Well , March 24 was Palm Sunday, so my last time on skis was March 23, and that was rental snow. My shoulder season has been really long. We thawed end of February, and despite more 2"-4" snowfalls, there was never any trail skiing snow after February at home. A couple friends and I made arrangements to launch out of Port Sanilac, MI, Lake Huron on Saturday morning. It has been the first time in quite a while the wind would allow a paddler out on the big lake.
It was a beautiful morning with temps that must have been a little below freezing considering the harbor had about a quarter inch of skim ice. We were a little slow launching as both myself and my friend were a bit out of sinc being the first time launching since fall. Dry suits donned, and rigged up we launched. A few boats beat us out and served as ice breakers, but paddling in the ice was different. The paddle deflected on the 1/4" thick chunks, and they were noisey bouncing off the hull.
Once we cleared the harbor walls the ice was gone. We were shocked to see the water temp varied between 34 and 35 F. So while our fish finders could give us water temps, they were not finding fish. We paddled a couple miles south and a couple miles north. We worked from close to shore to a mile out or so. The boats didn't seem to be flocking together, indicating they were not finding fish either. It was calm, but for the first time out, four hours seemed enough. We had a third friend, John join us about two hours in. When we told him we were going to try the harbor as it was a balmy 38 F degrees. There were also a couple of loons that seemed to think the fishing was pretty good.
I was the last one in the harbor, as I had rerigged for the shallow water. The guys had already landed when my inside rod doubled over. At first I thought I may have trolled too close to the piers (that was where the loons were fishing.) It was a fish, a fat little coho, that was not really anxious to join me in the canoe.
The 'ho that came to dinner
I did another half dozen laps, without a bump when John came out. The harbor is small, I told him to have fun, I had dinner and paddled enough for the first outing. I was really slow packing up, and when I finished I noticed John was no longer in the harbor. I unpacked the hand held radio to check on him. He said he was coming in and had something to show me. He came in with the biggest Lake Huron lake trout I have seen up close.
He had just caught it not too far out from the harbor, and trolled it in slow. We took a couple of photos, and decided there was probably enough mercury in a lake trout that size for several thermometers. It seemed pretty lively, was only 20 feet deep where caught, so it was released. It was a good day on the water with friends. Self propelled sliding on water, just liquid instead of crystallized, but almost as cold.
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Nice fish! We're enjoying some warm weather here in SW Ontario, warm enough to get me out on a local reservoir 3 days running. Ice-out in Algonquin Park this year is going to be very late. Good start to your paddling/fishing season, fisheater!
It looks like you had a good day out there Fish. It will be at least another two weeks before there is open water up here.