Manitou Island Exploring (And Fishing)

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I got a text requesting information about a Lake Superior Charter from a local mother and it said: “My friend and I would like to get out to Manitou Island to see the Gull Rock Lighthouse and do some exploring and agate picking. Do you do this, and how much would it cost?”


We spent the day on the upper, right part of the island. It’s located just off the end of the Keweenaw Penisula – a 40 mile boat ride, round trip.


More and more, each summer, I get calls, emails and texts like this and I love it because Manitou Island is one of my favorite places in the Keweenaw Peninsula. The remoteness and beauty, along with the interesting shoreline that never seems to grow old with it’s ever-changing beaches draws me back there again and again. Even fishing for lake trout seems to take a back seat in my mind when I step ashore to explore the shoreline.

We pushed off from Lac la Belle a little later than usual, since the season was getting late and the mornings are now pretty frosty. The sun was slightly hidden behind the clouds at 9:35 am as my deckhand and I readied the boat for an hour-long ride through the channel, past the Mendota Lighthouse, into Bete Gris and on Lake Superior to the island. The big lake was fairly calm as I throttled up to 3200 RPM’s and a cruising speed of 27 mph.

After a few minutes at cruising speed, I asked the crew if they minded if Kurt and I “dropped a few lines” to see if we could pick up some lake trout. Everyone was OK with seeing how we troll down deep, so at the proper depth, I slowed to a crawl and we set up the down-riggers. As Margaret steered the boat, we soon landed 3 trout, then pulled up our lines to continue the Manitou adventure.


Our first stop was on the Southeast shore to see the quartz vein, a natural formation in Fisherman’s Bay that runs about 200 feet underwater and then continues as it climbs the conglomerate shore-line. Fifteen minutes later, we were slowly rounding the Eastern end by the old Manitou lighthouse.

After many pictures to preserve the memory by my clients, we moored at the newly renovated dock on the Northeastern part of the island. We made a plan to all be back here at the dock and ready to go by 3:45 so we could push off by 4 pm. By this time it was time for lunch, so Margaret, Kurt and I built a fire to roast our Volwerth’s hot dogs.


Manitou Dock with the “Fishin’ Mission”


The restored dock, and Verna sitting on a lawn chair at the beach.


One of many stony beaches, loaded with pretty stones and Lake Superior Agates, with my boat in upper left of cetner.


With happy bellies and a cup of coffee, the next few hours passed quickly as we all lost ourselves in exploring, digging in the pebbles and sharing our our interesting agates and un-usual stones. We had the entire 1000 acre island to ourselves, with no sounds other than birds, waves washing on the shore, the sound of walking on beach stones and our own voices. “Wow, it’s really quiet out here,” Verna commented “No horns, traffic noise or sirens or anything!”

It really was a peaceful, quiet and relaxing afternoon, staying warm with the sun shining, even though the air temperature was a cool 61 degrees. I even waded in the water with shorts and flooded knee-boots and found several agates in knee-deep water.

Once again, on the way back to Lac la Belle, we fished for a short time and caught a couple more trout. I actually got to reel in a a fish myself – my first one for the summer while out on a charter!

Back at my own dock, we got some pictures and divided up the fish so everyone could enjoy a fresh meal of Lake Superior trout. Another super-fun day at the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula was enjoyed by everyone, preserved in our minds and photos to take home to show our family and friends.


Chris, Verna, Joan,Brian and Kurt


My only lake trout that I reeled in for the summer on a charter. (But this wasn’t intended to be a “fishing” charter.


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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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