Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Many Things Pique My Interest

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The outdoors is much more than just fishing and hunting. There is a vast store of information about various aspects that I admittedly know too little about, and I take pride in my knowledge of many other topics. And feel bad about my ignorance on a variety of other matters.

For instance: one glaring error in my outdoor education is my knowledge of bushes and trees. Sure, I know what aspen, beech, birch, cedar, maple, oak and pine trees and their leaves or needles look like, but throw an oddball tree my way and ask for an identification, and I’m as lost as last year’s Easter egg.

I started thinking today about a question one of my kids asked me more than 30 years ago. David asked: “Dad, have you fished every lake and stream in the state?”

The answer then and still is “no.” I’ve fished a good big number of them over my half-century-plus of prowling this state, but there are many I haven’t fished and may never try. Time is against me or most people who would try to accomplish such a daunting task. I once knew I man who have fished over 300 inland trout lakes in this state, and even more astounding was that he had caught a limit from each late but this is another story for another day.

That thought and other similar ones brought me to today’s topic. Someone e-mailed this morning, and asked if I knew the largest inland lakes in the state. By sheer good fortune, I knew the five top lakes in terms of size, and could even name them in order; Houghton, Torch, Charlevoix, Burt and Mullett lakes. Beyond those five, I was lost and began doing some quick research.

An obscure DNR booklet named Michigan’s 20 Largest Inland Lakes was found in a file cabinet, and the topic proved fascinating. Fifteen of the lakes are in the Lower Peninsula and five are in the Upper Peninsula.

What follows is that list, ranging from No. 1 to No. 20, the county or counties where the lakes are found, their size in acres, and the miles of shoreline (which includes islands) around it.

*1. Houghton Lake is in Roscommon County. It has 20,044 acres and has 30 miles of shoreline.

*2. Torch Lake is located in Antrim and Kalkaska counties, and has 18,770 acres. There are 40.8 miles of shoreline.

*3. Lake Charlevoix is in Charlevoix County. It has 17,260 acres, and the shoreline covers 56 miles.

4. Burt Lake is in Cheboygan County. It covers 18,120 acres, and the shoreline measures 30.1 miles.

*5. Mullett Lake also is in Cheboygan County. It has 16,630 acres, and the shoreline measures 31.6 miles.

6. Gogebic Lake, the Upper Peninsula’s largest inland lake, is found in Gogebic and Ontonagon counties. It covers 13,380 acres, and covers 34.4 miles of shoreline.

7. Big Manistique Lake, rests in Luce and Mackinac counties, and it is tied for 7th place with 10,130 acres. It has 26.5 miles of Upper Peninsula shoreline.

8. Black Lake in Cheboygan and Presque Isle counties, also has 10,130 acres. It has 18.7 miles of shoreline.

9. Crystal Lake in Benzie County is one of the state’s most beautiful lakes. It has 9,711 acres and 20.8 miles of shoreline.

10. Portage Lake in Houghton County was one of the last strongholds for sauger in this state. Fisheries biologists feel the sauger have become extinct. The lake has 9,640 acres with 55.9 miles of shoreline.

11. Higgins Lake in Crawford and Roscommon counties has 9,000 acres. It has 21 miles of shoreline.

12. Fletcher Floodwaters is located in Alpena and Montmorency counties. It has 8,970 acres with 24.7 shoreline miles.

13. Hubbard Lake is located in Alcona County. It has 8,850 acres and 19.3 miles of frontage on the lake.

14. North and South Lakes Leelanau in Leelanau County covers 8,320 acres. It has 40.2 miles of shoreline.

15. Indian Lake is found in Schoolcraft County. It has an even 8,000 acres with 16.7 miles of shoreline.

16. Elk Lake in Antrim and Grand Traverse counties has 7,730 surface acres. It measures 25.8 miles around the lake.

17. Michigamme Reservoir is located in Iron County. It features 7,200 acres but has 78 miles of shoreline.

8. Glen Lake in Leelanau County includes the east and west basins, and covers 6,285 surface acres. It only has 17 miles of shoreline.

19. Grand Lake in Presque Isle County. It covers 6,660 acres with 35.5 miles of shoreline.

20. Long Lake in Alpena and Presque Isle counties has 5,652 acres. It has 25.3 miles of shoreline.

As I told my son, I haven’t fished all of Michigan’s inland waters. However, I have fished each of the Top 20 inland lakes on several occasions and have never come away skunked.

Keep this list handy, and it can settle any type of bar bet or solve discussions with other anglers. It also provides a very good reference to some of the top fishing lakes in the state.

Posted by Dave Richey on 02/20 at 07:53 PM
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