Saturday, June 23, 2012

Beaver Island Fever



It's kind of like beaver fever, but with more fish and less dysentery.  I would think by now that most of you have at least heard of Beaver Island. After all, it has been heralded and high-lighted by such luminaries as Kirk Deeter and Tim Romano of Field and Stream in last years "Operation Michigan Tropical" and this last week by Cameron Mortenson of The Fiberglass Manifesto. His first fish, by the way, weighed 34 pounds.

As I write this, Dave Hosler of Pile Cast and Ethan Smith of SmithFly are on Beaver Island. Dave is fishing with Indigo Guide Service this weekend, and Ethan will be fishing with them Monday and Tuesday. Ethan has invited me to join him on Tuesday. I am so stoked it is difficult to sit here and type.

Why Beaver Island? What makes it so special.  First of all, it is an end-of-the-road destination. It takes effort to get there. It takes more than an hour to get from any freeway to Charlevoix. Charlevoix is at least 4 hours from any major metro area. Once there you either have to hop a plane or take the ferry. Once you get to Beaver Island, you are surrounded by miles of open water, white sand beaches, clattering terns and screeching gulls, and not much else.  If you really, REALLY want to get away from it all, head for Beaver Island.

Secondly, it has a really strange history, complete with a Mormon monarchy and subsequent uprising, assassination and exodus, a lawless period, the Irish influx followed by the death of the fishing and timber industries which resulted in the current and very quiet population of about 600.  Scientists today study the bird populations of the outer islands in the archipelago, as well as the smallmouth bass. I have caught some of their tagged fish in my home waters.

my success so far


Why would anyone travel to Beaver Island to fish for carp? First of all, we fly anglers need to stop turning our noses up at fish. Mike Agneta of Troutrageous! took a shot at carp recently. He was joking, kinda.  It's not just that carp are large- they are, but they are also finicky, easily spooked, line shy, and super sensitive to sounds and vibrations.  Once hooked they can easily clean out your reel, dust its shelves and tell you that you need to stock up on tissue. Fly anglers who are easily impressed by a 10 inch brook trout should not turn up their noses at ten pound carp. Most fly anglers will fish their entire lives without needing a drag. Unless they fish for carp, in which case it had better work, they had better know their knots, they had better know how to double-haul into a 25 knot breeze, and they had better know how much an 8 pound tippet can take. (At this point I don't think it should be called tippet, just tip)

So, I'm off to Beaver Island.  The Mormons have all left for the South Pacific. Kirk Deeter went to wherever he goes. Cameron Mortenson is safely back in South Carolina. Dave Hosler will be there, as will Ethan Smith, Kevin Morlock, and my friend Steve Martinez. It will be kick-ass no matter what. It will be dirtbag- I'll be sleeping on a couch, in a trailer, on an island, in Lake Michigan, in the Midwest, in North America, on planet Earth, in the Universe, The Mind of God. It will be perfect.


7 comments:

  1. Have a blast. I am jonesing to get over there.

    Dirtbag trips are always the best trips.

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  2. Hey, I'm a specialist. I hope you get the chance to go.

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  3. I wish I would have gone up there when Kevin first told me about it a couple years back. Hoping to book a spot next year. Crossing fingers.

    JGR

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    1. You won't be disappointed. It truly is a great destination. I'm glad it's finally getting the attention it deserves.

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  4. What an interesting place to visit... I have to put this on the bucket list! How lucky you are to live near such a destination.

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    1. I'd say it is a bucket list location. Schedule a week, even if most of that week is spent wandering the island, greeting the locals and sitting on a beach staring across the water.

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