April  and May Results 2003

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"Hot Lures" 4/13/03

  Tim, Roscoe, Henry, Larry, Cliff & Joel 5/25/03

"Hot Lures" 

Larry, Ed & Capt. John's Catch on 5/26/03

Home Salmon Busters™ Great Lakes Info Tips and Trix Capt. John's Log

Outstanding Spring Salmon in May 2003! 
South Haven, Michigan

5/31/03   The weekend's gale force wind on Lake Michigan is the big headline.  Original weather report had SW in it, now that's most changed to wind for the north and northwest.  This is a double edged sword for us Lake Michigan anglers.
The blow will keep the fish stacked up off the southern ports and ruin the northern ports.  I've noticed a lot more north and northwest wind in Manistee than I've ever seen before.  Oh well, it's a good weekend to get yard work done at least!

5/30/03  Predicted gales is gonna screw up the weekend fishing, according to what I have seen on the weather forecast.  How do I find all the necessary info?
I used the Great Lakes Info page where links to the surface temp, weather and sea condition buoys are.  I designed this page for easy access to all pertinent data.
     Me?....... I have a wait and sea attitude!  Meaning, I'm gonna wait until conditions improve off Manistee, then see how many I can catch.

5/29/03  You never know what need's to be done at home, until you're a away for a while.  So, I tried to catch up on the home front yesterday without much headway.  Mailed long overdue orders and sent a E-mail Updates Letter.  
    A predicted stout blow from the SW later this week will improve the fishing in Manistee by a long ways.  Everything will be just peachy here by early next week! 

5/28/03  A very lumpy Lake Michigan turned a 5 hour trip into a 6 1/2 hour ordeal yesterday.  At Little Point Sable the lake finally behaved itself and the rest of the trip was a joy.  Also, anglers gave the fish the day off.  I seen no boats fishing out of South Haven, Saugatuck and White Hall.  A few Port Sheldon to Muskegon anglers reported spotty success on channel 68.  Some boats had as many as 8 fish, while others had only 1, or 2.  I now have port entrance photos of Port Sheldon, Grand Haven and White Hall.  I will be updating the Lake Michigan Ports page sometime later today, when time allows.

5/27/03  North bound tomorrow by water to Manistee.  Plan on stopping in Grand Haven for fuel.  I had a successful May in South Haven.  Averaged almost 13 fish per trip off the dock.  Not that numbers mean all that much to me, we could have easily exceeded that number, but early limits on Kings caused many short outings.  The good thing about the fishing in southern Lk, Michigan is all the heat was off me.  If guests farmed a fish, not to worry, there'd be another one biting in a few.  
    Manistee info tomorrow, once I reach my home port and get the inside scoop.  Initial word is there's no fish and icy cold water is everywhere.  Had had some good news about Ludington finally showing promise late last week.  Best fishing was to the outside of the large number of trap nets in Ludville.  Rumors are running rampant in Ludington about nets being left in all winter and never being attended.
    The Great Lakes fishery is much to fragile to support any type of commercial net fishing!  WE, the fishermen are finding that out now, as fish numbers in northern Lake Michigan dwindle. Like the Elton John tune, "it's a sad,..sad,......situation."
We had a terrible problem on this morning's event with Ed Evans.  The problem was we ran out of licenses to cover our catch of Kings by 10am.  By that time we had fought and landed 9 Kings, 2 dandy Steelhead and a Coho.  In the process of clearing lines, we landed and released another 2 Kings.  So, our total catch was 14 fish and we weren't off the dock all that long.  Ed is always a major grin to fish with and I'd enjoyed his company immensely. 
                                           Click for our catch photo
  Incidentally, Larry Skellett stayed over from yesterday's Salmon Clinic and crewed for me today.  While we had some nibbles that didn't stick, we never lost a hook-up fish. Going 14 for 14 is something rarely seen.  Now, that's a reel-testament to the skill of today's team! 
Click here for our hot lures that smacked the fish on 5/26/03. 
5/26/03am  Ed Evans, longtime patron of Kings Charter will once again be onboard to today's adventure.  Check back later to see how we did on Memorial Day 2003

5/25/03pm  Wow, what a day!  My first annual Spring Salmon Clinic was a motivating success for Tim, Larry, Joel, Henry, Roscoe and Cliff.  We boated a 6 man limit of Kings, a decent Steelhead and a Laker.  That meant the death toll on the outing was 20 fish.  We easily had some where's between 35 and 40 strikes!  All aspects of my spring program were covered.  We caught fish on lead core rigs, surface side-planers, Slide Divers, drop weights and the downriggers.  So, everything at times was producing Salmon. 
        Click for our 20 fish meat catch photo           Click here for our smoking hot lures
 My anglers for the clinic preformed all duties and set all lines like the tested Salmon fishermen they are.  What made today a great experience for all is that the fishing started off slow, then built to a steady pace.  This allowed me time for me to cover the most important techniques before all hell broke loose.  I thoroughly enjoyed everyone's company and thanks to all for attending.

5/24/03pm A light, chilly drizzle and 2 to 4 foot sloppy seas greeted us when we left the pier heads this morning at 6:45am.  After a short discussion Steve decided to re-book his date for August in Manistee.  Fine with me! I don't like trying to fish in the slop, because too many fish are lost when the boat surges from a wave.
5/24/03am  Steve F. and company are on deck for today's epic journey out of South Haven, Michigan.  Looks like it's gonna be a little lumpy with 1 to 3's out of the NW.  Check back in later for the complete low-down on the go-down.

5/23/03pm  Had another easy morning out of the Port of South Haven on Lake Michigan.  Syl and Gene were my guests for this mornings do and they had expertly landed their 10 fish limit by about 10am.  In the process of pulling lines we boxed another 3 fish before all the lines could be cleared.  Click here for our catch photo.
   Something that doesn't happen very often is a five different species "Grand Slam" occurred this morning.  The body count was 1 Brown Trout, 2 Cohos, 2 Steelhead, 1 Laker and 7 Kings for a wonderful mixed bag catch.  Click here for Grand Slam.
   The hot lures changed somewhat, because silver orange-crush fell on it's face today.  Also, we had to fish out a little deeper.  Click for the hot lures on 5/23/03
A special thanks you goes to Capt. Bob from Ludington for his skillful assistance!

5/23/03am  My guests for today's six hour event are Syl and Gene.  They've fished with me many times over the past seasons.  I haven't been off the dock since last Sunday morning, so I'll be searching for the best lures and areas.  Tune in later this evening for a complete fishing update and the new hot lures of the day.
   I'm still in the process of putting the finishing touches on the new article called,
"When a plan comes together."  This info covers my spring program exactly.

5/22/03  Gassing up the boat and that means a trip to the gas dock today.  Looks like I'll be fishing throughout the Memorial Day Weekend, starting tomorrow.  So, my efforts will be directed towards making everything ship-shape for the next 4 days.  The fishing part is the easiest of my chosen career as a charter operator.  It's the behind the scenes stuff that is the hard part. 

5/21/03  E-mail update goes out today.  I checked the surface temp chart of South Haven and a good temperature break isn't too far offshore.  Things look good for this coming weekend.  Other then that, I'm going to try to spend an uneventful and relaxing day.  The wiring is back to perfect on my Cherokee again, because I spent the time yesterday to do it right.  Weekly report needs updating too.

5/20/03   Posting the new Port Reports kept me very busy yesterday.  I started on a new in-depth article about my exact mindset and game plan when I leave the dock every morning.  Weekly Reports Page and a E-mail Letter is in store for me today.  Need to do a thorough scrub on my Cherokee, because the 35 fish we took in the past few days has made a mess out of my aft deck.  I'd say that's a wonderful problem to have after the lousy start on April Browns in Manistee. 

5/19/03  Lots to do today!  Fixed a bothersome "pain in the neck" wiring problem yesterday and need to re-wire neatly, the temporary jumble that was made.  Worst part of the problem is that is was purely self-inflected, because I didn't connect a ground wire from the battery on the re-install motor job.
   Gonna try to finish a weekly report page on the precise methods used in South Haven lately.  Want a clue?  Elberta Clippers and Pin Poppers from Legendary Products are a major part of my success as of late, these products work!  Slide Divers have been part of the equation too!  I'll try to add these fine products to the Tackle Store for your convenience sometime later this week.  E-mail Updates Letter sometime later this week in on the way also!

5/18/03  This morning was utter mayhem on Lake Michigan out of the Port of South Haven.  On our first west troll of the morning we had 9 hits in about an hour, only boxing 4 fish!  Wild, hell-bent for leather, spring Kings caused many tangles.   My guests for the outing named, Kevin, Bob and Chris learned how to control these feisty fish in a big hurry and not have the fish control them.  Then these guys went to work expertly and boxed every fish thereafter with absolutely no problems.  In fact, they had their limit of 9 Kings (to 18 pounds) by 10:30am, plus 2 Steelhead, a Brown Trout and one Coho.  So, the death toll was 13 fish on a short trip off the dock for us!    
                           Click for today's death toll    Click for hot lures 5/18/03 

5/17/03  Today, I had the grand opportunity to take three generations of the Campbell Family.  The Honorable Timothy Campbell was the patriarch of this fine group.  Our catch was more then adequate to satisfy anyone, as we laid 15 silver fish on the lawn, dockside.  We had 3 Cohos, 2 Steelhead and 10 Kings to, oh? ...maybe 17 pounds.  This was action packed event with several doubles and even one triple header!  The entire easy going clan, handled all duties well and were a sheer joy to spend the day with.  They had never dealt with Mr. King Salmon on a spring rampage and only missed one fish during the course of their charter.  Even with Joseph being only 5 years young, he behaved himself remarkably well and boated couple of fish too!
                                           Click for dockside catch photo  
                              Click here for the firecracker red-hot lures on 5/17/03

5/16/03pm   We had a decent morning trip today with Dustin, Jordan and their Dad, Ernie.  We boated 5 Kings to maybe 14 pounds and 2 Steelhead to 8 pounds.
There was just enough action the keep around the 100 foot depths.  All the anglers today did a fine job, considering they never dealt with feisty spring Kings before.
     Hot Lures on 5/16/03   Click yesterday's catch photo   Click for Dustin's King 

5/16/03am  I'll be off the dock this morning around 6:30am.  We're going to see what Lake Michigan is willing to show us off South Haven.  Check back later this evening for a complete report and fresh photos of the new hot lures.

I'm leaving for fishville in South Haven, Michigan today.  I have charters booked for tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday.  I should be able to update the website everyday while I'm there.  This could be a pretty interesting weekend, because the Steelheaders are having a fairly large money tournament there.  From what I've seen, many of the top pro teams plan on participating in this two day event.  Stay tuned and if time allows on Sunday, I'll post to top ten winners.  Some photos of the final day's weigh are not out of the question too.  Stay tuned for the latest and greatest from this website. Daily updates of the hot lures are on the way!  

5/14/03  Still burning logs in my woodstove in Manistee County.  Last night's temperatures were in the very low thirties.  Finished Capt. Len's King Fly Page for the Tackle Store, so you can see in great detail what his product is about.  Yesterday, I spent a pretty uneventful day cleaning winter's clutter off my lawn.  I'm getting ready to travel to South Haven soon.  It's been since Saturday I was last on Lake Michigan and I'm getting antsy to get back out fishing!  I came the grand conclusion fishing is a lot more fun then mowing two acres of grass.  \

5/13/03  The response to the Port Reports Page has been tremendous, almost all ports covered with the exception of Muskegon, Oscoda, Whitehall, and Grindstone City.  I spent most of yesterday trying to keep up with the large amount info being sent in.  Thanks to all......who share their information to help others out!
     Finally, I received my charter boat data story fro0m the DNR.  The news doesn't bode well for use Lake Michigan anglers with a 17% decline in Brown Trout, Steelhead down about 24% and Lake Trout was off by 31% when compared to the 2001 season.  Grindstone City was ranked highest in the state with 12.3 fish per charter outing, Ludington was next with 9.2 fish per charter excursion.  Manistee finished in 3rd place with 9.1 fish boated per trip. 

5/12/03  Publishing the new port reports coming in from the weekend is first and foremost on today's duty roster.  The port reports benefit everyone one, so please help out.  Catching up on long overlooked orders and the dreaded cleaning up the yard is on tap also (sounds exciting eh?).  I've been away from my house for 8 days and a bunch of stuff at home needs to be done, before I leave for South Haven later this week.  I finally have grass beginning to grow and that needs immediate attention too, before it turns into a wheat field.

5/11/03  Yesterday, I had the remarkable occasion to fish with Rachel, Vickie, Roy and Capt. Gary.  Once we found out what the fish wanted, we put a fairly decent program together and boated 13 fish.  The death toll was 1 Coho, 2 Lake Trout to plus 17 pounds, 9 Steelhead and a small King we tossed back.  Overall, we had about 20 hits from about 8:30am to almost 2pm.
                  Click here for the body count    Click here for Roy's 17lb. Laker
   Best part about yesterday's trip?  Taking people who honestly love to fish!  Both Rachel and Vickie had a ball, because they fought and landed most of our fish.  Now, these gals never lost a hooked-up fish and could give lessons to the majority of the men I've taken over my 21 seasons as a full time charter operator.  Roy, aka "salmondodger" from message board, expertly put a dandy whipping on a lunker 17 pound plus Lake Trout too. In case you wanted to know what our best bait was?  The Fishlander Jelly-Bean was "on fire" off the inline Offshore boards on the surface                             Click here for the exact tactics used   

5/10/03  Gonna be off the dock this morning with Capt. Gary and his wife Vickie.
"Salmon-Dodger" Roy and his wife are supposed to be with us too.  This is a special research mission to get a little more comfortable with the waters off South Haven.
I'll be posting a full report by this evening about our results.  

5/9/03  Gassing up the boat and a research trip is in order for this Saturday morning.  Hopefully, I can hook-up with Capt. Gary and his splendid wife, Vickie.
Invited "SalmonDodger" Roy from the message board to go too.  While the charter business has hit rock bottom, because of Michigan's very slow economy.  This doesn't mean I'm gonna stop going fishing!  More general cleaning and maintenance needs to be accomplished to bring my vessel up to a spiffy, ultra-clean vessel.
    Finding just a few fish over the deep water off South Haven yesterday did wonders for my confidence level.  I ran my same program for deep water Steelhead like I do in June off Manistee.  I never had a hit below 24 feet down.  Slide divers were my best rods equipped with 20# Flea Flicker and the custom reverse puke Streaks.  While I know it's gonna sound like I pushing Flea Flicker, nope!  It's the best spring diver line to use with the Randy Even's Slide Diver.  It's flatter oval shape grabs the surgical tubing better used to anchor the Slide Diver.....Reel Fact!

5/8/03   Fished with Jeff, Andrew and Derek on today's first charter off the dock in South Haven.  While Kings continue to be scarcer then hen's teeth we did manage to finally find some fish willing to take a lures over a 100 feet of water.  This was just peachy with me, because we never had a strike until about 10pm.  We had about 10 hits and boated 3 Lakers and 3 Steelhead.  My guests were super to be with and the most helpful anglers on my boat in a long time.                  Click here for the catch photo and the great crew
   I know the fishing is reel-slow from Manistee to Holland and there's just not much going on in the northern Lk. MI ports.  Good to hear Lake Huron is producing good fishing for Kings in Lexington, Port Sanilac and Port Austin.  Please keep your port reports coming in and I'll try to publish them ASAP. 

5/7/03  Seamless integration best describes my evening test-run with Captain's Bill and Dan from the "Wind Drift."  Capt. Kevin aka FBD on the message board was with us too.  My crew was beyond smooth, rigging rods and setting up the boat like the seasoned veterans they are.  I was amazed to see the 4 of us on a mission and work together so well.  
   We sure didn't set the world on fire on the catching end, but managed to successfully release a small King.  We worked the water off the Palisades Nuke plant in 40 to 80 feet of water and didn't see much to my liking.  The better fishing is about another 10 miles south, but with this being a short late afternoon outing, running the additional distance was definitely out of the question.  Click here for Capt. Kevin at the helm.

5/6/03  Rain in the early morning prevented working on the boat.  Truthfully, I was suffering from some "boat burn-out" and more or less took the day off from the marina duties.  I did re-finish and re-spool 3 diver rods with 20# Flea Flicker.
    I need more port reports from Lake Huron please!  St. Joe is producing decent fishing for Kings and the rest of Lake Michigan is lagging behind.  Look for my first fishing report from South Haven.  I've put together a small crew from the message board to do a evening shake down cruise today.  We'll be leaving the dock around 5:00pm in search of scales and tails.  Stay tuned for our results.

5/5/03  Spent most of the day sorting tackle and fixing little things on the boat that have been neglected.  Gearing up for spring tuna time requires much work if you want to do it right.  Installing things  like new fishing line and new hooks can be a lengthy, but needed process if you pan on being successful!
   Still working on the new page called, Capt. John's trip,  This article covers the basic navigation skills necessary to cover about a 150 miles of Lake Michigan's coast.  Also, photos of the landmarks I used to make the journey.

5/4/03   Success!  I'm in South Haven now after a awe-inspiring journey down Lk. Michigan's Gold Coast.  I made the 150 mile trip in just about 5 hours, not counting the hour I spent inside Muskegon's harbor taking on gas.  As an added bonus, I got to speak (channel 68) with boats Obsession and Windrift who frequent the message board on a regular basis.  I have photos of the Big and Little Point Sable Lighthouses, a cute gas-dock attendant and more pictures of the entire passage.
    The large amount courtesy displayed Capt. Gary has been overwhelming, and I feel at home already is South Haven.  My starboard motor finally stopped burning oil, because today was the reel-test on the re-power project 2003.  Both motors ran extremely well.  Plans are to do a complete page, but I'm too tried tonight. 
    The fishing report for S.H. shows a few fish being taken.  St. Joe is the "hot spot" for now.  Good catches of Kings are being reported from 3 miles north of the St. Joe Harbor and south towards New Buffalo.  Click here for the passage page      

5/3/03  "South bound and down, loaded up and trucking" is a song from the 1977 movie called, Smokey and the Bandit.  It is appropriate, because that's my deal for today, head south and get to South Haven, Michigan.  I figure it's about 150 miles, by the "way the crow" flies.  So, I'll clear the Manistee pier heads by 9am and plan on doing a complete photographic journal of the outstanding landmarks on my way south.  Tune in tomorrow evening to see what I saw, and a complete update.

5/2/03  Tomorrow is the day for the long boat ride to South Haven, predicted northeast winds from 5 to 10 knots should make it a pretty pleasant trip.  I'll spend to day fine tuning everything for the cruise and packing up everything thing shipshape.  A full load of fuel (150 gallon) is in order and I should be able to make to at least Saugatuck then refuel if needed.  Initial reports from South Haven is that there is fish available, but the Kings aren't there in big numbers yet.  This is fine with me, and just,......maybe?..... my timing will be perfect upon arrival!

5/1/03  May's warming waters and success on Kings is improving on southern Lake Michigan.  The St. Clair River has also produced some of the best Salmon fishing in 20 years downstream from the Marysville Power Plant.  Brown Trout reports are encouraging from  East Tawas, Au Gres, Rogers City and Harbor Beach.  The weekend is coming up and port reports are needed to help fellow anglers. 
   I'll be moving the lake boat to South Haven within a few days and a very special "thanks" goes to Capt. Gary from the Miss Vickie in South Haven for the help with locating a dock for me in May.

A Slow April Brown Trout Season in Manistee

4/30/03  Located my dock and driving my boat by water to South Haven is next.  I figure it's about 150 miles by water from Manistee and should be able to make the trip in about 6 hours in fairly flat seas. Streaks should be here and shipping back ordered items is in my future.  

4/29/03   Finally, I have the correct results from last Saturday's Icebreaker Tournament held in Ludington.   The top five boats were Fireline (largest Brown too), Jamie Lynn, Riverside
Pier Pressure
and Sarah Ann. 167 pounds of fish were weighed-in by about 20 boats.  Ludington took the top honors and the port award.  Congratulations to all Ludington participants, you put a good program together and deserved to win.  I'm glad Ludville had better fishing and didn't have to endure the pain and suffering I went thru trying to catch what wasn't in Manistee!

4/28/03   Manistee's once proud Brown Trout Fishery has fallen on hard times.  From 11 fish boated per trip in the year 2000 to 2.5 Browns boated in 2003 is a hell of a drop.  Reasons?...... I suspect the population boom in the double crested cormorant is one of the culprits.  Last season the Browns were planted when huge flocks of these black birds were in Manistee.  Please keep in mind, I'm no expert on the subject and the problem is not with the DNR.  And in the same vein, I try to watch my statements very carefully, because of the fact of accountability.
  My major goal for this week is to get my boat docked some where in South Haven where I can start catching fish again.  The move date depends on the weather.

4/27/03   Sometimes in the charter business you just run into the right sort of people and that's exactly what happened yesterday.  My performance as a charter operator was terrible!  We only had one strike, and as luck you have it, it didn't stick.  While I could complain about the total lack of fish off Manistee, it ain't gonna do any good!!!  The bottom line is, "you can't catch what's not there." Click for Brad's hooked paw
    The only redeeming factor of yesterday's non-event was the three dedicated fishermen I had with me named Stefan, Jamie and Brad Gladstone.  These anglers were more then patient and were just plain good individuals to be with.  Even Brad "The Man" Gladstone showed the metal he was made of, when (in helping me out) he stuck a hook in his paw, well beyond the barb.  I had to perform minor surgery and had to push the hook through thru his skin and cut it off.  I offered to take him to the hospital, but he declined, as not to ruin his buddies chances and catching a few fish.  I plan on fishing again with this same group in the very near future, so this story will be continued in a much better light. Click for the group
     To cap off today's update, this was the worst Brown Trout Season in April off Manistee I've ever witnessed in my 12 years of being anchored to this port.  Many reasons could be involved, but my average in 2000 was about 11 fish a trip.  My 2003 average catch was maybe 3 Brown Trout a charter.  So, I've had enough struggling and will be moving my boat this week to South Haven, Michigan. 

4/26/03  I super-stunk at catching fish yesterday!  I gave up and threw in the towel at around 10am.  Some tournament plan eh?  Go to your best producing areas and catch zilch?  Well, anyway today is another day and the Icebreaker Tournament will be underway at 6:15am this morning.  This is a bi-port deal, pitting the Ludington fishermen vs. the Manistee boys for a traveling port trophy.
    The Manistee Team is anchored by Mark Chmura, 2 time winner of  the "Big Boys Only" tourney and Capt. Paul Schafley last season's winner of the Bud Salmon Splash Shot-Out in July.  Other many notable fishermen from Manistee are entered and complete listing's will be available by Monday.  Me?.....I sucked wind lately and catching, so I'm hoping Team Manistee will carry the day and the trophy home! The weigh-in for the Icebreaker is being held at Capt. Chuck's in Ludington some where's around 2pm this afternoon.

4/25/03  Fished long and hard yesterday for 2 hits and two Browns to 14 pounds.  The lake was flat calm and not many fish were caught by the fleet.  Most boats that went north got skunked and my two fish was the "hot hand" for yesterday's struggle.  Click here for Don's trophy Brown Trout on 4/24/03
    I'll be fishing again with Don Van Scoyk on today and hopefully to little chop to the water from the predicted west wind will liven things up a tad more.  Plain and simple, it's a tough go when it's flat calm on the shoreline.

4/24/03  Don Van Stoyk is my guest for the next two morning.  Do has fished with me for about the last 8 years and always brings his luck when he shows up.  Our target will be only large Brown Trout as the Ludington-Manistee Icebreaker Tourney is on the not to distant horizon.  Click here for Don's lucky streak photo in 01
   Spent most of yesterday shipping orders and catching up on general duties.  I still don't have Streak products yet, so I shipped the orders minus the Streaks.  Check back later this evening for new photos and catch report, if all goes well. 

4/23/03  Fished the big river yesterday with Carrie and Joe for about 4 hours before I threw the towel in.  Other then one hard wallop on the number 3 rod, just above Pine Creek, there's not much to report.  I was hoping against my better judgment there would be a few fresh Steelhead making their way upstream.  Well, this wasn't so, and I can't catch what's not there.  We need to start thinking about a closed season on Steelhead, because of the severe decline over the past few years.  From a very reliable source, I heard they only passed 1500 Steelhead above the Custer barrier this year on the Pere Marquette.  I don't think the numbers are any better for the Little Manistee.  Click here for 7am conditions
    From Thursday thru this Saturday, Lake Michigan's Brown Trout population will receive my main focus.  My guess is that the shoreline fishery will improve.

4/22/03  Yesterday, we successfully completed the first on the water "hands on" seminar this season.  John, Joel, Tim, Jim and Cody were my guests for this event.  By 8:30am these fishermen had everything under control and for the most part, I never touched a fishing rod for the rest of the day.  They boated 5 Browns and never lost a hooked up fish......incredible ratio!  We missed only 2 strikes (one on a sewn minnow rig) during our sojourn.  Action was exactly like my port rating of "fair."  We endured rain most of the day and a fairly solid breeze from the SW.  Inshore water temperature on the beach ranged from 38 to 42 degrees and not many active Browns were dwelling in our stretch of shoreline. Click here for crew
   Today I'll be on the BMR in search of the very scarce species called, Steelhead.  I don't look for much going in, because the river is ripping along at high water

4/21/03  Had a no-show for yesterday's charter.  This was fine with me, because I didn't feel like working on Easter anyways.  The Icebreaker Tournament is a go-down of the show-down between the Manistee and Ludington boats this coming Saturday 4/26/03.  Tourney starts at 6am and all boats must be within the either the Manistee, or Ludington pier heads by 12 noon.  Weigh-in is at Capt. Chucks in Ludington and our Manistee coolers must be inline before 2pm.

4/20/03  Yesterday morning, we had a decent action on the Keitha, Char, Burt and Andy event.  We had around 10 hits, 8 fish hooked up and boated 5.  The body count was 4 browns to about 12 pounds, plus a small Laker we tossed back.  
          Click here for a Andy's estimated 20 pounds of Browns in 2 fish
The afternoon trip was a fight and a struggle to buy a bite!  On the Ray Hickman charter we had only 3 strikes and boated a small Brown and a throw-back Laker.  I suspect the thunderstorms that eventually cut the trip short had the fish shut off.
I had 2 trips today and very short on time, that's the reason this update is brief.

4/18/03  The first Brown Trout of the season was caught by another Brown, with the first name of Dale.  Our action was fair considering the all the stories of doom and gloom that were being spread.  We has 7 strikes, 5 fish up to the back of the boat and 3 landed.  Dale fought and won on a good sized Laker pushing 12 pounds.  Dennis boated a chunky football Brown around 7 pounds, but bad luck struck him and he had 2 "nice" Browns become unhooked almost within reach of the net!
         Click for 1st Brown of 2003         Click for Dale's Lunker Laker  
We trolled about 15 miles of shoreline in a fairly robust NE wind.  Any east wind does not enhance the shoreline fishery and north means a chilly breeze off the lake.  All in all, it was great to be back on the big pond today, even though we didn't empty the lake of Browns.  Look for fishing to improve with the weather.

4/18/03  If the weather allows, I'll be fishing Lake Michigan today with Mr. Dale Brown.  Our target species will be Brown Trout.  This is my first lake trip of the year and I'm more than R-E-A-D-Y for this adventure!  Spent about 5 hours taking care of business on the Cherokee yesterday.  The boat is prepared to a superlative condition and I'm all set. Check later for my first charter report from Lk. MI in 2003.
    Upon checking my stats I seen the least hit page and probably most important article in my Encyclopedia of Tips and Trix is being totally overlooked.  It has the correct procedures for superior skills in the area of proper rod handling.  I'm opening up this "how to" to the general public.  Please don't let over-confidence prevent you from reading the very informative Battle Stations Page.  I think you'll like it!

4/17/03  Caught up on a bunch of home duties yesterday.  Nasty weather prevailed once again here in Manistee County.  Gail force winds, temps in the 30's and scattered rain showers is not the making of a nice day.
   I have 2 "must do" mechanical projects on my lake boat to complete today.  Then all efforts will be devoted to making sure the boat is ultra-ready for Mr. Dale Brown's "Brown" Trout event on this Friday.  The wind hasn't been in our favor, so I'm not reel-sure of the outcome.  Hopefully, we'll be able to find a few dumb ones.  

4/16/03  Mission completed!  My 28 foot Cherokee is wet on the bottom part now and resting in it's slip in Solberg's Marina!  Spent most of yesterday day slowly breaking-in my new motors and cruising Manistee Lake.  The boat runs at least as good as new, because the new engines are extremely smooth, especially at idle.
    Bad News:  The water level is the lowest I've EVER seen it!  I've lost at least 20 inches in my slip since last fall and the channel into Solberg's is only 3 to 3 1/2 foot deep in certain spots.  So, be careful and hug the wall on the way into our marina.
    I completed a page on the entire story of the re-power project and of the launch today. 
                 Click here to access the whole deal on the motors and splash.

4/15/03 (Tax Day!)  It's beginning to sound like a broken record, or stuck CD, but the Cherokee didn't get wet yesterday.  Solberg's hoist was tied up with a bottom paint job, plus the wind was horrendous (to at least 35mph).  So, I wisely chose to launch this morning.  I positively know the boat will go in today, because the lift is already parked over the trailer.  Received my shipment from VMC containing the #5 round bend hooks that I use and strongly recommend.  Click here to see hooks
    Word on the Brown Trout fishery is slow with not many fish available yet.  Lousy weather the rest of the week will do little to enhance it either.  Ice storms are predicted for Manistee again by tomorrow after Monday's great weather.

4/14/03  Today is the day the Cherokee gets splashed.  After too many trials and tribulations, finally decent weather permitted us to put the finishing touches on the lake boat yesterday.  An extraordinary show of gratitude goes to Capt. John J. for donating his time for about the past 5 days to help out.  Without his assistance I would have never been able to complete the re-power 2003 project this soon.
   The report from Manistee to Ludington on the results of the anglers yesterday on Brown Trout were about the same.  The word small best describes the Browns that were caught.  The early morning boats did most of their damage by 8am, before the massive fleet descended like a plague upon the shoreline of Lake Michigan.  From what I heard, the boats outnumbered Brown Trout that were caught.  Not to gloat, be please read the update on 4/13/03 about limited success on weekends.

4/13/03  The traffic around the pier heads in Manistee this morning was exceptionally crowed.  Lot's of boats and not many Browns were taken before rough seas put a end to the day for most fishermen with good sense.
   Claimed a victory in the re-power project at both new motors are purring like a fat house cat.  I had to give up my charter for today with Matt Urich, because I wasn't ready.  Capt. Len is taking Matt on the Lucky Charm.  I don't like going off half-cocked and fudge my way thru a charter.  I'll be spending today making sure the boat and tackle is ultra ready and launch Monday morning.  Weather permitting my first report from Lake Michigan will be published for Tuesday's update.

4/12/03  Picked up my boat in Kaleva, Michigan yesterday after Cherokee refinished the bottom and installed the epoxy bottom paint.  Finished some small details and fired up both engines!  Yes, there in new life in my GM 350's now.  
   Click here for a transom photo of the new paint and 5 transducers I carry
Small, but major problems arose when a transmission cooler had a split at the hose fitting.  The split is leaking and the cooler needs replacing.  Hoped to launch today, but the tranny cooler is a problem.  New cooler arrives this Tuesday.  Had a water leak at the thermostat housing and I'll fix that today with blue RTV goo.

4/11/03  Disappointment best describes my feelings of not being able to launch the Cherokee yesterday.  One problem after another caused the delay, mostly to the fact the redone epoxy bottom paint wasn't ready at Cherokee.  16 seasons of bottom paint was removed and the bottom was sanded to silky smooth before the new  paint was applied.  No promises, but today I might feel the thrill of victory, instead of the agony of defeat in getting the lake boat chasing Browns on Lk. MI.
   I've started on a weekly reports page to better inform you of what's up with our fishery. 
Click here to access the new Weekly Reports Page  You'll hear, see or experience exactly the same info that I'm privy to, on a weekly basis.

4/10/03  I enjoyed the grand company of Paul, Don and Davis on yesterday's river adventure.  Our catch total doesn't match the quality of our experience.  We ended up with one fish for five hard, line-ripping strikes and one half hearted semi-poke.  These fish were vile contemptuous creatures that were part Houdini and managed every filthy ploy that a Steelhead is famous for.  David had a hold of couple of especially nasty villains that put on a exciting aerial display, only to throw the hook. Never the less, it was a bright sunny bluebird day with temps in the 40s.  I was just happy to see a few fish hit, because we're almost back clear low-water again. Click here for Paul's shiny as a newly minted dime, chrome hen.
    If luck's on my side, the new motors will come to life today.  Then tank up with gas and splash the 28 foot Cherokee.  "IF" can be a mighty big word.  Check back later for the very official unveiling of the 2003 big lake trolling season, I hope!

4/9/03  Paul B. and company is my guests for today's event on the big river. Initial plans called for a Lake Michigan Brown Trout deal, but my Cherokee is not ready yet. I paid a visit to the Cherokee Factory yesterday and work on the bottom is progressing nicely. Thursday should be the big day to fire the new motors and if God's on my side, we could then splash the big lake boat too!
Just plain awful winter weather has a major problem. Incidentally, we need some warm water to kick start the Brown Trout action. The predominate east winds we've had does not bode well to improve Manistee's shoreline fishery.

4/8/03   Batteries go into the Cherokee today.  I'll be working inside at the Cherokee building in Kaleva, Michigan (10 miles from my house).   Some chores in Manistee need attending to.  Winter has set me back about a week, but I plan on fishing Browns on Lake Michigan by this weekend.  River fishing tomorrow and a complete report will be forth coming.  Weather since last Thurs. has been awful. 

4/7/03   I have reordered new shipments of Streaks, Flea Flicker Line, Kerplunk 27 pound test lead core and number 5 VMC hooks for Brown Trout fishing.  All these products should be in hand very soon and ready for shipping.  Winter kinda set me back since last Thursday, but improving conditions later this week are predicted.
    I'll be on the river starting Wednesday, and if luck is on my side the launch of the Cherokee will occur this Thursday.  Stiff east, or off shore winds have kept any chance for warm water to pile up on Manistee's shoreline.  Very cold water has kept our Brown Trout fishery on hold so far.  Look for that to change soon! 

4/6/03  The severe winter weather kept me indoors yesterday, so there's just not much to report.  I did a bunch of web and paper work, taxes due soon.  
Set your clocks forward one hour tonight, daylight savings time is here!

4/5/03  I got backed into a corner (because of extremely nasty weather) and had to play my "trump card" and call Dick Staley over at Cherokee Boats Inc. to finish bolting down the motors.  Also, he's gonna blast off 15 seasons of bottom paint and install the 3 step process of the new water-tight sprayed on epoxy bottom paint.  This style of bottom paint lasts about 3 years from what I've heard.
             Click for my boat taking a nap at the Cherokee Boat Works
After 16 years Dick still takes care of every boat he builds.  Try to find that among other fast-buck boat dealers in today's way of doing business.  The best thing about a Cherokee is that you only need to buy one, because you cant wear them out.  Are they a pricey boat?  Yes, but always remember, you only get what you pay for!  Best thing I ever did in the charter business was buy a Cherokee!
    The problem here is the weather once again, as Old Man Winter has it's firm grip on northern Michigan again.  The forecast for tonight is for record low temperatures of 2 to 6 degrees with 4 inches of snow thrown in, just for good measure.

4/4/03  Cancelled today's BMR deal, because of terrible traveling weather.  Almost have the starboard motor ready to fire.  I would have been able to accomplish more yesterday, but thunder-sleet and freezing rain caused a halt to all work outside around 2:30pm.  Initial plans were plans were to splash the Cherokee tomorrow, however with low temps around 10 degrees cancelled that idea.  Should be able to launch safely by sometime early next week.
    Reports from the DNR Census taker at the Manistee Launch is that not many Browns are being caught by the small boats yet.  I also heard 2 launching docks are in.  

4/3/03  4 for 9 strikes on the big river yesterday with Mike and Roger for a pretty decent day action wise.  In fact, Mike who hails from West Virginia (along with Roger) caught his 3 fish limit of Ironheads in a grand fashion.  Patience was Mike's key to success, because all the fish he boated were in at least the 10 pound class.  The reel-story on this trip were the two extremely hard battling males he dealt with, steering them around obstructions (logs and branches).  Roger was snake bit compared to Mike's "hot-hand," with only few strikes on his side of the boat.  Never the less, Roger still landed a respectable male. Click for catch photo
   OK, now for the inside story on where most of the action was found.  Slow, holding water didn't produce well for us.  Medium to fast water runs was the big deal.  T-4 Flatfish are an ultra-pain to tune to run the hard current, but with methodical tuning the Flatfish can, and will run most any current the big river will throw at it. You thought Flatfish were a slow-water lure?  Click for trophy male

4/2/03  It was my great honor to fish and spend the yesterday with a very enjoyable couple named, Tammy and Jim.  We didn't set the world on fire with tons of action, but we had 4 good hard strikes.  Tammy did the honors by expertly landing to large hens to 10 pounds.  Jim was snake bit, and his only chance ended when the line parted on a equally large fish.  Overall it was an enjoyable time on the river, because the inside humor was rampant.
   OK, the brief run fresh Steelhead that was moving up the river last Thursday and Friday have long since vanished.  Most fisherman that I noticed yesterday didn't have a fish, as this spring Steelhead season continues to be on the slow side.  As an added bonus We did manage to land a 16 footer when Camp Manapine Vic need a tow upstream to the boat launch. Click for Vic's tow job  Click for our 1st Steelhead  Click for Tammy's big bright hen

4/1/03   April's Fool?  Well, I hope it ain't me today!  Please Mr. Steelhead cooperate on my trip with Jim K, because I'm unsure going in about today's results.  The fish I hit last Thurs. & Fri. were all migrating fish, so where they're at now is anybody's guess. Check back later for a new report. Click for pre-installed motors
   I was on a tear and managed to accomplish many things yesterday.  Most important is that the my Cherokee is back to a twin screw power vessel with two new motors sitting in it now.  My hero on 3/31/03 was Curt from Manistee Welding who expertly ran the crane to gently lift my motors in.  Installing the motors means no room for error, because the fit is tight around the motor hatch.  After my river event today, bolting the motors down and hooking up the lines, hoses and cables is in order.  I'm overjoyed that the 2003 re-power project is almost completed!   Click here for my hero, Kurt from Manistee Welding