October, November & December 2005

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

12/31/05  In closing out 2005 and looking towards the future, several possible new innovations come to mind.  I predict sonar will become much more direction orientated.  Being able to see forward, aft and starboard is the next logical step, seeing sonar units have broken the horizon of color, readable in full sun.  Forward directional scanning sonar with distances and depths will be one helluva tool.
     Also, I predict a downrigger manufacturer will design a rigger that reflects the needs of the i2ks.  All the units on the market have seen little in the way of design advancements since the 1970s.  In the future, look for a more compact rigger with a laydown spool that could be optioned to operate from below deck, from inside the gunnels.  Thusly, eliminating dangerous exposed moving parts.
     I'd like to thank everyone who visits this website on a regular basis.  To those that use and believe in my products, my eternal gratitude for your patronage.  
   Lastly, Happy New Year to ALL.....see ya, next year!

12/30/05  Two more days and 2005 is gonna be just another footnote in the our Great Lakes Fishery history book.  Granted there were good number of Kings available in Lk. Michigan, but at the cost of smaller fish, a less varied fishery then 5 years ago and declining overall catch rate of Salmon on Lake Huron.
     The word I received from the late season dyed-in-the-wool October big lake trollers, 2006's crop of Kings could be bigger.  Only time will time, as the length of the winter and availability of alewives will determine what the size is gonna be in Aug 06.
     Oh yeah, there's something you might find extremely interesting at the sister website to this one: www.michiganangler.com concerning new product development.  I'm pretty sure you'll agree,.............it was worth the click!

12/29/05  The story is tying-up loose ends on product production levels so I can hit the ground running on 1/1/06.  I have several new fish catching patterns planned for 2006.  There's a brand new base color for flashers, bullet heads and meat heads for further product enhancement that will debut in the later part of January 2006.
      I have the announcement page finished for Secret Project 2006 X/X that will premiere on 1/1/06 to start the New Year off in a grand and glorious fashion.
      Have you ever hoisted a box of fish in excess of 150 pounds from your boat?  
If not, maybe you should consider joining the Kingfish Products revolution in 2006!
      It's rumored several large schools of Kings off Kewaunee/Algoma, and from St. Joe to Charlevoix might be
contemplating surrender and waving the white flag once the new products announcements are finally made public!  

12/28/05  3 more days and we're gonna be looking at brand new big lake season. Starting in about 12 weeks.  Even in Manistee, I've fished Lk. MI Browns by the end of March, if we had a particularly warm spring......yep, a new season soon awaits!
      In a continuation of yesterday's theme about comparing the evolution of our Great Lakes Fishery, several things come to mind.  Back in the 60s?....well, it was like the Stone Age, if you draw your conclusions to the present era.  Even simple things like rod holders were yet to be invented when our first run of adult Coho Salmon began in 1967!  Downrigger usage would not start becoming widespread until 1969.  
     A whole raft of things like GPS, graphs, affordable boat radar, reels w/line counters, and all the trolling gear we take for granted were not available for those who caught Salmon Fever in the later 60s.........like I did!
     As our quest of the big water rolls on, 40 years from now the advancements in technology will make our present Salmon rigs look like dinosaurs!  Let's all pray our DNR does what's possible to insure the coming generations will be able to enjoy the thrill of a gone bezerk 35 pound King screaming line off a fiber-optic reel in 2046!
2006 will continue my life-long affliction with the dreaded "Salmon Fever."  As you can pretty much tell, I'm getting stoked for the coming 2006 season!!!!!!!!!

12/27/05  Today, let's look at the advancements our Great Lakes Salmon Fishery has made since the later 60s.  Back in 1968 you were King-Kid if you had some Flatfish, with chrome being the preferred color.  
     In 1969 someone figured out a yellow Flatfish with black and red dots would produce, which evolved into the popular Fire-Dot pattern used on dodgers many seasons.  Kings were not even thought of when I caught my first Coho on 10/1/68 in West Platte Bay on a M2 Florescent Red Flatfish with 14 ounces of inline sinkers.
      It just wows me concerning the strides that have been made over the past almost 40 years.  Ancient reminiscing about the early days of our fishery is gonna take more than one day to cover. Tomorrow's update will be pointed at how the fleet of yesteryear has grown up with gadgets & gizmos that wasn't even thought of in 68!

12/26/05  Hope everyone had an enjoyable Christmas 2005.  Much of my yesterday was spent building a page for my soon to be announced Secret Project 2006 X/X on New Years Day.  These brand new products are far to complex for just a couple of photos and a full-blown announcement page was definitely in order.
     Private Message Board Members can preview Project 2006 X/X in the Reel Meat Forum now, as the debut page still under construction and needs minor tweaking.

12/25/05  Christmas is all about family and today's update will feature photos of Capt. Kirk's family fishin' fun directly from the docks in Ludington, MI.  
     Our first photo shows Kirk's daughter Kindey, with a King bracketed in the 30 pound range, from just a few seasons back.  If this big tuna was caught during 2005, it probably would have taken all the big fish contests between Ludington & Frankfort.  Kindey is does a great job landing big fish.  It's often said, natural skill was passed down to her from her teacher and loving dad (Kirk). Click for Kindey's super whopper
     The second photo has a very special story with it.  Tammy is Kirk's sister, and for some unbeknownst reason, Kirk mistakenly believes he can still boss her around.  Never think friendly sibling rivalry doesn't carry-on into adulthood, cuz it does!
     Now, when it comes to landing large Salmon, Tammy shows who the reel-boss is!  She's worked out a sweet deal with her brother.  She let's him land the ugly small fish.  However, when it comes to the truly big Salmon that requires talent with a fishing rod, she makes him stand clear and does the honors. Click for Tammy's proof
    To those who are new to this website, Kirk delivers products and goods via his brown UPS truck and has been featured previously.  My many thanks and gratitude for him sharing his photos with us today.  He goes way beyond the call of duty, and has lugged in about a ton of stuff into my shop....so far this year.

12/24/05  Let's just keep today's update focused on tomorrow.  So, at this time I'm wishing everyone a festive Merry Christmas and a joyous New Year!

12/23/05  Today's featured photo is a anomalous Rainbow Trout with two mouths, was caught in Nebraska.  Nature's quirky oddities are a fascinating subject in anyone's book.  Click here for the weirdo fish weighed a little over 1 lb. 
     Toothy Critter stainless steel leader material 70# test is now installed at my webstore.  Raising the bar on performance issues is an ongoing process.  
     Are you searching to refine technology under the rigors of extreme, brutal torture testing?  I have a page dedicated to accessorizing, or rebuilding 3 fly meat rigs at my webstore: click for more info on hooks, leaders and line 
     If you are using a competitors brand of meat head?  Do yourself a favor and forget using the deadly double snelled treble rigs, cuz without major and constant adjustment, they will not either spin, or have the correct spin rate.  
     My Magnum Meat Heads were built to be multi-purpose right from the git-go, so the correct spin,....or roll with handmade fillets and double trebles is a piece of cake.

12/22/05  Steve from Cortland Line Co. was nice enough to pay a courtesy call to the world's headquarters of Kingfish Products yesterday afternoon.  It was an enlightening experience for me getting first hand news straight from a companies rep.
    New for 2006:  I will be offering an incredible stainless steel leader material that can be tied with regular knots normally used on mono.  The stuff is called, Toothy Critter and when I have it in stock the color will be a neutral gray, rather then the green stuff in today's featured photo.  Click for a photo of leader material.
    I will have it in stock at www.michiganangler.com on, or before the first of the fast approaching new year in 50# test  Be advised this material is pricey and 30' will set you back $21.95.  I figure 30 feet will do about 12 to 15 double snelled treble rigs like what I already offer in mono.  Click for green vs. gray comparison

12/21/05  Let's wrestle with the question of, "do fish feel pain" for today's topic.  Truthfully, I can not answer this question, but I can leave you with some strong evidence and let you form your own opinions.
    This has happened to me several times, please let me explain.  On various occasions I've had April Brown Trout eat 3 Rapalas, Lakers gobble 2 spin-n-glos (behind cowbells), harbor Kings thump 3 J-Plugs and river Steelhead whack 3 wiggle warts.  To further clarify, I'm speaking of single fish that ate the offerings and the hooks of the afore mentioned lures were deeply embedded inside the fishes chops.
     You can draw your own conclusions, cuz I'd never be foolish enough to make a blanket statement of: yes, or no.  Conventional lines of wisdom would point to the fish after feeling the barbs of the first set of hooks, it would have shut down his high-gear gluttonous, "kill everything in sight" feeding rampage. 
     This I do know: fish can feel, as to what the feel is another matter?  
Case in point: just miss a fish with the net and let the net touch the fish.  That sucker will take off with renewed energy in a nano micro-second.  
     Now, for the biggest windy you've ever heard in your life:  "I had to observe others doing the lousy net job, cuz in my 38 seasons of vanquishing Mr. Sal Maniod, I never missed a fish with the net!"  If you even remotely believe my last statement, I can make you a good deal on a slightly-used bridge in Brooklyn, New York.

12/20/05  Here's a good myth topic today.  Do fish see red below 50' or does it appear black like the fable builders want us to believe?  Here's the correct answer: nobody knows how a fish sees anything......reel-fact!  If anyone had a clue on how fish perceive colors, lure makers wouldn't have every color in the spectrum covered.
     We, as humans in a fishes environment would starve, because our vision has evolved to see only the reds, blues and greens.  Thusly, making it pretty darn tough for us to catch a sushi dinner in low light at a depth of 100' in 38 degree water.
     I can not fathom what a fish sees until we net it and haul it aboard.  Then it sees me, next.....the inside of my fish box, and with my captive knowing full well....it made a huge mistake no matter what color it chomped on.  That's what a fish sees!
     Tomorrow's update will answer the age old question of "do fish feel pain?"

12/19/05  Finally put the finishing touches on the 2006 Charter Page for our message board charter operators over this past weekend.  Captains who are recommended didn't pay a penny for their listings.  Click for the 2006 Charter Page 
     They earned it thru my faith and trust, which is priceless.
  I highly recommend all of the skippers on the new charter page, having fished with the majority of them at one time, or another.  To me, fishing with someone says a lot about their abilities! 
    To those who think chartering is a cake job?..... you've never seen the behind the scenes unsavory jobs, or made a burdensome boat payment thru the winter months. 
     Tomorrow, I'm gonna tackle some myths that pervade Great Lakes Salmon fishing.  Unfounded remarks and theories have little to do with a full box of fish!

12/18/05  Today, you're gonna get another chapter of "King's believe it, or not?" Tammi and Jim B. sent emailed me a photo of a bizarre looking dolphin-head Ohio Walleye.  This fish was very similar to the Steelhead Capt. Kirk caught out of Ludington a few weeks back.  It seems this oddity also occurs in warm water species too!  Click for the deformed Walleye from the Buckeye State

12/17/05  Mark Tonello from the Cadillac, MI Office of the DNR raised the benchmark in today's update.  Mark sent me a link to a report he recently finished on the Little Manistee River.  While Mark called it a report, I view his work as a ongoing dedicated study that deserves an A+.  Click here to view Mark's most excellent report
      We're lucky on a couple of fronts here!  The first is that a competent staff member with devotion to a project was wisely chosen for employment by the MDNR.  The second thing is we have the internet to bring us works like this.  Prior to the net, informative pieces like Mark's Little Manistee River report could only be distributed as costly printed matter & not be privy to the public on a wide-scale basis.
     Are you're up for a rough sketch for our Great Lakes Steelhead history?  I wrote a article on this in 2001, using a book published in 1938 for reference material by Harold Hinsdill Smedley.  Click for my take on our Great Lakes genus of Steelhead
A historical side note to today's update is: back in the late 1800s our state's Board of Fish Commissioners (est. in 1873 & incorporated into the Conservation Dept. in 1921) had planted Steelhead, or California Trout in 1905 in the Little Manistee River.

12/16/05  For the past few days my efforts have been directed towards putting together a free charter listing page to those who've sent in sent in timely and honest port and river reports.  If you feel like you've been left out, please contact me at: 
  This free listing only happens after at certain length of
time, and there's no instant ins, cuz you just sent me a report.  Rewards are earned over time with me as one proves his track record.  If you're interested in viewing the page in the works click here. 

12/15/05  Yesterday redefined what the word "busy" means.  While I've been helping Santa Claus fill orders for many fisherpeople, I neglected my own Christmas shopping.  So, a trip to Manistee and Ludington was my mission for yesterday.
      I thought it would be interesting to show how similar the ports of Ludington and Manistee are with my camera.  Today's featured photo shows a combined picture of both Salmon ports.  There's always been a been a friendly rivalry between Manistee and Ludington (as our current poll shows), but as far as I'm concerned, ....both are exactly equal.  Kinda amazing how comparable how both ports are when they're stacked one on top of another! Click for a collage of Ludington & Manistee
    As you can clearly see in yesterday's photo, harbor-patrol pressure was very lite and finding a place to park wasn't gonna be a problem.  What surprised me?.....no pier fishermen what-so-ever.  Generally, these guys will tough it out in any weather.

12/14/05  Today's update was gonna be about deer hunting in Wisconsin, as the a photo shows before wolves were introduced to area the where this pickup load of deer came from.  Click for a 2003 WI pickup load of deer.
     I figured informing you about the upcoming Michigan Sea Grant Regional Workshop, held at Ludington's Ramada Inn on Jan. 7, 2006 might be a little more instep.  The cast of this workshop begins with Chuck Pristis (Sea Grant Agent) along with Mr. Tom Rozich (our area's DNR fishery supervisor).  Topics and dignitaries are too many to list.  This informative meeting starts at 8:15am and ends at 3:30pm.  
     Of special interest might be presentations by Archie Martell's report from the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians and Art Debres from their Tribal Law Enforcement Unit.
     Registration fee is 18 bucks at the door, or 15 dollars if you pre-register.  Coffee and rolls will be served at registration and a buffet styled lunch is also offered. 
     If you do plan on attending, may I suggest you pre-register at $15.00 and avoid the 3 dollar "at the door surcharge."  Besides, this will help the planners have enough grunts (rolls, coffee & buffet food) onhand.  Click here for the pre-registration form
     Now, I'm not too sure if I should have posted Sea Grant's pre-registration form on the internet, but if they invited me?......then public should be welcomed too.

12/13/05  Contracts for the secret 2006 Projects X/X have been awarded to a Michigan based company, not too far from St. Joe.  The tooling is being built there and production will take place at the same facility.  I take it as a matter of pride to have a Great Lakes state make tackle for the Great Lakes fishermen.
    I tried for 2 hours to transpose my thoughts into words about the importation issues facing us.  No amount of word-smithing would do justice to what's happening to our lost jobs and industrial output.  My biggest competitors in the meat-fishing business are from the Pacific rim, or Canada, thru New York distributors.
Reel-Facts: Canadian customers purchased less then 500 bucks worth of my products in 2005, but yet Canada sold $100,000s of their products here.  Pacific rim countries accounted for zero sales.  That's enough of a trade imbalance to paint a clearer picture on what's happening the import/export issues.  Trade is another word for swap, however the word "trade" nowadays leads to a one-way dead-end street.

12/12/05  As 2005 draws to a close, reflections on the many past seasons come to mind.  Fishing means fun and with good company, it gets even better.  Enjoying one's friends, special moments and yes, ....the harmless ribbing are all part of the game.
    Today's featured photo is my friend, George Richey taken in July of 1984.  George's accomplishments is far to long to list here.  This I can say, he was just plain fun to be around.  He has since went on to his greater reward to the big pond in the sky, but I'll never forget the special times we fished together! Click for George Richey
     In case you didn't know George, he had super sense of humor (as seen in the photo) that couldn't be topped.  Reminiscing about exceptional times and the terrific people we share our sport with...........is truly, one helluva special thing!  
P.SEven with all George's clowning around with the rod, he did land that fish!

12/11/05  This Christmas Day our private message board members will be the first to view to top secret 2006 Projects X/X.  Formal release date to the general public and viewers of this website will follow the first part of January and availability by March.  
     Some might say, Kingfish Products at a disadvantage when going head-to-head against established large tackle manufacturers.  While I can not out spend my competitors with highly expensive advertising campaigns, I can out-think them! 
     Now, you might ask yourself where does my though process come from?  The long and short answer is; spending 21 years in the trenches as a full-time, year around charter operator.  Taking people fishing was my only income where you had to catch fish, or starve financially.  I was not a "part-timer!"
    You soon learn the differences between lackluster, cheapie tackle and what works.  All of my products are pro-grade, requiring absolutely no modifications for out of the package success all season long......reel-fact!

12/10/05  Spent most of yesterday adding these products: 1/0 RED VMC Trebles, Bullet (or Squid Heads) and 50# leader material to my webstore.  Not gonna get to long in the lip and expand on the advanced virtues of what I manufacture and offer.  Cuz, we're all beat up with advertising at this time of the year, but if you need some quality stuff for the upcoming season why not give www.michiganangler.com a click?  

12/9/05  The new poll concerning which was the "best port" during the 2005 season surprisingly enough, has Manistee leading.  Ludington has always walked away with top honors in similar polls during the past 5 past years on this website.  
    Another pleasant surprise is Wisconsin's combined ports of Algoma and Kewaunee showing a strong fourth place ranking.  This is welcome news,....as we're all part of the same fishery, no matter in what state you reside!  Wisconsin anglers are a savvy heads-up bunch, pioneering depths often exceeding 200 feet down to catch Salmon. This was totally unheard of, until the last year, or two.

12/8/05  Let's start today's update with a line many of us know well, "to go boldly where no man has went before."  Well, on Ludington's list of fishermen kinda applies to what Capt. Kirk did last Saturday, go fishing on Lake Michigan in December!
      Capt. Kirk's "prime directive" (when not delivering packages for UPS) is ultimate dedication to sport of fishing Lake Michigan when any opportunity presents itself.  You have to be cut from a pretty darn strong piece of cloth to even consider dealing with Lk. MI in the bleak conditions of December. 
Captain's Log Supplemental Fish Date 12.8.2005:   Now, we've all heard cutsie stories about how one's boat got named, but Capt. Kirk's takes the cake and has put a three day major grin on my face.  Click for Capt. Kirk's Dec LK. MI episode
      When Capt. Kirk handed me the photo of his 12/3/05 catch, I spotted the letters e-n-t-e-r on his vessel.  Well, Kirk likes to take things a little over the top the named his fish catching machine, "Enterprise."  So, if you happen to see the "Enterprise" during the 2006 season on the waters off Ludington, MI (at less then warp speed), be sure to give Capt. Kirk a big wave and holler.  Congratulations to UPS for making a super reel-fisherman my local delivery driver, it's a match made in heaven!

12/7/05  Man, do I have an update for you today!  How about a fresh Lk. Michigan report from the scenic sandy shores of Ludington, Michigan on 12/3/05?  
     Capt. Kirk broke a thin skim of shore-ice launching his boat this past Saturday.  He was accompanied by his long time mentor and finest metal shop teacher to ever set foot on the hallowed Salmon docks of Ludington, Mr. Greg M.
     Greg and Capt. Kirk were there on a late season Lk. MI Steelhead mission.  The action started off with a rip roaring double, almost soon as the hooks went in the water.  They managed to box another 3 good sized Steelies before calling it a day. 
    The water along shoreline was 44 degrees, but their action came on a 10 degree break in 34 to 33 degree water just a tad further offshore.  Once again proving what a wide temperature latitude Steelhead have for out-n-out aggressiveness to bite!
More on the best part of this story tomorrow....Click for 12/3/05 Lk. MI catch

12/6/05   Here's a copy and paste job email I received yesterday from the Cadillac DNR, straight from Mr. Tom Rozich's desk.  Now, for the inside scoop about the deformed Steelhead that was a past featured update. 

Here's Tom's insights:

John, the steelhead Capt Kirk caught has a deformity called "mopskopf" (derived) from the German language for dolphin head.  I have observed about half a dozen steelhead in my career with this condition. 
      Scientists believe this condition results from damage to the egg, when the embryo is developing.....and as Paul Harvey says "Now you know the rest of the story".   Enjoy!! Tom Rozich, Cadillac DNR  Click for the "mopskopf" Steelhead

My hat is off to Tom for providing the proper jargon and enlightening us all on a truly unique Steelhead caught in Ludington just a few weeks back by Capt. Kirk C.

12/5/05  For today's update, let's go with how quickly the clock ticks!  Today's featured photo shows where our private message board members parked their boats just three fleeting months ago, then switches to what the very same place looks like right now (snow up the quazoo)!  Click for 2005 Aug to Dec comparison photos
     Our membership gets free boat storage and the use of my property.  Leaving your boat "up north" saves both travel time and the costly stuff you pour in the gas tank.
     Many members have been welcomed to camp at my place, or to use one of my camping trailers for free (the best word in the American language)!  I figure, as long as there's no charge, Stronach Twsp. and Manistee County can't pitch a bitch!
It's a privilege for me to have our cherished members camp and fish from my place.  Their honest daily reports during season keeps this website full of current & reliable reports from the perspective of the trailerable boat sport fisherman.

12/4/05  How's early December going in Manistee?  A lot more snow then usual for this time of the year.  As a rule, we don't get hit with large amounts of snow until around Christmas.  High temps for the next few days will not see 30 degrees either.
Spent the majority of the last day and a half boring holes in Magnum Meat Heads.  While many could consider this a dull, monotonous and tedious job, as long as it has to do with fishing......I don't mind one bit!  Click for the drilling process  
     This part of the production process used to be sub-contracted to be out. Now, this will be done in-house, thus in the long run, keeping manufacturing cost inline. 

12/3/05  Now, that firearms deer season has concluded and here's what the jury says about deer hunting in Manistee County.  Deer numbers are definitely down (especially in my area), but much better bucks were taken by those I know.  Capt. Tom Rasmussen shot a 8 point with a huge rack (6" tines and a 19" inside spread).  Capt. Bud Raskey took a 9 point and John J's neighbor got a dandy 12 pointer.  So, when hunters did score, generally it was with a respectable deer.
    I finally have a few deer hitting my bait pile and looking forward to the now open black powder season.  Discounting the winter of 2004/2005, the previous 3 winters in Manistee County were pretty darn hard.  If this coming winter is on the mild side, we should be in good shape down the road, cuz there was a drastic cut antlerless permits for the area in which I live and hunt.

12/2/05  Mr. Tom Rozich, head honcho of my area's DNR Fishery Division was kind enough to adds some facts to the deformed Steelhead displayed in the 11/30/05 update.  Tom said, "damage had occurred to the embryo," thus causing the deformed nose/upper jaw.  I will have more info on the way about this odd, jaw-jacked fish very soon.  Problems with my Email account prevented me from getting the whole story from the DNR.  Steps will be taken today to cure any and all email problems.
     Ludington still has a few docks are still in to launch and retrieve boats for the late season angler.  Pere Marquette Lake is very cold, with temps in the 33 to 34 degree range, so Ludington's basin could be looking at ice in the near future.  Steelheading on the Big Manistee is going well, with good numbers of fish in the lower section, as of last week. After last Saturday's 1/2" of rain, look for the entire BMR to be good.

12/1/05  According to our poll concerning Luhr Jensen products being moved to China by Normark, there's long range implications.  Only 7 states border our Great Lakes.  For all intents and purposes, we're a pretty small tight knit community, when compared to let's say, to bass fishing.  Losing grassroots support for your product line is something no manufacturer can lose sight of.  No mater how big they are!  
     Michigan probably leads the nation in jobs lost to foreign outsourcing and overall industrial downsizing.  Michigan is one of the few states losing population, cuz of the shrinking job market and the general state of Michigan's ever diminishing economy. 
    It sickens me that Chinese (and Normark...aka Rapala) will benefit from what used to be, a fine American company (Luhr Jensen & Sons).   
    Having had special purchasing privileges thru Luhr Jensen's Pro Staff program from 1998 until 2003......it befuddles me why a company that has the Great Lakes market corned on dodgers, divers/snubbers & J-Plugs would want to sellout in the first place?

11/30/06  Capt. Kirk (my UPS driver who lives in Ludington, MI) dropped off a picture of one of the nastiest looking Steelhead known to mankind.  I've seen a bunch of malformed fish, but Kirk's critter looks like a throwback to the Jurassic age!  
    This Steelhead's nose and top jaw has been pushed downward for some reason unbeknownst to me, while the lower jaw protrudes well beyond it's snout.  I've seen countless numbers of Great Lakes fish since 1968, but none to rival Capt. Kirk's fish!
    The story behind catching this wicked looking Steelhead began with Kirk plowing the snow off the boat ramp in Ludington, so he could troll the pier heads.  The time frame is recent too, like about a week ago. Click for the world's ugliest Steelhead
     Now, this is the part where I suck up to Kirk for being wonderful asset for my business.  He carts stuff in inside when I'm not here and always has a treat for my lab. It's a joy to deal with a dedicated fishermen who wears brown a lot of the time.

11/29/05  Lots of rain in Manistee County yesterday will perk up the Manistee River for diehard's quest of Steelhead.  I say diehards, cuz as this week progresses, daytime highs will only be in the low 20s.  Fishing the BMR at this time of the season requires a enclosed and heated boat, if you're looking to halfway enjoy the outing.
     Like all rivers, the Big Manistee is in a large valley with long expanses for the wind to whip and build.  This can make life miserable sitting in a open boat with snow licking on your face in a 25 mph gust.  I guided on the Manistee River in open and enclosed boats for almost 20 seasons, so I full-well know the difference.  This late in the year a covered boat is the only way to go!

11/28/05   I'm running a special Christmas deal at: www.michiganangler.com.  You'll receive a FREE $13.99 King Kryptonite 3-Fly Meat Rig on all orders over a 100 bucks.  FREE 3-Fly Meat Rig, coupled with free shipping, equates to a hefty 20% in savings!
     The King Kryptonite is like salt and pepper, cuz it goes with everything and is not color sensitive to what flasher you run it behind.  This was proven in 3 separate tests run on Lake Michigan last August and September.  Click for NEW King Kryptonite 
     You can order tackle online at: www.michiganangler.com or call me at: (800) 552-2009.  All purchases are shipped US Priority Mail and arrive at your door within 1 to 2 days (MI orders) after the order is placed.  All items at my webstore are in stock.

11/27/05  Wisconsin Steve has raised the bar on pushing the Lk. MI season to the extreme.  SteveO (as he's known on our message board) recently (like last week) fished out of the Port of Kewaunee, WI on Lake Michigan.  He motored out to 100' of water and put the "meat" to the fish. Click for a respectable Chromer 'Bow 
     They took a decent mixed bag of Kings and Steelhead, or as Steelhead are called in Wisconsin, 'Bows.  Steve is definitely an enthusiastic fisherman, extending his big lake season way beyond what most consider normal!  Click for SteveO's Nov catch

11/26/05  Too Busy with production and shipping to have anything close to a meaningful update today, so I decided to skip this one all together.

11/25/05  This week's focus has been the question of comparing today's charter operators to charters of 20 years ago, to answer the question, "which one is best?"
      Modern charter outfits that ply the waters of Lake Michigan do not have the varied base of species to go after.  Numbers Lakers and Browns do not exist in numbers where you can actually target them. The situation with "Bows, or Steelhead is hanging on by a slender thread in Lk. MI. during the past 5 years.  

     Present day skippers have one horse to beat on nowadays and that's the almighty King Salmon (Chinook), that has shrunk in size to where a 20 pounder is considered a "good" fish.  20 years ago, a 20 pound King was small guy!
     Current charters have gotten pretty darn good at doing one thing: fishing suspended Kings, or as I prefer to say, "wandering around over deep water."  They do not have to deal with the idiosyncrasies of running tight to structure, cuz, while Kings are smaller now, there's a heck of a lot more of them.  Meaning the many of the skills of 20 seasons are worthless now, cuz you do not have to fish the bottom.
     Also, modern captains benefit from many advances in sonar, navigational devices and mainly the major improvement in tackle used in the i2ks.  Stuff used now is not speed sensitive where you have a .3 mph leeway in trolling speed to crack the "right" dodger whip.  Line counter reels were not even available in 1985 and diver rods had just been introduced.  Divers and leadball drops back then were run on outriggers.
    So, to answer the question of which era has produced the best charter captains I'd have to go with those running charters now, all be it may they're faced with a yearly shrinking customer base according the charter catch reports I used to receive from our DNR (actual charter trips per season, have been falling since in '96).  Never the less, every generation builds on the knowledge base of what went before, hence to state my answer once again, today's charter operators are better.  
    The biggest leap forward has been accomplished by the sport fishing fleet in my opinion.  The average non-commercial, or sports fishing boat is better equipped, than a charter vessel in 1985, pointing back to the tackle and electronics.  It used to be rare to see limit catches from average "Joe Fisherman," not so any more.  Some of the wisest fishermen on the lake are no longer just charter captains!

11/24/05 Ted and Stefan fished the Big Manistee River yesterday.  Their catch was good looking 8 pounder.  Reported action was fair to decent.  They had 5 hits and 2 Steelhead hooked up.  Ted also stated boat traffic was very light around Bear Creek and boat pressure didn't increase until they reached the Rainbow Bend Public Access. Click for Ted's fish
      Part 4 of my comparison of present day charter operators to those of 2 decades ago to answer the question of which generation is the best? 
      Back in the mid 80s, the much sought after magic ticket was 54 degree water.  This was the place in the water column your lures had to be concentrated for both Coho and Kings.  I must stress, preferred temp was the "big deal" then.  Especially, if you wanted a full box of fish.  20 years ago Salmon were very prone to 54 degrees, with anything colder, or warmer producing limited action.  Getting the right temp sent you down the highway to Salmonville.  Temp was everything back in 1980s.
      Ronald Reagan era Lake Trout had a strong fondness for 42 to 44 degree water.  Lakers would cooperate in slightly colder water, but never warmer. 
Tomorrow, how temp is handled today & the challenges to our current charter fleet.

11/23/05  Should have a reel Steelhead fishing update from the Big Manistee River by this evening.  A couple of downstate fishermen, that keep their boat at my place always inform me of how they do, and they're fishing BMR today.
     In keeping with this week's theme of comparing the today's charter captains to their equal of 2 decades ago, to answer this question, "which one is best?"
     I've seen both ends of this yardstick and can offer a fair assessment from personal experience.  Lk. MI skippers for hire in the 1980s were forced to troll slow.  In fact, a heck of a lot slower then the fleet goes now. This was to fish Lake Trout.  
     After the June's offshore Steelhead fishery died around the 4th of July, Lake Michigan's big deal was: Lakers in the month of July.  Back then, LTs (Lake Trout, greasers, or mud-chickens) were known as the bread and butter fish of the charter fleet.  I remember spending a goodly portion of every summer on Lk. MI charter fishing the "on the deck" (bottom) to build a box of fish for my customers.  Many days?....that's all we had were Lakers and thank the fish gods we had 'em!
     A couple, long-time excellent Frankfort, MI charter operators was and still are, "Sea Joy" Mike Bradley and his son, Steve (Five-0).  To slow their "wind-catching" 31 foot Silverton fly-bridge boats down to slow speed on a strong downwind troll, they'd run one of their twin inboards in reverse!  This was a trick, I never quite mastered in my 28' Cherokee that had inboard Crusader 350 twins.  I found it much easier to drag sea anchors, known nowadays, as the widely accepted trolling bags.  
     Around the end of July in Frankfort, meant good numbers Kings in the 25 to 30 pound range would show up.  In the 80s it was normal to never have downrigger leads no longer than 8 to 12 feet.  20 years ago the consensus on spoon leads were always kept shorter then when J-Plugs were sent overboard for a swim.  Tighter leads will increase the spoon's action. This is still a reel-fact at slow speeds!
     Dodgers were the "big deal" then, and those were NEVER dropped back any farther then 4 feet from the rigger release.  So, all these long leads used nowadays were unheard of in the 70s & 80s.  Water clarity in 1985 was not near as clear, as it is now.  Zebra mussels coupled with the outlawing of high phosphate dish soaps & laundry detergents has upgraded our water clarity.  Probably too much (as far as I'm concerned), consequently resulting in far more after-first-light skittish fish.
     More to come tomorrow........focusing on temp then and temp now.

11/22/05  For every reason I can find to go fishing on the Big Manistee, 5 reasons pop-up and countermand me spending a day on the river.  Since last September, building, or designing products for 2006 has been a fulltime job.
      Comparing to nowaday's Great Lakes charter operators from those of yesteryear is history that shouldn't be lost.  As our fishery lives in a constant state of flux, adapting to ever changing conditions is something savvy fishermen do naturally.
      Back in the 1980s our fishery was far different to what's happened over the span of the last 20 some seasons.  Charter skippers that got licensed in my era (the early 80s) were faced with a larger catchable species base and a varied fishery that changed from month to month.  With each requiring a new set of tactics and rules.
     Captains that fished the northern ports on Lake MI started off in April chasing a robust population of Brown Trout that we'll probably never see again. Spring captains in the southern part of Lake MI made a living pounding out limits of Cohos and Kings.
      According to one charter's brag in 1985, they took 2000+ Coho out of the Port of Muskegon, just during the month of May.....we'll never see this again either!
      The mid 80s ushered in the June offshore deep-water Steelhead fishery that was starting to blossom.  Daily limits of large Steelhead (12 to 16lbs.), along with the odd King, or Laker was the reel-deal.  This was an untapped bonanza with some of the easiest catching I've ever witnessed in my 38 years on Lake Michigan.  I can recall charter in 1989 where we had a 5 banger, only to exceeded with 9 fish-on zoo less then a hour later out of the Port of Frankfort.  Thusly, tying a bunch of lines into mess that resembled a strainer full of spaghetti!    More to come tomorrow.......

11/21/05  After mounting a couple inboard rod holders on my 14 footer, a recon trip to the Big Manistee River will soon be in order (weather permitting).
     Introduced a couple of new 3 Fly Meat Rigs today.  The un-named X-Glow white will be in the 2006 lineup.  Further testing is required on the new Super Puke before it becomes part of the product line.  The nameless white x-glow meat rig completed the water testing in Manistee and Frankfort last summer with highly impressive results.
    The theme this week will focus on the skill level of today's charter skippers against their counterpart of 20 to 25 years ago.  I'll give my opinions on which one is best later this week.  I came up with this idea, as there is several differences that echo our ever changing Great Lakes FisheryClick for 2006 white 3 Fly Meat Rig

11/20/05  While I've never used the color Monkey Puke much, that doesn't mean it's not popular. In 2003 "puke" was Silver Streak's (Wolverine Tackle) number 1 seller.    
    The main reason I never gravitated to the "puke" color, cuz when I was in the charter business, the mere mention of the word might push my charter guests over the gunnels, upchucking to the infamous tune of, "Ralph!!.... Hughie!"  Average landlubbers have little tolerance to a heaving boat in 1 to 3 foot seas.
     Well, to make a long story short, I designed a new "Super Puke" color for water testing in 2006.  This new 3 fly meat rig is made from my X-Glow Magnum Meat Head & painted with the exact colors on the Streak spoons, courtesy of Wolverine Tackle.
    The bullets heads in the flies are X-Glow too, having glow properties for 4 hours, or longer!  The "X" in X-Glow stands for extended and is far superior to the standard glow we've become accustomed. Click for new "Super Puke" 3 Fly Meat Rig

11/19/05  Winter dropped another 4 inches of snow in Manistee County recently.  Good tracking snow for deer hunters.  If there's deer to make them?  Those who live close to my area are reporting seeing very few deer, or no deer at all.
     Word from the Big Manistee River is a mixed review, with some reporting good to moderate success on fish to 8 pounds and others struggling to get a bite.  If the weather straightens up, my plan is to fish the BMR at least twice next week.

11/18/05  Mr. Winter 2006 paid an early visit to Manistee County yesterday.  We got hit with 8 to 10 inches of snow and M55 was glazed over with a inch of ice.  Hazardous traveling conditions contributed to the death of 3 young people on M55 in Stronach Twsp. (not too far from where I live).  
     Frankfort, further north was said to get buried under a foot of the white stuff.  Living close to Lake Michigan means bands of lake effect snow when our wind direction is from the west, or northwest and when it gets fairly cold.  Lake effect snow is formed from the cold wind coming across the warm lake waters.
     The surprising thing about this early winter blast?..... it's the first snow we seen all fall.  Generally, for a first snow, we'll only get light dusting, usually in October.

11/17/05  Deer hunting this year kinda reminds me of Frankfort back in August of 1988.  BKD (bacterial kidney disease) had just about wiped out the population of Kings.  There was just not that many Kings.  For full afternoon's fishing leading into evening, might result in all of 2 hits, if luck was on your side!
You know what?.......we still went anyways, cuz there was a fortuitous chance.
  Click for inside of Capt. John's deer blind  Click for view out of the blind  
Same situation with the deer on my property.  While there might not be many, there's still a darn skinny possibility to get lucky and see a decent buck.

11/16/05  Deer hunting in my neck of the woods would be a heck of a lot better if there was some deer around.  Opening day was chilly, rainy and wet experience if you didn't have a warm enclosed blind to whittle away your time in.  
   The mile section where I live only has 7 homes in it if you travel the complete the 4 mile square.  The north boundary of my property is adjacent to 80 acre sector of the highly wooded Manistee National Forrest, which at this time has hardly any deer in it!  During the past 5 years we've went from too many deer, to not very darn many.  

11/15/05  Today is the opener of firearm arm deer season.  Michigan Sportsman  consider Nov. 15th as an unofficial statewide holiday, holding it in high esteem!  I will be in the woods enjoying the new deer blind I built about 3 weeks back.  Good thing the blind is fully enclosed and heated, cuz there's 80% chance of rain for Manistee County today.  Then tomorrow, the thermometer nose-dives with temps in the low 20s and snow!  I'll post an inside photo of the cozy-warm blind when time allows.

11/14/05  Tomorrow's firearm deer season is the big news, as I've readied my blind and equipment.  Everything is in place, but deer numbers on my piece of Manistee County are at an all time low.  My bait piles have yet to be touched!  This is a vast departure from a couple, three years ago when we had a ton more deer.  Never the less, sitting in a heated blind, enjoying the north woods doesn't sound half bad.  In my book, the tradition deer hunting means a bunch more than just the kill.
   Krystal Killer and Black Ice Magnum Meat Heads are now installed at my webstore: www.michiganangler.com  Even though we're a long ways for the 2006 season, meat heads have been enjoying brisk sales for an off-month.  Krystal Killers & Black Ice were the most in demand meat rigs in August and September 2005.  It was a natural to bring them into the fold for online tackle sales. Click to see these meat heads

11/13/05  My thanks goes out to Norb N. and Kyle V. for supplying timely photos for today's update.  Norb fished the Big Manistee River last weekend and caught nine Steelhead in 3 days, mostly in low clear water conditions  Click for one of Norb's BMR Steelhead
    Kyle V. scored on a large bodied 10 point whitetail recently.  Click for 10 point  It's good to see deer hunting is doing well in some areas, cuz around my place it sucks.  I've had shelled corn and sugar beets out for almost 2 weeks and they haven't been touched.  Terms like scarcity and non-existent describes what's going on with the deer herd in my neck of the woods!

11/12/05  Made about two laps around the mouth of the Little Manistee River where it enters Manistee Lake.  Then discovered my 1993 9.9 Evinrude wasn't pumping an adequate amount of water at slow idle speed.  
    This Manistee Lake mission was a controlled test with two Magnum Meat Heads on the starboard side and the traditional, accepted method of Flatfish on the port side.  The tally was 0 for 0, as both methods took nary a nibble!
     Needless to say, motor problems caused us to quit after only about an hour, but we did see 3 boats fishing.  One of these lucky boats even took a fish within eyeshot while John J & I were there.  I did learn: to fish meat heads clean at speeds over 1.2 mph, a 1/2 ounce is not enough weight to keep the meat head down.  
     One ounce worked just fine in our abbreviated sojourn on Manistee Lake.  Ballchain swivel and a 5 foot leader we used worked great and no twisties in the mono, which was more good news.  

11/11/05  In the process of readying tackle for this afternoon's expedition to Manistee Lake, I had to re-spool reels with fresh line.  Today's featured photo shows a reel correctly filled to the top of the spool.  Countless times I've seen many of my compatriot Salmon fishermen, load reels to only what I consider a partially filled reel.  A full to the brim reel will gather more line per revolution of the reel's handle.  
     I look at a filled spool as an insurance policy, so when we have a trophy fish on, being "spooled" is not in my vocabulary.  Just make sure there's at least 1/8 inch of clearance between the line and the level wind guide.  While many of the seasoned anglers already knew this this, there's enough less experienced to make today's tip more then worthwhile.  Click for a correctly spooled reel vs. incorrect
     Reason for about 1/8" clearance is when monofilament gets wet, it will absorb water and swell.  Too little clearance means the line will jam against the line guide.  Use a bloodknot to join the line together, as about half of the old line can be left on the reel, serving as backing.  Click to learn a knots that join line together

11/10/05  Recent winds to 70 mph pretty much took care of all the leaves, including the last to shed oak trees.  This coupled with last weekend's rain, means river Steelhead should be on a major improve.  Hope to check out this coming Monday.
    Tomorrow afternoon the plan is to fish Manistee Lake in search of fins and gills.  Experimentation is in order, as the plan is to troll clean Mag Meat Heads with cut herring off inline planer boards with a 1/2 oz of weight.
    Kirk, my UPS delivery driver reported Ludington was firecracker red-hot when the big water angler could get out and safely troll Lake Michigan.  He was beyond happy with the size of our next year's Salmon taken this October.  Kirk said, "the 3 year olds were about as big as the adults were last summer, running 10 to 12 lbs."  If this hold true, 2006 should yield a larger year class and more summer Kings over 20 lbs.

11/9/05  Yesterday, I watched a TV documentary on the Discovery-Times Channel about a supplier of power sources to Nokia (cell phones).  It concerned ethics and I came by a more then just a few facts about the industrial area of Shenzen, China.  
    The Chinese government has a law saying that workers in China make at least 80 dollars a month.  The company featured was paying their employees (97% women) about half of that amount. Wages were supposed to be $2.65 a day, but even that dirtball cheap amount was being circumvented by the power source supplier.
    Mandatory overtime of 24 hours a week and the workers still made only 40 bucks a month was another fact mentioned.  Their employees lived double stacked in company dorms 8 persons to a room, no larger then my living room
    The big question is: will you purchase Normark's Chinese J-Plugs and Dipsy Divers?
I'm pretty sure we will not see a price decrease from what we paid in 2005.  Even though the cost savings in labor will be vast compared to when Luhr Jensen produced their product line in Hood River, Oregon and paid American wages.
    I've installed a new poll to see how our Great Lakes community will react to this move.  Personally, I will never buy a Dipsy Diver made in China!

11/8/05  We've lost another American company, as Luhr Jensen and Sons has been sold and moved to Shenzen, China, just north of Hong Kong.  Luhr Jensen formerly located in Hood River, Oregon was a staple to our Great Lakes and west coast ocean Salmon Fisheries.  The loss of 100s of American jobs to multi-national interests like Rapala (who bought Luhr Jensen) is a crock!  Chinese J-Plugs and Dipsy Divers?
      It was suggested to me to have my tooling built for my 2006 X Projects built and possibly made in China.  This idea went over like a fart in church, as far as I'm concerned.  My tooling, pieces and parts will always continue to be made in the USA.  Michigan has been hit the hardest by unfair foreign competition dumping parts and products from government subsidized out-of-country industries. 
     I have no crystal ball, but what's gonna happen when the American consumer has no jobs to pay for the products sold in the USA?  Remember, the job you save, might be your own!  I broke this story, yet to unfold earlier this season from un-named sources inside the Jensen organization.

11/7/05  In a light discussion with a member of Kingfish Products Design Team (Getaway Bob K.) we both came to the conclusion of how much the Salmon catching knowledge base has advanced in the past couple of seasons.  In fact, Bob said, "in the past two years I've learned more then the previous 20 years chasing Salmon."
    No longer do we have to stop fishing for Kings in the middle of the day, nor think Salmon below 125 feet are un-catchable!  I'd like to think my products, ideas and website played a part in this, but that's simply not part, or parcel of the reel-truth.  
    It's the dedicated big water fishermen that have been open minded enough to the  ply depths past 200 feet down.  Resourceful fishermen making and preserving their own bait, which was a huge leap forward in the first place,.....deserve the credit!

11/6/05  Rain is the news form Manistee County.  This is what all the fall Steelhead fishermen have been waiting for.  A semi-dry October did not do much to load our rivers and streams with mint-chrome Steelies from Lake Michigan yet.  Look for drastically improved river fishing for fall-steel if we get more rain (as predicted) this week.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed,.....we do!
    Bear Creek, a major tributary of the Big Manistee River and the one of the first streams stocked with Pacific Salmon in 1966.   The "Bear" is loaded with spawning Kings up towards Brethren and Kaleva.  This tributary naturally reproduces Salmon and Steelhead, being fast flowing, clean with a plenty of gravel for nests, or redds.
    It's hard to go on record with long sighted predictions, but I highly doubt the upcoming 25% Salmon plantings cut by the DNR will do little to detract from our Lake Michigan Fishery in the foreseeable future.

11/5/05  Today's featured photo is from Julie D's recent success with a couple of limits of Walleye from Burt Lake.  The size caught is perfect for table fare from a lake not too well known for walleye fishing.  These fish were caught in 12 feet of water using 4 inch minnows on a small jig. Click for Walleyes & a monster Perch
     There's far more to this then meets the eye, because fisher-people can be a tight lipped group when it comes to info regarding their "honey hole."  You've probably ran into people like this at the cleaning tables, preferring to give a smart Alec answer rather then telling you where they had their luck and with what on.
      Julie is the DNR's fish census taker in the Rogers City area and is beyond dedicated when it come to sharing her knowledge base from others.  She is an asset to our message board with exacting reports on the big water during Salmon season from her neck of the woods!  Our sport of fishing would be far better off if we had more people like Julie in it!

11/4/05   Setup the new deer blind in the woods yesterday.  Then concentrated on furnishing it with a heater, table and a swivel recliner.  On 11/15/05 the firearm deer season will begin in absolute coziness.  This is a far contrast from the inhospitable conditions dealt with in the past many seasons.  It's hard to convince yourself, you're having fun when your teeth are chattering.  Click for my blind in the woods  
    My patience factor for deer hunting never has rivaled the persistence I have for fishing.  Fishing is an unknown comodity, cuz you can not see your intended victim. 
With deer, if you're not seeing any, there's none around.  With fishing not being able to view your prey is part of the game, hence there's always a faint glimmer of  hope!
    This was emailed to me last night: Michigan seasonal restrictions on Walleyes in Lake Erie are to be lifted.  Thus, a return to a year around Walleye season in 2006.

11/3/05  The Steelhead situation in Manistee River is nothing to write home about.   Local Steelhead fishermen have given up for the time being.  Please keep in mind, some of the fishing info I receive is third hand, but from trusted sources.  
     Manistee Lake by the Little Manistee River is producing 1 to 2 strikes per morning for the dyed-in-the-wool small boat trollers.  Capt. Tom Rasmussen took one 10 pound Steelhead yesterday morning when he was fishing with the legendary Capt. Bud Raskey.  Now, if these two could only muster one fish, times are surely tough!
     Since the passing of Warren Knapp ("Dotti K"), surf/pier reports are almost impossible to come by.  A sizeable amount of rain is needed, as the Manistee River flow is well below normal for this time of year and very clear.
     Look to complete the deer blind project today, after moving and reassembling most of the blind yesterday in the woods behind my house.  To place the blind in the best location, we had to chainsaw a road into the dense forest I'm blessed with.  Many thanks to John J for lending a second set of paws with this undertaking!

11/2/05  Yesterday's deer photos gave added incentive to hang the door on my new deer blind.  Being made in sections, today I'll truck the blind into the woods and reassemble behind my place.  The idea to use an old pickup topper came last black powder season during a early spell of nippy weather. Click for deer blind  
I figure the deer critters will have about 2 weeks to get used to it before rifle season.
    Having the new heated shack in the north woods will afford me many hours of peace and quiet.  We all need an escape valve and at least.........some leisure time! 

11/1/05  November is deer hunting time!  This fact is echoed by several of our message board members that have been successful whitetail hunters this fall.  Andy M. took one heck of a big 10 pt. in Hillsdale County and "Getaway" Bob harvested a 4 pt. some where's not too far from Bay City.  Click for Andy's 10 pt. or  Bob's 4 pt.
    Low/clear water in the Manistee River is not doing anything much for this fall's river Steelhead devotees.  All be it may, they're still taking Kings in the lower section of the BMR.  Was hoping to go river fishing today, but slow reports have me thinking of possibility trolling Manistee Lake this afternoon, or tomorrow.  The Manistee Lake word is slow fishing, but you know what?....... even slow fishing, beats no fishing!

10/31/05  Just haven't heard that much good from the Big Manistee this fall.  Generally, when fishermen are doing well, the news travels quickly.  Mid-October did get a lower river push of fresh run silver bullets, but as of lately mum is the word.  Fall Steelhead are an ornery critter to deal with under the best of circumstances, let alone in a river infested with log jams.  Click for a fall silver bullet
     In the not to distant future the plan is to entice my exalted foe into a toe to toe fracas, stick a hook in his face and have a good stout string to wind him in on.  My 14 footer is ready, as soon as the leaves clear the Manistee River.  Constantly picking leaves and debris off plugs is not a form of recreation I plan on entertaining.

10/30/05  Too windy yesterday for me to considering anything, except putting the finishing touches on my new deer blind.  The blind is enclosed to the elements so drenching downpours, snowy blizzards, or artic cold is no longer gonna be a problem.  A small heater, a good book and a comfortable chair to snooze in is in store for the coming rifle deer season.  While whitetails seem like they're almost extinct around my place, R & R time in the blind means no work on other projects!  Making time for one's self is something we all ought to do more of.  Now, the big question is......did you set your clocks back last night to adjust for Daylight Savings Time?

10/29/05  This is that goofy weekend when we have to "fall back," or turn our clocks back an hour to adjust for Daylight Saving Time.  Warm weather should bring the fishermen out this weekend, including myself.

10/28/05  According to Capt. Tom Rasmussen who runs Sue Lee Charters in Manistee, the amount of large lampreys spotted on Kings this season was at an all time high, per his records.  By law charter boat operators are required to keep a detailed daily catch records, noting the amount of lampreys seen.
   The lampreys he was speaking of, were the adult ones, 18 inches or longer.  He seen no small Lampreys to speak of.  This shows there's a year class of these fish suckers that did not respond well to the lampreycide used to treat parenting river systems like the Jordan, Betsie, Platte, Manistee and Pere Marquette.
     In my opinion lamprey barriers like Homestead Dam on the Betsie River do little to stop infestation.  Migrating adult Salmon can jump a small waterfall, taking along a hitchhiking lamprey.  Click here for a raspy, nasty lamprey mouth

10/27/05  I attended the Benzie County Coalition last evening with featured guest speaker, Gary Whelan.  Gary is Michigan's Fish Productions Manager for the DNR.  He put on one helluva good presentation concerning the upcoming 25% cut in 2006 Chinook, or King Salmon plants.  I took two pages of notes, finding many interesting facts.  Like up to 65% of the Kings caught off the Port of Manistee were naturally reproduced.  Another fact was Michigan anglers took 55% of the Kings in Lk. MI.
     I regard the 55% (about half), as disproportionate considering the amount of shoreline of Lake Michigan owned by the State of Michigan.  I brought up the "raising the limit" issue, where the other states surrounding Lk. MI all have a 5 King limit.  His answer was a truthful, "I don't know" and he referred a couple of people that would be more knowledgeable on the subject. 
     If Michigan truly wants to reduce the bio-mass of Kings, upping the our limit by 40% would bring us in line with other states.  I highly doubt a 25% cut will do much to bring back our Kings that used to average at, and above 20 pounds. Prior to 1989 we had a 5 King (Chinook Salmon) limit per person before it was taken away and never returned!

10/26/05  As the weather in Manistee County remains on the chilly and damp side, hampering my want to troll Manistee Lake.  North wind has been our predominate pattern for the last week and that means the south end of Manistee Lake by the Little Manistee River get weeds blown in and a is pretty darn cold when the temps are only in the mid-40s.  The Big Manistee River got a push of Steelhead a week, or so back, but the word from the lower section is not rave reviews.
      Spent most of yesterday dealing with production/inventory issues for the 2006 season.  I was informed by my production company the price of the base material used in my flashers, meat heads and bullet heads is going to get a hefty increase soon.  The price of resins in the world market was on the way up before Katrina, which only exacerbated cost issues (or so I'm told).  Yes, like you, I believe big oil has found another way to get in our pockets!

10/25/05  The Benzie Fishery Coalition is having a meeting tomorrow evening at the Sail Inn in Benzonia, MI  The Sail Inn is located right on east side US31 and is easy to find. 7pm is the start time with Gary Whelan from the DNR.  I plan on attending and asking Gary if raising the limit on Kings to 5 fish was ever considered.  
     Cutting the plant 25% will do little to lower the surplus of Kings in my opinion.  Kings are now approaching 40 generations in the Great Lakes. It's my belief our  Salmon have evolved/adapted and are naturally reproducing in far larger numbers no one has taken into consideration.  5 fish limit on Kings should be implemented in 2006!

10/24/05  Winterizing your boat is today's topic is made possible by our resident boat technician/mechanic, Mike W. from our private message board.  He works at Freeway Sports and you should be able to contact him by clicking here
1. Add marine fuel stabilizer to the tank.
2. Lower the outdrive and drain gearlube. Check for the presence of water (Milky) thick goo.
3. Refill the gear case w/ fresh lube 80-90 hypoid is the most common and works in most drives.
NOTE: most drives fill from the bottom with the exception of OMC Cobra 86-93 which fill from the middle screw.
4. Use a flush adapter (ear-muffs) with the garden hose and run the engine 10-15 min. to get the treated fuel all thru the fuel system. Shut the motor off.
5. Remove the flame arrestor and spray some fog oil down the carb. Use a good brand and spray enough to fill the venturi area.
6. Drain the engine. Pull all petcocks. drain plugs and hoses. let the motor and manifolds drain. Remove the flush adapter from the drive, put the Neutral throttle wide open and crank the engine till it fires and immediately shut it down.
NOTE: Most GM vortec V-6 engines after 93 have a drain plug in the front
of the intake manifold. Make sure you get this one. Its tough to get at
and hard to see.
7. Raise the drive and take out the battery.
8. Re-attach hoses pet cocks and plugs.
9. Anti-freeze can be added, if in doubt as to where and how
much to fill ask a technician as it is possible to over fill
some manifolds and get it into the combustion chambers.
Always change the water separating fuel filter and fill the new
one with a mixture of 2oz. fuel stabilizer, 2oz. fog oil, 2oz. 2-stroke
oil and enough gas to fill it. Run the engine 1-1/2 to 2 minutes.
10. If in doubt take it to a Boat mechanic
Have the drive pulled and grease the u-joints, driveshaft splines
and gimbal bearing. Check the bellows and shift cable cavities for
water, holes and dry-rot. Check the engine alignment.

Change the engine oil and filter.
RV anti freeze is ok but the non-toxic and environmentally safe
propylene glycol is recommended.
Have a happy winter............Mike W.

10/23/05  Skipped this update and took the day mostly off.  Rainy and chilly meant a 
pre-season case of the winter blahs.

10/22/05   Completed work on a new introduction page to my Encyclopedia of Tips and Trix.  There's 20 articles now open to the public.  Some of them are tutorial based, or interesting facts surrounding our Great Lakes Fishery.  All are a good read with contributing writers other then myself.  40 of the most sensitive instructional articles are still reserved for our message board members. Click for tips & trix section
     Reformatted and updated some of the pieces to better reflect our constantly changing fishery.  I did notice the colder 38 to 44 degree Salmon showing up in 1997 in an article I did about Capt. Bud Raskey. History is being formed every season & it's nice to have a gauge to look back upon, as some of the articles date back to 2000.

10/21/05  After enjoying myself a few days ago on Manistee Lake another helping was definitely in order.  John J. and I fished from about 5pm to 7pm last evening and caught a feisty Coho early on in our outing.  Click for John J's Coho We never took a whack for the last 90 minutes of trip, which in all reality...was still pretty darn great!  Being on the water with  brilliant fall colors, as the back drop sure beats working, or being in the house.  As fall progresses, I hope to fish a couple of days a week.
     Some Steelhead are providing die-hard big lake anglers limited action over 450 to 600 feet of water off the Port of Manistee.  Fairly good pods of bait were in the 140 to 170 range and the surface temps ranged from 51 to 55 degrees.  Lower end of the Big Manistee has Steelhead too, although iron-noggins over 9 pounds are a rarity. 

10/20/05  Extending the life of your tackle is today's subject matter.  Over time the clear coat on the windings that attaches the line guides to the rod can wear off. Especially, if the rods are stored in a rocket launcher all season like mine used to be.  Clear nail polish applied over the wrap can coax a extra season, or two and save you some dough.  Click here for photo of re-coating process.
     Be careful when purchasing the nail polish and don't do what I did.  While in the nail polish section of a drug store, I asked a women which nail polish was best, forgetting to tell her what I was using it for.  She hastily chastised me for an abhorrent lifestyle, then told me I ought to be ashamed.  She left the area hurriedly, before I could inform her what the nail polish was really for.

10/19/05  I was delightfully sidetracked yesterday by Capt. Tom Rasmussen when he captured me for an afternoon outing on Manistee Lake.  We fished in his 14 footer from around 5pm to 7pm and had 2 hits.  One of the hits stuck and we landed a 8 to 9 pound Coho male all dressed up in vivid spawning colors.  This was the first fish I caught in better then a month and,....you know what?.......it felt reel-good!  Click here for our Coho
The absolute best news about the outing is we combined product/products testing which turned out far better then anyone could ever imagine. The super performance of the 2006 Project X seems like providence intervened.   We had a ultra-perfect trial on the product/products for 2006.  The final design phase has been completed!

10/18/05  When time becomes available today the plan is to show a way to dress up old rods and get a few more seasons out of the old "sticks."
   Water testing the secret 2006 Project X is another chore that needs attention.  Looks like we have the final design, less a few minor tweaks.
   Condensed the tips and trick section yesterday, 60 articles now populate the Encyclopedia of Tips & Trix.  Hope to debut the new tips and trix section soon.
     Nocturnal Ted and Stefan hit the Manistee River last Saturday night.  They took 4 Kings and missed several more.  They fished way downriver from Tippy Dam.  All their strikes came in fast water on the gravel. Click for an almost spawned out King

10/17/05  This week's main topic of concern is maintenance of your fishing tackle and winterizing your boat.  Today's tip is lubricating the worm gear.  If the part does not receive adequate grease, the pawl will fail, rendering your level wind mechanism useless.  click here for illustrative photo  When the pawl gets worn, it looses contact with the worm gear and your line tends to bunch up and jam the reel.
    If the pawl fails when you have a fish on, quickly unscrew the retaining cap and pull the pawl quickly.  Now, the line guide will free float.  You'll have to guide the line manually, but in an emergency this will get the fish in the boat.  I've added shims of paper under the pawl to bring it back into contact with the worm gear and get the level wind working until a new replacement pawl could be installed.  The thickness of your reel's pawl is very thin and wear out sooner, or later.  Having spare reel pawls on-hand is a good idea and will keep your reel in service. 
    During storage always back off the star drag until it loose, especially during periods longer then a day or two.

10/16/05  Today's featured photo shows a two extremely battle scared Magnum Meat Heads from Manistee's Salmon wars last August and September in.  These chewed-on heads that took about 50 fish do a far better job in showing how good they are, compared to me flapping my gums about it!  Click here for proven tackle that more then earned it's keep!!
     The best thing about the colors displayed?.... is these deadly patterns worked from May thru September without fail.  For further full-blown proof click here for 5/21/05 photo and 
click here
for August 2005 verification.

10/15/05  I know of a group of Manistee fishermen that took 15 fish (mostly Kings) from Lake Michigan a few days ago.  Yes, all is well for next season, as fall catching for Kings continues along with some Steelhead.  
     From what I heard it was 2, or 3 Kings for every Steelhead, as Kings continue to be the dominate species in Lake Michigan.  In the northern ports that I'm familiar with (Ludington, Manistee & Frankfort) Coho, Lake Trout and Browns are at all time lows and the situation with Steelhead is only slightly better.

10/14/05  Next week featured topic will focusing on winter storage of tackle, boat and boat trailer.  A little bit of TLC at this time of the year will insure a smooth start when the 2006 season starts.  It's plain drudgery to face problems next spring could have been cured this fall.  Besides this subject will give forth pertinent subject matter for most of next week, as fresh fishing updates are gonna hard to come now. 
    Look towards the end of this month when the leaves come down for me to pick some fights with the Steelhead in the Big Manistee River.  Fall river fishing is a big deal to me and leads my list of all time favorites.

10/13/05  Are you interested in a polling sample from 2003, 2004 and 2005 in a year by year comparison for the best lure/method?  Then click here for the Poll Page.  Do not view the 2005 poll victory for me, or my products.  I'm of the staunch opinion the herring is the reel-winner, as my stuff is only the vehicle it rides in.  The total package  of sight, sound and scent is not offered by any of the other lures/methods, therefore a continuing slide from favor with the modern day i2k Salmon fisherman.
Tomorrow's update will concern tips on storing your boat and tackle for the long winter lay-up.  Our big lake trolling season only lasts for about 6 months.  So tackle and boat running gear failure will only subtract from this time and cost you $$$$.

10/12/05  What was your best lure for Salmon in 2005?  Was it Spoons, J-Plugs, Flasher/Flies, Dodgers/Squid/Flies or was it a Cut-Bait program?  I'll installed a new poll where you can vote for your most productive method.  
     This is the third year in a row this poll has been posted, starting in 2003.  I have the 2003 and 2004 polls archived for a comparison reflecting changes and shifts to various methods of catching fish.  In 2003 Flasher/Fly won and last year Cut-Bait narrowly took the top spot on the podium.  After a fair sampling period I will build a new page containing all 3 years of polling.

10/11/05   The few diehards still fishing Lake Michigan out of Manistee last weekend again reported next year's Kings were 9 to 12 pounds, which is kinda normal for this time of the year.  Only time will tell, but this could be a harbinger of slightly larger year class of Salmon 2006.  Having fished many Octobers on the big pond and Kings being caught now is a encouraging sign of what will happen in April and May of 2006.
    I'll be installing a new poll later today about which type of Salmon tackle was most productive for you in 2005.  I've ran this same poll in 2003 and 2004 for a fair comparison on meat fishing as it gains in popularity.

10/10/05  Our poll on raising the limit in Kings to 5 fish was 81% in favor.  Michigan's DNR is just following the mind-set of American industry where cut-backs and downsizing are in vogue.  I say hogwash, and if there's too many Kings, then let us Lake Michigan anglers reap the same 5 fish limit as Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin allows, meaning a 5 Kings per day, per person.
    We all know the pay scale at the DNR is not gonna attract the sharpest tools in the shed, but never the less the biologists in the other 3 states are in favor of allowing their anglers a luxury (5 Kings) our DNR seems we can't afford. Click here for an article from Dick Swan who has sat in on many DNR meetings and has insights into their inner workings.

10/9/05  Ted and Mike fishing the Big Manistee River last night,  They launched around 7pm, just before dark.  At 4am in the wee hours of the am they pulled anchor and headed for the access ramp.  They were rewarded with 2 Kings and a bonus Steelhead for the night shift.  This team prefers to fish nights and have the river empty of the daytime crowds.  Click for photo of their BMR river catch

10/8/05  My last 4 weeks have been devoted to new product development for 2006.  The newly designed and yet unannounced secret product is almost in it's finished form.   The last in a series of prototypes will be ordered this week and water tested.  If all goes as planned, work on the tooling will commence shortly.  The new product/products will have a major leg-up on all of my competitors who produce tackle for the world Salmon fishing market. 
     Tomorrow's update will feature a article from the celebrated Dick Swan concerning the DNR's policy to limit the legal limit on Kings to 3 fish.  Dick has sat in on many, many meetings and is knowledgeable on the inner workings of the MDNR.

10/7/05  Finally cooler weather has hit the north country.  Those who were bow hunting in the July-like weather had a problem once they did take a deer.  Heat and a dead carcass mean a quick trip to the deer processors, or spoiled meat.  Today's featured photo is 8 point from Lapeer County's farm country. Steve Burns took this animal last weekend, packed the cavity with ice and made haste to the butcher shop.
    Word from the Manistee piers is slow on Steelhead.  Cooler north winds and the lake tuning over should help drive some fish towards the beach for the surf fisherman

10/6/05  The great combo catch of Walleyes and Steelhead came from Erie, PA.  Capt. Pete from www.dearmsteelie.com  reported spoons were the flavor of the day and full and core and a half (15 colors of lead core) were some of the weapons.  Best depths 53 to 68 feet down over 85 feet of water.  I'm impressed with the chunky girth of the obviously well fed Steelhead.  Lake Erie has long been known as the Walleye Capital of the World and now it looks like it might be the Steelhead Capital as well.  I chartered on Lake Erie from 1984 thru 1989 and took a few incidental Iron Noggins each season, but nothing like they're doing nowadays.

10/5/05  Yesterday's photo of the day has to be from Lake Erie.  The photo was sent in by one of our message board members who fishes that area.  I received no info from which port it was from, but my guess it was from the eastern basin.  
     Diehards still fishing Lake Michigan are reporting decent success on a mixed bag of Steelhead, Coho and next years juvenile Kings.  Capt. Dave reported most of his fish are coming 80' to 100' down with a meat/flasher program off Manistee's shelf.  He also reported the immature 2006 Kings were running 9 to 11 pounds.  This could mean slightly larger Kings for next season.  Last year's 2004 October Kings I saw ranged from 5 to 8 pounds.

10/4/05  Manistee's Little River Band of Native Americans took a small step forward and banned fishing 300' feet below the Little Manistee Harvest Weir.  They did this by passing a tribal law to repair damage to their public image suffered and contain some of the more militant tribal members.  Click for news release  
     The mindset of the American public is that all Indians are the purveyors of conservation to our environment and wildlife.  Now, that's a pretty hard feat to accomplish when there's a spear stuck in a King Salmon in an "out of bounds" area to all law-abiding licensed Michigan fishermen.  Local TV stations picked up this story last week and negative publicity is not going to help generate revenue for the LRB Casino at M22 & US31.  

10/3/05  The sun has set on the 2005 big lake trolling season with the advent of October.  Fishing efforts are being shifted to the rivers that empty into the Great Lakes.  Today's featured photo is couple of soon to spawn adult Kings.  At this stage of their life Mother Nature has provided the Salmon with dark camouflaging colors to better suit the water clarity of the Big Manistee River from which they came.  When caught, river Kings are kinda brown to bronze, or olive.  Then rapidly turn darker towards  black once they go into a cooler.  Click for dark adult King spawners
    Our poll about increasing the Michigan limit on Kings from 3 to 5 is running at plus 80 per cent in favor of this measure and is gaining widespread popularity.  From what I seen, Michigan has the highest big water fishing license cost and the lowest limit on Kings. Some have said, "Michigan plants the most and their residents get the least!" 

10/2/05  Today, let's give credit to the sport fishing fleet for being a heck of a lot more deadly then 20 years ago.  In 1985 most of the fleet with trailerable boats were not into pulling many attractors.  Some were decent with dodgers, but most found hitting the right dodger speed far too bewildering  Not so, with the attractors in this day and age.  They are not speed sensitive and have a much shorter learning curve.  
    The point I'm trying to make concerns the graph for the DNR document with proposed Kings Salmon planting reductions. Click here for the DNR graph  If the graph is to be believed, 8.5 million pounds were harvested, with the lions share going to the anglers in boats 24 feet, and under.  This kind of tonnage is a testament to the sports fleet.  I've witnessed the change in our non-charter Salmon fishermen and they're a lot sharper cookies then they were 20 years ago.  
   They know how to whack out limits on a per person basis, that rivals any charters. Our membership from our message board is far more knowledgeable and versatile then most charter operators were in 1985........reel-fact!

10/1/05  Are you part of the so-called silent majority?  Silence will do nobody any good when it comes to our poll about raising the 3 King limit to 5.  All the other states that border Lake Michigan have a 5 King limit, so why not bring all the states into a single strict unison course of action.  Or, better yet,.....why does our DNR treat us like we're the bastard children of the Lake Michigan sport fishing family by taking away by 40% what Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin allow (5 King limits)?
    With the advent of bow season, there's a bumper crop of acorns in Manistee, too bad the deer are on the skimpy side.  The area of the Manistee National Forest where I live is pretty bleak when it comes to Whitetails.  This is a far cry from 5 years ago when you had to dodge deer on M55, now you're lucky to see one from Wellston to the US31-M55 junction (a distance of 17 miles).