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An Outdoorsman’s Journal – 7-23-2014

by Mark Walters

Sheboygan Salmon Run

Hello friends, 

All it took was a simple conversation with Necedah 4th grade teacher and JV basketball coach, Keith Crispell, about salmon fishing on Lake Michigan at Sheboygan and two weeks later Keith, his 15-year-old son Hunter, and myself were headed east for a three-day trip, fishing for salmon, getting very little sleep, and wearing long johns in July as a cold spell made conditions seem more like mid-September.

Monday, July 14th
High 68, low 49

Scattered showers, crops that do not look near as robust due to lots of rain (flooding) and high hopes greeted three, excited fishermen as we drove through eastern Wisconsin pulling Kieth Crispell’s 19-foot Lund “Pro Fishermen”!

In ways this would be a simple trip as we would stay at Super 8 in Sheboygan and once set up on each outing, simply troll for salmon. In other ways this would be tough due to a 3:00 a.m. alarm, wind, cold, and sometimes fish that did not seem to like our lures.

Our first outing would be from 6:00 p.m. today until the boat was trailered at 10:30 tonight. I have known Keith Crispell for about ten-years and volunteered in his classroom the year my daughter Selina had Keith for her homeroom teacher. Keith Crispell is a KAMO member and an avid outdoorsmen. What I learned today and on the rest of this trip is that Keith and Hunter Crispell are a complete team when it comes to the work required on a trip like this as well as knowledge of the gear that is used.

Salmon fishing is highly technological these days and I was in awe as I drove the boat over 225-feet of water and watched this father/son team put out 8 rods rigged on downriggers, dipsy divers, or planer boards.

We had received a tip, at the boat launch, from some fishermen who had just pulled their boat that they had caught kings and rainbows over 225-feet of water and so that is where we headed and stayed until 9:30 tonight and watched as a storm after storm just missed us.

All three of us tried to keep smiling as day became night and we did not have a single fish hit our assortment of flasher/fly combinations and spoons. The real salt in the wound came when we went to shore ad talked to some fishermen who had a fantastic outing while fishing over 60-feet of water.

Tuesday, July 15th
High 67, low 50

My attire for the day from the waist down was long johns, heavy pants, and rain pants. Folks it was cold on the water and when Keith Crispell said we were going to be on the water by 4:00 a.m. he meant it (on all four outings we were either the first ones out of the harbor or the last ones in).

Today, Keith was on a serious mission and that was to put salmon in the livewell. At 4:40 this morning the skunk was off the trip when a six-pound king gobbled up a flasher/fly combo and Hunter Crispell landed the hunk of incredible meat and his dad netted it.

Ten minutes later this team switched places and a five-pound king was headed towards an eventual dinner plate. I lucked out by taking last on the hits list when a 16-pound king tripped a down rigger on a flasher/fly combo and the fight was on over high seas with a beautiful fish eventually making it to the livewell.

This morning we kinda sucked when it came to percentage as we ended up with just as many misses as we did fish in the box. When we hit shore, Hunter did an excellent job of filleting our catch while his dad and I stored our gear and prepared for the afternoon outing.

Wednesday, July 16th
High 72, low 51

Deep fatigue is hitting us as the alarm went off this morning, and we were only in bed for less then 3 hours. This gang of high hopes fishermen was idling out of Sheboygan harbor at 3:40 this morning and confident that we would put a hurting on the local salmon population as we worked 70-120 feet of water. To our dismay all that we had caught by 9:00 a.m. was one “shaker” king “very small” and we began pulling rods as we hit 50-feet of water.

Half our poles were in the boat when a downrigger tripped and Hunter Crispell did an excellent job of putting another fish in the box. With that action, we re-rigged and ten minutes later another 7-pound king was landed and we were thinking we aren’t going home just yet.

Two or three hours later, we had not had another trip and called this adventure to an end with extreme fatigue hitting all of us hard.

Salmon fishing can be both a lesson in frustration and a complete blast! Sunset