"Cooler By The Lake"
2021 Lake Superior Fishing Log
Click here to see last year's log - 2020 or click here choose prior year fishing reports
28 Jul 21 Great plans to head back to where we had our last succesful trip. Forecast was for 5 mph from the south, clocking later SE. Well, we didn't go far before I made a command decision to make a much shorter run because of 1-2' waves and 8-10 mph winds. So guest Ron Mattson and I set lines circa 169' but knowing we'd range untill we found 'um. Managed 3 small Laker into the box but it was slow going. Surprisingly, we were able fish into 1-2' waves and a SE wind about 10-12 mph. We bunched it after 2 and a quarter hours. Oh, my lure and leader were missing from the Johnson rod when we pulled it in. The snap was open so maybe a fish did that - not! It was me, Dufus!
26 Jul 21 Beautiful day with no plans to fish until Bill LaValley called. We quickly got our act together and set out in smokey/hazy/calm winds and calm seas at 10am. We ran a ways before setting lines. It wasn't long before the first Laker came on the Johnson rod. We plied waters from 125' to 160' but had to be cautious of the rocky bottom in places. In two hours we had 5 Lakers in the box, albeit none of any size but all good eaters. Then the rigger rod went down and line started playing out. At first I thought we'd hung bottom but after struggling to get the rod out of the holder, I could feel a head shake and knew it was a big fish. I handed the rod to Bill who fought it for a long time until his shoulder needed a rest so I took the rod for a short time before giving it back to Bill. After nearly half an hour we finally got it to the boat and into the net which we could hardly lift. We thought of releasing it but it was completely exhausted (as were we). We wrapped it up in two and a half hours thinking we had 6 Lakers, only to find 7 in the box at home. Beautiful and exciting day! Oh, and we missed 8 Lakers, two of which were a single line double right behind the boat and they both got off. Here's a picture of Bill holding the 28# Laker. Click to enlarge. It's a boat record.
16 Jul 21 Son-In-Law David R. Smith and I set out in beautifully calm waters and winds. We toyed with making a longer run but turned the corner on the breakwater and found gentle rollers coming in, just big enough to put air under the boat without a good shot of tabs. So we changed course and didn't go too far before setting lines at 170'. I call it the camel humps because the bottom varies from 160' to 260', several ups and downs. So, we caught 6 Lakers and missed 3 but it was just perfect on the water. Some most of the Lakers were pretty small but still, good eaters. Wrapped it up in under 3 hours with 6 Lakers and no goat-ropes.
13 Jul 21 My guests today were Gary McDonnell and his Grandson Brody Kreh (11). Another beautiful day, perhaps too nice as the action was slow but we managed 3 Lakers in a little over 2 hours. I let Brody drive the boat part way to the launch which seemed to be as big a thrill as fishing. Below is a picture of Brody with a couple of Lakers. Click to enlarge, back key to return here.
12 Jul 21 Brined and smoked the big Laker from two days ago and OMG, so good. Anyway, my guest today was Norm Dill, a neighbor who fished with me last year. Conditions could not have been better as we set lines in 180', depths which I would vary greatly. About half an hour passed when Norm's rigger bell rang and he brought up two nice sized Laker which were a challenge to net but we did it. After that we picked up 4 more Lakers and wrapped it up in 2 1/2 hours to a silver smooth ride to the launch. What a beautiful day!
10 Jul 21 Today was a special day with Grandson Cooper and long-time friend Frank Lorsback who fished with me for years, especially during the fish tagging days. So an hour and a quarter passed and no runs, marks, hits, or errors and Frank commented you know we've never been skunked. No pressure there but we laughed and shortly thereafter, a sigh of relieve as the first Laker went into the box. Then two misses on the Johnson rod and finally another nice Laker. Well, we were nearing the end of our run when Cooper pulled in an 11# and 4# Laker one line. Well, whence wrapping it up, someone said I have a Laker on my line, and it wasn't me. So we wrapped it up in 2 1/2 hours with 5 nice Lakers. I see smoking Laketrout in our future. Great day!
9 Jul 21 Guest Garr McDonnell and I headed on one of the longer trips where we set lines, near, but not on the bottom in 135' of water, because of the rocky bottom. Action was pretty steady with a mix of decent sized Lakers and some dinks.Not to mention it was a day of missing 9 solid, or not so solid hits. No netting errors, thank goodness. Seas were great and we wrapped it up a little early because of commitments at home. We both thought our catch of 8 was great, only to discover 9 in the box. Back to school eh! 🏫 Great day.
27 Jun 21 Grandson Spencer (25) and I headed to where we fished yesterday, again under near-perfect conditions. maybe too nice but we ended with 3 Lakers, one respectable, two legal but not the kind I like to keep unless they're badly hooked. Great time with Spencer who is now running the boat and learning all the little nuances and what I call "not to do" things. And I tell him I know a lot of "not to do" things and some I even repeat. So, 3 Lakers in under 3 hours. As we quit, the sprinkles started but not a heavy rain so timing was great.
26 Jun 21 OMG, finally a beautiful day sans winds. So Gary and I headed out under great clam seas and winds. It wasn't 2 minutes before our first Laker hit and was in the box. Premature thoughts were this was "the day". Ha, ha! Next hour nothing. Got a call from a friend that I tell every time we talk, I catch a fish. Hung up and then a double. Please don't think fishermen are superstitious! 🤡 Slowly, albeit great waters, we picked up some more Lakers. I suggested to Gary that after an hour of nothingness on a rigger, it might be a good idea to check it out. Well, voila, he pulled it up and there was a nice Laker on the line. I said I'll go along with your story that it just hit on the way up this time but if it happens again, I won't cover for you. 😄 So , we're winding up our run with 6 Lakers in the box and someone said I've a Laker on. I can't cover him as promised. Fun! Great day on the Big Pond.
16 Jun 21 Great forecast and great water as my guests today were Shaun Thunell and Cindy Drury. We set lines at 170' and worked 160' to 195'. An hour passed before our first hit, which proved a dink, which we released. Finally, after another hour a hit, only to have Laker get off right behind the boat. Another 15 minutes later a double that went into the box. I logged us quitting at 2 1/2 hours with 2 Lakers but when bring up one of the riggers, surprise, a third Laker. The water could not have been nicer and although the temperature was in the 60ºs, it was very pleasant, especially without any breeze. Great time on the water. Here's Shaun reeling in a Laker on the Johnson rod, with Cinty in the background. Click image to expand, back button to return here.
13 Jun 21 I was pleasantly surprised how calm the winds and seas were as my Grandson Spencer and I headed out to one of my favorite spots. We set lines at 120' and slowly worked towards 180'ish, even hitting 260' for a short time. Well, the first hour and a half we marked nothing and caught the same. Finally a hit and miss. So we turned and headed to where we started, but by a different route. After 2 hours and 45 minutes, I said we're going to wrap it up shortly, when the starboard rigger produced a nice 5# Laker. Then, when the port rigger was retrieved, a surprise Laker went into the box. Whew, a skunk avoided at the last minute, but it wasn't the good fishing I've had there in the past. On a positive note, the Big Pond was beautifully calm and it was great to be out there.
8 Jun 21 Here we go again. Great forecast for calming winds, later switching east around 5mph. Well, Gary and I headed out for the longest run in a while on beautifully calm, mirror-like seas. When we arrived, looking for a friend who was to be there first, we wasted probably half an hours looking for him in the fog that rolled in, but his marine radio wasn't working and cell connections were sporadic. OK, finally we ran the riggers down, not to close to the rocky bottom and within minutes, we put one in the box. then a double, then two more and a miss. Then, the winds came in from the north at 13-15 mph and we were blown away from where we wanted to go. Tough decision wjhether it will settle down or get worse. We stuck it out for a whle but finaly decided to head to port as the downriggers we dipping into the water - message received. So we pulled up and headed home after 1 hour and 15 minutes. But we had 5 nice fish. So much for good forecasts. Addendum: Returning to the marina, at the entrance the water was rushing out to open water so fast that my boat stood still and I had to apply considerably more power to get inside the marina to the launch. It was obviously a seiche, probably caused by the front that rolled through and a sudden change in barometric pressure.
1 June 2021 Gary and I set out on a calm morning to try something different, that he's not seen before. Set up in 30' and gradually went to 50'. We could see a net flag ahead of us and thought we would easily clear the net. Well, Gary said there's a ball on the port side. Oh, oh I said ,explectives deleted, then making an instantaneous 90º + turn to port. Whew, that couldn't have been any closer but fortunately we missed hanging gear in the net, which would have been ugly and costly. Contining on, we didn't do squat in shallow so we moved out to 160'+ where we picked up 4 Lakers whilst trolling towards home with a gentle but cold NE wind pushing us along.
30 May 21 Slowness continues as Grandson Spencer and I bumped our way in south winds and waves. Then it briefly calmed off so we backtracked whilst winds were down. Well, we picked up one Laker and called it quits after a little over 2 hours of trolling. Doffing and dawning coats was the order of the day but overall, I can't blame the weather. We fished from 120' to 190', marking very few. But, we're determined. Been through these droughts before.
29 May 21 Wind and more wind since the last trip. Cold I don't mind, even if 33º and 34º the past two mornings respectively, but windy I can't don't want to deal with. Anyway, calm and cool was the forecast so out guest Ron Mattson and I went. With calm winds and a hazy sunshine it was most pleasant. Trolled nearly 3 hours, marked two fish and I said, it's time to wrap it up. OK, you guessed it. The Johnson rod hit and then Ron said I think there's one on mine, and there was. I refer to these as 11th-hour fish. It's not the first time. I've had slow starts seasons before but this is one of the worst. But it'll pick up. So whilst nothing is happening, I lapse reminisce about all the times I came to the same place, same lures, same depths, same speed, and catch my limit in an hour. Get's one to thinking something has changed. On the other hand, every year is different. So the jury should ignore my rambling comments they don't like. BTW, I'm planning to go out again tomorrow. 😁
16 May 21 I hesitated to ask Grandson Spencer as fishing was so slow for me lately, but again the forecast was decent so out we went in calm seas and winds. The plan was to fish shallow for an hour so he could see my techniques (don't laugh), with a planner board and all. So we did that and got zip. We then powered out to deeper water to set lines whilst the SE breeze kicked up to a cold, 10 mph. Surface water was 39.5º, air 44º. We stuck it out and reversed course towards home and whilst marking quite a few fish, managed two nice Lakers. My hands were cold even placing them in my winter jacket. We didn't stay long and headed in. Better conditions ahead.
15 May 21 Gee, another good forecast as Grandson Cooper and I headed out to set lines around 150', working towards 180'. An hour passed, no hits, one mark and then a double. WTF! I took off my coat and it was decently warm enough. Then the NE breeze picked up and it got a little lumpy and cold and I put my winter coat back on. So we bunched it in under 3 hours, knowing there'll be warm and calm days ahead. Still, a nice day on the Big Pond.
13 May 21 Great forecast with near calm conditions as my guest Gary McDonnell and I headed out. We ranged in depth from 130' to 220'. After an hour passed, a cold breeze came up from the NE and on went the winter coat. After sticking it out for another hour in the cold with no hits, we pulled gear after 2 hours and headed in with a skunk. Had one last July so I hope that's it for the season and that it warms up.
12 May 21 Another beautiful day...for a boat ride. My guest was Bill LaValley, an experienced fisherman in his own right. In near calm seas we set lines at 170', worked to 150', down to 180', over 220'. I suspect you'll get the idea we were not putting anything in the box. We marked a few here and there but no runs, hits, or errors for 2 hours, and 15 minutes when finally a suicidal Laker hit the Johnson. Saved from a skunk so we wrapped it up at 2 1/2 hours with one Laker. But, we agreed it was so good to be on the water, but not quite as good catching Lakers.
8 May 21 Finally a settled day as guest Dan Webb and I headed out in near calm winds and 1' rollers. We started at 180' and worked to 150' where we got a nice 5# Laker on the Johnson rod. That was after an hour. We turned to troll back and after an hour and a half, Dan hit a single line double, just before we were getting ready to wrap it up. Then minutes later I though I hung bottom but the rigger struggled to bring up a big, waterlogged branch. Oh, during all this slowness, I thought I'd check out the marine radio. I looked at the display and it appeared some of the number elements were missing. Looking closer, I had installed the radio upside down. Duh! Anyway, we wrapped it up in under 3 hours with 3 fish, but we both agreed it was great to be on the water.
18 Apr 21 Second trip with a good forecast of rising into the 50s and winds 5 mph from the south. So, Jim Price and I headed out and indeed it was fairly calm but did require some trim tabs for little rollers. In the first hour we boxed one Laker then a long time before the second. Missed one on the Johnson that we could see behind the boat. Finally, another Laker, followed by another miss of a Laker behind the boat, just as we were quitting. The first hour was pleasant until the wind picked up from the east at around 10 mph. Not only cold and bumpy, not fun. So we wrapped it up in under 3 hours trolling, few marks, few fish, but still appreciative to be on the Big Pond.
10Apr 21 Shakedown cruise. Grandson Cooper and his girlfriend Delaney joined me on a foggy, cool, but calm morning. Firing up equipment at the launch, two of the GPS were online and suddenly, went dead. WTF! So I got my cell phone out and fired up its GPS and we were good to go. With the radar spinning, we headed not too far as it was a first trip. Well, for an hour and a half, whilst I fooled with the non-functioning GPS, we saw no marks and got not hits. Then within 10 minutes two off the rigger. Then after switching wires around like voodoo, I brought both GPSs on line. I hate intermittent things like this so now I'll try to figure out what does and doesn't work under what conditions. Grrrr! But on a positive note, it was dead calm and quite comfortable, and we caught a third Laker shortly before we were about to quit. We ranged from 160' to 260'. So all in all, it was great to be out again. BTW, water 36.5º, air 46º. Love it!
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 determined 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. Click here for my highlights during the study. The study has been completed and published. I obtained a copy of the article that appeared in the Steelheader Magazine in 2018. Click here to see the article in PDF format.
Below is an extract from my 2000 log. Hopefully entertainment to help us through the winter.! My organizational skills have not improved much since then.
17 Mar 00 Two-Tackle Box Syndrome. It all started about a week ago when I was rigging a few rods to fish the breakwater for whitefish and Coho. I bought a few small hooks at a local tackle shop, then tied up a small swivel and tested the line, which promptly snapped. The line seemed bad so my idea was to change reel spools with a better line. Now where was that spool? It must be in my other tackle box in the basement. Well it wasn't there but I did see some things in it that I forgot I had, some duplicate of those in my main tackle box, whichever was my "main tackle box." Thinking I should consolidate some of this stuff I opened the two boxes and started. Then I remembered the box of miscellaneous stuff in my other attic tackle box. I also had a box of stuff on the top of a shelf...and a drawer of loose gear. Pretty soon, I had fishing gear strewn all over the place. I found I had hooks exactly like the ones I just bought. I rarely fish for Walleye but had enough tackle to start a small store. Ironically, when I fish Walleye, I usually use only a couple of the same lures but I'm always prepared with other lures. It's the same for fishing on Lake Superior - a couple of spoons is all I use. This I refer to as the Missionary Fishing Position -- if something works well, why change? Ironically, it doesn't often work for Walleye.
My attention span was about the same as my 4-year old grandson. I would get to working on some of this tackle and soon get sidetracked. Before long, I was working on something completely different. At this point I still had not located my spool but did discover another reel that would probably work. With 5 tackle boxes, boxes of gear, drawers open and gear cast about, it took about 4 days to consolidate my gear. In the process I eliminated only one small tackle box but now will always know where my stuff is when I need it...it'll still be in one of my tackle boxes that I don't have with me.
When looking for things, I often think, "where would a logical person put that item?" My seemingly logical concept is often anything but logical. I seem to remember things best that were originally put in stupid places. When I move items to a "logical" place, the litany of "now where did I put that" inevitably starts weeks or months later when I'm looking for them. When I ask myself the question where I probably "logically" put them, my current logic usually says the items are somewhere else. So much for logic!
Nearing the end of this tackle consolidation saga, all of a sudden a light came on that there was yet another drawer of mostly miscellaneous items containing some tackle items. Guess what, at the bottom of the drawer was the spool that started this whole adventure even though I stopped looking for it. No logical reason it was there. I didn't do much to straighten that drawer because everyone needs a drawer or box to just throw things in as a "holding area" until or should I say if one decides to "get organized" someday. OK, so I had more than one of these drawers and tackle boxes.
So what have I learned from all this? Really there are several principles involved here. The first is an axiom that can apply to anything from organizing tackle to computer files - the more you break things down or store things "logically" the more complicated it becomes and the harder to find. The second axiom is what I refer to as the "Mushroom Effect." This effect normally starts as an innocuously small project (such as this one) where in order to accomplish the one small thing you wanted to do soon leads to another project, usually more complicated and expensive, and soon the whole project mushrooms out of control. Plumbing jobs are excellent examples of the mushroom effect. The third axiom is not to stop buying fishing gear even if it's unlikely you'll need it because you really can't be sure you won't. That's assuming you can find it when you need it. This last axiom may cycle one back to the two tackle box syndrome as if you buy several of the same items, you can put one in each tackle box (hopefully not all in one) or put them in different locations. This principle also applies to house tools kept on the boat.
Now that the goat rope exercise with tackle is largely behind me, I moved on to the supposedly simple task of putting new line on my downrigger rods. However, that's another story for another time.
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