Picture of Joe's boat Cooler By The Lake

"Cooler By The Lake"

Marquette, MI

1996 Fishing Log

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Here's the final fishing report for 1996. My boat was pulled on the 20th of October and stored. Clarence, my fishing partner, and I are wearing black arm bands in sorrow. The scariest statistic to me is the 240 consecutive trips without getting skunked. However, we came mighty close a few times. Thank you for following us. Please contact me if you have any questions or suggestions on my report or narratives. Compliments are also welcomed.

Below is a summary for 1996, followed by select trip highlights with special guests or items of possible interest to readers.

Fishing summary through 20 October 1996
Trolling Hours: 349
Trips: 84
Total fish caught: 567 (quite a few released)
Total of 567 included 12 Coho, 4 Steelhead, and 1 Chinook Salmon
Fish per Hour: 1.63
Consecutive trips without a skunk (goes back to June 1994): 240
Average weight of Lake Trout: 4.7 pounds
Average weight of Steelhead: 5.1 pounds
Average weight of Coho: 2.2 pounds
Fish per hour rates 1984 through 1996 respectively: .39, .74, .75, .89 1.08, .92, 1.21, 1.29, 1.38, 1.21, 1.54, 1.57, 1.63

20 Oct Fished Picnic Rocks and did little so we fished to the sand hole. Picked up 11 lakers and ended up tossing 7 "dinks" back, but they were fun. Also managed to miss a 10# Laker at the net. However, looking back, it doesn't get any better. That's it for another year.

12, 13 Oct Tried Presque Isle Harbor again and got only one Laker so we headed to 120' water where we picked up several more, some suspended but most on the bottom. It seems like the Lake is upside down this year in that fish were suspended all summer when they're normally on the bottom and on the bottom in the Fall when they are normally suspended.

11 Oct Fished Presque Isle Harbor in about 35' water. Caught 5 nice Lakers suspended but it took nearly 6 hours.

9 Oct We took out guests Paul and Jim Bystrom on a calm but raining day to Little Presque Isle in 120' water. We caught 9 Lakers, mostly at around 100'. The largest was 8#.

8 Oct We finally got out after several days of windy huffing and puffing on the Big Pond. Mostly we fished in 120' of water at around 100' down. We picked up 4 nice lean Lakers on the way to Little Presque Isle. Clarence informed me after I caught the first two that we were not going in until he caught at least one fish. It was cold out so we huddled in the cabin most of the time. We had just begun our turn to fish back as we only needed two to fill and then got a triple. As a result, we had to return a nice 5# Laker but that was fun anyway. The surface water temperature was 50.1 degrees. Final count - Clarence 3, Joe 4 - but who's counting?

1 Oct Fished off Little Presque Isle in 120' water. Got 6 Lakers in 11/2 hours, including a 11#, 8#, and 9#, all lean fish. Fished with the choppy waves the whole time. Usually, Murphy of Murphy's Law, says you have to be going into a 4' surf in 15 mph winds to catch fish, seldom when going with the waves. Murphy works overtime and weekends at sea! The surface water temperature dropped from 57 to 53.2 degrees in a week. In the afternoon, assisted Captain Gary in the Fall pullout of Whitecap in 30 mph winds but it went smoothly.

30 Sep Jim finally connected on an 11 1/2# Laker after several previous "dry" trips with steel line. I went into my "Alleluia Brother" routine which he didn't find too humorous. All 8 fish (released 2) were on the bottom in roughly 130' water. It was a calm but cool day and very enjoyable.

19 Sep Caught 11 Lakers in 120 - 140' of water, returning 2. All were caught on spoons near the bottom, even though we fished some lines suspended the whole time.

18 Sep Got 6 Lakers in rough water. Most were on the bottom. A big stray bat landed on boat, too tired to fly on, so it went into my engine compartment and we suspect the bat came to shore with us and is hopefully safe on land. In the past, we've seen seagulls knock them (and small birds too tired to evade them) out of the air and eat them so we were glad to save this one. However, I'm not a big fan of having bats flying around on board.

6 Sep Took son-in-law Dave Smith out and we caught 7 Lakers but must have missed 15 and couldn't figure out why. Crazy day but fun.

2 Sep Brian L'Huillier from DNR survey crew joined us on his day off. Brian caught an 18# and 11# Laker, both were returned to the Lake. We kept 4 other nice Lakers.

1 Sep Greg, Cheryl, and their son Josh Gustafson were our guests on a beautiful day. Josh caught the largest fish, an 8# Laker and a couple more. Even his mom caught two of the 7 Lakers boated. Most fish were suspended at 70' - 90'.

31 Aug Marquette Bay Classic. The "Cooler Crew" came in 3rd place with 44 pounds (6 fish) of the 14 fish caught (several returned). We just missed claiming the biggest Laker by a little over a pound. The weather was fantastic as was the company. Our crew was composed of John Wells, Boatswain; Jim Bystrom, Coxswain; Mike Reckker, Crewman; and D. Joseph Buys, Captain. Enough cannot be said about all the great work performed by the volunteers that organized the contest. It was too much fun to be a contest, especially with the beautiful, calm, and sunny day we had. Our $400 prize was split 4 ways with yours truly getting to spend his $100 on the unglamorous purchase of two new boat chairs which were previously broken.

27 Aug Took 1st cousin Don Zimmerman visiting from Minnesota out for a great day, catching 6 nice Lakers, from 4 to 10 1/2 pounds. We quickly started with two fish on one line, the same thing that happened when I took him fishing two years ago.

26 Aug This day we call "The Great Goat Rope Day". Even though I'm not superstitious, it started with a black cat crossing my driveway as we left for fishing. At sea, we tangled lines, lost a release, two lures, and a lead weight. All this was in 4' seas, supposed to be light and variable winds. We ended up with 5 Lakers, all on the bottom at around 140'.

24 Aug Karl Pasbjerg from Detroit was our guest who temporarily exchanged his golf clubs for a fishing rod and handled the fish and rough water like a trooper. We got 6 Lakers in 2 hours, most suspended around 70'.

23 Aug Nephew Tony Pace was our guest on a beautiful day. We got 5 Lakers, 4 near bottom in 140'.

21 Aug Guests Hank Bertagnoli and Jim Bystrom got nine Lakers in 31/2 hours, 4 around 8# each and all but one in 120' of water.

16 Aug Neighbors Len and Mike Ruuska were guests while we fished off Little Presque Isle where we got 6 Lakers, 4 at 65' and 2 at 120'.

12 Aug Stream and inland lake fisherman Tod Poirier joined my partner Clarence in a rock and roll day on the "Big Pond" with winds out of the north at 16 mph. We got 7 Lakers but "had to work for them".

10 Aug Guests were Whitecap Captain Gary Gibbs and his son Danny fishing Little Presque Isle in 3' waves. Danny popped 3 Lakers on the steel line.

9 Aug Friends John and Johnny Mattis were guests as we caught 5 Lakers, all suspended around 50'.

2 Aug Partner Clarence cleanly netted my lure from my 10#+ Laker swimming behind the boat. These situations are referred to as "involuntary noncatch and releases". He's going to practice netting at home during the week.

24-28 Jul On Wednesday, with good friend Tony Pearson from Ironwood, we boated to Grand Marais Michigan from Marquette, approximately 70 miles east, past beautiful Pictured Rocks. We tented at the wonderful Woodland Park campgrounds near the marina. Our fishing guest was "Pickles" Meldrum, Grand Marais resident and former Marquette resident. We fished the 1st day approximately 3 miles from the harbor and got 2 Coho and 3 Lakers. Thursday we got blown off the Lake and toured the area. On Friday, we fished 100' - 130' at around 45' down hitting 3 Coho, 1 Steelhead, and 8 Lakers. We filleted all the fish and gave them to various campers in the campground, except for a Coho which Tony prepared for supper. Yummy! On a beautiful and calm Friday we visited the "Big Reef" hoping to get a 20-30# Laker but got just 3 6# Lakers, about the same as the other 11 boats we saw. All-in-all, it was a fantastic trip as the people at Grand Marais are so nice and friendly. We had beautiful water home then next day, beating out the rain by only a couple of hours.

7/11/96 Guests Tom and Rod with at Shot Point. One always has good lunches with those two along. Nothing shallow but got 5 "eating size" Lakers in 145-165' water. Discovered an oil leak in a pump that may put my boat out of commission for a while. Lucked out making it home 10 minutes before the rain started.

7/10/96 Struggled for nearly 4 hours to get two nice Lakers and a Coho (supper tomorrow) near Little Presque Isle. Water at surface was 44.5 deg. Missed two Lakers, one of which I couldn't budge until it finally got off. My buddy in his boat "IDaKnow" was nearby in his boat with his radio off so I was frustrated not being able to see how he was doing. Took pictures of Whitecap near Partridge Island. Finally calmed off.

7/8/96 Guests Jim and Dean were with on yet another foggy day. Tried shallow but got zip. Finally moved to 150' water and got two small Lakers off Shot Point. Hideaway (friend's boat) went in shallow an hour later where I was and got two Lakers and lost two. Hmmmmm! He told me how to do it but...

7/7/96 Slowdown! Fished four hours and got two Lakers, one 7 1/2 pounds, and the other too small to mention. The big one was on a surface line.

7/6/96 Took my neighbor Len out, his brother-in-law Brian (his birthday), and young Brad. Got 5 Lakers, ranging 71/2, 6, 5, 4, and 3. Brad got the two biggest, both on the surface. He was rightly quite proud of himself. Missed at least 3, including a Coho.

7/5/96 Six nice Lakers north of white rocks, 3 on the surface.

7/3/96 Fishing north of white rocks, for 4 hours, got 5 Lakers and missed 2 Coho at the surface. Later fishing the sand hole got only 2 Lakers but the day was clear. calm and just plain beautiful. At the marina, visited Captain Jim Maki on his boat Catch-A-Finn III for some lessons on jigging, should I get the opportunity. That guy knows his stuff.

7/2/96 My lucky day - another Steelhead, 6#. That one is being pickled. Got one Laker in 50' water, 15' down, and the other three ranging to 165', one on a surface line. Weather was mostly solid fog and we could only see shore occasionally.

7/1/96 Got a beautiful 7# Steelhead on the surface line. That went into the smoker. Also missed 2 Coho. Our final complement of fish included 4 Lakers, the last of which was a 6 1/2 pounder with a lamprey attached. The boat "Something Fishy" got 2 Steelhead and 3 Lakers. Weather clear and calm.

6/29/96 Heavy fog again so on with the radar. Quickly started in the sand hole with a small Laker from 162 feet of water, which we tossed back. The radar proximity alarm went off shortly before we heard a marine radio call from "Jan Jan" who also picked us up on his radar . Then it was bang, bang and in less than 11/2 hours, we had 6 Lakers in the box, all from 2 1/2 to 5 pounds, mostly the former. This occurred as the fog lifted, the sun came out, and it got HOT!

6/27/96 Fishing around 4 miles east of Presque Isle harbor, we started with a small Coho on the surface, then double Lakers on the downriggers. This was followed by guest Jim's "Goat Rope" mess with the wire line that got away from him. Half hour later we finally got it untangled. Quit with what we thought were 8 Lakers and a Coho. At home, we discovered we had only 7 Lakers. Must be the first mate is using "new math". I'm the Captain and can't count so that's why I delegated that job.

6/26/96 Slow start with nothing the first two hours fishing the sand hole at 150 foot level. First mate CW suggested we go to 180+' were we quickly hit one and then another. Ended up catching 10 fairly small ( 2 1/2 to 4 #) Lakers and tossing a 2# one back. Most were at 165 to 180'. It was a beautiful, calm day with the threat of rain that never materialized. Hank caught two on the long steel line.

6/25/96 Sweat was pouring down the Captains forehead. It wasn't the heat causing the sweat, it was one of his biggest fears - a possible skunk. For four hours we tried several depths and had three hits, one of which looked like a really big fish. All three got off. Finally, at 1:00 PM, the Captain said lets pull the tackle and then it happened as we reached for the downriggers, we got a 4 pound Laker. We saved our record of 120 consecutive trips (includes last year's trips) with no skunks. Whew!

6/23/96 5 Lakers at Shot Point, all around 150 feet. Tried shallow first but got zip. Biggest Laker was 10 1/4 pounds and had a 10" Lawyer hanging half out of his mouth when he went after the spoon. What a piggy! Air was 46 degrees and water 41.3 at the surface.

6/21/96 Trolled from the sand hole to shot point. Quickly started with what I call a single line double (two fish on one line). That was exciting for Gene but unfortunately, both Lakers were fairly small and we returned them to the Lake. Rod worked the port side downrigger and got several Lakers as did Gene on the long line which took a while to pay off on my promises that it would. Ended up with 8 Lakers. Missed a Coho on the light line which makes us wonder what we did wrong but shouldn't as Cohos are devils to hook consistently.

6/20/96 A calm but foggy morning as we fished by GPS and radar all morning. Air temperature was 46 and water 40.7 degrees. Caught 5 Lakers in the sand hole at around 155 feet of water. Fishing partners CW and Jim had the "layered look" to keep warm. Weather cleared as we came off the Lake. The layers also came off as shore was a lot warmer.

6/20/96 Took neighbors Len and John to fish the sand hole in the evening. The water was a little rough initially. John was getting green but the water gradually laid down and he felt better. Those guys packed some mean lunches and weren't about to starve. It was non-stop snacking but we managed to catch 4 Lakers ranging from 2 1/2 to 4 pounds.

6/19/96 In exactly two hours, the sand hole produced 7 Lakers all ranging from 3 to 4 pounds. Tossed back a 2 pounder. Depths ranged from 150 to 165 feet of water. Can't wait for Spring as the air temperature was 44 degrees - repeat 44 degrees. Chee!

6/16/96 Got 6 Lakers at Shot Point but must have missed 10 that were on for only a short time and then gone. Discussions lapsed again to single hooks as a possible solution. However, we successfully resisted the urge to change our ways.

6/15/96 Shot Point bound with the Whitecap Skipper Gary as our guest. Caught 9 Lakers, a Steelhead, and small Chinook for a total of 11 fish. Most were in 145 - 155 feet of water, with the salmon on top. Our discussions on whether single hooks were more effective than treble hooks were in the league of discussing politics and religion - matters of personal belief that have few converts to "the other side." Thoughts of smoking the Steelhead caused mouths to water.

6/14/96 Another beautiful, calm day. Caught 4 Lakers in a little over 4 hours. My fishing partner lost a lure on of all things, a floating log that caught in his line. The log was too large to retrieve so we circled to get it unhooked, the line broke, and the log mysteriously disappeared along with the lure. He said it was the best lure he ever had but I knew it was a virgin lure and had never caught a fish before. There's more dignity losing a lure on a fish than on a log.

6/13/96 Caught 7 lakers in 130 to 140 feet of water, all of the usual size of 3 to 6 pounds. Missed 3 through no fault of ours - of course. It was a beautiful day on Lake Superior, calm as glass despite the dire predictions of 10 - 20 from the North. However, there was considerable fog which slowly dissipated. Had as a guest on board, a WWII pilot who told some neat flying tales.

6/11/96 Heavy fog on the Big Pond. So much for the Weather Service promise that fog would burn off by 9:00 as it never did. Fished 7 miles north of Presque Isle Harbor. We didn't see land all day but the radar and GPS brought us safely back to the end of the breakwater. Got 8 lakers mostly 3 1/2 to 6 pounds, 130' to 150' deep.

6/10/96 Got 5 Lakers and missed 4. Not very big, ranging from 2 1/2 to 5 pounds. Would have returned the small one but he didn't make it too well so I'll eat 'um. Got the first two within two minutes of letting the downriggers down. Then it slowed down considerably. It was calm but it was COLD at 47 degrees and no sun. Come on summer! They must mean COLDER by the lake, not cooler. Confirmed rumor that fish always hit when you're busy, e.g., getting coffee, etc..

06/09/96, Got three Lakers, 3 1/2, 3 3/4, and 5 pound. Missed 4, including a real lunker. 'Course, I seldom miss small fish. There's no dignity in that. All around 150 feet deep. Surface water temp was 39.4deg. No goat ropes today.

06/08/96: Caught 9 Lake Trout out of Marquette in around 150 feet of water. It took 1 hour for the first 6, then a couple hours more to fill up. Caught one Laker with a live lamprey attached. Hope to turn it in to the Fish & Wildlife for a free lure. It was a beautiful, flat, sunny day.

When we returned to the dock, a boater backed his brand new $15,000 boat in the middle of two ramps so no one else could launch or recover their boats. He then got into the boat while it was still on the trailer and tried to start it. He said it was his first time out (not that you couldn't tell). We waited patiently and after several minutes of him trying to start it, I asked if he had advanced the throttle. He said he didn't know how to do that without putting it in gear. I suggested pulling the handle out, then forward. He did that and it started right away. He later proceeded to back off his trailer and nearly hit my boat. I suggested he might want to read the owners manual when he got a chance. He said he'd do that and asked how we'd done fishing and where to go to catch them.

06/05/96: Got 7 Lakers, ranging 4 to 7 lbs. Got one double and a triple (caught 2 on one line). Tossed one back. Others I hear did well too.


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