2017-09-28 / Columns

Outdoors This Week in the Eastern U.P.

By Stephen King

At left: Salmon fishermen at the mouth of Nunns Creek Saturday, September 23. At left: Salmon fishermen at the mouth of Nunns Creek Saturday, September 23. Typically, things are starting to get just a bit frosty right about now, but this year, this past week, temperatures are in the mid-80s and on US- 2 along the dunes between St. Ignace and Brevort, I saw more people on the beach swimming than I think I saw there all year. The beach? In September? Wow. And, while I was over in Cedarville, I saw a group of young people come in on a boat, all dressed in shorts and swimming attire. I’m pretty sure they weren’t out goose hunting.

For the fishing report, I do have some interesting things in my home town, which I should actually write about every now and then, unless I want to get excommunicated. (Get it? The journalist getting ex-communicated. Yeah, I won’t quit the day job for the comedy circuit just yet.)

I was talking with a man who was having some pretty good luck. His name was Jeff Price and he told me that he hails from Perrinton. He was up here fishing and he has been doing pretty good, “Up to 42 inch pike.” As you can figure, my first question was, where was he fishing? The answer, which got a laugh from me: “In Lake Michigan.”

I’m getting to the funny part. My first reaction was to think he had a boat and had been fishing off shore. I know for a fact that, although not many people take advantage of it, there is a tremendous sport fishery between roughly Naubinway and Brevort. If you look on the charts, you will see that this area is basically just a series of ridges and troughs, just like the shore is. A lot of humps and bumps. Fish love structure. That is the number two answer to “where do you find the fish?” (The number one answer being, “In the water.”)

Back to Mr. Price. When I asked if he had been fishing the ridges in the bay, he said, “Nope. No boat.” Seems he had been pier fishing off the marina in Naubinway for a few days and he had caught a lot of fish.

The funny part? I can see the thing from my house. Did not know the fish were in and biting there until a guy from downstate told me.

With all of the warm weather, the fish still think it’s summer time. Shorter days might have them confused just a tad, but with the warm water, they are still hanging tight on the weed beds you can see from the docks.

Jeff was tossing out spinners, larger Mepp type spinners with the fur on the business end. Yellow and red, if I remember right, and he was tipping the spinners.

This is a subject I explain regularly, and I note that this was not my own idea. It is a trick I picked up from 1999 World Walleye Champion Mark Martin a few years back while I was out fishing with him.

While it was Mark’s idea, this is my story: You’re hungry. And all of a sudden, you see a burger and fries just sitting there on a table, looking tasty. But, when you get up to it, you see it is made of wax, just decoration. Instead of picking it up and taking a bite, you just turn away. Now, Mr. Pike is just hanging out at CafĂ© Ala Weed Bed, waiting for lunch. And suddenly, this shiny fishy comes fluttering along. Just because he is a fish and it’s what he does, he gives chase. Then, just as he is about to munch, he notices there is no smell, and it looks kind of funny. Mr. Pike is totally confused (and probably in need of therapy). He veers off.

Now, try this again. Only this time, you have tipped that bait. What to tip it with is up to you. Personally, I like crawlers. Other people use part of a minnow. For a spinner, use the back half. For a jig, use the front half. Others use parts of crawfish or other little critter parts.

The idea is that this adds smell and texture to the spinner. Now, when Mr. Pike gives chase, as he gets up to it, the thing smells like something he wants to nibble on. Plus, when he chomps down, he hits something that feels like food. So, he hangs on. And, with a little bit of luck, he either ends up as the Friday night special, or survives a pretty strange photo op. (After which, he will need therapy for sure.)

This time of year, I would normally be writing about salmon. When temperatures were cooler, the salmon were coming in strong. I was starting to hear some pretty good reports. Some people over in Manistique said they were doing well, right in the river. I talked to some people in the Straits are, and saw a nice photograph of some very nice fish.

With the warmer weather, the run has cooled off a bit. I did see a bunch of people fishing at the mouth of Nunns Creek, and stopped and watched for a bit. They seemed like they were really enjoying the warm weather, but I didn’t see them actually catch anything.

For hunting, it’s just a bit on the warm side. I saw some dogs on the back of a truck a couple days ago, and I’m not sure if I would run them now. The heat can’t be that good for them. If you do go out and actually get something, get it into a cooler immediately. This heat will not do fresh meat any good.

We all know that sooner or later, things will get back to normal. But for now, enjoy the warm weather. Enjoy the Outdoors this Week.

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