An Outdoorsman’s Journal-
By Mark Walters
Late Winter on Little Bay de Noc
Hello friends, Without a doubt, the ice fishing/winter camping trip I was looking forward to the most, was a three-day adventure to Little Bay de Noc, which is the north end of Green Bay, and is in the upper peninsula of Michigan.
My 28-year-old stepson, Travis Dushek, would ride north with me and the following day, our good buddy, Doug Cibulka, would join us, and we had extremely high hopes of catching a very large walleye.
Friday, March 6 • High 26, Low 17
I fished and camped on LBDN about 15 nights a winter, from 1999 until 2012. The guys from my deer camp and I kept three shacks on the ice just north of Gladstone, Mich., and we had three annual winter trips that were a blast, taught every kid in our gang how to love the ice and yielded us an incredible amount of 28-inch plus walleye, with several over 30.
The great fishing ended and I have only been back one year, and that trip was fun, but unproductive.
This morning, Travis and I left Necedah at 5 a.m., with my enclosed trailer loaded with gear and did we ever have high hopes. Our first bit of bad luck came in the form of an overnight snow/ice event, that at times, made for some pretty tricky driving.
Our next “interesting experience,” was when we hit the ice at the Days River, which is a popular on-ramp to the bay. It was extremely windy, had been the entire drive and there were a lot of white out conditions on the bay. Much worse than the whiteout, was that there was no path on the ice, as everything was drifted in a big way, and pulling a trailer was going to require luck and skill.
Our luck improved, when we met Randy Rein, who owns and operates Sleeper Shaks. Randy asked us a few questions, then said “follow me and drive fast.” We did just that for close to two miles and beat the crap out of everything we had with us, but maybe two miles later, had a home. Randy told us why we should catch walleye there, then Trav and I began setting tip-ups, and the big job of building a camp in hurricane force winds that were out of the north.
We stayed up very late, we ate very good meals, we did not catch a fish!
Saturday, March 7 • High 34, Low 17
Doug showed up very early this morning and was ready to have fun. It is a good thing Doug showed up, because he caught the first fish, which was a 32.5-inch northern pike.
Today, the wind switched from the north to the south, and we moved my truck and trailer to block it.
We had two Eskimo pop-up ice shacks, of which both were 13feet long, and used them for wind blocks so we could hang outside. For the most part, the fish were not hungry, so our entertainment was watching truck after truck get stuck in the snow drifts.
About midday, we had a Michigan conservation warden and local police officer arrive at our camp by snowmobile for a check. We were breaking no rules and they could tell. Both guys told us the bite was dead, but that they did check one group of fishermen who had a 34-inch walleye they had actually measured.
I have to tell you, Doug and I have been buddies pretty much all our lives. I helped raise Travis since he was six and the three of us had a complete blast living on the ice, with each of us taking turns cooking great meals.
We were having so much fun trying to catch a fish, we stayed up until 4 a.m., and in reality, we never quit laughing.
The three of us came up with a better plan for next year, after we scoped out the lay of this body of water with maps and electronics, and decided that this must be an annual trip.
The truck/trailer ride back to shore was interesting, but successful, we made it back to my house after dark and that might have been the most fun, unsuccessful walleye fishing trip of my life. Sunset