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Charter and Fishing News

Kings, Believe it, or Not!

Like I said on Friday, October 10, 2003, I had a legal matter attend to in Manistee.  Well, the legal matter was a person suing me, because he showed up late for his charter and I wasn't there.  Then he ran up his motel bill to the tune of $177, charged me around $200 for his baby sitter and a couple of hundred bucks for mileage.  The Honorable B. Danielson of the 85th District Court here in Manistee dismissed the case against me, as the plaintiff lost his case to recover his exorbitant expenses. 
     What bothers me most about this case is that I have lost faith in fair play, because I offered several monetary charter options to the said person, before he pursued his flimsy small claims case based on no sound legal advice.  This whole deal could have been a gift from God, because if he sued me over his being late, what would he have done with a slip and fall on my boat, or a rough ride back to the dock?  I've kinda lost a little more faith in humanity as a whole over this entire insubstantial issue, or is that what the world? really coming to!
     I deeply debated with myself whether to post this story, or not.   I'm left with a empty feeling over trials and tribulations like this, as the saga of a charter operator continues.  If chartering was easy, then everyone would do

Flea Flicker Line:  I now carry Flea Flicker line that eliminates the build of the fish-hook water flea.  I have both the 20 and 30 pound test in stock and ready to ship ASAP.  I will have some very  important tips about using this new type of line in the next E-mail Updates Letter, I plan on sending  later today, after my trip. 
Click here for cost and info on this new dramatic style of line.

October 26, 2001


Click for full size

Trap Net Diagram

The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians announces the start of commercial fishing under permits issued by the Little River Band’s Natural Resource Commission. Three (3) permits for commercial trap net fishing operations by Tribal fishers have been approved for fishing in treaty waters of Lake Michigan between Arcadia (at the north end of Manistee County) and Grand Haven, Michigan. One of the available permits was issued to a trap net boat that will be operated by two (2) Little River Band Tribal members who will be fishing out of Ludington. The remaining two (2) permits were issued to captains from other 1836 Treaty tribes, whose fishing operations will be based in Frankfort and Muskegon. None of the three (3) available permits for small mesh gill fishing operations targeting bloater chubs was issued during 2001.

The three (3) permits issued are the first Tribally-licensed commercial fishing operations in these portions of Lake Michigan treaty waters since 1985 and the first commercial fishing permits issued for these waters under the terms of the settlement (Consent Decree) signed by the State of Michigan and five (5) 1836 Treaty Tribes resolving disputes regarding treaty-reserved, Tribally-regulated fishing in the Great Lakes.

Under the terms of the Consent Decree signed in August 2000, the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians has the exclusive right to issue permits for commercial fishing by licensed fishers from each of the five (5) federally-recognized 1836 Treaty Tribes - the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, Bay Mills Indian Community, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa/Chippewa Indians, Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa and Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians agreed not to authorize the use of large mesh gill nets, which are opposed by sport fishing groups, by Tribally-licensed commercial fishers in the waters under the permit authority of the Tribe. Tribal negotiators agreed to restrict commercial fishing to the use of trap nets and small mesh gill nets, in large part, as an accommodation to sport fishing interests in these areas. State law currently authorizes commercial fishing with both trap nets and small mesh gill nets in Lake Michigan south of Leland.

The 2000 Consent Decree allows the Little River Band to issue a total of three (3) commercial trap net permits for whitefish and three (3) commercial small mesh gill net permits for bloater chubs within this portion of Lake Michigan during the first three (3) years commercial fishing takes place. This portion of the 1836 Ceded Waters of Lake Michigan is divided into two sections where permits may be issued. This includes Whitefish Management Zones (WFM) 07 and 08 (see map). Within WFM-07 there can be two commercial trap net operations and two commercial small mesh gill net operations permitted, and within WFM-08 there can be one commercial trap net operation and one commercial small mesh gill net operation permitted for the first three years.

The trap net operations are limited to 12 nets per operation and the small mesh gill net operations are limited to 24,000 feet of net per operation under the agreement. Regulations adopted by the Little River Band’s Natural Resource Commission for the 2001 fishing season limit permit holders to 6 trap nets per operation. Tribal trap net fishers are only allowed to target and retain whitefish (19 inches and larger) and menominee. Small mesh gill net fishers may only target and retain bloater chubs. The fishers are required to release all other species back to the lake. The tribal commercial trap net fishers are required to observe a spawning closure from noon November 6 through noon November 29 of each year to protect the fish stocks. All trap nets must be either removed from the water or tied closed during the spawning closure.

Harvest guidelines for both whitefish and chubs are developed by a Technical Fisheries Committee comprised of Tribal, State and Federal biologists for each Whitefish Management Unit. Harvest limits are established for WFM-8, where state-licensed commercial fishing is allowed. The limits on the number of permits and nets in WFM-07 for the first 3 years of fishing will protect fish stocks until the Technical Fisheries Committee obtains data from biological assessment and commercial catch reports to recommend harvest guidelines for implementation by the Chippewa-Ottawa Resource Authority (CORA), which regulates Tribal fishing on the Great Lakes.

All Tribal parties in the 2000 Decree will mark all Trap nets and small mesh gill nets under net-marking regulations developed by CORA. All trap nets will be marked with a staff buoy with at least four (4) feet exposed above the surface of the water with a red or orange flag no less than twelve (12) inches by twelve (12) inches bearing the license number of the fisher and affixed to the top of the staff. In addition, the king anchor and inside end of the lead shall be marked with a red or orange float not less than one (1) gallon in size (see diagram). All small mesh gill nets will be marked with a staff buoy at each end with at least four (4) feet exposed above the surface of the water with a red or orange flag no less than twelve (12) inches by twelve (12) inches bearing the license number of the fisher and affixed to the top of the staff (see diagram).

Tribal fishers and Natural Resource Department staff hope to work with the sport and charter fishing community to provide sport fishers with information regarding net locations, net marking, and how to avoid fishing nets so that commercial and sport fishers can safely co-exist. Tampering with Tribal fishing nets is a federal offense. Persons with questions, who want additional information regarding Tribally-licensed fishing activities, or who observe others tampering with nets or equipment, are encouraged to contact the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians’ Natural Resource Department at 231-723-1594 or the Little River Band Department of Public Safety at 1-888-692-0220.


Re-posted from the Ludington Daily News

Daily News Staff Writer 10/24/01

MANISTEE — The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians is preparing to launch commercial netting operations in Lake Michigan soon.

Archie Martel, fishery biologist for the Manistee-based tribe, said the 48-foot fishing boat Judy B is expected to start trap-netting for whitefish along the shore soon. That fishing could take place in the waters from Arcadia to Hart. In future years it could be extended south to Grand Haven.

Martel said the boat coming this fall belongs to Darren Mitchell of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. He said Mitchell will work as a consultant to Little River Band members Matt and Levi Stone, who have received commercial fishing licenses through the local tribe.

The Little River Band, four other federally-recognized tribes and the U.S. Department of Interior spent two years negotiating an agreement for tribal fishing in the Great Lakes. The last 15-year agreement was signed in 1985 and expired last year.

Under the new 20-year fishing agreement, the tribe intends to use trap nets to catch whitefish and use separate boats with small-mesh gill nets to catch chubs in deep water.

“They’re going to be using (Mitchell’s) boat to start with and once we get the Little River boats going we’re going to use them,” Martel said.

The Little River boats are four vessels that the tribe will receive from the state government.

Martel said one of the trap-net fishing boats is a 53-foot boat that is currently named the PB 4, and the other trap-net boat is a 38-footer named Fin and Feather. He said the gill-netting tugs are named Shirley K and Falcon.

“But those names will probably change once the tribe takes possession,” he added.

The PB 4 needs a little work before it can be put into action, Martel said, and the Fin and Feather also needs minor work before it will be ready to fish the waters in this area. However, he said the gill-net tugs “are basically being rebuilt.”

Martel said the tribe hopes to get the four boats running in the local waters next spring. He said the tribe has permits for two trap-net boats in Whitefish Management Unit 7 — the area between Arcadia and Hart. Whitefish Management Unit 8 is the area between Hart and Grand Haven and Martel said the Little River Band could possibly let other tribes use the permits for Unit 8 if there aren’t enough interested Little River Band members.

The tribe will control the permits and will lease the fishing boats to interested tribal members, Martel said. He also said the Stone brothers are currently the only two members who are licensed for commercial fishing, and he said they have said they would like to fish together.

“We’re trying to get the word out to the tribal community, but there hasn’t been a lot of interest,” he said. “We’re hoping that once we get some boats out, we’ll get more interest.”

Trap nets catch fish alive while gill nets will kill fish. The small-mesh gill nets for chubs are also too small to catch and kill large Lake Michigan sport fish such as salmon and lake trout.

“They’ll be trap fishing for whitefish and Menominee,” said Jim Ekdahl, of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, who added that the Little River Band even chose to set its size limit for whitefish at 19 inches, or two inches larger than the limit specified in the agreement.

“That will give the fish a better chance to grow and spawn,” he said.

Ekdahl also said the trap nets will allow the tribal members to release trout and salmon that are caught.

Martel expects that the trap nets will be set in about 20-30 feet of water near shore in the fall and set in about 80-120 feet of water during the summer. He also said the nets will be well marked, in keeping with Michigan’s normal regulations for commercial fishermen, to warn boaters and sports fishermen about the nets’ locations.

The nets stretch for about 600-1,200 feet, he said, and their heights vary between 20-60 feet.

Chub nets are set along the Lake Michigan bottom in depths of about 240 feet or deeper, Martel said.

Martel’s department is also currently setting large-mesh gill nets near Ludington, Arcadia and Point Betsie as part of a state and federal study of lake trout population in northern Lake Michigan.

Little River Band Ogema, or leader, Bob Guenthardt could not be reached for comment about the tribe’s commercial fishing plans Tuesday or Wednesday morning.

Instalaunch Changes Hands

Debbie and Jim Baldwin bought Instalaunch Campground from long time owners, Gloria and George Kerr.  Instalaunch has the best tackle selection in Manistee.  They offer both dockage on the Big Manistee River and boat rentals.  2001 was Jim and Debbie's first year as the new proprietors.  

From what I could see, the new owners were especially friendly and were more than "on the job," when it came to keeping the "reel hot lures" in stock.
Click here for more info:  

From Fisherman's Center to Solbergs

Because of the long "T" dock my boat was on I moved to slip A-32 in Solberg's Marina.  In reality the boat is about 100 feet north from where it was.  Reasons for moving were many, but mainly in April 2001 a strong SE wind to 70 mph broke 7 dock lines in a 2 day period.

To find my boat enter the Captain Corner Restaurant parking lot.  At the bottom of a small hill and at the end of the asphalt, you'll see a large boat storage building.  Bear left and go to the north end of the storage building.  Then bear right and in about 100 feet you'll see a double row of camping trailers.  Bear back to the left and up the camping trailers road.  On the right hand side of the road you'll see a 35 foot, small 2 masted sailboat, named "Estaca."  My boat is located behind a dock box with Sue Lee Charter Service writing on it

Fish Hook Water Flea

Are your fishing lines getting all clogged up?

Then read the info below

How could something just one centimeter in size, cause enormous problems for Lake Michigan? Easy, when you’re a water flea with no known enemies in the area. Cercopagis pengoi, (sometimes called the fishhook flea), has recently invaded the waters of southern Lake Michigan, and is tiny but prolific. It reproduces rapidly, has no known predators, and can create havoc by upsetting the lower levels of the food chain. Patrice Charlebois, biological resources specialist for Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant noted that although this water flea was found earlier this year in Grand Traverse Bay, it is now posing a threat closer to home.

It was first spotted in the open waters of southern Lake Michigan by Burt Atkinson, captain of a charter boat named "Donna G,"who was out with a party off Waukegan Harbor. The captain noticed the masses (which can look and feel like wet cotton batten) on his lines and knew they were different from the other spiny water flea, Bythotrephes cederstroemi. Charlebois, checked zooplankton samples collected in the same area but closer to shore by her home institution, the Illinois Natural History Survey’s Lake Michigan Biological Station. She found them to be not only present in the sample, but fairly abundant.

Charlebois has followed the invasion of the spiny water flea and worries that this new species could cause even greater problems for the Lake Michigan ecosystem. As is the case with its predecessor, this new invader feeds on tiny aquatic organisms called zooplankton, which are an important food source particularly for young fish. So, Cercopagis could compete for the same food as these fish. Cercopagis also has little barbs on its tail, which gave it the nickname, "fishhook." The barbs make it difficult for small fish to eat them, and without a predator, the fishhook flea can concentrate on multiplying.

"We’re concerned about the potential impacts that Cercopagis will have on the Lake Michigan foodweb. The fact that Cercopagis feeds on other zooplankton and is not easily consumed by fish could have detrimental impacts on all levels of the lake foodweb. The foodweb has already been compromised by other exotics such as the spiny water flea and the zebra mussel." Charlebois goes on to say that Cercopagis could also be a serious threat to yellow perch. Young yellow perch rely on zooplankton as a food resource. "If Cercopagis strikes another blow to this already battered resource, yellow perch may feel the impact again."

So, what can be done to stop or slow down the spread of this potentially destructive water flea in Lake Michigan and inland lakes? Boaters and anglers can help prevent the spread of Cercopagis by observing many of the same procedures used to prevent the spread of other exotic species. Taking the time to do simple things like inspecting the boat and removing plants and animals from equipment; draining the boat of all lake or river water (including the baitbucket); dumping bait on land or in the trash, never in the water; and rinsing the boat with a high-pressure sprayer or 104 F degree water or allowing the boat to dry for at least five days before transporting it to another body of water can greatly slow and even stop the spread of Cercopagis and other exotic species


Jerry "JERI-TROLL" Ditchfield

Capt. Jerry Ditchfield

My friend Jerry Ditchfield was killed in a freak wood cutting accident in Mid-December.  He will be missed by me and the rest of Manistee for his honest and tell like it is personality.  For those of you who have fished with me, Jerry would fill in as my First Mate occasionally.  He is survived by two sons and his gracious wife Nancy.  He was in his Mid-Sixties at the time of his passing.   He may be gone but never forgotten. As a word of thought if everyone lived life like Jerry the world would be a better place for all of us!

The first state record fish has been recorded for this year in the Master Angler Program administered by the Department of Natural Resources. Angler Larry E. Curtis of Reed City, Michigan caught a record-setting brown trout weighing in at 34.62 pounds and measuring 40 1/2-inches in size on April 5. Curtis was trolling along the coastline of Lake Michigan offshore of Manistee County when he reeled in his record catch. Tom Rozich, Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist at Cadillac, identified the fish. The previous brown trout record was a 34.45 pound brown trout, also taken from Lake Michigan waters off Manistee County on April 23, 1998 by Burton Reid of Freesoil, Michigan. 

Low water problems continue!

Lake Michigan water levels are dangerously low.  We launched the lake boat 3/27/00 at the Manistee Public Launch.  We used the furthest west ramp so the trailer axles wouldn't fall off the edge of the ramp.  I've got about 3' of water in my slip behind Fisherman's Center.  Solberg's has started dredging operations but progress has been exceeding slow.  And most of the docks are unusable in the cut at Solberg's and most of the boats berthed there last summer have found dockage at other marinas


Jim Vander Maas
Tribal Issues Committee

A major breakthrough in the tribal fishing negotiations has been reached. I am very pleased to report that an agreement in principle has been reached with the tribes.

The agreement in principle resolves many major issues but there are still some very significant issues that are not resolved with several of the tribes. If these issues cannot be resolved then those tribes may not be able to join the agreement.

The key to this agreement is that both parties have committed to lake trout rehabilitation. This means that lake trout mortality has to be reduced to 40-45% from a high of around 80%. The fisheries biologists think that this reduction in mortality rates could bring about self sustaining stocks of lake trout as is realized in Lake Superior. The negotiating parties were told by US Fish and Wildlife during the negotiation process that they had no desire to stock for a put and take fishery. US F&W stocks all of the lake trout in Lakes Michigan and Huron. They will continue to stock as long as there is a plan in place for lake trout rehabilitation and all parties are moving toward self-sustaining stocks.

Lake trout rehabilitation will be made possible by the reduction of gill net effort. This reduction will be accomplished by converting many tribal gill net tugs to trap nets tugs. Also, state licensed commercial fishermen have agreed to voluntarily sell their fishing operations to allow tribal trap net conversion and expansion into the Bays De Noc. This conversion has the potential to remove 45% of the gill net effort.

This reduction of gill net effort will decrease tribal harvest of lake trout and greatly increase their harvest of whitefish. This is where most of them would like to be because whitefish bring a higher value at the market place.

There are two new tribes that are a part of this process that were not parties to the 1985 Consent Agreement. They are the Little River Band of Manistee and the Little Traverse Bay Band of Petoskey. There will now be tribal fishing in parts of Lake Michigan south of Leland. They will be fishing trap nets also known as impoundment gear. This gear will allow the tribes to keep their targeted whitefish and release all sport species back into the water alive. They also may be fishing small mesh gill nets for chubs. These nets would be fished in depths of 240 feet or deeper and since these nets are only about six feet high so there will be no conflict with sport fishing. Also, these nets have very little if any impact on sport fish populations.

There are still some very important issues that have to be resolved. We do have the makings of a new agreement and I am optimistic but there is still a ways to go. As you know the Michigan Steelheaders are a member of the Michigan Fisheries Resource Conservation Coalition which is recognized by the court as a litigating amici.

Our attorney, Steve Schultz, has done a terrific job representing our interests. We have to keep Steve in this process until the final document is written and signed. If you haven’t yet donated to the SOS Fund please do so now. The financial support from our membership really has not been what I thought it would be. I guess I am somewhat disappointed. I thought this issue was one of the most critical that our sport fishery  would face. If you have not yet donated to the SOS Fund, please do so now so that we can be certain we will be able to stay the course and see this process through to its successful conclusion. Thank you.

3 Fisherman Rescued

On 8/1/99 a 18 ft. Starcraft Fishing Boat was swamped by Seas running 5' to 8'.  It filled with water and capsized in front of Capt. John King while on the Pete Palazollo Charter.  Careful down wind boat maneuvering made it possible to retrieve the 2 men and a 10 year old boy from Lk. Michigan. Incidentally the Palazollos went back out in the evening when it calmed down and caught a 30 pound King or Chinook.

U. S. Coast Guard tows Vessel to Shore

Being instructed by the Coast Guard, Kings Charter stood by on scene to mark position of the capsized boat (hazard to navigation).   After about 20 minutes the Coast Guard was able to secure a line to the boat and tow it to the City Launch in Manistee.