Monday, July 14, 2008

Dyou Always Study The Water?


My viewpoint, as a fisherman, is to study the water whenever I pass by. Lake, stream or a bog pond: it makes little difference. Yesterday was a classic example of looking at lakes and streams without once thinking about fishing.

Relatives from downstate came up yesterday to bicycle the trail from Frankfort to Thompsonville. It was windy, and they called a halt to the trip after only eight miles had rolled under their tires.

Last year they had good views of both arms of Grand Traverse Bay as we rolled through town. Our wheels turned west on US-31, and we headed for a book sale in Beulah. That didn’t pan out with anything that would suit my tastes, and they’d heard of the beauty of Crystal Lake.

We drove through downtown Beulah, and we stopped near the Crystal Lake boat ramp. I’m visually picking out the landmarks for hotspots on this huge body of water where I’ve caught lake trout, perch and whitefish while they oohed and ahed.

It’s an anglers way to cope when this wasn’t a fishing day. I did notice there were only three boat trailers lined up near the launch site, and the lake was flat calm. Hardly anyone was fishing.

We went on down US-31 south to M-115, and turned west toward Frankfort. We cruised slowly through town until we reached the turn-around near the harbor. My cousin and his son and wife walked through the sand to the north pier, and walked it out to the lighthouse. It was a new experience for them.

The harbor was empty of boats but a few could be seen to the north toward Point Betsie. I thought about the many times when I’ve trolled off the mouth and caught salmon at this time of year. Oddly, only one boat was trolling off the river mouth.

The economy and high cost of fuel is putting a serious dent on boating and travel. People are biding their time, in some cases, waiting for the peak of the salmon season before going out. Many boats will hold $200 or more of fuel, and that makes for a very expensive day on the water.

Our journey, for my relatives who had never experienced the northwest shoreline of Lake Michigan, took us up M-22 past the west end of Crystal Lake. We followed the highway north, crossed the Platte River, and turned east on Deadstream Road into Honor. We passed through the quiet portion of Platte Lake, and they were impressed with the trip.

I’m proud of what we have in the Traverse City area, and enjoy showing it off to those people who enjoy the beauty of the area. They don’t fish, but that’s OK with me.

I fish enough to make up for them. Each body of water we passed generated a different feeling for me. My thoughts were looking at the water, the wind direction, and how I’d set up to fish various locations for different game fish.

For me, it was a non-angling day but my mind was filled with thoughts of previous fishing days, good catches and bad, and some wonderful memories of trips shared with other anglers.

Fishing isn’t always about being on the water with a baited hook or a trolling lure. Like today, it was more of a mental experience than anything else.

My relatives could have cared less about my thoughts on fishing. For them, it was a chance to see something new in northern Michigan and to sip from the cup of natural beauty.

They were more interested in biking trails, of which we have some, and they were into walking the beach bare-footed. They looked at Crystal Lake, knowing it is considered one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, and they could see the beauty.

Now me, I can see the beauty and share in the wonders of fishing Lake Michigan or any of the inland lakes we passed on our morning journey. I knew the best spots to fish each lake for a variety of game fish, and it became easier to cater to their preferred interests.

This day wasn’t about giving me pleasure although I took my fair measure of enjoyment by sharing my intense love for the area with my relatives. In turn, they were able to spend a morning basking in the natural beauty of this part of the state.

Two sides—the angling and non-angling—benefited from this journey. To me, that means it was a win-win situation for everyone.

Posted by Dave Richey on 07/14 at 07:44 PM
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