Friday, August 29, 2008

Fishing on Lake Michigan-or-Trying At Least!

Today is Wednesday, August 27th. We have been blessed with three beautiful, calm days on Lake Michigan in which to travel. Although cool in the mornings (47 degrees early Tuesday morning!), the winds and waves have died down—allowing us to ride comfortably for these three days another 160+ miles further south. Lake Michigan is approximately 307 miles long and 118 miles wide—all beautiful and clear fresh water—we have also seen depths of over 500 feet. Amazing!! We will be going all the way down the eastern shore of the lake to Chicago—taking us along the western coast of Michigan. This time of year the lake gets especially windy and rough—so we have to be careful when traveling and choose our days to travel wisely. And after reading the blog of our good friends, Liz & Bob Stagg on “Second Wind” who completed the Loop last year, we find ourselves feeling mighty lucky! Their weather was not as favorable as ours has been—to date!

We left Charlevoix Monday morning and traveled 65 miles south to Frankfort. We got there late in the afternoon, and were greeted by a full flock (20+) of beautiful white swans, swimming very near our boats—the first large number of these to date! We didn’t have time to see much of the town, but we all ate ribs that night and skipped the nightly ice cream! We were all so disappointed to learn that the local bakery that we had heard about would be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays—we were leaving early the next morning—and we all were hoping to have some nice, fresh, hot breads to take with us. Soooo, coming up with plan B—like all good Loopers do—we made a quick early morning run to the nearby convenience store for fresh, hot donuts for all five of our boats—our “diets” are all going to hell—but no one seems to care! We left the quiet lake in Frankfort, which was full of fog—all the Captains were glad that the fog seemed to be only in our cove area— hanging low and full on the early morning water. A sliver of a moon was still shining brightly, and it was as picturesque as could be. Fishermen were already out (before daylight!); slow trolling in our cove and in the inlet leading into it. There’s lots of fishing going on here—more than we’ve seen to date.

I watched all day (and yesterday too!), from Frankfort to Ludington (46 miles), as the waters calmed and the fishermen were everywhere. Once we arrived in Ludington, a state-of-the-art fish cleaning area was right at our marina—color me happy—maybe I could persuade some fisherman to part with “just a little piece” of his catch! No such luck—they’re not allowed to “sell” any fish caught, and the man and his wife did not seem to want to barter with me either—sadness!! No fresh fish for us today.

We talked later on in the evening with a local guy who was going out early tomorrow morning to fish. It seems the salmon are finally running—and good too—and the fishermen hope it will last until late September. I do too—maybe there’s a chance for me after all. Up here, you’re allowed per boat: 3 of any one species, and five fish total per person. 5 people = 25 fish! The locals up here put children aboard, tell them to turn their electronics on and stay still (please!), and then the older guys put the fish onboard!! Good idea. Good mathematics.

So, like I said….today is Wednesday. We are almost in Grand Haven, Michigan, having traveled 56 miles today. I have put my fishing gear up and am now on the computer, on the flybridge—totally exasperated. Back about 40 miles, the water was flat, we had seen fish jumping, and lots and lots of boats had lots and lots of lines out. I couldn’t stand it anymore!!! I got my hastily packed box of beach tackle (all salt water, of course!) and found my largest lure, a #1 Clark Spoon, and my largest planer, a #4 one. I got Louis to slow the boat down so I could set the planer, and VOILA, I was fishing!! Color me happy. We were in about 40+ feet of water, and we had been told that the salmon were in about 100+ feet, but I didn’t care—I was finally fishing!!—thinking that maybe some stray fish would like to bite on what I was skimming in this pretty clear water. Our traveling Looper boats knew I was fishing, and they kept calling on the radio and asking how many I had caught and what time the fish fry would be tonight—ha ha! Not tonight, for sure—no such luck for me—but I was really trying! And when I finally pulled my hand-line in, my lure was gone!! Something either took a bite of it (which I hope/prefer to believe) or it became tired of being dragged for 40 miles! Everything else in my box was way too small, and I believe, way “not shinny” enough. So fishing was “over” for me for the day, but Wal-Mart is calling us tomorrow and I’ll surely get some fresh water tackle for my box! I really do hope to catch a fish before we get out of Lake Michigan—and they’re biting like crazy right now. Thankfully, Robert from “C-Life” was able to cajole his neighbor’s boat in Ludington into giving him a nice big piece of fresh salmon, so I’m going to cook it for him when there’s not a huge crowd around us.

***Something of interest—we have been traveling between ½ and 1 mile offshore today all the way to Grand Haven, and just today we have seen for the first time lots and lots of monarch butterflies migrating, all going from south to north—what a beautiful sight—I wonder why they’re traveling north and why so far from the land. We’ve never seen so many monarchs before and it reminds me that this time of year (around Labor Day) at Atlantic Beach we always see thousands of small yellow butterflies migrating, always west to east—I look forward to seeing them each year.

We wound up pulling into the Municipal Marina in Grand Haven around 4pm Wednesday, along with 11 other Looper boats—and you betcha—another cocktail party tonight—25 people!! What fun all these great people are—and they do like to have a good time around food and drink—I wonder why we fit in so well. We actually met 2 more Looper boats this afternoon that we hadn’t met before: “Our Turn” and “Kiwi Explorer” (they’re from New Zealand!) We plan on taking a tour of the area tomorrow, probably renting a car too. There’s a Cabela’s nearby, Wal-Mart and a West Marine, Staples and Home Depot—they’re all calling us. Plus a Verizon store, Louis needs to get his phone fixed, or get a new one—I’m tired of sharing mine!

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