2020 has been the year of cancelled plans and things we cant do. But yesterday despite a rainy weather forecast we managed to pull off a fantastic family fishing trip on Lake Michigan. We have been very good about sticking close to home and following the rules during Covid-19, so this was a treat for us to spend a day as a family doing something fun together.
My good friend “The Captain” has had a big fishing boat that he docks in Whitehall for years. It is not a charter boat, he just loves to fish and to bring his friends out with him. A few years ago, my husband and I went out with him and brought home some very nice salmon. Our travels prevented us from going the following year, and last year a nasty storm blew in the night before our scheduled trip, so it wasn’t safe to go out.
This year the forecast looked good up until a day or so before our planned trip, then it showed rain coming. But since it wasn’t predicting thunder, lightning or high waves, we decided to tough it out. For this trip I arranged with The Captain to bring my daughter and her fella along with us. The Captain was happy to meet them and have them along for our fishing day.
My daughter and I have taken an annual Girls Getaway trip for years. Of course, we had to cancel our trip to Arizona and the Grand Canyon planned for this April due to the virus. We decided that our fishing adventure with the boys today would have to serve as a replacement. As a bonus, her fellas birthday had been just a few days before the trip. Since he is a big outdoorsman that loves hunting and fishing, this excursion was a treat for him as well.
The Captain requested that we be at the municipal pier in Whitehall, Michigan by 5:00 a.m. for departure. If we left from our house, it would be a 3 hour drive including the stop to pick up our kids an hour from us along the way. We decided to crash with them on Saturday night and leave from there in the morning instead, which cut the drive to under 2 hours. Why not stay in a hotel near the pier? There are not a lot of good options and the ones that were available in the area were either booked, scary or had ridiculously high room rates.
We set our alarms for 2:45 a.m. This concerned me because my daughter has never been a morning person. But she and I ended up being the first ones up and she was surprisingly chatty and pleasant. We rolled out on time and drove through rain all the way there. As we got closer to the pier, the rain got even harder and water was pooling on the dark highway. My husband had to slow down significantly to ensure we got there safely, even though it caused us to arrive about 15 minutes late. Drenched and apprehensive, we loaded our supplies onto the boat and set out on our adventure. As we headed through the dark and the rain, we didn’t have a high expectation for how our fishing day would go. Instead we were simply determined to make the best of it and just enjoy the adventure. Any fish we caught would be a bonus.
When we made it out of the channel and far enough out on Lake Michigan we began to set up the rigs. By we, I mean The Captain, an our fellas. We watched from the dry cabin as they set out at least 8 fully rigged poles. It was best to stay out of the way as they did this and just take them items they requested from the cabin for their set ups. It was kind of like watching a ballet the way they moved between the poles determining the proper types of baiting, depth and rigging for various parts of our fishing day. It had continued raining and although the sun was up, it was still dark because of the heavy rain clouds. Spirits were somewhat low.
Once everything was rigged, we chatted and munched on some snacks I had packed as we trolled along and patiently waited for a line to go off. We put on an 80’s playlist and when a Prince song came on (The Captain’s favorite) a line immediately popped and my husband took first dibs at reeling in a fish. His Salmon put up a good fight, but he brought it in. Knowing that we would not get skunked today because we had our first fish in the cooler box brought everyone’s spirits up.
Then it started to get light and the rain stopped for a while. The excitement was building as we continued to head into deeper water. We watched the rain cloud clusters pass without managing to end up in another rain burst ourselves. It actually became sunny and beautiful. Another Prince song began to play from our random playlist and bam the next line went off. Now we sure that the spirit of Prince was bringing us luck on our fishing trip.
My daughter and I took our turns and reeled in decent sized CoHo salmon that were just the right size for us to manage. Because The Captain had much to do helping us pull in fish and rig lines, my daughter spent much of her day in the Captain’s seat navigating the boat. He would yell up the instructions for what direction and how many clicks to turn the boat or how much to slow the boat down when we were bringing in a fish. She loved it because it gave her an important task as well as the best view of everything from the Captains seat.
My husband pulled in a 20 pound 6 ounce King Salmon and we thought that this would be the big fish for the day. until her fella brought in a monster! When we made our way out to 150 feet of depth a huge King Salmon hit. What a battle watching her fella coax and reel the fish toward the boat. The Captain was excited knowing this one was a beast. It was so thrilling when we first saw the fish as it got nearer to the boat. It was massive. But he landed it and the fighting King weighed in at 25 pounds and 12 ounces! The Captain was delighted and said that this fish set a new boat record. He hurriedly started making calls to his fellow fisherman to spread the news of our amazing catch.
We fished our butts off! The early start and our big adventure along with the tranquil sound of the waves lulled the kids into a cat nap as we headed back to the pier. I sat back and quietly enjoyed the wonderful views of the sky, lake and local surroundings.
Thanks to The Captain’s expert rigging and his ability to maneuver the boat to the best fishing locations, we brought in a fantastic haul. Somehow we evaded most of the rain fronts and thanks to Prince (we hit at least 3 fish as Prince songs came on), we ended up with 2 CoHo, 3 King Salmon and a surprise Steelhead that we snagged as we were pulling in the lines. These 6 fish weighed in at around 75 pounds total. That’s a lot of salmon. The Captain and our fellas cleaned the fish on shore as we packed up the supplies and hosed down the deck. It was such a great catch that we packed our entire fish cooler full and still had to fit 2 more of the big bags of fish into our food cooler to get them home.
I think the key to 2020 is to set lower expectations for everything. If things go well, you will have exceeded your expectations an come out happy instead of disappointed. We did not count on this rainy day clearing up and becoming a beautiful afternoon or on catching so many fish. It just ended up a great day.
I am so thankful that The Captain let us come out with him and guided us through this awesome experience. It was great seeing my family all so happy as they went about the day and worked together to accomplish tasks. We all supported each other as we reeled in fish, untangling snagged lines and learned how to do new things.
Although we were all wiped out and exhausted when we got home from our trip yesterday, tonight we will be having fresh caught salmon for dinner!
Dream, Plan, Save, ADVENTURE!