By Mark Walters
Anything for a Salmon!
This week I took part in a sport that I love to do and rarely catch any fish while doing it. This sport is generally the most dangerous thing that I do in a year’s time and I absolutely love it. This week I paddle trolled on Lake Michigan in my canoe. I worked the area of Two Rivers and Manitowoc.
Tuesday, July 31
High 87, low 59
It was later in the day (about 6:00 p.m.) then it should have been as I rigged my 17-foot canoe with my rod holder, cooler for a seat, and fish locater. I rigged both of the poles I would be using with 1.5 ounce in line weights and then put Moonshine glow lures behind each of them. I had a friend give me lots of advice and chose the Yellow Submarine and Bloody Nose for my two spoons.
One of my spoons would trail straight behind the canoe 200-feet back! The other would be rigged 100-feet behind a planer board.
I rigged up an 80-quart cooler that I set in the middle of the canoe and ran parallel with it. The cooler is what I sat on and was full of ice for my big catch.
I rarely catch salmon doing this, but on the other hand, I have had some outings where I did and the rush of catching a salmon out of a canoe on one of the great lakes is better then a double on greenheads or dropping an 8-point buck.
As I was about to paddle out of Two Rivers I asked an experienced salmon fishermen for advise on the way my rods were rigged, he looked at my canoe and asked where the motor was? I was told that I was going to have to fish in 120 feet of water and the man was truly worried about my life; on the other hand, he liked the way my rods were rigged.
First mistake, I should have been on the water earlier. By the time my Fish ID said I was over 60-feet of water it was getting close to sunset and I was fighting a light wind that was producing 1-3 foot rollers. Next, I made an executive decision after calling my informant (Jeff Rouse) and getting a wind direction forecast. Presently the wind was out of the northeast, which was the direction I was paddling as I tried to reach deep water.
I was told that the wind would eventually switch to the south.
I made the decision to paddle south once I hit 120-feet of water and then work my way back to Two Harbors with the tailwind.
Every two hours I pulled my rigs and hit the glow spoons with a million power candle spotlight. During these breaks, I enjoyed a cold beer and listened to a loon under the light of a very full moon.
My goal had changed to paddling, about three miles from shore, and seeing if I had the stamina to fish the entire night.
Late in the night that goal changed to pure survival when I noticed a bright light approaching from the northeast. I was about three miles from shore, had a tip up flashing light mounted on a white boat light for safety. The boat, which became as big as a ship was rapidly descending upon me and I figured that I would be safe once I figured out which side to let it pass me. I became crazy scared when I realized my ship was headed towards Manitowoc and was actually the ferry “SS Badger” that runs from Ludington, Michigan to Manitowoc. After the near miss I changed my shorts, thanked God for the favor and resumed my mission. I am not exaggerating when I say that I had a very close call with one very big boat.
At 4:00 a.m. I was two miles south of Manitowoc and head been fighting a headwind the entire night. It was at this time that I decided to let the wind become my friend and head north, at this time the wind quit blowing.
The deepest water that my Fish ID said I was, was over 136-feet.
The sun was about to hit the eastern horizon when the rod that was pulling The Yellow Submarine started dancing. I couldn’t believe it, I had been paddling 11hours straight and I actually had a fish on. I told myself not to screw up and the fight began. Almost immediately the rainbow trout was dancing in midair as it tried to throw the hook. When it was in my net, I think that may have been the happiest moment of 2012 so far, for this outdoor adventures writer.