An Outdoorsman‛s Journal
The Desire to Catch a Salmon
Hello friends: My desire to catch a salmon on Lake Michigan while paddling a canoe makes almost zero sense to a person who knows how to fish salmon. Paddle-trolling a canoe on Lake Michigan while pulling planer boards and deep-running lures with weights in most cases does not allow your lure to have the proper action and that is a guaranteed fact if you have a head wind.
My memory tells me that I have caught at least 12 salmon out of a canoe, so I ignore common sense.
The danger aspect is beyond stupid. Folks, I have to tell you, though, when you hook into a salmon after paddling for hours, sometimes days, and you land that salmon, you have achieved something in a canoe that I have never seen anyone else attempt to do.
Saturday, June 27 High 81, low 55 I would rig my canoe and launch it at Seagull Marina and Campground in Two Rivers. The launch here is only big enough for one boat at a time and I watched at least 25 rigs go in the water while I got my canoe ready for up to two days on the water. On this experience I did not plan on coming back to the landing and had a sleeping bag packed.
So the word on Lake Michigan this summer is that there is an excellent salmon bite and the fish have good weight. I would be using my Helix 7 for electronics and it took me almost an hour to paddle out to get into deep enough water to hold salmon. I would use flasher/fly combos and spoons, and switched over to glow spoons at dark.
The largest challenge to this trip besides not filling your canoe with water and paddling fast enough is the physical part of it. I sit on a tote and I paddle and I paddle and you always have to believe that any minute your line is going to start peeling off your reel at breakneck speed and you have to pull your other lines, fight your fish, and control the canoe as well as not fall out. The last hour of daylight I was in 115 feet of water and fishing among the charters and dozens of hopeful salmon fishermen who without a doubt were thinking I was a complete fool for being out in an open canoe two miles from shore.
I paddled, checked my lines, and changed my lures until just after midnight. I did not see anyone else on the water at that time and I hit shore in bit of craziness. I was north of town a few miles and the waves were breaking on shore and due to the rise in the lake I could not find any dry land that did not have a 4-15 foot sand wall. I used my spotlight and found dry land just big enough for my canoe and then kicked a trough in the sand, put my sleeping bag in it, tied my canoe to myself, and went to sleep. I was done in!
Sunday, June 28 High 84, low 56 I had planned on sleeping until five ‘cuz I was in pain. I could not do it and got up at four and began the one-hour paddle to deep water. I was by the lighthouse that is north of town and I had high hopes as I eventually made it out to the charters and locals who once again were enjoying the Mark Walters Show.
I know fish were caught but I can honestly say that I only saw nets getting used twice and that was after I hit 150 feet. I came up with a new goal and that was to see if I could hit 200 feet and then head south and fish my way to Two Harbors. When I hit 176, I made the mistake of cutting one of my lines with my paddle and had plenty of work to do, and made the choice that close to three miles from shore was good enough.
I did not realize that I was so far from town, maybe seven miles, when I started heading back at 10:00 and I had been paddling for 5.5 hours. The sun was hot, the flies were biting, and the salmon were not.
My body performed really well and I did not even have to take any aspirin, but when I hit the landing at 2 p.m., I was done in and there were storms on the way. Over 22 hours, I paddled for 16 and never gave up hope and slept on a really small but cool beach.
The elusive salmon from a canoe did not happen on this adventure but I will be back next year if I think my body can handle it and fear does not overcome desire. Sunset