"Cooler By The Lake"
2006 Lake Superior Fishing Log
Fishing Synopsis for 2006
Overall, it was a pretty good year for fishing and a very good one for time on the water, especially with guests. The Spring fishing was better than average, but typical of fishing, there were some real ups and downs during the rest of the season. One of the more notable statistics is the average size of the Lakers being 2.8 pounds. That's a far cry from around 10 years ago when we caught a lot more big Lakers. The average sizes have been decreasing from roughly 4.7 pounds then, to 2.8 pounds this year. Check out my table below. I felt our Laker catch rate per hour of 1.61 was quite good. Check out the graph below for those statistics over the years.
It's been a pleasure hearing from those who wrote to me, most having very nice things to say. I look forward to being on the water again in 2007. In the interim, I will be posting my "Joe's Woodshed" so please check that out once in a while, or drop me a note on either this site or the Woodshed. Thanks for joining me. Have a great winter.
|Year||Ave Laker Lbs.|
Fishing summary for 2006
Trolling Hours (Lake Trout only)
249, (250 last year)
|Lake Trout Caught (not all kept)||380|
93, (98 last year)
Fish per hour
1.61, (1.51 last year)
Total fish caught
389 (includes released fish) 413 last year
Skunks trips during year
1 (6 last year) Only counts Fishing for Laker Trips
Average weight of Lake Trout
2.8 lbs. (3.1 lbs. last year)
Number of Steelhead
Number of Coho
5, (last year 0)
Fish per hour rates 1984 through 2006 respectively (Lake Trout only - see above chart)
.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, 1.58,1.55,1.60,1.38,1.74,1.51,1.61
|Single-line doubles (two fish on one line)||14, (14 also in 2005)|
30 Oct I vacillated about going out as the winds were predicted to really pick up in a few hours but quickly rationalized this time might be the last for the season, especially with the lousy forecast for the next week. My philosophy was if I caught some nice Lakers I could go out in grand style but if I didn't catch anything, I could store the boat thinking I wasn't missing much. The winds were well behaved, starting around 6 mph from the SW, picking up to 13 mph for a while, then backing down to near calm. Seas were out of the NE with 2' rollers. I couldn't fish inside the harbor near the spawning reef as there were 3 sets of tribal gill nets set there so I moved out to deeper water. It wasn't too long before I hit a nice 5# Laker that really put up a good fight, so I circled that area for 45 minutes without another hit. Except for the rollers gently rocking the boat, water and wind conditions were great. As it turned out, that was the only hit in 3 hours. So, I didn't get skunked and really enjoyed this last trip of the season. The Fall fishing has gotten poorer each year so we'll hang it up. Stay tuned for my summary and statistics report. I appreciated all the nice emails and comments I received this season from you. Thank you! P.S. it wasn't half an hour after I got off the Lake and the predicted winds really kicked from the east, with 3'+ waves. Good timing eh? Below is a picture of me fishing as taken from land by a friend, Don Anderson. Looks terribly rough - like a big wall of water coming at me, eh? My wife asked what I was doing fishing in those conditions when actually, conditions were pretty good. And that's the truth! Click picture to enlarge, use back button to return here.
27 Oct What a beautiful morning on calm waters with the sun coming up to clear skies. I set up right after passing the Indian nets beyond the green can and it wasn't 20 minutes before I hit a nice Laker on of all things, a Dipsy Diver. My netting was ugly but successful and the Laker was nearly 5# and I thought, they're finally here. I then circled and worked the area for 2 hours and got no more hits, so I trolled to the 150' of water where I eventually picked up two more Lakers, not nearly as big as the first. The smaller one I just lifted into the box, hoping it'd fall off but it didn't. The forecast for the next several days doesn't hold much promise so this might be the final trip, might not.
26 Oct Another crisp day with frost on the launch as Art and I headed out in the fairly calm morning, temperatures in the 30 degree range. After trying a quick shallow pass with no hits, we decided to head out to deeper water. Deeper water provided little more action as we caught only 2 small Lakers, and missing a third that would have been bigger. We didn't fish long as I had a meeting to go to. So far the Fall shallow fishing has been a real disappointment.
25 Oct Back at it again, this time much more attentive to nets and other things that go bump in the day. Art and I did the shuffle on the launch ramp dock, covered with frost as we launched early. Winds were not as light as predicted but much better than the past 9 days. Winds started from the south, calmed, then swung and increased from the north, but it was still fishable the whole time. We tried mostly the 40-70' depths and picked up 3 nice Lakers but it took over 4 hours to do it. Good to be back on the water again as every fishable day this late in the year is a gift. I'm hoping for a gift tomorrow too, and maybe Friday. Then, it looks like gifts no more for a while.
16 Oct I've had better days, lot's better. Art and I headed out in steady 10 mph winds but it was getting increasing nicer and very fishable. We started shallow and as we moved to the 60' depths, we hit a wild Coho. Not long after, we had a nice Laker on, almost all the way to the net and it got off. We fished where I fished yesterday - then a disaster happened. I looked to the side to see a milk jugs marking a Indian fish net and I jumped to the downriggers to get them up but it was too late. Both riggers hung the net, along with the lines on the planner board - everything. We ended up losing everything - weights, releases, all kinds of lures, bent up both downriggers, etc. The background to this unpleasant and costly story is that I was told by a tribal representative nets were to be pulled on the 15th of October (during the spawning season so as to protect the resources) by tribal agreement. I was through this same spot yesterday and there was no net. Well, I talked with the Indian fisherman today and he said he had pulled all his nets and had just gotten word that the tribal rules had changed and he could continue to fish until October 31st, so he put his nets out again last evening. Not a good day and not good news!
15 Oct It's not that I didn't want to go fishing but the weather since the 6th is best described with one word - windy. This morning it was 32 degrees early but the sun was out, and it warmed gradually to around 45 degrees. The winds initially averaged 16 mph but backed off to around 10 and it actually got nice as I plied the shallower waters. All I got was a 4# Laker and missed a nice one in over 3 hours but it turned into a beautiful morning on the water. I'm not giving up yet and hope to push fishing into early November before putting the boat away. However, the forecast for the next 7 days had liquid in some form predicted for each day. Gee, not what I want to hear.
6 Oct My guest Bob Bryngelson from the Iron Mountain area drove up to join me on a breezy and crisp morning. We skipped the shallow fishing and set up lines in 130', fishing to 160'. We were angled off pretty much with the wind increasingly getting stronger from the south when we caught our first Laker, nice but small. We continued on my favorite run and nearing the point I either run south or turn around, we decided to run south into the waves and then caught another Laker, this one a little bigger. It was tough fighting the 15 mph winds and 2'-3' seas but we were doing it so we continued on and caught a couple more. Most were on my rigger as Bob's was suspended and we were fighting a fish when Bob's rigger bell rang and the line started going out. I hauled the Johnson rod in so his fish wouldn't tangle in it. We turned the boat with the wind and slowed it as best we could. It took Bob 15 minutes of fighting that 16# Laker. Then, with all the gear in we thought we'd run with the waves to see if we could get our limit so we send everything down again and it only took 5 minutes before we caught our last Laker, a 5# one at that. Not bad work for 2 hours of bouncing around. Click pictures to enlarge, hit back button to return here.
5 Oct Today I had to try fishing shallow...again...and again got nothing after an hour. So I headed over to my favorite fishing starting spot and lowered my downrigger down in 111' of water and quickly caught a nice Laker. Put it down again and hit another Laker at 136', which was marginal in size so I released it. Put it down again to catch another and release it, all caught on the same lure. I swung around and hit a nice Laker on the suspended line, about 25' up from the 150' water. Put that rigger down again and this time the bell really rang and I knew it was a good sized Laker on. I could make very little progress reeling it in and sometimes it would just pull line against the drag. I then put the motor in idle and out of gear to further slow the boat down so I could fight the Laker better. After about a 15 minute struggle, I got the Laker to the boat in in the net, all 13 1/4 pounds. What a dandy! I thought about releasing it but it had taken the lure deep and was wore out and would not have made it. It was exciting to have 6 fish on in an hour. The water had gentle rollers and with wind behaved, being under 10 mph the whole time. The autumn leaves along the shoreline sure made for a great view.
3 Oct Turned out to be a great day weather-wise as my guest Gary Gibbs and I headed out. We tried shallow and got squat so we worked to my all-too-familiar run where we eventually caught our limit, less the dink we released. We also missed a few. Most were at 160'ish and two were on stacker lines. It took quite a while but the water was great, with a light wind from the north.
2 Oct I don't particularly like harping on the forecast but this morning we were to have southerly winds at 5-10 mph and they were to become lighter as the day went on. Art and I started fishing close because my boat anemometer said winds were kissing 17 mph but it was fishable. Before long we caught a nice 7# lean Laker. Making another pass out deep, we hit another Laker, this one nearly 6#. As we were nearing the end of the downwind leg and caught our third Laker, and we could see the whitecaps forming and wind whipping off the tops of the waves. We headed into the wind and I noted the winds were averaging 23 mph, with one 35 mph gust. We slugged it out for a while longer and finally we quit for a wet ride in. Three guys were sitting in their truck with a boat behind them, trying to decide whether to go out. We came to the launch hot as the winds were still over 20 mph there. Do you think any of those guys would come over and help us dock in that wind? Nope, and I later told them that would have been nice if they had. It was a woolly landing, but successful. Wish we could have stayed out longer. Eventually the winds died a little, but not for a couple of hours.
1 Oct The forecast of 5-10 mph sounded good as my guest Gary Gibbs and I launched. A fishing acquaintance stopped by before we headed out and said he'd done very well the day before on the route that I used to take, as in past years we often fished in the same area north of white rocks. I thought, that's great as I'm due for change of scenery and I sure know that area. Asking if there were any nets in the area and he said no. Off we went, only to be greeted by winds out of the NW averaging 12 mph and 3-4' rollers and waves. It was rough going and hard fishing but we were able to head right into them. Out we went a few miles and back in, not a hit. Finally, we'd had enough so we moved to where I've been fishing the past few weeks and it wasn't 10 minutes until I hung bottom and lost my weight and some other gear. Don't know what that was all about but I was out of commission for a while before rerigging. Eventually, we hit a double on one line but we released the dink on the stacker line. Gradually the winds died but the big rollers didn't seem to know that. We caught a few more small Lakers in 160' of water and I turned starboard to my southward leg where gradually we hit into a 7# Laker and a couple of 4# Lakers, two of which were on stackers lines. It was slow going and it took us quite a while to fill. The last fish fell into the net as the hook pulled out. I think it was slow for several other too as I usually check the trailers out when I launch and return. Most there at launching were still there when we got back.
29-30 Sep Yesterday, my guest Frank Herveat and I were bound and determined to try the shallow thing, ranging from 45' to 80', hoping for a salmon but thinking surely, we'd catch something. Wrong! We didn't spend a lot of time trying but didn't mark anything and had no hits. No regrets though and we headed in after less than 2 hours, which worked out fine as the Lake kicked up pretty good after that. Yesterday, I wasn't planning to fish today because of a 70% chance of rain, but once again, this morning looked pretty good with only sprinkles in the area. Out I headed to my favorite fishing spot. I looked at the graph and it looked like a christmas tree with beautiful hooks ranging from 20' down to 90'. There must have been 75 marks in just 10 minutes and I was excited. They seemed confined to an area about a block and I scrambled to get gear down. I even put a Dipsy Diver down. I set the autopilot in circle mode and went through those hook marks any number of times without so much as a nibble. Finally, I figured they were either that common species with the Latin name "pisces non bitus" or were an unusual clusters of the invasive species spiny water fleas. After an hour of that, I got back to basics and dropped the Johnson rod down and the riggers to get serious. I wasn't long before the Johnson rod hit but I could tell it wasn't big so I cranked in fast and it got off. Then I caught a dink on the rigger and put it in the cooler which I normally call a dead well but this time I put water in to keep the small Laker alive. Then the suspended downrigger went off and I could tell it was a good sized Laker, pulling line out steadily. I was gradually able to gain ground and about half way in, it got off. Oh well! The light south wind got even lighter as I fished and I gradually caught 3 fairly small Lakers, all bigger than the dink so I released it. Unexpectedly great day on the water! I still want to know what those marks were.
23 Sep I read my email real early and got a note from a local fisherman who I don't know but reads this web site and said he was doing well on salmon. I told him in my 4 trips for salmon this Fall, none were successful. I never really planned on fishing today because of the rain threat yesterday. Early morning showed the ground wet and a light fog. But wait - no wind and not much predicted and very little rain on the radar so off I went. I thought this might be the perfect time to try one more time for salmon so I did. Weather conditions were super with light winds from the SW and 1-2' gentle rollers coming in, left over from yesterday's winds. There was only one boat at the launch and very few boats out. I ran the two downriggers and a Dipsy Diver (I usually refer to as a Dip Shit Diver). Well, big as life the downrigger went off and lo and behold, I got a nice 5# Brown Trout. That was fun! It wasn't 20 minutes later until I caught another Brown, this one closer to 3#. My little pea brain was thinking today might be the day to catch 5 fish as we're allowed 5 trout and salmon, but not more than 3 of any species. Well, I've not done that before so I started fishing toward Laker Lane. Enroute, I thought I'd change up lures and in the process, hit a nice Laker on a suspended line I won't admit it might have been hanging on). Now, needing two more Lakers, I dropped the one rigger to the bottom and just as it hit bottom, so did a Laker. I was now searching for the last and usually most difficult fish. It was at least 45 minutes before I saw a light hit and that Laker didn't do much fighting on the way up. However, experience told me he was saving himself and that he did. The Laker, a pretty good sized one at that, went nuts right behind the boat and got off. Rats I said (or words to that effect)! I was bound and determined to fill so I worked the Johnson rod, pumping it steadily. I finally got tired of that and set it down, only to have a hit about a minute later. This one I got in but it fought me the whole way and wasn't as big as one one I'd lost. Well, it was a wonderful day with the Browns and the Real Limit. During the time out there, the winds slowly died off and the sun peeked out occasionally, making in a super time on the water, and one I certainly didn't expect. Thanks Matt for putting the bug in my ear and fire under my butt. By the way, nothing on the Dip Shit Diver!
21 Sep The wind forecast was good but the bending trees at my house were indicating otherwise. Same for the gusty winds at the launch when Art and I launched. However, we'll give this one to the NWS because once we got out a ways, the winds were actually mild as predicted. Setting up, the rollers were initially tossing us about and we were walking in place. It took a while before we got our first hit, it being on the Johnson rod. Art thought it was a good sized Laker but when I netted it, it turned out to be a fairly small Laker that was hooked across the back. That explained why it fought so hard. Fortunately, the hook came out and it wiggled through the net before I could put it in the box and away it swam. Great! We caught one other Laker on the first leg of my route so we debated whether to head back or continue on. Well, we turned and quickly Art caught a singly line double, two nice Lakers on one line. Before long we caught our limit and reluctantly we had to head in. The wind and seas had slowly calmed and quitting was with mixed emotion. In a little over 2 hours, we'd caught our limit and how could we complain about that? It's only fair to mention we dragged a surface line around the whole time with no hits. It must be at least 15 trips before anything attacked that surface lure, and I've tried several different ones. However, I always say if the lure is in the boat, there is a good chance you won't catch anything on it. Today, the Johnson rod produced 3 Lakers, two Lakers were on the stacker lines, and two on the bottom lures. The downrigger we left suspended around 20-30' from the bottom caught 2 of the biggest fishes, 6# and 4# Lakers. The rest were nice, but smaller leans. We fished mostly in the 150' - 160' range depths. Surface water temperature was 59 degrees, for whatever that's worth.
18 Sep I really didn't think seriously about heading out as the forecast was for pretty gusty winds. Well, the water sure looked good with the west winds which were around 17 mph at the launch. I decided with those breezes but relatively calm seas, I'd try the harbor for salmon, which I did. Same result as ever - zip. However, the winds had backed down to around 10 mph so I trolled out to my favorite route and eventually picked up 2 Lakers, both off the Johnson rod in around 160' of water. Talk about slow going. No other hits either. On my troll in, hoping to catch one more, the winds suddenly picked up and hit 17-20 mph so it worked out to be a good time to quit. All in all, it was a nice day on the water and one I hadn't planned on.
15 Sep All the weather indicators pointed to a nice day and they weren't wrong as my friend Frank Lorsbach and I headed out into sunny skies and calm waters. Apparently the fish indicators were not that good as we trolled for nearly 2 hours without so much as a hit. There were several boats around us and we didn't see any nets flashing. Finally, we hit not one but two Lakers at the same time, both nice sized leans. We turned and made the same run back, slowly picking up 4 more Lakers, the last just before quitting after nearly 4 hours. However, our time on the water was great as winds were calm and temperatures warmed. We enjoyed too a small sparrow that was exhausted and landed on the downrigger for a long time. I took a picture and might post it later. Most Lakers were near the bottom in roughly 155' of water, as only 1 of of the 6 Lakers was on a stacker line, of which we had 3. We also ran a Dipsy Diver and surface line for entertainment. Once again, nothing there. We talked to several fishermen coming in when we did and they weren't as lucky as we were.
13 Sep It looked pretty good from shore and most of the wind references showed a northerly breeze but it turned out to be closer to an average of 13 mph from the NNW, with 2-3' seas, plus a little. Once out to my normal starting spot, I wondered what I was doing there, mulled about it for 10 minutes, then finally decided to troll back and quit, starting with putting out the Johnson rod. I could see 3 sets of Indian nets and indications there was a fourth, as I could only see one end. I set a course to avoid them. After setting out the Johnson rod, I put one downrigger down about half way, with delusions of catching a Laker or maybe even a salmon. It wasn't 5 minutes and the downrigger was jumping. After a considerable fight, I landed a 4 1/2# lean Laker in the rough water and it wasn't my best netting job. Of course, not having the net ready to go didn't help. I reset that rigger, then put down the other one to the same depth as the first. Ten minutes later that rigger rang and I could tell it wasn't a Laker once I picked up the rod as that fish was pullin' line. I put the rod back in the holder, then quickly reeled in the Johnson rod so the fish wouldn't tangle in it. After finally wrestling the fish into netting range, I could see it was a nice Chinook (weighed 6#) and behind it was another Chinook (2#) on the stacker line. More ugly, but effective netting. Great, my first single-line double Chinook ever. Well I thought, this is all a pleasant surprise so I plied those waters for 2 more hours without a nibble. I played my boom box, which had Saturday Night Fever by the Bee Gees playing while I walked (danced) in place standing up in the rough water. How appropriate! Turned out to be a fantastic day. I was hoping beyond hope to catch 2 more Lakers and get the real limit of 5 fish, but that didn't happen. Rarely ever does but what a super day anyway.
10 Sep There was a little nip in the air after a session of wind and rain the past several days. Looking out to sea it looked a lot worse that it proved to be as Art and I headed out. We were met by 2' rollers but they were gentle as we set up and it was just a matter of getting the sea legs working. It wasn't 10 minutes before we had a big 5# Laker on the Johnson rod and we thought, we're rollin' too. Wrong! We continued along our run thinking that was just one fish so we continued on as we made a long hook run, only to get us one more Laker after a couple of hours. We fished back the same run (seems not too smart eh?) and finally hit another Laker on the Johnson, only to lose it. As we approached our starting spot, action picked up and before long we had some nice Lakers in the box, the 5th and 6th being a double. Most were caught in 150' - 160' but 4 of the Lakers were off the bottom by 20' to 40'. It took about 3 1/2 hours but the water slowly laid down as we fished and the sun just made it nicer. Surface water temperature was 62 degrees. I drove by the lake a couple of hours later and the waves were nasty, with winds from the east at over 15mph. Lucky us.
5 Sep The great weather and fishing conditions continued on again today as my guest Ron and Alex Rabe, and Dani Simandl headed out with me on a beautiful morning and calm seas. Our first Laker was pretty small and in retrospect, we should have released it but... It wasn't long before the rigger running bottom rang and we lost probably a 6# Laker right behind the boat. We shortly afterwards picked up another Laker and each Laker after became progressively bigger. The rigger running suspended, probably 20' from the bottom caught 3 of the biggest ones. The ladies did all the reeling. When we had 5 Lakers in the box, I suggested we head in after a last pass but they suggested we really should get another, which we did. The Lakers were all fire red leans. Apparently the Johnson rod was on vacation today as it didn't help out. Here's a picture of the crew with some of the fish. Click to enlarge, hit back button to return here.
4 Sep What a difference a day makes. Today, with Grandson Cooper Smith (5), we headed east to the same place we were yesterday with weather and seas conditions nearly identical, but the action was definitely faster. We didn't have the suspended rigger down 5 minutes before a Laker hit. We then hit a 6# and 3# Laker on one rod. Cooper and I worked together on those. All in all, we hit 8 Lakers, releasing two small ones, all in 2 hours and while trying to entertain a 5-year old. The water was super and the only crisis was the batteries went dead on his GameBoy, for which I fortunately had some spares on board. We had a great time but 2 hours is about maximum for a 5-year old attention span. When we showed the fish to a few people (we had 3 around 6#), Cooper would point out the big ones were the ones he caught so we know he's fishing material.
3 Sep My guest Scott Wilson and I headed east for a quick fish as Scott was visiting here and our trip was impromptu. Today was a struggle for action as we caught one Laker on the suspended rigger and finally one on the Johnson rod. We fished for around 3 hours and it was super slow going. The good news is the waters were just beautiful, mostly calm and the air temperature in the upper 60s was just perfect.
2 Sep You could just tell from shore there was some beautiful water out there. Well, I quickly launched and when I hit the key, nothing happened. Both batteries were dead, something I had not experienced before. The guy launching next to me offered his battery and cables but the cables were old and small and wouldn't carry the load. I then figured what caused the batteries to discharge and fixed that. Then I loaded the boat, picked up a spare battery I have for emergencies and my cables and went back again and launched. This time I started the auxiliary motor, which has its own charging system, and out I went on that motor. After about 20 minutes, I lit the fire on the big motor and it started right away. I had plans to go somewhere else for a change but changed my mind and went to my usual place, because of the batteries and not wanting to go far. I caught 3 Lakers in 2 hours, two of which were nearly 4#, and missed a real nice one. After that, I then kicked back and sailed my radio controlled sailboat in the beautifully light winds. All turned out just fine.
1 Sep I didn't get a very early start. There was just a light SSE 6mph breeze and slight rollers and about 8 boats at the launch when I got there. I set up just past the Indian nets, almost too soon in fact. One rigger I thought I'd run around 100' down, just for grins and hopes of getting a bigger suspended fish. Besides, it was so nice on the water if figured that probably wouldn't happen and I'd have a little more time on the water. The Johnson and other rigger I ran near the bottom and each picked up a small Laker on my run out so I turned to fish back. I noticed the suspended rigger acting strange and I could tell there must have been a fish on. As I reached for the rod, the release broke away and I could tell there was a nice Laker on. Then it crossed over into my other downrigger line and by some miracle, I was able to pass the rod with the fish on under the other one and got it untangled. It was a nice 6# Laker and time to head in. I marked very little fish today.
31 Aug One of these days I'm going to skip the first leg of my run and spend a little more time where the action is a little better. I set up in 145' of water and eventually had a nice Laker on (you always say they're nice when you miss them), which got off about half way up. I worked the 165' depths mostly and after about an hour the action picked up, including a 7# Laker that turned out to be a fat. I released it but I don't think it survived, wink, wink! I then hit three Lakers, one on each rigger and one on the Johnson, but not all at once. The water with small rollers had leveled out and the wind died from its SE at 6 and it was beautiful. I saw only one other boat nearby and he caught a small Laker as he went by.
28 Aug I awoke at dark-o-clock to the wind blowing through the trees and wondered if it might be a bit breezy on the Big Pond. Checking various weather sites, it didn't look bad with the NOAA station at the Coast Guard Station showing 10 mph from the south. Of course the NWS site showed calm. As my guests Royce and Gene Williams, John Bedwell, and I headed out, the wind was averaging 6 mph, pretty nice. It was a little slow going as we set up on our easterly run, hitting only 4 Lakers on my usual run. During our run we noted the surface water temperature radically dropped to 56 degrees as we hit an area with churning water caused by clashing water of different temperatures. Yesterday, the water was 67 degrees in the same location. After going about half a mile, we found surface temperatures of 66 degrees. By the end of the run the winds and water had calmed and I suggested we pull lines and head further east, so we did.
We set lines up and quickly the Johnson rod fired up, only to have the Laker quickly get off. However, action picked up and we started catching Lakers around the 160-170' level, some on the bottom, some on stacker lines. One rigger running suspended rang the bell and John caught 2 Lakers on the one rod. We made a couple of passes and John decided to pump the Johnson rod, which to his surprise, he hooked into a Laker that fought him hard all the way up. We ended with 12 nice Lakers, the biggest 4# but all nice leans. The water and air temperature were perfect and we couldn't have asked for a better day on the water. Below is a grip and grin picture of the crew with some of their catch. Click to enlarge, hit back to return here.
27 Aug It was another beautiful morning as I headed out early to just slight rollers and little wind. For some reason my GPS wouldn't lock on so I was wondering how I'd figure out my usual run as I didn't have a good land triangulation on where it starts and runs, but I guessed and darned if the GPS didn't lock on just as I started, and I was probably within a 100' feet of my waypoint. I set up and quickly had a hit on the rigger, only to lose the Laker about 5' back of the net. Then the Johnson rod bounced about 10 seconds and that was gone. The next two hours I just enjoyed the ride without being bothered by fish. I saw a green balloon floating nearby and it scared me to think it might have marked an net or something but it was probably just from the Seafood Fest. Nearing the end of my run, just as I started to turn, I hit a double, boxing both. As I completed the turn and reset lines, I hit a triple, with two Lakers on one line so I ended up releasing two Lakers. All three were suspended about 30' - 50' from the bottom in around 165' of water. As luck would have it, the 4# Laker was a fat and the two I released were definitely leans. Can't complain much though as I haven't had but maybe 3 fats all summer.
26 Aug Today was the SSFA fishing contest but my guests Josh and his wife Air Gustafson and Ashley Villier, and I were not in it. We headed out at 7a in heavy overcast skies, light winds, and gentile rolling seas which had settled overnight. We had just gotten the one rigger set up when we caught a small Laker. The next one was not far behind, a good sized Laker which got off. It wasn't long and we caught a dink Laker which we released. The crew was looking a little green in the rolling water and after our 5th Laker, we decided to start pulling rods as we trolled in. I handed the Johnson rod to Josh to reel in and put away and about half way up he got a good hit, managing to catch a super nice 8# lean Laker. As we pulled the last rigger up we noticed a Laker hanging on which we shook off and released. Most of our fishing was in the 155' range, with some Lakers coming off the stackers and two on the Johnson rod running the bottom. Here're some pix, click to enlarge, use your back button to return here.
Note: To the person from Houghton that was talking with Bob from Marquette about Isle Royale last week, Bob said he didn't recall your name but knew you read my web site and would like to talk with you again. Please drop me an email and I'll make the connections. Joe
22-23 Aug Yesterday was fast for action. I set up in 140' but found 2 nice Lakers suspended about 135' over 170' of water. The last Laker came on the Johnson rod running near bottom. I also missed one and all this in a little over an hour. Conditions were real nice but I was glad they came fast as I had to get in for some projects. Today I launched at 8a to great water and almost no wind. I set up in the same spot as yesterday and when I hit 170' of water, I had two Lakers on back to back, seeing both of them and watching them get off. About ten minutes later the Johnson rod started bouncing and that Laker quickly got off. Gee, zero for three. The next hour and 45 minutes there was nothing. I debated trolling elsewhere but thought, there were hits in the area so I stuck around and finally caught a 2# Laker so at least I wasn't skunked. I then decided to fish towards the marina into shallower water which wasn't far away. When I hit 117' and was just reaching for the rigger to wrap it up, the rigger bell rang, the fish released, and I caught a 4# Laker. I put that rigger away and was reaching for the Johnson rod to wind it up and just as I did, a nice Laker hit that so I ended up with my limit after all. The water was so nice with almost no wind and a comfortable temperature, it was tough to head in.
20 Aug What a super morning with the sun rising on gentle waters as I headed out east. Apparently, I wasn't alone even that early. There were lots of boats around. I marked quite a few fish while under power in about 120' of water but instead of trying there, I moved on to my favorite haunts and started in around 145' and it went down from there. It wasn't long before I caught a dink (probably around 1.5#) so I released it as it was in good shape. A good hour passed and with nothing else going on, I decided to drop the rigger I usually run suspended to near bottom and quickly picked up a nice 3# Laker. I sent it down again and within a few minutes caught a 4# Laker. Well, the last one is usually the toughest and this was no exception. I continued down my run, reversed, and decided to troll a good part of the way back when just before quitting, I hit a nice 7.5# Laker that fought well. All the Lakers were in from 155' - 165' of water and near the bottom. Oh, when I quit and pulled my rigger up, I had hooked a lamprey on my stacker line. Now there's one less lamprey out there. Actually, I didn't mind the slow pace of fishing as the weather was perfect. The air had warmed to 68 degrees, up from 58 degrees when I started and the sun made it feel much warmer. I really did not like having to head in when it was so nice.
18 Aug Today my guests Les and Ian Connon and Albert Salas and I headed east in great water with a light southerly wind. I was just explaining how the stacker lines are set up and occasionally we catch two Lakers on one line, but not often. Well, it wasn't long after that Ian reeled in two Lakers like that, and shortly after that, Albert did the same. I checked my records that that made 8 single line doubles this year so far. Action was fairly steady but the Lakers were fairly small, albeit, nice leans. We pretty much stuck to the 155' - 165' depths and the suspended rigger produced only one Laker. We headed in with our limit in nice, calm water not having missed a fish the whole time. Click picture to enlarge, use your back key to return here.
16 Aug I just don't like to harp on the NWS but they've got it coming today. The forecast was light winds, becoming S at 5-10mph. The NWS showed calm winds. Well, Art Beauchamp, George Patrick and I headed out into south winds averaging 13 mph, and 2-3' seas. It was lumpy and hard to control our speed, and we managed only 2 Lakers in shy of 3 hours. We also missed 3 Lakers that didn't stay on long. All hits were near the 150' level. I talked with a few other fishermen and they had roughly the same luck, but a few did much better, but also stayed out longer. Despite the slow action, we still had a great time and the slow fishing action just didn't interfere with our BS. The surface water dropped to 65 degrees from around 70 a few days ago, for whatever that's worth. Not unusual was the lack of action on the surface line that is long overdue to catch something.
11-12 Aug Friday early began with steady easterlies but they died off somewhat during the morning so I headed out around noon in some big rollers. It wasn't dangerous but I was doing a considerable amount of walking in place with the rocking of the boat. Occasionally, the downrigger bells would dip into the water and the motor prop would cavitate as big waves would rock the boat. Paying my dues produced two Lakers, the first of which came after an hour so I got careless near the net as I thought I didn't want to fillet just one Laker so it got off and swam away. The wind started building and waves capping so I turned and caught one more Laker before bunching it. Saturday, the water settled beautifully but the Lakers just were not on the bite. A couple of other boats around be were struggling to catch anything and I was lucky to end with 3 Lakers in shy of 3 hours. I got off the Lake at a good time as the wind came up shortly after and the waves really built up.
9 Aug When I eventually get my fishermen's dictionary set up on this web site, one of the definitions will be for the meaning of forecasted winds from 5 to 10 mph. What that really means is from 12 to 22 mph as in today when my guests were John and Kieran (8) Devere, here visiting on their annual vacation. They last fished with me two years ago. We set up with a strong tail wind in 150' of water and in about 20 minutes, one of the riggers rang, then the other and then the Johnson rod so we had a triple on. Kieran, with a little help from her dad reeled in the first Laker, then John reeled in the Laker on the Johnson, and Kieran caught the third Laker, which was our biggest at over 3#. The wind and waves just kept building and we were trolling straight into winds that increased to nearly 20 mph, at which time I decided it was time to haul in our gear. However, we did catch one more small Laker just before quitting. Click on picture to expand, hit back key to return here.
8 Aug After a few days of huffing and puffing winds or threats to do that, Art and I headed out in great conditions with a good forecast and set up in 145' of water, working to our average of 155'. The Johnson rod quickly responded but resulted in a dink (what I call a small Laker). However, the action was steady and in around 2 hours, we had our 6th Laker, only to catch another before we could get the rest of lines up so we released it. Nothing happened on the stacker lines but the rigger suspended about 25' off the bottom produced 3 of the Lakers, unusual.
4 Aug I was joined today by Ron Rabe, here on his annual visit from California. The water was a lot rougher than we thought it'd be, with 2+' waves and rollers and a 10 mph north wind. Ron doesn't do well in rough water so we didn't go far before setting up in 145' of water. In no time, the Johnson rod bounced and Ron even spotted the hit. The downrigger then hit and we quickly had two Lakers in the box. Then along came a little sparrow and sat on Ron's downrigger. I then had a hit on my rigger and looked over to see the rigger with the sparrow also had a fish on it. We just left the rigger bounce until the sparrow made its way to the dashboard where it walked around and stayed with us all the way back to the launch. Wouldn't you know we got a double when we could only catch one more so we released a nice 3# Laker and headed in. Ron was pretty happy for the quick 1-hour trip as he was looking a touch green. Below is a picture of our guest bird.
3 Aug You could just tell it the water was going to be beautiful as my guest Royce Williams and I headed east on near-calm waters, with the air temperature at 67 degrees and the surface water temperature at 69 degrees, the foregoing of which affects fishermen, not the fish. We set up to run the 150-160' depths and I thought why not run the Dipsy Diver, as long as no one knows. Well, I set it at 99' which I call implied precision. Interpretation: Someone might thing I know what I'm doing. Well, two minutes later Royce was fighting a nice Coho, later to be called supper. Action was slow but often enough to keep us alert. I showed Royce how to rattle the cheese snack bag so the fish would know we were busy eating. It worked and we caught a Laker. All in all, we ended with 6 Lakers and a Coho, the largest Laker being a 7# fat. Rats! However, it was a great day on the water and winds were light and the fishing and company great. Click on picture to enlarge, use back button to return here.
1 Aug Bummer! Rain and threats of rain all day and finally I thought we got past the thunderstorm threats so after supper my guest Tom LaPoint and I headed out with one eye to the east and one eye to the west in perfectly calm waters. We struggled for an hour and a half without a hit until we finally hit a 3#+ Laker but with darkening clouds to the west, caution said to head in so we did. The ominous-looking clouds didn't materialize but best be on the safe side and we never got our fine young butts wet...this time.
30 Jul Today I was honored to have as my guests, Haj i me Nakamura and Yoshiyuki Isobe, 2006 Higashiomi Sister City delegates from Japan, and their host, Don Potvin. We set up in 145' of water and it wasn't long before we hit a small Laker. We steadily picked up 4 more Lakers off the downriggers, including a 7# Laker Mr. Nakamura caught. Mr. Isobe finished up with our 6th Laker on the Johnson rod and discovered how much line (probably over 500' was out) there was to get the fish in but he did a great job. We also missed two Lakers. Conditions were good with a light 8 mph wind out of the east and gentle rollers. We reaffirmed that fishing and time on the water is indeed a universal language. We ended with a boat tour around the Island for some photos. Here're some pictures of our guests you can click to enlarge.
29 Jul I cancelled early morning plans to fish because of the thunderstorm rolling through. After it passed, I drove to the launch and could see the lumps and bumps outside the breakwater but the winds were considerably less than predicted, but out of the northeast, an often rough direction. With limited time I headed out late morning to rollers that varied from 2' to an occasional 5', the kind that are no threat but cause you to wander around the boat trying to stand up. I set up in 150' and it wasn't long before I had a small Laker on the rigger, then another right after that on the stacker line. With two in the box, I saw the Johnson rod pulling so I took up both riggers so they didn't hang bottom while I was reeling in the Laker. Dang if both riggers didn't start jumping so I released the small Laker and kept the bigger of the two on the riggers, releasing the other one. Wouldn't you know it would be a triple when I needed one more? Fun though and in an hour I was headed in the dodge traffic on their way to and from Art on the Rocks.
27 Jul As Reggie and I headed out to the east, there was a nice chop and a steady 8-10mph wind from the south but it wasn't a problem. The powerful currents were more of a problem as going into 1-2' waves and 8-1-mph winds, our speed was on the fast side with the engine RPMs way down. Turning around, it was just the opposite, needing to run the engine considerably faster going with the waves and wind and still moving at a slower speed. Weird but it happens quite a bit. We didn't get much fishing action except Reggie played with his Dipsy Diver which, with the cross wind, turned into a goat rope until he finally put it away for a while. We finally got a small Laker at about 150' and then another. We swung back to reverse our route and take another leg that's been productive in the past and we slowly started picking up progressively bigger Lakers. We ended with a 7.6# Laker, and a couple of 5# Lakers to top off our limit. We also missed two and released a dink so we had good action in the little over 2 hours we were out. The wind slowly died off and it was just beautiful on the water, albeit a little warm at times. Don't look for a report tomorrow as I'm taking another lesson in humility - my second round of golf, and probably the last, for the year.
26 Jul Our plans to hit the water early were dampened by considerable green stuff to the west on the radar. As a result, Reggie and I postponed going for a couple of hours. The rains never came and the threat was dissipating so we launched around 9a, the only boat to do so. The water was like glass so we headed to the exact spot the last two trips proved so fruitful. Well, we went nearly an hour and a half without a hit. I suggested we head back on another route I have and it wasn't long before we ran into the Lakers. In a little under half an hour, we caught 6 nice Lakers, including a double. One Laker had a lamprey hanging on it. Just as we caught the last fish, the winds came up from the north and white caps began forming, so our timing to quit could not have been better. Some Lakers were on stackers but all were pretty close to the bottom in 160' of water. Promise not to tell but I ran a Dipsy Diver and we had a solid hit on it. Couldn't tell what it was but my guess is a salmon. The fish stayed on about 30 seconds. Now I'll have to run that Dipsy another 15 trips before I get another hit, if I'm lucky. Actually, there were considerable marks on the graph between 40' and 110'. The only other boat we saw the whole time was a charter boat. Here's Reggie unwinding between fish.
25 Jul Today I was joined by my brother-in-law Art Beauchamp. Weather forecasts were super and seas were calm as we launched early in the morning. We set lines in 150' of water but It wasn't but a few minutes before winds kicked from the SE at 13 MPH and we were in 2' seas. That's happened before so we slugged it out against the wind and waves but the bite just wasn't on at the time. We stuck to the 150'ish depths and ran our old route and finally caught a nice Laker. As the seas laid down, we slowly picked up a few more Lakers, then missed two that we got all the way to the boat, just before we could net them. We caught our 5th Laker on the Johnson rod (3rd fish caught on it) and then it got slower. Art insisted (sure, I'm innocent) we get the last one which we did in just under 4 hours. It was just the right time to head in as it was getting hot with the winds having died to near calm. What a great day on the water and it was good to have Art back fishing.
23 Jul What a difference a day made in the weather as my guest Reggie Gebo and I headed east around mid morning. Seas were calm and conditions were super. We set lines in 150' of water and slowly picked up three Lakers each about half hour apart. We made a hook turn and hit into a double. The stacker lines worked in two cases and the Johnson rod came through with two. All the lures were kept near the bottom. I commented it was unusual we didn't mark any fish, which has happened before, when I went dah, I forgot to set the graph on fishing and left it on cruising, where it's desensitized and doesn't mark fish. The moral of the story is you don't need to mark fish to catch them. Graphs serve two purposes for me, first to tell me whether the bottom is going up or down and for entertainment when I'm not catching any fish.
22 Jul It's only fair to mention those times that don't go smoothly. Today was one as George Patrick and I arrived at the launch, thinking we'd have great fishing water with the forecast of 5-10 mph winds. Well, two boats were coming in as we got there, saying it was too lumpy for them. I've gone out before with those reports and found conditions were really not all that bad. However, today they were. We were in 3' seas, a pretty steady wind of 20 mph and gusting to 26 mph. I put one line down for about 10 minutes and looked at George and asked is this really a lot of fun? We then headed in and it will not go down as a skunk, just a mental lapse.
21 Jul With a decent sounding forecast, my guest Reggie Gebo and I headed east in seas that were rocking and rolling. Winds were not bad but were from the NE and averaging 10 mph. I was hard to walk around the boat as the rollers were coming from two directions and just tossed us about. We set lines in 140' of water and quickly hit 155' where we stayed for nearly two hours without so much as a hit. Midway, we changed our route to head for one of my favorite spots and sure enough, almost like magic, when we arrived there the lines started jumping. In roughly 20 minutes we lost 2 Lakers, had a triple, and caught 3 more.
18 Jul Murphy's Law says as a fisherman's appointments always end up on days when fishing conditions are excellent. No exception today. This morning whilst my car was in for repairs and winds were calm, I was thinking, why not yesterday when the winds were rippin'? The good news was my repairs cost way less than I thought and were done way sooner too. I headed out at 1030 with my guest Jordan Bail (14), who fished with me in 2001, also when he was here visiting. We started north of white rocks. We worked hard for nearly two hours without so much as a hit, and almost no marks. Dodging the Indian nets across my normal fishing route was challenging and put us in deeper water than I wanted. On our return leg, we decided that we would wrap it up if there was no action on this final pass. That apparently got the action going as within the last 20 minutes, we managed a nice Laker, a 4# Laker (had a tag so we'll contact the MIDNR) and a 5# Steelhead. Jordan reeled in all three although the 4# Laker on the Johnson rod just about did him in as we had a lot of line out. The conditions for us fishermen were near perfect with very light winds and slight rollers for action. It was so refreshing to hear Jordan say how nice it was on the water and recognizing that catching fish is frosting on the cake. Here're some pictures of the frosting (click on them to expand, use back button to return here).
15 Jul I played golf in a charity tournament yesterday. I usually golf once a year to refresh my memory on why I don't golf. After my lesson in humility, I think I'll stick with fishing for Lake Trout. Today I was joined by Mike Ovink, launching at 6a, a little earlier than usual but it was a beautiful day and with the heat forecasts, we thought it would be a good idea to start early. We headed east and it wasn't long before we had our first Laker, albeit a small one. Not too long after that, while Mike reeled in two fish on one line, the Johnson rod started bouncing with a Laker. A triple is always fun. We then missed a couple, landed one, and fished nearly an hour before we caught our sixth Laker. That last one always seems to be the toughest to catch. Missing fish was again the rule as we lost 3 nice Lakers but we really didn't care much as conditions were so nice and we just knew how hot it would be when we got back to shore. Hot it was!
13 Jul Today I was joined by Caleb (14) and Anthony Benjamin (10) Fox as we headed east on beautiful water. We set up in 150' of water and before long, we had a nice Laker on, only to lose it right behind the boat. I mentioned we'd put the surface line out but not to expect anything on it as I hadn't caught anything on it this season. Well, we got a hit and the either Steelhead or salmon danced across the water as Caleb fought it for several minutes. Well, it rolled and jumped and when the lure came in, we could see where the rolling fish tangled the line into the hooks and backed the hook out. The fish earned its freedom but I don't think that explanation helped much. We lost 4 fish, all within eyesight of the boat but the good news was we boxed 5 Lakers. The air temperature climbed steadily and Anthony thought cooling off with the hose was a good idea and then so did Caleb and I. Here're some pictures (click on them to expand, use back button to return here).
12 Jul The saga of missing fish continued as I struggled under near perfect conditions, catching one nice Laker and missing 3. Most hits and errors were around the 160' depth. While I was on a 2-mile trolling leg, not varying my course for over 45 minutes, another boat (whose name I won't mention), cut right in front of me from my port side. I was flabbergasted as he had made some earlier course changes, but would not vary his course across my bow. Apparently, he didn't know the rules of the sea of yielding to boats coming from his starboard side, not to mention he could have easily made minor changes (as I did) to avoid the situation. Normally, it wouldn't have been a problem for me to yield, right of way or not, but I was forced to quickly turn to shallower water where I scrambled to get the downriggers and Johnson rod up so I didn't hang bottom. I was not very happy about it and I just turned towards the marina, pulled the lines, and quit. Several days later I found out there was a medical reason why it happened.
11 Jul Well, we finally got back on the water again. My special guest George Patrick and I headed east in a chop that wasn't expected, but it wasn't a problem. It was at least an hour before we got a hit, and then it was a double. One Laker on the rigger we just let out there while George reeled in the Johnson rod, with a nice 4 1/2# Laker. Then there was another spell before we got the third, a little over 3 hours into the mission. However, it could not have been nicer. We tried hard to catch more, including eating George's snacks but even that got us only one more Laker. On our final pass, we decided we'd hit the area we had the double when my rigger hung bottom and I lost the weight, but no other tackle. Lucky break. However, it bent my downrigger up so more repairs. Those things happen so we'll get things ready for the next trip. I won't even mention how many fish George caught on his side of the boat that he put anise oil on his lures. I can keep a secret! Yeah, right!
5 Jul Today my guests were Nate Pigorsch and his sons Ben (13) and Mike (11), who fished with me almost exactly two years ago. The water was even better than predicted as we set lines not too far east of the upper harbor. That was most unproductive and we missed a fish or two and after an hour and a half, we decided to move to an area I've had much luck with over the years. We pulled lines and away we went. As we set up in our new location, Nate put down the Johnson rod and wondered why the bottom pulled and tugged back. Well, that turned out to be a nice 3#+ Laker that hit instantly. We missed a few more and both Mike and Ben were worn out reeling in the Johnson rod later, only to feel the fish get off enroute. We were fishing for nearly 3 hours and had only two Lakers when we circled back to some prior marks and the Johnson rod bounced, then the right, then left downrigger. Turns out Mike reeled in two fish on one line and we added 4 nice Lakers to our collection. We decided to pull lines just as the winds picked up. Timing was perfect as we headed in with 7 nice Lakers. We found them near the end, closer to 180' of water, deeper than the 155' we averaged before. We probably missed 5 or more Lakers but still it was a super day on the water. Here're some pix. Please click to enlarge, hit back to return here.
2 Jul I had received word the night before that if I was to go fishing, it would be in my interest to be back fairly early as we had "commitments." I know what that means so I left the launch at a 6:30a to a light wind and a fireball sun in the sky. I didn't go far before hitting a small Laker at 155' of water. Shortly after that, the Johnson rod started bouncing but that Laker stayed on for only about 10 seconds. I hit another Laker around 160' on the stacker and decided to make a turn to fish it back when the downrigger started ringing the bell madly, then it went silent. I brought it up to check and reset the riggings, then sent it back down again. It wasn't one minute later when off it went again, and again, I missed the fish. Gee, what's with missing 3 consecutive Lakers? I continued on and finally hit a Laker on the Johnson rod. Before reeling it in, I took the rigger up about 40' so it wouldn't hit bottom while I was reeling. You guessed it, I got a Laker on that too so with a double, I had to release one. Conditions on the water were fantastic, starting at 61 degrees and only 65 degrees when I got off before 9a. Today is supposed to be a hot one. I got home in plenty of time so I didn't make any points, but then I didn't lose any either.
30 Jun You could just tell it was going to be a great day on the water as my guest Mike Olson and I headed past the end of the breakwater. We stated in 140' with light winds and calm waters but slow action. We quickly hit the 170' and back again to 155' but nothing doing. We turned southward and it was nearly 2 hours before we hit our first Laker. Once we got into them, action picked up, missing our 3rd Laker just two feet from the net. We ended with 5 nice, but small lean Lakers in 4 hours. Not the fastest action but we really didn't mind when it's that nice on the water.
28 Jun I should have figured it was rough when a fishing acquaintance with a 24' boat came in as I launched. Well, it was rough but not being the sharpest knife in the drawer, I went anyway, set lines and made a run east. It wasn't long before I hit a small Laker but by then the waves were 2-3' with steady winds from the north. I turned and fished it back, planning to wrap it up at the end of the run. I had one additional hit that really rattled the downrigger and got it up about half way when the line went dead. The Laker took my good lure, probably not because it was huge but rather I hadn't stripped any frayed and worn line and retied lately as I like to do.
27 Jun Conditions started pretty smoothly as George Patrick and I headed east but that didn't last long. Slowly the winds built to averaging 12 mph from the north and that made for some bumpy water. However, we did manage four nice Lakers before we decide it was no longer comfortable out there. Two were on the suspended lines. Initially I asked George (89 years young) what lures he wanted to run on his side and he said "ones that work." We stayed pretty much near the bottom in 150 - 170' of water.
26 Jun Bob Bryngelson joined me fishing as he has the past several years. Bob had to drive over at dark-o-clock from the Iron Mountain area. We headed east to hit the shallow water first but that was a bust with no hits after a couple of hours. We then headed to deeper water. Conditions were perfect for us, but perhaps not for the fish. However, we did hit a single line double (two fish on one line) and had 5 fairly small Lakers in the box in a couple of hours. We decided to fish back and it took nearly another hour to fill our limit. The last one is always the toughest. The water was like glass and the winds were gusting to 3 mph, fantastic! Anyway, we had a great time, even if the fishing was on the slow side.
25 Jun Yesterday I just trolled around the sand hole for a couple of hours on some great waters. It was slow going but I got a few chores done whilst on the boat. I took my electric knife sharpener, plugged it into a small inverter and sharpened a few knives and some hooks. Then I cleaned my sunglasses, just like I cleaned them a year ago, not that they needed it. Both Lakers came on the suspended line, even though I worked the other two lines near the bottom in roughly 150' - 180'. Today, I ventured into shallower water and it wasn't 5 minutes before a rigger went off and the line screamed out. Then a dead line so I reset and the other rigger went off and with the same results. It was a little discouraging to miss those two but encouraging to think this might be the day to hit some big ones. Well, 3 hours later, I finally got a nice Laker in the box and that was it. All was not lost as the water was calm and conditions were as relaxing as could be.
23 Jun This morning I was joined by Rodney Smith as we headed eastward to fish on the shallow side. The water was under a foot with SW winds under 10mph. It was slow going but so nice fishing that we didn't mind. We worked the various depths and eventually found 4 nice Lakers in 4 hours, all under 4# but beautiful leans. There was a powerful current today from west to east and it's sometimes hard to judge the correct speed for the lures as the GPS doesn't tell you that, only true ground speed. Anyway, it was a great and relaxing day on the water.
21 Jun The first day of summer and guest Harry Purvis and wanted to try shallow waters again, as we did a while back. Winds were from the south, building to 15 mph but it was still very comfortable and fishable. We managed 4 nice Lakers, all around 4# each and nice leans. They just fight so well in shallower waters. It took us a little under 4 hours but we were in no rush as it was so nice fishing. We also missed a real nice Laker just a few feet from the net so all in all, great day. On one of those rare occasions, it calmed just before we headed home and the wind kicked after we got back. Lucky eh?
20 Jun It was a super day to take my very special guests Grandsons Spencer Smith (10) and Cooper Smith (5), with calm winds and seas. Both were enthusiastic to go but I was a little unnerved when Spencer took books to read and Cooper had enough snacks to fortify the entire marina. We set lines at 140' and trolled a long way east with nary a hit or even a mark on the graph. I could feel the pressure placed on myself to catch them a fish but aside from the occasional question of do we have a fish yet, we were really having lots of fun. We turned on the boom box to some oldies and engaged in poopie jokes and the like. These are 110% boys. We finally caught a couple of Lakers and Spencer helped his brother reel his in. They then we tried to keep the Lakers in the live well (which bought me 10 minutes of entertaining them). Next I thought they might run my little 12v hand vacuum to clean up all the crumbs from the non-stop eating machine Cooper. That lasted about 4 minutes. Near the end of the run, I hung into some nets, the flags of which I never did see. Someone later told me there were DNR nets but I didn't see any flags and their schedule of netting didn't provide for anything near the sand hole. Anyway, hanging a downrigger is always ugly and I lost a couple of lures and bent my downrigger. Could have been worse. The highlight was Spencer's comment near the end to the effect of "I wonder what Mom would think if she knew Cooper and I went 1 1/2 hours together without fighting?" Spencer didn't read much. Great day and great kids. Here're some pictures.
19 Jun Today, there were mixed wind reports but as my guest Brandon Coron, 10 years old, and I headed out, it could not have been nicer. We set up in 145' of water but before long were in 170', then it came up again. In about 20 minutes, we had a good hit on his rigger we had suspended, but the Laker got off just before we could see it. Within a few minutes, we had another hit, then looking at the Johnson rod, it appeared we had another but it was bottom. Brandon replied "they're all over the place" which didn't prove true until later. Well, we missed that one, then another, making it 3 misses in a row. I explained that this has happened before. Luckily, after a while we hit into a double and got both Lakers. Brandon picked the number of clicks to run his downrigger and he seemed to have that down to a science as we caught two more Lakers off his side. The winds behaved at less than 10mph and the seas were near calm, but we could see to the north, more white than blue. That's not really a good sign so we started to haul up our gear and dang if Brandon wasn't on to a nice 6# Laker, biggest of the day, as the winds hit, at well over 20 mph. It was a lumpy ride in but a safe one. Brandon drove part of the time as I battened things down. Here're some pix:
18 Jun I took a dark-o-clock ride to the marina to see what the winds and seas were like. Well, I'm easily fooled (read that to mean I easily rationalize) so it looked good to me vs. the NWS predictions of windy. Well, it could not have been a lot nicer. I headed east for quite a while without a nibble so I made the corner turn to head south on another run when I hit a Laker but didn't bring it home. However, it wasn't long afterwards I hit another and before long, caught 3 nice, but small Lakers. Ironically, there was only one other boat in the area and we were on close pass paths. Well, it was a non-issue as we maneuvered around and I caught my last Laker as I saw him net one too. Good time on the water.
15 Jun I've been dying to try a dark-o-clock start so my guest Joe December and I headed out at 5a to fish shallow waters, hoping it'd be better fishing shallow than yesterday. Well, we got 3 small Lakers in a couple of hours but finally we moved out to deeper water, much like yesterday, to get our limit. It was a magnificent day on the water, with virtually no wind and flat seas. There'll be a little rethinking dark-o-clock starts but seeing the beautiful sunrise alone was worth it.
14 Jun Today guests Vicki Watters and Ron Haataja joined me as we headed to fish shallow water on beautifully calm seas. We finally got a nice 5# Laker to go but that was it shallow, even though we tried for quite a while. We then moved to my ole fishing spot and quickly picked up 6 more Lakers in around 160' of water. Here're the pix. Click to enlarge.
13 Jun It was time for a change (but not a big one) so I headed north of white rocks to my ole haunt. Talk about slow fishing! I couple miles out, after no hits, I noticed a couple of blips on the graph, but they were about 50' off the bottom. I wasn't even sure they were fish marks. With slow downriggers, it took a while but I thought, what the heck and brought the one up to that area. It wasn't 2 minutes later when I hit a nice 4# Laker suspended. I think it was a lucky fluke. The only other fish I hit just slammed the downrigger and really rang the bell. That was at 160' of water, near the bottom. Got it up right behind the boat and guess what, it's still swimming out there. However, conditions started just beautiful and calm and even after the east wind kicked up a bit, it was sooooo nice...but slow fishing.
12 Jun The water was pretty lumpy as Gary Gibbs and I headed out. We fished the sand hole for an hour without a hit or mark so we pulled up our gear, moved, and set lines in shallower water. There we got 4 nice sized Lakers, each around 5# in 3 hours. The winds dropped considerably as we fished, making the trip back pretty nice.
11 Jun Well, after several days of huffing and puffing, the wind finally subsided...a little. I headed out early with all the wind readings on the Internet showing calm, including the NWS. Well, read that to mean 13 mph from the north, with 2' seas. The air and surface water temperatures were both 47 degrees. It wasn't but 10 minutes before I caught a nice Laker on the rigger. I just had the one down as I was debating if it was to be a bouncy trip, to run just the Johnson rod and one rigger. Finally I put the other rigger down, but ran it suspended up a ways from the bottom. It was slow going after the first fish but finally I caught another on a rigger. An hour later, I had a nice Laker on the Johnson rod that fought me all the way up and earned its freedom right behind the boat. Then I lost another on the downrigger that I could see, just before it got off. The wind gradually backed off and it was getting nice fishing so with two fish in the box, I actually welcomed taking another pass. Finally, I hit my last Laker. Each of the five lures I was running had a fish on or caught. Then, as I hauled up the gear to quit, there was a beauty of a Laker taking a ride on my rigger. It was in great shape so I released it while it was still in the water, and it easily swam away. Sometimes, they're hard to spot when you're rocking and rolling out there. It sounds like a lot of action and whereas I had 6 fish on the line, it was over 4 hours in the process. On the other hand, it was wonderful out there.
7 Jun I just had work done on my Yamaha carburetor and wanted to check it out. The fog was heavy as I launched but the NE winds were manageable as I headed east. I set up in the sand hole with the radar running. I heard on the marine radio the ore carrier Michipicoten was inbound and I figured I was right between where he was and the ore dock. I contacted the skipper, gave him my position and asked if he could pick me up on his radar. He said he could (I could see him too). I asked if there was a particular direction he wanted me to go and he suggested south. In about 15 minutes, he passed just north of me and I could only see the top of the ship in the heavy fog. In the meantime, I didn't have a single hit and marked very little. The motor was running super. Finally, I hit a nice Laker on the Johnson rod that fought me all the way up. However, that was the only one in a couple of hours.
5 Jun Not being the brightest fisherman out there, and after getting skunked yesterday, I set up today with the same lures on the same run. It wasn't 10 minutes before I lost two nice Lakers. I turned and made my run back, a little more to the north and caught two nice Lakers, one on the Johnson rod. I put that rod back down and quickly hit another, which got off after reeling it up to just behind the boat. I made one more turn and hit my last Laker in that same area of 160' of water. None were on the stacker lines. The wind forecast of 5-10 mph turned out to be averaging 12mph but even then, it was not difficult fishing. So, a day later I caught 3 Lakers and missed 3, with almost exactly the same conditions. If someone could figure this all out they'd be a millionaire, but it wouldn't be as much fun...well maybe.
4 Jun I couldn't get out until noonish but at the launch, I talked to a fellow fisherman just coming in that I know has always caught Lakers, usually his limit. I asked how deep they were running and he said he was skunked. He said he was out several hours, tried different depths, even used dodgers that he rarely uses. He said no one around him got any either. Well, I headed out anyway and sure enough, after 2 hours I didn't have a single hit. The wind, which started as very light built to 13 mph from the east so I decided to bunch it, even though it was still fishable. When I came in, I noted another fisherman, noted for always coming in with his limit, vehicle and trailer were still there. I found that fisherman was out from 7:30a to 4:30a, but I didn't find out how many Lakers he caught. I guess all that is supposed to be a consolation to me, but I enjoyed it out on the Pond anyway. I believe that's called fishing.
3 Jun Today was a day to experiment a little as my guest Marcus Cairns and I took our jigging rods to try for whitefish and Lakers. Marcus is a cracker jack at whitefish but he couldn't get any to go. While he tried for whitefish, I jigged for Lakers and managed a quick Laker at the two of the three locations we tried. After trying for quite a while, we decided to troll back and it wasn't an hour before we had 5 Lakers on, losing one at the boat, and including a single line double (two Lakers on one line). The water was just super and a great day. We trolled a little deeper water than usual, mostly 180'.
2 Jun Guest Lars Weyer and I headed east before setting lines a 130', but quickly dropping to 150-160'. We worked steadily and it took a little over 4 hours to come up with 5 Lakers, all nice leans but fairly small. Most Lakers were on the stacker lines and the Johnson rod had the day off. Conditions were great with almost no wind so we had no excuses there.
1 Jun What a great day! Harry Purvis was my guest on a perfectly calm morning. Harry is not an early morning person but I got him going fairly early today, but he was late as usual. I called his former boat "crack of dawn" because he always thought the crack of dawn was 10a. He sold his boat last year. Harry was super at shallow fishing so that's what we did today. I hoped to learn some tricks from the master. Well, he kept his secrets well as we plied the 25' - 40' waters for a couple of hours without a nibble. I then suggested we head deeper to my favorite spot just a few miles away, so away we went. I talked him into just setting his downrigger at 133 clicks while I fished close to the bottom, in depths from 145' to 180. I could tell he thought I was putting him on but before long, I pointed to his downrigger that he had a fish on. Fishing banter required that I mention something to him so said I saw the fish hit before he did and that an inexperienced fisherman might have missed that fish hitting. I got cold reviews to that but the same thing happened about 20 minutes later and I said the same thing. In short, we caught 5 Lakers in about an hour. We turned and shortly, we hit a triple. Isn't that ironic? We then had to release two nice, lean Lakers, but what fun.
The fishing day wasn't over yet. Late afternoon, with the threat of isolated thundershowers, my guest Andy Wasilewski and I headed out to the east, not wanting to go far. It wasn't ten minutes before the rains hit but it was calm and very fishable. Andy's downrigger shook and he got a nice 3# Laker. Before long, my rigger bell rang and he reeled in another nice Laker, in the rain of course. As we looked to the west, we could see some really dark skies and the radar confirmed there was more to come. The kicker was when we thought we heard a rumble of thunder. We booked out shortly after that, with mixed emotion knowing we had two nice Lakers in under half an hour. We'll do this again, but under less threatening conditions.
31 May Conditions just looked right when Art and I headed out. We set up in 130' but before long, plied the 155' range. It was slow going until we got a couple of rigger bell ringers but we lost them on the way up. It was one of those strange days when we couldn't hang on to the Lakers, losing 4 for sure but we ended with 4 decent Lakers after some 4 hours of trying. Winds were initially decent but slowly built to a pretty steady at 10 mph from the WNW, with seas 1' to 2', so fishing was pretty easy. The air temperature didn't go much above 50 degrees and the surface water temperature ran 47 degrees. We marked very few fish.
30 May After yesterday's hot blast into the 90s, it was 72 degrees when I got up so I put on a light shirt and out I went at 6:40a. I was quickly greeted by heavy fog and an air temperature of 50 degrees, but almost no wind. Hello jacket! I did the usual putting out the Johnson rod, then my rigger to the bottom, then my no-brainer rigger that I set to 133 clicks and just leave it there. Last trip that no-brainer setup didn't do a single thing out of 8 fish caught. Today, with exactly the same setup, it caught 3 of 4 (I had to release the fourth I caught before I could get my equipment up ). I ran radar in the fog the whole time but didn't see any boat traffic or trailers when I launched or came in.
27 May What a difference a day makes. Yesterday, winds were supposed to be north at 5 - 10 mph. I thought I'd head out for a quick trip and quickly found anything but light winds. Instead, they were steady at 22 mph, gusting to 34 mph with big waves. The NWS and the few other wind meters didn't even show much wind. It was rippin' and I didn't even think about putting a line in the water and headed in. So much for the lousy wind and wave reporting we have around Marquette. That's another story I'll get into some other time.
Today, my guest was Joe December, skipper of a beautiful Proline 20' boat, Something Fishy, who I fished with on hiss boat a few days earlier. Conditions were just great with winds around 8 mph from the SE and light seas. We set lines and within 5 minutes, we had two Lakers on one line. Then the Johnson rod started jumping, then the downrigger again. In 55 minutes, we had 8 Lakers on, releasing 2 of them. That was one lot of fun. Now watch, I'll go there next time and think there isn't a fish to be had. Most Lakers were at 155' of water and 4 of them were on the stacker line, about 10' - 20' off the bottom.
25 May Conditions were very similar to the last trip to the sand hole as Art Beauchamp and I headed east. It wasn't 10 minutes after setting lines that we had a double, boxing both. The easterly winds slowly built and we managed two more Lakers before quitting. Most were in around 150' of water but two Lakers were on stacker lines. The rigger I set on 133 clicks and leave it there produced two of the four Lakers. The water was capping as we headed in.
23 May My guest John Wells and I started at dark-o-clock for salmon and caught 3 Coho in about 40' of water. There were lots of boats but we did a little better than most. In the afternoon, I fished the sand hole with light easterly winds. It was slow going, starting at 130' and then mostly working the 160' depths. The winds slowly built from the east and it got fairly bumpy and cold. I picked up a nice 3.5# Laker just before I quit.
22 May With most, but not all, of the kicker carburetion problems worked out, the steering problems resolved (read that as throwing lots of money at it), and a horrible stretch of rain and wind for weeks, I started in the harbor for about 45 minutes tuning things up with no lines out. After I decided all was ok, the GPS wouldn't lock on, something new. So that took more time but finally it connected. I headed east and started at 140' under light winds but cool temperatures. The air was 37 degrees when I started out. I set up the Johnson rod, then the downrigger. It wasn't 10 minutes later in 158' of water, while trying to get the other downrigger going, that the bell rang and I got my first Laker, albeit a small one, in a long time. I just set up the downrigger when another Laker hit, then another on the Johnson rod. I caught both so within a half an hour I was headed in with my limit. All were at 158' of water and two were on the stacker lines.
2 May It's about time to post what's been happening or not happening on my fishing activities lately. I'm in the process of replacing my Honda kicker with a Yamaha high thrust model. It hurts to do so as the Honda has 5,831.7 hours on it since 1986, but it's tired, and no longer puts out full power. It deserves retirement, don't you think? Well, you may think that but I may rebuild it and make it almost good as new. What a fantastic motor. However, for now it's time to move on. It's replacement, a used Yamaha has presented me with some carburetion problems that I'm hoping to iron out. It's running too lean right now transitioning from idle to full power. Also keeping me off the Lake is another problem that's steering-related (not to mention some super windy days) and that won't be resolved for at least another week.
On a cheerier note, I took my 14' boat out this morning into fairly light east winds and gloomy skies. I had grandiose plans to fish the Johnson rod and two downriggers but for reasons I don't want to get into, I settled for one downrigger with one rod with a stacker line. I headed east and started at 140'. I was marking a lot of fish near the bottom and it wasn't long before I caught a nice, small Laker. The next Laker was over 6# and gave me quite a hassle. I caught the 3rd on a stacker line but I released it as it was a little smaller than I'd hoped for. I discovered how maneuverable fishing is with only one downrigger. For example, I made a few doughnuts (very small, unintentional circles) and didn't get in trouble. As skies got even darker, I hit a single line double, two Lakers on one line so I released one, boxed the other, and headed in as it started to sprinkle. I don't know why but I was the only car parked in the launch. Well, I'm partially back. Stay tuned.
18 Apr My Brother-In-Law Art Beauchamp and I headed out on a cool pond, with almost no wind. We set up in the sand hole and were pretty much alone except for one other boat. It wasn't long before we caught a Laker on one the rigger, while another Laker hit on the other rigger. The only other boat near us stopped by while we were reeling in the second Laker, noting he had caught 3 Lakers, and gave us specific advice on the depth to fish, the direction (north-south, vs. east-west we were on) and that the bigger Lakers were on the north end of his run and the smaller ones on the south end. It was nice of him to let us know. We slowly caught 5 Lakers, none very big and went probably an hour without a hit. We decided to quit as it was getting cold with a northeast wind picking up and we pulled one rigger and the Johnson rod up. Reaching for the second rigger to haul it in, it jumped and we caught our 6th fish at the last minute. All the fish were caught going east and west even though we tried the north-south run a couple of times.
15 Apr The forecast was for east winds and I really didn't plan to go fishing. However, there didn't seem to be any wind so I headed out early on a pretty cool morning. It was beautiful and calm and the sun had just come up. I decided since it was so calm to head to the sand hole. Enroute, I could here the tink, tink of skim ice breaking on the hull. The skim ice was as far as I could see and had formed overnight when the air was probably in the low 30s (it was 36 degrees when I headed out) and the surface water was 35 degrees. I knew I couldn't put the downriggers down with the ice as they would drive me nuts shaking and jumping as the wire cut through the ice, not to mention the lines catching on the ice and forcing releases. Instead, I ran the steel-lined Johnson rod straight out the back in the wake cleared by the boat. Even then, the line would occasionally catch on the ice and the rod would jump and pull the lure up. I fished like that, with just the one rod, for nearly an hour, hoping the ice would burn off. I finally caught a small Laker but decided to head into the harbor to try for Coho as the cloudy skies were keeping the ice from melting soon enough. The harbor was its usual unproductive self to me but it was such a beautiful, calm morning, I really didn't mind.
13 Apr After hearing a few reports that Coho were still being caught in the upper harbor, Jon Cooper and I plied the waters, dragging 7 lures at varying speeds, all to no avail. No runs, no hits, and no errors. The water was absolutely beautiful, with almost no wind. Well, this is salmon fishing as I remember it but still, it was nice to give it a shot and enjoy the morning on the water.
10 Apr Today I was joined by Jon Cooper, an avid fisherman who had not plied the Big Pond waters before. We headed east in pretty steady 14mph winds, still decent enough to fish but hard to control the speed. We made a couple of passes, sticking pretty much with the 150' to 180' depth, but more of the former. We picked up a 3# Laker nearing the 180' depth and a 2# Laker off a stacker line in about 170'. We also missed two that just didn't want to hang on. We saw two ore boats pass by us, one came within 300' feet and it was a little unnerving. After about 2 1/2 hours, we bunched it when the kicker motor started started acting up, something it almost never does. Worked out though as we were nearing quitting time anyway.
9 Apr It was a cool 28 degrees when my guest Gary Gibbs and I headed east on some great water with light winds. We started at 130' of water but most of the time we were in from 150' to 160'. We caught 6 fairly small Lakers, with 3 coming off stacker lines about 10' off the bottom. We had 5 in the box when someone, whose name won't be mentioned, noted we hadn't missed any. Guess what, next fish got off. However it was a great day with beautiful sunshine and it warmed up nicely, even though the surface water showed only 35.7 degrees. We dragged around the obligatory surface line with it's usual results of catching zip.
6 April Today was shakedown day - first day of the fishing season. Both engines fired up but the auxiliary motor didn't sound quite right so I changed plugs around and that didn't make any difference. Turns out it was my hearing as the motor ran fine. I headed east to the sand hole and started in around 120', quickly dropping to the 150' - 160' range. After some minor memory lapses, it wasn't long before I had the three lines down. The winds predicted to be light and variable were in fact 10mph from the south with about 1' waves, still great water. Half an hour after starting, the starboard downrigger bell rang once and the line steadily started to pull off the reel. Figuring it to be a nice size fish, I pulled in the steel line while letting the fish just keep pulling out line. Hauling in about 500' of line isn't something I normally like to do but it would be one less chance for the fish to get tangled when I reeled it in behind the boat. Turns out the Laker was 11#, 6oz., and a beautiful lean that fought me all the way. I later picked up two more Lakers, both under 2#. I ran the port rigger at 100' but didn't get a nibble. Only marked a couple of fish too. So all in all, it was a good start for the season. Shakedown days are like mulligans in golf, if you don't catch any fish, it's not really a skunk or a fishing trip, but rather just a shakedown cruise and test of the fishing (golf?) gear, and you get to do it again. With that in mind, I think I'll save labeling my trip as shakedown until the next time I don't catch any fish.
28 March Ah, ha! Spring has sprung, or at least it's springing! I moved the Cooler from hibernation to semi-readiness. This is about as early as I can recall doing that. Installed a new marine radio and did some other maintenance items. Marine radios are not like the days of old as this one actually has a menu of features, some of which I've not had to deal with before. I'm pretty computer literate but gee, I didn't expect it to be so elaborate, even though it cost about 2/3 as much as the one it replaces (some 15 years old). A few more chores, some long overdue cleaning, good weather, and we'll be out there fishing before you know it. Stay tuned.
18 Feb 06 It's time to get the web site set up for the coming fishing season. There's not a lot of snow on the ground and the sun is creeping higher each day and I'm getting fired up. However, I'm somewhat a realist knowing winter isn't over yet. I've been ice fishing during the winter, mostly for bluegills. I've had no productive trips. Don't bother asking my advice on ice fishing - please.
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