Joe's 2016 Lake Superior Fishing Report and Log Joe's boat Cooler By The Lake Welcome to my fishing web site. This is my twentieth year of logging my Lake Superior Fishing adventures.  I synopsize 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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2016 Lake Superior Fishing Log

Information on tagging. About 5 of us local fishermen participated in a Michigan DNR Lake Trout Hooking-Mortality 6-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. The tagging portion has ended in 2013 but data was collected on recaptured Lakers through 2015. Then I'll be anxious to see the final study.  Click here to see more information and interim results on the Lake Trout Hooking-Mortality study.

Click here to see last year's log - 2015   or click here to visit prior year fishing reports

Fishing Synopsis for 2016

It was pretty much a normal spring start on the 17th of April to begin a windy and rainy season. This year saw only 128 hours of trolling and 47 trips, the least since 1984. The catch rate of 2.70 per hour continued a good trend as it was up from 2.14 per hour last year. Below are some statistics you may find interesting.

Fishing  Synopsis 2016201120122013201420152016
Trolling Hours Lake Trout only279271222155186128
Trips Lake Trout only737764536447
Trolling Hours non-Lake Trout000000
Trips non-Lake Trout000000
Travel hours to and from fishing grounds526248364535
Skunk Trips Lakers only000010
Lake Trout kept362429236362373314
Lake Trout tagged and released344314332000
Lake Trout released without tagging346913212825
Coho151112
Chinook122011
Steelhead000011
Total fish caught740819584384404346
Fish per hour (total fish / Lake Trout Hours)2.663.012.632.472.152.70
Fish caught with tags104251
Missed Fish172173124756892
Single Line Doubles (2 fish on one line)33483691111
Average depth of water - feet175194175UnkUnkUnk
Average length of trolling - hours3.83.53.52.92.92.7
Average fish caught per trip10.110.68.97.26.37.4

22 Oct 16    Sadly, today was my final fishing trip of the season. Seas and winds were manageable as Frank and I headed out to set lines at 130'. Initially, we saw few marks and finally caught a couple of Lakers around 2# each. Then we started to mark tons of fish to where the graph would turn almost black. We plied waters from 107' to 150'.  However, there were no takers even though we were running through all those big marks. Finally, a 19# Laker hit which we released after a good fight. Shortly after that we caught a 16# and then a 7# Laker. Then the next hour as we trolled through tons of marks, there were no more hits. So we wrapped up a good year in a little under 3 hours. 

19 Oct 16    Yup, it's been 16 days of huffing and puffing winds and rain but finally a break. Well sort of as the data buoy showed 13.5kts and 1.6' seas early morning. So Frank and I launched thinking fishing the harbor might be our only option but first checking out  the open water might be worthwhile. So, we turned the corner to  find southwest winds that it didn't seem that bad, so on we steamed. En route the winds and waves picked up but undeterred, we put the trim taps down and pushed through some good sized waves. We then turned to fish with the wind and waves behind us. We started in 120' but got pushed by the wind into deeper water but we did get 3 smaller Lakers. Slowly the wind and waves backed off and we fished back to where we started and were marking a bunch so we knew we were in the zone. Action picked up as we stuck to the 120-130' depths. We were into the bigger Lakers and had 9 in the box and had missed 6 Lakers, a couple which were dandies, in about 3 1/2 hours. We wanted to get the last one but the winds and waves had quickly picked up and clocked around to the north at  14 mph winds and 2' seas so we booked for home. An hour later I checked the data buoy which showed winds at 18kts with 4' seas. Looks like we hit the fishing window just about right. I'm hoping for a few more windows before I hang it up for the season.

3 Oct 16    It's not like I didn't want to get out since the last time but the winds just haven't let up - until today. My guest was Jim Price, long time fisherman for whom I've even named a waypoint. I had to apply a little tab en route but we set lines at 135' and ranged from 120' to 155' and for the first 45 minutes, saw some marks but little action. Mumble, mumble! Then one rigger went off and a nice Laker went into the box. Before long the Johnson rod, then other rigger both were jumping. Marks were aplenty and action was too. Jim had two single line doubles and we were very busy. Bottom line, two 13# Lakers, and 7 other nice ones. Also had 4 misses, including one that just peeled line out near the end of our run. Never made any progress on getting it closer and finally we parted company. In reality, that's fine as we would have released it anyway. Fun in 2 hours but I had an appointment so getting the limit was not important.  Most action from 120' to 150'.

24 Spe 16    My friend Frank back from his trip joined me on somewhat lumpy and confused seas. A modest amount of trim tabs made the trip to my last spot quite pretty good. We set lines at 130' and saw a fair amount of marks but we went  45 minutes before our first hit and it was a nice 4# Laker. The winds were slowly building up the seas. Finally, we caught  a similar-sized Laker.  Then, with a real bell-ringer on that got off, we decided to troll into the rock and roll seas and 10+ mph winds  and 2'+ so we decided to bunch it after an hour and a half. Marks were aplenty but they weren't on the bite so my thinking is it's easier to quit if fishing is slow than if they're really hitting. This is fishermen thinking as if you didn't already know it. BTW, we never felt it unsafe, just uncomfortable.

21 Sep    Guest Rick Sarasien and I headed out in pretty good conditions to set lines in 140'. The graph lit up with fish marks and it wasn't long before our first release, a nice 5# Laker. Action was pretty steady as we stuck to the 120' - 140' depths. Two of the Lakers were just a few ounces shy of 16# each so we released both of them. We finished with 9 Lakers in the box in 2 3/4 hours. Lots of fun. Winds remained a modest 8 mph from the NW and seas ran about 1'.

18 Sep 16    Early  chores and an ever improving forecast for noonish on, I was happily joined by my friend Rick Weesen on a late 11am start on a beautiful day with great seas. Action started slowly at 145' but before long, our first hit. Action thereafter was slow for the next 45 minutes but we picked up a few. I marked a couple  of fish we caught on the GPS and did a 180 to return that area. Action picked up quickly, circa 180' FOA. Short of it is, we caught 7 Lakers, missed 2 in 2 1/2 hours but more importantly, had a great time on the Big Pond.

15 Sep    Finally a decent day so I started at 160' and only got one rigger out and the Johnson rod before the Johnson hit a small Laker, which I released. Then the rigger bell rang but the Laker and I parted company. I thought boy, action is going to be great. I set the port rigger to 60' with hopes of a Laker or salmon. Well, an hour passed with nary a hit. I lowered the port rigger to my old, arbitrary 131 clicks (probably 75' off the bottom) and it wasn't long before that bell really started ringing but suddenly went dead. Then the action picked up and with 2 Lakers in the box, I got a single line double with a 4# and 6# Laker. That was exciting when one is alone but I got them both with a little luck.  Not long after that a rigger hit with my 5th Laker and I pulled the pin in 2 hours. Conditions were excellent and it was a lot of fun, especially when I got into that patch of Lakers. BTW, I did get a second Laker on the suspended line.

8 Sep    My plan was to head out early but I looked at the data buoy which showed 12kts so I cancelled. However, riding by the Lake it looked perfectly calm so I ran home and got the boat and out I went. By then the wind was just coming up so I chose to fish with the wind if and when it built. The motor was nearly on idle as I wanted to milk the down-wind leg by trolling slowly and making the run last. Two lines I ran on the bottom and one at 100' and 80', where other fishermen tell me they're catching Lakers and salmon. About 15 minutes into the mission, the first Laker hit and about halfway in we parted company. Not too much later the rigger went off again as did the Johnson rod - a double. Nearing the end of an hour I picked up a third Laker and decided I didn't want to fight the wind (now at 10-12mph), or 1' waves or the ominous-looking sky so I pulled gear and went in. Pretty good work getting 3 for 4 in an hour.  BTW, nary a hit on the suspended line.

2 Sep    I can't believe it's September already. Mixed wind reports and seas from the data buoy were 1.5' at 4" intervals so I knew we had rollers coming in. As an aside, I was greeted at the launch by the father of a then 8-year old who I took fishing in 1999. He said what a profound influence that I had on his son whose is now working and never got into drugs or drinking and loves fishing. Made me feel good! Rollers were no problem as Frank and I headed out with tabs down to keep air from under the boat. We didn't go all that far and set lines at 160' and waited 45 minutes before anything happened. It finally started with a small Laker but action slowly gained speed as the wind, which wasn't bad to start with, slowly died off. We mostly fished 180' - 190' but then also had results at 160'. So, with 9 Lakers in the box, and the 10th right behind the boat, being the expert netter, I managed to knock the hook right out of that nice big Laker and away it went. Blue was the sky and my words. So, we decided to fish to where we started and quit, regardless. So I had another bell ringer that got off. Finally, we were about to quit when we got a double, and needed only one for the limit so we released one (yes, it was the smaller of the two). Short story was 10 nice Lakers (largest 6#, smallest #$*#), plus one released, in 3 hours. Conditions were wonderful and it was another great day on the Big Pond.

30 Aug    I was caught off guard with yesterday's forecast for today but it was dead flat when Frank and I left the marina, a little later than usual. It was a beautiful, calm ride and we set lines in 165' and eventually caught our first Laker at 170'. Then another at 180' about 15 minutes later. The wind and waves were slowly building and were coming in from the north at 10  mph and waves 1-2' so we turned and somewhat ran with them. In the process of turning, we went up a bank to around 135' where we started marking quite a few and we then picked up 4 more Lakers. At the end of our run we decided to quit as the Lake was starting to become less friendly. So after 2.5 hours, we headed home with 6 nice Lakers, not to mention missing 3 dandies. So it was a good day. I told Frank if I call to go fishing tomorrow (supposed to be very windy), I said don't answer the phone.

27 Aug    Yup, it's been 10 days of largely un-fishable weather IMHO but today was predictably good. Frank and I set out in cloudy skies but calm seas with my other auxiliary motor to try. All that went well except for 50 minutes we didn't mark a fish or get a hit. Finally, a small Laker was a welcome seed to the fish cooler and I commented at least he didn't experience a skunk. Seems we've never been skunked with Frank over the years. Well, someone turned on the fish-bite switch and after 2 and quarter hours, we caught 14 Lakers, releasing 4 of course. Fun day even though we didn't catch many of size, but that's OK. Especially OK was my new old motor performed well and that's a big plus.

17 Aug    Guess I missed the forecast for fog but it rolled in as Frank and I left the marina, radar spinning. By the time we got to our spot, it started to clear. We set lines in 100', just to try it. Well, after an hour of no hits or marks, we decided to troll to deeper waters where the past couple of trips paid off. Today was a day of dinks and we ended with 6 in the box and releasing 3. Don't know where the bigger fish went. We bunched it in under 2.5 hours as it was hot and slow.

15 Aug    What a magnificent day with hazy sunshine and near calm winds as Frank and I left to where we left off yesterday. Cheeriness turned to mumbles when the auxiliary motor that ran fantastic last time wouldn't start. WTF! Tried and tried and finally decided to troll with the Merc, which worked fine, but I missed my autopilot. Anyway, caught a Laker, then another so we were glad we were doing something right. Periodically, I would try the aux and nothing. It was an ignition issue, which I won't bore you with. After about an hour I tried it again and the fire lit and it ran fine. Another WTF! Slowly we ranged into the 170' which worked best but a slight turn when busy brought us into 220', but then we caught another Laker. All this time action was pretty good but given a longer period without a hit, and like probably most fishermen, mumble, mumble! OK, we did and it work. Get this, Frank had a Laker on and had just started up with it when I noted there was a big mark on the bottom. So he reversed his  rigger and went down for the other one. Voila, when he  brought the gear up, two fish. Summary: 12 Lakers, two dinks released, in 2.4.hours. Weather and  was fantastic and so enjoyable. It was just starting to kick as we returned. Now wat to do about my aux motor! Great day with exceptions.

14 Aug    We had a good forecast and it proved true as Frank and I headed out in relatively mild rollers with light winds. Instead of heading to where we limited the last two times. we were up for a little change and chose to run to another favorite spot. We set lines at 140' and within minutes, the first Laker was on. Working between 140' and 180', action was steady. Finally, with 8 Lakers in the box, we got a triple and had to release our second Laker, the first being a dink. So with 10 Lakers in the box, and 2 released, we were headed home in 1 hour and 20 minutes, quite a fun time.

8 Aug    It was another beautiful day as Guy Schuil and I headed out in calm seas on a sunny day. It wasn't the quick start like yesterday but then it didn't take too long either for the first Laker to hit. Typically, hits came in spurts. A fishing friend on another boat said he was doing well in 100' so we steered that way and caught one. After a while, we decided to reverse course and fish the track we were on yesterday. We ranged from 160' to 220' and slowly picked up several more Lakers, missing a couple of dandies right behind the boat. With 9 Lakers in the box and the Johnson rod having caught the last one, we kept it in the boat and just kept the riggers down for the last 10 minutes before we quit. Finally, I said let's pull lines and discovered someone had a Laker hanging on, but we won't mention names. That gave us our limit and so we were quite happy. I told him he was the first person that ever did that...yeah, right! Great day again!

7 Aug    It's been a windy week but today's wind forecast was great -  light and variable. However, an early morning look at the data buoy showed 11kts from the North. My guest today was neighbor Guys Schuil.  Eternally optimistic, we left in some lumpy seas. Whereas seas were not so bad that we could not have made it to one of my favorite places, I thought why when we might just fish a little closer to home. We set out the Johnson and one rigger when my rigger went off, then the Johnson, a double, all within the first 10 minutes. Great way to start as we didn't even have the net ready or other rigger out. Seas slowly backed down as we headed directly into the waves. By the end of our run out, we had 5 nice Lakers in the box and a miss. We turned and headed back, picking up 4 more Lakers. I suggested we were nearing the end of our run and that we just fish the riggers for a few more minutes, leaving the Johnson rod out. Well, Guy's rigger went off and he was quite surprised to find not one but two Lakers on his rigger, so we had to release one. Gee, how many times has that happened! All the fish were nice sized, the largest being 6# but most around 3#. BTW, we replaced a number of electronic components on the auxiliary motor and it ran great. Still, I'm a little skeptical as it was an intermittent problem before. Great day!

1 Aug    OMG, it's August already! Looked out my front window early morning and saw 3 rabbits so I thought  how many lucky rabbit's feet does one need to have a good day! Well, on great seas Frank and I headed out for a fairly long run. The auxiliary motor fired right up and after about a minute, pooped the bed. Despite many tries, it just wouldn't go so the Merc was called into play. Remarkably, never having used it to troll before, we were able to set lines and fish. So we set lines at 155' and worked slowly to the 180' depths were we started picking up some modest, make that not very big, Lakers. In the course of 2hrs, 15 minutes we caught 10 Lakers, releasing two dinks. We then bunched it and headed home as Frank had things to do so it all worked out. Wonderful time except my kicker ain't kickin' and  I'm not sure of the luck of rabbit's feet (but they were still attached to the rabbit - might make a difference).

30 July    It was a decent ride to one of my favorite spots. Frank and I set lines at 165' and varied our depths from 150' to 230'. Action was fairly steady with a bonus of Frank catching a 3# Chinook about 50' down. As an easterly wind slowly picked up to 8-10 mph and 1' waves, we decided to head into the wind towards where we started, with 9 Lakers in the box. We had no hits for 45 minutes and were nearing the end of our run when the Johnson rod bent over, then Frank's rigger went off, then mine. We were already thinking we would need to release 2 of the 3 but as luck would have it, both Lakers on the riggers got off. The ride home was a little lumpy but very tolerable. Fun work in 2 3/4 hours.

26 July    What a beautiful morning as Frank, Cooper and I set out on calm seas. We set lines in 130' water and slowly worked deeper. It was nearly an hour before our first Laker hit and it got off. But then the action picked up when Frank caught a nice Laker on his lure he made from a sardine can. As it turned out, he caught two more Lakers on that lure so there was a little bantering going on about that. Finally, we set course to where we started with 7 in the box and we were about to pull lines when we got a triple, Oh, we had two single line doubles today too. Haven't had many of those so far. Most of the Lakers were caught between 140' and 190'. We also missed 3, a couple right behind the boat but that's fishing. Great day!

23 July    My guests today were John Devere and his son Ian (11), both having fished with me before. I had heard nice Lakers were being caught in 80-120' so off we went under calm seas. As we set lines, there were a ton of fish marks around the 50' level so we dragged several lures through them, and a few near the bottom. No takers so I'm not even sure what they were. After an hour I decided to head out to one of my favorite runs and deeper water as it was only half a mile further. The wind, predicted to be light slowly built from the NW to around 10mph and waves 1-2', but still fishable. Before long, the action started and we had our first Laker in the box. We ranged in depth from 130-190' and ended with 9 nice Lakers in a little more than 3 hours. However, I'm not going to give up on the shallower fishing as I recall several years ago at that same spot, we had 4 Lakers on at once when the net broke. However, we got them all after we fixed the net.

19 July    What a beautiful day as my guests were Dave Peterson, Crystal Falls but originally a Marquette neighbor of mine and Tyler Bell (12), young man lives not far from where I keep my boat. We did a long run and Tyler served as autopilot (he was steering by GPS) most of the way. That was an enjoyable break. We had high expectations but they were diminished by slower action that expected. We ran 95' to 130' and the Johnson rod was first on line and Tyler reeled a nice 4.5# unassisted so the mood was set. However, it was slow going and we eventually boxed 5 Lakers, all beautiful leans. Fishing around us were fellow boaters Summertime and Easy Times. What a great day on the water with full sunshine and calm seas and as a bonus, some nice Lakers. Below are pictures of Tyler as my autopilot and with two of his Lakers. Click to enlarge, back to return here.

Tyler Bell

16 July    Did someone mention where is all this wind coming from? Well, indications of light winds finally came for Frank and me to head out in light rollers. We set lines at 135' and even worked a little shallower but nothing much there the first 45 minutes. Gradually we picked up a Laker here and there as the wind slowly picked up too. Finally, as we headed directly into the SE wind, we were approaching the end of the deeper run and I suggested with 9 Lakers in the box that we just pull lines and run home. So with 2:45 minutes of trolling I went for my rigger, only to find a Laker on it. Hey great I said, then the Johnson rod hit so guess what, we had a double when we needed one. Fun! Of course we released one in good shape. Great day!

10 July    With light winds and seas, guests Frank and Grandson Cooper Smith (15) we headed out on one of our longer runs to fish along side Summertime. As we set lines Frank said he had a fish on. I said "what" as he was just putting out his lures. Sure enough, a Coho hit his lure 12' behind the boat, 10' down. It was a nice but surprising way to start. We slowly picked up a few more Lakers then a Steelhead off the rigger, 30' down. By the way, we washed another lure on a surface line that once again did nothing. With 6 fish in the box, a rigger bell rang and out went the line. It was like a dead weight as Cooper couldn't budge the fish up. We even took turns leaning into the fish with the rod nearly doubled back. This went on for over 50 minutes but finally we netted the Laker and weighed it at 19# 12oz (what fisherman wouldn't call that a 20# Laker). We released it as soon as we could but it was just worn out so we circled back and netted it again. We then decided to wrap it up with 7 fish in 3 hours of trolling. Here's Cooper with the Laker he referred to as a hog. Click to enlarge.

Cooper Smith with 20# Lake Trout

29 June    My guest today was Caton Forest Roberts, from Madison, WI, a frequent visitor with family ties to our area. Conditions were excellent with light winds and seas and plenty of sunshine. We chose to run to one of the "Summertime" fishing spots. We set lines at 120' and pretty much stuck to 100'-135'. Action wasn't spectacular but we did manage 5 nice Lakers, one 5# and two 4#. This was Caton's first experience with this type of fishing but after observing all the moving parts, dug right in to run the equipment. Below Caton is holding a couple of the Lakers. Click to enlarge.

Caton Forest Roberts with Lake Trout

24 June    What a beautiful day on the water with practically no wind and just a light ripple on the water. Frank and I set lines where we caught 7 Lakers last trip there but we struggled to catch just one in an hour and a half. So we decided to run a few miles where we struggled to finally catch 4 Lakers in two hours. We finally figured out where they were (170') just when we were ready to quit. However, it was so enjoyable on the water that catching was secondary. We seemed not to fare nearly as well as several other boats we talked to that limited out. Hey, that's fishing.

22 June    With a decent forecast of variable 5-10, later to be easterly, Grandson Cooper Smith (15) and I  set out for a long run along side my friend in the Summertime. Granted, a little lumpy going but not a problem at cruising speed. We set lines at 156' but moved shallower quickly, which wasn't far away. It was a slow start for at least 45 minutes with nothing happening. We ranged a bit and finally got a double. Short of it is, after 4.7 hours, we thought it a good time to wrap it up with our 10th fish (limit) just put in the box and winds and seas slowly kicking from the east. We went home in building seas to discover only 9 in the box but Mox Nix as it got us on the road. Otherwise, we might have hung in there for a while trying for the last one. Actually, we did catch 10 Lakers but released a dink. Next time I'll leave counting fish to a younger brain. Fun day!

18 June    Today was an early start at 7a as Frank had plans late morning. Fine by me so we set lines after a very short run and it wasn't long before the Johnson rod was thrumming. Quick start as action picked up and we had 5 Lakers within 45 minutes. So we turned to head in, picking up 2 more, the last being snagged which messed up lots of gear, AKA a goat rope. So we wrapped it up with 7 Lakers in a little over 2 hours. Despite calm seas, currents were very strong, as they were yesterday. Surface seas were fantastic and with almost no wind, Great time!

17 June    What a exceptionally nice day with calm winds and seas as Frank and I set lines at 145'. The start was as cool as the air as nearly 2 hours passed before any action started and the first Laker went into the cooler. Because conditions were so nice, we stayed a little longer than usual and ended with 6 Lakers and a Coho after 4 hours. We ranged in depths from 105' to 200' and didn't see a pattern of where they were. Ironically, we dragged a light line around the whole time but caught the Coho near the bottom in 180' of water, pretty unusual.

14 June    It was a de ju vu day of 2014 when guests Tom Foster and Guy Cooksey joined me in what I then referred to as a "double hoodie day". Seas were decent so we went to my last productive spot and got  a hit and a miss in an hour and a half. Major disappointment! Meanwhile, my friend on the Summertime was doing much better so we pulled our gear and headed that way. That wasn't a bad idea anyway as the winds picked up out of the east at 10-12 mph and waves were running 1-2'. Short story, we eventually picked up 5 Lakers in a total of 4 1/4 hours, nothing of any size but great eaters . Air was 48, water 46, another double hoodie day, but  more importantly, a fun time.

9 June    With calm seas and winds, it was a nice ride to one of our favorite fishing spots. The air was 53 and water 48 but Frank and I agreed it was very comfortable and beat those rare days when it's 80+ and the sun cooks you from above and reflecting off the water . Action was slow but we gradually picked up 8 Lakers, releasing two of the smaller ones. Best depth seemed to be 180'. We trolled a little longer than usual, nearly 4 hours as it was so nice.

3 June    My guests today were Frank and his cousin Don Carpenter, who last fished with me in 2008. Seas were calm as were the winds as we set lines in 150' and wandered up to 180'. Nothing but nothing for the first hour so we just kept on going. Finally, the Johnson rod woke up and we got that fish about 50' behind the boat when we parted company. But then the riggers kicked in and we kind of found the zone, boxing several Lakers in depths from 140' to 190'. The boat Summertime was fishing nearby and we got the word from them they "put the lid on it", meaning they had 15. We decided to quit then too as we had 13 in roughly 3 1/2 hours. Good timing as the wind was just starting up from the east. Great day on the Big Pond.

30 May    Most forecasts were decent winds but the marine forecast was for <5kt, waves less than 1'. How could Frank and I go wrong. Da! The run to our spot was a touch lumpy and the first hour produced nice waters and wind and no fish, except one hit and miss. Looking to the north we could see small caps and knew winds and waves were going to pick up. Well, the anemometer shortly showed gusts to 14 mph, then backed off a little but we held course into the wind. It was over an hour and a half before we got any action, a double at 135'. Short story is we ended with 5 Lakers, all good eaters  and 4 misses. We bunched it in just under 3 hours in winds that were not comfortable for fishing.  So much for the marine forecast but overall, a pretty good day fishing.

27 May 16    There was a cold but Nort (sic) light breeze and light chop and heavy fog  as Frank and I headed out. We planned to run quite a way, radar spinning but  the ore boat anchored out  of the harbor returned such a strong radar  echo that it messed up my radar screen. Once past, it was a piece of cake. We set lines at 180' and pretty much stayed that depth. Action was slow but finally a bell ringer and a miss. Bummer! Bigger bummer we had 4 more misses after that. Finally we got those out of the way after a few Whiskey Tango Foxtrot remarks. Short story, got 10 Lakers, all of perfect size. Fog lifted for about half an hour and set back in again. I suggested we quite at 3 hours trolling and at 2:55 we got the last one. Good day!

22 May    Hard to believe another calm day as Frank and I headed out amidst several boats plying the harbor, mostly for salmon. We set lines at 180' and pretty much stuck to that depth. It wasn't 15 minutes before the first Laker hit. I'll condense this report to catching 9 Lakers, releasing 2 dinks (what I call small Lakers), missing 3 (wink, wink all big ones), and having a single line double (two fish on one line). We bunched it just shy of 3 hours and as a easterly wind kicked in. Perfect timing. For a while the air temperature was 43 and surface water 42.

21 May    Went out with Rick Sarasien yesterday on his 28' boat but won't include results here. So today Rick joined me as we headed out in great waters. Set lines at 118' but ventured to 245' and back shallower. In a little over 3 hours, got 3 Lakers, but one was a  beautiful lean at 7.5#/ The other two were close to 4#, not to shoddy. Surface water was 39 and air 49, but it was sunny and calm and wonderful.

Today was my 14th trip and as an indication of how cold the air and water has been, I used the original block of ice I started with that I put in the fish cooler. However, it's now retired.

19 May Another beautiful day as Frank and I headed to where we fished yesterday. We set lines at 170' but worked the water column for the first hour with nary a hit. Then a double, then another barren stretch, then a double. We ended with 7 Lakers averaging 3.5# in a little over 3 hours. The air was 43 and water 38 but with sunshine and almost no wind, it was near perfect.

18 May 16    Today was the kind of forecast I look for, even after being fooled more than a few times. Frank and I launched to  near-calm seas and so we decided to travel to a favorite spot, even if in past years it hasn't been the best early in the season. An hour passed before our first hit and miss. Then not long after a double at around 170'. We worked deeper and hit another double at 252'. We circled that area but didn't get anything further there so we just ranged around. Eventually, we got two more doubles and after a little over 3 hours we put our tenth Laker in the box. It was hard to figure an optimal depth as our last Lakers were in 165'. Conditions remained excellent with calm seas and winds and sunshine. The air and water were both 43 but it was very comfortable.

16 May    The wind forecast was for 5mph, later slightly increasing from the north as Frank and I decided to run about 8 miles to try some 25-50' water for a change. Seas were relatively calm for the trip. After about an hour and a quarter of no hits or marks, we decided to move to deeper water. After we set up in 165', the north wind quickly built to 12-14 mph and we quickly were in 2' seas. My back was not doing well and conditions were not good so we decided to head home. Fortunately, Frank caught a Laker just before we quit the long no-skunk record was saved. It was along trip back in pretty rough seas, not to mention the cold wind. Not the kind of day we like but that happens.

12 May 2016   Following an early morning rain, the NWS radar showed the rain front had largely gone through and winds were calm. It was a good chance to get out before the coming several days take a windy and maybe even snowy turn. Rick and I went out around 10a and set lines in 235'. We were 2 miles from the breakwater and could see the coal carrier Walter J. McCarthy just coming around  the light and headed in our direction. There wasn't another boat to be seen. I thought this would be a good photo op so I took my first picture. Took another as it got much closer but it didn't look like it was going to cross our path. Then, the carrier apparently took a slight turn, suddenly coming within a 100 yards of us under full power. My last picture shows how it cut in front of us. The waves from the 1,000 foot coal boat rocked us so bad equipment was flying around and we nearly got tossed overboard. This was inexcusable behavior by the McCarthy's captain. I can't by any stretch believe they didn't see us. We were trolling at 1.6mph, on autopilot in a straight line, and were unable to maneuver with all the lines in the water. Visibility was good at the time. My boat is aluminum and easily visible on radar too.  Here are the three pictures. Click to expand, back button to return here.

Ore Carrier McCarthy McCarthy McCarthy across our bow

The turbulence caused by the coal carrier continued to bounce us around, then pushed us sideways, then slowed us down so much that the riggers were dragging heavily on the bottom. It was ugly. The graph didn't register bottom for the next twenty minutes. The more we thought about it, if the McCarthy didn't see us, we might easily have been killed. I reported the incident, along with pictures, to our Coast Guard but got the impression that nothing would be done about it. See my addendum below.

 Well, after about a hour and a half, our first Laker went into the box. We turned around with thoughts of heading back to where we started via a slightly different route. Fifteen minutes before deciding to quit, we got a double and that was it after 2 1/2 hours. Oh, about 20 minutes after the ore boat incident, heavy fog descended on us and we didn't see land again until we turned the breakwater. I often wrap up my comments with something like "Great day!" but I won't today.

Addendum: I wrote an email to the steamship company and was able to talk with a senior steamship company executive on 23 May to express my concerns that this incident was dangerous and completely avoidable and careless by the ore carrier's captain. I asked the question whether the captain saw me and I was told yes. The conversation was congenial but all I got were mantra assurances the all their captains are professional. I'm not so naive as to think I would get an apology or anything but the "corporation party line." In my email I noted my past observations with ore carriers amongst fishing boats was that they made maneuvers to avoid confrontations. In later talking to my fishing friends they told me that was not always their experience.

9 May    Yikes! It was 30 early but the forecast was decent and with sunshine predicted, Rick Sarasien and I headed out in nice seas, setting lines at 220'. An hour passed with nary a hit so I mentioned maybe we should go somewhere else. That's all it took and the action picked up. It started with the starboard rigger, then Johnson, then port rigger. Winds remained light and skies sunny for the first two hours. The winds then picked up and clocked to the east and it was a cold 44 after passing over the 37 water. The next hour we put the 9th Laker in the box and missed one. With waves picking up too, we decided to bunch it in a little over 3 hours. One of these days I won't need to wear my fleece-lined pants and winter coat. Still and all, lots of fun. I'll try to post a picture of Rick grumbling about cranking in 800' of line on the Johnson. Actually, we took turns grumbling! Here's Rick reeling on the Johnson rod. Click on image to expand. Rick Sarasien

5 May    Woke to 33 temperatures with promises of warming and light winds. It had warmed to 38 when I cranked the Mercury over at the launch (it growled back at me) and soon Frank and I were out in 2' gentle rollers. We set lines at 225' and stuck somewhat in that range to  slowly pick up 3 Lakers before making a venturesome120  turn into waters I really wasn't familiar with. We hit our 4th Laker on the turn. Slowly it got deeper and deeper until we hit the deepest I have ever fished, 293, and we still were able to put our lures on the bottom. Well, we fished those deep waters for 45 minutes without so much as a nibble. Finally, coming back to more reasonable depths of 235' ( I used to think that depth was ridiculous), the Johnson rod hit a nice 5# Laker and we took turns reeling in all that line. We finally bunched it after a little over 3 hours with 5 nice Lakers. The sun was shining brightly and the little wind there was, had nearly died completely and the air was 48. However, the rollers didn't seem to notice, but I like rollers. Great day!

2 May    Another crisp morning as Frank and I headed out in relatively calm seas with a fairly light northerly wind of 8 mph. We set lines in 220' and headed into the 1' rollers. Before long the Johnson hit and then half an hour later the rigger bell rang. We hit another two Lakers before we turned to run back through that same area. One highlight was we caught a Laker we tagged on 6 Aug 13, at roughly the same spot. That was neat!  Meanwhile, the wind died off a little but the rollers increased in size - strange. Well, we never got a hit all the way back to where we started. We decided to wrap it up after 2 1/2 hours as we both had things we wanted to do. The air was 38 as was the surface water. All in all, a fun time.

29 Apr    Finally the winds died off and although a cool 37 at launch time, seas were near calm with only a 4 mph wind from the north. Of course I went back to the same place I had good luck at last time. This time was a little different as 50 minutes passed and not a hit or a mark. Finally, the Johnson rod hit and half way in, my starboard rigger hit too, but didn't stick. Not too much later after getting gear down again, the Johnson rod hit again and about half way in the port rigger bell rang, and it was probably 75' off the bottom. And that rigger fish didn't stick. Well, in somewhat of a flurry, I caught two more Lakers and had 4 in the box so I thought one of my goofy thoughts that I'd leave the Laker patch and troll towards the marina and pick up my last Laker en route. So twenty minutes later, a little panicky wonder why I did that, I boxed the fifth Laker. They ran a little bigger today with a 4# and 2 3# Lakers. Most were around 220'. Surface water was 38. During the last 45 minutes the wind died completely and the sun came out and I even too my winter coat off. Never saw another boat in the 2+ hours of trolling. Great time.

23 Apr    I checked out the thermometer at 32 when I got up but it was calm and that doesn't happen often so I decided to head out. The Merc growled at me for starting it so cold but the fire lit and out the marina I headed in near calm waters except for some gentle rollers. Yesterday I studied my charts and made a route on my GPS of 200-250' water as that's where I thought I'd find them. I had a talk with my Johnson rod as I missed a Laker on it each of the last two trips. Well, I put out the Johnson rod in 232' and as it kissed bottom, it felt funny and I quickly knew a Laker hit. Let the cranking begin and my arm was burning with over 800' of line out. Nothing was ready, including the net so I put the rod in the holder and got prepared. That one went in the box and out went the Johnson rod again. I was starting to set up the starboard rigger when the Johnson hit another Laker. More cranking and another Laker. Put it out again and got the rigger down. Ten minutes later, the Johnson rod hit a third Laker. Fifteen minutes later, the Johnson caught the forth Laker in a row and I thought my arm was going to fall off. As I was reeling in the last one, the downrigger hit, giving my fifth Laker in exactly one hour. All the Lakers were around the 230' level. The air and water were both 37 but I never felt cold. Too busy having fun. Guess the Johnson rod got even with me for lecturing it.

19 Apr    It was a little nippy this morning so I left circa 10a to gentle 1' rollers. That is, after the motor warmed up, it not liking the 37 air and water either. I set lines at 135' but felt the Lakers were deeper so I headed in a direction that would eventually get me to 200'+ water. After about an hour my first Laker hit, a small one but it looked good to me. After I hit the deeper water, another  two Lakers hit, again not all that big. After the third Laker I decided to retrace my tracks, when I got a triple on. The port rigger, which I ran suspended at 138 clicks (sounds very scientific to say that but it's more a pig in a poke), hit and slammed the lure. At the same time my main rigger rang and then the Johnson bent over. Well, with the in the box and three on the lines, I went into my mix of rational thinking of how best to deal with this to irrational thinking of which one to release. Silly me! The port rigger line came about half way in and away that fish went. Then it was arm burn time on the Johnson rod with 80-900' of line out and I was within 50' when that all too familiar tug came and that one got off. So there was left with the dink which I reluctantly boxed. Most of the Lakers were in waters over 200'. On the bright side, 5 Lakers, 2 misses in 2.5 hours and I can't complain a bit. I'll whine another time.

17 April 2016    Finally, we're back on the Big Pond. This Spring we rebuilt both the kicker (Yamaha) motor carburetor and the Mercursier carburetor, the former because of wandering RPMs and the latter because of hard starting but ran great once started. Well, I launched on a beautiful morning, a little later than usual. I absolutely hate our new launch for a number of reasons which I'll get into another time. But my launch for a shakedown run went fairly smoothly . The Merc cranked for 4 seconds and fired right up and ran smoothly. Success! My mission today was to test the equipment and my memory of how things work. I decided to run about 10 miles before fishing because I wanted to run the big motor as a further test but just as importantly, because conditions were great and I just plain like motoring.

I set lines in 135' of water and quickly the bottom changed to 180'+ . An hour passed without a mark or hit. One rigger I set at 135 clicks and left it there so I wouldn't have to adjust it. Well, in 185' the suspended rigger went off and I reeled in a small Laker which went into the box. Another time I might have released it but I haven't hade fresh Lake Trout in several months. Anyway, just as I boxed that Laker, the other rigger went off and I got that one in half way and I think it saluted me as it went on its own way. I turned after a while and headed to my starting point and just before deciding to quit, the Johnson rod bent over and I could tell it was a sizeable Laker. With over 800' of line out, odds are not in my favor but crank I did. My arm was burning from holding the rod as the pull was hard and steady. I finally got a glimpse of the fish as I reached for the net. Well, that Laker must have got a glimpse of my net because away it went. For a very short time my language and the color of the sky were the same but I got over it quickly. So, one Laker, two misses in three hours but everything worked great and I had no goat ropes on my shakedown. Surface water was 37 whilst the air was initially 41, later climbing to 47. My policy has always been if you get a skunk on a shakedown, it doesn't count. Since I got one, I've earned a mulligan should I get one this coming season. So the mission, IMHO was a success and a great time on the water!

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