Stepping back in Time
by Capt. John King
My first meeting with Capt.
Bud was one of those anonymous encounters in floating around in West Platte Bay, north of
Frankfort back in the seventies. I was watching the his boat the
"Michelle" put a butt kicking to the phenomenal Coho Fishery
in the so-called "good old days."
The first reel meeting came in 1983 when Bud moved his boat to Jacobson's Marina in
Frankfort, Michigan. He moved his boat there to cash in on the unparalleled
Salmon fishing this port offered at the time. Half day charters
could produce 20 or more Coho even with the 10 to 17 mile ride (one way)
to east or west Platte Bays. Bud was one of the heavy hitters in the
charter business then (and still is), while I was just a cub
starting out in 1983, so I'm sure my presence went unnoticed.
The Reel Story about
Capt. Bud was born in 1925 and has grown up
with the Michigan Fisheries on all levels.
I know of no other person who has gained the amount of knowledge and is as
willing to share it as Mr. Raskey. He ran his first charter
"paid trip" in 1942 by rowing his clients on Manistee Lake for
Steelhead for the hefty sum of 15 bucks a day. He's been in the
charter, guide, boat rentals and tackle business ever since.
He is the reel maestro when it comes to all methods in catching all
species of the fish we have here in Michigan. Why? Because, he
was in the ground floor of the Great Lakes Fishery and helped developed
many of the techniques we take for granted today.
Simply put, Capt. Harold "Bud" Raskey has more time backing a
boat up, than most of us do going forward. He is the virtuoso in the
symphony of catching fish here in the Wolverine State and always will be
in my eyes.
While some other charter operators have
been better at getting "press" for the themselves, Bud has
quietly and in an unassuming way went about teaching many of the so-called
"Hot Hands" today how to fish. I'll bet you won't find
another charter boat operator here in Michigan, to disagree with me on
that fact. I don't think he'll ever seek the limelight, because
that's just not Mr. Raskey's way.
Nowhere, and I repeat nowhere, will you find
a professional fisherman with more savvy than him. Bud is the living
legend that pioneered many of the methods we salmon anglers take for
granted today. He is the plow that broke the ground for the rest of
us to follow. He's from the old school when it comes to hospitality
also, he's never turned down anyone seeking information on the marine band
radio. His ability to catch and get his guests into fish,
speaks for itself, beyond any doubts, whatsoever! I know of no other
charter operator that I can hold in the same esteem, as I do my colleague
and friend, Capt.
According to Bud's story, outboard motors were unheard of in the 1930's
depression era, so you just rowed the boat slowly to coax a Steelhead into
biting. He purchased his first reel rod and reel in 1940, the rod is
about 5 feet long and it's a square steel rod (see above photo). The
amazing thing about his first rod is that the windings that hold the
guides on are still like new. The reel was a Plueger Akron and these
early reels were often referred to as knuckle busters, because they had no
drag mechanisms like modern day reels do. When a large fish started
peeling out line on the direct-drive reel, the handle would spin
too. Pressure was applied to the spool by a thumb to slow the fish
down....or so, you hoped!
Earliest methods relayed to me by Capt. Bud, during the depression era
fishery was nobody could afford even a fishing rod and reel, so they
trolled Manistee Lake with a short piece of a willow stick to absorb the
shock of when a fish hit and then gingerly hand line it in to the
boat. The fishing line they used back in the thirties was called
"cuttie-gut", a thick line by today's standards with the
thickness of something akin to kit string and was probably cotton based,
so you get the meaning of how thick it was.
Remember, he was catching Steelhead well before the development of monofilament
and the modern day lines like Dacron, Spider Wire
and Fire Line.
When fly fishing they used real cat-gut for leader material that had to be
pre-softened and had to kept in a container of water, or it would be
much to stiff to use.
Bud's unparalleled career has help land
several trophy-sized fish for his guests. In the year 2001 he won
the Manistee Sport Fishing Association Derby with the largest King Salmon
that weighed 38 pounds and change. I'd say it was a reel whopper in
this day and age. In 1998 he caught the largest Brown Trout in the
Sate of Michigan. This bruiser Brown Trout tipped the scale at 33
pounds and 11 ounces, just 10 ounces shy of the then current State Record fish of 34 pounds and 4
More importantly Capt. Bud has saved my butt on a few charters when I had
the opportunity to have the "master" crew for me. In 1997
it was slow fishing and catching was almost nonexistent, Bud
suggested we change from a spoon program to dodgers. Accordingly, we
sent the dodgers down to the Kings and from 10am until 1pm we whacked 10
or 12 adult Kings in the middle of the day....unheard of! The time
frame was early to mid-July for the Capt. Bud inspired Tuna Fest and
that's much earlier than you'd think Kings would be taking Dodgers.
Furthermore, we pulled all the Kings in 38 to 40 degree water, right tight
to bottom in 85 to 100 feet of Manistee's famed "Shelf."
In the April of 2000 Bud once again gave me a fishing lesson supreme, when
he personally instructed me on the how's and where-fore's of correct usage
of sewn minnows and cowbells. The fleet's action had died, as Raskey
went thru the exact process and secrets in opening up the lock-jawed Mr.
Brown Trout. In short order we boxed out 3 person charter group out
with 9 Browns in a few hours. While 9 Brown Trout on a charter off
Manistee during April isn't considered earth shattering news, it was more
fish than the other 20 or so boats took that frosty April, Saturday
morning. I knew Bud's tutelage worked, because the next day, without
him aboard my charter guests experienced the thrill of landing a trophy 24
pound Brown using his sewn minnow tactics.
Cleaning Fish Shack
Nobody in the charter business has a fish
cleaning and processing station like his (see above photos). It's immaculately,
squeaky clean and every imaginable species of Michigan's trophy-sized fish
adorn his walls. It's an experience just to walk in the place and
see the pride that goes into every charter that he runs.
After every charter you're escorted back to Bud's place to clean your
catch. The catch is filleted and skinned and wrapped in freezer
paper, if you so wish. Also, it's a good time to sit back and get to
know how a reel professional treats his charter guests. He sets an
example for the rest of the fleet when it comes to running a full service
If your in the market to go charter
with the reel pro of Manistee's Charter Fleet
you can contact Bud at:
Capt. Bud Raskey
2380 Main Street
Stronach, MI 49660
Feb. 6, 2001