5:48am. Officially on the road to Ludington, MI. Just met a pleasant fellow and his son – who, along with Nick, are about to become my close allies in our assault on the Chinook & Coho population of Lake Michigan, some 12 hours or so from now. Nick and I loaded up, climbed aboard, and the four of us eagerly began our adventure in quest of the pink meat.
This whole thing was a bit of a surprise trip for me, filling in a spot vacated a couple weeks prior by another angler – this quickly became one of those obligatory duties that I simply had to step up to the plate and, well, take one for the team on… you know, that whole “friends don’t let friends leave an open seat vacant on a Great Lakes salmon charter” rule. An unofficial, unstated gentleman’s agreement, mind you, but an important footnote in that code of conduct we Kansas Outdoorsmen choose to live by. I refused to be “that guy” and rock the boat… so here I was.
With a couple weeks notice, I was able to become at least mildly familiar with the town of Ludington, the Lake Michigan species, charters, and some of the general local necessities. At least as much as one can do over the internet. I was able to come up with enough decent intelligence for us to do a bit of fishing on our own prior to our charter boat action.
This is the point at which I would be remiss if I did not give mention and thanks to the unbelievably cool local folks in the forums on Michigan-Sportsman.com. A generous and helpful lot who were surprisingly kind in directing us non-locals in the ways of Ludington and the area fishing.
7:44am. Driving through a generally “ducky” area, crossing the Grand River in NW Missouri, the conversation inevitably turned to our first love and the coming season. Discussion of recent duck blind relocation, progress reports on the millet crop, season opening dates and new zoning in KS, and various other appropriate and necessary related tidbits punctuated the early hours of our 12 hour journey. But it did not take long for dreamy thoughts of screaming reels and Kings and Cohos, the stuff of two weeks’ daydreams, to take their rightly place back at the top-of-mind as we cross the border into IL…
12:52pm. Rolling towards Chicago, visions of sugarplums… errr… I mean 20lb Kings danced in our heads as we moved well past the halfway point. As we maneuvered through the out limits of ye Olde Windy City, we all got a bit excited as we started the final run up the third coast to our ultimate destination.
6:01pm. A few hours and 3 attempted naps later, we rolled into Ludington, MI. A missed turn into our hotel resulted in a total agenda makeover. You see, the missed turn made it easier to just go on ahead past our lodging and grab our licenses. Finding the necessary glow spoons there as well prompted a move to take advantage of all remaining daylight. The majority vote to forego matters of less importance, such as checking into the hotel, for the sake of more urgent and critical duties was unanimous. Chasing daylight to dusk at the pier-heads, hopes of stumbling upon a salmon or two, would take full priority.
By around 7:00pm we were walking towards the lighthouse that marks the north pier-head to make our first casts for Lake Michigan salmon.