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Author Topic:   Great Lakes Triple Crown Fishing Adventure
K Albus posted 02-25-2011 09:19 AM ET (US)   Profile for K Albus   Send Email to K Albus  
In an effort to contrive a plan for adding some variety to my boating plans for 2011, I’ve come up with the Great Lakes Triple Crown Fishing Adventure. Rather than just heading to Lake St. Clair and re-running the same old routes I’ve run a hundred times, this plan will hopefully take me to some places I haven’t been to in while. On the date of each of horse racing’s three Triple Crown races this year, I plan to fish for a different species of fish on a different Great Lake. Anybody is welcome to join me on any of these dates in their own boat, and it’s possible that I may have room on my boat for a person or two during any given leg of the "adventure".

As of today, my plan is as follows:

Saturday, May 7, 2011 – Kentucky Derby Day – Fish for Walleye on Lake Erie, out of Bolles Harbor, Michigan. I will either be slow-trolling crank baits or jigging blade baits on the drift near Luna Pier or Brest Bay.

Saturday, May 21, 2011 – Preakness Stakes Day – Fish for Lake Trout on Lake Huron, out of Lexington, Michigan. I will be trolling with downriggers and/or Dipsy Divers. Of course, I’ll be hoping to catch King Salmon rather than Lake Trout, but I’ll take whatever I can get.

Saturday, June 11, 2011 – Belmont Stakes Day - Fish for King Salmon on Lake Michigan, out of Grand Haven, Michigan. I will be trolling with downriggers and/or Dipsy Divers.

On each of these days, I’d like to fish in the morning and/or the early afternoon, and then watch the Triple Crown race later in the early evening, preferably at a local bar or restaurant.

I’m flexible about the entire plan, so if you’d like to join in but you want to suggest a different location or a different activity for any of the days, please feel free to chime in.

mateobosch posted 02-25-2011 09:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for mateobosch  Send Email to mateobosch     
I will try to make it out for the Grand Haven morning in my boat.
prj posted 03-04-2011 10:58 AM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
I like this concept, Kevin. Photo and document well, as you always do, I'll follow your progress.

The sun is feeling different these early days in March. Expect some boats will splash into the Great Lakes next month.

K Albus posted 03-04-2011 12:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
This was another one of my sunny-day-in-February half-baked plans, Patrick. But since I've already put it out there, I will follow through on it. I will, of course, be posting photos and a report. I hope to have my boat in the water either the first or third weekend in April.
Hoosier posted 03-07-2011 08:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
I'd play in this one except my boat is too far away. After Jeff's saga with the 23 WA, I don't want to tow any more than I have to.
jimh posted 03-08-2011 02:40 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I love this idea. It is a good motivator to get the boat ready for the water early.
K Albus posted 05-08-2011 08:36 AM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
Well, day one of the Triple Crown Fishing Adventure turned out to be somewhat of a bust. I went walleye fishing in Lake Erie, as planned, and I got skunked for the first time in several years. I wasn't expecting great success since fishing reports from the area have been dismal all spring, but I was hoping catch at least one or two fish.

The day was not a total bust, however, because conditions were beautiful. It was sunny, with a very light breeze, and waves of less than six inches.

Now for the photos.

This picture shows the calm conditions - notice the steam/smoke from the power plant rising straight up: http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/ Lake%20Erie%20May%207%202011/CalmDayonLakeErie.jpg

Here's a picture taken as my trolling path crossed the shipping channel leading into the River Raisin: http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/ Lake%20Erie%20May%207%202011/CrossingtheChannel.jpg

Here I am on the south troll, with the Fermi II nuclear power plant in the background: http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/ Lake%20Erie%20May%207%202011/SouthTroll.jpg

And here's a map of my approximate trolling route: http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/ Lake%20Erie%20May%207%202011/TrollingRoute.jpg

K Albus posted 05-21-2011 06:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
Strike Two! The second leg of the Great Lakes Triple Crown Fishing Adventure was another bust. Today’s leg of the adventure was to consist of fishing for lake trout on Lake Huron out of Lexington, Michigan. My brother-in-law John and I fished for about two hours and caught no fish.

We’ve had a very cool and rainy spring in Michigan, and all of the big lake fishing action is about 3-4 weeks behind the usual schedule. I’ve been watching a couple of fishing forums for reports on the salmon and trout fishery, but reports out of Lexington have essentially been non-existent. There was a tournament last weekend out of Harbor Beach, Michigan, about 40 miles north of Lexington, however, and a few fish were caught. So I thought there would be a decent chance of catching some fish out of Lexington.

The weather report looked perfect for today. Sunny with a high near 77; winds variable and less than 10 knots; and waves nearly calm. As we launched the boat, however, we could see fog out over the lake.

After clearing the harbor, we headed east until we hit 40 feet of water, and then started trolling eastbound. We had our lines in the water by 10:15 a.m. http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/ Lake%20Huron%20May%2021%202011/LinesIntheWater.jpg

Despite the beautiful forecast, it was very cold out on the lake. The surface temperature of the water was approximately 39 degrees. And the farther east we trolled, the foggier it got.

After about an hour, we had a visit from a Goldfinch that was apparently lost in the fog and needed a rest.
http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/ Lake%20Huron%20May%2021%202011/Goldfinch1.jpg
http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/ Lake%20Huron%20May%2021%202011/Goldfinch2.jpg
http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/ Lake%20Huron%20May%2021%202011/Goldfinch4.jpg

As we continued trolling eastward, we neared the shipping lanes. By that time, visibility was down to about 10 yards. Here’s the view out the front of the boat: http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/ Lake%20Huron%20May%2021%202011/FogAhead.jpg . And here’s the view out the back: http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/ Lake%20Huron%20May%2021%202011/FogBehind.jpg . We then circled around and continued trolling back toward the harbor. After two hours of trolling we had no bites and decided it was time to call it a day.

Approximate trolling route: http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/ Lake%20Huron%20May%2021%202011/TrollingPath.jpg

K Albus posted 05-21-2011 06:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
Side note: With the big lake fisheries about 3-4 weeks behind their usual schedule, today would have probably been a good day to fish Lake Erie for walleye. In fact, reports from yesterday showed limit catches. I've got a plan, however, and I'm sticking to it, even though I've now been skunked for the first two times in many years. Next up: Grand Haven/Lake Michigan for salmon, on June 11.
prj posted 05-22-2011 09:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
Great trip in what looks to be beautiful conditions. I mean, you caught a goldfinch! That counts.

I look forward to the next installment, if not the third race.

K Albus posted 05-30-2011 07:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
Well, I got a little redemption today. Even though this is not one of the official Triple Crown race days, I decided to head to Lake Erie in search of walleye, with the hope of finally catching a fish - any fish - after being shut out on my two previous trips.

We had a line of thunderstorms pass through Michigan yesterday, with tornado warnings, severe thunderstorm warnings, and flash-flood warnings. At my home in White Lake, Michigan, the storm was a bit of a dud, with only mild winds and little bit of rain.

After leaving my home this morning, however, and traveling south toward Lake Erie, I began to see signs of storm damage, mostly downed tree limbs. When I arrived at the Bolles Harbor launch facility, near Monroe, Michigan, all of the docks were submerged under run-off water from the storm. There were tree limbs, dead fish, and other debris scattered all over the launch. I had to clean the ramp before launching, and still managed to run over a rotting fish corpse on my way in - not a pleasant smell. When I returned in the afternoon to take my boat out, the water had receded somewhat, but most of the docks were still partially submerged. http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/ Lake%20Erie%20Memorial%20Day%202011/SubmergedDock.jpg

Out on Lake Erie, there was debris everywhere. Everything from uprooted trees to pallets, to spare tires, and sections of dock. The water in close to shore was also stained brown with run-off from the storm. Here's a picture of a tree floating just outside the stained water. http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/ Lake%20Erie%20Memorial%20Day%202011/FloatingTree.jpg . The trees were actually easier to spot in the brown water where they contrasted more. http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/ Lake%20Erie%20Memorial%20Day%202011/FloatingTree2.jpg . Both of these trees were longer than 180 Dauntless, and surely weighed more.

As for the fishing, the walleye fleet was scattered. Here's a picture of some of the boats with a Great Lakes freighter in the distance. http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/ Lake%20Erie%20Memorial%20Day%202011/Freighter.jpg . I trolled pretty much the same route as I did back in early May. This time, however, I actually caught some fish. For throwbacks, I caught three silver bass and two sheephead (slimy, bottom-feeding, garbage fish). And for walleye, I landed two. I had a double header going at one time with two walleye on separate lines. I was alone, however, making it difficult to reel in the fish, net the fish, and steer the boat, and ended up losing one of the double-header walleye just short of the boat. Unfortunately, I forgot to take any pictures of the fish before they were cleaned. It feels good to actually have caught some fish after being skunked twice in a row.

K Albus posted 06-12-2011 09:44 AM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
Well, the big fishing adventure ended with a fizzle. The forecast for the Lake Michigan waters outside of Grand Haven was iffy, calling for 1-to-3 foot waves increasing to 2-to-4 waves in the afternoon; winds out of the North, shifting to Northwest at 15 to 20 knots; and rain in the morning clearing by 2:00 p.m. I decided to give it try at about noon, hoping for at least a brief period of lower waves and no rain.

I was joined on this trip by my brother Rob, our friend Steve, and Steve's son Austin. We loaded up the boat and were on the water by about 12:15 p.m. After a half hour no-wake ride down the Grand River, as we approached the Grand Haven pier, we could see the lake was full of white caps moving down from the north. The crew insisted on continuing, so we headed out into the lake.

We slowly headed out to the trolling grounds, with the wind whipping a pretty good spray over the fore starboard quarter. When we hit the right depth, I began setting lines, with Steve steering the boat. The waves were about two feet and closely spaced. Steve was having trouble keeping the boat moving in a straight line due to the wind and waves. By the time I got the second line set, Steve's son informed us that he was getting seasick. I then decided it was time for us to head back in - fishing was not going to be any fun on this day. We'll try again, in a couple of weeks, when the forecast and conditions are better.

Here's some photographic evidence that we at least attempted the trip:

Heading Out: http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/ Grand%20Haven%20June%2011%202011/Rob.jpg
Heading Back In: http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/ Grand%20Haven%20June%2011%202011/SteveandAustin2.jpg

Overall, I would declare that the Great Lakes Triple Crown Fishing Adventure was a bust. It was fun getting the boat on three different Great Lakes. But you can't tell Mother Nature when you're going to fishing - she'll let you know when it's time to go.

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