Expecting a Slow Day

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Surprise, surprise, surprise!

Yesterday, I was running late for my 2 pm charter on Lake Superior with an Amish furniture store owner and his wife from Minoqua, WI. I couldn’t find a deck-hand anywhere in the Keweenaw area… I thought my 12 year old son Andy was coming, but at the last minute he bailed – said he wanted to play with his friends in Copper Harbor instead. (he already met his $300 goal charter fishing a long time ago.)

“Sorry, I’m late,” I said as I met and shook hands, “I usually have my boat ready to cast off at least 15 minutes early. We’ll just fish a little later, if that works for you.”

“No problem,” Bradley said, “Meet my wife, Carrie. What kind of fish are we catching today? Are there any walleye?”

“No, not walleye. Lac La Belle walleye fishing has been pretty slow. We’ll be trolling in the Bete Grise for lake trout, coho salmon and possibly a steel head.” I said.

I was in for a surprise.

My first compass bearing toward Bare Bluff where we’d troll towards the Montreal River mouth in hopes of finding coho there. Soon I changed my mind, because the salmon bite was usually better toward evening, so we’d start about 8 miles out for lake trout, then later fish near the river mouth for salmon. A few minutes later, I changed my mind again because the wind was kicking up and would be much too windy and rough that far offshore. We had to settle for trolling with the direction of the wind, going toward shore, in waters that had not produced anything lately.

“This doesn’t look good.” I thought to myself. “We’ll be lucky if we catch one fish, judging by the catches lately and the windy conditions.” As I was going over my options in my mind, I set more lines… 2 planer boards per side and another straight back and before I could set my down-rigger, WHAM! One planer board got pulled back and under. Several minutes later, we landed a beautiful 6 lb brown trout.


Carrie, with a nice lake trout from the Keweenaw waters of Bete Grise.


I hadn’t even mentioned browns as a possibility to Bradley when he’d asked, because we’d only caught a couple of them in the last few years! Surprise! And, he was caught on one of my black FinnAction lures.

Soon I had the planer board re-set and, finally, the down-rigger with another home made spoon. 5 minutes later – “Fish on the down-rigger” I hollered. A 5 lb lake trout this time.

We trolled past the Montreal, towards Bare Bluff and only 45 minutes later caught another brown, this time on the down-rigger. I thought browns were usually closer to shore, in shallow water, and nearer the surface, and the first one was a mile from shore and the second one was 70 feet below the surface. Surprise!

In the end, after only 2 hours of fishing we pulled in another lake trout. I was hoping for a coho salmon in order to round out the afternoon with 3 species, but was very happy (and, did I mention surprised), with our catch of 2 browns and 2 lake trout. Surprising, lucky, happy day.


Bradley and I after a short outing of trolling for trout and salmon


2 Brown Trout and 2 Lake Trout. Nice catch for a couple hours!


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About Brian Helminen

Brian is the owner and Captain of Sand Point Charters, LLC. He also owns and operates Designotype Printers, Inc. with his wife, Margaret. They have a cottage on Lac La Belle that can be rented by the week in the summertime.

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