by Mark Walters
Anything for a Salmon
Sometimes, we go to great lengths to achieve a goal that is simply out of reach at the time that we are trying to achieve it. This past week, I tried fishing for salmon on Lake Michigan out of my canoe.
I have fished for salmon out of my canoe several times and on three trips I have been successful and on several I have not.
Catching a salmon or a trout on high seas, in an open canoe, is just about as cool as it gets and that is why I have to try it at least once each summer.
Saturday, August 16th
High 77, low 45
The fishing reports on Wisconsin’s east coast had not been good all week at every harbor that I was watching. I picked Sheboygan simply because it seemed that the few salmon that were being caught, were being caught out of that harbor.
As I drove east on Hwy 21 this afternoon, I watched a storm that was headed on the same path that I was. Two minutes after arriving at the harbor in Sheboygan, the wind switched from the west to the northeast and a solid rain began falling. I was at the public boat launch, and heard very nasty comments from fishermen who were launching their boats, about how the northeast wind wrecks salmon fishing, and since it is blowing all the way over from Michigan can make for some pretty high seas.
I took my time rigging my canoe with rod holders, lights for the night fishing, my Eagle Fish Id, a cooler for my salmon and a radio. An hour after my arrival, a couple from Fond du Lac that had just launched their boat, came back to the launch and said that the big lake was unfishable in their 20-foot boat.
This report was not good news for me and since I had committed to a Saturday afternoon through Monday morning for this adventure, I kind a hid my canoe where it would be ready in the morning, when I knew there would be no wind.
My sleeping quarters would be rather low budget, in other words the backseat of the Chevy Hotel. I was still wide awake at 2:00 a.m. when a security guard informed me that I could not park overnight unless my truck was attached to a boat trailer, and even in that case if he caught me sleeping I would be given a ticket.
I drove about 30-yards away and called it a night until 4:45, when I knew the wind would be diminished to a wisp and I would paddle out on to Lake Michigan and have me a heroic battle with a 4-year-old king salmon.
An hour after daylight, myself and several fishermen from as far away as South Dakota, pulled the plug on any hopes of putting a boat on Lake Michigan and attempting to fish on this particular morning.
I had plenty of time so I stared at the waves and the shore fishermen and then headed over to the south breakwater wall and began talking with several men and women that were trying to catch salmon, by either casting spoons or fishing off the bottom with live bait.
I was told that the water temp had gone from 49 to 70 degrees in 36-hours and that no one had seen a fish caught all weekend. Salmon and trout are cold water fish, the northeast wind blew in warm water, not good for anyone trying to catch a salmon or trout.
I was also told that Dumper Dan, which is a big time charter boat service, had cancelled all six of their runs this morning due to high seas.
It is now 4:00 p.m.- for 24-hours I have done a whole bunch of nothing. I am going to try and fish in the harbor by paddle trolling with my 17-foot canoe. I get brave and use two crankbaits on a right and left planer board and run a spoon directly behind the canoe.
Though I know that I am a bit of a freak show to all the shore fishermen and the couples that walk the breakwalls, at least I am fishing.
I have now been paddling for three hours; the northeast wind is beating me up. I paddle too close to the south wall. My left crankbait is hit, my drag starts peeling out line, and I am a hero. Actually I am a zero, I caught a guys line and now I have to pull my other two lines, paddle backwards, unsnag my line from his, and try to look like I am really cool.
The fisherman tells me that it’s all good.
I sleep in the backseat of the Chevy Hotel because I am really stupid, I mean stubborn. The next morning I am on the water long before sunrise, the same shore fisherman is in the same spot, he has not caught a fish or seen one caught all weekend.
I paddle for three-hours. I have a KAMO Board of Directors meeting later in the day, I need to focus.
I paddled back to the landing with the feeling that at least I tried. I became very tired on the ride home. The meeting was a great success!
The end! Sunset
THIS WEEK’S COLUMN IS SPONSORED BY: Hiawatha National Bank