Had a couple of nice surprises on Friday while fishing with Dudz. We left Calumet in the morning with the “Helm-n-Buoys” (my 19 foot Harbercraft) in tow since there was much to prepare for the weekend adventure to Stannard Rock. The anticipation was high for both of us, since it was to be the first time fishing together, with him learning the ropes of trolling and deck-handing and me hoping to find some fish for him and the crew tomorrow. It was also to be the first time fishing on Bete Grise for the year and tomorrow would be the first trip to the “Rock.” Also, we’d had an exceptionally cold winter, and there was still ice floating around on Lake Superior – the report from the Marquette area said it was impossible to get out on the “Big Lake.” Fortunately we weren’t coming from Marquette, but the amount of ice in our path was unknown.
We finally launched the small craft at 9:30 am with the sun high in the sky and no wind. Since we had to go slow through the channel to Lake Superior and the water was so cold, (still cold enough for trout) we threw out some FinnAction spoons (my own designs) on 8 foot trolling rods. As we passed the old ice house, we picked up a nice 3.5 lb Splake. (Surprise no. 1.) Thinking there had to be more, we went back for another pass and caught a similar size lake trout. Had a couple more strikes, but that was all we boated there.
Trolling near Bare Bluff was unproductive, but picked up a sucker and a nice 13 inch brook trout (my second surprise) at the Montreal River later in the day, then another lake trout in deep water.
The mouth of the Montreal brought back some wonderful memories, since I caught my very first “BIG” fish here 41 years ago as a young lad. See my story about it here. What a great place to spend the afternoon. Over the last 40-some years, I’ve camped, fished and played here and caught more species of fish than anywhere else on planet earth: brook trout, coasters, white fish, rainbow trout, pike (yes, pike) suckers, smelt, bullheads, splake, coho salmon and lake trout. It really is a “piece of heaven” here on earth and one of my own favorite places.
Saturday morning we set out early for Stannard Rock with 5 “Trolls.” That’s what we call the lower Michigan residents, because they live “under” the Mackinac bridge and I don’t mean to demean them… they are really a great group of fishermen and 3-time charter clients. U.S. Marine Alex; his brother, carpenter and handyman Ryan; their dad the field serviceman Fred; and his life-long buddies Roger and Jeff – all anticipating the big Stannard Rock lake trout.
After introductions and checking our gear, we motored out from the dock and the guys picked numbers to determine their “pecking order,” as they would take turns on the rods. To add a little more fun to it, they established a “largest fish pot” and “first fish pot” where they pitched in $2 each.
The 1 hour and 20 minute ride out was a little chilly and we had to zig-zag around icebergs, but at least we made it. My worry all week long was that there would be too much ice and we’d have to fish in the bay. Now that worry was behind me.
Hoping to find fish in the shallow waters, we did some casting with spinning rods with jig heads tipped with smelt and some fishermen with Swedish Pimples. With only one trout sighted and no bites, we decided to troll for them in deeper water.
The rest of the day we spent circling around and getting a flurry of action, then a short slow time, followed by another flurry of singles, doubles and one triple on flat calm waters and nice warm sunshine. One fish was hooked with 400 feet of line out and was fought and played out by Jeff for a good 20 minutes… maybe 30 as we all watched and waited for the possible record breaker, before landing the 8 pound lake trout. I guess the 1 lb trolling weight and the large herring dodger was adding additional resistance that felt like a monster!
I’m not sure who won the first fish money pot, but Fred took home the largest at 13 lbs.
The ride home was flat with some sleepers on board, followed by a fish cleaning party at the “camp.” Great day and can’t wait to go back.