It’s salmon season here in west Michigan, a time of the year when people head to the various rivers famous for their runs. It’s where launch ramps have traffic jams like one would find at a gas station offering its product for $2.50 a gallon. When this craze first hit the state, after salmon were stocked in the Great Lakes in the 1960’s, people would venture out into the water in boats that were made for small inland lakes or rivers, not a hundred and eighteen mile wide by three hundred and seven mile long body of water! Most of us didn’t have a clue about what to use or how to fish for these “new” salmon.
I remember standing on a pier and watching a fisherman casting out and getting a hit. He set the hook. The fish took off for parts unknown and a bewildered man stood there watching the line being stripped from his reel until the end of the spool was reached and the line snapped. There the poor guy stood with a rod and an empty fishing reel in his hand and a look on his face that ranged between sorrow and amazement.
Over the years technology has changed the way salmon are fished. Basic fish finders now have LCD screen that give direction, speed, and water temperature and enhanced displays that can be adjusted for depth. Down riggers are electronic and give depth readings. Rods and reels are made especially for trolling for these “speedsters of the deep” and are also used for the trout that share these waters with the salmon. The boats used today are much more seaworthy which allows the fisherman to venture further from the shore. For those of us familiar with the Great Lakes we know how treacherous these waters can be when a sudden storm comes up. Salmon fishing season is synonymous with storm season.
This past week a friend invited me to go fishing to find some of these ‘silver speedsters”. I was ready.
I am always ready to fish.
We launched the 17 ½ foot boat and proceeded through the channel towards Lake Michigan. The downriggers were set at 15 feet and we also had two rods with Dipsey Divers set. Slowly moving through the channel, a rod suddenly sprang to life. I jumped up, grabbed the rod and set the hook and began to reel hard. Fifteen minutes into the evening and we were hard onto our first fish. “This is going to be a great night”, I thought. After a short battle the first fish was boated and lines were reset. We had barely cleared the arms of the channel when the rod again signaled we had hooked another fish. I could tell by the pull of the rod that I was into a large fish. I reeled in the line but the fish had other plans and took the line back out. . Eventually, I had the upper hand and we boated another fish. But alas, neither fish was a salmon but were both freshwater Drum. Not exactly the “silver speedsters” we’d hoped for.