Joe's boat Cooler By The Lake Welcome to my fishing web site. This is my sixteenth year of logging my Lake Superior Fishing adventures.  I've synopsized most trips, generally describing my adventures, successes and other details out on the Big Pond.  My boat is appropriately named "Cooler By The Lake". I am just a plain fisherman who loves to fish Lake Superior, mostly for Lake Trout. I do not run a charter. I try to update my reports after each trip. I think of it as a log but some might say it's a BLOG, mox nix. Thank you for following us on our Lake Superior fishing journeys. Please if you have any questions or suggestions on my reports or narratives. Compliments are also welcomed. Don't forget to visit my Joe's Woodshed.

"Cooler By The Lake"

Marquette, Michigan

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2011 Lake Superior Fishing Log

Information on tagging. About 4 of us local fishermen are participating in a Michigan DNR Lake Trout Hooking-Mortality 5-year study being conducted in Marquette (Lake Superior) beginning in 2010. This unique study will attempt to determine hooking-mortality rates of lake trout to help DNR biologists evaluate whether certain size limits are having the desired management outcome. Click here to see more information and interim results on the Lake Trout Hooking-Mortality study.

Click here to see last year's log (2010)

Fishing Synopsis for 2011

Two thousand eleven was a banner year, breaking several of my boat records. Probably the most notable record was the fish caught per hour rate of 2.66, a big jump from last year's record 1.96. See the graph below. Also, catching 740 Lakers beats the previous high of 567 in 1995, far surpasses the average of 446 since 1990. Several factors contributed to this great year. The foremost reason is having a great fishing partner that knows what he's doing and steadily works the fishing gear. Next, we participated heavily in tagging and releasing Lake Trout as part of a DNR study which was lots of fun and enabled us to stay out longer. Lastly, the recent change of the daily limit from 3 to 5 Lakers played a role too.

This fishing season seemed to be upside down from prior years in that the normally slow spring fishing was very good this year. When we started to taper off in catching Lakers, we moved to a whole new location and really hit into them for a couple of weeks. The usually high catch rate in the fall was somewhat of a disappointment as we caught less than usual and the sizes were small. That's really not all that bad as we don't like to catch spawning Lakers anyway and would likely release them. Interestingly, we caught 33 single line doubles, vs. around an average 12-15, why I'm not sure. The average weight decreased to 3.0#, vs. a number of years (my records go back to 1984) averaging 4.2 - 4.5#. A partial explanation for this is we tagged and released some pretty nice Lakers, including several over 10# and they don't go into the weight statistics. By the way, the statistics are a hobby, certainly far behind enjoying time on the water.

I'll post this year's Hooking Mortality Study preliminary results from the DNR as soon as I get them. It's still a mystery to me why with all the Lakers we caught, we recovered very few tags. In the mean time, it's been a pleasure hearing from those who wrote to me. I hope everyone enjoyed following us along this season. I look forward to 2012 but can't imagine surpassing any of this year's records, but I'll try. The bar has definitely been set pretty high. Have a great winter.

Trolling Hours fishing for Lake Trout 249279
Trips - Lake Trout7773
Trolling Hours non-Lake Trout40
Trips non-Lake Trout30
Travel hours to and from fishing grounds5752
Skunk Trips Lakers only10
Lake Trout kept252362
Lake Trout tagged and released222344
Lake Trout released without tagging934
Total fish caught487740
Fish caught per hour (total fish / Lake Trout Hours)1.962.66
Missed Fish109174
Single Line Doubles (2 fish on one line)1233
Average hours trolling3.23.8
Average fish caught per trip6.310.1

Fish per hour graph through 2011 on Cooler By The Lake

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25 Oct 11    OMG, it's been 12 days since we were able to get out, which reflects typical fall weather. Frank and I thought we'd give it a shot as the forecast called for winds less than 10 mph from the north, marginal tomorrow, and downhill for there. So much for that as we ran into 2-3' rollers and a steady 10+ mph north wind, much bouncier than expected. I don't want to paint a scary picture as it was quite fishable but we did a lot of walking in place as the boat rocked and rolled. While setting up to fish, I get the auxiliary motor going, Johnson rod  and rigger out. Before I had my stuff done, Frank had his rigger down and a Laker on, which went into the box. Our optimism was piqued. I mentioned a few minutes later my rigger was acting funny but not funny enough to bring up and check. So about 10-15 minutes later, following some subtle downrigger twitching, I said I'm going to check it out. Well, there was not one but two Lakers on my one line. I told Frank I knew the one was on and I kept it down hoping for another Laker to hit my other lure. He didn't buy into that but I wouldn't have either had he told me he did that.  Then the ole slowness set in with a Laker here and there. So, as the 10 mph wind clocked around to the east, we headed back. I think we marked 4 fish the whole  time  So much for graphs. To summarize, we ended with 8 Lakers, 2 slightly over 4# and all beautiful leans, all in 4 hours. So with heads somewhat down, we decided this was our last trip for the season. We had nothing less than a fantastic year as you'll see when I post the statistics in the next few weeks. The bar for next year has been raised so high it'll be difficult but fun to surpass it.

13 Oct 11     Today was a gift  weather-wise as we hadn't planned on being able to fish. Frank and I were joined by Bob Bryngelson from Iron Mountain. Winds and waves were fairly brisk from the SE and even with the auxiliary motor at idle, we were pushed at 2.3mph, just above our high range, but fishable nonetheless. It was nearly half an hour before our first Laker and then nothing for the next hour. Nearing the end of the first leg, we got a triple, one of which we released on a single line double and two for the box. We then turned to go back through the fish patch and the action picked up. We were surprisingly able to fish directly into the 11 mph wind and 1-2' waves. By the time we finished in two and a half hours, we had caught 11 Lakers, releasing 2 of them. Most of the action was in the 180' range but we also tried the 160' range with little success. The Eagle was again on White Rocks when we went out and when we quit. As a result, lots of Seagulls were lined up on the breakwater as White Rocks was occupied by the Boss Bird.

12 Oct 11 We checked the Internet for various weather reports, including radar, noting the rain mostly went through and was now just east of us. Good enough so out Frank and I went to calm seas. We set lines at 150' and within 5 minutes, Frank's rigger hit, the Johnson bent back and my rigger bell rang - a triple! The net wasn't even dipped (a ritual not to forget) and put out. The first Laker was rather small which we released, the Johnson rod went dead and we ended with one Laker in the box but high expectations for the day. With overly optimistic hopes, action quickly cooled down. Condensing things, we ended after 4 hours with 11 Lakers (releasing one), none over 3# but all nice leans. Nearing the end of our run and deciding to quit with 8 in the box, one rigger went off, resulting in a miss, the Johnson produced and the other rigger produced, all at the end. Wonderful day! BTW, an Eagle was sitting on White Rocks as we went by. For another BTW, the weather forecast was right on the money - scary! For my final BTW, we dragged a surface lure around - again with the usual zilch results.

10 Oct 11    With a favorable wind forecast, we set lines in calm seas. Action was slow, marking very few but eventually catching 7 fish, of which we released 2 Lakers and a Coho. Yup, the Coho which was really small, was on a single line double so we're not sure if it hit at 190' near the bottom or on the way up. On the out leg the SE winds slowly built and nearing the end of the run, it was a steady 13 mph and 2-3' seas. We turned to fish into it but it was too tough going and not any fun so we prudently quit after 2 hours and 15 minutes.

9 Oct 11    It was time for a change so Frank and I headed to shallow grounds, i.e., 75' of water. Conditions were perfect - for us, but the Lakers were obviously somewhere else or not hungry. We did get two small Lakers  within our self-imposed 1-hour performance limit before we to moved to deeper waters, mostly 170'-190'. In prior years it had been a great place to fish, not a lot of fish, but bigger ones. Well, the former was true today but not the latter. So we pulled lines and powered to one of our mainstay niches. There were marked few and eventually caught 5 more Lakers, the last one discovered as we quit. However, in fairness, the Lakers were hitting extra light. But the best part was conditions were super with light winds and seas. A most enjoyable day!

 Oct 11    When I heard the forecast for 10mph, something told me that was the minimum as the trees were whipping around. Not to be deterred, Frank and I set lines in 2-3' waves, with winds averaging 13 mph from the south. We both though if we could just catch a couple to say we weren't skunked, then we'd quit. Well, in under 10 minutes we had two Lakers in the box. The trolling motor was near idling at 1,400 RPM and we still were doing 2.3mph being pushed by the wind and waves. On the leg out we managed 6 Lakers and so with our fishermen minds, quickly rationalized we could lift all the gear, run to where we started with full tabs down, and make one more run. So we did! The wind backed off slightly but we knew that wouldn't last, andn it didn't. Setting up again, we managed 5 more Lakers, releasing the last one which was historic to us as it was our 700th Laker boated this year, by far a new record. All this in two hours in bouncy waters. Obviously, we're quite proud of ourselves.

5 Oct 11    It's kind or scary to get such nice fishing weather in October but Frank and I launched to near-perfectly calm seas and wind. Action started quickly with a double at 155' and not too long afterwards, a single line double, one of which we released. Then it got slow and suddenly, a couple of Lakers were on. In the last hour of our near 4-hour run we caught only one Laker but had one on that peeled line out for 5 minutes, then was gone. Sounds like fishing to me. We ended catching 12 Lakers, releasing 3 of them. Oh, the forecast was 10-15 mph, gusting to 20. Huh? One other thing - we caught a green DNR tag today, not one of mine. Notice I didn't say a fish with a tag, as we caught just a tag on the hook. Hmmmm! What does that mean besides $10?

3 Oct 11    Tom Foster joined me again on a great morning, at least a scenic one. Action was really slow and there were long periods between hits, and fish marks on the graph were like hen's teeth. Tom and I worked the riggers, from suspended 40' off the bottom to tight to the bottom. On the out-leg route, we eventually caught 8 Lakers, and after reversing, we came the entire length with only one more Laker. What is that telling us? Guess it's called fishing and when you're enjoying beautiful water and sunshine, like we had whining should  be a little subdued. Yeah, that didn't happen but we did have a good time. And we didn't miss any either...that we know of. So we caught Lakers in 3 hours and 45 minutes and I honestly think we marked but 5 fish. The biggest Laker was only a little over 3#.

2 Oct 11    What a beautiful morning as I set lines at 150'. Nearly half an hour passed with no marks or hits when finally the Johnson rod produced a small Laker, which I released. I decided to run the port rigger at 136 clicks on the counter, one of those voodoo numbers that was lucky in the past. I was running that rigger probably 20-40' of the bottom as I was alone and didn't want to work the bottom with all the gear. Well, the action then picked up the last hour as the starboard rigger produced a nice 9# Laker, then the Johnson rod. Not much later, the port rigger (suspended) produced a nice 6# Laker. I just got that fish in and the rigger reset and was lowering it down and stopped it at 100 clicks when the port rigger went off. I got that fish in the box, giving me my limit and before I could get the equipment put away, the port rigger at 100 clicks hit and I had to release a 4# Laker. Whew! Lots of fun and action with 7 Lakers in an hour and a half.

28 Sep 11    My guests today were Tom Foster, who's fished with me several years past and his fishing partner, John Mekeel. At the launch, conditions look great with calm winds and a light fog, but the end of the breakwater was visible so out we went. As we set lines, slowly the fog got thicker and thicker. Pretty soon no more land so we had the radar spinning with a guard zone set on it to alert us of any nearby boats. Action was pretty steady but again, with very few fish marks. Both riggers were working as was the Johnson rod. We were just talking about a single line double when 5 minutes later, John reeled in two fish on one line. It was then time to miss a couple right behind the boat, 20' back from the net. Nearing the end of our run with 13 Lakers in the box, Tom hit a single line double too, giving us our limit so we quit. The fog remained heavy the entire time, but that didn't bother us.  Again, most Lakers were caught in the 170-190' range. Pretty good work in 3 hours and 45 minutes.

  Tom Foster reeling in two Lakers on one line.  John Mekeel reeling in a Laker on the Johnson rod.  John Mekeel and Tom Foster with 4 of 15 Lakers we caught.

25 Sep 11    What a beautiful morning with calm winds and seas as Frank and I set lines at 150', working towards 180'. We had no marks or hits the first 15 minutes, then a triple, two of which were dinks and we released. Action remained fairly steady, the Johnson rod doing more than its fair share with the beat-up tarnished lure. However, we lost its weight when it hung bottom. We ended in two and a half hours with 13 Laker, 3 of which we released. The largest was 6# but most were around 2-3#. We marked very few fish (nice to see marks but we'd rather catch them).

23 Sep 11    The wind finally died off overnight but stepping out my back door this morning I felt a light rain so we went into a holding pattern. Finally it turned into an intermittent mist so out we went. Turning the corner around the breakwater we were greeted by 3-4' rollers, but no waves. I was anxious to try my new downrigger but becoming acquainted with it whilst rocking and rolling was a bit awkward. In fairly big rollers, we were speeding up, slowing down, and rocking so I have to admit we eventually got 3 Lakers on we didn't know were on or weren't sure were on. The first was a dink (my term for small Laker) so we released it. We marked very few and eventually we caught 6 Lakers, keeping 5 but the biggest was barely 3#. We marked very few too. The skies gradually lightened and a beautiful rainbow appeared that was the best I've seen in many years. Wouldn't you know my camera that's usually on board was not. Having things to do at home we cut our trip short with no goat ropes and the new rigger even caught a couple of fish. That's always the scary thing about changing anything, including hats (no superstition there eh). Oh, the fish flies or whatever they are, overwhelmed us and literally covered the boat. They didn't bite but got in your eyes, nose, and wherever. I don't remember that being a problem this time of year in prior years.

16 Sep 11 The forecast was for light 5 mph winds so Frank and I headed out to sea expecting a somewhat calm fishing day. No so,as winds were at a steady 11 mph and waves 1-2’. However, not to be deterred, with the fish finder (graph) beeping away, down went the gear. It wasn’t 10 minutes before a rigger went off, then the other. Reset and another two hits, this time we lost both of them. We mostly plied the 180’ depths, not marking many on the graph but the action was pretty good. The Johnson rod was the heavy lifter today, both catching and missing quite a few. On two occasions we had a triple and the Johnson rod was bent over, only to pop straight up as the fish got off. During the bouncy trip, winds backed off a little bit, making the return leg more fishable. In four hours, we caught 14 Lakers, keeping 10 and releasing 4 without tagging. BTW, tagging is pretty much done for the season. The largest Laker was 8# and a couple around 5#. We can honestly say we missed 6 that were on for a while, but there probably were several more. That doesn’t count any “I think that was a hit” ones. After the four Laker hours, we spent another half hour with lines raised and trolling at 3+ mph, thinking there might be a salmon around. Feel free to guess how many hits we got. If you guessed one, you're high. On a humorous note, when we released the fish, we would observe their condition, just like when we tagged them, commenting, e.g., “good release” when they would rapidly swim away. We got a special treat returning to port with two eagles sitting on the breakwater. We were able to pass within 200' without their flying away.

12 Sep 11    Today's forecast called for light winds early, gradually increasing during the day to gale warnings in the evening. As a result, we left early, with the sun just popping over the horizon on calm seas. Down went the gear and the action was pretty steady. We didn't do much from 150' to 170' so we went to a more productive 180' - 190'. We marked very few fish today but nonetheless, they were there. On the out-leg of the route we caught 9 Lakers. Making our turn to return we hooked into a 31", 10# lean Laker which we tagged and released. The tagging program is pretty wound down for the year so not being able to tag many more and not wanting to box anymore, we thought it a good time to fish the riggers suspended at various depths and just kick back on the return trip to see what action we could stir up suspended. Well, no surprise suspended was a bust as we didn't get a hit, but the Johnson rod picked up a couple near the bottom. During the last hour the wind was cranking up to 10 mph and steadily increasing. On a beautiful morning, we ended with 12 Lakers, tagging and releasing 2, releasing 4 without tagging, and boxing 6.

11 Sep 11 Frank and I decided a later than usual start would work best because of the infinite variety of forecast, but most indicated winds would die off during the day. Winds and waves were a bit lumpy when we started but it was fishable and yes, the winds did die off slowly. Fishing action was its usual fits and starts but the action was good, with the usual nothing, then a floury of action. Short report today is we caught 15 Lakers, tagging and releasing 7, keeping 8. Depths ranged from 150' to over 200'.  The winds kicked up again the last hour but it was still fishable. We

9 Sep 11    The early morning started with a search for a decent weather and water report. Well, there was lots of variety there. Frank and I finally picked out a forecast we liked and out we went. We set lines at 180' and a half hour passed and no hits or marks. Then, Frank hit a single line double (SLD) of two fish and before it they were in, I got one too. Then an hour passed with nothing. Oh, the water was fantastic - like glass and warm and sunny. At 9a I was down to a short sleeve shirt and still warm, pretty unusual for 9 September. Once again the fish were in patches with dry spells and busy spells, but marks were pretty scarce. That's not important if you're catching fish. Well, somewhat catching as Frank reeled in a nice Laker (probably 4#) and for the second time this year, I managed to chum it off and away it swam. I asked Frank if I should practice with the net before netting the next Laker, perhaps even take the net home and practice in the tub. I'll leave his response to your imagination. In summary, we caught 12 Lakers, tagging 7 and keeping 5. Tomorrow is the Marquette Bay Classic fishing tournament but I've another commitment so I won't be in anyone's way. Fantastic day on the water.

8 Sep 11    The forecast was for calm winds, then coming from the north at around 5 mph. My flag wasn't moving at home so I thought that's great as Frank and I headed out. Opps! Two foot waves and 10-12 mph winds from the north. The forecast was bass ackwards. It was pretty bouncy but we managed a couple which we tagged and released. Tagging was tough going into the wind and waves so we decided to box anything we caught and managed to box a few, then tag on the return leg. The wind and waves slowly subsided and it became quite beautiful fishing, especially going with the wind and waves. We marked very few on the first leg and then on the return leg, more marks and more fish. We ended with 2 single line doubles and tagged probably the smallest Laker I've seen in years. Our final tally was 12 Lakers, 6 in the box and 6 tagged and released. Most were between 160' and 180'. Oh, one of our Lakers had a tag, however, it wasn't one of yours. I'll post details on it later.

7 Sep 11    What a great morning with calm winds and seas and an early start of 5 Lakers for Frank and me in the first two hours. Maybe there's such a thing as too nice with calm seas, sunshine, near zero winds as after that slow was the word. On the reverse leg of our route, it was still slow, marking very few and the same for hits. Suddenly, a triple and we missed all three. Oh, oh, whining again! Best jump to a synopsis - caught 10 Lakers and tagged and released  6 of them. Most were caught between 165' and 190' feet of water. We marked very few the whole time and the ones we caught were 3#  and under. The ones we tagged were slightly bigger. Both the air and water were 65º and it was super out there. Oh, especially when we started, we marked quite a few big marks between 50' and 100' so we put the planner board out. Yup, not a hit or a miss the whole time.

6 Sep 11    My guests today, besides my regular fishing partner Frank Lorsbach, was Greg Gustafson on a cool, but relatively calm morning. We started with a miss on the Johnson rod, the beginning of a day of lots of misses, and  of course, some connects. On the out leg of our route we caught 9 Lakers and I recall missing 6 Lakers we had on, but got off. That's probably a low figure. Reversing our route, the winds slowly built up and the action slowed down. On the upside, the Lakers we caught were fantastic - ranging from a couple in the 2#+ to some 4-5# Lakers, all nice leans. Of the 14 Lakers we caught, we tagged and released 5, released 1 without tagging, and kept 8, for a total of 14 in a little over 4 hours. But the misses continued and I'm not exaggerating we missed a minimum of 10 Lakers.  Ok, that goes with fishing! Most importantly, we had a great day with some great stories. Looking out at the Lake a couple hours later there were a lot of white caps so our timing in getting off was super.

3 Sep 11    Today's forecast of light winds up to 5 MPH was too nice to pass up so Frank and I didn't go very far before setting lines. After about half an hour of little action, we got a triple. More typical than not, we'd go a considerable time with no marks or hits, then several. We plied the 160'  depths, then 190', but then back to 160' as it seemed more productive. The winds picked shortly after we went out and pretty soon we were in 1-2' waves with 10-12 mph SE winds, but it wasn't a problem. Remember the forecast was for calm winds, becoming 5 mph. Ok, back to fishing with less whining. We caught 16 Lakers, tagging and releasing 4, releasing 2 without tagging and keeping 10. All were nice leans. In the process we got 2 single line doubles and 2 triples. It's so funny that the fish were all in patches. On our final leg we finally pulled the Johnson rod the last half hour and we had a double, missing both so we quit after 3 hours. Fantastic day, especially as the weather the next several days doesn't look good. We'll see!

1 Sep 11 A fishing acquaintance said he recently marked tons and caught lots around 120-140-' nearby where we fished before many times. Thinking, always a dangerous thing for me, but sometimes ready for a change, we went to roughly where we thought he described. We'd done well there a few times years ago. Frank and I set lines at 118' and wham, a Laker hit instantly, but was gone. We thought this is perfect. An hour later, no hits, no marks, and the whining began. Slowly the wind began too. Then after no action, a triple. Go figure. Marks were scarce but we slowly caught a few on the out leg of our route. We ranged in depth to 130' but found 150' seemed to be best. By now we were in 2-3' waves and going a little faster than normal. Near the end of our return run we pulled the Johnson rod and then had a double, both pulling lines out and both going bye, bye. So we ended with 13 Lakers, 4 tagged and released, 1 released without tagging, and 8 in the box. The biggest was 4#, and the rest 3# and under. The winds and waves backed off slightly for the return trip which we didn't mind. Air was 69º and surface water 65. It was a lot of fun.

30 Aug 11    The southerly winds had a little more gusto than we expected but we're tough, so down went the gear. Nothing spectacular fishing-wise but going with the wind and waves, we didn't do much damage. Coming back into the 2' waves action picked up. Fishing mostly at 180' plus, we caught 10 Lakers, tagging and releasing one. It was a strange day in that the wind didn't go much over 10 mph from the SE but the waves generated to  2' - 3', so lumpy was the case. Of course, it settled a little, emphasis on little, nearing the end of our run. Oh, nearing the end of the run, we got a triple. Once all lines were in, we bunched it.

29 Aug 11    Another great day as Frank and I headed out in calm seas and sunny skies. Gear down it wasn't long before the first hit - and miss. Well we thought, that's out of the way. Marks were scarce and so were the hits after that but slowly action picked up. About an hour into our route we started marking fish, again in patches where we'd mark a bunch and then nothing for quite a while. Marking fish is great but is not the same as catching fish. The former prevailed much of the time and to prove that, we caught most Lakers not marked. This gets back to a fish finder (graph) being best at telling depth (the most important thing) and then emotional inspiration that fish are in the area, albeit, not necessarily hungry fish. As I've often said, better to catch fish than mark them. Ok, how'd we do - we caught 13 Lakers, tagged and released two, and tossed two over the side without tagging. Conditions were fantastic but in the last hour, winds from the SW picked up to around 6-8mph and we were in 1-2' waves. It was strange to get that a rock and roll action with such light winds, but it was still very fishable. Again, the 180' depths worked best for us today. As an aside, we ran a planner board with an 8 oz weight out 150'. Guess what, once again, nothing on that despite all the marks at 50'. One of these days...

28 Aug 11    My guests today were Craig Chartier and Ben Rausch on a beautiful, calm day. Action started slowly with a miss on the Johnson for a starter. But as we swapped stories, we got a hit here and there. We marked very few fish compared to yesterday. We ended catching 10 Lakers, tagging and releasing two. Ok, it's honesty time that we should have had 11 but Mr. Net, that'd be me, managed to chum off probably a 5# Laker by premature netting, neatly snatching the hook from the fish to permit it to run free. OK, so I'm not a perfect netter, just close. I call those an "involuntary release". Most Lakers were caught in the 180' range, but a couple were suspended probably 25' above the bottom. But that's another story. We were in the final stretch when, viola, Ben reeled in a single line double, two nice Lakers on one line. I don't think he believed me there was such a thing before that.  Here're some pictures of my guests, click to enlarge and hit back to return here.

 Craig Chartier reeling a Laker on the Johnson rod   Ben Rausch reeling in a Lake Trout

27 Aug 11    After four days of huffing and puffing, today's weather had promise but it took a few first-hand looks to see if the north wind-generated waves were fishable before Frank and I decided to go out. Once we decided to go, we were greeted by 2-3', sometimes 4' waves and rollers, and a wind at a steady 10 mph from the north. Well, within the first 25 minutes we had two nice fish on, only to lose both. But continuing on, we slowly caught 9 Lakes, releasing but not tagging two and keeping seven. Our tagging has been  temporarily slowed so the tagging objectives fall within a given time frame. Most Lakers were caught in the 180' range, but the biggest, an 11# Laker was probably 25' above the bottom at the 180' depth. The rest of the Lakers were in the 3# range. The wind and waves didn't back off much but still, it was a lot of fun.

22 Aug 11    Conditions today were similar to the last trip, but wind and waves were a little less, rocking and rolling nonetheless. Down went the gear and it didn't take long before our first hit - and miss. But overall action was pretty steady, save a few times where we wondered where they went. We did catch an 11# and 8# Laker, tagging and releasing both. The latter didn't look too well so I marked the spot on my GPS and 45 minutes later came back and didn't see any trace of it on the surface so we're hoping it made it. We feel badly when they don't do well but we've also seen enough evidence where they stay on the surface for several minutes and you think they're not ok and splash, down they go. We had caught 13 when nearing the end of our return run when we got a triple. Summary: We tagged and released 9 Lakers, and kept 7, the largest kept being under 5# and most around 3#, and missed 5, a couple pretty good sized right behind the boat. Great day!

20 Aug 11    The forecast for 10 mph out of the north was pretty much on the money so Frank and I were greeted by a steady 11 mph wind, with 2-3' waves. However, it was fishable and down went the gear with the aux motor revved about 1,000 RPM more than usual. Nearly 45 minutes passed and we saw one mark and had no hits. Then on the radio someone said they had 4 Lakers so the introspection began...and then a hit on a rigger and a Laker in the box. Our mumbling stopped! Oh, we didn't want to tag many going into the wind and waves as it's difficult to steer with two people in the back. Obviously, the route leg that produced so well two days ago wasn't much today so we kept on truckin'. Keeping the lures down near bottom was a challenge in the rough water but we started picking one up here and there. On the far leg of our run we started marking and catching. We kept going and finally reversed the route, then we could hang closer to the bottom, going with the wind and the motor just above idle. Action picked up and Frank got a single line double, I had one on my rigger, and the Johnson was bouncing and calling for attention. Suddenly it was a quadruple, but we lost one. OK, enough drama. We caught 15 Lakers, tagging and releasing 11. It was no surprise the Lake started calming as we were wrapping it up. Think we didn't enjoy it on the Big Pond, lumpy or not? Well, you'd be mistaken if you thought we didn't.

18 Aug 11    I awoke at dark-o-clock to the wind whirling outside  and I thought great, because I have two early morning appointments and I'm not missing any fishing. Well, after those appointments, I got a different perspective ( biased fishermen perspective of course) that fishing conditions improved. So out I went circa 11a and my perspective wasn't wrong as it was beautiful!  I just got one rigger set and the Johnson rod out when the rigger bell rang. I didn't have the camera, timer, net, log, or anything ready so it was a scramble, but caught the Laker, tagged and released it. The Lakers were there as my fish finder showed lots of marks and the fish alarm often rang. Once again, they were in patches and the Johnson rod was next and I boxed that one. I was on my usual route and suddenly it seemed like no more marks or fish so I reversed my route and I ran back into them. In short, I caught 8 Lakers, tagging and releasing 4. They were bigger than usual, the largest 6#, the others nearly 4#. At the end of my run I had a double after previously pulling the Johnson rod for the last half hour. With all the lines out of the water, I decided to quit after two and one half hours. Wow, what fun and a beautiful time on the Big Pond!

16 Aug 11    Today we decided to try a spot we hadn't  fished in several weeks, just for a change of pace. In the first hour we marked very little and had one hit. We were lightly questioning our decision to return there when  one rigger went off and the line started peeling out. We quickly pulled the Johnson rod out so it wouldn't get tangled. The fish was on for about 5 minutes and poof, off. After that, action picked up. We ran across a few patches where there were tons of marks and then wouldn't see a thing. We started with a single line double (two Lakers on one line) and after that action was pretty steady. Under beautifully calm conditions, we ended catching 16 Lakers, tagging 11 of them. Only one was near 4#, the rest under 3#. Most of the action was in the 180' range. And of course, we also missed a few right behind the boat, but it was hard to complain about that. Oh, we also got a second single line double too. Great day!

15 Aug 11    What a difference in a day as the Big Pond was flat as a pancake today. We decided to go back to where we did relatively well yesterday, only to struggle to catch 6 Lakers and marking very few. So we pulled lines and moved to what we hoped would be more productive grounds. Well, that didn't pay off as we were able to catch only 2 more Lakers (but we missed 4 right behind the boat). We started marking a few but then we would mark numerous big marks in patches, but no takers. Guess they just weren't hungry. We tagged and released 6 of the 8 Lakers.

14 Aug 11    You know when you get that gut feeling things are looking too good? Well, I checked several weather stations, none of which are dependable, let along any on the Big Pond nearby, as there are none. However, conditions didn't look too bad as the NWS showed winds at 5 from the north. I should  become an interpreter for the NWS because what that means is 14 mph and 3-4' waves. It's not like we weren't warned when we went out as a fishing acquaintance told us it was rough. The lot had several trailers so what was that all about.? So out we went, despite the advice. Yup, we were greeted by some 3-4' waves as we turned the corner north and a quick decision was made  - no way to head to our usual haunt. We decided to head directly into the waves and wind as a test, and we were able to do that. We tried to keep at least one person forward to keep the wind from catching the bow and the boat doing a pirouette, an ugly thing to experience with riggers out. We made a command decision to try! So down went the gear!

We were pleasantly surprised with a quick hit on a rigger, and another on the Johnson rod. This was the first of 5 doubles, four of which we got only the one of two. Of course this substantiates our thinking that Lakers are in patches. Obviously we couldn't run close to the bottom so we ran 155 clicks on the counter, we thought often close but who knows sometimes. We caught 5 Lakers heading into the wind and the rest on return. Synopsis: we boxed 6 Lakers, and tagged 6 as it was too rough to tag any on the way out. So in summary, we caught 12 Lakers in 3.5 hours and missed 5. It was much better than we'd ever have guessed. Most Lakers were in the 2# - 4# range, the largest was 29", 8# which we tagged and released. We kind of staggered back at the launch dock, being used to moving in place in rough seas.

12 Aug 11    This morning Frank and I left the dock at 7a, mostly so we could get back early for an appointment. We were greeted by SW winds at 14 mph and 2' waves, more than predicted. Action started quickly, both catching and marking, but it was tough going into the waves and wind. We hung in there as the forecast was for lessening  winds and after about 2 hours that's what happened. Amazingly the seas suddenly calmed and winds went to zero. Of course, most of our action was when we were bouncing around. We probably had 8 of our 12 Lakers the first two hours and then they pretty much shut down. We talked to another boat nearby and they experienced  the same thing. We ranged into 125' where we got a couple and as deep as 190'. Winds clocked around to 7 mph from the nort (sic) the last hour so our ride home was pleasant. Of the 12 Lakers, we tagged 7 and kept 5. Once again we didn't catch any of our previously tagged fish, or anyone elses. I'll now introduce you to the new word for Lakers being together, "patches", as in a blueberry patch. It's different than schooling, which they don't do. I've always said Lakers don't school, they just hang around together, in patches. Finding blueberries is sometimes easier to find than Lakers, well maybe not, but both are very rewarding once found.

11 Aug 11    Today was similar to yesterday in that today was calm, yesterday was ripping. Frank and I set lines a little earlier than usual...well, I did anyway. I'd been ribbing him that one of these days I'd have a fish on before he got set up. So today, I got the small motor going, course set, Johnson rod rigged and out, and my rigger out and set up when the Johnson bent over, and Frank wasn't down yet. He got a little ribbing for that. That was just the beginning of quick and pretty steady action. We marked a ton of fish and rods  were jumping fairly steadily. I'll cut to the chase in that we caught 26 Lakers, 18 of which we tagged and released. We had 3 single line doubles and several doubles and triples. This was a boat record, especially done in 4 hours and 45 minutes. The last laker was after we decided to quit as we had to get in and we logged out and were starting to put things away. Great and fun day. Again, the 180' depth seemed best but some came off the stackers, indicating they're not always tight to the bottom. One fisherman by us reported catching a 23# Laker off a dipsy. How about that!

8 Aug    Yesterday was rock and roll on the Big Pond but it settled overnight to gentle rollers as Frank and I headed out. It was about half an hour after setting lines we got a double, but the Laker on the Johnson got off right behind the boat. We pretty much stuck to the 180' level and slowly caught 9 Lakers in 4 1/2 hours, tagging 7 and keeping 2. In the last hour the breeze picked up to around 10 from the SE but it was somewhat welcome as it was hotter than expected. We've been going to the same location for several times and now we're thinking it's time for a change. However, we've said that before.

6 Aug    Fishing conditions were great, the frosting being joined by my Grandson Cooper Smith (10) and fishing partner Frank Lorsbach. The launch was almost full as we launched so we were please to see all the boaters and fishermen enjoying our great water resources. Despite the great conditions, fishing today was a slow starter and generally continued slow, wouldn't you know it was when we had Cooper along. But he showed more patience than us. Of course we let him reel in the fish, including on one the Johnson rod that must have been out 700' or more, only to get off inches from the net. He handled that better than us. The short story is we caught 8 Lakers, tagging 5 and keeping 3 in about  4.5 hours. I mention those numbers for those interested but would rather focus on the great time we had on the water. For those of you who aren't as philosophical, we missed 4 Lakers that we could see right behind the boat that got off but couldn't net. Next time we'll get them all. I think need fishing therapy! Rats! When we arrived at our fishing spot, we talked to a fellow boater who said he caught three in the 160' range so we tried that for a while with little success and ended in our usual 180' depths. Seas were generally calm and the light 8 mph breeze from the north helped keep us cool.

5 Aug     Wow! Another great weather day as Frank and I hit the water. Not much happened after setting lines but after about 25 minutes and only one fish mark, the action quickly picked up. In the first two hours we had a single line double, a 35" Laker (approximately 15#), tagged and released and several others, including a 30"Laker  (approximately 9#) tagged and released but to our dismay, didn't do well and we felt bad, but it's a study and we must be objective. Then things went quiet and the Lakers shut down for us for quite a while. Finally a few hits and our confidence was restored. OK, bottom line: We kept 5 (biggest under 4# and other four under 3#. We tagged and released 6 Lakers. BTW, a fellow boater fishing there today swung by and said he caught one of my tags which is great and I told him so. Now, why don't we catch some of our own tagged Lakers? That's kind of a mystery to us but it's bound to happen...well maybe. Conditions were fantastic, light breeze and no waves so that ruled out that excuse. But we don't need any excuses when we're on the water fishing, even when it's slow catching fish. And we talk about that. Oh, we had some of my fresh smoked Laker. Sorry you weren't there. The jury will ignore my last cruel comment.

4 Aug    Conditions were fantastic as Frank L and I set out fairly early. This time we took a little different route and sat lines at 118' for a while. We got  mixed results, getting a couple Lakers around 145' but not enough to pattern our plan after. of course we ranged. Marks were few and so was the action. Our depths ranged from 122' to 240' but mostly 180'. Synopsis: We caught 14 Lakers in 5 hours, tagging and releasing 7. Here's a tip, start pulling gear and storing, including the net, enter data into the log and you'll catch a fish. Worked for us...more than once. Oh, I failed to mention we caught our last Laker off a planer board. My guess circa 50'. First time I ran that so now do that again for 40 trips and nothing willl happen. BTW2 when first deployed the planner board line tangled into other gear.

1 Aug    Today it was hot and calm as I was joined by my special friends  from California, Ron Rabe and his daughter Alex. Action was very slow and I don't think we marked 5 fish the whole time, quite a contrast to my last trip. Eventually, we caught 7 Lakers and missed one not far behind the boat. We kept 4 Lakers and tagged the other 3.

30 July    My plan was to leave the dock early and get home fairly early so just as the sun was popping up, I was under power. I turned the corner to the north and it was greeted by some pretty lumpy seas. By the time I set my first line, the winds which were supposed to be near calm, were kicking up some decent waves with a SW wind around 14 mph. I was ever hopeful it would calm, which is slowly did. I only had two of the three lines set when the first Laker hit the Johnson, which I tagged and released. Minutes later, a single line double on the rigger and I tagged both of them. The fish alarm on the graph was going crazy. I had turned a corner on my route, now running more with the wind and got Lakers on both riggers. Before I could set either one, I looked to my port side to see what appeared to be a tribal net marker of some kind. That gets the ole heart started. Exactly then the Johnson rod bent over and I had a heck of a time reeling it in, hoping it wasn't a net but thinking it's got to be a fish, and it was. So with all three lines out of the water I decided to stash the gear and run over to the marker enroute to the bend in my route. Well, turned out it was a painted Styrofoam bucked upside down with about 75' of copper line attached, but nothing else. So I pulled it all up and put it in the boat so another boat wouldn't tangle with it.

I continued to 125' water, turned and and set up my lines. Bang, a quick Laker at 133' and then another at 136'. I don't know why I didn't try those depths more but quickly slid down the reef and I stuck with the 170' - 180' most of the time. Then a rigger went off and I couldn't budge the fish so I hauled in the other two lines and slowed the boat to a crawl. Turned out the fish was entangled and had trashed my lines so I had to cut them. I tagged and released it. I was kicking around quitting when I got another single line double to tag and release. I considered that a sign to quit, which I did. Ok, no more boring details. I caught 17 Lakers, tagging and releasing 14, keeping 3, and missing one, all in just shy of four hours. Of course I think of how many more Lakers I could have caught if my lines weren't out of the water most of the time. Great day!

29 July    It was a little bumpier than expected enroute and as my guest Frank Herveat and I set lines in 8 mph winds from the west. I always liked the expression that we had to work for them but I think we did today. We plied generally 180' water and it took quite a while before we caught our first Laker. We slowly caught a couple more and we then caught a single  line double where one got off but we boxed the other. In the 3rd hour we thought the port rigger might be messed up so we were bring it up when wham at 63 clicks, a 3# Chinook hit it and went crazy and of course crossed a few lines, but we got it. We ended with 6 Lakers and a Chinook in a little under 4 hours. We tagged none. Beautiful day.

28 July    My special guests today were Unto Merilainen and Harri Hallamaa visiting from our sister city Kajaani in Finland. We set lines at 150' on beautiful, calm seas and before long, the first Laker hit on, ironically a Finn Spoon. The first hour was otherwise pretty slow but the second hour action picked up. The Johnson rod earned it's keep and both Unto and Harri had their turns on it. Our plan was to keep the first three Lakers, then start tagging, which we did. However, to our delight, we caught a #5 Laker that I had tagged on 3 July in that same general location  so that went into the box. As we neared the end of our run, the starboard rigger bell rang and Unto was surprised to see two Lakers on one line. While that was happening, the port rigger bell rang as did the Johnson rod so we had 4 Lakers on at once. With all the gear out of the water, we decided to quit after a little over 3 hours, boxing 4 Lakers and tagging and releasing 8.  Click on the pictures to enlarge. Below is a Google Translate to Finnish.

Unto Merilainen reeling in a Lake Trout  Harri Hallamaa reeling in a Lake Trout  Harri and Unto with the Lake Trout the caught

28 heinäkuu My kutsuvieraiden tänään oli Unto Meriläinen ja Harri Hallamaa vierailevat meidän sisar kaupungin Kajaani Suomessa. Asetamme linjat 150 "on kaunis, tyyni meri ja ennen pitkää ensimmäistä Laker hitti, ironista kyllä suomalainen Spoon. Ensimmäinen tunti oli muuten melko hidas, mutta toisen tunnin toiminta piristyi.Johnson Rod ansainnut se pitää ja molemmat Unto ja Harri oli vuorollaan sitä. Tavoitteenamme oli pitää kolme ensimmäistä Lakers, sitten alkaa koodaus, jossa teimme. Kuitenkin iloksemme, saimme # 5 Laker että olin tagged 3. heinäkuuta, että sama yleinen paikkaan niin, että meni ruutuun. Kun me lähestyi lopussa meidän ajaa, oikealle rigger kello soi ja Unto oli yllättynyt nähdä kaksi Lakers yhdellä rivillä. Vaikka tämä tapahtui, portti rigger kello soi samoin Johnson rimaa niin meillä oli 4 Lakers on kerralla. Kun kaikki pyydykset pois vedestä, päätimme lopettaa kun vähän yli 3 tuntia, nyrkkeily 4 Lakersin ja koodaus ja vapauttamalla 8. Klikkaa kuvia suuremmaksi. Alla on Google Käännä Suomea.

24 July    We really didn't plan to fish today but the forecast changed to some very favorable conditions. Frank and I set lines at 150', knowing we'd likely end up at 180'+. Action started slow, with few marks the first hour. Then, like a light switch turned on, we started hitting the Lakers...and missing them too. We planned to take some fish home so we boxed the first 7 Lakers, then started tagging and releasing. Our third to the last fish hit the Johnson rod and nearly bent it over. Frank's arms were burning as he reeled in a 16# Laker, which we tagged and released. It turned out to be a great day with just gentle rollers and very little wind. We ended tagging and releasing 10 Lakers, boxing 7, and missing 5, 3 of which we could see behind the boat when they got off. After a little over 4 hours, we decided to head in and not try to fill the last two tags on the log sheet.

22 July    What a great forecast and it largely proved true as Frank and I headed to one of our favorite spots. Well, apparently conditions were too good or the fish didn't know they were perfect. It was slow fishing but we eventually tagged  and released 6 Lakers in a little over 3 hours. Of course there were a few misses which is to be expected. Most action was  in the 180' range.  Dusty, a fishing acquaintance fishing nearby caught his five in the last half hour. Well, we didn't knock 'um dead but it couldn't have been nicer on da water! One of the highlights was to see one of the tall ships at sea, not far from where we were fishing. On our return, we swung by to take a close-up shot.

Pride of Baltimore II, tall ship arriving Marquette 22 Jul 11

19 July    My guest today was Bob Bryngelson, who has fished with me several times in past years. We headed outin heavy fog after waiting for someone ill-prepared that tied up the launch for 15 minutes. There were 11 boat trailers in the lot and that was surprising as usually fog scares off a lot of fishermen. With the radar spinning, we headed out in the pea soup with calm seas. We found the action was pretty steady and our initial goal was to catch 5 Lakers for Bob, which we did, before we started tagging and releasing. After that we caught, tagged, and released 6 Lakers. In the process we had a single line double but one got off right behind the boat. We also had two others get off within eyesight but that happens and there's not much we could do any better, except maybe get a 25' long net. Yeah, right! A little after 3 hours we were about to quit when we had two hits, missing both of them too. But again, no complaints as overall it was a lot of fun. The fog didn't let up for our return trip, which was uneventful. BTW at least today our catch dispelled the oft-heard fishermen comment that fish don't bite in the fog.

18 July    Today I got an early start, setting lines at 6:40a. Action wasn't all that fast so I had time between fish to tag and release 4 Lakers and box 3. The Johnson rod seemed to have the day off with only one hit that didn't stick. Conditions were great but I could hear thunder off in the distance. The radar showed nothing and I never saw any lightning but I'm not completely comfortable under those conditions, even with only a forecasted 20% chance of rain so I didn't mind wrapping it up in 3 hours. I just got home and two minutes later, down came the rain in a cloud burst.

16 July    Today was beautiful, with winds and water better than forecasted. Bet you haven't heard me say that much. My goal was to get 3 Lakers to smoke for friends coming in from California shortly. Pressure! I set lines around 8:30a and in ten minutes, had my first Laker, along with a mistaken thought this was going to be a really productive day. The Lakers just weren't there as marks were few as were the hits. The next Laker was 6# and came off a stacker line which I miraculously untangled with the Johnson rod. Applause please! Eventually I caught 6 Lakers, tagging and releasing 3 and was just quitting by putting the net and other gear away when the 7th Laker hit. It's hard to complain (but I obviously do) catching 7 Lakers in a little over 4 hours when it's so great a day. So the jury should ignore my comments - please! Most again were around the 180' level.

14 July    To a good forecast of 5 MPH winds and calming, my guest Josh Gustafson and I headed north. Action was pretty good on the out leg of our route, catching 8 Lakers in the first 2 hours and missing none. The return leg was a different story, as action slowed way down and we missed 5 of the next 9 Lakers, most right behind the boat. We were determined to fill the tagging log sheet but we came up one short. We ended tagging and releasing 6 Lakers and keeping 6 in just over 5 hours. Conditions were pretty good despite the SE winds at 10 mph and 1-2' seas. Best depths were the 160' to 180'. We didn't mark very many fish.

10 July 2011    My guest today was Rick Sarasien as we headed out on a beautiful morning. Generally running around 180' we tagged and released two Lakers in the first hour and thought we would do fairly well. Not! Sometiime later. I commented that the Johnson rod for some reason has hung up in that area several times I then looked up to see the Johnson rod bent way over and before I could get to it, snap in two went the upper handle holding the rod. The rod part then slid down the line and luckily got tangled a bit and we were able to reel the rod and most of the gear in, only the weight was missing. So in reconoitering, I got the lure too close to the aux motor and snap, I could see the lure twirling behind the prop. Gee! Then I didn't so much want to save the lure as to get the line off the prop so it didn't get into the seals. To do that the next step was to start the big engine, kill and lift the aux motor and retrieve the lure and line. BTW, the lure was broke in half, held together only by reflective tape. I've never seen a lure that broke in half before. Ok, so we fished the next two hours now fishing Johnson-less without a hit, and we think only marked a couple of fish. So at the quitting time, I noticed my line was trailing back further than usual and sure enough, a small a Laker was hitching a ride. It was very lively so I tagged and released it and I'm telling everyone that it hit just minutes before I brought the line up. Not the kind of day you hope for but it beautiful...except after the small annoying, non-biting flies left, the black ankle-biters moved in...and the broken rod. Now to figure out how to fix that Johnson rod.

9 July    Today we hit the water at 7:30a, hoping to avoid the increasing winds later on. We didn't go far before we set lines at 180', only to get a hit and a miss on the Johnson rod. We caught 6 Lakers and missed two (one not far from the net) in just about 3 hours. After setting lines, the winds quickly picked up to a steady 10 mph from the SE but it was quite fishable. The only incident was the Johnson hung on the bottom and we lost the lure, nothing else. We tagged and released all 6 Lakers. Overall, a good trip.

8 July    What a beautiful, calm morning as Frank and I headed out. It must have been too nice as we marked nothing and caught nothing for the first hour. The sun was cooking us from the top and off the water but the air was cool so that helped. Then the northwest wind kicked to an average 13 mph, gusting to 18 mph but we persevered into 2' waves and the winds, then eventually reversed our route, still with little action. We eventually caught 3 Lakers in about 3 hours and we decided to move to another spot towards home and fish it back. That proved more rewarding as we caught two and missed two before long. To shorten the story, we ended with 5 Lakers, tagging only one. Most were caught from 170' to 190'. Oh, on the second route, heavy fog set in and the wind died off. Then the sun heated us up despite the fog. It seemed weather conditions changed a dozen times, a reminder of where we live and why we love it.

7 July    I don't like picking on the NWS but today was a classic, with a forecast for 5mph from the south, becoming calm. So out Frank and I went, only to experience winds averaging 17 mph and gusting to over 20 mph with 2' waves. We made one pass with the waves and bunched it. The wind didn't let up until late afternoon. Mumble, mumble.

6 July    The promise (well, not really) by the NWS for 5 mph from the north made me skeptical as I looked at the trees whipping around before we left. But, on a good day the lake settles instead of kicks. Today my guests were Frank Lorsbach and his son Ted, who has fished with us during his past visits here. It was a bouncy ride to our spot and I kept the trim tabs down which really helped. Action was slow as we finally got a hit on the Johnson rod, which Ted reeled in, put it down and got another about ten minutes later and from there it was slow. We marked the least number of fish in a long time. We ended with 8 Lakers, all tagged and released. We thought they were bigger on average than the past several trips. Slowly the Lake settled  but it was very fishable the whole time and a great day. Again, it turned out most Lakers were between 170' and 180' but the first two were around 155'.

4 July    It was another beautiful day as I set lines just before 9a. Action was pretty good as I had a couple of doubles and even a triple, but one got off just out of reach of the net. Again, most of the action was between 160' and 180'. It's funny how you can get a double or triple, then go the next hour with nothing. Fishing a little over three hours produced 9 Lakers, 6 of which I tagged and released. I had one minor goat rope but kept it from becoming a major one. There was a lot of current today and it was hard to regulate the speed. I'm still disappointed not to catch a tagged fish as we volunteer anglers (including the DNR) have tagged a lot of Lakers. Hopefully next time.

3 July    Yesterday's forecast fooled me, citing 15 mph, gusting to 25 - in reality it was calm most of the day and I missed a beautiful fishing day. Bitter I'm not...well, a little.  However, today, today's forecast was pretty good and actually turned out better than predicted. I was chomping at the bit so I headed out early and had the first line down at 6:45a. The first half hour was no runs, hits, errors, or marks but then the Johnson rod started bouncing. That lasted 26 seconds and that fish was gone. Action started to pick up shortly after that with a double on the riggers, both of which I tagged and released. More action and several more Lakers got tagged and released. Then the goat rope began when I put the Johnson rod out trying to thread the needle between the two riggers. Usually I get away with it but not this time as it hung into the Starboard rigger. I started cranking on the Johnson and snap, dead line and everything was gone. So I brought the rigger up only to find the Johnson weight and lure entangled, so I got everything back. However at this point all lines were out of the water and I was staring at a mess of lines so let the refitting begin. That done, it was such a beautiful day I thought just one more pass and so a few more Lakers came my way. Finally I decided to fish it back to where I started and quit. Well, I just made the turn for the final leg and my rigger bell rang, then the other rigger, and two minutes later the Johnson rod was bouncing. So I took the fish on the port rigger and to my surprise, there were two fish on the line. In short, I had 4 Lakers on at once.  I boxed the first and tagged the second. The other rigger produced a Laker as did the Johnson, both of which I tagged and released. At this point, all three lines were out of the water and I interpreted that as a Sign that maybe I should quit and go home, which I did. OK, so here's today's results, 5 in the box (limit), 13 tagged and released, and 3 missed (two of which were right behind the boat and out of reach). I've got to stop whining over these misses. Strike that comment as fishermen have an inherent right to complain...but not at home. Seriously, what a great day!

29 June    It's amazing how quickly the Lake can settle when yesterday it was ripping, huffing, and puffing and today, docile as can be with gentle rollers. Fishing today was one of fits and spurts after Frank and I set lines around 130' but mostly fished the 180' depths. Action started quickly with a hit and miss, then a double, which  we tagged and released some ten minutes later. Thereafter, it was doubles or nothing for what we felt were long spells between hits. Because it was so nice, we hung in there for five hours, getting 3 doubles and a triple, tagging and releasing 12 Lakers, one 30" long (estimated weight of 10#). We didn't keep any. We only missed two the whole time. When we started, the surface water was 43.8º and the air 52º, the latter which later dropped to 48º. Still, with the light breeze and bright sunshine, it was wonderful and very comfortable, except to wash your hands in the cold water. Great day!

26 June    Gee, two beautiful days in a row-great!. It was time to try a new, actually old, stomping grounds so Frank and I  went in the opposite direction than the past several trips. Setting lines at 140' we quickly hit and missed a Laker at 150', then not long after caught a Laker at 170' and so it went getting 5 Lakers on the out-leg of our run, tagging and releasing 3 of the 5. Silly me commented  this is better than the last trip and that put the whammy to us. We didn't have so much as a hit, well one, on the whole return leg, but marked a fair number. In desperation, we circled and made a final pass. Finally, as we we were already over the 4.5 hour point I suggested we wrap it up so we logged out, put the net and other things away and as I clicked on my downrigger switch to bring it up, the bell rang, the seconds later Frank's did too. Scramble, scramble with a double! Those are what we call 11th hour fish, just like last year. Great! The trip out was calm but slowly the breeze kicked from the SE to average 9 mph but never a problem. I hope I'm cured of making those overconfident statements. Yeah, right!.

25 June    The past several days could not have been more suckie, but today was beautiful with calm seas and winds as Frank and I headed east. Action started with a miss on the Johnson and not long after, a single line double (two on one line). Of course we thought today was the day...again. Not! We struggle to get 4 more, taking more than 5 hours to do so. Ironically, we marked a lot of fish, mostly in one area around 180' of water, but they apparently were not hungry. We decided to fish a couple miles to a spot that was good a few years back and half way, after not marking or catching anything, we decided to turn around to where we marked the most fish. Conditions could not have been much nicer, except a little more cooperation from the fish would have been nice. So of the six fish, we tagged and released three.

20 June    The forecast of calm winds but cool conditions sounded great as Frank Lorsbach, my Grandson Spencer Smith (15), and I left port at 8a. It wasn't so as the winds were north at 10 and waves around 2' so it was a lumpy but ok ride to our fishing spot. Apparently other fishermen knew it would be that way as we saw only one other boat the whole day. Oh, the CG boat from last trip went by but didn't stop. This time I got a picture of their boat which I just posted below. Action came in spurts, which isn't unusual, including a double. We caught 11 Lakers, tagging and releasing 10. None were of any size bigger than 3#, most closer to 2#. Most Lakers were in roughly 180' and a couple came off the stacker lines. We did miss two real bell ringers but that's the way it sometimes goes. I commented I should wear my pedometer next time seas are rolling like today and see how far I walk just to stand up. It wasn't dangerous, just lumpy seas and lots of fun. The next several day's weather doesn't look good though.

18 June    My early morning reaction to the improved forecast of light easterly winds and no threat of rain was that this was now a doable fishing day, so out I went at 7:30a. I just got the Johnson rod out and was setting up a rigger when the Johnson rod bent way over and was really bouncing. Of course, nothing was in readiness, no net, camera, timer, etc., so I got that stuff ready, only to reel in the Johnson for about 30 seconds before I could feel the Laker say bye, bye. After getting the rest of the tackle rigged, it wasn't long before the starboard rigger bell rang and I figure it was a good sized Laker. Turned out there were two Lakers on the one line so I boxed the first and tagged and released the second. Needless to say things were busy as I had caught 5 Laker in just over the first hour, but then it slowed down which I didn't mind. Later my starboard rigger rang once and I could see the rod line going straight out and it was obviously a big fish. I could make little progress reeling in the Laker so I pulled the Johnson in (a lot of reeling) and took the other rigger up about 50' and slowed down the boat to a crawl. I netted a 34" Laker that I measured but didn't weigh. Statistics from the DNR indicated it was around 13# and I tagged and released it in good shape. The bite mostly shut down after the first two hours but I did manage to tag and release 8 Lakers and box 3, the last tag being the most feisty Laker, albeit probably 2#, that fought on the Johnson like it was 10#. I was shocked at the fight. After four and a half hours I headed back, after having a lot of fun. However, the fish flies were still abundant.

Enroute home I could see the Coast Guard with their new  45' boat a couple miles ahead. They turned and headed towards me and I could see the writing on the wall. Lights flashing they pulled along side and I said "nice boat" but these guys are so professional they don't acknowledge stuff like that. I was asked if I was boarded by the CG this year and I responded no but I had been inspected by the CG Auxiliary and had a decal on the boat to show that. They then checked the decal and asked who did the inspection, and I told them. They acknowledged I was wearing my life vest and several more questions followed. Then a US Customs guy, all dressed in desert battle garb, packing heat, and built like a Sherman tank identified himself and wanted to know if I was a US citizen, and had any explosives, drugs, weapons, etc., on board to which I said no. More questions followed. I was tempted to ask if he wanted to see my fish but thought that wouldn't be wise so I didn't. Whilst talking to him I put my hands in my pockets and he asked me not to do that for his and my safety. Whoa! Any thoughts of joking with this guy were quickly out of my head. Seriously, I have no problem being stopped like that and it's good to know homeland security is working for us. But they didn't even ask me how fishing was as I was dying to tell them.

Here's a picture of the 45' Coast Guard boat, with 2each  825hp diesel engines. Click to enlarge. Coast Guard 45' boat

17 June    Today was another beautiful day as Frank and I headed east. Action started quickly with two riggers going off but it wasn't a good way to start as one rigger had two Lakers on one line and they both got off 20' back of the boat. We mostly plied the 180' depths and in a little over 4 hours we had tagged and released 8 Lakers and kept 5. All were nice leans and probably a little under 3#. We also missed 5. The water was calm as was the wind. I asked Frank what he thought the air temperature was and he guessed 60º but when I checked the thermometer, it was 48º, but felt like 70º with the bright sunshine. Great day except for all the fish flies. At least they don't bite, just annoy.

16 June    The forecast was for a 40% chance of rain, and light winds. So with our fishermen rationale, we believed the wind forecast but not the rain forecast so out we went unto the smooth water in heavy haze. The haze turned to fog but that wasn't a problem. We fished 45 minutes with nary a mark or hit, wondering whether the fish were still around. Then we ran in to some action with marks and fish. Today's action included 4 Lakers on at one time, 2 of which were on one line and both got off just out of reach of the net. We ended catching 14 Lakers, tagging and releasing 11 of them. Most ranged between 155' to 185'. We also missed 3 Lakers, two of which I mentioned already. The rain never materialized, the fog remained heavy most of the time and the wind and seas remained relatively calm. The surface water was 49º and the air 47º, but it was still very comfortable. And no, the Dipsy Diver did not see water today.

14 June    Another beautiful, calm morning and Frank and I just couldn't find a reason why we shouldn't return to where we did well yesterday. This time we set lines closer to 180' of water. It wasn't 10 minutes before my rigger jumped with a Laker and a minute later, Franks did too. Next minute, the Johnson was bouncing. So we thought, great, a triple, except we discovered each of us had two fish on at once and with one on the Johnson, which made 5 Lakers on at once. That's only the second time I can recall that happening. Oh, I failed to mention the Dipshit Diver was tangled in the the rigger line. I'll clean up what you might have heard with my final comments that it'll be a while before the Dipsy is out again. In the first hour and 15 minutes, we caught 10 Lakers and missed one. It was like the Keystone Cops out there as besides the 5 on, we later had 2 doubles, and 2 triples. We ended tagging and releasing 12 Lakers and keeping 6 in a little over 3 hours. It was calm until about 45 minutes before we quit when the wind kicked to 15 mph and gusting higher and it got a little bumpy. So much for the NWS 10 mph forecast but with an enjoyable day like that, I won't mention it.

13 June    Talk about a beautiful morning to leave the launch. Even though we had a pretty good day yesterday, Frank and I decided to head east a ways, as we hadn't tried that for a while. Winds and water were calm so why not we thought. We set lines at 155' and held that depth for about 45 minutes with no action. We decided to run a little deeper and when we hit 180', wham, a triple. Well, we only got two of the three and we tagged and released both. Our plan was to tag all our fish as I didn't want to clean any when I got home as I had meetings to go to. From then on, action was steady and we marked fish on the graph and on the GPS and stuck to our route. Eventually, we had still another triple and two doubles, tagging and releasing 12 Lakers, some pretty decent in size, most though were on the smaller size. We then ran out of tags so we decided to troll homeward for just a bit longer, hoping we could get a couple of nice-sized Lakers to take home or release if they were small. Well, we got a 3# Laker and couldn't get the second one. Talk about a beautiful day! Once again we ran the Dipsy Diver with the usual amount of success - zip! So 13 Lakers in a little over 4 hours made us very happy!

12 June    I'll skip the consternations of multiple mixed forecasts and reports and just say Frank and I went fishing. So there! Seas  were great with 1' rollers, light winds from the north, and within ten minutes, we had a double, both of which we tagged. Our plan was to tag and release the first 3 Lakers so we were off to a good start. Probably an hour later we caught, tagged, and released our third Laker. We then eventually caught two more Lakers, one of which we weren't sure was there but checking the rigger, there it was. All this happened on the out-leg of our run. Shortly after turning to run back, the port downrigger shit the bed and started paying out line as something went wrong. Lots of regrouping and analysis but we finally figured out the cause, and no, it wasn't our fault. It was because the brake pads (bronze) were too thick and the pin didn't adequately engage in the brake pad. Bottom line - we tied up that downrigger and fished back without it. Didn't get a hit on the way. However, the breeze died off and it was beautiful. The temperature was a cool 51º but with the sun, perfect. We probably jinxed ourselves thinking we'd get our limit, seeing as we had 5 on the first leg. Still, a great day and tomorrow, now that I have the rigger fixed (I hope) will be even better.

8 June    Yesterday's forecast for today didn't look nearly as good as today's, so out Frank and I went to calm seas and to a new (old really) spot. It was slow going again but finally, a hit and a glimpse of the Laker 10' from the net, obviously we didn't get that one. On the out leg of our route we could see a temperature line on the surface, a long, winding, calmer trail than the surrounding surfaces, with Seagulls scattered along it. I usually try to watch the surface temperature change when passing through temperature lines. This time the temperature went from 46.2º to 39.3º. Yes, you read that right. These temperature lines are interesting but I can honestly say I've not noticed any increase in catching fish near them. Who knows what is going on 150' down? Ok, the fishing report! We slowly caught 5 Lakers, keeping the first two and tagging and releasing the next three. Not to be preoccupied with temperatures but most of the time the air was around 46º, but very comfortable. When we got to shore, the thermometer shot to 84º and ten minutes later, to 68º. Now how's a body supposed to adjust to changes like that. Doffing and donning clothes can't be quick enough. But that's why we love it here. Most Lakers caught were between 170' and 190', near the bottom. All this in a little over 4 hours. I didn't want to fish that long but Frank insisted!

5 June    Following some mixed reports of catching Lakers in 50' of water, Frank and I thought it was time for us to give shallow fishing a try. Well, I mapped out a perfect course for roughly those depths where we set up the riggers and a Dipsy Diver. Guess what - nothing, including no fish marked in an hour. High expectations and little patience you might think and you'd be right. However, we were able to see an Eagle sitting on its nest, a great view. Not getting any encouragement such as a hit, we decided to power to our favorite spot as the seas were light and the north wind under 10 mph, but pretty cool. We set lines at our usual 120' and fished deeper from there. Before long both rigger bells rang and we caught twin 3# Lakers at 148'. We thought it was going to be a productive Laker day. Wrong! We struggled to catch 2 more Lakers, which we tagged and released, and missed two more. That was it in over 5 hours of trolling. Still it was a great day on the water, including sunny skies. The surface water was 42.6º and air 46º. Next trip will likely be to different fishing grounds.

2 June    Finally a beautiful, calm morning after a real windy rip-snorter yesterday. It was a cool 46º but neither Frank nor I seemed to mind as we rolled over the gentle left-over rollers. We set lines at 120' and went up and down to 200' but action was again very slow. Not a mark on the graph, not that it means much but is an encouraging sign when they show. Slowly, and I mean slowly, we caught 5 Lakers, all  of which we tagged and released. Sure, that was in a little over 4 hours but it was sunny and calm, with virtually no wind. Seeing as the last trip was so slow, we had both changed hats (no superstitions there) to see if that would improve our luck. Currents were very strong today so figuring out the right speed was difficult, and apparently we didn't master that, but kept trying. We had just resolved to quit in half an hour when I looked down to see an 10' tree branch along side the boat. You guessed it, right into my downrigger line and the goat rope began! Fortunately, I was able to get everything back but that's not a fun experience. Who knows where that came from! Anyway, great day on the water, even if the fishing was slow. BTW, most of our Lakers were caught around the 170' level. Oh, we started marking fish in the last half hour before we quit. Can't wait to catch those marks next time...yeah, right!

29 May   Finally, another day with light winds and calm seas as Frank and I launched. We set lines at 120' and worked as deep as 200', but nary a hit in over  two hours. In fact, we marked almost nothing on the graph.  Of course, many thoughts and theories were hashed over of why the action was so slow. Topics ranged from, going the right speed, fishing the right depths, to wearing the right hats etc. We doubted other fishermen go through these throes of introspection...yeah, right! So two and one half hours pass with no hits and we're at the end or our outward leg run. I asked Frank if he brought a lunch as we weren't going quitting until we caught at least one Laker. After a laugh, we both agreed a skunk wasn't acceptable. So then the conversation was one that maybe the fish were all facing the other way. So we turned and ran the route backwards, but not exactly on our old track. Finally, the Johnson rod bent over and we reeled in a nice 4# Laker. Eventually, we caught 3 more Lakers, two of which we tagged and released. Of course, our talking about which way the fish are facing is a long-time joke as many times most or even all the fish are caught going one direction. All this feeds the creativity of fishermen but in reality, any number of other factors come into play, including currents, speed, luck, odds, and who knows what else. All part of the fun. Winds were light on average but for about 20 minutes when the winds kicked to 17 mph and slowly backed off to wonderful seas again. Our fish were caught in roughly 180' near the bottom. BTW, we dragged a surface lure the entire time with the typical results of zippo!

25 May    I shouldn't whine about the recent weather that's been crappy and that today was the first day in a while it's been decent and tomorrow is supposed to be crappy again, and likely again the next day. Opps, guess I'm whining! The jury will please ignore those comments. On a lighter note, Neighbor Reggie Gebo and I headed out on a cool and calm morning with great ambitions to catch some Lakers. Reggie brought along his own box of magical lures. Action started slowly and Reggie's rigger was first to go, boxing that Laker. Shortly after that, my rigger hit and we thought it a fairly big Laker, only to find two Lakers on one line, boxing one and tagging and releasing other. After that action remained slow but we ended keeping four Lakers, tagging and releasing one. We also had five Lakers on that we lost, some really tugging, but that's fishing! One Laker we caught had a tag worth $10, tagged by the DNR on 7 Jul 2010 in roughly that same location. Since I'm  participating in the study, tracking these Lakers is very interesting.

21 May    It was another radar day with heavy fog most of the time, but calm winds and seas. The air was 41º and surface water 38º, the latter of which does a lot to calm winds if there were some off shore. I set lines at 140' and slowly worked towards 170'. There was no action the first hour and a half. Finally, the port rigger went off and the line started to peel off the spool. I thought it must be a very big Laker as I couldn't budge it. So I reeled in the Johnson rod (tiring) and narrowly miss tangling into the line with the fish on it. Then I slowed the boat down to 1 mph and was able to get the fish into the net, probably about 7# but all tangled in the line and that's why it felt much bigger. I tagged and released it but it went belly up for a while. Several seagulls swam over to it and were about to pick at it when it made a big splash and down it went. Yea! The only other Laker also came in tangled (rarely does that happen). About 5' from the net, it rolled over untangling itself and swam away. I don't recall marking a fish the whole time. Still it was nice out there.

20 May    The forecast was great - patchy fog but calm winds . Interpret that to mean heavy fog. Kevin Duby was my guest today. Kevin is the DNR liaison for the hooking mortality study. Well, the radar got a workout today as once we left the marina, we saw the breakwater and that was it. We didn't see land or much of anything until we returned. However, conditions were otherwise wonderful with hazy sun and calm seas enroute until we set lines at 120'. Slow describes the day but eventually we caught 6 nice Lakers, tagging and releasing 3. We also missed one (of course we must say it was a nice one) just out of reach of the net. Most were caught around 180' +-. Kevin landed a decent-sized Laker on the Jonson rod, his picture below, click on it to enlarge. The air was 44º and surface water 38º, but still a great day on the water.

Kevin Duby reeling in a Lake Trout

18 May     It wasn't a bad a forecast with scattered showers and winds N5-10,switching NE. Well, compared to what we'd been getting, that forecast was pretty good. Frank and I set lines at 120' but slowly worked towards the 180' depths, give or take some. It was slow going initially but eventually in the first hour and a half, we boxed 3 Lakers, all nice leans. Our plan was to keep the first four Lakers, then tag the rest, should we be so lucky. The slight breeze from the north slowly died down as the scattered sprinkles picked up, at times with a glimpse of sunlight at the same time. Action then picked up and as waters calmed and sprinkles slowly disappeared, we eventually caught 11 Lakers, tagging and releasing 6. And we didn't miss any, which I probably shouldn't mention. Great day on the water. The equipment worked fine except the GPS gave some grief enroute but came through when we got there.

May 11   Things are pretty much restored since the prior goat rope fishing trip. I was able to buy and install a replacement mount and hang the motor back onto the bracket. I changed the oil and started the motor with ear muffs, the motor starting surprisingly quickly. I then drained the milky oil and put in fresh oil, and repeated that process still again. The electronics all checked out but the tachometer wire was a casualty so I replaced the tach. We were now in readiness.

Today we couldn't see whether the stars were favorably aligned because of light fog and periodic rain showers. However, it was calm and that's a good thing. As Frank and I left the shallow launch, the prop was stirring some sand but not hitting bottom. Because of the low water table, next time I'll tilt the I/O. Heading out in the fog was a good time to check the radar, and that worked fine. The temperature gauge on the big motor remained fairly stable, running just a little hotter than normal. A new impeller arrived today so another fun project looms ahead.

We set lines at 140' and within half an hour, the Johnson rod started bouncing and we brought in the first Laker of the season. We ended with 4 lean Lakers, all caught between 155' and 180' feet of water. We also missed two for sure, and maybe one or two more. The intermittent rain wasn't a big problem except for a sudden downpour just when we had a fish on. Last year's Spring weather was fantastic, albeit the fishing slow then but we did have 40 Lakers by the 12th of May. Today all the equipment worked fine, except for the new tachometer, which I'll work on later. So all and all, it was a good way to start the season and great to be back on the water.

4 May 11    We thought he fishing stars were aligned perfectly but turned out not to be. Frank and I set out for our shakedown trip on one of the few nice days we've had this Spring. We decided not to go far as we had time constraints and it's better not to go far when being retrained on a shakedown trip. At the launch, the big motor fired right up in the cool 35º air. Despite being cool, it was sunny, the wind near calm, and the lake was flat. We quickly arrived at our fishing spot north of White Rocks, only to see in the distance what appeared to be Indian nets on our route. We were confident we could avoid it if we could see the other end as we got closer. We hadn't seen nets there in a couple of years. So far, so good.

I then lowered the auxiliary motor and it fired right up. Next was to put it in gear. Suddenly I heard a "crack", the new replacement wooden motor mount broke in two and down went the motor under water, held only by the gas line, some wires, and a safety chain..Fortunately, the motor quickly died as it ingested water.   I then reached over the stern and grabbed the motor handle to keep the wires from breaking, while Frank looked for lines (ropes) to tie the motor up. I knew where the lines were but didn't do a good job of telling him. Finally, we got it secured and I later heard from my hand when I got it out of the 35º water. We then motored back to the launch on the I/O at idle speed, which wanted to over-heat, which in has never done in the past. However, the heat range remained ok but on the high end and we made it back ok.

Once home, we connected a winch to lift the motor to a vertical position. I drained all the water from the carburetor (lots), remove the spark plugs and turned the motor over. Water shot out of the plug holes about 20'. I then shot oil in the plugs holes and turned it over again. Next I drained the engine oil, finding a fair amount of water in there too. I now have a replacement motor mount on order which I suspect will take a week or so. Running the engine will be difficult as I don't have water handy as the motor isn't on the boat. I really want to run it as soon as possible and will figure out a way. The oil will need to be changed a couple of times to get all the water out. I love this motor but changing oil is a real pain as it runs all over the place because of an ill-designed drain plug. Oh well, we'll get through this and we're surprising philosophical in that it could have been worse. That's if you don't count that I will likely replace the I/O impeller, which isn't that old. I suspect it'll be a week or so before our next shakedown trip. Surprisingly, no explicatives were expressed during this goat rope. They're reserved for future fishing trips. 

26  Apr 11    It's been a pretty lousy Spring - snow and cold prevail. Looks like several days before we can get out.

13 Mar 11    I bought my 2011 fishing license on-line today at the DNR web site. It's a comprehensive web site but they don't make it easy to find where you purchase licenses. The whole thing took me about 20 minutes. Heck, I could have driven to Walmart and bought one there in less time but I probably saved a few bucks on gas. The down side to printing them at home is they're about 3 times as large as the ones you buy and of course, they're printed on plain paper as opposed to the waterproof plastic when purchased. I made a PDF file so if my license gets lost or damaged, I can print a new one anytime.

21Jan 11    It's currently 6º outside with blowing snow, the perfect time to set up my log for the coming season. I'm obviously bored and maybe you are too or you wouldn't be checking this site out for fishing reports. If you wish to look at last year's report, click here. Otherwise, there probably won't be any fishing reports until April, and maybe May. Whilst I was rummaging through my site, I ran across an article I wrote in the Spring of 2000. I thought it was pretty funny if I do say so myself. I still have the same attention span, maybe worse.

Reminisce with me in last year's 2010 Lake Superior fishing log. Visit other prior year fishing reports


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