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November and December 2003
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Home Salmon Busters™ Great Lakes Info Tips and Trix Capt. John's Log

November and December 2003

12/31/03  Well, it's the last day of the year 2003 and 2004 will be here tomorrow.
The new season brings promise of our renewed efforts on the Great Lakes.  I'm looking forward with an highly optimistic attitude.  We look to be in good shape on Kings in '04.   Strong numbers of juvenile Kings available all thru September and into October, long after the main run of adults were over.  We're in a lot better shape on Steelhead too, because unlike fall 2002 the Steelhead seemed fairly abundant in Nov. and Dec. 2003.

12/29/03  I've kept pretty quiet about the heated topic on our message.  But, now it's time to let the "cat out of the bag."  It concerns companies willing to do business with the Little River Band Casino, therefore enhancing their commercial fishing efforts.  The intense netting pressure on Ludington during 2003 is enough to see where this issue is headed.  
    I've started on a page that will list all who promoted the LRB casino in 2003, either by supporting their tournaments, or by publicizing the casino in some other way.  I'm in the process of contacting (by registered mail) all tackle companies associated with the Salmon fishing industry that I can think of.
    I will not be doing business with any companies that are in cahoots with the casino for any reasons (except charity work).  It's time we made our weight felt and stopped fraternization with the companies helping defeat our purpose of a safe and sustained fishery for all.  Click here to see who's in bed with the LRB of commercial fishers

12/28/03  Not much to report today.  I'm waiting for some fishermen to send in their river reports from the weekend.  I have to start work on a new page you'll see Mon.

12/27/03  Here's a E-mail copy of Capt. Brian Hietala Muskegon River Report :

John, the Muskegon river is still producing fish at a reasonable rate. We took a good friend of ours out on Christmas day for a short run from Henning park to N. river road and picked up 2 males around 6 pounds apiece. Saturday I'm taking my brother and a buddy of his that gave up on Steelheading, cause he never caught anything I'll let you know how it goes...........Tight Lines and God Bless,
Capt. Brian Hietala Addiction Charters
          As Mr. Paul Harvey would say,
"click here for the rest of the stories."   

12/26/03  I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas Holiday.   I have lots of travel in my schedule during the upcoming week.  I will try to maintain daily updates, so if the site  does not get updated for a day, or'll know why.  Earthlink is my internet service provider and they cover most areas, so I'm in good shape being able to publish.  I need fresh river fishing reports from those of you still fishing.  Please consider E-mailing me your reports at: .  Any other pertinent
fishing information is welcomed too, if you're onto fresh news I'm not aware of.

12/25/03  Here's a copy Capt. Brian Hietala' s E-mail to me:  

John, the 2 pics are of my wife Vicky and her best friend Sherry both fish were taken on the Muskegon river between Thornapple and Henning Park.  The pic with both girls is a 26 1/2 inch river run brown we had to chase the fish down river.  Fishing has been reel good been catching fish all through the system.  We've released all of our fish back to the Muskegon River for prosperity, except the brown he's getting mounted.  The wife and I are coming up to the Manistee to fish on Jan. 17 and you're more than welcome to sit up front with the wife and heater.  If you'd like go along, let me know?....(I said yes, Capt. John).  Pay close attention to the body shape how the spots are ringed, denoting a river Brown. Click here for a reel-gorgeous river Brown  
Click here for Vickie's Steelhead

Tight lines and Happy Holidays
Vicky and Capt. Brian

12/24/03   Capt. Jay fished yesterday with a buddy from Cadillac named, "Derek".  They started on the higher third of the Big Manistee River and worked down river from there.  There's still a lot of fresh fish in the river.  Derek landed a couple and lost a mean one in a jog jam.  That fish was a very silver fresh-run, it just couldn't be turned and ended up breaking the line.  Plus, they had another nasty villain, that hit, took off about 50 feet of line and then just came off.  Also, had another super good rip!  The fish are in their winter pattern, slow deep water was the ticket.  Jay relayed the fact flatfish have stopped working, because he started out the day fishing them. They ended up switching to wee warts; Light & Dark Copper. To sum it up in a nut shell, lots of fresh fish and low angler pressure.  God I love fishing this time of year!.............from Capt. Jay  I have a report from Capt. Brian Heitala that I'll post tomorrow.  We truly appreciate these fishing reports and it keeps the info fresh and to the point.  I'd like to personally thank all who have sent in reports lately. 

12/23/03  I have to go out of town today, I'll be traveling to Sanford, Michigan for a business deal.  I'll be meeting with Larry Hartwick from Off Shore and Rivera on planned projects for 2004.  I've always liked Larry's attitude and respected his fishing abilities when I used to fish with him way back in 1984 in Harbor Beach.  
    Tomorrow, I'll have an update from Brian Heitala on his efforts in the Muskegon River.  Over the Christmas Holidays, more travel is in store for me and I'm relying on some of the viewers of this website to send in fishing reports.  While I'll be out of town, I should be able to access the internet and keep this website updated.  Your fishing news will be welcomed by all. E-mail your reports to:

12/22/03  I have a pretty special update for you today.  Dave S. has taken the time necessary to write a piece on his accelerated learning curve during his rookie season.  I welcome his commentary from a fresh standpoint.  It's from someone who has never fished the Great Lakes on their own before.  2003 was his first season as a boat owner.  He managed to gain knowledge at a fast pace. Click here for Dave's article
   I had the opportunity to fish with Dave a couple of times during last season.  He had a lot going for him, because he had no ill-conceived notions, or ideas.  Also, he didn't suffer from years of bad habits and soaked up knowledge like a thirsty sponge.  Dave is a prime example of what can be accomplished when you have an open mind.

12/21/03   Black powder season is ending soon, so I'm gonna hit the woods this afternoon and savor the flavor of the wild north woods.  Just tramping around in the forest and seeing nature's beauty painted all white is reason enough to go outdoors.  Plus, it staves off the dreaded "cabin fever," which I have a slight case of!
I need some fresh river reports from those of you still fishing.  If you have some recent Steelhead pictures?.........E-mail them to at:

12/20/03  I guess the big story from Manistee County is that we got about a foot of
snow during the last two days.  There will be a "very white" Christmas in the north country.  I haven't been running my deer cam, because the deer are almost semi extinct at my house.  I'll have 2, maybe 3 deer come in around 7pm and they always leave by midnight.  Normally, I'd have 6 to 10 deer show up at 5pm on the dot.  In the 5 years I've owned this property, we've only taken one doe.  Warren Knapp who's 79 years young deserved that one!  So, it not like we've whacked everything in sight! 
    Anyways, I turned the Deer Cam back on due to several requests.  The camera requires a second computer to run the "live images" program on my network.  The second 'puter kinda slows down my dial-up connection when I'm doing web work.

12/19/03  Yep, the votes are in from the recent poll, and you the jury has spoken!  The consensus is that Capt. Bob's deal on going 6 for 6 on Steelhead in the big river was a "Fluke."  Well, that might be kinda right, but major skill is involved in bringing those noble creatures to the net.  Steelhead, by any means are not an easy fish to land.  Especially, when you factor in the logs, tree trunks and brush that clog the big river.  So, make take on this subject?  I think it was his patient rodsmanship that won our day!  In fact, I don't know......if I've ever had anyone on any boat I've owned, who has gone 6 for 6, except for me back in the "early days" of the late 60s and 70s.

12/18/03  Messed around and cleaned up a ton of paper work yesterday.  I sent in my final usage for my guide permit.  My former Forest Service permit that is being transferred to Capt. Jay, and this had to be done.  I won't mind one bit not dealing with this useless red-tape government agency in the future.  Having to carry this guide permit was a pain in the boo-tay, very costly and time consuming!  
    I sent out an E-mail contact mailer to those on my "members only" list.  Lately I've been averaging about one mailer a month, but will "kick it up a notch," as interest in the 2004 season builds.  And that should be happening very soon!  

12/17/03  Capt. Jay Frolenko reports fairly good Steelheading on the Big Manistee River.  While the details were kinda sketchy, it sounded like he hit at least 4 fish.  This is fantastic, because this was Capt. Jay's initial shakedown cruise with my former riverboat.  I'd like to say, his photos are excellent, especially when you factor in, it was the first time he used his new camera too! Click for Rick's 1st river metal-head 
   To my former river guests; please consider Jay if you're up for a Steelheading event in the future.  He has a strong knowledge base on the big river and can turn fish.  I personally recommend him!  Jay will be accepting bookings for river adventures sometime after the 1st of the New Year. Click for the hot lures on 12/16/03 

12/16/03  I had a pretty fair afternoon hunt at John J's property.  John also crews for me and is one of the most dedicated first mates I've ever had.  Getting back to the hunt thing I seen a good-sized deer with a heavy rack.  This bruiser was moving to fast through a thicket for me to launch a shot at.  Then I seen a few more deer and a smaller buck back through a lane in the brush.  I take careful aim, controlled my breathing and squeezed of my smoke pole.  My 240 grain hollow point was deflected by a branch and I blew the shot.  
   Oh, well it's not the first deer I missed, but count any hunt where I see deer as highly successful.    Click to see the little guy I missed

12/15/03  I have a special treat for you today!  Capt. Kevin Essenberg, aka "FBD" has put into words his approach to fishing for harbor Kings.  His article is instructive and has a correct tactics to targeting those fussy harbor tunas.  "FBD" stands for "far beyond driven" and that best describes Kevin's passion for fishing the Lake Michigan for Salmon and Trout.  I have fished with Kevin before and can attest to his skills.  His dedication is awesome and his port reports are some most informative I receive during the big lake season.   
      If you have an idea about sharing some of your expertise, I welcome your efforts.  This website is about the sharing of information.  I've never fished with someone, that I haven't learned, or gained insight from......reel-fact! Click here for Kevin's first-rate commentary

12/14/03  Skim ice was forming around the edges of Manistee Lake in the inlets and small bays.  So, for you ice fishing afficennotos, you might have early ice this season.  The bad thing about early ice off the mouth of the Big Manistee River is the fact; the guys that are tuned in, can take way too many Steelhead thru the ice. Steelhead, no matter what anyone says, don't eat like perch, walleyes or bluegills.  Please consider catch and release on these battling river gamesters!
    Popular opinion in the poll is kinda going against Capt. Bob's performance on going 6 for 6 on Steelhead in the big river last Tuesday.  This is a "good thing" in my book and should help keep his ego in check at least for a little bit!

12/13/03  Made it out to the woods for the afternoon hunt with my new trusty black-powder shootin' iron.   My senses were keenly alert, visual acuity was on 10 and my hearing was tuned to pick up the snap of a twig at a 100 yards.  So, why do I always get sleepy and dose off?  Relaxing is what hunting is to me and grabbing 40 winks in the deep woods is something we all should do a lot more often!  Never seen a deer, or any critter for that matter.  It was bone chilling cold and not much was moving, not even the bluejays.  
         Click for view from deer blind    Click here to see my fiber optic sights.

12/12/03   It's more then official now, I've joined the amateur ranks of fishermen that descend upon the Big Manistee River.  Now that I'm no longer a professional guide, do you think I'll be accepted by the river fishing community?  I certainly hope so, because I was a member of that society long before becoming a guide.    
       Click here to see former riverboat leaving my driveway on 12/11/03
Many charter operators forget where they came. They think being licensed for hire is a special elite group with it's own set of unique privileges bestowed upon it.  Believe me, after 21 seasons as a charter operator, I pity anyone who thinks being a captain is a "big deal."  While most groups are a sheer joy to take fishing, it's the folks who are not......that take all the joy out of chartering in a New York minute!

12/11/03  Today is gonna be one of those days you just hate.  Most of the day will be ate-up with dealing with the Secretary of State and the US Forest Service.
I'm signing over the RiverMaster to Jay Frolenko and all permits with it. 
   We're getting hit with another gully washer, because it's been raining for about the last 24 hours.  More on the soon to arrive big-water in the big river tomorrow.

12/10/03  Ever do anything so good, you knew it would blow-up in your face?  That's what happened to me on yesterday's field testing excursion on the Manistee River with Capt. Bob Hicks.  He plain got lucky and set a record that no other angler that I have fished the big river with (in 18 years), has ever done.  He went 6 fish landed for 6 strikes and whipped them all.  I know his deed went straight to his head,....then it came to me.  If it wasn't for my most excellent tutelage he would have never been able to accomplish this feat.  
   He's fished with me about 10 times now and accepts direction without question, or hesitation.  He recognizes what needs to be done, trusting my grasp of the situation wholly.  My hat is off to Capt. Bob Hicks for 6 for 6, even though I tried to knock a couple of them off with the net, so I wouldn't have to hear him brag!   Click for our hot lures on 12/9/03

12/9/03pm  I fished with "greedy" Bob Hicks on the Big Manistee River today.  I said, "greedy," because he never offered to share the action.  He never once did he say, "hey, do you want to land this fish?"  Instead, he was overjoyed to be a stingy rod-hog.  Click for Bob's 1st river Steelhead   Click for Bob's largest fish
    While I hate to say it, "he earned Jedi-Status by going 6 for 6 on Steelhead, not missing a bite, or losing a fish."  This was very contrary to what I was hoping for.  I knew if he performed flawlessly, I'd be sure to hear him brag about it for a goodly, long time.  Begrudgingly, I have to admit he was on top of those fish like a stripper on a 20 dollar bill.  All of 6 Steelhead were released back to the river in fine shape!

12/9/03am  I'm on a secret mission this morning that might last through the early afternoon.  I will brief you upon conclusion my activities later today.

12/8/03  I shot my new 50 caliber black powder rifle yesterday in preparation for the upcoming "smoke pole" season starting later this week.  I haven't shot black powder weapon for about 20 years and the modern rifles pack one a helluva wallop!  Unlike what I had shot before, the Pyrodex pellets, sabot 45 caliber bullets and 209 shotgun primers make it a whole lot easier.  Plus, more reliable.  I was amazed at the accuracy compared to the round ball and patch I shot before.
    I'm on a  hush-hush mission tomorrow with a secret guest from the message board, so you have to wait for tomorrow's update to find out what I'm up to.  Hint? might have some to do with you didn't know that one already!

12/7/03  I stopped procrastinating and finished laying the tile floor yesterday. Making new steps is what I'm gonna try to accomplish today.  I need to clean the riverboat out of my fishing paraphernalia and say good-bye to my dear friend, the River Master jet-boat. I had a lot of great times with that rig and will miss owning it dearly.  Then I'm gonna just take rest of the day off and be as lazy as a pet coon.

12/6/03  I formed a pretty good working relationship the Capt. Jay yesterday on the big river during the 7 hours we spent together.  We agreed that updates (with photos) would be forthcoming from him when possible.  I can't imagine having this website without fresh fish and hot lures pictures every so often.  So, we're all in luck to this end of our deal.  I'm very confident in his ability and I will be booking river charters for him when possible.  He's willing to work some weekend dates and is in the process of having my former guide permit transferred into his name.

12/5/03pm  Hey, we all got lucky, because Capt. Jay Frolenko has purchased my RiverMaster jet-boat and river business.  He's one heck of a nice guy and has many years of prior knowledge fishing the Big Manistee River.  He'll be keeping us informed with updates on river results along with "catch of the day" photos.  I like the idea he had a firm grasp on how to run a riverboat and knew the big river well.
   OK, I simply had a blast fishing today with Jay.  The weather was unbelievably nice with no wind, and the fish kinda cooperated.  We had 5 decent strikes and a couple of love-taps.  4 of the 5 reel-hits got hooked-up and all 4 were landed!
We hit one large hen with a bad, bad attitude when she exploded on  the 4 rod in the "asparagus run."  This was not a strike, or a was a thermonuclear detonation, as this fish jumped on the T-4 Flatfish like a fat kid on a porkchop!  Click here for the brutal hen   Out of the 4 fish we caught, the big hen was the most memorable. I even ended up going 2 for 2, with a large brilliantly colored male providing me many thrills.  We had lines in the water around 9am and we headed for the launch at 3pm.  All Steelhead boated today were released back to the river in fine shape, after a thorough but gentle spanking.

12/5/03  I've got a pretty good double-barreled update for you today. First, I'm gonna be on the river for a good strong half day with the potential new owner, Capt. Jay.  We're gonna water test my RiverMaster jet-boat and try to wrestle with a few Steelhead.  I've been installing a new ceramic tile floor in my breezeway and welcome the change of attitude the big river will bring.  All work and no play, makes Jack a very dull boy, is all too true.....laying tile sucks, fishing is a lot more fun!  Hopefully, I'll have some new fish photos and a reel-report for you later today. 
    Second, I got my hands on a early release 2004 catalog from Luhr Jensen and I'm debuting some of their brand new products.  Remember, you seen it here first, as we continue to lead the rest of the "other" Great Lakes fishing websites.
    Click for Magnum Dipsy Diver   Click here for the strobe light J-Plugs

12/4/03  Rumor through the grapevine is at least 3 manufactures are coming out with 3 fly rigs for cut-bait in 2004.  I can just imagine they spent 3 months field testing what works and what don' I did.  This is nuts on these copycats part by selling a product with little, or absolutely no research.  It's just plain ignorant from what I see. So, beware of imitations that might, or might not work. Save your money on these untried and unproven products, is the best advice I can give.  
    You can rest assured that any cut-bait products sold be me, off this website, or the Tackle Store at: in 2004 have been thoroughly tested and will produce results.  That's the difference between my tackle offerings and the rest of the pack.  Plain and simple, I care if you catch fish, because above all else I'm a Great Lakes fisherman too!  This website is a testament to that reel-fact!!!

12/3/03  I'm sure you've noticed the new Christmas home page colors, after all, it is that time of the year.  A little Christmas spirit does us all good.  Can you believe 2004 is only a month away?  Seems like only yesterday, I was taking healthy boxes of Kings off Manistee last August.  Oh well, as they say.......... time marches on!
   I went into Wellston yesterday to pick up my boat at the welders.  I had a broken eyelet on the front of the boat that needed repairing.  I'm not into selling a boat with a bunch of "dickie-do" stuff wrong with it.  I'm strongly looking forward to this Friday with Jay in search of the bad boys that dwell in the Manistee river at this time of the year.  We hope to pick a fight with a few Steelhead!

12/2/03  Pending sale of the riverboat is going along smoothly.  I contacted the Forest Service about the transfer of the guide permit and found out a signed registration is all the State of Michigan requires.  Looks like I'll be demonstrating, or performing a water test on Friday for the potential new owner.  You can bet some fishing rods will be aboard!  I also found out, there's another 3 other interested parties if the first one falls through.  This just goes to show you, these styles of boats are rare and very much in demand.

12/1/03  I've added several new images for your computer's desktop at the new page called: Desktop Images.  These photos of fish are yours free to dress-up a drab computer start screen.  I have them sized at 800x600 and 1024x768 for the most popular sizes used on our monitors nowadays.  Instructions are there too, in case you haven't customized your desktop before................try it, you'll like it!

11/30/03  Where did November go?  It seems to have flew too quickly.  Early Mr. Winter is starting some probing attacks in Manistee County as snow is starting to become a daily occurrence.  Much to do is on the agenda for this week and with luck I might get it done.  Gonna try for a goodbye trip on the river with my RiverMaster jet-boat before ownership changes.  I haven't secured a deposit yet, but I know the interested party is pretty serious.

11/29/03   Need some river reports from all major rivers in Michigan.  
With this being the holiday weekend, I haven't had time to dig up much fishing info. 
The new piece I wrote about fishing on 11/26/03 is starting to take shape.  
I'm on the downhill writing side of: My last trip for hire on the Big Manistee River.

11/28/03  Gonna try to do something constructive today.  Problem is, I don't know what it is yet.  Several website projects are in need of work.  Out of town business needs my close personal attention, so traveling is in my future.

11/27/03  Enjoy Thanksgiving today is the best update I can possible think of.  Work will continue on my page about yesterday's Steelhead super whack job on the big river.  Steelheading on the big river is about as good, as good can get!
    Click here to see a work in progress as my rough notes turn into a article.

11/26/03pm  Had a helluva Steelhead War on the Big Manistee today with Roger Lewis.  12 Steelies crushed our lures, with 10 on them hooking-up.  8 were boated and 2 of the deceitful vermin pulled a Houdini act on us, gnawing thru the leader and escaping.  I'd say, this is about as good as you can ever expect fall Steelhead fishing to be.
      Click for Roger's personal best Steelhead        Click here for our hot lures 
It looks like I might have sold my riverboat and river charter business, so this was probably my last day as guide on the big river.  Yep, I'm pulling the plug after 18 years of professional guiding on the big river.  I'm in the process of doing a complete page on my final trip with Roger. Click here to access my last trip page  

11/26/03am  Gonna be on the river today, so you can expect a fresh report by early this evening.  If lucks on our side, hopefully some new Steelhead pictures too.
    Enjoy your upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday, because you deserve it!  Make sure to appreciate what you have, especially family.  May your turkey be moist and the Lions beat Green Bay (don't bet on it).  Game time is at 12:30pm on 11/27/03.

11/25/03  The way it looks I'll be on the big river tomorrow with Roger L.  The weather looks OK, but not great.  Sometimes a chilly forecast keeps the fair weather fishermen at home.  "This is a good thing," as Martha Stewart would say.
Less traffic generally means enhanced chances of a successful  river adventure.
    The weather yesterday was the big story, because blowing snow cut down visibility a bunch.  We did not get a lot of snow in Manistee County, but the high winds caused almost white-out conditions at times.

11/24/03  Depending on the weather today (snow storm predicted), a trip to the big river might be on the agenda.  I need to set the idle speed down, because the addition of the new control box raised the idle slightly. 
    We got another bunch rain yesterday and it drizzled through the night.  More water might be something we don't need.  The Big Manistee River is already flowing at 2200 cubic feet a second at Tippy Dam.  The flow gauge in Wellston does not take into account the natural drainage that occurs downstream from the dam.

11/23/03  I went to buy a new muzzle loading rifle for the upcoming smoke-pole season.  Guess what?  The new law concerning gun registry put my application on hold.  When will my background check be cleared?  Who knows, as my personal freedom to purchase firearms has been infringed on.  The gun shop owner said this was a result of the 9/11 tragedy.  I've never been convicted of a felony, or been arrested for one.  So, why is this happening, especially with a muzzleloader?  Well, if the government is gonna delay my application and take away my right bear arms why don't they tell me why the JFK files are sealed until the year 2028?

11/22/03  Cleaned out the back of my mobile dumpster, known to many as my pick-up truck.  There was still piles of junk in the back left over from last summer's Salmon season.  I re-sorted and stored that tackle and built a new work bench in my garage.  So, all in all, other then a lot of work for me, it was an uneventful day.
   I'll be fishing the first part of next week on the big river and the outlook is good.  Water levels have came down somewhat and my hopes for Steelhead success look reel-good.  Above average water temps and the fresh flow is good news for all.

11/21/03  It saddens me deeply to say goodbye to the best darn charter guest a charter operator could ever wish for. Ed Evans recently passed away and I will miss him.  Ed was a veteran a many Salmon wars with Kings Charter Service.  Ed was the kinda guy, no matter how bad the fishing was, all of a sudden it got better when he showed up  I'd like to dedicate today 11/12/03 to the memory of a dearly departed friend.  I did a photographic journal featuring several of our remarkable catches from over the years.  
                           Click here to access "Limit Out" Ed Evan's page

11/20/03  November 2003 will go down as one of the wettest on record in Manistee.  We've had about 7 inches of total rainfall for the month.  This is great news, because of the low water in the marinas.  Our flowing rivers has attracted Steelhead in good numbers to Lake Michigan's major rivers.  Good reports from the St. Joe River and rivers further north have been filtering in.  2003 is a complete turnaround from fall 2002, when fall Steelhead were scarcer then hen's teeth.

11/19/03   We had another gully washer yesterday that dumped 1.23 inches of rain in Manistee County. This additional rain should contribute to sustained decent fishing for Steelhead on the Big Manistee River.  It was a warm rain too (good news)!  This is an added bonus keeping the water temperature way above the 40 degree mark.  The only drawback is the high water we'll have to contend with next few days.  I imagine other Manistee River fishermen are having success equal to mine as of lately.  I need a few reports from Bear Creek to the M-55 bridge and welcome any info to see if I'm on the right track.  Most all of the fish I've been seeing are pretty darn bright, signifying a fairly fresh-run of Steelhead.

11/18/03  Yesterday, I fished the Big Manistee River with John Johnson and Warren Knapp.  We had 7 strong Steelhead strikes, 6 hooked-up and 4 made it to the net.  One chewed us off and we released 2 of the 4 fish we did boat.  One of the rancorous males John caught rocketed at least 4 feet out of the drink!  We averaged about one bite an hour, so the action was decent, but not "red hot."
    Now, here's where the reel-story comes in.  All, and I mean all, 7 whacks came on John's side of the boat, as Warren sat there snake-bit!  I even switched John's hot rods to Warren's side and guess what?......the Steelhead still hit on John's side of the boat.  Another interest side-note is that all our action came packed into about one mile of the river.  Anything higher, or lower held no fish wanting to hit for us.  Click here for John's 11 lb. river rocket  Click here for today's hot lures

11/17/03   Gonna be back on the Big Manistee River again today with Warren Knapp and John Johnson.  Both of these men have crewed for me on the big lake, with John J. doing most of the duty lately.  This is my small way of showing appreciation for the work they have done.  I'll betcha you'd like your boss to take you Steelheading on the big river for an employee appreciation day!   Check back later this evening to see how we did, and a fresh update.  The recent fish and hot lures pictures is exactly what the doctor ordered to brighten-up this website.

11/16/03  I seen a 8 point and two huge deer with what looked to be at least 10 pointers.  The only problem with the deer that I did see were in the back of hunters pickup trucks headed towards Manistee.  Around my deer blind?  I seen 2 squirrels, a few chickadees and a large blue jay.  I didn't hear much shooting either.
    Plans are to fish the big river again tomorrow with Warren Knapp and John Johnson.  I hope for less traffic that what I had to contend with on last Friday.  30 boat trailers in the High Bridge Launch is way too many for me. Looking for a yarn  to read about fishing the Manistee River? Click here for river results on 11/14/03   

11/15/03  Yeah, caught me in a good mood today!  Went fishing yesterday with a couple of the finest people I could spend the day with.  Warren Knapp (aka "Dotti K") and Capt. Tom Rasmussen were my team for yesterday's adventure on the Big Manistee River.  Rather then me flapping my gums about what happen in this short paragraph, I did a complete page on our exploits.  To access the new page, Click here for my day fishing with Tom and Warren on 11/14/03.    Click here for Tom's Buck   Click for hot lures 11/14/03  
In a brief summation we had 5 strikes, 4 hooked and landed 3 dandy Steelhead.  We only fished for around 5 hours and it sure felt good to be back in the saddle again after a long lay-off.  Click here for Warren's crimson male It sure is a whole lot more fun fishing, when compared to working on and maintaining equipment. Click here for Warren's Chrome Hen    

11/14/03  On a trip into Manistee, I met and spoke with TV personality, Dave Fortin from Channel 7 in Traverse City.  Dave is a  real regular person and hasn't forgot he puts his britches on like everyone else.  Some of the TV personalities I met while living in Detroit were stuck on themselves.  Not Dave Fortin!  He went out of his way to make me feel at ease with him.  Dave is a legend in these parts and has been a part of the "up-north" TV news scene for the past 36 years!
     High winds prevent the my fishing the big river yesterday.  This is kinda good, because the Steelhead thought I'd be there yesterday.  So, they'll have their guard down today!  Things look good for today's outing weather-wise.  Check back later for the go-down of the show-down between me and Mr. Steel Head.

Captain's Log Supplemental 11/13/03  9am:  Winds to and above 50 mph is what we're experiencing in Manistee County.  Needless to say, I'm not gonna deal with that strong a breeze on the river today!  It's absolutely no fun trying to handle the riverboat in high winds!  Several power outages are being reported and I've lost power 3 times since last night.  So, if this website is not updated, you'll know it's problem with the power lines being down.  Tomorrow looks a lot better, so I'll go fishing then.  North of Manistee, some areas are getting whacked with a major snowfall too!       

11/13/03  Today is the day!  Yep, I'm, fishing again after a way-too-long absence from trying to outwit a fish.  Warren, Capt. Tom Rasmussen and I will try to harass some wily Steelhead on the big river.  While I don't figure I need the practice, (after guiding for 18 seasons) a few fish willing to cooperate is all I'm asking for.   
     I might have to re-train myself to fish with artificial lures again.  Since about the 3rd week of July, the only thing that I had in the water was cut bait (July thru September).  I have confidence in my Flatfish program, so the re-adjustment to non-natural lures should be a piece of cake.   Tune in later this evening for a up-to-the-minute update, fishing photos and finally,...... "hands on" fishing report! 

After many trials and tribulations I'm awfully close to having a riverboat ready to do battle with Mr. S. Head.  Got held up once again, even though I got to Manistee Tire about 10am, they had 7 customers in front of me.  So, what would have been a 30 mile round trip from my house, turned into a double jaunt of 60 miles.  Yep, you got it right....I had to drop off the trailer, then come back and get it in the later afternoon.  Progress?...boat is on trailer! Today is the 'big deal" with the canvas enclosure being re-installed and all loose ends tied up nice and tight.  
     OK, I'll admit it, this website is beginning to get as stale as last week's bread.  Hopefully, that's all gonna change reel-soon, because I should be fishing the big river with the locally illustrious Warren Knapp (a.k.a. "Dotty K") tomorrow!  

11/11/03  I've gotta go to Manistee Tire in the morning, after a new set of skins for the riverboat trailer and my boat goes back on this afternoon.  I had problems re-wiring the trailer running the wire inside the trailer frame.  I'm plain sick and tried of working on this deal and look forward to tomorrow, or the next day when I get back on the big river.  The tackle is almost ready and after re-spooling the reels with new line, I should be in fine order in that department.  All fishing details will be attended to today.  Fishing is a hellva lot more fun then working, but I'm willing to guess you already figured that out on your own...if not you're in deep, deep do-do!

11/10/03  All the pieces are in place for me to complete my facelift of my 17 foot RiverMaster jet-boat.  I'm wiring new lights on the trailer today, installing the new side curtains for the canvas enclosure and mount new cable for the anchor winch.  After a quick trip to town tomorrow for new trailer tires this project is a done deal.  I'm looking forward to fishing the river reel-soon and by mid-week I should be back on the big river.  Maintenance is a pain in the butt, costly and time consuming, but a necessity if you want to fish out of a nice boat.

11/9/03  The Big Manistee River is producing Steelhead.  From M-55 to Tippy Dam there is fish scattered throughout the entire system.  We had our first major stage of high water in maybe the last 3 years and that has helped pull fish in from the big lake.  The best news I seen was on a short trip to Wellston, MI.  The "fisherman of the week" from Pappy's Bait and Tackle had taken a 18 pound plus Steelhead.
     OK, after more then complete week of getting accustomed to the new message board, I've came to the right's far superior to the old one.  I can help members with problems, because I can access their registration files and fix just about any glitches they're having.   If you're having sign-up difficulties you can send your E-mails to: and I'll do my best to remedy them ASAP.  I believe the new board was a stroke of luck from the fish gods, because of it's much quicker load time.  This board smokes when compared to the old board!  To keep your "active user status," be sure contribute topics once in a while.  If not, the data base will move you to an "inactive  status" and you won't be able to log in and see what's going on.  So, take part at least occasionally!

11/8/03 the major story from Manistee County, as the low temperatures tonight will drop to the mid-teens.  I seen snow flurries yesterday and today it won't make it much past the freezing mark. This the coldest weather of the fall and a preview of what's in store for us the in the upcoming winter.
    I finished spray painting the riverboat trailer and after I install some new taillights, I'll be putting the boat back on later today.  The trailer looks almost like new and the project is now at the "almost done" stage.  I spent at least 2 weeks waiting on the sand blaster to complete their job.  But.......hey, it's Manistee and
by the standards I found since moving here, 2 weeks is considered a rush-job!
   In tomorrow's update I'll be posting some encouraging words that were recently sent in about the Manistee River.  My thanks goes to those who sent in reports.

11/7/03  Cleaned out the garage yesterday, so there would be room to paint my trailer.  It's way to cold outside for paint to dry thoroughly.  I should have the paint thing done today and the riverboat should be back in the trailer tomorrow.
     The Big Manistee River has water flowing at 2400 cubic feet per second up by Tippy Dam.  Consumers has dropped the flow somewhat, because it was over 3000 feet per second a day, or two ago.  This high water has to be good news and should have pulled a bunch of Steelhead in from Lake Michigan and up from the lower river.  I'll be on the river next week to find out for myself.  River reports are needed and welcome, if you have one?.......Email me at: 

11/6/03  Yesterday I did a circle tour of Manistee County.  I had to get life jackets off the Cherokee in Kaleva for upcoming river fishing.  Then a trip to Bear Lake Marine to pick-up new plastic bushings for the shift gate on my riverboat jet-pump.  Third on the list was picking up my canvas enclosure from Dick Boyajian's, as he was doing some small repairs to the top.  Plus, he's making new side curtains for it.  Every now and then, things need to be repaired, or replaced.
   I got my riverboat trailer back from the sand blasters today.  I need to paint it, because a heavy-duty industrial gray primer is the color of it now.
  I've got most of the river tackle sorted and ready to fish, if "all-to-long" epic saga of my rebuilding my riverboat trailer ever comes to a conclusion.  After the painting is done, a new set of tires is in order.  Looks like the river will have to wait for me until next week.

11/5/03  We've had a steady rain in Manistee County for the past few days.  This is great news for those who hotly pursue fall Steelhead.  Increased river flow is a magnet to the Iron Noggins, drawing them upstream.  I should be on the river this Friday, if I get my riverboat trailer back on Wednesday, as promised.  I've got the bug to go now, especially with all the rain we've had lately.
    I'd like to thank the hundred and some fishermen that have signed up for our new message board in the past day, or two.  Overall, it was a good move, meaning speedier load time for us dial-up users.  The reliability factor is another noteworthy reason, because the message board is now on the Tackle Store web server at:   

11/4/03  Let's start today's update on a very positive note with reports of good fishing.  Believe it, or not....the dyed in the wool "big lake trollers" are whacking limits of Kings off Manistee and Ludington.  Next years Kings to 17 pounds have been mentioned.  The only reason for concern (and I've said this before) is the lack of 2 to 4 pound fish from the 2002 year class.  From the looks of the late fall King fishery, we're in great shape for open water 2004 season, but only time will tell.
    The pier and surf fishermen are doing well to on Steelhead, although fish over 10 pound have been kinda scarce.  The Big Manistee River is producing at least adequate numbers of metal heads too, and I look for continued river success.  We're way ahead of last season's fall Steelhead runs so far.  This should mean more winter hold-overs and a much improved winter fishery, when compared to 2002.  

11/3/03   Finally made it on the Big Manistee River this fall.  I went with Capt. Mitchell for a short afternoon on the big river.  We fished 4 holes in about 3 hours.
In our first hole, slightly above High Bridge the number one rod took a strong whack from a 5 to 6 pound chromer.  My ring rust showed when blew the opportunity and missed the fish after the Steelie leaped at least 2 feet in the air.  
  In our third hole Len had a super fish on, this villain ripped drag like crazy and was headed downriver to parts unknown at 30 mph.  The was a bulldog of a specimen, hefty shoulders and the whole lot.  I'd estimate the weight of this huge behemoth between 15 to 18 pounds.   Well, as luck would have it, the hook straightened out and pulled free a short distance from netting range. Click for our trophy search trip 
  The only problem with this fish?.... was that it had golden scales the size of poker chips and the same appearance as a bulge-nosed trout.  I teasingly accused Capt. Len of losing this fish intentionally, after I told him how grand he'd look holding up a trophy-sized carp in the "angler of the day" photo.  He just grinned smugly, and went about his business very an unvoiced, silent reply!

11/2/03  "Hammertime" Mike Keating:  passed away on 11/1/03 around noon.  Mike was a popular member of the message board and was always eager to share his knowledge with others.  Click here for our departed friend with a monster King.  His goal in life was to become a top tournament fishermen and he was well on his way with some top 10 finishes in 2003.  My most sincere condolences to his family, friends and loved ones.  He was an asset to this website.  I will miss him and the passion he shared for Salmon fishing.  He lived to fish, something I can understand!
Funeral InfoViewing, Monday Nov 3, from 2-4 and 7-9, Funeral is Tuesday Nov 4 at 1:00 at Hassel-Cheslek.... 88 E. Division, Sparta, Mi. 49345. 
(616) 887-1761 is the phone number for the funeral parlor.

11/01/03  I've had 3 fisherman (mucho thanks!) send in reports on how the Steelhead are doing in the "big river."  The inside buzz is, 2 to 3 fish per boat, with both plugs and spawn producing about the same.  This is great news and I hope to be on the river soon. I had to take my boat trailer to another sand-blasting outfit here in Manistee, because the first person I contracted the work to, was taking way too long.  I've got my fingers crossed to have it trailer back by Wednesday.
    I've been invited to hit the river tomorrow in the am with Capt. Len Mitchell and I took him up on his offer.  Gonna go on a short morning re-con mission.  So, I should have a "hands on" river report ready for you this coming Monday morning. 

9/12/03   I'm still off center from the loss of my friend George Richey and this goes to show just how fragile life is.  George taught me the correct way to fish attractors in 1981 and even how to snell my own double single Salmon hook rigs.  He was a huge benefit to me in my early days in the charter business.   Ok, I'm on the big pond today and hope the weather is kind enough to let us fish.  Check back later for a complete report and hopefully, fresh catch photos.