Saturday, June 25, 2011

One Day on the Water

I went out without hope, I came back inspired.  Blissful.  Sublimely happy.  I'll mostly say this with pictures.  There's one video down there- I posted it because the footage is better than the photos.

I was supposed to work this day (Saturday June 18) but I had a backlog of things that had to get done, which took all of the morning, so I texted my customer to let him know I'd come Sunday, finished my work about 1:30 in the afternoon, loaded my kayak and gear, and pointed the truck north, back to Sturgeon Bay on Lake Michigan.  When I got there, the wind was howling at a steady 25 mph, with gusts, but the sun was shining, the day was beautiful, and the water beckoned.
gorgeous blue-green water

I had barely gotten started up the coast when I started seeing carp- dozens of them, 200 or more on the first flat I came to.  I was unable to hook up on carp, but did manage one smallmouth, and so I fished out the camera.  I spooked the carp off shore with my wild casting in that wind, managed to hook my own caboose, and so went further up the coast to find fish.  At my next stop I found this one.

Just a random spot on the shore, nothing special, but I was eyeing a large rock a little ways up near a reef and caught three more smallmouth.
ever try to shoot action, while fighting the fish?

When I returned to the kayak, the wind had blown my paddle away and it was only this rock that saved it.

From here I paddled all the way to the cut, where Wilderness point ends and Waugoshaunce Island begins.  I paddled to a small rocky islet and cast around.  Here's what I came up with.

That's right, my first carp on the fly.  Here's video of me landing it, as the quality is a lot better than the photos I took.

I have to say that this fish was not particularly "hot", I did not see my backing.  He took most of my fly line, but I actually hooked up in deeper water, about six feet, and because it was the deepest spot for some distance around I don't think he wanted to leave it.  The fish I spooked on the flats took off much faster than this fish, so I'm not giving up on the "golden bone" dream.

It was a lovely day, with awesome scenery and fantastic fishing despite the wind.  I probably saw upwards of 500 carp in huge shifting schools or small bands.  The sea birds, the eagles, the sky and water all combine for a memorable experience.  It really is a dream destination, and only 30 minutes from my house.  This was my first time paddling out that far, and it was amazing how different the geology and water conditions were from the rest of the area I live in.

amazing how weeds can be beautiful

As the sun began to drop and the sight fishing got tougher, I ate my dinner on my little islet, tried for those carp again, then started the hour long paddle back to the truck.  I could see a storm pounding its way across the U.P. and hoped it would miss me or hold off until I got home.  I'll definitely be going back soon to fish the waters around the island.  The satellite views show it to be as big as the point itself, with even more extensive reefs and flats.  The rivers are blown out right now from a week of rain, so this may be the best option anyways.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Storm clouds build on the horizon


  1. A beautiful series of pictures! Great job capturing your journey...

  2. Nice fish, video came out well.
    Very unique area you were fishing.

  3. Hi,
    New fan. Good story. Nice eyes on the smallies. Interesting how their camo differs in that enviro.
    Fun vid. Sick carp. Is that a Predator stick? I'm kind of intrigued by them.

  4. I can hardly wait to fish in MI. You've got some very beautiful water up there, my friend.

  5. Congrats on getting a carp on the fly...I'd love to do that! Great pics and vid. Thanks for sharing your outing!

  6. Your right, that video looks super crisp. What camera you shooting with?

  7. I really enjoyed this post and especially the video. I love to see this part of the state.

  8. very nice, very nice. Pretty good things going on in Lake Michigan these days huh?

  9. Thank you all for reading and commenting.

    @Herringbone- welcome to the fold, glad you're diggin' it. That rod is a Flextec. I'm not so fond of it, but until I break it again or can afford better, I'll fish it into the ground.

    @Jay- I think that Michigan is undersung because it has so much water. Even the locals don't know what they have. Your trip here is going to be amazing- I'm looking forward to the posts. I've never kayaked pictured rocks.

    @Blake- I shot that vid with the Flipcam sent to me by the folks at Take Me Fishing. It's made by Cisco, is not waterproof, and shoots Super HD. It eats AA batteries like a fiend. Until I become the next R.A. Beatty it's what I'll use.

    @Cofisher and Clif- I pinch myself every day here. Scenic, loads of fish, huge variety in water and species. Glad you enjoyed it, I'll keep fishing and posting.

  10. Awesome...I love those smallies! That rock cracked me up...glad it caught your paddle :-)

    ...oh, nice carp...congrats!

  11. Great Pics and fish. Paddling all over the place in search of different fish to catch, sounds like a blast. I really need to get a kayak. Also, I still can't get that 16" Brookie you caught a while back out of my head. Great Fish. Tight Lines.

  12. @Magee- coming from you, with all those great fish you get in the Driftless area, that's compliment I'll take.
    @Sanders- I was much more cautious after that happened. I paddled out to a reef a half mile off shore and fished and man was I paranoid about making sure everything was secure.
    Thanks for tuning in guys.

  13. Good stuff. I just finished a trip in that area. What a fantastic resource! Amazing water and the carp act much more like smallmouth than they do in Oregon. I can't wait to go back.

    Nice carp!

  14. You might like this $9 gizmo called a Yakclip (, a plastic piece that clips on the lip of your cockpit and to which you can quickly clip your paddle. That and / or the basic paddle leash ( can give you piece of mind (and safety) out there. Great account of a nice trip.

  15. Somehow I missed this post! Nice carp! Congrats. :) And as always, I loved the read...

  16. @Michael Roberts- thanks for the tip. I will look into the clip, though I bought a leash last year and just haven't dug it out of storage.
    @e.m.b.- I purposely "under" wrote this piece for a good reason. I'll give you a heads up when the full piece comes out. I wish I could take all of my blogging buddies up there to fish, it would blow their minds.

  17. Congradulations on that first carp! Looks like a great one!

  18. The leash is a good deal should you tip over in open water. I've canoed for many years, and kayaked the past 7-8. Two winters ago, while still living in Arizona, I was several miles up a canyon lake, part of the series of big dams on the Salt River. Turning around in a high wide, I blinked for a second and a big wave lifted me up and dumped me over. No shore, just high rock walls. I had to drag the kayak and paddle (on leash) over to a section of canyon wall with a tiny fissure where I could inch my butt out of the water, flip the kayak in my lap, and then pump it out, and slither back into the kayak. It's a hard recovery when a kayak flips, and the leash will give you two hands until you need the paddle again. Love kayaks, but lose the paddle while setting the hook, or in a spill, and its a tough time. Dangerous on the big lakes.