"Cooler By The Lake"
2012 Lake Superior Fishing Log
Information on tagging. About 5 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 - 2011
Fishing Synopsis for 2012
Two thousand twelve was another banner year, breaking several of my boat records. Probably the most notable record was the fish caught per hour rate of 3.01, a big jump from last year's record 2.66. See the graph below. Also, catching 819 Lakers beats the previous high of 740 last year, 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 Hooking Mortality Study which was lots of fun and enabled us to stay out longer. Lastly, we're steadily tweaking to improve our techniques.
The fishing season started at a record early date of 18 March. It started rather slowly but picked up once we discovered they were deeper than usual. I added the average depth to the chart below. I wasn't keen on fishing that deep but that's where they were for quite a while. However, we changed locations periodically, even when we were doing fairly well. The usually high catch rate in the fall was somewhat of a disappointment as we caught less than usual and the sizes were generally 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 48 single line doubles, vs. around an average 12-15, and a high of 33 last year. The fall weather was the worst I can remember with endless wind and rain. The average weight of kept Lakers decreased to 2.8#, vs. 3.0# last year. A number of years (my records go back to 1984) averaged 4.2 - 4.5#. By the way, the statistics are a hobby, certainly far behind in enjoyment than time on the water.
I have posted this year's Hooking Mortality Study results. It's still a mystery to me why of all the Lakers we caught, we recovered only 10 tags, 5 of which we had previously tagged. 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 2013 but can't imagine surpassing any of this year's records, but will try. The bar has definitely been set pretty high. We're not sure if the tagging part of the study will continue next year or not. If not, it will have a significant impact on our total quantities and we'll miss that part of fishing as it was fun, and interesting. Have a great winter. Note figures may change slightly as I reconcile my two databases and add various data.
|Trolling Hours Lake Trout only||249||279||271|
|Trips Lake Trout only||77||73||77|
|Trolling Hours non-Lake Trout||4||0||0|
|Trips non-Lake Trout||3||0||0|
|Travel hours to and from fishing grounds||57||52||62|
|Skunk Trips Lakers only||1||0||0|
|Lake Trout kept||252||362||429|
|Lake Trout tagged and released||222||344||314|
|Lake Trout released without tagging||9||34||69|
|Total fish caught||487||740||819|
|Fish per hour (total fish / Lake Trout Hours)||1.96||2.66||3.01|
|Single Line Doubles (2 fish on one line)||12||33||48|
|Average depth of water - feet||167||175||194|
|Average length of trolling||3.2||3.8||3.5|
|Average fish caught per trip||6.3||10.1||10.6|
22 Oct Well, today was our last day of the season. It was a good forecast of light winds so Frank and I mirrored what we did yesterday and again the action was good in the calm seas and wind. We pretty much stuck to the 160' - 180' which seemed to work best. Nearing the end of our outward route leg, we could feel the boat being buffeted around and a look at the anemometer showing the north winds had picked up to about 12mph and there were occasional whitecaps. We decided to turn and fish with the wind as it was blowing towards home. About midway back we picked up a triple (single line double on one rigger) and then we decided it was time to head in as all the gear was out of the water and the waves were picking up. Weather aside, we caught 10 Lakers in 1 hour and 45 minutes, keeping 7, releasing 1, and tagging 2. Quite a year with several boat records broken. I'll publish my summary report in the next couple of weeks.
21 Oct Yup, today was the first decent fishing day since the 4th so out Frank and I went into modest seas and an 8 mph SW wind. We didn't have a lot of time so we didn't go all that far. Recent reports were that Lakers were moving in to shallower waters but I have no idea where those reports were coming from, bad weather keeping most fishermen off the Lake. Besides we're creatures of habit setting lines in 180' and we weren't disappointed. . We stayed in roughly 160 -180' water and ended catching 13 Lakers in a little over 2 hours. Of those 13, we released 3, one of which was 13.5# and we're always glad to release those spawners. Only one Laker came off a stacker line today and it was on a single line double. Great day on the water. BTW today we broke my boat annual record - 800 Lakers.
4 Oct There was a little vacillation of whether to fish or not, winds were calm early, but forecasted to gust to 20 mph mid day with gale warnings posted tonight. However, the temptation to fish won with the rationalization that we'd fish until it got too windy. We set lines at 150' and it wasn't long before a hit and a miss. But then the action stayed fairly steady as we ranged from 150' to 185' and in the first 40 minutes, we put 4 Lakers in the box. After a slight break in the action, we boxed another just as we turned on our return leg, heading into the slowly increasing wind. Then a rigger bell rang and it took a while to reel in a 12.5# Laker, which we weighed and released in good shape. That was followed by two more Lakers, each 5.5#, both of which we released too. By then the winds were at 15 mph and waves around 2' so we decided catching 8 Lakers in an hour and a half was pretty good and we didn't like the increasing winds and seas so we headed in. According to the forecasts, the next several days probably won't allow much fishing either.
3 Oct Today the wind forecast looked great but surprisingly, 2' rollers were running from the SE, not expected but not enough to deter Frank and me. We set lines in 115' and it was probably 20 minutes before before our first hit. After that action was fairly steady. The stackers didn't produce much today as the Lakers were fairly tight to the bottom, at least the hungry ones. We were catching Lakers ranging from 115' to 165' , mostly close to the bottom, as the stackers didn't produce much. We caught 9 Lakers and a salmon (not sure if a Coho or Chinook) in two and a half hours, most of a decent size. The seas settled a little at times but generally we were in 1-2' rollers which we rather enjoyed. Also enjoyed was the fall colors which were spectacular.
30 Sep Heading out in near-calm winds, the 2-3' rolling seas were obviously leftovers from last night. I set lines a little shallower than last, around 120' and marked a lot of stuff, but it looked mostly like bait fish. Finally, after 40 minutes of no action, my starboard rigger bell rang and then the other went, a double so I released one and boxed one. I then ventured to different depths from 120' to 180'. The port rigger I generally set at 145 clicks, sometimes less, just so I didn't have to mess with it following the bottom and ironically, it caught 3 Lakers on it in varying depths. The other funny thing is that of the 9 Lakers caught (released 4), I had 4 doubles. Of course, this was when I was alone and it made for a busy but fun time. With 4 Lakers in the box I left the Johnson rod out and just trolled towards home the last 45 minutes and did a few things on the boat and caught the last Laker. The Lake slowly laid down before I quit and I looked at it a couple hours later to see caps from a pretty good NE breeze. Lucky timing!
28 Sep My guest today was Gary Olson, who joins me annually. Weather and water conditions were great. I got the Johnson rod out and just set my rigger to the bottom in 135' of water and it wasn't 5 seconds and wham, a nice 4# lean Laker. Of course, the net wasn't out, nor a few other things we get ready. Reset the rigger and in 5 minutes, another nice Laker. In the first 55 minutes, we boxed 4 Lakers and released one. Action remained steady, highlights included a single line double, but one swam away. Then once I set my rigger to 50' so we could put the Johnson rod down again when the bell rang and we popped another Laker. With what we thought were 9 Lakers in the box, we fished towards home and nailed a double, boxing one and releasing one. The key word is thought as when we got home, there were only 9 Lakers, but we really didn't care, all being nice leans, not to mention the 4 Lakers we released. Great action in two and a half hours. With mixed emotions we resisted the urge to keep fishing in the beautiful water and looking at the beautiful fall colors on shore. The most productive depth was around 130' but we ranged from 80' to 160'.
27 Sep Seas and winds were supposed to calm overnight and the wind did a little. We initially had some rock and roll but it was very fishable as Frank and I set lines at 160'. In about 15 minutes the first Laker greeted us and it wasn't all that big so we released it. The currents were rather strong so it was a little difficult to figure out the right speed, which is, by the way, when you're catching fish. We plied a fair range of depths but settled on the 150-180' as most productive. The Lakers were, as usual, in patches and we would get nothing for quite a while and then a double or triple. So, in reality, that was probably typical. It looked today like a new boat record might be broken in that Frank had 3 Lakers on side (his 3rd time this year), I had one on my rigger, and the Johnson felt like a lot of weight and suddenly the weight went lighter but there still was a Laker on it. Obviously, there were two Lakers on the line. Had that not happened, we would likely have had 6 Lakers on at once, a boat record. In the mean time, fishing conditions and waters gradually calmed, mostly towards the end of our run. We had caught 18 Lakers and decided to fish towards home (to save fuel of course - ha!) and managed to catch 6 more. Of course, we released 14 Lakers in the whole process. We had to smile that most of the Lakers we planned to released we lifted up without netting and none fell off until we released them. Then we think about all the ones we don't do that to and we lose them on the way in. All in fun! The biggest Laker was nearly 4# and the rest, even with my thumb on the scale were under 3#, some close to 2#, but all filleted out red like salmon. Prime eating and a lot of fun ketchin'.
Sep After 10 days of near-steady wind and rain, conditions finally improved but Frank and I delayed until 11a to let the rollers settle. Even then, there were 2'+ rollers and 8 mph NNE winds when we launched. We set lines at 175' and after only 10 minutes, we caught a double, both dinks and we released both. Of course, optimism was suddenly high. An hour and a half then passed with no runs, not hits, no errors, no marks, so let the whining begin. Finally, another Laker, small but a keeper, but then another stretch of nothingness. Actually, it was quite nice on the water, the sun out periodically and winds had lightened up considerably. We plied waters from 150' to 220', not finding much. We agreed to make one more pass out and back and on the turn for our final leg, a double. Then a couple more and the last of the 8 Lakers caught happened just as we were quitting. Two of the Lakers were nearly 5#, the others nearer 3#, but all nice leans.
15 Sep After blowing all day yesterday, the seas were quite confused this morning with 2' and occasional 3' rollers as Frank and I set out. There was a fishing tournament going on (we were not in it) so we decided to run some distance from most of the boats that were out. We set lines at 150' and slowly worked to 180' and 190' before we finally caught a small (dink) Laker, which we released. In the first hour we caught only 2 Lakers, releasing both. Something wasn't working so we decided to head into shallower water, 135' to 150' and there the action picked up. Lots of marks and the downrigger bells were ringing. This is the first year using two lures on the Johnson rod and yesterday, a single line double on the Johnson rod, a first. Gradually the seas settled somewhat and after four and a half hours, we had caught 23 Lakers, releasing 13 of them. The last hour we trolled towards home, the autopilot plotting a perfectly straight line. We could see a big boat about 1/2 mile ahead of us going the same direction as us. Next we know, it turned and headed directly towards us and was going across our bow. The people on that boat were yelling at us to take evasive action to avoid their planner boards, which I did but should not have had to. Talk about inconsiderate! The Lake two hours after we got off was showing lots of white caps so our timing was good.
13 Sep Finally the winds slowed down, some 9 days of huffing and puffing. After my mid morning meeting, Frank and I launched just before noon and because the winds were still breezy, we decided to not go all that far. We set lines at 160' and it wasn't long before a rigger bell rang. With the 10 mph SW wind at our stern, we slowed down the kicker giving us a pretty decent speed. Gradually, we caught a Laker here and there, most in the 3# range but one 7# Laker took a while to land. We made one run back into the wind, another downwind, and on our final run into the wind, the waves were capping and winds had picked up to 18 mph so we decided to pull the pin, with 8 Lakers and a 3# Coho in the box. The Johnson rod didn't do much today but I'm sure there once was a Coho on it but we had a double and by the time we got back to that rod, it was gone. All in all, it was a good day with 9 fish in just under 3 hours. Most caught were in 170' but it's not like we didn't try the 140' - 150- depths, but found little action there. The Coho was near the bottom in 170'.
4 Sep Struggling best describes today's fishing excursion. Frank and I left the launch just before sun-up, to calm seas and a fog bank we could see a few miles away. Action was slow, really slow and eventually we picked up a small Laker (I refer to as a dink) and with mixed emotion between releasing it and boxing, the latter won. Then there was a considerable stretch before the next hit, all the while the wind ramped up to 10 mph from the east and heavy fog rolled in. Even before the wind kicked, the currents were brutal and the kicker motor was just above idle and we were rolling along at 2.5 mph, faster than we like. With the radar spinning, we completed the route leg out and turned back into the wind and current. That first leg had produced 4 small Lakers, all around 180' down. Oh, we did have a salmon release about 50' down, but we never saw it. Eventually, we picked up two more Lakers before quitting. Talking to other fishermen, they struggled to catch fish just as we did. We marked very few too, so where did they go?
2 Sep With a good forecast, Frank and I decided to ventured from our recent close-by spot and to run a few miles to an ole spot that has proven good over many years. The breeze from the SE was light and seas great en route. With only one boat off in the distance, we set lines at 155 and in about 10 minutes, the first rigger bell rang, producing a small, but keeper Laker. The action once started, remained pretty steady. Our plan, seeing as tagging was suspended, was to box bigger Lakers or ones that were badly bloated or didn't appear to have much of a chance for survival if released. So ironically, we were fortunate to catch a mixture of keepers and releasable Lakers. The Lake progressively got calmer than predicted and eventually became flat as a pancake. Nearing the end of our route leg, Frank commented his rigger had really been bouncy and as it turned out, he had a triple, his second for the season. We then decided to just kick back and fish towards home. To wrap it up, we caught 20 in a little over 3 hours, releasing 10. A bonus was a 2.5# Coho at 170' and that was our 10th fish for the box. What a day! Oh, no goat ropes today, even better!
1 Sep With great conditions, Frank and I were off and running with a few Lakers in the box in the first half hour, then it really slowed down. It didn't help commenting that our system of running extra lures backfired and ended in a dandy mess. Back to the drawing boards. Most Lakers were in the 170' but we varied depths from 150 to 210'. We ended with 10 Lakers, most all nice leans and around the 3# range in about 3 and a half hours. Fun!
29 Aug I got another early start from the launch, the sun just cracking the horizon. The winds were from the south at 8-10 mph with about 1' seas as I put the Johnson rod out first in 160' of water. Next went the starboard rigger. I had just connected the lure to the port rigger when I heard the other rigger bell ring. So I lowered the port rigger about 10' with the lure connected about 12' back so it wouldn't interfere with netting the fish. I started in with the rigger Laker when I saw the Johnson rod bend over with a Laker. Seconds later, the port rod started bouncing and paying out line and in 10 seconds, went dead. No doubt a salmon hit that lure nearly right under the boat. So much for their fear of boats. The rigger Laker went into the box and the Johnson Laker got off so I was one for three in the first 10 minutes. With the wind at my back, I really milked running with the waves, sometimes going only 1.5 mph. However, I connected with 2 more Lakers. At the end of my downwind leg, I prepared to turn to fish my way back, when each rigger produced a Laker. Just like that, 5 Lakers (and 2 misses) in 55 minutes. Not too shoddy!
28 Aug I couldn't have been happier with the forecast of light and variable winds and upon awaking, weather sites generally showed light or calm winds. So I blissfully opted for an early start and launched just before sun-up. Hello world as I was greeted by some 2-3' rollers and a north wind averaging 8 mph. I set the Johnson rod out and started with the first rigger when the Johnson came to life, well, a little. The net wasn't ready nor a few other things I set up beforehand. However, when I got the Laker in, it was smaller than I thought so I released it without netting it. Five minutes later another Laker off the Johnson which I also released as too small. In the interim, I noted lots of marks higher up so I set the port rigger to 95 clicks, a purely arbitrary number, hoping it'd be amongst the marks, whatever they might be. Then I connected on my starboard rigger and into the box the Laker went. Before long the port rigger bell rang and I knew it wasn't bottom and it turned out to be a 3# Chinook. Great! Eventually, I had 3 Lakers in the box and a Chinook and I needed one more of something. The Johnson rod bent back and 20 cranks that fish was gone. Then it happened again, and again. Bummer! All felt like nice Lakers too. So then the starboard rigger bell rang and I got that Laker in the box when the port rigger bell went nuts. Oh, after nothing further at 95 clicks, I had reset it at 135 clicks, another arbitrary number that seems to work in the past. But the good news is that last Laker that was on I'd had to release anyway. It started to calm off just as I quit after 3 hours but it was time to head in. The moral of the story today seemed to be the fish are moving up and down in the water column more lately. Good news.
27 Aug It was our annual fishing adventure with Ron Rabe, his daughter Alex, and Dani Simandyl. Actually, I had some reservations about the forecast, but what's so unusual about that. But Ron was insistent so out we went to somewhat lumpy seas and a 10mph wind from the NNW. Whilst setting gear amidst the bantering, it wasn't long before the starboard rigger hit and as Alex reeled in, commented that it was a pretty nice Laker. My response was so was the second one and so it was two fish on at once, which I've termed a single line double. Action remained pretty steady and we lost not one, but two lures today. No doubt I probably hadn't closed a clasp on one as it was all gone but the other one, well who knows as the line was frayed, and not a bad knot. We usually don't lose 5 lures all season. No biggie though as goes with fishing. I set the port rigger at 135 clicks with no intention of following the bottom with it. I commented if the rigger went off, it would be a good-sized Laker. Well, it did with a nice 5# Laker with a green tag, but the tag wasn't one of mine. They had some social obligations so we wrapped it up after 2 hours with 7 Lakers and missed the 8th right as we were quitting. Our timing to get off was good as only a couple hours later I could see lots of whitecaps. Lots 'o fun! Click to enlarge, back to return here. Here's a picture, click to enlarge, back button to return here.
23 Aug Frank and I had great ambitions to return to the shallower fishing and try our new combinations, so we did without any major goat ropes. The seas and wind were near calm and conditions could not have been better. Well, catching could have been better the first hour as we had two Lakers on and lost one at the net. We marked very few, but that seldom drives us where we fish. However, we thought we'd run an old course, which varied from 120' to 253' and yup, we caught one at 253'. However, we were in the process of getting back to around 150' and once we did that, action picked up considerably. In a little over 3 hours we caught 10 Lakers, which included a single line double. On wrapping it up, we found a straggler hanging on, which we released. So the 150' area worked best for us today, but that was today. Lots of fun.
21 Aug We had a good forecast and one that proved largely true as Frank and I headed out in near-calm seas. We decided to fish shallower today, namely 90-140', but also to experiment with different lure combinations. For example, I tried running 3 lures on the Johnson rod and it worked, sort of. The Johnson rod produced only one Laker today but the good news was running 2 or 3 lures didn't result in a goat rope, at least not today. No guarantees for the future and I'll try that again. The other good news was we found some Lakers and slowly picked up 10 Lakers, releasing one and catching a bonus Coho. The Coho came off a high stacker line Frank has been rigging and it finally paid off. The last Laker was nearly 10# and we tried to revive and release it but weren't successful. Action was better early and I think we had only one hit in the last hour and a half. The wind slowly picked up to 10 mph from the SE but was not a problem and seas were light, so we hung in there for over 4 hours as it was so nice.
20 Aug We vacillated back and forth whether to go or not. The forecast conflicted with the actual conditions but the rationalizing minds prevailed so out we went under a 45-minute delay. My guests today were Nate Pigorsch and his son Ben (19), both of whom have fished several times with me before. Frank was also along. We were going to run a ways but quickly changed our minds with the 3-foot rollers coming in, and the NW wind at 10 mph. So it was fishable but pretty rock and roll too. It wasn't too long before a downrigger bell rang and produced a decent Laker. Then the Johnson rod bent over and Ben got it about half way in when the rod went dead. Well, sort of in that we tangled into a rigger but eventually we got that all straightened out. There were what seemed to be long stretches between fish, then we'd get a double. But we've experienced that many times before. Best action was around 200'. We had 7 Lakers in the box and about to hang it up when Frank's rigger produced a single line double. So action was pretty good, producing 9 Lakers in 3 1/2 hours, not to mention lots of good conversations. Here's a picture of Ben and Nate with some of the catch. Click to enlarge, back to return here. Here's a picture, click to enlarge, back button to return here.
19 Aug The forecast sounded good but from the launch I could see the seas were in a turmoil. But hey, sometimes it's better when you get out there than it looks from shore. And it was, with 2-3' rollers vs. waves, so off I went at a slightly slower speed and a little more tabs than usual. I did the usual line set at 130' and fished 6 lures, the legal maximum. Because I was alone, I ran the port rigger at 135 clicks, just so I wouldn't go crazy running it up and down with the bottom. I ventured into 160' and the bottom was coming up again and I thought, maybe I ought to lower it to 145 clicks. So the minute I did that, a Laker hit. Then the Johnson rod fired up and it got busy. Then another one the starboard rigger. With all three lines up, I turned to run with the wind (SW at 12) and never got a hit on that leg, but there sure were lots of fish marks on the graph. So at the end of that run, I came back on roughly the same course. Ring went my rigger bell and I reeled in a single line double, the first I boxed, the second I released. I finally got another Laker, and into the box it went so I thought at least I'd fish towards home for twenty minutes or so. Well, my rigger hit bottom so hard the line got messed up and that was a real goat rope that took at least half an hour to fix and required some splicing. In the meantime, a Laker had hit the rigger and was ringing the bell but wouldn't release so I just kept trying to fix the rigger. When I finally got the rigger up, the Laker was gone. Then the Johnson rod bent way over and 20 seconds later, that Laker was gone. The seas remained rocky and the wind kicked to 15 mph for a while but quickly backed down to where it was decent. However, it was time to quit, having caught 6 Lakers in 2 hours, and missing two, that was fun.
15 Aug Our guest today was Bob Bryngelson, who fishes with us a couple times a year. Frank, Bob, and I left port in calm seas and set lines in 150' of water. It wasn't long before we had action, the first 15 minutes we had a single line double and two other Lakers in the box. True to form, action slowed as quickly as it started, but that's the way it went the whole time, in fits and spurts. It seemed the best action was in the 150-170' range, and not the real deep stuff, but then we spent little time there. I've been experimenting with running a second lure on the Johnson rod and today it paid off with two Lakers on the upper lure. And we didn't have a goat rope either, but suspect that's coming as it's a bit tricky to set up. We ended with 11 Lakers and a Coho that hit on the bottom in 172'. That was really ironic as we ran a Dipsy Diver (under duress I might add) all the time and didn't have a hit. The water and wind started calm but slowly built up with capping from the SE. Still, it was a great day and it was a perfect time to head home.
14 Aug Today we had another wonderful forecast of light winds. Apparently what that meant was 10-12mph from the north with 2'+ seas and whitecaps. Well, Frank and I found it bouncy but not unmanageable, always thinking it'll calm off, but it didn't. We found most action in the 150' - 170'. Maybe that was because it was difficult to control our speed when hitting the 200'+ depths. We didn't do any tagging today and on our final leg, with 9 Lakers in the box (we previously released a smaller Laker), we caught our last Laker. So as a mirror of yesterday, with the riggers both put away, we reached to store the Johnson rod when a bigger Laker hit it hard. Of course, we released it. So we caught 12 Lakers in 3 hours and the ride back wasn't very fast but at least the waves and rollers were going with us.
13 Aug A wonderful forecast for light winds and isolated thunderstorms (rarely happen but I always watch) got the fish-thoughts adrenalin flowing and off I went. Back to familiar grounds where I again tried the usual shallower fishing and got nothing, even in 170' - 190'. However, I marked quite a few, but no takers. An hour passed with nary a hit. OMG, I've lost my touch but wait, did I hear a downrigger bell? Yup! Into the box it went. I only had 7 tags so the plan was to box initially then tag and release some. I ranged my usual route with goes from 140' to 250', but I try to avoid the latter. Eventually, I caught 4 more Lakers for the box, then started tagging. As I near quitting time, I usually troll towards home, quitting on the final deep leg, so I did. I had two tags left and about 5 minutes before quitting at the end of the run when one rigger went off so I tagged that one. I thought too bad I couldn't have completed the log sheet with the last tag when the other rigger went off and I tagged that one. I put both riggers away and was reaching for the Johnson when it bent over with a good-sized Laker. Basically it could be considered a triple. Funny but I had my limit in the box and no more tags so I had to release it. Wouldn't you know but fun. Ironically, the last 3 Lakers were at the 170' level. Water and wind conditions were wonderful, and I was pleased with 13 Lakers in 4 hours. On the way home I was stopped by the Coast Guard, who boarded me for an inspection. They're very professional and they gave me paperwork showing no discrepancies.
12 Aug The powerful NE winds the past couple of days finally subsided and left some gentle rollers and light winds as Frank and I headed out under sunny skies. Having heard other fishermen comment on catching Lakers in the 140' range, we set lines at 120', slowly working towards deeper water. The first Laker hit at 170' and we were pretty busy after that. Our plan was to box 5 Lakers, then start tagging and releasing. We accomplished our first plan in the first hour. Steadily we had hits, tagging and releasing Lakers. Then a pleasant surprise, we caught a Laker we tagged last month , caught and released a couple more Lakers, then caught another Laker, this one tagged by the DNR. Both tagged fish went into the cooler. Frank and I rationalized to fish longer than usual, seeing as it had been a few days where we couldn't get out but more importantly, it was a beautiful day on the water. Not to mention we were doing fairly well on the Lakers. So, after 5 3/4 hours, we had kept 7 Lakers and tagged and released 20 Lakers. Catching 27 Lakers is a new boat record, beating the 26 Lakers we caught on this date, one year ago. We plied water depths from 130' to probably a record 253', where we caught a Laker too. Generally, most Lakers were between 180' and 200'. Oh, we had another single line double (two Lakers on one line). What a great day!
8 Aug Ironically, conditions were quite similar to two days ago, but with a NE wind not as strong and 2' rollers. Frank and I dashed thoughts of doing a little traveling and so didn't go all that far. It was the usual fits and spurts with 45 minutes of no action, then a double. We had one minor goat rope that we recovered from and managed to get the Laker. Our plan was to box several for smoking later so we slowly boxed 9, then started tagging. We pushed a little longer because the Lake and wind had settled so at the end of our 5 hours, we had also tagged and released 6 Lakers. Whilst fishing we got a call from the Summertime, fishing nearby that they caught a green tag. They gave me the tag number and I looked it up to confirm it was one we tagged September 7, 2011 in the same area. Fun day!
6 Aug We should have know better with all the mixed wind forecasts, none of them really good, so out we went, guests Ted Lorsbach and his Dad Frank. Winds proved a steady 12-15mph from the SW and it was a little difficult to hold course, not to mention the boat rocking quite a bit. It wasn't too long before Frank had a Laker on, and it was much longer before he didn't. We agreed we had to get one in the box before we quit so it wouldn't be considered a skunk trip. So that happened and off we went with our one Laker in 45 minutes. We'll try again soon.
3 Aug With a forecasted NE at 5-10mph, we noted almost no wind on shore but Frank commented there were some big rollers coming in. Rollers are not usually bad and these weren't either, roughly 3-4' so we had to take our time getting to our fishing spot and then the wind did start at a pretty steady 10 mph from the east. We did a lot of walking in place but we were ok and it wasn't unsafe. We started at 170' and didn't do much there for 45 minutes as we worked deeper. Finally, a hit...and a miss, to be the story at least 6 times today. Our plan was to tag the first 5 Lakers, should we be so lucky, and that we did. But it was interesting getting there as later I had a hit, only to find two fish on, a single line double. Whilst reeling them in however, the Johnson rod was bouncing and Frank said he had one on too. So we then had on four Lakers at one time. Well, I took care of one of them by my creative netting, neatly removing its hook with the net and away it swam. I didn't get any demerit points as we got the other three and that's only the second botched netting job I did so far this year. So, at the end of a little over 4 hours we had tagged and released 7 Lakers and boxed 5. The bonus today was the last Laker was tagged by us on July 6, 2012 at another location. Neat!
1 Aug We were a little skeptical with a forecasted south wind, gusting to 20mph, but rationalized that was for the afternoon and we might squeeze in a morning trip so out we went. The winds proved a steady 10-12mph but were manageable. It wasn't but 5 minutes before the rigger bell rang and we caught our 1st Laker. Action remained fairly steady and we found the 170' depths worked best, even though we ranged up to 210' at times. The Lakers seemed more aggressive than usual and ran a little larger too. We ended keeping 6 Lakers and tagging and releasing 7 in 3 1/2 hours. Timing was good as the winds kicked up just as we quit.
29 July My guest today was Chuck Freed and fishing partner Frank. Despite a forecast of light south winds we could see there was a little capping. As we pulled into the launch, a fishing acquaintance with a 24' boat was leaving as it apparently was too rough. Well, we had to look for ourselves and it really wasn't that bad once out there. In fact, I convinced the troops to make a longer trip with hopefully better rewards. Hey, the Captain gets two or more votes. So off we went, setting lines at 160' and working deeper. It was a little tough holding course with the wind but no excuses there. Finally a Laker off a rigger, which we agreed to tag so Chuck could see what it's all about. After that it was slow going but with the understanding of alternate tagging and releasing. I had time constraints applied by someone as "be home by so we can go out" and I thought that's a good idea. So on our final leg towards home with 4 Lakers in the box and 5 tagged, we got a triple minutes before quitting, Chuck was reeling one rod and I held up two fingers as I could see two Lakers on his one line. Super day as the winds calmed about halfway through the fish and provided a nice ride home. Oh, there was some whining about how slow it was but maybe that's why we finally caught 12 Lakers and we're on to a possible solution.
24 July The wind was near calm but the Lake was a churnin' with big 3-4' rollers coming in from the NE. Frank and I delayed launching by an hour, thinking it would settle. Well, it did a little but it was rough heading out so we didn't go far before setting lines. We did surprisingly well going into the big waves and rollers as there was little wind, we just did a lot of rock and roll and walking in place. It wasn't long before we hit the first Laker in 178' of water. As the morning progressed, the action remained fairly steady but we seemed to be missing more than a few. We had a single line double but one got off. To prepare for a turn, we were cranking in the Johnson rod when at 100 turns (about 300' of line), a 4# Laker hit. I'm guessing the lure was probably 75' - 100' off the bottom in 200' of water. We boxed the first 5 Lakers then decided to tag. Well, the next fish had a green tag but it wasn't one of mine so in the box it went. We tagged and released the next Laker and then we caught another tagged fish, not one of ours either. So we ended with 13 Lakers, 6 of which we tagged and released, one of which was around 7#, all in about 4 1/2 hours. Most were caught between 180' and 220'. Lots of fun, especially once the Big Pond settled down.
22 July We started at 7:30a, a little earlier than usual. Seas were near calm and the wind, light - a beautiful morning. We decided to skip the usual 150'ish start and started at 180'. Action started rather quickly with a miss on the Johnson rod. Then the riggers steadily produced, mostly in the 190' area. We ended keeping 9 Lakers and tagging 8, the last a 9# Laker. We also had a single line double whilst the Johnson rod was also bouncing, but that one got off. We still consider that a triple. Nearing the end of our troll, it got hot as the breeze quit and sun started baking us. Time to get off after a great day fishing.
20 July We tried to fish yesterday but were greeted by 3' waves and 12 mph winds from the east, so we turned around and went home. This morning, we had a good forecast and left on a delayed schedule around 10:30a. It wasn't as smooth as forecasted and it was a little tough fishing for a while, but slowly the winds and waves subsided. Once again we were off to a slow start, starting at 150', marking and catching nothing for the first 50 minutes. Frank and I were hoping it was like the last trip where we got to the end of our run and threatened to fish it homeward, but things picked up so we didn't do that. It was the same today. Action picked up the second hour and the Lakers became much more aggressive it seemed. We boxed the first 8 Lakers, the last being a 9# Laker off of Frank's rigger and we had to slow the boat down to get it in. We then tagged and released 3 for a tally of 11 Lakers, a great day on the Big Pond.
18 July The forecast of NE winds at 5-10 mph should have sent us a message to us we'd be seeing 2-3' rollers when we turned the corner around the breakwater. It was a fairly slow trip to one of our favorite fishing spots, with guests Frank Lorsbach and John Wells along. Conditions remained about the same as we rocked and rolled but were able to fish fine. John was determined to run a Dipsy which managed twice to mix it up with the other lines in the rough water. Slowly we started to pick up Lakers when we got to the 190'+ depths, not that we didn't try shallower waters first. The bonus of the trip was that Frank caught 3 Lakers at one time off his rigger setup. He's been trying to do that for weeks and it finally happened, resulting in some high-fives. We ended catching 15 Lakers, tagging and releasing 4 on a lumpy but fun trip.
16 July My guests today were Josh and Greg Gustafson and fishing partner Frank Lorsbach. We launched at 7a as winds were predicted to kick to 20-30 mph by noon and we hoped to be off by then. We set lines at 140' and steadily worked deeper. The first 45 minutes were pretty quiet with no nibbles nor marks. Seas were relatively calm so we could go where we wanted. Finally, the action started and we caught a couple of Lakers. Then a single line double that Josh reeled in. BTW, there was a little bantering going on. Action ebbed and flowed between 180' and 200' and the waters remained decent whilst the winds kicked a little at 10mph. With 10 Lakers in the box, we started tagging and had 5 tagged and released when we decided to quit shortly. Right at the time we were pulling gear, we got two more Lakers, one a dink (really small Laker) which we tagged, the other went into the box. Final tally, 17 Lakers and a lot of fun. Winds kicked 15-20mph about an hour after we got off the Lake.
15 July Conditions were great as we launched, albeit some haze and fog so I spun up the radar, just in case but it really wasn't needed. My guests today were my nephew Ed Beauchamp, and his stepsons Marc Provost and Darius Provost (13), all of whom have fished with me before, albeit a number of years back. Action was pretty steady and all the gear was catching Lakers. We plied the 170' to 200' depths and found most in the 180' range, a number on the stacker lines, set about 10' off the bottom. They were anxious to observe the tagging process, but also to take some home for the grill. We ended catching 17 Lakers, tagging and releasing 9, and keeping 8. The seas were calm and there was enough cloud cover to keep from roasting us. Great time on da Pond. Click on the pictures below to expand, use your back button to return here.
14 July Today my guests were Paul Marin and his wife Betsy Little. We launched under great conditions, with near-calm winds and seas, but the threat of noontime thunderstorms. We got off to a slow start but as we hit the deeper waters, action picked up. The Johnson rod worked overtime but then then the riggers did their thing too. We decided to tag and release all the Lakers. After tagging a couple of Lakers, Betsy was reeling in a Laker and mentioned it was pretty difficult, only to discover there were two Lakers on her rod. Whilst our eyes were often watching for any indications of forecasted thunderstorms, we tagged and released 8 Lakers, and missed 3 right behind the boat. The thunderstorms didn't show up but we left for home after 3 hours, still with great waters and after a great time time on the Big Pond. Below is a picture of Paul reeling in a Laker, being coached by Betsy. Click on image to enlarge.
12 July Frank and I thought we hit a route we hadn't fished in a while and did very well at last year. Wind and water conditions were pretty good and by the time we set lines, it was calming. After nearly an hour without marking anything, let alone catching anything, we talked of turning around and fishing it back towards home. So we made a 180º turn and caught a Laker. Then not too long afterwards, another hit. Seems we just had to complain a bit and it worked. Action stayed fairly steady, eventually tagging 8 Lakers and boxing 4 in a little over 4 hours. The last two hours the wind died completely and it got hot, real hot so we didn't mind quitting. Again, we tried the 150' range for a while and ended doing best between 190' and 200'.
11 July As I awoke early (you really don't want to know how early), the trees were whipping around to a 5-10 mph forecast. Granite Island weather station showed 20 mph but the forecast was for decreasing winds as the day progressed. So Frank and I delayed by 15 minutes and left the launch at 8;30a, in confused and lumpy seas. We decided not to go far so we set lines at 160', whilst walking in place in rock and roll waters. Nothingness was the word for the first hour and thoughts of a skunk and the associated shame crossed our minds. Then a Laker at 190' which we tagged and released. Our plan was to tag all, no keepers. Easy decision as action was very slow. We turned our route to return and decide to go deeper, towards the 200'+ level and finally, another Laker. Slowly, we picked up one here and there. The winds were SW at 12 mph one minute, then NE 8 mph 5 minutes later. No wonder the seas were confused. But it was still fishable. Finally, we had 5 Lakers in the boat and decided to pull the pin soon. Then Frank said he had something going and voila, a single line double. Once those Lakers were tagged and released, we started to put stuff away, including tagging equipment. When I was bring my gear up, another Laker hit. Yeah, you'll say it was on for a while and I didn't know it. Well, I say it hit on the way up and that's the real truth from this fisherman. So we ended a questionable start with 8 Lakers tagged and released on an overall pretty nice day and lots 'o fun!
10 July With great water and wind conditions, Frank and I set lines in 130' and slowly worked deeper. Our first Laker was at 180' and hit so light, it was barely detectable. But that was the pattern for the day as the Lakers were not aggressive and if we didn't see the initial hit, they sometimes went for a ride. We were lucky enough to catch 12 Lakers, tagging and releasing 8, but we probably missed at least 6. A couple on the Johnson rod were really thrumming but 50 feet out - gone. Well, that's fishing. The most action was the 180' - 200' range but we trolled in the 140' water a while but came up with nothing. We also washed a surface lure, again with no results. One of these days...
9 July Today a most welcomed and too infrequent guest was my long-time friend John Wells. John with his own boat "Loose Cannon" plies the waters mostly for salmon but knows Lakers are the best, or next to best for eating and smoking. We tried from 140' to 210' and action was slow by my expectations. Eventually we caught 12 Lakers, tagging and releasing 4. Not to mention we missed at least 5, most of which we saw swim away. Besides catching some nice, but not overly big Lakers, we caught up on old times and thoroughly enjoyed our time on the water. Nearing the end of our run, ominous clouds formed to the west which was out clue to go home, which we did and caught only got 17 droplets of rain. Fun day!
8 July Out I went at 6a, all by my lonesome, the sun just breaking over calm seas. I had to try my usual 120' depths whilst slowly working deeper. Nothing but nothing for 20 minutes until I hit 178' when one rigger bell rang, then the other, then the Johnson bent over - a triple. It took a little bit of effort and planning but I got all three tagged so there I was with all three lines out of the water. I got them all reset and before long, one rigger bell rang and soon produced two Lakers on one line, but one got off right behind the boat. The action remained quite steady as I plied the 170' - 200' depths. Later I got a second single line double and again one got off right behind the boat. Nearing the end of trip, I had tagged and released 8 and 5 in the box so I put most of the gear away, including the net and tagging stuff. Guess what, two more Lakers in the 150' range that I had to tag as I couldn't keep more. To summarize, I tagged and released 10 Lakers, kept 5, having a triple, 2 doubles, and missed 4 right behind the boat, all in under 5 hours. In the last hour, the NE winds had picked up to around 10 mph but it wasn't a problem, just lumpy seas. However, as I looked out from shore a couple hours later, I could see white caps. Oh, the fish flies were horrible today. While they don't bite, they get in your eyes, ears, and every place else and the boat was just covered with them. Most annoying and the only downside to a great day on the Big Pond.
6 July Today I was joined by my Grandson Spencer Smith (16) as we headed out on a beautifully calm morning. It was to be a day on the water, not just fishing but learning how to operate the boat and fishing gear. Action started slowly until we got into the 190' range where we picked up our first Laker which Spencer reeled in and I tagged and released. Before too long, a rigger bell rang and this time Spencer had two Lakers on the one line, what we call a single line double. Another Laker then a double where we each had one on. Fun! Whilst one rigger was out of the water after catching a Laker, we set the other one at 50 clicks until we could send them down together. Ring went the bell and out paid the line so we knew it was a good sized Laker. We hauled in the Johnson rod so it wouldn't tangle. It took several minutes before Spencer could bring the 13# Laker to the net. It was a beautiful lean and we (he) had already decided to keep it. So for the day, we kept 4 Lakers and tagged 9 in just shy of 4 hours. Great day on the water and our timing was good too as the north winds and waves were picking up as we headed home. Click picture to enlarge, back button to return.
4th of July It was a mixed forecast of near calm but temperatures into the upper 80s. That can cook you top and bottom but then it said light winds from the NE so that had to be good. Frank and I struggled, or to listen to us, think we did but it sometimes seemed like an hour between fish. Probably wasn't. We slowly got a Laker here and there, tagging the first several. Running different depths with one here and there, we didn't see a pattern. Once Frank commented he had some light action on the rigger and voila, two Lakers. Meantime, I complained I couldn't hit bottom as the currents were really powerful. He talked me into checking it out and sure enough, there were two Lakers on mine. Nearly all the Lakers were very unaggressive today. So we had two single line doubles, then nothing for a seemingly long time. Conditions were wonderful, the temperature in the upper 60s as the light NE breeze off the Lake cooled it down nicely. We ended with 11 Lakers in 4 hours, a nice start to celebrating the 4th of July.
2 July With grand hopes and a forecast to match, we thought today would be light or no winds, like yesterday. Well maybe a Walleye chop! It didn't pan out exactly that way but winds and waves were still manageable whilst we initially plied the 170'ish waters, where we circled and caught several Lakers. Typical fishermen, as soon as action slowed, we then posed the question, troll to our usually productive but deeper run? So we did that. Because of the wind, we drifted into 260' but got out of that as quickly as we could. Seems we caught one near those depths. Short story is the seas got choppy as time went on but we did end tagging 7 Lakers and keeping 4. To accentuate the positive, overall it was great day on the water.
1 July Today my special guests were Spencer (16) and Cooper (11) Smith (Grandsons) , and my fishing partner Frank Lorsbach. I can't imagine better weather and water conditions as it was flat as a pancake the entire trip. How do you describe a day of long periods of no hits or marks, then a flurry, then missing several in a row...I guess fishing describes it best. Eventually we caught 9 Lakers, tagging and releasing the first 6. After that. we decided to keep some and that proved difficult, as they largely shut down. Well, it's only fair to say we had at least 6, probably more hammering on the riggers, only to disappear. The boys had a great time but were visibly tired as we left at a very early time because of my social obligations (boo hoo, I don't get invited out often), we left very early. But kids are tougher than us. I know they'll be ready to go again soon.
28 June The Big Pond was smooth as glass and Frank and I wended our way to one of our favorite fishing spots. We set lines at 120', working deeper and hit a double at 165'. Action was pretty steady after that as we tagged and released 10, and kept 8. We hadn't planned on keeping that many but at quitting time with most of the gear put away, we caught two more, one of which we had tagged last year. Ironically, as good as the action was, we marked very few but that's happened any number of times for whatever reason. Our best action was around the 180' depth but we tried much deeper at times. I think it's a boat record of some sort that we caught two Lakers at 254'. We rarely fish that deep. Conditions were superb, remaining calm, and it never got nearly as warm as predicted. Great day on the water.
27 June Today my guests from California were John and Emily Devere, their daughter Kieran (14) and son Ian (7). Both John and Kieran had fished with me several times over the years. The SE wind at around 10 mph made the harbor rough, including capping but once outside, waves were manageable. We set lines at 165' and after about 20 minutes, one rigger went off and we got the fish up to where we could see it but that Laker didn't see the boat and off it went. We slowly caught 4 Lakers which Ian and Kieran reeled in. We tagged and released 2 of the 4. One of the Lakers came off a rigger I set at 135 clicks so we wouldn't have to mess with it and it produced a nice Laker in 200' of water. I thought the funniest comment was made by Kieran who said when I was taking their picture with the fish was she did not want that picture on their Christmas card. Click on the picture to enlarge, use back button to return here.
26 June The trees where whipping around at home but everything else (forecasts) said go for it, so we went for it. This time, in a different direction. Seas an hour before showed caps, now quickly had calmed. The first 45 minutes were as uneventful as it gets, then a wake up call with a small Laker. Today we had tagging in mind, but we decided if we were kicking butt, maybe keep a few. Slowness was the word with one here and there and a miss or two or four. We decided to run a surface line which we do now and then and voila, the clicker started clicking and we saw a 4-5k# salmon leap out of the water. A minute later, another leap, then a dead line - rats! Salmon are usually #*$%ards to catch, but always fun to play. Eventually, we tagged and released 8 Lakers and I suggested getting one more and we'd quit. Ring went the bell on the rigger and sure enough there were two Lakers on the one line. Suddenly, there was one and seconds later, none. Rats again, or words to that effect. Actually, we take that in stride as it's all a part of being on the water with fish being the bonus. So we caught one more and tagged it. None were in the box so no cleaning at home. Yea! Conditions couldn't have been better. We had a few fish flies that didn't bite, mild temperatures (ok, a little warm at times), fish, and a very slight breeze - bring more of that on!
23 June What a beautifully calm morning as we set lines at 115', working deeper. We're ever hopeful to find the Lakers in shallower waters but they don't seem to be there yet. After half an hour passed with few marks and no hits, at 180' suddenly Frank's rigger bell rang and he reeled in a single line double, two Lakers on the one line. Although we tried different depths, 180'ish seem the most productive. We ended tagging and releasing 7 Lakers, and keeping 3. Oh, we had another single line double just before quitting. The winds remained calm most of the time but kicked a little as we wrapped things up, perfect timing. We ran a Dipsy Diver the whole time and caught the usual zippo on it.
22 June Finally the winds backed off enough for Frank and me to head out in fairly calm waters. We decided to stay with the deeper water and marked several fish at the 180' level but with no action the first half hour. Then a triple and a scramble but we got all three Lakers. We plied waters as deep as 220' without much success, even though we marked them there we found the 180' depths best. The predicted NW light winds turned out to be from the east at 10 mph but not a problem. Nearing the end of our trip we saw a few flashes of lightning off in the distance, which gave us motivation to promptly quit and not go the few extra minutes. We got a few sprinkles of rain and then tracked the rain cell on radar all the way home. It was waiting for us at the launch but again, not a lot of rain. So we ended with 10 Lakers, 5 of which we tagged and released. None were of any size but prime leans nonetheless.
17 June I've simply got to get my interpretive dictionary of NWS forecast terms going. Frank and I left in decent water under the belief winds would clock SE to NW and slow down in the process. When we set lines at 118' feet, working deeper, the winds stiffened and were averaging 14 mph. Of course, we were fooled a couple of times and made silly remarks like it looks like it's backing off. Wrong! Surprisingly, we were able to catch a couple of Lakers at around 180' but a couple of wind bursts after we turned to head into the wind and waves, we were kicking the tires on quitting. Frank suggested we head nearer to shore to at least avoid the rock and roll conditions so we trolled faster than usual to a route I had mapped a long time ago. Surprisingly, when we hit the 77' depth, a nice Laker hit hard. We plodded on a while, winds sometimes gusting to 17 mph. Then a nasty gust of wind caused us to speed up the trolling motor to maintain control. The anemometer showed 27 mph. Gee! We decided to head back to the spot of the first fish and we picked up another Laker. We pulled the Johnson rod a while back as it was too difficult to handle with all the turning. The wind then backed off enough for us to circle the area another time and we ended picking up 4 Lakers, all in the 4-5# class.
16 June Yup, it's been too windy to get out. Finally a break today so Frank and I headed out in calm seas. The forecast was to be light winds kicking as the day progressed. The initial plan was to not go far but I was able to persuade him to go just a little bit further so as if winds kicked, we'd have it easier on the return trip. Fishermen are such good rationalizers you know. I could taste eating crow as the first hour produced one Laker. We were fishing an area we fished last year at this time and got 12-14 Lakers on a couple of trips. So much for understanding Lake Trout patterns we thought. The one pain today were the ankle-biter flies which came from nowhere. Finally, a little action with a Laker here and there. Then a slight breeze came up and action picked up too, not that there's a connection understand. Well, Frank felt there is. It's called a Walleye Chop by some. Over time we tagged and released several and then decided to box a couple, should we get lucky. Well, as luck would have it we tagged 6, with 3 in the box as we trolled towards port, planning to quit shortly. Ring went Frank's rigger and not 10 seconds later, mine too. Perfect timing as it we were planning to quit minutes away. We ended catching 11 Lakers, tagging and releasing 7, and keeping 4 in a little over three and a half hours. The winds, or make that breeze, never did kick whilst we were out. Wonderful day!
9 June The rain and thunder early morning stopped in time for Frank and I to head out in near-calm seas, which slowly built up en route. But before we launched, an ole friend Dave was there to launch too. He indicated he saw on my log I was doing pretty good and asked where I thought the best place was. He only gets here to fish a couple times a year. I suggested he might follow me to one of my haunts, so he did. As Frank and I set up gear, a few rigger problems came up, all of which we fixed but for a time the language and color of the sky were the same. We lost at least half an hour doing that. Might as well been 3 hours as all we caught were two Lakers for the trip. Now here's the kicker, shortly after we left, Dave and his partner Jamie caught their tenth Laker. Oh, but the frosting on the cake was they had 3 green tags too. I looked up the tag numbers and found Frank and I had tagged all three, two last month and one last year. Despite our humbling experience, the abundance of house flies (lots of people were complaining about), and heat (near 80 at times), the initially lumpy seas and breezy winds slowly settled and it cooled a bit. So it was more of a nice boat ride than a fishing trip today. That happens!
7 June Neighbor Reggie Gebo and I headed out in perfectly calm waters for a short trip having to get in by noon. Action was very slow but the 4 Lakers we caught we a little bigger than usual, even if the largest was 4#. Most were caught between 180' and 200', one probably 30' from the bottom, the others tight to the bottom.
6 June It's almost shocking - another good forecast and great conditions for Rick Weesen and I to head out on flat seas. It was an early launch (0620). We set lines at 120' and slowly worked to deeper water, but before we got there, we hit a small Laker at 145', then another later at 180', both of which we tagged. We kept on truckin' and one-by-one we'd get one here and there, mostly nearing the 200' level. I commented after several Laker it was strange we did even have a double. Bang, a double. So we plied waters around a net nearing the end of our run when we he some 255' waters - enough I said we're heading back on a final run. We hit and missed a couple in the dark, briny deeps and caught one too. Up to this point we had two doubles. Nearing the end of our run and just before hanging it up, the Johnson rod jumped, followed by Rick jumping when he had a fish on. Wrapping it up with a triple, finding Rick with a double on one line (SLD) was frosting on the cake. Actually the frosting was catching a Laker I tagged on July 20, 2010. We kept 5 Lakers and tagged 7 so a 12 count wasn't too shoddy. Rick's of a kindred spirit to me in that time on the water is even more important that catching fish. When it's going good, it's my mantra, when it's not, it's my excuse.
4 June With a great forecast and calm conditions, my guests today were Rick Weesen and Jerry ("Lint" as Rick calls him) Albright. We headed to one of Rick's ole fishing haunts for ole time's sake. Action was slow at the 150' level so we progressively moved to deeper water where slowly, one by one we caught small Lakers, mostly 2-3#. Surprisingly, we had no doubles. Rick accidently cause a bird's nest in his reel so we decommissioned him for 15 minutes to repair it. The sky and the language were the same color. Couldn't do it so out came the clippers and a retie. Oh, it happened when a Laker hit and15+ minutes later, the Laker was still on. We ended catching 11 Lakers, one of which we tagged. Slow as it was, we had a great time with lots of fishing and other stories told. The calm winds held beautifully.
1 Jun 12 To the well once too often describes today. Frank and I launched at 6:35a and set lines at 7a as we both wanted to return early. What a beautiful, calm morning, but a crispy 45º. Franks fear was that we'd just kill the Lakers early and that I'd always want to go early like today. Well, fortunately for Frank, action was slow the whole time but we eventually tagged 5 Lakers and kept 4, none over 3#. This took place in over 4.5 hours but conditions were pleasant and calm. Well, we had a few, rare tangles for which we still haven't figured out the cause and we also missed at least 4 Lakers - strange. We sometimes think our expectations are too high but that's half the fun of fishing. The other half is being on the water. Once again, there were exceptions in the most productive depths as couple of Lakers came in the 145-180' area but most were all around 200'. So next time, we're going to check out some ole haunts, again with high expectations.
31 May 12 At 0830, I fired up the Yamaha kicker motor at the launch, the lower unit having just been rebuilt so I quickly shifted the gears, noted water pump working, and off we went. Crisp was the air (40º) and calm were the seas and wind as Frank and I headed out under mostly sunny skies. We set lines at 120' and at 140', just minutes later, a rigger bell rang and we caught the first Laker on a stacker line about 10' above the bottom. We re-rigged and suddenly a triple at 180'. We were like a well-oiled machine, tagging and releasing. OK, there were a few ugly moments where the lines crossed but a little luck helps and we recovered all, including the fish. Action remained fairly steady and we had at least 3 doubles and one quadruple. In the third hour we pulled the Johnson rod out and fished just the riggers. That lasted about 45 minutes with nothing happening. so the cries went out for putting the Johnson rod back out. Done. Seems we picked up one more and decided to take a shortcut to where we started, a little off of our usual route. We don't explore enough and were surprised to find the waters 140' - 180' instead of the 200+ waters we expected and we didn't catch a thing. Strange we started out with a relatively shallow Laker. But that's ok, as we now know the area a little better and more importantly, we didn't catch anything at those depths, perhaps later. Great day on the water as the wind was mostly calm, the highest 8 mph which didn't bother us. So, in 4 hours we caught 18 Lakers, tagging and releasing 13, missing 4. Lots of fun!
26 May 12 I was excited about the great forecast of calm winds, later forecasted to clock from the east, and thought an early start was a good idea. Six o'clock at the launch, I fired up my engines. I say engines as my Yamaha kicker is getting a rebuild on the lower unit (leaking water) and I have a temporary one on there now. A 15-second test of shifting linkage indicated all was ok. BTW, in the old pump one of the impeller blades had broken and wedged in the output. I didn't know that beforehand as I just thought was a good idea change impellers after a few years. Besides who knows when the last time that was done. Guess I thought right eh! I mention some of this as whence on the Big Pond, you want everything functioning, and one should (I don't mean to lecture) think about some of of the gear we depend on, before things go awry.
So off I went with the sun slightly off the horizon in beautiful waters. I set the Johnson rod first at 150', then the starboard rigger. Suddenly when I hit 180', bells were ringing. A double I wasn't prepared for and didn't even have the other rigger down, net ready, tagging gear, nuttin', etc. Well, I tagged both Lakers and looked like the proverbial one-armed wallpaper hanger in the process. Fortunately, no witnesses were present. So it went, the action remained steady and my plan was to tag the first 6 fish, if I were to be so lucky, then boxing a few would be next. Mission accomplished on tagging so now for a few in the coffers. Before too long I had 4 in the box suddenly (well, I had two doubles). I thought, let's not be greedy and troll towards home, maybe to get a last one and quit. Suddenly, the Johnson rod bent over and whilst I was reeling the Laker in, about 50' out the starboard rigger went off. I boxed the Johnson Laker and lo and behold, I had a single line double on the rigger (two fish on one line). So by necessity, I tagged and released both Lakers. Of course, I'd started putting all the tagging gear away. Whew! To wrap it up, the only other boat I saw the entire time was Mark on his pontoon boat, and that was about half-way through my run. Most Lakers were between 180' and 210'. Talk about fun, 13 Lakers and back home before noon...to do projects...ugggg!
22 May 12 Today was a special day, and not just because the wind finally backed off after 8 days of huffing and puffing. My special guests were Frank, his daughter Beth Ann Lorsbach, and friend Casey McLeod. We left the launch in perfectly calm waters and set lines at 145', working our way deeper. It wasn't long before action started on one of the riggers and pretty soon the other rigger, then the Johnson rod. We had a triple, a couple of doubles, and once Beth Ann was surprised to see a second fish on the one line, a single line double. We boxed the first 4 Lakers, then went into tagging mode, the next 8 Lakers, then as the east wind and waves started kicking, we went back to boxing them. For a little more frosting on the cake, we caught a Laker Frank had tagged last June in the same area. So we had a blast catching 16 Lakers, and missing 3. A few were caught around 180' but most were around 200'. When I called out the Laker weights at home, in perfect harmony Beth Ann and Casey each laid claim to catching the biggest, no competitiveness there eh? What a pleasure and a lot of fun having these ladies along. Here're a few pictures. Pass your mouse over the pictures for information, click to enlarge, and use your back button to return here.
14 May 12 After finishing a morning project whilst the winds were strong, slowly the winds settled so I left the launch at 11:30a to set lines at 120', working to 200'+. The action wasn't very fast. Before long, the winds kicked from the north at 12+ mph and 2' waves started, I cranked up one rigger to 140' in 180' of water so I could turn without it dragging bottom. Guess what, a nice sized Laker hit. All five Lakers I caught were very aggressive and really rang the rigger bell and fought hard.. Most were in deep water. Slowly the wind and waves backed off, naturally just before I quit. I tagged and released all 5 Lakers. The surface water temperature was 49º, not that it matters much to the Lakers.
13 May 12 Only one of the forecasts showed winds above 10 mph, but early morning real-time readings and out my back door showed well above that. I've been fooled both ways many times but I thought yesterday, there was a similar forecast and it calmed as the day went on. Maybe today too? Sound like a rationalizing fisherman? So Frank and I left in 12-16 mph winds and choppy seas and after running a while, set lines in 130' depths. Then the water mysteriously, slowly calmed as we fished to deeper depths. Nothing happened except a mark the first minute before we had anything down. Forty-five minutes trolling without a hit or mark, suddenly a triple at 185'. I've talked about slowness before but now it's time to talk about busy. In the next 4.5 hours, we had 4 doubles, 2 triples, and 2 single-line doubles. We ended tagging and releasing 13 Lakers and keeping 5. Most caught were around 210', give or take but as we ended our run, the same run we started on, we got a double at 175'. It was a doff and don clothing day, where it got really comfortable and warm (ok, when you're catching fish you seldom notice the cold), and then the 48º breeze that came up from the east made us reach for the warmer gear. Oh by the way, on the second leg of our route, I looked to starboard to see a couple of balls about 200' away. I thought how strange as they're the kind used on trap nets so looking to port, off in the distance were two net flags. The cry "get 'um up" went out and we pulled the gear up as fast as we could, narrowly escaping getting caught in the net. Whew! In all the years I've fished there, I've never seen nets. So we had to work around the nets which didn't make fishing any easier. I don't want to downplay how great a day it was, fishing and just being on the water. It was superb! Can't wait until the next time.
10 May 12 With NWS promises of near calm winds and sunny skies, Frank and I headed out on a beautiful morning. We ran the same route as last time with nearly identical results. Starting at 130' we finally hit 210'+ and voila, a quadruple, but we caught only 3 of the Lakers. From then it was fits and spurts with dry periods and then a double or two. We tagged and released the first 6 Lakers. Slowly we caught 3 Lakers for the box and were just wrapping things up, putting away the net and other things when Frank hit the 10th Laker, what we call our eleventh hour Laker. Great day on the water. Fair is fair as the NWS nailed their forecast this time.
7 May 12 Showers were kind of rolling through this morning but the wind was near calm so I debated going. I finally launched at 10a. It was fairly foggy a couple hundred feet up but I ran the radar anyway. I wore my blue hat to change my luck and ran in a different direction than last. I set lines at 135' and followed the structure down to 180+ for about 45 minutes and didn't have a hit or mark. My phone rang which I quickly dismissed as the bottom was dropping quickly, 210' to be exact. A minute later my rigger went off, then the other, then the Johnson rod. Mind you I'm alone so I tagged and released the first Laker, and then loe and behold, there were two Lakers on the other rigger, and I tagged and released both. Finally, I tagged the one on the Johnson. I then turned 180º, and reset all the gear. Whew! On the return leg a rigger hit and I tagged both Lakers off one line. The SE breeze had picked up a little to around 8 mph but was not a problem, nor was the fog that had gotten heavier. I thought I'd fish to where I started and quit. About half an hour from the end of the run, I looked at the graph and saw an image that didn't look like a fish and I've been burned by those images before so I quickly cranked up the starboard rigger and whilst going to the port rigger, it just hammered down pulling out the drag. I thought for sure I'd hit a wreck or net but it came up slowly, bouncy about half way. My surprise was a Laker on one but the stacker had broken away so I knew there were two on at one time, probably one of which was a big Laker.
So I was now out of tags and thought that's fine but then I got another hit on the Johnson rod and into the box it went. I was thinking I'm not keen on filleting just one fish but oh well! Coming up the bank at 140' and just wrapping it up, my rigger went off and I got my 9th Laker in 2 1/2 hours and decided to wrap it up. Great day on the water. Saw one other boat out on the way back and that was it.
5 May 12 Departing home it was suggested that if I wanted fish for supper, perhaps I might bring some home. No pressure there eh! Well, for a change of pace, Frank and I headed in a different direction, running from 150' to 190' in rolling seas and calm winds. An hour and a half passed without a hit and I commented that I wasn't sure what I wanted on my pizza tonight. We agreed that if we didn't get a hit in 15 minutes, we were moving (to who knows where). At exactly 15 minutes afterwards, a hit and a small suicidal Laker was in the box. Of course now we didn't move, just continued trolling. Slowness describes the next couple of hours. Nearing the end of our run eastward, the NE winds picked up as did the seas, kicking 13+ mph with whitecaps (not forecasted I might add). We finally had 4 small Lakers in the box and decided if we were blessed with more, we'd tag and release. Well, minutes before we decided to quit, we tagged and released our 5th Laker. Of course it was the biggest of the day, but it was still not very big. It was rather pleasant most of the time, the air a 38º and the surface water 40º. Once the winds picked up, both seemed much colder. The broiled Lake Trout tonight was fantastic though.
29 Apr 12 Ah ha we said, now we know where the Lakers are. Yeah, right! It seemed logical for Frank and I to return to places and depths where we were fairly successful yesterday but as usual, something changed. We plied depths from 180' to 300' (no, we didn't hit bottom there). Conditions were great with near-calm seas and winds so we fished in areas we weren't familiar with and that's sometimes not too effective. It wasn't as effective a we'd have liked but we eventually caught and tagged 6 Lakers but strangely missed at least 3 more. Guess we shouldn't complain as despite the cool air, it was very comfortable with bright sunshine until the NE wind kicked a little just before quitting time. Now where to next time?
28 Apr 12 The term crispy understates the air temperature - 35º as we launched in calm winds. The 2-3' gentle rollers were just fine but kept us walking in place as we set lines at 150', working to 190'. A big goose egg for the first hour and a half. In the past, this was a good run but we made a command decision to go deeper into nearby waters not previously fished by us, and off we trolled. Down, down, down went the bottom but suddenly, a hit at 261'. Then another and another - a triple. It was a new boat record for depth catching fish. We plied the depths ranging from 190' to 260' and had two doubles afterwards. What turned into a nice fishing trip of 9 Lakers, 5 of which we tagged and released, from a whining session, was a change in location of half a mile. Oh, I had a hit where the my rigger jumped and the bell rang but when i brought it all up, my lure was gone. As a fisherman, I must say that must have been a huge fish. I'll leave it at that. We never saw another boat out, even though conditions were pretty decent until nearly the end, when the NE winds and waves kicked near quitting time. Fun as it was, we'll be glad when the Lakers move to shallower waters.
25 Apr 12 Finally another break in the weather, well, sort of. Frank and I set lines in calm seas at 165' and within half an hour, produced a 3# Laker, which we tagged and released. Half an hour later, a smaller Laker also tagged. Not too bad a start but then it got slow, really slow. The next Laker went into the box as planned but in the process the other rigger went off, but shortly, so did the Laker. Then not only did the fish stop biting, the east winds picked up and soon the cold (39º) east winds ginned up the waves and it just wasn't a lot of fun, especially since there was no action. Shortly before we left the area, a downrigger hung bottom and it was suddenly a goat rope. Good news - we hauled all the other gear up, circled the hung-spot, and got everything back. You just know this wasn't a simple thing to do as there's a lot involved to do this, whiich I won't get into here. So much for sandy bottoms eh! We then decided to try fishing the shoreline (40') for an hour and finally, enough was enough. Tally- 3 Lakers in 3 hours. Been down this road before and the thought always looms - there's worse things to be doing.
22 Apr 12 Yup, it's been 10 days before the wind settled enough to get out. Frank and I set lines on a clear but cold morning, with a steady NNW winds averaging 9 mph, and fishable 1' seas. Slow was the word as we eventually caught and boxed 4 small Lakers before shifting into tagging mode. The next Laker, 180' down, we tagged and released. Nearing the end of our run of a little over 3 hours, we decided to wrap it up and put most everything away and as we've discussed many times before, that's when you catch an eleventh-hour fish, and we did, so out came the net out and other stuff and we tagged and released our 6th fish as we quit. We plied waters from 145' to 210' but didn't see a pattern as to the most effective depth. Hard to believe but I don't think we marked a fish all the time. Still, a great day on the water. The air temperature didn't go above 40º and the surface water was 38º.
12 April Finally the week-of-winds settled but brisk was the air, 25º at the house with a frosty and slippery dock at launch time. It was a cool but calm ride to where we set lines at 160'. It wasn't too long before the first Laker went into the box, and not too long afterwards, a bell-ringer that resulted in a miss. After that we plied the 160' - 180' depths and slowly picked up 3 more Lakers that went into the box, followed by tagging and releasing the next 4. In the last 45 minutes the wind and waves picked up from my least favorite direction, the NE, but that was ok as conditions were manageable. . However, the air at 36º most of the time was fine with sunshine and no wind, but when the wind picked up, it was cold! All in all, it was a fun time and pretty productive for such an early time of the season. Time to move to another site next time though.
6 April Brisk doesn't adequately describe conditions. Leaving the house it was 26º and at the launch, there was frost on the dock and it was slippery. Not to be deterred, off we went after talking to a fellow fisherman who said he got 11 green tags last year. We set lines at 160' and pretty much ranged from 160' to 190' the whole time. It was slow going until one rigger started bouncing with a nice Laker, at the same time the Johnson rod hung bottom, something that rarely happens, let alone in an area we believed to be a sandy bottom. We lost the weight on the Johnson and the Laker got off. We quickly recovered and shortly afterwards, caught a small (dink) Laker. It was slow going and cold. Slowly the NE winds built to a pretty steady 11 mph and the temperature didn't get above 36º. Frank's comment was that we've ice fished when it was warmer. We ended with 6 fairly small Lakers in 4 hours.
1 April 12 After our early spring start, it wasn't unexpected that we should wait for a week to get a decent wind forecast. Today, winds finally settled down and we had a decent forecast of 5-10 mph. April Fools! It was hazy and calm as we left but after setting lines, the north winds came up, averaging 14 mph, along with 2' waves. But before that, we caught 4 nice Lakers, 5#, 4#, 3# and 3#, all between 160' and 180'. The cold 39º air was not nice with those winds so we bunched it after 2 hours. BTW, we've not been authorized to do any tagging yet, but expect that before too long.
23 Mar 12 Today it was a good forecast with reporting wind conditions to match. Frank and I left in calm winds but turning the corner around the breakwater, were greeted by 2-3' rollers. They really presented little problem except lots of rock and roll whilst fishing. We set lines at 120' but generally fished 150-180' where conditions were super slow. We caught 2 Lakers in 2 hours and marked very little so we decided to fish a spot en route home that used to be very productive. In about half an hour we missed a Laker but shortly thereafter, caught one. Then the screen light up with fish - not, and I knew it had to be net. It was but too late as both riggers hung and it was another goat rope. Of course, there were no net flags so we knew it was a ghost net. We were able to pull it up about 1/3 of the way in 140' of water so there was no question it was a net. We managed to save some gear but lost several lures and releases. I entered the location in my GPS at N 46º 39.209', W 87º 24.823. I'll try to report this to the tribes in hopes they can recover it. Needless to say, this incident finished our day.
21 Mar 12 I so dislike iffy wind forecasts,, e.g., today's forecast for 10 mph, not 10-15 mph. Meanwhile, several local wind readings showed considerably higher than 10 mph early in the day. However, fishing fever sometimes induces a denial that winds are starting to settle. Cutting to the chase, Frank and I left the dock to fairly decent seas to fish an area we hadn't been to this year. Conditions weren't all that bad. We set lines with 1' seas in 160' and it wasn't long before we saw a big mark, and quickly caught a small Laker, heretofore referred to as a dink. Even though it's tempting to think that was the fish we caught, because of timing, neither of us think it was. Anyway, we released it. It was a sea-legs day with some rock and roll but it was fishable - initially. We plied the 160-180' depths whilst winds ranged from 9 to 12 mph, sometimes higher. It was fine going with the wind but reversing course when winds picked up, not so good but we did it and made one more up and down-wind leg. Ok, I got my bad netting ordeal to tell about. Frank was reeling in a nice Laker when in the froth (my excuse) of the fish splashing, I prematurely tried to net it. As a result, the Laker and lure went swimming off. My fault. We caught our 4th Laker just before the end of the run. We then started to turn upwind but the winds and seas kicked, telling us it was time to head home. So we did.
En route home, conditions varied and finally settled somewhat, so we thought why not set lines for a little more, seeing as it's calmed off quite a bit. Before long, at 160' a subtle movement on the rigger produced a nice 3# Laker. Slowly winds built again but denial prevailed. We turned into the wind and caught another Laker but also decided it was time to quit in 15 minutes as winds were rapidly picking up. Well, pick up they did as I could fell the wind buffeting us. We quickly agreed to to quit and pull gear. In the process of quitting, I looked at my anemometer showing a gust at 26 mph, which was not good and around we swung; Ugly is the word. The Johnson rod flopped forward and the line got caught the motor, bending the rod over and of course, the gear was gone, line wrapped around the prop. A few lures and the Johnson rigging and considerable line was lost in the goat rope. However, that's fishing! Despite the unglamorous end to the trip, we ended catching 8 Lakers, releasing 2. Guess that might be referred to as a mixed emotion day.
Mar 12 Conditions were sunny with fairly light southerly winds, but en route the air temperature showed 43.5º. We set lines at 135' and when we hit 165', Frank hit a really scrappy 4# Laker with a green tag. We found out it was tagged in the same area by a DNR trap net on 4 June 2010. Then the Johnson rod hit so we had a double on. We wandered into 200' for longer than we should have, then back to 140-165' where we eventually picked up 3 more Lakers. But as we reached the end of our run where we usually turn, the wind and waves had suddenly picked up, and we quickly decided it would be a hassle fishing into it so we bunched it after an hour and forty-five minutes. All-in-all, we felt it was a very good day and we never felt the cold.
18 Mar 12 Today was my earliest start. Frank Lorsbach and I got out on a beautiful day. The weather for the whole winter has been crazy -little snow and much warmer than I can recall. In short, we caught 3 Lakers and missed one in 3 hours. Very slow. Looking back through my records through 1997 (I didn't bother going back further), all starts were in April except last year, our most productive year, it was 11 May. One other early start was 29 March in 2010.
This being our shakedown trip, it started with a glitch as I had disconnected the autopilot to grease a fitting by removing a pin and forgot to replace it. A Rube Goldberg improvisation using an Allen wrench worked fine. We set lines at 150' but somehow found deeper water for quite a stretch, sometimes over 200'. Slow was the word and finally we hit a 4# Laker. Not too long afterwards, Frank caught a small but legal Laker and suggested releasing it. I comment after a long winter without fresh Laker, it should go into the box. I got it out of the net and trying to get it into the box, it hit the edge, dropped into the Lake and swam away. We both had a laugh about that. Finally, nearing the end of our 3 hour run we caught our third Laker. I think we marked only 3 or 4 fish the whole time. Other than being slow fishing, all the equipment and motors worked great except we had to be retrained on a few things. The surface water temperature was 35.4º and the air 45º.
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