by Mark Walters
Blown off from Puckaway
My original plan for this week’s column was to be paddle trolling out of my canoe on Lake Michigan at Racine. Reliable informants told me that browns, coho, kings, and bo’s are being caught in 15-feet of water.
A 15-mile per hour east wind cancelled that plan, so I headed over to a smaller body of water with a plan of paddle trolling for walleye.
Lake Puckaway is where, back in 1952, a 38-pound northern pike was caught and that pigasauras has been the state record ever since and probably will be for a very long time.
Saturday, April 26th
High 53, low 36
The first part of this adventure will probably have long-term affects. I went to a 50-boat walleye tournament that is run by Bob and Carie Hill, owners of Tucked Away Bar & Grill in Marquette. My goal was to pump fishermen for info on the bite and that is what I did.
I also met local fishing guide, Justin Kohn, who along with Joe Abendroph originally started this tournament. I will fish with Justin in the future and as you will find out should have kept my canoe on the truck and took him up on an offer to fish out of his boat.
Tim Boeltcher and Jeremy Block won this tournament with just over 23-pounds of walleye and also caught the big fish which weighed just over 7-pounds.
After spending about 2-hours doing my research I came to realize that the fish had been very aggressive until about 2:00 pm., which just happened to be when the east wind became quite aggressive.
Next part of my adventure! Rigging my canoe at the public boat landing at Stan’s Puckaway Resort! Everyone has a place where they grew up. My summer time childhood memories are centered on at least 80 trips that I took with my dad and quite often my brothers fishing Puckaway and camping at the now closed resort.
I rig my canoe with rod holders for three poles, one straight back and two on planer boards that are left and right.
The one straight back is rigged with a crawler harness the planer boards have either a Flicker Shad or Shad Rapp!
No one is on the lake as it is too windy. I start paddling with a kayak paddle that I made back in ‘86. I traveled west with the wind at my back and begin setting lines. My canoe wants to take on water as I travel at warp speed wondering how I will paddle back to my truck against it.
Exactly where Justin Kohn told me there would be walleye, a fish hits the Flicker Shad and I feel awesome until it gets away.
I hit the big lake on the western half of Puckaway and realize paddling into this wind is going to be a huge challenge. Soon after I pull my lines and start the very physical trip back to my truck.
Sunday, April 27th
At 3:38 this morning while sleeping in the Chevy Hotel something began twisting my stomach and it hurt. When I hit the water, the wind was five miles an hour stronger then last night and I knew I should not be on it in a canoe. There was not a single watercraft that I could see on Puckaway.
I set lines and the wind took me west so fast that I had a hard time controlling my rig. The 150-yard stretch between two weed patches that I wanted to paddle between did not work out and just like that I was in pencil weed with lines in the water.
The Flicker Shad was lost but the planer board was saved. I headed towards the south shore thinking if I fished tight, things might work out Meanwhile my stomach was twisting and telling me that perhaps I might need a diaper if things got much worse.
Just like that I made an executive decision to fish with Justin Kohn in a day or two. There was no “just like that” in the two-mile journey back to my truck. I was wearing chest waders and for the most part could not paddle against the wind.
Plan B became one of wading through last years cattails and bulldogging my rig, this was very physical and the belly deep water became over the head water and I had one heck of a time getting in my canoe.
From there on in, I had to paddle and it was a lesson in frustration, paddle 30-yards, a 30 mph gust of wind comes along and turns me backwards. Paddling around any form of a point was pure H E double toothpicks! This situation I had gotten myself into was of the top five of my life for pure physical and then there was the potential “sink the canoe end” of it.
I never was scared and I got so tired that on one of my breaks I considered a nap in my canoe. At one point when I was only 200-yards from my truck I got blown back five times and decided to drag the canoe over the last two points. It is a good thing no one could hear me because with all of the energy I could muster I yelled some really naughty swear words about my lack of intelligence.
As always I made it home, though driving was a challenge as I was drunk with fatigue.
I will be fishing with Justin Kohn in the future and am looking forward to fishing out of my canoe on the safe waters of Lake Michigan in the near future.
Live every day! Sunset
THIS WEEK’S COLUMN IS SPONSORED BY: Cedar Country Cooperative.