Due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, the border between the US and Canada was closed, so our traditional Memorial Day Canada fishing trip was cancelled. Granddaughter Grace graduated from Marshfield High School over Memorial Day, I was happy to share in her big day!
Tuesday June 1, 2021
Fred Bouwman and I still got together to camp and fish in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan June 1-4. Not many towns between Fred’s house near Three Lake WI and the UP, so we drove to Luckey’s Sports Shop in Iron River to get bait and fishing advice.
We drove back to the Lake Ottawa Recreation Area in the Ottawa National Forest near Iron River MI. It is a beautiful, quiet, remote camping area. We setup camp and decided to check out the boat landing and make sure the boat is ready.
While I have owned this 16′ Fisher boat for many years, I have not used it much, it was two big and heavy to take to Canada. It is a comfortable boat, flat floor, live well, trolling motor, 25hp motor with electric start, bilge pump, lights, roller trailer, etc. It used to leak badly, son-in-law Jed ripped out the floor and fixed the leaks and put in new carpeting – good as new!
We found the boat landing, to be rather steep, no dock, but it generally good shape. I removed the straps from the boat and the front wench strap before backing into the water. Instead of needing to be pushed out off the bunks like my 14′ boat, the bigger 16′ boat rolled right off the trailer into the lake. Embarrassed, I had to wade out into chest deep, 62 degree water to retrieve the boat.
We went back to camp to put on dry clothes and celebrate the end of COVID. Steak and garlic bread around a nice campfire with the loons calling across the lake was a perfect end to a nice day.
Wednesday June 2, 2021
We tried to sleep in despite the hundreds of birds singing at sunrise. Coffee was the first priority, followed by a good breakfast of eggs and Canadian bacon (in honor of where we should be 😦 ).
We got the boat in the water in a more conventional manor. Started trolling minnows in 8-12′ water. Lake Ottawa is a deep lake, with lots of structure. 8′ one minute and 25′ the next!. Tried using heavier jigs to ensure we stayed in contact with the bottom. Beautiful, mostly sunny day. We trolled the South and West side of the lake.
The wind kicked up and we were trolling too fast, so I shifted between Forward and Neutral to keep the speed right. I got a snag and started to back up and got Fred’s line in the motor. It was a complete cluster! The wind was pushing the boat away from the snag and pulling out my drag, but when I put the motor in reverse, it pulled out all of Fred’s line. I finally retrieved my jig and started to unwind Fred’s line from the motor. Usually not a big deal with my short shaft 15 hp motor, but a tricky proposition leaning off the back of the boat to reach down a long shaft 25 hp motor. I saved Fred’s Mepp’s Spinner, but I could not unwrap all of the line, so we headed back to the landing. We pulled on to the trailer and headed back to camp to perform the repairs. Took off the prop to make sure that no line was stuck inside. Removed all the line and put the prop back on. Enjoyed a couple of beers before the rain started.
I had no expectations that we would catch any fish, so I bought frozen Walleye fillets from Hewitt Meats in Marshfield. When the rain stopped, we enjoyed blackened walleye fish tacos around a nice campfire. Clear night, bright stars and saw several satellites.
Thursday June 3, 2021
Cool clear night, great sleeping weather. Woke to a clear morning with a light breeze. Breakfast of French toast, coffee, juice and breakfast sausages. Cleaned up camp and made sure we had plenty of ice.
Put the boat in the water and headed for the North West end where Fred tried fly fishing near the mouth of a stream. Tried trolling and casting without success, although Steve did land a nice stick.
We noticed a lot of big black bugs on the water and at time the air was thick with mayflies. This might be why fishing was so poor. We watched the other 2 fishing boats and never saw a fish taken.
We found an old landing with a clearing nearby with a sandy shore. We got out to stretch our legs and explore this quiet area.
We sat near the shore and enjoyed a beer while enjoying the view. We watched a deer come out of the woods and into the water for a drink.
We trolled the remaining East side of the lake when it started to rain harder. We decided to call it a day and loaded the boat back on the trailer. Went back to camp, unhooked the trailer and looked at maps of the area. We decided that a rainy day might be a good time to explore. We found the road to the old landing. The rain lightened up, so we went for a hike. Saw evidence that the clearing might have been a cabin or other building that was removed by the park.
We drove South to see some of the nearby lakes (Hagerman Lake) that are surrounded by cabins before returning to our quiet and secluded camp. The skies cleared and we enjoyed Cajun style walleye with black beans and rice. Great flavor! Nice campfire under the stars.
Friday June 4, 2021
Bright sunny morning got us up and out of the tent early. Started coffee and a morning fire. Enjoyed a hardy breakfast of biscuits and gravy. Cleaned up dishes and broke camp. Packed the boat and the truck and then headed home. Poor fishing, but a fun trip!