Sixth grade school teacher Mary, and her hubby, limestone quarry foreman Larry, from Missouri, spent some time here in the Houghton and Chassell area for their 25th wedding anniversary. Yesterday, they drove almost an hour to get to Lac La Belle for some trolling on Bete Grise for lake trout. Larry does a lot of fishing near his hometown of Perryville, MS for big catfish, blue gills and some large mouth bass, but has never fished the Keweenaw waters of Lake Superior.
My original plan was to head out to my “hot spot”, but as we passed through an area where we caught lots of fish in the past, I decided to fish there for a while first. A while later, with only one fish in the box, I decided to pull the lines and go back to plan “A.” By the time we had all the lines in, there were 2 more fish to add to our catch, but nothing bigger than 4 lbs.
At this point, Larry was chumming the fish, throwing up over the side. Feeling compassion for him and not wanting to subject him to rougher water if he didn’t want to, I offered to go close to shore where we would be protected by land from the slight breeze. I said we could still fish and may catch something, but I could not guarantee anything, since the waters were getting pretty warm already. I added that I’m quite sure we can catch some at the “hot spot” but it WILL be a little more choppy there. He opted to “…go where the fish are.”
We reset our lines in 190 feet, heading for a hump which we dragged dodgers and spin-n-glows across several times, catching more lake trout in the 4 lb range. We had only about 1/2 hour to go with 8 fish on ice and we caught a few more fish. We took a few pictures, while we left the DR’s still fishing down deep. As I gutted the last fish, I saw the last down rigger was tripped and pulling. Foreman Larry grabbed it and fought a pretty good fight with a 10 1/2 lb lake trout as our bonus fish. It was a nice end to a pretty good day of fishing, especially for Larry, since he spent most of the time fighting seasickness. I’m sure he’d rather fight a big fish any day, rather than motion sickness. Now he’s on flat ground enjoying some very pink and orange, tasty lake trout… good choice, Larry! Let’s go where the fish are!
Singer, boys hockey player and dancer (yes, all 3 in one 11 year old girl) Taryn, landed a coho salmon and her brother, grandpa, cousin and uncles all caught lake trout on the Fishin’ Mission yesterday. After we pulled lines to go in and motored a short distance, there was a very long and pronounced scum line that, from a distance, looked like a long net floating on the surface, but turned out to be foam. I wished we had more time to fish directly along the line, as I’m sure we could have caught some more coho and other suspended fish (which typically give a better fight.)
I made a mental note to get out there again in the early evening to fish it with my Harbercraft, but I did not make it until after dark, and though I had marked a waypoint there, the scum line had disappeared or moved and I could not find it by surface temps. At least the moon was out and I enjoyed the stillness of a calm lake while trolling with some glow spoons.
Anyway, back to the day-trip…our first fish was a small 2 lb laker to get the skunk out of the boat, then caught a couple more in the 4 lb range before heading out to another spot to see if they were on the humps. We ended up with only 5 lake trout and the one coho after losing a few.
Lake Superior was really calm…I wish we had a little more chop on the surface in order to give the presentation more action, but we came in with some nice fish anyway. If I remember right, heavy equipment operator, Rich, caught the largest fish, a 5 lb lake trout. Police officer, Ray, got a nice fish along with college student, Elizabeth, coffee bean roaster, Kevin, and hockey player, Nate. Maybe we should have trolled some more FinnAction Lures, because after using mostly dodgers and spin-n-glows for most of the morning, we put on a gold and pink prism FinnAction Lure, chosen by hockey player Taryn, and caught a nicer laker on it. Taryn got to keep the lucky lure, since it was her choice that caught the fish. By the way, she got right in there with the blood and guts of the fish, and cleaned many of them for me. Maybe some day she’ll be a deck-hand, or perhaps even a charter boat captain! Not likely though, since she wants to get into surgery and the medical field pays much better than this kind of work. The rewards for this charter boat captain come from doing what I love to do and seeing the enjoyment that my clients experience.
Today is an off-day with thunder storms and winds from the east, making the bay very rough. Maybe we’ll fish Lac La Belle later in the day.
Grocery store owner, Jim, and his wife ICU Nurse, Beth, came all the way from their cottage in Watersmeet on Thursday night to fish on Friday for Lake Trout. They had a nice overnight stay at the Lac La Belle Resort.
Jim had wanted to fish on Lake Superior for a while and finally googled Copper Harbor Fishing and came upon my website.
I headed out to an area just East of Point Isabelle and set my first line, but before I could get a second one in, my first down rigger snagged into an old abandoned gill net. A few minutes later, I had recovered all my gear, marked the spot with a weight and jug and again set lines. We caught only a small laker there so we pulled the lines to go out to a different “hot spot.”
Saturday was an off day for me since it was a little windy and Sunday afternoon I had 5 guys from various places, including Houghton/Hancock area, Northern Iowa and Indianapolis. Forester, Robert arranged the trip with me a few weeks ago and got lucky with a very nice, warm and relatively calm day. The fishing was good too, as they went home after catching 2 lakers each, a total of 10 fish. The first fish aboard the Fishin’ Mission was a small 2 lb lake trout, which they thought was a big fish, at least compared to what they were accustomed to catching. The largest was a 10 lb, 28 incher and was still a pretty lean fish.
For lures, we dragged a few FinnAction Lures on dipsy divers and planer boards, plus a 6 inch dodger with homemade spin-n-glows. The dipsy divers and planer boards were un-productive even though we saw some suspended fish around 80 feet down. On the down riggers, we fished the bottom from 110 feet down to 200 with dodgers and green spin-n-glows with a green skirt and glow beads. I’ll try to get a picture of the set-up posted later on as I think other could benefit by duplicating it.
It’s too windy to fish effectively today, but we are going on cruise by the Mendota Lighthouse and into Bete Grise.
On Sunday we went to the Confo picnic… here are the boys after gorging themselves on Mt Dew:
On Monday I took out a family from Lansing… mom Gail, dad Brad (I finally got his name right with the rhyme) and son Scott along with daughter, photographer and lighthouse keeper Abby. The priority was to sight-see and take picts of lighthouses, so we set out in the fog with the guidance of my radar we went along the shore to Bear Bluff, Montreal, then Gull Rock and Manitou lighthouses. Fishing in the fog did not go so well as we only landed one after loosing some. As a consolation to Scott, who was the fisherman on board, I offered to take him again later in the week as they were staying at sister Janine’s place on Lac La Belle, just 1/2 mile away.
Still looking for the Splake Trout that come around the Keweenaw Point from Copper Harbor, but have not caught one for a couple of weeks. The Coho Salmon have been elusive lately too, but we’ve brought in quite a few lake trout.
Tuesday morning we set out early to fish Stannard Rock with a boatload of good guys from Nebraska and Kansas city who have relatives in the Lake Linden and Calumet area and friends scattered around Houghton county. There was Shippers Todd and Zach, Stock Broker Chris, Ameriprise Financial consultant Jeff, Dave, and Paypal worker Noah, who is looking for a new job. May memory fails me for Dave’s profession.
As soon as we reached my fishing weighpoints, I dropped DR #1, then #4, but before I reached bottom, we had a nice fish on. Fishing was good and active for a good part of the morning, with a few breaks for coffee and goodies, like smoked fish. Got some nice comments on the smoked fish, which I usually have for my clients… it did not last very long once it came out of the cooler.We trolled with dypsy divers and downriggers, with action on all of them. Ran some FinnAction Lures, a Laker Taker flutter spoon and dodger with spin and glows. the fish were not picky.
When all was said and done… after loosing a little gear and many misses, we headed in after landing 22 lake trout, nothing to break the record books, but a few in the 10 lb range, with many natives and only one fat.I am waiting for pictures from Shipper Todd, since my camera was too complicated for this old grandpa.
On Wednesday, Darlene deck-handed for me with a nice couple from Tampa, Florida who came here to tour Keweenaw County and try to find some Salmon. We combined the trip with some sightseeing all the way to Gull Rock Lighthouse and Manitou, with some trolling along the way. Although no coho or Kings (chinook) were landed, we came in with 5 nice lean lake trout, one of which was approaching the color of salmon meat. I Filleted the up and they brought some to the Tamrack Restaurant in Copper Harbor to have it cooked. Jane has some pre-conceived notions about lake trout, so I’d be curious to hear her comments after eating these LEAN lakers.
Today was a day off for me, at least from customers, so I fished by myself and came in after 3 hours with my limit. Actually it was only about 1-1/2 hours of fishing as I explored for coho salmon before going deep for the lakers.
Tomorrow I’m taking out a couple from Fort Atkinson, WI to do some trolling once again for Lake Trout. Perhaps I’ll smoke some lakers tomorrow after the morning fishing.
Boy, I’ve been running like crazy, but enjoying almost every minute of it… all except when I have to deal with the monopoly, lack of service, burocracy, policy laden, “act like they don’t need or want our business” type of outfit post office… enough said, I won’t go into the details here!
Anyway, my boys and I pre-fished in Portage Lake on Friday and talked to some fishermen who I know fish the lake and got some pointers on where to go for Small Mouth Bass for the tournament the next day. We hooked into a few, but did not want to beat up too many fish the day before the tourney which was a youth angler tournament put on by the local walleye association and sponsored by Lund Boats. Between my boys and I, we’ve had lots of fishing experience, but not on those waters, so we were going in a little blind. Even so, our chance to win were pretty good, since there was only 13 boats entered and a 1 in 13 chance to win a boat with motor and trailer, so I passed up a couple charter trips to take the boys out.
We caught lots of fish and after “culling” out the smaller ones, we saw that our largest one was flailing and we knew that we’d be deducted 25% on a stressed fish and a dead one did not count at all. After pumping fresh water continually for 30 minutes or so, he seemed to be coming back, so we concentrated on fishing. Soon we realized he was belly up again, so I between Stan and I we pumped his gills, gave him fresh water, cooled it with the rest of our cooler ice (the lake was 83 on the surface) and did everything except mouth to mouth to try to get him back to life. In the end, he was dead before going in to the dock for weigh-in. Stanley, who caught the fish, was in tears, but after the final tally, we found that even if counted fully, we wouldn’t have made first place. Well, it was fun and exiting anyway.
After the tourney, I took MTU student Craig and his dad, Executive VP of a printing firm, out in my Harbercraft for a little lake trout fishing. We came in with 5 lakers, one of which was a very nice and healthy 10 lbs. More on this later, as I need to get to bed now and get up at 5:30 for another day on the water.
Here are some photos:
Monday, deckhand, Stanley and I, took out a nice family of 4 from Florida, dad Eric the entrepreneur, mom colleen, the president of the Pampering Plumber and two teenage kids. After a little confusion about licences and where to find my boat, we got a later-than-usual start and fished for a short time at one of my regular spots before getting rained out. The skies looked pretty foreboding, like there were shunderstorms coming, so we scooted in near shore for refuge for an hour, then headed back out to another spot. With some green spoons we came back with 8 lake trout, all in the small range, but very good, lean lakers… no fats. Most were in the 150 foot depth and deeper. There was a little activity on the surface lines, but no Coho Salmon landed.
ON Tuesday, Union Carpenter Tom, Architect Chad and restrauant mangager Andy came from 8 Mile lodge to fish. Our first spot, out from Point Issabel, was a little slow, so we went farther out to fish over a hump. There were no fish on the hump, but we found some in deeper water around it. Again, there was activity on the planer boards, but we couldn’t seem to hook into them. I’m sure Chad will have nightmares about that for a while. Looking for something to blame, he joked aobut my Gander Mountain Guide Series rods AND the planer boards. I think he was just not getting a good hook-set on them. At least the Lake Trout were larger than the average ones that we’d been catching, with a couple in the 6 lb range.
Yesterday, my clients came from San Diago, Ca on a two week vacation touring in the Copper Country and Northern Wisconsin. We did a little bit of sightseeing by the Mendota Lighthouse, Bear Bluff, the old Smith Fisheries property and up the the mouth of the Montreal River, then dropped some lines to see if we could pick up anything near the mouth. No luck there.
After that we headed out a couple miles and dropped lines in 150 feet to the bottom where we quickly picked up a lake trout. Lost a couple right at the boat, one of which the lure hit me in the chin and stuck there. I quickly pulled it out and bled a little, but it was just a superficial hook puncture and soon clotted and quit bleeding.
We rocked and rolled around for a while before picking up a couple more and pulled the lines to go in with 4 trout, just enough for one each for the 4 of the kids on board. If not fore a couple seasick clients, we could have fished longer and found some more lakers.
Today, we fished with retired IRS man Ben in Lac La Belle for Small Mouth and Pike and had several bites, but only landed 3 fish. There were LOTS of bugs floating on the surface that the fish had gorged themselves on and were not very hungry.
I can’t believe I have not posted since the 4th of July! I’ve fished every day since then and have charters scheduled for the next 3 days! What fun!
Son Calvin, Terri and I fished Lac La Belle on Thursday afternoon, the day after the 4th and we ended up with 3 different species of fish… Terri caught a Walleye, I caught a small pike and Calvin caught a small mouth bass. Surprisingly the walleye was caught on a tube bait on the artificial reef.
The next day, Friday, I spent the morning on Lac La Belle again, this time with a dad from Madison and his two teen age boys. We had fair action, but landed only one small mouth bass and had several lost pike right at the boat. I also knocked off a second small mouth right at the boat as I tried to grab his lower lip… I should have taken out the net since he was one of very few fish near the boat.
Saturday brought us back on the Big Lake in pursuit of Lake Trout and Coho Salmon. Son Stanley had the honors of deck hand for the day with Tool and Die man Doug and nurse Carrie along with their two lovely daughters Amanda and Kaitlyn and son Dougie. I guess they lacked some sleep because all of the kids got a few zzzz’s on the water. It may have been the anti motion sickness meds that they didn’t need since it was so calm all morning.
At the first stop, we fished for about 1-1/2 hours with only one fish, even though we were marking a few… just couldn’t get them to bite.
After pulling lines we went out a few more miles and soon caught some fish, most in the smaller range of lbs, but dad, Doug had a bigger one on for a while before getting off on the way up. I wish we could have landed that one… the proverbial “BIG one that got away.”
I took quite a few pictures, but with an un-familiar camera, so I only ended up with a few picts.
Today, I went out in Lac La Belle myself for an hour or so and caught a pike, a crappie and a small mouth bass… 3 different species in a short time. The bass was under-size so I released right away, but took the other two home for pictures before releasing them at our dock.
More photos coming as soon as I get them off Darz’s camera.
This week’s weather looks good so I expect some good catches of lakers in the next 3 days at least. I’m still thinking about the young anglers tournament next Saturday with the boys.
Late Monday morning we left the dock aboard the Fishin’ Mission with combine operator Don, wife Harriet, probate worker Lisa and two curious boys, ages 7 and 10. Garret and Dillion looked a little sleepy (from taking motions sickness pills) as we headed East out of the irons of Bete Grise, to the green can, then southeast to our starting spot, but we quickly hooked a 2 lb lake trout to start the adrenalin flowing and wake them up. We landed 2 more lake trout while grandma looked on and Don and I had a nice visit in between setting lines. Fish were still a little scattered after our recent wind, but at least we found a few.
We then pulled our lines and headed in to Lac La Belle so the could get a taste of some inland lake fishing. Here we landed 3 small mouth bass before ending our first charter for the day. Here’s a picture of the largest of 3:
The 2nd 1/2 of my day I had deck hand Darlene, my 16 year old daughter and a family from Yorkville (near Chicago), good clients that I brought out twice previously. These Chicagoans love the Keweenaw so much that the hotel workers know them by first name. Target shooters, Mike, Doreen and Dax spend a week or so here every summer and spend their days exploring, shooting and fishing.
In my first “not so hot” spot, we caught one lake trout after a short time, but with very little action after that, Doreen joked that that she might be the only one eating fish for dinner later on, but I assured her that we will catch more fish.
After pullling lines, moving farther out and trolling for a short time we began to locate and catch fish, even with a couple of doubles going. We came in with 9 after loosing a few, averaging 3.5 to 4 lbs… really nice healthy orange meat lake trout!
Two of my fishing buddies, sons Calvin and Stanley, coaxed me out onto to the lake yesterday for a little inland lake fishing. Usually it’s me doing the coaxing to get SOMEBODY to go, so when they suggested we go fishing, truthfully, I needed no coaxing… I was “in” in a heartbeat.
We pushed off at 8 pm and had 3 fish before 9 pm. Calving landed the first one, a 29 inch pike, on his first cast, caught on a orange little cleo. I scored next, about 5 minutes later, with a 11 inch small mouth bass and Stanley got his 15-1/2 inch, 2.5 lb bass 45 minutes later. The next hour was unproductive as we missed a few bites and proceeded in to the dock as it got dark.
Thursday daughter Darlene and Rosie came fishing with me so that Darz could “learn the ropes” to see if she can cut the mustard as a deckhand. We spent two hours trolling for lake trout and teaching them how to set lines, hook a fish and net the fish. we did’nt get into any fish gutting, but at least they got the gist of the rest of the program.
This trip was on the Helm-n-Buoys, so when the wind picked up, we had to pull lines and head in quickly, but not before we located plenty of fish and boated 5 trout.
Friday was too windy to fish, so it was spent in town doing errands and watching a baseball game.
Saturday, today, we set out at 8 am with two Rick’s and two Johns, clients that I took out 2 years ago. Fishing was slow after the wind we had for the last 1-1/2 days, as we only landed 6… only 1/2 of our catch from 2 years ago. Fish we scattered and hard to locate, but at least we caught some using spin and glows, green spoons and a couple of FinnAction Lures.