Do I Stay, or Do I go?
Part 2 My Jumbled Mindset of Finding Fish
Then, Staying on Fish
...with a Bit of Luck! By John King 12/1/16
Critical Calculation Pays Off
8:19 pm Todd B. BTI 10"
8/10/16 Fish Box Broke the lid off the box
trying to stuff in the last
big King (28 lbs.) in!
9:00 pm Dylan B. Big Grin!
My 22' Boat 1979 Sea Ray
Capt. Kevin Hughes Onekama Skipper
Thought Processes Sidebar
We had just hit 2-fer
(double header) kinda
straight out of port in 170' of water. The boat to the inside of us
fighting fish too. This is when I spied the battle cruiser (charter vessel) the, "Sandpiper"
a 36' Tiara skippered by savvy Capt. Kevin Hughes from Onekama (next port 6
miles N of Manistee). Kevin's been around for a
long time. He has an outstanding reputation for producing fish.
thinking to myself? ...Kevin wouldn't have drove his boat this far S
(6-7 miles) unless the word was out. Yes, there were Kings to
be caught in this general vicinity. Put 1 in the smarts
column for yours truly for recognizing this. Kevin is a
holdover from my chartering days (1983 thru 2003) and at this point
in my Great lakes career, his judgment is probably better then mine. Reason
being? ...during the summer he's on the water most everyday running
trips and I'm not.
what Capt. Kevin had to say about the evening of 8/10/16 some
"I was out along side you off
Manistee that night and we put a major whack on
adult Kings that night. Those type of trips are
Click for Capt. Kevin's website
A word of note about charter
boats: there is no inside line as far as lure choices go. It's
all about the area/depth of water successful boats fished.
When I was in the charter business asking another charter skipper what they used
was immaterial. My
main goal was to find out where they fished. Every successful
charter operation has their own unique "go to" lures and trick
techniques that works for them on their boats that might not
transpose to others.
OK, 2-3 boats in the same
area working and more on the way. Because as soon as nets go down?
long distance magnet that draws more boats. This is all part of the decision
making process. Weighing viable options that will effect your
outcome. Even more-so on a afternoon/evening trip where
daylight is fading fast. So, the clock is running down on your
fish before you call it quits. In my case ...knowing
there will be a heavy workload the following morning.
Tic-tock, tic-tock the
clock is winding down and we needed a course of action. Do I
stay, or do I go?
The hardest decision to
make on 8/10/16 was to abandon this trafficked part of Lk. MI that
was producing fish, or continue moseying northbound. Besides,
making 360 degree spins and turns with 300' coppers out is not the
swiftest proposition in the world. OK, by now there were 3, or
4 boats working a small pod of bait with Kings lurking. This
says the area was drawing crowd and it's time to move on. So,
let's roll the dice. Knowing full-well, we left fish to find
fish and proceeded N. Which is never the wisest first choice.
This judgment call was made a little easier with the 3, or 4 fish we
already had in the box at the time. The deciding factor that
pushed this move? There was not a single boat to
the N, in front of us, not a one!
The area N to the state
park was 100% unmolested virgin water that
held, yet to be ...explored potential!
No boats to a little N of
port off Manistee in August was the direct result of negative press
that kept the August fleet at all time lows. It's unheard of
to find any vacant water this close to the Port of Manistee in
August. Public perception and actual facts don't necessarily
automatically matchup. Situations change fast in our ever evolving
Great Lakes fishery. What was, is not was is, in the present
tense. All I know is we had a 100% clear juicy shot to the N
with zero boats to contend with.
You don't have to be
Sherlock Holmes to deduce issues of where the fish are.
Patience and a strong resolve of not repeating the same mistakes by
working the same unproductive water is sound advice. Herd
mentality seldom leads to a full box when targeting wary adult Kings
with a bunch of boats pounding the same water.
Big deal about my
decision to "keep-a-go" north was four-fold:
1. We already had fish in
the box, This took a lot of the pressure off to play bumper boats.
2. Open clear water with zero boats meant we could run tight to
3. With dark approaching, the ride towards harbor would be a lot
safer until we got a mile, or so from the pier heads.
4. SW wind was favorable for moving fish more northward.
Please note in the above
to photos in this section, there's not another boat in the
background. Sparse boat traffic was due in part to the lousy
2015 season when King fishing off Manistee was plain pitiful ...to
say the least. But you don't know, unless you go!
You Don't Know, Unless
Dimitri with Finale #4, a Master
Angler sized 28 lb. King Salmon! With his help, he earned
the right to hoist our community tag-team fish!
What made this trip so
memorable, besides the crew onboard? It was totally
unexpected. We had no clue we were going to catch a pile of fish in
the last 2 hours. Especially, considering present state of the
2016 Lk. MI King fishery when you're better off
to set your sights pretty low and hope for the best. 2 to 4 fish is plenty good for me
for a 3-4 hour evening trip. Knowing, if I can average a fish an hour
thru-out the season this beats the MI statewide charter boat average
according to MDNR catch data.
The icing on the cake was
the last fish to come aboard. OK, it's already triple city when this
rascal hit (see video for proof). That alone is good, but that many big Kings on at once
creates bigtime issues. In the process of landing this bookend fish, we
had fish #1 get into the starboard diver wire line outfit. Fish
spun around the port diver while this big guy was on peeling line
heading to Wisconsin. This meant
some serious unstitching of under and over, unwrapping rods to get Kings
1, 2, and 3 into the net.
King #4 was one for the
books when Todd hoisted the net aboard after a lot of grunting.
Being totally dark, we had no clue this last fish was going to be a
jumbo and pull the scale down to 28 pounds. When you listen
closely to the accompanying video, you'll hear Todd do a major grunt
& groan job trying to gain enough leverage to hoist this big guy
aboard. What a way to cap off a perfect evening? ...with
fishing friends without their help none of this would have been possible. While this is the
end of the story of this trip, it's only the beginning of more memorable outings
in the future that will surely write their own unique history.
If I had
listened to the 2016 negative grapevine slamming the Lk.
MI's King fishery? ...this evening trip on August 10, 2016
would have never happened. Proving, beyond any
doubt: ...if you don't
go? ...you don't know!