 160'.
6 Jul - My guest today were Don and Donna, Bluegill fisherpersons but I think kind of liking Laker action once and a while. We started pretty early and once again, the lake nearly flat and the temperature comfortable. Action was slow and the 5 Lakers we boxed were pretty well spaced out time wise over the 5 hours. None of us were in a hurry to catch them anyway, as conditions were so great and relaxing. All were in roughly 160' of water and two were on stackers, up about 7'. We also missed two right behind the boat and of course the one Don missed was huge per Don (and it's growing as you read this.) The one moment of panic set in when we were about 3 miles north of white rocks when I looked forward to see an Indian net flag 100 yards ahead, where I had never seen one before. None of us could see the other end so we didn't know which way to turn. Needless to say, we did a 180 degree turn in record time. We finally spotted the inside flag post but were surprised to see nets set at 165'+ depths.
5 Jul - I plopped the boat in the water at 6:35 a.m., and was back at the launch at 8:15 with 3 nice, but fairly small Lakers, the largest being 3 1/2#. Water conditions were again excellent, with only a gentle westerly breeze. However, the current was about as strong as it's been this year and the kicker was wound up a couple of hundred RPMs higher than normal to maintain my usual 1.9 - 2.3mph trolling speed and proper line angle. On the reverse leg, I had to slow the motor way down. All three Lakers were in around 145' of water, with one being caught on the stacker line, set 7' up from the bottom lure. My actually trolling time was under an hour so after the 3rd Laker, I just pulled the gear up and sat for a while enjoying the beautiful morning.
3 Jul - With iffy weather most of the day, the predicted wind never did materialize so I headed out after supper on calm seas. It was time for a change of scenery so I went to the sand hole and set up in 135' of water. The haze slowly turned to fog and before long, I had the radar on in sweep mode, not being able to see a couple of hundred yards. Before long I had a really nice Laker on the rigger line and I had it all the way up behind the boat when it quickly swam over into the steel line and away that fish went. Notice I blame the fish for that and not the fact that I didn't keep it out of the line. Fishermen are allowed to do that. Twenty minutes later I had a double and lost one of the two. I caught the third Laker on a stacker line, an hour and 40 minutes after starting. None were of any size but their meat was a beautiful, lean red color. All were caught in around the 150' depth.
2 Jul - The forecast of moderate winds picking up in the afternoon and no threat of rain apparently was bass ackwards. The wind picked up quickly as Don Bianchi and I started early, trying to beat the wind. We caught 3 small Lakers (remember I call them dinks) when the marine radio message from the Coast Guard announced a marine weather warning. It didn't take us long to get the gear up and get off the Lake. The storm didn't materialize, other than the winds whipping up white caps but I just hate being the highest point on the Lake when lightning is flashing. Better safe than sorry. By the way, we spotted Indian nets about 1 mile north of white rocks in around 120' of water. We could only see the flag at one end.
1 Jul - As I was getting a little tired of the "missionary position of fishing" (my term for fishing the same place, the same way, all the time), so I voted (I get the tie breaking vote) to head way up north near Thoney Point as the water was flawless and had the makings of another beautiful day on the water. My guest Rat quickly hit into a Lake Trout which he got to within 2' of the net before unintentionally releasing it (read that as lost it.) We struggled to catch 5 Lakers in the next 3+ hours but probably caught about as many as others, if you can believe radio talk. We started in 112' of water and worked to 175', but most were caught around 140', and 2 were on my stacker line, running up around 8' from the bottom. Rat chose not to run a stacker. Super day!
30 Jun - My Brother Ed, George Patrick, and I headed out on to beautiful and calm seas and winds. There were already lots of boats in view quite a way out. We set up in one of my favorite spots nearby and I had just commented that my luck the past several trips was to get a fish on before I had all the other equipment ready. Within a few minutes of my comments, we hit into a double and I thought we were off to the races. Wrong! We didn't get another hit for well over an hour, maybe two. Finally we hit one, and then another (during our snack time of course). We ended with 6 Lakers, one of which was a dink we got at the end. It could not have been a nicer day on the water.
28 Jun - The winds finally died so I headed out of the Presque Isle Marina for the first time after the flooding. I headed north a ways and started in 120' but it drops fast. Sure enough, I caught a 3# Lake Trout before I had the second downrigger or net set up. Then it was probably an hour and a half before the next hit and then shortly after that I hit a 5# Laker. All the fish were near the bottom in 160' of water, but one was on the stacker line about 7' up. By the way, I never marked a single fish on the bottom the whole trip but saw a large blob of apparently bait fish around 80' down. I dragged on rigger though that with the usual no luck. The surface water and air were both 46 degrees when we started but it was flat calm and just beautiful.
24 Jun - Per last night's forecast, it was supposed to rain but when I got up, (surprise) the forecast had deferred that until afternoon. A quick call and Rat and I were headed east towards shot point on near-calm seas. We started at 170' and worked towards 145' where once we hit into the Lakers, we quickly (1 1/2 hours) picked up 6 relatively small Lakers, the largest being 4#. The wind was slowing increasing and the sky darkening as we returned to the marina so we didn't mind a quick "down and dirty" trip.
22 Jun - I was going to take the day off from fishing (don't you just love that saying?) but thought the day was going to be too nice to miss and the forecast was not good for the next several days. So I rationalize! Reggie and I headed out early on again a beautiful morning. We managed 3 Lakers in a little over 3 hours but it was a relaxing fish north of white rocks. We marked very few fish. We did manage to lose a downrigger weight that hung on the bottom without warning but no damage was done except for the lost weight. On our return trip, I noticed a beautiful wooden boat that had its engine dog house up but was under power. I decided to go closer in case they needed help and it turned out that they did as their motor was overheating. I towed them from outside the rocks off the Coast Guard station to the Cinder Pond marina.
21 Jun - Well, the weather had warmed up and it was supposed to be a fantastic day so I invited Bob Turenne, a friend who has fished with me over the years. Bob doesn't like to leave early and doesn't like the cold so it was nearly 9:00 a.m. when we left in perfectly calm water and fair temperatures. We knew a couple of guys at the launch and they said they weren't catching a lot and they asked where we were going. I encouraged them to follow us to try some 40' water and if that didn't prove out, we'd head out to deeper water. They followed us. Well, we didn't do squat, nor did the other boats we got near enough to ask so Bob and I pulled our gear after an hour and told those guys we were moving. They had a 3# Laker and were apparently encouraged by the Laker not to head out with us.
Two miles out Bob and I set up in 120' of water working toward the 160' ridge and it wasn't long before we had a double. Then we started marking and catching what we were marking (or so it seemed). We released a couple of dinks and were continually busy. Bob said he just loves the new cow bell (see story 19Jun03) on that downrigger, saying he too had trouble hearing the small bell. Anyway, we were just quitting with all the other lines in and mine was just coming to the surface when a 9 1/2# Laker hit my lure less than 15' back of the boat. I was surprised as it ripped off the downrigger release and dived deep, paying out line. I quickly handed the rod to Bob who had a hard time and took probably 10 minutes getting the fish back to the boat. So we ended a great day with 9 Lakers, reluctantly returning 3 and reluctantly heading back. Besides, the freshly smoked Lake Trout I brought for a snack was gone.
20 Jun - Orders from Headquarters were to be back by noon so my guest Jean DePetro and I headed out on a beautifully cool but calm morning. We headed north past white rocks and it took quite a while before we finally hooked a small Laker. Then we trolled a long time to the end of my run without another hit until about a third way back we got a double but boxed only one. We shortly caught our 3rd Laker and an hour passed when I started to pull the gear to head in. Big as life we hit into a double, one of which was over 6# and beautifully lean. That was a nice note to quite upon.
19 Jun - I just knew it wouldn't get very warm with a 5-10mph north wind predicted. Well, George Patrick and I headed out into some cool air and seas. The air was 46 degrees and surface water 43 degrees at noon. It was pretty cold. However, we still had a great time and ended with 4 decently sized Lakers and a 2# Chinook off the surface line. I was in shock over that. George had been telling me the little bell on the downrigger was too hard to hear so I fixed his wagon and as a surprise to him, put a huge cow bell on his downrigger. We both had a great laugh but the funny part is that I've gotten to like the sound and will keep it.
17 Jun - School is out so my grandson Spencer Smith (7) spent last night with us (and his 2-year old brother Cooper). Spencer and I originally made plans to fish for bluegill at an inland lake but found out Spencer had to be home by noon. Not having a lot of time, we invited neighbor Reggie Gebo to fish with us on a beautiful morning, planning a short and hopefully productive trip. We got to the launch and talked with someone with a 22' boat, very similar to mine. He said he thought it was too windy and would be hard to handle the boat. I tried to assure him that often the cold water really dampened the wind and it was supposed to be fairly calm. He wasn't convinced so he and his crew drove off. The short of it is that once we cleared the harbor, the water was like glass with the wind less than 3 mph. I thought of that several times while we were fishing but also that the Captain has to call them as he sees them. Been there!
Anyway, I just finished answering "ten minutes" to the question from Spencer of how long have we been fishing when we caught our first fish. Spencer did a super job of reeling it in. Before long, we caught another, then another. We ranged our depth from 155' to 165' most of the time and when we got shallower, we didn't catch any. Several came off the stacker line, a change from the past several trips. I was very proud of Spencer handling the rods and doing nearly all the reeling. Reggie was the net man and fish whacker - and we called him "whacker" for a while. Nearing the end of our short time of 2 1/2 hours, we hit a triple - 2 Lakers on one line and one on the other downrigger. We ended with our limit of 9 Lakers, the largest 6# and smallest a little under 2#. The best part is that I got Spencer home on time so I didn't get in trouble with the real boss.
16 Jun - Another beautiful day as Rodney Smith and I headed north past white rocks. It wasn't long before we hit a Laker on the steel line rod. We gradually picked up 4 more Lakers, all around the 155' depth. On two occasions, we had doubles on and we missed a few too. The wind slowly increased from calm to around 10 mph from the SE but was never a problem.
15 Jun - My guest Reggie Gebo and I headed for some shallow fishing east of Marquette on a beautifully calm morning. We started in 40' of water and noticed there was a line of heavy, and I mean heavy pollen and who knows what on the surface, roughly parallel to the shoreline. On the inside of the temperature and sludge line the surface water was 55 degrees, and moving a hundred yards out it was 50 degrees. The lines picked up all kinds of junk and where I have seen these temperature lines, never had I seen one so heavy and pronounced as this. Look at this picture. We worked the line hard and within an hour had a 6 1/2# Laker off Reggie's downrigger. About a half hour later, another hit his line and really rattled the downrigger bell but popping the release resulted in a broken line and lost lures instead. We tried quite a while longer but to no avail. We then move to deep water and managed 6 small Lakers, returning one. It took better than 5 hours to get our limit but that worked out perfect as conditions were so good. The only bad mark on the day was the DNR had their boat tied up at the Cinder Pond launch when we came in and they were doing maintenance on it for an extended period. I waited quite a while for them to push off but finally had to use another ramp after it cleared. One of the 3 conservations then checked our licenses and catch while he was waiting for their boat to be worked on. The DNR didn't get any good public relations from that in my books.
13 Jun - Friday the 13th eh? Worked fine for me today. I headed out at 6:30 on smooth water and air that was considerably warmer than yesterday. My plan was to fish where I fished yesterday and if the run wasn't productive, I'd try jigging. Well, I hardly had the downrigger down when I caught a nice Laker, before I even had the net ready. Before long, a second one hit and that went into the box. I just looked at the time of 5 minutes before 8 and both downriggers rang - a double when I needed just one. Of course, we had to release one but all 4 fish were around the same 3# size. I dilly dallied putting stuff away as it was such a nice day on the water. All the fish were in around 150' of water, but one was probably 25' off the bottom. Rather unusual for me.
12 Jun - Once again we had fog but I was grateful the predicted wind hadn't materialized as I set out early. The fog lifted before long but the air sure didn't warm up any as it was another 41 and 41 start, air and water temperature. However, it was calm and I had a Laker on within 5 minutes which got off but I hooked another shortly after that which went into the box. That was a great way to start by not a true indication of how action would prove to be. I had 2 nice Lakers in the box after about an hour when I caught my third, a dink which I returned. Well, I spent the next 2 hours trying to fill but to no avail. Two other boats fishing nearby had nearly the same luck as I did. It was still calm as I got off the water near noon. I did drag up a big branch (probably from the Dead River) on one line. I suspect there's more of that out there.
11 Jun - Following a 5-day period of wind and rain, Jim "Rat" Radtke and I headed out in heavy fog but decent seas. The radar was necessary as we headed to the north, past white rocks. It wasn't but a few minutes when Rat hit a small Laker, then another hit the steel line out the back. The water flattened right out but the fog remained as heavy as ever. I set the radar up to sweep every 5 minutes and set an alarm off if anyone was within a quarter mile of us. Twice a passing seagull set it off. We continued trolling northward and we steadily hit into 4 more small Lakers, filling our limit in an hour and a half. All were in 140' and 160' of water with the stacker doing nothing today. Both the surface water and air temperature were 41 degrees. That's not a typo. However, it was very enjoyable and actually quite comfortable as there was no wind and we were dressed for the cool weather.
6 Jun - This several-day stretch of calm water has been super, with today being no exception. Guest Don Bianchi and I headed east to, where else, but where we did well yesterday. We started slowly but eventually hit into 8 Lakers, all fairly small with the largest 3 1/2 pounds. We released two, one of which we needed to do because we had 5 in the box but hit a double at the end. We pretty much stuck to the 140' average depth, with only one of the fish coming off the stacker lines running around 20' from the bottom.
5 Jun - My guest today was Captain Jim Maki, who for many years ran Catch-A-Finn charter service. Jim was, in my opinion, one of the best charter operators this area has ever seen. He quickly started working on me with questions he used to get as a charter captain. For example, "it must be easy for you to catch fish with all this electronics eh? or where's my fish?" Please don't associate his Lions hat with this Packer Backer in any way. Anyway, the water conditions were fantastic and we headed east towards shot point. Ironically, we fished to a waypoint I had gotten from him in October 1998. I had even named the waypoint after him. On our way, we fished at one of my favorite spots where we hit a triple but landed only two. As we kept going, we hit another triple, and 3 doubles. We ended returning 3 small Lakers and boxing 6, all in the 3# area. We did best in 130' to 155' of water, some were on stackers about 20' from the bottom. Of course, we both have different memories and opinions of whose lures worked best.
4 Jun - Another slow day with fantastic water conditions. Set up in the sand hole east of Marquette and shortly missed one and then hit a 4# Laker at 150'. Then it got slow...again. I read yesterday's newspaper, and the day before, which didn't even blow around as there was no wind. After a couple of hours of nothing further, I picked up and headed to shallow water. Well, another couple hours of relaxing nothingness and I ended with one nice Laker but still, a very enjoyable time on the water. Listening to the marine radio chatter, there were others experiencing the same as me. Been here before.
3 Jun - Bob Bryngelson joined me to leave at 6:30 on perfectly calm seas. Bob fished with me last year. We headed north around Presque Isle and up towards Thoney Point, a long haul from the Cinder Pond. We fished starting at 115' and went as deep as 185' but fish were slow coming. I even fished a Dipsy Diver, mainly because a couple of fishermen said they were working well the past few days, even on Lake Trout. Naturally, we didn't have a hit on the Diver. We caught 4 small Lakers in 5 hours, the last just as we quit. I said it hit at the last second and wasn't just hanging on. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. The surface water was 38 degrees and air 43 but with the wind and lake incredibly flat, it was about as comfortable as it gets.
2 Jun - We file a very brief report today. George Patrick and I headed to shallow water on a beautiful morning, only to quickly lose two Lakers and not get another hit. The funny part was coming into the launch with a skunk. Most of Marquette seemed to be there asking how we did. Where were these people when I had that nice fish yesterday? However, a couple of people asked if we had a good day on the water and it was easy to say yes, even though we didn't get any fish. Conditions were fantastic but apparently the fish didn't know that. It was nice just being out there. Another by the way, I hit some more submerged debris with a clunk but never saw it and no damage was done. Be careful out there.
1 Jun - The lake finally settled down overnight so I wasn't about to complain about the cool temperatures when I headed out at 6:30 a.m. Forty-three degree air and water temperature is pretty nice when there isn't any wind. I headed to 40' water to fish shallow for Lakers which usually come in to feed on baitfish this time of year. It wasn't 10 minutes and before I could assemble the fishing net, I had a hit off the downrigger. I knew it was fairly large so I put the motor in idle and still had a real hassle, the Laker making several runs, a couple under the boat but I finally got the net under him. It was a beautiful 10#, 5oz lean Laker, great for our fish boil while my Sister is here visiting. Probably 15 minutes later, after circling the area, I hit another, probably just a little smaller which neatly swam away after nearly getting it in netting range. Then slowness set in and over the next 3 hours, I got no more hits! However, life is good drinking coffee on a calm morning waiting for a fish to interrupt. There's worse things to be doing. Surface water went from 43 to 48 degrees during the time I was there, for what that's worth. By the way, on my return I heard a "tink, clunk" and suddenly my speed indicator (pitot tube) got knocked off by floating debris I didn't see.
29 May - I got faked out by the forecast yesterday so I didn't go out. I wasn't happy! Today, as luck would have it, the forecast was for dying winds, which it did, and rain and wind tomorrow. Naturally, I had a late afternoon meeting today but thought, what the heck, I'm heading out after my meeting. I hollered to my neighbor Reggie I was going so he joined me. We launched at the Cinder Pond and headed to the sand hole (east) as it's fairly close. The water was beautiful and we went by a red net flag but I couldn't tell whose it was. We fished a couple of hours with only one small Laker when I mentioned we might start wrapping it up. Wham, I got a nice 11th hour 4# Laker. It was only a couple of hours on the water but conditions were super, albeit 44 degree air temperature. An acquaintance called me on the marine radio to say he hung up in something, possibly fishing nets and lost a lot of gear about 2 miles east of the dome but it wasn't clear to me exactly where that was and I couldn't see him with my binoculars. He said he didn't see any flags at all.
27 May - What a beautiful day on the water. George Patrick and I launched mid morning on nearly perfectly flat water. We set up north of white rocks on the same run that proved quite good yesterday. It wasn't long before we got a double, one being pretty small so we released it. Then it really got slow. We trolled for nearly 3 hours and were just making preparations to quit when the steel line rod started bouncing. Seeing as we were quiting anyway, I set the motor to a near idle and we pulled up the downriggers so they wouldn't bounce bottom. While reeling the Laker in, I looked over to see my downrigger bouncing with another Laker. We were nearly dead in the water at the time and I know we were not dragging it around. Talk about 11th hour fish! So we ended with 3 Lakers, the biggest just under 4#. What a great day on the Big Pond.
26 May - I headed out pretty early on nice water and with mostly clear skies. As I rounded Presque Isle, the wind was from the NNW at 11 mph with about 2' rollers, but very fishable. I put out the steel line out, then my downrigger. While I stood there debating whether to get the net in readiness or get the other downrigger set up, the steel line rod hooked a nice Laker so it was a scramble to get the net out and get ready to reel it in. However, all went well and I boxed a 3# Laker. It wasn't 5 minutes later, I saw my downrigger go back, then no activity. However, experience told me sometimes there's a dink (my definition of a Laker under 1 1/2#) hanging on. Hauling it in proved it was a dink which I released. After about 45 minutes more of trolling, the steel line hooked a Laker, then the port downrigger and then the starboard side - a triple and I was alone. I thought it would be a goat rope but I got all three in, releasing the smallest. None were very big. All the Lakers were caught near the bottom in around 145' of water. Surface water was still 38 degrees and air 41 degrees but it felt warmer with all the great activity. That was a fun 1 1/4 hours of fishing.
23 May - We headed out of the Cinder Pond in some crisp air but sunny skies. The surface water was 38 degrees and the air was 39 degrees. The wind was 12 MPH from the north and there was a pretty good chop when we started to fish north of white rocks. We had one rigger down no more than a minute when we caught a 3# Laker. I knew better than to think it's going to be a hot fishing day, in more ways than one. We went about an hour before hitting another Laker. Our last Laker was 10#, the others 2-3# and we couldn't connect for the 6th one. Most were caught in 170' of water. Despite the cool air, (it was 41 degrees when we quite at before noon), the wind had largely died and the sun helped warm us like lizards. Pretty nice day.
22 May - Fished with Bob Toutant on his 24' boat EZDaze. We were testing his new autopilot and we put a few lines down on a very cool day with about a 10mph wind from the east. It was a little slow until we hit a double at 170' of water. We then continued on and finally circled and fished through the spot we'd marked, only to hit another double at the same place. We missed another Laker at the back of the boat. Bob was adding warmer clothes and that's when the last Laker hit so he wasn't wearing any shoes when reeling in a 7# Laker. The autopilot worked just super and it was a great way to break in new equipment. I added some pictures for today.
21 May - Fished the lower harbor for 2 1/2 hours and caught one small Coho but it was delicious. We ran 6 lures and I caught it on a stacker lure about 12' down and 12' back. So much for long lining.
18 May - This morning I headed out of the Cinder Pond (Presque Isle Marina is inaccessible) in the haze. Lots of boats were fishing the harbor and from the sound of it on the marine radio, several were doing well on Chinooks, Coho, and Browns. Seeing as I know very little about salmon fishing (not that I wouldn't like to know more), I headed about 8 miles east on calm waters, running the radar some of the way. I finally linked up with a small Laker in 150' of water then quickly missed another that really rattled the downrigger. Then came the quiet and relaxing run towards the marina until I finally hit a nice Laker that fought much harder than its size would imply. So in 3 hours, I ended with two Lakers and a relaxing time on the Lake. Surface water was 38 degrees and the air 40 degrees but without wind, it was great. Ed the DNR survey man, said most boats came in with fish.
17 May - As many of you know, the Dead River watershed system was devastated when the Silver Lake Basin levy broke. As a result, an incredible amount of trees, sand, rubbish, and who-knows-what tore out a wide swath on its way to Lake Superior. Among other damage, a new swath for the river was cut at the Tourist Park, taking the beach, road, and nearly the hydro plant. Additionally, the bridge to Presque Isle Park (and marina) on Lake Shore Blvd. was made unusable by washouts at both ends of the bridge. Debris is floating all over the upper harbor.
14 May - Finally, the ice was gone and the water like glass when Reggie Gebo and I headed for deep water and Lakers. It was such a beautiful day we thought why not head north a few miles while the running is good. Reggie had several new lures he was dying to try so we set up in 120' of water and he put his choice lure on. Wham, he caught one within 2 minutes. My downrigger wasn't even set up yet, nor the net. Reggie caught a 4# Laker. Then I heard all about his hot lure and he kindly asked me if I wanted to use one of his lures. I said no thanks, I'd stick with my usual ones. Then 30 minutes later, I caught a Laker on my usual lure. Then another of my lures hit one. In short, that was the first and last hit on his hot lure so lure touting quieted down quite a bit. Seriously, we had a great time with beautiful water. In 3 hours, we landed 6 nice Lakers, all leans, and a lamprey. Depths ranged from 115' to 170' where we caught them. All were on the bottom and nothing on the stackers. Ice still filled the Partridge Island bay. My downrigger developed electrical problems so that was a dog's breakfast to fix but I got it going. I'll hang some pictures when I get a chance. We're baaaaccccckkkk!
Captains Log - 8 May 03 - Ice still in the Marquette harbors. Captain is still doing "honey-do" lists instead of fishing.
4 May Perhaps I should have gone out early today but just as well, the ice moved in again midday. Instead, I was poking around the birthplace of my web site on yoopernet and noted the following entries (still posted) for June 1996, mentioning the ice in June yet. Here's excerpts from Gary Gibbs on his yoopernet.com site:
6/15/96: Went fishin with Joe and Clarence on Cooler By The Lake this morning and we boated 11 fish, you betcha. 9 Lakers (5 on a pump rod), 1 baby Chinook, and a 4lb Steelhead off one of those planer board rigs; we were out there a couple miles NW of Shot Point, from about 8 to 11 am.
6/3/96: 1pm. Went to Presque Isle Marina. Saw Cooler By the Lake coming in with a nice catch of 3 to 4 lb lakers from the Sandhole. Jim Maki (Catch-A-Finn) was there and reported that he'd made a trip to Stannard Rock last Saturday and did well, with some 20lb lakers taken. Floating ice is still a problem around the Marquette harbors, but should be melted sometime before 4th of July weekend.
3 May What a beautiful day as Don Anderson and I headed out of the marina, planning to fish Lake Trout in deep water. However, the skim ice just outside the marina was rather thick and made a lot of noise as we cut through it. Looking out, we could see the heavier ice fields past the breakwater so we decided to dink around inside the harbor where there were patches of open water. Well, we saw one fish caught but it wasn't on our boat. During our fishing, the ice just kept encroaching on us until we had to quit. One of these days...
2 May Well, today we shook down the boat in the harbor. The ice moved out and it was 32 degrees but the sun was up and well, we couldn't take it anymore on shore. Reggie Gebo and I had a nice Coho on within minutes and it shook off right behind the boat. That was the only hit we had in a little over 2 hours but that was OK. The water was relatively calm and we watched the ore boat Herbert Jackson come in, a neat sight. The engines ran fine and with the exception on one little item, everything else went well. We're baaaaccccck! Remember, I never said I knew much about salmon fishing.
30 Apr - Got out yesterday in a friend's boat in the harbor crunching through the skim ice but most of the ice bergs were beyond the breakwater. Caught a 4# Chinook and Coho. Today I wanted to go again but the ice was back in. Here's picture one and picture two proof.
26 Apr 03 Here's why I'm not fishing. I took this picture today along the lake by the prison.
21 Apr 03 I'm dinking with this web page instead of fishing as I look out the window to see it snowing. Don't mess with me!
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