|My father and I wearing matching jackets to celebrate|
his birthday during a fishing trip on the
Ontonagon River and Lake Superior.
Attempting to fish the big lake
“It’s kinda like we’re on a vacation together or something,” dad said and tossed more driftwood on the beach fire at his feet.
“Yeah, I guess that’s because we are,” I replied. The sun was setting but the fire was keeping the chill off of us as we stood on the shore of Lake Superior just outside of Ontonagon, Michigan. We were spending the weekend at a friend’s house with the intent to learn how to fish on the big water, and fish we did.
No, we didn’t catch anything with scales, but a few beer cans did find their way to our boat. According to our guide we were a bit premature in the season for the optimal bite of cohos, lake trout, and walleye, but he showed us the ropes anyway. Literally, the ropes.
Our host and guide, John, set up a rigging I had never seen on our inland waters before. It consisted of a pole standing vertical towards the bow of the boat with a 50-foot rope strung to the top of the pole and tied to a planer board off each side. The planer boards operated somewhat like offset skis that were towed along the side of the boat at a distance, and allowed fishing lines to be attached to the ropes at varying distances from the boat. This, combined with two more lines off the back of the boat gave us a great spread between all the lines, each with a different lure in tow.
We dragged rapalas and spoons every color of the rainbow for several hours along the shoreline in 20-15 feet of water with no luck. Granted our time of day was a little off, but after trolling for miles with that much metal hanging off a boat you’d think something would bite…anything…
Another factor we believed to be an obstacle to our success was the cloudy river water spilling into the bay from probably a dozen or more tributaries. In most of these rivers the banks and bottoms had mud and clay that was easily stirred up by high waters and swift currents from winter run-off. We figured most the fish would have a hard time seeing the end of their nose, much less our lures.
The most important factor of the fishing expedition was still achieved though, and that’s having fun. Dad and I wore matching teal St. Croix jackets which provided for ample (perhaps excessive) photo opportunities. I told him that he should keep his as a birthday present because I wanted the trip to be a celebration of his birthday, which happens to be today, May 22. Happy birthday dad!
We also couldn’t have had better hosts, and I thank them as well. Spending the nights right on the lake with John’s family and collecting driftwood for fires in the sand, watching the stars come out was refreshing to say the least.
I guess we were just a couple of southerners going up to relax somewhere north of where we come from, but that’s ok with me. After all, you have to find time to get away with your father once in awhile. Work wares on a man, and I’m a busy man.
See you out there,
A woodsman in training.